QSA 1899 – 1902 with CC, Trans and Wittebergen
KSA with SA1901 & SA1902
Named: 5852 Pte. J. Heywood, KOYLI (2nd Bn)
Heywood was both wounded and taken PoW in the regiment’s action at Zwartkopjes* on 13 Feb. 1901.
Complete with medal roll details and S. African Field Force Roll details.
* Not to be confused with the Battle of Zwartkopjes of 1845.
A total of 383 officers and 9,170 NCOs and men were taken prisoner in the course of the war. 97 men died in captivity.
The grounds on which each person was taken prisoner was investigated. One of the publications from The Royal Commission on the War in South Africa contains the results of these enquiries. For the most part, prisoners were exonerated but in some instances the captives were later subject to disciplinary action. The Royal Commission on the War in South Africa lists all surrenders, gives brief details of the incident, numbers involved and the outcome of the investigation.
The Boers were even less prepared for prisoners of war than were the British. The first crop came in the first few days of the war, at Kraaipan. Officers were held at the State Model School in Pretoria. Their most famous 'guest' was Winston Churchill who was captured at Frere. NCOs and men were held separately at Waterval, north of Pretoria, in the Transvaal.
In March 1900, officers were moved to a new camp at Waterval. It was described as a 'long, white shanty, with a fairly large compound, enclosed by formidable barbed-wire entanglements . . . There are electric lights all around the enclosure making escape a matter of difficulty. Inside, the place looks more like a cattle shed than anything else. A long, galvanised iron building, divided into sleeping rooms, and four small bath rooms, a servants' compartment and kitchen, and eating rooms . . . There is no flooring. The drains consist of open ditches, while the sanitary arrangements are enough to disgust any human being.'
With the Flag to Pretoria states 'The plight of the captured Colonial and Uitlander officers was far worse. They were treated as common felons and thrown into gaol.'
Lieutenant Colonel Hunt, captured at Colenso, reported to Lord Roberts that the medical arrangements were inadequate. Lord Roberts forwarded the complaint to the Boers and added that he was no more impressed with the rations for other ranks, sanitary arrangements and treatment of the sick.
Winston Churchill was the most famous of the people to escape from prison. Incarcerated in the State Model School, he reportedly climbed the fence, boarded a train and hid in a coal mine near Middelburg. He then took another train to Portuguese territory. In March 1900, Captain Haldane, Lieutenant le Mesurier and Sergeant Brockie escaped from the school. They hid beneath the floor. During the removal of prisoners to Waterval, they stayed hidden and were able to stroll out of the emptied prison.
The advancing British made the retention of prisoners increasingly problematic. When the British troops entered Pretoria on 5 June 1900, 129 officers and 36 other ranks overpowered their guards just prior to the arrival of the troops. On 6 June, 3,187 non-commissioned officers and men were released at Waterval. (Anglo Boer War Website)
Further information on British PoWs from the Anglo-Boer-Oorlog/Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) site has some of the same data, but more and different information.
British and Colonial Prisoners of War
in Boer Captivity
A total of 383 officers and 9,170 NCOs and men were taken prisoner in the course of the war. 97 men died in captivity.
From South Africa's Boer Fighters in the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902
Generally no prisoners could be taken, as the Boers had no means to keep them prisoner nor anywhere to hold and feed them – and Boer mounted Kommandos could not risk being slowed down with dismounted POWs. British prisoners were therefore relieved of their boots (going barefoot on the veld was a real immobilizer), rifles, ammunition and frequently pants (the one item of British uniforms that Boers could wear without being mistaken at a distance for the enemy and thereby risking getting a “friendly-fire” bullet through the head). Freeing British prisoners also had a negative effect on British forces’ performance in battle as it encouraged quick surrenders after British soldiers discovered that the Boers would immediately release them if captured – the choice between having to endure a blizzard of deadly Boer Mauser fire or quickly and safely surrendering was usually a “no-brainer.”
General Maritz once complained that he captured the same British soldier 3 times in one day and had to let him go each time. However, Maritz noted that his Kommandos profited from each capture since the British soldier was fully outfitted every time they caught him.
The first crop of prisoners were taken at Kraaipan in the first few days of the war. Officers were held at the State Model School in Pretoria. Their most famous captive was Sir Winston Churchill who was captured at Frere. Incarcerated in the State Model School, he reportedly climbed the fence, boarded a train and hid in a coal mine near Middelburg. He then took another train to Portuguese territory. In March 1900, Captain Haldane,Lieutenant le Mesurier and Sergeant Brockie escaped from the school. They hid beneath the floor. During the removal of prisoners to Waterval, they stayed hidden and were able to stroll out of the emptied prison.
The hospital at the Racecourse was used for wounded and sick prisoners until the fall of Pretoria. The officers remained at the Staats Model School until 16 March 1900 when they were moved to their new quarters known as the Birdcage at Daspoort.
The welfare of the prisoners was controlled by a board of management consisting of four persons. They were Louis da Souza, Commandant Opperman, directly responsible for the safe custody of the prisoners, Dr Gunning, who was Opperman's assistant and Hans Malan. Opperman was replaced by a Mr. Westerink in March 1900.
The 129 officers and 36 soldiers detained at the Staats Model School were released on the 5th of June 1900. As mentioned in the above information, it is said that when the British troops entered Pretoria on 5 June 1900, 129 officers and 36 other ranks overpowered their guards just prior to the arrival of the troops. On the 6th of June Colonel T C Porter's Brigade was ordered to affect the release of the men confined at Waterval. A squadron of Greys under Captain Maude finally released 3187 men.
