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“Poor old Dyke” has not been forgotten. 2 months 3 weeks ago #77112

  • RobCT
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A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be able to acquire the following pair of medals.

Pair – CGHGS one bar: Bechuanaland (Cpl. E.S.C. Dyke, P.A.V.G.); QSA four bars: Cape Colony, Wepener, Wittebergen, Transvaal (495 Q.M. Sjt. E.S.C. Dyke, Brabant’s Horse)

Edward served once again in the Great War during the campaign in German South West Africa. While on patrol in Walvis Bay he was mortally wounded and died shortly afterwards on 21 January, aged 42, being one of the first victims of the Campaign.

Edward Stuart Cardinal Dyke was born in Mowbray in Cape Town on 24 August 1872. He was the middle son of Daniel John Dyke and Catherine (Kate) Wynne. His father was a cashier in the Cape Government Railways and in that respect Dyke followed in his father's footsteps and was a railway employee most of his life. He joined the Cape Railway Service on 1 August 1889 and during the next 20 years variously served as a Clerk with their Western System, Midland System and Engineer’s Office. As young men were wont to do in those days he joined the well-known Port Elizabeth Regiment Prince Alfred’s Guard and in due course served with them as a Corporal during the Langeberg Campaign in 1897, his service being recognized a few years later by the award of the Cape of Good Hope General Service medal bearing the single clasp ‘Bechuanaland’.

During the Anglo Boer War, he joined the 2nd Brabant’s Horse at Port Elizabeth on 23 November 1899 and served with them until he took his discharge at Frederickstad a year later on 11 November 1900, his civilian employment and experience as a Clerk clearly equipping him for his role as Quarter Master Sergeant.

The second regiment of Brabant’s Horse was raised in December and when Colonel Dalgety was besieged in Wepener, the First Regiment of Brabant’s Horse and a portion of the Second Regiment were besieged with him, their strength being 345 and 459 respectively. One squadron of Brabant's Horse took part in the relief of Wepener. During the siege Quartermaster Williams of the Second Regiment to whom Edward presumably reported was wounded. During the subsequent advance northwards, and in the operations preparatory to the surrounding of Prinsloo, the corps was very frequently engaged. In the Hammonia district in the Orange Free State they had an immense amount of difficult scouting and several times in the latter half of May and in June they had encounters with superior forces and suffered rather heavy losses. In an action on 29 June in which the enemy had to be driven across the Zand River there were several more. Between 6 and 8 July at the capture of Bethlehem, a week later near Witnek on 16 July and then again at Slabbert's Nek on the 23rd and the 24th Brabant's Horse were in the forefront and gained distinction, but, as a matter of course, they had to pay the price. 'The Times' historian points out that it was some "adventurous scouts" of Brabant's Horse who discovered that a commanding summit was unoccupied on the night of the 23 July which enabled Clements to seize the ridge at daybreak — the corps being entrusted with this task.

The 2nd Regiment was ordered to the Eastern Transvaal in August, to take part under General Button in the movement from Belfast to the Portuguese border, crossing some of the most difficult country in South Africa. In November, when Edward took leave of the Regiment, they were operating about Frederickstad in the Central Transvaal with General Barton.

Edward then returned to his civilian railway duties carrying out important functions for the important movement of troops. After the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he transferred to the South African Railways and began working in Johannesburg. He once again joined the Imperial Light Horse now serving with the nominal rank of trooper. Following the reorganization of the South African Defence Force in 1913 the I.L.H. was redesignated as the 5th Mounted Rifles and at the outbreak of the First World War, he was once again called to duty on 24 August 1914. Serving with ‘B’ company he was in Swakopmund in early January and unfortunately was one of the first to be killed during the campaign in German South West Africa.

Edward’s death was first reported in the Railway Magazine (a very useful resource as it is published online) in a letter written by Lt. W.G.J. Hill on 22 January as follows:

“Dyke, of the Engineer-in-Chief’s office (trooper I.L.H.) was killed yesterday – shot through the head by a German patrol; we are sending representatives to his funeral today.”

The subsequent report on his funeral was worded as follows:

“At 1.15 p.m. on the 22nd January, Captain Herschell, Lieut. Hill, and fifty N.C.O.’s and men, together with units from other regiments, paraded for the funeral of Trooper Dyke and Burnett, both of “B” Squadron of the I.L.H. who were killed the day previously. It was arranged that Dyke should be carried to his last resting place by his fellow Railway workers. The pall-bearers were men of the “E” Company Transvaal Scottish – Lieut. Hill (Asst. Supt. Transportation), Sergt. McKenzie-Smith, Lance-Corpl. Moore and Private Tregarthen (all of the Engineer-in- Chief’s Office), Corpl. Hood (Publicity), Private Trewin (C.A.’s Office), Private Bamford (Claims), Private Hancock (Rates), Private Dolton (Rolling Stock), Private Sharpe (C.R.S. Office), and Sergt. Williams and Corpl. Wilson (Goods Superintendent’s Office, Kazerne). The funeral party left the mortuary at 3 p.m., each coffin being carried by six men (six men walking by the side as a relief), headed by the firing party comprised of twelve men of the I.L.H.; then the remains of Duke and Burnett, whose coffin was borne by men of his own troop followed. The main body of the Scottish and the Kimberley Regiment came next, headed by Captain Herschell. The distance to the cemetery is about one and a half miles. Outside the graveyard, for about 300 yards, the road was lined by members of the Rhodesian Regiment, resting on their arms reversed. The regiments present formed up into a square around the graves, and the service was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Brookes, of the I.L.H. After the service the “Last Post” was sounded by the I.L.H. trumpeter, and three volleys fired. Amongst those present were Brigadier-General Burnside (Acting), colonel Kirkpatrick (O.C. Scottish), and Major Fox. At the conclusion of the service a “Sons of England” ceremony was held over the remains of Burnett, and “E” Company were represented by Corporal Hood (Past President) and Sergt. J.J. Williams.”

