Upon examination of some POW records from the Anglo-Boer War Museum’s database (
), I’ve discovered the records of several prisoners who seem to have been captured twice. I cannot be sure that these are, in each instance, the same individual, but the addresses and ages seem to match.
Does anyone have any idea about the circumstances that may have been involved in cases such as these? I gather there were some escapes, but did these happen on a significant scale? I also gather that some POWs were sent back to their families from the Green Point camp. However, my understanding is that they would have been sent to join their families in the concentration camps. Did appreciable numbers of those leave the camps, only to be recaptured, or perhaps never reach their destinations in the first place? Did some join or rejoin commandos? Would they have been required to sign an oath of neutrality (or something like that) before being sent back; if this was the case, were they viewed in a more negative light than other Boers when they were captured, or in any instances treated more harshly?
I have listed a few examples below, all of them recaptured on 11 January 1902; the location of their capture is given as Kroonstad. I have not been able to find mention of any engagement on that day, so I imagine it’s possible these men were not necessarily on commando, but simply rounded up by patrols in the area because they were found outside the refugee camps. Does this seem a plausible scenario?
I don’t know much about the nature or degree of effectiveness of the bureaucracy surrounding the movement and detention of the prisoners. Might these prisoners perhaps not actually have been captured twice at all, the second record in each instance merely being an administrative anomaly? In that case, I guess the suggestion in my example records that these prisoners were captured at Kroonstad might actually be a designation of the region they were from.
I apologize for the extensiveness of my list of questions. These records simply seem to me to point to some potentially fascinating stories. And I can’t help but wonder about those stories, having had my imagination primed by tales of my partner’s grandfather, who was captured twice and sent to two different POW camps (in Italy and Germany) during the Second World War! I have a further interest in that I am a descendent of the first individual on the list below – the unfortunate man who, when first captured at the age of seventy, had not been on commando, and who (unless he had joined a commando upon returning to the Free State) may have had the unfortunate distinction of having been twice taken prisoner of war without ever having lifted a rifle. Or perhaps there were many others who experienced a similar, rather unlucky, fate?
I would very much appreciate any enlightenment on this topic anyone could give.
The examples I have are:
Ferdinand van Niekerk: First captured at Niekerksrust on 7 October 1900; prisoner number 14663; ref. ID 13745; age 70; sent to Green Point Camp. Recaptured at Kroonstad on 11 January 1902; prisoner number 28234; ref. ID 27310; age 72. Address in both records Niekerksrust.
Hendrik Philippus Serfontein (Snr): First captured at Honingspruit on 14 September 1900; prisoner number 12735; ref. ID 11819; age 37; sent to Green Point. Recaptured at Kroonstad on 11 January 1902; prisoner number 28453; ref. ID 27528; age 38; sent to Bhim Thal. Address in both records Roodewal.
Johan Andries Richter: First captured at Lower Methin on 2 June 1900; prisoner number 14786; ref. ID 13868; age 52; sent to Green Point. Recaptured at Kroonstad on 11 January 1902; prisoner number 30120; ref. ID 29195; age 53. Address in both records Lionsden.
Johannes Jacobus Haupt Minnaar: First captured at Lindley on 11 August 1900; prisoner number 11556; ref. ID 10640; age 24; address Lindley. Recaptured at Kroonstad on 11 January 1902; prisoner number 28205; ref. ID 27281; age 25; address Lindley Town.
The same pattern occurs with the following other examples of prisoners captured on 11 January 1902: Jan Harm Labuschagne (age 37), Joseph Martinus (A) Hattingh (age 22), and Cornelius Martinus Johannes Fouche (age 42) – that is, first captured in 1900; sent (where a destination is indicated) to Green Point; captured again at Kroonstad; sent (where a destination is indicated) to Bhim Thal. (The full records of these can easily be found on the Anglo-Boer War Museum’s database.)
Thank you for a most intriguing post. I cannot give you an answer to your question about the 'recapture' at Kroonstad except to suggest that the men had been paroled and then somehow broke the terms of the parole, and so were returned to custody.
Thank you very much for the reply. Your suggestion that they broke the terms of their parole seems logical to me. I wonder what those terms were, and how they may have violated them. If I happen across any information that suggests an answer, I'll post what I find.
Name Johan Andries Richter
Residence Place Lionsden, Kroonstad
Birth Year (Estimated) 1849
Nationality Free Stater
Event Type Military Service
Event Date 1902
Event Place South Africa
Source Description List of Boer prisoners of war, numbers 1-32561, 1899-1902.
Series Number WO 108/368
Affiliate Name The National Archives
Prison Name Natal
War Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902