I posted previously in Introductions about my search for information regarding HPJ Baasden who was a Prisoner of war held in indie.
First some background :
Hendrik Petrus Jacobus Baasden was part of the Heidelberg Kommando under the Sandrivier "kornetskap" and was captured by the British on 18/02/1901 near Rietvlei. He was transported to Indie on the Hawarden Castle and arrived in Indie on 23/04/1901.
According to the records he was held at Ahmednagar in a place called Satara.
I managed to locate and obtain a copy of a letter that he wrote to his wife Sophia Wilhelmina who was held in a concentration camp in Winburg at the time.
From this letter it is clear that he was very ill and just started recovering from this illness at the date of the letter (14 May 1902).
I have no information on wether he made it back to South Africa. This is my next step in my investigation into this mans life. I am doing my own family history research and just sort of got ficsated on Hendrik Petrus. I must get his full history!!
More detail on the Camps: Ahmednagar and Satara, India.
Ahmednagar or Nagar (19º04'N 74º 44'E)
This city is located in the Maharashtra province on the left bank of the river S'na, some 218 miles (350km) from Bombay. Ahmednagar is a town of considerable antiquity, having been founded in 1494 by Ahmad Nizam Shah, on the site of a more ancient city, Bhingar. During the war with the Hindu Marathas in 1803, Ahmednagar was invested by a British force under General Wellesley and was captured. It was afterwards restored to the Marathas, but again came into the possession of the British in 1817, according to the terms of the treaty of Poona. During the period from 1899-1902 the British military cantonment was the headquarters of a brigade in the 6th division of the Western Army Corps
The city, which boasted a population of 43,032 in 1901, is situated in a comparatively barren tract of land with a small rainfall. It suffered from drought in 1896-1897, and again in 1899-1900. According to Petrus Joubert who was amongst the first arrivals at the camp in 1901 the city was once more having a very dry spell. Shortly after their arrival the POWs held a day of prayer asking the Lord for forgiveness and His blessing. A few days later much needed rain brought relief to the drought stricken area.
During the POWs sojourn in Ahmednagar the camp was hit on three occasions by winds/whirlwinds. J.S. van der Watt accounts how a whirlwind struck the camp at 14:00 on 31 May 1903 leaving hut no 2 partially destroyed. Two men were injured and taken to hospital. “It was horrible to see how the people had to dig beneath the rubble for their possessions,” he wrote in his diary. On 6 June the camp suffered a similar fate when the wind partially destroyed hut no 1. The POWs who had no coats grabbed some blankets for cover, as they had to flee to the open ground. On the third occasion three huts were damaged while hut no 20 lost part of its roof. The high summer temperatures also made life in the camp a misery. According to Van der Watt it was difficult to walk from one place to another in the camp in the afternoon because of the terrible heat.
The POWs were housed in the fort situated at Ahmednagar. It is a stone fort with thick walls between twenty to thirty feet high enclosed on the outside by a deep and wide moat. Round the moat there were the regulation barbed wire entanglements. This fort was once considered as one of the most unimpregnable forts in India. According to Rev. D. J. Viljoen it made a bad impression on him on first sight “Everything looked terrible (treurig) and the idea of being incarcerated behind these high walls was unbearable “ he wrote in De Kerkbode of 13 June 1901.
The camp was established in the large open space inside the fort and at one stage housed more than 1200 POW’s. The area was large enough for nineteen buildings with “streets” between the buildings, and a recreation area.
This camp was used as a goal for recalcitrant POWs, would-be escapees and irreconcilables. According to J.R. Burg he and a few of his friends were sent to Ahmednagar because they had made several attempts to escape while still in Greenpoint camp. After the signing of the peace treaty all the irreconcilables from the rest of India were gathered here. It seemed to Fanie Hugo if the men in Ahmednagar were to be the rear guard of the prisoners of war in India. In fact the camp only closed on 8 January 1904 when the last of the irreconcilables either took the oath or were sent off the Dutch East India.
The prisoners were housed in bungalows/huts — between 54 men to 62 men in one bungalow. A line captain and a corporal were elected by their fellow prisoners to keep order and to act as liaison between the camp authorities and the men in their charge. The officers were housed separately from the men in bungalows of their own — up to two men per bungalow, thus giving them much needed privacy in a camp teeming with people. A separate dining room was also set up at one end for their use.
Major J.H. Goodwyn was in charge of the camp
Satara (17º41'N 74º 01'E)
Satara district is located in the western part of Maharashtra. It is bounded by Pune district to the north, Solapur district to the east, Sangli district to the south and Ratnagiri district to the west. Satara district is situated in the river basins of the Bhima and Krishna River. The annual average rainfall is 1426 mm while the min. temp is 11.6 °C and the max. temp is 37.5 °C It is situated on the banks of river Krishna. The fort in the heart of the city can be seen from every part of Satara. It is 3300 feet high.
This was a camp for 200 parolees and was situated 128 km south of Poona. They were mostly from Ahmednagar and were moved there in March 1902 after uproar broke out in the camp over the signing of parole. The men willing to sign feared for their life and had to be removed for their own safety. Petrus Joubert and his brothers were amongst the 180 men who finally signed the parole agreement at the station at Poona en route to Satara. At Satara thay could move freely within a radius of 6 miles from the camp — a highly appreciated privilege especially after being confined for fifteen months in Ahmednagar. Major C.T. Waite was in charge of the camp until its closure on 9 August 1902.
The men were housed in huts that were slightly better appointed than those at Ahmednagar but were uncomfortably hot. The camp itself was open i.e. it had no fence surrounding it.