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  • RobCT
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First of all, if there is anyone who manages to read this long winded story in full I would like to say thank you!

Yes, it it is based on a pair of Anglo Boer War medals, and with the news that the Springbok rugby team will face the French team in a quarterfinal match of Rugby World Cup next Sunday, I am reminded of a special occasion more than fifty years ago.

Lastly, a brief look at the on-line records of the Transvaal Archives indicates that there is a photograph titled: “Boerekrygsgevangenes te Shakjahanpur. Die lede van di Skaakklub” held under reference 5145 which includes Luit. Du Veen. Hopefully somebody has a copy.

I recently acquired the following group of medals for the simple reason that I was intrigued with the combination of this ‘rather ordinary’ QSA medal and the ‘ACF’ prefix preceding the service number of the recipient on the Africa Service Medal indicating the parttime service of an Active Citizen Force member who served “within the Union” during the Second World War. Confirmation that the recipient was also recorded as being present at an action with a well-known Cape Rebel leader during the Anglo Boer War and, of course, the familiarity of the surname also piqued my interest. One of the disadvantages of collecting medals to the local Cape colonial town guards, particularly those awarded to other ranks, is that it is often particularly difficult to unravel anything about the individual recipient. In most instances there were no attestation records and with no regimental records of any sort very often the collector is left being unable to even determine the name of the recipient.

Fortunately, in this case intriguing aspects about the recipient could be unravelled and give some meaning to his life and wider family story.

Three – QSA medal no bar: (Pte. H. Duveen, Prieska T.G.); KSA medal two bars SA’01 & SA’02 (not entitled); Africa Service medal (ACF H. Duveen) Mounted as worn.

Note: Not entitled to KSA – this medal named to a member of the 9th Lancers.

Henri Francois Duveen is recorded as having been born in The Hague in South Holland on 28 February 1878. He was the third son of Henri Hangjas (sic) and Betsy Betje Duveen who were married in Haarlem in North Holland on 5 November 1872.

Henri Hangias, the father of this QSA medal recipient, was born in Haarlem in North Holland in 1848 whereas his mother Betsy, or presumably sometimes referred to as Elizabeth in South Africa, was born in Meppel in Drenthe in the north eastern part of the Netherlands on 4 November 1850. Henri senior was described as a ‘koopman’ and died on 19 June 1877 several months before his youngest son’s birth and following the long-held Jewish tradition the young boy was named after his recently deceased father. Some six years later his mother, Betje, remarried her namesake, the 30 year old Joseph Duveen, on 28 February 1883 and understandably her sons from her first marriage adopted the surname Duveen, this being both her own maiden name and the surname of her second husband. The 1911 English Census records that Betje, recently widowed once again the year before, as living in the fashionable suburb of Castelnau in London with her 37 year old art dealer son George (sometimes called Jacob) and a younger 17 year old student son Albert Maurice. Betje died in 1918. Whilst it is well known that many errors and mistakes are perpetuated in the details listed on Ancestry’s “Family Trees” and other genealogical websites it would seem that Betje was most certainly the daughter of Joseph Duveen and Eva Joel van Minden. Her “marriage index record” records the name of both her father and mother and of course her husband Henri Hangjas. Following this line of thought she was evidently the sister of the famous British and American art dealers Sir Joseph Joel Duveen and his brother Henri Joseph Duveen. She was therefore also an aunt of Sir Joseph’s son, Joseph Duveen, who later became the 1st Baron Duveen. The Duveen brothers became stinkingly wealthy, probate records recording that Sir Joseph senior left an estate of more than half a million pounds! The 1st Baron, Lord Duveen quickly became the biggest art dealer the world had ever seen and accumulated far greater wealth and notoriety.

It is worth noting some further details about the Duveen family. Much has been written. The well-known online encyclopedia Wikipedia records that Baron Duveen was British by birth, being the eldest of thirteen children of Rosetta (Barnett) and Sir Joseph Joel Duveen, a Dutch Jewish immigrant who had set up a prosperous import business in Hull. The Duveen Brother’s firm became very successful and became involved in trading antiques. Shortly after he was knighted Duveen senior died in 1908; his son Joseph took over the business, working in partnership with his late father's brother Henry J. Duveen. He had received a thorough and stimulating education at University College School and he moved the Duveen company into the risky, but very lucrative, trade in paintings.

