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The Mafeking Cadets

Baden-Powell's experiences as "The Hero of Mafeking" can be credited as being the mainspring for the creation of Scouting in two ways: The Mafeking Cadets and hero-worship. All Scouts ought to be aware of the significance of the Cadets - their history is fascinating. Until recently the boys were for me part of the legend, faceless and nameless. My researches into the early days, the Milestones to Scouting, have led me deep into Mafeking history and the contribution that these 12-17 year old boys actually made

Readers may wish to know that the author has compiled a sister website to Scouting Milestones specifically to list all resources pertaining to The Siege. It can be found by clicking on the following link. The Siege of Mafeking


"Mafficking" - the wild celebrations that took place in England when the Siege was relieved and propelled B-P to fame

IT was the Mafeking Cadets who gave B-P the notion that boys were capable of being trained, and being extremely useful, even in the very dangerous environment of the besieged township. And without the unashamed adulation of adults and children after the Siege, it is very doubtful that B-P would have had sufficient status to attract the membership, and to pull the necessary strings to launch the world's largest youth organisation.

Along the way, however, myths have emerged, as they will when there is an absence of knowledge, or where information stems from biased sources. It is understandable that the stories told to Cubs and Scouts for generation after generation naturally put B-P at the centre of everything. This though is a great pity, especially here in Britain where there is a decided 'anti-hero' culture.

The B-P story, and the success of the Scout Movement do not need false bolstering. Eulogising the great man, sometimes with scant regard for the truth, has left the field wide open to the character-assassins who are able to make the most of the misconceptions, and then by association undermine other areas which are more soundly based.

IN Baden-Powell's first publication intended for boys - the first issue of the part series Scouting for Boys, published on January 15th 1908 - the Mafeking Cadets were clearly acknowledged as the inspiration behind the formation of the Scout Movement. However, in a private letter written in 1927 and signed on B-P's behalf by his secretary, Mrs Eileen K Wade, he wrote:- "The boy messengers were not Boy Scouts ... but more in the nature of Cadets." This was not to demean the "Mafeking Boy Scouts" as B-P called them in 1908, but to try and indicate significance of the fundamental concept of the Law and Promise, and the very broad training scheme which was at the heart of his now worldwide movement.

Baden-Powell himself never said the Mafeking Cadets were the first Boy Scouts, moreover, B-P did not form the Mafeking Cadets. He did not even ask Lord Edward Cecil, his Chief Staff Officer, to form the Cadets as is so often stated.


IN 1996, the latest in a long line of Mafeking diaries was published, edited by a respected American history professor, Philip Thurmond Smith. The diary is that of Frederick Saunders, who grew up in Mafeking and became a 16 year-old boy bugler in the Bechuanaland Rifles. Saunders writes about his life in Mafeking prior to the Siege and how an old sergeant (unfortunately, Saunders did not give us his name) in the British South Africa Police encouraged a group of boys, six to start with, to meet for campfires out in the veldt, where they listened to the sergeant's stories of bygone battles, and brewed tea on the fire. The sergeant called these campfires "indabas" - a tribal word meaning "meeting of elders", but also used in Afrikaans and later by B-P himself in connection with leaders' meetings at Jamborees.

The Mafeking Cadets
Some of the Mafeking Cadets, particularly those on the left of this picture, were very small boys indeed and appear quite young. However, research indicates that none of the boys in the Siege were younger than 12 at the time they joined the Cadets

They eventually met in the room behind the Post Office where they would still listen to yarns, but learn drill and, on occasion, learn to shoot the old, heavy, shoulder-bruising Snyder carbines. The boys were given ranks, according to their prowess with the rifle and issued with a field service cap as uniform.

This is not a flight of imagination by Saunders, or attempt to demean Baden-Powell - indeed his writings show he had the highest respect for B-P. The Cadet Force is referred to in the town's newspaper, the Mafeking Mail, long before B-P was given permission to enter the town with his regiment on September 15th, 1899.

