St Helena’s last Boer war prisoner

The last Boer War prisoner - 75-year old Charles Smith

The last Boer War prisoner – 75-year old Charles Smith

Charles Smith, (1873 – 1958) St. Helena’s last surviving Boer War prisoner He was captured by the British in South Africa and had been shipped along with the Boer general, Piet Cronje and 512 other captives to St Helena. Liberated in 1903, but that, liking his insular prison, he had elected to stay there forever. He had married a native and for many years had run a bakery. Only once had he ventured into the outside world, and that was in 1912 when he travelled to Durban to see his ailing mother.

POWs on the way to St Helena

POWs on the way to St Helena

Perhaps the best known POW, who refused to return, not for political reasons, but because he took such a liking to the island and its peaceful way of life, was Charlie Smith. He was of Irish origin and presumably a member of the Irish Brigade. Being industrious and gifted with a keen sense of business, Smith soon found his feet and within a few years became a popular figure in the social life as well as in official circles.

St. Helena, Jackson Map,1903

St. Helena, Jackson Map,1903

He attained the rank of Captain in the St. Helena Regiment, became a member of the Legislative Council, a prominent business man and a property owner. The present bakery was founded by Smith who, as a leading citizen of the island, became a prosperous man. The death of his wife seems to have driven him off the rails, and he lost interest in business matters and eventually all his possessions. He died in 1958, virtually a pauper.


Marthinus Strydom


    • He is my Great grandfather and I would love to connect with any family members.

  1. I wish i had seen this earlier , like 10 years ago as i have been to St H twice in that time .


  2. My name is Gail streak
    I am Charlie’s great grand daughter.
    My mother is Avrill and her mother is Robina (hope).
    Her mother was the school teacher on the island – gunell.
    I have a sister and a brother, plus tow cousins.

    • Hi Gail, I am also Charlie’s great granddaughter. My grandad Cecil John Truebody/Smith was son of Charles John Smith & Lena Robina Truebody.

    • Charlie is my Great Grandad, my Grandad was Cecil John Truebody/Smith, he had two children, Susan and Stephen (Stephen is my father). I have a Sister and Brother and our family line dies not stop there. Would love to hear from any relatives email tammys1978@hotmail.co.uk

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