The Mafeking Siege Register is a computer database started in 2000 at the outset of my researches into the Siege, as a way of keeping track of 'who did what, and when'.
Initially, the data came from reading those diaries and reference books that were easily available. Whenever a name was mentioned a new record was opened under four different headings:- First, the name of the besieged with their rank or occupation during the Siege. Next is the activity or events that the individual concerned was involved in with the date they happened, being careful to quote the exact source. Then follows any information about the person prior to the Siege and finally any information about their life afterwards. This final section contains details of medals won, especially the last known whereabouts of their Queen's South Africa Medal with the Defence of Mafeking Bar.
With the help of my friend Mr John Ineson, a well known collector of Mafeking and Baden-Powell related items, I was able to read most of the published diaries. These whetted my enthusiasm to search further afield and in 2004 I travelled to Mafeking with John Ineson and transcribed most of the unpublished diaries in the Mafeking Museum and was also able to photograph the Siege Graves in Mafeking Cemetery.
On our return I went on to read Baden-Powell's Mafeking Staff Diary from microfiche copies kept at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London and was also lucky enough to obtain an original unpublished Siege Diary compiled by Town Guard Henry Martin.
Further information came from various medal rolls of the Defence of Mafeking Bar, kept up to date by accessing the catalogues of leading medal dealers. I was also very fortunate to be able to view the world's greatest collections of Mafeking Siege Mail. These rare covers (as philatelists call envelopes) often show the address or location of an individual within the Siege with a postmark to provide an exact time.
Perhaps the most significant input into the Siege Register has come in response to articles I have published in national magazines and from an article on the Mafeking Cadets
on the Scouting Milestones
website. I have now had many contacts with families whose relatives had served in the Siege and this has resulted in information and the loan of scanned material that has never previously been published.
The medium of the database itself has, because of the ease of cross-referencing, thrown up coincidences that have enabled erroneous information to be eliminated in a way that could not otherwise have been achieved. An example of this frequently recurring phenomenon was the discovery that two men of the Protectorate Regiment who were tied to each other in a three-legged race in a Sunday Sports Day, died together only a day or so later in the catastrophic Game Tree Fort attack on Boxing Day 1899.
The register is still slowly expanding, but with over 1,900 names, which would run to many hundreds of pages if printed out, I believe that there will be few additions now as to personnel, though of course fresh information from family historians about the lives of the besieged before and after the event will always be welcome.