The Day of The Vow

The Day of the Vow (a.k.a. The Day of the Covenant) was instituted on 16th December 1838 at the Battle of Blood River. Here is an article that appeared at this blog on 16 December 2011 titled 16th December The Day of the Vow.

THE DAY of THE COVENANT

By Dr. Peter Hammond

Sarel Cilliers statue To view this presentation with pictures as a PowerPoint on Slideshare, click here.

To listen to an audio presentation, as given at the Reformation Society, click here.

To view the video on our Vimeo page, as presented at the Reformation Society, click here.

An abbreviated translation of this message in Afrikaans is also available, click here.

9  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; ~ Deuteronomy 7:9

The Battle of Blood River

For over a century and a half, throughout South Africa, 16 December has been observed as The Day of the Covenant. Marking the decisive Battle of Blood River, the Day of the Covenant has been recognised by many, not only as a victory for the Voortrekkers, but as a triumph for Western civilization and Christianity in Africa.

Spiritual Warfare

It should be noted that before the Battle of Blood River, 16 December 1838, there were no known Christians amongst the Zulu nation. Despite the dedicated spiritual labours of British and American missionaries amongst the Zulus for 18 years previously, so great was the hold of superstition, the reign of terror of the Zulu kings, and fear of the witchdoctors, that no Zulus were known to have responded to the preaching of the Gospel before the defeat of Dingaan’s Impis at Blood River.

Christianity vs. Witchcraft

One could similarly note that despite the strenuous labours of famous British missionary Robert Moffatt, and others, amongst the Matabele, in what became Rhodesia, there were no baptised Matabele converts to Christianity before the defeat of Lobengula’s Impis in the Matabele War of 1893. 

The Spiritual Liberation of the Zulu

Observing the significance of The Day of the Covenant is not in any sense anti-Zulu. I have many precious friends amongst the Zulu. Having read extensively on their history, and visited many of the strategic battle sites and museums in Zululand, I have to regard the Covenant made by the Boers, and The Battle of Blood River, as the beginning of the spiritual liberation of Zululand. Only after The Battle of Blood River did hundreds, and then thousands, of Zulus come to Christ. 

Love in Action

It needs to be noted that after their victory over Dingaan’s forces the Afrikaans Christians built a magnificent mission station and church at Mgundgundlovu (Dingaanstad) within sight of the massacre of the Trek leader Piet Retief and his 100 followers who were brutally tortured and massacred. The Afrikaans missionaries built a school for the blind, an evangelists training college, and many other expressions of Christian love for their former enemies. 

Zululand for Christ

After the final defeat of the Zulu military, in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, Zulus came to Christ by the hundreds of thousands. Today there are millions of Zulu Christians. 

Vikings for Christ

As a descendant of the Vikings, I look to our former enemy, King Alfred the Great, as one of my Spiritual forefathers. Although the original Hammonds would have been among the Viking invaders of England, I recognise that the conversion and discipling of the once brutal Vikings began with the military victory of King Alfred the Great and his Saxon armies over the Vikings. Similarly, I believe that our Zulu brothers and sisters in Christ can rejoice in the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu nation that began with the original Day of the Covenant.

Shaka and the Mfekane

Shaka had built the Zulu into a great warlike nation. He unleashed waves of destruction impi ebomvu (total war) that left enormous stretches of country uninhabited by people. The Mfekane unleashed by Shaka had led to the annihilation of literally hundreds of tribes. Known as "the Black Napoleon", Shaka had soaked Southern Africa in blood, devastating countless kraals, particularly between 1820 and 1824. Shaka was described as tall, handsome and a military genius. He moulded the previously insignificant Zulu tribe into a mighty war machine. He introduced new systems of fighting, abandoning the long throwing spears, and introducing the far more lethal short handled broad-bladed assegai. He compelled his men to throw away their sandals and to harden their feet. His regiments (Impis) would be compelled to dance on thorns and if anyone showed pain they were immediately executed. Instead of standing at a distance singing, and taunting the enemy, and ineffectually throwing their spears, Shaka trained his men to fight as a cohesive unit, in the shape of cattle horns. The most experienced troops were at the head to gore, and the younger warriors were put on the horns to encircle the enemy. The Zulu were trained to rush straight in for the kill. They overwhelmed every tribe they came across and annihilated them. Many of the young women and young boys from these defeated tribes were amalgamated into the Zulu tribe, but the older people and warriors were exterminated.

Mzilikazi’s Path of Blood

One of Shaka’s most effective generals, Mzilikazi, was a dynamic, and ambitious, man. (Mzilikazi was born in 1790, making him slightly the junior of Shaka who was born in 1787.) Mzilikazi was 34 when he fled Zululand with his Impi and founded Matebele nation. To avoid retribution at the hands of his king, Shaka, Mzilikazi led his men on a devastating path of blood through the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Botswana, later settling in what became Rhodesia. Mzilikazi spared the most promising of the vanquished tribes to be incorporated into his army and tribe. He moulded his heterogeneous horde into a great nation using the best of Zulu military tactics. His path through the interior of Southern Africa was as devastating as a veld fire, as he slaughtered, captured, plundered and left destruction in his wake. Until his defeat at the hands of the Boers at Vegkop, the Matabele were operating out of Western Transvaal. Their defeat at the hands of Hendrik Potgieter’s trekkers led Mzilikazi’s men to flee across the Limpopo River to settle in Matabeleland (in what later became Rhodesia, and ultimately Zimbabwe).

Dingaan’s Treachery

On 22 September 1828, Shaka, the founder and King of the Zulus, was stabbed to death by his half-brothers, Princes Dingaan and Mhlangana. Missionaries and English traders who visited Zululand described Dingaan as "astute", "sly", "cruel", "temperamental", "brutal", "charming", "diplomatic" and "treacherous". Shortly after murdering his half-brother, Dingaan quickly arranged the assassination of his co-conspirator Mhlangana, and then systematically executed all aristocratic rivals and anyone else who could possibly be a danger to him, including the commander-in-chief of Shaka’s army, Ndlaka, who he had strangled.

Corrupt and Cruel

Dingaan was about 30 years old when he seized power. He began to build himself a new capital in Mgungundlovu (the place of the great elephant). Dingaan quickly accumulated over 300 wives and concubines. Traders and missionaries described Dingaan’s appetite as "voracious, sexually and otherwise" and he soon became extremely obese. Unlike his brother Shaka, Dingaan preferred to stay at his palace. He was not a warrior like Shaka. Instead of leading military campaigns, he sent out his Impis and remained at Mgungundlovu surrounded by a continual programme of feasting and dancing.

The Gullibility of Piet Retief

When the Trek leader Piet Retief came to Dingaan to negotiate the right for the Voortrekkers to settle in the depopulated territory between the Tugela and the Bushmans River (present day Natal) he was warned by the missionaries that one of the principle objectives of Shaka had been to totally depopulate all the surrounding territory as far as his soldiers could penetrate so that his followers, over whom he held such despotic sway, might have no asylum or refuge if they attempted to escape his murderous rule. Retief was also warned that the defeat of the renegade Zulu general Mzilikazi at the hands of the Boers in the Transvaal had sent shockwaves through Zululand. As Dingaan’s military expeditions against Mzilikazi had all been indecisive, he feared the power of the Boers. Yet, Piet Retief seemed supremely self-confident and brushed aside every warning about the danger of the dictator with whom he was attempting to negotiate.

Mgundgundlovu

Dingaan’s capital, Mgungundlovu, was described as an efficient military camp entirely fenced in with thorn bushes. The king’s quarters dominated the high ground, overlooking the two thousand huts to the sides of the main entrance and open arena. Each hut accommodated twenty warriors. Within the lines of the military huts were four strongly fenced in cattle kraals. Dingaan’s own quarters consisted of hundreds of beehive huts including huts for his enormous harem, and his counsel house and reception hall, both some 20 feet in height, with the roof supported by 22 pillars entirely covered in bead work. The floors were made of mud and dung, polished with blood and fat until they shone like a mirror. Mgungundlovu as a whole was arranged in ovals, circles and semi-circles, with thousands of beehive huts appearing like beads in a necklace. Facing the capital, on the other side of the stream below was the hill of execution (KwaMatiwane).

In the Presence of Dingaan

Dingaan required his subjects to throw themselves to the ground and crawl forward in the dust for about two hundred metres before coming to a halt a good distance from his throne. Piet Retief and the other white visitors refused to succumb to such an indignity, and stood in the presence of the king. They noted that Dingaan was entirely hairless. He was shaved every day and was described as having an abhorrence of human hair. He wore many ornaments on his head and his body was rubbed daily with fat to make him appear like polished ebony.

Warnings from the Missionaries

Acting as the king’s secretary was Rev. Francis Owen of the Church Missionary Society. Most of what we know concerning the meetings of Piet Retief with Dingaan come from Owen’s diary. Piet Retief first reached Mgundgundlovu on 5 November 1837. The king entertained him with war dances by thousands of his warriors. Owen warned him of the countless cruelties, tortures and executions that he had been forced to witness. However, Piet Retief seemed most impressed with the "sincerity", "graciousness", "intelligence", and "goodwill" of Dingaan.

After seeking to impress Retief for two days with parades of his regiments and herds, Dingaan informed Retief that he was willing to grant the Trekkers the territory his armies had depopulated across the Tugela, and around Port Natal – on condition that Piet Retief should return the cattle, which had been taken by Sikonyela and his Batlokoa people. As they had come on horseback and dressed in clothes, Sikonyela’s people had been assumed to be Boers. To prove that the trekkers were not in any way responsible for Sikonyela’s cattle raid, he required them to deal with this chief.

The CMS missionary, Francis Owen, warned Piet Retief that he was wasting his time, for Dingaan was utterly inconsistent and had already granted the desired territory to the English government through John Gardiner. However, Piet Retief regarded the expedition against Sikonyela as necessary for the vindication of their honour. Owen questioned how a man of Retief’s intelligence could attach any value to any promise made by a tyrant like Dingaan.

When Piet Retief later gave an enthusiastic account of the splendours of Dingaan, his kindness and boundless hospitality, American missionary Rev. George Champion declared: "I have known Dingaan for two years Mr Retief, and I know full well what a dangerous character he is. I can only see disaster should you visit him again." Rev. Kirkwood also warned Retief of Dingaan’s intention to have him put to death as "a wizard." But Retief brushed all their warnings aside declaring: "Have no apprehension on my account!"

Sikonyela and the Batlokoa

Chief Sikonyela was described as a man who always caused trouble. He was the son of a famous warrior queen Ma Ntatisa. He had done his share of devastating the country along the Caledon River. The remnants of the devastated tribes he moulded into the Batlokoa. Cattle raids were part of the African way of life and both Sikonyela and many of the trekkers questioned Retief’s actions as contrary to his own code of behaviour by interfering in inter-tribal affairs. However, Retief felt himself justified in taking action, if these people had indeed posed as Boers. Retief managed to avoid bloodshed by using a pair of handcuffs to restrain Sikonyela and then declaring that he was "under arrest" and they would only take the handcuffs off if he returned the stolen cattle. Sikonyela was kept prisoner for three days while the seven hundred cattle were rounded up and identified by the accompanying Zulus.

Failing to Heed Advice

A passing trader warned Piet Retief of Dingaan’s planned treachery against him upon his return. Fellow trek leader Gert Maritz repeatedly warned Piet Retief not to return to Dingaan declaring: “I do not trust Dingaan!” But, every attempt to dissuade Piet Retief was brushed aside. Maritz reminded him of the murder of Anders Stockenstrom in 1811 while having friendly talks with a band of Xhosas.

Gullible’s Travels

Piet Retief, with almost a hundred followers, arrived at Mgundgundlovu on Saturday 3 February. He was rebuked by Dingaan for having released Sikonyela unharmed. Dingaan was shocked that Retief had not executed him, or at least brought him to the Zulu capital for execution.

He then requested the Boers to make a demonstration of their war dances on their horses. The trekkers staged an impromptu charge on horseback in the royal arena, making the air resound with the sound of their muskets. Dingaan and his subjects had never seen anything like it and were plainly shocked at the speed and agility of the Boers on horseback and the deafening sound of their muskets. The missionary warned Retief that his display was entrenching the fear of Dingaan that he was a wizard and a threat that must be eradicated.

However, when Dingaan agreed to sign the document drawn up by Retief to cede the territory between the Tugela and Umzimvubu Rivers to the trekkers, Retief felt that all of his trust in the word of Dingaan was fulfilled. This document was placed in his leather briefcase with great relief.

However, the CMS missionary, Rev. Owen, was most disturbed that Retief and his followers had missed the Sunday morning church service on 4 February, for these formalities for the king. Retief later said that he had forgotten what day of the week it was.
On Monday the trekkers were treated to an endless display of war dances and military manoeuvres by Dingaan’s Impis. Dingaan was described as "a master showman" with his entertainment the most spectacular ever seen in the sub-continent. Dingaan again asked for a display of the Boers war tactics on horseback. The Zulus sat stunned at the speed and perfect control of the men with their rifles on horseback.

Defenceless Before Dingaan

Dingane_-_'Bulalani_abathakathi'_-_1897 On Tuesday morning William Wood, a young English trader fluent in Zulu, who was visiting the Owens, warned Retief that "your entire party will be massacred before the day is out." As the Retief party struck camp and were preparing to leave, they were invited to a final farewell display. For this they were requested to leave their firearms, bandoleers and powder horns outside the gates of the kraal. Incredibly, they acceded to this demand. Leaving their firearms outside the kraal, they walked defenceless into the arena of Dingaan’s kraal. After ominous war dances which increased in volume and intensity, Dingaan stood up and shouted "Babulaleni abathakathi!" ("kill the wizards!").

Cold Blooded Murder

From across the stream on the opposite hillside, Francis Owen was reading the New Testament when a messenger rushed up to inform him that Dingaan had decided to kill the Boers but he was not to be concerned. Owen looked with horror as he saw an immense multitude, "about nine or ten Zulus to each Boer were dragging the helpless unarmed victims to the fatal spot" on the hill of execution. Many of the Boers were impaled on assegais, and they were all clubbed to death. Piet Retief’s young son was killed before his eyes. Amongst the dead was their interpreter, Thomas Halstead, the only Englishman of the party. The various missionaries and traders who had warned Piet Retief repeatedly questioned how such an intelligent and experienced man as Piet Retief could have been so thoroughly deceived, even mesmerized, by the tyrant Dingaan. Soon, the sky above the hill of execution was black with vultures. The heart and liver of Piet Retief was brought to Dingaan, but the rest of the corpses were left out in the open on the hill of execution to later be discovered along with Retief’s blood-stained leather case containing the signed treaty with Dingaan. It was almost ten years since Dingaan had murdered his half-brother Shaka to assume the chieftainship.

Massacre at Midnight

About noon on that fateful Tuesday, 6 February, Rev. Owen saw Dingaan send out a huge army in the direction from where the Boers had come. There was no doubt that even worse was to come. In the early hours of 17 February, ten thousand Zulu warriors attacked the sleeping Voortrekkers between the Bushman’s the Blaauwkrants Rivers. There was no moon that night and it was pitch dark. Trekkers awoke to the sounds of their dogs barking. Wave after wave of Zulu warriors were stabbing men, women and children, wiping out whole families.

Fighting for their Lives

The followers of Gert Maritz were more cautiously laagered and better prepared to defend themselves. However, the followers of Piet Retief were spread out and most vulnerable. Sarel Cilliers and Gert Maritz led charges to rescue fleeing trekkers. Women and children, even as young as ten years old, fought tenaciously, selling their lives dearly. Marthinus Oosthuizen charged through the mass of Zulus to a wagon for ammunition and then back again to re-supply the beleaguered Van Rensburgs surrounded on a hill.

Devastation

Fighting continue until the afternoon of the 17th when the Zulu army retreated, taking over 25,000 cattle, and many horses and sheep, with them. Many hundreds of the Zulu attackers had been killed in the fierce fighting. As the Voortrekkers began to count up their own dead, they grieved over the loss of 185 of their children murdered. Of the women 56 were dead – this included even grandmothers – many with multiple assegai wounds. The murdered men numbered 40. Incredibly, some women who had been horribly stabbed were found alive amongst the piles of dead. Johanna van der Merwe and Margarita Prinsloo had each survived despite 20 assegai wounds, and Klasina Le Roux with 17 stab wounds.

Weenen

As Gert Maritz organized a mass burial of the slain trekkers, the sky was full of circling vultures and the sounds of weeping could be heard throughout the area. The Boers later founded a town at the site of the massacre which was named Weenen (The Place of Weeping).

Ambushed at the Buffalo River

On 6 April a counter-attack by a Boer commander led by the two rival leaders Piet Uys and Andries Potgieter was ambushed across the Buffalo River at Italeni. A British expedition from Port Natal rushed to assist the beleaguered trekkers, but ten of the Commando were killed, including Piet Uys and his brave son Dirkie who kept fighting by his father’s side to the very end. As this commando retreated it became known as the Vlugcommando (the fleeing commando).

Disaster

It was the darkest time of despair for the Voortrekkers. Death, disaster and dissention seemed to doom their ambitious enterprise.

Andries Pretorius Comes from the Transvaal

With the arrival of Andries Pretorius from the Transvaal, there was fresh hope. The widow of Piet Retief declared of Andries Pretorius: "This man has been sent by God. He will help us obtain justice." Andries Pretorius was a dynamic pistol packing farmer from Graaf Reinet. He was described as a tall, imposing figure in a well cut suit, with a pistol and a cutlass at his belt. He also came with 60 Transvaal volunteers for the Wencommando that he intended to organize. At an assembly of the Volksraad, Pretorius was elected Commandant General.

The Wencommando

Within a couple of days, he was heading out with 464 men, and 64 wagons, to engage the Zulus. Pretorius adopted the motto Eendragt Maakt Magt (unity is strength). (These words were to become the motto of the Transvaal Republic.) All in the Wencommando (The Victory Commando) were lectured on discipline, Christian conduct, decency, integrity, compassion and courage. As God’s soldiers their conduct had to be of a high standard. The chaplain, Sarel Cilliers, who was widely respected as a man of God, and who had proved himself in battle at Vegkop, ensured strict religious observance with daily devotions and prayer times where the men were required to kneel.

On the move the 64 wagons travelled in four rows so as not to make the column too long for the vanguards and rear guards to protect from ambush. Every night their laager was drawn up, sentries posted, inspections held, and defensive drills practiced. Scouting patrols were sent out every day to ascertain the whereabouts of the Zulu army, and to identify any potential threats.

The Covenant

As the Tugela River was flood, the Wencommando crossed near Spioenkop. At Waschbank, on Sunday 9 December, Sarel Cilliers stood on a gun carriage before the men had who assembled for worship and he proposed a solemn vow: "My brethren and fellow countrymen, at this moment we stand before the Holy God of Heaven and earth to make a promise. If He will be with us and protect us and deliver the enemy into our hands so that we may triumph over him, that we may observe the day and the date as an anniversary in each year and a day of Thanksgiving like the Sabbath, in His honour; and that we shall enjoin our children that they must take part with us in this, for remembrance even for our posterity; and if anyone sees a difficulty in this, let them return from this place. For the honour of His Name shall be joyfully exalted, and to Him the fame and the honour of the victory must be given."

All the English volunteers joined with the Afrikaans Voortrekkers in taking this Vow. From 9th December the Vow was repeated every evening, up until the night of the 15th, during evening services when Psalms were sung and prayers were offered.

Confronting the Zulu

There was a calm deliberation amongst the men of the Wencommando. They knew that they were going up against the most formidable force in Africa at that time. Up to that point, the Zulu Impis had never been beaten. They knew that Dingaan had over 20,000 warriors that he could throw at them. They were only 464, and this being 1838, they only had smooth ball muskets, which required 30 to 40 seconds to reload. And they knew charging Zulu warriors could cover a lot of ground in that time.

To the Ncome River

On Saturday the 15th of December the Commando crossed the Buffalo River and outspanned between the Buffalo River and the Ncome River. Two scouts reported that they had seen a huge Zulu army only half an hour ride away. Pretorius inspected the terrain for a suitable laager site and he sensed God’s guidance for there was a perfect spot on the other side of the Ncome. On its western bank there was a deep hippopotamus pool and a large donga, or gully. The laager was set up making use of these natural defensive features on two sides. The 64 wagons were firmly lashed together with two battle gates secured at the two openings where the canon were placed. The back of the D-formation was set against the donga, and the semi-circle faced towards the open plain. Candles were set out everywhere and lanterns suspended over the wagons on the long whip handles, to prevent the Zulus from approaching the laager unseen in the night. As Sarel Cilliers led the Commando in repeating the Vow for the last time, and then in singing the Psalms, the Zulus had moved within earshot and could hear their strange singing and see the eerily lit laager.

To Beat the Unbeatable Foe

It was a suspenseful moonless night. Two hours before dawn the trekkers were at their posts. A veil of mist lifted and a perfect day broke. There was not a cloud in the vivid blue sky and there was no wind. It was a day of crystal clarity. As the mist lifted the Boers saw the entire Zulu army seated facing them with their shields in front. The front row of the Zulus was only 40 paces away from the half-moon of wagons. Row after row of Zulu regiments were grouped according to the colour of their shields. There were between 12,000 and 15,000 Zulu’s surrounding the laager.

Fear God Alone

"Do not fear their numbers, we can deal with them", shouted Pretorius. As warriors were moving into position to attack from the donga in the rear, Commandant Pretorius decided to seize the initiative and he ordered his men to open fire immediately. Before the Zulus could even begin their intimidating war dances the roar of gunfire shattered the early morning peace. The day began in furious battle with Zulus yelling, hissing, smashing their assegais against their shields, thunderously stamping the ground with their feet, charging the laager at full speed. The two little canon cut swathes through the Zulu ranks, and the deadly aim of the Boer Commandos took their toll. As a mass of Zulus tried to scale the donga and assault the rear of the laager, Sarel Cilliers led his men to cut them down.

Taunting the Enemy
As the Zulus retreated out of range to about 500 metres, Pretorius sent out his brother and an interpreter to taunt the Zulus: "What are you doing, men of Dingaan? We have come to fight men, not women and children! Why don’t you attack?"

Facing the Zulu Tidal Wave

The Zulus leapt up to attack, drumming their shields, yelling, whistling, hissing and swept in a black wave down upon the wagons. This was the longest charge of the two-hour battle. Muzzles were becoming dangerously hot, wagons bristled with assegais, but the strategic positioning of the laager was frustrating the assaults of the Zulus. The closer they got to the wagons, the more they were funnelled and compressed by the river and the donga until they were tripping into one another and stumbling over their earlier casualties. Their losses were becoming enormous, yet without achieving anything. Never in the experience of their warrior nation had anything like this happened to them before.

Charging the Enemy

Andries Pretorius sensed a change in the tempo of the battle and ordered a charge form the laager. He had the two canon dragged out and fired from the front. Then he led a charge into the middle of the Zulu Impi. For the first time in history a Zulu Impi broke and fled. The cohesion on which the Zulu Impis was based was shattered. The Zulus began to flee across the Ncome River, many drowning in the process. As Pretorius fired on one Zulu his horse reared and threw him off. A Zulu lunged at him and Pretorius managed to ward off the assegai with his rifle. As the Zulu struck again Pretorius was thrust through his left hand. He pinned the Zulu to the ground and grappled hand to hand until the warrior was stabbed with his own assegai.

Pursuing the Enemy

On the other side Sarel Cilliers led a commando charge that put to flight the other section of the Zulu army. The mounted Boers pursued the fleeing Zulus, shooting at them as long as their bullets lasted, and firing pebbles when all their bullets were exhausted. Over 3,000 Zulu dead were counted around the laager. Yet not one Voortrekker had been killed, although several were wounded.

Thanksgiving

As the sun set the exhausted Commando members returned for a service of Thanksgiving and for their first meal of the day. Then they had to clean their muskets and cast bullets for the final push to track down Dingaan at Mgundgundlovu.

The Remains of Retief

By the 20th December the Zulu capital was sighted. It was ablaze from one end to the other. Dingaan had fled and set fire to his own capital. When the grizzly remains of Piet Retief and his 100 followers was discovered on KwaMatiwane they saw the legs and arms still tied with thongs, the impaling sticks still visible. Next to the remains of Piet Retief lay his water bottle and leather satchel which still contained Dingaan’s signed and witnessed agreement for the cession of Natal. On Christmas Day the remains of these victims were all gathered and buried in a communal grave at the foot of the koppie.

Reaping the Whirlwind

The Zulu kingdom fell into a civil war and Dingaan was overthrown by his half-brother Mpande.

Loving their Enemies

It is remarkable that, despite the treachery that the Boers had endured at the hands of the Zulu, and the massacres of so many unsuspecting women and children on the banks of the Blaauwkrans River, that no atrocities were committed by the Boers in retaliation. Instead, the Biblical injunction to love their enemies was fulfilled by the vigorous missionary work which was established by the Reformed Church in Zululand, establishing schools, hospitals, churches and orphanages, even within sight of where Piet Retief and his followers were so brutally murdered. In the century and a half since that original Day of the Covenant, many millions of Zulus have come to Christ and Zululand has been blessed by Revival. In a very real sense all of that began with the Covenant proposed by Sarel Cilliers, and enthusiastically adopted by the Wencommando.

Set Free to Serve Christ

Just as the descendants of the Vikings can look back to their one-time enemy King Alfred the Great as their Spiritual father who brought the first Vikings to the Lord after defeating them in battle, so the Zulus and the Afrikaners and English, with whom they had once been locked in deadly battle, are now united in Christ. With the defeat of Dingaan, and later Ceteswayo, the power of the witchdoctors was also broken and the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu people began. As the Lord promised in Genesis 22:17: "…thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies…" Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Blessed in Order to be a Blessing

God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled to this day:

2  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 
3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. ~ Genesis 12:2,3

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email:
mission@frontline.org.za
Website: www.FrontlineMissionSA.org 
 
Sources:
The Voortrekkers, by Johannes Meintjes, 1973, Corgi Books.
The Great Trek, by C. Venter, 1985, Nelson.
The Voortrekkers of South Africa, by M. Nathan, 1937, London.
Andries Pretorius in Natal, by B.J. Liebenberg, 1977, Pretoria.
The Washing of the Spears, by Donald Morris, 1966, Jonathan Cape.

This article has been adapted from a chapter in Sketches from South African History (now also available in Afrikaans: Sketse uit Die Suid Afrikaanse Geskiedenis) available from Christian Liberty Books, P.O. Box 358, Howard Place, 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490,

Email: admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za,

Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.

This message was presented by Dr. Peter Hammond to The Reformation Society. The audio CD and PowerPoint are available from Christian Liberty Books.

Soli Deo Gloria_________________________________

The Retief Massacre of 6 February 1838 revisited – events that lead to the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838.

Mitsuo Fuchida ~ From Pearl Harbour to Calvary

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour (1941-2018). Here is an article worth reading written . . .

By Dr. Peter Hammond. This Article is available as a PowerPoint with pictures, viewable here.

Download this article as a printable A3 tract here.

Mitsuo Fuchida (1902-1976) is best known for leading the devastating air attack on Pearl Harbour, 7 December 1941. After Mitsuo Fuchidathe war, Fuchida became a Christian Evangelist, who conducted Evangelistic outreaches throughout Japan, the United States and Europe.

