The South African War: Source 7

Monthly report on political aspect of Boer Prisoners of War in Bermuda.
From, Major L.E. Morrice, D.S.O.
Assistant Adjutant General for Prisoners of War
To, His Excellency
General Sir Ge Digby Barker, K.C.B.
Commanding Troops, Bermuda.
Prospect, 28th December 1901.


I have the honour to submit herewith the monthly reports of Commandants, to which I beg to add the following remarks.
1. My opinion of the majority of the Burghers [Boer soldier-citizens] is that while at the conclusion of the war they will express their willingness to submit to British rule, their sympathies will be with their lost republics which they will always cherish a hope of regaining.
2. It is not to be reasonably expected that their loyalty will be greater than that of the Cape Dutch before the War.
3. I am of opinion that the active disloyalty of the Cape Dutch is displayed more openly by those whose stake in the country is small, and it is reasonable to suppose that the same rule will obtain amongst the Dutch of the new Colonies.
4. I regard the offers to take the oath of allegiance and serve on the British side, as made by men who are not patriots at heart and who make the offer for personal convenience and hope of release, and for hope of pecuniary [financial] advantage.
5. The correspondence of the prisoners expresses satisfaction with their treatment and a desire from them and their families that their separation may soon cease. Continual references are made to the deaths in Refugee Camps.
Occasional disapprobation [disapproval] of those who have voluntarily surrendered or taken the oath of allegiance is expressed.
Politics are not discussed in letters generally, the subject being prohibited.
6. Finally I must express my opinion that the national feeling of the Burghers is not extinguished and that they still cherish their wish to be a Dutch nation although for expediency [necessity] they will submit to British rule if allowed to return to their country.
I have, etc.
(Signed) L.E. Morrice
Assistant Adjutant General for P. of W.


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Look at Source 7.

A monthly report on the political feelings amongst Boer prisoners of war held captive on the island of Bermuda in 1901. Catalogue ref: CO 37/237

Approximately 5,000 Boer prisoners were transferred to Bermuda during the course of the South African War, and were held on 5 small islands. Prisoners were split up according to their attitudes towards the war, and those who believed that the war should be continued against the British were held on Darrell’s Island, is a small island within the Great Sound (ocean inlet) of Bermuda.

  • Why do you think prisoners of war were sent as far away as Bermuda?
  • Why do you think prisoners were split up according to their attitudes towards the war?
  • What does Morrice say his opinion is of those who express a willingness to submit to British rule?
  • What motivations does he point to for active disloyalty amongst the Boers?
  • What does Morrice say about the subjects covered in correspondence sent by the prisoners?
  • Why do you think their letters home were checked?
  • What does this source infer about the treatment of prisoners by the British?