Summary of the military detail of the siege.

Summary of the military detail of the siege.

Major battles during the siege of Mafikeng.

Apart from the daily skirmishes of which can be read in the day to day reports from the diaries there were a few major battles. 

1.What a waste of dynamite. On the morning of the 13th October Baden Powell used a locomotive to push out 22,5 tons of dynamite 15km to the north with the idea to ignite the dynamite and to cause major casualties when the Boers came to investigate. The only happening was a big hole in the ground. The next day there was the battle at Vyfmylbank near the previous incident with the dynamite. 4 men from the Protectorate were killed and 16 wounded. Two Boers killed and 6 wounded. See animation

2.On the 26 th of December the British garrison, supported by an armoured train attacked the unsuspecting Boers 3km to the north of town. Gametree was the stronghold of the Boers.  The only  gain for BP was more grazing for the cattle and expanding the British territory. The British underestimated the Boers and the casualties were great. Later the armoured train returned flying a white flag to collect the dead and wounded. They were layer buried in a mass grave under the last post. Angus Hamilton from the times reported 24 dead including 3 officers. Other reported 25 dead.

3. Eloff tried to relief the town on the night of 13 May. This battle proved to have the greatest casualties on Boer side – 10 dead, 19 wounded and 94 captured. On British side 4 dead and 10 wounded. Eloff tried to enter Mafikeng from the native stadt that was Baden Powell’s blind spot. . His plan was to set alight some huts as a sign for Snyman to come with re-enforcements. Snyman did not react quick enough and were cut off by the Barolong. The fire also alarmed Baden Powell Eloff moved up to Fort Barracks, Leaving behind a 2 small group of burghers in the Barolong stadt. There he captured col Hore and his men. From there Eloff phoned BP. Baden Powell reacted swiftly and Eloff surrendered.       See Animation

4. Relief of Mafeking

For some months a part of Plumer’s force had been pushing down the Western Railway far to the North of Mafeking. Then Plumer brought most of his men, about 1500, down the line. Through March this expeditions carried on until Plumer reached within 6 miles of the Town, but Snijman pushed them back as far as 15miles (see the animation of this movement).

Towards the end of the siege the shortage of supplies was Baden-Powell’s worst problem. Plumer was able to receive 1000 natives. This relieved the demand for food somewhat. Plumer also tried to drive a herd of cattle into town,but it failed. At the end of  April Baden-Powell got as message through to Roberts saying that the food will last until 22 May 1900. Relief was thus a priority.

May 1900– Buller is getting ready to invade Pretoria and hoping that the Boers would surrender if they lost Pretoria. The British public is awaiting the news of the invasion of Pretoria, but they wanted to know the outcome of the relief of Mafeking with more anxiety.

On the 4 May 1900 Archibald Hunter’s force (it consisted mainly of South African volunteers) commanded by Colonel B.T. Mahon set out on their 250mile journey from the vicinity of Kimberley to Mafeking. A week later they were at Vryburg, 100 miles South of Mafeking. At this time one of Baden Powell’s men reached them to discuss a possible link up between Plumer and Mahon. Baden Powell also wanted to know what the strength is of Mahon’s force. He replied “Our numbers are the Naval and Military Club multiplied by ten (94 Picadilly times 10); our guns, the number of sons in the Ward family; our supplies, the O.C. 9th lancers (little)”

On the night of 11 May, and the early hours of 12 May the Boers made their last attempt on the town. A party of Boers pierced pierced through the outer of the defenses by approaching along the banks of the Molopo. They set fire to huts in the Native Stadt and captured a fort commanded by Colonel Hore. Sarel Eloff and 100 Boers captured the fort, and they locked Hore and others up, waiting for more support from Eloff. A Frenchman who were with Eloff climbed on the roof with a bottle of Burgundy and shouted a toast, “Fashoda is revenged”, before he was shot down. Eloff hung on all day, but surrendered to his own prisoners that evening. Baden-Powell arrived to invite them to dinner, and thegarrison saluted the Boers as they were marched off under guard.

On the 14 May 1900   Mahon’s column first encountered a commando.At the Molopo, 20 miles from Mafeking, Mahon joined hands with Plumer who had just recieved a reinforcement of Royal Canadian Artillery. With 2000 men from the siege lines De la Rey took up position astride the Molopo at a place called Israel’s Farm. It was eight miles upstream from Mafeking. A five hour fight resulted on 16 May.(see the animation) Part of the Boer line gave way and the rest fled. Plumer sent a message by carrier-pigeon to the garrison that the two columns were on their way. In the afternoon shells exploding in the distance could be seen from Mafeking. A dark mass of horsemen appeared with a heliographtwinkling in their midst-“From Colonel Mahon’s force-How are you getting on?” Baden-Powell simply replied: “Welcome”

Ten men rode in at 7pm and in the early hours of 17 May Mahon and Plumer entered without any opposition. TheBoers had disappeared- the 7 month long siege was over.

As the word came to England everyone was excited and ran to the streets. God save the queen was sung over and over and the number of drunks multiplied. The occasion added the verb “maffick” to the English language.  The O.E.D. defines the word as “exult riotously”.

Siege of Mafikeng

Siege of Mafikeng

Baden-Powell‘s leave here or starve here policy.

The month of January were a bad month for the Garrison, the food were running low. At the start of the siege Baden-Powell calculated that he had enough food for the white The Firm of weil the only store aloud to open on a Sundaygarrison to last at least a month (until Feb..). Supplies for the Africans that meant their staple diet of mealies, were not expected to last beyond December. The primary reason why the white relatively well-off were because the firm of Weil  had stock-piled thousandths of tons of flower at Mafikeng to export to Rhodesia. Baden-Powel bought all this supplies and when the Cape authorities refuse to pay for it Lord Edward Cecil paid a half a million pounds for it. Still Baden-Powel managed the answer that has been hidden for 75 years in Baden-Powell’s confidential staff diary of he siege. In short he done it by taking from the black garrison to give it to the white garrison. And a part of the black garrison were given the choice, they can starve in town or try to run trough the Boer gauntlet. This details were made clear Soup Kitchenin Baden-Powell’s confidential diary:

“Nov 14: The census shows our numbers to be as follows:
Whites: men 1,074, women 229, children 405
Native: 7,500 all told
Supplies: Meat plentiful live and tinned 180.000 lb
Meal and flour 188,100 lb
Kaffir corn and mealies 109,100 lb

White rations required daily 1,340
Native ” ” ” 7,000
Thus we have 134 days for whites
” ” ” 15 days for natives”

After the first stock taking seemed very serious all the meal and flour supplies in town – whether belonging to merchants, individual Africans, the railway authorities, or the army itself – Were rationed. AND Baden-Powell forbade the Africans to buy bread. He was determined not to allow the ‘white’ rations that meant flour or meal considered edible by white people, to be eke out the proportionally smaller supplies labeled ‘black’ rations. He did at first prevent the African’s from starving by giving them part of the 362,000 lb of horses’ rations of grain and oats not included originally, by doing this he leveled the black and white rations. In his diary he wrote on ‘Dec 30: Food re-inspected: of meat and groceries there are plenty… and n going into meal I found that there are 60 days for both white and natives if my present system of rations for all in strictly adhered.’ At the beginning of January Baden-Powel decided to slightly reduce the horses’ rations of grain, though the horses still received ten time’s the men’s ration.

