This book contains two first hand accounts of the Second Boer War written by a brother and sister. Each had a strong sense of their Boer identity and saw the future of at least a significant portion of southern Africa as offering a chance for their culture to create its own destiny. This made them implacable enemies of the British agenda—and of the British military might to impose it—for the region. By virtue of their sex each of the Boer siblings had to serve their people’s cause in their own way. For the brother that meant joining the citizen army of the Boers and fighting ‘on commando.’ Dietlof van Warmelo’s account gives us an interesting and graphic description of Boer warfare fought in a manner in which they were incomparable experts and which introduced the word ‘commando’ to our language. Johnanna ( ‘Hansie’ ) Brandt (formerly van Warmelo) had to fight the war in her own way, this, among other things, meant tending the sick and wounded as a nurse. This vitally interesting two-in-one volume is offered by Leonaur both in the interests of good value and to illustrate shared events from the perspective of a man and woman connected in the closest of way.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
Mr. Botha urged him to leave on Sunday night, not to remain longer than was necessary, and to take with him a young German, who had been wounded and was now convalescent, after having been concealed and nursed for many months by trusty friends in town.
And another warning he impressed upon him with unusual earnestness:
“Whatever you do, Krause, don’t associate yourself with the party leaving under young Delport’s guidance. I fear that there is something terribly wrong. He is going out with far too large a number, fifty men in all, he told me yesterday, and something warns me that amongst the men there are detectives on the English side. Delport is young and very reckless, and the thought of the great number going out with him this time has made me more anxious than I can say.”
Krause produced his revolver from an inside pocket, and declared that before he surrendered himself a prisoner more than one British soldier would be killed or wounded by him.
With a heavy heart and many sad forebodings, Mr. Botha left him. For he remembered, with increasing anxiety, a visit he had had from Delport, when the latter had asked for his assistance in getting his men—fifty, as he had said—safely through the town.
Mr. Botha had refused at the time, pretending that he had never taken part in such proceedings, and warning the young man that the game he was about to play was hazardous in the extreme.
“If you must go out with those men, leave on Monday night, when the others have escaped in safety,” was his last advice to Delport.
Unfortunately, Fate decreed that Krause and Delport should meet accidentally on Sunday morning, the day after Mr. Botha’s warning to Krause.
Together the two men, flinging caution to the winds, or perhaps in their enthusiasm entirely forgetting the wise counsel of their friend, laid their heads together, and agreed to meet at a certain point that night, Krause with the wounded German and two or three of his most faithful friends, and Delport with his party of fifty men.
As Mr. Botha, with strange intuition, had predicted, there were dastardly traitors in that group of fifty men—Judas-Boers—who, under the pretence of seeking an opportunity of joining the burgher forces, had persuaded Delport to allow them to accompany him. That he was innocent in this black crime of hideous treachery, no one who knew him ever had a doubt.
At the appointed place the two men met. Farther on they were joined by the wounded German and his comrades; still farther, beyond the boundary of the town, under a cluster of trees, well known to them as a secret trysting-place, the large party had assembled one by one and was awaiting the arrival of its leaders.
The latter, seeing in the distance a group of moving figures which they took to be their friends, walked boldly and serenely forward—to find themselves a moment later in a most deadly trap!
The conflict must have been a desperate one!
He who played so brave a part in it, Krause, the only armed man on his side, shot down his opponents one by one, until they closed on him, and then, overpowered by the fearful odds and battered beyond recognition by heavy blows from the butt-ends of their guns, he was at last pinioned to the ground by his infuriated captors.
Three men were taken, Krause, Venter (a mere boy, the son of a widow in Pretoria), and one other—who must be nameless here.
Of the rest some fled into the open veld, while others, hopelessly ignorant of their surroundings or of the route to take, wisely returned to town under cover of the darkness of the night.
With one exception. Fritz W., the wounded German, lost his way and was unable to go back to town before the curfew-bell, the hour at which every resident was supposed to be indoors.
Finding himself near a small camp of soldiers in the vicinity of the Pretoria West Station, he cautiously crept into one of the tents, where he found a solitary soldier, sound asleep. Without a moment’s hesitation, he stretched himself down on the ground beside him, thinking over the tragic events of that awful Sunday evening and dozing off at intervals, from sheer exhaustion of mind and body.
During the night another soldier, evidently returning from duty as guard or outpost, entered the tent and lay beside him on the other side.
So he spent the night between two British soldiers, and with the first approach of dawn he cautiously and stealthily extricated himself from his perilous position and made his way to town.