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Of all the ways to die......... 1 week 5 days ago #80691

  • Dave F
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One of the 9 casualties who were accidentally poisoned was 9368 Private Joseph Parker. 46th (Belfast) Company, 13th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.

Joseph was born in 1871 at Eastfield Farm Belfast County Antrim.
He joined the Imperial Yeomanry on the 1st of January 1900
A farmer by trade he was 29 years and 6 months old when he left for South Africa. Of fair complexion, brown hair and eyes, he was 5ft 7 inches tall and weighed approximately 10 stone 7 pounds. His religious denomination was Protestant. He served for one year and during his time in South Africa he ended up at the British field hospital at Deelfontein. It is not certain if Private Parker was wounded when he arrived.

In 1900 the British military field hospital, the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, Deelfontein, Great Karoo, Northern Cape was constructed for casualties from the Second Boer War. The location was chosen for its communications and dry climate, and its proximity to De Aar, then the centre of hostilities. Alfred Downing Fripp was Chief Medical Officer.
The hospital, with a capacity for some 800 patients, largely comprised tents and prefabricated huts.
Little remains of the complex except a cemetery with around 130 graves and the remains of the Yeomanry Hotel, built after the war to accommodate soldiers' relatives visiting the site.

What happened to Joseph whilst at the hospital remains an enigma.
His death was recorded as accidental poisoning. However, was it self administered, or a medical blunder?


Private Joseph Parker was killed by an accidental taken dose of Carbolic acid


By 1867Joseph Lister decided that carbolic acid (or phenol, a derivative of coal tar), then being used to cut the stench of sewage, was just the thing to help dealing with infections and germ reduction in hospital wards and operating theatres. Carbolic acid, Lister determined, should be rubbed on the surgical tools and hands, and the bandages meant to cover the wounds should be soaked in it. Moreover, he suggested, it should be continuously sprayed in the air of the operating theatre during the duration of the surgery, even on the surgeons, to ward off germs. If this practice was being implemented during the ABW conflict could it be  possible that Joseph was accidentally killed by fume inhalation or through bandaged wounds? or he may have just decided to end his life by ingesting the liquid? The report states accidentally taken which does indicate Private Parker may have mistook it for something else.Unfortunately, all supposition on my part, and a mystery which will remain unsolved whether it foul play, a medical error, suicide or just a simple error of mistaken identity of medicine which cost Private Parker his life.

Joseph died on the 30th December 1900. His personal effects were returned to his father James, he left behind his mother Evalina and his brother and sister Tom and Mary. His QSA entitlement was Cape Colony and Orange Free State.



You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Best regards,
Dave
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Of all the ways to die......... 1 week 5 days ago #80692

  • jim51
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Dave,
Great piece of research. I havn’t seen those pages before, are they for UK service members only?

Cheers,

Jim
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Of all the ways to die......... 1 week 4 days ago #80695

  • Dave F
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Hello Jim
I found the cause of death certification on find my grave, it was attached to the Deelfontein casualty information. However, I believe it to be a UK document requirement. The info below is pertaining to births and death. The 1894 medical document I found may have been used by the I Y hospital for their records, or a standard form required by the military? To be honest Jim I'm not really sure.



Certificates of Cause of Death

With respect to certificates of the cause of death, the following provisions shall have effect:

(1)The Registrar General shall from time to time furnish to every registrar printed forms of certificates of cause of death by registered medical practitioners, and every registrar shall furnish such forms gratis to any registered medical practitioner residing or practising in such registrar's sub-district:

(2)In case of the death of any -person who has been attended during his last illness by a registered medical practitioner, that practitioner shall sign and give to some person required by this Act to give information concerning the death a certificate stating to the best of his knowledge and belief the cause of death, and such person shall, upon giving information concerning the death, or giving notice of the death, deliver that certificate to the registrar, and the cause of death as stated in that certificate shall be entered in the register, together with the name of the certifying medical practitioner :

(3)Where an inquest is held on the body of any deceased person a medical certificate of the cause of death need not be given to the registrar, but the certificate of the finding of the jury furnished by the coroner shall be sufficient.