Baden-Powell was beginning to put the rationing of the Africans on a regular basis. And now a new snake presented its head. The members of the white garrison, who could not afford their rations were being paid for either by giving credit or by drawing on a special fund set u by the authorities. On the other hand the Africans had to pay for their food and pay handsomely although it were taken from their own stock. Baden-Powell however believed that there was a large-scale hoarding of grain by the natives and closed all their stores.

“Dec 31 In coming through the stadt we saw some very thin Matabele stripping inner bark from fresh cut wood to make into food.”

“Jan 1 : Believe that ‘large stores of grain hidden away ‘ in the stadt. Closed shop {i.e. refused rations to all Africans} to see if there is any real want. “

“Jan 7: Barolong natives in the stadt are getting a little suspicious of us. They want to know… why we are trying to take all their grain from them.”

By early the following month Baden-Powell made a decision that he could “stretch” the white part of the rations after all up to the third week of May that is 105 days from 8 Feb. The “black” rations on the other hand would only last a month. It turned out that it wasn’t the black Africans in the stadt that was hiding some grain, but the white merchants that were distinguishing themselves by doing it. Weil, the main army supplier, proved to have been deliberately understated his supplies in the hope of raising his price. And the army  Service Cops sergeant-Major in charge of rations was found to be running his own black market to the whites who could pay the army bakers. Beside that Baden-Powell discovered that there are more food that had first appeared, he also discovered that some of the mealie meal set aside for natives will be available for bread baking for the whites. The reason why they could use the mealie meal was because some baker had found how to grind horses’ oats to make flour.

The blacks of the town starved. Even the dog cemetery was raided for it’s bones and other remains. Emerson Neilly of the Pall Mall Gazette wrote: I saw them fall down on the veldt and lie where they had fallen, too weak to go on their way. Hunger had them in it’s grip, and many were black specters and living skeletons…”

Places were the food issue is mentioned:

Medical supplies during the Siege of Mafikeng

Medical supplies during the Siege of Mafikeng were readily available at the beginning of the war but not for long. In the veldt especially the Boers had to rely on the knowledge passed on from generation to generation using plants from the veldt. Usually every household had a little container where they kept their medicines. In this container was apart from little bottles also plasters, ointments as well as bandages and a little book telling what to use when and how. This they usually had with them in the wagons.

Here are only a few remedies used as the list can go on ad infinitum,: Some of the herbs are named by their common-names and not fully described.

For influenza and airway diseases Eucalyptus, wildeals or wynruit was used. For gout, pains in the legs or cramps Camphor, Beukesbossie, soetolie etc were used. For infections Eucalyptus, Beukesbossie, different herbs, vinegar and Camille were the most common. For bladder and kidney infections balsem-copiva. To stop bleeding. Aluin or turpentine with sugar were used. Brandy, balsem-vitae, eau-de-cologne, rosemary and many other herbs were used with good effect.

The English had a well established Royal Medical Corps(1898) and the Army Nursing Service organization and could use this war to put to test their medical skills that has not much improved since the Krimm war.

Both sides made used of the Red Cross. The International Red Cross opened a branch in Transvaal in 1896 but only expanded to other areas when the war started. The Red Cross Ambulances entered the country via Lorenzo Marques. The ambulances were provides with meat and flour by the commandos while the Boer woman baked bread, washed the bedding and clothes of the wounded and even helped to feed the seriously wounded. In the guerilla phase of the war the ambulances were send home or fell in the hands of the British and were prevented from further helping the Boers.

Both Boer and British had problems with the transport and supply of medical supplies. Sanitary problems were common and dysentery a nightmare.

The most important lessons that both sides learned from this war regarding medical services that there must be a close working relationship between the military and civilian medical services and that military nurses were of the utmost importance.

Photo of a Red Cross Ambulance depart from Klerksdorp.30 September 1899

People of the Siege of Mafikeng (3)

Siege of Mafikeng

Abaham Stafleu was born on 26 November 1870 an Leiden, Holland. Trained as a teacher and marries Christina Noest on 24 November 1894.Comes to ZAR 8 January 197 to a school at Kuilfontein in the Marico district.

His wife died with the birth of their first child a son called Abraham Johannes Christiaan 29.12.1899.

Stafleu leaves his son with friends and joins the Marico commando as unofficial member of the Red Cross. His knowledge of homeopathy he obtained in Holland. He never participated in the skirmishes but looks after the wounded. His diary speaks of  of his outstanding knowledge of man’s nature, his observance, humor, as well as humanity towards black and white. In June 1901 Stafleu and his son was send to the concentrationcamp at Mafikeng where his son died. Stafleu returned to the Netherlands in 1903 but returns in 1905 and marries Johanna Suzanna van Wyk. Six children were born from this marriage but Johanna dies in 1931. He marries Christina Catharina Coetzee and 2 children were born from this marriage. Stafleu died 12 – 4- 1943. He is buried at Zeerust.

Boer Mauser

Below is a part of South African history:

Although the Boer Mauser is almost identical to the Spanish Mauser Model 93, there are minor differences. The Boer Mauser has often been referred to as a Model 95, Model 96 or Model 97, depending on the date inscribed on the receiver. The model’s designation is more an indication of date of manufacture than of design differences. There are only very minor differences between different batches of Mausers purchased. Ludwig Loewe in their correspondence refer to the Boer Mauser as the Mauser System Model 93/95. As so many countries adopted similar rifles, with only slight variations, perhaps it is best we refer to these rifles as the Boer Mauser Model 95/96/97, as the case may be.

Let us briefly consider this rifle from a technical point of view.

The action (receiver, trigger mechanism, bolt stop, bolt and magazine) consists of only twenty-five parts, as opposed to the thirty-one of the German Mod. 88. The receiver is milled from a single piece of forged steel and is bridged over at the rear to offer firm resistance. It is the same width throughout, unlike many subsequent models. On the front edge of the receiver bridge there are two notches into which the cartridge clip (holding five rounds) can be inserted and fixed. These cartridges are stripped into the magazine by downward pressure on the top round. The empty clip is ejected as the breech is closed by the front end of the bolt.
The one-piece bolt has dual-opposing locking lugs on its front end, which cam into recesses milled in the receiver ring, securely holding the bolt against the breech end of the barrel, when closed. The right lug, (bottom one when bolt is closed) is solid, and the left (or upper) lug is slotted for the ejector to slide through to make contact with the cartridge rim when the bolt is drawn to the rear. On the left side of the receiver there is a longitudinal ridge over which the slotted left locking lug slides. This ridge, riding in the ejector slot, helps to guide the bolt when moved backwards or forwards providing a smoother action.

The bolt face is partly recessed enclosing about sixty percent of the cartridge rim; the left lug projects forward, forming part of this recess. The bolt face is square underneath, unlike many other Mod. 95 Mausers. The tang, rear of the receiver and top of the magazine-well, are cut accordingly, to accommodate this squared portion of the bolt. This shape conforms to the earlier Model 93’s because of the belief that it provided securer cartridge feeding, as well as a smoother action, as the
squared corners run in corresponding grooves in the bottom of the receiver. However, later Model 95’s had a round bolt face as it,vas realised that there was no real advantage. The bolt face of the Boer Mauser is thus unusual and characteristic in that its bottom is square.

