Holkrantz Massacre, 1902
When the Peace negotiations were going on at Vereeniging in May 1902, the opposing forces in the field observed a truce and a Boer commando in the Vryheid area had laagered at Holkrans to the north of Vryheid. The Zulu, who had been seething at the treatmant the many Boer units had inflicted on them throughout the war now saw their chance for revenge. Under cover of darkness a large impi approached the laager and attacked, with complete surprise. Few Boers survived.
The inscription on the monument reads:
On the 6th of May 1902 when the Great War of 1899-1902 (between the Boers and British) was nearly at an end, a small commando of Boers was unexpectedly attacked during the night by a band of armed Zulus and murdered at Holkrantz, near Vryheid.
On that mournful and unforgettable day, fifty six Transvaalers were struck down by an untimely and savage death.
Their relations and friends have here erected this simple monument in remembrance of that most painful occurrence, and in honour of the brave departed.
Erected on the 20th Jan 1905.
In 1970 Midge interviewed Frances Pratt, a survivor of the battle. His story was told in We Wander the Battlefields.
In 1970 I heard that there was still a survivor of the Holkrans Massacre living near Vryheid (frayhate), so I went to see him. His name was Frances Pratt and he had been in the field since the war started. When I interviewed him he was then in his 80s. He described to me how he got away that night.
The Boers had formed a laager with their wagons and, as it was a cold winter night, most had gone to sleep close to the big fire they had made in the centre of the wagon ring. He had preferred to settle under a wagon. He was awakened by the swishing of many legs passing through the grass beside his wagon. He was not seen because the light from the fire lit up the sleeping men around it. They had no chance.
Meanwhile Frances slipped away. He got to another laager a mile or so down the valley, guarding the women and children. The Zulus did not attack them.
I did not have my tape recorder with me as it was too bulky to keep with me when I had no plan to use it. I had intended to return and record Mr Pratt’s story, but Frances died before it could be done.