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In memory of the South Africans at Delville Wood


Dax
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This post is in commemoration of the men and officers of the South African 1st Brigade, Delville Wood, France, July 1916.

Gethsemane

The garden called Gethsemane

In France in Picardy it was,

And there the people come to see

All us soldiers pass.

We used to pass – we used to pass

Or halt as it may be,

And wore our masks in case of gas

Beyond Gethsemane.

The Garden called Gethsemane

It held a pretty lass

But all the time she talked to me

I prayed my cup may pass.

The officer sat on the chair,

The men lay on the grass,

And all the time we halted there

I prayed my cup may pass.

It didn’t pass – it didn’t pass –

It didn’t pass from me.

I drank it when we met the gas

Beyond Gethsemane.

(In stead of descriptions or history, I rather opted for this paraphrasing of Rudyard Kipling’s simple, yet moving poem.)

This time of will always be special in my family. My grandfather was at Delville Wood.

The South African Brigade attacked at full strength of about 4100 men and officers. Only about 850 came out again, the rest were dead, wounded, prisoners or simply missing. Many of the South African dead are believed to be buried in unmarked graves.

Edited by Dax
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Hi Dax,

:ilikeit: So touching.

Betsy.

Edited by Betsy
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I bow my head in prayer "lest we forget"!

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Dax

my great-grandfather was also there. He was a POW there as well. I still remeber him telling us how they were given potato peels covered in mud to eat by the German soldiers, but sometimes you would get a really nice soldier who would throw you a piece of bread (covered into mud).

My mom still has a tape recording of an interview some radio station did with my great-grandfather about WW1 and the whole Delville experience. We used to take it to school so many times when we learning about the wars in history classes.

It is an honour to know that I, firstly had the chance to know my great-grandfather and seconly that he was one of the 850 who made it out. And went on to fight in WW2 as well.

Oupa Liesa dit was 'n eer om jou te ken en lief te hê. RIP

Lindy-Lee

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Thanks Betsy & Mara. :angry:

Lindy-Lee,

It's great to meet up with another member of the Delville Wood fraternity! :ilikeit:

Since a young age we were very proud of our grandpa, but sadly he never wanted to tell us about it. What we knew, we learned from other persons or from books.

He would sometimes speak about funny things. For example it is quite a family legend of how he and his life-long friend, Uncle Bert ended up in the Brigade's 4th Regiment.

The story goes as follows;

When the war broke out oupa and his friend (Uncle Bert) decided to join up. Uncle Bert however, was Scottish and he was hell-bent on serving in a unit with a Highlander flavour. That was why he and oupa strolled up to a recruiter for the Transvaal Scottish Battalion. Only ONE teeny weeny problem however, Oupa was Afrikaans, Afrikaans speaking with Afrikaans names, the works.

And then they started to lie about themselves, especially Oupa, who decided if his pal is going into a Scottish unit, so is he. It is not clear how they managed it in the end, but apparently they succeeded to bamboozle the recruiter that oupa was Scottish, and off they went to war kitted out as well as kilted out! (Uncle Bert would cry with laughter when he regaled us on this particular story.)

When my time came, I followed grandpa's Scottish Tradition, same unit.

Your mentioned that your grandpa was taken POW. I wonder if he was in the 3rd SA Infantry Regiment, most of the survivors of the 3rd Regiment were taken prisoner by the Germans. Sadly, of the four regiments that made up the 1st SA Brigade the 3rd Regiment apparently took the worst drubbing.

Cheers,

Dax

Edited by Dax
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I was just thinking.. is there any way to google where he was and part of what regiment etc? Would be interesting to find out more. Who knows maybe they even fought toghter and knew each other.

Will see maybe I can get some details.

Lindy-Lee

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Found this so far.

The brigade comprised four regiments. The 1st Regiment was from the Cape Province and was commanded by Lt-Col Frederick Dawson, the 2nd from Natal and the OFS under Lt-Col William Tanner; the 3rd from the Transvaal and Rhodesia under Lt-Col Edward Thackeray, and the 4th embodied elements of the various SA Scottish units under Lt-Col Frank Jones, DSO.

He was from the Cape Province so yes he would have been in 1st regiment

here is a site with some interesting info if you interested.

http://rapidttp.com/milhist/vol061iu.html

Lindy-Lee

Edited by Lindy-Lee
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Thanks for the link, that info is new to me. There are some other sources as well, I'll justy check through my files again and post th einfo here!

Thanks, :thumbdown:

Dax

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