Saturday, 2 April 2011

War's End, 1902

The following notes and the photograph are taken from the 1905 American Edition of Emily Jackson’s St. Helena “The Historic Island”.  Published by Thomas Whittaker, New York which can be downloaded at:
Philip Gosse described this book as “a work of full of useful information but sadly in need of “editing”  It lacks an index and though profusely illustrated by photographs, far too many being of groups of British soldiers who guarded the Boer prisoners.  Undue space is allotted to this subject in the text.  All the same it is a useful work of reference”.  Gosse does give her some credit for being “a woman remarkable for her energy and her gift for organisation”.  “St. Helena stands today (1938) in sore need of such another helper.  Emily died in Capetown in 1923.
Gosse’s own book St. Helena 1502-1938 was described, by The Sunday Times at its publication in 1938, as “A well documented, enthusiastic and easily read book permanently valuable”  The Illustrated London News agreed.  ”Mr Gosse writes like a romantic, a humorist and a scholar.”  He died of salmonella poisoning in Cambridge in October 1959.
Alexander Schulenburg’s 1999 analysis of Emily’s efforts was that: Although her work is much valued for its documentary extracts and photographs, the book as a whole is terribly ill-organised.  For all intents and purposes, Jackson had done what the historian Finberg has called paying "homage to the muse of history after their fashion by serving up the contents of their notebooks in a kind of substitute for narrative”
In fact much like these blog pages, but for my part I enjoyed reading, and learnt much from, both.
On June 1st 1902 St. Helena received news of the war’s end on receiving the cable "Peace," though with no mention of terms.  Prisoners and British were alike loud in their demonstrations, and the stock of champagne in the island was speedily lessened.  The British were confident the Peace was in their favour.  The prisoners also were quite as confident they had at last gained their independence but on the following day came the terms, and with them the downfall of the Boers' hopes.
On Sunday, June 8, thanksgiving services for Peace were offered in the Churches.  At the Cathedral a detachment of Royal Garrison Artillery, who had returned from South Africa, attended, and instead of the usual organ music, the Band of the Buffs accompanied the hymns, and played the National Anthem.  After service the Artillery lined up near Plantation House, when the Governor distributed to them the medals and clasps won in South Africa, and made them a most impressive speech.  After the declaration of Peace and publication throughout the camps of the terms by which the war was ended, notices were posted in English and Dutch throughout the island, and arrangements made for the taking of an oath of allegiance to Great Britain.
From and after Wednesday, 18th inst., those burghers of the late Orange Free State and South African Republic who are desirous of taking the oath of allegiance to His Majesty King Edward VII are directed to attend at the Court House, Jamestown, between the hours of 11 to 1 p.m., and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Sundays and Coronation Day (26th June) excepted.  Permits for this purpose will be granted by Commandants at each camp. The oath of allegiance will be administered by Col. AJ Price, CMG, and Capt. John Proctor, CGA., who have been appointed Special Commissioners.
The Castle St. Helena 14th June 1902.
The taking of the Oath was more universal than had been anticipated, though several hung back; having been urged not to take it.
Boers on Parade being addressed by The Governor prior to embarkation June 26th 1902
On the 25th June the “Canada” arrived from England and the following day there was great excitement in the town, when over 470 who had taken the oath came from the camp to embark on the Canada for South Africa.  They were escorted by the band of the 3rd Wilts, and they marched down with Union Jacks flying and prior to boarding they assembled on the Lower Parade where the Governor bade them farewell.  He said he was glad to have an opportunity of saying good-bye, and of wishing them good luck in the future.  It was a mark of regard on the side of the Government that they were being sent home first, and on arrival at the Cape they would meet the loyalists from Ceylon, and so the first one thousand men to land on their native shores would be those in whom the Government felt confidence.  Had all been of their opinion, and refrained from countenancing a hopeless contest, their country would not have been in the same sad condition as it now was.  He felt sure, however, that under the firm and just rule of England prosperity would come again, and that all would be firm friends.  His Excellency concluded by saying: "I trust we shall always be friends and grow in prosperity day by day.  You have been here now over two years and we part with you with regret.  We have admired the fortitude and constancy with which you have borne exceptional trials, and I feel that amongst you I am parting with some personal friends of whose welfare in the future I shall always be glad to hear.  And now I bid you all good-bye, and wish you all good fortune in the years to come." This was translated in short sentences to the prisoners by Captain Proctor, and was replied to by Commandant Jooste on behalf of himself and his fellow loyalists.  He thanked the Governor for all his kindness to them, and then with three cheers for the King, three again for the Governor, and another three for Colonel Wright and other officers, they marched down the parade along the wharf, headed by the band playing " Auld Lang Syne."  They were hardly able to control their excitement at the thought of seeing all those from whom they had been so long parted and of reaching their native shores after their tedious and enforced exile.
