Friday, December 22, 2006

Jews of the Anglo-Boer War

In Bloomfoentain, at the Rhodes cemetery, lays the remains of many of the Jewish soldiers who perished in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. These soldiers served, and died, on both sides of this bloody conflict. The Jews of South Africa fought for both the British and the Boers, and many received distinction for their service. There is the story of one Jewish participant that is of special note, during this dark chapter in human history.

Joseph “Jakkals” (Jackal) Segal was a “smouse,” one of the itinerant merchants that provide necessities to the South African hinterlands. He was living in the city of Phillopolis, in the Orange Free State when the Anglo-Boer War broke out. When the hostilities commenced, Segal became a scout for the Boer Army. He rose up the ranks, until he was a scout to General Christian DeWet, the commander of the Boer Army.

Jakkals Segal saved the lives of an entire Boer battalion, when he discovered an impending British ambush of the Boer forces. Upon his discovery, Segal swam across the flooded Caledon River to warn the Boer forces of the coming assault. He reached the Boer forces just in time to warn them of the planned assault, and save them from slaughter.

For his feat of courage, Segal was awarded by General DeWet with the highest medal that the Boer army could bestow on any of their soldiers. General DeWet wrote of Segal, that he “performed his duty as a burgher faithfully and bravely.”

When the Anglo-Boer War ended, Jakkals Segal returned to home to his merchant business, and lived on for many years to tell his heroic tale.


david saks said...

Jakkals Segall was just 16 when he joined the Boer forces. Several other Boerejode (Jewish Boers) were of similarly tender years. About 300 Jews in all fought on the Boer side, mostly as volunteers.

Paul Rockower said...

Thanks David!

Yalin Art said...

Interstingly- Joseph Segal was my grandmother's (Malie Segal-Rabinowitz) brother's son (Abraham).
Good to read of his bravery and life.
Thanks for story. Arlene Rabinowitz

Paul Rockower said...

Thanks for sharing Arlene. Joseph Segal is quite a legend in Boer lore.

Jean Abel said...

Thanks for the story.
Joseph Segal was my grandfather (my mother Rhoda Levy's (nee Segal) father.
There is an exhibit on him in the Cape Town Jewish museum.

Paul Rockower said...

Hi Jean! Thanks for sharing that! Very cool.
best, Paul