Japanese Naval Aviator

Fuchida was the son of the Master of the Primary School in Kashihara. His grandfather was a Samurai. Mitsuo Fuchida entered the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1921, graduated as a mid-shipman in 1924, was promoted to Ensign in 1925, and sub-Lieutenant in 1927. He specialised in horizontal bombing and gained combat experience during the Sino-Japanese War, when he was assigned to the aircraft carrier, Kaga, in 1929. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1936, he was accepted into the Naval Staff College and joined the aircraft carrier Akagi in 1939, as Commander of the Air Group.

Attack on Pearl Harbour

Take of to Shokaku In October 1941, Fuchida was made Commander. Under the command of Vice Admiral Nagumo, with 6 aircraft carriers, and 423 aircraft, Commander Fuchida was responsible for the co-ordination of the aerial attack on the US Pacific Fleet. He was in the first wave of 183 dive-bombers, torpedo-bombers, level-bombers and fighters, which took off from carriers 370 km North of Oahu and targeted the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour. At 07:40 (Hawaiian Standard Time), Fuchida ordered "Tenkai!" ("Take attack position!"), slid back the canopy of his Nakajima Kate torpedo bomber and fired a green flare to signal attack. He then instructed his radio operator to send the coded signal "To, to, to" ("strike!").

Tora! Tora! Tora!

At 7:53, Fuchida sent the code words "Tora!

Tora! Tora!" back to the carrier Akagi, the flagship, to report that complete surprise had been achieved. Tora was the acronym for Tosugeki Raigeki (torpedo attack) and in Japanese Tora means Tiger.

Attack at Dawn

Japan attack When the attack on Pearl Harbour hit, at 7:55am, many American sailors, or soldiers, were on leave, or sleeping late. 7 Battleships were lined up on battleship row. The Oklahoma capsized. The West Virginia and California was sunk. The Nevada was damaged and beached near the mouth of Pearl Harbour. Tennessee, Maryland and Pennsylvania were damaged. 10 Other ships were sunk or seriously damaged. The Arizona sank with 2,000 sailors on board, after a stupendous explosion of its forward magazine. (Just 8 days earlier, the Americans had published a picture of the Arizona with the words: "It is significant that despite the claims of air enthusiasts, no battleship has yet been sunk by bombs." Pride goes before a fall.)

Attack on Pearl Harbour 7 December 1941 As the first wave returned to the carriers, Fuchida remained over the target to access damage and to observe the second wave attack. He returned to his carrier only after the secnd wave had completed its mission. 21 large flack holes were found in his aircraft, the main control wires were barely holding together and it is incredible that he survived so many hits to his aircraft. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft in the attack on Pearl Harbour. The US Pacific Fleet lost 21 ships including almost every battleship – 188 aircraft destroyed, another 159 damaged and 2,403 lives lost. In Fuchida’s Memoirs, he remarks being upset by the Admiral’s cancelling of the third wave attack, which would have destroyed Pearl Harbour’s fuel tanks and dry dock facilities. "I was upset and thought, ‘What stupidity!’ But the decision belonged to the Commander. It would not do any good if I complained.". Years later, Fuchida said that while he mourned those who died aboard the USS Arizona and other ships, he did not regret his role in the Pearl Harbour attack. It was war, he said. After the successful Pearl Harbour attack, Fuchida was granted an audience with the Emperor.

Wounded at Midway

Pearl Harbour bombing On 19 February 1942, Fuchida led the first of two waves of 188 aircraft in an air raid on Darwin, Australia. On 5 April, he led another series of air attacks against the Royal Navy bases in Ceylon. In June 1942, Fuchida was recovering from an emergency shipboard appendectomy, when he was wounded at the Battle of Midway. He was on the ship’s bridge during the morning attacks by US aircraft. As Akagi was hit, a chain reaction from the burning fuel and live bombs began the destruction of the ship. An explosion threw him to the deck and he broke his ankle.

A Hand of Protection

Captain Fuchida After recuperation Fuchida spent the rest of the war as a staff officer. Two weeks before the American invasion of Guam, Fuchida was ordered to Tokyo. When the Japanese failed to repel the invasion, Vice Admiral Kakuta and his staff chose Seppuku, the Samurai suicide ritual of disembowelment. "Again the sword of death had missed me only by inches." Fuchida declared. "What did it mean?"

Hiroshima Bombing

The day before the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he was in that city to attend a conference. A long distance call from naval headquarters required him to return to Tokyo. As he ate breakfast in Yamato, 200km away, Fuchida learned that everyone he had been working with in Hiroshima had perished in the atomic explosion. The day after the atomic bombing, he returned to Hiroshima to access the damage. All of the members of Fuchida’s party died of radiation poisoning, but Fuchida exhibited no symptoms. Each of the Officers who had accompanied Fuchida, to investigate the devastation in Hiroshima, showed strange signs of illness. One by one they died through radiation poisoning. As Fuchida returned to Kashirhara, to help his wife raise their children, he was depressed: "Life had no taste, or meaning I had missed death so many times and for what. What did it all mean?"

War Crimes Trials

After the war, Fuchida was called to testify at the trials of Japanese military leaders. When General Douglas McArthur summoned Fuchida to testify in the Tokyo War Crimes trials, Captain Fuchida was disgusted and declared that everyone should know that "War was war" and that cruel acts occurred on both sides. The petty vindictiveness of the Allies infuriated him and he denounced the "victor’s justice."

Love For One’s Enemies

In 1947, he met his former flight engineer, Kazuo Kanegasaki, who he thought had died in the Battle of Midway. However Kanegasaki reported that a young Christian woman, Peggy Covell, had cared for them, in the prison camps, despite her Missionary parents having been killed by Japanese soldiers on the Island of Panay, in the Philippines. Peggy Covell’s parents were Missionary teachers in Japan until 1939. They then relocated to the Philippines. The Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1941. They beheaded both of Peggy’s parents on Sunday morning, 19 December 1943. To Fuchida, this love for one’s enemies was inexplicable as the Bushido code required revenge against the murder of one’s parents to restore honour. He became obsessed with trying to understand why anyone would treat their enemies with kindness and forgiveness.

Inspiring Example

The extraordinary example of Peggy Covell inspired Fuchida to know more about the God of the Christians. When Japanese Prisoners of War asked the young 18-year old Peggy Covell why she volunteered to help them, her reply was: "Because Japanese soldiers killed my parents." When Peggy considered her parent’s sacrificial service for the Kingdom of God, and their love for the Japanese people, she was convinced that she must continue their Mission, reaching Japanese for Christ. As Fuchida researched from every source in the Philippines that knew the Covells, he learned that they had been forced to their knees by their captors and they had prayed together as they were about to be beheaded. They had prayed for the Japanese!

Literature Evangelism

In 1948, as Fuchida was passing by the bronze statue of Hachiko at the Shibuya station, he was handed a pamphlet about the life of Jacob De Shazer, a member of the Doolittle Raid, who was captured when his B-25 bomber ran out of fuel in occupied China. In the pamphlet: "I was a Prisoner of Japan", De Shazer, a former US Army Air Force staff sergeant and bombardier, related his testimony of imprisonment, torture and awakening to God.

Doolittle Raid Bombers

Doolittle Jacob De Shazer was the bombardier of B-25 No.16. After taking off from USS Hornet and dropping bombs on Nagoya, Japan, they flew to China, but ran out of fuel over Japanese controlled China. They were captured after parachuting to the ground. De Shazer was imprisoned for 40 months, 34 of these months in solitary confinement. He was beaten, malnourished and 3 of his crew were executed by firing squad. The fourth member, Lt. Bob Meder died of starvation. After 25 months of hating his captives, a Bible came into his hands, for only three weeks, but it changed his life completely. He began to learn Japanese and to treat his captives with respect. He resolved to bring the Message of Christ to Japan. After returning to the USA, De Shazer attended Seattle Pacific College and returned to Japan to preach the Gospel. He established a church in Nagoya, the very city he had bombed years before. Fuchida became intrigued with the Christian Faith. The shocking examples of Christians able to forgive their enemies staggered Fuchida. "That’s when I met Jesus. Looking back I can see now that the Lord had laid His hand upon me so that I might serve Him."

The Power of the Printed Page

Fuchida read the tract on the spot and on the train he saw an advertisement for a book with the same title. When he disembarked, he headed for a book store and purchased it. De Shazer’s story engrossed Fuchida. Determined to understand what had motivated De Shazer, Fuchida bought a Bible from a Japanese man on the street. When he read "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:24), Fuchida realised that this was what the Covells had been praying before their execution.

Faith Comes From Hearing the Word of God

In 1949, Fuchida purchased a Bible at the same Shibuyu station where he had received a pamphlet. As he read the Gospels he came to understand the reason for the life of forgiveness and mercy that motivated Peggy and Jacob. It was the crucifixion of Jesus and His Words in the Gospel: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." On 14th April 1950, he surrendered to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

The Power of God

By the time he had completed reading the Gospel of Luke, Fuchida had become a Christian. He knew no Christians, but now he began to declare himself to be a Christian. As Christianity was considered the "occupation religion" in Japan, this brought him much reproach from his former friends and family. Pietsch and Glenn Wagner, of the Pocket Testament League of Japan met with Fuchida and encouraged him to join them in open air outreach.

Open Air Preaching

Open air preaching In the business section of Osaka, as the Americans stood to speak, fewer than 40 Japanese would stop to listen. But when Fuchida, Hero of Pearl Harbour, was introduced, the crowd swelled rapidly. Rush hour traffic stopped. Hundreds gathered, even the police listened in.

Japan for Christ

This was the beginning of Fuchida’s new career as an Evangelist. Soon he filled an auditorium in Osaka, 500 Japanese came forward at that rally. Almost every newspaper in Japan reported on it: He described his conversion as "It was like having the sun rise." He preached against Japanese-egocentrism and xenophobia. Like Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34), he used Japanese cultural examples to communicate the Gospel of Christ. Captain Fuchida went from being a vital part of Japan’s military attack on the United States, to being a vital part of God’s Missionary offensive into the hearts, minds and souls of Japanese, and later Americans and Europeans too.

Fuchida and De Shazer

Fuchida and De Shazer In May 1950, Fuchida and De Shazer met for the first time. In May he visited De Shazer, knocked on his door and said: "I have desired to meet you, Mr De Shazer. My name is Mitsuo Fuchida." De Shazer recognised the name and said: "Come in! Come in!" The former enemies embraced as brothers in Christ.

War Author

Midway In 1951, Fuchida published an account of the Battle of Midway and in 1952 he toured the United States as a member of the Worldwide Christian Missionary Army of Sky Pilots. In February 1954, Readers Digest published Fuchida’sCaptain Fuchida story of the attack on Pearl Harbour. Fuchida wrote – From Pearl Harbour to Golgotha (later renamed – From Pearl Harbour to Calvary) and a 1955 expansion of his book: Midway The Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese Navy Story. His autobiography – For That One Day, The Memoirs of Mitsuo Fuchida, Commander of the Attack on Pearl Harbour, was published in Japan 2007 and translated into English and published in 2011.

The Turning Point

In Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan, Fuchida wrote: "Five minutes! Who would have believed that the tide of battle would shift in that brief interval of time? … We have been caught flat-footed in the most vulnerable position possible, decks loaded with planes armed and fuelled for attack."

Courage and Self-Sacrifice

Fuchida turned down an offer from the Japanese government to organise their new Air Force, he faced down an angry pilot who pulled a knife and threatened to kill him. This man later came to Christ. Fuchida ministered in prisons and led people to Christ, even in the cells of condemned murderers. He formed Calvary Clubs in prisons.

The Blood of the Martyrs

The Covells Mitsuo Fuchida related the testimony of Peggy Covell and her brave parents all over Japan. He quoted her testimony: "But the Holy Spirit has washed away my hatred and has replaced it with love." The Covells had gone to their death singing hymns joyfully and praying for the conversion of their enemies. The Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Mitsuo Fuchida was one of the fruit of their Faith.

Fuchida spent the rest of his life as an Evangelist, taking the Gospel of Christ throughout Japan, the United States of America and Europe.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480,

Email: mission@frontline.org.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.ReformationSA.org

See Also:

Pray for Japan

Was the Use of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Militarily and Morally Justified?

Soli Deo Gloria

The Last Pass

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 The original article together with videos can be viewed Here.

THE LAST PASS

By Owen Phillips & Andrew Aloia

000On the orders of Captain Wilfred Nevill, a football was booted into no man’s land for troops to follow as they left their trenches.

This was no game.

These men weren’t racing through on goal having breached the defence on a muddy football pitch, they were British soldiers bearing down on German lines on the first tragic day of the Battle of the Somme.

Many only survived a few steps.

WWI Front LinesAt this point the Football League was barely 25 years old, Wembley Stadium was still to be built and there hadn’t even been a World Cup.

Yet scores of British soldiers would clamber over the top to chase down what would be their last pass.

Football was to play a fascinating role during World War One, from England internationals helping to form special Footballers’ Battalions to the emergence of the women’s game, as well as the morale-boosting effect the sport had on the troops both deep behind the lines and all along the front.

Immersed in it all was one footballing family.

Jimmy SeedAt the outbreak of war Jimmy Seed was 19. Life was good.

He had just earned a contract with Sunderland and escaped a miserable, unrelenting life as a coal miner.

"I was thrilled to sign professional forms for the side that had been known as the Team of all Talents, one of the biggest clubs in the land," Jimmy said in his book The Jimmy Seed Story.

"I was supposed to receive a signing-on fee of £10 but was only given £5 for some reason. My three months’ summer vacation wages were £1, which was just enough to get by on at the time, as I lived at home with my parents. It was with joy I folded my miner’s clothes for the last time. I was a professional footballer."

Sunderland were already five-time league champions and Jimmy didn’t care about the sneaky deal which deprived him of £5 (almost three times the average weekly wage).

Jimmy Seed of SunderlandFootball, and Sunderland, was his life. He went to games at Roker Park with his four brothers and now the club was his work as well as his hobby. Football was huge and Jimmy Seed was part of the most exciting period the sport had ever known.

