Boer War artefacts

Published in Issue 1 (January/February 2018), Letters, Volume 26

Above: Nurse Edith Cavell—‘In September 2015, exactly a century after her execution, Dame Stella Rimington, a former director of MI5, confirmed that Edith Cavell had indeed been passing information to British intelligence and that the Germans had got her bang to rights’.

Above: One of the short-muzzled Mauser carbines—now held by the National Museum—with Boer engravings on the butts picked up by the British Army during the 1916 Rising. (NMI)

Sir,—Those interested in southern-African Irish studies will have been pleased to read the article in the Artefacts section on the Anglo-Boer War (HI 25.5, Sept./Oct. 2017). As a postscript, I would add that the National Museum of Ireland also has an interesting collection of material relating to the nationalist response to the war. This includes an Inghinidhe na hÉireann flag, which was sent out to South Africa. This is a sizeable 1.73m by 1.22m banner (it was probably too heavy to fly), made of green poplin with gilt braid border and fringe. It has a gilt harp with the centre cut away and with six golden strings traversing the harp. On one side of the banner was inscribed ‘Irish Transvaal Brigade’ and on the other Ar d’Tir, Ar Muinteár, Ar d’Teanga (‘Our country, our people, our language’). There is also a collection of patriotic picture-buttons of Boer generals popularly worn in lapel buttonholes in Dublin during the summer of 1900. The National Museum also has several rifles with Boer engravings on the butts picked up by the British Army during the 1916 Rising. These rifles are particularly interesting, being short-muzzled Mauser carbines for use on horseback. But there is also in the museum one of the revered Norwegian Krag-Jørgensen rifles from South Africa, much prized in the Boer army. Only some 300 of these were imported into the Boer republics. It is assumed that this one belonged to an Irish commando who had fought in the war and who, like John MacBride and Tom Byrne, later participated in the 1916 Rising.—Yours etc.,

 

 

 

 

 

DONAL McCRACKEN
Durban, SA

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