Hartbeesfontein – Dr Bidenkapp’s grave

Dr. Vilhelm B. Bidenkap (1868 – 1911)

Dr. Vilhelm B. Bidenkap (1868 – 1911) was a Norwegian born in Oslo.
He emmigrated to South Africa in 1894 and obtained citizenship in 1896.
He was practising medicine in Bremersdorp, Swaziland and joined the Boer forces in 1899
He was appointed chief of the ambulance services of the Scandinavian corps.
This corps was sent to Mafeking at the beginning of the Boer war.
He joined the forces of Genl P. Cronje

As a doctor and medical chief of the Scandinavian ambulance Dr. Vilhelm Boeck Bidenkap was born.
on February 22, 1869 in Christiania (now Oslo), son of the City doctor Johan Laurits Bidenkap and Elisha Mountain.
In July 1885 he matriculated and entered the gymnasium in Oslo with the label ‘laudabilis “(commendable), in July 1886 he pass
the examination” examination philosophicum “, also” laudabilis “and be admitted to the university. After 5 and a half years
of study he wrote the physician examination at the University of Oslo, also “laudabilis” (1). For unknown reasons,
he emigrated to South Africa. On 13 October 1896 he lived in Fordsburg. On January 4, 1899 he concludes the oath of office
as goverment-doctor of Swazieland (2). In October 1899 he took the medical leadership of the Scandinavian ambulance on him.
After a farewell parade for the home of President Paul Kruger, where a famous photograph of the group was taken.
The ambulance with the corps departed on October 16, 1899 to General PA Cronje’s camp at Mafeking and late
November 1899 to the front at Kimberley. But during the journey of Mafeking to Kimberley Bidenkap stayed behind in Rustenburg.
He did not join the ambulance again. It was disbanded in May 1900.

Once his name appears in official documents of the South African Republic. He complains that some of his staff members
have joined the Boer commandos and when they were later captured by the British, they pose as members of the Red Cross and the
Scandinavian ambulance and demanded their release, obviously without success (3). His fortunes during the course of the
war are not known. After the war, he practiced as a doctor in Hartbeespoort (4). He remains somewhat mysterious.

1) Communications by the archivist of the University of Oslo in 1976.
2) Collection ambtseeden of the South African Republic part 1874-1899, in State Archives, Union Buildings, Pretoria.
3) These two nurses were Ernst Evert Lindberg and Wilhelm Stolze. The letter from Dr. VB Bidenkap in the archives of the
Transvaalsche Red Cross in Pretoria and was quoted by Jan Cornelis Roos, the Transvaalsche Red Cross during the
Second World War 1899-1902, unpublished dissertation at the University of South Africa, Pretoria, 1943, p.149.
4) Several elderly villagers in Hartbeespoort remember Dr. Bidenkap still well below more than a tactful physician
and good piano player. There are also strange, uncontrollable stories about him, such that he was an alcoholic and
drank poison to commit suicide. He died between 1907 and 1909; the exact date is unknown, because he is not mentioned in
the begraafplaasregister of Harteheesfontein not, which is strange. He did not to one of the local churches should
and his grave will lie presumably therefore somewhat aloof. Dir carries no heading, only the copper plate with his name
was taken from the garden gate of his wooing. His wife lie buried alongside him, the inscription with her ​​name disappeared.
They apparently had no children.


Military History Journal
Vol 4 No 5 – Junie 1979

The report of sister Elin Lindblom on the Scandinavian ambulance in the Anglo-Boer War