Heidelbergers of the Boer War
by Ian Uys
This is the story of the people of Heidelberg(Transvaal, South Africa). The men, women and children who lived in the shadow of the Suikerbosrand mountains and on the banks of the Blesbokspruit. Although predominantly Boers, they were from all nationalities and walks of life. When war clouds loomed the people of this small dorp stood together, fought and died together, and will be remembered for the manner of their so doing.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle referred to the Heidelberg Commando as the 'corps de elite' of the Boer forces, and well he might have for the Heidelbergers fought in every campaign in which the Transvaal forces were engaged from 1850 to 1902.
Through these pages we capture the triumphs and disasters of the Heidelbergers during the cataclysmic South African War. Through them we gain an added insight into what it was like to fight for the Boers, whether in conventional or guerrilla warfare. We experience the humour as well as the pathos of these remarkable people caught up in the last of the 'gentlemens' wars.
This book is factual, and is based on the books, letters, diaries and memories of the Heidelbergers. It should be read, not only by military historians, but by all those who wonder at the character of the South Africans of today, descendents of men and women such as the Heidelbergers ...
1 Into war
2 The Natal front
3 Freestate Fiasco
4 Heidelberg Occupied
5 The Train Wreckers
6 Arrests and Deportations
7 Fighting on
8 Gentlemen Soldiers
9 Corps of scoundrels
10 Howich 'Refugee Camp'
11 The Witkop Commando
12 Beginning of the End
13 Prelude to Defeat
14 Drives and Devastation
15 The Merebank Burgher camp
16 The Bittereinders
17 Surrender and its Aftermath
18 The Heidelbergers
Appendix 1 - Roll of Honour of the Heidelberg Commando during the South African War 1899 - 1902.
Appendix 2 - Poem - Salmon van As
Appendix 3 - Heidelbergers awarded the 'Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst' Medal
Glossary and Abbreviations
Other titles by the author
Ian is a descendant of Knysna's first settler of 1770. He attended Muir College in Uitenhage, played 1st team rugby and captained the swimming team then served in the Air Force Gymnasium in 1960. At the University of Cape Town he graduated B Comm and captained its boxing team. Selected as South Africa's first Commerce exchange student he worked and studied in the USA then returned to qualify as a chartered accountant. He married Barbara Bowers from London and presently has three children and five grandchildren. Their son lives in the United States, a daughter in Australia and a daughter in Johannesburg.
After a few years in industry he practised in Germiston as an auditor and administered the Germiston Industries Association. Ian served as a platoon commander in the Border War and was decorated for commando activities. He has written 25 books, mainly on South African military history, and is currently published overseas.
In the 1989 general election he was a candidate for the Democratic Party in the Boksburg/Germiston District constituency. At the time he was a private pilot flying from Rand Airport. After a stint in the Cape Town property industry he purchased a practice in Knysna. In 1997 he was awarded his green number for completing ten Comrades Marathons. He is a past Rotary president and a member since 1975; also a past 'Old Bill' and presently trustee of the MOTH Albatross Shellhole.
From 1974 to 1994 Ian farmed in the Heidelberg area. As a member of the Heidelberg Commando, Ian Uys met the grandsons of those he writes about. He was a sergeant for some years in the commando, and served as acting platoon commander in the South West Africa/Namibia operational area. He is a co-founder of the Military Medal Society of South Africa and is past chairman of the S.A. Military History Society.
In 2000 Ian founded the Bushman Valley holiday resort near Prince Albert. In 2014 he resurrected the Knysna Ratepayers' Association and served as its chairman. He and Barbara live in beautiful Knysna on the Cape south coast.
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