Near the end of March 1901, two Blantyre men signed up to the South African Constabulary (a paramilitary force set up in 1900 under British Army control to police areas captured from the two independent Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State during the Second Boer War). Its first Inspector-General was Major-General Robert Baden-Powell, later the founder of the worldwide Scout Movement. After hostilities ended in 1902, the two countries became British colonies and the force was disbanded in 1908.
Mr Gilbert Harper and Mr Hugh Izett. On Tuesday 19th March 1901, Mr Harper, the son of Gilbert Harper of Broompark Road had a celebration leaving party in his home. He was entertained by the Blantyre Amateur Dramatic Club and presented with a handsome gold chain which was also inscribed.
Another small gathering was also present travelling from Burbank where Mr Harper was employed as a grocer and he was presented with a purse of gold sovereigns by Mr Kennedy.
Hugh Izett, the other man, a 23 year old plumber to trade was a son of the late William Izett of Auchinraith Cottages and brother to William Izett, grocer of Stonefield. Both men had applied to go to South Africa in the previous year and had only recently learned of their acceptance.
On the following Tuesday, both men (pictured) left Blantyre Station on a train bound for London, via Glasgow. As the locomotive left Blantyre, both men waved from the windows and large gatherings of people on the platform let out hearty cheers. Some of the men’s friends travelled with them to Glasgow to see them off on the London train.