On July 4 His Excellency received a deputation from the German residents of Deadwood Camp.  Lieut.-Colonel Hind, Camp Commandant, introduced the deputation, and Colonel von Braun presented a beautifully carved casket containing an illuminated address, which was read out by Captain Weiss:
Deadwood Camp June 24th, 1902.
To His Excellency R. A. Sterndale, Governor of St. Helena.
Having heard that peace has been proclaimed and that the prisoners of war are soon to leave the island, the undersigned take the liberty of addressing your Excellency.  In the first place we wish to express our heartfelt thanks for the kindness and consideration shown to the prisoners of war by your Excellency in issuing to the inhabitants of the island a seasonable proclamation exhorting them to treat us with the respect due to an honourable foe.  Secondly, we beg your Excellency to convey to the inhabitants of the island our sincerest thanks for the noble manner in which they have responded to your Excellency's appeal.  The kindness shown to the prisoners of war one and all by the people of the island, with very few exceptions, is a fact which will long be remembered and cherished by them as a bright speck in the gloomy days of captivity in St. Helena. We have the honour to remain, Your Excellency's obedient servants.
Having received the address, His Excellency replied:
It is a most agreeable surprise, for which I thank you very much, to receive from you this beautifully illuminated address in such an elegantly carved casket, both of which will always be carefully preserved by me and my family as a valued memento of the past two years.
I thank you heartily, on behalf of myself and the inhabitants of St. Helena, for the kindly sentiments conveyed in the address, and I trust that those friendly feelings which have grown up by the intercourse of the past two years will continue to our lives' end, and bear good fruit in helping to bind our two nations in closer bonds of friendship.  As the time of your departure approaches, I feel I lose some personal friends, who will not, I trust, forget me in the time to come and to you all I wish good fortune in the future, and a bright, happy meeting at home with those who are so anxiously looking out for a re-union after the weary time, which has now, I am glad to say, passed.
On June 30 General Cronje came into the town, accompanied by his secretary, to the Castle, and there took the oath of allegiance.  At his own request, his guard, which had never been withdrawn, was allowed to remain, as many of the prisoners, still obdurate, were very bitter against him.  On August 22 he left the island for the Cape in the transport Tagus, with 994 other prisoners.  Many incidents tend to show the good feeling which sprung up between the prisoners and the military staff in St. Helena.  To Dr. Casey, who was in charge of the medical ward at Deadwood Camp, was presented a very handsome album by some of his Boer patients
Before leaving for South Africa a public letter was written by the prisoners to the St. Helena Guardian. In this they say:  We find it impossible to leave St. Helena unless we contribute our share of thankfulness to His Majesty's officers placed over us from time to time, for what they have done to make us take courage to fight the future.  Much is owed to His Majesty's officers for the kindness and consideration accorded by them since January 12th, 1901, and the conclusion has been made that the prisoners of war have been squarely and gentlemanly treated.  The calm Lieut.-Col. Paget ; the placid and collected Lieut.-Col. Barclay and Hind; the manly attitude taken up by Col. Price, the even and courteous Lt. Garden, will never be forgotten ; nor will they ever cease to respect the genial Captain Meiklejohn and his staff.  Our heartfelt thanks go to the gentlemen mentioned for the kind and courteous way they have received and met us from time to time kindness that was a sweet drop in our bitter glass.  Their general attitude towards us prisoners of war will always be recounted with pleasure an attitude at once firm and manly, and worthy of admiration and why?  Because politeness was evinced in all their actions and doings.
In September the special court was closed.
Notice is hereby given that by order of H. E. the Governor, Colonel AJ Price, the special Court constituted for administering Oath, or taking declaration of allegiance to His Majesty King Edward VII by the burghers of the late South African Republic and Orange Free State will close on Saturday next, the 6th of September, 1902, at 12 o'clock noon.
By Order,
JOHN PROCTOR, Captain, Jamestown 2nd Sept. 1902,
By this time very few remained obdurate concerning the oath, and the greater number had already embarked after their enforced stay of considerably over two years.  The Golconda in October took the last batch, who travelled back as British subjects to the two republics which had become part and parcel of the British Empire.
Jackson lists the ships conveying the prisoners as follows:

Canada left St. Helena on June 26, taking 370 (Peace Camp) and 110 others.
Kirkfield left St. Helena on July 7, taking 11.
Goorkha left St. Helena on July 25, taking French prisoners to Europe.
Abaka left St. Helena on August 1st, taking 20 prisoners of war,
Avondale Castle left St. Helena in August, taking 20 prisoners of war.
Tagus left St. Helena on August 21, taking 994 prisoners of war.
Canada left St. Helena on August 21, taking 984 prisoners of war.
Malta left St. Helena on August 30, taking 990 prisoners of war.
Goorkha left St. Helena on September 18, taking 12 prisoners of war,
Orotava left St. Helena on October 8, taking 990 prisoners of war,
Braemar Castle left St. Helena on October 12, taking 2 prisoners of war.
Golconda left St. Helena on October 21, taking remainder, but leaving the Cape rebels and a few unpardoned men still on the island.

1 comment: said...

Ciao from Italy