10271 Private Herbert William Deutschmann, serving as H.W. Maconochie,
4/South African Infantry Regiment (“The South African Scottish”)
formerly 5555 2/SAIR.
Killed in Action, 24 March 2018,
during the South Africans’ magnificent stand in the Kaiserschlacht;
Commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.
I first came across Herbert’s name in 2018 at the Scottish National War Memorial, which is situated inside Edinburgh Castle, and where his name was recorded in a volume holding the Roll of Honour for the South African Scottish Regiment, listed as follows:
DEUTSCHMANN, Herbert William, 10271 P[riva]te Missing; died France, 24/3/1918. Served as MACONOCHIE, HW.
Served as MACONOCHIE? What was a Deutschmann doing in a kilt?
I was curious about the reason for his adoption of an alias. Was Maconochie perhaps his mother’s maiden name and had he wanted to serve in a Scottish Regiment? Herbert’s entry in the Commonwealth War Graves database notes 4th Regt South African Inf., formerly 2nd Regt. indicating that he had first enlisted in the 2nd SAIR [South African Infantry Regiment] and at some point afterwards transferred to the 4th SAIR.
As I began to put together Herbert’s story, I was still in the dark about the explanation for this change of name, the timing of which seemed to be related to his transfer to the South African Scottish. I even wondered whether his transfer to 4/SAIR (known as the “South African Scottish” Regiment) had induced his change of name and whether he had found that obviously German surname, Deutschmann, had led to targeting from some of the Maritzburg-minded (ultra-Royalist English) in 2/SAIR’s Natal contingent!
The Deutschmann Migration
Herbert William Deutschmann was born at Debe Nek in 1892, and held German nationality, as his father informed the authorities when answering Question 2, on his son’s Death Notice. (Debe Nek had been the site of the Battle of Amalinda, in 1818.)
Herbert’s father was born in Gramzow, Brandenburg (Prussia) on 12 June 1858, and christened there four weeks later, on 9 July, as August Friedrich Wilhelm (1858–1920). Throughout his life he would be known to others as August, but signed documents as Friedrich August. The recurrence of those three first names, sometimes in varying order, in the first born sons of each generation, suggest that these three names go back for many generations, beyond August and his father. Because both Herbert’s father and grandfather were known as August, to avoid confusion over the two men, I shall from this point try to remember to refer to Herbert’s father as August, the name familiar to his many descendants, and to August’s father, Herbert’s grandfather by his ‘official’ first name of Wilhelm.
August’s father, (Herbert’s grandfather) Wilhelm Friedrich August Deutschmann (1832–1903), was a native of Prenzlau, a town in the Prussian principality of Brandenburg and is presumably the Stamvader of the South African Deutschmanns. August’s mother, Emilie Auguste Fiebige (1831–1859), known as Auguste, was born in Gramzow, a town just over 10 miles from Prenzlau. It may occur to you, if you linger over Emily’s dates that her children, Ottilie (b. 1856) and the infant, August, would have lost their mother when they would have been too young to remember much, if anything, about her.
August’s mother, Emilie, was recorded by her second name, Auguste, in the baptismal records for her children, Ottilie and August. The records of the baptisms of both August and his elder sister, Ottilie, also identify the occupation of their father as a Steinmetz, meister (i.e. a master stone cutter) which fits with the description recorded on the Wilhelmsburg’s passenger list of his being a Steinhauer (a quarryman).
Four months after August’s christening, on 15 October 1858, Wilhelm and Emilie, with their daughter Ottilie (2) and son, August (4 months), embarked on the Wilhelmsburg (a sailing ship of the Johan Cesar VI Godeffroy Line) sailing out of Hamburg, bound for East London, which the vessel reached, after first calling at Cape Town, on 13 January 1859. August must have been one of the youngest of the embarking passengers. Both he and his father were recorded on the Wilhelmsburg’s passenger list as August, and Emilie as Auguste.
