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Manie Maritz

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 24 JANUARY

UPDATED: 24/01/2019

24 January 1900, Biggest bombardment of Kimberley by the Boers during the siege, Maggie Maddocks killed.
24 January 1915, The battle of Upington.

DID YOU KNOW

In January 1915 Rebel Generals Manie Maritz and Jan Kemp (both pictured) were still extremely active in the Northern Cape.

Maritz and his men, including German soldiers, had attacked and defeated a Government garrison at Lutzputz on 18 January 1915. He was on his way to attack Upington (on the orders of the Germans) and could not resist the temptation of Lutzputz. What this action at Lutzputz had done was a morale breaker for the rebels in that they learnt from newspapers in the camp that Beyers was dead, de Wet captured, and the rebellion all but over. In fact, Maritz had sent a message to Pretoria from Lutzputz asking for terms of surrender, but had still decided to attack Upington.

At Lutzputz, Trooper BH Mulder of the 8th Mounted Rifles was killed, while Captain DMO Bowker of the same unit was wounded. There were other casualties and prisoners but at this stage unknown. In his book, Gerald L’Ange states there were at least 14 wounded Union troops.

The German Officer Commanding SWA, von Heydebreck, originally wanted a combined German/Rebel force to attack Upington from opposite sides of the town, and thus take some pressure off from the Union force advancing inland in SWA along the railway line from Luderitzbuch (now Luderitz). Maritz, always keen for action, was not keen on the Germans accompanying his force, telling von Heydebreck that if Germans were involved the rebels might not get any support from sympathisers in South Africa – especially if the Germans were seen attacking a South African town. By the time this delayed battle for Upington eventually took place, von Heydebreck was dead, and Colonel Francke was in charge of the SWA German force.

In the end Maritz compromised – as he had to because he needed artillery – and accepted a battery of German guns (four Krupp 18 pounders), two Pom-Poms, and two machine guns to assist him, while at the same time as his planned attack on Upington would go in, a German force led by Major Ritter would attack Raman’s Drift and Steinkopf.

The Rebels were led by Manie Maritz and Jan Kemp, the latter having his force replenished by the Germans with both food and equipment. By 23 January 1915 the rebels were encamped at Christiana, some 12 kilometres away to the east, preparing for the attack on Upington.

A Union scout had been captured (and wounded) by the rebels and Captain Burton, a medical doctor who had just returned to Upington with the Lutzputz wounded, went out to attend to the scout. It was he who, while returning to Upington with the ambulance wagon, spotted a large column of rebels heading in the direction of Upington but along a different route. Despite whipping up the mules to get them moving faster in an effort to warn Upington, by the time he returned the Union troops were already aware of the impending attack. Their reconnaissance was exceptional, and can be credited to one man – the infamous Scotty Smith. He had been watching the rebels the entire time and when they started to move, Smith, employed by the Union Defence Force as a scout, had hurriedly returned to Upington thus giving the defence ample time to prepare for what was coming.

A few words on the legendary Scotty Smith. It is generally believed that because of some scandalous happenings at home, Scotty Smith was sent out to Africa by his family, like so many young men were in those days. His real name was George St Leger Gordon Lennox and he is a legend in the Northern Cape and what is now the North-West province. He was on the diamond fields and heavily involved in IDB (Illegal Diamond Buying) before resorting to rustling and horse thievery. There are many stories emanating from the Anglo-Boer War where Smith would steal horses from one British camp and sell them to another several hundred miles away, steal other horses from that camp and trek back to the original camp where he would then sell those horses. He did the same to the Germans in SWA. At one stage his base was around Taung.

He had been jailed on occasion so knew what was waiting for him should he be caught.

Why he moved to Upington no-one knows but it may be because he loved the wide open spaces – and was far away from the area in which he was renowned. Whatever the truth, Scotty Smith could survive off the veld with no problem, was brilliant with horses, was an expert tracker, and an exceptional scout. Given that in 1915 he was in his 50s he rates alongside FC Selous as a true man of the veld.

