28 November 1885, The first train arrives in Kimberley.
28 November 1899, The second and bloodiest battle of Carter’s Ridge.
28 November 1899, The Battle of Modder River.
28 November 1904, Dedication of the Honoured Dead Memorial.
28 November 1988, Naming of the Bridget Oppenheimer Room at the Kimberley Club.
DID YOU KNOW
The imposing monument known as The Honoured Dead Memorial was erected to perpetuate the memory of the British and Imperial soldiers who gave their lives in defending Kimberley from the Boers during the siege that lasted 124 days, 14 October 1899 to 15 February 1900. The prototype was the Nereid monument that was discovered in Xanthos, Asia Minor, in 1840-1842. The Nereid monument, presumed to be a tomb, had been destroyed but had been re-constructed in model form.
The idea for the Memorial came from Cecil Rhodes after the first action of the siege on 24 October 1899 and the Kimberley design was chosen by a Kimberley-based committee which included the colossus himself. The winning design was submitted by (later Sir) Herbert Baker, a friend of Rhodes. The inscription on the western wall is by Rudyard Kipling, famous for the Jungle Book stories as well as his ballads and verse.
All the stone, according to the history books, comes from the Matopos, although there is a strong belief that it in fact came from Nyamandhlovu as the Matopos does not have sand stone of the type used in the memorial. The monument stands some 52 feet tall and weighs over 2000 tonnes. The cost came to ₤10 000.00, the majority coming from public subscription. The bronze tablets commemorating Long Cecil, George Labram, and the Honoured Dead, were designed by John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard.
Twenty-seven British soldiers lie buried within the tomb, which was situated on the (then) highest point of Kimberley. The five roads leading to the Memorial were made by the unemployed blacks during the siege to afford employment.
The Memorial was dedicated on the fifth anniversary of the second battle of Carter’s Ridge that had taken place on 28 November 1899.
28 November 1899: Henry Scott-Turner, killed in action
Henry, the son of Major Scott-Turner, formerly of the 69th Foot, was born in May 1867 and educated at Clifton College, and was killed at the second battle of Carter’s Ridge on 28 November 1899 during the siege of Kimberley.
He joined the 1st Black Watch (42nd Royal Highlanders) as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1887 when he was 20 years old, and promoted Lieutenant in May 1890. On 24 May 1898 was promoted to Captain, and the following day received his brevet-majority.
Took part in the Matabeleland Expedition in 1893, and then entered the service of the British South Africa Company in what became Rhodesia, being the Adjutant and Paymaster with the Matabeleland Relief Force in 1896.
From 1894 up until his seconding to Kimberley in June 1899 Scott-Turner was the Magistrate/Mayor of the fledgling town of Umtali in Rhodesia. In fact, Scott-Turner was the British South African Company representative in Umtali in 1897 and in April 1898 was the appointed Civil Commissioner. He had overseen the planning and sale of stands in the newly laid out town, the surveyor being Rhys Fairbridge, father of the better known Kingsley Fairbridge.
The public library in the town today (Mutare, Zimbabwe) is the Scott-Turner Memorial Library, and within its precincts are a portrait, his two swords, medals, dirks, sporrans, and several trophies. (I believe his medals have disappeared from display).
He was the son-in-law of Sir Lewis Michell, the General Manager of Standard Bank South Africa who became the Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd upon the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902. Michell was also Minister without Portfolio in the Jameson Ministry (Cape Colony), and wrote the “Life of the Right Honourable Cecil J Rhodes.”
In June 1899 Scott-Turner was appointed a Special Service Officer with the British army and was posted to Kimberley, residing at the Kimberley Club in one of the rooms in what is known as Trafalgar Square. He arrived in July 1899, the first of the special service officers to arrive, with the brief “…to keep his eyes and ears open, and obtain information of a secret character.”
A prolific note and letter writer, several are worthwhile recording.
In a letter addressed to the Town Clerk of Kimberley on 6 October 1899 when preparations were in full swing prior to the outbreak of war, he replied: “In answer to your letter O 382/99 I am requested to inform you that at present while he is unable to arm all the white men who are offering themselves for service it is not possible to consider the question of arming the coloured men. Colonel Kekewich however suggests that you take their names and if an opportunity arises he will gladly avail himself of their services and he highly appreciates the spirit of their offer. By order, Henry Scott-Turner, (illegible), Staff Officer.”
