Garden of Remembrance and the Weeping Cross of Delville Wood

Located in the Kwazulu Natal city of Pietermaritzburg is the fascinating Garden of Remembrance. Dedicated to soldiers who died during the two World Wars, the Garden of Remembrance with its Delville Wood Cross is a popular attraction in Pietermaritzburg.

Pietermaritzburg’s Garden of Remembrance is situated beside Leinster Road, just across from the City Hall. The City Hall itself is a major attraction in Pietermaritzburg as it is said to be the Southern hemisphere’s biggest brick building with the biggest organ. The somber Garden of Remembrance is actually quite attractive and contains a number of monuments in honor of servicemen who died on the battlefields of the World Wars.

In 1916 a number of South African troops were sent to France to the village of Longueval so as to provide support to the British in World War One. That same year on July 15 the soldiers were ordered by Major-General Lukin to remove the trees from d’elville woods so as to create a better line of defense. Unfortunately disaster struck on the evening of the 17th of July leaving only 3 officers as well as 140 men out of a brigade of 433. A memorial was established beside the Longueval village and replicas raised in Cape Town and Pretoria. The monument depicts two figures clasping hands to represent the joint effort by Boers and Brits in the war. General Lukin returned to South Africa bearing wood from the Delville forest which was then made into a cross. The Delville Wood Cross is now found in the Garden of Remembrance.

The cross has been named the Weeping Cross of Delville as it is known to “weep” around the time of the July anniversary of the World War One battle in which South African soldiers lost their lives. This unusual phenomenon of oozing sap has been investigated over the years by the Forestry Department, CSIR (scientific research council) and University of Natal with no answers. Locals believe that when the last remaining soldier of Delville breathes his last breath, the weeping will end. When visiting the Pietermaritzburg, why not stop at the Garden of Remembrance and view the Weeping Cross of Delville Wood.

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