Private William Charles Puxley

Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

After a very rainy couple of days in Durban it was time to leave the coast and head inland towards the battlefields region of the state of KwaZulu-Natal. Of course back in Victorian times us British thought that the world and everything in it belonged to us and anyone who got in our way should be shot (now of course it's the Yanks that feel that way!). So in the 1880s we wanted a bit of South Africa but the local Zulus weren't too happy, so there were a few nasty battles in these parts particularly at Blood River and Rorke's Drift. Eventually the natives came to see our way of thinking although there were considerably fewer of them. Trouble was, the Boers (rival Dutch settlers) wanted a piece of the place as well - especially when gold and diamonds were found around Johannesburg.

Enter 20 year old Private Willam Puxley of the King's Royal Rifles. He was involved at the battle of Spionkop on January 24th 1900 where they were trying to free the city of Ladysmith that the Boers had laid siege to a couple of months previous. Unfortunately, General Buller was in charge of the British and he was more of a General Melchett out of Blackadder.

I won't go into the details but you can read more about the battle here.

Three Lancashire regiments were also involved and they bore the brunt of casualties. In fact, over 300 were killed and as a tribute to them Liverpool Football Club named a stand at their Anfield Stadium in their memory: the famous Kop end.

Fortunately, Private Puxley wasn't a Scouser (sorry Mel!) and so he came away from South Africa unscathed. I'm especially grateful for him not being a Scouser (sorry Mel!) because he was my great-grandfather. After serving in India in World War I he moved back to Poplar in east London where he worked on the docks - a stone's throw away from where I used to work at Canary Wharf.

After a day of history it was back to the lodge at the foot of the Drakensburg Mountains that separate South Africa from Lesotho. I had one day to do a hike and it couldn't have been sunnier. In fact it was too hot and sunny but fortunately there were a few streams to cool off in and fill the water bottle with. I finished six hours later a sweaty, achey, thirsty wreck. Good views though.


Thanks to Ray Puxley for providing the info on great-granddad.
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