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TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY – 1 DECEMBER

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UPDATED: 01/12/2017

1 DECEMBER 1899, Traffic Manager of Cape Government Railways Thomas More dies.
1 DECEMBER 1906, De Beers Benefit Society operates from new building in Stockdale Street.

DID YOU KNOW

The death of a personal friend, Henry Scott-Turner, at the second battle of Carter’s Ridge on 28 November 1899, saw Cecil Rhodes finally lose his patience with the military forces. Despite the fact that it was undoubtedly the foolishness of Scott-Turner in attacking a heavily defended position against the orders of Kekewich, Rhodes lambasted Kekewich at every opportunity. Apart from criticizing Kekewich – unjustly – Rhodes sent a letter to the Mayor and a copy to the Diamond Fields Advertiser for publication. He asked that a committee be formed to firstly, enquire into the circumstances of how the soldiers lost their lives, and secondly, if the dependants of those killed had financial support. “It is our duty to see that they are properly cared for,” he wrote. The Mayor’s response was to state that a committee had been formed.

At the DBCM annual general meeting held on 23 February 1900, he gave vent to his feelings. “I read the account of the fight in which he was killed, and I could not believe my eyes. I suppose it was owing to what is termed the military censorship, but I read in the ‘Times’ that there had been a ‘reconnaissance in force’, during which Major Scott-Turner lost his life. What are the real facts?” Rhodes queried, “On the Saturday, as you remember, he took a redoubt, with 40 men under his command, and came back with 30 Boer prisoners.

On the Tuesday he found that the Boers had again occupied the redoubt, and he again attempted to take that redoubt, this time with 70 men. In so doing, he lost his life, and of the 70 men he took with him only 20 got back unscathed – there were 50 killed or wounded. Very few people know these facts, and I take this opportunity of placing it on record, that 70 citizen soldiers of Kimberley went to take that position, and out of that number there were only 20 who were able to creep away alive, or unwounded, after nightfall. That is the true statement of what took place, and I think it may now go forth to the world without in any way prejudicially affecting the situation.”

In attendance at the funeral in Gladstone cemetery, which was under fire from Boer guns, Rhodes also sent a magnificent wreath for both Scott-Turner and Lieutenant ‘Ossi’ Wright, the latter a young employee of De Beers, Rhodes having known Wright’s mother since the early days of the De Beers Mine and Kimberley.

1 DECEMBER 1899, Traffic Manager of Cape Government Railways Thomas More dies.
1 DECEMBER 1906, De Beers Benefit Society operates from new building in Stockdale Street.

DID YOU KNOW

Cecil Rhodes’ father Francis William Rhodes was the Vicar of Bishop’s Stortford for 15 years and a reverend for some 27 years before retiring in 1876, two years before his death on 25 February 1878 at the age of 72. The vicar, described as “…a tall spare man, of polished manners and the strongly-marked mobile features that indicates a muscular habit.” He was also a man of “undeviating method, if any deduction may be drawn from the length of his sermons, which was invariably 18 minutes…” His father had hoped that at least one of his sons would follow in his footsteps and become a vicar. Cecil wrote from his home when on vacation from university – “I came home and found my younger brothers of such a size and age that they continually hammer me. There are three of them. They are all going into the army. My father was anxious that they should enter the church as a preliminary step to becoming angels. They prefer becoming angels through the Army, and I don’t blame them. I think I shall end in being Jack of all trades and master of none.” Many years later Cecil was given a colour photograph – probably touched up, as was the norm – of his father in clerical robes. Gazing with fondness on the photograph, he said, “There he is! The old vicar of Bishop’s Stortford.”

His mother, Louisa, came from Lincolnshire, England, and died on 1 November 1873.

His paternal grandfather was William Rhodes, described as a ‘cow keeper’ at Islington, who also owned property at Leyton Grange, Essex. His great grandfather, Samuel, was not only a farmer, but also a businessman, with a brick and tile works at Dalston, a business that was still owned by the trustees of the Rhodes Estate in 1926. Cecil was fond of saying to people, especially when they spoke of their ancestors, that “…my ancestor was a keeper of cows.” His London ancestry has been traced back to a William Rhodes who came to the region in 1720.

 

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

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