Rhodesian field force graves in Zimbabwe from the South African War: with particular reference to Marondera/Marandellas.
With the outbreak of hostilities between the British empire and the two Boer republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State, the imperial authorities began a massive mobilisation of men and resources. A small, locally recruited force, the Frontier Mounted Force, was enlisted to protect British colonial interests in the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Rhodesia. This small force had a rough of time of it. While half, the Protectorate Regiment, was besieged in Mafeking the other half, the Rhodesian Regiment, fought a series of skirmishes along the border between Tuli and the Northern Cape. (3) The latter encountered increasing Boer resistance as they moved southward and were unable to relieve their counterparts in Mafeking. This impasse, the enrolment of a sizeable number of active males from the small European population in Rhodesia and their reassignment to southern Bechuanaland, presented serious concerns to the imperial authorities. There were also huge misgivings as to the aspirations of the African populations in the country -- it was after all only two years since the pacification of the 1896-7 uprising (or the First Chimurenga). The departure of the Rhodesian Regiment southward also left Rhodesia and Bechuanaland exposed to possible Boer attack, rumours of which were rife at the time.
The imperial government realised the need for additional defensive measures in Rhodesia. It also appreciated that by maintaining an aggressive force on this northern frontier of the Boer republics it was possible to divide Boer attention and resources and assist British actions to the south. It was therefore decided by the War Office that a number of troops then due to arrive in southern Africa should be diverted to this theatre of war. This would involve them having to disembark at Beira in Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique), travel along the railway to Salisbury (now Harare), then use wagons to reach Bulawayo from where they could be deployed in South Africa.
It was appreciated from the start that this deployment would be no easy task. Firstly there were the immense difficulties of trying to getting the troops and associated horses and armaments through Portuguese East Africa since Lisbon was trying to maintain a strictly neutral position in the conflict. Then the arrivals would have to acclimatise, and the different units would have to be trained and unified as one effective fighting force before they could move to the front.
It was decided that the unit would be called the Rhodesian Field Force (RFF) and that it would be a combination of imperial and colonial troops. The discipline and training of several squadrons of Imperial Yeomanry from Britain, and the determination and experience of similar terrain of the Australian and New Zealand contingents, was thought to a good combination. The latter included both Citizens' Bushmen, who were raised by public subscription, as well as Imperial Bushmen, who were raised by colonial governments as an act of imperial solidarity. (4) The RFF was placed under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Carrington, who had experience of colonial wars in southern Africa. (5)
To prevent drawing attention to themselves in a neutral country, the various squadrons that would make up the RFF arrived in separate, small groups at Beira from April to August 1900. They travelled by rail from Beira to a camp in the Pungwe swamps called `75 Mile Peg' (now Gondola), then moved to Bamboo Creek (now Vila Machado), a deathly hollow acknowledged by locals as a particularly sickly location. From there they travelled to Umtali (now Mutare) where, on reaching Rhodesian territory, they were able to receive improved medical care and rest. It would seem that many now succumbed to the ailments which they had contracted in passing through Mozambique, their condition being exacerbated by malnutrition. Those who recovered (almost all were sick at one time or another (6)) were then sent on to the main RFF base and training camp at Marandellas. After training the different squadrons there, they were assigned to RFF brigades, though the organisation very much reflected former unit groupings.
1st Brigade consisted entirely of citizen funded Australians. (7) They arrived in small parties and, after training in Marandellas, were dispatched south in sections from 11 to 20 May 1900, arriving in Bulawayo late May to early June. (8) 2nd Brigade consisted mainly of New Zealanders with some Australians. (9) They left Marandellas on 14 June, reaching Bulawayo on 8 July. Remaining troops who now arrived were not brigaded. These consisted of the 17th and 18th Battalions Imperial Yeomanry, who arrived in groups throughout June and early July. As part of their purpose in controlling African aspirations, on 16 July a small section of the Yeomanry was ordered to northern Mashonaland to attack Chief Mapondera, who was leading a successful revolt against British South Africa Company's occupation. Although the area was rather remote at the time, and the revolt was no real threat, it was felt that an example had to made of Mapondera to prevent his rebellious activities spreading throughout the country. After this action these troops finally departed for Bulawayo in late August, about the time a troop of Victorian Imperial Bushmen arrived at Marandellas. (10)
The movement of men to Bulawayo involved a twenty-day journey either on foot or in overcrowded mule coaches hired from the Zeederberg Company by the British South Africa Company -- the latter `luxury' being reserved for the officer classes. Regardless of the mode, the transfer was via Fort Charter, Enkeldoorn, Umvuma, Iron Mine Hill, Gwelo and thence to Bulawayo. Here the RFF was further divided into several small units. A very small minority travelled by rail directly southward to join the conflict there, and ultimately participated in the relief of Mafeking on 16 May 1900. The vast majority, however, were sent on futile chases and additional training camps in the Fort Victoria, Gwanda and Fort Tuli areas to discourage both African and Boer insurrection. At each of these locations men died of disease exacerbated by exhaustion.
Later, some members of the RFF crossed into the northern Transvaal where they saw action associated with the siege and attempted relief of the Elands River depot, but in truth most of their time was spent traversing and training in neutral or Anglophile territory. This led to considerable debate in some circles in London who described the RFF as a grandiose waste of time, if not a totally liable misuse of manpower. (11) As a result the War Office ordered some of the squadrons to the Cape Colony while by December 1900 the RFF had been disbanded and Carrington was ordered home into retirement. (12)
Parade cemetery, Marondera
The cemetery lies on the north side of Loquat Grove, and remains undeveloped although residential growth is encroaching rapidly. (13) It has been well looked after by the municipality, which ensures it is kept tidy and the plaques are periodically repainted. There are three rows of graves, two of which are of interest here (the third has a single, more recent grave dating from 1935 and lies at the back of the group).
