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One of the British soldiers serving in South Africa during the Boer War was Prince Christian Victor who sent letters to his Grandmother about the war and the conditions which the troops faced. On of the repeated comments he made in his letters was ho bitterly cold the nights could be in South Africa. His Grandmother was Queen Victoria and her reaction to these letters was to show her support of the troops fighting for her Empire by knitting scarves herself to keep the men war and these scarves would be awarded to the soldiers who displayed the most conspicuous bravery.

In April of 1900 she sent 4 scarves to Lord Roberts and asked him to determine which soldiers should be chosen to receive the scarves, one each going to the South African, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian troops. On July 10th, 1900 Private Richard Rowland Thompson had been selected as the Canadian candidate "in recognition of his conspicuous gallantry during the campaign."

Thompson had immigrated from Ireland in 1897 and had joined the Royal Canadian Regiment on October 8th, 1899 in Ottawa. Thompson was a great admirer of Rudyard Kipling and fully support British Imperialistic ambitions. He was assigned duty as a medical assistant in the second Battalion and left for South Africa in November of 1899. Once in action he repeatedly risked his own life under fire to save or help fellow troops. One of these was for a soldier, on February 18th, who had been wounded during the battle of Paardeberg where Thompson stayed on the battlefield for seven hours treating Private James L.H. Bradshaw wounded throat by stopping the bleeding. He repeated this action on February 27th by crossing 200 yards of open ground under constant fire to reach the wounded soldier but the failed to save the mans life this time.

At the end of July 1900, Private Thompson was invalided back to Canada but was to return to South Africa after the war to serve in the South African Constabulary and then worked for DeBeers at Kimberly. He died of appendicitis in Buffalo New York in 1908 and his body was returned to Canada where a military funeral was held at Cartier Square, Ottawa in the drill hall.

He never wore the scarf as a soldier and today it resides at the Canadian War Museum on permanent loan from his descendants.


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Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/war/war.html