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Diyatalawa Boer POW Camp, Ceylon 7 years 8 months ago #49240

  • Elmarie
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Elmarie Malherbe
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Diyatalawa Boer POW Camp, Ceylon 7 years 8 months ago #49242

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They are excellent pictures, Elmarie. I have not seen those before.
Dr David Biggins
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Diyatalawa Boer POW Camp, Ceylon 7 years 7 months ago #50078

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I'm major ruwan karunarathne of sri Lanka (ceylon) army.pracently I'm serving as the Chief lnstructor of a military training school which is situated In the same buildings where boer POW s were kept.I need more pictures n details about the concentration camp and details about rondous ground at Diyatalawa.these details are required to keep the records written here for the references of future generation.
my email is [email protected]
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Best regards....Major ruwan

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Diyatalawa Boer POW Camp, Ceylon 7 years 7 months ago #50079

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I'm major ruwan karunarathne of sri Lanka (ceylon) army.pracently I'm serving as the Chief lnstructor of a military training school which is situated In the same buildings where boer POW s were kept.I need more pictures n details about the concentration camp and details about rondous ground at Diyatalawa.these details are required to keep the records written here for the references of future generation.
my email is [email protected]
My mobile nos are
+94773709995
+94714561116
Best regards....Major ruwan

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Diyatalawa Boer POW Camp, Ceylon 7 years 7 months ago #50093

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Good day Major

I did send you a few (30) photographs of Diyatalawa, Ceylon via E-mail.

Regards

Elmarie
Elmarie Malherbe
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Diyatalawa Boer POW Camp, Ceylon 1 year 9 months ago #85247