There is, however, no doubt about the fact that Lord Edward Cecil was put in charge of the Cadets from February 10th, 1900 and they all marched off to Julius Weil's stores - seemingly the source of all supplies in Mafeking - to be given a new khaki uniform with forage caps or wide brimmed smasher hats with primrose pugarees, (the hats were so called because the brim of the hat at the side was 'smashed' up to meet the crown and held in place there - as in the photograph, left - a 'pugaree' was the cloth wrapped round the hat). The cadets also wore what B-P called their 'undress' hat, a 'Glengarry' cap made of khaki material with yellow top. The tunic was of khaki serge with white breeches and black stockings. There is no mention of Cadets carrying rifles during Cecil's administration.

B-P's Sketch
Sgt. Major Goodyear (see below) is to the fore, both styles of hat are shown in B-P's sketch

MUCH has been written of Baden-Powell's continuing interest in the Cadets and this may have been the case - there is no doubt that he made it his business to know everything and be everywhere during the Siege. There are no photographs known showing B-P with the Cadets, but he did sketch this delightful study. It was sent out of Mafeking by native runner on April 19th, 1900, to be published by the London Daily Graphic on June 16th. The newspaper version has, in B-P's own hand, details of the Cadet uniform noted above and Sgt. Major Goodyear is named. The sketch used here, without B-P's notes because of its increased clarity, was published in 1907 in B-P's Sketches in Mafeking & East Africa.

The smartness of the Cadets was often commented on. This must have contrasted starkly with the dejected, unshaven, un-uniformed Boers captured after their failed attempt to take Mafeking, just before the end of the Siege on May 12th 1900, when the Cadets were given the job of escorting them to gaol. One can only wonder about the effect that such efficiency had on the Boers who, after 208 days of besieging Mafeking, thought that the garrison had been starved into submission and was on its knees.

The spirit of the Cadets is exemplified in the famous story of B-P meeting a Cadet during heavy shelling, which B-P himself tells in Scouting for Boys:-

"You will get hit one of these days riding about like that when shells are flying"
"I pedal so quick, sir, that they’ll never catch me."

Officers in charge

BESIDES Cecil, one other officer was detailed to have responsibility for the Cadets, Lieutenant Ronnie Moncreiffe. These two officers were not, unfortunately, the best rôle-models a boy could have.

S.M. Goodyear
The youthful Sgt. Major Goodyear, far right

Lord Cecil was B-P's Chief Staff Officer and the fourth son of Lord Palmerston, who was, at the time, the British Prime-Minister. But Cecil was neither charismatic nor in good health, B-P wrote in his official report of the Siege that Cecil " ... stuck pluckily to his work although hampered by illness in the first part of the siege." (Private letter to GHQ). After the Siege, B-P wrote that Cecil, " ... did his best but was not much use." However, Sgt. Major Gwynne, the step-father of Cadets Ramsay and Sidney Harrhy, in a letter written to his sister on June 26th, 1900 (published as an appendix in Lord of Hosts on our Side, p. 31.) writes: "Lord Cecil was the nicest man in the whole garrison. It was on his shoulders that fell the majority of the work."

Ronnie Moncreiffe spent most of the Siege in prison! Brian Gardner in Mafeking. A Victorian Legend, says he was " ... the notorious blade of the day ... cricketer, social gadfly, and heavy drinker" and quotes H P de Montmorency, who was in the Relief Column and found Moncreiffe "most unhappily incarcerated ... for conduct which had exhausted the patience of Baden-Powell." Apparently Moncreiffe drank too much. To imprison an officer during the Siege must surely have been a very significant event, particularly when the garrison comprised only 48 officers at the start the Siege, of whom six were later killed, fifteen wounded and one missing, presumed dead or captured.


THE Cadets were a proud lot, well turned out and they did much useful work. At the start of the Siege they were deployed as messengers to the outlying forts - often over a mile out town. At first, the boys were mounted on donkeys, but as the Siege began to bite, these worthy beasts ended up in the pot and so messenger Cadets were then mounted on bicycles.

