The Petticoat Commando

Boer Women in Secret Service

Cover image for


Author: Johanna Brandt
Published: 1913
Language: English
Wordcount: 93,982 / 282 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 56.2
LoC Category: D
Downloads: 872
Added to site: 2006.12.27 15641

In this remarkable human document is described the perils and hardships connected with the Secret Service of the Boers and the heroism and resource displayed by the men. It throws a light on some little-known incidents of the South African War, and is an extremely dramatic picture of the hopes and fears, the devotion and bitterness, with which some Boer women in Pretoria watched and, so far as they could, took part in the war. The greater part of the narrative comes from a diary kept during the war with unusual fulness and vividness. No fictitious names have been employed, and the experiences of the diarist, as they were recorded from day to day, are correct in every detail.

Show Excerpt

ore when they heard of the alarming experience the two ladies had the very first night they spent in their new home.

On their arrival, there were still workmen busy repairing the house, and Mrs. van Warmelo pointed out to one of them that the skylight above the bathroom door had not yet been put in. The man nailed a piece of canvas over it, with the remark that that would do for the night, and that he would put in the skylight on his return the next day. Mrs. van Warmelo was only half satisfied, but left the matter there.

During the night one of her own servants, a sullen, treacherous-looking native, recently in her employment, entered the bathroom by putting a ladder against the door and tearing away the canvas from the skylight.

He must then have unlocked the door on the inside, striking about a dozen matches while he was in the room, and carried various portmanteaux out into the garden, where he slashed them open at the sides and overhauled their contents for money and valuables.


Average Rating of 5 from 1 reviews: *****
R Stephan

Don't read this if you're a Brit, because it portraits the history of your people in a way you won't like. On the other hand, you may be interested in the truth, and also in the truth about the Anglo-Boer war where British monetary interests destroyed another nation, again, and built concentration camps where tens of thousands of people died. However, this is especially the story of two brave women who gradually came to be an important part of the Boer secret service, while at the same time habitating a farm surrounded by British troops! The source of it being the diary of one of them, the history is narrated freely and highly enjoyable.

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