Photo: Mark Stevenson

Mark’s History: Remembering Boer War hero Lieut Sydney Slater

23 March 2019

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Lieut Sydney Arthur Slater was born in 1872 and spent part of his life at Ashville in Farsley (now the car park of Go Outdoors), writes Mark Stevenson.

In 1900 he volunteered to fight the Boer (Dutch Settlers) in South Africa. There is a memorial to him in St John’s Church in Farsley.

I have read two versions as to how he got his DSO.

One mentions that he was attacked but was able, alongside ten men, to hold the Boer off until relieved. The other that he took part in a skirmish on a farmhouse that went wrong and had to hold the Boer off until relieved. Either way, his bravery stood out.

farsley st johns church

Lieut Sydney Arthur Slater was one of 13,000 British soldiers to die of disease in the Boer War (1899-1902) out of a total of 22,000 British dead.

The army’s inability to protect its own men from disease also crossed over into the Concentration Camps (there was a camp at Kroonstad where Slater died) set up to deprive the Boer of civilian help.

115,000 civilians were sent to the camps 28,000 were to die due to unsanitary conditions and hunger 22,000 of these were children. The death toll represented about 10 per cent of the Boer population. The death toll was similar in the camps set up for the native population.

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