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James Alexander Webster Prentice

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 28 JULY

UPDATED: 28 July 2017

Nothing yet found on this day in Kimberley’s history. The research is ongoing.

DID YOU KNOW

Jimmy Prentice was the first amateur golfer to win both the SA Amateur and the SA Open in the same year – 1913. This was on the Kimberley golf course where the Moth Centre, Kimberley Junior School and Monument Heights now stand, the Moth Centre being the 1901 golf club house.

James Alexander Webster Prentice

Lance Corporal James Alexander Webster Prentice (10367) of B Squadron the 3rd Prince of Wales Own Dragoon Guards was wounded in action at Hooge, Ypres on 5 June 1915, and died of his wounds the following day, 6 June. He was buried at Boulogne Military Cemetery.

Jimmy Prentice was born in Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland in 1875 to the Reverend Archibald and Jane Prentice of Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh, and was educated at George Watson’s School in Edinburgh. Prentice arrived in South Africa in 1905, working first at Port Elizabeth, and then in Johannesburg as the secretary of the Johannesburg Golf Club.

He played a good game of rugby as a fullback, but like many young men from Scotland, excelled at golf, especially in South Africa.

In 1907 he was the runner up in the SA Amateur Championship, and the following year, 1908, won the first of his four SA Amateur Championships. The last of the four was in 1913 at the Kimberley Golf Club when he became the first amateur to win both the SA Open and the SA Amateur.

He had come second in the SA Open in 1910, and second in the SA Amateur in 1907 and 1910, his victories in the latter being in 1908, 1909, 1911 and 1913. Other titles won included winning the Inter Centre Trophy with Port Elizabeth in 1906, 1907, 1908, 1911, and 1913; as well as the Inter Club Foursomes title on no less than nine occasions.

In Great Britain he competed in the 1913 British Amateur as well as in the Open, but without success.

Prentice’s third round of 71 in his Open championship win at Kimberley was a course record, a record that lasted until 1924. His total for the four rounds was 304.

The Diamond Fields Advertiser, after the tourney, wrote:

“Prentice is built on very powerful lines, and his long driving was a feature of the tournament. When in difficulties he was calm and collected, and his recovery from bad positions exemplified more than anything else his resource. George Fotheringham considers him at present to be one of the eading British amateurs, and paid a high tribute to his play.”

In his will dated 25 November 1914 he left a certain amount of money to various South African golf clubs including a sum to the Kimberley Golf Club who purchased the Prentice Memorial Trophy. Five centres received money from Prentice in order to arrange a competition for the youth (of under 20 years).

The reasons for this are twofold:

“On account of the many kindnesses shown me as a youth whilst amongst them either as a player at the annual South African tournaments, or whilst resident; and in order that an incentive be granted to the younger players who perhaps have had little encouragement in the past.”

This trophy was first played in 1922.

The American Golfer, in July 1915, wrote thus:

Corporal Prentice makes a fine example of the quality of the Britisher, the fond attachment of the colonist to the motherland, the quick leap to her side when she cried aloud that there was danger, and the steely nerve and uttermost determination which are bred in a man and must be bred in him and cultivated to the best if he is ever to gain the highest honours in golf as this fine fellow did.

He is the first champion to fall in this war, the first to give his life in battle since Freddy Tait fell in South Africa—a strange coincidence here—and these two are all who have ever thus fought and died. Young Prentice, you see, is in the best company, the very best, and he is worth it, worth that place in fame that he has won for himself. He was Scottish born and educated. It is thirty years since he first saw the northern light in the vicinity of Edinburgh, and he had his schooling at the excellent institution which is known as George Watson’s School, in Edinburgh. And then in due course of time he went away from the homeland and began the life of the colonist at the cape, settling at Johannesburg.

He belonged to the Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth Golf Clubs, being plus 4 at the former, and he was so keen at the game and did so well at it that he won the South African Amateur Championship in 1908, after having been the runner up the year before. He won it again in the following year and in 1911 and 1913, and was runner-up in 1910, so that for five years in succession he was in the final. There are some good players at the Cape, and this makes a very wonderful record. As I have said, he won the South African Open Championship in 1913, and in that same year he captured the Transvaal Open Championship, which hehad gained two years previously.

What a fine record of success at golf was this. Two years ago when he was at the height of his fame he came back to his native land, played in our championships and took part in some of the chief amateur tournaments of the season, winning those at Cruden Bay and Peterhead. To these achievements it may be added that he held the record for the Durban and Kimberley courses in South Africa.

That tells of one side of his happy life; now for the other.

Hardly was the call made among the sons of the nation, wherever they might be, than young Prentice, hearing it, gave a speedy answer. No long period elapsed before he was with the fighting forces in Belgium, attached to the 3rd Dragoon Guards. Early in June this regiment was in some terribly severe fighting at Ypres, particularly at the chateau of Hooge, a few miles distant from the famous old Flemish town.

