This now concludes my exploration into the stories of of the men who were buried at Paradise Cemetery in Marandellas, Rhodesia (now Marondera, Zimbabwe) during the Boer War era. *
It has been an enlightening and often moving experience to now know something of the personal histories of those whose graves I stood beside so many years ago. (See my initial post here.)
While I haven’t solved the puzzle of exactly how many individuals in total lie in Paradise, I have clarified the whereabouts of some. There may well be others who have slipped through the cracks of officialdom, non-combatants attached to the army services and whose details are missing altogether.
A most useful discovery in trying to resolve the last of the British Imperial Yeomanry men buried in Paradise, has been this book Rhodesia - and After: Being the Story of the 17th and 18th Battalions of Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa written by Sharrad H. Gilbert, published in 1901, and now available online in digitized format.
|Line of mounted troops of the 4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen Contingent, marching from Umtali to Marandellas. |
(Australian War Memorial)
It is also highly likely that most of the families concerned were never aware of the mistakes in places of burial; that few of them ever had the chance to make the pilgrimage to Africa to pay tribute to their lost loved ones or, if they did, they would not know of the errors that were compounded by the good intentions of groups like the Guild of Loyal Women, as shown to be the case with Paradise.
(Navy and Army Illustrated, 21 April 1900)
(Navy and Army Illustrated, 21 April 1900)
Patriotic Postcard, Boer War (State Library of Victoria)
To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling in his poem about that great Empire figure himself, Cecil John Rhodes, who was buried within “... the granite of the ancient North” just a few years after the Boer War, they also lie at peace in the same “... great spaces washed with sun ...”
|A Boer War Burial (Australian War Memorial)|
Here are some casualty statistics for the whole of the (2nd) Boer War 1899-1902 from the Forces War Records site, as compiled from the various official sources, including those used for this project:
7,894 killed13,250 died of disease934 missing22,828 wounded
This is by no means reliable and the site does state that there are differing reports on the exact split of the casualties, although “all agree, however, that disease was the main cause of death”.
Those men that I have discovered in this small research project who went mad and committed suicide, or died in accidents, or from neglect, exposure and exhaustion, are presumably all just lumped together under the deaths from disease.
Anyone undertaking family or historical research into the Boer War should treat all such statistics, and especially all the official records mentioned, with a great deal of caution.
|An unknown Yeomanry trooper and sick horse (Imperial War Museum)|
It is worth remembering also that more than 300,000 horses died during the Boer War.
Just like their riders, they had little immunity against the terrible scourges of Africa.
* Research into the sole woman buried at Paradise, Gertrude Margaret McLaren, revealed she was aged 49 when she died at Paradise Estate on 20 October 1935 of heart disease. She was born in the Cape Colony, South Africa. Her husband was one of the several doctors listed as her medical practitioners on her death certificate. He was Thomas Dick McLaren, who had been born in Edinburgh and immigrated to Southern Rhodesia where he seems to have worked in various towns and on mines as the Government-appointed resident doctor. He also saw service during World War I, reaching the rank of Captain and his record card indicates he served in the hospital services at Malta. He died at Gatooma in 1938 aged 64. Gertrude's death certificate shows she had two daughters, but his death certificate shows four children, so possibly Gertrude was a second wife, but evidence as to the marriages has not as yet been found. It is assumed the property called Paradise Estate belonged to the McLarens during the 1930s and would have included, or been adjacent to, the Cemetery.
If anyone reading this knows more of the McLaren family, please do contact me.