On 19 October 1899 he was appointed as Officer Commanding the Mounted Troops and was tasked with the raising of the Kimberley Light Horse.
He led the three actions against the Boers on 24 October, 25 November and 28 November 1899, and was killed in the latter. Scott-Turner had been wounded in the shoulder in the action of 25 November.
His second to last note, written hurriedly on a Kimberly Club notehead on the day he died, read: “Dear Mrs Smith, We will take care of your old man don’t be afraid. The Imperial troops will be in here at daylight tomorrow. Yours sincerely, Henry S-Turner.” Mrs Smith was the wife of the Quartermaster of the KLH, J.A. Smith. Scott-Turner, on his way to his own death, had turned back (briefly) to write the note.
His death was indeed a severe loss to the garrison, and Rhodes was deeply distressed at the time. He was buried with full military honours, his coffin being second in line behind Lt Wright, both coffins being on Diamond Fields Artillery gun carriages. Scott-Turner’s carriage was followed by his horse. The pallbearers were Colonel Robert Kekewich, Lt-Col David Harris, Lt-Col Chamier, Lt-Col Robinson, Lt-Col Finlayson and Lt-Col Peakman. Archdeacon Holbech conducted the service at Gladstone cemetery. In attendance at the graveside were Cecil Rhodes, Dr Smartt, Rochefort Maguire, Robert Henderson (the Mayor), and other important dignitaries.
“I wish to place on record the brilliant services of the late Brevet major (local Lt-Colonel) H S Turner; in him the army has lost a most valuable officer; he was a great organizer, full of energy, and possessed of real ability and courage; he was the principal organizer of the Town Guard, and acted as my staff officer, carrying out his duties with marked success under great difficulties…he commanded the mounted troops in numerous reconnaisances and sorties, and I cannot speak too highly of the manner in which he conducted them and carried loyally carried out my orders.” So wrote Colonel Robert George Kekewich.
Henry Scott-Turner is remembered in Kimberley by the cairn placed where he fell on Carter’s Ridge where his name is top of the list of those killed. Various photographic memorials are at the Moth Centre, Kimberley Club and the McGregor Museum.
The late Harry Went of Umtali, Rhodesia, had a very comprehensive collection of early Umtali papers and documents. Included among them were his grandfather’s notes on the death of Henry as written in the journal South Africa. “A true frontiersman…a friend of Rhodes…A benefactor of Umtali…Died in Harness.”
In an obituary the Diamond Fields Advertiser stated that at his death, Henry left his widow, a young child (both in Cape Town) and his elderly mother in England.
Dora Scott-Turner, widow of Henry, and eldest daughter of Sir Lewis Michell, died at her home “Rondebosch” in Eastbourne, England in August 1946.
Their son, also Henry, died on 11 March 1915 while on active service as a 2nd Lt with the Black Watch.
The photographs depict Scott-Turner, his grave in Kimberley, the original library in 1908, the original library extended (which I joined so many years ago) and the library today in Mutare. Photographs from variety of sources especially Umtali/Mutare and UGHS/UBHS groups.
Additional information added by the Webmaster
By 1869 diamonds had been discovered in Kimberley, which was geographically
right in the middle of the country, creating an urgent need for a cheaper, quicker
mode of transport for men and goods to the hinterland.
Both the Cape and Natal lines had used the standard British gauge of 1 435 mm, but
there was some debate as to its suitability for South African conditions due to the
mountainous stretches on the way to the inland central plateau. A narrower gauge
would allow a track that could more easily follow the contours of the land. In 1873 a
committee of the Cape parliament eventually decided on a gauge of 1 065 mm (three
feet six inches), known as Cape gauge, which was to become standard for railway
development in South Africa.
The following year saw the Colony take over the private lines around Cape Town
and so was born the Cape Government Railways (CGR).
By 1885 Kimberley was successfully linked to Cape Town. Other lines drove forward
from Port Elizabeth and East London to the interior.