Emotional visit to Boer War battlefield

Keith at the statue in Queen's Gardens

Keith at the statue in Queen's Gardens

First published in News

A FATHER and son have paid an emotional visit to a little-known piece of Warrington’s military history.

Keith Hayward and his son Daniel went to the Boer War battlefields in South Africa.

For 15 years Keith was part of the South Lancashire Regiment, based at the Peninsula Barracks on O’Leary Street, Orford, where Daniel also attended as a member of the Cadets.

The road takes its name from Colonel William MacCarthy O’Leary, who led the regiment in the Boer War at the turn of the 20th century.

O’Leary’s statue has long stood in Queen’s Gardens on Palmyra Square, but his resting place lies hidden away in the South African grasslands, not far from where he fell in 1900.

“Very few, even Boer War enthusiasts, know of the grave” said 59-year-old Keith, of Wensleydale Close, Whittle Hall.

“It was only after mentioning our connections to the regiment to our tour guide that we were taken there. It’s miles from any of the cemeteries, with only one other grave beside it.”

The trip fulfilled a long-standing ambition for Keith and Daniel, who have journeyed to various battlefields across Europe.

Keith added: “It’s one of the most deadly conflicts the British army has ever been involved in, but very little about it is common knowledge and very few memorials exist in Britain today.

“The monuments we saw over there were full of Warrington names. Daniel is 23 and has several friends who have been wounded or killed in Afghanistan, so it had a major impact on him. It’s expensive but I’d encourage anyone who has the money to make the trip.”

l A memorial service to commemorate the part played by the South Lancashire regiment at the Boer War takes place in the town each February.

Members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment host the annual service to recognise those men who lost their lives at the battle of Pieter's Hill.

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