South Africa celebrates Heritage Day!


Garden of Remembrance, Maccauvlei Golf Club,

Vereeniging,

Gauteng, South Africa

With the declaration of war between the Boers and British in October 1899, countries within the Commonwealth offered assistance to Britain out of loyalty to their Motherland. Prime Minister Barton of Australia had said, “The Empire is one nation, and if so much as a quarter is attacked, so is another.” Three countries that are best remembered for their participation in the war are Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Over 7,000 to 8,000 Canadian troops were sent to South Africa and 16 nurses served, with over 200 to 300 Canadians dying during the skirmishes. The Australian troops that were sent totaled 16,175 and eight New Zealand Contingents were sent.

The Garden of Remembrance, situated at the Maccauvlei Golf Course, is the final resting place for seventy-four Canadian, Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in the Vereeniging/Meyerton District during the Anglo-Boer War.”

In 1961, the 1820 Settlers organisation decided to collect the remains from these graves situated at Viljoensdrift, Engelbrechts Drift, Klip River, Maccauvlei, Meyerton and Vereeniging, and establish a single military cemetery at Maccauvlei. Small coffins about one metre long were made, the bones were placed in them and they were reburied in graves dug to the side of the 3rd green. It was near this spot that Boer soldiers ambushed a troop train and one of those to escape was the young Winston Churchill, then a journalist covering the war.

On the 12 March 1961, the then Chairman of Anglo American Corporation, Harry Oppenheimer officially opened the Garden of Remembrance. Contrary to military tradition, officers and men agreed to parade together. The parade was taken by RSM Lendrum, of the Transvaal Scottish. In the parade were Bobby Wilson (Lt. Col), Allen Snijman (Major), Harry Oppenheimer (Capt), Rod Metlerkamp (Capt), Max Itzigsohn (Sgt) and many others. In his stentorian tones the Sergeant Major formed them up in front of the clubhouse, and marched them to the graveyard where a service was held. It was a touching and impressive ceremony.


The opening was also attended by the then Chairman of the War Graves Board, Dr AW Kieser, the mayors of Vereeniging, Sasolburg and Vanderbijlpark, representatives from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and the National Secretary of the SA Legion, Major Eric Edmeades.”

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