Garden of Remembrance: Bethlehem

The town hall in Bethlehem in the Free State dates from 1930, and would have been a familiar sight to my family members who lived in the town all those years ago. It is also where the “Garden of Remembrance” is found, although I am not sure whether “garden” is the appropriate word to use.

In essence they brought boulders from places of relevance to the town and created an area of Remembrance. Unfortunately the plaques are all in Afrikaans which means any relevance is lost to overseas visitors or those who do not speak the language. 

Roughly translated the plaque reads:

This Garden of Remembrance was erected by the
“Voorslag en Bethlehem
of Bethlehem in commemoration of those who,
paid the highest price in:
The Anglo Boer War 1899-1902
In Exile 1899-1902
Women and Children in Concentration Camps
The combating of terrorism within and outside the
borders of the Republic of South Africa.
Our honour, their legacy.
John 15:13: “No greater love has a man that he gives his life for his friends”
Unveiled by the former head of the
South African Defence Force
Genl Jannie Geldenhuys
(S.S.A, S.D, S.O.E, S.M)
on 21 November 1992

The Battle of Bethlehem (aka Battle of Groenkop)

This boulder came from 
“Groenkop” where the battle occurred on
25 December 1901. 
Unveiled by KMDT. Jannie Maree
Commander: Bethlehem Commando.

This boulder originates
from the stone ridges of Bethlehem
Unveiled by Uncle Johan Blignaut

The Operational Area

Bethlehem, like so many towns in South Africa contributed it’s sons to the military for two years of conscription. 

This boulder originated from
The Operational Area
South West Africa
Unveiled by
Mr PJ Farrell MP.


To the best of my knowledge Bethlehem was founded in 1864 on the farm Pretorius Kloof by Daniël van Dyk. However, I did find the following information on him: He was the co-founder of the town Bethlehem, and named it as such for the area’s likeness to the description in the Bible of Bethlehem’s waving grasslands. Rumour has it that, at the Battle of Blood River, he was one of two members (the other being a Cilliers?) who refused to take the Covenant, on religious grounds.  

Finally, there is one more memorial stone which is somewhat of a puzzle. 


Unfortunately I am unable to find the context of this memorial stone or the names engraved on it. However, given the date range there is some continuity between the names and I am still looking to see what the incident was and how it ties into Bethlehem.  

DRW ©  2011 – 2019. Retrospectively created 01/07/2016

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