I have started on a new project - the man behind an ABO that has been in my collection for several years. It came to light again when I recently showed it on a thread in which the Heidelberg Commando was mentioned. I will post the full story later, but first I need to ask a question.
How many Boer POW's in camps in other countries got married while still a POW?
If I had been asked this question, I would have guessed that none did. However, the subject of my investigation, Edward Meyers, who was captured at Heidelberg on 2 November 1900 and sent to the Ahmednagar (or Ahmadnagar), Camp in India, married Mabel Lilian Lincoln in Amritsar on 28 November 1902. Meyers' "Rank or Profession" was given as "Boer Prisoner of War". The marriage ceremony took place in St Paul's Church and was conducted by the Archdeacon.
Ahmednagar and Amritsar are 1880 km apart by rail, a journey that today takes about 33 hours, so for a POW in 1902 to have moved from one to the other would have taken unusual resources and determination.
I will be interested in opinions as to how this surprising event may have come about.
Great story that! Who was Mabel, perhaps she provided the funds?
Was Meyers still a POW in November 1902 - 5 months after the end of the war. I don't when the POWs in India were repatriated, I know it took some time from Bermuda - especially where POWs refused to acknowledge the "new South Africa". If Meyers was such a "refusnik" I can't imagine the British authorities allowing him out of the camp to get married.
Thank you for your response. This was such a startling discovery that I need the input of others to make sense of it. Perhaps Meyers was 'paroled' after the war ended and, although he remained in India, it gave him the opportunity of meeting his wife-to-be, and, as you suggested, she arranged the finance, travel to Amritsar, and wedding. They were still married 10 years later, by which time they had two sons.
The marriage was not the only unusual part of Meyers' life. He was born in the small Northern Cape town of Hopetown (of diamond discovery fame) and was apparently the illegitimate son of a local woman. He was given his mother's surname (van Coller) when he was baptised in the local Dutch Reformed Church. Tellingly, there were no witnesses to this baptism. At that time and in that place, an illegitimate birth would have been a monumental scandal.
Young Edward later took his father's surname and that name leads on to another curious situation. Although 'Meyer' is a common surname amongst Afrikaners, 'Meyers' is often (or always) a Jewish surname. In fact, the website, SA Jewish Rootsbank lists Edward Meyers under "SA Jews in Boer War" as "possibly Jewish". There is a paper in the SA Military History Journal (Vol 10, No 2, December 1995) on "Boerejode" in the Boer War. The paper states that there were at that time "some 200 .... 'Boerejode', although the list remains incomplete."
I bought Meyers' medal only because I wanted a Heidelberg Commando ABO for my collection. It has turned out to be a great prize.
You are lucky to have Meyers ABO, I wanted one to a member of the Heidelberg Commando, so I would have bought it for the same reason as you, very seldom see any these days, I'll have to start looking again.
Another curious thing about Burgher Meyers' medal is that he waited until 1949 to claim it - 29 years after the medal had been instituted. Meyers was then 71 years old. As a result, his ABO has a WWII Africa Service Medal suspender and is named in the WWII style.
Ian Uys' book on the Heidelberg Commando probably makes it the best documented commando of the war, and that adds interest and value to its ABO's, which are good reasons to collect them.
I think those late claims often prove very interesting, Heidelberg was a very interesting place back in those days too, I read Ian's book as a boy shortly after it was published, the only Heidelberger I have is a member of Major Vallentin's own "Witkop commando" so perhaps I should buy a medal to the opposition!
Kind regards Frank