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TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 22 MAY

UPDATED:  22/05/2019

22 May 1878, Some 100 Griqua casualties in the battle of Driefontein at Griquatown.
22 May 1880, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of Anglo American Corporation, is born in Germany.
22 May 1937, Marjorie Timlin, wife of William, killed in a car accident.

22 May 2015, Kimberley Skate Park wins International Skate Park of the Year.

DID YOU KNOW

The Griquatown relieving force was organised into three troops of approximately 35 men in each, which were mounted, drilled, and equipped within 48 hours. They left Kimberley for Griquatown at about 4.30pm on Saturday 18 May 1878. There were two separate units, the Dutoitspan Hussars and the Kimberley Light Horse, which amalgamated on 18 May to form the irregular Diamond Fields Horse under command of Captain Alexander with Lieutenant E. Doveton his Adjutant. With the column were mule wagons carrying supplies and ammunition. A smaller group of 17 armed men, known as the One Star Contingent, ostensibly raised for Lanyon’s force at Koegas and under Lieutenant Charles Doveton’s command, had already left for Griquatown on Friday 17 May, and this group was followed by an officer, Lieutenant (Acting Captain) M. Runchman, with 30 Artillery recruits in the early hours of next morning.

Alexander Cumming Bailie, a Government Land Surveyor (with the rank of Captain ) and most knowledgeable about the region, had also raised a relief force consisting of 50 Zulus – some accounts state Mfengus, although it is confirmed that they were the Zulu police brought to Kimberley from Zululand by Thomas Maxwell in June 1876 to patrol the African quarters – and they too, had left on foot for Griquatown on Friday 17 May. Dubbed “The Zulu Convict Guard” it was believed they would be invaluable in cattle capture. This Zulu force, having travelled the 110 miles from Kimberley to Griquatown in four days, would be passed by the main Kimberley relief force at 2am on Monday 20 May and miss out on the lifting of the siege.

The column reached Schmidtsdrift early on Sunday 19 May in rainy conditions and struggled to cross the Vaal River. On Monday 20 May the relief column bivouacked 35 miles from Griquatown, having travelled 75 miles in three days. At midnight that evening a young coloured man rode bareback into the column’s camp from besieged Griquatown, his saddled horse having been shot by the Griquas on the way. He had a further message from the besieged.

“To any officer commanding a relief force. Situation perilous. Lose no time,” read the note signed by H.B. Roper. Reveille was sounded virtually immediately and the force mounted up and rode out for Griquatown at 2.30am. The trip took nearly 16 hours to complete and the relief column rode into Griquatown at sunset on Tuesday 21 May.

The officers of the column made a hurried defensive plan for the entire town, posted pickets and sentries, and the rest of the men were allowed to take a break.

Later that evening Dr Otto amputated the badly mangled arm – some accounts state his leg – of Mr van Druten in the temporary hospital set up at the church in Griquatown, now the Mary Moffat Museum.

At 3am on Wednesday 22 May Colonel Lanyon rode into the besieged camp with 34 of the Frontier Armed Mounted Police (FAMP) from Koegas, not realising that the column from Kimberley had already arrived. He then took over command of the entire defensive force, making David Harris his Staff officer. His arrival increased the garrison to 188 armed men, including the 40 FAMP and 120 volunteers from Kimberley.

Later that morning the Griqua besiegers advanced upon the laager, unaware that reinforcement for the relief of the town had arrived. A small patrol of the relief column – some 15 men – had gone out earlier to patrol the neighbouring hills, come under fire from the Griqua, and had returned to the camp. The defenders waited until the Griquas attacking the town were “a few hundred yards away” and opened fire. The attack wavered and broke despite the Griqua leaders attempts to rally their men, most of whom retreated through a ravine in the direction of Witwater.

Colonel Lanyon attempted to cut off the retreating Griqua sending a party in pursuit led by Mr Orpen, together with Lt E. Doveton, then in charge of the “Horse”, with Lieutenant C. Doveton leading the Rangers, the scouts for the main body although still part of the main body of the Diamond Fields Horse.