It was found that 900 prisoners had been removed by the Boers from Waterval on the 4th of June. These men were then detained at Nooitgedacht. They were eventually released by the Earl of Dundonald on the 30th of August 1900.
When General French entered Barberton in September 1900, he released the final group of prisoners - twenty-three officers and fifty-nine soldiers who had been removed by the Boers from Nooitgedacht. Most of them had been confined in a barbed wire enclosure while some were housed in the local jail.
The following user(s) said Thank You: djb, Brett Hendey
Information on the Yorkshire Light Infantry (King's Own) in S. Africa
The 2nd Battalion was in South Africa when the war broke out, having been brought from Mauritius, and was employed at strategical points in Cape Colony until Lord Methuen was ready to advance. They then formed part of the 9th Brigade along with the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, half of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and the 2nd Northampton Regiment.
At Belmont, 23rd November 1899, the Yorkshire Light Infantry were in the supporting line, and the only casualties they had were a few men wounded. Major Earle was mentioned in Lord Methuen's despatch of 26th November 1899.
At Enslin on the 25th they took a very prominent part, and if they did not lose so heavily as the Naval Brigade, that is accounted for by their not crowding in the attack and making a better use of the ground. Their losses were approximately 8 men killed, 3 officers and 40 men wounded. Colour Sergeant Waterhouse was mentioned in Lord Methuen's despatch as to Enslin.
At Modder River the services of the battalion were invaluable. After the attack by the Guards Brigade on the right had come to a standstill, or, more correctly, a lie still, the 9th Brigade bored in on the left, and two companies of the Yorkshire Light Infantry under Colonel Barter, with some Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and Fusiliers, assaulted and carried some buildings on the near side of the river which commanded the drift. The battalion's losses were approximately 1 officer and 8 men killed, and 3 officers and 50 men wounded. Colonel Barter was mentioned in Lord Methuen's despatch of 1st December 1899.
At Magersfontein, 11th December, the 9th Brigade were employed demonstrating on the British left; but the Yorkshire Light Infantry were detached from the brigade for the day, their task being to protect Lord Methuen's right and prevent the enemy from the Jacobsdal-Kimberley road breaking in on the rear of the Highland Brigade. As matters turned out, they had plenty of work, the enemy pushing in with some force. The battalion kept their ground. Their losses were not heavy.
When Lord Roberts was preparing to advance from Bloemfontein he created some new brigades. One of these, the 20th, was put under Major General A H Paget. It consisted of the 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, transferred from the 9th Brigade, 1st Munster Fusiliers, 4th South Staffordshire Regiment, and 4th Scottish Rifles. After crossing from Hoopstad to the Kroonstad district Lord Methuen's divisionthat is, the 9th and 20th Brigadeshad some fighting in the Lindley district, and in the beginning of June Paget's brigade was left to garrison Lindley.
In the operations which ended in the surrender of Prinsloo, Paget's force took part. On 25th June a large convoy left Kroonstad for Lindley. The escort was 800 mounted men, a wing of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, the 3rd East Kent, four guns City Imperial Volunteers' Battery, and two of the 17th RFA, the whole under Colonel Brookfield, 14th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. The convoy was heavily attacked on the 26th and 27th by the enemy, 1500 strong, with two guns, but his attacks were all driven off and the convoy was brought in. On the 26th June Private C Ward of the Yorkshire Light Infantry gained the VC for volunteering to carry a message to a signalling station through a storm of bullets. He insisted on returning to his force, and in doing so was severely wounded.
During July there was almost constant fighting up to the date of Prinsloo's surrender, 30th July. After that the battalion was railed to the Transvaal, and marched past Lord Roberts in Pretoria on 13th August. Along with the 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 2nd Worcesters, and 1st Border Regiment, the battalion was put into a column under Clements, which for some months operated between Rustenburg, Krugersdorp, and Johannesburg.
Eleven officers and 14 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts' final despatch.
Twenty-two men of the Yorkshire Light Infantry under a lance-corporal were among the escort of a convoy which was attacked on the Pretoria-Rustenburg road on 3rd December 1900. The escort "fought with great gallantry", and were able to save one-half of the convoy. Out of their 23 present the Yorkshire Light Infantry lost 5 killed and 6 wounded.
Four companies of the battalion were with General Clements when he met with the disaster at Nooitgedacht on 13th December 1900. The half-battalion formed the rear-guard and did splendid work: they lost 6 killed and 5 wounded and about 46 taken prisoners. Unofficial accounts stated that the men of the battalion fought very well. For gallant conduct in these affairs 4 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th March 1901. One officer afterwards got mention.
In 1901 the battalion was chiefly in the Eastern Transvaal. They formed part of General Alderson's column, one of those which under General French swept to the Zulu border in January, February, and March 1901. For a time the battalion was garrison at Elandsfontein. On 31st October 1901 they made a particularly fine march to go to the assistance of Colonel Benson's column. In the last phase the battalion was chiefly in blockhouses about Ermelo.
The Mounted Infantry company saw a great deal of work. Dealing with Colonel Benson's action at Baakenlaagte on 30th October 1901, Lord Kitchener says, "In spite of the gallant efforts of the Mounted Infantry company of the Yorkshire Light Infantry and a squadron of the Scottish Horse, which promptly formed up on the flanks of the guns", the ridge fell into the enemy's hands, "with the exception of a portion which a party of the Mounted Infantry held till dark". The company's losses were 4 officers and 9 men killed, and 1 officer and 9 men wounded, adequate testimony to the severity of the fighting, and also to the splendid tenacity of the men of the battalion.
In Lord Kitchener's final despatch 6 officers and 8 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned.