Monday, November 30, 2009

Ladysmith, South Africa

What makes this card special is that it shows recent damage to the City Hall in Ladysmith, South Africa from the Boer war.  The City Hall looks very much the same today, although the damage to the clock tower has long since been repaired. The cannons, Castor and Pollux, are still there though, the big difference being that when this picture was taken the cannons had been recently used.

Ladysmith was originally founded by Boer settlers in the mid 1800s, but taken over by the British just a few years later. The Boers, or Afrikaners, were European settlers (generally Dutch, and some German, but also including French Huguenots and other nationalities who adopted the Dutch language.) The Dutch settlers originally came to South Africa in the 1600s to supply the Dutch East India Co. with supplies when their boats came ashore. At the time, they had no intention of staying permanently. Later, they were joined by the French Huguenots, who were fleeing religious persecution. As time passed, they began to identify themselves with their new country and referred to themselves as Afrikaner. Although the Boers had been in South Africa since 1652, Great Britain assumed power over South Africa in 1795. Diamonds were discovered in 1867, causing a large number of people to move to South Africa from Britain and add to the tensions between British and Boers.

Ladysmith came under siege by the Boers in the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. The siege lasted four months and resulted in severe food and water shortages and disease for the inhabitants and soldiers. On February 28, 1900, the British troops broke through to Ladysmith and the siege ended.  This card clearly shows the damage to the clock tower caused by a Boer shell.

An interesting Note: The young Mahatma (then Mohandas) Ghandi served as a stretcher bearer during the aftermath of the siege.

1 comment:

  1. I find depiction of battle damage an interesting subject for postcards, from a psychological point of view. Coincidentally, in a week I have 5 cards queued up for a series of posts showing war-torn France.

    I also put the RSS feed links up on my blog - sorry about that.



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