His success is famously attributed to his observation that "Europe has a great deal of art, and America has a great deal of money". He made his fortune by buying works of art from declining European aristocrats and selling them to the millionaires of the United States. Duveen's clients included Henry Clay Frick, William Randolph Hearst, Henry E. Huntington, Samuel H. Kress, Andrew Mellon, J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller Sr., Edward T. Stotesbury, and a Canadian, Frank Porter Wood. The works that Duveen shipped across the Atlantic remain the core collections of many of the United States' most famous museums. Duveen played an important role in selling to self-made industrialists on the notion that buying art was also buying upper-class status. He greatly expanded the market, especially for Renaissance paintings with the help of Bernard Berenson, who certified some questionable attributions, but whose ability to put an artistic personality behind paintings helped market them to purchasers whose dim perception of art history was as a series of biographies of "masters."

Duveen quickly became enormously wealthy and made many philanthropic donations. He donated paintings to British galleries and gave considerable sums to repair and expand several galleries and museums. Amongst other things, he built the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum to house the Elgin Marbles, and funded a major extension of the Tate Gallery.

For his philanthropy, he was knighted in 1919, made a Baronet of Millbank in the City of Westminster in 1927 and raised to the peerage as Baron Duveen of Millbank in the City of Westminster on 3 February 1933. His life’s story and exploits are extensively recounted in Meryle Secrest’s hefty 2005 biography Duveen: A Life in Art.

But back to the Lord’s cousin, to Betje Duveen’s third son, the young boy who was named after his deceased father Henry Hangjas and who was the recipient of this simple group of medals.

It is evident that Henry and his elder brother Joel Charles Duveen, Betje’s second son, came out to South Africa in the mid 1890’s. Perhaps surprisingly they seemingly did not head for the rich gold fields in Johannesburg seeking their own fame and fortune but found themselves closer to Kimberley and quickly established themselves at the Northern Cape Town of Prieska. The younger Henri soon began trading and established a shop in Church Street in the centre of Prieska. Leaving Henri, his elder brother Joel Charles Duveen travelled northwards to the Northern Transvaal where he is recorded as having applied for Transvaal citizenship in early 1898. Both brothers were soon to find themselves caught up in the Anglo Boer War.

Perhaps not too surprisingly Henri, understandably due to his commercial stake in the town, joined the Prieska Town Guard and the subsequent QSA medal he received is confirmed on the relevant medal roll which was prepared in Prieska. This medal roll, dated 9 September 1902, was signed by Captain Thomas Lietch Hedley as the Officer Commanding the Town Guard. It seems as if this medal roll was prepared in two (perhaps three) sections, the first which includes the name Pte. Henry Duveen amongst 15 names has a lengthy marginal note attached with reads:

“The men whose names appear on this roll all did special Military Duty viz: Escorting convoys and horses between Prieska and De Aar, also were engaged with Commandant (Edwin) Conroy’s Commando on the 6th of January 1902 between Prieska and Karabee.” (about 15 kms south east of Prieska)

The following two pages, listing a further 42 names but without reference to this marginal note, was also signed by the Captain Hedley at Prieska on 9 September 1902 and presumably this marginal note was also applicable to these additional names. Whether or not all these individuals were actually involved in the clash with Commandant Conroy’s Boer Commando on 6 January is perhaps somewhat questionable. Finally, a third undated Supplementary Roll, including a further nine names, is once again signed by Hedley but now noting his designation as (Late) Capt. & O.C.

A marginal note attached to this Supplementary Roll reads as follows:

“I certify that the men whose names appear on this roll were actually called out for active Military Service against the enemy in between the dates 22 – 1 - 00 & 30 – 6 – 02 and that they are all Europeans.”

From these dates one might assume that the activities of the Town Guard commenced in mid-January 1900 and continued until after the cessation of hostilities in 1902. Military historians and medal collectors will be aware of the ongoing rebel activity in the vicinity of Prieska during the guerrilla phase of the war and the confirming statement on the medal roll that the Town Guard, and presumably Henry Duveen, was involved in an action with Commandant Conroy is a distinct bonus for the medal collector who endevours to highlight the many rebel actions which took place in the Cape Colony during the later stages of the Anglo Boer War.

