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Boer War P.O.W. Money of the Cape Town Camps


Pierre H. Nortje (February 2024)



During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) two prisoner-of-war camps were established in Cape Town, the first at Simon's Town and the second at Green Point. These were seen as transit camps where the prisoners would be temporarily housed before being sent off to overseas camps in St Helena, Bermuda, India and Ceylon.


There were actually two camps at Simon's Town, the first was erected on the naval recreational ground adjacent to the Martello Tower. (Interestingly enough, this tower is considered the oldest British Building in South Africa being erected in 1796 on the orders of James Craig to improve the defence system of Simon's Town). This camp housed 450 prisoners, eight per tent.

The second camp, named Bellevue, was larger, and situated where the current Simon’s Town golf club is, next to the famous Penguin Beach. The first prisoners were accommodated in Bellevue in February 1900.


There were also two camps situated in Green Point, namely the Green Point Track Camp with ± 2000 prisoners and the Sky View Camp accommodating half that figure. These were established to relieve overcrowding at the Simon’s Town camps after the arrival of some 4000 Boers taken prisoner at the Battle of Paardeberg in February 1900. According to the Boer War historian, Louis Changuion, these two camps were adjacent to each other and each had their own little shop that was open for 5 hours a day, where prisoners could buy foodstuffs.

The image on the left shows Boer P.O.W.’s at the Bellevue Camp in Simon’s Town. Source: Facebook. The image on the right is an old photograph of the camp at Green Point Common.  The old Mouille Point Lighthouse can be seen in the background and the beginnings of the old Green Point Stadium are visible on the lower right-hand side. Source: Wikipedia

After the war ended on 31 May 1902, the role of the Green Point camp was reversed. First, it was a camp where prisoners of war were held before they were sent overseas. Now the overseas prisoners of war were sent there before they were sent back to their respective districts in the former Republics. As the number of prisoners of war returned to South Africa from overseas camps decreased, the Green Point camp was closed with those ex-prisoners remaining sent to Simon’s Town.

Notes (“Good Fors”) issued at POW camps


In general, one would speculate that the reason why these notes were issued for certain POW camps, was to prevent prisoners from owning “official” money that they could use during escapes. The POW notes could only be used inside the camps and were of no use to the general public. As an example, Professor Francois Malan in his The Union Internment Camp Tokens (2022:13) notes that on 15 June 1941 a token money system was introduced at the internment camps in South Africa and from after that date it would have been an offence for internees to have any money (other than the tokens) in their possession.


In his book Paper Currency of the Anglo-Boer War, John Ineson (1999:63), referring to the Bellevue camp in Simonstown, writes that “ …according to regulation 22, prisoners were not allowed to have money in their possession, and their financial affairs were put under the control of the Camp Commandant who would decide how much money they were allowed to keep”. 


This regulation was intended to combat the bribery of guards or local inhabitants to assist escapees. Ineson says that the prisoners were able to earn money in the form of “Good For” vouchers which could be exchanged for goods.


We doubt that the enforcement of Regulation 22 was very successful, the reason being twofold. Firstly we know that many prisoners in the Boer War POW camps made and sold handmade artifacts to supplement their meagre camp rations. These items were made from various materials including coins, as shown by the following picture below right – a silver box made by a POW at Bellevue camp in Simon’s Town. The lid was made from a Paul Kruger Half-crown of 1895 confirming that some prisoners had coins (money) on them.

Source photo left: Boer War Memorabilia – The Collectors Guide by Pieter Oosthuizen. Source photo right: St James Auctions.

The lowest denomination of the “Good Fors” at the Bellevue camp was Sixpence (6d) while at Green Point it was one Shilling (1/-) which equalled the daily salary of a British soldier in those days. Today that amount will be worth approximately £4 (almost R100).


This brings us to the second reason why we think Regulation 22 could not have been successfully enforced. How would the prisoners be able to buy inexpensive items like matches or pencils, if the lowest denomination they had was worth approximately R100? We believe that they had to be able to use lower denominations of hard cash like pennies and their fractions to conduct many of their purchases.


(Note: Just before this paper was published, the author received a copy of the original Regulation 22 from Dr. Vicky Heunis of the War Museum in Bloemfontein. It states that the prisoners were indeed allowed to have small amounts of money in their possession on permission of the Camp Commandant). 


On the same note, the highest denomination “Good For” at both the Bellevue and Green Point prisons was 20 Shillings (One Pound). That would equal an amount of almost R2000 today. How would the prisoners be able to acquire such an amount and even if they had, what would they have purchased in a prison canteen worth that amount?  


