Boer

Anglo-Boer Oorlog

The Zuidafrikaanse Republiek en Oranje Vristaat Oorlogmedalje 1899-1902 (ABO) was the medal issued to all ranks of the Transvaal and Orange Free State who fought during the Boer War.  The regulations for the award of the ABO were published in the Government Gazette of the Union of South Africa number 2307 on 21 December 1920.  The application form for people to be awarded the ABO was called Form B.

'The medal which will be designated 'The South African Republic and Orange Free State War Medal' will be silver, circular, having the coat-of-arms of the South African Republic and the inscription 'Anglo-Boeroorlog 1899-1902' on one side, and the coat-of-arms of the Orange Free State and the inscription 'Anglo-Boeroorlog 1899-1902' on the other side, with the name and rank of recipient engraved on the edge of the medal'.

The ABO can still be issued subject to the demands for proof being met.  The last award was made in September 1975.

13,751 ABOs were issued.

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ABO
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ABO
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Form B
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Details of the group to D A Swart
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ABO named to D A Swart
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group to D A Swart
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ABO OBE group to Lt A W Collett
 

Several Boers subsequently fought on the British side being awarded the QSA.  See the account of M S Thring.

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(451 Records)

 Surname   Forename   Rank   Notes   Unit 
AckermanAbraham Michiel ChristianSers/MajAwarded the ABO. StaatsartillerieBoer Forces
AckermanH.J.ArtilleristAwarded the ABO. Comdt. SchoemanBoer Forces
AdankWillem HendrikBurgerAwarded the ABO. ArtillerieBoer Forces
AlbrechtFrederich Wilhelm RMajorBorn in Potsdam, Prussia in 1848. He joined the Artillery in 1867 and served in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 as a sergeant in the Guards Field Artillery Regiment. He arrived in the Orange Free State in 1879. He joined the Vrystaatse Artilleriekorps as a Captain and used his own training to transform it into an efficient unit. As a Major, he served at Belmont, Graspan, Magersfontein and Klip Drift. He was captured at Paardeberg. He died in 1926. Boer Forces
AlbrechtsRichard Frederick WilhelmComandantAwarded the DTD & ABO. O.V.S. ArtillerieBoer Forces
AndrewsJohn BernardLieutenantAwarded the LVW & ABO. StaatsartillerieBoer Forces
AppelgrynAndries CorneliusKorporalAwarded the LVW & ABO. ArtillerieBoer Forces
ArnholdJohannes Stephanus JacobBurgerAwarded the ABO. StaatsartillerieBoer Forces
AvelingCornelius KlasieLieutenantAwarded the ABO. O.V.S. ArtillerieBoer Forces
BarclayGraham Patrick ClaremontArtilleristAwarded the ABO. LydenburgBoer Forces
BarnardStefanus HendrikBurgerAwarded the ABO. StaatsartillerieBoer Forces
BauermeisterJohannes Stephanus HendrikArtilleristAwarded the ABO. StaatsartillerieBoer Forces
BekkerMartinus JohannesArtilleristAwarded the ABO. POW St. Helena. Released 08/02/01 StaatsartillerieBoer Forces
BenadieThomas JohannesArtilleristAwarded the ABO. StaatsartillerieBoer Forces
BenderDavid FourieArtilleristAwarded the ABO. ArtillerieBoer Forces
BenderFrederick Hendrik JacobusArtilleristAwarded the ABO. Gen. P. JoubertBoer Forces
BenekeJacobus HendrikArtilleristAwarded the ABO. Tvl ArtillerieBoer Forces
BerryGeorge Edmund FerrieraBurgerAwarded the ABO. ArtillerieBoer Forces
BeyersChristiaan FrederikGeneralBorn in Stellenbosch in 1869, he moved to the Transvaal in 1888. He worked as an attorney in Boksburg and, when war broke out, he joined his local commando in Boksburg and was soon voted in as Assistant Field Cornet. After the fall of Pretoria, he was promoted to Assistant Commandant-General of the Waterberg and Zoutpansberg Commandos. He participated in the battle at Nooitgedacht with General de la Rey on 13 December 1900. He operated in the Magaliesberg area and harassed the British. He represented the Boers of the Waterberg in the Vereeniging Peace Conference from 15 May 1902, where he chaired the proceedings. Resuming his practice as an attorney in Pretoria after the war, Beyers became Speaker of the Transvaal Parliament under the Responsible Government. He was appointed Commandant-General of the newly founded Union Defence Force In 1912. In 1913, he visited Europe and met Kaiser Wilhelm II. On his return to South Africa, he clashed with General Louis Botha, whom he considered overly concerned with overseas commitments. He started negotiations with General De La Rey and others in opposition to the Government. At the outbreak of the Great War, he felt he had no choice but to resign. General Smuts accused him of treason. He was involved in the Rebellion and was drowned while crossing the Vaal River, pursued by Government troops. Boer Forces
BeytellArnoldus StepfanusKorporalAwarded the ABO. ArtillerieBoer Forces
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In the DNW auction of June 2008 was a QSA awarded to a recipient who had fought on the Boer side and then on the British side.  The British awarded him with QSA.  There is no record of his application for the ABO.

