Fascinating Fort Klapperkop

The anticipation of the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War caused a stir within the government departments of the South African Republic. Military officials and government delegates began to look at ways to protect Pretoria, the capital of the country, and consulted with engineers and military personnel in regard to their options. The best locations for defense fortifications were identified, leading to the construction of four forts, of which Fort Klapperkop was one. It is now a recommended attraction when visiting South Africa and the Gauteng Province.

The first defense strategy was formulated on 24 March 1896, which was done by Leon Grunberg, a former French officer. His plan suggested that eight armored turrets be constructed on Derdepoort, Daspoortrand, Schanskop, Klapperkop, Magaliesberg-Wes, Wonderboompoort, Kwaggaspoort and Strubenkop. His strategic locations were accepted, but not the turrets. Otto Albert Adolph von Dewits and Henrich Werner, German engineers, designed forts, which were the preferred choice, but funding would not allow for all eight forts to be built. Four forts were therefore constructed in Daspoortrand, Schanskop, Wonderboom and Klapperkop. Each fort was built at a cost of £50,000.

Fort Klapperkop was designed with a moat surrounding it, although it was never filled. The drawbridge was the only entrance to the fort, constructed from stone, and it was fully equipped with chimneys, bomb-resistant casemates, air vents, machine shops, offices and an ammunition store. The fort was fitted with a 65 mm Krupp Mountain Gun, a 155mm Long Tom, no less than three Martini-Henry Hand-Maxims and a 37 Maxim Nordenfeldt Cannon. Its first 17 troops walked into the fort in 1899, with troops increasing slightly and then decreasing by the end of the same year. Not one shot was fired in anger from this fort and it only really became useful in 1900 as troop accommodation for Lord Robert.

In 1963 Fort Klapperkop was restored to its former glory by the South African Defense Force and is now a museum and monument. A memorial of a solder armed with a R1 rifle was unveiled at the fort on 31 May 1979, with the names of the soldiers that lost their lives etched into marble surrounding the statue. It is a Gauteng Provincial Site and national monument. Fort Schanskop was also restored as a museum, but Daspoortrand and Wonderboom have fallen into disrepair, and their ruins are merely a reminder to the country’s history.