According to Eric Charles Blake in Wars, Dictators and the Gramophone 1898-1945
, "The Absent-Minded Beggar" was the most famous song at the time of the Boer War.
It was commissioned by the Daily Mail
from Rudyard Kipling and set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, and was an appeal for the wives and families of the soldiers.
Kipling's verse was published in the paper on October 31, 1899, and the song was first performed November 13, at the Alhambra in London, conducted by Sullivan. It is said to have been was the first song to be spread over 2 sides of a disk, 2 separate disks in this case. Sullivan didn't live to see the end of the second Boer War, he died November 20, 1900 aged only 58.
Alexander Baron - London, England