ANGLO-BOER WAR CONCENTRATION CAMP IN PORT ELIZABETH

Concentration camps were first implemented in South Africa by the British during the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902). The first to be established was in Port Elizabeth, which was functional between December 1900 and November 1902. Its existence came about shortly after the British invasion of the Free State, which is why most of the internees, Boer women and children, came from the Jagersfontein and Fauresmith districts. They had been removed as there was concern that they might ‘aid the enemy’. Although originally sited on the racecourse, by March 1901 the concentration camp had been moved to Lennox Road in Glendinningvale, close to the Kemsley Park Police Sports Ground and Old Grey Sports Club.

The memorial is surrounded by a symbolic barbed wire fence.

The camp housed about 200 children and 86 women in zinc and iron huts surrounded by a 1.5-m high fence, with approximately 32 men accommodated in a separate camp nearby. Among the notable internees were the mother, wife, three sisters-in-law, and children of General J. B. M. Hertzog, who was later to become the Prime Minister of South Africa. Fourteen people died at the concentration camp between November 1900 and April 1902. Seven-year-old Charles Neethling Hertzog died of measles shortly after his arrival in the camp.

Few families could afford a gravestone such as the one above and so the rest of the dead were buried in paupers’ graves in the North End Cemetery, where this memorial has been erected in their memory.

The names, ages, and date of death of those who died have been engraved on a marble memorial with the words Ons vir jou Suid Afrika (from the national anthem) inscribed above them.

The incarceration of women and children garnered adverse publicity in England, leading to Emily Hobhouse visiting the Port Elizabeth concentration camp first on her arrival in this country. Unlike the conditions she was to encounter in other concentration camps, she reported that these families had been made as comfortable as possible.

Despite early opposition to the establishment of a memorial on the site of this concentration camp, the Summerstrand branch of Dames Aktueel, supported by the Rapportryers, oversaw the erection of the monument which was unveiled on 29th October 1983.

IN DEFENCE OF THEIR TOWN IN 1901

There was a time during the Anglo-Boer War (1889-1902) when the Boers adopted guerrilla tactics to harass the British forces. As the advancing commandos of Generals Jan Smuts and P. H. Kritzinger had attacked towns in the Eastern Cape, Grahamstown called upon cadets from local schools to assist with defending the town. Trenches were dug around the perimeter of the town.

This happened during March 1901. For about ten days these trenches or schanze were manned by school cadets from St. Andrew’s College, Kingswood College and Graeme College. Unmarked remnants of these trenches can still be seen if one has a careful eye.

None of these boys saw any action and not much information is readily available about their contribution to the defence of the town. What we do know is that the St. Andrew’s College cadets (Detachment No 4) manned their post on the fringes of the old golf course for ten days before standing down. It transpires that Kritzinger’s forces only reached as far as Carlisle Bridge, about 127Km away. In 1997 the school erected a marble tablet to commemorate this event.

Those St. Andrew’s College cadets voluntarily forfeited their soldiers’ pay, having voted to put it towards the building of what is now known as the Drill Hall.  This memorial can be located at 33°17’51.90”S; 26°30’14.60”E. The trenches they dug, though overgrown, are still visible.

A rich source of information about St. Andrew’s College in Grahamstown can be found in Marguerite Poland’s magnificent book, The Boy in You: a biography of St. Andrew’s College, 1855-2005.

GRAVELY INTERESTING

While in the Free State, I was initially attracted to this grave of Hatherley George Moor in the Garden of Remembrance in Lindley firstly because of the design of the Celtic cross and then by the inscription.

I couldn’t help wondering how a young man (only 28), the son of a churchman in Cornwall, would end up commanding the First West Australian Contingent during the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa. I do not pretend to have all the answers yet have enjoyed a little sleuthing on the internet to satisfy my curiosity. I discovered that in February 1900, the West Australian First Mounted Rifles Contingent were sent to the Colesberg district to join forces under General Clements – what a coincidence that Major Hatherley Moor’s father is noted as being in St. Clement in Cornwall.

During July 1900, the First West Australians formed part of the force which Sir Archibald Hunter led into the north-east of the Orange River Colony with the view of surrounding the Boer forces led by General Christiaan De Wet in the Wittebergen district. On the night of 15th July, De Wet, along with about 1 500 men and some guns, escaped from Slabbert’s Nek from where they reached the railway and cut the line. The ensuing engagement on the 19th July took the form of a running fight over about thirteen kilometres in the Palmietfontein area. This is when Major Moor was critically wounded in the hip and died shortly afterwards. Although he was initially buried at Palmietfontein, his remains were reinterred in Lindley’s Garden of Remembrance in 1958.

Hatherley George Moor, born in July 1871, was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in November 1890. He was a professional soldier who had seen service in Mauritius, South Africa and Rhodesia. It was in June 1899 that he was appointed to command the Permanent Artillery Garrison at King George’s Sound, Albany in Western Australia and he was promoted to Major on 14th October 1899.

Source of photograph: https://www.bwm.org.au/soldiers/Hatherley_Moor.php

I have not come across the term ‘ubique’ on a grave before. It is Latin for everywhere.