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VISIT TO THE BOERS IN CEYLON.
.
....A German doctor residing in Colombo sends to the German press the following account of a visit which he has paid recently to the Boer prisoners at Diyatalava: -
...."Having sent on my groom with my Arab pony by rail from Colombo to Bandaravela, I followed by the night express on the Ceylon Government Railway. This railway is one of the best mountain railways in the world, and the beauty of its route can hold its own with that of the Gotthard or Semmering railroads. Moreover, it is the most profitable railway in the whole world, although from an Eastern aspect the cost of travelling by it is by no means high. Thus, a first-class ticket by the express, inclusive of the use of the sleeping-car, from Colombo to Bandaravela, a distance of 158 English miles, costs 20 reis, or about 27s. Falling asleep in a perspiration shortly after leaving Colombo, I awoke at six in the morning with chattering teeth. The cold was intense, for we had attained during the night an altitude of about 5,000ft., and had reached the tea district. Soon after leaving Nevera Eliya [Nuwara Eliya], the fashionable hill health resort, the tea plantations ceased. They were met with next in Haputale, and were interspersed with coffee plantations at many points. These latter are all that are left of the coffee industry of Ceylon, for it was destroyed by a blight of the leaf. At last, after a journey of fourteen hours, my pony, the groom, and myself reached Bandaravela, which lies 4,000ft. above the sea-level. The Boer camp is distant about two miles from the hotel at Bandaravela, and the intervening country is a mass of impassable swamps. As the road in course of construction by the Boer prisoners was not then completed, I was obliged to ride a distance of eight miles by a cart road under the risk of not being admitted into the Boer camp, for every visitor must apply to the commanding officer of the camp two days before he wishes to visit it, and I had omitted to do this. However, by the special courtesy of Colonel Vincent, I received not only a pass to admit me, but I was also directed to the camp guard, who had to furnish me with a non-commissioned officer to show me round the camp.
...."The Boer camp lies in one of the prettiest valleys that can be pictured. The green meadows, surrounded by beautifully wooded hills, remind one of the mountain scenery of Central Europe. Afar off one can easily distinguish the two camps lying closely together, for their corrugated roofs glisten in the sunshine. The camp occupied by the Boer prisoners is surrounded by a hedge of barbed steel wire about 6ft. in height, while at small intervals are posted the red-coats of the Cornwall Regiment, with bayonets fixed on their quick-firing rifles. Outside this camp is the camp of the troops guarding the Boers. At Diyatalava there are about 5,000 Boer prisoners of war and 1,000 British troops guarding them. As I passed through the steel wire fence the camp police asked me for my pass, and a corporal in khaki kindly offered to act as my guide. Just within the camp are the post and telegraph offices. The former must have been established for despatching the inevitable 'picture postcard' to the Boers' friends. The telegraph office has the special task of advising all the railway stations of the escape of a prisoner, and the Government gives a reward of several hundred rupees for the capture of every escaped prisoner. All the barracks are built of corrugated iron by the Colombo Commercial Company, and very well built they are. The buildings are airy and clean. Two rope railways supply the camp daily with wood for fuel and with fresh provisions. The shops furnish everything that can delight the heart of a prisoner of war, for he can obtain jam and condensed milk, any amount of white bread, and excellent frozen meat from Australia. For the latter article of food is brought daily fresh from the ice factory at Colombo.
...."The Boers spend almost the whole day in the open air; they sleep upon camp beds, richly provided with warm covering, which affords a good protection against the rather rigorous cold of the early dawn. Tents have been erected for the Boer officers, and General Roux and General Olivier have pretty little houses. The Boer, accustomed to steady farm work, found it tedious to lounge about all day long; thus, nearly every one of the prisoners was not long in finding something to do according to his taste. Some of them wash clothes, others cook food, or make firewood. Yet again others practise their handiwork as tailors, joiners, or wood-turners. A Berlin man makes very pretty wooden pipes, and his work is so much sought after that he cannot supply the demand. On one of the open spaces a regular fair has come into existence; there one Boer sells another a pencil, writing paper, and the picture post-card, which has such a marvellous sale. Other Boers sell food and drinks, but trade in these articles is very sluggish. Alcoholic beverages are really forbidden, and only the Boer officers receive their rations of spirits, for it really is too much to ask them to drink "five o'clock tea" from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. The natives practise every possible form of cunning to smuggle the forbidden whisky into the camp, but it is generally confiscated by the British soldiers, who are supposed to hand it over to the quartermaster.
...."A large hall made of plaited palm leaves forms the "Recreation Hall." The tables are pushed together, and thus a stage is formed. The drop-scene was painted by a 'Mr. Bantje, artist,' as he proudly styles himself. The picture represents the battle of Magersfontein. It could just as well represent Plevna or Koniggratz, although 'Mr. Bantje, artist,' himself told me that he had been present at Magersfontein; but when he pointed out that the patches on the right were Highlanders and those on the left Boers I had to believe that he had painted the picture. My guide, a sturdy Tommy Atkins from Wales, assured me that the dramatic performances were splendid, only that it was difficult to find among the long-bearded Boers actors to take the parts of Julia or Cleopatra—'Charley's Aunt' presented fewer difficulties. The orchestra is complete, and consists of piano, violas and trumpets.
...."It is a striking fact that one sees so few young people among the Boers; they are most intelligent-looking men varying in age from 30 to 50 years, and include a great number of older men. They are all simply and painfully cleanly clad, and nearly all those sent to Ceylon seem to be farmers. Even their officers generally wear peasants' clothes, and are distinguished from their soldiers only by a red ribbon round the hat. The hospital is filled to overflowing with cases of measles, typhus, and enteric. There is a special hospital for the severer cases, and these are tended by English nurses brought from South Africa. Another hospital is at Mount Lavinia, near Colombo, and on the sea coast, and it was built for the convalescents. The British Government is doing everything in its power to help the sick. A soda-water factory was built and is managed by the Boers, and thus the hospitals are supplied with soda-water and lemonade. Ice is brought twice daily by rail a distance of 100 miles. But all this is not of great avail, for most of the patients arrived in ill-health, and they find it hard to regain their health in the damp climate of Ceylon."
_____
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...."Fate was against us in sending us against our will to see the beauties of Ceylon, but she has relieved us in placing us under the charge of humain men and gentlemen." This is an extract from the Boer prisoners' paper, the Dyatalava Camp Lyre.
The Crewe Guardian, Saturday 6th April 1901
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