The Goodyears
The Goodyears, father and son

When Cecil took over the cadets, we know the rank structure included lieutenants and these were in place throughout the siege (see picture of Nominal Roll below) yet there is little mention of them. One source gives the roll at the outbreak of the War as being one Sergeant Major, one Sergeant, two corporals, and fourteen privates. The Sergeant Major was Warner Goodyear, only 12 years old at the time. There were older boys who were only privates, but Warner's father was a Captain, and the first Mayor of Mafeking. Mafeking was as class-conscious as the rest of Victorian society and it must have seemed fitting that the son of so worthy a father should hold rank himself, despite his age.

Junior Commissioned Officers

I had always assumed that the highest rank that could be held by a Cadet was that of Sergeant-Major. That belief was probably conditioned by the often-repeated notion that Sgt.-Major Goodyear was the highest-ranking Cadet and therefore entitled to the sobriquet 'The First Boy Scout' - perhaps because he was. Of the serving Cadets, he was the first to join as the 'Senior Cadet', so he in some way represented the entire Corps.

Frederick Saunder's Diary has already been mentioned. On p.41, Saunders states that, prior to the army's arrival in Mafeking, the Cadets were an established organisation and that boys were ranked by virtue of their shooting ability with Snyder carbines. Saunders claimed that, as one of the best shots, he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Cadet Corps before he left to join the Bechuanaland Rifles as a Boy Bugler on Baden-Powell's arrival. Having established that there was a more senior cadet rank than Sergeant Major before the Siege did not necessarily mean that there was one during the Siege. Move evidence was required.

That corroboration has now been forthcoming from various sources:-

Mafeking Mail, August 12th, 1899
Under the heading Mafeking Cadets, regimental orders for the week are laid out under the name Lieutenant I H E Stenson, the date proving that the Cadets were in existence at least two months before the Siege began.
The Nominal Roll
The Roll (illustrated here and officially called 'Cadets: Capitation Grant Requisition for half-year ending ... ') The Nominal Rollshows that Lt. I H E Stenson earned a £1 grant for his membership in the six months prior to June 30th, 1900 and that he joined the Cadets on December 1st, 1898. He was, therefore, in place as the senior-ranking Cadet throughout the Siege. Stenson was 16 or 17 years old at the time. The siege began in October, 1899. The dilemma with ages is the case for all the boys whose age is shown on the Nominal Roll and for whom we do not have an absolute date of birth.
(I found the 'Nominal Roll' in a Philatelic Auction Catalogue. It is a copy of the 'complete nominal Roll of Members of the Cadet Corp of half-year ending June 30th 1900'. There is also a record of the number of compulsory one-hour Thursday drills attended by each Cadet with their entitlement to a one pound grant for that half year.)
Letter from a K N Green dated April 17th, 1992
I came into possession of a copy of this letter which was sent originally to the Chief Scout of America, in order to place before him his evidence that it was his relative Luke Green (see L S Green below) who was, he believed, the 15-year-old senior Cadet in Mafeking and therefore entitled to the title 'The First Boy Scout'. Though this claim was discounted at the time, there is evidence to indicate that there was some justice in it, as Green did outrank Goodyear. However, as the Nominal Roll is in rank order, it is clear that I H E Stenson outranked Green and had also joined the Corps earlier.

Sgt. Major Warner Goodyear

WARNER is the figure with his cycle on the one penny Blue Siege Stamp shown below. Clearly, the bike was not made for a lad of Warner's age, but, in siege conditions, all sorts of improvisations were the order of the day. When the photograph was being taken by Mr Taylor, the only professional photographer in Mafeking, a shell landed, overbalancing Warner. The boy picked himself up and the photograph was successfully taken. The image reproduced here may well be one of those taken on that occasion, though not the one which was eventually used on the stamp, which shows Warner riding his bike.

