Delville Wood Memorial in Pretoria

My late maternal grandfather was a Delville Wood survivor, having been wounded on the 18th of July 1916. He never really spoke much about his experience at the battle, and if he had I probably would not have been able to comprehend the horror and slaughter of this battle. As a result of his service I have an interest in the memorials, and there are 2 specific memorials that I have in mind. The first being at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and the second at the sight of Delville Wood in France.

Delville Wood Memorial at the Union Buildings

Delville Wood Memorial at the Union Buildings

The original images I had were taken by Terry Cawood, but I have since visited the memorial and have replaced most of them. Unfortunately, photographing the memorial properly from the front has just never been possible due to sun and light conditions.

The memorial above has a central group of figures representing the theme of physical energy (represented by the war horse) and  two nationalities of South Africa, British and Boer, with one hand clasped over the horse’s back in friendship. This theme is present too at the Memorial at Delville Wood in France, and in a similar Memorial in Cape Town. The bronze by Alfred Turner represents Castor and Pollux, Greek and Roman mythological figures of the twins who had one mother and two different fathers, one mortal and one immortal, making Castor mortal and Pollux immortal.

Castor and Pollux bronze on the memorial arch.

Castor and Pollux bronze on the memorial arch.

The story of the battle is not an easy one to tell because so much was happening, however I do recommend reading Delville Wood: Gethsemane for the South African Brigade by I.S. Uys. I also recommend visiting the Delville Wood website, especially if you are researching a casualty.

Unfortunately, many of the bronze plaques and fittings have fallen to theft, but so far Castor and Pollux are safe on their memorial arch.

© DRW 2007-2018. Updated 24/05/2012. Images replaced 14/07/2012. Moved to blog 19/01/2014

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