Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

Second Boer War Tour to South Africa 8 June 2018


A great day, beautiful blue sky, only marred by the persistent smog as we drove into Johannesburg caused by the coal fired power stations (luddites of the Monash Forum please note).

Our first stop was Winburg, site of the incredible concrete Voortrekker Monument, a marvel of design and engineering. It was pleasing to see locals visiting, and the nearby President Steyn Museum for International Museums' Day.

A few clicks up the road and we were at the site of the Sand (Zand) River battle, we stopped and discussed what happened when Canadians stood fast and the Boers again used innovative tactics to again gain the upper hand at least initially.

Then to Kroonstad where we were pleased to see the small cemetery in good fettle. The main Boer War cemetery, however, was not. The committee that kept it locked and maintained it does not appear to be around anymore. The gates had been stolen, and the grave markers vandalised. Very sad as the grave of Trooper Tunks was the only New South Wales Lancers' grave in South Africa to be marked with a grave marker. The photo of the marker below was taken in 2016, the adjacent photo shows the state of the grave and nearby graves today. Almost all cast iron markers have been vandalised and stolen for their scrap value. Very sad for the Regiment (1/15 RNSWL) that remains on the ORBAT today. At least the names of those interred are recorded in the gatehouse.

To counter the disappointment of the cemetery, we were given a tour of the magnificent Dutch Reformed Church in Kroonstad. Outside a marvel of architecture and stone construction, inside a mixture of tradition and the latest technology, no hymn books needed.

The Battlefield History part of the tour ended with a visit to the Kroonstad Concentration Camp Cemetery. This is showing some signs of deterioration, but at least it was built of materials that do not have scrap value.

In Johannesburg we said a fond farewell to Pieter and Pheelo. Tomorrow we will Farewell Alan and Ross, heading to the USA and Pennant Hills respectively, the rest of us proceed to the Kruger National Park to check-out the big 5.



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