Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
athelstan

Rhodesian graves in German South West Africa

Recommended Posts

athelstan

Hello DWSA

Look forward to seeing the photos (reducing the size is always a problem!) and good to hear you keep the graves clean and fixed.

Your project to cover the German War Graves and the Union troops who died in Namibia looks very interesting and I will look to see if I have any photos and information that may help you.

Regards

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thesamsonsed@gmail.com

The second grave with a South West Africa link at Plumstead is that of General Henry Lukin. This actually lies just outside of the Commonwealth War Graves plot and is not listed in the cemetery's register. Lukin was the commander of the Central Force in the campaign in German South West Africa. He is in charge at the Battle of Gibeon on 27 April 1915.

http://www0.sun.ac.za/sdorm/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=29&Itemid=26

A statue of General Lukin stands in the Company Gardens in Cape Town.

james w

As Lukin died in 1925, he did not qualify for burial in the Commonwealth War Cemetry. The article on his involvement at Sandfontein gives the political background to his memorial in the gardens and prevalent in SA at the time.

Bill Nasson's book 'Springboks on the Somme' gives further background to SA's remembrance of the war and the reasons for no memorials in South Africa. Given Lukin's standing in the country, it makes sense that his memorial in Plumbstead is quite ornate.

Thanks for sharing the photos, James and also for the other interesting info on the Rhodesian graves.

Best wishes

Anne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
athelstan

hello Anne

Thanks for this. I must admit that when if first came out I though Bill Nasson's book 'Springboks on the Somme' was only about the Western Front but its title is misleading. There are good chapters on the campaigns in German South West and East Africa and against the Senussi in the North. I found it a useful book providing a good overview of South Africa's contribution.

Regards

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
athelstan

Having strayed a little off the original theme of this post with my holiday snaps from South Africa I now return to graves of Rhodesian soldiers in German South West Africa. More precisely this is to the only other grave of a Rhodesian solider, that of Lieutenant F. Hollingsworth.

Lieutenant Hollingsworth is buried in the small cemetery at Trekkoppies (Trekkopjes) station, 60 miles inland from Swakopmund and the scene of a determined German attack on 26th April 1915. His gravestone, photographed in 2009, is shown below.

post-36214-0-25979300-1307652403.jpg

Trekkoppies is on the Otavi line from Swakopmund to Windhoek. Built to the German narrow gauge (640mm), the entire track as far as Rossen (29 miles inland) had been lifted by the retreating Schutrztruppe. Reconstruction of the line to the broader "Cape Gauge" (1067mm or 3ft 6") starts on 20 February 1915 (see the post on 'Railways and the Campaign in German South West Africa' for more information). Doing the actual work of reconstruction are 300 to 400 native labourers. By 26 April 1915 reconstruction has reached as far at Trekkoppies where the men of the 2nd Kimberley Regiment and the 2nd Transvaal Scottish are guarding the new railhead. No trouble is expected. Indeed on 24 April 1915 two 12 pounder guns are sent back down the line to Swakopmund to accompany the main advance.

Lieutenant Hollingsworth and the men of the 1st Rhodesia Regiment are 10 miles to the west at Arandis when Colonel Skinner and a patrol of the Imperial Light Horse spot a large column of Germans and hear the distinctive rumble of artillery heading towards Trekkoppies in the early hours of 26 April 1915. Retreating at speed, in the words of the Reuters journalist O'Shaughnessy, Skinner raises the alarm and telephones down the line to Arandis. Up come the Rhodesians by train just in time as the German attack starts and take up position to the left of the Kimberly Regiment on a low ridge.

To stop this very event from happening the Germans blow up the railway line around 5.45am. Unfortunately for them they destroy the line to the east of Trekkopies. The line to the west towards Arandis remains intact. The Rhodesians arrive.

With little time to dig in and a rock hard surface they can do little more than scrape a shallow trench and pile up rocks to make a low parapet.

The Germans sweep forward heading towards the Rhodesians in a bid to outflank the defensive lines of the Kimberly Regiment and Transvaal Scottish, hastily dug in on either side of the railway line and enfilade them. In the words of Captain D.R. Hunt of the 2nd Transvaal Scottish:

"Seeing our native railway labourers clearing off down the line as fast as their legs could carry them, the Germans at first thought we were all on the run, and their dismounted men advanced confidently through the milk bushes and opened a sharp rifle and machine gun fire, gradually closing in on us, though there was not much visible of them, except the occasional glint of a bayonet here and there."

