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Location: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Battlefields » Anglo Zulu Wars » Dundee

Dundee is central to the battlefields of Rorkes Drift, Isand

Dundee is one of the centres of northern KwaZulu-Natal and started life as a private farm on which British soldiers fighting the Zulu War of 1879 camped. After the soldiers left, the owner of the farm recognized its location and planned a town.

Dundee was named after a town back in his home country by a Scottish coal miner called Peter Smith. Dundee was proclaimed by Smith and several others, including his son-in law who was reputed to be one of the last men to escape from Isandlwana alive.

Dundee is surrounded by coal mines earning it the title of Coalopolis. Much of the farming activity is centred around dairy farming.

Local farmers have combined to encourage wildlife to return to their farms and to promote tourism in the area by providing hiking trails, accommodation and working farm holidays. The town has a population of some 30,000 and a mild climate with bracing winters and warm summers.

Dundee is central to the battlefields of Rorkes Drift, Isandlwana, Blood River, the Prince Imperial, Fugitives Drift and Elandslaagte.

Dundee Publicity Association, P/Bag X2024, Dundee Contact 034 212121 2182837 fx

 

A quiet town nestling in the foothills of the Biggarsberg, Dundee was named by Peter Smith, the man who first mined coal in the area, after his home town in Scotland. It was here, at the Battle of Talana on 20 October 1899, that the first shots of the Anglo Boer War were fired. Dundee is central to many of the major battlefields in the region, including Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, and boasts numerous historical buildings. Most of the churches in the town date from the turn of the century, and contain commemorative plaques from battles fought in the area. The most outstanding attraction is the Talana Museum which lies 1,5 km outside the town on the Vryheid road.

