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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Parish Records




War Memorials



As the 2nd Boer War got under way, both sides took many prisoners, and at first, most captives received reasonable treatment in compounds offering some shelter but as food and medical supplies ran out and rumours began to circulate of atrocities, many captured men received short shrift from their captors, some even being shot out of hand. Others were sent far away where they were kept in such harsh conditions that some did not survive their captivity.


A large contingent of men from the Devonshire regiment were captured in the early stages of the war during the Battle of Colenso. They were taken to a railway station called Waterval which was not far from Pretoria in the heart of Boer territory. There, they were housed with other British prisoners in sheds in the sidings. Officers were taken into Pretoria and housed in accommodation there.


The worse thing for both sides was that next-of-kin had no idea where their loved ones were or what was happening to them. The War office published weekly casualty lists which included men who had failed to answer to the daily roll call - these men were described variously as "missing in action" or "taken prisoner".


On 5 Jun 1900, Lord Roberts, with some 50,000 men, made a triumphal entry into Pretoria and captured the town. It was only after the subsequent release of prisoners from the camps that anyone could know the names of those who had survived imprisonment. It was another 3 - 5 weeks before lists of names began to be issued to the press in London and further time passed before this information filtered through to the provinces - an agonising period of waiting for the families of the men involved.


Boers with British prisoners of war
Boers with British prisoners of war


From The Devon Weekly Times

8 Jun 1900:

"Waterval, to which place the British prisoners were removed some months ago, is the second station on the railway line to Pretoria. The prisoners, to the number of about four thousand, were housed here in sheds, with the exception of the officers who were kept in Pretoria. It is reported that they have been released and since General French was to the north of the town on Monday, it is probably by him that they have been liberated.

The total number of missing and prisoners, according to the latest official return, was 4,348 non-commissioned officers and men and 178 officers, excluding those who have been recovered or released, but many, we know, are in hospital. 

150 officers and 3,500 non-commissioned officers and men are now safe in our camps. However, the retreating Boers have carried off some 900 men. They had intended taking away all the prisoners but the arrival of the victorious British Army frustrated their plans.


From The Devon Weekly Times

13 July 1900:

The War Office on Tuesday issued the fourth instalment of the lists of prisoners recovered at Pretoria. It included the following men:


1711 Colour Sergeant C. Smith

From Kingsteignton

4872 Private W. Heale

From Tiverton

4441 Sergeant Boyd

From London

2001 Private C. Heard

A married Reservist from Launceston.

1947 Sergeant W. J. Wade

A married Reservist from Portsmouth

2752 Private F E Hemming(s)

A Reservist from Birmingham.

3210 Corporal W. Frost

A married man of Alphington, nr. Exeter

5049 Private G Kitson

From Leeds

3861 Corporal Channon

2006 Private H Kelly

A married reservist from Exeter

2385 Lance Corporal R. H. Arbury

A Reservist from Birmingham

2025 Private W. Murphy

From London

4737 Corporal J, Longdon
3241 Private G. Hobbs

A married reservist from Norwich.

4493 Drummer G. Ellacott
2033 Private J. Richards

A Reservist from Pinhoe, nr. Exeter

1863 Private A. Allen

A Reservist from Berrington, Salop

3129 Private H. Slade

A married reservist from Great Torrington

2633 Private J. J. Billing

Reservist of Exeter, St. Thomas

3671 Private J. Snook

A reservist from Whimple

3741 Private W. E  Bobley
3171 Private C. Stentiford

A married Reservist of Wonford, Heavitree.

2015 Private Breadmore

A married Reservist from Exeter.

2938 Private W. Sweetland

A Reservist from Axminster

2854 Private A. Bulley

A married Reservist from Newton Abbot.

4966 Private G Batstone (in hospital)

A Reservist of Witheridge.

3463 Private C. G. Hancock

Reservist from Eccles.

2371 Private H. Tennant

A married reservist from Willesden, Middlesex.

1094 Private M. Hayes
2206 Private J. Wren

A married Reservist from South Norwood.



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