Boer War Page 9b

Boer War Relics 2

We are eternally grateful to all those kind people, who, recognizing our passion for telling this story, generously loaned or gave us, treasured relics from their private collections to illustrate it.

Henry Burr (1885-1941): "Nearer My God to Thee" 1916

You are listening to an original recording from early in the 1900s featuring one of Canada's very first recording artists, Henry Burr, singing "Nearer My God To Thee," which was sung over many graveyard ceremonies in South Africa. Henry Burr from New Brunswick, started recording in 1902 while in his teens, and, with some 12,000 recordings to his credit, was the most prolific recording artist of his generation.

(You can hear these earliest Canadian recordings on our program's sound track. Details on our Music Page)


Relics from Paardeberg: Feb. 1899

Paardeberg Memories: A wonderful lot of relics recently dug up at Paardeberg and loaned to us to make these pictures. They were found below the river bank where the Canadians were in the advanced trenches when the final attack took place on Feb. 27.

The relics include Boer and British items, all mixed up.

Going clockwise from top left, a .303 rifle muzzle plug, an 1897 one penny, a Mauser bullet tip and shell remnant, a British Gordon Highlander badge, a Canadian 43rd Ottawa and Carleton badge.

Far right, a crucifix - clutched alike by dying Boer or Briton - a pair of gold cuff links, a badge from the Royal Gloustershire Regiment, a large 1899 one florin, an 1896 six-pence, an 1899 three-pence, and far left a military button still attached to fabric from which it was torn. Far left, is a Royal Canadian Regiment pith helmet badge, like the one featured in our Tool Bar (top.)
Far right, a large and heavy lock probably used by a Boer on his wagon box that was blown apart during the bombardment, the gold cuff links, coins and a crucifix.
Historical Sleuthing: A special item is the badge above, which once belonged to a Canadian of the 43rd Regiment of the Ottawa and Carleton Rifles. If one assumes it belonged to a Canadian who was killed - and that his personal kit and badge was lost during battle - one can narrow it down to members of the regiment who died on the Feb. 27 battle site, which is where the badge was found.
Brady or Living?: The two members of the 43rd who fell that day were W. Brady, and Fred Living, who wrote the Ottawa Citizen only days before his own death, of the horror of seeing "the fellows all stretched out, some dying, all covered with blood." Living may very well have seen, and been talking about his pal, Ollie Burns, a member of the Ottawa Carletons who was killed on Feb. 18, on Bloody Sunday, several miles from the site of the charge where he fell on Feb. 27, and where he may have lost the badge above. (Note: These men wore pith helmets with the maple leaf badge (top) into battle; but they probably took to Africa their local militia unit insigna and wedge caps which they are shown wearing in photos taken before they left for South Africa.)
Paardeberg Memories: Historian Johan Hattingh has picked up a bullet-riddled piece of tin on the battlefield at Paardeberg where 4,000 Boers held out for a week during February, 1900, against 30,000 British soldiers. In this Bacon print from 1900, called "Dashing Advance of the Canadians at Paardeberg," Hattingh is standing close to the Modder River at the top corner of the wagon camp at the centre of the Boer position.
Laager at Paardeberg: Historian Johan Hattingh (above) stands on the eastern end of where the Boer laager was on the morning of Feb. 27, 1900. It was to this spot that the Canadian front line had advanced during the night, and where the first white flags were raised by the Boers, who were in the trenches and laager to the camera's back.

Boer Household Items: (below) Many small fragments of cups, plates, bottles and jars still litter the area, attesting to the fierce 10 days of bombardment of the Boer camp.

A Horrible Death: A horribly shredded bone from a horse, some 4" x 7", bears mute testimony to the stupendous bombardment that pulverized hundreds of Boer horses into eternity during the battle.
Below, a rare photo of a gun in action at Paardeberg, and right the scene in the Boer laager after the battle, with wagons and belongings blown apart and scattered in every direction. 100 years later remnants are still scattered across the field.

Relics from The Battle of Enslin/Graspan: Nov. 1899

Relics at Enslin: Susan Botha, our enthusiastic "expert-as-host" on site where the Battle of Enslin was fought on her farm, in Nov. 1899, displays relics she found from the Anglo-Boer War.: "a horseshoe nail, very big, but the British used very big horses," "a shell, bent on the end, which the soldiers did, probably to store powder to make a fire when it was cold and rainy", a bolt "probably used by the artillery on the hill up there", and a tin "with lines to show it was vacuum packed for the soldiers and probably had bully beef inside, or plum."

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000