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Published:  2015-08-21 Views:  2003
Author:  Fanie
Published in:  Harties Heritage/Erfenis
Fort Uit Anglo-Boereoorlog By Broederstroom

HOEV: OPNAME VAN BESIENSWAARDIGHEDE                  Nr 019

HEHA: SURVEY OF HERITAGE SITES                                     No 019

 

BRITSE BLOKHUIS BY BROEDERSTROOM

DATUM 1901

SAEA BESKERMING (60jr) ja

VERKLAAR nee. GELYS nee

GPS data:X 27.51.39 Y –25.47.03

BROEDERSTROOM 481JQ. GEDEEELTE 120/R

PAD: P 31-1

EIENAAR / KONTAKPERSOON: Basil Green (012-2051210)

 

Die fort op die koppie naby die poort van die Leeuspruit by Klipdrif, Broederstroom in 2002.

The fort on the hill near the poort of Leeu spruit at Klipdrif, Broedrstroom in 2002.

 

Nadat lord Roberts in Junie 1900 Pretoria ingeneem het, was sy taak afgehandel want, soos hy en die Britse regering gedink het, was albei hoofstede van die twee Boererepublieke toe verower. Roberts is teruggeroep en Lord Kitchener is in sy plek gestuur om die nodige “opruiming en afronding” te doen. Dit was egter ‘n misgissing want die Boeremagte het hergroepeer en die twee jaar van guerella-oorlog het nog voorgelê.

 

Kitchener moes dus sy uitgebreide stellings en verbindingslinies vanaf Pretoria tot in die Kaap en Natal op een of ander manier teen gedurige aanvalle verdedig. Ook wou hy die Boere se beweging aan bande lê.

 

Die eerste stap was om op koppies en in passe of by brûe stewige forte of blokhuise van klip te bou. Hiervoor het hy ‘n magdom klipkappers en messelaars ingevoer en die eerste aantal forte is nogal indrukwekkende netjiese bouwerke met dik klipmure, mooi houtvensters en stewige deure en luike van 12mm dik staalplaat. Die forte was meestal dubbelverdieping met ‘n beton boonstevloerblad en ‘n sinkdak bo-oor die tweede verdieping. Baie het plankvloere op die onderste verdieping gehad en almal was van skietgate op alle strategiese plekke en skietgleuwe op die boonste verdieping voorsien wat hulle soos middeleeuse Europese kastele laat lyk. Hierdie romantiese voorkoms was egter nie die doel van die forte nie maar wel hulle praktiese militêre waarde. Maar hierin het die klipforte gefaal. Hulle was te duur en het te lank geneem om te bou en daarby was hulle nie teen kanonvuur bestand nie. In díe opsig was die Boere se forte rondom Pretoria met hulle grondwalle beter.

 

Die tweede soort fort het dubbele sinkplaatmure gehad met ‘n klipgruisvulling tussen die twee lae. Die konstruksie was netso bestand teen geweervuur terwyl die koste en oprigtingstyd baie minder was. Die eerstes van hierdie forte was vierkantig of agthoekig en later het ene Rice die sogenaamde “Rice Pattern” forte uitgevind wat rond was en nog makliker om op te rig.

 

Die forte is per telegraaf met die hoofkwartier verbind wat in hierdie omgewing die BadenPowell-kamp op Rietfontein was. Verder is tussen die forte ‘n sig-sag gang met doringdraadversperring aan weerskate verbind. Aan die doringdraad is blikkies gehang wat ‘n geraas gemaak het as iemand snags daarteen sou raak. Daarop sou die troepe van weerskante met die gang af skiet. Die sig-sag het dus verhoed dat die wagte mekaar skiet.

 

So het die Britte oor die hele land uiteindelik ‘n forte-en-draadheining-stelsel opgebou wat derduisende ponde gekos het, baie troepe in beslag geneem het en tog nie baie effektief was nie want die Boere het óf ‘n gekonsentreerde aanval op een fort geloods en dan met gebuite ammunisie en voorrade deur die linie gebreek, óf net eenvoudig die linies vermy en hulle aanvalle elders uitgevoer.

 

Dis interessant om daarop te let dat in die vredesverdrag van Vereeniging ooreengekom is dat die Britte die forte en drade sou verwyder. Dit is maar halfhartig nagekom. Die plaaslike bevolking het egter na die oorlog die verlate forte geplunder en veral die sinkplate gebruik om hulle afgebrande huise te herstel. Die klipmure is nooit afgebreek nie, gelukkig nie, want dit is nogal glad nie ‘n ontsiering van die landskap nie.

