Military History Tours On Tour - Boer War in South Africa 1 June 2016
Another successful (well almost) day.
A long drive to start, the first point of interest being about 10 km outside Swartruggens, where Baden Powell was forced to turn back when a force under his command was moving to relieve the Australians and Rhodesians at the Elands River Post. Then on to the site of the supply depot where a force of 500, 300 of which were Australian Bushmen held out for 16 days against 5,000 Burghers with vastly superior artillery until relieved. John H explained how the battle was fought, and John L was pleased to be at a site where his namesake great uncle fought during the conflict.
The peace park developed on the site of the post is now sadly neglected, all of the metal memorial plaques have been pilfered, at least the marble etched plaques remain in good condition.
The cemetery that houses the remains of those who died in the siege is still there, and most of the grave markers are still in place.
Thence to Zeerust, with a few stops for road maintenance; where we were able to find the grave of Sid’s great uncle William Newland. William had served in the 3 NSWIB, and died of disease at Zeerust. We were very pleased to see that the Boer War Cemetery under the watchful eye of Simon the cemetery caretaker was well maintained. It appeared the CWG was responsible for new polished granite grave markers; William having a traditional cross and a new marker (bit of a mix-up, on two different plots).
Only another 60 km saw us in Mafikeng. We stopped at the Museum and as suspected, found it closed for renovations as it was in 2014. At least the building has been freshly painted and is festooned with historic murals which bodes well for it being open when we next visit in 2018.
Then to Mafikeng Boer War cemetery where we found a couple of Australian graves; none related to the siege. And the grave of a gallant South African airman.
We got to our hotel early, 1630, in time for a bit of relaxation before tea. Tomorrow is another long drive as we head for Kimberley and the site of the battle of Paardeberg.