After reading Sharrad Gilbert's 1901 descriptions of the Marandellas camp in his book Rhodesia and After: the story of the Sharpshooters, Colonel Hickman tried in 1971 to trace it. He found it had been obliterated by time -- not surprisingly, as most of it was temporary tented accommodation. However, he did record the relevant cemetery in Rhodesia Served the Queen. (14) Since then his work has been taken as definitive. Little investigation has been done since, either to extend his work or question his conclusions.
Essentially, Hickman generally accepted that the grave plaques in Paradeise cemetery were correct, although he did suggest that one, Trooper Studdart's, required investigation. He was also able to change some of the details given for one of the Imperial Yeomanry by using Gilbert's book. (15) (It is disconcerting that he does this within the text without comment, while on the map of the cemetery published alongside he leaves it unaltered.) Several graves remained unidentified, although one had a tantalising fragment, while a couple of others clearly had dating errors. After seeing the cemetery for myself, I decided that these challenges required further investigation.
A history of the site
The markers on graves 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are typical circular cast iron markers which were erected by the Rhodesian branch of the Guild of Loyal Women before 1908, although their final dedication took place on 26 March 1910, the eighth anniversary of Cecil Rhodes' death. The markers were cast in Cape Town by the firm of Gregory, which had the contract for similar memorials across South Africa. Those with dates before the death of Queen Victoria are inscribed `For Queen & Empire', while two with more recent dates are inscribed `For King & Empire'. Once cast they were dispatched to the Guild's office in Salisbury at reduced rail charges courtesy of the then Administrator of Rhodesia, Sir William Milton. (16) Following the lead of their South African branch counterparts, the Rhodesian branch of the Guild worked on locating and marking the graves of those who `fell in the late War'. Once this was completed by 1908 the branch turned their attention to other early settler graves. (17) They were a town-based organisation reliant on reports received from the rural police as to who was buried where and when. Their information must therefore be viewed as a secondary source, with all the problems this entails. It probably accounts for many errors and omissions associated with these markers.
In the drama of the South African War many men, especially those from foreign soil, fell in action or died of disease but their details were poorly documented. Local people did not know them, while imperial military records were unreliable. The official South African Field Force casualty list is a case in point. Research relating to similar graves elsewhere in southern Africa indicates sloppy recording -- names were often spelt wrongly, initials confused, and individuals were mixed up -- while many others are missing from their records entirely. Even the local administrative records which were kept by the British South Africa Company are faulty. As will be shown later, many individuals were missed in official death registers. (18)
This dearth of reliable information is especially the case in Marondera. During the war the town hardly existed. There were a few stores around the recently established railway station and refuelling point, but there no significant civilian population. The imperial authorities had in fact chosen this site exactly because of its lack of civilian distractions, along with its being the head of the most direct wagon route south from the then Mashonaland to Bulawayo -- the railway had not yet joined Salisbury and Bulawayo. (19)
Since the local population was very small the identities of the deceased, when recorded by British South African Police some years after the war, had often been forgotten, and misinterpretations were made. Compounding this source of error was the relative sloppiness of the grave marker manufacturer, who made additional mistakes when casting the markers, and errors made by the police when they placed the markers on the graves on behalf of the Guild. (20) All of this makes for an interesting investigation.
Before beginning research on the graves I was struck by several things. Grave 6 is the particularly early one, said to be that of Trooper Studdart who died in March 1897. Clearly this marker is incorrect, and I agree with Hickman's hunch. (21) Marondera as we know it today did not exist at that time. The main European settlement was some distance south at the Ruzawi Drift, where Bottomley, Head and Moore had constructed a store and hotel in 1893. Nearby were all the related European administrative offices. (22) This settlement now lies at the centre of Ruzawi Diocesan School where a remaining corner of the original building can be seen near the front door of the main block. (23) A graveyard associated with this earlier settlement also exists in the school grounds and has been subject to investigation by R. Hodder-Williams. (24)
So at the time of Studdart's death in 1897 the Paradise cemetery was still virgin bush, with the site of Marondera's kraal (25) being closer to the modern high density suburb of Dombotombo, which lies to the north of the main Harare road. Why, then, was Trooper Studdart buried here, and not with the others who died in the 1896-7 uprising and buried at Ruzawi? Trooper J H Stoddart (note the spelling error on the plaque) was killed in action at Soswe's kraal south-east of the Ruzawi Drift. If he was brought to the Paradise cemetery, his bearers would passed the existing cemetery at Ruzawi and carried on about six kilometres to an area of isolated woodland just to bury him. This seems unlikely. Clearly an error has been made in marking him here. Like Hodder-Williams, (26) I suspect that Studdart should be in the graveyard at Ruzawi School. As the last to be buried there, his name was probably at the end of the list for that cemetery. When transmitting this information to the Guild of Loyal Women his name was incorrectly placed at the top of this list -- an understandable error, since both cemeteries are in the Marondera area. Thus when the police placed the memorials the plaque was placed here. This conclusion frees this grave for someone who in fact died in the South African War.
The second problem concerns the markings on graves 2 and 7. The former has a typical Guild of Loyal Women marker, with the name and date `Tpr J Kelly, Vict. Imp. Bushm. -/10/1900', while the latter has a home-made but iron marker with the name and date `J Kiley, VIB, 13/10/1900, RIP'. I suspect that these represent one and the same person, and I disagree with Hickman who took them to be two people. (27) They are certainly in the same unit, and the spelling is so similar that an error in marking the two graves seems likely. This is supported by an early, but undated, report which names the graves but includes only one Kelly. (28) Why two markers? Possibly that for grave 7 is the original, made and erected by his companions. His name was later mentioned to the Guild of Loyal Women who, not knowing there was one already present, manufactured another marker which was then placed on the grave -- there is evidence of this happening at other cemeteries. In time the markers have been separated to two different graves. However, the shift is slight, and clearly either grave 2 or 7 is correct and not both. This releases yet another grave for identification.
