Many miles to cover today, firstly as we headed west over the country where the second NSWMR operated while chasing the famous Boer General De Witt. This phase was of course the guerrilla phase as the Boers had been defeated in the main actions and they were now holding on hoping for a reasonable outcome if and when there was to be a further series of peace talks.
There were still many casualties to both sides in this phase of the campaign and Graham Barker’s grandfather and great uncle were fighting in this area. Graham’s grand uncle was killed at Koranafontein on 10 May 1901 and buried at Ottorsdal 73 kilometres west of Klerksdorp.
We visited this cemetery which lies on a small hill just to the north of the town but we could not find either a grave marker on an inscription on the memorial pillar for TP Barker. Two others lost in that action LT Lamb and PTE Green from the same unit are inscribed on the memorial wall (Lamb also has a grave marker), and we will approach the South African War Graves Commission to see if TP Barker’s name can be added to the memorial wall.
We were at this stage a long way west and need to make our way to Vereenining to view the monument in the peace park. The monument is in the place where the last peace talks were conducted prior to the signing of the armistice on 31 May 1902.
Luncheon awaited us in Pretoria so we took our leave of Ottorsdal and proceeded on our way. It was a long trip into Pretoria and we arrived at the excellent restaurant ‘The Blue Crane’ for lunch.
The Restaurant was set next to a very big man-made lake; it was very quiet and serene sitting overlooking the water. Our meal had been pre-ordered and was served quickly, just as well as it was 3.00 pm.
A lovely lunch and we then moved into Pretoria proper to visit the cemetery where Paul Kreuger is buried. One could spend a whole day in this well-kept cemetery as there is much history recorded on the tombstones.
In the cemetery there are four areas for military graves from 1886 – 1912, Queen Victoria’s grandson, Major Christian Victor; a special area for Boers killed in the war, Presidents of the Republic and many ministers of the various governments from 1834 until 1966. Also as mentioned earlier on the tour, Morant and Handcock are there as well as the people who had lived in Pretoria.
A very big day, but our entry to our hotel was seamless allowing our group to settle early as tomorrow we have the ceremony at Melrose House.