Warner Goodyear and his? bike

Whilst restoring and enhancing the photograph to make it suitable for inclusion on this Page an unusual thing was noticed - the bike is probably too big for Warner ever to have ridden it! Compared to modern bicycles, the bottom bracket (to which the pedal cranks are attached) looks unusually high - nearly the same height as the wheel's axles, but this, in addition to the long head-tube, the tall extension of the handlebar stem and the general geometry of the frame of the bicycle, are typical of machines of that period. Warner's stance is relaxed, but it was possible, on a print of the image, to draw an approximation of the length of his inside leg. Using an old cyclist's method of setting the saddle height using this measurement, the result showed that the bike appears to be set-up for someone with legs some 11% longer than Warner's. Even if Warner could manage to get on a bike with a saddle as high as his stomach and pedal it, how he managed to get off it would have been something to see as, sitting on the saddle, his feet would have been several inches short of the ground!

IN 2004, we learned from descendant of the Mafeking Goodyears that Warner’s father Charles emigrated from England to South Africa in 1879 aged 33, when the family’s quarrying business in Cornwall failed. He married Annie Catherine, previously a widow, in January 1883 in St George's Cathedral, Cape Town. Charles Goodyear joined the Frontier Light Horse and, whilst on expedition with the Bechuanaland Border Force, set up camp in what became known as Mafeking in 1885. It is probable that he would have first met Baden-Powell at this time, as he too was a part of this expeditionary force. Charles Goodyear was one of the first residents of Mafeking and, because he was an architect, he was commissioned to provide a plan for the new railway town, opposite the native 'stadt' of Mafikeng, The Place of Stones, on the banks of the Molopo River. He also designed the Victoria Hospital and became the first Mayor of Mafeking in 1896. During the Siege, he was given command of the Cape Boys, a unit of mixed race volunteers and on November 3rd, 1899 was shot through the thigh in an attack on the Brickyards in Mafeking. He was not expected to live, but, remarkably, he made a good recovery and was out of hospital and able to spend Christmas at home, albeit on crutches.

Between 1883 and 1899 the Goodyears had five children; Warner was the second eldest, born on August 6th, 1886 and the youngest, Lorna, was born just three weeks after the start of the Siege. Warner's mother must have been heavily pregnant when Baden-Powell ordered the officer's wives and children to leave Mafeking on the last train out of the town before it was besieged and she left with her three daughters. Clearly, though only 13, Warner Goodyear was not considered a child, as he and his father remained to face the dangers of the Siege, which most people outside Mafeking thought to be a completely lost cause, or at best merely a delaying operation tying up a few thousand Boer troops for a few weeks. He must have been a robust character, but a boy of his age would surely have had mixed feelings as he waved his mother and sisters off on their journey to the Cape and safety.

THE sergeant's 'stripes', seen in the picture above, look, like the bike, out-of-proportion and too big for Warner Goodyear. This is because the stripes used were, quite literally, 'man-sized' and intended for soldiers in the Army, but were also put to use amongst the Cadets, some of whom, like Warner, were very small in stature, making the stripes look bigger than ever.

After the Siege, according to Linden Webster's own account (see 'Sources', below), Goodyear was promoted, and became a Lieutenant. Warner is not on the photograph of the Cadets, taken shortly after Siege, in the book Petticoat in Mafeking, Linden Webster's son says this was because he accompanied B-P to Rustenburg after the Siege. Warner Goodyear left Mafeking in 1912 and moved to Randfontain, where he was employed as a gold miner and where died, aged 25, on May 24th, 1912, in a sporting accident. Three of his sisters - Lottie, Maud and Lorna - became spinster librarians in Mafeking, the fourth, Frances, married a Nils Murman and their only surviving son, Helge, was shot down during the Second World War over Italy on April 18th 1945, whilst serving as a captain in the South African Airforce.

The Mafeking Cadets

THE table below has been arrived at by the use of various resources.

