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Tour South Africa

 
Visiting the Battlefields

Please use the controls above to view a video of the tour.

Most of us involved with the National Boer War Memorial have developed a desire to learn more about the conflict our ancestors were involved in when our nation came into being. Reading and researching is one way, but it cannot beat seeing the ground where it happened, the graves and monuments and talking to the locals to get their perspective.

Military History Tours Australia has the reputation to conduct a tour. If your ancestor fought, the company will search-out their records and make certain you walk in their footsteps, and if the ultimate price was paid, visit their grave.

Planning a tour to South Africa was quite a challenge for Military History Tours. Australians were involved in 150+ engagements over an area approximately 1,000 kilometres square. A series of battles were chosen to cover those fought by all Australians in all phases of the war, added to this were site and cemetery visits of interest to individual travellers. Where possible museums and monuments were part of the programme. Australian military historians, and local guides were used. As the tour included the date of the 110th anniversary of the signing of the peace accord, this was marked by a visit to Melrose House where the treaty was signed. Here descendant and supporter medallions were presented to tour participants by the head of tourism in Tshwane (Pretoria).

Memorable aspects included a visit by Gazie Atkinson to where her great uncle Lieutenant Anthony Forrest at 16 years of age became the youngest Australian to die in the South African war. He was in charge of a party guarding a supply wagon approaching a creek crossing when fired on by a Boer commando lying in ambush in a millet field on 15 May 1901. We were also able to locate his grave in Middelburg cemetery.

Bill Molloy was able to visit the location at Vredefort where Captain Neville Howse won his VC, and the cemetery at Ottorsdal near the site of Kronnafontein where Billís grandfatherís comrade in the 2NSWMR fellow tourist Graham Barkerís great uncle was killed.

The tour took in visits to the Belmont, Magersfontein (1899), Colesberg, Kimberley, Paardeberg, Mafikeng, Elands River, Rhenosterkop (1900), Vredefort, Wilmansrust, Grobelar Recht (1901), and Onverwacht (1902) battle sites. The tactics and conduct of the battles were described in detail by Military History Tours Guides Graham Fleeton and John Howells, along with local battle experts who in some cases gave the other side of the story. As we headed across the countryside in a luxury coach (we drove 3,500 kilometres) Graham and John let us know about the actions that took place nearby while our local guide Andre gave us information about South Africa today.

Near Colesberg we visited the site at Arundel where the first Australian, Trooper Tom Morris was nominated for the VC, and Chris Stokes who served in the South Australian Mounted Rifles was able to visit the grave of the first South Australian to die in combat.

At Bloemfontein, we visited the Museum of the Boer Republics where we saw the monument to those of all races who suffered and in many cases did not survive the concentration camp policy that was instrumental in ending the conflict. At Tempe, a Bloemfontein suburb we found the South African Armoured Corps Museum, a great treat for those who had been mobile soldiers.

While in South Africa some of the tour guests took the opportunity to extend. Viewing a parade by the Transvaal Scotts and visiting the Kruger National Park.

To see more of what happened on the tour and book for the next tour (2014) check out the Military History Tours website, www.militaryhistorytours.com.au.

Use the controls above to view a video of the Transvaal Scotts' Medal Presentation Parade.

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