The extractor is of the long spring type lying on the right side of the bolt. It is attached to the bolt by means of a ring which turns independently of the bolt and cannot be displaced. This ring is not complete; the ends forming hooks which slip into recesses in the extractor spring, holding it in place. The front end of the extractor has a lip machined into it, which rides in a groove around the bolt-head. The extractor does not rotate as the bolt is turned. The hook (of the extractor)
holds the cartridge firmly in the bolt-head until it is ejected. This useful innovation makes sure that once a cartridge is picked up from the magazine, it will stay attached to the bolt-head until ejected. This feature prevents a cartridge being pushed out of the magazine, and while lying loose in the receiver, another round being picked up, thus causing double feeding and irksome jams in the heat of

The bolt handle, at the rear of the bolt, is forged as part of the bolt. Except for some rifles from the last batches of Free State Mausers the bolt shaft on the Boer Mauser rifles is straight but on the carbines and sporting Mausers it is bent. As many Boers preferred the turned down bolt handle, they were inclined to modify their rifle bolts accordingly or replace them with the interchangeable carbine bolt.
The right rear of the receiver bridge is cut in such a way that when the bolt stem moves up against it, it provides initial camming power to the extractor. The firing pin is joined to the cocking piece by means of a series of interrupted lugs. The cocking piece is surrounded, except on the bottom, by the bolt sleeve which screws into the bolt body. A cam on the cocking piece projects through this slot in the bolt sleeve and this cam catches the rear edge of the trigger sear when the bolt is closed. Tile firing pin is surrounded by a coiled main spring, which is compressed between the bolt sleeve and a ridge on the front end of the firing pin. As suggested, the action is cocked when the bolt is closed. Tl1is characteristic, that a Boer Mauser cocks on closing of the bolt, as opposed to the Model 98 which cocks as the bolt handle is lifted on opening, is one of the easiest ways of differentiating between these two models Tile trigger has a typical double stage let-off, and is arranged in such a way that the rifle cannot be fired until the breech is fully closed. Tile reason for this is that there
is a small projection on the forward arm of the sear, which enters a corresponding slot in the bottom of the bolt only when the latter is turned fully closed. Tile safety-catch is of the wing or flag type and is situated on top of the bolt sleeve. When swung to the left the rifle is in the “fire” mode. In the upright position, the rifle is safe; the bolt can then also be opened and the bolt sleeve unscrewed for
further disassembly. In this upright position the magazine can be unloaded without fear of firing off a round. With the safety swung to the right the bolt is locked in position within the receiver and the rifle is safe. The bolt stop is attached to the left side of the receiver and is hinged at its rear. Tl1is same device serves both as bolt stop and cartridge ejector.

Tile magazine box and trigger guard form one piece. Tile floor plate of the magazine is detachable and the cartridge follower, unlike many other Model 95’s, is beveled at the rear. Thus, the bolt can be closed over an empty magazine without having to depress the follower manually.

Tile stock is of the straight hand type and consists of one piece. Tile receiver and barrel are held firmly to the stock by means of two screws through the front and rear ends of the magazine guard plate. Tile barrel is further held in place by two barrel bands. Tile front band has a bayonet lug at the bottom. Two flat spring
catches, behind and below each band, keep them in place. Ludwig Loewe-made
Boer Mausers, have a first or lower barrel band with longer swivel extensions. Tile
swivel being held in place by means of a screw. On most D.W.M.-made Boer
Mausers, this band does not project as far below the rifle, is more rounded, and the
swivel passes through the lower end of the band without being held in place by
means of a screw. On some Boer War photos this aspect helps with identification.
Tl1ere is a wooden guard over the barrel extending from the receiver to the lower
band, permitting free handling of the rifle even if the barrel is heated by continuous
firing. The front sight is dovetailed into a ring (surrounding the barrel) which is
screwed arid soldered into place. The rear sight is of the ladder type and has two
notches. One, with ladder flat, is marked 300, for distances up to 300 meters while
the other notch is on the ladder slide for distances from 400 to 2 000 meters. On
the Boer Mauser carbine the ladder is marked from 400 to 1 400 meters.
Boer Mauser carbine showing removable foresight protector.
The front sight has a hole through the sight block, for the attachment of a foresight
protector. These protector wings were unpopular and most carbines are found
without them today. Apparently, in the heat of battle, a person could easily, by
mistake, take aim over  of the sight protector wings, instead of the true sight


mauser2.JPG (6470 bytes)

Brass muzzle and foresight protector.


To summarize, the carbine differs from the long rifle as follows:
I. Sights – as mentioned.
2. The bolt handle is turned down – ex factory.
3. The barrel length is only 456 mm in length as opposed to 738 mm of the
rifle. Unlike the Spanish Mod. 95 carbine, the stock does not extend to the
4. The rear barrel band has a swivel affixed to its left side. There is also a sling
swivel and ring attached to the left by means of screws through the
stock fastening into a plate on the opposite (right) side. This arrangement
ensures easier slinging on horseback.

Boer Mausers do not have a thumb cut-out in the left receiver wall (with the
exception of some Plezier Mausers) nor a third safety lug behind the bolt stem as
found on other Model 95’s.

This might be the opportune place to mention some other minor differences. On
some Boer Mausers the bolt knob is round and meets the bolt stem at right angles,
on others the bolt knob goes smoothly over to the bolt stem. Another minor
variation is found with the rear trigger guard screw. On some it is flush with the
surrounding metal while on others the screw hole is countersunk and offset.

By looking at but one example of all the different types which will be described in
more detail later, these variations can be tabulated as follows:

Type Bolt knob/stem sharp angle Bolt knob/stem round angle Screw hole counter sunk Screw hole not counter sunk
O.F.S  1895 L.L X   X
O.F.S  1896 L.L X   X
O.F.S    1897 D.W.M X   X
O.F.S  D.W.M   X   X
Z.A.R.L.L             A Series X   X
Z.A.R.L.L           B Series   X   X
Z.A.R D.W.M   X   X
Z.A.R         Carbine L.L   X   X
Z.A.R        Carbine D.W.M   X   X

in conclusion it can be said that at the time of the Boer War, the Boer Mauser was
one of the best (if not the best) bolt action rifles available. Its shortcomings are few
but the following two points are worthy of mention.

The action is not quite as strong as its successor the Mod. 98.
No provision is made to divert the escape of hot gases rearwards in the
event of a primer rupturing, later Mausers had gas escape vents in their

For those interested, a complete list of specifications as published in a
contemporary Mauser catalogue is provided below.


