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Dundee

Talana Battlefield and Museum – Beginning of the Anglo-Boer War

As with all developing nations around the world, a major part of South Africa’s history consists of the numerous wars that were fought on the country’s soil. The majority of these wars were over territory, and they took place between both African and European peoples. The Talana Battlefield was one of the places where the Anglo-Boer war between the British and the Dutch settlers took place. Where swords clashed and guns fired. Today this battlefield stands in memory of one of the biggest wars ever fought in South Africa. If you have an interest in the history of the country, it’s certainly worth a visit.

The Talana Battlefield was the scene of the first battle between the British and the Boers in a war that lasted three years. The battle was fought on the 20 October 1899 just outside the town of Dundee and the British were successful in driving the Boers off Talana Hill. Unfortunately, they suffered heavy losses in the process and their commanding officer, General Penn Symons, was mortally wounded during the conflict. This left the British with a weak spot and Symons’ successor, General Yule, decided to retire to Ladysmith. The Boer forces moved in and took over the town for a period of seven months, after which they were driven out again during the Battle of Helpmekaar in 1900.

Today the Talana Battlefield serves as a grim reminder of the past. Just across the battlefield, you’ll find the Talana Museum. This great museum features a variety of war memorabilia and gives a brief description of the history of Dundee. The museum has seventeen different buildings and is dedicated to more than just the history of the war. It also covers subjects such as agriculture, mining, industry and domestic life in this part of KwaZulu Natal. From the museum you can take a self-guided trail through the Talana Battlefield. Or, if you are more adventurous, you can follow the advance of the British along the Talana Trail which takes roughly two hours to complete. The Talana Museum is part of a 20 acre heritage park which is quite popular with both locals and foreigners. Other battlefields nearby include Blood River, Rorkes Drift, Fugitives Drife, Elandslaagte, Colenso, Isandlwana, Spioenkop and the Siege of Ladysmith. The museum is open seven days a week, 363 days a year and is definitely worth taking a look at. So visit the Talana Battlefield along with the Talana Museum and discover some of South Africa’s rich history.