The voyage of the emigrants on the Wilhelmsburg
After three months at sea, 128 German families disembarked at East London as part of the British Settlement Plan for Kaffraria. But the voyage had taken its toll. A long voyage on a sailing ship was hazardous in the 19th century. There was more than the harsh weather, tropical storms, rough seas and long spells in the doldrums to contend with; confinement in cramped quarters, meant that infection spread easily. Lives were lost en route on most of the six ships that took the German ‘farming settlers’ to the Eastern Cape, with the most vulnerable being the children and the elderly widowers or widows travelling as members of a younger family group. The Wilhelmsburg’s crew included a Ship’s Doctor (Dr Carl Paul, aged 26, from Weimar), but many illnesses which are survivable today, such as scarlet fever, were in those days often fatal. During the 3 month voyage that took the Deutschmann family to East London, 65 passengers died, only ONE of them being an adult. Fortunately the four members of the Deutschmann family appear to have survived the journey, unless Emilie was the single adult to die on that voyage.
Also on board the Wilhelmsburg was another family from Gramzow, whose surname stood out when I skimmed the passenger list: Wilhelm Fibiger (29), his wife Johanne (24), with their daughter Paulina, aged 4. It is possible that Wilhelm Fibiger (29) and Emilie Deutschmann were related, perhaps even brother and sister, since Wilhelm’s entry on the passenger list has his birthplace as Gramzow. Wilhelm Fibiger was recorded on the passenger as a Schlosser, (a locksmith or metal worker).
The Deutschmanns in Kaffraria
After disembarking at East London, the Deutschmanns settled in the Berlin area, about 35 km inland from East London, as the crow flies, and by road, today, about 50 km. The Fibigers were among those settled at Breidbach, which is about 15 km east of Berlin and about 5 km west of King William’s Town, which was, at that time, the military centre for British Kaffraria and also the centre for that wave of German settlements.
Wilhelm’s skill in working with stone would prove essential in the building and fortifying of the German immigrants’ homes, businesses and farms on the Cape’s Eastern Frontier. In his mid-twenties, in a new and challenging environment, experiencing the loss of his wife, and left with two very young children, that first year must have been a desolate time for Wilhelm. In the 19th century, a widower in a similar situation to Wilhelm, married relatively soon after the death of his wife, and it was not long before one of the young single German women in Berlin, who had emigrated with her parents, became his wife and stepmother to Ottilie and August.
She was Ernstine Wilhelmine Ninnemann (1842–1908) born in Kitzerow in Pomerania, the daughter of Friedrich Daniel Ninnemann and his wife, Dorothee Friedericke Bardeleben. I have found her on the passenger list of La Rochelle, a 15 year old, listed as Mine, a common nickname for Wilhelmine. Her parents were recorded on it as Daniel (46) and Dorothee (43) along with Mine’s siblings, Dorothee Louise (20), Wilhelm (17), Friederike (13), August (3) and an infant, Friedrich. By now you may have begun to notice that hardly any of the Germans we have ‘met’ so far, were known by their ‘official’ first names!
The La Rochelle had sailed from Hamburg on the last day of May, 1858, arriving in East London three months later, on 28 August. After disembarking, the Ninnemann family continued inland to Berlin arriving there nearly five months ahead of the Deutschmanns.
Wilhelm and Wilhelmine had seven sons and two daughters, so Ottilie and August were probably called on, as they grew older, to share in the care and entertainment of their nine younger siblings.
In time, young August would, like many others in that first generation of German settlers, find a German bride. In his early twenties, in the Izela German Lutheran Church, he married Helene Wilhelmine Caroline Albrecht (1865–1935), who had been born in the Colony, in King William’s Town to immigrant German parents. Her father, identified as F. Albrecht on Helene’s Death Notice, was likely to have been Ferdinand Albrecht, one of the Germans settled at Braunschweig. The informant, her eldest son Theodore Albert, did not know the name of his maternal grandmother.
