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Books Written on the Siege of Mafeking
Any study of the Siege must start with the contemporary primary resources, the most important of these are the Siege Diaries and the Mafeking Mail Siege Slips. Unfortunately, for very good reason no doubt, the Siege Slips were without photographic images of the town or its people, though this is more than compensated for if one can find David Taylor's very rare large-format photographic essay, Souvenir of the Siege of Mafeking and its smaller companion, Edward Ross's Siege Views of Mafeking. They offer a most valuable photographic record of Siege scenes and specific groupings of people, though rarely are any named.

Published immediately after the Siege by the Smith Premier Typewriter Company was yet another Souvenir of the Siege of Mafeking, containing facsimiles of orders signed by Baden-Powell's Chief Staff Officer, Lord Edward Cecil, which is now a valuable primary resource. Not quite contemporary, but written immediately after the Siege was Baden-Powell's own account for his Commanding Officer, Lord Roberts. The report covers all aspects of the Siege in excellent concise detail and has the advantage of being written by Mafeking's Commanding Officer himself. The report is reprinted in The Boer War. Ladysmith and Mafeking.

Any serious biography of Baden-Powell would need to cover the Siege in depth and the best known and most comprehensive of these is Tim Jeal's Baden-Powell. The depth of scholarship of this work can only be admired, though it is spoilt for me by the author allowing the reader to come to their own conclusion after presenting inadequate and sometimes incorrect information. Unfortunately, these speculations spill over into Jeal's Mafeking coverage and do we really need two chapters on Baden-Powell's supposed sexuality, even if they were not full of unproveable assertions? William Hillcourt's Two Lives of a Hero has no such controversy and neither does the near-contemporary The Hero of Mafeking by W Francis Aitkin, though they do perhaps suffer from being too sycophantic.

Of the history books the most extensive, the most lavish and the most outstandingly expensive is the two-volume The Siege of Mafeking, edited by Iain Smith. Not wanting to preempt my review of the work on the Scouting Milestones Website, I will content myself by saying that it is wonderfully produced and illustrated, though it does contain some serious errors. Prior to Smith's work, there were two chronological portrayals of the Siege, Grinnell-Milne's Baden-Powell at Mafeking, produced for the anniversary of Baden-Powell's birth in 1957 and Gardner's Mafeking: A Victorian Legend. The first has very little critical analysis, whilst the second suffers from a surfeit of ill-judged criticism. The first book I read on the subject at the start of my own researches was Mafeking! The story of a siege, written in 2000 by Malcolm Flower-Smith and Edmund Yorke and, in retrospect, it does not seem to be as extensive or offer any different insights than those contained in the earlier works.
To the above list I can add my own published and unpublished offerings:-

Mafeking's Artillery published in 2006 is a compilation of four monographs about the homemade Wolf Cannon, the old ship's cannon Lord Nelson,Mafeking's Other Artillery, notably the four obsolete seven-pounders, and the Nordenfelt and Hotchkiss machine-guns plus the Boer's Big Gun - the 94lb Creusot Seige Cannon. These articles are illustrated with historic photographs contemporary with the Siege, as well as my own photographs of the same weapons in their current preserved state. The text documents the men associated with the weapons, the information coming from diaries and correspondence with present-day family members. An image of the cover together with a more complete review with details of how to purchase is to be found on these pages.

The Mafeking Siege Register published in 2007 is a database listing of the activities of over 1800 of the besieged. The author complied the information from all published siege diaries and many still unpublished travelling to Mafeking to transcribe these in the Museum, visiting the Army Museum in Chelsea, London to transcribe B-P's Staff Diary as well as working on those in private collections including his own unpublished diary of Town Guard Henry Martin. To these details information has been added from form Medal Rolls and Medal Auction Catalogues and from the world's leading collection of Mafeking Siege Postal History . As a result of this websit the testimony of relatives of those who fought in the siege have been added to this unique document. The work has been professionally published with ISBN and lodged in various research libraries. Only 25 were published and those that remain are available from the author at a cost of £25.00 per copy. .

Mafeking Cadets. This piece of research is part of the Scouting Milestones Website because, as Lord Robert Baden-Powell of Gilwell (to give him the full title that he was later to gain) wrote in the first part of Scouting for Boys published in 1908, his inspiration for the Scout Movement was the Mafeking Cadets. As Webpages are not easily printed without images either being lost or interrupted, this page has been re-coded so it can be printed in same 'magazine style' as my other monographs. It contains much previously unknown information on the Cadets, gathered from unpublished Siege Diaries and contact with the families of several of the Cadets.

Mafeking's Medics is the story of how Mafeking's doctors and nurses helped the garrison survive the Siege. That the inhabitants survived is all the more surprising when it is realised that of the six doctors, one was a suspected spy, one was seen as a coward as he refused to administer even to the women and children, one was seriously ill with cholera and one was suffering from a nervous breakdown. The two doctors left were brothers and one, William Hayes, Baden-Powell's Principal Medical Officer for much of the Siege, was given to falling out with significant personnel, his patients and the nurses. The nurses themselves, both volunteer and professional, bickered amongst themselves and with the doctors. All this was forgiven and forgotten after the Siege was lifted, except in the writings in contemporary diaries. The diaries of Tom and William Hayes have been used extensively in this study, as well as correspondence with some of the descendants of the town's doctors.

The First Boy Scout, the story of Mafeking Cadet Warner Goodyear, may cause some eyebrows to be raised, as the Boy Scout Movement was not founded until 1908! However, in the very first issue of Scouting for Boys Baden-Powell wrote in his 'Camp Fire Yarn' about the Mafeking Cadets and in particular its young Sergeant-Major, Warner Goodyear, as being his inspiration for starting the Movement. The 'First Boy Scout' is a soubriquet that over the years has often been attached to Warner Goodyear. He also appeared with his bike on the One Penny Mafeking Blue stamp. Despite this fame remarkably little was known about the boy. This monograph, using previously unpublished information and photographs from a family member, traces Warner Goodyear's family history and career in the Siege. It also records his untimely death in 1912 and the interesting story of his gravestone.

War Correspondents in Mafeking documents the half-dozen or so accredited reporters who were attracted to Mafeking prior to the Siege. Their personalities and desire for a 'scoop' often brought them into conflict with the Censor and then Baden-Powell and besides the normal ways of getting reports out of the besieged town, some of the correspondents devised their own ingenious means. Many people will be surprised to learn that Lady Sarah Wilson (Winston Churchill's aunt) was one their number, but a photograph of her press pass settles the matter beyond doubt. This account will trace the careers of these journalists who were responsible in no small way for Mafeking's fame, yet two of them at least died very sad and lonely deaths. The monograph will be available in 2006.

All the names and publications mentioned above are listed in the Table of Resources on this Site. Most of the books and diaries and other items, both published and unpublished, have been acquired to assist in my researches. The titles shown in bold on the table indicates, no matter what the origin of the work, that I may have a surplus copy for sale or exchange. I welcome any enquiries about these items and would also be very pleased to hear from any relatives of the besieged.

© Colin Walker, 2006 / Last updated, 18th February 2007 and is v.0.3