My thanks to DNW for allowing the information from their catalogue to the reproduced here:

Mark Samuel Thring had the unusual and dangerous distinction of having fought on both sides during the Boer War. First in Natal in 1899 and 1900, as a member of the Swaziland Commando at the battles of Colenso, Pieter’s Hill and Alleman’s Nek. Then, as a Trooper in Steinaecker’s Horse from March 1901 to July 1902. He was fired on by the Boer Commando that captured Bremersdorp on 23 July 1901 but unlike some of his comrades, he managed to make a fortuitous escape. There is no doubt that a violent fate would have befallen him had he been taken prisoner - of four hensoppers en joiners captured at Bremersdorp one was executed and the other three flogged.

Thring was born in Stanger, Natal on 24 May 1865, part of a British family that had emigrated to South Africa in the early 1800's and established “Thring’s Post” in Natal, a trading station that featured in both the 1879 Zulu War and the 1906 Zulu Rebellion. He is recorded as being involved in Swaziland, which lay between the Eastern Transvaal and Northern Natal, as early as November 1887 when he obtained a land concession. Swaziland was an independent country with an administration provided by the South African Republic (ZAR) from 1895 to October 1899 when it was withdrawn. Under Boer regulations Thring was eligible for service on Commando and when the South Africa War commenced he was called up for compulsory service in the Swaziland Commando, which was composed of resident burghers and members of the Swaziland Police. He took part with them in the invasion of Natal and fought in the early stages of the Natal campaign. On 28 October 1899, the 200 burghers of the Swaziland Commando climbed the steep face of Lubombo in the north of Zululand and attacked the police post at Kwalileni manned by a Sergeant and 17 Zululand Police with two white police. At the battle of Colenso on 15 December 1899, it was the withering fire of the Swaziland Commando, amongst three others, dug in on the other side of the Tugela River that destroyed Hart’s Irish Brigade in the loop between Bridle and Pont Drifts. It was part of the besieging force at Ladysmith and fought at the battles of Pieter’s Hill on 27 February 1900 and Alleman’s Nek on 11 June 1900.

