Anglo-Boer War Graves at Deelfontein
A dry, desolate and dusty place, the white letters IYH spread across 25 metres of the hillside at Deelfontein. The letters a reminder of the small railway sidings part in one of South Africas largest wars, the Anglo-Boer War. In 1900, smack bang in the heat of the war Lord Roberts was sent to South Africa to replace Sir Redvers Buller as commander-in-chief of the British Forces. It didnt take him long to realise that one of the biggest causes of death throughout the British army was not gunfire but rather typhoid. The disease was rife and Roberts decided that a military hospital was urgently needed.
The staff for the hospital were recruited in January 1900 and most of them sailed for South Africa from Southampton on the S S Norman on February 10, that year. The IYH, Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein was opened on the 17 March 1900 and on the 19 March the first train arrived with over a hundred patients on it, by the end of March 300 patients were being treated in prefabricated buildings and tents.
By the end of 1900 over 6000 patients had been through the facility. During the Anglo-Boer War the hospital was the largest surgical facility and convalescent hospital in the Colony, providing recuperative care to the soldiers. It was also one of the first military hospitals to have an X-ray installation.
Today Deelfontein consists of a few buildings clustered around the railway station and several more are scattered over the Karoo plain, none of the buildings or stone-lined pathways, which made up the IYH, are visible, and the only evidence that structures once stood there, are stone embankments, depressions and dilapidated mortar floors. And two cemeteries with over 134 graves tell the life stories of service men and medical personnel who gave their lives for what they believed in.
The focal point of the cemeteries is a large monument which has the names of 8 men of the Yeomanry Hospital Staff inscribed on it. Of these 8 staff, 6 died of disease and were buried at Deelfontein.
Hospital Ward - Deelfontein
Four beds, with a patient lying on each, and above each bed the name of the sponsor: "Eastern Counties Chelmsford bed", "Eastern Counties Newmarket Town bed", "Eastern Counties Isle of Ely", "Eastern Counties Babraham bed". Also attached to the wall behind the beds are (apparently) blotting paper holders containing foolscap sheets of paper (for medical notes?), baskets for the patients' clothes, pictures (a print of a jockey, apparently; a print of a Victorian painting of a Georgian street scene), and a long shelf for books, bottles etc.
Presumed to be the Eastern Counties Ward in the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, Deelfontein, South Africa, which had an Eastern Counties Ward with beds given or equipped by donations from named East Anglian towns (Georgiana Countess Howe, The Imperial Yeomanry hospitals in South Africa, 1900-1902