It is possible that Maritz had sent a message to Colonel van Deventer in Upington on 23 January demanding the town surrender, which naturally, the latter refused to do. Maritz is then believed to have then sent another message telling van Deventer that it does not matter as he would have breakfast in Upington the next day anyway! So between Smith and the possible messages from Maritz the defenders of Upington were warned of the impending action and were prepared.

The residents of Upington were sheltered in the church and the two hospitals when the battle began at sunrise – 05h25 – on 24 January.

Van Deventer had dug trenches facing the east just outside the then perimeter of Upington, the Cape Field Artillery being positioned by the two kopjes closest to Upington just to the north of the church. In the trenches were the 18th SA Mounted Rifles, and Commandoes from Cradock, Hanover, Kimberley, Colesberg. Philipstown and Graaff-Reinett. There may have been other Commandoes present.

The rebels had about 1000 men, four Krupp 18 pounders manned by Germans, two Pom-Poms and two machine guns.

The rebels, the majority of whom were in German uniforms, attacked from two points, both from the east with the road to Christiana splitting them. Maritz and Kemp led the attack from the north of the road, while Kommandant Albert Stadler led from the south. The German artillery was with Stadler. Some accounts state that the attack led by Maritz and Kemp came more from the north but the map belies this.

The CFA left section moved to the kopjes three miles out, the right section more to their north. Ahead of them the Mounted Infantry were active in containing the rebels who advanced steadily. The Cradock Commando was in a supportive or defending role with the guns.

C Squadron 20th Mounted Rifles plus the 18th MR, Graaff-Reinet, Hanover and Colesberg Commandoes fought off Maritz and Kemp from entrenched positions, while the guns basically fired over open sights at the rebels from 1000 yards. The rebel Pom-pom only “coughed” three times before a well-aimed shell silenced it, but nevertheless, a 15-pounder was still hit. Maritz at one stage charged the trenches with his mounted men but were driven off. All the while the artillery of both sides pounded away at each other.

The Rebels led by Stadler attacked from the east along a dry river bed, in an action that was lot more heated than that of Maritz and Kemp. Albert Stadler, who was a Kakamas Labour Colony settler, was a born leader but this time he was against fellow Boers, not “Khakis” from the previous war and they could shoot just as accurately as his own men.

Despite having assistance from the Pom-poms that gave them covering fire Stadler’s rebels could get no closer than a kraal adjacent to a house on the outskirts of town due to the heavy fire coming from the defenders. The house belonged to a man named Pearson who had disobeyed Stadler’s orders to leave the house because his wife was ill, and his house became the centre of the ensuing battle. His house was riddled with bullets from both sides. Two rebels were killed at the kraal, one who had just climbed over the stone walls, and another right next to the house.

Pearson called out for Stadler to surrender, which he did not, and after about an hour of fairly intense firing, the rebels withdrew under fire and were chased out of town along the riverbed in the direction of Christiana.

This withdrawal was in the early afternoon, and ‘A’ Gun CFA chased the rebels for some ten miles, and where they were extremely lucky to not be captured in an ambush. The German guns however kept the major portion of the Union forces at a distance, the 18 pounder guns having a longer range than the CFA who could not reply as their shells would fall short.

Maritz’ attempt at capturing a large South African town had failed, and the rebel’s time for glory was all but gone.

During the battle the Cape Field Artillery had fired 243 shells while the Rebels fired about 150, many of which fell in the residential area of Upington, although the majority were aimed at the Union positions in the hills. Shortly after the Rebel withdrawal the hills were swarming with souvenir hunters collecting shells, shrapnel and cartridge cases.

