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Spion Kop Historian travelling to the UK


magneto
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Hi guys

 

I've been emailed a letter from the folk who run the Spion Kop Battle Tour and was wondering if someone could help them out. I've emailed the club but no one is replying and I thought it would be a unique opportunity for Reds in the UK to understand the battle and its significance to LFC (particularly as the Supporters Club here in South Africa travels there annually to commemorate the Hillsborough Disaster).

 

Anyway, here's the letter, please pass it on if you can to anyone at the club or anyone who's itnerested.

 

RAYMOND HERON, SPION KOP LODGE OWNER AND SOUTH AFRICAN (BOER) WAR HISTORIAN – A PROPOSAL

 

I am writing from Spion Kop Lodge in South Africa’s Kwa Zulu Natal. The Lodge is on the farm where General Sir Redvers Buller, commander-in-chief of British forces, had his headquarters during the famous South African (Boer) War Battle of Spion Kop, which gave its name to Anfield’s “Kop End”.

 

A total of 27,000 British soldiers were involved at Spion Kop, on January 24, 1900,one of the most famous battles ever fought on South African soil .The men were from a variety of regiments, including the Lancashire Fusiliers, the South Lancaster Regiment and the 2nd Royal Lancaster Regiment.

 

Spion Kop was one of the most futile and perhaps the bloodiest of all the battles fought in the 1899–1902 war.

 

Raymond Heron, our historian who will be visiting Britain from May 17 to June 12, has a fascinating presentation on the war and the far-reaching effects it had on Britain and South Africa, which fought as allies in both World War One and World War Two.

 

Some 500,000 troops took part in the South War, of which 22,000 died, 16,000 of them from disease.

 

During Raymond’s vivid presentation, one is able to relive memories of the war and walk in the footsteps of three great leaders – General Louis Botha, later to become the Union of South Africa’s first prime minister and a major player in drafting the post-World War One League of Nations, Mohandas (later the “Mahatma”) Gandhi and Winston Churchill.

 

Imagine how the history of South Africa, India and Great Britain might have changed had any or these three men been killed in battle!

 

At Spion Kop, there are monuments to the regiments and to Briton and Boer. However, it has concerned us for some time that nothing has been done to acknowledge the enormous contribution made during this war by the Indian stretcher-bearers, who volunteered to join the British Ambulance Corps.

It was these men who, in grave danger to themselves, witnessed first-hand the agony of war, many of losing their lives as they traversed the battlefield collecting the wounded, transferring them to the medics.

 

These men included the great Mohandas Gandhi who, after the Battle of Spion Kop, said: “ I have witnessed what the human race is capable of doing to one another but I need to know in the name of what!”

 

On this battlefield during a recent visit to Spion Kop, the British High Commissioner in South Africa, The Honourable Paul Boating, discussed this matter. I had the opportunity to explain the above facts and said it was our intention to raise sufficient funds through international contributions to have a memorial for the stretcher-bearers.

 

The idea is to have an unveiling ceremony to coincide with the 110th Commemoration of The Battle of Spion Kop in 2010 – the year in which South Africa will host the World Cup Football tournament. Paul Boateng warmed to the idea and has arranged to have Baroness Flather to be patron of an International fund raising efforts for a bronze memorial.

 

With this in mind, I believe there is an enormous opportunity for the Liverpool Football Club. The present road to Spion Kop is less then satisfactory and I was wondering whether the club would consider upgrading the road, used by international and South African visitors on pilgrimages to see where family members died or just pay homage to courageous men.

 

This road could be called “The Liverpool Road to Spion Kop” or similar.

 

In April 2007 the Liverpool supporters club in South Africa, combined with supporters from the United Kingdom, marked the 18th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster atop Spion Kop. This has now become an annual event at Spion Kop.

 

Not only do we want to recognise the men who fought and died on both sides but we also want to help local Zulu children. With this in mind, we have set up a trust fund to help with their education.

 

Most Zulu children play football – it is their national sport. What an incredible link this would be between these Zulu children, Liverpool FC and the 2010 World Cup. What a way to honour those brave men of Spion Kop!

 

The purpose of Spion Kop Lodge, which Raymond and I established 10 years ago, is to specialise in these historic events and to share the history of the area to uplift the rural community.

 

During our forth coming visit to the UK, ending on 12 June, Raymond will address the Army and Navy Club in London on 21 May 2008. He will also meet some other interested military and civilian groups.

 

The Liverpool FC and its supporters’ club have a very special place in all of this. I would be very happy to arrange for Raymond to do a presentation of his “Story of the Battle of Spion Kop” for the Liverpool Football Association should you deem this possible. We can certainly fix details together.

 

I hope to hear from you soon and I look forward to your response.

 

Thank You.

Sincerely

 

Lynette Heron

 

Spion Kop Lodge

www.spionkop.co.za

spionkop@futurenet.co.za

(t)/(f) +27 036 488 1404

Lynette Heron ( Mrs)

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