The 3rd Dragoon Guards covered themselves with imperishable glory at Hooge, from which the Germans were driven by our troops, and it is now only a pile of ruins. When the Guards took over the portion of the British line assigned to them on the night of the last Saturday in May it is said that they knew what to expect. They arrived at their position after a long march, but without delay began strengthening their trenches. The German artillery did not disappoint them; at two o’clock the next afternoon five batteries opened fire on them with high explosive shells after preliminary bombardment, and ammunition was wasted by the German gunners in the usual reckless manner.

At three o’clock the next morning a party of the Dragoons went across the riddled park of Hooge towards the chateau, crawling cautiously among shells, craters, trees and all manner of obstacles, moving and stationary. They reached the broken front wall of the main building, and then the Germans in occupation bolted, making for the communication trench which led to their main position. A few were shot. At seven in the morning the Germans opened fire on the chateau, and thereafter, with many vicissitudes and fluctuations of fortune, there was a tremendous fight for this notable point of vantage, the Germans with their high explosive shells pouring hell into the British trenches. But the British won through, and when the Dragoons were relieved from the trenches the Brigadier addressed them thus:

“The 3rd Dragoon Guards in particular are to be congratulated on the magnificent courage and determination which they displayed in the defence of Hooge on June 3. On that day the regiment added another splendid record to the long list already standing to the name of the regiment, and of which every past and present 3rd Dragoon Guard may well be proud.”

Prentice, our South African golf champion, came by his death in this way.

The ruined houses of Hooge village had been held by our troops, and when the bombardment suddenly became heavy, the men were sent into dugouts, leaving a post of three behind cover to keep watch. The first post was soon blown out and all the men killed. A second post was sent up, and a shell exploded near by, killing one man and burying another nearly to his shoulders in debris. Corporal Prentice was on another post. When the shelling became severe his sergeant said he could retire, but Prentice refused, remarking “Oh, I can still see all right!” A shell landed in the ruins among which he lay, and the bricks and mortar came tumbling about him. He shifted his position to a wall that was still standing, and there he remained all day, sending back messages at intervals to say that he was “O. K.” He was wounded in the evening. It appeared at first that his wounds were not very serious, and it was hoped he would recover.

News about him was sent to Johannesburg, and back from the Cape came a cable of warm congratulation from the golfers there, showing the appreciation of the Rand for the heroism of their young comrade. But he did not get well. The wounds were very bad, and a few days later he died. Glory for Prentice! I have written quite a long story about this bravery in Flanders, which has nothing to do with golf except that it was done by a golfer. Is it too long a story? The account of a championship might have been given in so much space. But American golfers will sympathise with their friends across the water in the pride they sustain amid their many sorrows. Golf championships, many of them, are won every year, but how often have the great golfers the privilege of proving to the world the truth of the Latin motto that it is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country. When this happens the British writer cannot pass it by with just a word or two; and no American editor would ask him to do so.

From: The American Golfer 6 July 1915

Assuredly something did happen today in Kimberley’s history but it has not yet been found. Research continues…..

DID YOU KNOW

Three of the businesses that have been re-created in the Kimberley Mine Museum (pictured).

Hazell, Ballan and Company

Established in early 1878 in Main Street by Arthur Thomas Hazell and Thomas John Ballan, this Gent’s Outfitters took pride in supplying fine clothing to the gentlemen of Kimberley. In 1896 they were described as Draper’s and Outfitters, but they also did dressmaking, millinery and sold fashionable goods. They also sold Ladies and Children clothes and were drapers and hatters. They were noted for their well-selected stock of fashionable goods. They were ladies dressmakers.

Leo Simmons

Established in 1888 at Broadwood House, 3-5 Dutoitspan Road, sold many and varied articles, but primarily musical instruments. Twenty-five years in Kimberley, Simmons was a pioneer of the musical industry in the town as were the Viennese Band who stayed after the 1892 Exhibition. He was the sole agent for the Theatre Company and had the box office for opera and concert performances. Musical instruments of all kinds can be seen within, including gramophones, violins, wind instruments, a unique pedal organ as well as the piano donated by Cecil Rhodes to the Kenilworth Preparatory School in Kimberley. The Kenilworth school was a replica of Rhodes’ school in Bishop’s Stortford, England.

J Perilly Tobacconist

John (Jack) Perilly started his business in 1898 at 14 Stockdale Street, Kimberley. Famous for Perilly’s as well as Royal and Crown cigarettes, they also stocked a fine choice of pipe tobacco, pipes, cigarette paper and tobacco for making your own cigarettes. The Head Office was in Glasgow, Scotland. The firm had relocated to Johannesburg by the early 1900s. One of his daughters, who lived in Johannesburg in the 1960s, donated several of the exhibits within the shop to the museum for display.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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