Tag Archives: typhoid

“A long forgotten war, wasted young lives” (3)

The Second Boer War (1899 – 1902) was fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer (Dutch) states, the Republic of Transvaal and the Orange Free State, over the British Empire’s influence in South Africa. The British Empire owned Cape Colony and the Bechuanaland Protectorate:

The catalyst for the war was the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer states.

Arthur John Thurman was born on May 8th 1875, the son of Edward Harrington Thurman and Ann Eliza Thurman. The family lived in Castle Street off Sneinton Hollows. Edward was a maltster with business premises at 33 Sneinton Road. The family house in Castle Street would eventually be given the name of “Gloster Villa”. Here’s present-day Castle Street:

Castle Street is within sight of St Stephen’s Church, the place where DH Lawrence’s parents got married. Here’s the church:

And here’s the High School’s most famous Old Boy:

Arthur John Thurman entered the High School on June 2nd 1888 as Boy No 723. He was thirteen, and he left at the end of the Christmas Term, 1889.

Arthur played for the High School First Team at football on a number of occasions, although the match reports in the school magazine, “The Forester” are not sufficiently detailed to record his rather irregular appearances. Arthur then played for a number of years for Gedling Grove FC before joining the “Notts Club” (today’s Notts County) where he became:

“a valued playing member of the Reserves. He will be remembered by a great number of football enthusiasts as a useful player. Upon the accident to W Bull, he found a place in the League team”.

Here’s Notts County around this time. If you know how to play musical chairs, you won’t be surprised to know that this team doubled up as the Notts County Musical Moustaches team:

On December 3rd 1898, Walter Bull, the regular First Team Number 4, was seriously injured during County’s 0-1 defeat at Meadow Lane. They were playing Everton, a team who had fielded seven international players for the game.

Initially Bull’s place was taken by Alfred B Carter in a 4-1 victory over Bury. On December 17th though, Arthur Thurman took Alfred’s place in the Notts County team. Making his début, he performed well as a right half in a 1-1 draw at Stoke City’s Victoria Ground, in front of some 4,000 spectators. County’s goal was scored by Harry Fletcher. On December 24th, Arthur was equally successful in a 1-0 home victory over Aston Villa. He gave what “The Forester”, called “an exceedingly creditable exhibition as a hard and consistent half back.” County’s winning goal came from Alexander Maconnachie. This was a famous victory as Aston Villa would finish this, the 1898-1899 season, as League Champions.

Here’s a County v Villa game of the period. Strangely, the goalkeeper seems to be dressed the same as the rest of the team, except for his cap:

After the  Aston Villa game, County’s number four shirt went to Ernie Watts for six games until Walter Bull had recovered. Then Walter got back his old shirt and Ernie Watts kept his place in the team, for the rest of the season.

Arthur would probably have played many more games for Notts County, but the Second Boer War broke out in October 1899, caused by the shocking treatment by the Boers of British gold prospectors in the Transvaal. A completely understandable reason for a war, and the deaths of 30,000 men. Bad treatment of our gold prospectors? Unforgivable. The “bad treatment” seems to be getting really out of hand at this point :

According to “The Forester”, Arthur was

“among the first to volunteer to join the Imperial Yeomanry, a mounted unit made up exclusively of volunteers.”

They were never a particularly effective regiment. Many of them had already :

“been captured two or three times, giving the Boers on each occasion a free horse, a free rifle and 150 rounds of ammunition “.

Arthur was accepted into the Imperial Yeomanry and left England in the SS Winifredian. Here’s the Imperial Yeomanry and their Dad. You may laugh, but I’ve seen the paternity test results :

During the voyage Arthur impressed his superiors with his demeanour and his always immaculate appearance, and he was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant in the 12th Company of the 3rd Battalion of the Yeomanry. He was ordered to join Lord Methuen’s force and duly proceeded to Boshof in the Orange River Colony.

At Boshof he was seized with enteric fever and he died on May 30th 1900, presumably without seeing a single Boer.

There were 23,026 British casualties during this war, but the majority, some 60% at least, succumbed not to the Boers, but to enteric fever, or typhoid, as it is now called.

The news of Arthur’s death was received:

“……….with deep regret by a large circle of friends and acquaintances in Nottingham.

The announcement of his untimely death, at the early age of 25, comes in singularly sad circumstances. He leaves a widow and one child, born subsequent to his departure for the seat of war.”

Arthur’s death is commemorated on the Boer War Memorial which used to stand in Queen Street in the city centre, but was moved in 1927 to the Forest Recreation Ground. He is recorded as “S.Q.M.S. A. Thurman”, one of three members of the Imperial Yeomanry / South Notts Hussars who died.

