Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 15: Laaste vuurgeveg op die bergkruin

Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 14: Geveg teen die Britse reserwe
Februarie 15, 2021
Die Boere-aanval op Majuba – Deel 16: Herorganisering
Februarie 15, 2021

Christo HC Geldenhuys

 

Die Boere het die kruinrant van Majubaberg bereik. Die Britse reserwe wat ontplooi was om die Boere-aanval op die kruinrant in die noordweste te stuit, het na ’n bloedige vuurgeveg teruggeval tot agter die rif bo-op Majubakruin. Die laaste, intenste en bloedigste fase van die geveg sou volg.

Dit is hoe dit op Majubakruin lyk. Die foto is in ’n oostelike rigting vanaf MacDonaldkoppie geneem. Die rif op die berg kan aan die rotsagtige dele uitgeken word. Let egter daarop dat die rif aan die duskant in effek in twee gesplit word deur die bopunt van wes-kloof (regs op die foto). Stephanus Roos-hulle het dus van links na regs op die foto oor die bergkruin geveg.

Die rif op Majubakruin, gesien vanaf die suide/Britse kant. Let op dat die rif nie oral ewe hoog is nie – direk anderkant die pannetjie is dit aansienlik laer.

Wanneer mens na van die Boere se stories luister, klink dit asof dit sommer so vinnig-vinnig was toe is die Britte af aan die anderkant van die berg. Ons luister na al die stories, die kortes en die langeres en ons pas die legkaartstukkies inmekaar. Dit is egter eers wanneer ons na die Britte se weergawe gaan luister, dat die volle storie duidelik word.

Christiaan de Wet se storie is seker die kortste:

“… maar niks kon ons keer nie, en ons is ten laaste op die berg. Toe was daar ’n geweldige vuur van weerskante, maar dit het nie lank geduur nie. Daar vlug die Engelse. Ons is agter hul in, en skiet hulle waar hulle hulle die berg anderkant af hardloop, totdat hulle buite skot was.”[1]

Hermann se storie is net so kort:

“Dit het so mooi gelyk gegaan: toe die een klomp storm het al drie gelyk op die berg uitgekom sodat die troepe toe onder drie vure was. V/K Roos en ek en de Jager was eerste op die laaste bank uit. Toe skiet ons op die bol en die ander manne het toe ook vinnig uitgekom. Die troepe het toe gevlug. Toe het ons hulle agtervolg tot waar hulle die kranse afgeval het.”[2]

Nee, Kilian se storie, soos vertel by die A.G. Visserskool is die heel kortste:

“Toe is ons bo en skiet die vyand dat dit naar is, want ons skiet van drie punte af. Die Engelse word deur Fanie Roos voorgekeer, en hulle storm die kranse af en vlug in die sloot in die nek in.”[3]

Kilian vertel dit ook so:

“Ai! maar toe skiet ons. Die rooibaadjies hardloop die pannetjie in en ons hardloop ook vorentoe tot aan die kant van die pannetjie. Daar skop ons vas en vuur. Ek laat so drie-drie oormekaar kom, en as ek aftrek, lê al drie. Weer sit ons hulle agterna. Dwarsdeur die pan tot op die hoë bergkrans anderkant waar hulle aftuimel en afspring, sodat sommige van die krans af doodval en ’n paar leweloos in die bome bly hang. Toe die oorgeblewe soldate hulle daaronder te pletter val, draai ons om. Ek voel nou nog naar as ek aan daardie toneel terugdink.”[4]

Nota: In die kort vertellings hierbo, hoor ons by herhaling dat die Boere baie geskiet het. Dit klink soos “wen van die vuurgeveg.”

Gelukkig vertel Stephanus Roos darem in meer detail. Hy het laas nog vertel hoe die Britse reserwe hulle met bajonette wou storm. Nou verder:

“Net toen di Engelse ver ons storm, kry Ferreira weer kans en hy kom oek uit met syn manskap en ko’el hulle vuurwarm van di ander kant af. En net op di kritike o’enblik hoor ek van ’n derde kant af oek skiit; daar kom toen Stefanus Trichardt en D. Malan met ’n klompi Utrechse mense oek uit: Toen kry di Engelse dit van 3 kante af gelyk. En ek denk dis net toen oek dat Colley geval is. Dit kon di Engelse ni staan ni. Dit kom toen te hard. En hulle bars somar di berg anderkant af.

“Ons mense loop toen somar storm om di Engelse wat vlug van agter af te skiit. En ek oek same. Mar ’n menigte Engelse bly somar staan en gé ver hulle o’er. Toen ek siin hoe baing Engelse daar nog agter ons staan, wat ver hulle o’ergege het, werd ek bang, as hulle siin hoe min ons is, dat hulle straks ver ons van agter kan anval, en as di voorste wat vlug dan omspring, dan is ons tussen twe vure. Ek ken gen Engels ni, mar ek kry toen gou eeu van ons jonge kerels wat Engels ken en ek sê ver hom: ‘Skré nou hard ver hulle in Engels, as hulle ver hulle wil o’erge, sal hulle niks kwaads o’erkom ni. Mar dan moet hulle almal gaan plat lê tot di geveg verby is. Want as een syn kop optel, dan kan ek ni help as hy ’n ko’el kry ni.’ Hulle gaan toen almal plat lê, en so kon ons manskap di vlugtende Engelse agterna skiit. Party spring somar di hoge kranse af, en party het in di kranse en bosse bly hang.”[5]

Daar is egter een Boereverteller wie se storie ’n ander strekking het. JC Bekker vertel as volg:

“Net toe veldk. Ferreira en sy manne die eerste sarsie los op die Engelse het die Engelse die vestings verlaat en gevlug in die rigting van die graspannetjie bo-op die kruin. Ek was langs veldk. Roos en my broer Hans langs my. Op die teken het ons in die Engelse vestings gespring en aanhoudend op hulle geskiet. Tussen ons waar die meeste Engelse toe was, het dit ’n effens knoppie gemaak wat die gesig op die Engelse – toe in die graspannetjie – ietwat belemmer het.

“Ons het regop gestaan in die vestings van die Engelse en aanhoudend geskiet. Weer, miskien toevallig, het ek langs veldk. Roos gestaan en my broer langs my. Ons was van die more sonop heeldag sy aan sy.

“Veldk. Roos het met sy een voet op ’n klip getrap. ‘Kêrels, storm tot op daardie knoppie!’ klink veldk. Roos se welluidende stem vandag nog helder in my ore.

“Ons spring uit die skans en hardloop na die knoppie – omtrent 40-50 tree vooruit. Helaas net vier van ons, ek, my broer Hans, Willem Steenkamp en nog ’n persoon wat ek nie geken het nie.

“Van die knoppie brand ons weer los op die Engelse omtrent 30 tree voor ons. Ek skiet ietwat links weg, Hans en die ander twee skiet vlak voor hulle in die pan, waar die meeste Engelse was. In hierdie tydstip het daar byna nie meer enige teenstand van die vyand gekom nie.

“Net toe Hans sy arms lig om sy tweede skoot te skiet, tref ’n koeël hom onder sy arms deur. Ek gooi daarop my geweer neer en gryp hom in my arms en kniel met hom op die grond, terwyl hy sy laaste paar snikke gee – dit was ’n doodskoot gewees.

“Die stormloop van ons vier alleen was die noodlottige fout van die slag van Majuba en dit is ’n bestiering van God dat ons nie al vier daar dood geskiet is nie, want op daardie tydstip het die Boere woes gevuur van agter ons.”[6]

Mnr. Bekker het vertel dat hy daar bly sit met sy broer in sy arms totdat die slag afgeloop was. Hy meen dit was skaars tien minute nadat Hans geskiet was, omtrent 14:00.

Die insident van hoe Bekker gesneuwel het, is moeilik om te beoordeel, omdat so min detail bekend is. Op die oog af dui dit op ’n taktiese flater deur Roos. Hy het waarskynlik opdrag gegee om te storm, voordat die vuurgeveg voldoende gewen was. Om “omtrent 40-50 tree” in ’n vuurgeveg vorentoe te hardloop, is swak taktiek. Die vier Boere wat hierdie stormloop uitgevoer het, was hulle lewens waarskynlik te danke aan die swak dissipline van hulle makkers wat nie Roos se opdrag uitgevoer het nie, maar voortgegaan het om vanuit hulle posisies te vuur. Dit het egter ’n veiligheidsrisiko laat ontstaan deurdat hierdie Boere in effek van agter af vuursteun gelewer het. Dit het waarskynlik gely tot AJ Bekker se dood aan die hand van “vriendelike vuur”.

Dit is opmerklik dat die Boerevertellers nie detail verskaf oor hoe hulle die vuurgeveg gewen het nie. Waarskynlik was dit omdat hulle manier van veg vir hulle so vanselfsprekend was, dat dit nie nodig was om dit te beskryf nie. Wanneer mens egter na die Britse vertellers se weergawe luister, word die kontras in die manier van veg tussen die Boere en die Britte skrikwekkend duidelik.

Wat sien mens hier? Dit is miskien belangriker om te vra: wat sien mens nie? Mens sien nie dekking nie! In elke geval nie dekking teen vuur nie … Hierdie is ’n panorama van die rif op die bergkruin, geneem van die bergkruinrant van Hamiltonkoppie. Dit is wat Roos en De Wet se manne wat daar opgekom het, tydens die laaste vuurgeveg sou sien. Vir oriëntasie: Links op die horison is die rif redelik hoog; verder na regs sien mens dat die rif al hoe laer word (voor die pannetjie) en dan weer hoër (waar een van die klipstapels gepak is). Die rif gaan dan verder weswaarts. Die Boere het hier slegs dekking teen sig gehad – gras. Die gras sou sekerlik ook die Boere se sig belemmer het, met gepaardgaande minder akkurate vuur van hulle kant af. Die Boere lê tussen gras, die Britte het die voordeel van effense hoë grond (die rif), wat dekking teen vuur bied. Die Boere wen die vuurgeveg … (Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020)

 

Nou nader aan die rif. Hierdie klein klippies bied nie dekking teen vuur nie … Dit is een van die redes hoekom die Boere (met uitsondering van vier man), nie hier vorentoe gestorm het nie, maar van agter dekking (teen sig) voorgegaan het om die vuurgeveg te wen. Dekking teen sig agter gras – noodwendig het dit ook die Boere se sig belemmer en tot onakkurater vuur gelei. (Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020)

 

Voordat ons na hierdie detail luister, laat ons eers hoor hoe onderluitenant Scott, van die Vlootbrigade, ’n breë oorsig oor gebeure verskaf. Hy het verwikkelinge aanvanklik vanaf die suidwestelike kruinrand gevolg, maar beland later midde in die stryd:

“Shortly before one o’clock the firing increased, and I heard several volleys. Some men then passed me and said that the Boers were on the top of the hill, and our men were being driven back. I at once took my men over to the point where the enemy were attacking; they had not gained the top but were apparently close up; the 92nd and part of the 58th were firing on them. I could not see the remainder of the Naval Brigade on account of the rising ground; the greater part of them were on the right front of the mountain with Lieutenant Trower. A great number of wounded men were in the hollow. On getting near the general I received an order from him by Mr. Hay, correspondent of the Daily News, to take my men back to their former position. A few minutes after arriving there I saw our forces beginning to retire down both sides of the mountain towards the camp, and the retreat then became general. The Boers had gained the top of the hill and were coming across in great numbers to cut off the men retreating. I then retired with my six men down the path by which we ascended. The enemy poured a tremendous fire down the sides of the mountain, so that we were obliged to scatter, and make the best of our way out of range.”[7]

Nou vir meer detail:

Die “Record or Digest of Service”, soos opgestel deur majoor White, verstrek die volgende:

“Once in possession of the brow, they (die Boere) had but to lie down in the cover which it afforded, and search out the interior with their fire. … The Boers then, led by a few (Black men), pushed in great force into the gap thus left in the western face (Noordwes-koppie), and there established took the north face in flank and reverse, and rendered it untenable. Almost immediately after the Boers showed in force on the N E angle on a Koppie, marked 2 in plan, which is the highest point on Majuba top (Haykoppie). Our men now formed behind the ridge 7. 9. 4. (Rif op die bergkruin) fixed bayonets, and as the unequal fire contest could not be long doubtful, Lieutenant Hamilton suggested to Sir George Colley that the men should be ordered to charge. Sir George replied Not yet, wait till they cross the open, and then we will give them a volley and charge. But the Boers were not likely to give up the advantages of their better positions and the superiority of their many rifles to cross the open and risk shock tactics with an enemy trained to close order fighting, and our men taken in front from the west, in flank and rear from 2 (Haykoppie) and from the hollow below 10 fell rapidly.”[8]

Majoor Faser skryf later die volgende:

“The Boers now advance on us in great numbers, firing with extraordinary rapidity. The two Highlanders on my right and left fell dead shot though the head as they rose to fire. We could see nothing but riffle muzzles and smoke …”[9]

Seker die mees kleurryke vertelling is dié van Carter. Sy vertelling begin waar hy in die pannetjie agter die rif op Majubakruin is:

“In our direct rear the ground was so precipitous that no one could scale it. To the front it was also free to a certain extent of cover for the enemy. The Boers had evidently made up their mind to take pointes of the crest in detail, and now all their efforts were concentrated on the left. Major Fraser sang out, ‘Men of the 92nd, don’t forget your bayonets!’ Colonel Steward added, ‘And the 58th, and ‘the Naval Brigade’ come from another officer – Captain MacGregor, I think – the General at the same time directing movements as coolly as if at a review. The men did fix bayonets, and standing shoulder to shoulder in a semicircle, poured volleys back for the volleys fired by the enemy. Numbers of our poor fellows now fell, and they could not be carried far, for there was no shelter of any great safety to take them to. The stand made at this last stage lasted perhaps ten minutes, and then our men fell short of ammunition. It must be remembered that there were only the seventy rounds carried by our men in their poaches (the reserve being below and unavailable). At the same time a party of Boers crept up to the two score of men holding our front and extreme right and rear, and they poured in volleys at the little band of defenders, who fixed bayonets and charged down on the enemy. Perhaps not more than three or four ever came within thrusting distance, so hot was the fire on them as they charge the twenty yards separating them from their foes. To return to where the general and staff and main body were, now not more than 100, of our men, the officers still encouraged the men ‘to fire low’, and only when the Boers jumped up to pour a volley in. ‘Give them the bayonet next time after they fired’, was the last command I hear given, and in a moment our poor fellows broke and rushed for the crest in our rear. I ran with them, being only four or five yards behind the line that had made the last stand. How anyone gained the ridge at the rear and escape to camp, down the precipice there, a fall of thirty feet clear, and then on and over enormous boulders and brush, a good quarter of a mile further yet to go before the foot of the hill was reached.

“Under the bullets that rained on us from all sides – I don’t know. Four men dropped by my side as I ran with the crowd across the basin, before even reaching the head of the precipice. Fortunately, there was a kind of heather growing out of the side of the precipice. I can only speak for myself, and I managed to save myself from injury in jumping over down by catching at this herb. Then immediately I found that I was with two or three others, who came after me, exposed to a dreadful fire as we scrambled over the rocks. The bullets rained on the stones, and several poor fellows, panting and bleeding, were struck as they tried to scramble away. I determined to give up running, as I could tell by the way the bullets came that the Boers were all around us, though I could not see them myself, having thought best to follow a donga shrouded in bush, taking shelter as best I could in a dry gulley covered with slabs of rock. I determined to wait till nightfall, and then try to reach camp. All the while, and for at least half an hour after we made a rush away, the bullets of the enemy pelted incessantly in the bush and on the rocks in every direction, as I could hear by the sound; then I heard big guns firing, and took hope, thinking a party from camp with artillery had been pushed to the base of the hill to cover the flight of the fugitives. Half a dozen shots from the big guns, and the fire of the Boers above my head and right ceased, and I heard a voice speaking in English and several others in Dutch close round us. Knowing that they must be searching for their enemies, I came out of my hiding-place and sang out to them. They asked: ‘Have you any guns.’ My reply was ‘No’.”[10]

Foto geneem vanaf Ooskoppie, suidwaarts. Die skerp reghoekie op die horison agter is die driehoeksbaken op Haykoppie. Die foto toon duidelik hoe kwesbaar die laaste Britse stelling op die rif was vir omvleueling vanaf die oostekant (links op die foto). Daar is wel maar min dekking vir die Boere wat hier opgekom het … (Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020)

 

Hamilton het die volgende vertel:

“Inside the saucer all was confusion and soon the Boers were firing into them from the rim. Hamilton collected a few men and attempted a charge, but was stopped by Colonel Hay, his commanding officer, who thought there were too few men, as indeed there were. He then ran down to General Colley and saluting said, ‘I do hope, General, that you will let us have a charge, and that you will not think it presumption on my part to have come up and asked you.’ Sir George replied, ‘No presumption, Mr Hamilton, but we will wait until the Boers advance on us, then give them a volley and charge.’

“Hamilton was standing near the general and had picked up a rifle. Suddenly, not more than fifteen yards in front of him, he saw a rifle stuck up out of a tuft of grass, evidently being reloaded. Looking more carefully he made out the head and shoulders of a Boer. He put up his rifle and covered him, but just as he began to press the trigger the Boer fired and a bullet shattered Hamilton’s left wrist, causing the rifle to fall from his hand. He turned round in despair and saw that the whole line had given way. Sir George Colley, his revolver held high over his head turned in the direction in which the troops were flying and shouted to hold the rear ridge. Though he had a bad start Hamilton ran for it, clutching his broken wrist in his right hand. Under a murderous fire he just made the crest, a bullet cutting his coat again and another grazing his knee. Then, either a spent bullet, or a stone knocked up by a bullet, hit him on the back of his head and he fell unconscious behind the shelter of a small rock.”[11]

Skets van generaal Colley op Majubakruin, net voordat hy geskiet is. (Illustrated London News, 14 Mei 1881)

 

Majoor Hay vertel later die volgende:

“Hamilton asked Sir G. Colley to allow the men to charge, but Sir George refused to do so, and, in my opinion, was right in refusing. There was nothing to charge. There was not a Boer to be seen. From the position we then occupied the ground went down in a gentle slope for a short distance, and then came a steep descent. The Boers had collected just where the steep descent began, and without being seen themselves their fire swept the glacis – like slope which would have had to be crossed before they could be reached, and, besides, the slope was under a heavy fire from a ridge only four or five hundred yards off. A charge under such circumstances would, in my opinion, have been madness, and could have done no good.

“The line remained firing in the direction of the Boers till it received the order to retire. He (General Colley), I suppose, considered there was nothing to be gained by holding on any longer firing at an invisible enemy. His men were being shot down without being able to inflict any loss upon the enemy it was a mere matter of time how long the unequal contest could last – simply depended on how long it would take to finish off the survivors. As soon as the ridge was left, and not till then the Boers came on, firing as fast as they could. That the retreat became a flight is not to be wondered at, for the Boers were under cover on the ridge we had left, and we were crossing the open field.

“There was nothing the men could do. They stood were ordered to retire. There were no reserves, and the supports did not bolt. We did certainly go before the Boers reached us, for the very simple reason that the Boers did not leave their cover till we had retired. I have met people who thought that the Boers had charged and driven us off the hill. Such is not the case. It was the crushing fire which compelled us to retire, and until we had retired not a Boer was to be seen.” (Nota: Mens noem dit “wen van die vuurgeveg van agter dekking.”)[12]

“Preparatory sketch in oils … of the Boer victory at Majuba. The picture represents the action on top of the mountain, when Colley was killed during the finale of the action” – Jason Askew. (Artist). (Placed on the Facebook group “The Boer Wars / Anglo Boer wars 1880-1881 and 1899-1902. History” on 2 January 2021, by Jason Askew)

 

Major MacGregor vertel die volgende:

“When the brow of the slope had to be given up, the next position was formed in a broken line, extending from the mound (4) to the hillock (6) behind the low ridge. If the fire at the commencement was searching, how much more so was it now, when the Boers were nearly surrounding the position – in fact, their fire extended from the northern almost to the southern side round by the western. The eastern, being higher than the centre, of course protected the defenders in the centre from fire from that flank. The line was exposed to fire from these three sides, and the men were dropping in all directions.”

Cromb gee ook majoor MacGregor se siening weer, sonder om hom direk aan te haal.: “Major Macgregor, as we stated, supports General Hay’s view as to the impracticability of a charge. ‘The order to fix bayonets was given,’ he says, but the General could well see that a charge was impracticable when thus placed. In fact, unless the Boers had themselves charged up from some point it is difficult to see in what direction the charge was to have been made. I have been asked if a charge might not have had a moral effect on the enemy. I fail to see how a charge could have had any moral effect, made by a handful of men in a broken line on an unseen enemy, covered by a position (the ridge) from which an overwhelming and well-directed fire could have immediately been delivered on the defenders exposing themselves in an open situation.”[13]

Dokter Mahon vertel die volgende:

“The fire now became so hot, and the hospital being partially exposed to it, I had the Commander removed on a stretcher by Bevis and Bone, L.S., to a sheltered spot on the south-west front.

“I was returning to the hospital when I saw our force beginning a retreat, which soon became a rout. The Boers gained the rocks just above the hospital in great numbers and poured a tremendous fire indiscriminately on everybody they say. Dr. Landon and two of the A.H.C. were shot down whilst attending to the wounded, the former being mortally wounded.

“I then went back to the Commander, and fixed my handkerchief on a stick, and held it up over him, but it was almost immediately shot away, and a hot volley fired all round us. Bevis then fixed a piece of lint on a bayonet, but was immediately twice shot through the helmet. I ordered him to lie down, until the last of our men had passed us, and did the same, myself. When the Boers had driven our men over the side of the hill, and had got within fifteen paces, I got up with, a piece of lint in my hand, and shouted to them that I was a doctor and had a wounded man with me. Two or three of the younger Boers wanted to shoot us but were prevented by the elder men. The Boers then got all round us, and opened fire on our men retreating down the aide of the hill.”[14]

Foto geneem vanaf die suidelike bergkruinrant. In die voorgrond is klippe; die dowwe donker ovaalvorm tussen die twee besoekers is die pannetjie; direk agter sien mens die rif. MacDonald-koppie is links agter. Mens kan duidelik op die foto sien dat die Britte wat vanaf die rif suidwaarts gevlug het, teen ’n helling moes ophardloop en dan nog oor die klippe net voor die kruinrand strompel. Dit terwyl die Boere van agter af op hulle vuur … (Christo Geldenhuys, Desember 2020)

 

Tydelike onderkorporaal Joseph John Farmer het die Victoria Cross verwerf vir sy optrede op Majuba. Die medalje is toegeken op grond van die volgende:

“For conspicuous bravery during the engagement with the Boers at the. Majuba Mountain, on the 27th February, 1881, when he showed a spirit of self-abnegation and an example of cool courage which cannot be too highly commended. While the Boers closed with the British troops near the wells, Corporal Farmer held a white flag over the wounded, and when the arm holding the flag was shot through, he called out that he had ‘another’. He then raised the flag with the other arm and continued to do so until that also was-pierced with a bullet.”[15]

 

Samevatting en evaluering

Die Boere het van verskillende kante af op die Britte op die kruin gevuur. ’n Mens moet noodwendig veralgemeen in die beskrywing daarvan. Daar moet in ag geneem word dat persone wat so min as 50 m uit mekaar was, in totaal verskillende posisies was (a.g.v. die terrein) en dat hulle weergawes daarom kan verskil.

