Boer War Page 65

Picture Press 2: Soldiers of the Queen


The Kilties (1902-1933): "Soldiers of the Queen" 1902

You are listening to one of Canada's very first recordings, "The Soldiers of the Queen" played and sung in 1902 by one of Canada's very first recording bands, the Kilties. Formed in Toronto by members of the 48th Highlanders Band to keep some touring commitments of that group, the Kilties Band of Belleville, Ontario was one of Canada's most popular international touring bands of its day. The Soldiers of the Queen was the march most often identified with the Victorian army.

You can hear these earliest Canadian recordings on our program's soundtrack. Details on our Music Page.


Soldiers of the Queen
This huge (23 x 40") lithograph in colour (mostly variations in khaki) portrays accurate, almost photographic, likenesses of all the leading officers of the Boer War. One can spend hours trying to decipher the who's who of Boer War personalities.

The photo montage was common in Victorian times, where photos of heads were pasted together by the scores, on top of tiny figures, set into a landscape. But this is a completely painted lithographic print

(Found in Ballantrae, ON)

If you know from when and where it dates, or if you have a key to the individuals, please give us a call.
Major figures are easy to figure out. Left, for example, is the Spion Kop disaster group, featuring General Warren who orchestrated the calamity, in January 1900, mounted on his horse. Holding field glasses, is his superior during the battle, the first commander-in-chief in South Africa, General Buller. Behind Buller is the portly Col. Thorneycroft, the British hero of Spion Kop, who tried to save a calamitous situation created by his two superior officers.

Below right is General Woodgate, the ground commander during the assault up the hill, who was killed early on, and from whom Thorneycroft took command.

Above left, is probably the very photo the artist used to paint Warren into the picture, giving a good idea of the huge undertaking this lithographic montage must have been.

Heroes who fell in war are also pictured. Right, hatless on the left, is Prince Christian Victor, Queen Victoria's nephew. Like thousands of British soldiers (including scores of Canadians), he died from enteric fever and lies today in Pretoria cemetery.

Enteric fever - or typhoid fever - carried off more British soldiers than Boer bullets did. Most caught it from drinking polluted water, the only kind the parched men could find in the dry South African climate

Below right is General Clery.

The Celebrities of the Army
Pictures of generals were popular during Victorian times when Britain's glory was largely due to their exploits in India, Afghanistan, Canada, and Africa.

Lord Roberts (left), who presided over the most triumphant part of the war, was the most popular general. Even though 67 years old, he rode for long hours along with the army as it trekked for hundreds of miles across the African veldt.

The public identified strongly with him because everyone knew that he had suffered the ultimate death in the war, the loss of an only son, Freddy (below left) at Colenso.

An ornate four-piece Victorian frame with wood alternating with gesso. (Found in Port Hope, ON)

In 1900 a set of 72 lavish coloured photographs of leading figures in the war, called Celebrities of the Army, was produced. The prints capitalized on the new advances in colour photo printing, were some 10 x 12" and and featured many early heroes who died for their country, including Freddy Roberts VC (left), Generals, Penn-Symons, killed at Talana, (below left), Woodgate killed at Spion Kop, (below), and Wauchope killed at Magersfontein (one below). (Found in Toronto, ON)
Tradition says that Wauchope, (below), had a fierce argument with his commander, General Methuen, (below left) warning against the attack. Then, in the best tradition of a British officer, with his men, he marched off into the blackness of night, amid a fierce African rainstorm, to annihilation at Magersfontein.
General Buller, the first commander-in-chief, had already been sacked in favour of Roberts (below), but still got pride of place as the first of the series (left).
After Roberts supposedly ended the war with his famous March to Pretoria, and then went home, it was his successor, Lord Kitchener, the Hero of Omdurman, (right), who really won the war. But it took him another year and a half to do it and at a fearful cost to all involved.

Just a dozen years later, he, along with other Boer War generals, would be the leading figures directing Britain's war machine as it entered World War I. They supervised a human carnage that none of them could have predicted from their Boer War days.

This huge (16" x 20") and glorious silk of Kitchener dates from this period. (Found in Toronto, ON)

Other celebrities included Baden-Powell (left), who held out against a seven month Boer siege of Mafeking, jumping from Colonel to Major-General in the process and winning cult status among Britons everywhere. After the war he perpetuated the uniform he wore during the siege by using it for dressing Boy Scouts around the world

Canadian heroes were not forgotten, and included Colonel Otter who led Canada's First Contingent, (below), and Colonel Lessard, (below left) who led the Canadian Dragoons when they won three of Canada's four Victoria Crosses of the war.

A Sad Reminder
A sad reminder of what happens, too often, to historical memorabilia from generation to generation. This small but magnificent Victorian frame holds a large picture of the Welcome Arch across University Avenue near Dundas St. leading up to Queen's Park in Toronto. The Parliament Buildings are at the end of the street, in the background. (Found in Toronto, ON)

After the war the biggest Boer War memorial statue in Canada was set up on this spot, as shown in a period postcard (left.)


In November, 1900, Toronto welcomed the return of Royal Canadian Regiment from its tour of duty, with an arch festooned with bunting, flags, and the names of all the battles it had fought.

To one family this picture frame was a precious item - perhaps a son had served - and was lovingly handed down through the generations.

Then the link was broken. Now someone else must recognize its worth for posterity and salvage it before it is lost forever.

But for some, there would never be a homecoming.

W.T. Manion, (left), from the Queen's Own Rifles in Toronto, had only months before, to the cheers of thousands, marched with his comrades down this same street on their way to South Africa.

But this time, he would not be among his comrades as they returned to march under the Welcome Home Arch.

He was one of the very first Canadians to fall on Bloody Sunday at Paardeberg, and lies there today, in a lonely African grave (right), among the other members of his regiment who died.

 
c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000