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I was commandeered for this war..... 6 years 1 month ago #40868

  • Rory
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Please forgive me for the fact that this recipient DIDN'T earn a Boer War medal but, because of his history and how it relates to the ABW I thought it would be of interest to readers, especially given the fact that he fought, at one time or another, for both sides of the divide.

Arthur Henry Wade

Trooper, Transvaal Rangers, (Raaff’s Horse) – 2nd Sekukuni Campaign
Burger, Standerton Commando - Anglo Boer War

- South African General Service Medal with clasp 1878 to Tpr. A.H. Wade, Transvaal Rangers

Arthur Wade was born in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape on 26 August 1859 the son of Thompson Wade who had come out to South Africa with the 27th Inniskillings Regiment and had opted to stay in the country when taking his discharge, and Rhoda (born King). The small settlements around the Eastern Cape were embroiled in as many as nine different Kafir wars against marauding tribesmen hell-bent on stealing the settlers cattle and plundering their meagre possessions so many a hardship must have been endured by the settlers there.

At an early age the family moved to Isipingo in Natal just south of Durban which is where Wade received some elementary schooling before the family set off to seek its fortune in the Transvaal where Wade continued to attend school in Heidleberg. Having finished his studies he met and married Anna Boshoff the daughter of a well known and respected Dutch farmer, A.J. Boshoff who was to serve as the Feld Kornet for the Standerton area in the Boer state, the Zuid Afrikansche Republiek, for more than 20 years.

According to his biography in South Africa’s Who’s Who he was also a nephew of the famous Dick King on his mother’s side and a grandson of one of the original 1820 Settlers. King hailed from Isipingo and in all likelihood they had moved to stay with that family, relatives of Wade’s mother’s.

With this illustrious pedigree Wade soon found himself as a Trooper with the Transvaal Rangers, otherwise known as Raaff’s Horse or Rangers. They were an irregular unit, numbering some 140 men who were raised by Pieter Johannes Edward Raaff for service against the Sekukuni and later the Zulus in 1878 and 1879. Wade saw service in the Sekukuni Campaign and would have been present in the Lydenburg, Steelpoort area where the Chief and his followers were in revolt. Once the situation had eased and Sekukuni was accounted for the outfit moved to Hlobane and Ulundi but Wade would, by then, have left their ranks. He was also active in the suppression of the Griquas who had risen up against their unwarranted inclusion into the Transvaal but who were easily and swiftly crushed. For his efforts he was awarded the South African General Service Medal, the so-called Zulu War Medal, with the clasp 1878.

For Wade the life of a fighting man wasn’t over. In 1881 he took part in the Siege of Pretoria as a member of the Pretoria Carbineers about who very little is known and went on the Bechuanaland Expedition with Warren in 1884. He was active in the Mapoch War as well where he fought with Boer or Z.A.R. forces.

Wade is also credited as being one of the Pioneers of Johannesburg having arrived at Ferreira’s Camp on 16 July 1886 on the day the soon to be famous Robinson Gold Mine Company was being pegged out. It was claimed that he was in the third wagon to reach the Goldfields. He was also at one time the owner of the claim on which the first hotel on the Witwatersrand (Edson’s Hotel) was built.

After a period he became the Manager of the Natal & Rand Coaching Company and ran coaches between Ladysmith and Newcastle in Natal and Johannesburg. Thereafter Wade joined the employ of Paddon & Brock for a period of 2 years before branching out on his own in 1895 as a Forwarding Agent and Mail Contractor between Standerton (where he had made his home) and Ermelo and Bethel and it was here, in Standerton, that we find him at the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War.

Wade, it must be remembered (and evidence will show) has fought alongside both Boer and Brit at varying times in the innumerable small skirmishes listed previously. He had been resident in the Z.A.R. for many years and was a citizen or Burger of that country. He had married a Dutch wife and was intricately linked with her family – all proud and God fearing Dutch folk of good farming stock.

The outbreak of hostilities between the Empire and the two Boer Republics in October 1899 must have placed Wade on the horns of a massive dilemma. On the one hand he owed much to his British heritage and antecedents whilst on the other he owed his livelihood and family happiness to the Boer side of things.

Seemingly the decision as to whom he should support was taken from him as will be revealed by the contents of the claim for compensation he made after the cessation of hostilities.

Wade’s story begins innocuously enough with the completion of a claim for the reimbursement of £240 for the loss cattle and horses (16 mules, 6 head of breeding cattle and a stable and room at Bethal). An investigation was launched and many witnesses were called. One such witness was a Lt. Colonel Stone, a Magistrate who wrote that,

“The claimant was a Burgher on Commando and surrendered under Lord Roberts’ proclamation; he never took up arms against or assisted the enemy. Being a full Burgher of the Transvaal, he would have been a rebel to his own government if he had not gone out when commandeered. I know claimant intimately, he is a most honourable man who has a high sense of duty and I feel great sympathy for men of his class who were betrayed by Mr. Gladstone’s annexation of the Transvaal. I have assessed this claim in its entirety and consider it fair and reasonable”

So what have we here? Someone who is springing to the defence of Wade’s reputation? This was necessary in the context of things because not everyone was convinced that Wade had joined the Boer cause with a gun to his head.