Rudyard Kipling penned a lengthy poem, Ubique, the title of which is derived from the Motto and Battle Honour of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

You can read it in full at https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/ubique.html. Here is an excerpt:

Ubique means the long-range Krupp be’ind the long-range ‘ill –
Ubique means you’ll pick it up an’, while you do, stand still.
Ubique means you’ve caught the flash an’ timed it by the sound.
Ubique means five gunners’ ‘ash before you’ve loosed a round.
 
Ubique means Blue Fuse, an’ make the ‘ole to sink the trail.
Ubique means stand up an’ take the Mauser’s ‘alf-mile ‘ail.
Ubique means the crazy team not God nor man can ‘old.
Ubique means that ‘orse’s scream which turns your innards cold!

Useful sources:

https://www.bwm.org.au/soldiers/Hatherley_Moor.php

https://www.angloboerwar.com/unit-information/australian-units/168-west-australia/408-west-australian-1st-contingent

https://familyhistoryact.org.au/boer_war/biography/moor.php

BRYNBELLA BATTLEFIELD

Near Estcourt, in KwaZulu Natal, one can see the historical Brynbella Battlefield stone wall that forms the boundary line between the farms Glenbello (historically known as Tamboekieskraal) and Stockton.

Now a National Monument, this wall built from dolerite boulders was used by both the Boers and the British soldiers during a skirmish on the 23rd November 1899. At the time, Brynbella Hill (Harris Hill/Willow Grange) was occupied by the Boers under General Joubert as part of their intention to advance further south into Natal.

Prior to this they had successfully ambushed the reconnaissance/armoured Train near Frere on the 15th November 1899 – where Winston Churchill was taken captive. Although the British were forced back, General Joubert decided to withdraw behind the Thukela River afterwards.

According to the Times History, the total (British) casualties had been sixteen killed and over sixty wounded, mostly from the West Yorkshire Regiment. Among those killed was Trooper George J. FitzPatrick, whose grave I have featured before. What I have since discovered is that the wounded comrade he was carrying at the time of this death was also from the West Yorkshire Regiment.

Other British soldiers killed were Private F.E. Reeves from the East Surrey Regiment and the following Privates from the West Yorkshire Regiment: W. Morgan, H. Benson, J. Smith, J. Thornton, S. Tobin, J. Newton, and A. Rudd.

Note the ubiquitous blackjacks in the foreground – they arrived during the Anglo-Boer War.

It is said that the Boer casualties were about a quarter of the British. Among them were D. F. Joubert, C. H. Parker, and N. Smit.

https://www.angloboerwar.com/images/pdf/TimesHistory02-08.pdf

BLOOD RIVER POORT

There are signs of conflict in various parts of South Africa. These come in the form of battle sites, monuments and graves. It was customary at the time of the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902) for the British to bury soldiers in individual graves if this was possible. A number of British military cemeteries relating to this war indicate, however, that soldiers were interred in groups – sometimes regimental groups – with the event as well as the name, rank and regiment of the dead provided on a monument of some sort. Metal crosses, such as this one, are common.

It was on Tuesday 17th September 1901 that a battle was fought at Blood River Poort, near Dundee along the Springspruit. Major Hubert Gough’s 24th Mounted Infantry, while searching for a group of Boers led by Louis Botha, came across some 300 dismounted Boers and attacked them, unaware that Botha was on his flank with the balance of his 1 000 strong force. I read that 16 British Officers and 273 were either killed or captured.

I am no military historian, so the actual details of the whys and wherefores are of lesser interest to me than the people who died in this conflict so far away from home. Thirteen men are buried here: how old they were at the time and what led to their deaths I will never know. However, when I look at names like these, I wonder about the families they left behind; about their hopes for the future; and whether anyone related to them has ever seen where they are buried – this is such a lonely place, where the wind whistles and bird song is scarce. Yet, it is a place of remembrance – for them.

Five men from the 3rd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps are there:

Sergt. J. Pidgeon; and Privates H. Archer, F. Day, J. Phroffitt, and W. Strange.

The 3rd Battalion sailed on the Servia on 4th November 1899, arrived at the Cape about the 24th, and from there was sent on to Durban.

There are two Privates from the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusilliers: C. Donohoe and J. Wilson.

Lt. Corpl W. Budd and two Privates, J. Frost and J. Royal, from the 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry are interred in the same grave.

This battalion sailed on the Cephalonia on 24th October 1899, arrived at the Cape about 18th November, and was sent round to Durban.

The 2nd Battalion Scottish Rifles were also involved in this battle. Lt. Corpl W. Budd and two Privates, W. Highfield and H. Fogden, lost their lives here.

Known as the Cameronians, the 2nd Battalion sailed on the City of Cambridge on 23rd October 1899, and arrived at Durban about 21st November.

https://www.royal-irish.com/events/goughs-mounted-infantry-fierce-fighting-blood-river-point

https://www.angloboerwar.com/unit-information/imperial-units/566-kings-royal-rifle-corps?showall=1

https://www.angloboerwar.com/unit-information/imperial-units/549-durham-light-infantry

https://www.angloboerwar.com/unit-information/imperial-units/660-cameronians-scottish-rifles