Looking for any information about Helene’s Albrechts, I found that a blacksmith, Ferdinand Albrecht, and his wife, Wilhelmine, with their three year old son, Carl, had been among the settlers on board the Wilhelmsburg on the very same voyage as the Deutschmanns. And more recently, I was able to access Wilhelmine Albrecht’s Death Notice, which recorded one of her daughters, Helene, as married to Ferdinand August Deutschmann. I noted that the information on that Death Notice was provided by Helene’s brother, Hermann, who would have known his brother-in-law as August, and perhaps been aware that his initials were F.A. I have decided, provisionally, to assume that Hermann took a leap on what the F in the initials stood for, perhaps because there was a Ferdinand in his own family. Information provided on Death Notices is often incomplete or incorrect, and first timers are often unprepared for the questions they are likely to be asked.
August and Helene had at least ten children. As you will see below, there is a significant gap, in the early years of their marriage, between the births of Theodore and Emil, and I cannot be sure that only one child, Arthur, was born between those two births. Helene provided the information that follows about her children and her daughters’ marriages, listing them in birth order for her husband’s Death Notice. She was only required to give the dates of birth of minors, i.e. the four youngest children, the eldest of whom, Felix, had died in childhood. Herbert was the only other child she recorded as ‘died’. Dates of death, and calculations of dates of birth for the other children were obtained from their Death Notices, where those were available. Spelling varies for some of these names, over the years, usually becoming less German.
Theodor Albert Deutschmann (1884–1958)
Arthur Alfred Deutschmann (c.1887?–?)
Emil Edward Deutschmann (1890–1946)
Herbert William Deutschmann (1892–1918)
Clement Carl Deutschmann (c.1895–1952)
Alfred Herman Deutschmann (c.1896–?)
Walter George Deutschmann (1898–1951)
Felix Friedrich Deutschmann (1899–1911)
Leonard Ludwig Deutschmann (1901–?)
Helene Wilhelmine Dorothy Deutschmann, (1905–1952)
Eitel Eric Deutschmann (1911–?).
Herbert’s enlistment in 2/SAIR suggested that, geographically, and by birth, he fitted into one of the categories from which the regiment would be raised, that of Volunteers from the Kaffrarian Rifles, the equivalent of a British territorial unit. It is possible that as a young man he had been a reservist, as were many of those raised from the King William’s Town area. Other information on his service record, notes that within 2/SAIR Herbert’s service number was 5555, the sort of number one might want to hang on to. We also learn from his service record that he had been a Trader, by occupation, perhaps working in the area around Idutywa, where his family lived.
Herbert was taken on the strength by the South African Scottish Regiment (4/SAIR) on 17 October 1916, with the note that he could be “rendered dentally fit in 7 days from 18.x.16.” The discovery, during a recruit’s Medical Examination, of the need for urgent dental work was a common outcome. Three weeks later, on 6 November, Herbert embarked on the Walmer Castle to join the South African Brigade in France. Reinforcements were urgently required, following the dreadful losses suffered by the South African Brigade at Delville Wood in July 1916.
A good idea of the actions involving the South African Brigade in France can be found in John Buchan’s History of the South African Forces—details are listed under Sources.
The action in which Herbert lost his life occurred during the German Spring Offensive of 1918—also known as the Kaiserschlacht. The events of that week are described in other posts on this blog, so I will confine myself here to a brief glimpse of the Brigade’s plight on 24 March 1918. Herbert was among the very last men of the Brigade still in action and still fighting to hold Marrières Wood against the German Advance while other Allied forces along that edge of the front had already retreated. Buchan’s account makes gruelling reading. At that point they were described as the remnants of the Brigade, following three days of non-stop fighting, shelling between Péronne and Cambrai. They were hungry, having had neither hot food nor the warmth of a mug of tea for over three days, exhausted from lack of sleep, and shocked by the effective slaughter of most of their comrades during the previous days of fighting. The evening of the 23rd found them entrenched in Marrières Wood, which lies between Péronne and Bapaume, where they received the order, from a British general, not for the first time since the Brigade’s arrival in France, to hold a wood “at all costs”. Not for the first time, they did. At all costs always resonates with me as I heard it every time my father talked about the South Africans’ defence of Delville Wood.
