The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 18 No 1 - Dec 2017

Military history around South Africa ...
Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal
Talana Challenge Gun Run
A highlight of the 2017 Talana Live Festival

By Pam McFadden

Each year, the town of Dundee in the KwaZuluNatal battlefields hosts a special weekend festival to commemorate the opening battle of the South African War on 20 October 1899. This year, the event, which ran from 20 to 22 October, was jam-packed with activities, including a ghost walk, a wreath laying service at the cemetery, poetry readings, a sing-along, parades, and amazing food and art and craft stalls. Pipe bands, heritage games, exhibits of veteran and vintage vehicles, and battle re-enactments added to the flavour of the event. A particular highlight this year was the Talana Challenge Gun Run, held on the morning of 22 October.

Parade through Dundee.

The Talana Challenge Gun Run involved teams racing to pull a 1 300 kg naval gun up a steep, rocky incline to the finish line, and firing the gun towards Talana Hill. Two teams of 22 members each participated in the event, much to the delight of onlookers. The Nquthu SAPS Team went first and produced an outstanding performance. One team member charged out in front, pulling the gun to gain momentum, while the rest of the team pushed amid much sweat and excitement. They had not a moment to lose, fully aware that the team to reach the finish line and fire the gun in the shortest period of time would win the unusual event. The Traffic Guys RTI battled after one of their team members fell and injured a leg, but despite a very brave second attempt, they could not beat the SAPS team, who were then declared the winners. Video footage of the Gun Run is available on the Talana Museum's Facebook page.

Before the big push/pull.

Participants included at least one in period uniform.

Organisers of the Gun Run:
Left to right: Standing: Museum Assistant Bornwell Masuku and Curator Pam McFadden of Talana Museum,
with Trustee Desmond Armstrong (Talana Museum Board of Trustees) and Snaye Mkhulise of 5 South African Infantry.
Seated: Pat Rundgren (Vice-Chairman, Talana Museum Board of Trustees) and
Charles Aikenhead (the owner of Rorkes' Drift Hotel and originator of the Gun Run, previously held in Ladysmith)

Many hands were needed to move the massive guns...

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