NOTES: Dates expressed in numerical form are in the format 'Day'/'Month'/'Year'. Note that a year '00' is 1900 and '99', etc., is 1899.
The 'Age' column lists the approximate ages of the boys (where known) at the time of the Siege, not their ages on joining the Cadets.
The 'Drills' column refers to weekly exercises, attendance at which entitled the boy to the £1 grant.
References: the Siege of Mafeking book is abbreviated to 'SoM'. Petticoat in Mafeking. The Siege Letters of Ada Cock is noted as 'Midgley'. The full title of the Mafeking Mail was Mafeking Mail Siege Notes
Name Born Joined Age Roll Drills Grant M.M.R. Webster

All but four boys listed on the Nominal Roll were accorded the title 'Orderly'. The four that were not, were attached to the Town Guard or a regiment.

The Mafeking Mail of April 14th, 1900, with just over a month of the Siege left to run, published a notification of an increase in establishment in the Cadets to 40 - 4 NCOs and 36 privates. The list above contains 47 names, but 3 of them, C Bezuidenhoud, C Swartz and Richard Wright (not shown in bold on the list above), are there only because they appear on the Nominal Roll as having earned their £1 grant, however, they are also shown as not attending any drill in the six months leading up to June 30th, 1900. It would be tempting eliminate them from the list, but it must be borne in mind that other Cadets, who are similarly shown as not having attended a drill, were certainly present during the Siege, as was Lt. L Green, for example, though this may have been because he was also a member of the Town Guard.

The table above is the most complete and detailed listing currently available.

Who then was the 'First Boy Scout'?

IF we set aside the very valid argument that none of the Mafeking Cadets were 'Boy Scouts' in the way that we now know them - they had not taken any form of promise - and also discount those Mafeking Cadets like Frederick Saunders who left the Cadets prior to Baden-Powell's occupancy of Mafeking, then the answer would be the boy who served during the Siege and joined the Cadets first. On this, the evidence of the Nominal Roll illustrated above is very clear... There were 16 boys including the 'Senior Cadets' Lt. I H E Stenson and Sgt. Major Warner Goodyear who joined on December 1st, 1898 and none who joined before that time. Of the 16 early joiners 5 - Bam G, Bell M (bugler), Erasmus W, Smythe G and Stenson T are not recorded on the chart above, as I have been unable to discover any other evidence that they were present during the Siege and they are not shown on the Nominal Roll as having attended any drills during the time of the Siege.

So, the question of who was the 'First Boy Scout' is still open. If the answer, given a similar joining date, is to be decided by seniority of rank, and then it must be Lt. Stenson and not, as is most often suggested, Sgt. Major Warner Goodyear. However, the evidence shows that the majority of the boys who joined on December 1st, 1898 were over twelve years old, whereas Warner Goodyear (the only Cadet for whom we have a complete Date of Birth) was 12 years and 4 months old and may have been the youngest of the first boys to join the Mafeking Cadets. Perhaps this was the basis of the claim that Warner was the 'First Boy Scout'?

B-P Stamp

DURING the Siege, messages and letters bore stamps, just as they would have done in times of peace. The normal stock of stamps were surcharged to cover the high fees (£15) paid to native runners who risked their lives almost on a daily basis to find their way through the lines. These stamps never ran out.Stamp New stamps however, were printed for the internal messages that were delivered by the Cadets in the town and to and between the forts. There were three stamps in total, two bearing B-P’s portrait and one based on the photograph of young Sergeant Major Goodyear on his trusty bike. These, 'The Mafeking Blues' have been the cause of a long-standing controversy. All British stamps before and since, together with those of the British Empire, have always carried the head of the Monarch. Queen Victoria was, reportedly, not amused, though she sent B-P very warm messages during the Siege and promoted him to Major-General immediately afterwards. Nobody seems to have been upset by Warner’s immortalisation though. His stamp is more prized than a 'Penny Black' to the hundreds of thousands of philatelists who collect stamps depicting Scouts.