In his book, Five Days from Defeat, Walter Reid reveals just how perilous the situation during those five days had been for the British, something which was known to British politicians and the senior military men who, Reid reports, had wobbled and panicked and spoke of withdrawing from mainland Europe. He notes:
But their fears were not communicated to the public at large at the time and subsequent history took pains to conceal just how precarious the situation had been. (p.6.)
By the 23rd, many of the British divisions were in a disorderly retreat, heading for Dunkirk, as they would again in the retreat of 1940, but in 1918, the numbers were far greater numbers, and there would have been fewer resources for crossing the Channel than the Allies had in 1940.
Buchan describes the situation of the 9th (Scottish) Division on the evening of the 23rd, as desperate, holding a salient of high ground with both flanks hopelessly in the air (with a breach on the left and out of touch with the 21st Division on its right. That evening, General Tudor had told Brigadier-General Dawson, who was leading the South African Brigade, to keep in close touch with the 21st Division. (p.179.)
Tudor also ordered Dawson to hold the line at all costs, adding that he presumed, if it was broken, it would be retaken by a counter-attack. This Buchan described as a counsel of perfection hard to follow, explaining that General Gough had, the previous evening (22nd), ordered the 21st Division to make an indefinite retreat westward. Of this the South Africans were unaware until the 24th.
In Flowers of the Forest, Trevor Royle comments on the resolve of the South Africans at Marrières Wood, and adds, “as the divisional historian [Buchan] put it, at the bitter end rescue was now impossible and the South Africans grimly set themselves to sell their lives at the highest price.” (p.259)
Only when the South Africans had exhausted all their ammunition on the 24th, did the Germans venture to “surge down” and capture the pitiful remnants of the Brigade. It had in fact, as Buchan would report, ceased to be. There were fewer than 100 uninjured—all the remainder were killed, or crippled, or lost. Amongst those whose remains were never found, or if found, never identified, was Herbert Deutschmann.
Buchan summed up by describing the German reaction to the South African stand at Marrières Wood:
Let us take the account of the enemy. During the German advance, Captain Peirson, the brigade major of the 48th Brigade (within the 16th Division) was taken prisoner. When he was examined at German Headquarters, an officer asked him if he knew the 9th Division; for, said he, “We consider that the fight put up by that division was one of the best on the whole of your front, especially the last stand of the South African Brigade, which we can only call magnificent. In the course of his journey to Le Cateau Captain Peirson was spoken to by many German officers, all of whom mentioned the wonderful resistance of the South Africans. There is a more striking tribute still. On the road to Le Cateau, a party of British officers was stopped by the Emperor, who asked if any one present belonged to the 9th Division. “I want to see a man of that division,” he said, “for if all divisions had fought like the 9th, I would not have had any troops left to carry on the attack.” (p.191.)
General Dawson, captured and taken away with the last handful of survivors, tramping eastwards, as a POW, saw proof of the success of the South African stand in stopping and delaying the German advance for 7 hours, a delay which gave the Allies the time and the space to regroup and return. Buchan wrote,
“The whole road for miles east of Bouchavesnes was blocked by a continuous double line of transport and guns, which proved that the South Africans had, for over seven hours, held up not a mass of German infantry, but all the artillery and transport advancing with it…on the highway. Indeed, it is not too much to say that on that fevered Sabbath, the stand of the Brigade saved the British front. (p.191.)
Of the soldiers I have researched, who died in the eventful five days (21–26 March 1918), and who include a number of South Africans, I think Herbert is the only one who died on 24 March, which was, for the South Africans, the fourth and final day of holding out against the enemy, in a fierce storm of constant shelling and machine-gun fire.