 

In ons omgewing is die fort bo-op die Kosmosberg (094) die opvallendste. Daar is ook op Kommandonek naby die pad ‘n goed behoue klipfort en by Broederstroom naby Klipdrif. Die fort op Hekpoort (006) is nie net skilderagtig en goed behoue nie maar hy is beroemd weens sy verkeerde plasing en heet “Barton’s Folly” omdat hy deur generaal Barton se toedoen daar gebou is. Van die sinkplaatforte op Silkaatsnek (062), Baden-Powellkamp (053), Witwatersberg agter Meerhof (039) ens. Het net nog swak herkenbare kliphope oorgebly.

 

 

 

 

 

BRITISH FORT AT BROEDERSTROOM

DATE 1901

SAHRA PROTECTION (60YR) yes

DECLARED MONUMENT: no. LISTED: no

GPS data: X 27.51.39 Y –25.47.03

BROEDERSTROOM 481JQ.PORTION 120/RE

ROAD: P31-1

OWNER / CONTACT PERSON: Basil Green (012-2051210)

 

In June 1901 the Lincolnshires built blockhouses, five in all, on Kalkheuvel guarding the entrance to the route through to the Moot, followed by another one at ‘Orange Grove’ on the hill overlooking the farm Klipdrif guarding the exit into the Moot.

 

Much time and effort at this time was spent in rounding up snipers, ever active. On the morning of 23rd July two companies, which had marched out from Rietfontein, were sniped at Scroobys’ Farm (011), but had no casualties. The Scrooby family still live in the area and the barn with Lincolnshire bullet holes has been preserved. On the night of 6th October Pte L Thurgood ‘who was a sentry on a trench at Rietfontein was sniped and severely wounded. His leg was amputated next day from which he died shortly afterwards.

 

Two men in the Rietfontein cemetery (054) were killed by lightning and in October lightning struck one of the Kalkheuwel blockhouses. ‘Several rifles were damaged, but no men injured’.

 

Lightning was a real danger to the garrison as the newly designed Rice Pattern forts were constructed of corrugated iron; concentric metal walls filled with small stones to make them bullet proof and covered with a mushroom or tent-shaped metal roof. They cost about ₤16 to build compared with ₤48 for a blockhouse; the Royal Engineers constructed both types. The Lincolns occupied 16 separate blockhouse sites with their HQ at Rietfontein by November 1901; Lt Col Archdale, OC of the Lincolns, who took command in March 1901, was in command of all the outlying posts in the Moot and along the Magaliesberg range, a chain that was to start in August 1901. Most of the forts were to be linked by telegraph.

 

A great deal of activity occurred in the Rietfontein area after August 1901 when a series of forts was built to guard each neck along the Magaliesberg in order to limit Boer movements North and South of the mountain range. There were 5 forts at Horn's Neck, 3 at Smit's Neck, 7 at Silkaatsnek. There were 5 at Commando Neck; four of these were stone two story buildings. A handsome zigzag mule track leads up to the single blockhouse on the western buttress. Stone was plentiful and quarried on site. There were between 3 and 7 forts at all the other useful passes along the Magaliesberg such as Castle Gorge and Nooitgedacht (007). To assist the Lincolns in manning these posts there was a detachment of 200 SA Constabulary, mostly Canadians raised by Baden-Powell. The defences at Rietfontein itself were probably upgraded by building Rice Pattern forts at the same time. The remains of two forts on Camp Hill and four on ‘Gun Hill’ have been identified. This became essential in order to guard the heavy guns on ‘Gun Hill’ at the western end of the complex. There was one 4.7-inch gun at the eastern end pointing at Silkaatsnek according to a diary description, confirmed by ground survey, aerial photography and a very poor photograph in the Lincolnshire archives. An inscribed piece of shale or ‘slasto’ was found within the gun hill complex and had probably been a topping stone of one of the walls. Along with another two names E B Olive 14 Coy W.D. RA had made his mark [WD - Western District]. I4 Coy WD existed from 1st July 1889 to 1st January 1902. In 1897 14 Company moved from Jamaica to Cape Town. The camp was occupied and the hospital in use until May 1902. º 

On April 17th the Officer Commanding Pretoria District visited Rietfontein, Commando Nek, Fort Anderson (039) and South Hill to inspect the defences. General Barton however got his name attached to the fort guarding the Hekpoort pass, perhaps in a less than complementary way since it is called ‘Barton’s Folly’. It is the only fort in the area complete with (concrete) roof. Orange Grove (named after the local produce of the time) is complete except for the roof. All other forts in the region have been partially demolished after the war in terms of the Treaty of Vereeniging. Forts in the Moot at Skeerpoort and Hekpoort have disappeared.

 

After the peace Treaty in 1902 much of the metal sheeting, barbed wire and metal posts were distributed to or taken by the surrounding farming community and most of the masonry blockhouses were supposed to be blown up. In our area the one on Kosmos Mountain is the most conspicuous. The Broederstroom and Kommando nek ones as well as Barton’s Folly at Hekpoort are still in reasonable condition.