Walking Stick : Assistant Commandant-General Ben Viljoen

Place Africa: South Africa
Accession Number REL/00348
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Rubber, Wood
Maker Johnson, Ole
Date made c 1902
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)

Hand carved wooden walking stick featuring a partially rounded handle and a rubber stopper. Below the handle is an inscription in Afrikaans that translated reads 'From O. Yohnsen, Prisoner of War, to General Ben Viljoen. St. Helena 1901-1902. A Memento.'

History / Summary

Made by Boer commando Ole Johnson on Saint Helena and presented to Boer General Ben Viljoen. Johnson was likely born in Klerksdorp in the South African Republic (Transvaal) in 1861. He served in the Potchefstroom Commando and was captured at the battle of Paardeberg on 27 February 1900. After his capture he was transported to the island of Saint Helena, off the west coast of Africa, with thousands of other Boer prisoners in the Broadbottom camp.

On 24 February 1902 General Ben Viljoen arrived on Saint Helena after being captured at Lydenburg the previous month. Viljoen led the Johannesburg Commando at the start of the war but was later promoted to Assistant Commandant-General in November 1900. From then until his capture he commanded a large force of Boer's in the Eastern Transvaal. His forces were involved with numerous engagements with Australian units.

While on Saint Helena Viljoen wrote his autobiography and was presented with this walking stick by Johnson. It is not known how the walking stick then came into the possession of an unknown Australian soldier.