I have turned to Zwei Lebenden Mauern—With the German Guns—to see how a German soldier might have experienced that period in that part of the front. This book is the diary of another Herbert, Herbert Sulzbach, a Jew and a German Officer, who won the Iron Cross (First Class) in World War I, and was probably the only German to have been commissioned by the Kaiser in the First World War, but by George VI, in the Second. Sulzbach describes the swiftness and power of the German thrust on the 21st, with their sappers bridging trenches and canals, and their frontline troops sending back, in just that narrow sector, thousands of Tommies, “too numerous to count” and yet cheerful, perhaps because, for them, the war was over. On the 24th, he recorded that his unit had replaced the frontline troops but that the pace [had become] pretty slow. As night fell, foraging in the rubble they “found some splendid British supplies…Plenty of oats for the horses, and tinned food, bacon, cheese and wine for us.”
Sulzbach’s account reinforced Walter Reid’s description of the British retreat, and the power of the German assault. I could not help, yet again, feeling a pang for those men of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade, who held out on that fragile salient, as ordered, under such pressure, for 4 days, almost to the last man.
But 4/SAIR would rise again in June 1918. And today, in the Rainbow Nation that is the New South Africa, there are still military units with a Scottish identity, as there have been, now, for over 130 years.
Herbert is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, as Deutschmann & Moconochie. His name is between X/580 Private Thomas Frederick Lambert de Reuck (4/SAIR, aged 24) and X/602, Private Andrew James Dicks (4/SAIR, aged 23). All three were killed on 24 March 1918. The flowers of the forest.
Well then, why the MACONOCHIE?
I can’t leave Herbert’s story without winding up the Maconochie mystery as best I can. Maconochie is what started this small research project. I don’t know what caused my eye to pause over Herbert’s entry, perhaps the unexpected sight of a German surname when I was really, as a curious Scot, scanning for Scottish surnames, while wondering what the DE VILLIERS, DE WET, DREYER and DU PREEZ on that random page had been doing there, so soon after the Anglo Boer War, and who now lay far from home in foreign veld. Foeitog.
Once I had Herbert’s service record before me, I discovered that it lists his next of kin as (Sister) Miss Jemima Maconochie. An address is given for her, namely Box 227, Randfontein, T[rans]vaal. How could a Maconochie be his sister when I’d guessed girlfriend at the least?
Below Jemima’s name, the name W. G. Deutschmann and the address P.O. Cala, Tembuland had been been added, providing an alternative postal address that is recorded on other civil records for members of Herbert’s immediate family who were then living at Nkwenkwesi, near Cala. However, his name and the accompanying address were in the same handwriting as an additional note on the service record, this time written in red, filling in the remaining space at the bottom of the index card, reading “Correct name Deutschmann” and the date 31/10/19. I think I can assume that both these additions were made, by the same official, on the same day, 31 October 1919.
I knew that W.G. Deutschmann could only be Walter George Deutschmann, one of Herbert’s younger brothers. It appears that by then, he must have discovered something of his brother’s connection with Jemima Maconochie. Walter was later to marry Margaret Doreen Huxham (1905–1937). They had three daughters, who could well still be alive, and in their eighties, so I am reluctant to identify them here. Perhaps their children will one day come across this, realise the connection, and contact me.
It looks as though it took the Army some time to realise that Herbert was not really a Maconochie. At the London end, an entry was made for Herbert in the Register of Soldiers’ Effects as H W Maconochie. No amendment was subsequently made to that entry, which is dated 12/18 (i.e. December 1918).
The first official form to record Herbert’s death matches the information on the CWGC database. It was issued at Pretoria under the name Maconochie, and is headed Imperial Service Contingents and dated 8 January 1919, just over 9 months after Herbert’s death. It certifies that his death had been officially recorded, that he “was killed in action or died of wounds” (so no identifiable remains and everyone who might have known how his life ended was also dead). It adds further on (Previously reported “missing.” Death now “presumed”.) The next of kin is [his] sister, Jemima Maconochie.
Six weeks later, on 14 February 1919, the Union’s normal Death Notice was drawn up, the informant signing as F.A. Deutschmann, so presumably, that was Herbert’s father (Friedrich August). The clerk has filled in Herbert’s name as Herbert William Deutschmann, (alias) H.W. Maconochie.
