One of the more colourful mascots that was adopted by the military is Nancy, a young Springbok (Thompson’s Gazelle) that became the mascot of the 4th South African Infantry Regiment (SA Scottish). She was presented to the Regiment in August 1915 by Mr D. McClaren Kennedy who lived on the farm Vierfontein in the Free State.
Her keeper was a bugler: Edmund Peterson of “D” Company South African Scottish, Nicknamed ‘buck major’, he was not only her keeper, but her trainer and protector. Being the official mascot, she was trained to move and trot in tune to the sound of the bagpipes and the regimental band, and she accompanied the Springboks (As South African soldiers came to be known) everywhere, even surviving the horrors of the battle of Delville Wood in 1916.
When the fighting was in the vicinity of the French town Armentieres, a shell exploded close to where Nancy had been tethered and she bolted in fright, seriously damaging her left horn against a wall. The doctors were not prepared to risk resetting the horn so it eventually grew downwards at an angle. Her out-of-alignment horn allowed her to display a golden ‘wound’-stripe on the tartan coat that she wore to stave off the cold.
In the winter of 1918 she caught pneumonia, and although cared for by her keeper and the medical personnel, she sadly died on 26 November 1918, a few days after the war had ended. Her death was announced in General Orders and on 28 November 1918 she was buried in the cemetery in the village of Hermeton-sur-Meuse in Belgium with full military honours.
Before being buried she was skinned and her skin was sent to a taxidermist who stuffed and mounted her effigy and that was then sent onwards to South Africa. She was on display in the Officers Mess of the Transvaal Scottish Regimental Headquarters before being presented to the South African National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold in 1958.
Nancy is also listed at the South African War Graves Project
© DRW 2009-2017. Retrospectively created 11/07/2016. Some text from the SAMVOA Website