On 8 December 1900 Wade was required to make an Oath of Allegiance which read,

I, Arthur Henry Wade of Standerton town do sincerely promise and swear; that I will be faithful loyal and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, her heirs and successors. So help me God.

This was to enable him to resume some form of living to provide for himself and his family and also served the purpose of allaying British fears that he might revert to taking up arms again. He was also issued with a Pass or Protection Certificate which certified that “A.H. Wade.... has surrendered his arms ... and is now permitted to reside on his farm, without let or hindrance, but this permit does not allow him to leave the precincts of the farm without a special pass.” He was also issued with a Permanent Night Pass which stated that the bearer, A.H. Wade is a member of the Standerton Town Guard, and has permission to remain out of doors until 11 p.m. and to burn lights till 11.30 p.m.” It is doubtful that Wade was ever a member of the Town Guard but regulations probably dictated the wording of the Pass.

The Assistant Provost Marshall, Standerton/Heidelberg District wrote a confidential note to the Adjutant General on 13 October 1901 which, while difficult to decipher, read thus,

“Mr A.H. Wade, at present following the trade of contractor in Standerton, was on Commando fighting against the British and was made Prisoner of War in October 1900 and deported. He was sent back to Standerton on parole on his own representations that he “was about to surrender”.

But there is no record of why or how he was allowed back here or how he came to be in the District. He took the oath of allegiance under the Resident Magistrate which oath it has been decided was illegal. He can be considered therefore still a Burgher. I can find nothing against him but I have my strong suspicions that he is not loyal.”

So here was one detractor who was doubtful, and had expressed as much in writing, of Wade’s bona fides, alleging that he was still a “Burgher”. The reaction was immediate – the Officer Commanding the Remount Department wrote to the Adjutant General on 16 October 1901 stating that, “Mr. A.H. Wade’s name was not on the list of British subjects sent me by the Provost Marshall, therefore no payment has yet been made for the horse”. The A.G wrote back to the Compensation Board saying that, “As this man is not a British subject and he does not bear a particularly good character for loyalty (please see Asst. Provost Marshall’s remarks) payment cannot be made on this receipt but it should be dealt with by the Board.”

The Board duly met on 8 October 1902 to consider evidence and Wade was the first to state under oath that,

“I was on Commando and surrendered on the 9th July 1900. I took the oath of allegiance before General Clements in Standerton. Before the war I lived in Standerton. I was a forwarding agent and Post Contractor. I have put in a claim to the Military Board for cattle taken by the Military Forces in December 1900 and for a house destroyed at Bethal.

I am now claiming £255 in Government Notes which was paid to me by C.D. Kleynhans, Landrost (Magistrate) of Bethal for 16 mules sold by me to the late Government Z.A.R. The mules were my own property before the war and I was using them for the post contract between Standerton and Bethal. The price paid me was £20 per mule and I received in gold £65 and the balance in the Notes now put in. The Landrost told me he wanted the mules on behalf of the late Government and if I did not sell willingly the mules would be commandeered. The mules were sent away from Bethal and I was told were used for the Staat’s Artillery. The sale took place at the end of June or the beginning of July 1900.

The second witness called was a Christian Frederick Beyers, not the chap who went on to achieve fame later in the war as a General, who was an intimate of Wade’s. He stated as follows,

“I was on Commando and surrendered on the 8th July 1900. Before the war I lived in the town of Standerton and I knew Arthur H Wade. I am no relation of his. I knew Wade before the war and also the mules he had. I was present in Bethal at the end of June 1900 when Wade sold to the Landrost of Bethal 10 mules for the use of the late Government of the Z.A.R. on the 6th July 1900he again sold 6 mules to the Landrost.

The price agreed upon was £20 each and Wade was paid £65 in gold and £255 in Blue tacks. The Landrost told Wade that the mules were required for the purpose of pulling the cannons and if he did not sell them willingly the mules would be commandeered and I believe if Wade had not sold the mules the Landrost would have taken them from him.”

A further statement was taken from Wade as the 1st Witness in his case it read,

“I was a Burgher and surrendered on 9 July 1900 and took the oath. I remained in Standerton since then. I was sent away for about a fortnight on the S.S. “Catalonia” (this was a floating prison ship for Boer prisoners of war) as a Prisoner of War. I was made a Prisoner of War by mistake. I left the Boers at night and was waiting outside the picquets for daylight. A British patrol came along and made me a prisoner.

There is no change in my family since my last claim”

In evidence Wade later stated that,

“I was originally a British subject. I came to the Transvaal in 1873 and acquired Burger rights, by residential rights, in 1884 or 1885. I was given Burgher rights by reason of having been resident in the country before 1876.

