Wednesday 16th of October 2002 01:13 AM 
Biographies: Foreign Volunteers

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United States of AmericaBoer Republics - War Flag
BLAKE, John Y. Filmore (Missouri, USA 1856 - USA 1907)

American soldier and scout. He entered West Point military academy in 1876 and became a second-lieutenant in 1880 and a lieutenant in 1887. Blake served in the 6th US Cavalry in the Apache Wars and was to command Apache and Comanche scouts. Three years later he resigned from the army and went to South Africa in 1895. He took part in the Matabele Rebellion of 1896, then returned to the Transvaal. On the outbreak of the South African War he formed the Irish Brigade and was given the rank of colonel. He lost the use of one hand at the Battle of Modderspruit. His brigade was congratulated by General Louis Botha for the gallant way they fought, especially in covering the removal of the Long Tom guns at the Battle of Lombardskop. During the retreat from the Orange Free State Blake and his brigade fought under General Koos De La Rey. His unit was the first to cross the Vaal River northwards. He fought in the guerilla war under Major J.L. Pretorious, Ben Viljoen and Jack Hindon until the end of the war with distinction, then returned to the U.S.A. where he died in poverty.

United States of AmericaUnited Kingdom
BURNHAM, Frederick Russell (1862-1947)Frederick Russell Burnham

American soldier and scout. Born in Minnesota, he spent his youth under conditions of great hardship and picked up much of his scouting lore in contact with indigenous Americans. After an adventurous youth he found his way to South Africa in 1893. On arrival he was involved in the Matabele War, in which he distinguished himself, and gained the friendship of Cecil Rhodes. He took part in the Matabele Rebellion of 1896 and during the South African War was appointed 'Chief of Scouts' to Lord Roberts. Upon his return to the United States he established the Boy Scout Movement there. He was usually called Scout Burnham.


IndiaUnited Kingdom
, Mohandas Karamchand (1869-1948)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - Thumbnail OnlyBorn in Porbandar, he qualified as a barrister in London, arrived in South Africa in 1893, to appear for Indian clients in Durban. Because of the treatment he received on account of his racial origin, he started his famous campaign for the rights of Indians. During the South African War he organised a corps of Indian stretcher-bearers and again during an outbreak of plague on the Rand, and during the Bambata Rebellion in Natal in 1906. After the South African War, Gandhi practised as an attorney in Johannesburg, coming into conflict with the existing legislation. Supported by a number of Europeans, he organised his famous Passive Resistance Campaign (satyagraha), which led to numerous arrests and to his own imprisonment. After various demonstrations, and a defiance of the ban on travel by Indians between the Transvaal and Natal, Gandhi made a settlement with General J.C. Smuts, as Minister of the Interior, embodied in the Indian Relief Act of 1914. Thereafter Gandhi returned to India, as a world-famous political figure. He maintained contact with South Africa to a certain extent. After witnessing the triumph of the Indian Nationalist cause, Gandhi was assasinated.

RussiaBoer Republics - War Flag
, Alexander, I. (1862-1936)

Russian volunteer to the Boer forces. He was wounded in the leg during the war. One of the major Russian capitalists, he became the leader of the liberal Octoberist Party (1907?) after the First Revolution. Later he was the Chairman of the Military Industrial Committee during the First World War (1915-1917) and the War and Navy Minister in the Provisional Goverment overthrown by the Bolshevik revolutionaries (1917).

United States of AmericaUnited Kingdom
LABRAM, George (1860 - 1900)

American engineer. Born in the U.S.A., he came to South Africa in 1894, being appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer for De Beers Consolidated Mines on October 8, 1896. He soon attracted attention by devising the very successful grease-table for catching diamonds in sorting, his fellow-inventor being F.B. Kirsten. The device, patented in 1897, was taken over by De Beers. During the Siege of Kimberley Labram built the famous gun 'Long Cecil'.
He was killed by a Boer shell.

FranceBoer Republics - War Flag
, Colonel Georges-Henri Anne Marie Victor (1847-1900)
General Villebois-Mareuil
French soldier and volunteer with the Boer forces. Born of an aristocratic family in the Vendee, France, he was educated at Nantes and at the Military College of St Cyr. After a short service in Cochin China, he fought in the Franco-German War of 1870, attended the Higher War College and received command of the 130th Regiment of the Line. On the outbreak of the South African War in 1899, he secured leave to volunteer, was accepted immediately by the Boers and fought gallantly near Kimberley and in the Orange Free State. He was killed near Boshof.



GermanyBoer Republics - War Flag
Von ZEPPLIN, Count Harro (Heinrich) (1869-99)

German volunteer in the Boer forces. Born in Germany (and related to the famous Count who invented the airships), he resigned, for 'social reasons', from a crack regiment of Uhlans and emigrated to the Transvaal. Arriving in Johannesburg just prior to the War, he joined the committee organising a German Volunteer Corps, and accompanied its commander Colonel A. Schiel as adjutant. He was killed in action at Elandslaagte.


Belfield, Eversley. The Boer War. Hamden: Archon, 1975.
Muller, C.F.J. 500 Years: A History of South Africa. Cape Town: H & R Academia, 1981.
Rosenthal. Eric [comp.] Southern African Dictionary of National Biography. London: Frederick Warne, 1966.
Uys. South African Military Who's Who



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Further Reading

Blake, J.Y.F. A West Pointer with the Boers. Boston: Angel Guardian, 1903. DT932B62.

Burnham , F.R. Scouting on Two Continents. NY: Doubleday Page, 1927. DT776B87.

D'Etechegoyen. Ten Months in the Field with the Boers. (1901)
[Ex-Lieutenant of Villebois-Mareuil]

Hale, F. 'The Scandinavian Corps in the Second Anglo-Boer War.'_Historia_ Journal of the Historical Association of South Africa. Volume 45, Number 1, (May 2000): pp. 220-237. Per.

McCracken, Donal, P. MacBride's Brigade: Irish Commandos In The Anglo-Boer War. Dublin: Four Courts, 2000.

Pretorius, Prof. Fransjohan. Kommandolewe Tydens Die Anglo-Boereoorlog 1899-1902. Pretoria: Human & Rousseau, 1991.
[also available in abridged, large-print, titled Op Kommando. Voortrekkerhoogte: Makro Boeke, 1992.

Pretorius, F. Life on Commando During the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press, 1998.
[English version of Kommandolewe Tydens Die Anglo-Boereoorlog 1899-1902.]

Ruda, Richard. 'The Irish Transvaal Brigades'. The Irish Sword. Dublin: vxi (1973-4), pp-201-211.

Scholtz, Leopold [ed]. Beroemde Suid-Afrikaanse Krygsmanne. Cape Town: Rubicon-Pers, 1984.

Sternberg, Count. My Experiences of the Boer War [Meine Erlebnisse und Erfahrungen im Boerenkriege]. London: Longmans, Green, 1901. DT932S8.

Uddgren, H.E. Hjaeltarna vid Magersfontein. Stockholm: 1924.