The third problem is manufacturer error. Given that these graves are supposed to be of members of the RFF, Captain Hamilton's date of death, 1901, and Private Davis', 1906, are too late as the force had been disbanded by then. The original list which was probably the basis of the Guild's work gets the dates correct, (29) so the error must have been made by the manufacturer. In the Guild's correspondence there is evidence of errors being noted and replacement markers being requested from Gregory. (30) However these, like others seen elsewhere in the country, seem to have slipped through. It should be noted that the manufacturer corrected the reigning sovereign on these plaques to that applicable at the wrong date of death and that Hickman incorrectly gives the date of Davis' death as 16 July 1900, a typographical error for 26 July. (31)
Another important point to note is that graves 3, 4 and 5 are in fact in correct chronological sequence when looking at casualty dates. This would be expected in a military camp, where everything would be relatively well organised especially matters concerning death and burial.
The graves have been tided up over the years. The original piles of stone which would have covered the graves, evident from contemporary examples seen elsewhere, have long since been removed. Some of these stones are to be seen to the south of the cemetery outside the original fence. In their place someone has placed cement curbstones and laid a surface of granite chips over the top. I am confident that in doing so they have not destroyed or added any graves, though that may have happened. It also poses the question as to whether the markers were returned to their correct places. I am assuming here that they were, with the exception of the double Kelly-Kiley whose separation of the two grave markers may date from this period.
A last point to consider is that the fence around the graves is old, based on the type of uprights manufactured by A & J Main Company in Glasgow. These mark the gate and the four comers of the original plain wire fence and must predate the 1935 grave, which shows that the original fence was cut to allow this additional grave to be enclosed in a fencing style very different to the earlier enclosure. The original fence was probably erected by the British South Africa Company Administration, which agreed to do this across the country once the Guild of Loyal Women had marked the graves. (32)
Identifying the graves
Having looked at the site, my next step was to try and establish who died here in Marondera, why they died, and when. Sourcing this information has not been that easy, and I have to admit that I am far from satisfied with the details I have at this stage. My initial source was the work of Hickman, (33) who gives the casualty details of the Imperial Yeomanry published by one of their number, Sharrad Gilbert. Going through this list one finds reference to Private Davis and Trooper Armstrong. However, it also gives one additional name, Private Shaw, while confirming others who died elsewhere in the country. After this I placed a note requesting help on the Anglo-Boer War Email List. From the replies received I was able to gather several additional names and dates, but not all of these reports match. If only history was a simple matter of putting things together! The following lists are relevant to all Zimbabwe, not only the Marondera graves, and numbers following some of the names are regimental numbers.
List 1: South African Field Force casualty list From the official South African Field Force Casualty List for the Imperial Troops and Imperial Yeomanry the following are indicated as having died at Marandellas. All are listed as `Died of Disease' except where indicated. The relevant page reference follows each entry. Captain H C W Hamilton, 12 May 1900, Queensland Mounted Infantry (p 134); Sergeant H Brent (384), killed in railway accident, 15 May 1900, Victorian Bushmen (p 135); Quartermaster Sergeant J N Walton (275), 21 May 1900, New South Wales Bushmen (p 132); Private J C Swan (584), 26 May 1900, Victorian Mounted Rifles (p 135); Private E R Apps (12468), 29 May 1900, 18th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private Stone (11289), 5 June 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private D Carron, (11088), 5 June 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private A E Shaw (12449), 7 June 1900, 18th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private J Brookes (12071), 9 June 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private J Hinton (12710), 10 June 1900, 18th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private B C Franklin (11622), 12 June 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private H C Blackden (4684), 12 June 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private J McCann (11300), 12 June 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private J B Bloomfield (4697), 12 June 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private F Saxon (1335), 19 June 1900, New Zealand Rough Riders (p 133); Private D F McIntosh (1125), 3 July 1900, New Zealand Bushmen (p 133); Lieutenant H Andrew, 9 July 1900, 18th Imperial Yeomanry (p 27); Private S E Davis (4701), 25 July 1900, 17th Imperial Yeomanry (p.27); Private G W N Stevens, died of exhaustion, 29 July 1900, Rhodesian Regiment (p 154). Under Enkeldoorn the following appears: Sergeant R Kelby (440), died of disease, 3 July 1900, New South Wales Bushmen (p. 132). List 2: London Times reports From London Times reports the following persons are indicated as having died while with the RFF. 9 June 1900, p. 12, col. 1, `Deaths From Disease -- Marandellas': Trooper G F Shaw (12449), 29 May 1900, 67th Company (Sharpshooters) Imperial Yeomanry; Quartermaster Sergeant J N Walton (275), 22 May 1900; J C Swan (584), 26 May 1900, Victorian Contingent. 