Barker Greenwood

Barker Greenwood was born in Todmorden [1882], the son of John Greenwood.

During the South African Wars, he joined the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers in January 1900 (aged 17), although he lied about his age, saying he was 20.

He was the youngest of the Todmorden Volunteers, the first 9 local men to volunteer.

There was a big send-off in Todmorden on 14th March 1900, and the group left Bury for South Africa 2 days later.

The Todmorden & District News [16th March 1900] reported the send-off

A big send-off was held in Todmorden for the nine members of G Company, 2nd volunteer Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, on Wednesday (14th March), who have just received orders to go to South Africa, leaving Bury by train for Southampton today (16th March) at 4am. Two processions set off to the Drill Hall. Todmorden Brass Band took part in the procession from the Shade district (in honour of Private Sam Smith). Private Smith rode on a horse. The procession from Springside was headed by the Nazebottom Band, a gaily-decorated wagonnette being provided for the conveyance of Privates Barker Greenwood and J.E.Mottram. Once at the Drill Hall, presentations were made to the volunteers then a large procession was formed, headed by the bands, which made it's way to the station to get on a train to Bury. Thousands lined the streets, holding torches and Union Jacks

The Todmorden Advertiser & Hebden Bridge Newsletter [18th May 1900] published a letter received by Mr John Greenwood of Springside received a letter from his son, Private Barker Greenwood, the youngest Todmorden Volunteer at the front in South Africa, who has just celebrated his 18th birthday.

The Todmorden Advertiser & Hebden Bridge Newsletter [25th January 1901] printed a letter sent by Private Barker Greenwood from Laings Nek, South Africa, dated 23rd December 1900.

The Todmorden Advertiser & Hebden Bridge Newsletter [1st March 1901] summarised a letter sent by

Private Barker Greenwood, one of the Todmorden members of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, currently on duty in South Africa, sent a letter home from Jager's Drift, dated 28th January 1901

He arrived back in England on 22nd of May 1901, was discharged on termination of engagement on 24th of May 1901, and there was a celebration of the soldiers' return to Todmorden on 24th May 1901.

The Todmorden Advertiser & Hebden Bridge Newsletter [24th May 1901] reported

Four of the nine local soldiers who had first volunteered to fight in the Boer War with the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers arrived home.

Four were invalided home before the end of the war:

  • Lance Corporal Herbert Sunderland
  • Private Charles E. Scholfield
  • Private J. W. Mitchell
  • Private J. E. Mottram

Sergeant John Mason had stayed in Ladysmith in charge of Boer prisoners.

The returning soldiers were

  • Lance-Corporal W. Chadwick
  • Private George Wright
  • Private Barker Greenwood
  • Private Sam Smith

The Mayor and the Todmorden and Nazebottom Brass Bands met the soldiers at the station. They then marched through the crowded streets to the Town Hall. The Mayor made a speech outside the Town Hall but struggled to make himself heard due to the noise of the huge crowd. The soldiers then went into the Town Hall where the Mayor spoke to them for a while then they left for the Drill Hall, the streets packed with thousands of people.

Later, Private Barker Greenwood was driven home to Springside in a small waggonette which followed behind the Nazebottom Brass Band.

Private Sam Smith of Shade was accompanied to his home by the Todmorden Brass Band


Barker worked as a policeman in Leeds for 5 years, before sailing back from Southampton to South Africa aboard the Braemar Castle on 16th June 1906, heading for Durban, where he joined the South African Police Force.

In 1912, he married Isabella Scott in Durban.

The Todmorden Advertiser & Hebden Bridge Newsletter [3rd January 1913] reported the wedding

Barker Greenwood, son of Mr John Greenwood, 501 Halifax Road, Todmorden, married Isabella Scott of Durban at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Durban, South Africa, on 9th of November 1912.

The groom was one of the Todmorden volunteers who went out to South Africa during the Boer War.

On returning to England, he served for some time as a policeman in the Leeds district, and about five years ago he returned to South Africa



  1. child

At the outbreak of World War I, Barker joined up, fighting in Africa.

Once the Germans were overthrown in Africa [July 1915], he returned to being a policeman in South Africa.

Isabella died in April 1918.

The Todmorden Advertiser & Hebden Bridge Newsletter [12th July 1918] reported her death

Isabella, the wife of ex-Private Barker Greenwood of Umbilo, South Africa, died after an operation in Durban in April, aged about thirty two

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 18:15 / 26th April 2023 / 7504

Page Ref: X579

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