Intombi was the common name for what the Zulus knew as ‘Ndomba” meaning small stream.
On the 3rd November 1899 General White sent a letter to General Joubert requesting that all civilians and wounded be allowed to leave Ladysmith. Joubert was in agreement in principal providing that they went to a place outside the town and that he was given a list of all civilians.
Reluctantly White agreed and the move was completed within twenty-four hours, one camp for the military and one for civilians east and west of the railway line respectively.
The civilian camp, known as “Funkendorf” had 1402 inhabitants, 428 Europeans, 378 Natives and 656 Indians. Dr B.V. Chiodetti was in charge until the end of January 1900 when Dr E. Ireland Lawrence took over
Joubert was intending to lay siege and to make it most effective he must put utmost pressure on the feeding of the population so therefore Intombi camp had to be supplied from the Ladysmith stocks. One train per day would be allowed for the transfer of wounded under a flag of truce.
Overall control of the military hospital camp was given to Lieutenant Colonel R.W. Mapleton Royal Army Medical Corps and was made up of several individual hospitals.
Nurses known to serve at Ntombi were Addison, Boyd, Bromelow, Couper, Early, Hill, Nicholson, Otto, Patterson, Pentny, Rinter, Stow, Thompson, Bradbury, Davis, Champion, Hunter and Driver.
Patients at Intombi camp were recorded as follows: 15th November 374, 1st December 465, 10th January 2000 sick and 800 wounded, 2nd February 2477, 1st March 1996 and by this time the camp was full to overflowing. There were no beds, patients having to sleep on the ground on waterproof sheets, the death rate had reached thirty a day, being buried in long trenches.
Menial tasks were undertaken by 250 Indians and 131 Blacks and included the digging of latrines and washing of bed linen. In addition there were 44 gravediggers who between them buried a total of 700 people.
Graves at Intombi from Dr. Balfour diary
An excellent detailed description of Intombi Camp can be found at the genealogy site.
GW Lines diary page for Intombi