Thursday, June 9, 2016

Military pasengers to South Africa

A frequent query I receive concerns the arrival of military ancestors in South Africa. Unfortunately, passenger lists are not usually a helpful source in this instance.

Military men who might be aboard a ship going to join their regiment were seldom named; if they were, they were usually officers.  The rank and file were mentioned as a group, but are nameless. You could lose a lot of ancestors that way ...

The newspaper passenger list of July 1863 (for a coastal voyage) on this page shows that, in third class, there were 2 non-commissioned officers and six soldiers – no names, no regiment. No pack drill, as they say.

During times of war, when large numbers of troops were being carried across the ocean, there was undoubtedly no time to note down individual names in a regiment on board ship, and newspaper shipping columns didn't have the space to list them all anyway.

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