After he was captured, Meyers was sent to the Ahmednagar Camp in India. Later he was moved to Amritsar in the Punjab, which is 1800 km north of Ahmednagar. This was a fortunate move for Meyers, because it was in Amritsar that he met and married a young British resident of that city. It was not his good fortune that resulted from his move that puzzled me, but rather why the move was made in the first place. There would have had to have been a very good reason for transferring one, and perhaps more men such a long distance after they had already been settled in one camp.
Can anyone suggest a reason why such a transfer of a POW was made?
See attached hereto the explanation and details re FORT GOVINDGHAR (AMRITSAR).
Fort Govindgarh (Amritsar) (31º 38'N 74º 52'E)
Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhs in the Punjab province of India, gets its name from the pool Amritsar (Pool of Nectar), that was constructed by the fourth religious preceptor of the Sikh faith. The city was founded in 1577 by the fourth guru of the Sikhs, Fram Das and contains the Golden Temple, the Sikhs most sacred Gurdwara. The shrine, a large complex of buildings is built round a sacred rectangular lake. The city lies on the Asian Highway. Amritsar’s annual temperature in summer is 34º C and the minimum is 15ºC. During the winter the temperature may fluctuate between 18ºC and 0ºC. The annual rainfall is 592 mm.
It is also the site of Fort Govindgarh where the POWs were incarcerated. The Runjeet Singh built the fort in 1806 and ”its great height and heavy batteries rising one above the other, give it a very imposing appearance” a correspondent of the Illustrated London News wrote in 1849. When the temperature rose to uncomfortable heights during the summer the POWs spent their days in the fort and obtained permission to spend the nights on the wall of the fort.
Fort Govindgarh, was known as “The Hell “ amongst the 1200 Boer Prisoners of War held there. A thick wall varying in height between 21-28 ft enclosed the fort. According to Pieter Kolver it was a multi-walled fort. Entry to the fort was gained through the portcullis, which was later replaced by a heavy iron gate. The POWs sometimes swam in the moat surrounding the fort. The fort itself was in fact much smaller than the one at Ahmednagar. According to Cornelis Greyling the fact that all the gates were heavily barred while a heavily armed guard was on duty at all times discouraged any foolish attempt at escape.
Captain W.H. Traill was in charge of the 200 POWs until the closure of the camp on 10 December 1902. Conditions were most unpleasant. It was extremely hot outside although deep inside the fort it was much cooler as the servants kept the ceiling fans turning. In May 1902 it was so hot that not even the fans brought any relief. According to P.H.C. Pohl the POWs even had sympathy for the unfortunate “E” company who had to guard them as they were also exposed to the rotten water surrounding the fort, which “inevitably would give both the POW's and their guards typhoid fever”, he argued. However J.K. van Wyk Els mentions in a letter to a friend that it was in fact much cooler there than at Ahmednagar and that he could sleep without being drenched in sweat as they were housed in “big airy houses.” During the height of the summer of 1902 some of the elderly men who could not stand the heat were sent to Solon where it was much cooler
According to Cornelis Greyling they were held in the eastern battlement of the inside wall of the fort near the entrance.
From March 1902 the number of POWs held grew at a steady rate as men were sent here from Trichinopoly, Umballa and Ahmednagar..
On 23 June 1902 at 16:00 the armed guards were withdrawn leaving only the normal Indian garrison in place.
Source: Elria Wessels
Elria Wessels is an old colleague of mine and you are welcome to mail her in this regard. [email protected]