During the war significant numbers of Boer bibles were looted by imperial troops from Boer homes and shipped back to the soldiers' home countries. I have located records from the press and from official papers documenting cases of New Zealand troopers bringng bibles back to New Zealand. Some were displayed in museums while at least one was displayed in the window of a pawn shop. The bibles were of great importance to the Boers as they often contained hand written family records dating back for generations.
Following the war, a request by Lord Roberts seeking the return of these bibles was published in the press and in the New Zealand Gazette. A number of bibles were handed in to the Government, which then arranged for their repatriation to their rightful owners in South Africa. In some cases, this did not occur until several decades after the war had ended. I have primary documents relating to the return of several bibles belonging to the following individuals:
1. A bible belonging to an unnamed Boer magistrate at Arundel. The bible was covered in black silk and recorded the births of Anna Margaritha Adriana in 1877 and Margaritha Isabella J. Van Rensberg in 1878
2. A bible belonging to J.A. Van Antwerpen of Bospoord in Lichtenburg District of Transvaal
3. A bible belonging to Peter Vanderberg of Boshop. The Bible contained Vanderberg’s will, a lock of hair bound with a blue ribbon, and several ‘pathetic little souvenirs’ including Christmas cards.
4. A bible belonging to Joachim Frederick Sarel Mentz of Ongegund farm in Heilbron district
5. A bible belonging to B. M. Janse Van Vuuren of Witport, Transvaal
I would be very interested in contacting surviving family members of these individuals as I suspect they might be unaware of the bibles' travels. If anyone knows their relatives please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The bibles were reunited with their owners as far as I can tell from the NZ Government files I have been looking at. I suspect, however, that after the passage of more than a century, it is quite possible that the families are unaware they ever left South Africa and if they are I very much doubt they know how they came to be rerturned. I id my Master's thesis on the impact of the war on NZ society and am now writing a book on same subject. I would love to get a photo of one of these bibles to include, but I would be equally happy to share my research with their owners..