Captain Ronald C Miers

The caption to this photo states that Captain Miers was murdered by Boers at Riversdraai. In a report on Boer war crimes it is said that Lieutenant Miers, 2nd Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, employed with the South African Constabulary, went out from his post at Riversdraai, on 25th Sep 1901, to meet 3 Boers approaching under a white flag. After a short conversation they were seen to shoot Lieutenant Miers dead and immediately gallop away. Another account given by an NCO described how the Boers approached the fort waving a white flag. A corporal went out to them and was told that they wished to speak to an officer. Captain Miers rode out alone. "As soon as the officer had gone but a short distance on the far side of the spruit, the Boer with the white flag advanced to meet him. The officer also continued to advance till he came up with the blackguard. At the end of three or four minutes we saw the two walking back to the two Boers (who were standing a good two miles off from this fort of ours). When they reached the two Boers we saw the captain dismount, the group being barely visible owing to a rise in the ground. At the end of 5 or 10 minutes we were just able to distinguish the sound of a shot, immediately after we saw the officer's grey mare bolting westwards across the veldt riderless, with one of the Boers galloping for all he was worth after it.

An obituary was published in 'The Tablet' 5 Oct 1901 giving an account of a High Mass of Requiem for the late Lieutenant Ronald C Miers, recently treacherously murdered by Boers in South Africa. It was celebrated in Plymouth Cathedral on Tuesday the 1st October in the presence of a large congregation which included Lieut-Col Miers, father of the young officer and other members of his family. A catafalque had been erected in the church and upon it were placed the Union Jack and the deceased officer's helmet, sword, belt and sash. At one point of the service the band of the Somerset Light Infantry under Bandmaster Ancliffe played Chopin's funeral march, the regimental march and God Save the King.

The Rev Gandy, in a sermon the previous Sunday praised Lt Miers as the truest gentleman he had ever met, straightforward, honest and chaste. 'Many a time when he was penitent and I was confessor, I wished that we could change places that I might have the benefit of his counsel and advice, who had penetrated the secrets of a holy life. I once asked him why he had not become a priest, and his answer was given in all humility: "I am not good enough."' Ronald Miers had been commissioned 4 years previously into the 2nd Battlion SLI. He was given permission to join the South African Constabulary for a two year period. Although he retained his rank of lieutenant in the Light Infantry he had been promoted to captain in the Constabulary 2 months prior to his death. He was a keen sportsman and boxer. He had a high regard for the Boers and wrote home of how he was given hospitality and kindness at their hands.

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by Stephen Luscombe