In any case, it seems that the notes were only accepted at the local camp canteen and could not be used in any other way, which meant that the prisoners had to go back to the same canteen that issued them. We speculate that the canteens probably accepted normal currency for cheaper items but would only pay out change for high amounts or bulk purchases in their own notes, forcing customers to return to them.


However, it may have been possible that individual purchases by prisoners were seldom made, and most were bulk transactions for say tents or sections in the camps. This could explain the absence of the lower denomination “Good Fors”, but we are doubtful that this was indeed the case. The following is an extract from an article that was published in the Simon’s Town Historical Bulletin of January 1962, showing that some items were purchased to the value of only 3 pence …


“To supplement their rations, the prisoners were allowed to make purchases of provisions and other articles from certain traders who were given special permission by the authorities to enter the camp. One of these, Mr. van Breda’s father, quite by chance, found that one of his customers was his own brother, Auret van Breda. Another trader was Hadji Bakaar Manuel, who says, ‘I had to furnish a list of purchases every week of purchases made by the prisoners to the Military Camp Commandant, Colonel Gutche, who had his headquarters at a large house between the main road and the sea near the golf course, called “The Boulders” which still stands. In 1897 it was occupied by Captain R.E. Berkeley.


Mr. Manuel, fortunately, retained one of these weekly accounts made 61 years ago, which he has kindly loaned to the Society. It is dated 2 June 1902 and lists the names of eighty-six customers. The value of the purchases for the week varied between 3d and £1.9.1 and totalled £21.11.11. The Society also has on loan from Mr. V. de Vages, a set of “Good Fors” which the prisoners used when buying from Messrs Runciman’s”


The Simon’s Town (Bellevue) “Good For” notes

The Bellevue camp. The picture on the right shows some prisoners washing behind barbed wire at Windmill Beach, Simon’s Town. Source: Before the camp was erected, the prisoners were housed on British transport ships that were used as floating camps in False Bay.

The Huisgenoot Magazine of 9 February 1968, published an article by Dr. WJ de Kock that was later translated by Gill Harrison for the Simon's Town historical society entitled With the Boers behind Barbed Wire. The article centres on the Bellevue camp and says “For all their purchases from the Simon's Town firm of Runciman & Co., the Boers used coupons…”  According to a talk by an old camp inmate, Mr. H.C. Marx on 16 April 1962 to this society, the house now known (in 1962) as “Windy-ridge” was a small shop run by Messrs Runciman & Son.


There are six notes in the series in the following denominations: Sixpence (6d) Shilling (1/-) Two Shillings (2/-) Five Shillings (5/-) Ten Shillings (10/-) and Twenty Shillings (20/-). The notes were printed by the Cape Times.

In Hern’s Handbook on South African Banknotes & Paper Money (2010: 13-15), pictures of all six denominations are shown. They are all the same size approximately 133 x 77 mm. Hern provides the following information regarding the colours: "Sixpence (white paper, black ink printing) Shilling (white paper, black/orange ink printing) Two Shillings (white paper, green ink printing) Five Shillings (blue paper, blue ink printing) Ten Shillings (white paper, purple ink printing) and Twenty Shillings (white paper, brown ink printing). The notes are printed by the Cape Times."

Source: Hern’s Handbook on South African Banknotes & Paper Money

Although it is not mentioned by Hern, it is clear that there are two basic varieties (printings) reading either


“Payable on demand to Prisoners of War only at our Store, Simon’s Town” with the words “Cape Times Ltd.”




”Payable on demand to Prisoners of War only at our Canteen, Bellevue Camp, Simon’s Town” with the words “Cape Times Limited” not abbreviated.


All identify the store owner as WN Runciman, who would in later years become the Mayor of Simon's Town and Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Cape Parliament.

Of interest is that in all the pictures we could find showing these notes, those that have the printing “…at our Store, Simon’s Town” are all numbered whilst those reading “… at our Canteen, Bellevue Camp …” are all unnumbered. The first mentioned numbered printings do not carry the round handstamp in blue “Censor Prisoners of War”. We will return to this issue later.


Hern states that all the Bellevue notes he has seen, have been hand-signed by an officer. He calls this the “cancellation” of the notes, but the reason for this assertion is not clear. Where a note was indeed cancelled it is indicated on the note as in this example in Ineson’s book. Note that the cancellation colour is yellow – the same as the number. However, the signature of the officer is in another colour ink. (The author also has pictures of a 1/-, 5/- and 20/- note that was cancelled in the same way)

We are not sure why the notes were hand-signed but speculate that it was to prevent counterfeiting. We could find only two different signatures on the notes, neither legible, the one on the right looking like a John Hal …. Weit, Lt. Colonel (?), Commandant P.O.W. with date 26.11(?) 1901. According to John Ineson (1999:61) Colonel McCalmont of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment took over as commanding officer on 12 March 1900, but it is certainly not his signature on the notes.

