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Today in Kimberley's History

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 06 MARCH

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UPDATED: 06/03/2018

6 March 1958, An UFO, or meteorite, flashes across Kimberley before exploding into six pieces.

DID YOU KNOW

The Kimberley Regiment’s origins lie in the early diamond rush days in Kimberley in the 1870s. To bring law and order to the region, which was then known as Griqualand West, the government encouraged the formation of part-time volunteer forces. Among them were the Kimberley Light Horse and the Du Toitspan Hussars, both formed in 1876, which amalgamated in 1877 to form the Diamond Fields Horse. Volunteers from the DFH served in the 9th Frontier War in 1877, in operations in Griqualand West in 1878, and in the Basutoland Gun War in 1880 and 1881.

PT-Kimberley_Regiment_Cap_Badge-1899

Kimberley Regiment Cap Badge

Kimberley later raised two more units, the Victoria Rifles of Kimberley in 1887, and the Kimberley Scots in 1890. They, along with the Diamond Fields Artillery, amalgamated in 1890 to form the Kimberley Rifles. Both the DFH and the Kimberley Rifles served in the 1896-1897 Bechuanaland campaign. In 1899, the two units amalgamated to form the Kimberley Regiment.

Regimental traditions have survived from each of the constituent cavalry, artillery and rifle units, with a distinctly Scottish element very much in evidence in the uniforms, pipe band and regimental culture to this day.

During the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902, the Regiment helped to defend the city during the four-month-long Siege of Kimberley. It is one of only two regiments of the British Empire holding as a Battle Honour the defence of its own city – in this instance Defence of Kimberley.

On 1 July 1913 the Regiment was embodied in the Citizen Force of the Union Defence Forces, as the 7th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment).

During World War I, it fought in the German South West Africa campaign in 1915, providing two battalions.

The title of the Regiment reverted to the Kimberley Regiment in 1932.

PT-Kimberley_Regiment_Shoulder_Title-1899

Kimberley Regiment Shoulder Title

During World War II, the Kimberley Regiment fought in Italy in 1944 and 1945, forming the Motor Battalion together with the Imperial Light Horse in the Armoured Brigade of the 6th South African Armoured Division throughout the Italian Campaign.

The Kimberley Regiment was the first to become officially bilingual (English and Afrikaans) in South Africa, in 1963. It was later, in 1977, the first South African Regiment to apply to become multiracial, although the request was not approved at the time.

The regiment served in the South African Border War in the 1970s and 1980s. Since 1994 it has been deployed in peace-keeping roles in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

6 March 1958, An UFO, or meteorite, flashes across Kimberley before exploding into six pieces.

DID YOU KNOW

The official opening of the Rooipoort Shooting Box (pictured) was on Thursday 10 August 1899 when a group of De Beers Directors and their party left Kimberley for the farm. All was finally ready and it had been furnished. The access road too, had been repaired.

Cecil Rhodes had been invited to this grand opening shoot, but did not attend due to Parliamentary matters directly concerning De Beers such as taxation and revenue, and it is highly unlikely that Rhodes ever stayed at the Shooting Box. Parliament was in session virtually right through September and Rhodes only came to Kimberley when the Anglo-Boer War started in October 1899.

Rhodes, ostensibly on his way to Rhodesia with Dr Thomas Smartt, arrived in Kimberley by train on the evening of 11 October 1899, a mere few hours after the war began. W.D. Fynn, in his memoirs, states that Rhodes planned to leave Kimberley for Bulawayo on Sunday morning, 15 October, but after discussing the situation with Fynn from 2.30 am until 5 am, when Tony de la Cruz brought them coffee on the balcony of the Sanatorium, he changed his mind and decided to remain. At the first postponed annual general meeting of De Beers, he was distressed that he was still in Kimberley.

“…I have been prevented from going to Mashonaland and Matabeleland, for 6 weeks. I want to get away as soon as possible…”

Those who did attend the week-long shoot beginning that Thursday were Gardner Williams, GW Compton, William Pickering, D MacGill, and Tim Tyson. Dr Leander Starr Jameson and Lady Sarah Wilson were expected to join the party on the following day, Friday 11 August.

The Diamond Fields Advertiser recorded it as such:

The new Shooting Box near Klipfontein is replete with everything leading to comfort and a quiet rest after a hard day’s shooting.

The site for the Shooting Box, close to a spring, was chosen by William Pickering, Secretary of De Beers Consolidated Mines. Tenders for the building of the Shooting Box were advertised in either late 1898 or early 1899, and General Manager Gardner Williams accepted the tender of Messrs John Dickson and John A Mackenzie. The entire Shooting Box had been imported by ship from England in kit form and transported to the farm by ox wagon.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

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