Particulars of the Mauser Magazine Rifle, Pattern 93 to 95,
and the Mauser Carbine, Pattern 93 to 95.
A. Rifle
Caliber………………………………………… 7 mm
Length of rifle (without bayonet) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , 1235 mm
Weight of rifle with empty magazine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 kg
do, of bayonet (376 mm length), without scabbard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400 gr.
Length of barrel …………………………………. 738 mm
4 concentric rifling, twist to the right, with one
revolution in ………………………………….. 220mm
Length of twist of rifling in caliber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31,4 mm
Angle of twist of rifling in caliber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5ø42’30”
Depth of the rifling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0,125 mm
Width of the rifling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,9 mm
Length of the line of sight, measured from the
fixed sight ………………………………….. 642,8 mm
The sight has 2 notches, and is graduated up to . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2000 m
The wooden guard reaches from receiver to lower band.
The Breech mechanism is that of a bolt system with 2 vertical
studs forward.
The Magazine lies in the middle of the stock, and is not visible, the cartridges are
stripped into it from the clip, and lie zigzag.
Weight of the empty clip for 5 cartridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 gr.
Weight of cartridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24,8 gr.
Length of cartridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 mm
do. of cartridge case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56,5 mm
Weight of bullet ……………………………….., ,2 gr.
Length of bullet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30,8 mm
Length of bullet in caliber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,4
Largest diameter of bullet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,25 mm
Powder (smokeless, in leaves)
Weight of charge ………………………………… 2,sgr
Proportion of charge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,48
Sectional weight of the projectile in grams per cm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29,1
Muzzle-velocity…………………………………… 728m
do. 25 m from the muzzle …………………………… 700m
(Barometer = 728 mm; Thermometer = 16øC.; Hygrometer = 409b)
Gas Pressure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3100 – 3300 kg
Number of revolutions of bullet in the first second . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3200
Working effect of the bullet at the muzzle . . . .’. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303 M. kg
Velocity of recoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,04 M, kg
Effect of recoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,15 M, kg
Penetration of the bullet, 12 meters from the muzzle
in pine………………………………….. 138 to140 cm
in beech…………………………………… 72 to 78 cm
in ice ……………………………………….. 160 cm
Vertical height of trajectory
at 500 meters distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , . , 1034 mm
at 550 meters distance …………………………… 1295 mm
at 600 meters distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1696 mm
Results of firing (3 series of 20 rounds each)
Height Width
m m
at 200 meters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0,154 0,126
500 meters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0,440 0,280
900 meters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,183 0,830
1200 meters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,863 0,930
1 500 meters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,333 1,787
2 000 meters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,277 1,533
Total range at an angle of elevation of about 30ø above 4 000m
Danger zone
against infantry (1,7 m height) . . . . . . 600m
against cavalry (2,5 m height) . . . . . . . 700m
Velocity of fire, with aim . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 per minute
do. mechanically . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 per minute
B. Carbine
Length, without bayonet . . . . . . . . . . . . 854 mm
Weight without bayonet (magazine empty) 3,25 to 3,5 kg
Bayonet same as with rifle
Length of Barrel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 456 mm
Length of line of sight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357,3 mm
The sight has 2 notches, and is graduated up to 1 400m
Muzzle-velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 665 m
do. 25 m from the muzzle . . . . . . . . . 640 m
(Barometer = 726 mm; Thermometer = 19øC.; Hygrometer = 30fb)

No treatise on Boer-Longarms is complete without mention of the scarce and
sought after Plezier or sporting Mauser. These rifles were ordered by both
Governments for sale to the burghers. They were thus never intended for general
issue and were strictly speaking not military rifles. Although they were more
expensive than other Mausers, there was a steady demand for these beautiful rifles.
They also served as presentation pieces by Governments to deserving officers or
officials. Many were also bought privately through arms agencies with the result

that it is impossible today to distinguish between officially and privately bought
specimens. More about this later on; at this stage let us consider their
conformation. These rifles can be regarded as semi-custom-made pieces, and minor
differences do exist. In general they have a semi-pistol grip stock, with a schnabel
fore-end and a cheek-piece. The pistol grip and fore-end are checkered

mauser3.JPG (13404 bytes)


Two spoiling Mausers. Note differences e.g. cheek piece and


In length they are somewhat shorter than the long rifle; the octagonal barrel being
34mm shorter (688 mm in length from receiver ring to muzzle) with sporting sights.
Some have a thumb cut-out in the left receiver wall, others not. The bolt handle
is also bent down like that of the carbine and some Free State rifles. The foresight
has protector wings and is windage-adjustable

mauser4.JPG (7642 bytes)
Fore- sight of sporting Mauser.


The rear sight, a smaller neater version of the military type, is marked up to 1 100
metres . These rifles often have an oval silver escutcheon inlaid into the
right side of the . Here inscriptions of presentation pieces, owners’ names or
initials etc. were often beautifully engraved . All iii all, a rifle that is a
smart eye-catching sporter, firing the same round as the military rifle and carbine


The inscriptions on the left receiver wall differ from batch to batch as purchased
by the Boer Republics and these markings will be dealt with at length later on.

Serial numbers are to be found, stamped in full in the following places:

i.Left side of receiver ring
ii.On the barrel just in front of I.
iii.On top of the shaft of the bolt handle
iv.On the stock just below I.
v.On the front of the trigger guard/floor plate
vi.On the cleaning rod.

The last two digits of the serial number are stamped

i.On the rear sight
ii.Magazine cover
iii.In some models on the safety-catch and bolt sleeve.

Ludwig Loewe factory proof-marks, consist of a ñ 4 mm high crowned Gothic L,
and are stamped on the following places:

i.On bolt stem (on carbines this mark is on the shaft near the bolt knob)
ii.Below the serial number on receiver ring
iii.On top of barrel just ahead of receiver ring. A larger ñ 12 mm high
crowned Gothic T is stamped on the right side of the .

D-W-M- rifles have factory proof-marks with an ornate B inside a ñ 3 mm circle:

i.On the top of the bolt knob
ii.Below serial number on receiver ring
iii.On top of the barrel.

A larger +- 9 mm version of the circled B is stamped on the left side of the .

Apart from these marks, a variety of small inspection marks are found on parts
such as screws, plate and bolt stop. These marks take the form of stars,
Maltese crosses, cross in a circle, four pointed stars, etc.. As yet no definite pattern
has been discerned.

While on the subject of markings, this may be the opportune place to describe
“markings” that are special to Boer War rifles in general, namely the vast array of
calligraphy so often found on the woodwork. These vary through a wide spectrum of markings from initials very crudely scratched out, to exquisitely carved names, crests, etc. The artistry found on some examples is superb and may cover the greater part of the stock. Usually this calligraphy is limited to. initials, names, birthplaces, home towns or Commandos.


Siege of Mafikeng


Lee-Medford and Lee-Enfield Cavalry Carbines. Technical information

In parallel with the introduction of the later Medford rifles a cavalry carbine was also underdevelopment being approved as the Mk.I in June 1894. Although in essence a shortened rifle the carbine differed from the contemporary rifle in a number of significant ways. Foremost amongst
these was a reduction in overall length of almost ten inches with a corresponding saving in weight of nearly two pounds. A further major change involved the incorporation of a safety catch similar
in type to that which was to be shortly reintroduced into the design of the infantry rifle resulting in the Lee-Medford Mk.II* referred to above.

Other differences related to the bolt where the lever was bent forward with a flattened knob, shallower magazine with capacity reduced to six cartridges and provision for a sling in the form of a sling-bar on the fight hand side of the butt. A swivel was also attached to the butt socket but was subsequently removed.

Further distinguishing characteristics were foresight protecting wings mounted on the fore-end cap with a wooden hand. guard over the barrel between it and the rear sight. As in the case of the Mk.I
and Mk.I* Lee-Medford rifles provision for unit markings was provided in the form of a marking disc. Finally, as a weapon intended primarily for short-range use, the volley sights were dispensed
with, while the rear sight was graduated to two thousand yards as opposed to nineteen hundred in the case of the rifles.

In common with other arms in production at that date provision was made for a clearing rod. This was, however, carried internally within the fore-end under the barrel with its head protruding from
a hole bored in fore-end cap.
This design resulted in a popular, handy and streamlined weapon which with its successors waste serve throughout the Boer War. Upon introduction of Enfield rifling the carbine design was advanced with the Mk.I Lee-Enfield cavalry carbine being approved in August, 1896. Apart from the improved rifling further minor changes were introduced into the first of the two Lee-Enfield cavalry carbines The most obvious of these was the elimination of the sling-bar and the introduction of a leather rear sight protector attached by the usual screw on either side of the fore-
end. This change was retrospectively applied to the existing Lee-Medford cavalry carbines.