I was commandeered for this war and fought up to 9 July 1900 when I voluntarily surrendered at Standerton and handed in my arms and ammunition. I took the oath of neutrality on the 11th of July and I left Standerton and was sent to the “Catalonia” as a “Prisoner of War”. I was told by Colonel Sandbach that it was a mistake my being sent to the Catalonia but I cannot remember his reason. At the end of July 1900 or the beginning of August I was sent to Standerton and got a residential pass to live there. I have been living there ever since carrying on the business of forwarding agent in the town.

My family consists of:-

- Two brothers in Cape Colony, 1 a British subject and the other a Transvaal Burgher. They were not in the country during the war.
- Wife and children – (both young) – nee Boshoff daughter of A.J. Boshoff of Wildebeest Kraal.)
- Two brothers-in-law, 1 on parole in Durban, 1 surrendered in Krugersdorp, 1 surrendered in Standerton, 1 surrendered in Natal, 2 surrendered in Heidelberg.
- Father-in-law in Standerton – surrendered in Standerton

The above highlights just how fractured life had become for the Boers with, as is the case in the Boshoff family, their sons being spread far and wide.

On 27 August 1903 Wade was called upon to make a sworn statement in relation to the ongoing claim he had for compensation for his cattle,

“As regards the 6 head of breeding cattle left in charge of G. Leonard junior of Grootfontein (a farm). These cattle were allowed to remain on the farm with the stock of Mr. G. Leonard who surrendered and had a protector pass to remain on his farm. In December 1900 however, the Military Authorities brought in the whole stock from Grootfontein including mine.

As I have stated already before the Military Claims Board I had no chance of claiming my stock as it was immediately railed to Natal. I identified it on the way to the station. The Stable and room at Bethal were for the posting service for which I had the contract; the stable was a wood and iron building used for 4 horses or mules, and capable of holding more, flat roof and wattle floor. The room was for the boy and his wife and was brick lined the erf was enclosed with a fence of wooden poles and wire for which I have made no claim. There is nothing left.”

Wade was eventually awarded two-thirds of his claimed amount as compensation after the Authorities had convinced themselves that he had been telling the truth. Life went on now that the war was over with his social standing and influence increasing immeasurably in the years that followed the war. He became Chairman of the Grounds Committee and of the Agricultural Society since its inception and was a Member of the Executive Council of Transport, the Municipal Association, the School Board and the Licensing Board. There was scarcely a civic body that he dis not form part of and was a Trustee of the Building Society Board and on of the oldest Town Councillor’s in Standerton having been a founder member in 1903, Deputy Mayor in 1906 and Mayor in 1907 and 1908.

Going back to 1903 he was embroiled in a financial matter with the Office of the Inspector General of Hospitals writing to the Secretary of Public Works on 22 December 1903 as follows,

“I beg to forward you an account for £3.7 due to Mr Wade, Forwarding Agent at Standerton. This is for goods sent from Pretoria to Ermelo; they were consigned in the usual way to the Public Works Department at Standerton but the Public Works Department refused to take delivery and returned them to the Railway Station, they were subsequently stored at the Station for some months.
I beg to enclose a letter received from Ermelo on this subject and shall be glad of its return when you have finished with it.
I cannot understand why your representative refused to take these goods and forward them; they have always helped us in this matter previously.”

The reply came on 30 December,

“I beg to report that the consignment referred to never reached this Department, and upon enquiries being made of Mr Wade he expresses the opinion that the driver of the wagon was a native who probably could not locate the P.W.D., and therefore made the statement that we had refused to take delivery. The account is therefore returned herewith, together with Mr Wade’s letter”

In 1908 the “Indian question” raised its ugly head in the Standerton area and Wade, a civic leader to the last was at the forefront of a Petition started by the local people which read as follows and was addressed to the Speaker of the Parliament of the Transvaal,

1. That there has always existed a strong and consistent desire on the part of the white population of the Transvaal to restrict the influx of Asiatics and those known as Arabs and Coolies, particularly in view of the large and increasing population, and the consequent ever growing intensity of the question.

What followed was a litany of complaints around the matter including the ‘civil disobedience’ on the part of the Indians not to adhere to the passes issued to them and, in some cases, complaining that they were “burning” their passes in defiance of the law. Although Ghandi isn’t mentioned the Indians would have taken their lead from his actions across the border in Natal.

Arthur Henry Wade, British subject, Transvaal Burgher, civic leader and politician passed away after a long and, as we have seen, eventful life on 26 April 1939 at the age of 79 years 8 months. His wife had predeceased him on 30 August 1935 and he was survived by his children Harvey King Wade and Hester Gertruida Wade. As can be imagined the estate he left behind was sizable and amounted to £5 550.

Although he qualified for the Anglo Boere Oorlog Medal he never claimed it, probably deeming it prudent not to do so.[/size]

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

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I was commandeered for this war..... 6 years 1 month ago #40869

  • Henk Loots
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Hi Rory
As usual very well researched and presented!!
One correction : the C F Beyers referred to was not the Boer General C F Beyers!!
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I was commandeered for this war..... 6 years 1 month ago #40870

  • Rory
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Thanks for that Henk

I had wondered how a chap who surrendered in July 1900 had gone on to achieve the heights that the General did!

I've corrected my story.



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