But it wasn’t the smoothest of journeys. Jimmy had "failed hopelessly" in his first trial. He had to borrow boots which were too big and played out of position at centre forward. The match itself came after a full night shift at the colliery.

"I did nothing and realised as I dressed after the trial in readiness for another night shift that Sunderland would not be interested in me," said Jimmy.

"I was in low spirits because I had come to loathe working in the pits."

But his impressive exploits as a teenager with Whitburn’s first team soon led to a second chance, this time playing in his best role as an inside forward. He scored a hat-trick in a dazzling performance.

"Life in the coal mines was dire," Jimmy’s grandson James Dutton, 62, told BBC Sport.

It’s difficult to express how awful it was. Football was like a way out of hell.

"I know he hated it. He said it was an awful existence and couldn’t wait to get out."

But a mining life was the expected path for the Seeds, a working-class family who had relocated from Blackhill in County Durham and settled in Whitburn in 1897, two years after Jimmy was born.

Jimmy’s dad, Anthony, worked in the papermaking industry in Shotley Bridge, but was increasingly concerned about the future of the mill as manufacturing techniques moved on. There were five sons and five daughters to support.

Jimmy (left) and Angus with parents Anthony and Elizabeth Jimmy (left) and Angus with parents Anthony and Elizabeth

Mining at the Whitburn Colliery provided relative security but Jimmy had other plans. He was born in what he later described as "England’s richest soccer nursery", and lived a couple of miles from Roker Park. He said he could "hardly fail to follow the soccer trail because in Whitburn soccer is meat and drink to all the boys".

The Seeds had the football bug, in particular Angus – one of Jimmy’s four older brothers – as well as the youngest of the 10 siblings, his little sister Minnie.

But Jimmy’s joy was short-lived. In April 1914 he was a professional footballer, yet he never got the chance to play for Sunderland’s first team.

After almost 18 months playing for the reserves, fantasy football was soon to be replaced by the horrible reality of war.

On 4 August 1914, as Europe descended into conflict following that summer’s assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Great Britain declared war on Germany.

By the end of the month, the process of trying to raise the biggest volunteer army ever seen was well under way.

004And footballers were expected to play their part.

Spectators were asked to leave the terraces and rush to recruitment stations – and football’s authorities had a duty to get them there.

When they weren’t seen to be fully backing the war effort, the game’s place in society and its sense of morality was questioned.

"Before the war there was an undercurrent of worry about whether lots of people watching football was good for the nation and the Empire," Dr Alexander Jackson, collections officer at the National Football Museum, told BBC Sport.

"There was the idea, especially of the upper classes, that sport should be played and not watched if it was going to have any value to society.

"Football was attacked early on because it was seen as keeping people away from going into the army."

In Sunderland, Lord Durham even said that he wished the Germans would drop bombs on Roker Park to encourage men to think about where they should be.

Football, unsurprisingly, took offence. Locally the game’s governing body made efforts to compile figures on just how many men the sport was contributing to the cause.

This, Dr Jackson said, was an "information war" on the home front.

In newspapers, the debate raged as football, rugby league and cricket were not immediately suspended. In London, the Evening News went so far as to cease printing its football edition.

Outside the football grounds there were protests, yet inside speeches were delivered by military spokesmen encouraging spectators and players to take up arms.

Footballers answered the call

The great Corinthian FC side of the day – one that inflicted the heaviest-ever defeat on Manchester United, whose colours Real Madrid adopted and style spawned a club by the very same name in Sao Paulo – were one such team.

They returned from a tour of South America, dodging a German gun boat on the way, to fight.

Thirty-four Corinthian players would perish in World War One.

But it wasn’t just the amateur game that responded – there were ‘current’ international players too.

Fourteen men who had represented England during the 1913-14 season went on to serve king and country in the war.

And, from the professional game, Huddersfield Town’s Larrett Roebuck died serving with the 2nd Battalion York and Lancashire Regiment in France just weeks after fighting began.

The talented full-back, 25, was initially recorded as missing in action and eventually "presumed dead".

football8-lr_a7a7z1iWinter arrived and the conflict and killing, which many had hoped would be over by Christmas, continued.

A formal "Truce of God" proposed by the Pope was rejected.

The morale of troops, however, was of concern.

In December, 460,000 parcels and 2.5 million letters were delivered to British soldiers in France. King George V sent a card to every soldier and a brass box of gifts was given to each man serving.

005Among the carnage, a touch of Christmas cheer was brought to the front.

Incredibly, on Christmas Eve deadly rivals sang carols to each other from their trenches.

It’s to this peaceful soundtrack that it is said football brought both sides together for what FIFA describes as "one of the most celebrated" matches.

Unofficial truces undoubtedly took place on Christmas Day, with presents exchanged and makeshift balls kicked around in no man’s land.

But the full-scale match itself, an event further promoted by much-loved BBC comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth, Paul McCartney’s song Pipes of Peace and a popular Christmas advertising campaign, is most likely a myth that has turned into legend.

Blackadder Goes Forth“The Christmas truce is amazing in being one of the most recognised things from World War One in terms of capturing popular imagination," said Dr Jackson.

“It is embraced because of the idea that football is a means of bringing people together. At that level you can see why, philosophically and on a sentimental level, it is taken on.”

Fraternising with the enemy, while a romantic notion and one that was widely publicised in newspapers at the time, infuriated High Command.

Repeat offences would be punished by Court Martial. This was all-out war.

football5-lr_8xlgwsd It’s with a Christmas backdrop that professional footballers began to commit to the cause in greater numbers in England.

Within five months of war beginning, the 17th Middlesex regiment was raised – it would famously be known as the Footballers’ Battalion.

Among its ranks was Jimmy Seed’s big brother, Angus.

On 15 December 1914 a meeting was held at Fulham Town Hall to try to get those involved in the game to think more about ‘doing their bit’.

It was not designed to be a recruitment meeting.

batallion5_cfr88dh-lr_z2pn7x7 But by the end of a series of speeches, including an address by Football Association president and five-time FA Cup winner Lord Arthur Kinnaird, 35 men from 11 clubs enlisted – 10 of which were Clapton Orient players.

The 17th Middlesex – which also boasted football and military pioneer Walter Tull and future Wolves and Notts County manager Frank Buckley – was one of a number of ‘Sporting Battalions’ to be formed.

The 16th Royal Scots, better known as McCrae’s Battalion and made up of a number of Heart of Midlothian players, was formed a month earlier in Edinburgh.

These were examples of how the game, its stars and the emotional connection to clubs were being used in propaganda to appeal to those considering joining the fight.

At home, Jimmy Seed was becoming increasingly torn as the season unfolded.

Still a teenager at 19, he was impressing with Sunderland’s reserves but his dream career path was in tatters, his moral compass no doubt confused.

He was conflicted by the conflict and the need to play his part, yet desperate to lead the footballing life he craved.

006It was a familiar story for many and the Seed family were no exception.

Angus was a reserve player with Reading in 1914 but signed up as the recruitment drive proved an astounding success. The call for volunteers had hoped to attract 100,000 men. Within two months, more than 750,000 signed up.

Angus was soon preparing for war and picking up tips for fitness training, as he explained in a letter to Reading’s secretary.

"We are getting on fine here," said Angus. "And if they keep giving us the drills we had this morning, we will have muscles like stones.

"It would do some of the boys good to come down here, it would harden them up a bit."

1908ish Seed concertina band biggerJimmy (left) described Angus as his "champion"

He became part of the battalion’s musical band, who also doubled as stretcher-bearers. And although usurped by Jimmy – who took his place in the local team as a young teenager – on the football field, Angus would excel on the battlefield.

Jimmy was the family’s footballing star, but idolised Angus, reflecting that his big brother was "always my champion".

At the end of the 1914-15 season, Jimmy, who had just turned 20, finally joined up.

"He would have seemed to be one of the least likely people in the world to sign up when he had just got a contract with Sunderland," added his grandson James Dutton.

But Jimmy’s priorities had changed.

Football had ceased to be the most important thing in life for me. Britain and Germany were at war and playing football was no longer such a thrill." ~ Jimmy Seed

Jimmy volunteered alongside fellow Sunderland players Tommy Thompson and Tom Wilson, joining the 63rd Northumbrian Division in the Cycling Corps. They trained in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

Unsurprisingly, the trio formed the nucleus of a particularly useful team. They beat Grimsby, then a Football League side, in a friendly and quickly became known as the best football side in the military.

The month after Jimmy volunteered, in May 1915, the second Footballers’ Battalion – the 23rd Middlesex – was formed.

Coaches, referees and fans would go on to serve alongside their heroes. Truly a one-for-all approach. By 1918, approximately 4,500 men would serve the 17th Middlesex, with around 900 never to return to Blighty.

A total of 1,500 men lost their lives across the two Footballers’ Battalions.

West Ham play Back home, as football carried on, special leave was granted to players each week to allow them to swap combat boots and military training for football boots and league and cup matches.

It proved to be an important concession.

"It allowed balance," said Dr Jackson. "Players weren’t leaving their clubs in the lurch and clubs had players that could help draw a crowd."

And so the 1914-15 campaign controversially continued. Football absorbed more criticism and by the end some clubs were teetering on the edge of financial collapse because of dwindling crowds.

Everton won the league title and Sheffield United overcame Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Old Trafford in April 1915 – a match known as the Khaki Cup Final because of all the uniformed soldiers in the crowd of nearly 50,000.

football_crowd2-lr Then, professional football stopped.

All competitions were suspended until peace was restored. Players were no longer paid, although unofficial regional competitions would be held for the duration of the war.

These games raised charitable funds for the war effort and matches served as a distraction for civilians and soldiers alike.

Jimmy had just over a year training in England, by all accounts having a pretty grand time, before being drafted to France with the 8th Battalion West Yorkshires.

By that time, his brother Angus was already a war hero.

During a German attack on 1 June 1916, Angus dragged several wounded men, including the Arsenal assistant trainer, Private Tom Ratcliff, back to the British lines while under heavy fire.

Ratcliff had been buried by an explosion, but Angus rescued him and was later awarded the Military Medal.

Later that month Angus was badly injured in his right hip by shrapnel. It was an injury that effectively ended his professional football career.

footballers_battalion2-lr_fu2z06jFootballers and Footballers’ Battalions were clearly fully playing their part in the war effort, dispelling any early talk of not fulfilling their duty.

The idea behind the special units was an extension of the Pals battalion concept, many of which had been raised in northern towns and cities, aimed at assuring recruits that they would serve alongside people they knew. Targeting camaraderie as part of the recruitment process was key. And it worked.

In South Yorkshire, the Sheffield Pals ran through drills at Bramall Lane.

And, in south London, a poster calling on the ‘Men of Millwall’ was particularly direct, reading: "Let the enemy hear the Lions’ roar. Join and be at the final and give them a kick off the earth."

"It was tailored recruiting, picking up on different levels of identity," said Dr Jackson.

"Military messages and posters incorporated sporting terminology with phrases like ‘play in the greater game and join the Footballers’ Battalion’, and ‘positions need to be filled in all areas of the team, join up and play your part’."

007As the stalemate continued on the Western Front, the war was about to enter its most brutal phase.

On 1 July 1916, more than 100,000 British troops left their trenches along a 15-mile front to advance across no man’s land towards the German lines.

That first day of the Battle of the Somme was to become the bloodiest in the history of the British Army.

The Battle of the Somme Seven days of heavy bombardment had left the British military commanders convinced success was a formality. It would be a simple matter of strolling forward and claiming victory.

But the pounding had made little impact on the heavily fortified defences and machine gun positions.

The Germans emerged from their dugouts relatively unscathed and the enemy were butchered in catastrophic numbers. On one of the most infamous days of World War One, British fatalities totalled 19,240 among the 57,470 casualties.

Captain Wilfred ‘Billie’ Nevill led the men of B Company of the 8th Battalion East Surrey regiment over the top. His approach was different, though. He gained permission from his superiors to use two footballs to lead the attack.

Kick forwardThe balls were a focal point. One had “The Great European Cup-Tie Final. East Surreys v Bavarians. Kick off at zero” written on it. The other simply said “NO REFEREE” in large capitals.

They were a desperately-needed distraction using a common love of the beautiful game to hide the most hideous of prospects.

Petrified but still bravely breaking forward, hoping to nick a one-goal lead as they chased a ball over the top was not the gameplan – surviving the unfolding mayhem was the only thing on their minds.

It was the last pass that many of the men would ever chase. The East Surreys achieved their goal, but suffered a heavy death toll, Billie Nevill among them.

Nevill’s unusual tactics were seized upon by the British newspapers. It was propaganda gold but there was no disguising the gruesome failure of the battle. The Germans had their own spin, dismissing it as pure foolishness in war.

The Battle of the Somme The football influence ran far deeper than the Footballers’ Battalions.

Bradford Park Avenue player Donald Bell would go on to earn the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery" during the Battle of the Somme.

On 5 July, Second Lieutenant Bell was advancing with his troops along a trench known as the Horseshoe.

There, they came under heavy machine-gun fire.

victoria_cross_0o0s3p6-lr_lmpumelThe Victoria Cross was awarded to 49 British soldiers during the Somme

Bell and two others – Corporal Colwill and Private Batey – launched a sneak attack on crews manning the weapon. Bell shot the gunner with his revolver and a grenade was thrown to help the British gain ground.

"I only chucked one bomb," Bell wrote to his mother, "but it did the trick."

Five days later, aged 25, Bell was killed making a similarly audacious raid on an enemy trench. His VC medal was presented to his widow by King George V.

Losses on both sides were monumental during the Battle of the Somme.

A German war grave at Neville-St Vaast is the final resting place for almost 45,000 soldiers, of which 8,000 are unidentified.

Scattered among the sea of crosses, which marks a grave containing four bodies, there are 129 which stand out.

They are stone graves, featuring the Star of David and representing Jewish-German soldiers.