The one below is illegible with his rank indicated as a Captain signing for the O.C. (Officer Commanding) Pris(oners) of War. Note the two different colour ink printings of the same shilling (1/-) denomination.

Source: Picture left Colin Narbeth & Son Ltd. Picture right Noonan’s

We know that after the war ended on 31 May 1902, former prisoners of war were sent back from overseas and housed at Bellevue camp before their final journey to their respective homes in the Free State and the Transvaal. The camp only closed in 1903. During this period they were technically not prisoners anymore and it can be safely assumed that they were free to move around, even if only in the Simon's Town area.


This we speculate is the reason why some notes, although the words “prisoner of war” are still used, omitted the reference to the canteen at Bellevue camp and only state that the notes are payable on demand at the WN Runciman store in Simon's Town. The examples that we have shown also do not show the hand stamp with the words “Prisoner of War Censor”.  This theory could have been proved if the notes were dated (like many of those hand-signed at the Green Point Camp) but unfortunately, this seldom happened.


The Runciman building, built in 1898, still stands today.


The Bellevue “Good For” notes are extremely rare and command very high prices when they infrequently appear on auction.


The Green Point Track Canteen “Good For” Notes

Picture left: The area where the two Green Point camps were situated. The Cape Town stadium can be seen on the right. (Source: Wikiwand).  The picture on the right shows prisoners in the camp with small dwellings (?) made of wooden planks. These small structures are also seen in old pictures taken at the Simonstown camp. (Source: National Galleries of Scotland)

There are 5 denominations in the series being the Shilling (1/-) Two Shillings (2/-) Five Shillings (5/-) Ten Shillings (10/-) and One Pound (20/-). They bear the following words “Payable on demand to Prisoners of War only at the canteen Green Point Track. G.W. Barnes. Manager.”


As we have stated earlier, some of the notes have been signed and numbered by the Camp Commandant, Lt. Col. J.H. Money. These appear to be much scarcer than the unsigned notes. For some reason, unsigned notes for the Bellevue camp have not been recorded as far as we know.


Hern’s catalogue describes the notes as follows:-

One Shilling (1/-): Two varieties known being either brown or grey printing on white paper with Croxley watermark. Size 125 x 76mm.

Source: From a private Cape collection

Two Shillings: Two varieties known being either brown or red printing on white paper with Croxley watermark. Size 125 x 76mm.

Interestingly enough, although Hern mentions the two varieties in either red or brown, the PMG specimen is described as “Red-Brown”

Five Shillings (5/-): Two varieties are known being either grey or maroon printing on white paper with Croxley watermark of which there are four varieties. Size 125 x 76mm.

Although both the two notes are signed, neither is the autograph of Lt. Col. J.H. Money but those of “J. J. Trydell-Perkins, Capt. Asst. Comdt. P.O.W.” and the canteen manager G. W. Barnes. Spink speculates that regarding the note on the left “The serial number altered five times presumably due to rapid transit of prisoners”.

Ten Shillings (10/-): Green printing on white paper. No varieties. 134 x 85mm

These two examples were found on the internet. The one on the left was offered by Spink & Son and described as in VG condition “… but presentable enough for such a rare note, only one other example believed recorded in private hands”. The one on the right is in a private collection, so if Spink is correct, must be the other example.

One Pound (£1): Red printing on white paper. No varieties. 139 x 88mm.

The One Pound note is, like the Ten Shillings, believed to be extremely scarce. Hern mentions that in 1945 some of the Green Point notes were reprinted and in 1990 litho prints appeared in London. However, it seems like the 10/- and £1 denominations were not reprinted.

An excellent article entitled Green Point Track POW notes from the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 by Joseph E. Boling was published in the International Bank Note Society Journal Vol 54 Number 3 in 2015. Boling gives a detailed description of the colour varieties, watermarks, paper used and especially the reprints and how to identify them.


As an example, he writes ”The original paper is cream-colored and almost translucent. It has a pronounced diagonal screen pattern when held to a light, and the paper is not uniform (it shows irregular light and dark splotches not associated with the watermark). The replica paper is also cream-coloured but is denser than the original. Its screen pattern is less prominent and appears to run horizontally and vertically, not diagonally. In some pieces, the screen is visible on the surface in oblique lighting. The replica paper is also more uniform than the original paper”.