Commandant Edwin Alfred Conroy saw action during the Anglo-Boer War as a Rebel from Britstown in the Cape Colony. He joined the Boer forces in December 1900 and was active in the Britstown, De Aar and the Houwater area and had operated as far as Petrusburg in the Free State. He later joined forces with General Manie Maritz in the Northern Cape, where they remained when peace was declared in May 1902.

Conroy went to the Northern Cape with definite guerrilla strategies in mind and as had happened in Griqualand West, his entry into the region brought an extreme and bloody dimension to the struggle there. To achieve control of the region Conroy instituted a campaign of terror against loyalist farmers and blacks in general, but particularly armed blacks in British service. While he flogged white farmers who would not support the rebels, he shot captured black soldiers out of hand. His attitude towards the former was the same as that of Commandant Carel Petrus van Heerden in the Midlands: he wanted to provoke a general uprising in the Cape by causing farmers to be the victims of harshly repressive measures which would alienate them from the State (Cape Government) and propel them into rebellion.

His extreme attitude towards black troops was partly a result of the killing of Boer wounded at Naroegas in April 1901, but chiefly because he regarded blacks in the region as, in the first place, the eyes and ears of the British forces and, in the second place, as illegal belligerents. By the war's end there were no fewer than 71 murder charges pending against Conroy for the shooting of black prisoners. He was also one of the handful of Boer officers specifically excluded by Lord Kitchener from the Vereeniging clause which stated that no rebels would be executed for war crimes. Years later he served as a Member of the Union Parliament from 1920 to 1943.

Conroy's first base in the Northern Cape was at Kiekamspoort near Prieska. Within a month of arriving in the region his commando had grown to 300 men but many of these were unreliable, being low calibre recruits. There was also a problem regarding horses and rifles, but in early January 1902 he launched a successful attack on the horse camp at Karabee, less than 20 km south-east of Prieska, and captured a large number of horses. It was this action which Captain Hedley confirmed that the Prieska Town Guard, including Henry Duveen, was involved.

While Henri Duveen sided with the British by joining the Prieska Town Guard his elder brother, Joel Charles Duveen, took up arms for the Boers being noted for his gallantry on several occasions. Unfortunately for the medal collectors of today his ABO medal was never claimed.

Various South African Jewish military historians have written extensively about his exploits during the War. In particular he has been noted for his gallantry at Spionkop where he purportedly saved the life of his senior officer.

Charlotte Wiener in writing her Masters’ dissertation titled “The History of the Pietersburg [Polokwane] Jewish Community” in November 2006 records the following:

Chief Rabbi Rabinowitz interviewed Harm Oost, a Dutch immigrant, about his fellow soldier Joel Charles Duveen. Oost had met Duveen in Louis Trichardt and fought side by side with him for the Boers. Duveen was a Dutch Jew born in 1876 who had come to Louis Trichardt in the Northern Transvaal in the mid-1890s. Several Dutch Jews had been encouraged by President Paul Kruger to reside in the Zoutpansberg during the 1890s, partly in order to staff his civil service. Duveen became a hero in the Anglo-Boer War fighting for the Boer forces. He was described as a "well-built blond daredevil". In 1898 when one of the stores of the State Artillery in Louis Trichardt caught fire and several artillerymen were unable to escape, Duveen dashed in, ignoring the exploding bullets and shells, and rescued the trapped men. When the Anglo-Boer War broke out, he joined the Zoutpansberg Commando and fought in Natal. He was selected by General Beyers for dangerous intelligence work behind enemy lines. Not satisfied with this, Duveen persuaded Colonel Mentz and Major Dommisse to form a small scouting party to harass the British. On one occasion they tried to derail a train a few miles from Naboomspruit in the Northern Transvaal. Although his party was surrounded, he managed to get them to freedom without a casualty. His own horse was killed, and he had to take cover in a thick bush to escape his pursuers. On another occasion he displayed great courage when he rescued his fellow officers from hundreds of mounted men with just seven Boers. At Spioenkop, a British soldier threatened to shoot Duveen’s Veldkornet. Despite having an empty rifle, Duveen threw it to his shoulder and shouted: “If you shoot him, I will shoot you”. The officer dropped his gun. Duveen, at the age of 25, was wounded in the stomach and sent to the hospital in Potgietersrust where he was captured in October 1901. He was sent to India on 2 November 1901 to sit out the last eight months of the War. After his release, he settled in Pietersburg with his Afrikaans wife and son and opened a store. In 1904, on a trip to his store in Thabina in the Lowveld, he contracted blackwater fever, which proved fatal. Already dying, he was taken to the store of a nearby shopkeeper, but such was his dislike of the English, that he insisted he be put on the floor to die. He is reputed to have said: “I am going to die, but I refuse to die on an Englishman’s bed. Put me on the floor.”

