Herbert in the second Boer War
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Herbert travelled to South Africa on 6 October 1899. On 16 February 1900, he was reported missing after action at Waterval Drift, Bloubank in the Orange Free State. It was  not until 6 June 1900 that he returned to his driver's duties. His army papers note that he "forfeited Good Conduct pay at 1d a day on 31st March 1901 and it was restored on 31 March 1902" - a sizeable amount for a soldier whose pay was just 1/- (or 12d) a day. After this, we only know that Herbert did not return to England until 14 September 1902. There is also a note that he was issued with a South Africa gratuity but this is undated.

 

 

From the Devon Weekly Times

Friday 8 June 1900

From The War Office:

 

THE BRITISH PRISONERS

 

"On the completion of the occupation of Pretoria, one of the first courses taken by Lord Roberts was to direct General French with his cavalry to proceed to the relief of  the British prisoners, who, as is known, were confined some distance beyond the limits of the city.

 

Waterval, to which place the British prisoners were removed some months ago, is the second station on the railway line to Pietersburg. It is fifteen miles north of Pretoria. The prisoners, to the number of about four thousand, were housed here in sheds, with the exception of the officers who were kept in Pretoria.  It is reported that they have been released, and since General French was to the north of the town on Monday, it is probably by him that they have been liberated.

 

The total number of missing and prisoners, according to the latest official return, was 4,348 non-commissioned officers and men, and 178 officers, excluding those who have been recovered or released, but many, we know, are in hospital. One officer and 66 men have died in captivity, and three officers and 14 men have been released. Some though, have been taken away by the retreating enemy."

 

 

 

From The Devon Weekly Times

3 August 1900

 

AN EXETER SOLDIER'S EXPERIENCE

 

 

"Driver H. Stentiford of the 40th Company, Army Service Corps, writing from South Africa to his brother and sister at Exeter, says they escaped from prison on the 6th of June. About 4000 of different regiments were captured. There was great excitement when they saw the cavalry coming. They were all fenced in with barb wires and there was no chance of escaping. The cavalry, however, soon cut the wire.

 

He was captured on the 6th of February and had a very rough time of it. The Boers gave them rice and crushed Indian corn, and 1lb of beef a week and a little flour, just what the people at home would give their pigs. They slept in sheds the same as farmers put their cattle in and the Boers gave them some burnt meal which they called coffee. It was enough to poison anyone.

 

Their Army entered Pretoria on Whit-Monday and started shelling it about 2 o'clock until 5. The Boers could not hold a position very long. After referring to their inspection by Lord Roberts, the writer goes on to say that where they were imprisoned by the Boers, the fever was very bad. He does not think it will be long now before the war is over."

 

 

The first British POWs in the Boer War

The first British prisoners of war captured at Dundee SA in the Boer War

Courtesy Project Gutenburg

 

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Last modiied: 29/12/2007