The Bandolier of F Warren (SH), S Burnett (CMR, II CMR) - 1900 - 1902 - Tech of War 11
|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
||This is probably the most fabulous bandolier in Canadian military history.
It is in superlative shape but does show that it was extremely well used in its life, before being shoved into a trunk as a war souvenir by its previous soldier owner.
Names and numbers scratched on it are mysterious.
We offer a possible explanation for most of them.
Its most prominent name is F Warren, scratched on the back.
It also came from descendants of F Warren at a house clearance, when immediate family had lost touch and interest, with a distant relative of long ago.
Falkland Fitzmaurice Warren was born in 1868 and signed up as #394 with Strathcona's Horse, in Vancouver, on Feb. 9, 1900. His father was a colonel.
So he was an owner of this bandolier and used it during the year long campaign as the SH accompanied General Buller's drive up into the Boer heartland from Natal.
Falkland returned to Canada at the end of 1900, presumably carrying this bandolier.
But that is not the end of the story.
The bandolier has another identical name scratched on it, twice, in different places, even though they are somewhat faint and very well worn: that of one S Burnett N.299.
|Boer War Bandolier, F Warren, S Burnett - 1900-1902
|Orig. leather - Size - 1.25 m
Found - Hamilton, ON
|The name is clearly that of Samuel Burnett, who should be revered as one of Canada's most dedicated soldiers.
Sam, who was born in 1876, came from Toronto, and signed up with the Canadian Mounted Rifles on Dec. 28, 1899.
He signed up as #106, with the original CMR as a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. So clearly this was not his belt at that time.
But he was campaigning in Lord Roberts' March to Pretoria, at a time Falkland, presumably wearing this belt, was a member of the Strathconas, campaigning with Buller in the east. How did they become friends or acquaintances?
Both Sam and Falkland returned to Canada after a year of war.
Then Sam decided to sign up again, a year later.
This time he enlisted, on Dec. 18, 1901, as a member of the II CMR, and became #299.
So how did his name and number end up on this belt, in two places, if Falkland had owned it? The wear on them is original and entirely consistent with 100 years of age burn. Sam's names are absolutely not forgeries.
In fact his name is so degraded - our photography shows it much better than the naked eye can make it out - has more credibility than that of F Warren, as an original signature.
His second signature and number are so faintly scratched that they require a very diligent tilting to the light to make them out. But they are there.
It then appears that this bandolier returned to South Africa with Sam Burnett and the II CMR, a year after Falkland presumably brought it back from South Africa.
Were the two men chums? Did Falkland offer Sam his bandolier as a "neat thing" to do? A man going back for the second time, sporting a bandolier doing likewise?
The campaign wear of this bandolier - as opposed to subsequent abuse - is substantially more than other "one-campaign" bandoliers we've seen.
The fabulous thing about this bandolier is the names. Ordinary supposed Boer War bandoliers may or may not have been on campaign in South Africa.
The names on this one prove conclusively that its owners fought in some of the most storied campaigns in world military history - Lord Roberts' historic March to Bloemfontein and Pretoria, and the Battle of Hart's River in 1902, where Edwin McCormick blew his bugle as they buried the Canadians. This bandolier heard and saw much of it; it was a witness to violent history in the making.
One more mystery...
The tongue has the numbers 424424 scratched on it. The first three are done with double lines, so were obviously done separately from the second set of duplicate numbers.
We have not been able to trace these to a Boer War soldier as #424, or, less likely, as a World War I #424424 number. Neither fit Falkland or Sam's known numbers.
The mystery continues, on a bandolier that once served two of Canada's named soldiers.
But this bandolier has still another special layer of significance beloved by many collectors... (See Below)
The entirely similar Edward Pownall belt from our museum shows the continuing problem with this bandolier.
It's great for retaining bullets which are wonderfully protected from falling out at the gallop, with the flap coverings.