008In 141 days, the British had advanced just seven miles and failed to break the German defence.

More than one million had been killed or wounded on all sides during the Battle of the Somme – yet the conflict was no closer to a resolution.

While German Jews fought alongside all other Germans against the Allies in France, one of Jimmy Seed’s Sunderland team-mates refused to pick teams.

objectors2-lr_squorauNorman Gaudie, a 28-year-old accounts clerk, was a committed pacifist and was to be imprisoned for his beliefs.

While some objectors were granted exemption and served in non-combat units, as Burnley’s England international Edwin Mosscrop did, or contributed to the war effort by working in factories or on farms, like West Ham’s Leslie Askew chose, Gaudie was steadfast against any involvement.

Gaudie’s religious beliefs meant he felt "bound to disobey any military orders in loyalty to those convictions, which are based on the spirit and teaching of Christ".

Lord KitchenerNot everyone answered Lord Kitchener’s famous call

His refusal saw him arrested, fined and locked up in the cells of Richmond Castle in Yorkshire, before being shipped off to Boulogne, France, where he described the conditions as "foul and disgusting beyond words".

It’s there on ‘active duty’ that refusing a direct military order could see him sentenced to death.

And he was.

But faced with the firing squad he – and his fellow ‘conchies’ – were given a reprieve by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith as news of their treatment had caused public outrage in England.

The last-minute intervention meant Gaudie and the other absolute objectors instead faced hard labour in prison.

009Although football had ceased in its pre-war form at home, it had become increasingly important in all areas of army life.

Battalion football was huge. Kickabouts were a daily part of the routine, vital for morale and offering brief escapism from what was happening along the Western Front.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Seed was by now fighting his own personal battle – as well as the bigger battle.

"After arriving in France in the summer of 1916, he struggled, suffering with bad periods of depression, which were only relieved by playing football," explained grandson James Dutton.

"He was captain of his battalion team and his good friend Tommy Wilson was captain of another battalion of the Leeds Rifles. These football games really helped him."

Like so many of those that served, Jimmy remained secretive about many of the details of his time in the army. But his passion for football never wavered and undoubtedly helped him deal with war.

"I am sure they played whenever they could," added Dutton.

"There was an impression all soldiers were shoved in trenches until they died. But they went back behind the lines for rest and relaxation and played football then."

Soldier footballBut World War One soldiers were not exclusively engaged in trench warfare.

By July 1917, Jimmy was in Belgium.

"He and his fellow comrades were sleeping in a basement of a bombed out building in Nieuwpoort, near Ostend, and the Germans dropped mustard gas from an aeroplane," said Dutton.

"It was a major incident. Nearly 100 soldiers died and about 700 were hospitalised, including Jimmy."

Jimmy underplayed his time in the army as "worrying and uncertain days".

The only aspect of soldiering he missed was the friendship and the football.

Football helped me to escape from periods of mental depression." ~ Jimmy Seed

Whenever the soldiers were afforded a reprieve from the trenches, they could be seen playing behind the lines.

Even with shells falling nearby, they would continue. It perplexed the French troops.

"Certainly the French took the view of ‘what are these crazy British guys doing?’ as often they would be seen playing football behind the lines," said Dr Jackson.

"The French army at the time didn’t integrate sport into their philosophy, and during the war it began to be adopted because they could see the health benefits and how it was serving as a distraction."

World War One would prove instrumental in spreading the popularity of football among the French masses, as it was previously seen as a sport played by Anglophiles and the elite middle class.

"Through constant exposure and playing against British army teams the French got quite good, quite quickly," added Dr Jackson.

In Belgium"The war did pave the way to a post-war football boom."

And it was not just the French who latched onto football during the war. An estimated 250,000 Belgians fled to the UK following the German invasion of 1914.

The game was embraced as a favourite pastime, and football did its best to welcome the monumental influx of refugees.

Blackpool FC even changed the colour of their kit to that of the Belgian flag in an effort to make them feel more at home.

Football was also used as a way to raise charitable funds, with Belgian soldiers coming together to form a team that toured Britain.

The Belgians got so good that they went on to win gold at the 1920 Olympic Games, then the biggest international prize in world football.

And, 100 years on from the end of the Great War, France won their second World Cup, having overcome Belgium at the semi-final stage of the competition in Russia.

Women footballersGreat Britain’s allies were not the only ones to find their footballing feet during the chaos of war.

The demands put on society saw women move into jobs and become accepted in roles that were previously the sole domain of men. Football was no different.

Women footballers By 1918 almost a million women worked in munition factories and they were encouraged to get active. They did.

Football proved a popular leisure activity, but their interest would not be confined to lunch-break kickabouts.

Work teams were founded, charity matches played and competitions established as games pulled in crowds of tens of thousands.

Football, previously deemed unsuitable for the dainty and delicate women, had found its stage.

"Before the war there was a lot of male hostility to the idea of women playing football," said Dr Jackson.

Attitudes towards women and what they could do in society changed during the war.

"There was a huge amount of charitable work during World War One at all levels of British society. Women involved themselves, not just as supporters, but by becoming the attraction and women’s football proved popular."

With her brothers away on their European tour of duty, Minnie Seed stole the spotlight. She worked in a munitions factory but had the family’s sporting genes. She represented numerous sides in her native North East and beyond – including the most famous of all, Dick, Kerr Ladies.

Jimmy’s grandson James Dutton said: "Minnie was playing football in front of crowds of 30,000 at St James’ Park and became something of a local celebrity.

"Jimmy was quite an old fashioned fellow and I don’t think he would have approved of women playing football. But he was on a disabled serviceman’s pension after his gassing and this was what Minnie was raising money for, as well as working to help the war effort."

Minnie SeedMinnie (bottom right) pictured with her team-mates

Some onlookers were more receptive to the new phenomenon of women’s football. Ernest Edwards, sports editor of the Liverpool Echo, at least offered some encouraging, if heavily condescending, support.

"You doubtless wonder whether the playing of football by ladies has come to stay," he said. "I think their stay will be long in the land of football.

"They have a keen sense of the right thing to do, keep the ball on the turf, and show stamina that one could not have thought possible."

Not many agreed with Edwards’ grudging praise. Most definitely not John Lewis, an FA council member who refereed the first game played by the Dick, Kerr Ladies team.

Women war time footballers"After seeing the match and taking part in it, I have no hesitation in repeating the opinion I expressed last week," he said. "Namely that football is not a game suitable for women, and if they continue to play during the war I hope they will cease doing so when the peace is declared."

His views were not alone so, while women’s football played an important role during the war and drew crowds of more than 53,000 after it ended, it was to be banned by the FA in December 1921.

Old prejudices of the game being unsuitable for females were the reason behind clubs being asked "to refuse the use of their grounds for such matches".

Incredibly, the shameful sanction was to last 50 years.

As the war raged towards a bloody conclusion in 1918, the death toll was so horrific that it changed the very structure of the British army.

The birth of women’s football – its first golden age – would coincide with the demise of the Footballers’ Battalions.

011A shortage of manpower in the British Army saw the 17th Middlesex – which had been reinforced a number of times since 1915 – disbanded in February 1918, with troops bolstering other units.

Walter Tull, among the battalion’s earliest recruits, a war hero and pioneering officer with the 23rd Middlesex, was killed a month later.

Tull, who overcame poverty and racism to become one of English football’s first black players, was hit by machine-gun fire trying to rally his troops near Arras.

He was the first black man to command white troops.

While the men he led tried to recover his body, they never did.

"At this stage of the war, you knew that if you left someone out there you may never find their body again," said Dr Jackson. "And it was that love and care for a comrade, even after death, that said volumes about how much they respected him."

Unlike Tull, Jimmy Seed survived the war, but only just.

He had recovered sufficiently to be given the all-clear to go back to France at the end of August 1918.

Less than two months later he was gassed again, this time in Valenciennes, France, about 30 miles south east of Lille.

012 The Battle of Amiens in August 1918 heralded the beginning of the end of World War One, prompting a string of military victories for the Allied forces.

At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, Germany signed an armistice prepared by Great Britain and France.

The war was over, the rebuilding could begin.

For Jimmy Seed, the rebuilding included his football career.

The gassings would affect him for the rest of his life – not least when he tried to resume playing way too early.

Jimmy was getting a train back to Wigan, where he was recuperating, and bumped into the Sunderland team on the platform.

His team-mates recognised him, explained they were a player short and asked him to make up the numbers.

"Foolishly he said, yes," explained his grandson James Dutton.

"But his lungs were not in good order. He had an appalling match in the Victory League (an unofficial First Division fixture).

"It went horribly wrong and, on the back of that, one of the Sunderland directors hauled him in and said ‘we are going to let you go’. They suggested he went back to the pit so he could ‘sort his health out’.

"That was heartbreaking and he was very depressed.

"It must have been astonishingly tough for him having survived near death and seeing his dream of being a professional footballer shattered in front of his eyes."

Jimmy said in his book: "I was hurt when I learnt that my poor display meant I was never to play for Sunderland again. Now I felt bitter for the first time in my life. I was 23, suspect in health and, worst of all, unwanted at Sunderland."

Sam Wadsworth Like Jimmy, Sam Wadsworth was also left "broken hearted" by his boyhood club at the end of the war.

Aged 18, the then Blackburn Rovers defender from Darwen first tried to enlist to fight abroad. He was told to return a month later and encouraged by the Sergeant Major at the recruitment office to lie about his age.

He did, and followed his older brother Charles into the British Army ranks.

Wadsworth was wounded in action, but survived the war. His brother did not.

The atrocities left him physically and mentally scarred, suffering blackouts and grappling with post-traumatic stress.

Among several hours of autobiographical recordings he made in the 1950s, Wadsworth recalled those dark times.

"I had lost my only brother and my best friend and supporter," he said. "I began to realise that I had to forget all the rough times when we still stood up for more. I had to get on with my life."

At first, Wadsworth tried to do this with Blackburn – a club he proudly continued to play for at every opportunity during the war.

"They were glad of my services and I was pleased to play," he said of the matches he played while on leave from the Western Front.

"But when I came home for keeps the late Bob Middleton, manager of the Rovers, said ‘sorry Sam, I have not a vacancy. You may have a free transfer’.

"That was all. What a blow. My life’s dream had gone with the wind. I thought ‘is this what I receive after nearly five years’ service for my country?’ I was very bitter."

That was where his career almost ended, with his father needing to convince the 23-year-old not to throw his football boots on the fire.

Instead, he dropped down to play lower-league football with Nelson before going on to join Huddersfield Town.

With the Terriers he won three consecutive league titles and an FA Cup in 1922 – a triumphant run which saw Huddersfield knock Blackburn out in the third round.

Sam Wadsworth and England The left-back went on to earn nine England caps, captaining his country four times.

In 1925, Wadsworth led England out in front of more than 90,000 spectators at Hampden Park.

The visitors lost 2-0 in what also proved to be Jimmy Seed’s final international appearance – and his footballing journey after the war was every bit as remarkable as that of his skipper for the day.

After Jimmy’s second gassing, he was only deemed fit enough to be discharged from the army five months later, in March 1919.

The rejection by Sunderland left him devastated – and unemployed.

Manual labour and odd jobs replaced his pre-war career to make ends meet. He had kickabouts among the slag heaps with kids near the Whitburn Colliery and turned out for the local cricket team to keep fit.

But Jimmy never returned to the mines.

His salvation came with an unlikely move to Wales to play for Mid Rhonnda FC in the coalmining area of Tonypandy.

Jimmy’s signing proved a masterstroke and in seven splendid months he helped the team win three trophies.

His rebirth was noted. Tottenham came calling.

"It was like a dream," Jimmy recalled in his book. "Discarded by Sunderland before the start of one season, and now wanted by the famous Tottenham Hotspur club at the end of the next."

His move to London could hardly have gone better. In 1921 he was an FA Cup winner, then the prestigious pinnacle of a player’s domestic career.

Jimmy made his England debut against Belgium in 1921 The same year he won the first of his five England caps. His redemption was remarkable.

Jimmy left Tottenham for Sheffield Wednesday in 1927 after "eight years without a grumble" when the club insisted on reducing his wages.

It proved a spectacular mistake by Tottenham. The Owls won eight of their 10 remaining games to avoid relegation – at the expense of Spurs, who capitulated towards the end of the season.

As captain, Jimmy then led Wednesday to back-to-back league titles in 1928-29 and 1929-30.

A knee injury forced him to retire from playing in 1931, first managing Clapton Orient and then Charlton, in 1933.

The greatest day in Charlton's history came in 1947, when a 1-0 win over Burnley saw them win the FA Cup. In 23 wonderful years at The Valley, Jimmy Seed became a legend, leading them to consecutive promotions to the top flight and then, in 1936-37, the runners-up spot – their highest-ever position.

The greatest day in Charlton’s history came in 1947, when a 1-0 win over Burnley saw them win the FA Cup.

But the glorious success still hid dark times.

He was "encouraged" to resign in 1956 after a miserable start to the season. It was front-page news and he never truly got over it.

Jimmy’s daughter Gladys went into labour on hearing that her dad had effectively been sacked. James Charlton Dutton was born the same day, three weeks early.

"Grandad really struggled after being sacked by Charlton," added Dutton. "But he still thought he was very lucky.

It’s easy to say ‘poor Jimmy’, but he had a charmed life in a way and he seemed determined to live life to the full.

"Many who fought in World War One weren’t nearly as lucky and he seemed to know it."

The war experiences, and the impact on his health, did not make it easy.

"Depression affected grandad throughout his life," said Dutton. "It came back to bite him a few times. He had problems with his lungs and his breathing and intense headaches.

"He never used to admit it was to do with the war and being gassed."

But Dutton has wonderful memories of his "play-mate".

Jimmy with wife Peggy and daughter Gladys  Jimmy with wife Peggy and daughter Gladys

"Growing up I had heard of my grandad who had played football for England and won the FA Cup," he said.