GENERAL INFORMATION

How to get there - Newcastle 68 km, Ladysmith 70 km

Dams – Hattingspruit

HISTORICAL VIEW

Named after his home town in Scotland by Peter Smith, who first mined coal at Talana. Coal mining begin in this area in the early 1860’s. Peter Smith had found coal on his farm Dundee in 1864 and his neighbour, E Howe Pascoe, had also begun mining operations on Coalfields. Many people were attracted to the mines and the need for a town was soon being discussed. E Howe Pascoe died in 1875 and his widow remarried. Her second husband, George Sutton, had a township surveyed and planned on the farm Coalfields in 1882. This he called ‘ Dundee’. He sold his interest to Frederick Still, who developed the township. Peter Smith was persuaded by his son, William Craighead Smith and by Dugald Macphail and Charles Willson, to establish a town as well. One thousand acres of Dundee farm was used for this purpose, with additional donations of land from William Craighead Smith, Dungald MacPhail and Charles Willson. This township was called Dundee Proper. Both townships were proclaimed in 1882. Two years later, the Government decided to have a finger in the pie and established Dundee Extension. Thus, until 1896, when the joint townships achieved Borough status, Dundee was divided into three parts: Dundee, Dundee Proper and Dundee Extension. Powerful business associates brought capital into the small mining town, which developed so rapidly and in such style that it became known as ‘Caolpolis’ and the ‘Capital’ of Northern Natal. It boasted fine public buildings, splendid churches and – thanks to it’s mining magnates – electricity. Before the Anglo Boer War, Dundee town grew at a phenomenal rate. Shortly after moving on to Dundee in 1864, Peter Smith discovered a coal outcrop about 500 m from the homestead on Talana hillside. He began mining and by 1878 was employing Cornish miners. His wagons plied regularly between ‘Dundee’ and the market square in Pietermaritzburg, where his coal sold readily. An advertisement in the ‘Natal Advertiser’ of the day apologized to Peter’s ‘esteemed customers’ for a high proportion of shale in some deliveries. The coal was in fact of a high quality and was to bring the Smith Family a fortune. Gradually the expansion of operations brought a small community together in the Steenkoolstroom valley. A tiny hamlet of wattle and daub thatched cottages or wood and iron prefabs, scattered near the stream, was the beginning of the modern town. At a point where seven dusty tracks met in the veld, Thos. Muirhead & Co. had established a wood and iron store under the management of an energetic young Londoner, Charles Willson. The mine and the store enjoyed a boom when, from March to June 1879, the British Army made the valley their headquarters for the second invasion of Zululand. This encouraged Peter Smith to enlarge his interests. In 1882 he brought out from Scotland a fellow Dundodian. McConnachie, to develop further coal deposits. This mining engineer was to transform the industry. The first shaft was sunk near the river at the bottom of present day Ann Street. The coal was brought to the surface by means of buckets, attached by rope to a pulley, which was operated by a pair of oxen. This mine, under the name of Doone Colliery, continues to produce coal until 1935. the ‘Dundee Coal Co’, was in existence prior to 1886, at which time the Company was negotiating with the Natal Government Railways for a reduction in rates between Ladysmith (where the line ended) and Durban. It already had a railways contract and was negotiating other contracts with steamship companies. By 1889 at the outbreak of war it was operating thirteen shafts on it’s property in the valley. Dundee Borough was dominated by the colliery buildings between Ann and Browning Street. After the Peace of Vereeniging in 1902, the expanding interests of the Dundee Coal Company, under it’s first Chairmen, Sir Benjamin Greenacre, and Otto Siedle, brought great wealth to the community and the town could boast most modern amenities. Despite the affluence of the town and of the company he had created, Peter Smith remained essentially a genuine and forthright man. Well loved, with many staunch friends, he was always hospitable and kindly. Peter, with his devoted Ann, continued to live in the same unpretentious home with which they had begun. Peter and Ann are buried in the family cemetery on the slopes of Talana hill, overlooking the town they founded. Ann died on 15 August 1908, aged 84 years. She had been ‘devoted as a wife and mother’ faithful as a friend and beloved by all’. Peter died three years later, aged 83. His family remembered him as a ‘kind and devoted father’. Nearby lies Thomas. The old bachelor had not lived to see the establishment either of Dundee or of the Dundee Coal Co. He had died in 1880, aged 62.

Adelaide

On the farm ‘Adelaide’ some 20 km from Dundee on the Ngisnana Road, the British Hussars were captured. The barn in which the men took refuge and around which the skirmish was fought still stand and shell damage from the Boer pom-pom gun can be seen on the south side of the building. Although on private property, a request to the farmer, Mr Maritz, will gain you access to the site.

AGS Church

This was the fist Methodist Church built in Dundee. With the influx of the large numbers of British troops before the Battle of Talana and later when Dundee was a garrison town, the church was too small to accommodate all the soldiers who tried to crowd in for services. A special arrangement with the Dutch Reformed congregation made provision for certain services to be held in their much larger church. On those particular Sundays the town congregations swopped churches.

Blood River Battlefield (Great Trek and Voortrekker Zulu Wars 1836 – 1852)

The introduction of British rule in the Cape Colony after 1806 resulted in widespread dissatisfaction among the fiercely independent Afrikaners and led to the exodus of six main groups of Voortrekkers to the hinterland, from where they aspired to govern themselves and maintain their cultural identity. A group under the leadership of Piet Retief arrived in Natal, land of the Zulu nation, in 1838. following negotiations with the Zulu King, Dingane, for land, Retief and his group of 101 Voortrekkers were murdered at Umgungundlovu. Other from Port Natal (now Durban) to avenge Retief’s death was ambushed at Italeni. The Voortrekkers mobilized to avenge the attacks. At Wasbank in December 1838 they made a vow that if God would grant them victory over the Zulu’s, they would built a church in thanksgiving and commemorate the event annually. Some 15 000 Zulus attacked the 460 Voortrekkers at Blood River on 16 December 1838, but were defeated. The Voortrekkers did not forget their vow, and the Church of the Vow was built in Pietermaritzburg in 1841. Today, at the site of the Battle of Blood River, there is a stone memorial and a striking replica of the Voortrekker laager (Circular of wagons) cast in bronze. A stone cairn marks the centre point of the laager.

