Holden, Albert Thomas (Chaplain, b.1866 - d.1935)

Accession Number PR05555
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 1 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Diary, Photograph
Maker Holden, Albert Thomas
Place made South Africa
Date made 1900
Access Open
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Copying Provisions Copyright expired. Copying permitted subject to physical condition. Permission for reproduction not required.

Collection relating to Reverend Albert Thomas Holden who served as a Chaplain with the rank of Major in the war of South Africa (Boer War). Collection consists of a very detailed and descriptive diary covering the period 1 May to 9 August 1900 while Rev Holden was in South Africa. Rev Holden wrote up diary entries on loose pages and posted them from various ports along the way, to be bound at home upon receipt. The first line of the diary states: 'Strictly Private. Absolutely none of it for publication.'

The diary commences on 1 May 1900 with Rev Holden embarking at Port Melbourne onboard the SS Victorian, as part of the 4th Victorian Imperial Contingent. Rev Holden describes the crowds farewelling the troops at the dock, and activities at sea such as: sea sickness, vaccinations, sports on board ship, music and instruments, caring for the horses, church services and prayers, starting a troopship serial, his responsibility to collect mail from the soldiers and arrange for its postage in ports, the cost of the campaign in terms of housing, equipment, transport, food - lists of items, amounts eaten and cost (for both men and horses), and the average distances travelled by sea each day.

On arrival in Beira (South Africa), Rev Holden provides a detailed account of the town, the people, the way of life and the sights. He describes unloading the horses, an official reception he attends, moving to a tented camp, and travelling around the surrounding district. After sailing again with other troopships for Durban, he travels by train to Ladysmith and describes the Siege of Ladysmith as told to him by others who were there at the time. He continues touring through the Natal province visiting and hearing of other accounts of fighting in those places. From there he travels to Cape Town and Kimberly where he tours the De Beers diamond mine.

Rev Holden returned to Australia aboard the SS Persic, again providing a detailed account the voyage and this time commenting on the weather which was extremely cold and included snow. Rev Holden concludes his diary entries on 9 August 1900 by saying: 'I am home once more - home sweet home - after 101 days of travelling about and after having on sea and land travelled over 14,000 miles.'

Also included is a reproduction of a black and white photograph of Reverend Holden.

Aged nearly 50, Holden saw service as Methodist Chaplain General with the rank of Colonel during the First World War. It was during this period he was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), for conspicuous services rendered.