The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 1 No 1 - December 1967




Membership of the Society is not confined to "the old brigade" and junior members are most welcome. In fact the Society already has a number of junior members who have attended its meetings and taken part in its activities. Here is a contribution from one of them, Master F.H. Bowden Winder:


The happenings of the War in 1881 in and around Ingogo, at the southern end of the pass that winds around Majuba mountain into Natal, have always interested my father and he told me so much about what happened when Gen. Sir George Colley, the British Commander-in-Chief and Governor of Natal, was trying to force his way over Laing's Nek and into the Transvaal.

After the first battle for Laing's Nek, Gen. Colley withdrew to his camp below Mount Prospect to regain his strength before he made a second attempt. His main base was at Newcastle to the south, and the Boers sent parties to cut his line of supplies. This couldn't go on, so Gen. Colley took a force along the road towards Newcastle to open the way again. When this force came over a rise along the road the Boers were waiting for them and opened a brisk fire and the Battle of Ingogo or Schuin's Hoogte started.Although Gen. Colley managed to do what he hoped to do, he had many casualties.

The hotel proprietor, Mr. Harber, took my father, my mother and me to see the places where the killed on both sides lie buried. (Mr. Harber's father was Lieutenant Harber who found the Colours of the 24th Regiment which were lost in the Buffalo River after the Battle of Isandhlwana). First of all we visited the British graves and then, farther along the road to Memel, the place where the nine Boers are buried. On the way he pointed to a little wood of wattle trees and said that he had been told that a blockhouse, dating back to the South African War of 1899-1902, was inside this wood.

On the way back from the Boer graves we came to the little wood again and Mr. Harber asked us if we would like to go into the clump of trees to see the blockhouse. He couldn't go with us as he had a bad leg. My father and I crawled under the fence and went in among the trees. There, to our surprise, was not a blockhouse but a much larger ruin which my father said was an old fort. There was a masked entrance and a fire-step round the walls and what seemed to be a place to put wagons and animals. My father said it was like the pictures he had seen of forts made at the crossing of the Tugela River in the same war. In places the walls were still quite high and thick.

A year or so later we were back again to see the place while on our way to the coast. We tried to take photos but they were not very good because the leaves on the trees were so thick and our camera wasn't good enough for the job.

We told Mr. Harber about our find and he said that nobody knew it was a fort, but later on his son set out to make a plan of the place. My father hoped to find out the name of the fort. Quite recently while looking at a copy of the Illustrated London News of 1881 he saw a wide panorama of the battle of Laing's Nek. He noticed several forts along the road to Newcastle and there, just about where we found the ruins, was a fort marked "Schuin's Hoogte Fort."

We think this fort should be marked and declared a Historical Monument.

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