If any person to whom a medical certificate is given by a registered medical practitioner in pursuance of this section fails to deliver that certificate to the registrar, he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings.

Best wishes

Dave.....
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Best regards,
Dave
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Of all the ways to die......... 1 week 4 days ago #80705

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Hi Steve,

I have found the two that I assume are brothers.
1. Ralph Mostyn Owen, 3679 Kitchener’s Horse & 412 Western Pro. M.R.
Suicide 30 March 1901. This is the QSA that I have.

2. Henry Mostyn Owen, 3320, Kitchener’s Horse & 424 Western Prov. M.R.
Wounded 20 June 1901, Died injuries? 5 August 1901..
Another entry on the SOTQ site ‘ dangerously wounded not in action’.
I don’t have this medal. The details of death are confusing, wounded and died injuries? Usually it would be noted ‘died of wounds/ injuries accidentally received’.

So it may be my suspicious nature but there may be more to Henry’s death.
I have a photo of Ralph’s grave.

Cheers,

Jim
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Of all the ways to die......... 1 week 1 day ago #80758

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Hi Jim,
I am sure that your hunch is correct with the surname Mostyn Owen.
Cheers Steve

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Of all the ways to die......... 1 week 1 day ago #80760

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MULTIPLE CASUALTIES OF LIGHTNING STRIKES

During lockdown in 2020 whilst compiling the list of causes of death during the Boer War, I noticed that there were several instances of multiple casualties from lightning strikes at the same location.
My first thoughts were that as men were marching in column or were encamped/outspanned out on the veldt, they were caught out in the open on a flat landscape and could have been struck by lightning in either of these situations resulting in groups of men being knocked over.

On 29th November 1900 1 man was killed and 5 injured of the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment at Schoeman's Nek by a lightning strike.
On 31st October 1900 1 man was killed and 4 injured of Bethune's Mounted Infantry at Blood River.
31st January 1901 saw 15 men injured, the majority severely at Belfast. All were soldiers of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders.
The 6th Inniskilling Dragoons suffered 1 man killed and 3 injured on 20th December 1901.
The 1st Battalion Worcesters had 1 man killed at Ficksburg on 9th November 1901 and another on Christmas Day 1901.
Prince of Wales Volunteers suffered heavily on 10th November 1901 at Vryburg with 1 man killed and 7 injured.
The Highland Light Infantry had 1 killed and 3 slightly injured at Jammersburg on 19th November 1901.
2nd King's Own Yorkshires had 1 man killed, 1 man severely injured and 1 man severely shaken at Dieplaagte on 7th February 1902.

I have just finished reading the excellent book by Simon C. Green (2020) entitled 'Anglo-boer War Blockhouses: a Military Engineer's Perspective' and found a very likely hypothesis as to why groups of men could be struck down at the same time.

Page 204 of the book states that 86 men died from being struck by lightning during the conflict and one of the causes could have been the fact that during the blockhouse, wire and drives phase of the war, the Imperial forces built blockhouses of different designs along strategic lines of communication in order to corral the roving commandos. The Rice Blockhouse was of a corrugated tin construction and many would have been sited on a vantage point that would have been higher than the surrounding land in order to gain the best view of the approaching enemy. These tin blockhouses would have acted as a perfect lightning conductor out on the vastness of the veldt. These blockhouses were garrisoned by one officer and 6 to 8 men and I reckon that this is why the above mentioned multiple casualty incidents would have occurred. Also, with the exception of the Bethune's men, the other groups were all imperial units who would have manned the blockhouse lines.

Maybe I have just stated the obvious, but it is only when you study these blocks of data that you see patterns begin to emerge. October to January appears to be the main storm season.

Maybe another forummer has an account to hand of a witness to a lightning strike.
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