Monday, 23 February 2015

Fort Klapperkop.

Visiting Fort Klapperkop.

Fort Klapperkop is one of four fortifications that were built prior to the out break of hostilities between the Boer people of the OFS, Transvaal and the British Empire.

The Fort is situated on a hill south of Pretoria it faces towards Johannesburg with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. To my surprise I was expecting to find the area dry and the vegetation brown  as have previous visits to the area, however this visit fell between the winter and the South African summer, typically spring time in the UK.

This was my first experience of how green it can get here, previous visits have been made during the hot and dry season.

There had been in fact quite a bit of rain over the past few days and the area was quite obviously very green but quite cold at night and fresh first thin in the morning. The soil, rocks and dirt here are a reddish brown something one should consider if wanting to build terrain for any South African Wars.

History of the Forts.

Worried about the increasing tension and possible conflict with the British the Zuid Afrkaanche Republiek (ZAR) government took the decision to fortify Pretoria to protect the nations capital.

Owing to the politics of empire and expansion the Cape Colony Government egged on by Cecil Rhodes who wanted to gain control of the two Boer states, owing to their rich deposits of gold and diamonds found within each Boer Republic.

The Jamison raid of 1895-96 and the finding of a detailed spy map of Pretoria alerted the ZAR government of the inevitability of war with Britain. The threat to the Boer republic and the descent of Uitlanders  caused a plan of miltarisation and want of modern arms, these were ordered and plans were established for the defence of the Boer lands.

A French military engineer Leon Grunberg who had previously served in the French Army as an artillery officer was commissioned to draw up plans for the defence of Pretoria. Eight sites were identified for the building of a ring of forts strategically placed around these eight hills which surrounded the capital.

These sites were of strategic value and his suggestion that each be built with revolving dome towers with each equipped with a heavy artillery gun. The eight places were Klapperkop, Schanskop, Kwaggaspoort, Daspoortrand (West), Magaliesberg West, Wonderbommpoort, Derdepoort and Strubenkop, with these places erected Pretoria would have been turned into a virtually impregnable fortified town.    

Redcoat 37th.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Boer War's.

It was during a visit to Pretoria that rekindled my interest in the Boer War(s),the visit was at the time of year the climate around Pretoria is rather chilly at night and a little wet with sporadic rain showers, the countryside was a very green colour and not the red brown with light brown dryed foliage and grass as witnessed in previous visits, the season being the end of the South African winter.

The plan now was to dig out my Boer War collection, I have figures for the Cape (Kaffir) War’s, Transvaal War and the Anglo Boer War, a while back I did dig out my Foundry collection for the Anglo Boer War, all un-painted.

I have now added more to the Boer War lead pile, I also added some DvD's to give me some inspiration, Breaker Morant, Young Winston and a documentary or two, there is another Boer War film "Torn Allegiance" which came out in the early 1980's was what I remember a reasonable effort with Carla Lanes "Bread" Adrian as one of the main characters, this can only be found on video from the United States.

There is also "The Boer War" worth watching on YouTube, this a BBC's Boer War documentary has been seeded in five segments, however part 1 appears to be missing. There is also the Channel 4 documentary on YouTube in 4 parts, again worth a watch.   

I am foremost a keen American Revolutionary War student and there are some parallels that can be highlighted that show the Boer War(s) and the American War of Independence being somewhat similar with blockhouses used as defensive positions, fortified hills and redoubts, the British under siege, marksman, farmers, citizens and a few regulars namely the ZARP and Staats Artillery standing against the might of the Empire and her “redcoated” regulars.

There are two distinct periods when the Imperialist Crown became embroiled with a slogging match with these up-start farmers, for the first conflict it was about Empire for the British and Independence for the Boer.

The second round of hostilities was mainly about wealth and controlling the share of wealth as natural minerals and precious metals were rich within the two Boer Republics, again Empire was also in the background, for the Boer it was always about Independence, in both wars the Boer would give a good account of himself and forced Britain to the negotiation table on both accounts, the Boer was able to inflict some damage on the armies of the Queen, un-like the Patriot of the rebellion who required foreign military assistance, the Boer was able sustain an aggressive stance on his own.

There were various conflicts leading up to the first Boer War, or the Transvaal War which was  fought between 1880-1881 culminating in the defeat of the Colley's Natal Field Force atop Majuba Hill, the other being much larger, this the "The Anglo Boer War" which dragged on from 1899-1902, you can also look to the earlier South African conflicts, the Cape Wars, Zulu War and there was hostility between Boer and Britain (between 1830 – 1840’s), seek information on the Great Trek and the siege of Durban as well as the Battle of Bloomplaats.

From Red coated regulars to the Khaki clad troops of the second war they met the grim determination of a farmer armed and equipped to fight out of the saddle, he was prepared to retire and fight another day, the British Army became aware and respectful of the Boer and the Kommando, Tommy Atkins marched across the South African countryside led by senior field officers who would become the Generals of the fields of Flanders over a decade later.

Redcoat 37th.