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The last Boer PoW on St Helena - Charles John Smith 11 months 1 week ago #80366

  • Jon
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(with the unlikely surname of Smith)

Charles Smith (aged 25) and his brother Alfred (aged 24) both of 30 Avenue Road, Fodrsdburg Johannesburg, were both captured at the Battle of Elandslaagte 21 October 1899 (prisoners 4199 and 4200) and shipped off to St Helena. All confirmed with NA WO 108.

His subsequent story (and picture) is recorded on the sthelenaIslandinfo site as follows;

He had been liberated in 1903, but, liking his insular prison, he had elected to stay forever. He had married a native and for many years had run a bakery. Only once had he ventured into the outside world, and that was in 1912 when he travelled to Durban to see his ailing mother.
Known on the island as ‘Boer Smith’ he died on 16th September 1958 at the age of 85 and was buried in St. Paul’s Churchyard. His only daughter Muriel died in 1992 but he has descendants still living on St Helena. His brother was also imprisoned here but he elected to return home.
Robert Stephen, a serviceman stationed here in World War 2, describes him from his memo irs ‘Around the Atlantic” in “Wirebird: The Journal of the Friends of St Helena” #46) - “One great character in the town was the baker, known as ‘Boer’ Smith. As a young man he had fought with the Boers in South Africa, had been taken prisoner, and brought to the P.O.W. camps on the island. When the prisoners were repatriated at the conclusion of hostilities, he stayed on to become a baker. He had prospered, and at one time used to drive furiously around in his carriage and pair. However, he had drunk his fortune, and at this time was again a poor man, but a great ‘worthy’.
He delighted to air his old-fashioned Afrikaans to my South African mates, and to spin amazing yarns of his exploits in the war, all pure fabrications, as he had only been sixteen years old when captured [actually 25 per the records]. A scar on his leg, which he invariably exhibited as an old wound, was actually the result of a fall down some cliffs. At least so others informed us. Once he began his tales it was nearly impossible to break away, and it was frequently said that ‘Bore’ Smith would describe him much better.“
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