"My first memory of him is from when I was about six and we moved back to live with my grandparents in Bromley. I thought he was a superstar.

"He was a rather striking looking chap with silver hair but he was just grandad to me.

"We would watch the horse racing together, play football in the garden and he taught me to play cricket and golf."

One day Jimmy suddenly opened up about his war experiences.

"We were gobsmacked," added his grandson. "I remember it clearly.

Jimmy Seed as granddad"I was about eight and he was talking about how they were trying to capture a bridge from the Germans. They were running down this bridge and two or three of his friends were killed running next to him.

"He was a bit choked up and stopped talking and that was the only time I remember him talking specifically about the war.

"Maybe he needed to get it out of his system, as he was getting older."

But the war was a time Jimmy, like so many others, wanted to forget. He cherished his football life.

"He was innovative and firm and fair," said Dutton. "He would explain his decisions and players loved him for that.

Jimmy Seed was revered as a special player and respected as a manager.

"Charlton made a huge amount of money through his transfer dealings, he believed in coaching players.

"He was something of a celebrity and he loved it. People treated him with such reverence. People would ask me to get his autograph, I was so proud of him.

"We became good chums. I was distraught when he died in 1966."

Sister Minnie and brother Angus were both survived by Jimmy.

Minnie married on Boxing Day 1923, with Jimmy missing an away game against Huddersfield to attend the wedding. Minnie had one son, Thomas, and died in 1948.

Following the war, Angus became Aldershot’s first-ever manager and was Barnsley boss for 16 years from 1937. While at the Tykes, he appointed Tom Ratcliff, whose life he saved in 1916, as his trainer. He died at the age of 60 in 1953.

After leaving Charlton, Jimmy went on to be involved with Bristol City and Millwall, where he was still a director when he died midway through England’s World Cup-winning campaign.

It was just over a month shy of 50 years after the football-obsessed young man first set foot in France during World War One.

015 Almost 100 years on from the day the guns fell silent to mark the end of the Great War, the only conflict between German and British armed forces will be on the football pitch.

The Greatest Games of Remembrance, two matches being played in Nottingham, will commemorate this landmark Armistice Day.

None of the participants are full internationals. They are not professionals. But they are football fans.

Their match is not a kickabout behind the trenches on Flanders Fields, a brief and most welcome interlude before returning to the front line. It’s just a game of football.

But there will be a connection through sport as they pay tribute to their footballing forebearers.

The commanding officer of the first Footballers’ Battalion, Colonel Harry Fenwick, perfectly summed up the contribution of the men he led during the Great War . . .

016 "I knew nothing of professional footballers when I took over this battalion.

"But I have learnt to value them. Their esprit de corps was amazing. This feeling was mainly due to football – the link of fellowship which bound them together.

"Football has a wonderful grip on these men and on the army generally."

The End.

_________________________

Credits

Producer – Brendon Mitchell

Authors – Owen Phillips and Andrew Aloia

Sub-editor – Steve Marshall

Images – Rex Features, Getty Images, The National Football Museum, The Priory Collection, Iain McMullen/Football and the First World War, James Dutton

All images subject to copyright

_________________________

Please view this related post Armistice Day.

Soli Deo Gloria

ADMIRAL HORATIO NELSON and THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR

By Dr. Peter Hammond

To view this article as a PowerPoint presentation, with pictures, click here.

The audio lecture is available on Sermon Audio, click here.

001 213 Years Ago (1805-2018)

The Battle of Trafalgar, fought 21 October 1805, was one of the most important and decisive Naval engagements of all time, decisively establishing the supremacy of the Royal Navy on the high seas. Rather than a conventional engagement between lines of battle with gunnery duels, the English made a bold attack that allowed them to gain local superiority over the enemy and raked their ships with devastating broadsides. The Franco-Spanish fleet was decisively defeated and British supremacy on the high seas was decisively established for the rest of the 19th century. Lord Nelson’s defeat of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar allowed British trade to flourish around the world, laying the foundations for Britain’s emergence as an economic super power. It also made possible the Greatest Century of Missions as Protestant missionaries were able to sail to every corner of the world. The Royal Navy’s domination of the high seas brought an end to the slave trade in the 19th Century.

002 Britain Vs. France

The war between Great Britain and France was a clash between a great naval power verses a great land power. In the same year that Emperor Napoleon of France won his greatest land victory at Austerlitz, his plan to invade the British Isles was destroyed by the victory of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain.

003 A Naval Power

After the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, England emerged as the greatest of the world’s maritime powers. This permitted vast mercantile interests in every corner of the world. As an island nation, since the time of King Alfred the Great, England relied on her navy for protection, but had relatively small land forces, especially compared to France. While Britain’s standing army was quite small, a large navy was always maintained and the Royal Navy honed its ship-handling and gunnery skills, maintaining a high standard of seamanship by constant experience.

004 The Ravages of Revolution

At the outbreak of war with revolutionary France, the Royal Navy was operating at a high level of efficiency. However the French fleet had been drastically weakened by a purge of its officers during the French Revolution. Many of the France’s experienced seamen and gunners had been dismissed from the service and sent to the guillotine. With the Royal Navy blockading French ports, the French Navy deteriorated even further with inexperienced crews who spent most of their time hold up in port.

005 Invasion Imminent

However, to defeat Britain, a land invasion was necessary. Before the French could consider invading the British Isles, the Royal Navy would need to be drastically reduced. Emperor Napoleon ordered his Admiral Pierre Villeneuve (1763-1806) to command the French fleet, and to unite the squadrons at Toulon in the Mediterranean, and Brest on the Atlantic, with the Spanish fleet in the West Indies and Cadiz. With this concentration of forces, Napoleon hoped to overwhelm the Royal Navy and open the way for a land invasion across the channel. Villeneuve commanded an impressive fleet in terms of gun-power and the number of first rate ships. The French and Spanish combined fleet had more line-of-battle ships than the British fleet and some of the most powerful warships in the world were under French command.

006 Invasion Threat

In the summer of 1805, Emperor Napoleon was encamped with his Grande Armée at Boulogne, ready to invade Britain. Napoleon required the French Navy, and its Spanish allies, to destroy the Royal Navy in order to enable his invasion force to cross the Channel. The French Mediterranean Fleet under Vice Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve was to join up with the Spanish Fleet under Admiral Federico Gravina and enable the French Atlantic squadron to break out of the British blockade at Brest.

007 Breaching the Blockade

When Villeneuve took refuge at Cadiz, Napoleon ordered him relieved of command. Hoping to redeem his honour, Villeneuve decided to sail before his replacement arrived. 19 October, 33 French and Spanish ships of the line began to leave Cadiz. They sailed for Gibraltar with Admiral Nelson’s blockade force in pursuit. William Cornwallis had maintained a tight blockade off Brest, with the Channel Fleet. However, Lord Nelson adopted a loose blockade in the hope of luring the French out for a major battle. Nelson used frigates (faster, but not robust enough for line-of-battle) to keep constant watch on the harbour, while the main force remained out of sight, 50 miles West of the shore.

008 Quantity Vs. Quality

While the French and Spanish Fleet outnumbered the Royal Navy, the French crews included few experienced sailors. At the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson was outnumbered and outgunned with the enemy totalling nearly 30,000 men and 2,568 guns to his 17,000 men and 2,148 guns. Although the Fleet under the command of Lord Nelson were outnumbered and outgunned, there is no doubt that the British sailors were far better trained and more disciplined.

009 Horatio Nelson – Britain’s Most Famous Seaman

Lord Nelson’s father was a minister of the Gospel. Horatio Nelson enlisted in the Royal Navy at age 12. He served aboard the Carcass at the age of 15, on an expedition to the Arctic Sea. At age 18, he became a Lieutenant and at age 20 was given command of the Frigate Hinchinbrook. Nelson became the youngest captain in the Royal Navy in 1779, aged 20. Nelson saw service in the Caribbean during the American Revolutionary War. Nelson rose in the ranks swiftly. He married Frances “Fanny” Nesbit, a doctor’s widow, 11 March 1787, at the end of his tour of duty in the Caribbean. In 1794, Nelson was shot in the face during an engagement at Calvi on Corsica, and lost the sight of his right eye. His remaining eye was also damaged and he was slowly going blind in the years leading up to his death. He first won renown for his initiative at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797 against the French Revolutionary forces. Nelson became a Rear-Admiral in 1797. Following intense fighting on the Canary Islands, the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm. His stunning victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 against Napoleon’s expeditionary force made Nelson a national hero. Lord Nelson’s tendency to obey orders only when it suited him, was displayed most famously at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, when he put the telescope to his blind eye, ignoring his commanding officer’s instructions for him to disengage from the enemy.

010 Nelson’s Bridge

During the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Nelson’s HMS Captain became so mauled as to be incapable of further service. Therefore Nelson plowed the ship into the Starboard quarter of the San Nicolas and led a boarding party onto that ship. The San Jose had entangled itself with the San Nicolas, which was on fire. With the battle cry of "Westminster Abbey, or glorious victory!", Nelson led his men across the burning San Nicolas to seize the San Jose. As Nelson’s men secured both ships, this move was afterwards called "Nelson’s patent bridge for boarding first rates". Successive Naval victories caused Nelson to be promoted to Vice Admiral, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1803.

011 HMS Victory

His flagship, the HMS Victory, was constructed from more than 6,000 trees, mostly oak. Victory cost £63,175 to build (equivalent to £60 Million today). Victory was operated by a crew of 850 men and mounted 104 smooth bore muzzle loading cannon. A total of 26 miles of rope (cordage) was used to rig Victory along with 768 blocks, or pulleys. Victory had 7 anchors, the heaviest weighing more than 4.5 tonnes.

012 Gunnery Efficiency

Operating the 32-pounders aboard HMS Victory required a high degree of efficient team work to maintain a fast rate of fire. Each gunner had a specific task which had to be carried out in, the right order. Swabbing out the barrel before the charge was inserted prevented an accidental explosion while loading, after which the charge and ball were loaded. The heavy gun then had to be run back into firing position, at which point the gun was aimed and the fuse ignited.

013 Opposing Fleets

On 21 October, Admiral Nelson had 27 ships of the line under his command. The French and Spanish had 33 ships of the line, including some of the largest in the world at that time. The prevailing tactical thinking of the time required a fleet to manoeuvre in a single line of battle to engage the enemy with maximum firepower through broadsides in parallel lines. This line of battle system facilitated control of the fleet through flag signals.

014 Innovative Tactics

However, Lord Nelson innovated a risky and aggressive manoeuvre of sailing directly for the enemy line, attacking head-on to break the Franco-Spanish Fleet line of battle and then rake broadside fire at their bows, to which they would be unable to respond. To lessen the time his fleet would be exposed to this danger, Nelson had his ships make all available sail. In preparation for the battle, Nelson ordered the ships of his fleet to be painted in distinctively yellow and black patterns (the Nelson chequer) to distinguish them from their opponents and avoid friendly fire.

015 Calculated Risk

Nelson was aware that the French and Spanish gunners were ill-trained and supplemented with land soldiers, who would have found it difficult to fire accurately from a moving platform on the rolling seas. The ships were rolling heavily across the swells. Lord Nelson’s plan was a serious risk, but a carefully calculated one.

016 Initiative Encouraged

Admiral Lord Nelson had prepared his men for the risky and aggressive manoeuvre of charging for the enemy line in two columns with the intention of punching through their line of battle and achieving local superiority by doubling up on enemy ships. Victory would go to the side that could reload and shoot the fastest and most accurately and Nelson believed that it was the British sailors that could achieve this. He instructed his captains to be free from hampering rules and to take initiative during the inevitable confusion caused by the Pell-Mell battle. He encouraged initiative by every ship’s captain: "no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy." Circumstances would dictate the execution of their plans. The guiding rule was that the enemy’s rear was to be cut off and superior force concentrated on the enemies line of escape. Early in the morning of 21 October, Nelson’s fleet found the combined French-Spanish fleet in a long line headed for the straights of Gibraltar. At 08:40, the French-Spanish reversed course to offer battle.

017 Duty Demanded

As French Admiral Villeneuve ordered his fleet to wear together and confront the Royal Navy, Nelson hoisted a series of signals: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” The crews on the Royal Navy ships had to endure enemy broadsides for 40 minutes during their attack.

018 Devastating the Enemy

Yet they succeeded in cutting the line and raking the French and Spanish vessels with devastating broadsides. The centre and rear of the French-Spanish line were subjected to savage close engagements, where the British used their superior gunnery to batter the French and Spanish ships, causing massive casualties and silencing their guns. Just before 12:00 noon, the two fleets came within range and HMS Victory leading the first column became involved in desperate fight with four enemy ships. Admiral Collingwood (flagship HMS Royal Sovereign), commanding the Downwood (Lee) column engaged the Spanish contingent of the combined fleet. At 11:50am HMS Victory hoisted the signal: "Engage the enemy more closely" as the first shot of the battle was fired.

019 Plunging in to the Enemy

By noon, Victory was engaged with no less than four enemy vessels, including the most powerful warship in the world, the Spanish 136-gun first rate Santisima Trinidad, along with Heros, Redoutable and the French flagship, Bucentaure. Despite serious damage, Victory passed under the stern of Bucentaure and fired a devastating broadside down the length of the French Flagship. Redoutable carried a large force of marines. One of the French sharp-shooters hit Nelson, the bullet lodging in his spine. As Captain Jean-Jacques Lucas was preparing his crew to board the Victory, they were disrupted by the second British ship in the line, the 98-gunned Temeraire, firing into the crew assembled on Redoutable’s deck. Under fire from both Victory and Temeraire, Redoutable fought on until her crew had sustained 90% casualties, most of them fatal.