Too protected. Under fire you would have to fight to unsnap the leather tabs from the brass buttons, and then struggle with the finger tips to try to get the bullets out of their snug pockets.
Very very difficult as it is well known, by anyone who took shop in high school, that the "angled taper design" makes the best and tightest fit.
And tapered brass cartridges in snug tapered leather pockets bond amazingly tightly together.
When the bullets are jammed into the bandolier in camp, by an exuberant trooper, the leather pockets expand wonderfully to accommodate the unyielding brass. When the flaps are closed the bullets are pressed in further. As the sun comes up and the leather expands, the bullets slide further and more tighter into the pockets. The leather tubes become like vice grips on the bullets, and if it gets cooler they shrink, and makes the bullets virtually impossible to extract. Especially when you're being shot at...
The completely full length tubes on earlier Mk I bandoliers were far worse, and is why the leather pockets were cut in half on this 1897 Mk II Mounted Infantry bandolier.
Furthermore, to get at all the bullets, you would have to unsling your bandolier from around your head.
To overcome some of these problems, with a shoulder slung bandolier, some men cut it shorter, removed the flaps, and wore it like a belt, to give instant access to all the bullets.
It's interesting to compare the personal evaluations of the two men picked to be horse soldiers for Canada during the Boer War.
Falkland at 32, was - by today's standards - a slight 168 lbs, and 5' 12," compared to Sam's puny 140 lbs, and 5' 5" at age 23. (Compared to today's grain, beef, burger, and Timbit fed professionals, who more typically tip the scales at 220 or more, and whose girth notoriously often exceeds their chest measurements.)
Obesity, a huge problem in Canada, is well represented in the military, thanks to men like Canadian General Rick Hillier whose biggest accomplishment for the Canadian soldier in the Afghan war was to have a Tim Horton's doughnut outlet installed for the fighting troops at their base in Kandahar, to make sure they kept their cholesterol and transfat levels up to their notorious peacetime levels. Clearly the inept general had not thought out the implications of what he was doing: offering the Taliban sharpshooters a bigger profile to shoot at...
This affliction also effects Canada's police forces. Tim Horton's doughnut chain stores are synonymous, in popular culture, as the main base of operations for the Ontario Provincial Police. If you need a cop, go there; there are always one or two cruisers there. And the RCMP too, is forced to send out its famous "fat letter," to more and more ballooning members. The symbolism is more than accidental. Though there is belt tightening aplenty for ordinary Canadians, under a Conservative Government, exactly the opposite is the case for the military and police forces.
Falkland's muscular development was good; Sam's only fair.
Falkland's intelligence, probably guessed at in conversation by the recruiting officer, was deemed very good; Sam got only a "fair" grade from his officer. He would never have gotten an "intellectual," or thinking job, on civvy street with this kind of evaluation. But he was judged to be a perfect "Fit" for military service, fit enough to die for his country.
In fact he would have a far more substantial military career than his more robust and intelligent comrade, serving with Canada's peacetime militias (3 years with the York Rangers, 2 years with the Governor-General's Body Guard) and at war: 2 years with the CMR, a year with the II CMR, 180 days in German South West Africa, before ultimately signing up again in World War I.
Falkland was deemed "nervous" in temperament; Sam "sanguine," easy going. Perfect for what Canada's military had in store for him...
|It has for years been our complaint that publicly funded museums use the internet, not as a way of educating the public, but as a further brazen money grab, from a public which, through taxes, has already paid for the museum and its collections.
The greedy and shameless staff, at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, and other national museums, see Canadian heritage items and photos only as a way of wringing more money from Canadian students and teachers. To hell with using the internet for education, for which it was designed originally.
The Glenbow Museum, which has received many bequests - including countless photos of important Canadians - from people who want their family photos to be used for public education, turns them instead, into tiny, tawdry thumbnails, and demands cash before it will offer a decent picture to Canada's teachers and school children.
