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The Handy Man - 1900

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The Handy Man Jug - Doulton Labeth, 1900
Orig. ceramic - Size - 21 cm
Found - Calgary, AB

One of the largest, finest - and most rare (the only one we have ever seen) - Victorian Boer War jugs, is this superb memento celebrating the exploits of the famous Naval Brigades in the early months of the war. At the beginning, the Boers outgunned the British in the field, as they dragged their huge Creusot guns across the veldt, and used them to pound the British towns of Kimberley, Mafeking, and Ladysmith which they encircled and besieged.

The British Army rallied to come to the rescue. But, since the British had no field guns that could match the Boer guns, Capt. Percy Scott (featured above and right) suggested dismounting the large guns off HMS Terrible - his ship - and those of her sister ship HMS Powerful - Capt. Hedworth Lambton, left commanding.

The photo of Lambton was the one used to design his image on the other side of the jug above.

Scott's idea was to mount the ship's guns on wheeled carriages of his design, so that naval ratings could pull them across the veldt alongside the British Army.

British Jack Tars fighting a land war certainly proved to be "the Handy Man" on this occasion, and their exploits, during 1899-1900, was one of the press highlights of the year.

This high quality jug was produced by Doulton Lambeth and was expensive to buy. It is decorated in the sinewy and leafy art nouveau style popular at the time. Having been loving cherished for over 100 years it is in mint condition.

Below HMS Powerful, the decks lined with hundreds of Handy Men, showing some of the guns which were winched over the side, into lighters - like the one alongside - and ferried ashore. 1 x 6 inch and 8 x 4.7 inch guns were dismounted.

Go to Powerful & Terrible
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A common cheaper plate quickly issued at the start of the Boer War to capitalize on popular interest in the start of the conflict.

It celebrates the famous guns of the British Army and gives due notice of the role of the British Naval Brigades with the placement of the naval rating in blue at the left.

Like so much other patriotic memorabilia rushed to a ravenous market, this group about to fire a gun is fanciful.

No artillery group ever looked like this, with such a wild mix of uniforms. No one of course wore gaudy red tunics, topped off with a huge bearskin, in South Africa.

No officer ordering a gun to be fired waved his command by brandishing a sword.

The gun carriage bears not the slightest resemblance to that pulling the 4.7" guns around South Africa by the Naval Brigades, who worked entirely as self-contained units. No army uniforms were found among their gun teams.

But no matter. During times of war truth or accuracy always takes second place to putting out publicity in press, pictures, or plates, that harnesses the self-righteous enthusiasm of the masses to the political agenda that the ruling classes want supported.

Nothing much has really changed in 2008, with the popular acclaim for Canadian and American military heroes - in Iraq and Afghanistan - as strident as it was during the Boer War. But the Establishment press never shows what's really happening behind all the jingoism, to ordinary people who are being victimized by war, then and now, usually peoples of a different colour, religion, or culture. Which makes it much easier, when you consider what you do to them.


Plate - The Guns, 1899
Orig. plate - Size - 21 cm
Found - London, ON

The Unpublicized Face of Modern War

Emily Hobhouse tells the story of the young Lizzie van Zyl who died in the Bloemfontein concentration camp: She was a frail, weak little child in desperate need of good care. Yet, because her mother was one of the "undesirables" due to the fact that her father neither surrendered nor betrayed his people, Lizzie was placed on the lowest rations and so perished with hunger that, after a month in the camp, she was transferred to the new small hospital. Here she was treated harshly. The English disposed doctor and his nurses did not understand her language and, as she could not speak English, labelled her an idiot although she was mentally fit and normal. One day she dejectedly started calling for her mother, when a Mrs Botha walked over to her to console her. She was just telling the child that she would soon see her mother again, when she was brusquely interrupted by one of the nurses who told her not to interfere with the child as she was a nuisance". Quote from Stemme uit die Verlede ("Voices from the Past") - a collection of sworn statements by women who were detained in the concentration camps during the Second Boer War. (Wikipedia)

Canada used the Boer War to send its first military units ever to take part in a foreign war, to help subdue the Boers of South Africa to the will of the British military-industrial elites. The human rights abuses and war crimes that occurred during that war are part of the legacy of Canada's participation then - the Canadian Contingents were part of the support network that made the abuses possible - even though Canadians took no part in operating the British Concentration Camps, where some 26,000 Boers like Lizzy van Zyl died (Compared to 4,000 Boer fighting men during the war. The proportion of civilian deaths to combatants is probably similar among the Lebanese in the 2007 Israeli war against their people.)

Canadians in 2008 are much more guilty of human rights violations in Afghanistan than they were during the Boer War. This time, in support of the American military-industrial complex, the Canadian Government has chosen, itself, to directly target the civilian population of a far distant country with guns, bombs, and rifles, and have killed many Afghan women, children, and men - ho hum - by accident of course...

The same accident that killed Lizzy van Zyl...

Lizzy, of course, was out of sight of the Canadians fighting in the Boer War. Just like the Muslim families killed by Canadian artillerymen in Afghanistan when their guns level their homes a long 30 kms away...

The dead non-white Muslim women and children of Afghanistan seem to find little solace in that the Canadian people are hugely opposed to the war that is killing them every day of the week... thanks to the presence and operations of Canadian guns in their country. However civilized and Christian they act...