020 Close Quarters Battle

Men on both sides fought with tremendous courage amidst indescribable carnage. As Victory crossed the line it became entangled with the Redoutable. French infantry poured fire onto the decks of Victory and at 1:15pm a musket ball struck Admiral Nelson who was standing in full view on the quarterdeck overseeing the battle. Victory was saved from being taken by the arrival of the 98-gun Temeraire, which hit Redoutable with a broadside that killed and wounded 200 Frenchman. Temeraire then plowed into Redoutable and disabled Fougueux with a broadside from its disengaged side.

021 Triumphant Victory

At 13:55, Redoutable finally struck her colours to indicate surrender and this permitted Victory and Temeraire to double up on Bucentaure. By the end of the battle at 16:15, as Bucentaure surrendered to HMS Conqueror, the French and Spanish combined fleets had lost 22 ships and the British none, although many Royal Navy vessels were severely damaged. Before Lord Nelson died, three hours later, he had been informed that his final battle had been a triumphant success. More than half the enemy fleet was captured, or destroyed. Not one British ship had been lost. Lord Nelson’s final words were: “Now I am satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty.” As the sea battle took place about 20 miles to the North-West of Cape Trafalgar, the battle was named Trafalgar. Nelson’s last recorded words were: “God and my country.”

022 Aftermath

French and Spanish casualties exceeded 13,000 in the battle. France lost 10 ships, destroyed, or captured, 2,218 dead, 1,155 wounded and 4,000 captured. Spain lost 10 ships captured, 1,025 dead, 1,383 wounded, 4,000 captured. The French and Spanish casualties were 10 times higher than those of the British. Although the first British ships to engage took severe punishment, not a single Royal Navy vessel was lost. Nelson’s overwhelming triumph over the combined Franco-Spanish Fleet ensured Britain’s protection from invasion for the remainder of the Napoleonic Wars. Vice Admiral Villeneuve was taken prisoner aboard his flagship and brought to Britain. Villeneuve attended Nelson’s funeral while in Britain. He was paroled in 1806 and allowed to return to France, where he was murdered enroute to Paris with 6 stab wounds. The official French report, was that he had committed suicide! Although Napoleon ordered an ambitious naval expansion programme, he was never again able to effectively challenge Britain at sea.

023 Britain’s Greatest Naval War Hero

Following the Battle of Trafalgar, the Royal Navy was never again seriously challenged by the French fleet. Lord Nelson became, and remains, Britain’s greatest Naval War Hero, and an inspiration to the Royal Navy. London’s famous Trafalgar Square was named in honour of Nelson’s victory, and the statue on Nelson’s Column, finished in 1843, towers triumphantly over it. The daring, unconventional tactics employed by Nelson ensured a strategically decisive victory. It is a tribute to Nelson’s delegating style of leadership that the battle continued to a successful conclusion, even after his critical injury. Lord Nelson was highly respected as a model of duty and devotion to one’s country.

024 Inspiring Example

The news of his death at the battle produced an outpouring of grief. King George III declared: “We have lost more than we have gained. We do not know whether we should mourn, or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive victory, but it has been dearly purchased.” His funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was a vast state occasion. The funeral procession consisted of 32 admirals, 100 captains and an escort of 10,000 soldiers, which accompanied the coffin from the Admiralty to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the service lasted 4 hours. The warmth, courage and generosity of the spirit of Lord Nelson, won the affection and loyalty of his officers and men and the admiration of the Empire.

025 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13

Dr. Peter Hammond

Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480

Email: mission@frontline.org.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.ReformationSA.org

The full lecture, as delivered at the Reformation Society will be available on audio CD

From: Christian Liberty Books, PO Box 358 Howard Place 7450 Cape Town South Africa,

Tel: 021-689-7478, Email: admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and

Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za

Copyright © 2018 Reformation Society. All Rights Reserved.

Soli Deo Gloria

President Paul Kruger

Voortrekker, Commando and Conservationist

by Dr. Peter Hammond

To view this article as a video, click here.

To view this article as a PowerPoint, click here.

To listen to this article, click here.

To listen to the radio interview with Andrew Hitchcock, click here.

10 October used to be celebrated as Kruger’s Day, a public holiday in South Africa, which marked the birth of this great founding father of our nation.

001 Groot Trek Oom Paul was born on his grandfather’s farm at Bulhoek, 10 October 1825. Paul’s parents were Casper Kruger and Elsie Steyn. Drought, locusts and migrating herds of buck forced them to lead a nomadic existence in the Karoo. He was hardened by nature and schooled by the Bible. He received only three months of formal education, mostly being home schooled. He read the Bible daily.

Voortrekker

His father, Casper Kruger, joined the Trek party of Hendrik Potgieter in one of the very first of the expeditions, 1835. As a young boy of 10-years-old, Paul Kruger set out on the Great Trek under Hendrik Potgieter.

Battle of Vegkop

At age 11, Paul Kruger was one of the "men" who successfully defeated the previously unbeaten Matabele Impies of Mzilikazi at the Battle of Vegkop.

002 Vegkop Fighter

He had a rough upbringing on the trail and, in the wilderness, became proficient in horse riding and hunting. After his baptism of fire at the Battle of Vegkop, he served in numerous campaigns against raiding tribes, including the Makapan in 1854 and Mapela in 1858. He led the Republican forces in the First Anglo Boer War of 1880-1881.

Farmer

Paul Kruger’s father first settled close to what is today Potchefstroom, and later moved to what is now Rustenberg. At age 16, Paul Kruger carved his own farm out of the wilderness at the foot of the Magaliesberg Mountains. He later made this farm available to Missionaries from Andrew Murray’s Africa Institute to establish the first Reformed Mission station in the Transvaal.

Father

At age 17 he married Anna Marie Etresai du Plessis (1826-1846). His wife and child died January, 1846. He then married again in 1847, Gezina Suzanna du Plessis (1831-1901). Together they were blessed with 7 daughters and 9 sons. Before the end of his life he had over 144 grandchildren.

003 Paul Kruger Statue Reformed Christian

Paul Kruger was a deeply devout believer who studied the Scriptures daily. He memorised most of the Bible by heart. He was a founding member of the Gereformeerde Kerk, which was formed in Rustenberg in 1859. The Doppers, as the Gereformeerde Kerk members were known, separated from the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk 004 Rustenburg Church over a new Hymnbook, which they believed contradicted some of the principals of their foundational documents, the Synod of Dort, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession. The Gereformeerde Kerk founded the Potchefstroom University College for Higher Christian Education. The Gereformeerde Kerk uses only Hymns from the Bible, mainly the Psalms, and other Skrifberymings directly drawn from the Bible. His first involvement in politics began at age 25, when he represented the Transvaal at the Sand River Convention, 1852.

005 Volksraad Leader

Paul Kruger was a Field Cornet in the Commandos and eventually became Commandant General of the South African Republic. He was appointed member of a Commission of the Volksraad to draw up the Constitution for the Transvaal Republic. He was present at the Sand River Convention of 1852, in which the British government recognised the independence of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In 1875, he was elected as a member of the Executive Council and shortly after that became Vice President of the Transvaal. When President T.F. Burgers came to power in 1872, Paul Kruger could not support his liberal policies and resigned in early 1873. It was the declining popularity of Burgers that led Lord Shepstone to seize the Transvaal Republic and annex it to the British Empire. So unpopular was Burgers and his policies that not one Boer responded to his call for the Commandos to defend their independence.

However as the British began to tax the farmers, Paul Kruger became the most vocal leader of the Resistance to foreign rule. At a historic gathering at Paardekraal, in December 1880, the citizens restored the Republic, electing Paul Kruger, Piet Joubert and M.W. Pretorius to form a Triumvirate to lead their Republic.

006 Majuba Resistance

After the Transvaal was annexed by Britain in 1877, Paul Kruger led the resistance movement, visiting Britain as the leader of a deputation protesting the violation of the Sand River Convention and demanding the restoration of Transvaal independence. After the Boer victory at the Battle of Majuba in 1881, Paul Kruger played a vital role in the negotiations with the British which led to the restoration of the Transvaal independence.

President

On 30 December 1880, at age 55, Paul Kruger was elected President of the Transvaal. He visited Europe on a number of occasions and was received with great honour in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. In the elections of 1883, 1888, 1893 and 1898, Paul Kruger was victorious, each time defeating his main rival, Piet Joubert.

007 Gold Gold and the Uitlanders

The discovery of gold, on the Witwatersrand in 1884, had far-reaching political repercussions as Uitlanders poured into the Transvaal, dramatically changing the demographics and threatening to overwhelm the independence of the Boer Republic. In his Memoirs, Paul Kruger declared that instead of rejoicing at the discovery of gold, they should have wept, because of how it would cause their land to be soaked in blood.

008 Kruger Park Nature Conservation

Paul Kruger was far-sighted in his concern for nature conservation and he is credited with the establishment of the initial Sabi Reserve in the Eastern Transvaal which has grown into the greatest game reserve on earth: The Kruger National Park.

The Jameson Raid

Paul Kruger displayed tremendous wisdom and restraint in how he handled the treachery of some prominent miners in their attempt to foment revolution, and the failed Jameson Raid, led by Cecil John Rhodes’ most trusted leader, Leander Starr Jameson, in 1895. Instead of hanging the plotters, and imprisoning the invaders, as his own people demanded, he handed them over to the British government to deal with.

Paris Fashions

There are numerous amusing stories of Oom Paul on state visits overseas. On one occasion he walked into a French banquet hall only to immediately turn around and walk out, declaring: "I am sorry, I was not aware that your women were not yet dressed!" as a protest against the immoral fashions prevalent in Paris.

Half the Bible

When President Kruger announced that any church could receive an acre free for them to build their House of Worship on, he was approached by a Jewish Rabbi, who requested an acre. Oom Paul thought for a moment and then responded that he could have half an acre, as the Jews only believed half the Bible!

009 Pretoria Synagogue Dedicating a Synagogue to Christ

When the Rabbi invited the President to dedicate the Pretoria Synagogue, Oom Paul solemnly removed his hat and declared: "In the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, I dedicate this Synagogue to the Glory of God." It may be the only Synagogue dedicated in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Uitlander Dilemma

With the radical economic and political challenges that followed the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand, President Kruger was concerned that the miners would soon out-vote the farmers. To counter this possibility, he made the conditions of naturalisation more demanding. In 1890, the government restricted the Uitlander franchise for presidential and Volksraad elections to naturalised citizens who had been in the country for at least 14 years. A second Volksraad was created to represent Uitlander interests, to be elected by naturalised citizens of at least two years.

010 Anglo-Boer War Anglo Boer War

Sir Alfred Milner, the British High Commissioner in South Africa, was an ardent imperialist and committed to agitating Uitlander dissent and opposition to Kruger’s government in the Transvaal and the absorption of both the Transvaal and the Orange Free State into a British South Africa. As the British invaded the Transvaal, May 1899, President Kruger was sent overseas to raise support for the Boer cause. He withdrew through Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). There he boarded the Dutch Warship, Gelderland, sent by the young Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, which defied the British naval blockade to transport him safely to Europe.

011 Queen Wilhelmina Mobilising Opposition to Britain

In Europe he was greatly honoured as the principled leader of a courageous people who had been most unjustly invaded and abused by the British Empire. Visitors to Kruger House in Church Street, Pretoria, can see many of the trophies and awards granted by the Russian Tsar, the Emperor of Austria, Kaiser Willem II of Germany, from the Dutch, French, Italians and Swiss.

Honoured Hero

Oom Paul died in exile in Clarens, Switzerland, 14 July 1904. On 16 December 1904 his remains were reburied in Heroes Acre in Church Street Cemetery, Pretoria. A statue of Paul Kruger in his characteristic formal dress, stands in the centre of Church Square, Pretoria. The Kruger Rand gold coin is named in his honour and features his face. A Street in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Krügerstrasse was named after him. His greatest monument is the Kruger National Park.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” ~ Proverbs 9:10

KRUGER HOUSE

Pretoria is also home to Kruger House, the historic residence of the President of the South Africa Republic, Paul Kruger. Built in 1884, by architect Tom Claridge, this house was the first in Pretoria to be lit by electricity. The two stone lions on the veranda were presented to President Kruger as a birthday gift on 10 October 1896, by mining magnet, Barney Barnato.

Oom Paul, as the president was often referred to, used to receive citizens on the stoep to discuss their concerns over coffee and koeksisters.

Kruger House now houses a Museum with many fascinating artefacts and furnishings from Paul Kruger and the tumultuous times in which he lived. Paul Kruger and his family lived in this house on Church Street from 1884 to 1900. The museum includes the president’s state coach and ox-wagon and many of the awards received during his exile in Europe, the presidential railway coach he travelled on for official business and artefacts from the Anglo Boer War.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email:
mission@frontline.org.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.frontlinemissionsa.org

This article was adapted from a chapter of Sketches from South African History. And the full lecture on audio CD, as delivered at the Reformation Society are both available from Christian Liberty Books, PO Box 358 Howard Place 7450 Cape Town South Africa Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490, Email: admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.

See also:

The Great Trek and the Battle of Blood River

The First Anglo-Boer War

Copyright © 2018 Reformation Society. All Rights Reserved.

Soli Deo Gloria

God Speaks Through Disasters

This blog post comes from an email received from Frontline Fellowship on 13th June 2017.

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DROUGHTS, STORMS and FIRES – IS GOD SPEAKING TO US?

“You will be punished by the Lord of Hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire.” Isaiah 29:6

God’s Word on Natural Disasters
In the book of Amos 4:7-8 the Lord declares: “I also withheld rain from you when My harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another… yet you have not returned to Me, declares the Lord.”

Blaming God While Denying His Existence
The drought in the Cape followed by severe storms in Cape Town and the devastating fires in Knysna has sparked numerous articles and programmes alternately blaming God for the disasters, or claiming that these disasters prove that God does not exist. Similarly with the AIDS plague. “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.” Proverbs 19:3. Several religious leaders have asserted that the drought, storms and fires could not have been a judgment from God!