The Glenbow's main aim - turn these donated heritage items into cash cows to pay for senior staff salaries, expense accounts, and pensions.
NOTE TO CANADA'S SCHOOLCHILDREN - This grotty little picture is the best photo we could offer of Falkland Fitzmaurice Warren. If you want a picture you can see, you have to pay the Glenbow's greedy civil servants big bucks.
It is in startling contrast to the practice of the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum,
which has earned a reputation as the finest, most lavishly illustrated, internet museum on the planet
Other Attestation papers of Falkland and Sam show their vital statistics as they signed up to fight in Canada's wars.
Both were Brits, born overseas, one in India, the other in London.
Falkland was a cowboy so presumably liked the wide open spaces that campaigning in South Africa offered.
Sam was a butcher, then a plasterer. It's easy to see that for him, a military campaign in far off Africa had more appeal than butchering cattle or mixing gypsum.
They both had an emotional attachment to fighting the Boers for the Queen that they did not get from Canada, but was part of the imperial baggage they brought with them from the "ould sod."
In fact this was the common background and mind set of most of those who signed up to fight for Canada in the Boer War, and even later, in World War I.
The Canadian elite brought Canada into line to fight in WW I, not because it was the "Canadian" thing to do, but the "British" thing to do.
In exactly the same way as 100 years later the same elite classes brought Canada into line to fight in Afghanistan, not because it was the "Canadian" thing to do - it was not; the overwhelming majority of citizens opposed doing so - but the "American" thing to do.
French-Canadians, in World War I, exactly like the Americans at the time, did not think there was justification for North Americans to involve themselves in a European war that the royal houses there had concocted for themselves.
In fact, Americans refused to be drawn into the mess for almost three years.
Before that, they did not believe there was justifiable moral cause to involve themselves in mass butchery in Europe.
French-Canadians, for the most part, remained unconvinced to the end of hostilities. They could have been as tribal as the frenzied Anglo-Canadians were eager to support the war of their fellow tribesmen in the UK. After all France suffered economic losses and killed in civilians and soldiers in numbers that vastly outstripped that of any of the other victorious Allies. British, Canadian, and American losses paled in comparison.
Despite the obvious cultural, linguistic, and historical tie to France, French-Canadians took a solid "Made in Canada" Canadian attitude. The only ones to do so, in a country still burdened, psychologically with its colonial British past.
History has proven French-Canadians to have been correct all along, during both the Boer War and World War I.
World War I was the most useless and deadly war ever launched anywhere in the world, as the culminating accomplishment of 10,000 years of European Christian civilization.
And solved absolutely nothing; rather it set the stage for World War II and even greater humanitarian depredations.
Together the two wars wiped out 100,000 million people.
It would have been better, said French-Canadians all along, not to have started them in the first place.
They said the same thing when government, corporate, and media elites colluded to further their elite economic and political interests to make war against Muslims in Afghanistan to please the Americans.
This time the Canadian people had matured.
The overwhelming number of Canadians did not want to make war in Afghanistan.
A significant Canadian achievement.
Most Canadians, this time, followed the lead, once again set by French-Canadians pushing for a Canadian solution.
Sam Burnett, a two time Boer War veteran, signed up again, as a civilian volunteer, for service in World War I, in 1915, as a bombardier with the Canadian Field Artillery.
This time he was not so lucky, and was killed on June 10th, 1916, only 40 years old.
The bandolier remains as a treasured memorial memento of two dedicated Boer War soldiers and one KIA who ultimately paid the supreme sacrifice.
They are worthy representatives of the countless Canadian civilians who signed up to fight when their country called, some never to return to civvy street, from whence they came.
In all respects this bandolier is a carbon copy of the 1897 Mk I Mounted Infantry bandolier issued to Edward Pownall, in 1901. Even the stitching on the back, attaching the bullet loops, is totally identical. Though Pownall's pouches are attached with 11 stitches to Burnett's 10.