The final pattern change applied to the Lee-Enfield cavalry carbine related to the dropping of the clearing rod in August, 1899 when, along with the Lee-Enfield Mk.I rifle, the carbine was advanced to the Mk.I* configuration. Since the clearing rod of the Mk.I is entirely enclosed within the fore-end, the two patterns of the Lee-Enfield cavalry carbines are more difficult to
distinguish than the equivalent rifles. However, provided the original fore-end cap has been retained the clearing rod hole clears the rarer Mk.I. Obviously a post  1899 date of manufacture indicates a Mk.I*. Unfortunately the “*” is not always easily distinguished as such being generally indicated in the form of a dot.

Boer War service of the Lee-Medford and the Lee Enfield  The outbreak of hostilities saw the British regular infantry almost entirely equipped with the Lee-Medford rifles Mks. I*, II and probably to a limited extent the Mk. II *.

Although they had been in production for some four years, very few Lee-Enfield had reached the troops, but rather accumulated in reserve to the extent of some two hundred thousand rifles. It
was only upon the commencement of war when they were required to arm reservists, colonial contingents and the Imperial Yeomanry that Lee- Enfield were issued in any number. This generally took place shortly prior to embarkation or even upon arrival in South Africa.

To the horror of their users and subsequent consternation at the War Office it was found that the new Lee-Enfield had defective sights and shot eighteen inches to the right at five hundred yards. Under the usual South African battle conditions a true aim thus ensured a miss! It was , to quote Sir Henry Blackenbury, “An awful blow, just at the moment when we were beginning to take this new weapon into use, to find that this mistake had been made”

Upon investigation the “mistake” was found to relate to an over-compensation for bullet drill on the foresight of the Enfield sealed pattern rifle and a most unimaginative acceptance test. Provided
a rifle grouped its shots within a specified area when fired from a sight-testing machine it was considered fit for use by her Majesty’s forces. The necessity of the same group having to conform to the point of aim had apparently not been appreciated !

Although the problem was soon rectified in manufacture and also by issuing troops in the field with new rear sight leaves having V-notches cut o,03″ lea of center, one cannot but speculate on how many Boers owed their lives to this defect in the opening months of the war!

On account of their almost universal issue by the end of the Boer War it serves little purpose to identity individual units who were armed with Lee-Medford or Lee- Enfield, or indeed when changes, if any, took place. There were, however, certain trends which are relevant and should be

The early arming of the British Regulars with Lee-Medford of the Mk.I* and Ii patterns disconfirmed by both contemporary photographs and an examination of bullets recovered from
battlefields dating from the early stages of the war where Medford rifling predominates. These were obviously the rifles which accompanied the first divisions to South Africa. However, from
the very start they were supplemented by the Lee-Enfield issued to the reservists and yeomanry to the number of some thirty-one thousand. This presence is also confirmed by battlefield finds.
When one considers that many of the British and also the Colonial volunteers in the Canadian forces and certain of the Australian and New Zealand units were similarly equipped with Lee-Enfield, Reynolds’ estimate of sixty-five thousand in South Africa by early 1900 is not

On a similar basis an analysis of total forces less reservists, yeomanry and officers suggests that the number Lee-Medford in South Africa could have been in the region of one hundred and forty thousand. This figure does not include the Lee-Medford in the possession of colonial forces.

The report of the Royal Commission records that excluding arms carried by troops on embarking from England nearly one hundred and eighteen thousand rifles and eight thousand, five hundred
carbines were dispatched to South Africa over the three year period commencing  June1899. These figures include the Lee-Enfield rifles issued to certain colonial force upon arrival in South Africa.

When one considers the Large stock of Lee Enfield in storage at the start of the war and the finding of the Royal Commission that ” The supply of rifles during the war was adequate and
satisfactory,” there is little doubt that the vast. majority of these rifles and carbines were Lee-Enfield of the Mk. I and I* patterns. Circumstantial evidence does exist, however, that some obsolete weapons were probably included for guard duties.

This ever-increasing supply of Lee-Enfield is reflected in both photographic and 1 >written records which indicate a gradual replacement of Lee-Medford by Lee-Enfield and in some instances
progression from Martini-rifles through Lee-Medford to Lee-Enfield. This latter trend. is particularly evident in the equipping of certain colonial regiments and in some instances units such as the National Scouts and Black Auxiliaries. ”

The Lee-Medford and Lee-Enfield carbines similarly saw wide-spread usage being carried by British mounted units ranging from dragoons to yeomanry. They also appear to have been popular
amongst colonial volunteers and such irregular units as the National Scouts and Black Scouts. Magazine carbines even appear to have had an enthusiastic following amongst officers in infantry
regiments where the wearing of a sword and Sam Brown belt had proved rather risky. The wise consequently wore the uniforms and carried the weapons of privates to avoid the unhealthy
attention of Boer sharpshooters!

Under South African conditions, however, some of those armed with cavalry carbines appear to have been disadvantaged by its relatively short range of accuracy which according to the report
of the Royal Commission was optimistically limited to about twelve hundred yards. An official comment is of interest: “Consequently the cavalry when armed with it were at a great disadvantage in meeting Boers. The Boers only had to keep two thousand yards away from our cavalry in the hills and they could shoot them down with impunity or surround them. Practically it may be said that no advance could be made through a hilly country by cavalry armed with this weapon. After the relief of Ladysmith, the cavalry were served out with infantry rifles and this made an enormous difference in their efficiency. Before that they were practically useless in hilly country and couldn’t do the duties of cavalry or mounted infantry.”

Martini Henry

Siege of Mafikeng

Description of design .

Martini Henry Rifle

The Martini-Henry rifle Mk.II has a single shot hinged-block action.

The stock is of a two-piece design with the secured by means of a threaded longitudinal bolt passing through it and accessed for tightening by removing the -plate. This bolt screws into a socket into the rear of the receiver.

The fore-end is attached to the barrel by two bands and a cross-pin which is situated in front of the receiver and passes through both the fore-end itself and a lug brazed onto the underside of the barrel.

The foresight is of the barleycom variety and the rearsight consists of a ramp and a folding ladder or leaf with a movable slide – which can be set according to the range desired. With the ladder down the ramp is graduated from 100 to 400 yards. With it upright the range may be set by means of the
slide from 500 to 1300 yards. Numerals indicating hundreds of yards appear on alternate sides of the ladder and on the ramp itself

The Martini-Henry type of rifle has a bore of ,450″ and is of a seven-grooved interrupted polygon form. It has a right-hand twist and makes one turn in twenty-two inches.

In respect of the action the mainspring and firing pin are contained within the breech-block which pivots on a cotter-shaped steel spring-pin located at the top rear of the receiver.

Operating the Martini- Henry.

To open and load the action, an operating lever attached to the rear of the trigger-guard assembly is depressed in an arc of about 25 degrees. This pivots around and rotates the large pin attached to a pear-shaped cocking indicator on the right-hand side of the action,which simultaneously revolves anti-clockwise to 60 degrees from its original, almost vertical position. At the same time two horns at the top of the lever act upon the breech-block causing it to rotate upon the axis-pin thus depressing its front which in turn strikes the tail on the extractor which pivots around a screw at the front of the action which also retains the trigger and trigger guard assembly. This movement ejects any spent cartridge in the chamber.