Are People Basically Good?
It would seem that these theologians and religious authorities share a basic assumption: that man is basically good. Because we are all, at heart, such good people, we could never be judged by a loving and merciful God who would seem to be just too soft and gentle to judge anybody anyway. After all, none of us would ever be selfish, greedy, deceitful, vengeful, dishonest, lustful or murderous. We are all basically good!

The Depravity of Man
Far from people being basically good, the Scriptures teach the innate depravity of man: “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of vipers is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the Second Death.” Revelation 21:8

Learning from Calamities
In the light of these passages and the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience outlined in Deuteronomy 28, it would appear that the message of these natural disasters is being rejected by most journalists and theologians. It is a double grief when lives are lost and lessons are not learned. Every deadly calamity is a merciful call from our Holy God for us to repent. That was how the Lord Jesus responded to those who brought news to Him of the Galileans who had been massacred by Pontius Pilate in the Temple.

Jesus on Disasters
Jesus answered: “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:2,3

Then the Lord referred to the disastrous fall of the tower in Siloam when eighteen died. “But unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5

Compassionate Love in Action
There is a time to weep (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and we should grieve with those who grieve and render all practical help within our power. But we should also repent: “’Now, therefore,’ says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness and He relents from doing harm.” Joel 2:12-13

This is the lesson we should learn from every deadly disaster: Repent!

Recognising Reality
Grieve that God is cursed for every catastrophe, but seldom praised for His wonderful Creation.

Lament that God makes the news headlines only when man mocks His power or questions His goodness, but tens-of-thousands of God’s acts of mercy, grace, protection, provision and patience receive no headlines.

Grieve that the Name of the only righteous Man who ever walked the earth is used as a swear word on T.V. screens and in cinemas across the world.

Grieve that God is blasphemed by the very same people who question why God does not restrain the consequences of their own rebellious actions.

What Could God Be Saying to Knysna?
Could God be speaking to Knysna which has hosted highly publicised “Pink Loerie Gay Pride” marches and parades and multiple high profile “gay weddings”.

Could God be Speaking to Cape Town
Could God be speaking to Cape Town where abortion kills thousands of babies every year, where gambling impoverishes the poor even more, where crime and violence stalk our streets daily, where the mayor organized inter-faith rain ceremonies and where our schools teach evolutionism, situation ethics and perversion?

The Judgments of God
In the wake of the catastrophic fires in Knysna and droughts and storms in Cape Town, we need to study afresh the Holiness and Justice of God and God’s Word to a nation.

“The Lion has roared – who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken – who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:8

“’I sent plagues among you… I killed your young men with the sword… yet you have not returned to Me’, declares the Lord.” Amos 4:10

“You are Just in these Judgments, You who are and who were the Holy One, because You have so judged; for they have shed the blood of Your saints and prophets… yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are Your Judgments… they cursed the Name of God, but they refused to repent and glorify Him… they refused to repent of what they had done… and there were noises and thunderings and lightening and there was a great earthquake, such a might and great earthquake… and they cursed God.” Revelation 16:1-21

When Catastrophes Occur
Can God be speaking to a lost and careless world through these deadly disasters? Can these catastrophic calamities be a merciful call from a just God for us to repent?

In 2 Chronicles 7:12-14 the Lord declares: “When I shut up the Heavens so that there is no rain, if My people were called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Throughout the Bible natural disasters are seen as a judgment of God and a clear warning to us to humble ourselves and to pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways.

Repentance
It is time for us to take a fresh look at God’s Law and to structure our Repentance according to the Ten Commandments. Biblical repentance is not merely “feeling sorry” for our “failings and weaknesses”. What God calls wicked we should not try to redefine as some kind of “mistake”. Biblical Repentance involves: conviction, contrition and conversion requiring a change of mind, a change of heart and a change of life and demanding change of lifestyle and a change of behaviour.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked man forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord and He will have mercy on him and to our God for He will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7

The fact is that people are not basically good. We are naturally selfish, innately depraved and very wicked. Every deadly disaster, whether man-made or natural disaster, is a merciful call from the Holy God for us to Repent. “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die?” Ezekiel 18:31

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit” Psalm 34:18

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
mission@frontline.org.za
www.frontline.org.za

See also: Severe Storm Strikes Cape TownSoli Deo Gloria

The Friend of Africa

Dr David Livingstone in 1864 Born 19 March 1813 Blantyre, Scotland

Died 1 May 1873 (aged 60) Chief Chitambo’s Village, Kingdom of Kazembe (today Zambia)

Cause of death Malaria and internal bleeding due to dysentery

Resting place Westminster Abbey 51°29′58″N 0°07′39″W

Known for Spreading the Gospel and Exploration of Africa

Spouse(s) Mary (née Moffat; m. 1845 – 27 April 1862; her death); 6 children

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The FAMILY, FAITH and UPBRINGING of DAVID LIVINGSTONE

To view this article as a PowerPoint, with pictures, click here.

19 March 1813 marked the birth of Scottish Missionary David Livingstone.

The Fighting Missionary
The hero of the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington, described Dr. David Livingstone as "The fighting parson."

The Friend of Africa
Jacob Wainwright, who had been rescued from slavery by Dr. Livingstone, described him as: "The friend of the African."

Practical Christianity
American journalist and explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, described Dr. Livingstone as: "A truly pious man, a man deeply imbued with real religious instincts. His religion… is of the true, practical kind, never losing a chance to manifest itself in a quiet, practical way, never demonstrative or loud. It is always at work, if not in deed, by shining example."

An Example of Excellence
Stanley described his attitude when he first arrived in Africa: "as prejudiced against religion as the worst infidel…" However, the example of David Livingstone, who had truly left all to follow Christ, converted Stanley. It is not so much what you say, but what you do that counts. Action is eloquence. David Livingstone said what he meant. He meant what he said and he did all he promised. He was true to his word.

Inspiring
David Livingstone was hailed in his lifetime as the greatest missionary explorer of all time. As one contemporary journalist described it: "the Christian’s Faith in God is strengthened by the author’s very survival of every imaginable danger. The abolitionist is inspired by the prospect of stopping the slave trade. Medical men are intrigued by Livingstone’s approach to disease and the value of his treatment for fever…" The incredible courage and sacrifices of David Livingstone inspired multiplied hundreds of men and women to dedicate their lives to Missions in Africa. What can we learn about the family and upbringing of David Livingstone, to understand his Faith, courage and vision?

David Livingstone preaching to Africans Born in Blantyre
David Livingstone was born 19 March 1813, in the industrial town of Blantyre, 8 miles from Glasgow. Today the largest city in Malawi is called Blantyre, in honour of the birthplace of David Livingstone.

The Father
His Father, Neil Livingstone, was a dedicated Christian who had met his future wife, Agnes, when he was apprenticed to a local tailor. He won the hand of the tailor’s daughter and became a tea salesman so that he could travel and preach the Gospel, distributing Evangelistic tracts to his customers door-to-door. Neil also taught at Sunday school and was a zealous member of a local Missionary Society, persistently promoting prayer meetings and Missionary causes. David Livingstone later wrote concerning his Father: "He deserved my lasting gratitude and homage for presenting me from infancy with a continuously consistent pious example."

Strict Standards
Neil Livingstone was also a strict disciplinarian who sought to bring up David in the fear of the Lord. At age 9, David was challenged to learn the longest chapter in the Bible: Psalm 119 (all 176 verses) off by heart in order to receive a copy of the New Testament. Because Neil had seen the ravaging effects of alcoholism, he was a teetotaller and persuaded his son to follow his example in abstaining from alcohol, for life.

The Mother
David’s mother, Agnes, was a gentle, small and delicate woman whose compassionate kindness and loving nature served as a counter-balance to her husband’s strict and austere rule. It was said that her son, David, inherited her remarkably bright eyes. Agnes instilled in her family, a scrupulous concern for cleanliness and immaculate appearance. Later, Henry Morton Stanley commented on the immaculate standards of David Livingstone to his men as they began their epic 999 day expedition across the Congo: "Dr. Livingstone shaved every day of the 4 months, I was with him in the field and you will shave every day!"

The Napoleonic Wars
David was born during the last years of the ruinous Napoleonic wars which devastated Europe. The economic impact of the 25 years of French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars had left many unemployed in Britain and an economically depressed environment.

The Family
The Livingstone’s’ lived a very frugal lifestyle on a miniscule budget. The Livingstone family lived in a single room, ten feet by fourteen feet. Two baby boys had died in their infancy, David had one older surviving brother, John. Another brother, Charles, and two sisters, Janet and Agnes were born after David.

The Home
There was neither hot nor cold running water in the Tenement building and David had to walk many times a day down the tightly curved, brick staircase to fetch water from the pump in the yard, and heave it back up the stairs and along the corridor of the 3rd floor to their room. The Livingstone’s shared their Tenement with 24 other families. At night mattresses were pulled out from under the parents bed which was set into a recess in the wall. Privacy was non-existent and the family cooked, ate, sewed, studied and slept in that single room.

A Passion for Reading
David Livingstone borrowed extensively from the local library, particularly books on travel and science. William Wilberforce’s Practical Christianity had a major impact on his life and clearly influenced his life-long crusade against the slave trade. Sitting by the banks of the River Clyde, engrossed in a book, young David was startled to hear the desperate cries of a young girl and her baby brother drifting in a boat towards the weir of the old Mill. David immediately plunged into the icy waters and rescued them from disaster.

The Cotton Mill
At age 10, David began his full-time employment, 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, for the next 10 years at the Monteith and Company Cotton Spinning Factory. He was to be a piercer, to repair broken threads in spinning frames. David’s day began at 5:30am every morning as the bell was rung. Work would begin at 6am and continue until 8pm. The workers in the cotton mill had to work in tremendous heat and humidity. Steamed temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit were considered ideal for the production of thread.

Physical Training
Every day David would have to walk an average of 34km, much of this in a crawling or stooping position, amongst and under the machinery, or balancing over it. One can imagine what tremendous physical training this was for his later transcontinental expeditions throughout Africa. Piercers received constant beatings from their supervisors to keep them moving through such long shifts, despite fatigue and exhaustion.

Hunger for Knowledge
Yet, David used his first week’s wages to purchase Ruddiman’s Rudiments of Latin. David managed to read in the factory by balancing his book on a portion of the spinning jenny so that he could catch sentence after sentence as he rushed by at his work. In this way he maintained fairly constant study undisturbed by the roar of the machinery. Less than 10% of the children who worked in the Cotton Mills ever learned to read or write. David not only learned to read and write, he taught himself Latin, Greek and Hebrew. After work, he would attend a night school, 8pm to 10pm. Then he returned home to study, often until midnight. His mother frequently had to take his books away before he would go to sleep.

Dr. Livingston Conversion
At age 12, David Livingstone came under intense conviction of sin and experienced a radical conversion to Christ. He wrote: "In the glow of love that Christianity inspired, I resolved to devote my life to the alleviation of human misery." He wrote: "That the Salvation of men ought to be the chief desire and aim of every Christian." He made a resolution that he would give to the cause of Missions all that he might earn beyond what was required for his subsistence.

Perseverance
At age 13, he attended an extra Latin class. When all the other students gave up, he alone remained in the class and the school teacher cancelled the lessons, not seeing the overzealous son of a tea merchant as worthy of his attention. David continued to learn Latin on his own.

The Grandfather
David’s grandfather, Neil Livingstone Senior, also had an impact on the upbringing of David. He had been a tenant farmer on the island of Ulva, off the West coast of Scotland. He was evicted by the English to open up the area for a vast sheep farm. He passed on what he had heard from his grandfather: "I have searched most carefully through all the traditions of our family, and I never could discover that there was a dishonest man among your forefathers. If therefore any of you, or any of your children, should take to dishonest ways, it will not be because it runs in our blood… I leave this precept with you; be honest!"

Thomas Burke
Another man who influenced David Livingstone was Thomas Burke, an old soldier who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars who would ring his bell to shatter the peace and quiet of Blantyre every Sunday morning to rouse the people to attend his early morning Prayer meeting. Burke was abrupt, direct and challenging. The Livingstone family faithfully supported him.

David Hogg
Another man who impressed David Livingstone was David Hogg, who from his deathbed challenged the young boy: "Now lad! Make religion the everyday business of your life and not a thing of fits and starts; for if you do not, temptation and other things will get the better of you!"

The Free Church
1832 was a special watershed year for the Livingstone family. Neil Livingstone, dissatisfied with the spiritual life of the Church of Scotland, changed his church membership to the Free Church. This required the Livingstones to walk to Hamilton, a nearby village for their Sunday worship services. Although they received many invitations to dine with families of the congregation, they chose to carry their own food and not impose upon the limited resources of the other families of the congregation, which they knew were also struggling financially. After Sunday lunch, the Livingstone family were treated to their one luxury, a barley sweet each. The Livingstones never accepted any hand-outs. They worked for everything they had.

Setting the Captives Free
The Free Church in Hamilton were strong supporters of Missions. In 1833, William Wilberforce’s lifelong crusade against slavery was successful. Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire, by an act of Parliament. This inspired ever greater vision for Missions. Those who had been freed from physical slavery, now needed to be freed from spiritual slavery. Missionaries were needed to go to the ends of the earth!

Revival Fires
Books and tracts from the Revival movement sweeping America reached Scotland and created much excitement and deepening of spiritual life and vision. David Livingstone received a pamphlet written by Karl Gutzlaff, of the Netherlands Missionary Society. In it Gutzlaff appealed for medical missionaries to go to China. David was inspired at how a medical missionary could be much more effective in converting the lost. He had learned enough Latin to be able to understand most medical terms. He was remarkably well read and easily would pass the University entrance requirements. His chief obstacle would be lack of finances.

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email:
mission@frontline.org.za
Website: www.frontline.org.za

See also:
The Challenge of Livingstone Today
Making Disciples of All Nations

Soli Deo Gloria

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