A tribute to The Springbok Blue

When, some years ago, I first started to research the South African Military Hospital, the reaction of many local residents to the news that there had ever been a hospital in Richmond Park was a sceptical raised eyebrow.   Last year, however, Richmond Museum included a display about the hospital in the exhibition Richmond at Home and at War, to which I contributed the text as well as an image of my grandfather in the grounds of the hospital.  Pembroke Lodge, to whose collection I also contributed some material, did its bit as well on behalf of the forgotten, or overlooked, hospital.  Every little helps and there are certainly fewer raised eyebrows now when I mention the hospital.

2015 tribute from Richmond's 'Young People' to The Springbok Blue

2015 tribute from Richmond’s ‘Young People’ to The Springbok Blue

Imagine my delight when I spotted a familiar image in the Richmond Local Studies Library and Archive recently. It was the springbok on a blue background on the cover of a leaflet created by ‘Young People at Orleans House Gallery’ as a tribute to the original Springbok Blue. The leaflet was their contribution to the gallery’s exhibition In their Footsteps: Richmond’s First World War and the leaflet’s cover echoes the emblem and masthead of the original magazine.

The Springbok Blue (later, more simply The Springbok) was a magazine for, and by, the patients, the vast majority of whom were serving with the South African forces.

Most of the patients at the South African Military Hospital had suffered life-changing injuries and the hospital provided support during the long, slow process of their rehabilitation.  The monthly magazine was not just a means of communicating the activities at the hospitality to patients, staff and supporters, local and in Southern Africa, but for those involved in its production, it was also an effective element in that rehabilitation.  What a pleasure it was to find that The Springbok Blue inspired this project nearly a century after it first appeared.

It’s a small point, but I should perhaps note that The Springbok Blue was not a project of the “South African Legion” as the leaflet suggests.  The South African Legion’s forerunner, the British Empire Service League, was not founded until 1921.


About Margaret Frood

Margaret Frood is a Family and Local Historian with an insatiable curiosity about the partially told stories of a family's past. Her four war memorial blogs have been created in the hope that they will help to rescue from oblivion the stories of those listed on the war memorials of Petersham, Ham and Tur Langton, as well as Southern Africans commemorated in the UK and in Western Europe.
This entry was posted in Exhibitions, Military Hospitals, South African Military Hospital Richmond and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s