Die Boere het die bergkruinrant asook enige beskikbare plantegroei (gras en baie lae bossies) as dekking gebruik en vandaar op die Britte gevuur. Die Boerevuur was vanaf drie kante – wes, noord en oos.

Die meerderheid Britte was agter die westelike (en laer) deel van die rif op die bergkruin. Die lede van verskillende regimente was vermeng met mekaar, wat dit vir die Britse offisiere moeiliker gemaak het om beheer uit te oefen. Die Britte het in die rigting van die Boere gevuur, wat egter onsigbaar was vir die Britte, a.g.v. die effektiewe gebruik van dekking, sowel as die swartkruitrook. Vir die eerste keer het die Britse offisiere besef dat hulle manne te hoog skiet, en het bevel gegee dat hulle laag moes skiet. Te midde van die hewigste, en beslissende vuurgeveg was die Britte se fokus egter om ’n bajonetstormloop uit te voer, sodra die Boere sou storm. Daar is ook ’n klein onsuksesvolle bajonetstormloop na die oostekant uitgevoer.

Die Boere het egter nie gestorm nie, maar het voortgegaan om die vuurgeveg van agter dekking te wen. Hulle het die vuurgeveg tot so ’n mate gewen dat van die Britte na die suidekant van die bergkruin gevlug en baie vinnig en onveilig die berg af beweeg het. Ander Britte op die bergkruin het oorgegee. Die Boere het agter die vlugtende Britte aan gestorm. Aanvanklik het hulle op die vlugtende Britte vanaf o.a. die rif op Majubakruin gevuur en daarna verder gestorm tot by die suidelike bergkruinrant vanwaar hulle op die Britte wat teen die berg af gevlug het, gevuur het.

Tydens die ongeveer tien minute wat die laaste vuurgeveg op Majubakruin geduur het, het albei kante volgens hulle voorkeur geveg. Soos waarskynlik nog nie te vore in die oorlog nie, staan die twee voorkeurmetodes in skrille kontras tot mekaar. Die Britte het geskree “fix bayonets!” en “… stand shoulder to shoulder”. Hulle vuur wel terug op die Boere, maar hulle fokus is daarop om ’n bajonetstormloop uit te voer. Hulle het gewag dat die Boere moet opspring en/of vorentoe storm, sodat hulle ’n sarsie kan vuur en ’n bajonetstormloop kon uitvoer. Die Boere had dus die inisiatief. Die Boere het egter geveg soos die Britte nie verwag het hulle moet veg nie – hulle het voorgegaan om die vuurgeveg van agter dekking te wen. Die Boere, wat in die jagveld van veld- en skietkuns geleer het, se metode van veg is meer toepaslik in hierdie era van agterlaai-doppiegewere – hulle wen die vuurgeveg … en storm dan. Ook hulle storm is in wese ’n voortsetting van die vuurgeveg – hulle hou aan om op die vlugtende vyand te vuur.

Die Boere het deur die doelwit (Majubakruin) geveg. Hulle kon egter nie op die konvensionele wyse uitbuit deur nog ’n ent (bv. 300 m) anderkant die doelwit deur te beweeg nie. Die kranse aan die suidekant van Majuba verhinder of vertraag so ’n beweging. Die Boere kompenseer daarvoor deur vanaf die suidelike bergkruinrant vuur op die vlugtende Britte vol te hou om sodoende te verhoed dat die Britte kan herorganiseer en ’n teenaanval loods. Daar het wel ’n kleiner groepie Boere vanaf die oostekant onder die kranse langs beweeg en ook op die vlugtende Britte gevuur.