 

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Filed under Africa, History, military, Nottingham, Politics, The High School

“A long forgotten war, wasted young lives” (2)

The Second Boer War (1899 – 1902) was fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer (Dutch) states, the Republic of Transvaal and the Orange Free State, over the British Empire’s influence in South Africa. The British Empire owned Cape Colony and the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

The catalyst for the war was the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer states.

Major Alexander Bruce Wallis had already lost one of his three sons, Captain Alexander Frederic Wallis, on February 24th 1900. He was killed in action near Arundel, near Colesberg, in Cape Colony in South Africa. Major Wallis’ grief, though, was not over yet , not by a long chalk.

He had another, third and youngest, son whose name was Harry Wallis. Harry was born on September 17th 1869 and entered the High School on January 21st 1881 as Boy No 648. He was eleven years old. Hardly any details are available about an individual boy during this period of the school’s history. Set against this is the fact that Harry was there to watch the crisis which gripped the school during this period. Standards were plummeting and by November 1883 more than a quarter of the boys had left. By March 1884 the Headmaster was seriously ill, and was given three months sick-leave. Here is the School at the time.

An official inspection scrutinized the School and said:

“The School is at present not in an efficient or satisfactory state. Generally, there is a want of vigour and enterprise in the management and administration.”

The Headmaster resigned and Dr James Gow took over.

Dr Gow was a lawyer, not a teacher. He saved the High School. He examined the dreadful situation analytically, and reported that:

“I am inclined to think that the School Buildings are not so grossly inconvenient and the School Staff is not so grossly incompetent as they have sometimes been represented. I am confident that by a few changes, mostly trivial, the School can almost at once be brought into a good state of efficiency.”

And he was right. And Dr Gow walked into history:

“He found a rabble and he left a public school.”

(It’s always better that way round, of course.)

This is the albumen print of the High School which I used when I was talking about the tragic and, arguably, pointless death of Harry’s brother, Alexander Frederic. It is certainly of much better quality than the picture above. Can you see the patterned brickwork of the crenellations ?

Harry Wallis left the High School in July 1885. He went to work in Messrs Moore & Robinson’s Bank which operated from 1836-1901. They were based at Beast Market Hill in the Market Place, somewhere near where the Bell Inn is nowadays. The manager was Mr James Stedman. Here’s the Wright’s nineteenth edition of their Directory of Nottingham, published in 1898-1899 :

Harry knew he had the wrong job, working in a bank. Like his father and his elder brother, he yearned to enlist and to become a soldier. Mr Stedman gave him his discharge and Harry went to South Africa. One of his first tastes of adventure was the Jameson Raid. This fiasco took place from December 29th 1895 –January 2nd 1896. It was a botched British raid against the Dutch Republic of the Transvaal. Led by Dr Leander Starr Jameson and using his colonialist troops, these men were employed ostensibly as police officers in the police force, owned by Alfred Beit’s and Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company.

Supposedly the raid would encourage the Uitlanders, the pro-British citizens, to rebel against Paul Kruger, the Transvaal president, and his supporters. A pro-British government would quickly be set up. Then the British would get all of the Boers’ gold and diamonds. Here’s “Oom Paul Kruger” as he was called at the time :

Absolutely nothing happened and Jameson was arrested. The anti-English Boers, though, were by this time more than ready for a fight against the British when the Second Boer War came round.

Here is part of Harry’s epitaph taken from “The Forester”, the first School Magazine.

“Returning to England after the Jameson Raid, Harry then returned to South Africa and became a Lieutenant in the British South Africa Mounted Police. After doing much good work on active service, he died of enteric fever (typhoid) on April 21st 1900 at Gaberones, the capital city of the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland. He was thirty years old. Great sympathy is felt with his father who has thus lost two sons in the war.”

The sad father, Major Alexander Bruce Wallis, now had only one remaining son, Francis Edward Wallis, born on December 24th 1862 and the eldest of the three. He entered the High School on Friday, September 12th 1879 as Boy No 584. He was sixteen years old. I have found out no more than that about him, although I am fairly confident that he would probably have joined the Army at some point and perhaps then served in Africa. Hopefully, he joined just in time to hear somebody say :

“Have those Zulus definitely gone then?”

And Francis Edward Wallis was certainly not killed in World War One. Thank the Lord.

