1_Harrismith, 2_Free State / Vrystaat, 5_Army days, 8_Nostalgia, sport

Conquered by the Boers, 2017

Harrismith is still a lekker dorp thanks to some hard-drinking maniacs that hang out there, bitter-einders clinging to life behind the boerewors curtain.

Here’s a dispatch to Mev Queen on the result of a highly important, highly competitive Boer War re-enactment golf – or moer-en-soek – tournament in 2017. It did not go well.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

“Boer War” Defeat – 2017 – Letter to the Queen

Her Majesty The Queen

Buckingham Palace,  London, England

5th June, 2017

Our Dearest & Beloved Queen,

It is with deep regret that I inform you that your courageous soldiers have been severely defeated, at the hands of the Boers, at the battle of Harrismith on 3rd & 4th June 2017.

Although there were no fatalities, the Boer Commando, led by General Wessel Hamman, showed immense bravery, superior marksmanship, and deft field skills in the heat of battle. Your loyal soldiers raised the white flag of surrender at 12 noon on this bloody Sunday.

The Royal Medical team of nurses, led by Sister Mandy Pollock on Spionkop, are still very busy treating your loyal and wounded troops. The most severe and common treatments, were for the after effects of the toxic Boer medicine ‘Mampoer’. All your troops are showing signs of making a full recovery. I would recommend that our soldiers be shipped back to London, and returned to Her Majesty’s Military Academy, Sandhurst, for further instruction in the skills of warfare.

Apart from this humiliating defeat, I have pleasure in advising Her Majesty, that your troops have been well treated by the Boer Commandos, and have enhanced the tattered relationship that existed between the Boer Republic and the British Empire. Our soldiers and their spouses were treated to a Royal Gala dinner, featuring a clash of British & Boer cuisine, expertly prepared by Afrikaner chefs, Anel Bekker & Lizet Du Plessis. Your troops were further entertained by guest speakers. Nick Leslie spoke eloquently about previous battles, and the bravery of both the Boer and British forces. Dr Braam Joubert, from The Orange Free State, added a good deal of humour to this illustrious occasion. It was a grand banquet indeed!

There was a fly-past, performed by a Royal Airforce squadron of fighter aircraft, led by Flight Commander Sir Gareth Pollock (MBE). The Boers entertained our troops with “Boere Musiek” and “Volkspele” dancers and singers. Our own Captain Venning (OBE), joined in to demonstrate the British version of these Boer dance moves.

In order to commemorate this battle, and to remind future generations to further develop Anglo Boer relationships in Harrismith, Captain Venning (OBE) has donated a perfectly “in-scale” model of an ox-wagon. I wish to appeal to you to consider rewarding Capt. Venning at Your Majesty’s Birthday Honours ceremony. (with some more alphabets?)

Other candidates to receive your Majesty’s recognition at this ceremony should include Major Gert van Tonder, who chose to enlist in Her Majesty’s Army, and then donated the battle dress to all the foot soldiers. There were others who have not only enlisted in your forces, but have made considerable contributions to this historical battle. These include Private George Galloway and the Scottish piper, Dr. Martin Reeve, who certainly stirred up the patriotic emotions of your troops. I respectfully recommend that the following be granted British citizenship with immediate effect, Dries Lategan, Steve Niewoudt, Justin van Tonder, and Quintin König. I was going to request that Kobus Bester should also be granted British citizenship, but on second thoughts, your Empire could do without this rascal.

Many of your troops traveled from the Last Outpost of your Empire (Natal Colony), as well as from the Transvaal Goldfields, in order to fight this battle. They too, should receive your recognition. These include Craig Surmon, Gary Bellars, Andrew Miller, Reggie Jelliman, Richard Butcher, Wayne Warburton, Gavin Scholefield and Chris Smith. I would sincerely appreciate your kind consideration of the above. Mark Bebington also answered your call to take up arms, and should be given Royal recognition.

I am under the impression that your troops are enjoying the warm sun in Africa, and may wish not to return to your United Kingdom. Perhaps Your Majesty could tempt them to return, with the lure of a “danger-pay” bonus, of a few Pounds Sterling.

I await your further instructions.

Your humble military servant,

Field Marshall Mark Russell VC

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

lekker – respectable

bitter-einders – to the bitter end; last to leave the pub

boerewors – secret sausage; used in hide-the-sausage games in bedrooms in the colonies

moer-en-soek – pointless game administered by the ancient Scots and Americans, proving that it’s pointless

‘Mampoer’ – moonshine liquor; anything distilled illegally; high octane rating

Mev Queen – that small tannie who wears the funny hats; the one with the rude Greek husband who crashes cars

tannie – auntie

1_Harrismith, 2_Free State / Vrystaat, 8_Nostalgia

Sgt Culling on Kings Hill

One of Annie’s workers at the Central Service Station on the corner of Warden street and Southey street – the ‘Caltex garage’ as we knew it – was called Johannes. Because he looked so different from the other petrol attendants, we learnt his surname. He was Johannes Culling.

Today I found out a bit more:

The Boer War started in 1899 and ended in 1902, but a lot of British soldiers stayed on in Harrismith until 1913. One of these was Sergeant Culling, stationed on Kings Hill. He, in fact stayed on even longer, as he married a local lady and went to live with her in the ‘location’ called ‘Skoonplaas’ outside town, probably when it was south of Queens Hill on the far (left) bank of the Wilge river.

Dad knows of three children: Johannes, Henry and a daughter. They could not have had an easy life in the Free State of yore and Dad tells of problems: ‘run-ins with the police due to drinking and fighting.’

That’s all I know . . .

8_Nostalgia

Generaal Koos de la Rey, Lion of the West, and me

Koos de la Rey was the son of Adrianus Johannes Gijsbertus, so like me he was lucky he wasn’t given his father’s names. I could have been Gerhardus.

He was Brave
He is generally* regarded as the bravest of the Boer generals during the Boere Oorlog and as one of the leading figures of Boer independence.
As a guerilla his tactics proved extremely successful. He ran the Brits ragged in the Western Transvaal. 

*well, by us, his descendants anyway . . .

Gen de la Rey 2

He was Pragmatic
Before hostilities, De la Rey opposed the war until the last, but once he started fighting he fought to the Bitter Einde. Once he was accused of cowardice during a Volksraad session by President Paul Kruger. He replied that if the time for war came, he would be fighting long after Paul Kruger had given up and fled for safety. This prediction proved to be exactly accurate. Once the war was lost, he spent a lot of energy getting his people to accept the Treaty of Vereeniging, even traveling to Ceylon to encourage Boer prisoners of war to come home.

He was Chivalrous
De la Rey was noted for chivalrous behaviour towards his enemies. At Tweebosch on 7 March 1902 he captured Lieutenant General Lord Methuen (whose arse he had kicked earlier at Magersfontein) along with several hundred of his troops. The troops were sent back to their lines because de la Rey had no means to support them, and Methuen was also released since he had broken his leg when his own horse had fallen on him. De la Rey provided his personal cart to take Methuen to hospital in Klerksdorp.

Lord_Methuen02 – arse kicked, life saved

His Earlier Life
As a child De la Rey received very little formal education, and as a young man he worked as a transport rider on the routes serving the diamond diggings at Kimberley (so he probably visited Harrismith?). He and wife Nonnie had twelve children and they looked after another six children who lost their parents.

Me
Oh, and Generaal Koos de la Rey had a sister; She had a great great grandson also called Koos.
That’s me.

lodderssoutars-baldy B&W2 me

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  • thanks, wikipedia for the war history, and sister Sheila for the family history