The Register is a unique database for genealogists, military historians and medal collectors. It contains over 376,000 names, including a completely revised casualty list of 59,000 casualty records. From these transcripts, you may discover:
The complete Queen's South Africa medal roll for the Coldstream Guards, Irish Guards, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and Rundles Scouts
QSA rolls for: Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia), Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps, Maritzburg Ambulance Corps, Natal Field Artillery and Natal Volunteer Hotchkiss Gun Detachment
Complete Wepener clasp roll
King's South Africa rolls for: 9th Lancers, 12th Lancers, 10th Hussars, 11th Hussars and Imperial Yeomanry
Talana clasp for 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, Leicestershire Regiment and King's Royal Rifle Corps
Official Casualty Rolls
A Gazetteer of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902
Anglo-Boer War Memorials Project
Winifred Scott's Anglo-Boer War Index
Kevin Asplin's rolls for the British cavalry, Imperial Yeomanry, Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, Lovat's Scouts and Scottish Horse
The Official Casualty Rolls are published in two sets: The Natal Field Force (NFF) (October 1899 to October 1900) and the South African Field Force (SAFF) (October 1899 to May 1902). Neither is easy to use, both are arranged by unit and SAFF is divided into six sections by date.
The casualty information in the Register adds to and corrects much data published in these rolls. The scope of these revisions includes correcting errors (last names, ranks, units, dates and place names), adding relevant information (service numbers, initials, dates prisoners were released, expanding the catch all 'disease ' into a specific cause – enteric or typhoid usually) and including a gazetteer. Over 2,000 new casualty records have been added from the medal rolls, regimental and contemporary histories.
The gazetteer is the biggest innovation; the location of many casualties is linked to the gazetteer entry that provides information on the geographical location and the military context to that casualty. The gazetteer is taken from the seminal work A Gazetteer of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 by HM & MGM Jones, Military Press 1999. In the published work there are 2,348 entries. The work on the revised casualty roll has introduced a further 300 entries and this now makes the gazetteer contained within this database the most comprehensive ever for the Anglo-Boer War.
The recording of casualty locations has been imprecise for many reasons, for example, unfamiliarity with the Afrikaans language, use of names that have passed out of usage and the location in which the casualty roll was prepared. For example, many of the casualties of the battle of Biddulsphberg are shown in the casualty roll as Senekal; this is the place where the troops retired to and where the casualty roll was prepared. For this reason the location given in the casualty roll is wrong or misleading.
In the Natal Field Force roll, very often 'Natal' is given as the location for the battles on the Tugela Heights and 'Spion Kop' is given incorrectly for casualties on the neighbouring Twin Peaks. In other instances, casualties for important actions, such as Victoria Cross actions which have often been hidden, are revealed for the first time in the Register.
The medal rolls used are those that the army produced for the distribution of the Queen's South Africa and King's South Africa medals. These are kept at the National Archives, Kew in series WO100. The complete medal rolls have not been transcribed. The complete Queen's South Africa medal rolls for the British cavalry, Imperial Yeomanry, Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, Lovat's Scouts and Scottish Horse, however, are in The Register. There are many thousands of clasp entitlements for other men and women in The Register.
Winifred Scott, a former researcher who concentrated on the more unusual and complex units, has done the bulk of the transcribing; these include nurses, many colonial units, Royal Army Medical Corps, imperial yeomanry and the staff rolls. The medal rolls often contain casualty information that has been added. They also provide much data to correct and update casualty records.
Of particular interest to medal collectors will be the linking together of the many units in which a soldier served. Very many men served in more than one colonial unit – four is not uncommon and can be as many as six. Many soldiers of the regular army took their discharge in South Africa and subsequently joined colonial units. This is usually cross-referenced in the medal rolls; however, you can now use the Register to find this out instantly. Most incidental remarks in the medal rolls have not been included.
The Anglo-Boer War Memorials Project is again a major resource of unpublished information on, primarily, fatalities and where they came from. The Register contains details from over 1,350 memorials for 19,000 names; of these about 2,000 names are for men who did not die but whose participation has been recorded on a memorial. The vast majority of these memorials are in the UK and Eire, but significant numbers of memorials have been recorded in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Winifred Scott and her late husband began building an index of participants from medal rolls and published sources. This index has been incorporated into the Register. They had amassed a large library on the Anglo-Boer War which included school Registers (for example, Eton, Rugby, Dulwich College, Brighton College and Tonbridge), Registers for the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal and other honours and awards, Who Was Who, regimental and contemporary histories. These references could prove invaluable in providing sources of information about an individual.
Compiling the Register has been made easier by others who, in recent times, have compiled their own Registers of participants:
Colin Roe – Oz-Boer database on Australian soldiers Steve Watt – In Memoriam, Natal University Press, 2000 Their works have been invaluable for checking and improving records in the Register.
All the various sources that have been consulted have contained errors or information that differs from other sources. This is not surprising and reveals the need for a comprehensive database such as the Register. Unfortunately the Register will contain errors and duplicate records for the same person. The database, however, has a huge advantage over the printed source: the information can be refined, corrected and re-presented to the researcher instantly. Over time, the quality of the information in the Register can only increase.