19 June 1900, p. 11, col. 2, `General Carrington's Force': `The following report from General Carrington at Marandellas has been received at the War Office: The following deaths have occurred, all from malaria and dysentery: 67th Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 12468 Pte E R Apps, May 29; 61st Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 11289 Pte Stone, June 5; 60th Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 11088 Saddler D McCarron. June 5; 75th Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 15507 Tpr A E Shaw, malaria, June 7. The following deaths are reported from Umtali: 65th Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 12071 Pte J Brook, dysentery, June 9; 71st Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 12710 Pte J Hinton, dysentery, June 10; 61st Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 11262 Pte D C Franklin, dysentery, June 12; 17th Bn. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 11300 Pte J McCann, dysentery, June 12; 71st Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 12738 Pte A Pugh, malaria, June 8; 50th Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 4684 Pte H C Blackden, dysentery, June 12; 4693 Pte J B Bloomfield, fever and sunstroke, June 12.' 22 June 1900, p. 14, col. 4: `Sir F Carrington reports from Marandellas that 4697 Tpr F H Burken, 50th Co. Imperial Yeomanry, died at Umtali, June 16, from dysentery and malaria.' 26 June, p. 6, col. 1, `Beira': `4th New Zealand Mounted Infantry, -- 1355 Pte F Saxon, malaria, died June 19'. 28 June 1900, p. 12, col. 2, `Umtali': `67th Co. Imperial Yeomanry. -- 12469 Pte A Dunne, dysentery, died June 24'. List 3: Australian War Graves 1 A search of the website of the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra's Australian war graves database (http://www.hagsoc.org. au/sagraves/) yielded the following: Trooper W Myers (46), died on service at Umtali, 25 April 1900, New South Wales Citizens' Bushmen; Captain H C W Hamilton, died of disease at Marandellas, 12 May 1900, Queensland Mounted Infantry; Sergeant H Brent (384), died on service at Marandellas, 15 May 1900, Third Victorian Bushmen; Quartermaster Sergeant J N Walton (275), died of disease at Marandellas, 21 May 1900, New South Wales Citizens' Bushmen; Private J C Swan (584), died of disease at Marandellas, 26 May 1900, Third Victorian (Bushmen's) Contingent; Private E A Hambly (75), died of disease at Bulawayo, 26 June 1900, Third West Australian Bushmen; Trooper McPhee (67), died of disease at Bulawayo, 2 July 1900, Third West Australian Bushmen; Sergeant R Kelby or Kelly (440), died of disease at Enkeldoorn, 3 July 1900, New South Wales Imperial Bushmen; Nursing Sister F E Hines, died of disease at Bulawayo, 7 August 1900. Attached to First Victorian Contingent; Private T B Foster (367), on service, no date nor place listed, Fourth Victorian Bushmen; Private J Kiley (418), on service, no date nor place listed, Fourth Victorian Bushmen. List 4: Australian War Graves 2 Another internet connection, the official Australian government website dealing with the South African War (http://www.pcug.org.au/~croe/ oz_boer0.htm) gives the following Australian war dead. It appears based largely on Pembroke Murray's 1911 book Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa. In referring back to this original source Mr Craig Wilcox from Australia has provided me with the full Christian names of the deceased. Page references at the end of each entry refer to the pages in Murray's book. Sergeant Walter Myers (46), cause not listed at Umtali, 24 April 1900, New South Wales Citizens' Bushmen (p. 83); [Captain H C W Hamilton not listed]; Sergeant Herbert Brent (384), rail accident at Mandigras (sic), 14 May 1900, Third Victorian Bushmen (p. 245); Quartermaster Sergeant John Nathaniel Walton (275), cause not listed at Iron Mine Hill, 22 May 1900, New South Wales Citizens' Bushmen (p. 80); Private John Campbell Duncan McPherson Swan (584), died of malaria at Marandellas, 28 May 1900, Third Victorian Bushmen (p. 250); Private Edgar Anthony Hambly (75), died of disease at Bulawayo, 26 June 1900, Third West Australian Bushmen; Private William John McPhee (67), died of anaesthetic at Bulawayo, 2 July 1900, Third West Australian Bushmen (p. 412); Sergeant Robert Kelly (440), no cause given at Enkeldoorn, 3 July 1900, New South Wales Imperial Bushmen (p. 94); Nursing Sister Frances Emma Hines, died of pneumonia at Bulawayo, 7 August 1900. Attached to Third Victorian Contingent (p. 241); Private Thomas Barnam Foster (367), of enteric fever at Umtali, 22 August 1900. Fourth Victorian Imperial Bushmen (p. 268); Private John Kiley (418), of pneumonia at Marandellas, 13 October 1900. Fourth Victorian Bushmen (p. 94). List 5: Contemporary death registers, National Archives of Zimbabwe These (JG 7/1/6-8) are the official Southern Rhodesian death registers of the period. They were compiled from reports periodically sent to the Registrar in Salisbury from various outstations. The main towns are better covered, and it is clear that smaller outstations such as Marandellas, Umtali and Enkeldoorn (which matter in this discussion) frequently `forgot' to report the deaths of the `outsiders' passing through Rhodesian territory towards South Africa. Despite searching for all the possible names of those known from other sources to have died while serving in the RFF within this country, very few were located. Those that do appear include: Quartermaster Sergeant John N Walton or Wolton, 21 May 1900, Iron Mine Hill of cerebral congentitus and malaria (JG 7/1/7/35); Trooper John C Swan, 26 May 1900, Goldfields Hotel Umtali from carbonic acid poisoning administered by deceased while insane, (34) Victorian Bushmen (JG 7/1/6/359); Donald Frazer Macintosh, 4 June 1900, Umtali from dysentery, New Zealand Bushmen and RFF (JG 7/1/7/4); James Stone, 5 June 1900, Umtali from malaria, Imperial Yeomanry (JG 7/1/7/9); Hugh Chalfont Blackden, 11 June 1900, Umtali from acute septic pharyingtis, Imperial Yeomanry (JG 7/1/7/10); Edgar Hambly, 26 June 1900, Bulawayo from malaria, West