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St. Helena was used by the British as a prisoner of war camp during the South African War of 1899-1902.
The South African War had its origins in the rivalry between Dutch Afrikaner and British settlers in southern Africa which led by 1880 to the emergence of two separate colonial states - Cape Colony, under British control, and the Afrikaner (Boer) republic of Transvaal, under President Paul Kruger. Despite minor conflicts in the 1880s and 1890s over neighbouring Bechuanaland, the Ndebele, and the treatment of British residents in the Transvaal (which led to the ill-fated Jameson Raid of 1897), etc., the two states managed an uneasy co-existence. However, increasing nationalism on both sides, among various other causes, led to a declaration of war on 11th October 1899.
The Boers launched initial offensives against Mafeking, Kimberley, Natal and Eastern Cape, but, after lengthy sieges of Mafeking, Kimberley, Ladysmith, etc., eventually surrendered their advantage. The British relieved the besieged towns, then took Bloemfontein on 13th March 1900, and Pretoria in June. At this point, the British allowed the Boers to regroup and change tactics, mounting an effective guerilla war which the British in turn countered with a scorched earth policy and the initiation of a concentration camp system. Eventually, the Boers were forced to concede defeat and on 31st May 1902 a peace treaty was signed, removing all independence from the Boer territories.
Black and white photographs (mounted) of St. Helena, one showing Jamestown, one of prisoners of war marching through Jamestown, and one of the prisoner of war camp at Broad Bottom, 1902.
The papers were purchased by the library from Select Books, Cape Town in March 1998.Access Conditions
Bodleian reader's ticket required.Reproduction Restrictions
No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.
The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room.
South African War, 1899-1902 | Pictorial works
South African War, 1899-1902 | Prisoners and prisons, Boer
Saint Helena | History