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Ladysmith Siege Museum

Ladysmith Memorial © NJR ZA
Ladysmith Memorial © NJR ZA

During the South African War, Ladysmith was besieged for 118 days between 2 November 1899 and 28 February 1900. Thousands died, either during battle or from disease and the lack of food and water. 21,000 Boers advanced into Natal from all sides when war was declared between the Boer republics and Britain. After two notable battles, the Boer forces surrounded the garrison town of Ladysmith, where the British commander and his core force were deployed. The siege was eventually broken by the British when a relief force entered Ladysmith - a force which included a young Churchill. But as with many battles in the war, it was a more a voluntary dispersal than a defeat, with the Boers choosing to fight another day rather than face British reinforcements. One touching story from this tragic and protracted siege is the tale of how the Boers sent a single unexploded shell into Ladysmith on Christmas day. It contained a Christmas pudding and a note wishing the British troops compliments of the season.

The museum is considered one of the best Anglo-Boer War museums in the country. Its collection of artefacts, documents, firearms, and uniforms, as well as its series of excellent photographs tell a vivid story of battles between the Boer and British forces.

Address: Murchison Street, Ladysmith

Website: www.battlefieldsroute.co.za/place/ladysmith-siege-museum