(Note: The date 1904 is clearly incorrect – Joel’s Death Certificate records that he died 5 years later on 19 May 1909 at his Silati store/ house leaving his widowed wife Catherina and three young daughters. Two months after his death his son Joel Charles was born on 1 July 1909. Eighteen months later his widow Catherina married Albertus Johannes De Roos on 21 February 1911)

During the late guerrilla stages of the War, Joel continued to display the reckless gallantry for which he had become well known. Being described by an old comrade-in-arms as: “He was a real dare-devil and never satisfied unless he was in some scrap with the enemy”. It was these qualities that brought him to the notice of General Beyers, who selected him for intelligence work behind the enemy lines. This he usually carried out himself, but sometimes he did so in the company of a small patrol. Duveen’s luck ran out in October 1901, when he was severely wounded during an attack on a fortified camp at Prusen near Potgietersrus. He was removed to the Potgietersrus hospital, where he was made a prisoner and sent to India for the remainder of the war. Joel married the 21 year old Carolina Wilhelmina Smit in Pietersburg on 15 June 1904. She was the eldest daughter of Phillip Cornelius and Johanna Christina Carolina Smit of the farm Doornfontein in the Pietersburg district. She, together with her parents and 8 siblings are recorded as having been interned in the concentration camp at Irene outside Pretoria from 22 February 1902 to 18 June 1902.

Hendrik Jacobus Botes in his University of Pretoria 1989 Doctor of Theology thesis about the senior Afrikaner theologian Ds Louis Ernst Brandt (1873 – 1939) quotes in detail a letter written by his wife which includes several remarks about Joel Duveen. Joel’s marriage to the Smit’s daughter understandably caused a great measure of unhappiness in the conservative Pietersburg church community and Joel’s daughter was eventually baptised in the Wesleyan church. In her letter Mrs Botes details the events of that time and the marked unhappiness of Joel’s father-in-law and Joel’s subsequent determined and actual physical struggle with her husband. In her letter of 1 December 1905, she makes some disparaging remarks about “De Jood” saying “een vechtersbaas bekend voor zijn diefstal op commando en zijn bedrog als winkelier” which may be translated as “one fighter champion known for his looting on Commando and his swindling as shopkeeper” and “De Jood is zoo sterk als een leeuw” (The Jew is so strong as a lion). Some 3½ years later Joel contracted blackwater fever and he died at his Selati Store in the Zoutpansberg on 19 May 1909. He remained a staunch bittereinder to the end of his life.

Henry adopted citizenship of the Cape Colony in 1904. It would seem that whilst he was living in Prieska that he entered into a business partnership with Hendrik Enslin as a file heading: “Motion. Opposed application. Johannes Van Rensburg versus Johan Hendrik Enslin and Henri Duveen trading as H. Duveen and Co. Suspension of civil imprisonment.” is to be found in the online information held in the South African Archives dated 1905. The identity of this “Hendrik Enslin” (perhaps Henry Enslin) has not been identified however from records publicly available on FamilySearch is noted that one Clara Elizabeth Hendrina Jeppe, the daughter of Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Jeppe, married Johan Hendrik Enslin at Prieska on 1 May 1905, his profession as recorded on their marriage certificate being noted as “Clerk”. Johan’s father was also named Johan Hendrik and it would be quite usual for the son to become known as Hendrik. Both Clara and her husband Johan Hendrik were born in Prieska. (There were however other individuals named Hendrik Enslin who were born in the Prieska area around the 1880s.)

In 1909 Henry travelled back home to the Netherlands and it was there, in Deventer, that he married Roza Rozendaal on 18 August 1909. He was then 31 years old and during the next ten years he and Roza had four sons, their youngest being born in Prieska in 1919. (Unfortunately, no birth certificates as yet located) Little else is known as to what he did in those years although there is no record of him having donned a military uniform during the Great War of 1914 – 1918. Official records reflect that the General Dealer’s license held by Henri Duveen in Prieska and trading as Duveen and Company were transferred to Jetty Goldberg on 14 June 1935. Sometime before the 1930 he moved with his family to Cape Town where he established his family home at “Stanhope” in Gibson Road in Kenilworth. It is recorded that he established the firm Disa Textiles in Elsies River in 1932. It would seem that a shop on the corner of Church Street and the Main Road in Wynberg was also established. A few years later the business was restyled Duveen & Sons Textiles (Pty.) Ltd. in 1938. For some unknown reason he relocated business to Pietermaritzburg in 1942.

