The Register of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902
The Register Introduction
The Register is a unique pay per view database for genealogists, military historians and medal collectors. The Register contains over 272,643 names which includes a completely revised casualty list of 59,000 casualty records. The Register can help you:
Find the unit your ‘mysterious’ ancestor served with
Quickly and inexpensively research a medal before you buy or bid for it
Find the many units a soldier served with
Learn about the place they became a casualty from our unique gazetteer
Find the medal roll reference and for some records the clasp entitlement
Locate which war memorial they appear on from our unique memorials database
Learn about a mention in a book
Find what honours and awards they received.
You can even post a biography and a picture of ‘your’ soldier.
Please read the User Guide to learn how to get the most out of The Register.
The Register brings together information from over 460 sources, some very rare and many others out of print, to create a single record for each participant showing at a glance what would normally take many hours of painstaking research.
The main sources used to build The Register are:
Official Casualty Rolls
A Gazetteer of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902
Anglo-Boer War Memorials Project
Winifred Scott’s Anglo-Boer War Index
The Official Casualty Rolls are published in two sets; The Natal Field Force (October 1899 To October 1900) (NFF) and the South African Field Force (October 1899 to May 1902) (SAFF). Neither is easy to use, both are arranged by unit and SAFF is divided into 6 sections by date. The casualty information in The Register adds to and corrects much data published in these rolls. The scope of these revisions includes correcting errors (surnames, ranks, units, dates and place names), adding relevant information (service numbers, initials, dates prisoners were released, expanding the catch all ’disease’ into a specific cause – enteric or typhoid usually) and including a gazetteer. Over 2000 new casualty records have been added from the medal rolls, regimental and contemporary histories.
The gazetteer is the biggest innovation; the location of many casualties is linked to gazetteer entry providing information on the geognaphical location and the military context to that casualty. The gazetteer is taken from the seminal work A Gazetteer of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 by HM & MGM Jones, Military Press 1999. In the published work there are 2,348 entries. The work on the revised casualty roll has introduced a further 300 entries and this now makes the gazetteer contained within this database to be the most comprehensive ever for the Anglo-Boer War.
The recording of casualty locations has been imprecise for many reasons; unfamiliarity with the Afrikaans language, use of names that have passed out of usage, the location the casualty roll was prepared is often used. Many of the casualties of the battle of Biddulsphberg are shown in the casualty roll as Senekal, this is the place where the troops retired to and the casualty roll prepared. For these reasons the location given in the casualty roll is wrong or mis-leading. In the Natal Field Force roll very often ‘Natal’ is given as the location for the battles on the Tugela Heights and ‘Spion Kop’ is given incorrectly for casualties on the neighbouring Twin Peaks. In other instances casualties for important actions, such as where a Victoria Cross was won, many VC actions have been ‘hidden’ by this geographic opaqueness; in The Register they are revealed for the first time.
The medal rolls used are those produced by the Army for the distribution of the Queen’s South Africa and King’s South Africa medals. These are kept at the National Archives, Kew in series WO100. The complete medal rolls have not been accurately transcribed or indexed. Winifred Scott, a former researcher, who concentrated on the more unusual and complex units, did the bulk of the transcribing; these include nurses, many colonial units, Royal Army Medical Corps, Imperial Yeomanry and the Staff rolls. The medal rolls often contain casualty information that has been added. They also provide much data to correct and update casualty records. Of particular interest to medal collectors will be the linking together of the many units a soldier served in. Very many men served in more than one colonial unit, four is not uncommon. Many soldiers of the regular Army took their discharge in South Africa and subsequently joined colonial units. While this is usually cross-referenced in the medal rolls you can now use The Register to find this out instantly. Most incidental remarks in the medal rolls such as address have not been included.
The Anglo-Boer War Memorials Project is again a major resource of unpublished information on, primarily, fatalities and where they came from. The Register contains details from over1350 memorials for 19,000 names, of these about 2,000 names are for men who did not die but whose participation has been recorded on a memorial. This can be important information in the case where service papers for a soldier are not available. The vast majority of these memorials are in the UK and Eire, but significant numbers of memorials have been recorded in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Winifred Scott and her late husband began building an index of participants from medal rolls and published sources. This index has been incorporated into The Register. They had amassed a large library on the Anglo-Boer War which included school registers (Eton, Rugby, Dulwich College, Brighton College, Tonbridge and so on), registers for the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal and other honours and awards, Who Was Who, regimental and contemporary histories. These references could prove invaluable in providing sources of information about an individual.
Compiling The Register has been made easier by others who, in recent times, have compiled their own registers of participants:
Kevin Asplin – rolls for the regular cavalry and the Imperial Yeomanry
Colin Roe – OzBoer database on Australian soldiers
Steve Watt – In Memoriam, Natal University Press, 2000
Their works have been invaluable for checking and improving records in The Register and I am grateful or their endeavours.
All the various sources I have consulted have contained errors or information that differs from other sources. This is not surprising and reveals the need for a comprehensive database such as The Register. Unfortunately, The Register will contain errors and duplicate records for the same person. However, the database has a huge advantage over the printed source; the information can be refined, corrected and re-presented to the researcher instantly. Over time the quality of the information in The Register will only go from strenght to strength.
I am sure you will find much of value in The Register and will regard it as the first port of call in you research on the men and women who took part in that great Imperial venture, the Second Anglo-Boer War.