Boswells

This building was originally erected as the Biggarsberg Unity Lodge in 1898. the upper hall was the Masonic Meeting Hall and the bottom section used for entertainment: dances, theatre and cinema. It was widely regarded as the finest theatre in Northern Natal. In 1900 the furniture, which had been looted from homes in Dundee during the Boer occupation of the town, was piled up in this building. Returning residents were requested to reclaim their belongings. Towards the end of the war the ‘Treason Trails’ of the Natal rebels were held here. The building has continued to have a long and chequered history, serving as the Dundee and District Club, a photographic studio, a wholesale and retail outlet (from which it derives it’s name), a bank and warehouse. Boswells is unique, both architecturally and historically, and is the last remaining pre Anglo Boer War theatre in Kwazulu Natal.

 

British Artillery Positions

With the commencement of hostilities at 05:30 on 20 October, the artillery found that they needed to move their batteries of guns closer to the hill. They were moved to a position on the south side of the bridge in Bulwer Street. Needing to improve their range even more, in the middle of the morning they moved to the banks of the Steenkoolspruit and finally by 13:00 were in Smith’s Nek.

Cenotaph

A memorial to the men who fell in the First and Second World Wars, it stands in Victoria Street, adjacent to the Civic Centre.

Cottage Hospital

This building, the exterior of which is remarkably unchanged, was originally built as the Cottage hospital and used as one of the British military hospitals during and after the battle of Talana. The small stone building in the rear corner of the property was the first morgue in the town.

Dundee Court House

This is the only building in South Africa which bears the Royal crest of Edward VII. At the end of the Anglo Boer War Simeon Kambula spent many hours in this building trying to convince the British military authorities that his group of scouts, who had spent the entire war loyally supporting the British, should be granted medals in recognition of their service. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful.

Dutch Reformed Church

Designed by Gerard Moerdyk and completed in 1922. on the clock tower of this building is an impressive Anton can Wouw sculpture and plaque commemorating the Boers who fell in the Battle of Talana.

Ebenezer Church and Cemetery

This church, built in the 1890’s, was the first Wesleyan church in the town. It served as a field hospital during the Battle of Talana. Some of the soldiers who died in this hospital are buried in the small cemetery behind the church.

Fort Pine

On the farm Sheepmoor, it was built in 1878 by the Royal Engineers as a convenient place for the civilian population to gather. Contact the Talana Museum to arrange access.

Fugitives Drift

It is here, on this lonely hillside, that the two men responsible for saving the Queen’s Colour from the Isandlwana camp, lie buried. Lieutenants Coghill and Melville made their way to this spot high above the Buffalo River before they were killed by the Zulus. The site is 15 km beyond Rorke’s Drift.

 

Garden of Remembrance

In town cemetery, on the lower left side, is a Garden of Remembrance to the men who died in this area during the Anglo Boer War

Isandlwana Battlefield

The British defeat by 25 000 Zulus at the Battle of Isandlwana will live forever in the annals of military history. Cairns mark the places where British soldiers fell and were later buried. An hour’s drive from Dundee.

Mahyeno Mission

Formerly the Betania Mission Church and printing shop, it started out as a Swedish Lutheran Church. This mission station, which was used as a military hospital during the Battle of Talana, ceased to function in 1979. The church has been proclaimed a national monument.

