Roberta Writes – A Ghost and His Gold: Boer War photographs and a review

While on our recent road trip, my family visited the Boer Wars Museum in Bloemfontein. A fascinating museum, it had a lot of artifacts that featured in my book about the Second Anglo Boer War, A Ghost and His Gold. I thought I would share a few of my photographs and a short extract to go with each of them.

I was also delighted to discover a wonderful review of A Ghost and His Gold on author, H.R.R. Gorman’s blog. You can read it here: https://hrrgorman.wordpress.com/2022/01/03/book-review-a-ghost-and-his-gold/

“Estelle climbs up and takes her place as the driver. From his position on his horse next to the wagon, Pieter sees Marta’s annoyed glare. He knows Marta does not approve of Estelle sitting in the open on the wooden chest, driving the wagon.

Marta’s just being narrow minded. We have no sons and Estelle is capable and willing. She is good at driving too and has expressed her preference for sitting outside in the air rather than sweltering under the covering at the back. Marta will just have to learn to accept my decision.

“Put your bonnet on, Estelle,” he calls, hoping to pacify his wife.

Estelle drags on the thick white ties attached to her bonnet, pulling it up over her bright hair and plunging her beautiful face into shadow. Pieter smiles at her and moves away, walking his horse slowly down the line of oxen.”

““When the Long Tom arrives from Pretoria and starts bombarding the town, the British will soon surrender,” a burly Boer called Pete Grobler declared after the music and dancing had died down.

Another Boer caught up the refrain: “Our general is experienced in this type of warfare. He forced the British garrison at Potchefstroom to surrender during the last war, and he’ll do the same thing this time.”

Pieter listened quietly while the men extolled the virtues of the French siege gun called the Long Tom. The government of the South African Republic had bought four of these great guns with their 4.2-metre-long barrels in 1897 for deployment at the four forts they had built around Pretoria. Now that war had been declared, it had been decided that the guns would be deployed as field and siege guns around the country.

A small smile turned up the corners of Pieter’s mouth as he went to sleep that night. He dreamed of the successes of the day and the eminent capture of Mafeking by the Boers after the arrival of the Long Tom.”

“Clambering out of bed, he stumbles across the uneven floor of the bedroom and down the passageway. By the time he reaches the front door, his eyes have adjusted fully to the darkness, and he can make out the shapes of the furniture in the voorkamer, a large room at the front of the farmhouse where Marta receives visitors.

Grabbing his loaded Mauser rifle from its hooks on the wall near the door, he hesitates for a moment to admire its smooth and shiny wooden length. The feel of the gun in his hands gives him confidence; he is an excellent marksman.

This gun brought me a lot of respect.

His ability with a gun had been his saving grace when, as a young man, his peers had been mystified by his interest in books and writing and had liked to share their derogatory thoughts in that regard.”

64 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – A Ghost and His Gold: Boer War photographs and a review

  1. what a wonderful review from H.R.R. The reviewer seems to know you well and how you do lots of research for your books, and then include that research in your book. Nice to see some of the photos that are the basis for part so your book…

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  2. You make it very intriguing, Robbie. It’s a fascinating (if horrific) period of history, the 1899-1902 war which my father talked about, because of his father’s fascination with it. My grandfather had wanted to go and fight but had just been too young. Then he fought through WW1 and lost his taste for war and, in particular, British generalship!

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    1. Hi GEoff, Happy New Year. I am glad you enjoyed this post. The Anglo Boer War as pretty horrific but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as The First World War. The conditions and deaths over that four-year period were unbelievable. And, as you mention, British generalship was dreadful. They didn’t have a clue about modern warfare.

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  3. I loved this post. It is nice to be able to picture things while reading and these excerpts brought your story back to me. I loved it an congratulations on the wonderful review.

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    1. HI Priscilla, I am pleased to know you liked the photographs. I also enjoy seeing the items and linking them to the information and research I have discovered. When I wrote A Ghost and HIs Gold, all these museums were closed because of Covid.

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  4. How wonderful you went to the museum and discovered the artifacts featured in your book. That must be so exciting, Robbie! I read HRR’s review. She always does wonderful reviews. I loved her review of my poetry book.

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      1. I know, Robbie. When I take photos of the behind glass objects, I put the phone on the glass, then tilt the angle. I don’t get too much reflection.

        I can see very well of your photos. Well done.

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  5. Robbie, how much fun to see the objects that you used in your book. Was this the first time you saw them in person? It always amazes me how a fiction writer can know about an object and use it in their narrative without actually having seen it.

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    1. Hi Bernadette. I saw some artifacts when I visited the Voortrekker Monument and museum in April last year. This is the first time I’ve seen a Long Tom (it is a replica as they were all destroyed during the war) and the guns. I had to describe them from pictures and journal entries for my book.

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    1. The First Anglo Boer War only lasted 3 months and ended with a great triumph for the Boers. They certainly entered the war under the mistaken impression that it would be another quick win for them. The Boers were the aggressors although they were provoked by Britain. This aspect does come out in the early part of my story.

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