I have only just re-watched 'A Million Ways to Die in the West', which is an American Western comedy film directed by Seth MacFarlane and then came across in the last few days this article. At that time, I thought to myself of all the books and articles that I have read over the years about the Boer War and considered the many ways and methods (some strange, bizarre and unbelievable) of how these brave men met their death. Whether it may have been during the heat of battle or skirmishes, mis-adventure, intentional accidents and not, act of God (freak of nature) or disease.
A N.S.W. Lancer Gored to Death.
A SAD accident occurred at the Remount Camp on Sunday, January 14 (writes the Stellenbosch correspondent of the "Cape Times"), one of the rough riders of the New South Wales Lancers being gored to death by a bull. It appears the unfortunate man and a companion were returning from the Highlanders' Camp to their own. What exactly happened I cannot say, but from what I gather the men went too close to the fence and raised the bull's anger, whether by teasing him or not I cannot say. However, the bull went for him, breaking down the fence, and simply ripped him up, and trampled him into a jelly. The other man prudently de-camped. The inquest was held on the Monday morning, and the funeral took place the same afternoon, being attended by about fifty of his comrades (mounted), and in passing through the village were joined by a large number of citizens. The unfortunate man's name was Cunningham. He leaves a widow and two children.
(The "Evening News " says : There is evidently some confusion of identity in connection with this unfortunate man. There is no trooper named Cunningham with the New South Wales Lancers, gone or going to South Africa, and Trooper J. W. Cunningham, of the Mounted Rifles, who sailed in the Southern Cross, is still at sea.)
From the footnote of this article, the first clue was one, he wasn't of the NSW Lancers. Relying on my copy of Palmer's, 'Boer War Casualty Roll', it became obvious when looking up CUNNINGHAM and seeing in the remark column: 'Gored by Bull', I knew that I had my man. Information found was that Private 3358 W. Cunningham of the 2 Dragoons (Royal Scots Grey) was killed at Stellenbosch which is also noted as being a Remount Depot.
The medal and award roll (WO100/114) also confirms the information of this soldier and his death and the issuing of his QSA with the Cape Colony clasp to his next-of-kin on 16 March 1903. Roll as follow -
Private Cunningham was buried at Stellenbosch which is approx. 40 km east of Cape Town, but has since been reinterned and is remembered at the Maitland Cemetery, Cape Town and who's name appears on the Boer War Memorial (first row at the top).
I'm interested to hear from other forum members of what they have read, of some of the more obscure ways that soldiers fighting on both sides have perished during the Anglo-Boer War.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dave F, Moranthorse1
A really interesting thread.
During lockdown to while away the time, I went through the SAFF casualty lists and compiled separate lists of causes of death other than the more glorious as a result of battle Killed in Action, Died of Wounds etc. I categorised them, for example, killed by lightning, killed by animal, drowned, died of disease etc, etc.
There is one example of Trooper Smart of steinaeckers horse being killed by a lion and another chap killed by a crocodile! Both bodies were recovered by comrades before they were eaten.
I now feel moved to add to your thread and actually put the data to use. Hopefully will post soon.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Trev, Mickster
Thanks for responding to this post and I'm looking forward to any stories that you can share with other members of this forum. I thought that it would be really interesting as well to start keeping track of some of the more interesting (if I can say that) ways that soldiers have died during the Boer War period.
I really enjoy reading the letters that I find on line, that family members and friends have allowed their local papers to print. Unfortunately these letters can often tell fascinating stories similar to what you have discussed, about lightening strikes, lions etc., but rarely do they include names of the poor individuals affected. I'm glad that you have started to find these soldiers names, so the challenge now is to find further personal accounts to build upon.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Moranthorse1, Mickster
I am sure that I echo the sentiments of Trev when I offer many thanks for making us aware of your thread. I almost duplicated your work!
Having gone through the same process as yourself in poring the pages of the casualty rolls it really gives you a feel for the hazards faced by combatants aside from the Mauser bullet.
Also, as a collector I must comment on the rarity of finding a QSA on the market to men who were drowned, killed by lightning or killed by an animal!
Death by plague was also a disturbing casualty.
I look forward to any back stories that may appear on this fascinating topic.
Fantastic work and thanks for the link.....even if I'm 7 years late to the party. With this particular information you have provided with the causes of deaths that have occurred during service of these soldiers, you have afforded me (and no doubt Steve as well) a helping hand in topics that I can commence to search with.