Mpati Mountain

‘The place of good waters’. A very appropriate name for this mountain with it’s waterfalls, natural springs and the dams which supply the town with water. Mpati was occupied by General ‘Maroela’ Erasmus and his commandos just before the Battle of Talana. From the top they watched the battle, but because of the mist and low cloud, could not really make out what was happening, and could not communicate via heliograph with the Boer forces on Talana. A long Tom was brought to Pretoria to Glencoe station, off loaded from the train and then dragged cross country onto the top of Mpati. On the morning of 21 October it fired the first shells into the British camp. To move out of range, the British twice moved their camp. They were eventually so far out of town, that they could not defend it, and the decision was made to abandon the town and withdraw to Ladysmith

Maria Ratschitz Mission

Built by Trappist monks at the end of the last century. The order experienced a series of secular obstacles from the mid 1930’s. In recent years the mission stood abandoned, but is now being restored. Changes in South Africa since 1991 has led to a renewal of development at the mission, which is a remarkable cluster of 14 beautiful buildings in a dramatic setting at the base of the Hlatukulu Mountain. The cathedral like church has magnificent decorated walls.

Moth Museum

The MOTH (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) is an organization of ex servicemen started in South Africa shortly after the First World War. The small museum in the Indumeni / Isandlwana Shellhole has a unique collection of military memorabilia dating from the 1879 Anglo Zulu War to the present. Acknowledged as one of the best private collections in the country. Open on request.

Position of Stretcher Bearer Field Base

At the lower end of Victoria Street, opposite the school, is an open plain on the banks of the Steenkoolspruit. It was here that the British lookouts took up position at 03:00 on 20 October, and where the local Indian men based themselves as they moved to and fro across the battlefield carrying wounded British soldiers, and where the artillery set up their guns to shell Talana Hill

Prince Imperial Memorial

The last hopes of the Napoleonic dynasty were shattered with the fatal stabbing of the Prince Imperial of France by Zulu warriors. A memorial has been erected at the site where he fell. One and a half hour’s drive from Dundee.

Pro Nobis – Holy Rosary Convent

This Roman Catholic convent was erected in 1917 on 18 acres of land. Today it is a school for physically and mentally handicapped children and a teaching centre.

Rorke’s Drift Battlefield

Where 100 British troops repelled 4000 Zulus, and despite overwhelming odds stood victorious after 12 hours of fighting. A record number of 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders. The site is 42 km from Dundee.

Rosevean

Although considerably altered, this home served as the Boer headquarters during the Boer occupation of Dundee. The Boer forces changed the name of the town to ‘Meyersdorp’ and the names of the streets were named after Boer generals and politicians. Victoria Street was renamed General Piet Joubert Street. Once the town was relieved in May 1900 the original names were reinstated.

Site of British Headquarters

In 1900 the Natal colonial forces were incorporated under one command. The Natal Composite Volunteer Regiment was stationed in Dundee to defend the northern Natal area from a second invasion by the Boer forces. Their large tented camp stretched out across the fields below Mpati Mountain. Today this part of the residential area, Ulundi, Rorkes, Iris and all the other streets in this area were part of the camp.

St James Anglican Church

Erected in 1898, the church houses plaques listing the names of the men who died in the Anglo Boer war battles in northern Natal. In the churchyard are a number of graves, and it is here that General Penn Symons (commanding officer of the British forces at the Battle of Talana) and Lt Hannah, the first man to be killed by a Long Tom Shell, are buried.

Talana Museum

One of the most impressive museums in the country. The Talana Museum is situated in parklike surroundings on a portion of the battlefield of Talana, the first battle of the Anglo Boer War (1899 – 1902). The word Talana is Zulu for ‘Little shelf’, and describes the flat topped hill on which the fighting took place. At this battle of British wore khaki for the first time. The buildings from the time of the battle still exist and a cemetery is one of the exhibits. The original Scottish homestead of the founder of Dundee, Peter Smith, has been restored and furnished as it was in his lifetime. Talana House, the home built by his son in 1894, houses excellent displays of the earliest inhabitants of the area, the Voortrekkers, the Anglo Zulu War and Anglo Boer Wars; while the red brick Henderson Hall contains the breathtaking Consol Glass Collection, the evocative Chamber of Mines and Iscor coal museums and the Brick Heritage display. Miner’s Rest is a typical coalminers’ home of the 1920’s, and was relocated curio shop where visitors can buy locally produced craft, curios and souvenirs. Plan to spend a few hours to view the museum, stroll through the historic rose garden and take a cream tea or lunch in the Miner’s Rest tea room. Arrangements can be made with the curator for guided tours of the museum and surrounding battlefields. Walk and talk tapes of major battlefields are available.