Obs Post
A very precarious-looking Observation Post

THE Cadets had one other important role. They acted as lookouts. B-P had a tall observation post built on the roof of Minchin's Solicitor’s Office, his Headquarters, and there was another on the Railway sheds. The picture on the left probably has a soldier lookout on this occasion.

The Boers brought up to Mafeking what was then a modern long-range siege gun - a 94lb Creusot, nicknamed 'Gretje' by the garrison. This was expected to rapidly bring the Siege to an end, the town’s biggest guns were only a couple of seven pounders. Mafeking was saved by a combination of many factors, not least the ingenuity of B-P and the courage of the besieged, both black and white.

As far as the huge gun was concerned, the defenders had two pieces of luck. Firstly, Mafeking was, in the main, built of sun-dried mud brick and corrugated iron. The shells passed clean through these without causing the mayhem that would have occurred had they hit more resistant materials. Secondly, though always over two miles off and sometimes as far as five, the Boers could be seen raising and lowering the barrel of the gun, and the puff of smoke was clearly visible when it was fired. This gave the Cadet watchers time to sound the alarm by ringing a bell; a code of chimes informing the besieged of the direction in which the cannon was aimed. One inhabitant, Lady Sarah Wilson, aunt of Winston Churchill, even had her own warning by telephone!

Siege gun
The Boer's giant siege gun

The youngest Cadet fatality?

FRANKIE Brown was born in 1891. Prior to the Siege he lived with his parents at Kaffraria, East London, near Johannesburg, so he was only eight years old when his parents came to Mafeking for protection on December 3rd, 1899 which, in retrospect, was not a wise move. On Wednesday January 1st, 1900 a shell splinter fatally wounded young Frankie in the spine - he was playing marbles at the time. After a week of suffering and rallying sufficiently to regain the use of his legs, he died on January 17th, aged nine. B-P's Staff Diary records "Boy Brown ... died this a.m." There is variation on the death date amongst those that recorded it, but this was common amongst Mafeking diarists, some of whom got completely out of kilter with the real calendar. One diarist who may have got his facts correct was magistrate and Civil Commissioner Charles G H Bell, as young Frankie was a friend of his son Trevor. He wrote "Truly, this is one of the saddest incidents of the siege.". B-P called Frankie 'Boy Brown' just as he called another victim 'Girl Erasmus'. If Frankie was a Cadet, might we not have expected 'Cadet Brown'?

No Cadet below the age of 11 appears on the Nominal Roll who, it can be proved, served during the Siege. Linden Webster, who was able to name the vast majority of Cadets individually, could not recall the death of any Cadet when asked by his son directly about Frankie.

The Grave of Frankie Brown
Frankie Brown's grave - photographed in October, 2003

Many children, including babies, died in the Siege - mainly from disease, so Frankie was not the youngest or only child fatality, but he was the first child of English descent to die.

Maybe Frankie wanted to be a Cadet, maybe Frankie would have been a Cadet, maybe Frankie had a relative who was a Cadet - there were a number of Browns listed on the Nominal Roll, maybe Frankie was allowed to take part is some Cadet activities; however, though I have found Frankie listed as a Cadet in some unsubstantiated sources (e.g. Dr K Freund), I can, at present, find no evidence listing a Frankie on the roster of Cadets, nor a child as young as 9 serving with them.

One thing though is ironic; Frankie Brown had a gravestone - there is a photograph of it on the back cover of the book The Place of Stones 1885-1980; Warner Goodyear had none. Frankie's memorial in the Mafeking Graveyard was erected shortly after the Siege and makes no claims that he was a Cadet. In this respect at least, this 'refugee' child outshone the most famous of all cadets, Warner Goodyear. We know little of the circumstances of the family Brown, but Warner's father was a Captain in the Army, the first Mayor of Mafeking and Warner himself a more celebrated figure during the Siege. He died tragically young, but even then - 12 years after the Siege - B-P himself thought that he should have a fitting memorial. Now he has - see the 'Postscript' below.


