Continuing with my efforts to capture images of the more obscure cemeteries where CWGC graves are to be found, I ventured forth to Bakerton/Payneville Cemetery outside of Springs. My original thoughts were that these were two distinctly seperate places, however, some homework revealed that actually they are a cemetery within a cemetery. Bakerton being the Hindu/Moslem cemetery, and Payneville being the African burial ground. Naturally they are miles from anywhere, but reasonably close to Brakpan to pay a return visit to Brenthurst Cemetery and pop in at the derelict war memorial in Springs.
My first port of call however was at the Cosy Corner MOTH Shellhole in Brakpan to photograph the new Wall of Remembrance, that is now home to the original plaque from the mess that is the former garden of remembrance in Brakpan.
The MOTH Shellhole is a treasure trove of memorabilia and is well worth visiting if you have an interest in Delville Wood. A tree, grown from a seedling from a Hornbeam tree on the battlefield, grows in the grounds. Its a strange tangible link to that terrible battle.
There is a proud heritage at that Shellhole, and by the looks of it, it is a thriving one. There are two preserved tanks on their premises, and that is quite an accomplishment.
Moving onwards to Bakerton, I had one CWGC grave to photograph, and he was reasonably easy to find. This area of the cemetery is very well maintained and is still in use. Unfortunately I cannot say much about when it opened, but it must have been open in the early 1940’s at a minimum. The Springs area does have a number of Native Military Corps graves in it, with the beautiful Palmietkuil South War Cemetery just up the road.
Payneville however was a different ball game altogether. Its not a very large space, but it is sparsely populated with headstones, and overpopulated with weeds and grass. Mounds and holes are not easy to spot and I nearly saw the ground from close up on quite a few occasions.
I had 2 CWGC graves to photograph, and had a rough idea where they were, but in reality, finding them in real time was a different story. Usually the headstones are very distinctive and I found the one reasonably easily, but the second was nowhere to be seen. I had rough GPS co-ordinates of the graves and changed to pedestrian mode to try find it, but even with a GPS I struck a blank. I did a block search in the area and eventually found the stone, but it had been broken in half. It was only recently that the CWGC graves had been cleaned up, and this was a recent break. There wasn’t much to do but report the broken stone and head off to our next destination. I think that as long as I live I will never understand the logic of somebody that goes around breaking tombstones. If somebody can provide insight into this please drop me a comment.
Springs War Memorial was one of those mapbook finds. I spotted it when I was researching Palmietkuil in 2007, but couldn’t find it on the ground at the time. There was this strange derelict dome structure on an island in the town, but surely that wasn’t the memorial?
My gravehunting companion assured me that WAS the memorial, or should I say, what is left of it. The dome used to cover a tripod of rifles with a helmet, inscribed on the interior walls were the “Their Name Liveth Forevermore” reminders. Upright walls lined the pathway, with name plaques of the fallen, a fountain adding its melody to the tableau. That was then. This is now.
The only purpose that this derelict seems to serve now is to provide a shelter for the homeless, otherwise it is just a travesty that can get consigned to the scrapheap of history. In the nearly 4 years since I had visited here originally, nothing had been improved or done to rectify the situation. And, probably in 4 years time, things will be exactly the same as now. I wonder how many residents even have an idea what this derelict structure actually was? I know one thing, no remembering of the fallen is done in Springs anymore.
In 2014, I was contacted by Joe Borain who informed me that they were stealing the copper off what was left of the dome. The image below being taken in February 2014. It was also announced that the council would be “restoring” the memorial, but whether that ever happens remains to be seen.
A last detour to photograph a Honey tank, and we were ready to head off to Brenthurst Cemetery, but that’s another story, for another day. Unfortunately, between my visit and 2016 the tank has been deteriorating and I did an update on her too.
It is important to note the use of lower case in the title of this post because frankly brakpan does not deserve the use of upper case. On 19 November I was in the brakpan area to photograph the derelict Anzac Rand Revolt Memorial, I had plotted my course to pass the “Garden of Remembrance” at Google Earth co-ordinates -26.228904°, 28.361723°. When I arrived at the spot I was really expecting something great, but was sadly disappointed by what I saw.
At some point in time this may have been a really nice park, with large palm trees, possibly a fountain and terraces with green. Instead it was an abandoned travesty of a park, with uncut grass, an empty fountain, litter, and a war memorial that had been vandalised and neglected for a long time.
The “memorial”, or should I say, “what was left of the memorial”, may be seen in front of the furtherest lamp standard in the image above.
It is even worse up close. The inscription has had the brass lettering stolen and I was able to piece part of it together by sheer luck.
n August 2008 I was informed that the name plaque which was on the memorial had been removed. At the time I suspected that it had been stolen, but fortunately I did have images of it so the names were known. On 13 November 2011, I was contacted by Joe Borain who explained that the name plaque had been removed from the derelict memorial and a new Wall of Remembrance was erected at the Cosy Corner Moth Shellhole in Brenthurst, Brakpan, and the plaque had been installed there. I visited the Shellhole to view the new wall in December 2011 and was able to photograph the newly built wall at the Shellhole.
Fortunately somebody had realised that the Roll of Honour would serve no purpose at its old location and at least now it is safe and is used as a centre for commemoration.
As for the “Garden of Remembrance”, 2016 Google Street View images reveal that it is pretty much the same as when I saw it in 2007. The shell of the memorial is still there, and I expect will eventually end up falling down or being stolen. Somehow I doubt whether anybody in the brakpan council really cares. They never do.