After a brief skirmish where it appeared the Doveton party was surrounded, the Griqua leaders decided to make a stand at Driefontein, a farmhouse three miles from Griquatown According to Harris the Griqua made four sheep kraals below the farmhouse their defensive position – although field research reveals only two such kraals – and made loopholes for their firearms, although this too is disputed by some witnesses who stated that the Griqua merely used the wall as cover. E. Arthur Master, a Sergeant in the Diamond Fields Horse, relates that the Griqua were not only in the kraal, but also on the surrounding kopjes (small hills) on the right flank and in the veld on the left flank. The main body of Griqua was, however, in the kraal. Doveton’s attacking force was reinforced by the arrival of Lanyon’s men who then surrounded the kraals and made small schanzes (sangars) for their protection. The Griqua were pinned down in the kraal from 9 that morning, while the action was only conceded after 6pm – nine hours of continual firing from both sides.

At 3pm Lanyon considered charging the kraals but was held back as the men were mostly volunteers with families and he was loath to incur casualties. He decided to charge at sunset. The Zulu contingent arrived shortly before the rush on the kraals. At the given time, Bugler Hill of the FAMP sounded the three “G”s, the men charging on the second, Hill being wounded in the abdomen. It was the Zulu contingent who led the charge on the kraal “…and the manner in which they charged the garden and kraals drew the admiration of all…Perfectly reckless of the bullets flying around they went for the rebels and shot them down.” Another witness recorded that the Zulus “…put the finishing touch…”

The volunteers were under heavy fire from the Griqua during their rush on the positions, but reached the kraals in less than a minute and a few minutes later the fight was over.

48 Griqua lay dead, with about another 52 wounded, while the casualties suffered by the men from Kimberley amounted to nine wounded, including Le Sueur (FAMP), Shepperd, and Hall (Artillery). An official Government communication stated that 44 were killed in the action. Among the Griqua dead was Pete Jonas, considered a great leader, as well as Moses Moos with Moos’ son dying later after his arm had been amputated. The Zulus also chased up the fleeing Griquas and killed many away from the battlefield, so indeed the casualties may have been higher than is recorded.

R. Arthur Master concluded his letter with the comment that “No special credit is due to any corps except the natives [Zulus].”

UPDATED:  22/05/2018

22 May 1878, Some 100 Griqua casualties in the battle of Driefontein at Griquatown.
22 May 1880, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of Anglo American Corporation, is born in Germany.

22 May 1937, Marjorie Timlin, wife of William, killed in a car accident.
22 May 2015, Kimberley Skate Park wins International Skate Park of the Year.

DID YOU KNOW

Kimberley born and bred Brian Melvin Marajh (pictured) is the eighth and current Anglican Bishop of George.

Brian Melvin Marajh

He was born in Kimberley on 2 April 1960 and educated at Homevale Secondary School where he matriculated in 1980.

Initial university studies were at the University of the Western Cape where Marajh graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

He was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in December 1986, and priest in December the following year. Brian then pursued post-graduate studies at Glasgow in Scotland (Master of Theology) and at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (PhD), and also holds a Certificate in Family and Marriage Counseling from UNISA.

He was appointed Canon Theologian in the Anglican Diocese of Mauritius in 2004, serving as the Rector of Curepipe, Mauritius 2005-6, and was the Director of the Diocesan Training Centre for Ministries.

He returned to the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, to the Diocese of George, in 2008, serving as the Rector of All Saints Church in Mossel Bay.

In August 2010 Brian was appointed as Vicar General following the resignation of Donald Harker, being elected as Harker’s successor at the elective assembly in George on 20 January 2011.

He was consecrated as bishop at St Mark’s Cathedral, George, on 7 May 2011.

Brian is a devoted family man who has been supported by his wife, Lynn, throughout his many years of appointments, further studies and travels. The couple have two children, Melony and Craig.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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