There were seven Union men killed at this battle:

Lt GJ du Preez, 
Sergeant P Bulakoff
Trooper SP Oldewage, all of the 18th Mounted Rifles

Sgt JA Vosloo
Trooper J Erasmus, both of the Cradock Commando

Trooper JH Potgieter Hanover Commando

Trooper DJ Mitchell Kimberley Central Commando

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DJ Mitchell Tombstone

George Glover, owner of the Crown and Royal Hotel at Modder River, and a good friend of Bulakoff, received a letter from General Smuts concerning the Russian national Bulakoff, which he asked be forwarded to Bulakoff’s family in Russia. Dated 8 February 1915, it read: “The King commands me to assure you of the sympathy of His Majesty and the Queen in your sorrow caused by the death of Sgt P Bulakoff of the 18th Mounted Rifles killed in action near Upington on 24 January 1915.”

There were 23 officers and men wounded. (Full list in DFA)

Gerald L’Ange states that 12 Rebels were killed – DFA communiqué states 9 killed and Jaap van Deventer reported 18 killed – while 97 were captured and 23 wounded, one of whom, the gallant Commandant Albert Stadler of Kakamas, died from his wounds received. Stadler, about 30 years of age, was a veteran of the Anglo-Boer War and was considered by many to be a better soldier than Manie Maritz. During the Anglo-Boer War Stadler had been appointed by Maritz a Veldkornet with the Cape rebels and operated mostly in the Kenhardt and Upington region. He was a hard-working, prosperous man who had great influence in the Kakamas region, and had a hardy, tireless physique. Courage and bravery he certainly had, but it appears he was a little too reckless.

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P Bullakoff Tombstone

Also killed on the rebel side were Kommandant van Wyk and Captain Pearson.

On 2 February, Rebel General Jan Kemp and Kommandant Bezuidenhout surrendered his force to Colonel Japie van Deventer at Upington – some 40 officers and 486 men. Another four officers and 100 men surrendered at Kakamas on 3 February, while Lt Lubbe and 49 former soldiers of the UDF surrendered on 5 February.

The Rebel dead were buried in shallow graves in the dry riverbed before they withdrew, and were reburied later by the defenders in much deeper graves, but still in the riverbed. Many years later General Jan Kemp, then a MP in the Government, obtained permission to exhume the rebels and re-inter them in his Wolmaranstad constituency.

24 January 1900, Biggest bombardment of Kimberley by the Boers during the siege, Maggie Maddocks killed.
24 January 1915, The battle of Upington.

DID YOU KNOW

The Boer reply to the British 28.1 pounder Long Cecil gun took a few days to get going, but on 24 February 1900 all nine Boer guns retaliated, more than 500 shells landing in the town. It was the heaviest shelling of the siege. Naturally enough this terrified the population besieged within the town, the noise made even worse with the defenders replying with all their guns including the Long Cecil. The Long Cecil would fire 60 shells this day. There were a few buildings damaged by the Boer shelling, one exploding at the back entrance to the Kimberley Club while the members were having their supper, and several shells fell around Nazareth House. One citizen was wounded, and another, a young 16 year old girl, Maggie Maddocks, was killed.

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Maggie Maddocks Gravestone

Maggie had been staying at 16 Scholtz Street, the residence of a Mr George Palmer, when the Krupp shell struck the house shortly before 07h00 that day, exploding in her bedroom while she was dressing. Maggie was killed instantly, her spine being broken. She had been a patient of Dr Jack Heberden when the Maddocks family lived in Barkly West.

Maggie was the daughter of the late Thomas “Yankee” Maddocks, (aged 53 years and six months), an American citizen who was one of the first settlers killed in the Matabele Uprising on 24 March 1896. At the time he was the mine manager of the Nellie Reef Mine at Insiza in the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Before Thomas Maddocks had gone north he had been a digger/prospector in the Barkly West region.

Left to mourn her sudden and tragic death were her mother Johanna, and siblings William Maddocks, Mary Johanna Maddocks, John Crawley Maddocks, Thomas Boyle Maddocks, Joseph George Maddocks, and Lewis Hughes Maddocks. Christened Magdalena Margaret Georgina, she was the third eldest and was known to all and sundry as Maggie.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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