DTD (Komdt. H.C.W. Vermaas ). City Coins August 2014
Hendrik Cornelius Wilhelmus Vermaas (1851-1927) was a well-to-do farmer of the present Ottosdal District. He became an Assistant Fieldcomet of a Lichtenburg ward in 1885 and represented Lichtenburg in the Second Volksraad from 1891 to 1896, but when he stood for the First Volksraad he was defeated by the sitting member, J H de la Rey. In 1898 he was promoted Commandant and with 200 men he was involved in the first battle of the Anglo Boer War (Kraaipan, 12 October 1899) where the British armoured train “Mosquito” was derailed. According to the “Dictionary of SA Biography” Vermaas took the surrender of Lt Nesbitt the next morning.
He subsequently saw action at Modder River, Magersfontein and Kimberley. In Feb 1900 he retreated to Christiana and in a telegram from there urged Pres Kruger to conclude peace. After more than a month, following threats that the government would suspend him from office, he returned to the front. After June 1900 he operated mainly in the Western Transvaal and in November 1900 he refused the offer of the rank of General. He was active in numerous skirmishes, including the attack on Lichtenburg (3 March 1901) and the Battle of Tweebosch (7 March 1902) where Lord Methuen was wounded and captured.
In 1907 he was elected to the Transvaal Legislative Assembly, representing Lichtenburg, and in September 1910 he was elected unopposed to the First Union Parliament. In this capacity he received the 1910 Union Medal. He applied for and was awarded the DTD and ABO in October 1922.
Veldkornet Vermaas claimed on his Vorm “A” (DTD Application) that he was the person who fired the 2nd shot of the 3-Year War. After the Kraaipan Skirmish he served for the full duration of the War, including Actions at Kalmberg/Rooidam on 5 May 1900: “At Kalmberg, with the assistance of three others, I saved the gun when the majority of the gun-crew were wounded” and at Silkaatsnek on 11 July 1900 “I was the first person to disarm the English artillery while they were still asleep”. He was also present at, inter alia, Magersfontein, Kimberley, Ysterspruit (Van Donop) and De Klipdrift (Methuen).
He stated that he initially served as Adjutant to Field Cornet J C Coetzee (the man who is documented as firing the first shot) and Commandant Vermaas (his father), then as Lieutenant of a Spy Corps under Captain J J Pienaar and finally as Field Cornet of Ward III, Lichtenburg Commando.
During the First World War Vermaas served as Captain/Major in the Lichtenburg Commando in German South West Africa (Left Wing, 1st Mounted Brigade, Northern Army) and was Mentioned in Despatches: “For conspicuous gallantry in action at Riet; he is an obedient and hardworking Officer and maintained good discipline among his men”.