Monday, 18 October 2010


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Everyone has admired the majesty of the Cross Kopje war memorial standing on what was once known as Baboon Kopje in Umtali, and many have marvelled at the engineering problems involved, and the motive behind such an achievement. The feat was accomplished by an Umtali firm, Methuen Brothers, which was owned by Captain Stuart Methuen, in partnership with his brother Colonel J.A. Methuen. The brothers decided that, a memorial should be built in memory of those Africans of Rhodesia and Mocambique who had fought in East Africa with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Rhodesia Native Regiment - the R.N.R., and had lost their lives. Every single item of material, and every drop of water had to be carried up the steep path from below. Colonel Methuen was unable to help with the actual construction because of troublesome leg wounds and the effect of gassing in the First World War. Ho took over the managerial side of the operations and later the arrangements for the unveiling, which took place on August 30th, 1924 and was dedicated by the Right Reverend Bishop Bevan, the Chaplain for the Forces in Southern Rhodesia, and unveiled by Councillor W. Stowe, Mayor of Umtali, in 1924. Picture the scene of the unveiling! There stood the massive cross of rock and reinforced cement, thirty feet high and four feet thick, weighing an estimated fifty tons, triumphantly silhouetted against the skyline, overlooking the town.

Manicaland is very grateful to the Methuen brothers, who carried the entire cost of the project for this unique and magnificent memorial; a reminder that both black and white races stood shoulder to shoulder in the conflict against a common foe.

It is well to note that another War Memorial was erected in the Memorial Gardens to commemorate and represent all those from Manicaland who gave their lives in the First Great War. It was placed on what was known as the Market Square, now Memorial Gardens, adjoining Main Street, Umtali. The structure is a granite obelisk, which was quarried on the commonage, a skilful achievement at that time and greatly admired. In 1921 Prince Arthur of Connaught laid the foundation stone, and in December 1922 it was completed and unveiled by the Resident Commissioner, Major Douglas Jones. The names of those who lost their lives in action are listed on a plaque on one side of the monument; on tho other three sides was a blank which, after the Second World War, was filled with the names of those in Umtali and district who fell in 1939 - 45.

A most impressive event took place here on the 26th March, 1934. The town was gay with flags and bunting for a very special occasion — the arrival of Prince George. At the entrance of the station was a magnificent archway with the following inscription, "Eastern Gate to S. Rhodesia, Welcome". Another arch, covered with flag3, evergreen and bunting was placed near the War Memorial where the Prince's first inspection was held. Mr. Moore, the Town Engineer, was responsible for supplying the blaze of coloured lights displayed nightly and also for loud speakers where necessary. A sundowner was arranged at the Club that evening for the Prince. Hon. S.M. Lanigan O'Keeffe represented the Rhodesia Government and the Mayor, Mr. J.T. Woods met the Prince at the station. Ready for his inspection at the War Memorial stood the men and women who had played their part in making

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Manicaland what it is today, and the Prince honoured them by inspecting them prior to others. . The organisation was conducted by the-British Service League, Lt. Colonel D.A. Methuen, D.S.C., being in command. Amongst others present were representatives of the Toc H and Toc Emmas, of which Colonel Methuen was a founder member in France. The Mutasa Band caught the Prince's fancy, with their Scottish uniforms and pipes, their equipment having been presented by Colonel Methuen. Many of the old Pioneers to be mentioned in the following chapter were present. "Erected near by", Mr. R.G. Fairbridge put it, "stands a rough, granite memorial stone in Market Square to the memory of the Pioneers and Early Settlers of Umtali". It certainly is very rough and raw, especially when compared with the cut granite pillar of severe classic form erected near by. But those of us who tackled that 'rough and raw' portion of Central Africa now known as Rhodesia, then called Mashonaland, 'in the early nineties, were rather proud of belonging to the 'rough and raw' battalion of the 'Lost Legion'. Mr. Fairbridge walked all the way up from Beira in 1891, and at the end of that journey walked along a small game path one foot wide that passed the site where the memorial now stands. Mr. Jack Meikle was responsible for finding the stone and transporting it to the site. After searching the country- side on horseback he found a suitable stone. Unearthing it, he brought up a large sledge made from the fork of a tree. A number of Africans assisted him they arrived with long poles to manipulate the stone onto the sledge. It was- necessary for Mr. Meikle to utilise two spans of oxen to take the stone on its way, and finally up Main Street. It is fitting to mention that on the 12th September each year, members of the Pioneers' and Early Settlers' Society, with their wives and families, gather here not only to lay wreaths but to celebrate the raising of the-Flag, to commemorate the first hoisting of the flag in Salisbury in 1890.