The Mews

This complex of small, intimate shops was the original Williams Hygenic Bakery. The original buildings and roof line have been preserved.

Thornley farm

On the reserve slopes of Talana Hill, it was used by the Boer forces as their headquarters, hospital and mortuary during the Battle of Talana. Although these restored buildings are on a private farm, visitors are welcome.

Trinity Prebyterian Church

The Roll of Honour inside the church lists men who fell during the First World War.

DUNDEE AND THE ANGLO BOER WAR

The importance of Dundee

Many of the military graves and memorials found in Dundee owe their existence to the Anglo Boer War of 1899 – 1902. The first major battle of the war was fought on the slopes of Talana Hill, just outside the town. Today the sites is well preserved, and a magnificent museum depicts not only the story of the battle but also that of the glass and coal industries of South Africa. A self guided trail leads visitors across a large section of the battlefield. British military consensus was that the northern Natal triangle, so vulnerable to attack from many points, should be abandoned and the towns evacuated. However, a strong business lobby, mainly mining men, demanded that the mines in the Dundee and Elandslaagte area should be defended. There was also a possible treat of rebellion by dissident Boers in the Biggarsberg and the threat of an uprising by black people in the area. By 25 September there were some 4500 British troops stationed in the camp on Ryley’s Hill. They had moved up to Dundee from the main camp at Ladysmith. The Boer forces crossed over the Natal border just after the declaration of war, and in the rain passed Majuba Mountain. As they moved southwards, they split into three groups. One group moved to Elandslaagte to cut rail and communications links between Dundee and Ladysmith. Another moved towards Dundee and the third in a large circular movement collected the commando in the Utrecht and Vryheid area as they made for Dundee. The spotlight of war was to settle for a brief moment on the slopes of Talana Hill.

 

Battle of Talana

(20 October 1899) At 05:00 on Friday morning 20 October the British troops in the Dundee camp assumed the figures that they could see moving about on Talana Hill were the Dundee Town Guard. They realized that they were not, when shortly after 05:30 the first Boer shell landed in the British camp. The second shell landed outside General Penn Symons’ tent. Neither of the shells exploded, as they buried themselves in the soft damp earth. The Boer forces numbering about 4500 had climbed Talana and Lennox Hills in the rain during the night and taken up their position facing Dundee and were ready for the attack. On Mpati Mountain about 2500 Boers had also taken up their position. General Penn Symons ordered a classical attack. The infantry (Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Kings Royal Rifles) would make a frontal assault on the hill. The Leicesters were left to guard the camp. The artillery (13,67 and 69 batteries) would fire on the enemy on the hill and decimate them, before the infantry assault. The cavalry (18th Hussars) would move around behind Talana Hill and wait to take any retreating Boers prisoner. The artillery found that they had to move their guns closer to the hill to get within effective range. The infantry moved through the town and across the open plain towards Talana. They were badly shaken by the accuracy and quantity of the Boer rifle fire. They took cover in the blue gum plantations around Peter Smith’s farm. They could not break out of these trees, because of the deadly crossfire from Lennox Hill. At about 09:00 Penn Symons rode up to the British troops to encourage them to climb the hill. As he dismounted from his horse to climb over a stone wall, he was mortally wounded. He returned to a hospital in town and died two days later. His second in command, General Yule, urged the men up the hill. At about the same time, Lukas Meyer, in command of the Boer forces on top of the hill, had been pulling his field guns and men back from the crest of the hill, to protect them. This lessened the firepower, which the attacking British forces had to contend with. By 13:00 the British infantry had taken the top of the hill. The Boers, in an orderly fashion had withdrawn from the hill, mounted their horses and rode towards the mustering point at the Doornberg. The cavalry found, to their dismay that they were in the way of men and not a few dispirited and defeated troops. They decided to keep out of the way and a circle back to Dundee. On the farm Adelaide, a skirmish between the calvalry and a small number of men from Mpati, led to the British surrender and the soldiers being taken prisoners of war. The British claimed they had won the battle. The following day the camp was fired on from Mpati Mountain. A long Tom had been brought from Pretoria to Glencoe station and dragged to the top of Mpati. It had an effective range of 10 km. The British camp was moved twice in an attempt to get out of range. The decision was made to abandon Dundee and the wounded and supplies were to be withdrawn to Ladysmith. At 02:00 on 22 October the British troops and marched with them to Ladysmith. Here they were caught up in the siege of Ladysmith. The Boers occupied Dundee, renaming it Meyersdorp; Casualties British Killed 51, Wounded 203, POW 246; Boers Killed 40; Wounded 120, POW 12. To see Museum, Military exhibits, Military cemetery, Self guided historical trail over part of battlefield, Places of interest in town, British forts on Talana, Boer canon road on Talana, Tasmanian memorial on top of Talana.