THE contribution of the Cadets was uniquely recognised by the Army. They were all awarded the Defence of Mafeking Bar to the Queen’s South Africa Medal, which was awarded to the Mafeking Cadets and all serving men. Whilst there are other examples of under-age medal winners, this decoration is unique in being awarded to boys as young as fourteen.

'Old Boys'

Henry Hammond

IN 1966 Mr Hammond was the subject of two newspaper reports now held in the UK Scout Archives. He was then aged 78 and claimed to be one of he first three boys to join the Mafeking Cadets, the other two, Gates and Rentzkie, had since died. The 1966 articles also mention Mr George McNichol whom he claimed to have joined the Corps later. I have no record of this person during the time of the Siege, though Alec McNichol was certainly present. Unfortunately, Mr Hammond, or the newspaper journalist, does not seem to have been too accurate an informant (it was 66 years after the event, after all) and the dates he gives, the boys he claims to have joined with and his reporting of other boys he claims also to have joined the Cadets is at variance with other evidence. If you can provide any information which may resolve these inconsistencies, I would be most grateful.

My researches show that Henry's sister, Marie Hammond, was the sweetheart of Frederick Saunders, mentioned above. Their mother, Mrs Hammond, was of Dutch extraction and formidable Boer supporter. War Correspondent Major F D Baillie reported that Mrs Hammond

"...expressed the wish that the streets of Mafeking might run with English blood."
Baillie comments, when Mrs Hammond's daughter - sweetheart of Frederick Saunders - was wounded "Curses like chickens, come home to roost." Mrs Hammond's statement so outraged the Besieged that it is reported by nearly all diarists. Edward Ross in The Diary of the Siege of Mafeking is appalled that Mrs Hammond should make these remarks as she was one of the Boer women "whom we have been keeping on our charity for several months."

Linden Bradfield Webster

I have been able to locate various documents of Mr Webster's (see 'Sources' below). Also, his son Selby Webster was in correspondence with various people including Mr Melvyn Gallagher, who has kindly made his correspondence available to me. Linden Webster was able to identify most of the Cadets shown in the photograph in the book Petticoat in Mafeking. This photograph was taken some time after the Siege, as it includes Linden's brother R J Webster who did not serve during the Siege, according to Mr Webster. Apparently, the older Siege uniforms had bone buttons whilst those issued afterwards had metal buttons. (Unfortunately this level of detail cannot be distinguished in the photograph.)

Linden always claimed that the first Cadet leader was the town schoolmaster, S S Harris. Frederick Saunders however, maintains it was an old sergeant of the British South Africa Police. Neither are acknowledged in official reports. During the Siege, Webster remembered that the Cadets were attached to 8 different posts - three per post - and that he served with Cadets G Rowles and H Brown in B-P's Headquarters. There were only 24 Cadets in total. This figure is probably correct for the first part of the Siege.

Linden Webster article

Attached to the HQ section, Linden Webster had to go at 4 p.m. every day to get the night's password. On one occasion he was sniped at. After the war, with his father, he met the Boer sniper responsible. The sniper, Snyman, remembered the incident and thought he had killed the boy! Webster recalled that Mafeking was first relieved by seven men of the Imperial Light Horse 'led' by his cousin Sgt. Bert Jefferson. (The senior officer was, in fact, the more famous Major Karri Davies, but it is reasonable to assume that Mr Webster is referring here, with some family pride, to the senior non-commissioned officer.)

Linden Webster was one of three Cadets selected to represent Mafeking at the Coronation of Edward VII, in London, in 1902. His son reported that Linden was the only one that that took part in the Parade, as the other two were ill.

In 1967, Linden Webster revisited Mafeking with his son, and met Alec McNichol. (George McNichol, mentioned in the Hammond articles above, as being in Mafeking was not mentioned by the Websters, so perhaps 'George' could in fact have been Alec.)

When aged 84, Linden Webster identified the Cadets in the photograph in Midgley's book, but does not offer an explanation as to why he is not on the Cadet Nominal Roll. He died, aged 88, in 1974 and was, as far as I know, the last surviving Cadet. His Queen's South Africa Medal with Defence of Mafeking Bar was in the Forsyth Collection, Johannesburg, in 1978.