With the advent of World War 11 Henry once again played his part. Having been born in 1878 he was already more than 60 years of age. Service documents reflect that while still based in Wynberg he served once again as Private No ACF 146291 with the 14th Battalion National Volunteer Brigade (Police Reserve) from 17 July 1940 to 1 November 1940. On moving to Pietermaritzburg, he transferred to the 18th South African Coastal Defence Corps and served with them from 1 November 1940 (another document records 19 June 1942) to 15 August 1942 when he was ruled to be permanently medically unfit having served a total period of 2 years and 29 days and qualifying for the award of the Africa Service medal.

Evidentially, in the new business arrangements the name of the Company was simplified and called Duveen & Sons (Pty.) Ltd. The letterhead of the Company Duveen & Sons (Pty.) Ltd of August 1945 indicates that Henry, his wife Roza and his four sons Joseph, Leonard, George and Vernon were all noted as being Directors. In later years the business expanded to also produce towelling and towels. Henry died at Gray’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg on 11 June 1962 aged 84 years and was buried at Mountain Rise cemetery in Pietermaritzburg. The cause of his death was recorded as a coma and bilateral bronchopneumonia and diabetes mellitus. At the time of his death, he was living at 140 King Edward Avenue in Pietermaritzburg and Mountain Rise. Sadly, perhaps due to the loss of his continued guidance, the firm Duveen & Sons (Pty) entered voluntary liquidation 15 June 1978.

To the wide-ranging collector and numismatist, the name Duveen is enormously significant.

Henry J. Duveen who has been mentioned as one of the founding partners of the famous art firm was a famous and legendary philatelist who has been dubbed “The Philatelic Uncle”. He was famously a regular stamp companion of King George V. It is recorded that as a man Duveen was genial, engaging, and likable, and that his benevolence prompted clients to affectionately call him ‘Uncle Henry’. These customers were the real personalities of this period, because Duveen attracted the rich and famous to his New York art gallery. After his death in 1919 the well-known auctioneers Phillips sold his immense collection the proceeds of which were donated to the Royal Ear Hospital in London.

While Henry is of course best remembered by collectors as a philatelist he also famously stimulated his son Sir Geoffrey Duveen to become a serious coin collector. When Henry died, he bequeathed a few important gold coins to his wife and in due course Sir Geoffrey gradually and judiciously added to the collection during the period between the two World Wars building up the nucleus of an important collection. At the end of World War II Sir Geoffrey gave the collection in turn to his wife, Lady Elsie Duveen, who continued to add to the collection which was subsequently sold at auction by the well-known auctioneers Glendinings in 1964.

Incidentally, one of South Africa’s most famous coins, the unique gold striking of a ZAR 1892 half-crown was part of the Duveen collection and was the top priced single coin sold at the Glendinings auction. One of my early numismatic memories is a trip to Durban to attend the Third South African Numismatic Convention in 1967 where this same unique coin was then exhibited by Dr Sneider who ran an Antique business known as Georgian Antiques in the city. I well remember marvelling at this special coin but perhaps my most enduring memory of that visit to Durban was an unforgettable afternoon sitting behind the goal posts at the King’s Park Rugby Stadium and watching Western Province’s golden boy “H.O.” De Villiers display his awesome counter attack running, often starting from deep within the South African ‘twenty five’ when playing fullback for the Springboks in their Test Match against the touring French Les Tricolors rugby side featuring their iron man Walter Spanghero and the diminutive Guy Camberabero at flyhalf. Fortunately, making a thrilling day, the Springboks won 26-3.

Thanks for reading!

The following user(s) said Thank You: Elmarie, David Grant, Sturgy

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  • Elmarie
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Joel Charles Duveen
Elmarie Malherbe

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  • Rory
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Well researched and well presented Rob.

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  • Ians1900
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A very interesting read. Thank you for sharing your research Rob.

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  • gavmedals
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Rob, another in-depth research project resulting in a fascinating read and a wide spectrum of the Duveen family's history


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