Second Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday 30th April, the day after the Royal Wedding of William and Kate, I walked The Ridgeway, an ancient trackway described as Britain’s oldest road. With Ellesborough directly below me, I made my way across to Coombe Hill and its Anglo-Boer War monument, an imperialist relic of the past, recently given something of a face-lift. I thought of my English grandfather, whose military career spanned the last decade of the 19th century through the First World War to the 1920’s. Despite having passed through South Africa on his way back from India at the turn of the century, I don’t think he had been involved in any combat situation on South African territory, yet I thought of young men who had been sent across the waters to advance the cause of the mighty empire and the 148 from Buckinghamshire who lost their lives fighting a guerrilla war in this hostile, foreign environment, their names emblazoned on the large, stone plaque attached to the monument. I thought of the immense suffering brought on by British attempts to change the course of the war through Kitchener’s scorched earth policy, destroying Boer farms and moving women and children into concentration camps. The concentration camps claimed the lives of some 27000 Boers, over 22000  of which were children.  Read more.

Setting off on the chalk path along Upper Icknield Way in Princes Risborough - fields of rapeseed now in full bloom.

View across towards Chequers country house from Coombe Hill, Buckinghamshire.

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