Goodyear's Grave
Warner Goodyear's Grave, October 2003.
Note the original grave marker, no. 199

I thought I had now discovered most of what there was to know about Linden Webster - after all he was alive to tell his own story as late as 1974 and he wrote his own, albeit brief, account. His son has also been a very forthcoming advocate of his father's memories. However, in 2001, I spent some time researching Mafeking in the UK Scout Archives and was amazed to find what appeared to be an otherwise undocumented series of articles entitled Linden Webster, or Through The Siege of Mafeking. It appears that Linden's mother was a Salvationist and allowed 'Mrs Staff-Captain Cunningham' to write seven consecutive articles in the Salvation Army's Young Soldier between May 16th and June 27th, 1908. Though interesting and informative about everyday life during the Siege, there is very little factual detail about Linden in the articles, other than that he was in the Cadets and spent some time in the trenches with a rifle - a claim he never made, as far as I know, in his lifetime.


BADEN-POWELL was always ready to acknowledge the importance of the Cadet Corps as an inspiration to Scouting and when Warner Goodyear died from a sporting accident when he was 26, B-P donated funds to provide a fitting memorial. Lord Baden-Powell said;

"Goodyear's memorial will be of permanent value, since it will record the case of a boy who in serving his country with bravery and distinction, showed that a boy can be trusted with responsibility just as well as any man."

Unfortunately, things did not go as B-P expected. In 1990, John Ineson, an expert on Mafeking stamps and siege notes and, at the time, an English International Scouting Commissioner, discovered Warner's grave in a Randfontain Cemetery, without a memorial stone, and marked only by the plot number 199. He set out to fulfil B-P's wishes and sought donations, which came from the UK-based Scout and Guide Stamp Club, the Scouts on Stamps Society International, and the Anglo-Boer War Philatelic Society. A fitting memorial stone has now been erected, proudly depicting Warner’s stamp.

As a result of my researches into the early days of Baden-Powell, I have become very interested in the Siege of Mafeking. From reading the available diaries and medal rolls, I have been able to build and maintain a database of the names of over 1,750 people, recording their involvement in the Siege. I would welcome any information you may have about any of the besieged inhabitants of Mafeking and I in turn am happy to respond to enquires about the information I have on record.


My particular thanks to:
My friend Mr John Ineson, author and historian;
Alan MacKenzie of Calgary, Canada, for some of the photographs;
Melvyn A Gallagher, FRICS, for help whilst preparing this article.
Frances Deacon of Barnstable, whose predecessors included the Mafeking Goodyears;
Printed Sources
The Boy on the Penny Blue Mafeking Stamp Dr K Freund. In The O.F.S. Philatelic Magazine, August, 1957
Mafeking. A Victorian Legend Brian Gardner. Castle and Co. Ltd., London, 1966
Petticoat in Mafeking. The Siege Letters of Ada Cock John F Midgley, Editor & Publisher, 1974
Mafeking The Place of Stones 1885-1980 Craft Press, Mmabatho, 1980
Lord of Hosts on our Side. Mafeking Siege Diary of Sarah Dixon Gwynne Little Orbi Press, 1996
Mafeking Memories Frederick Saunders, editor Philip Thurmond Smith. Associated University Presses, 1996
Diary of the Siege of Mafeking October 1899 to May 1900 Edward Ross, Editor Brian P Willan. Van Riebeeck Society, Cape Town, 1980
Siege of Mafeking Editor Ian R Smith. Brenthurst Press, 2001
Mafeking's Artillery Colin Walker, Write Books. 2006
The Mafeking Siege Register Colin Walker, Write Books, 2007
Internet Sources
The African Seeds of Scouting
Linden Bradfield Webster's Reminiscences of the Siege of Mafeking. The South African Military Society. Military History Journal - Vol. 1 No.7

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