Australian Bushmen (JG 7/1/7/27); William John McPhee, 2 July 1900, Bulawayo from cardiac failure, West Australian Bushmen (JG 7/1/7/47); Captain H C W Hamilton, 8 July 1900, Marandellas, Queensland Artillery (JG 7/1/7/130A); Lieutenant Harry Andrew, 8 July 1900, Salisbury from dysentery, Sharpshooters (JG 7/1/7/35); Private F E Davis, 25 July 1900, Marandellas, 50th Squadron Imperial Yeomanry (JG 7/1/7/131); Private G W N Stevens, 28 July 1900, Marandellas, Voluntary Medical Service Corps and RFF Hospital (JG 7/1/7/132); Frances Emma Hines, 7 August 1900, Bulawayo from pneumonia, nurse RFF (JG 7/1/7/69); Private Thomas Barham Foster (367), 22 August 1900, Umtali from enteric, Australian Contingent (JG 7/1/7/88); F J Madden, 13 October 1900, Gwanda from pneumonia and cardiac failure, Imperial Yeomanry (JG 7/1/7/43). List 6: Rhodesian Field Force casualty list The following list, which appears in Sharrad Gilbert's Rhodesia and After, is reprinted in Hickman's book. (35) It covers those who died of sickness while serving with the Imperial Yeomanry. Only those relevant to the discussion here are included. Additional details, mostly Christian names, have been added courtesy of Mr Kevin Asplin, a researcher in the United Kingdom with interests in the history of the Yeomanry. His data are derived from the Queen's South African Medal roll and relevant War Office files (WO 128). (36) There are no differences in the surnames, service numbers and casualty figures -- so Gilbert's original list must be reliable. 50th Squadron Hampshire Yeomanry: Trooper Hugh Chalfont Blackden (4684), 12 June 1900, died Umtali of dysentery; Trooper John B. Bloomfield (4693), 12 June 1900, died Umtali of fever and sunstroke; Trooper Frederick Henry Burden (4697) 16 June 1900, died Umtali from dysentery and malaria; Trooper Sidney Edward Davis (4710), 26 July 1900, died Marandellas from blood poisoning. 60th Squadron North Irish Imperial Yeomanry: Saddler Daniel McCarron, (11088), 5 June 1900, died Umtali from dysentery and malaria; Trooper Thomas Austin (11084), 24 August 1900, died Enkeldoorn from dysentery. 61st Squadron South Irish Imperial Yeomanry: Trooper Denham C Franklin (11212), 5 June 1900, died Umtali from dysentery; Trooper James Stone (11289), 12 June 1900, died Umtali from dysentery; Trooper Joseph Matthew McCann (11300), 12 June 1900, died Umtali from dysentery; Trooper Thomas G B Armstrong (11254), 7 August 1900, died Marandellas from meningitis; Trooper Frederick Joseph Madden (11242), 18 October 1900, died Gwanda from pneumonia; Trooper Thomas Millar (11311), 9 February 1901, died Bulawayo from enteric. 65th Squadron Leicestershire Imperial Yeomanry: Trooper John Roper Brooker (12071), 9 June 1900, died Umtali from dysentery. 67th Squadron Sharpshooters Imperial Yeomanry: Trooper Edward Russell Apps (12468), 29 May 1900, at Bamboo Creek (Mozambique on the Pungwe Flats) from malaria and dysentery; Trooper George Frederick Shaw (12449), 29 May 1900, at Bamboo Creek from enteric; Trooper Alfred John Dunne (12469), 24 June 1900, at Umtali from dysentery; Trooper Charles Olney (12498), 28 October 1900, at Fort Victoria from enteric. 70th Squadron Sharpshooters Imperial Yeomanry: Lieutenant Harry Andrew 9 July 1900, at Salisbury from dysentery; Trooper Bennet Grey (12580), 15 October 1900, at Fort Victoria from enteric; Trooper Patrick B Russell (12612), 3 December 1900, at Tuli from enteric. 71st Squadron Sharpshooters Imperial Yeomanry: Trooper Albert James Pugh (12738), 8 May 1900, at Umtali from malaria; Trooper John Hinton, (12710), 10 June 1900, at Umtali from dysentery; Trooper Walter Stanley Peck (12793), 25 October 1900, at Fort Victoria from enteric; Trooper Arthur Victor Lloyd (12784), 28 December 1900, at Bulawayo from enteric. 75th Squadron Sharpshooters Imperial Yeomanry: Trooper Albert Edward Shaw (15507), 7 June 1900, died Marandellas from malaria. List 7: Hickman's Rhodesia served the Queen Hickman was able to access several personal diaries and books not easy available here in Zimbabwe. Some of these have additional references -- the page indicated is that of the second, 1975 volume of Hickman's Rhodesia served the Queen. p. 165: by mid June 1900 there had already been 22 deaths. pp. 173, 194: Bamboo Creek on the Pungwe flats. The small existing cemetery had three men added. Gilbert names two of these as Trooper E R Apps (12468), 29 May 1900 of malaria and dysentery, and Trooper G F Shaw (12449), 29 May 1900 of enteric. pp. 202-4 records the cemetery as follows: Tpr T G B Armstrong, 7 August 1900, 61st South Irish Imperial Yeomanry no. 11254, meningitis; Pte G Stevens, 29 July 1900, Medical Staff; Tpr S E Davis, 16 July 1900, 50th Hampshire Imperial Yeomanry no. 14710, blood poisoning; Tpr J Kelly, October 1900, Victoria Imperial Bushmen; Capt. Hamilton, 12 July 1901, Queensland Artillery; `Tpr --eyd', 20 July 1900, Imperial Yeomanry; (Tpr) J Kiley, 13 October 1900, Victoria Imperial Bushmen; Studdart, March 1897. `This burial seems to be completely out of place and requires further research'. p. 220: Quarter Master Sergeant John Wolton died at Iron Mine Hill after falling unconscious in the wagon, date not clear but must be about evening of 21 or early 22 May 1900. He had been ill since leaving Marandellas. Was buried there and Hickman did not relocate this grave. List 8: Administrator's Office list of graves, National Archives of Zimbabwe This list (A9/1/1) gives a number of identified (presumably by local British South Africa Police) graves of early settlers and South African War casualties in their areas of jurisdiction. It was clearly used by the Guild of Loyal Women as the basis of their orders for markers from the manufacturer in Cape Town. Unfortunately it does not mention how the names were obtained where there was no previous marker or remains thereof -- perhaps oral tradition, with all its inherent problems. Recorded under Marandellas we have six marked graves: Studdart, March 1897, no cross, killed in