Presumably that was the end of the matter and the Deutschmann family received what was due to his next of kin.
As to the relationship, we can only speculate on that. Where did he meet her? What was she doing in Randfontein? Did he make her his next kin so that she would inherit a pension when he died? At first I thought she might have been his “sweetheart” at the time he enlisted. Perhaps she was.
I managed to find further records of Jemima’s life, after discovering the marriage, in Krugersdorp on 9 June 1917, of a Jemima Maconochie (aged 24, born Southampton) to a James Seggie (aged 32 born Ayrshire) . From that information I was able to find her birth registration (2Q 1892 Southampton) and to identify her parents as David Maconochie and Janet Gibb. I found the birth registration in 1883 in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire for James Seggie, two years earlier than the year matching the ages supplied for the records of his first marriage and of his death.
I also found the birth registration for Jemima, in Southampton in the second quarter of 1893, which enabled me to find the marriage of her parents, David Maconochie and Janet Gibb in Kelvin, Glasgow, in 1887. The couple also had a son, Andrew Gibb Maconochie, named after his maternal grandfather, who was born in Glasgow in 1890. Janet, together with Andrew and Jemima, were visiting Janet’s mother’s (Robb) family in Glasgow in 1901. At this stage, it does not appear that either David or Janet Maconochie emigrated to South Africa and I have not yet had time to ‘kill them off’ in the UK.
I also found the Death Notice for James Seggie in 1949, which revealed that Jemima had died in 1919—the year after Herbert—leaving two children, possibly twins—Norma Jen(sic)—later the wife of Ian Ross—and Norval James.
It took me a while to find the notice of her death, because her name had been mis-transcribed as Jemimah Leggie. This showed that she died in the Randfontein Estates Hospital on 15 October 1919 and that she had been diabetic for the last 10 years of her life. She had developed acute nephritis during the week after giving birth, and sepsis ten days later. I have found, from Norval’s ID number, that he was born on 24 September 1919. He will have had no memory of his mother as she died when he was three weeks old.
Their father married Elizabeth Love in 1924. She was, like James and Jemima, a Scot, born in Kilwinning, in Ayrshire. James did not remarry after Elizabeth’s death, and died in 1949, leaving his property to be divided equally between his three children. The third child, was Margaret Elizabeth Seggie.
I found Elizabeth’s Death Notice, confirming her death on 2 December 1929, despite the notice being dated 30 December 1935. Her husband recorded her age in these words: “Would now have been 49.” This would have been true for Elizabeth since she was indeed born in Kilwinning in 1886. I suspect that his daughter’s age was also given as her age in 1935, rather than her age at the time of her mother’s death.
I found the marriage of Andrew Gibb Maconochie and Grace Mary Paepke in Johannesburg in 1913. I noticed the German surname and checked the list William Jervois has compiled of German surnames featured in the book Germans in Kaffraria. Paepke is there, on p.62. (Here in the UK, I do not have ready access to that book.) A link to Jervois’ index and details of the book is in my Sources list, under Jervois. I did wonder, then, whether Grace, if also from the Eastern Cape, had perhaps, after her marriage, introduced Herbert to Jemima.
Andrew was a fitter on the gold mines, and had perhaps emigrated to South Africa specifically to work on the mines. He died in 1947 with the cause of death given as Phthisis. He and Grace had five children, one of whom may still be alive, but there may be grandchildren, bearing the surnames Maconochie, Aspinall or Tait, who might know something of the Maconochie connection with Herbert.
I leave you with what is, for me, yet another niggling question: Had Herbert’s family had any idea that their son was serving under another name? If not, would he have received any news from home during the 2 years he served in Europe? Did Jemima correspond with him?
A caveat: While I could not find another Jemima Maconochie in any accessible South African records, there remains a small possibility that the right Jemima was someone else. Her surname was spelt Maconochie on every Scottish, English and South African record for the family that I have been able to access. As it is a less usual variation of the spelling, I applied broad criteria in my surname searches. But no rival Jemima turned up.
