A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[BRIEF NOTE] Forgotten Paardeberg

Boer War Monument
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

The above statue, erected in downtown Charlottetown between Province House and the Coles Building is a memorial to the lives of Prince Edward Islanders who died in the 1900 Battle of Paardeberg, fought on the very western frontier of the Orange Free State (modern Free State province) as part of the Second Boer War. and nearly bungled by the bloody-minded and incompetent military officers who managed to inflict excessive casualties on their own forces. According to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian troops acquitted themselves quite well.

On the night of 26-27 February, the Canadians were in the lead of a British attempt to seize a section of the Boer trenches by a surprise attack. At 2:00 a.m. on 27 February, the Canadians cautiously advanced in two ranks towards the Boer lines less than half a kilometre away. They had nearly reached the enemy trenches when they ran into a trip-wire and came under heavy rifle fire. The front rank returned the Boer fire while their comrades began to hack trenches out of the hard-baked earth. Suddenly, someone called out “Retire”. Men began to drop back, confusion set in, and most of the battalion returned to the start line. Only “G” and “H” Companies from the Maritimes held firm and poured fire into the Boer positions. It was not much, but it was enough to convince Cronje that his position was untenable. He surrendered later that morning.

18 Canadians died. Two, presumably, were the people whose names, given name middle name family name, were recorded on the other side of the monument. Unsurprisingly, the light footprint of this war has this monument is tucked away, much overshadowed by the much larger cenotaph to casualties of the First and Second World Wars along with the belated mention of the Korean War, facing the intersection Grafton and University Avenue, squarely in the middle of the downtown. (See below.)

Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

Written by Randy McDonald

June 9, 2008 at 10:56 pm

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