 

Battle of Elandslaagte

The village of Elandslaagte was a vital communication link between Ladysmith and Dundee. On 19 October 1899 Boer forces captured the station and cut all communication and rail links between the two towns. Once it was known that the British troops would have to withdraw from Dundee, it was essential that the Boers be driven out of their position at Elandslaagte. A reconnaissance patrol was sent out from Ladysmith. From a low ridge the Natal Field Artillery shelled the Elandslaagte station. The Boers replied with gunfire and this made General French request reinforcements from Ladysmith. He waited until all the troops had arrived and rested before attacking the Boer defences. The Boer forces under General Kock, had taken up a defensive position on a low range of hills shaped like a horseshoe. The open end faced the station. French ordered an infantry attack, supported by artillery, and at 15:30 the attack began. The Devon’s, Gordon Highlanders, Manchester Regiment and Imperial Light Horse moved across the open plains and into the horseshoe. The Boer rifle fire was deadly. The British troop even used ant heaps for protection, as they advanced. At 16:30 a tremendous thunderstorm broke overhead and in the pouring rain and hail, the British troops rushed the Boer defences. General Kock led a counter attack. The British officers rallied their men and once again they occupied the Boer defences. In the later afternoon gloom the Boers withdrew from the hills and moved down the rear slopes to mount their horses and flee. As they were riding off, the British cavalry comprising a squadron each of the 5th Lancers and 5th Dragoons, were released and charged down on the mounted and fleeing Boers. That night in the drizzle the Indian stretcher bearers and volunteers moved across the battlefield picking up the dead and wounded, both Boer and Brit, carrying them back to the field hospital. Casualties: British Killed 55, Wounded 205; Boer killed 60, Wounded 190. POW 200. to see Naval cemetery as you cross the railway line, Memorials on two hills, Cemetery behind Battle Ridge.

Battle of Helpmekaar (13 May 1900)

