Boer War Page 90e

Rare Boer War Discoveries

Below are some of the items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve memorabilia from this period.

Boer War Discovery of the Month (May 2002)

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War "The Soldier's Dream" calendar 1901
Orig. calendar - Size - 18.5" x 26.5"
Found - St. George, ON
Signed to Elliott, Marr, & Co. Grocers, London, ON
"Black Week" Rediscovered: This wonderfully huge, chromalithograph was produced in December 1900 for a grocer in London, Ontario and features the calender for 1901.

December, 1900 was an extremely emotional time throughout the British Empire, and no less so in Canada as proven by this wonderful Canadian memorabilia item. It was found rolled up in the attic of an old house in Brantford.

The Disasters of Black Week: "Black Week" of December 10-15, saw a trio of terrible British reverses suffered by the world's most powerful army at the hands of militarily untrained Boer farmers:

Stormberg, where General Gattacre, in trying to attack the Boers at night, lost hundreds of his men in the dark. The Boers found and captured the lot.

Magersfontein, where General Wauchope died in another disastrous night attack, resulting in another British retreat, and

Colenso, where General Buller, the British commander-in-chief himself, had to retreat with heavy losses and suffered a fate worse than death itself, the loss of ten artillery guns to the Boers.

Anatomy of a Slaughterhouse: Left, historian John Goldi stands in the middle of the slaughterhouse at Colenso, between the two stone blocks that mark the spots from which two British guns were rescued, and points up the valley from which gallant British troopers rode fearlessly into the teeth of an awesome Boer fire.

But so many men and horses were shot down, that General Buller called off further rescue attempts and ordered a retreat.

Seven Victoria Crosses were won for the gallant acts carried out on this small piece of ground, the second highest number ever awarded by Britain for a single engagement.

Left, one of the heroes who died on this spot during the rescue of the two guns, Freddy Roberts VC, the only son of the new British commander-in-chief appointed in the wake of the Black Week disasters. Lord Roberts "Bobs" and Freddy were the first father and son to both win the Victoria Cross.

Honouring the Sacrifices of Black Week. A grocery store in London, Ontario wanted its customers to remember the heroes of Black Week for the entire year, by making this litho "The Soldier's Dream" the centerpiece of its calender for 1901.

"The Soldier's Dream" was especially inspired by the slaughterhouse at Magersfontein, where the Highland Brigade stumbled into an ambush at night.

Right, standing at the spot where the flower of a nation was cut down, historian John Goldi points to the Boer trenches, cannily dug in the middle distance, from which an ambuscade of rifle fire cut down the British Highland Brigade, as in tight formation, it was silently marching, in the dead of night, to surprise the Boers, supposedly waiting on Magersfontein hill in the background.

Among the first to fall at the front of his men, the gallant General Wauchope celebrated in this period Stevengraph, woven in silk (below).

The ground above, littered the next morning with hundreds of dead and dying highlanders, inspired the Soldier's Dream, a dying highlander's last kiss from a ghostly daughter.

This scene must have been especially evocative for the citizens of London, Ontario which was heavily settled by immigrants from Scotland many of whom must have had relatives that died during the Boer War.

Show me more Boer War Stevengraphs

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000