It is not known at what stage Burgher Thring extricated himself from his service with the Swaziland Commando, which was withdrawn into the Eastern Transvaal as Buller’s Natal Army continued its advance northwards in August 1900, surrendered or was captured by the British forces. A Swazi spy kept the British informed of the Boers’ movements in Swaziland, and the records show they included those of M. S. Thring. It is recorded that the Natal authorities considered him to be a Boer spy (Steinaecker’s Horsemen by Bill Woolmore and “Neutrality Compromised: Swaziland and the Anglo-Boer War”, by Huw M. Jones in the S.A.H.M.S. Military History Journal Vol. 11, No. 3/4 refer). It is probably no coincidence that Thring enlisted in Steinaecker's Horse at Koomati Poort rather than at Durban, where the majority of enlistments took place, given that the Natal authorities thought he was a spy and he would most likely have been arrested. Steinaecker’s Horse, raised and commanded by the Prussian Baron Von Steinaecker on Kitchener's instructions at the end of 1900 was Head Quartered at Koomati Poort on the border with Portugese East Africa and it was there that Thring enlisted on 14 March 1901. Though Steinaecker’s Horse was described as ‘rough lot’ by General Pole-Carew (Woolmore refers), they were an aggressive and mobile unit in an increasingly bitter and vicious guerilla war. Swaziland was an independent kingdom during the Boer War but its neutrality was not respected by either side. In late 1900/early 1901, Steinaecker's Horse started operating there. As a long standing former resident of Swaziland and fluent in Afrikaans, his knowledge of the territory would have made Thring an ideal scout. The area over which they operated was notoriously hostile, with constant threat from Boers, lions and disease, and Steinaecker’s were consequently the best paid corps in South Africa, with a daily rate of 8 shillings for Troopers compared to 5 shillings in most of the other South African Mounted Irregular Force units - the Bushveldt Carbineers, operating not far from Steinaecker's Horse, being the other exception.

However, men such as Thring were derided as hensoppers en joiners by the Boers. The British called them “National Scouts” and eventually raised a unit from surrendered Burgers titled the same. They were often viewed with grave suspicion within their own units and ran risks from both sides. Such suspicion sometimes led to extreme measures, as witnessed by the shooting of Trooper Van Buuren of the Bushveldt Carbineers by Lieutenant Handcock, one of the acts for which he was subsequently executed alongside his brother officer Lieutenant “Breaker” Morant. The hatred of the Boers still serving on Commando towards these hensoppers en joiners was fierce and the risk to a captured “National Scout” was great. Retributions were reported to have ranged from summary execution to castration and flogging.

At the beginning of July 1901 a detachment of 110 men of Steinaecker’s Horse under Von Steinaecker’s command was based at Bremersdorp, the former administrative capital of Swaziland. The Swazi Queen-Regent was unhappy with the British troops being there and informed Commandant-General Botha who ordered the Ermelo Commando to take the town. ‘The commando had surrounded the town during the night, only to find that the bulk of the detachment [of Steinaecker’s Horse] had moved eastwards. Scouting at daylight near the Transvaal residency on the eastern side of the town, M. S. Thring was the first to notice burgers riding up from the river. He was fired at ... ’ (Jones refers). In the fight that followed Steinaecker’s Horse suffered four killed in action and four seriously wounded, with an unknown number taken prisoner. The town of Bremersdorp was captured, looted and burned by the Boers. Assistant Commandant-General Smuts, who led the Boers at the action, reported to General Botha that he had captured four hensoppers who had previously served with the Ermelo Commando and he believed that a further sixteen former burghers with the Steinaecker’s Horse detachment had escaped. The four prisoners were taken back into the Transvaal where they were court-martialled. One was shot in front of the Ermelo Commando, one received 25 lashes, another 15 lashes and a fine, and the last 10 lashes and a fine. Thring obviously escaped from Bremersdorp and continued serving with Steinaecker's Horse until he was discharged time expired at Koomati Poort on 7 July 1902.

With a precarious post-war future ahead of them, only a handful of the “National Scouts” or hensoppers en joiners ever bothered to collect their Queen’s South Africa Medals and it is doubtful, understandably, whether any applied for the Anglo-Boere Oorlog Medal on its inception in 1922. Certainly, the double award of QSA and ABO has never been recorded. It has long been rumoured that Jan Smuts ordered the destruction of many of the records pertaining to these men owing to the bitterness and hostility amongst the Afrikaners caused by their actions. The QSA medal rolls and unit enlistment forms never indicate whether a man was a surrendered Burgher and therefore, it is very rare to find a QSA that can be so definitely attributed to, and with such history, to a man who fought for and against both Boer and Briton.

QSA (1) DNW Apr 04 £140.  DNW Sep 06 £260.  DNW Jun 08 £800.  Wellington Auctions Oct/Nov 09.

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