After the relief of Ladysmith, the Boer forces took up defences along the line of the Biggarsberg Mountains. There were 7000 – 8000 Boers entrenched along the Biggarsberg stretching as far as Helpmekaar. General Buller, after allowing his troops to rest, moved out of Ladysmith on 7 May, intending to attack Helpmekaar, and with a flanking attack roll up the Boer defences and relieve Dundee. Progress was slow because of bad road conditions. After crossing the Wasbank river, Buller could no longer conceal the movement of his troops from the Boers on the top of the hills. There were two routes up the Biggarsberg; van Tonder’s Pass to Beith (which General Yule had used for the retreat to Ladysmith) and the long route around to Helpmekaar. The Boers were led to believe, by the movements of the British troops, that they were going to advance up the pass and therefore concentrated their men in this area. However, Buller chose to attack at Helpmekaar. In a surprise movement he sent troops racing along the base of the hills to climb the point at Helpmekaar. The Boers realized too late where the attack would come from and tried rapidly to move their men to the neck at Helpmekaar. The British troops managed to climb up and occupy the hill a few minutes before the Boers arrived. However, the Boers were able to halt any further advance by the British. As more and more British troops came up and joined in the battle, the Boers realized that their position was untenable. During the night they withdrew along the road to Dundee. The next morning the British followed them. The Boers forces set fire to the tall winter grass to delay the British pursuit. A dramatic running fight ensued. The rearguard action, by the Irish Brigade, was fought from every rocky outcrop. This grave the Boer forces time to evacuate the Biggarsberg and Dundee. On 15 May the British troops entered Dundee.

Participation of Black People

Although generally considered to be a ‘White Man’s War’ black South Africans participated in and were affected by the war. They were involved in both the Boer and British armed forces. At the beginning of the conflict black people were employed as non combatants on both sides. In the British army they served as herdsmen, drivers, erected the blockhouses and performed a variety of tasks within the camps. As the war progressed they were employed for scouting and intelligence work. African scouts were particularly successful during the guerilla stage of the war. They knew the territory well and were able to move about the countryside gathering information and carrying messages. They were well paid for their services. A good driver and scout could earn as much as 90 cents per month. The average wage for other services was between 40 cents and 50 cents per month. During the first year of the war blacks were not permitted to carry guns. This, however, changed in 1900 when it was decided that the Africans in the British army should be armed for their own self defence. In December 1900 it was decided that every African scout joining the army who had his own weapon, would be permitted to keep and use it. During the latter half of the war all scouts were armed. As blackhouses were built, armed black men manned them. Precise statistics are difficult, but it is likely that there were 100 000 black people in the British forces, in various capacities. Many blacks assisted the British in the hope that if the Boers were defeated, political and educational opportunities that were available throughout the colonies, would become available throughout South Africa and that Africans would be enfranchised. However, this was not to be as post war governments were more concerned with having a labour foce to improve the economy. The Boers employed blacks as agterryers (‘rear riders’), servants and scouts. The agterryers were responsible for looking after the horses, cooking and riding at the rear of the commando to look after the extra horses. Many of these men had bee in the service and families for years and went to war with the men of the families and suffered their hardships. Although concentration camps were set up for blacks, there were none in Natal. Many black people suffered severe hardship with having no homes, shelters or livelihood. By the end of the war there were over 3000 refugees in the Dundee / Newcastle area. Many also suffered hardship as they assisted Boer and British forces with food supplies, often to their own detriment. After the war they claimed compensation for the costs of food and animals. Both Jabez Molife and Simeon Kambula, from Nyanyadu, had fought with the Edendale Native Scouts in the Anglo Zulu War and had been awarded the Zulu War Medal. Simeon Kambila was in charge of the scouts during the siege of Ladysmith. Both these men served throughout the war with the British forces. Chief Timothe Gule, of Nyanyadu, although old and infirm, refused to help the Boers and was subsequently sjambokked. Despite many queries and requests, no scouts were given medals for their service in the Anglo Boer War.