action; Cpt Hamilton (Queensland Artillery), 12 July 1900, killed in action. Wooden cross and zinc name plate. Tpr Kelly (Victoria Imperial Bushmen), 25 July 1900, wooden cross, zinc name plate. The date has been later changed crossing out the day totally and changing the month to October. (37) Tpr Sydney Davies (30th Imperial Yeomanry), 25 July 1900, wooden cross, zinc name plate, wood damaged by ants. Pvt G H N Stevens (Medical Staff), 29 July 1900, wooden cross damaged by ants, zinc name plate. Tpr C B Armstrong (61st Imperial Yeomanry), 7 August 1900, wooden cross damaged by ants, zinc name plate. List 9: National Archives of Australia, Canberra repository Craig Wilcox located the following references from this collection which are relevant to the Australians who died in this country while serving with the RFF. Series A6443, file 392 Report of Captain Dobbin (Victoria Bushmen) to Hon. Minister of Defence Victoria. Dated 17 May 1900 written from Marandellas. `We've been joined with the West Australians in the 3rd Australian Bushmen's Regiment and leave tomorrow by road for Bulawayo. Sergeant Brent was killed on 14th April in a rail accident. The weak point of the rail being the inability or inebrity of the engine crews. He drove the engine for several hours after the drivers declared themselves incapable of doing so but the delay caused by the change-over and the slow pace caused the following train to collide and Brent was knocked off the engine and fell under it. His right arm was severed and head fearfully smashed. He was buried at Umtali with full military honours.' Series A6443, file 397 Report of Major William Dobbin (OC Victoria Bushmen) to Hon. Minister of Defence Victoria. Dated 10 October 1900 written from Daasport near Pretoria. `Wrote to PMO Bulawayo to say that the Bushmen desired ... to erect a memorial stone to Sister Hines. No reply yet, but Sister Rawson writes from Mafeking that she thinks this has already been done. Hines was beloved by all.'
So who is where?
Much of the above seems terribly contradictory. The main problem arises from the fact that the official reports of the deaths often came from RFF headquarters at Marandellas rather than the place where the individual died and was buried. The South African Field Force Casualty List and many of the newspaper reports of the time were particularly prone to this source of error. In addition, their records are often in error as to date of death as opposed to burial, individuals are often confused, and poor transmission via several telegraphic systems often resulted in additional errors. Thus Lists 1 and 2 must be treated with extreme circumspection and only used where there are no alternative sources. Likewise the Australian War Graves List 3 is suspect since, I believe, it derives its information largely from the South African Field Force Casualty List.
A more reliable source is List 4, based on the contemporary work of Pembroke Murray. In fact an Australian contact suggests that since `not all listings reconcile, I'd probably use Murray except where evidence and records on the spot differed'. (38) The letters in List 9 also provide valuable and reliable information. Of particular importance here is the letter which clearly indicates that Brent was buried in Umtali and not Marandellas as most records indicate -- another example of reporting from the RFF headquarters being erroneously taken as place of death.
The official death registers from the National Archives of Zimbabwe (List 5), while incomplete, are probably essentially correct for those mentioned (other than the date of Hamilton's death, discussed below). I also feel we can accept as correct the list of imperial yeomen as published by Gilbert (List 6). He was able to provide additional detail about the campaign as a whole, and I suspect that he kept a diary which he drew on when writing his book. His details are also corroborated by the work of a more recent researcher, Kevin Asplin, who has been going through the War Office records of these men. (39) The Guild of Loyal Women record of the graves as they where marked in 1908 (List 8) generally supports the conclusions with regard the Marandellas graves, although some errors in dates and spellings are evident. This may result from badly corroded original markers, which the recorder found difficult to decipher. I have found a similar problem with original rusty metal sheets at Fort Tuli Cemetery.
If we combine these lists, correcting dates, causes and places in the light of the data base as a whole, it would seem that the RFF dead were buried as follows, in order of geographical location from Beira to the Transvaal:
Bamboo Creek (now Vila Machado on the `61 mile peg' of the railway in Mozambique), two graves: Apps (dysentery and malaria); G F Shaw (enteric fever). Umtali (now Mutare), sixteen graves: Blackden (dysentery); Bloomfield (malaria and sunstroke); Brent (rail accident); Brooker (dysentery); Burden (dysentery and malaria); Dunne (dysentery); Foster (enteric fever); Franklin (dysentery); Hinton (dysentery); McIntosh (dysentery); McCann (dysentery); McCarron (dysentery); Myers (dysentery); Pugh (malaria); Stone (dysentery and malaria); Swan (suicide). Marandellas (now Marondera), seven graves: Armstrong (meningitis); Davis (blood poisoning); Hamilton (unknown); J Kiley (pneumonia); Saxon (malaria); A E Shaw (malaria); Stevens (exhaustion). Salisbury (now Harare), one grave: Andrew (dysentery). Enkeldoorn (now Chivhu), two graves: Austin (dysentery); R Kelly (unknown). Iron Mine Hill (no settlement today, closest present village is Lalapanzi), one grave: Walton (not Wolton) (malaria). Site of cemetery remains unknown. (40) Bulawayo, five graves: Lloyd (enteric fever); Hambly (malaria); Hines (pneumonia); McPhee (heart failure); Millar (enteric fever). Gwanda, one grave: Madden (pneumonia). Fort Victoria (now Masvingo), three graves: Grey (enteric fever); Olney (enteric fever); Peck (enteric fever). Fort Tuli, one grave: Russell (enteric fever).
