South African Memories

Read by SallyMc

(4.5 stars; 16 reviews)

Lady Sarah Isabella Augusta Wilson was the aunt of Winston Spencer Churchill. In 1899 she became the first woman war correspondent when she was recruited to cover the Siege of Mafeking for the Daily Mail during the Boer War. She moved to Mafeking with her husband at the start of the war, where he was aide-de-camp to Colonel Robert Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell asked her to leave Mafeking for her own safety after the Boers threatened to storm the British garrison. This she duly did, and set off on a madcap adventure in the company of her maid, travelling through the South African countryside until she was finally captured by the enemy and returned to the town in exchange for a horse thief being held there. Dwindling food supplies became a constant theme in the stories she sent back to the Mail and the situation seemed hopeless when the garrison was hit by an outbreak of malarial typhoid. In this weakened state the Boers managed to penetrate the outskirts of the town but the British stood firm and repelled the assault. (Summary by Wikipedia) (8 hr 5 min)


Dedication and Preface 2:57 Read by SallyMc
First Voyage to South Africa 18:34 Read by SallyMc
Kimberley and the Jameson Raid 18:27 Read by SallyMc
The Immediate Results of the Raid 20:11 Read by SallyMc
Johannesburg and Pretoria in 1896 26:35 Read by SallyMc
Three Years After 23:30 Read by SallyMc
Preparations for War 26:22 Read by SallyMc
In a Rebellious Colony 35:40 Read by SallyMc
Betrayed by a Pigeon 19:02 Read by SallyMc
How I was made a Prisoner 38:49 Read by SallyMc
Exchanged for a Horse Thief 26:02 Read by SallyMc
Life in a Besieged Town 25:34 Read by SallyMc
Life in a Besieged Town (continued) 22:45 Read by SallyMc
Eloff's determined attack on Mafeking 26:02 Read by SallyMc
Across the Transvaal to Pretoria during the War 17:44 Read by SallyMc
Pretoria and Johannesburg under Lord Roberts and Military Law 21:21 Read by SallyMc
My return to civilisation once more 31:11 Read by SallyMc
The work of Lady Georgiana Curzon 34:50 Read by SallyMc
Fourth Voyage to the Cape 49:28 Read by SallyMc


(5 stars)

Lady Sarah Wilson’s account of her travels in South Africa at the time of the Boer War flourishes with descriptively beautiful language. Her description of the going’s on during the siege of Mafeking was captivating. She uses a few terms that were common to the era and in that place, that the listener will observe as no longer used today because of negative connotations. In fact, based on her positive remarks about the very individuals to whom she is referring, I believe if she were alive today she would gladly substitute a different word that is considered more culturally positive today. Her description of the falls and the Zambezi river almost induce me to buy passage on a steamer bound for South Africa.

(5 stars)

As is often the case with tomes from tis period, be prepared for offensive slang and characteristics of natives of Africa. Very well written otherwise, and Boer War history from English perspective captivating. Well worth the time.