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Where is this place? 3 weeks 4 days ago #85475

  • ResearchRescue
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Hello Ian

This gives detailed info. on the movements, including the Wiltshires, right up to Slaap Krantz.

Taken from The Campaigns and History of the Royal Irish Regiment from 1684 to 1902


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Where is this place? 3 weeks 16 hours ago #85557

  • Ians1900
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Hello everyone,

I wanted to share some exciting news!

Mr Alun Stevens, a gentleman living in Australia, but descended from a number of families who owned farms in the Brandwater Basin area has located De Jager’s farm, scene of heavy fighting for the Wiltshire Regiment in July 1900 and the place where their commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Molyneux Carter was severely wounded, having been shot in the jaw whilst leading his men on an assault of the farm, which was taken and re-taken during a battle on the 28th of July 1900.

The Regimental Diary:

D, E, F & I Coys marched to Fouriesberg forming the advance guard to the Army consisting of Generals Clements, Rundle and Paget’s forces, the whole under General Hunter and attacked enemy’s position near De Jaggers Farm. The advance guard was engaged from 11:30 am until dark. F & I Companies moved against the enemy’s left and seized and held DE Jaggers Farm about 500 yds from their position.

Capt Bolton led this first advance and also the first rush against the Farm (Cpl Lovelock commanding the first subsection). As the forces had to cut a wire fence just in front of the Farm and the enemy’s fire was at short range, he had a narrow escape for six of his men were hit.

Colonel Carter was wounded in the arm when crossing the open and was again badly wounded in the jaw at the Farm.

The enemy’s fire was very heavy and was maintained until dark. D & E Coys occupied a Kopje opposite the right centre of the enemy’s position. During the night the enemy evacuated their position which was occupied unopposed by the Scots Guards and Leicester Regt.

Casualties at Slapkrantz:

No 4240 Cpl W. Hunt F Coy


Lieut Col Carter severely
No 6566 Sergt H. Ellwood I Coy slightly
No 4370 Dr G. Prior E Coy severely
No 5386 Pte J. Carter F Coy severely
No 5135 Pte G. Hunt F Coy dangerously
No 3022 Pte J. Skinner F Coy dangerously
No 2125 Pte F. Sheppard F Coy dangerously and died 30.7.00
No 1078 Pte E. Weston F Coy severely
No 5398 Pte J. Cripps F Coy severely

The Regimental Diary provides, as most do, just a brief account of each day’s activities. I have explored this engagement further and will be providing a fuller account in my book covering the Wiltshire Regiment in South Africa during the Boer War, which is nearing completion.

Regarding the farm, Alun says:

“It is where I thought most likely - ie to the east of the Bethlehem-to-Fouriesburg road just north of Fouriesburg. It is currently registered in the official records as Zandvalleyshoek, but the original map has it as Zandvalleijshoek which would be the more correct Dutch spelling. The Dutch ‘ij’ frequently degenerates into ‘y’ even in very early Dutch writing. The meaning is:

Zand = Sand
valleij/valley = valley
hoek = corner

So - Sand Valley Corner

This graphic, which is a screen shot of the South African Surveyor General’s cadastral map for the area, shows you where it is located. IMAGE A on pdf

On the satellite image it is here: IMAGE B on pdf

This map from 1881, however, is the one that provides the name. It is unfortunately not a good quality scan. IMAGE C on pdf

It is not oriented North-South. What are shown as horizontal boundaries in this map are aligned North-West to South East. You can readily see this by comparing to the cadastral map. The map shows the farm Zonderhout (now Zonder-hout) (Meaning without wood) to the NW, Snymanshoek to the NE and Steenkampskop (now Stenekampskop) to the SW. These can also be seen on the cadastral map. The farm Opstal on the cadastral map was also part of Zandvalleijshoek in 1881. The map for it shows a subdivision in the 1920’s.

The name Christiaan de Jager is clearly shown in the description of the land. I can’t read all of this but what I can read says:

“[Illegible] [illegible] betekent 3032 Morgen en 480 Quadraat Roeden Grond zijnde de plaats Zandvalleijshoek Nr. [scratched out] gelegen in de Wijk Wittebergen District Bethlehem en toebehorende aan Christiaan de Jager bij note van transport Nr. 3890 Gemeten op den 14 Januari 1881”

which means

“Figure b.h.i.k.l.m.n.o. represents [‘beteekent’ translates as ‘meaning’] 5032 Morgen and 480 square roods of land being the farm Zandvalleijshoek No. [scratched out] located in the Wittebergen Ward District Bethlehem and belonging to Christiaan de Jager by notice of conveyance No. 3890 Surveyed on the 14 January 1880.”

The note on the left says:

“Van deze kaart werd het volgende deel door Landm [Landmeter] Baumann afgesneden met name ZONDERHOUT groot 1677 morgen 360 roeden overlakende 3355 morgen 120 [little square drawn] roeden. No. 84 dd 16 Jan 94”

Which translates as:
“From this map the following section has been subdivided by Surveyor Baumann with the name ZONDERHOUT comprising 1677 morgen 360 roods leaving 3355 morgen 120 square roods remaining. No. 84 dated 16 Jan 94.”

This arithmetic shows that the size of the original property was 5032 and not 3032 morgen.