While the above movements take place an L-shaped tumbler through which passes the cocking indicator axis-pin is rotated by the loading lever. The extremities of this tumbler perform two functions: while the lower bent is raised to engage and lock the spur on the trigger, the tipper arm
or crane engages a slot machined in the body of the firing pin which is forced to the rear compressing the spring around its shaft thus cocking the action. A cartridge may now be slid along the grooved top of the breech-block into the chamber.

Raising the operating lever to its original position again causes the horns to act upon the breech-block thus raising it to close the breech and also fully lock the action. The rifle is now ready to fire, its loaded status being apparent through the cocking indicator remaining in its 60 degrees position,(I,e. slanting towards the rear)

When the trigger is pulled upon firing, the tumbler disengages from the trigger spur releasing the crane to rotate around its axis and be carried forward with the striker which detonates the cartridge. The force of the discharge is transferred through the breech-block to the rear of the
receiver without putting pressure on the spring-pin.

The development of the Martini-Henry.

Over the period 1874-1887 the ,450″ military Martini-Henry underwent a number of changes which are reflected in the mark designations from the final version of the Mk.I in 1874 to the first of the Mk.TVS in 1887.

Over the years 1888 to 1889 three patterns of this rifle were produced which have been identified as the A, B, and C. The A and B patterns were conversions of the first and second patters of the Enfield-Martini while the C was made from new parts. The A pattern may be easily distinguished from the other two by its short 12 mm nocksform and block foresight as opposed to the ramp
foresights of the later models. The B and C patterns are virtually identical with the only certain differences being the lengths of the nocksforms and barrels which are 30 mm / 840 mm and 32 / 842 mm respectively.

In parallel , with the changes leading to the introduction of the earlier Mk.III rifle we may touch upon the development of the Martini-Henry carbine in its cavalry version. This was introduced in a Mk.I pattern in December, 1877. As could be expected the breech mechanism, caliber and rifling were identical to the rifle. The main differences centered around reduced weight, shorter barrel and fore-end, a foresight with protective wings, a redesigned nose-cap and a front barrel band which had no provision for attaching either a bayonet or swivel. A final change of significance related to the rearsight which was reduced in size and only graduated to 300 yards on the ramp and 1000 yards on the leaf. At a somewhat later date a leather rearsight protector was provided and attached by means of a screw on either side of the fore-end.

To compensate for the carbine’s reduced weight a special cartridge was used with a smaller charge of seventy grains of powder behind a four hundred and ten grain bullet. The chamber would also accept the rifle cartridge but at the price of a heavier recoil.

Boer War service of the Martini-Henry.
Martini- Henry Rifles.
Picture on the left: Martini- Henry Rifles.
Left. The original model made for the trials of 1876-8. It is fitted with a
safety on the side of the breech.Center. This was the weapon officially approved in 1874- Mark I. Right. The Martini- Henry was a single-shot weapon and various devices were tried in order to increase the rate of fire, including fitting a magazine at the side of the breech.Pattern Room, Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield.

In evaluating the contribution of the ,450″ caliber Martini-Henry on the British side it is necessary to appreciate its status as an obsolete rifle following the introduction of the Lee-Metford in 1889 and the use by the Boers of the Model 1896 Mauser.

From 1880 and 1888 respectively the Cape and Natal governments received shipments of Martini-Henry rifles to arm the volunteer regiments raised in the patriotic fervour of the Victorian era.

Where as these had in many instances been replaced with more up to date weapons by the commencement of hostilities, the Martini-Henry was still carried by a few volunteer units such as the Cape Town Engineers, the Rhodesian Volunteers and in particular by the Native Police.

Obviously this disparity in armament as compared to the Boers necessitated that all units likely to become engaged should be issued with more modern rifles as soon as these became available.
There is in fact no evidence that the Martini-Henry was ever used by British forces in any major action (as opposed to skirmishes) during the Boer War. This, however, by no means suggests that the ,450″ Martini-Henry’s role was insignificant. In certain instances its use by the British was forced by circumstances and in others the Martini-Henry was issued where it was considered that the use of a more effective rifle would be politically unwise.

Following the military reverses of late 1899 the British forces in Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberly were cut off from relief for extended periods. During these famous sieges the best use of all available rifles was essential and in the cases of Mafikeng and Kimberly contemporary photographs show that the Martini-Henry was used to arm the civilian town guards with the Cape Police contingent in Mafeking similarly equipped. The units concerned appear to have used the models Mk.I/II, Mk.II and III. To what extent these weapons were actually used against the Boers is uncertain. Their presence, however, certainly served its purpose.

The main issue of Martini-Henrys during the Boer War was far more controversial and involved arming Blacks in what was regarded as a “White Man’s War.” The original attitude of the British High Command is well expressed in a telegram from Lord Roberts in February, I900:”In some cases where the Republican Forces have threatened or violated native territory under British protection it has been found necessary to arm the natives to defend themselves, but I feel sure that in no case have armed natives been employed in military operations with the Imperial Forces.”

Despite anything said by his predecessor, it is apparent that Lord Kitchen adopted a far more pragmatic attitude. While the official policy remained that Blacks should not be armed for offensive purposes shortage of manpower soon lead to the acceptance that Blacks could be armed for their own safety while protecting government property, serving as police in native areas, or
acting as guards, watchmen or scouts.

In confirmation of this approach photographic evidence shows that the Zululand Police carried the Martini-Henry rifles Mks.I/II and II, while Black scouts used these models and also the Mk.III pattern prior to a later issue of Lee-Metfords which the British obviously considered more appropriate for their protection! It is not surprising that the whole issue became one of great sensitivity with well-founded accusations that the Blacks were performing the duties of soldiers.

It appears, however, that perhaps the most significant use of the Martini-Henry by Blacks in the service of the British related to the extensive blockhouse system initiated by Kitchener in the guerrilla stage of the war which eventually resulted in the strangulation of the Boer commandos.

The garrisons of these blockhouses generally consisted of a non-commissioned officer and six soldiers. Four native guards were attached to each blockhouse, two of whom were armed and stationed four hundred yards on the flanks. Contemporary photographs indicate that these guards were mostly armed with Martini-Henry rifles of the marks commonly encountered elsewhere.
There is also a somewhat indistinct photograph which suggests that the Mk. IV Martini-Henry may have been on issue for this purpose – a possibility supported by the prevalence of these rifles in South Africa and the fact that at least some of those inspected bear refurbishment dates during the
Boer War period.

Since they were generally withdrawn from service in South Africa and issued to the cadets in 1898 the use of the carbine appears to have been isolated with the only regular unit thus equipped and identified so far being a detachment of the Bengal Lancers. These were photographed at the Kroonstad remount depot complete with Martini-Henry cavalry carbines and bandoleers over a caption indicating that their duties did not involve contact with the enemy – a statement which if nothing else supported the official line that non-white soldiers were only armed for their safety.

Table of 450″-Martini-Henry’s used in the Boer War.

