'WAR'S BRIGHTER SIDE'

by David Alan Richards


The front page of 'The Friend'

During the Boer War, the British Army under Field Marshal Lord Roberts occupied Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State on 13 March 1899.

Roberts then commandeered the presses of the pro-English newspaper 'The Friend of the Free State', to produce "a daily newpaper for the entertainment and information" of the troops for the duration of the occupation.

The Army's chief censor Lord Stanley requested four correspondents - Perceval Landon of the Times, H.A. Gwynne of Reuter's Agency, F.W. Buxton of the Johannesburg Star, and the American reporter Julian Ralph of the Daily Mail - to manage the paper, retitled 'The Friend'.

Publication commenced March 16 and continued daily except Sundays until April 30, when the paper was discontinued. Kipling, vacationing in Cape Town, was invited to contribute (he telegraphed the text of 'St. Patrick's Day', which appeared on March 17).

The March 22nd issue carried the announcement that Kipling had become an associate editor. He continued to work in this role for a week, until he left Bloemfontein for Cape Town.

Items by Kipling are to be found in fifteen numbers of the twenty-seven issues of The Friend, and nine of these numbers - with fourteen poems, fables and sets of maxims by Kipling - are collected in Ralph's memoirs War's Brighter Side.