Talk on Soldiers of the Forgotten War- the Battle of Spion Kop

Posted on Tuesday 28th March 2017

Talk on Soldiers of the Forgotten War- the Battle of Spion Kop

Jane has been asked to give several talks about her book “Tracing your Boer War Ancestors; Soldiers of a Forgotten War.” The one for the Fusiliers’ Museum in Bury was special however. 24 January is the anniversary of the battle of Spion Kop which took place in 1900 during the Boer War. Many of the young men from the Lancashire Fusiliers perished in this dreadful battle and many were severely wounded.

Jane’s book concentrates on the ordinary soldiers of the war. It chronicles their lives in South Africa and how they fared on return to Britain or how their families coped if they didn’t. Through archives and the accounts of descendants she has collected stories from across the UK, right from the north of Scotland to the end of Cornwall.

But on 24th January she gave an account of the war concentrating on Spion Kop and finished by recounting the stories of five Lancashire men who fought that day.

The battle was characterised by many military blunders which combined with soaring African summer temperatures led to the unnecessary deaths of many young men. Ascent of the steep hill at night in dense fog, the inability to dig proper trenches into hard limestone and the fact that the Boers were in hidden positions ready to fire on them lead to overwhelming casualties. The remaining trench on Spion Kop has been left as the Acre of Massacre; the smallest space in which the greatest number of soldiers died in any battle anywhere in the world. Her talk was illustrated by archival photos and ones from her own trip to South Africa in 2013.

Of the stories of the local men;two died that day, two had their lives cut short by terrible wounds and one returned home to work in Lancashire but died in his late twenties. Jane had followed up the families of two of the soldiers and found that their husbands’ deaths had a profound effect on them into the future.

There was great interest from the twenty five people who attended and a particularly poignant memory from a lady whose grandfather had fought in this battle.

Acre of Massacre - site of Spion Kop Battlefield, where more men died in the smallest area in any battle anywhere in the world (Many were Lancs Fusilier's)
Written by Jane Marchese Robinson
Jane at Bury Fusiliers Museum giving presentation on the Anniversary of the Battle of Spion Kop.
Jane being presented with Fusiliers' engraved goblets
Audience at Spion Kop talk, Fusiliers' Museum
Fusilers' statue, Bury

Further Reading

Tracing Your Boer War Ancestors
(Paperback - 183 pages)
ISBN: 9781473822429

by Jane Marchese Robinson
Only £12.99

The Boer War took place between 1899 and 1902, just 15 years before the start of the First World War. Some 180,000 Britons, mainly volunteers, travelled 6,000 miles to fight and die in boiling conditions on the veld and atop ‘kopjes’. Of the over 20,000 who died more than half suffered enteric, an illness consequent on insanitary water.

This book will act as an informative research guide for those seeking to discover and uncover the stories of the men who fought and the families they left behind.…
Read more at Pen & Sword Books...

Of further interest...