Anything written by John Elsegood usually raises a laugh, as he never lets historical reality get in the way of maintaining Apartheid-era myths of Boer victimhood and British aggression. I was recently sent a link to this article of his:
Though it is long-winded, waffling affair, there are nevertheless a few moments of his trademark comedy, for example:
‘The regional volunteer commando system (volunteer militia) was one ‘monument’ that had a practical use, dating back to the early days of the two Boer republics. This defensive citizen-militia was disbanded under the second black RSA president, Thabo Mbeki, with the Harrismith Commando of the Free State being the last to be disbanded. (Ironic, given that the first citizen of the OFS to fall defending his homeland against the British in October 1899 was Fred Johnson from that commando, during the Anglo-Boer War. He was of Scandinavian-English heritage).’
One must understand that Mr Elsegood, like all proud Defenders of the Myth™, has little time for troublesome things like ‘facts’, ‘reality’, ‘history’, or, indeed, ‘geography’. But the notion that the members of the Harrismith Commando died ‘defending their homeland against the British in October 1899’ is utter rubbish, even by his normal shocking standards.
In reality, the Harrismith Commando – far from being a ‘defensive citizen-militia’ – was part of the perhaps 30,000-strong Boer force that invaded Natal in October 1899 at the outbreak of the Boer War. The Harrismith Commando’s first skirmish was fought on 18 October, at Bester’s Station, a little outside Ladysmith (ie. in Britain’s Colony of Natal) as the invading Boers streamed down Van Reenen’s Pass. There is even a monument to Mr Johnson, erected by the Ladysmith Historical Society in 1993, which notes he was the first Boer killed in Natal.
How even the entertainingly fevered imagination of Mr Elsegood can spin this reality into ‘defending his homeland’ is beyond me; being killed while invading someone else’s territory is not the normal definition ‘defending one’s homeland’. Indeed, one might equally lament the death of the first German soldier who died in the invasion of Poland in 1939, and pretend he also died ‘defending his homeland’.