Boer War Page 93f
Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Boer War DCM - Distinguished Conduct Medal

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Distinguished Conduct Medal, JC Richards SH
Orig. medal - Size - oa 8"
Found - Santa Clarita, CA
Named to S Maj JC Richards, Strathcona's Horse
This medal is for sale to interested buyers. DCMs currently are valued at $7,000, US.

The DCM ranks just below the Victoria Cross in the hierarchy of British medals. It was awarded to noncommissioned officers and men. The parallel medal for officers was the DSO, the Distinguished Service Order, the white Maltese Cross below right. About 1,100 DSOs were awarded during the Boer War.

Below is the George V version of the DCM (1911-1936) which was the one awarded during World War I. The obverse of the medal - showing the toys of war above - had been changed to a bust of the reigning sovereign.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Lord Strathcona, 1900
Orig. lithograph - Size - 8" x 14"
Found - Westwood, KS
Signed Spy, Pub. Vanity Fair, Apr 19, 1900, "Canada in London"
Lord Strathcona paid to equip a private army of Canadian mounted troopers, named Lord Strathcona's Horse, in his honour. The British Government paid for their upkeep during the war.

Generally called Canada's Third Contingent, you decide if it was Canadian, or British, or a private army of mercenaries on contract.

For Sale

It is extremely rare to find a Boer War Distinguished Conduct Medal, especially one named to a member of one of Canada's Contingents.

This one is named to Sgt. Maj. JC Richards of Strathcona's Horse, and turned up recently in an estate clearance in California.

Strathcona's Horse is famous because Canada's first Victoria Cross of the Boer War was won by Sgt. Richardson right, by rescuing a dismounted comrade while under heavy fire from the Boers.

Only four Victoria Crosses - the top British Award for valour (like the US Congressional Medal of Honor) were won by Canadians in the Boer War.

We are not certain how many DCMs were won by Canadians, out of some 2,050 awarded during the Boer War, but there are reports of six for the Strathconas alone.

But the most famous Canadian recipient of a DCM was William Knisley of Cayuga, ON, below.

He had survived his first tour of duty in South Africa where he also rescued a comrade while under heavy fire. He returned to receive his DCM from the hands of the Duke of York (later George V) at old Woodbine Stadium in downtown Toronto.

He was feted by his hometown supporters in Jarvis Ontario, then returned for a second tour to South Africa.

This time, in a side action to the Battle of Boschbult Farm, in March, 1902 he met his death, while holding out in a stone kraal, like the one below, with three other companions against a force of over fifty Boers.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Victoria Cross, 1900 (detail)
Orig. lithograph, 1900 - Size - 18" x 24"
Found - Barrie, ON
Pub Buffalo, NY
Entitled VC, this print probably was intended to represent general, VC type, heroics, of the kind carried out by Knisley and Richardson, and other soldiers and officers in South Africa. Horses were frequently shot down - lying down above - because they were huge targets, leaving troopers stranded, on foot in enemy country. Only the bravest would attempt a rescue.

Sgt. Richardson's heroics are commemorated in the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary, AB, in the diorama below. The Museum, which has a fair number of original memorabilia items from Strathcona's Horse on display does not say whether either the horse, or Sgt. Richardson, or both, are the stuffed originals!

It is a lamentable fact that deceptive practices are the growing norm in Canadian museums today; very few original artefacts are on display, anymore, anywhere. Everyone displays fake cannon balls (Fort Henry, ON), trade goods (Fort Garry, MB), bones (Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Macleod, AB) and skeletons (Royal Tyrrell, Drumheller, AB), and keep the real items in the back rooms so that museum staff, only, can play with the original historic artefacts.

The deception is deliberate because, in the vast majority of cases, the museum - the Royal Tyrrell in Drumheller, AB is a notorious offender - refuses to say, on the display, whether you are looking at a real historic item or just a fake fiberglass copy. In the Tyrrell it appears that most of the dinosaur skeletons are actually fake duplicates... If the school children ever found out they would stop coming; they can see plastic dinosaurs at Wal-mart or Disneyland and can even touch them there or ride them. No wonder the Tyrrell hides the truth.

It is very much to be feared, that, in this case, while the horse may be original, the sergeant and his partner are not, but probably a private purchase from a "body" shop, somewhere in Bangladesh.

Clearly the curator has not thought this through. What would the Museum ever do, if, somewhere down the road - with our huge immigrant population - someone from Bangladesh comes in and recognizes a relative!

Clearly the Museum would be confronted with a public relations nightmare. "This is outrageous," one can hear the pained outcry, "Oh no! I don't believe it! How could they do this! They have my uncle Datsun Kadaver, who died and disappeared several years ago, up there on the horse!

"It's absolutely scandalous! It says here this is Sgt. Richardson. That is a clearly a lie! Why do museums always lie in their captions? It's a fraud really, against the paying public. It should not be allowed. I'm going to complain!"

But others say these figures - with their odd positioning - were originally in an American museum celebrating the West of the Gay Cowboy when the curator spotted them on one of his visits. But he has done a creditable job transforming what was formerly a display of two gay cowboys on an "outing," somewhere near Brokeback Mountain - just visible in the right rear - into a Boer War rescue.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Trooper GS Palmer, Strathcona's Horse, 1900
Orig. photo - Size - 5.25" x 7.25"
Found - London, UK
An absolutely rare treasure is this wonderfully large photo of Trooper GS Palmer, done by SJ Jarvis, in Ottawa, ON, carrying the trooper's inscription and signature on the back.

Another mystery trooper from Strathcona's Horse shot in the same studio at the same time as Trooper Palmer's picture was taken.

Call us if you know who he is....

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Ribbon Bar, 1900
Orig. cloth - Size - .5 x 3.75"
Found - New York, NY
A rare ribbon bar, worn in place of the actual medals below, on less ceremonial occasions, features, above, from the left, the DSO, the QSA (Queen's South Africa), and the KSA (King's South Africa) medals. Since it has a DSO - instead of a DCM - this was once worn on the uniform of an officer.


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