Weapon Weight in pound and ounces (short ) Overall length in inches (short ) Length of barrel in inches Maximum sightings in yards Rifling Date approved Converted from Distinguishing characteristics
Rifle Mk.II 8 lbs., 8oz 49 33 3/16 1300 7 Groove Henry 25.4.1877 n/a No fore-end tang Marked II or RHS action
Rifle Mk.I upgraded op Mk.II 8 lbs, 8 oz 49 33 3/16 1300 7 Groove Henry 25.4.1877 Rifle Mk.I As in Mk.II but may have slot under trigger guard for safety  catch. MK.II often irregularly stamped and off center.
Rifle Mk.III 8 lbs., 13 1/2 oz 49 33 3/16 1300 7 Groove Henry 22.8.1879 n/a Metal fore-end tang. 98Marked III on RHS action.
Rifle Mk.IV (for example, B pattern) 9 lbs. 49 33 3/16 1300 7 Groove Henry 15.9.1887 Enfield Martini Mk.II Long loading lever. Modified shape at rear of action. Marked IV on RHS action
Cavalry Carbine 7 lbs., 8 oz 37 1/16 21 3/8 100 7 Groove Henry 24.9.1877 n/s No Provision for bayonet. Marker ICI on LHS action.


Experiences in the trenches during the Siege of Mafikeng

Experiences in the trenches during the Siege of Mafikeng

A trench or shelter were 5ft deep, 6ft wide and long enough to accommodate the number of people allocated to each. It was covered with corrugated iron, on which  sandbags and clay were heaped. The air and light came in through unglazed openings at the top of the sides. It were used to take cover from enemy fire or the brave could  shoot from it on the enemy.

The Sister’s trench.

The trench prepared for the Sisters was in the Hospital grounds, adjoined to the Convent. It was 50 ft long and connected with the convent by an open trench, deep enough to conceal a person walking upright.

Below: The trench between the Convent and Hospital

Experiences in the trenches:

Part of a letter from sister Stanislaus to her brother

(It is thought that this letter was written early 1900)

“…Trench life was hard on some of the Sisters, others bore it’s inconveniences with no ill effects. Miss Hill, Matron of the Hospital, offered Rev. Mother a room for typhoid fever patients, but it was afterwards decided to house the fever stricken in a down-stairs room in the Convent, which was considered somewhat safe.

On a Saturday evening when the patients were nearly all in the height of fever, very heavy rains fell. As the roof (what is left of it after the shell damage) is quite perforated with bullets, the rains poured through to within a few inches of the beds. After the rains ceased, the African servants dried up the place.

The next excitement was when, on the following Wednesday the big gun was turned on the convent three times. The feelings of the patients, unable to move, can hardly be guessed when the signal from the look-out room sent all active persons rushing to places of safety .

Rev. Mother who was in charge of this section told the patients she was not leaving them. If God willed it, nurses and patients would die together. Then with a fine assumption of prophecy born of her faith and trust in God  she said “We shall all be safe”.

Fortunately two of the shells fell in the garden, the other passed over the look-out room taking a piece of the roof.

A few nights after that, the patients were disturbed by volley after volley falling on the roof. The British Maxim got into action. Rev. Mother Teresa was sure the Boers were behind the convent. This was the only occasion she was known to lose her never-failing calm. She feared for the patients and was glad to seek the safety of the Hospital.

Accidents from the shelling were not so frequent as one would imagine.

The look-out room at the Convent had a telephone connection with a redoubt in the center of the town. In the redoubt was placed a church bell( St. Anthony’s Catholic Church) “Nomine Antonia

The quarters of the town were numbered. When the look-out officer, described with his telescope, that a particular quarter was threatened, word went to the bell ringers who struck out the required number of “Antonia” But the enemy soon became aware of this warning, changed the direction of the gun and “Antonia”   pealed it’s notes in vain.

How did we employ ourselves when not on duty in the Hospital . During the day we slept, if we had done night duty in the wards. We slept even if there was bombing, so accustomed we got to it, and so pleased we were to rest, knowing that others have taken over the hard work of the day. If there was time to spare we sewed for the garrison. The only fine work done was point lace. It was difficult to keep it spotless in our clay surroundings. The rest made Red Cross flags pennants, haver sacks etc.

Every morning almost, we were awakened by the click-clack of rifle-fire, followed by the boom of cannon. The faint tinkle of the alarm clock was drowned on the day of its immersion in thetrench flood. It never recovered.

Deprivation of Holy Mass and the customary religious exercises was felt by us. On Sundays, all the Sisters except during the fever epidemic were freed from hospital duty. This heaven sent day of mental relaxation coming every week, preserved the sanity of the whole garrison at least the civilian part of it (soldiers thrive in wars’ alarm, they say). As religious it was to us, truly Heaven sent. So was our work in the Hospital. We were performing one of the works of Mercy, something which seemed to be out of reach in this new country. Seeing Christ in His sick members, that was joy for our souls. There was freedom from the cramped restraint of the narrow trench, when we could walk in the hospital wards and corridors. Out work kept us active, usefully so, and got us beyond the clay walls.

The men used to play cricket and even football on Sundays. Concerts were also held in which Baden Powell took part. Short drives into the country even, were possible. Lady Sarah Wilson ventured too far, once and was held as a prisoner until arrangements were made with the Colonel for an exchange.

“T’was nearly a dear basket of eggs, Mother” This heading was seen in a newspaper. We were surprised to find the Mother was our Mother Teresa. She was described as coming from town after buying the eggs. The facts were these. There were three hens at the Convent, the remainder of the pre-siege fowl-run. These we had decided to keep until the severest pangs of hunger compelled us to sacrifice them. They supplied an egg a day. Mother Theresa knew where their nests were and went to fetch the contents. They were nourishing light food for some invalid. She thought she kept under close cover, walking through the connecting trench. But a sniper saw the moving figure. She was within an ace of being struck. Perhaps the shot was meant for the soldier who passed her at the moment. It was he who called out quite unperturbed, “Twas nearly a dear basket of eggs Mother”.

Some of the scenes in the Hospital will give an idea of how the shell wounded suffered. Often they implored the doctors to take their lives. They tore off the bandages in their frenzy of pain, exposing the maimed limb with its serrated flesh; sometimes gangrened. the odor was often so offensive, that those patients had to be isolated.

One brave man was blinded for life, though everyone was stricken with sorrow for his loss, he bore his ill fortune bravely.

I saw the death of a small boy today, the one who was wounded in the Women’s Laager a few days ago. His parents are inconsolable.

Towards the end of the Siege the garrison suffered from hunger. The flour supply was at an end. The bread, made from a substitute, was so coarse and hard that it could hardly be eaten. Even so, it was rationed. Meat became so scarce, that a helping of horse flesh was welcome. Cooks in the redoubts were few and firewood was difficult to get.

When we returned to the Convent in April (1900), we were able to send whatever could be spared to the warn-out men in the forts not far from us. They were most uncomplaining. When there was nothing solid to send, they were delighted to get an urn of coffee colored slightly with condensed milk. We had been allowed to keep the supplies we had put in, which with economy lasted quite to the end. We were allowed, too, a ration of fresh meat, as nurses. This was a saving of our own store of tinned stuffs which we were pleased to give up when things came to the worst.

When the rainy season was over in March, the Colonel had part of the Convent, three rooms patched up for us. The shelter had become unhealthy, it was thought. “Death by shell fire, or death by fever differed only in the length of suffering”, it was said. The Sisters went to the Hospital for their nursing duties of course, taking care to use the connecting trench.

Though the guns were turned on the town almost daily, the Convent was not again struck.