Daar was twee voorvalle waar Britse mediese personeel ’n witvlag vertoon het – volgens hulle oordeel ’n aanduiding dat daar gewondes by hulle was en dat die Boere daarom nie daar moes vuur nie. In albei gevalle het die Boere op die witvlag gevuur – iets waaroor van die Britte later kritiek gelewer het. Aan Boerekant word daar nie melding van hierdie twee witvlae gemaak nie en dit is onbekend waarom die Boere op die witvlae gevuur het. Dit moet in ag geneem word dat ’n witvlag nie die aanvaarbare wyse is om ’n mediese pos aan te dui nie – ’n witvlag is die sein van oorgawe. In beide gevalle was die witvlag vertoon terwyl die Britte nie oorgegee het nie – dit was dus misbruik van die witvlag deur die Britte.

Dit blyk waarskynlik te wees dat generaal Colley wou oorgee deur ’n sakdoek aan sy swaard vas te bind. Dit word egter deur albei kante aanvaar dat so ’n witvlag nooit vertoon is nie en die Britte nie gepoog het om oor te gee nie.

Die Boere het wel later teen die suidelike berghang beweeg om krygsgevangenes te neem en wapens te buit – dit sal onder die volgende deel, “Herorganisasie”, bespreek word.

 

Bronne:

Bristish Governement Publication. The London Gazette. TSO (The Stationery Office) under the superintendence of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), part of The National Archives. (Datum van publikasie soos in die voetnota aangedui.)

Cromb, James. 1891. The Majuba disaster. A story of Higland heroism told by officers of the 92nd Regiment. London.

Hamilton, Ian B.M. 1960. The happy warrior. A life of General Sir Ian Hamilton, GCB, GCMG, DSO. London.

Hermann, H.B.K. 1981. Slag van Laingsnek en Amajuba 1881 soos opgeteken deur H.B.K. Hermann. Pretoriana. Tydskrif van die Genootskap Oud-Pretoria. Majuba 100 jaar. 27 Febr. 1881 – 27 Febr. 1881. Nr. 81 Julie.

Kestell, John Daniel. 1920. Christiaan de Wet: ’n lewensbeskrywing. Johannesburg: Nasionale Pers. Beskikbaar by: https://repository.up.ac.za/handle/2263/12672

Kilian, J.D. 1975. Laat ons veg. Johannesburg: Perskor Uitgewery.

Norris-Newman, Charles L. 1882. With the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State in 1880-1. London: WMH Allen and Co.

Porter, Withworth. 1889. History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume 2. London: Longmans, Green and Co.

Roberts, Deon B.S. 1959. Die rapportryer van Majuba. Historia Junior, Desember. Beskikbaar by: https://www.afrikanergeskiedenis.co.za/?p=13117

“S” (Skrywer onbekend). 1896. Die Slag van Amajuba, Ons Klyntji, Deel 1, No. 1. Maart. Paarl: D.F. du Toit en Co. Beperk, Drukkers en Uitgewers.

 

[1] Christiaan de Wet aangehaal in Kestell, Christiaan de Wet: ’n lewensskets, p. 27.

[2] Hermann in Pretoriana. Majuba 100 jaar, p. 10.

[3] Kilian, aangehaal in Roberts, Die rapportryer van Majuba, p. 11.

[4] Kilian, Laat ons veg, p. 28. Mens wil nie afbreuk doen aan die drieBrittemeteenskootplatgeskietstorie nie, maar dit het seker nie veel meer as twee kere gebeur nie.

[5] Stephanus Roos in Ons Klyntji, p. 12.

[6] JC Bekker se brief aan die Transvaler, soos aangehaal in Pretoriana. Majuba 100 jaar, 1881, p. 42.

[7] Onderluitenant Scott se verslag in The London Gazette, 3 May 1981, p. 2019.

[8] Cromb, The Majuba disaster, pp. 16-17.

[9] Fraser, in Porter, History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, p. 39.

[10] Carter, aangehaal in Norris-Newman, With the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State in 1880-1, p. 203.

[11] Hamilton, The happy warrior, pp. 43-44.

[12] Cromb, The Majuba disaster, pp. 20-22.

[13] Cromb, The Majuba disaster, p. 24.

[14] Mahon, The London Gazette, 3 May 1881, pp. 2109-2110.

[15] The London Gazette, 17 May 1881, p. 2553.