Opperman, Philippus Albertus. Burger

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1 year 11 months ago #34933 by djb
Served: Wolmaranstad.

David Biggins

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1 year 11 months ago - 1 year 11 months ago #40701 by Rory
Phillipus Albertus Opperman

Burger, Wolmeranstad Kommando

- Anglo Boer War Medal

Phillipus Albertus Opperman answered the call to arms in the Anglo Boer War with the Wolmeranstad Kommando. He appears to have been a farmer in the area as his address is "Kameelbult" (name of the farm), Wolmeranstad. Having joined in the beginning of 1900 he was to see out the war until he laid down arms on 31 May 1902 The Wolmeranstad chaps were present in the following areas of operation, Ottoshoop; Spytfontein; Magersfontein; Cater's Ridge; Kimberley and Hartebeesfontein.

According to the following extract from A Handbook of the Boer War published by Gale and Poledon Ltd, London and Aldershot in 1910, the Wolmeranstad Commando were particularly active in April 1901,

'It happened that Kekewich, whose force was detailed as the right of the advance, bore too much to the left on the first day's march, and found himself in rear of Rawlinson. Kemp was observing the movement, and assumed that he had located the British right, whereas Kekewich had partly regained his position by moving towards Roodeval, where Kemp was hovering for a chance to fall on the rear or the flank of Ian Hamilton's columns.

Kekewich reached Roodeval early on April 11, and at once pressed forward to Hart's River. His advanced guard almost immediately discovered a large body of mounted men on the left front, who, until they opened fire, were by some strange misconception taken to be a portion of Rawlinson's column. They were in fact more than a thousand Boers under Potgieter, who as soon as he had disposed of the advanced guard, made for the main body, which was not yet formed up, and by which Potgieter's men were again mistaken for a portion of Rawlinson's column. The error was discovered, but not too late.

The Boer attack, which for sheer reckless bravery could hardly be surpassed, and which has been compared to the Dervish charge at Omdurman, was made in the open against a considerable force, was repelled; and Potgieter fell dead at the head of his commandos. Rawlinson hurried up to the sound of the firing and drove away the enemy, who retired, but not in disorder, to the south. A remnant, however, broke back and even sniped the main body. In less than three hours after the first shot had been fired by Potgieter, Kekewich and Rawlinson started in pursuit. Kemp, however, saved himself, and escaped with what was, under the circumstances, the inconsiderable loss of the two field guns which Delarey had taken from Methuen at Tweebosch.'

The date 11 April is important in the context of Opperman's military career as, on his Vorm B (the form completed in order to apply for the award of the Anglo Boer War medal) he makes specific reference to the fact that he was in action at Roodeval on that date, under the leadership of Veg Kommandant Potgieter. Potgieter was regarded as one of the more astute and competent Boer leaders and Opperman was privileged to serve under him.

In Opperman's words, "Ons in vanaf Klerksdorp naby Hoopstad waar ons gewere afgeneem het vir verskillende ander gevegte waarvan een die aksie op 11 April te Roodeval was" Translated from the Afrikaans - We moved from Klerksdorp near Hoopstad where we captured rifles for use in various other battles of which one was the action at Roodeval on 11 April

At some point (again referring to the Vorm B) Opperman was wounded and spent 2 months in hospital although it is unclear as to the date this occurred. He served under General Du Toit, Kommandant Potgieter and Veld Kornet Hoffman.

Opperman, like many others, was a late applicant for the award of the ABO medal only completing the documentation on 10 April 1943, some 40 years after the cessation of hostilities. This is reflected in the naming style of the medal which is akin to the impressed medals of World War II.

The Office of the Adjutant General posted the medal to him at his farm, Kameelbult, on 6 June 1943 and he signed the acknowledgement slip as receipt on 9 June 1943.





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1 year 11 months ago #40704 by djb
Many thanks Rory.

David Biggins

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1 year 3 months ago #44344 by PCLOUW
Rory, I just read your story. Amazing.

I am doing some research re my great grandfather, JJC Louw from the farm Rietvlei (Riet Vallei) in the Leeudoornstad district. As far as I can gather het also served under Kmdt Portgieter. Would this be the same Potgieter? Did Wolmeransstad and Leeudoornstad form part of the same commando? How could I obtain more info re JJC Louw in the ABW?

Regards

Neels

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1 year 3 months ago #44346 by Rory
Hi Neels

I must confess to not knowing an aweful lot about the Boer side of things :blush:

I don't have the ABO roll for those who recieved medals on the Boer side but someone on here should be able to come along and tell whether or not a JJC Louw fought in the war and with which Kommando.

The Vorm B whhich was completed iro every chap who claimed his medal (after 1921) will provide full details of under who he served and where etc.

Dewald Nel in Pretoria has scanned all of these and, for a fee, can provide yyou with the necessary.

Regards

Rory

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1 year 3 months ago #44347 by PCLOUW
Rory

Thanks for the reply, much appreciated. Any idea how I can contact Dewald Nel?

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