For reference: Unlike the British Rood, the Cape or Dutch Rood is a measure of distance and not area. A Cape Rood is equal to 12 Cape Feet with a Cape Foot being 1.033 English Feet. A square Rood is therefore 144 square feet. A Morgen is a unit of area equal to 600 square roods and is traditionally the amount of land a horse could plough in a morning (morgen).

You can get these maps yourself should you want to. You need to go to the South African Surveyor General’s site which is here: csg.drdlr.gov.za

The first link for scanned images is where you go for the old maps. When you click through, you will be presented with two options. Select “Search on Town/Region/Farm Name”. You will then be shown a table in which to input the search terms. Select “Free State” in the top drop down menu and put the farm name in the bottom box. This is not a forgiving search function. It will only search for exactly what you have provided, letter for letter. You will then be given a list of farms with that name in the Free State. These farms all show up as being in the Fouriesburg district. Click on the button on the right and you will be shown a list of documents. The first column shows the date. Click on the link on the right and the site will download the document to your computer.

The next big link, marked Cadastral Data, is, unsurprisingly, where you go if you want the cadastral maps. It is however a two step process. When you click on the link, and normally after a bit of a wait, you will be presented with a Web App link and a disclaimer. Click on the Web App icon and you will be shown a map of South Africa. You need to zoom in, which you can do by repeatedly double-clicking on the spot you want to go to or by placing your cursor over the spot and scrolling up. The spot you want to head for is here: IMAGE D on pdf

You can see the outline of the Witteberge and Rooiberge (White Mountains and Red Mountains) that define the Brandwater Basin.

The map will zoom in and out quite quickly, but you have to give it time to draw the boundaries of the farms. If they are having a slow day in South Africa, this can take some time.

On the question of spelling, virtually all town names which have a ‘burg’ are spelled with a ‘u’ because ‘burg’ is equivalent to the English borough. There are a couple of notable exceptions relevant to the ABW - Heidelberg and Colesberg. The first is obviously named after the German city of the same name and the second is named after the hill near it.

The name De Jager and similar Dutch/Afrikaans names are also written with a convention about capitalisation. If you write “De Jager” or “Mr De Jager” the De is written with a capital, but if you include his Christian name, the De is written with a small ‘d’ - as on the map. This also applies to other Afrikaans names like Van Niekerk and Van Der Merwe which would morph to Carel van Niekerk and Koos van der Merwe.

I went and had a look for De jager’s Farm in a book I have used a bit to examine the doings of the British and Boer forces in the Brandwater Basin during the ABW. This is the book Een Hollandsh Officier in Zuid-Afrika [A Dutch Officer in South Africa] by Gerrit Boldingh who was a Dutch artillery officer who served as a Lieutenant in the Boer forces in the Brandwater Basin both in 1900 at the time of the Prinsloo surrender and in May and June the following year when Rundle made a sweep through the area to try to deal with ongoing harassment by the Commandos. I remembered that he mentioned a number of adjoining farms so I thought I would see if he mentioned the farm. He did. Once.

The book can be found here: archive.org/details/eenhollandschof00boldgoog

It is in Dutch so I have attached a full transcript of the book with a paragraph by paragraph translation by my cousin and me. We haven’t translated everything. Just sections that were relevant to our family story. These sections include the reference to Zandvalleyshoek. Whilst not directly relevant to the story of the Wiltshires a year earlier, Boldingh does describe the geography and moving around the area which may be helpful to your story.

The transcript is organised with the same pagination as the original and the section of interest begins on page 136 - Uit Den Vrijstaatschen Guerilla (From the Free State Guerilla). The description of the move into the Brandwater Basin begins at the bottom of Page 143 and there is a description of the attack on Snymanshoek (with the translation on the next page).

The particular reference to Zandvalleyshoek is on Page 151. Boldingh mentions taking up position on Inhoek which is a long gorge separated by a low ridge from Zandvalleyshoek which he describes as another gorge that runs in the direction of Retiefsnek. He calls the farm Zandvleihoek but is undoubtedly referring to Zandvalleyshoek. Firstly, there is no farm in the area called Zandvleihoek. Secondly, the convention of using the term ‘vlei’ instead of ‘valley’ was quite common. My great-grandfather’s farm, Bluegumbush, in the Witsieshoek area was adjacent to the farm Bestersvalley which in unofficial communications is almost always called Bestersvlei. The proper meaning of ‘vlei’ is a wetland area.

The translation:

We then took up position along the east side of Inhoek, a long gorge that goes up into the mountains and is separated by a low ridge from Zandvleihoek, another gorge, which goes in the direction of Retiefsnek. This was an uninterrupted set-up that could be well defended by a few men. Rundle therefore dared not make a frontal attack, but made a 4-day detour, that was successful. [Zandvleihoek also called Zandvalleyshoek]

Boldingh was also involved in the Brandwater Basin campaign in 1900 but does not mention anything about the actions along the Bethlehem-to-Fouriesburg road in the days leading up to the surrender because he was operating in the vicinity of Clarens where he was in charge of the ammunition wagons. His description begins on Page 11 - Het Verraad van Generaal Prinsloo (The Treachery of General Prinsloo).

Boldingh died of wounds received and these notes were published posthumously in 1903. He was undoubtedly very pro-Boer and anti-British - the Khaki”.

I would like to say a very big thank you to Alun for his assistance in finding De Jager’s farm, which thanks to him, I now know is called Zandvalleijshoek. The location has always eluded me and now I can pinpoint the place where this engagement involving the Wiltshire Regiment took place.

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