NOTE: All stories in this series on those who are buried at Paradise Cemetery in Zimbabwe can be followed via the links highlighted in blue below.
|Marandellas in the 1930s|
(The railway line and station are behind the photographer.)
Copyright Tony Ward
“On arrival at [Marandellas] I found a new and up-to-date school built on the very site where our horse lines were located when we passed through that place in 1900. I was distressed to find there sixteen graves of soldiers with no inscription on them whatsoever. It would appear that the names had been painted on the iron standards at the head of each grave some considerable time ago, but in the course of time all these had become illegible. I made inquiries from the police at Marandellas and was informed that they did not know who were the men buried there, but thought that they were Australians. I am taking up this matter with the Minister of Defence at Canberra to see that, if these are Australian graves, some suitable inscription should be placed there to mark the fact that Australians passed through Marandellas to the relief of Mafeking in the early part of 1900.”
“From Marandellas I came down to Umtali and I found the graves of a large number of Australians and Imperial Yeomanry, who died in that town, chiefly of malarial fever. I am very pleased to state, and no doubt relatives of the fallen will be pleased to know, that the graves of these men have been carefully tended and looked after ever since their burial, by the Loyal Women’s Guild of Umtali. When my wife and I visited the cemetery fresh flowers were on every soldier’s grave, and a little bush of Christ-thorn had been planted on each grave, and each plant was flowering gaily in memory of the brave men who gave up their lives in the service of their country so long ago.”
“I was very grieved to hear that graves of all the soldiers who were buried in Portuguese territory, which lies between Umtali and the town of Beira, were in great disrepair, and not one single name was filled in on these graves. In most cases, tall rank grass covered the spot of these men’s last resting place. It is a serious reflection on our country that the graves of our men who died on foreign soil should be treated in such a way. I am mentioning this matter also to the Minister of Defence to see if any Australian graves are amongst these, so that evidence of these men having been buried there should be erected.”
DEATH OF SERGEANT BRENT A WELL-KNOWN RESIDENT OF CARISBROOK
Carisbrook, 22nd May
This afternoon Mrs. Brent received a telegram from the Minister of Defence conveying the painful news that her husband, Sergeant Herbert Brent, of the third Victorian, or Bushmen's contingent, had been killed in a railway accident near Umpati [sic. Umtali]. Most of the residents were at the time engaged in making preparations for the Mafeking demonstration tomorrow night, and Major Bruhn immediately postponed it to Thursday. Sergeant Brent, on joining the contingent, relinquished the business of the Carisbrook hotel. His previous experience as a member of the New South Wales permanent forces led to his appointment as a non-commissioned officer of the contingent. He was a member of the Carisbrook Borough Council, and the vacancy created by his departure, was only filled a few days ago. He was also a lieutenant of the Carisbrook Fire Brigade. He was about 36 years of age and leaves a widow and four young children. The sad news cast a gloom over the town.
|Carisbrook Hotel, c. 1930|
I was about to include Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant John Nathaniel Walton No. 275 of the New South Wales Citizen Bushmen as another possible in Paradise, as he has several entries suggesting he was buried at Marandellas, but this detailed report in The Ballarat Star of 17 July 1900 by Reverend James Green, the Chaplain accompanying this contingent, confirms beyond doubt he died and was buried at Iron Mine Hill.
It is worth including here this poignant extract as it gives some idea of how the graves of these men have become lost to history (also that of the pioneer father and his two children). Perhaps the pile of stones is still there although any wooden cross would not last long in Africa:-
" ... At noon of the 21st, Quartermaster-Sergeant John N. Walton, who had been ill more or less since leaving Marandellas became very much worse. He had been relieved of his duties ... and was lying on the waggons during the trek. He became unconscious when being assisted off one of the waggons. Captain Machattie decided that it would necessary to leave Walton at Iron Mine Hill. Istayed with him, and had a supply of invalid's food and some medicine with which to nurse him. Mrs. Svenson, the proprietress of the store, was very kind and we occupied a Kaffir hut near the store. I kept my horse with me, in order to follow the detachment. Unfortunately I was disappointed in my hope of nursing poor Walton well, for he gradually sank, and never regained consciousness. He died at 3.10 a.m. on 22nd May of congestion of the brain following malarial fever and bronchitis. I stopped a waggon-load of "boys" who were going to work on the road at 4 a.m. The foreman allowed me three boys to dig a grave. They worked until 2.30 p.m. as the ground was rocky. We dug the grave in a line with three other graves, in which were buried Mrs. Svenson's husband and two children, who died of fever at Iron Mine Hill. The only two white settlers, who were very kind, tried their best to make a coffin of packing case wood, but found it impossible with the short wood they had. We were reluctant to bury him in his blankets, though that is the custom on the veldt. After searching we found an old sheet of corrugated iron; this we placed on the bottom of the grave. We built a wall of stone around this, and made a strong lid to fit on top of it. At 4 o'clock on the same day we buried him. We put a wooden cross at the head of the grave, with name and suitable inscription painted upon it. ...."
|Front page, The Canberra Times|
February 19, 1980