Who was Pte T. Kruger?
As part of my genealogical research I collected genealogical information on every Kruger who has South African roots. Part of that task was to identify these Krugers and to ensure that they have their rightful place in the Kruger family tree.
I was rather surprised when I came across the name of a Private T. Kruger killed during the Anglo-Boer War and then realised that he was not part of the Boer forces. The initial information I found indicated that he was a member of the Driscoll’s Scouts.
This piece of information immediately made me wonder if he was a British Kruger or whether he was originally from Boer descent.
It is a well know fact that there were a number of Boers who laid down their weapons and assisted or joined the British military effort. There were a number of British units made up of these burghers and the names of some of theses units included the word “scouts” in their titles. Some of these units that I could find references to were:
The National Scouts, Kroonstad Burgher Scouts, Farmer’s Guard, Heidelberg Volunteers, “Town Guard”, Orange River Colony Volunteers, Burgher Police, Morley’s Scouts, Cattle Rangers,
Lydenburg Volunteer Burgher Corps, Beddy’s Scouts, Lebombo Scouts, Town Guard Trompsburg.
British War Graves
The next reference to T. Kruger appeared in the publication “Anglo Boer War Guide for the Southern Free State - Hundredth Anniversary 1999” published by the Friends of the War Museum in Bloemfontein and compiled by A.V. Oosthuizen. On page 23 it provides more information on Pte. T. Kruger:
British War Graves - Buried in the Fauresmith Cemetery.
Kruger, T. Pte. Driscolls Scout 21 January 1902 K.I.A. (Killed in Action) at Groenkloof.
The publication lists a number of Boer and British soldiers who died in the district Fauresmith and the following died there during January 1902.
The British forces active in the area during December 1901 and January 1902 were the Derby Regiment, the Imperial Yeomanry, the Royal Sussex and the Royal Warwickshire.
I went through the publications and compiled a list of the members of the Driscoll Scouts who died in the Southern Free State and Northern Cape.
The surnames of these members of the Driscoll’s Scouts were not typical Boer surnames!
The next piece of important information was found in an article in the Military History Journal - Vol 6 No 1 of the South African Military History Society. The article “The South African Irish Regiment: An Exemplar of the Military Traditions of the Irish in South Africa” was written by Cmdt O.E.F. Baker, DWD.
Cmdt. Baker sheds some light on the history and composition of the Driscoll’s Scouts and he writes:
“During the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, the second predecessor of The South African Irish Regiment was formed. Driscoll's Scouts was founded by Capt D.P. Driscoll, who had previously served in Burma during the earlier part of the Anglo-Boer War and who decided to come to South Africa with the specific intention of forming an Irish unit. This was motivated by the losses suffered by Irish units within the British Army during the early battles of the War.
Eventually totalling a strength of just under 500 men of all ranks, it first served with the Colonial Division and was present at the siege of Wepener and operations around Lindley and Fouriesburg. In one particular action at Wepener, in which Driscoll's Scouts assisted the Cape Mounted Riflemen, the Scouts had an adventurous and hazardous ride across open ground from their bivouac, being exposed to the concentrated fire of two Maxim machine guns, a pom-pom, small arms fire and, at the end, to a barrage of shells from a field gun, during their entire four kilometre ride.
Their action helped to stabilise the British position. Later the Scouts formed part of 8 Division and were part of the force concentrated to oppose the incursions into the Cape Colony by the forces of General Smuts. Driscoll's Scouts also took part in the final operations directed against General de la Rey in the Western Transvaal.”
This information leads me to believe that Pte. T. Kruger was not likely from Boer descent but most likely Irish. As a regular member of the British forces, there should somewhere be service records for Pte. T. Kruger that might provide more information. It would also be interesting to visit the cemetery at Fauresmith and to see if his grave is marked and what was recorded on his gravestone.
I came across your article on T Kruger, who died in the Boer War and your interest in connecting him with the SA Kruger's. I did know a Southern Irishman a few years ago called Tommy Kruger, whose Grandfather had died in the Boer War.
Tommy and I discussed this, as I have an South African connection and I knew a bit about events in SA at the turn of the Century. I remember that Tommy told me that his Grandfather was on the British side. I do understand that there were thousands of Irish fighting for the Afrikaner's.
Tommy was killed in a House Fire about 6 years ago.