Commemorating the Battle of Blaauwberg

Tony Eddy from Blaauwberg and Ivan Higgo from Flamingo Vlei take a look at one of the old maps on display.

The bark of cannon echoed across Blaauwberg at the weekend as it did 214 years earlier during a battle that changed the course of South African history.

Commemorating the Battle of Blaauwberg, just under 50 people, buffeted by the south-easter, walked a 10km circuit of the battlefield on Saturday morning, ending on top of the hill.

Archaeological artefacts, including spoons, buckles and coins;original ship plans and other items of interest related to the battle were exhibited at Blaauwberg Farm.

Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area member Dave Honour led the tour, explaining how the battle unfolded on January 8 1806 and pointing out the positions of British and Batavian forces on the plain below.

More than 300 men died that day.

Despite getting wind of a large fleet of British ships heading south a month before the time, General Jan Willem Janssens with 2 061 men was unable to protect the Dutch Cape Colony and lost to the British army of 4 500 men under the leadership of Gieutenant-General Sir David Baird.

“On that day, the British Highland Brigade (71st, 72nd and 93rd regiments) had come up during the early hours of the morning from the encampment at Losperds Bay (present day Melkbosstrand) to get on to the road that passed through Mostert’s farm outspan,” said Mr Honour.

“It was the intention of General Sir David Baird to get his troops in to Cape Town along the road from Mamre. However, he knew that General Janssens had brought his troops up from Cape Town the previous day and that they would encounter them on the roads behind Blaauwberg Hill.”

Mr Honour also guided the walk to the location of the British artillery position and explained the formation of the British regiments during the battle.

Pastor and archaeologist Marius Breytenbach read a eulogy in honour of the fallen soldiers followed by a salute by Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH) members. The event ended with two cannon firings.