Another memorial is-a unique monument in Penhalonga, the Nurses' Memorial. Beside it is a tree growing from the stump of the original Indaba tree of Mutassa, Chief of' the Manicas at the time of the British occupation.

In the Main Street of Penhalonga is a large natural granite boulder which has been converted into a war monument, inscribed with the names of those from Penhalonga who gave their lives for others. It will remain a lasting memorial for all time.

Another monument worth recording is the Turner Memorial Library in Umtali. The plate set on the wall reads; "To the honoured memory of Major Scott-Turner, 42nd Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch) who fell gallantly leading a sortie from Kimberley in the Anglo-Boer War on the 28th November, 1899".

I herewith give a brief description of Major Scott-Turner's life. By doing so it will give you a picture of the part he played in the early days of Manicaland.

He was a magistrate, Old Umtali 1894 - 1897, and a Foundation member and Chairman of the Umtali Library to the date of his death. It was Rhodes who offered him a post with the B.S.A. Company's administration. After accepting the offer he proceeded to Bulawayo where he met Jameson who gave him the position of magistrate at Old Umtali. He estimated that the journey there would take twenty days. While awaiting transport he wrote, "If only one had a hut to sleep in; the tent's very cold, when in bed in my tent my head is within

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three feet of the skulls and bones of Wilson's party„ which are being kept here, stored in boxes, pending arrangements being made for the memorial which Rhodes is going to erect. Feeding is indifferent, there is no milk - because all the cows have broken out of the kraal - only occasionally vegetables and very tough meat. Liquid refreshment is tea, and an occasional whisky and water. I never take the latter as they don't boil the water. It was an adventurous trip to Umtali. The dissel boom of the coach broke at the bottom of a street, and the four loading mules trailing their harness and the dissel boom, disappeared into darkness. The chief cart, drawn by eight oxen disappeared come hours later and the spanking pace of the mail was two and a half miles per hour."

After these highly uncomfortable, modes of transport Scott-Turner eventually reached Umtali on 3une 15th, 1894. The night after he had been sworn in someone committed suicide by cutting his throat, and in the absence of a doctor, Scott-Turner had to view the body, certify the cause of death.and hold an inquest. Another duty he was obliged to perform was to read the lesson in Church on Sunday morning and evening while the parson was away in Beira. He hoped to buy a horse at the end of the month so that he could get round his five thousand mile district! "The natives round here", he wrote, "are always raiding each others Kraals and carrying off women, and when these encounters occur a life or two is lost. It will have to be stopped somehow,. but the means at my disposal, nine police and two horses, are absolutely inadequate".

Life in Umtali was hard - no butter, no jam and no cheese and very little flour, so Umtali residents mere living on beef, carrots, rice and sweet potatoes. Scott-Turner lived in a fairly comfortable mud hut, which leaked, and messed with Mr. G.W. Farmaner, the Mining Commissioner, Mr. MacGlashen, the young police Inspector Nesbitt, and Aylen the office Clerk. The mess was run at 6/6d a day, all told.

The first mention of books took place at this house, when Mr. Albert Gray, one of the directors of the B.S.A. Company, sent them five hundred books. These books and newspapers were the nucleus of the stock of the library. Major Scott-Turner, after six months in Old Umtali, returned to the Cape to get married. When he returned to Bulawayo rinderpest was prevalent and had killed the transport oxen. Oxen were seen lying rotting in the sun and Turner writes "Stink fearful, got through it with assistance of eau de cologne and brandy!" It was a year of disaster for Rhodesia, including Manicaland, with black risings, drought, locusts and the rinderpest.

