Military History Tours On Tour - Boer War 112th Anniversary Tour to South Africa 2 June 2014
Overnight in the Protea Hotel Mafikeng was very refreshing; the plumbing, the food, the internet connection were all great; not always does everything work in South Africa. Up early and we headed south. A coffee stop in Vryberg was just the thing for us all perhaps with the exception of our HR manager Peter and nurse Graham who have very high standards. Luncheon was at a park in Warrenton; by this time we had travelled 400 km through the Veldt and Karoo, only another 100 km to Paardeberg, our battle site for the day.
At Paardeberg we were by negotiating the long grass and shale rocks able to inspect the site in detail. Noting the Modder River banks that General Cronje used so effectively as entrenchments; where caves were dug for the protection of stores and family members and the Laager site. The 3D terrain map under a shelter nearby is sadly deteriorating a bit but is still able to give an indication of the key features not able to be seen from the river bank.
We then inspected the memorial to the Boer soldiers who died in the battle.
A short distance away is the grave of Colonel Hannay. An officer of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, he was commanding the Mounted Rifles at Paardeberg. He objected to Kitchener’s order of a close order attack across open ground on the first day of the battle. The objection rejected he took his place in the line, and there he fell. His grave on a lonely field is the only British one at Paardeberg. To show he was not forgotten, we said the ode, observed a silence and planted a poppy.
In the late afternoon we came to Kimberley with many braving the zooming traffic to walk close to the monument to the siege with its Long Cecil, the gun built in the De Biers workshop and used in the siege. A quick inspection of the South African Legion collection of weapons nearby and we moved to our hotel.