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World Malaria DayToday is World Malaria Day.  Although malaria has been eradicated from much of the western world, it still kills over a million people each year.  It is also strongly linked to conflict.  When people are forced to flee their homes, they often end up living in areas were malaria-carrying mosquitos are prevalent and they have little or no access to healthcare.  Malaria is a very serious problem in Africa, where one in five childhood deaths are due to the effects of the disease. An African child has an average of between 1.6 and 5.4 episodes of malaria fever each year.

Soldiers fighting in areas where malaria is present are also at risk.  In the Second World War, the Royal Air Force’s Anti-Malaria Control Unit attemted to combat the disease with techniques such as spraying DDT powder over swamp land in an effort to eradicate mosquitos.

Buffs Boer War memorial, CanterburyWell over half of the 20,000 killed in the Boer War (1899-1902) died as a result of disease.  This is illustrated starkly on this Boer War memorial to the East Kent Regiment (the Buffs).  In the 3rd Battalion two men were killed in action and 29 died from disease. 

It is not uncommon to see memorials from this period indicating which casualties were a result of disease, a practice that is largely absent from later memorials, illustrating that deaths from disease were far less numerous.

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While the UKNIMW records all UK memorials to all conflicts, there are some projects that focus on a narrower field.  One of these is the Anglo-Boer Memorials Project, which was established to record, catalogue and photograph all Anglo-Boer War memorials in the world.

There is a very interesting essay available on their website entitled ‘A Survey of Memorials to the Second Anglo-Boer War in the United Kingdom and Eire’, by Meurig Jones.

This includes details such as the following;

“Memorials take many forms; cross, statue, building, plaque/tablet, book , fountain and so on. Over two thirds of memorials are indoor, mostly in churches and are plaques or tablets. These are the most traditional form of memorial and perhaps the most cost effective. Very few memorials (about 6%) can be considered of a practical nature; buildings, drinking fountains and furniture.”

“…memorials for only one person form nearly 52% of the total memorials recorded. The majority of  these are to men of officer rank [because] their family, work, club or fellow officers were richer or had easy access to the sums of money needed to create a memorial.”

“Almost all the regular army units erected memorials to their dead, as did many of  the volunteer units.”

“Cottage homes were a popular form of memorial because they were practical and could directly benefit soldiers invalided  from the War.”

“During the war British women were employed as nurses, not a new role, but their employment was on a more formal basis than ever before and received greater official and public recognition than before. Approximately 1,800 women served in south Africa as nurses. Twenty-nine nurses died during the war, all succumbed to disease in one form or another.”  Their names appear on both unit and local town memorials.

“There are nine memorials which celebrate the peace that brought the war to an end. These are different types of war  memorials in that they look forward, post-war, to peace, and do not remember people and events that occurred in war.”

Click here to read the full essay

A campaign has been launched to raise £60,000 to help restore the memorial in Alexandra Park, Hastings (East Sussex). 

Read more from BBC NEWS

The Hastings memorial was unveiled in 1922 and commemorates those from the local borough who lost their lives in several wars. 

It is not unusual to find later conflicts added to First World War memorials  (in this case the Second World War and Korean War) but it is much less common to find First World War memorial retrospectively commemorating earlier wars, as this memorial does with the Boer war.

Several bronze plaques listing the names were stolen in 1990.  Theft of memorials and parts of memorials (particularly bronzes) is not a new problem, but has certainly increased dramatically in recent years, as we reported in May

At Hastings the stolen name plaques were replaced with replicas the following year.