The Boer War Memorial

The Boer War Memorial, unveiled in 1903 – the addition of two names led to changes in 1904

The memorial to those who lost their lives in the Boer War was first unveiled in 1903 but was subsequently updated in 1904 with the addition of two names. The ceremony was attended by the Master and Wardens of the Company and several of the relatives who fell. The Master gave a short address in which he read out the names of those who fell and paid tribute to their devotion to duty. His reference to this, to honour and self-sacrifice as an example to the School will certainly have paved the way for the subsequent enthusiastic volunteering spirit that marked the outbreak of the Great War just over a decade later. A prescient ceremony also saw the sounding of the Last Post.

The tablet was displayed in the Great Hall at Charterhouse Square alongside a Mauser rifle captured at Lydenburg in the Transvaal which was presented to the School by Lt. Stuart of the 21st Prince Albert Victor’s Own Cavalry. The Mauser is now lost, probably in the move from Charterhouse Square to Sandy Lodge.

A translation of the inscription reads "This memorial was set up for the nine old boys of Merchant Taylors' School who died in the African War, as a monument to their courage and loyalty. They died for their country; their bones lie far away in African soil: but their honour is borne across the seas and lives on here” – my thanks to Second Master Michael Husbands for the Latin translation.




Those listed on the memorial are:

image: Lt William Creak, 2nd Loyal North Lancashire Regt

Herbert Billing (MTS 1881-85): killed in action near Vryheid, Donald Campbell (1893-98): died of blood poisoning, William Creak (1890-91): Killed in action at Hartebeestfontein, William Hopkirk (1886-92): died of typhoid, Henry Jackson (1888-98): died of typhoid, Robert Summers (1885-90): The Taylorian lists him as “treacherously shot” – a story that simply has to be followed up!

According to Wikipedia, it would appear that Summers was part of a patrol led by Captain Alfred Taylor, allegedly a war criminal in the Boer War. On 4 May 1901, Capt. Taylor was part of a patrol which arrived at the Perdeplaas Farm (now Zwarthoek), near the peak of the Soutpansberg Range, to transport the wife and children of Zoutpansberg Commando member Coenraad Jacobus van den Berg to the British concentration camp at Pietersburg. Unbeknownst to Taylor, C.J. van den Berg had caught a "fever, probably malaria", and had been sent home to recover. Before the British patrol had arrived, the Burgher had retreated to some nearby rocks and instructed his wife to wave her bonnet if she felt threatened.
When the British soldiers began looting the farm, Mrs. van den Berg waved her bonnet and her husband opened fire. In a brief exchange of fire, a shot from C.J. van den Berg's rifle severely wounded one of the patrol, whom British Army records identify as R.H. Summers.
In a 1905 letter, Taylor recalled being certain that, "owing to the firing, the Boers heard we were there." Therefore, before clearing "into the mountains", a ceasefire was called. The van den Berg family was promised that no harm would come to them if they cared for Summers until a patrol returned for him. However, Summers later died and was buried on a nearby farm.

Vivian Trewby (1885-91): killed in action at Kaal Kraal, Percy Fort (1887-90): died of typhoid, George Williams (1871-71): killed in action at killed in action at Tweefontein.

image: Major George Williams, 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regt.

At the time of his death, Major Williams was second in command of the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regt. At Tweefontein the Boers attacked the British force by moonlight about two o'clock in the morning. The enemy crept up without their boots on, and in the confusion which ensued some of our men killed each other. Two Boers who put on our helmets were shot by their own men. Major Williams was killed while rallying those under his command. He is buried at Tweefontein, and his name is inscribed on an obelisk which has been erected there in memory of all who fell in this action.



Today only the bronze tablet survives, but originally it consisted of an alabaster and green Connemara marble surround.

The Boer War memorial is now located with other tablets from the Charterhouse site in the vestibule adjacent to the SCR on the west side.


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