Siege of Mafikeng: Soldiers

Siege of Mafikeng: Soldiers

The following is a list of names of British Soldiers known to defend Mafikeng as on May 17, 1900. The list was taken out of a Mafikeng Mail

Bechuanaland Rifles
Nominal Roll as at May 17, 1900

Lieut. Gemmell
Lieut. Minchin
2nd Lieut. McKenna
Chapl Capt. Weekes
Surg Lieut. Hayes
QMS Hall
Sergt-Maj. Gwynne
Sergt Reid
Sergt O Hulde
Sergt Bell
Sergt Cooke
Sergt Rosenfield
L-Sergt Smith
L-Sergt Newson
Corpl Andrews
Corpl Andrews
Corpl Pearce-Smith
Corpl Rowland
Corpl D R Galbraith
Corpl Woolnough
L-Corpl Elston
L Corpl P T Galbraith
L-Corpl Davies
L-Corpl Paterson
Bugler Saunders

Bell, F C
Brown A
Bennett, Geo
Bennett, T H
Banks                            Cranswick

Clow, A E
Clow, H W


Forsynth, Wm

The memorial of the British Soldiers who died during the Siege. Location: In font of the Mafikeng MuseumPrivates

Swart, P J
Swart, C
Shipman, A W
Shipman, C H
Shipman, E D
Van Niekerk

Return of Town Guard
(Excluding Railway Division) made up to October 12th, 1900

Attached to Different Forts Subsequent to start of siege.

Ingham W H
Morrison Jno
O’Connor P
Wemyss, E S
Crosbie, W
froude, W
Bollen RJ
McMullin S
Bezuidenhoud F
Forbes A
Goodersen J C
Green G
McCallum H
Hulley, S R
Soomar Cassim
Middleditch, C B
Gardner, T
Mcleod N
Smith, S
Hommel W
Kent h
Moss H T
Anthony M I
Booth E W
Van Niekerk F
Adams P F B
Littgvist a
McArthur J H
Chenhalls J A
Werner C
Amod M
Crament J A
Hubbard J
McCorkindale J
Slate, F B
Heskins, J
Kelleu M
Baker, B C
Mansfeldt J
Elmes J H
Webster W
Godson F H
Gates P M
Smith F
Walker P
McKenzie A
Mckenzie J N
Abdulah Shech
Mattison J
Morris W
Westland JS
Braidwood A
Krause A
Brown W J
Westdyk J
Smith W
Harris S S
Sparks F
Northiver H J
Mitchell H W
Swarts N
Fisher J
Dalziel R
Cordon P F

Section A
Moore W
Grant J
Tighe GP
Orson W R
Ritchie A
Lohman F
Barmes H B
Beaslet P C
Mansfield F
Borthwick J J
Garrans J
Turnbull J
Aldred T
Byrne D J
Tiffin W
Laursen J
Mcloughlin F
Van Eyssen
Hickson G J
McLoughlin J
Bradfield H C
Solomon E

Ross E J B
Beckett H B
Hillam A
Dressen W
Riesle G
Whales G N H
BEavis L
Friend A H
Gates E M
Whiteley F
Lindo E
Schrieben L
Luyt G C
Wraight F G
Sector B

Algie J R
Chiddy T J
Musson A
Farquharson N
Bullied C
Thomas P H
Sheasby W
Leech J H
McNichol A
MArtin H
Goodyear C
Fodisch O
Fincham P M
Thompson R F
Seibert W
Carrinfton T W
Campbell C C
Joyce C
Mahony W J E
Jones J E
Hampson W A
Stigand A G
BArry C J
Clark J
James E R
Arnot J R O
Clucas C W
Brooks H M
Bland W C
Bergh O M
Ellercamp A
Gates W M
Montagu F G
Rising A C

Section C
Arnold A P
Campbell A V C
Fraser A C
Gordon J
Masters G
Robinson J E
Williams C N
Moser F
Martin F P
Gillet A
Bolus F
Davies D J
Flemming J
Gordon G
Meil G
Rombach J
Walford G A
Whiffler J
HArvard J
Beuks J
Bridger D
Early H G
Francis G
Humphries J
Moore R
Steward A E
Winder J
Brown H G
Pitt J
Cohen, Jacob
Early E s
Gordon A
MAsters W T
Peat T
Taylor D
Wenham C
Gated L M
Evert A W J

Section D
Stenson T G
Jenkinson J H
Neerguard P
Cohen I
Smith J M
Hunkin E R S
Salitochen R
Green P
Leach W
Watson F
Ellis T
Roux G J
Spiers R
Kidwell C H
Classen R
Stenson I H
Haddow W C
Talbot J
Trollope P F
Goldfinch A H
Hoffman J
Goddard F
Jagger W
Loubscher A
Herd J B
Lee J
Trollope W A
Dawson A
Talbot A J
Brymer J
Thomas L
Leser F
Trolope O W
Hulley W T
Webster D
McMaster E
Jones F W C
Dal J
Brazer R Sen.
Murgatroys W T
Cummings P
Talbot P J
Lugham J (unclear)
Vos J H
Trollope G V
Kiddwell C A
Classen S
Denton O
Bradley H H
Braze D
Firth F (unclear)
Esterhuizan A
Talbot A B
Long E
Botthomleu, Alf.
Oosthuizan R F
Sworn in after the 12th. Oct
Vos W
Dennison H P
Salmon Harry
Tertis E
Park J S
Wirsing W W
Parkes J F
Mitchell W A
Bernard W G
Southall E C
Wright E C
Weir C J
Mc Lachlan A W


F Whiteley
sub., G P Tighe

Captain R H Girdwood
(killed by bullet)
E C Wright
sub., J Hoffman
Sub., Trollope
sub., Cawood

J Winter
sub., D Taylor
Sub., Mioll

The memorial monument of the British Soldiers who died during the siege of Mafikeng.

Town Guard, Railway division.

Comdt Capt J R More
Lieut and Adjt W H Walmisley
Lieut J Buchan                               2nd Lieut E J Layton
QMS G Simmons
Sergt-Maj P Mofat (Bgde Instr of Signalling)
Serg-Maj J Morrilleau
Staff Clerk N B Hewitt
Ord Room Sergt W Storey.  Sergeants.
G A Greenacre
W Anderson
J W S Lowe (Nordenfelt Gunner)
W Blair
S Crossman
J H Nicholas
A Vickery, sr
J Mulholland
P Ward (Maximim Gunner)
G Bull (Hotchkiss Gunner)
F H Godson
Driver G Waine (Armoured Train)
Fireman A Moffat (Armoured Train)


A Neildon
J Sutherland
T A Clow
R Northgrave
J Campbell
R Cowan
G B Layton
R Gordon
F Green
T Hampton
J W Palmer
W J Dooley
W Stephenson
T Maguire
R Gass
S Andrews
J Tebbut
W Hubbard
H Olivier
H von Blerk
W Ferry
C H Allsopp
F Browne
P M Gates
S Jacobs
D Lee
S Gillespie
J W Benecke

PrivatesJ W Benecke
T Fry
W Smith
A H Royal
W Sims
T Rose
J Rayne
A Lees
J Lawrence
A Crosbie
M J Matham
A Evans
C H Harries
T Bishop
G Fenham
J Crament
W M Louw
L W Benecke
J W Howarth
J Morrison
E Allridge
H S Brennen
J Bowden
W Murphy
A Youll
E H Gates
L Coughlan
T K Banks
M Adams
E Muller
E M Gates
C Gates
I N Vrittenden
W Stevenson
S Hall, jr
A Vickery, jr
A J Cozens
F O’Neil
J Grace
S le Gassick
G Wilcox
D N van der Berg
D Ritchie
C W Crament
P Impey
J B Russell
D Campbell
L Anderson
T Sampson
A Dickenson
A McDonald
Dressend J Young (Molopo Dressing Startion)