All genealogical research has been undertaken by Margaret Frood.
Buchan, J., A History of the South African Forces in France, London, 1920.
This book is still available from antiquarian booksellers, but can also be read online on the Open Library, here: https://archive.org/details/historyofsouthaf00buchrich . You can find the account of the action on 24 March from p.180 or by clicking the following link which should take you that page: https://archive.org/details/historyofsouthaf00buchrich.
There are maps of Marrières Wood and some photos. Besides reading it online, you can also download the book in different formats.
Buchan, U., Beyond the Thirty-nine Steps: a Life of John Buchan, London 2019.
Delville Wood, ‘Marrières Wood’, http://www.delvillewood.com/marrieres2.htm, accessed 28/7/2020.
Geni Projects, ‘Hamburg to Cape Town: The voyage of the Wilhelmsburg, https://www.geni.com/projects/Hamburg-to-Cape-Town-The-voyage-of-the-Wilhelmsburg/39245, accessed 23/7/2020.
This page includes a list of the passengers on that voyage. The image used here of the Wilhelmsburg is no longer available online, other than on Geni but its source is not clarified there. The image has been used here in accordance with Creative Commons.
German South African Resource Page, ‘The Kaffraria Germans’, https://www.safrika.org/kaffraria_en.html. accessed 24/7/2020.
German South African Resource Page, ‘Passengers on La Rochelle‘, https://safrika.org/Names/schiff_02.html, accessed 25/7/2020.
Jervois, William, ‘Index to surnames in Germans in Kaffraria, https://www.safrika.org/Names/GermansInKaffraria.html, accessed 28/7/2020.
Labyrinth of East London Lore, ‘German Settlers to the Eastern Cape: Wilhelmsburg’,, http://www.eastlondon-labyrinth.com/germans/ship-wilhelmsburg.jsp, accessed 24/7/2020.
This site was created by the late historian, Dr Keith Tankard, assisted by his wife, Rosann, and son, Graeme.
Reid, W., Five Days from Defeat, Edinburgh, 2017.
This book reveals how close the Allies came to defeat in March 1918, a truth that is often overlooked. The South African stand at Marrières Wood is not mentioned, nor is the role of the rest of the 9 Scottish Division.
Royle, T., The Flowers of the Forest: Scotland and the First World War, Edinburgh, 2006.
Schwar, J.F. and Pape, P.E., Germans in Kaffraria, 1958.
Wrecksite, ‘SV Wilhelmsburg’, https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?210895, accessed 29/7/2020.
In December 1863, 10 years after it was built, the Wilhelmsburg foundered in the Waddenzee, during a terrible storm, in which 36 Dutch ships were also lost. This page gives more information about the ship. Its captain on that voyage was not the captain on the voyage that took German Settlers to East London in 1857.
Zipp, G.L., A History of the German Settlers in the Eastern Cape, 1857–1919, Grahamstown, 2012.
This dissertation, in fulfilment of a Master’s degree, will certainly be of interest to descendants of the German Settlers in the Eastern Cape. It can be located online by entering the title into a search engine, though I hesitate to share the URL because of a warning that the site is not secure. My browser may simply be extra fussy.
Appendices, updates to this blog and snippets of further information
If you read Buchan’s account, you will grasp just how terrible that day was for the remnants of the Brigade. I have obtained the War Diaries for 4/SAIR, but have not yet been able to bring myself to read them. When I have done so, I am likely to want to update this post, so, particularly if you are a Deutschmann descendant, do pop by again. If you follow this blog, you will be notified of any changes to this post.
A brief historical background to the German Immigration of 1857
Two waves of German immigrants were reaching the Eastern Cape at about this time. The first group to arrive, a year earlier, had been military settlers, soldiers from The King’s German Legion who had been recruited by the British to fight in the Crimea, though by the time they arrived there, the action had concluded. It was from their ranks that the German military settlers were selected to settle near the Cape’s Eastern Frontier. Generally dissatisfied with the arrangements made for them, and with the terms of their settlement, many of the military settlers left the colony as soon as the opportunity arose, which it did, in India. Some deserted, but a large number of them were recruited to support the British Army, during the Mutiny, where again they arrived somewhat late for the action, and when that concluded, few were willing to return to their posts in the Eastern Cape.
