Anglo Boere Oorlog - Geskiedenis, Stories en Interessante feite

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Date: 11 Oct 1899 to 31 May 1902
Location: Suid Afrikamap
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Oorgawe Bradwaterkom

Kaart van die Brandwaterkom
Generaal Prinsloo en Crowther van die Ficksburg en Ladybrand kommando's gee oor op 30 Julie 1900.
By Surrender Hill het die Vrystaatse Boeremagte in Julie 1900 een van die grootste terugslae tydens die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog beleef.
Surrender Hill (voorheen bekend as Slaapkrans) is 'n lang, hoë en lang plat koppie geleë tussen Fouriesburg en wat vandag bekend staan as "Golden Gate" (42 km suid van Bethlehem, 10 km suidwes van Clarens en 2 km van die Lesotho-grens.= 13 September 2015)
In Julie 1900 is 'n groot deel van die Vrystaatse magte in die Brandwaterkom (tussen Fouriesburg en "Golden Gate") deur die Britse troepe omsingel. Genl. C.R. de Wet en ongeveer 2 000 man kon oor Slabbertsnek ontsnap. In die bergkom het hoofkommandant Marthinus Prinsloo die bevel oorgeneem en is daar met 4 314 man op 29 Julie tot oorgawe gedwing. Hierdie krygsgevangenes is na kampe op St. Helena, Bermuda en Ceylon gestuur. Op 9 Augustus het die Britte alle gebuite wapentuig en 6 miljoen rondes ammunisie by Surrender Hill vernietig. Die kaal kolle wat deur die brand en die ontploffende ammunisie veroorsaak is, is nog sigbaar.
Inligtingsbord op die terrein = 13 September 2015:
Die terrein by Surrender Hill is in 1986 deur die Raad vir Nasionale Gedenkwaardighede tot monument verklaar.
  • The South African Military History Society / Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging : Military History Journal Vol 11 No 3/4 - October 1999. The Brandwater Basin and Golden Gate surrenders, 1900. By by H W Kinsey (Nick Kinsey is a former editor of the Military History Journal and a member of the Johannesburg Branch of the SA Military History Society) Krygshistoriese data
  • Raper, P.E.: New dictionary of South African place names. Johannesburg: Ball, 2004. ISBN 1-86842-190-2
  • Vrystaat se Geskiedenis Wikipedia
Journal of the Dutch Burger Union of Ceylon
VOL XVIII January 1929 No 3

