Stories and Traveltips

ID #1220

Harry Holton and the Boer War, Krugersdorp, West Rand, Central Gauteng.

My grandfather, Edward John Myhill, had an uncle, Harry Holton, who lived in the gold mining town of Krugersdorp on the West Rand before the Anglo-Boer War. A dignified gentleman, he owned a thoroughbred horse – apparently the most beautiful horse in town at the time. He was proud of the animal and took great care of it.

At the outbreak of the war in 1899, all horses were commandeered by the Boers for use by the military, including Uncle Harry’s thoroughbred. The local commandant gave the horse to his 18-year-old son who leapt onto its back, spurring it viciously. Unused to such rough treatment, the animal promptly threw its rider in view of a crowd of onlookers. Embarrassed by his undignified exit from the saddle, the erstwhile rider stood up, dusted himself off and began whipping the horse furiously. Angered by the treatment of his beloved thoroughbred, Harry responded by teaching the youngster some manners, for which he was arrested and sentenced, at a drumhead court, to be executed by firing squad at sunrise the following morning. 

He was locked in a prison cell, a galvanized iron and timber shack, awaiting execution. A kind man, Abner Cohen, took pity on Harry. At 2 o’clock on the morning of his execution, Abner went to the jail and bribed Harry’s guard, with a 100 pound note and a bottle of whiskey, to release him. To escape his pursuers, he hopped on a bicycle and rode, over gravel roads, all the way to Mafeking (Mafikeng), where he spent the remainder of the war.

Krugersdorp is on the N14 southwest of Pretoria, which is at the intersection of the N4 with the N1 and the N14. Alan McIver NFHarry

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Last update: 2014-03-28 07:58
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.5

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