When Sir George Grey was unable to attract British military pensioners willing to settle in Kaffraria, it was decided to recruit German families, concentrating on those in the rural areas of Germany, rather than in the towns and cities. These settlers were recruited mainly from North East Germany, from Prussia, Thüringia, and, slightly further to the east, from among a slavic people, the Wends. One can understand why Germans from the eastern border areas might have been of particular interest to the British for this settlement project, because they already had experience of living close to a troubled frontier. Those on the first six ships of the Godeffroy line ended up in the British Crown Colony of Kaffraria as part of the British Kaffrarian Settlement Plan. Later settlers (post-1863) had, and took, the opportunity to settle elsewhere in the Cape Colony, many of them in, or near, the Cape of Good Hope.
Where 2/SAIR and 4/SAIR were raised
Both regiments in which Herbert served were part of the respected 1st South African Infantry Brigade. 2/SAIR was raised mostly in Natal and the Orange Free State, but it also included volunteers from the Kaffrarian Rifles.
When first raised 4/SAIR’s composition was as follows:
A company was made up of soldiers from the Cape Town Highlanders and others within that city’s area;
B company was raised with soldiers from 1/Battalion, Transvaal Scottish Regiment with C company comprised of soldiers from 2/Battalion of the same regiment (Transvaal Scottish) Regiment;
D company was raised with recruits from Natal and the Orange Free State, who had been “encouraged” by the two provinces Caledonian Societies.
The children of Wilhelm by his second wife, Ernstine Wilhelmine Ninneman
Listed, as far as possible, in order of birth—corrections or further information will welcomed. I have focused on Herbert’s line of descent, but in the process have harvested the following information about Wilhelm’s second family.
Edward (Carl Heinrich Eduard) (1861–1911)
Auguste Wilhelmine (married name Winkelmann)
Wilhelmine Auguste (married name also Winkelman)
Heinrich Daniel (d. 1948)
Why John Buchan wrote The History of the South African Forces in France at his own expense
In the words of Ursula Buchan:
In the spring of 1919 JB [her grandfather, John Buchan] also wrote an account of the South African forces in France. He had been asked to write the book by Jan Smuts and the South African government as early as 1916, but it was impossible to attempt until the war was over, by which time Smuts and Louis Botha had decided that South Africa could not pay for it. So it became a ‘labour of love’, probably because JB thought the South African actions at Delville Wood in 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, and Marrières Wood, held by the South Africans as the Allies retreated in March 1918, were two of the bravest and most stirring of the war, worthy of immortality. The History of the South African Forces in France was published in 1920 and became a school textbook in South Africa.
Beyond the Thirty-nine Steps, p.222.
Fiebiger/Fibiger or Siebi[g]er? Links to resources for the Kurrent Script.
Six trees on Ancestry have Emilie’s surname as Siebier, though correctly providing the date of birth given her on her baptismal record (but supply no further information on her). The baptismal records for Ottilie and August are in the German Kurrent Script where the capital F strongly resembles a modern looped capital S.
For help with transcribing unfamiliar German scripts, the resources listed below are useful. The Kurrent Script is pdf, downloadable free of charge via the Family Search Wiki—you may find yourself charmed, intrigued and eager to use the resources do your own transcriptions.
Family Search Wiki, ‘Germany Handwriting’, https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Germany_Handwriting#Handwriting_Examples_and_Tools, accessed 26/7/2020.
Mücke, Margarete, (Translated by ‘hoonsh translations’) A Guide to Writing the Old ‘Kurrent’ German Script, http://www.kurrent-lernen-muecke.de/pdf/Schreiblehrgang%20Kurrentschrift%20%202016-english.pdf, accessed 26/7/2020.
Verdenhalven, F., Die Deutsche Schrift/The German Script, Insingen, 2011.