The 39 deaths counted here -- including thirteen from dysentery, eight from enteric fever, six from malaria, and none from combat -- illustrate the shameful loss of life from avoidable causes during the campaign, and suggest the liability of the imperial authorities.
The Marondera graves
From all this we see that we have seven people who were official war casualties in Marondera and who should be buried here. That we have nine graves is a problem. I am going to stick my neck out and suggest that two are not war graves but civilian ones added to the existing cemetery some time, not too long, after the military left. These I believe to be graves 8 and 9. Grave 8 is marked with a slab of granite which must have once borne a name. However, more recently it has been painted silver and no trace of the original name remains. Grave 9 has a tin plate cut into the shape of a heart which is now nailed to a cabbage tree at the head of the grave. This sheet has been repainted many times and is no longer decipherable. However, Hickman noted in 1971 that `Trooper --eyd IY, 20/7/00' was still discernible, while I can make out today `Trooper ... D ... July....'. This is a problem. No additional, and unaccounted for, trooper died on this date. I wonder if the date was not clear and Hickman was in error in reading it? I also wonder if it really came from this grave, and would postulate that this is one of the few remaining `zinc plates' recorded as being on the since-named graves before the Guild of Loyal Women had the cast plaques erected. The vague similarity in date with that of Davis, and the end of his Christian name Sydney with the letter `D', actually indicating date of death which follows, suggests to me that this plaque does not in fact belong here but should be on grave 3. That it is now nailed (and was in 1971) to a cabbage tree, a relatively short-lived species, supports the view that it may be a more recent mismarking.
This leaves me graves 1 to 7 for the seven people identified earlier. Five, I am sure, have been correctly named, even if the present plaques make spelling and date errors. The remaining two unmarked graves can, I think, be fitted in if one remembers that in a military establishment there would have been some degree of order in burial. On this basis that I suggest the following.
Grave 1. Certainly this can be identified as Captain H C W Hamilton, 2nd Regiment 1st Brigade RFF and Queensland Mounted Infantry, first to be buried here in this cemetery and whose grave thereafter sets the order. There is some problem with the date of death. The present plaque gives 12 July 1901, However most of the Australians involved had returned home by this date, and it is likely that this is a manufacturer error as the original Guild of Loyal Women's list gives 1900 and the death register gives 8 July 1900. However, this report is inserted as 130A, indicating it was not reported at the time of death and, since the following two reports are of persons who died in July 1900 in Marandellas, it may be that the wrong date was recorded at the time. In addition, by July 1900 this regiment was already in Bulawayo, so Hamilton must have died earlier. Certainly there is one date, 12 May 1900, which appears in the other lists, and this is taken as correct. A poorly marked tin plate may account for the error in reading the month in the Guild of Loyal Women's report, while manufacturer error accounts for the wrong year on the present plaque. It is incorrectly marked `For King & Empire'. An additional matter of interest is Hamilton's unknown background. Said to be a captain of the Queensland Artillery or Mounted Infantry, depending on the source, he is not listed in Murray and it would seem that he was not an Australian. It is probable he was an imperial officer seconded to the Australians when they joined the RFF. Investigations have failed to link him to the Imperial Yeomanry, an obvious source of secondment. (41)
Grave 2. I do not believe the present Guild of Loyal Women marker should be here. It was probably made for grave 7, still marked with the original Kiley memorial. If this is taken as an unmarked grave then I would think that it should be the next person who died here -- it makes more sense to bury next to Hamilton rather than below him, which is the only other unmarked option. If this is accepted, then we can suggest that the grave is that of Trooper Albert Edward Shaw, RFF and 75th Imperial Yeomanry, who died on 7 June 1900.
Grave 6. As already argued, this grave is not the 1897 grave of Studdart, but I suspect that this was the next grave and third chronological casualty. By suggesting this one gets a sense developing order in the cemetery pattern. This grave is, I suggest, that of Private F. Saxon, 4th New Zealand Mounted Infantry, who died of malaria on 19 June 1900. It is probable he was hospitalised at the time since by this date the rest of his unit had left Marandellas and were marching from Fort Charter towards Enkeldoorn. (42) Of course it is feasible that he could be in grave 2 and Shaw is buried here; but that would have resulted in a rather odd layout when there were only two graves. Whatever the case, I feel we can be fairly certain these two individuals must be in one or other of these two unmarked graves as the others are marked correctly (barring the double Kiley).
Grave 3 is the next. Chronologically it is Trooper Sydney Edward Davis, RFF and 50th Imperial Yeomanry, who died on the 26 July 1900, possibly late in the evening of 25 July. This is a certain identification although the present plaque has errors. It incorrectly gives the year as 1906 (adding `For King & Empire') which is clearly a manufacturer error as the Guild of Loyal Women have it originally as 1900. (43) He is also incorrectly indicated as 30th Squadron Imperial Yeomanry, a unit that was never part of the RFF. As this error appears in the Guild of Loyal Women list as well, I suspect it is a reader's error from an obscure handmade metal marker which was originally on the grave. The placing of Davis next to Shaw (as proposed here for grave 2) suggests a plan with all the Imperial Yeomanry men in the back line. I would think that this would be quite likely in a military situation. In addition it is argued here that the original `zinc plate' for this same man now in error marks grave 9.
Grave 4 follows both chronologically and spatially. It is certainly Private G H N Stevens, one of the medical staff of the RFF Hospital and a member of the Imperial Voluntary Medical Service Corps. He died of exhaustion on 29 July 1900, and his Guild of Loyal Women marker is correct.