Scott-Turner was back in Umtali early in 1897, the date when the township was to be moved to its present site. He writes, "There was even a house instead of a mud hut to live in." Agreement was reached between Rhodes and the people of Umtali to move the town across the hills to its present line of rail. A condition was that the B.S.A. Company should build the magistrate a house. Rhodes increased Scott-Turner's salary to nine hundred pounds a year as he was anxious that Scott-Turner should remain on. But as much as he liked his work in Manicaland it was obviously very difficult for himto cut his link with the army. The deciding point came in mid 1898 when he was gazetted Captain and Brevet Major on 13th July.

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The Scott-Turners were due to leave Umtali for the Cape in 1898, but he became ill with malaria and his successor Ryk Myburgh who was with him at the time also fell victim to the same malady. There was an official farewell on February 15th, 1899 and Scott-Turner was presented with an illuminated address expressing very sincere regrets at his departure. His intentions were to go to England, but fate stepped in when the Governor of the Cape, Sir Alfred Milner, and the Chief Staff Officer advised him not to sail then as Scott-Turner would probably get command of a regiment. "The chance of my life", he put it.

In July Scott-Turner was sent to Kimberley to lead a corps of irregulars. Some months later he was dead. He was killed on November 28th, 1899 while leading an attack on a Boer strong point near Kimberley. Tributes poured in. They came from the highest - from Queen Victoria - down to men who had served under him. Writing of a recruit the man said that he and his mates had been reluctant to serve until they saw Scott—Turner, then one of them said, "Yon is a face I like — I could follow that chap anywhere". So they all enrolled.

In Umtali, the town he had served so well his memorial took a practical form - The Turner Memorial Library - one of which Scott-Turner would have entirely approved.

Another memorial worthy of mention is connected with Martin's trek. It was his ambition that when his party reached Buffels nek, they would build a memorial to the honour and glory of God who had so wonderfully guided and helped them. So they erected a memorial of stones in memory of their safe arrival on the border of Gazaland. The' memorial was called Ebenhezer and the members of that party declared that once every fifty years as from 1899 they would gather on the spot to commemorate God's wonderful love and care which they had received.

One more memorial before closing this chapter. On .a hill at the back of the Boys' High School in Umtali there is a beautiful chapel, a fountain playing not far from it, and lovely flowers growing in great profusion; what better monument to those young lads who gave their lives for their country? Here the past, present and future unite in beautiful surroundings. It is a chapel which over- looks the whole of Umtali, the Vumba Mountains and other mountains and peaks beyond. It overlooks a modern town with modern buildings, large civic centre, theatre, spacious Queen's Hall, hospitals and ideal homes surrounded by beautiful gardens, trees, shrubs and flowers. The chapel itself, unique in construction, stands triumphant on the top of a hill. It represents the past and present, for looking through the open doors a large cross can be seen above the alter, and through the large windows can be seen beyond on a lonely hill, Cross Kopje, reminding us that others, too, had died for their country. The Memorial Chapel reminds us of the battles past and battles yet to come. "Ex Montibus Robur" - "Out of the Mountains - strength", the motto of Umtali Boys' High School, and we of Manicaland, young and old, will go from strength to strength remembering "that without Vision the people perish".

End of Chapter

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Recompiled, by Eddy Norris, from a copy of the booklet made available by Neill Storey. Thanks Neill.

The recompilation was done for no or intended financial gain but rather to record the memories of Rhodesia.

The family of the author have given permission for ORAFs to load this booklet onto the Internet.
Thanks top the family and special thanks to Heather Curran.

Thanks to
Paul Norris for the ISP sponsorship.
Paul Mroz for the image hosting sponsorship.
Robb Ellis for his assistance.

Should you wish to contact Eddy Norris please mail him



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