In charge of the machine gun section Lieutenant Hollingsworth is busy counselling his men to take cover when he is shot dead.

The photograph below shows a machine gun position at Trekkoppies from a magazine article on which briefly describes the battle and includes photographs of the cemetery. I would like to think it is Hollingsworth in the photo. Judging by the scenery my view is it was taken at Trekkoppies. Apologies for the poor quality of the photo as this is a scan from a photo copy.

post-36214-0-79947300-1307652461.jpg

The first attack is beaten back by the combined force of the Rhodesians and the machine guns of five of the nine Rolls Royce armoured cars of the Royal Naval Air Service under Lieutenant Commander Whittall. The latter were a nasty surprise for the Germans who from an aerial reconnaissance two days before believed them to be mobile water tanks.

Four more attacks follow culminating in a frenzied artillery barrage and a last desperate assault on the South African lines. The Germans get to within 50 yards before retreating.

Hollingsworth is the only fatality for the Rhodesians. Wounded, however, are

Private R.G. Cross

Lance Corporal A.T. Chrystal

Private A. Campbell

Lance Corporal J.A. Henderson

Corporal L.F. Wood

There are eight other South African graves at the cemetery. Six of these are from the Kimberley Regiment who bore the brunt of the attacks and 2 from the Transvaal Scottish. Seven of the eleven Germans killed are also buried there. One further member of the Kimberley Regiment is buried in the old European cemetery in Swakopmund.

This is only a brief account of what was, by the standards of the campaign, a major action, and arguably the only time the Germans took the initiative. I hope to return to Trekkoppies in more detail in a new post.

Trekkoppies is signposted off the main B2 Windhoek to Swakopmund road but blink and you will miss it.

james w

Sources

'The History of the Transvaal Scottish' by H.C. Juta, Hortors Limited, Johannesburg, 1933.

'How Botha and Smuts Conquered German South West' by W.S. Rayner and W.W. O'Shaughnessy, Simpkin, Hamilton, Marshall, Kent & Co., London 1916.

'With Botha and Smuts in Africa' by Lieutenant Commander W. Whittall, Cassell and Company Ltd, London, 1917

'Louis Botha or Through the Great Thirst Land' by Keith Morris, William Stevens Limited, London, 1916 (?)

'Urgent Imperial Service' by Gerald L'ange, Ashanti, 1991

'Insignia in the Desert – Relics of the 1914-15 Military Campaign in South West Africa' by Bryan V. Cooke, S.W.A. Jaarboek, 1975.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bushfighter

Well done James - please keep contributing.

(GWF attracts hundreds of voyeurs, but not too many Members contribute like this.)

Harry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ShirlD

:) It takes one to know one!

Thanks James, I found the articles on the Battle of Sandfontien and Gibeon particularly interesting.

Cheers

Shirley

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DSWA

Hello DWSA

Look forward to seeing the photos (reducing the size is always a problem!) and good to hear you keep the graves clean and fixed.

Your project to cover the German War Graves and the Union troops who died in Namibia looks very interesting and I will look to see if I have any photos and information that may help you.

Regards

James

Hi James

Thank you very much. Any information will help.

My email address is; charlv@mtcmobile.com.na if you wish to contact me.

Kind regards

DSWA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thesamsonsed@gmail.com

hello Anne

Thanks for this. I must admit that when if first came out I though Bill Nasson's book 'Springboks on the Somme' was only about the Western Front but its title is misleading. There are good chapters on the campaigns in German South West and East Africa and against the Senussi in the North. I found it a useful book providing a good overview of South Africa's contribution.

Regards

James

Hi James

I found exactly the same in terms of the title, but as you say there are some good chapters in it. He has done extensive newspaper research which is invaluable given the time-consuming nature of going through old newspapers (not always very accurate in their reporting but useful for the general feel of the time and what the perceptions were). I was also rather pleasantly pleased to see that he'd referenced my book on the East Africa campaign in the further reading section (the title of which is also misleading, to be honest). It's made me think very carefully about the title of my next publication (due Jan 2012 all going well).

If anyone is in London on Thursday 16 June, Bill Nasson is doing the lunchtime talk on Smuts at the National Army Museum. I'll be there and will be more than happy to share any new snippets of info in relation to his WW1 exploits. If you are there and would like to meet up, I should be quite easy to spot as I tend to wear something bright with an African flavour.

