The Battlefields Challenge


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It was British Prime Minister Arthur Neville Chamberlain (1937 to 1940) who once said that: ”In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers”.

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The South African War - (11 Oct 1899 – 31 May 1902)

I believe that the same can be said of the South African War – also known as the Anglo-Boer War or Second Boer War - which was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa - put very simply.........

Be as it may – it is well documented history and this challenge will take you back in time – to step onto some of the key stages of the South African timeline.

Bear in mind that when checking out all the hyperlinked web articles and videos, that there are always 3 sides to a story – yours, mine and something in-between! Propaganda and bias - each story-teller glorified his own set of hero's and could relate tales of victory and defeat, jubilation and sorrow.

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The VOG Battlefields Challenge was originated by member Andre Badenhorst (VO124) and first presented to VOG leadership in July 2009. Andre has already completed the challenge a number of times in order to perfect the tour for contenders.

We have integrated Andre Badenhorst’s story with additional historical facts and photographs.

In Andre’s words:

“While this challenge does not entail as much travelling as the 4 Point challenge ……….. it none the less incorporates some wonderful routes as well as numerous emotionally –charged sites.

I believe that each VOG member who takes on the Battlefields challenge will find it both educational as well as life-enriching as one gains renewed appreciation of this most important part of our country’s history.

I hope this challenge will rekindle an appreciation for 'those great bearded warriors charging up a mountain, taking death as nothing. In the moment of battle there was something god-like in those men: their faces change to iron and they seem like fate itself…' - an extract from the son of an English Clergyman’s letter written home at the time of the Boer War.

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While numerous monuments have been erected and battle sites set apart to honour significant events and to remember both Boer & Brit fallen heroes – there are 6 official sites that Andre has identified which are worthy of both the motorcycle ride and representing the theme of the challenge.

These are the Battlefield Challenge official points – which can be completed as individual stations, or as a round trip of about 2130 km - though distance is not a consideration here.

1. Mafikeng Museum (Mafikeng) 2. Honoured Dead Memorial (Kimberley) 3. Woman’s Monument at the War Museum (Bloemfontein) 4. Talana Museum (Dundee) 5. Long Tom Cannon (Long Tom Pass near Lydenburg) 6. Fort Schanskop (Pretoria)

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Point 1 - Mafikeng Museum (Mahikeng)

Mahikeng, still commonly known as Mafikeng and previously Mafeking, is the capital city of the North-West Province of South Africa. Located close to South Africa's border with Botswana, Mahikeng is 1,400 km northeast of Cape Town and 260 km west of Johannesburg.

The Mafikeng Museum was established in 1985 and is housed in the former town hall which was built in 1903. An entire room in the museum is dedicated to the 1899-1900 siege of Mafikeng during the Anglo-Boer War.

  • Photo to be taken in front of museum.

  • Located: Carrington St, Golf View, Mafikeng

  • Tel No: (018) 381-6102

  • Hours: 8am-4pm Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat, Sun & Public Holidays closed

  • Entrance fee: Donation

  • Opened: 1903 (Town Hall)

  • Coordinates: 25°51′S 25°38′E25.85°S 25.633°E

  • Google maps link

Other displays in the museum include the tribal origins of Mafikeng, old tools, crafts and herbal medicines used by ancestors.

There is also a large display on Sol Plaatje, who was the founder of the ANC as well as an activist/politician and a Mafikeng resident during the siege. His experiences are recorded in his “Mafikeng Diary: A black man’s view of a white man’s war.”

Outside the museum is a retired steam locomotive as well as a monument to the fallen, which is situated in Martin Street in the city centre.

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The Siege of Mafeking (Oct 1899 to May 1900)

More of the story here, from British Battles.com.

This was the most famous British action in the Second Boer War and took place at the town of Mafeking over a period of 217 days, from October 1899 to May 1900. Robert Baden Powell was the British garrison commander during the siege, who survived the war to found the Scouting Movement. The lifting of the Siege of Mafeking was a decisive victory for the British and a crushing defeat for the Boers. Because of this it is often known as the Relief of Mafeking.

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Point 2 - Honoured Dead Memorial (Kimberley)

Kimberley is the capital city of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. It’s known for its 19th-century diamond mines, like the deep, hand-dug Big Hole. Nearby, the Kimberley Mine Museum is a re-creation of the town in its heyday, and displays jewellery and uncut diamonds.

The Honoured Dead Memorial is a provincial heritage site in Kimberley. It is situated at the meeting point of five roads, and commemorates those who died defending the city during the Siege of Kimberley in the Anglo-Boer War.


