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Swart, P J. Burger 8 years 9 months ago #37486

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2 duplicate names on the roll.

Forename/initials: Petrus Jacobus. Served: Heilbron.

Forename/initials: Petrus Johannes. Served: Vryheid.

Dr David Biggins

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Swart, P J. Burger 4 months 2 weeks ago #92271

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Petrus Johannes Swart (PJ Swart)
Vryheid Commando

BIRTH: April - August 1874
Natal / Zululand, South Africa

DEATH: 4 April 1952 (77)
Aloeboom Farm, Vryheid District, Natal, South Africa

Verification of Medal:
Medal recipient confirmed to Petrus Johannes Swart, Vryheid Commando
Confirmed due to medal suspender type / naming style as well as research notes provided by the family, copy below.

Early Life / Swart Family Tree
  • Father: Petrus Johannes Swart (Snr), widower
  • Mother: Sophia Magdalena Margaretha (nee Van Dyk), born 27 December 1844

  • Siblings
  • Half Brother: Daniel Johannes Swart, born 5 August 1864
    Mother: Adriana Albertha Ungener (m: 23 December 1861)
  • Elder Sister: Sophia Cornelia Margaretha Swart, born 19 May 1869
  • Elder Brother: Juri Johannes Swart
  • Younger Brother: Jacobus Nicolas Swart

  • Petrus Johannes Swart was born in 1874 in Natal / Zululand to Petrus Johannes Swart (Snr) and Sophia Magdalena Margaretha (nee Van Dyk) originally farmers from Bredasdorp, Cape Colony, South Africa.

    Bredasdorp was founded in 1838 and is in the Southern Overberg region of the Western Cape and is known for sheep farming; both families had deep ties to the Cape Colony and were likely descendants of the original Dutch settlers.

    He was the second youngest (fourth child) in a family of five.

    Baptism certificates were recorded in Bredasdorp for the first three children born between 1864 and 1869; shortly afterwards in 1870 the family migrated to Natal/Zululand where the two younger children (Petrus & Jocubus) were born; this is supported by his 1952 death certificate stating “Natal” as his place of birth in 1874. 

    Vryheid, New Republic
    The New Republic and it’s capital, Vryheid, were formed in the aftermath of the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879.

    Founded in 1884, Vryheid was formed within an Area granted to early Voortrekker settlers, by the Zulu King Dinizulu. Local farmers had helped King Dinizulu defeat his rival chief Zibhebhu for succession of the Zulu throne. Land that they occupied was given to them by the Zulu King along the banks of the Mfolozi River.

    In addition in 1884 the Boers formed the Nieuwe Republiek (New Republic) with Vryheid as its Capital and its sovereignty was recognized by Germany and Portugal. In 1888 it was incorporated into the Transvaal Republic but at the end of the Second Boer War the Town and its surrounding area was absorbed into the Colony of Natal.

    Aloeboom (Aloe Tree) Farm, New Republic / Transvaal
    According to the Last Will and Testament of his parents, dated 7th January 1888, the family had established a farming operation on Aloeboom Farm at Ward 3, Vryheid in the New Republic.

    Aloeboom Farm, Vryheid District:

    In October 1899 the Second Anglo Boer War commenced with the Swart family, originally from the Cape Colony, now at war with the British Empire.

    It would be later stated, in his fathers death certificate (1911), that the families movable property had been destroyed in the war of 1899 to 1902.

    Petrus Johannes Swart (25) joined the Vryheid Commando in October 1899 and served under General Joseph James Cheere Emmett and Veld Commandant Willem Frederick (WF) van Rooyen.

    The van Rooyen and Swart families knew eachother as their farming operations were nearby at Mt Ngwebi in the Vryheid district. Later in life WF van Rooyen’s younger brother would be the best man (witness) at his wedding.

    WF van Rooyen would also approve the award of his ABO medal in July 1921 giving the same Post Office as their address.

    There were 5x Generals from Vryheid; the most successful was Louis Botha who had married General Cheere Emmett’s sister, Annie.

    2nd Anglo Boer War
    According to his Vorm B he took part in the battles of Dundee (Talana) , Elandslaagte, Platrand and all other battles. His family notes suggests he also fought with Louis Botha.

    At the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War on the 20th October 1899 the Vryheid Commando swung into action and led by General Lucas Meijer fought at the battle of Talana (Dundee). They had the honour of capturing the British guns at Colenso and went on to take part in the siege of Ladysmith.

    It is highly likely that he was at the Battle of Platrand (Ladysmith) as his Veld Commandant WF van Rooyen was confirmed to have been there with a bullet hole in his hat.

    Vryheid itself was left relatively unscathed by the big battles fought against the British forces to the west, but smaller skirmishes with the Imperial forces did occur at Scheepersnek, as well as a major Boer attack on the British garrison stationed on Lancaster Hill just north of Vryheid.

    General Louis Botha tested the British lines the next year and led a successful invasion into Natal via Bloemfontein, drawing thousands of imperial troops from the Transvaal and the Free State in a desperate attempt to trap him.

    The incursion finally ended at Italeni and Fort Prospect where the Boers were defeated, however General Botha managed to elude the pursuing British as he led his men back to the Transvaal; it is assumed that PJ Swart escaped with Louis Botha (refer family notes).

    Later in Life (Post War)
    Petrus Johannes Swart married Jacoba Rachelina Coetzee (born 1890/91) on the 2nd August 1910 in Vryheid, now in the Colony of Natal.

    The following year his father passed away and their son, also named Petrus Johannes Swart, was born circa 1916.

    Their daughter Jacquelina Gideonina Swart was born on the 25th March 1919 in Vryheid.

    Their daughter would marry in 1943 and their son would become a train driver for the South African Railways and marry the following year in 1944.

    Petrus Johannes Swart passed away at Aloeboom in Vryheid on the 4th April 1952.

    Family Notes:
    Speak my name so that I may live again
    The following user(s) said Thank You: EFV, Dave F

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    Swart, P J. Burger 4 months 2 weeks ago #92279

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    Very nice medal and write-up Sturgy. I almost lost my breath there for a moment as I thought I had the other PJ Swart - then I looked at my register and my chap is PH Swart, Petrus Hermanus Swart....


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