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Ceylon: Boer War: Ragama Prisoner of War Camp “Scum of the Scum”

Ceylon: Boer War: Ragama Prisoner of War Camp “Scum of the Scum”Ceylon: Boer War: Ragama Prisoner of War Camp “Scum of the Scum”
Ceylon: Boer War: Ragama Prisoner of War Camp “Scum of the Scum”Ceylon: Boer War: Ragama Prisoner of War Camp “Scum of the Scum”
Form: Circular.
By: C.F. Keyzer / N.Z.A.S.M.
Date: 1902
Ref:  AM: 133; Hern: 300; Laidlaw: 0786a;
Variations:
SizeMetalMassValue
30.0 mm - 30.8 mmBronze8.0 gm$1,800

Edge: Plain.

Obverse: Within a circular border with the design extending below, a man wearing a cap standing beside a palm tree, possibly chopping it down with a panga, and a hut on the left. Legend outside : “BRITSCHE . 1902 . BESCHAVING (British civilisation)”

Reverse: Within a circular border across: “SCUM / OF THE / SCUM”. Legend outside: “RAGAMA KAMP HERINNERING (in memory of Ragama Camp)”.

Notes: Reputedly struck over ZAR pennies (but unlikely) from dies made by C.F. Keyzer, a former employee of the N.Z.A.S.M. - NEDERLANDSCHE ZUID-AFRIKAANCHE SPOORWEG MAATSCHAPPIJ (Dutch South African Railway Company). Presumably the work was done after Keyzer had been repatriated. Apparent varieties exist but may be only the result of the poor strike.

The first batch of prisoners arrived in Ceylon on 9 August 1900 and subsequently others followed until some 5 000 prisoners had landed. Diyatalawa was the main camp. Mt Lavinia was the convalescent camp while foreign volunteers, dissidents and irreconcilables were housed at Ragama.

In the wartime correspondence of Jeannot Weinberg, a Jewish POW in Ragama Camp, he writes, 'The Germans, Hollanders, Irish Americans are, with a few exceptions, a most disreputable lot. They are without exaggeration the scum of the scum'. This appellation also appeared in a 'Times' of Ceylon article.

Most of the prisoners in Ceylon were repatriated to South Africa at the end of the war after signing the oath of allegiance to King Edward VII. The foreign volunteers and those who refused to sign were probably given passage on Dutch ships to the Netherlands.

An example of this medal in VF condition with a ribbon made from a hat band, reputedly belonging to Burger H. H. Smorenburg, of the Hollander Corps, who was a Boer P.O.W. in Ceylon, was sold by Stephan Welz on auction for approximately $4,000 on 17 November 2012.