The Victorian age ended in the crash and conflict of the Great Boer War. The youngest combatants in that war have reached the dignity of middle age. Most of the older men sleep with their fathers. It is a war that has now receded into history. Diyatalawa was a creation of the Great Boer War. Before that period it was geographically known but not discovered. Smiling in the sunshine of the rolling patanas, it was the Happy Valley that lay beneath the Industrial Home, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Langdon of the Wesleyan Mission. It was just a glorious bit of landscape, only that and nothing more. And then the opportunity came. Where were the thousands of Boer prisoners to be interned? The fertile brain of Sir West Ridgeway, Governor of Ceylon, supplied the answer. At Diyatalawa of course. Here was indeed a suggestion of home for the prisoners of war. The distant mountains, the rolling veldt, the cold dry air – it was South Africa all over again. And besides, it was a land once colonized by men of their own blood and breed. The suggestion was enthusiastically received by the authorities, but in Ceylon there were rumblings of discontent. The wise and the prudent scanned their kitchen accounts and shook their heads disapprovingly. Would not the cost of living rise? Sir West Ridgeway was a diplomat. He was also an orator. He made one of the most brilliant speeches in his brilliant career. The occasion was the Royal College prize distribution and the hall was packed. “Yes something might happen” he added after he had calmed all fears. “The price of pumpkins might possibly rise!” Nothing after all is so effective a weapon as ridicule. The newspapers lost their latest sensation. I was one of the first to see the Boers arrive and to visit them at Diyatalawa. The war had let loose a flood of literature and we heard ad nauseam that the Boers were rough and uncultured, dirty in their habits, crafty and treacherous. The impressions I formed were of a totally different kind. Taken as a whole it must be admitted that the Boers were not tailor-made men. But their appearance and habits were not different from those of civilized farmers in any part of the world. Certainly there were some Boers at Diyatalawa whose culture and refinement would not have failed to make an impression on any assembly of men whatsoever. It must be remembered that the Boers constituted an entire race with necessarily varying types. Let us try another source – the villagers who live round Diyatalawa, amongst whom the Boers moved for over two years and who were able to estimate their character. “Good men” is the unanimous verdict. And so they were – simple, unsophisticated farmers most of them, deeply religious. It was pathetic to see them at camp poring over the Bible, drawing inspiration and comfort from its pages. Among the prisoners of war at Diyatalawa were the two well known Generals, Roux and Olivier. Paul Roux, the fighting person, was a natural leader of men. Spare of figure, straight, tall, alert and well-groomed, he was destined to be great both as a spiritual leader and on the field of battle. He spoke English with the ease and grace of a cultured Englishman, and his light touch of humour made his conversation most attractive. I asked him what he though of Lyddite, a new form of explosive which was first used in the Boer War. “We don’t like it at all” was his ready reply. “It spoils the colour of our trousers.” His occasional use of some Dutch word that was well known to us gave his conversation a special interest. “We were once trying to get the range of a gun that was worrying us” he observed “when we hit it over it went like a wafel.” And suiting the action to the word he turned the palm of one hand over on the other. The good old town of Matara which has always borne a great reputation for its hospitality was more than once visited by General Roux. The hostess anxious to please reasoned in this wise. In the old recipes which have come down to us there are some highly seasoned curries. Let therefore a special effort be made to provide curries which are reminiscent of Dutch days. General Roux heroically stood his ground to the end of the meal and then observed:- “I have gone through many months of war without shedding a tear, but I very much feared I should do so today.” General Jan Hendrik Olivier was a magnificent physical specimen, tall, wide shouldered, clean limbed, with a great black beard slightly touched with grey. He had a fine head and forehead and searching dark eyes. He was responsible for the British reverse at Stormberg. “I had only one gun” he explained “which I quickly moved from point to point.” His knowledge of English was not extensive. One of the most respected members of our community requested him to be godfather to his infant son. He readily agreed, and when the infant Jan Hendrik Olivier, so named after him, was presented to him, he greeted him as follows, shaking him heartily by the hand:- “Hullo man (pronounced mahn) Goodbye! Goodbye!” The greeting was sincere and came from the heart of the kindly man, though the phrasing was misconceived. What did that matter though? How many of us then could speak as much Dutch as he did English? I was spending a Sunday afternoon at Haputale with some good friends of mine, a family from Colombo, who had come up for the two fold purpose of an up-country holiday and a visit to the Boer Camp. Seeing a party of Boers pass by along the road we invited them in. The hostess asked them to sing and in response the Boers lifted up their voices and sang. It was a slow and monotonous tune, heartily and lengthily rendered. At the end of the performance our hostess felt she should say something and remarked it was very solemn. Ja! Remarked one of the Boers with surprise. It was a P-s-a-l-m (pronounced very much like solemn). Later on, it was clear that something was troubling the mind of our worthy hostess. Her remark that the singing was solemn had been flung back at her by one of the Boers and now she had a new grievance. She had handed round cups of tea to the Boers and every man on receiving his cup had said “Donkey”. Alas! All they had said was “Dankje!” That was a quarter of a century ago, since which the Dutch language has made much progress in Ceylon. About a hundred yards to the North East of the Survey Camp is the Boer Cemetery. It is sad to think that 140 Boers who had survived the dreadful tragedy of war and had arrived as prisoners of war in Ceylon did not live to return home when peace was declared. There are 133 Boer graves marked by plain wooden crosses. Seven are unmarked as the great stone monument erected by the Government of South Africa in 1913 bears 140 names. Some of these names, reminiscent of the great figures in the war or of some special interest to Ceylon, are given below:- Kruger, Cronje, Olivier, Roux, Steyn, Pretorius, Prinsloo, du Plessis, Van Rooyen, de Villiers, de Jonge, Laurens, Smith, Palm, de Klerk, Nel, de Bruin. The youngest in the roll of the dead is Douw van der Walt of Bloemfontein aged 16 years, and the oldest W. J. R. Bretz, also of Bloemfontein, aged 144 years. The latter’s death is the last recorded with date 17th December, 1902. He had twice outlived the Psalmist’s span of life. He had no doubt been in the Great Trek and had known the vicissitudes of good and evil fortune which his people had experienced during nearly a century and a half. And now that peace was declared, he had nothing left to live for. Like Simeon of old well might he have said “Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in Peace; for my eyes have seen Thy Salvation.” Oh, the tragedy of those simple inscriptions on the plain wooden crosses. On the 23rd December 1900 there were six deaths and on the 24th December five deaths. An epidemic of enteric had broken out and the angel of death was busy. Public opinion was stirred and Sir West Ridgeway promptly took action. Dr. T. F. Garvin, the ablest physician in the Government service, was immediately dispatched in medical charge to Diyatalawa, and the prompt action he took saved the situation. But oh, the tragedy of it all and the thought of those brave men who never saw their homes again. One could weave such tragic situations. There are the two Prinsloos of Ficksberg, one aged 18 who died on the 15th March, 1901, and the other aged 51 who died on the 18th March. Were they father and son? And did the father not will to live when he had lost his son? But let us leave the heroic dead where they lie. Better there than in the congested area of a city, for they were accustomed to the silence of vast spaces in their homeland –

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie!

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