  • Photo to be taken in front of the memorial

  • Located: Memorial Road Area, Kimberley

  • Tel No: None

  • Hours: Open at all times

  • Entrance fee: Free

  • Opened: 28 November 1904

  • Coordinates: 28°45'04.7"S 24°46'10.1"E

  • Google maps link

  • Also see the following websites:

Artefacts website

Solomon Edwards Guesthouse

Honoured Dead Memorial

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Siege of Kimberley (14 Oct 1899 – 15 Feb 1900)

More of the story here, from a British perspective.

Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal besieged the diamond mining town. The Boers shelled the town with their superior artillery in an attempt to force the garrison to capitulate. General French relieved Kimberley after a siege of 123 days, resulting in a British victory.

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POI - The Battle of Magersfontein (11 Dec 1899)

The battle of Magersfontein was one of three major British defeats during what was known as Black Week, the other two being the battles of Colenso and Stormberg. British forces under Lieutenant General Lord Methuen were advancing north along the railway line from the Cape in order to relieve the Siege of Kimberley, but their path was blocked at Magersfontein by a Boer force that was entrenched in the surrounding hills.

More of the story here, from a British Battles.com.

The battlefield is located south of Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, South Africa and can be reached either via the airport road (31.5 km) or by national road via the Modder River (47.5 km).

A word of warning: Some members have struggled to access these sites via the dirt road if rainy conditions persist - but if you can, the Magersfontein Battle site is well worth the detour.

Magersfontein Slagveld Museum - Google maps link

Magersfontein Memorial - Google maps link

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Point 3 - Anglo-Boer War Museum (Bloemfontein)

Bloemfontein is the capital city of the province of Free State of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals and is the seventh largest city in South Africa.

After the unveiling of the National Women's Memorial in 1913 the National Women's Memorial Committee was of the opinion that a museum, solely dedicated to the preservation of the Anglo-Boer War history and objects should be established. On 30 September 1931 the War Museum was officially opened by General J.B.M. Hertzog.

In 1934 the Museum was transferred to the Union Government and placed under the management of the Council of Curators of the National Museum in Bloemfontein, governed by a War Museum Council. On 1 April 1953 the War Museum became an independent museum with a Council of its own. In the following decades to come the museum was expanded by adding new exhibition halls, an administration block and an auditorium.

Woman's Monument

In 1906, President Marthinus Theunis Steyn, President of the Republic of the Orange Free State (1896-1902), requested that a monument be erected to the thousands of women and children who died in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) in British concentration camps and elsewhere.

  • Photo to be taken in front of the Woman's Monument

  • Located: Monument Road, Faunasig, Bloemfontein.

  • Tel No: (051) 447-3447 (Museum)

  • Hours: Mon to Fri (8.00 to 4.00), Sat (10-4), Sun (11-4), Public holidays (9-4)

  • Closed Good Friday, Christmas and New Year's day

  • Entrance fee at Museum: Adults R20.00, Children R5.00, Pensioners R15,00

  • Opened: 16 December 1913

  • Coordinates: 29°08'24.9"S 26°12'34.4"E

  • Google maps link


Other memorials on the property:

Over the years, the Women’s Monument Commission has attempted to ensure that nothing be erected around the original structure that could hamper the view of the Monument. Here are the other memorials erected.

  • 44 concentration camp memorial stones along the paved path leading to the Monument.

  • Sculptures Afskeid (1986), Banneling (1983) and Bittereinder (1994).

  • The plates commemorating the centenary of the Peace of Vereeniging in 2002.

  • The new Garden of Remembrance in front of the entrance to the War Museum.

  • Emily Hobhouse's ashes are located at the Women's Memorial.

Below is the beautiful sculpture "Die Afskeid' by Danie de Jager (1986). A Boer soldier bids his wife and child farewell after being called to war in 1899.

Other websites you can view:

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Point 4 - Talana Museum (Dundee)

Dundee is a small mining town in Kwazulu Natal that was founded in 1882 after the Boers discovered rich coal deposits close to the surface. It was named after the hometown of a pioneering Scottish settler, Peter Smith, who founded the Dundee Coal Company in 1889.

The Talana museum, located just outside of the town - comprises 23 buildings, dedicated to subjects as diverse as war and agriculture, mining, industry and domestic life. Within short driving distances are some of the most famous battlefields in the country; namely Blood River, Rorke's Drift, Fugitives Drift, Isandlwana, Elandslaagte, Spioenkop, Colenso and the Siege of Ladysmith.