Our readers are encouraged to read the full article here: -


Who were the Camp Commandants that signed the notes?


In this final section of the paper, it may come as a surprise to the reader that we have difficulty in answering this simple question.


Regarding the camp in Simonstown, we have stated that according to John Ineson (1999:61) Colonel McCalmont of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment took over as commanding officer on 12 March 1900, but it is certainly not his signature on the notes. We believe that he may have been in overall command of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, but he was not the camp commandant per se as the signature on the notes was signed by what looks like an officer with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


According to a certificate issued by a Cape Town businessman, Mr. A. P. Raphael selling Boer war curios from the Bellevue camp, the camp commandant was Lieutenant Colonel E.L. Cordes and the censor A. Lange-Brink. Neither of these two surnames seems to match the signatures on the notes.

In an article in The Simon’s Town Historical Society Bulletin of January 1962, the Military Camp Commandant is shown as Colonel Gutche, but the signature also does not match.


The only name that we could find that could be a match, at least the first name “John” is that of a Major John Edward Robert Campbell who is recorded by as being “… appointed Commandant, Prisoners of War, on board the City of Cambridge, at Simon's Town; but on the prisoners being sent to St Helena, he rejoined his battalion, and proceeded with it to the scene of operations in the Orange Free State. He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 11 December 1902”. However, if the rank on the notes is indeed Lt. Col. as we believe it is, it could not have been Campbell as he was only promoted to that rank after the war had ended.

We are thus unable to identify the signature with certainty.

Regarding the Green Point Notes, all references indicate that the camp Commandant who signed the notes was Lt. Col. J.H. Money. As strange as it might seem, we can find no information or reference to this person.

We had much more luck identifying the signature of the Assistant Commandant, Captain J. J. Trydell Perkins. However, our research shows that his surname was not Trydell-Perkins as some sources of the Green Point notes surmise, but only Perkins, with his first names being James Joseph Trydell. He was born in Worcester in the Cape Colony in 1869 and died in 1963.

The following is from :

It seems that confusion with the correct name spelling depicted on the notes was also the reason why we could not initially identify the Camp Commandant “Lt. Col. J.H. Money” at first. All the sources we could find (e.g. Brian Hern, Joseph E. Boling, John Ineson, et al) made a mistake with the name depicted. His initials were actually “H.C.” (Herbert Cecil) and not “J.H.”. provides the following information on him: -  


“Herbert Cecil Money was born on 20 September 1857 and joined the Royal Marines at Chatham on 1 September 1876. He served in the Battalion of Royal Marines sent to South Africa for special service in the Zulu War of 1879, though this service did not qualify for the medal. He served as a Special Service Officer during the Boer War, from 3 February 1900 to 24 December 1901, graded as AAG; he was in command of prisoners of war in SS Mongolian at Simonstown, and afterwards, Commandant of prisoners of war at Green Point, Cape Town, during which time nearly 17,000 passed through his hands (mentioned in Lord Roberts' dispatch, 10 September 1901).

Another officer, Major H.H.M. O’Grady is recorded as Camp Commandant but he did not sign any notes. The “Good For” system was probably introduced only after he left or abolished before he was appointed there.

Just prior to this article being published we came upon this valuable piece of information (

It says that the "Good Fors" were only used in 1900 by the Boer Prisoners of War in the Green Point Camp in Cape Town. The POW’s had to surrender all their money to the Camp Commander, from which they could receive £2 in "Good Fors” in denominations of 1s/-, 2s/6d (actually 2/-), 5s/-, 10s/- and 20s/-. These "Good Fors” were only to be spent for goods at the canteen (shop) and the POW’s were only allowed to have a few pennies in their possession. This philanthropic system had two purposes - the khakis did not want to make a profit from exploiting the prisoners, and it was impossible to bribe the guards with them.


Another interesting document is this ‘good for’ receipt for £59.8.0 issued by a Captain Levett of the 4th Staffordshire Regiment in 1901.

Source: Adrian Jordi

Other Camps


The Simon’s Town and Green Point camps were not the only P.O.W. camps where “Good For” notes were used during the Anglo-Boer War. Examples of other camps are Diyatalawa in Ceylon, the Ragama camp also in Ceylon and the Trichinopoly camp in India. We encourage readers to do some reading up on these “Good For” issues as they offer a fascinating field of collecting and study to both numismatists and people interested in the history of the Anglo-Boer war era.   

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