 

Participation of Indian People

During the early stages of the war in Natal an Indian Ambulance Corps was organized from among the free and indentured Indians of the Public Works Department. The motivation behind raising the corps originated from the Indian community as a means of showing their loyalty to the British. Their intention was to provide their services free of charge. All costs would be borne by the wealthier members of the Indian community. The corps numbered 300 free Indians and 800 indentured workers. These figures represented a quarter of the Indian population in Natal at the time. These men went out onto the battlefield, picked up the wounded and carried them to the collection stations. They carried no weapons and although most of the time were out of range of rifle fire, they were well within range of the artillery. Mahatma Ghandi played a prominent role in recruiting free Indians to join the corps and did so himself. Although Ghandi believed that the Boer cause was just, he convinced his fellow Indians that if they aspired to achieve political freedom and independence as members of the British Empire, then this war was a golden opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty and worthiness by supporting the British. The Corps was disbanded in February 1900 shortly after the relief of Ladysmith. Their work was highly commended by General Buller. Thirty seven members of the corps were awarded the war medal. Although the British government was opposed to non white troops from the Empire coming to fight in South Africa, some Indian soldiers were brought in to perform non combatant duties. Early in October the Indian Medical Service arrived in Natal, bringing with them four complete field hospitals. Three of the hospitals were allocated for British casualties and the fourth for the native Indians accompanying the medical service. These people served as drivers, orderlies and in other capacities. The medical units served as both field hospitals and bearer companies. They operated on the battlefield in the midst of combat to treat and remove the wounded British troops. The officers were members of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). All other members were Indians. Indian families also suffered hardship and in some cases homelessness. Concentration camps for Indian women and children were established in the Cape and many homeless families were settled in them.

ATTRACTIONS

Baskets from Africa

Cnr Beaconsfield and Gladstone Streets, Dundee. Made with natural products, the baskets are crafted by Zulu women who live on farms in the immediate vicinity of Dundee. The use of natural materials – grasses, barks, twigs and other plant material – has created an environmentally aware work force.

Consol Glass Factory

The oldest producing glass factory in the country. Tours of the plant can be arranged.

ELC Craft Centre

Discover how cloth is dyed, pots thrown and glazed, and carpets woven. Situated at Rorke’s Drift Battlefield.

 

Farmer’s Brewery

Splendid location on the banks of the Tom Worthington Dam. Traditional Austrian and German ales brewed. Two copper kettles dominate the restaurant, where guests can enjoy excellent fare while savouring the local broth, brewed strictly according to Rheinheitsgebot. Restaurant, pub and coference facilities. Open Monday to Saturday.

ACTIVITIES

Talana Historical Trail

This marked route follows the advance of the British troops up Talana Hill from the museum. It leads to the two British forts on the top of the hill. Allow two hours to climb the hill and return to the museum

Mpati Hiking Trail

The trail commences at the Dundee Caravan Park, and is for a maximum of 12 persons. It can be divided into three sections, each of which is a circular route of either one or two days hiking. Two day trails overnight in a cottage on the top of Mpati Mountain.

Cannibal Hiking Trail

Picturesque scenery, historical sites, cannibal caves and hideouts. Abundance of game and birdlife. Neat base camp sited in a shearing shed, 18 km trail

Black Eagle Hiking Trail

Transverses two valleys through natural bush and descends into bushveld where kudu, impala and mountain reedbuck abound. The return is through rich grassland and vleis with abundant birdlife.

Isibindi Eco Reserve

Situated 12 km beyond Rorke’s Drift, offers a traditional Zulu village, where visitors can gain an insight into local lifestyles and customs, white river rafting, abseiling, team building and coference facilities

Tours (Historical)

Kwazulu Natal Battlefield Promotions, Talana Museum, Dundee Publicity Association

 

Accommodation in and around Westbrook

Beach Lodge Westbrook    accommodation in Westbrook
This attractive up-market accommodation on Westbrook Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast offers you a tranquil holiday destination on the beach. There are spectacular sea views from the lawns and balcony. The sandy beach is 30 metres from the hou... More

Sibaya Lodge    accommodation in Westbrook
Majestically situated overlooking the glorious Indian Ocean in the exquisitely landscaped gardens of Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom, this Sun International-managed hotel offers convenient functionality and tasteful hospitality in one of th... More




Directory of accommodation in Westbrook