 

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“The Devil’s Doctors” by Dr Mark Felton (4)

Last time I was talking about “The Devil’s Doctors” by Dr Mark Felton which describes how, at Mukden POW Camp in Manchuria,  Allied prisoners of war, primarily Americans, were used to test Japanese biological weapons developed at Pingfan, the nearby headquarters of Unit 731. Dr Felton also broadens the scope of his writing to include events after the war, when large numbers of Japanese doctors were found guilty of war crimes, in many cases on American personnel, but no sentences were ever carried out. “Why did this happen?” the author asks, but quickly reveals the real truth. The Americans were now thinking about war with their erstwhile allies, the Soviets:

To wage the next war and win, the American government wanted to know immediately everything about the Japanese biological weapons so that they could use the information for their own purposes. On August 13th 1945, before even the end of this war, in Operation Flamingo, the American government set up an OSS team to

“secure all Japanese documents and dossiers, and other information useful to the United States government”.

Indeed, fifteen military intelligence operatives were about to be parachuted into Pingfan to gather up scientists and data, when the Japanese, terrified by the thought of Stalin’s savage soldiers invading the sacred Japanese homeland, suddenly surrendered:

Shiro Ischii and his colleagues fled from Manchuria to Japan with all their data. According to the author, they eventually finished up talking to Columbia University’s Dr Murray Sanders to whom General MacArthur had personally given the job of investigating the Japanese biological warfare programme. Here’s Ischii again:

Everything that Dr Sanders found out was taken to MacArthur who decided that the Japanese data was “almost incalculable and incredibly valuable to the United States”. He wanted it “on an exclusive basis”. The Americans offered Ischii and his colleagues from Pingfan a “blanket immunity from prosecution in perpetuity”. The people who made this offer were well aware that living Allied prisoners had been experimented on. Both Pacific Stars and Stripes and the New York Times had published allegations in 1946 and in 1947 American Military Intelligence found 12 independent witnesses all giving the same details about the live vivisection of Allied POWs. Here’s MacArthur:

According to the author, when J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, tried to look into the affair, he was told by MacArthur’s investigating agent that “information of the type in question is closely controlled and regarded as highly sensitive”. In other words, he was told to get lost. Here’s Hoover, who does not seem to have pressed the point:


So Ishii and all of the rest got their lifelong immunity and were never put on trial. Had they appeared in court, the British and the Soviets would have acquired all of the data that only the Americans had at the time. Ishii went to live the American Dream in Maryland where he died in 1959. According to the author, the prominent Unit 731 vivisectionist, Masaji Kitano, went back to Japan and became the president of a large pharmaceutical firm. Here’s Kitano:

Sadly, the author, Dr Felton, does not name the vivisectionist who became Governor of Tokyo, nor the one who was President of the Japan Medical Association nor the one who headed the Japan Olympic Committee. Even so his research at this point could not be bettered, with some very dark and disgusting political stones being overturned.

As the war slipped away, the Japanese were keen to use their new Biological Weapons in the USA. Again, the author’s research into events at this point could not be bettered. A first feasibility trial consisted of a submarine launched spotter plane which dropped incendiary bombs in the forests of the West Coast. It was too wet and not a lot happened.

In August 1943, the Japanese Navy tested  large paper balloons, again launched from submarines, and again with the intention of setting fire to the forests. That project was abandoned in favour of an Army project to use bigger balloons carrying incendiary and anti-personnel bombs. Sadly, six people were killed near Bly in Oregon, possibly because the powers-that-be did not release news of what the Japanese were doing, because it might have caused mass panic.

The final piece in this well researched jigsaw came when the Japanese Navy commissioned the huge I-400 submarines which would have carried three aircraft each, Aichi M6A1 Seiran torpedo bombers:

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These aircraft would have overflown San Francisco, Los Angeles and other American cities and then  dropped canister type bombs or possible even crop sprayed them with Today’s Maniac Special… bubonic plague, typhoid, dysentery, perhaps even a nerve gas. Shiro Ishii would surely have had some ideas about what to do?

So why did it not happen? Well, the author’s persistent research has turned up a good few reasons. Firstly, Japan found it difficult to produce the huge I-400 submarines and the planes to go with them. Furthermore, a “morally bankrupt” Imperial Army still had one or two who remembered dimly how decent human beings led their lives. Quite simply, the Chief of the General Staff, Yoshijiro Umezu put a stop to it. He told his officers:

“If bacteriological war is conducted it will grow from the dimension of war between Japan and America to an endless battle of humanity against bacteria. Japan will earn the derision of the world”.

Overall, I would strongly recommend this book which lays bare the extremely dirty secrets of the Japanese and the Americans, and I suppose those of the Soviets too, because, although they never received any of the material scooped up and taken away by their American allies, they definitely wanted to have it. So too did the British, and there is a lengthy section about their activities with plagues and nerve gases, centred on the top secret centre at Porton Down in Wiltshire. The book is 198 pages and if you can buy yourself a copy, then you really should. It’s a fine tale about just where a Master Race complex can lead you.

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