Grave 5 certainly contains the remains of Trooper Thomas G B Armstrong, RFF and 61st Imperial Yeomanry, who died next on 7 August 1900. His Guild of Loyal Women marker is also correct.
After the death of Armstrong the Imperial Yeomanry moved on to Bulawayo and were replaced at Marandellas, temporarily, by the Victorian Imperial Bushmen, the last unit to arrive from Beira. One of their number, J Kiley, died on 13 October 1900 and was buried in Grave 7 with a home-made iron marker made from locally available scrap. It was probably produced and erected by his companions at a time when those remaining in Marandellas were less busy with rigorous training and departure for the front, as by that time the very existence of the RFF was being questioned and it was likely that disbandment was on the cards.
While accepting that this paper presents nothing truly significant in terms of research into the South African War, it does highlight the general disarray and inadequacy of official imperial documentation during the war. Minor troop movements, skirmishes and isolated deaths were ignored or confused. All of this makes the task of the historian an interesting one. It also shows the great wealth of material which is contained in the National Archives of Zimbabwe, and how the wonders of the Internet can assist in research on a global basis. Data bases not usually available to a local researcher can now be accessed and material combined in establishing a better picture of what happened in the past.
This research has hopefully answered some of the earlier questions posed by Hickman and corrected some of the errors which he made in his important research. However it is not, and cannot, pretend to be the final word on the subject. New material may come accessible to other researchers, and conclusions (or presumptions) made here may have to be altered once again. I also hope that by including references to other areas that fellow researchers will now start to relocated these graves which may be nearer to their homes.
(1) I cannot thank enough several people who have helped me with this project. Firstly John Clathworthy in Marondera most kindly took me to see the graves. He also lent me resource material which I lacked. Then there are four very important email contacts who have assisted. Ken Hallock of the USA has, as usual, come up with a wealth of material from his immense collection of newspapers, articles and access to relevant documents. Andre van Rensburg and Craig Wilcox in Australia have come up with a lot of material on the Australian and New Zealand casualties, while Kevin Asplin has provided confirmation of details of those in the Imperial Yeomanry. Then there are the many members of staff of the National Archives of Zimbabwe. Their help is, as usual, invaluable.
(2) A S Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, Rhodesian Army, Salisbury 1975, 195-204.
(3) R S Burrett, `Events in the Second Anglo-South African War, 1899-1902, in the wider Tull Area, Zimbabwe-Botswana', Heritage no. 18; A S Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 1, Rhodesian Army, Salisbury 1970; P Millington & R S Burrett, `Action at Crocodile Pools during the Anglo-South African War and the death of Captain Sampson French', Botswana Notes & Records, in press.
(4) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 217.
(5) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 161-2.
(6) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 271.
(7) 1st Regiment being 500 New South Wales Citizens' Bushmen; 2nd Regiment 120 South Australian and 55 Tasmanian Bushmen, as well as 300 Queensland Bushmen; 3rd Regiment consisted of 250 Victorian and 125 West Australian Bushmen.
(8) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 216-9.
(9) 4th Regiment being New Zealand Citizens' Bushmen; 5th Regiment New Zealand Imperial Bushmen; 6th Regiment consisted of New South Wales' Imperial Bushmen.
(10) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol 2, 205-220, 271-273.
(11) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol 2; Public Record Office WO 32/7944. Hickman provides a comprehensive record of the movements of this Force and readers who are lucky enough to have access to this book should read his work.
(12) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol 2. 157-220.
(13) Map reference 1831B1:449876.
(14) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol 2, 202-4.
(15) S H Gilbert, Rhodesia and After: the story of the Sharpshooters, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co, London, 1901.
(16) National Archives of Zimbabwe, Historical Manuscripts Collection, GU 1/1/1 (general correspondence, Guild of Loyal Women, Salisbury Branch).
(17) National Archives of Zimbabwe, Historical Manuscripts Collection, GU 1/2/1 (graves fund correspondence, Guild of Loyal Women, Salisbury Branch).
(18) National Archives of Zimbabwe, Public Archives Pre 1923 Collection, JG 7/1/6-8 (Attorney-General's Office, death register files).
(19) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 196.
(20) National Archives of Zimbabwe, GU 1/1/1.
(21) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 204.
(22) Map reference 1831B1:473834.
(23) R S Burrett, `The Selous Road, Ballyhooley Hotel, and the Ruwa and Goromonzi Districts', Heritage, no. 17.
(24) R Hodder-Williams, `The Graveyard at Old Marandellas', Rhodesiana, no. 21, 1969, 10-18.
(25) Established by a minor subchief of the Svosve Dynasty who was exiled from the core of their territory; see D N Beach, A Zimbabwean Past, Mambo Press, Gweru, 1994.
(26) Hodder-Williams, `The Graveyard at Old Marandellas', 15.
(27) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 202-4.
(28) National Archives of Zimbabwe, Public Archives Pre 1923 Collection, A 9/1/1 (Administrator's Office, register of graves).
(29) National Archives of Zimbabwe, A9/1/1.
(30) National Archives of Zimbabwe, GU 1/1/1.
(31) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 202.
(32) National Archives of Zimbabwe, GU 1/1/1.
(33) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 213-214.
(34) Possibly fever-induced?
(35) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 213-5.
(36) K. Asplin, emails to author, 6 and 8 April 2000.
(37) This entry is suspect.
(38) C Wilcox, letter to author, 24 May 2000.
(39) Asplin, emails to author, 6 and 8 April 2000.
(40) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 220.
(41) K. Asplin, email to author, 18 June 2000.
(42) Hickman, Rhodesia served the Queen, vol. 2, 273.
(43) National Archives of Zimbabwe, A9/1/1.
Robert S Burrett (1)