Plaque | War dead | Other war

Willesden Boer War memorial

Willesden Boer War memorial
Willesden Boer War memorial
Inscription

South Africa, 1899 - 1900, Laborare est orare {Latin: To work is to pray}

This tablet was erected by public subscription to record the names of men residing in the parish of Willesden who responded to the call of their Queen and country by serving as volunteers in the South African War.

B. Doe died of dysentery at Ladysmith
G. W. Fusedale died of pneumonia at Newcastle
F. G. Hucker died of fever at Pretoria

{Followed by a list of 53 names - see Subjects commemorated.}

In 1997 someone saw this plaque and posted about it on an on-line forum, with no photo.  All the post said was that the plaque commemorates the war dead of Willesden and it had been seen in Billy Frogg’s, a bar in Omaha, Nebraska. We came across the post by chance and our interest was aroused: What was the story?  How had the plaque got there? Was it still there?  We contacted Billy Frogg’s – no response. We contacted a local history society – no response.  So we asked Casey Jacobs, an American friend, now living in the UK – did she know anyone in Omaha, Nebraska?  Response: no, but her brother, Kyle Jacobs, works in Washington and he knows people from all over.  We waited patiently and some weeks later: success - this photo arrived! And we could begin researching it.

We discovered that the names on the plaque are indeed names of Willesden men who died in the South African war. We found a suggestion that the plaque had been in Willesden Town Hall (which seems likely) and Wikipedia confirms that building’s dates: 1891 – 1972 (see old Willesden Town Hall for a photo).

So the plaque's story might be that it was erected in the Town Hall and when that was demolished in the 1970s the plaque was ‘lost’ and presumably sold on until it reached Billy Frogg’s some time before 1997.

But that is not the story, because the plaque found in Billy Frogg’s was definitely not created in the early 1900s. Trust us, we’ve seen a memorial or two, and this one was created 1960s-70s'ish.

Memorials from the 1900s would have been made of solid brass or bronze which, if not polished, would tarnish, and would not suffer the surface damage which can be seen here. Also, at that date the ornamentation would have been in relief rather than printed, as here.

So the mystery has only got more complex. Was a memorial created at the time?  Was it erected in the Town Hall? What happened to it when the building was demolished?  Why was a (not very good) replica made? Did someone steal the metal-rich original for its scrap value and pass off this poor imitation as the real thing? How did it find its way to Billy Frogg’s?

Many, many thanks to all in the chain that resulted in this London Remembers entry, initiated by Casey who wrote: “I asked my brother. He contacted a friend. They contacted a friend who in turn contacted a friend. Can’t believe it actually happened!”  Also, thanks to Billy Frogg's for still being in business c.25 years after the forum post and for not having changed their interior décor in all that time!

Turning to the names on the memorial: we've assumed that these men died in the war. It's possible that they served and survived, but in this era war memorials tended to commemorate only the dead.

AngloBoerWar.com provides some very useful information.  Most importantly it confirms a number of these names as being men who served in that war. It also introduced us to the Willesden Tribute medal

Site: Willesden Boer War memorial (1 memorial)

68102, Omaha, Nebraska, USA, Billy Frog's bar, 1120 Howard Street

Billy Frogg’s is a bar in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, in the Old Market District, at 1120 Howard Street.

Our image of the bar comes from Google Maps Street View.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Willesden Boer War memorial

Subjects commemorated i

South African War / Boer War

Also known as the (second) (Anglo-)Boer War. The war is described in three ph...

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William Robert Arnell

Resident of Willesden who volunteered and died in the Anglo Boer War, 1899-1900.

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E. E. Austen

Resident of Willesden who volunteered and died in the Anglo Boer War, 1899-1900.

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J. Bailey, Junr.

Resident of Willesden who volunteered and died in the Anglo Boer War, 1899-1900.

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George William Bates

Resident of Willesden who volunteered and died in the Anglo Boer War, 1899-1900.

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Show all 57

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