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 Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort

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barry

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PostSubject: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:50 pm

Hi All,
For those interested in visiting the site of the old fort at Helpmekaar the grid loc is S 28deg 26.799'/E 30deg 24.971', or if you do not have a GPS , but rather a compass, use the following triangulaton;
100 paces on 238 deg from the left hand bend in the road to the NW of the Police station
70 paces from the pond, on 148deg
160 paces from the centre of the cemetery on 309deg
270 paces from the nearest point ( a tee junction) on the tarred road running NW past the Police station.
All degrees are magnetic. Finding this will test the navigator in you.

regards

barry
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Fri Dec 11, 2015 5:49 pm

Well done Barry you managed to locate it
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barry

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PostSubject: Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:10 am

Hi Frank,
Thanks, should have the hospital site pinned down shortly too.

rgards

barry
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:48 am

Want me to make a prediction?
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barry

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PostSubject: Helpmekaar hospital   Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:10 am

Hi Frank,

Yes, go ahead.

barry
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:36 am

This is a building that's intrigued me for years, nothing to do with the hospital but Ive paced it out over many years and I always come back to the conclusion its on the site of the old 'Store'.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:51 am

Barry
There was a sketch of the fort in the Graphic around middle of March 1879. Im busy searching with little success but from memory Im sure the hospital was marked.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:06 pm

If you log onto Google earth the old road is still visible, it cuts between the front of the Police Station and the old Supply store. As it bends around your grid point there is an old house/ruin to the South. Around ten metres to the West of its Southern corner were a group of around 6 old unmarked graves. Those were just outside the boundary of the old trench. If the position you indicated ( and Im positive your right) is compared with the old photos and sketches, in particular an old sketch that showed the line of the three sheds, the parapet and the camp in the distance it pretty well shows exactly where the main camp site was. Once the hospital tent was moved from the fort for the quarantine I suspect it was put between the fort and the camp site that would put it around 20 metres North east of the small dam and pretty close to the access farm road on the 'bend' of the Helpmakaar main road. Hope that makes sense?

Just my guess mate, would love you to be able to pin point exactly.

Cheers

PS You staying in JoBurg for Xmas or heading to the coast?
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barry

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PostSubject: The Helpmekaar hospital   Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:29 pm


Hi Frank,
Thanks for that. From what I already know I think those directions are very close.
No, Jozi is not the place to stay for Christmas. We have a 06h00 flight booked with Mango for PLZ on Sunday. We plan to spend a week there enjoying all four seasons every day.

regards


barry
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:39 pm

Barry
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Where the telegraph pole bisects the side of the hill, just above the shear face, was Henry Harfords Camp site with the NNC. Its an area ive wanted to explore for years and never got around to. A great portion of it hasn't been farmed and looks pretty original so I reckon a few 'artifacts' could be in evidence. Could be worth a look next time your in the area.

We are heading out of town for Kruger for a couple of weeks then a slow drive down through Natal and the Battlefields then back to Cape town via Lesotho and the Eastern Cape.
The tourists are welcome to the Town for a few weeks, prices are already climbing.

Cheers mate
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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:44 pm

John Young
The March edition of the Graphic has I think a map of Helpmakaar. Would you be able to access a copy?

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:31 pm

Gentlemen

Is this the spot under discussion?
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Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:06 pm

Hi Steve
Where the road takes a sharp bend take a bearing at around 8 oclock to the clump of trees. There is an old house that is close to the side of the fort. The small dam is upwards and to the left from there and that's the area I think the hospital area was.
The old grave yard is at the bottom just where the word imagery is written.
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:21 pm

Thanks Frank. Is the feint oblong in the grass sitting to the south of the sharp bend in the road (and butting up against the building) the outline of the fort?

Here is the Graphic image you were after.
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Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Thu Dec 17, 2015 4:48 am

Thanks Steve for that. I remembered the original hospital was inside the fort.
I will mark up the google map a bit later in the day, time to take morning coffee to 'she who must be obeyed'.
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PostSubject: Re: Geographic location of Helpmekaar fort   Thu Dec 17, 2015 7:01 am

The area was surveyed in the mid 70s by Laband and Thompson for their book 'Field Guide to the war in Zululand and the defence of Natal'. (page 60). At that time a fairly large portion of the trench was still visible with the abutment at over 1 meter in height. The Eastern side had been swallowed up by the Wattle growing through.
In 1990 the area was revisited by Knight and Castle for their book 'The Zulu War then and now' (One of my Favourite Books) and they commented then that there was virtually no sign of the trench or abutments save that a fire had destroyed some undergrowth and a section of the trench line was visible.
The last time I was there was a year ago and there is nothing of any significance at all. The small dam wall could very well be a relic of the 1879 era but theres nothing to say it is save and except its appearance.
The projected position of the hospital is purely my own idea, based on readings etc.
There is a controversy over the position of the old road in that the famous photo of the fort seems to indicate a well worn area between the fort and the hill beyond, separating the graves from the fort. However the actual road position is still visible on aerial photography and ordnance survey maps.
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Possibly then the well worn track in the photo could be the route the troops took from the camp/fort to the trading store.
The actual camp was spread over a pretty large area with the NNC a couple of kilometres away overlooking the cliff face dropping down the escarpment and the other troops spreading across the flat lands to the North and North East of the fort.
Some of the volunteers, Carbineers in particular camped well away from the imperial forces on the approach to the Knostrop pass itself.

Hope that helps.

Cheers
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