A few weeks later a further report was published under their article headed ‘Died for his Country - Trooper E.S.C. Dyke’ as follows:

It is with great regret we record the death of Trooper Edward Stuart Cardinal Dyke, of the imperial Light horse, who died near Swakopmund on the 21st January. Trooper Dyke was well known in the Railway service, and since Union had been on the staff of the Bridge engineer.

A colleague who knew him intimately (Mr. F. J. Nance) writes: -

“I am quite sure there is not a man who knew ‘old Dyke’, as we affectionately called him, that was not more than ordinarily grieved and shocked to learn of his death from wounds in German South-West Africa. I first knew him shortly after I arrived in the country in 1892, when I met him at meetings of the Mountain Club Natural History Section, and I have been associated with him in Cape town, Port Elizabeth, and Johannesburg ever since. His father was a cashier to the old Cape government Railways, and was known as an ‘old company’s servant’, i.e., he was taken over from the Wellington and Wynberg Railway company when the Cape Government expropriated that private railway. The subject of this note followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1889 joined the Cape Railway service, where he remained till Union, coming over to the S.A.R. with the rest of us. He was not cut out by Nature for an office man, and although he did his duty conscientiously the work irked him, and he was ever anxious to get out into the open. Latterly he had a notion that he would do well on a farm, and that he would also serve his county in that way (for he had a very high sense of duty to the state), but the exigencies of the service prevented his being retired. He served in the Langeberg campaign, in the Boer War in 1899-1903 (sic), and now in the present war. His sense of duty to the State, of which I have spoken, made him one of the first to volunteer, and I have no doubt that his willing and cheerful obedience made him an ideal soldier. Kind to animals, gentle and tender to women and children, with little eccentricities and primnesses, there was something of the woman about him. And he was the most clean-minded man it has been my good fortune to meet. I have never heard him express disgust at the free speaking of others, a noteworthy characteristic in these degenerate days. Born in South Africa, he was of the typical South African build, a tall, sturdy, loosely knit frame, of great muscular strength, a good mountaineer, and fond of an open-air life. Perfectly at home on the veld, he took quite a long time to find his way about Johannesburg when he first came here. A somewhat solitary, self-contained man, he did not associate easily with others, and had not the quick wit which comes from such associations, but he admitted, and he always saw the humour of the practical joke, of which he was rather fond. He was extremely painstaking in small things that took his fancy. He would take infinite trouble to take a photograph from exactly the point of view he thought most suitable, and he would wander far over the veld to get a particular specimen of a plant that a friend might have asked him to collect. And he would take as much pains and trouble to develop and print his photograph as he took to get it. A thoroughly straightforward and upright man, not altogether free from some of the foibles of poor human nature, but a man, as far as I can see, that the South African Union will not be compensated for losing by anything it may get in German South-West Africa.”

Edward was a prominent naturalist, photographer, mountaineer and botanical explorer in South Africa during the late 19th to early 20th century. He associated with the leading botanical lights of the day and in his spare time during his working life, he climbed the Cape Peninsula mountains, the Hottentots-Holland mountains, and nearby ranges, all of which are spectacular examples of Fynbos, including Peninsula Granite Fynbos, Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos and a number of related biomes. Later, when the railway administration moved to Johannesburg, he continued his explorations in various parts of the Drakensberg mountains, as well as on visits to Lesotho. In the Coxcomb Mountains near Uitenhage he found a new species of Protea that was named Protea dykei, but which later became a synonym of Protea rupicola. On the Matroosberg, north-west of Worcester, he discovered a species of everlasting flower that was named Helichrysum dykei by Harry Bolus the famous Cape Town botanist who lent his name to the Herbarium and Botanical Library at the University of Cape Town. (later renamed Syncarpha dykei). Other species named after him by Bolus were Lessertia dykei and Erica dykei. The specimens he collected ended up in the National Herbarium in Pretoria as part of Rudolf Marloth's herbarium. Marloth praised the quality of his landscape and botanical photography and published many of Dyke's photographs in his Flora of South Africa (1913-1915). Not content with only discovering and documenting plant life, Edward also grew an extensive collection of Karoo plants in his own garden.

Edward Dyke’s medal card for the Campaign in G.S.W.A. indicates that a 1914/15 Star was dispatched on 14 April 1921 but that neither the British War medal nor the Allied Victory medal were issued.

Sergeant Edward Dyke is seated in the centre of the group shown in the ABW photograph. Unfortunately, no other names are recorded.

I have not as yet located a copy of his Attestation/Discharge Documents for Brabant’s Horse.

I am of course hoping that a Forum Member might be able to assist.

The following user(s) said Thank You: djb, QSAMIKE, David Grant, Rory

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“Poor old Dyke” has not been forgotten. 2 months 3 weeks ago #77114

  • gavmedals
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Thank you for a very interesting article. Also the tip on the Railway information being accessible online will come in handy...


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“Poor old Dyke” has not been forgotten. 2 months 3 weeks ago #77123

  • djb
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A fascinating article on a Wepener man.

For my Wepener book, I copied all the relevant attestation papers for Brabant's Horse but there is not one for him in my set of images I am sorry to report.
Dr David Biggins

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“Poor old Dyke” has not been forgotten. 2 months 3 weeks ago #77124

  • Rory
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A rollicking story Rob - well researched and equally well presented. 'Old Dyke" would have been proud to be remembered thus.

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