Best wishes

Anne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Field Reservist

Thanks for your comment Shirley

Carrying on with my holiday snaps from Plumstead Cemetery in Cape Town there are two graves with links to the campaign in German South West Africa.

The first is for Private Thomas C. Dodds of the Rand Rifles who died on 24 August 1915. His grave, a private memorial, is shown below.

post-36214-0-30980000-1302639490.jpg

The inscription reads:

In memory of

Thomas Dodds
Rand Rifles
Died August 24th 1915
As result of fever
contracted in the G.S.W.
Campaign
Aged 28 years
erected in affectionate
remembrance by his fellow
workers of the staff of
Norman Ansty & Co
Johannesburg




Dodds was actually from Ireland and his death is recorded in the Central Presbyterian Association (Belfast) Monthly Magazine for October 1915.




"It is with feelings of sincere regret we chronicle the death, from enteric fever, at the Military Hospital, Wynberg, Capetown, of Mr. Thos. C. Dodds, who was for a number of years a well-known and popular member of this Association, and a brother of Mr. R. S. Dodds, who is with the firm of C. M'Cullagh & Co., Castle Buildings. Our late member, who gave his life for his country, served in the Rand Rifles under General Botha through the recent South African campaign. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the relatives and friends."

The Rand Rifles land at Walvis Bay on a foggy Christmas Day 1914 and are the first to encounter a German patrol the following day. As part of the 4th Infantry Brigade, with the 1st Durban Light Infantry and the South African Irish, they do an awful lot of marching but always seem to just miss out on any action. Such was the lot of many of the infantry who served in German South West Africa.

Rayner and O'Shaughnessy's book "How Botha and Smuts Conquered German South West" has an invaluable appendix listing every man killed and wounded in the campaign. This list has appeared on several websites. Perhaps unsurprisingly it is not 100% accurate for Private Dodds is missing from the list. There are no casualties listed for the Rand Rifles so it looks like they emerged from the campaign unscathed.

Dodds death due to enteric fever is unusual as compared to the Boer War when deaths to it far outnumbered those killed by Boer bullets, casualties are very low. Lessons were learnt and health, hygiene and inoculation improved dramatically between the end of the Boer War and the start of the First. From the 'History of the Great War: Medical Services General History. Volume 1' by Major-General W.G. Macpherson the figures are Boer War cases of enteric fever 38.8 per 1,000 men, German South West Africa 0.78 per 1,000.

So having endured the hardships of German South West he was unlucky to succumb to enteric fever.

Any information on the Rand Rifles would be appreciated.

James w




Hi James
My grandfather John Francis Purcell DSO commanded the Rand Rifles in GSWA until August 1915 when he joined the SAEF to go overseas. he had been adjutant of Southern Rhodesia Volunteers from 1910 and before that served 30 years with the Cape Mounted Rifles.
I have no further info on the campaign, save that he was mentioned in Gen Botha's despatches published in London gazette on 22 Aug 1918
Would be happy to hear any other info you may have on the unit.
Kind regards

Mal, Field Reservist

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Bruce Massie

Sorry to add to your burden but if the opportunity arises I would really appreciate these two strays.

Name: LEDREW, GEORGE

Initials: G

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Gunner

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery

Unit Text: 158th Heavy Bty.

Age: 21

Date of Death: 03/06/1917

Service No: 290219

Additional information: Son of George and Mary Ann Ledrew, of 51, Northumberland Avenue, Hull.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Bl. UP. 10.

Cemetery: CAPE TOWN (PLUMSTEAD) CEMETERY

Name: JONES

Initials: E

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Gunner

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery

Date of Death: 11/05/1917

Service No: 169

Awards: Mentioned in Despatches

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. 4. 98226B.

Cemetery: CAPE TOWN (MAITLAND) CEMETERY

Many thanks for any effort possible.

Roop

Hi Roop George Ledrew was my Great Uncle. I've visited his grave. I would like to know how and where he died. Any help would be greatly appreciated, please. Best Regards Bruce Massie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KONDOA

Bruce, good to see you here. I have replied by email so should have what I have so far.

Roop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
old joe

Thanks to James W and other posters in this thread for the outstanding posts and relevant photos and the additional information on General Lukin.

Best wishes,

Joseph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...