Welcome to The Hermanus History Society
Members Meeting: Monday 28 January 2019
Catholic Church Hall: refreshments 15.30, meeting 16.00
Colesberg – The Forgotten Front of the Anglo-Boer War By Belinda Gordan and Michael de Jongh
This presentation by Belinda Gordon puts a whole new twist on the happenings at Colesberg during the Anglo-Boer War, because it focuses on the war from the "human interest" point of view.
Gathered from diaries, letters, newspapers and documents, the ordinary soldiers and civilians tell the story of events that took place in and around Colesberg before, during and just after the war.
From the time the Boers walked into Colesberg and annexed it to the Orange Free State on the 14th November 1899, the ordinary citizens, especially, were caught up in an extraordinary conflict which was not of their making - surrounded by heavy fighting for almost three months, the town was cut off from the outside world. Several people had to abandon their houses and no one was unable to move freely around the town for fear of being hit by a shell or a bullet.
From the time the British took over the town on 28th February 1900 till the end of the war the situation became even worse - Martial Law was proclaimed, men were imprisoned and sent off to Prisoner of War camps, and woman and children were sent to Norval’s Pont concentration camp. The townspeople witnessed violent deaths and pointless killings (5 executions).
By the end of the war, many had loved ones imprisoned or buried in graves far from home and, to make matters worse, the war had turned friends and even family members into enemies.
Descriptions of General French’s first defeat of the war at Suffolk Hill are told, not as the generals, politicians and text books saw it, but by the letters written home by soldiers of the Suffolk Regiment and the Boer commandos. Likewise, the accounts of both Boer and Brit tell the astonishing story of General De la Rey’s victory over, which was concealed by the British because it took place on the same day as the relief of Kimberley and endangered Roberts’ supply lines.
Speaker: Belinda Gordan
When I became curator of the Colesberg Kemper Museum, I began to read everything I could find in books about the Anglo Boer War. I soon discovered that, if Colesberg was mentioned at all, the information was sometimes incorrect, and often contradictory and inconsistent.
I set out to find all the battle and camp sites around Colesberg. Eventually, with the help of farmers in the area where the sites were located, I managed to find them all. I also made a list of regiments I found next to the names in the cemetery and then contacted the regimental archives.
After 23 years of research, the book was published in 2018 and is dedicated to ‘all those faceless and voiceless people who have suffered the machinations of the powerful'
The interest in history started in 2007 when the late SJ duToit a well-known writer of the people and places related to Hermanus and Stanford, introduced Angela Heslop to local history. Five key people formed a group to undertake the task to create a time line of the history of Hermanus, requested by the Heritage and Aesthetics committee.
The Hermanus History Society (HHS) is working towards becoming the premier source of information concerning the history of the greater Hermanus area (from Voelklip to Fisherhaven), the Hemel-en-Aarde valley and selected inland rural areas. This information will be made freely available to all interested parties.