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Lt Arthur Swanston (Boer War), and touching story - Eyemouth

 
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Merseman



Joined: 07 Aug 2013
Posts: 282
Location: Duns, Berwickshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:27 pm    Post subject: Lt Arthur Swanston (Boer War), and touching story - Eyemouth Reply with quote

UKNIWN: 13313

Happened to chance across this while killing some time between two visits earlier on, but its turns-out it's previously been put on UKNIWM.







GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN
THAN THIS, THAT A MAN LAY
DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
ARTHUR WILLIAM SWANSTON
2ND SON OF
JA SWANSTON OF MARSHALL MEADOWS
KILLED IN ACTION AT TOVREDEN
SOUTH AFRICA
WHILE TRYING TO SAVE THE LIFE OF A
WOUNDED TROOPER
ON THE 16TH OCTOBER 1900
AGED 25 YEARS



Eyemouth's pre-Reformation chapel stood in the centre of the old town on the shorefront but when it became established as its own parish in 1618 it is thought a new church was built in Market Place (that was itself replaced in 1812 by the building which now holds Eyemouth museum). The burying ground was still on the old site but as it grew full was redeveloped around 1849-1851... all the legible stones were removed to the permiter, and the remaining stones, table stones, and original ground level buried under 2m of new soil. Evidently new burials were not allowed stones, since today all the Victorian monuments are ranged around the perimiter.

It's now a sort of public park - with the older memorial to the 1881 Fishing Diaster set in the middle, and a more recent one at the back.

Due to the exposed position and sea air, many of gravestones are terribly eroded, several which once carried lengthy and elaborate inscriptions now just swirls and waves of blank, rough sandstone.

This monument to a Boer War loss is presumably by family headstones; I neglected to check properly, although many were eroded. It is in the very extreme righthand corner (to the right of the lamppost, facing the camera in the second shot).

BoerWar


Last edited by Merseman on Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Merseman



Joined: 07 Aug 2013
Posts: 282
Location: Duns, Berwickshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And, the power of the internet, look what a search turns-up:

Quote:

http://fancyhorse.blogspot.co.uk/2009_05_01_archive.html

"It is a short story about a grave and a bouquet of dry flowers, written by Ettie Bierman …. a true story. I will tell it partially in my own words and partially as a translation. It appeared in a magazine called “Women’s Choice” (Translated)

A BOUQUET FOR A HERO

In a cemetery near Lake Chrissie in Mpumalanga here in South Africa, there are old graves of soldiers who died in the Anglo Boer war. Boer and English soldiers are lying together … not in war, but in peace … for more than a century. There is one grave of an English soldier that has a story to it, not about the grave or the man who was buried there but about the woman who loved him. On this grave the inscription on the flat tombstone with the marble cross, tells that the man who was buried there, died in an attempt to save a comrade. This is an extraordinary story, a beautiful story, a heart breaking story, a story where the word love is never mentioned, yet the whole story is about LOVE, written in capitals.
The small leaded letters on the tomb stone are barely visible but it can still be read:

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
ARTHUR WILLIAM SWANSTON
LIEUT INNESKILLING DRAGOONS

SECOND SON OF JA AND FE SWANSTON
OF MARSHALL MEADOWS
BERNWICK-ON-TWEED

KILLED IN ACTION AT TEVREDEN
16TH OCT. 1900
WHILE ENDEAVOURING TO SAVE
THE LIFE OF PTE J GARLICK

ERECTED BY HIS PARENTS
AND BROTHER OFFICERS
INNESKILLING DRAGOONS

There is no grave for Garlick. Maybe he survived or was killed and buried somewhere else or in one of the graves without a tomb stone?

Ettie Bierman saw this grave and wanted to know more. She started to ask around in the small town. At the old Post Office she found the Postmaster who knew about the story although it happened long before her time. She was referred to an old lady, Rensie Kruger, a previous Post Master. Rensie was too late to experience the story herself but her predecessor knew it …… in fact, it is a story known in the region.
Rensie’s predecessor Babs Dawson died long ago but the story itself is still alive, since 1901.

That year a parcel from England arrived at the Post Office, addressed to the Post Master ….. a bouquet of dried flowers, sent by the fiancé of the late Arthur William Swanston. She requested the Post Master to put the flowers on Arthur’s grave on 16 October. Because she remember…….
Every year. Never the flowers were forgotten or lost it’s course ….so the story is told. Through two world wars. There was a year or two during World War 2 when the parcel stumbled and maybe got lost on route to its destination. But the next year it was there again and every year that followed, always in time for 16 October. Every year for more than 60 years. Love never dies…..up to 1963. That year there was a letter to say; “I am old and sick and I stay in an old age home. There will most probably be no flowers sent anymore”

The next year and all the years after that, there were no flowers. She was gone like her beloved. Nobody can remember what her name was.
On 16 October 2000 – 100 years after the heroic death of Arthur William Swanston, Ettie went to the cemetery and put some fresh flowers on Arthur’s grave.

Blood red roses from her garden. For the most beautiful story of eternal love that one can imagine."


and also

Quote:

http://www.chrissiesmeer.co.za/graveyard.html

In the graveyard at Chrissiesmeer is one grave amid yellow veld flowers that appears distinctively different from the others. It is the only one enclosed by a fence and it has a flat, white marble cross in the middle.

The grave belongs to Arthur William Swanston, a young lieutenant from the Innskilling Dragoons who was killed on 10 October 1900 while endeavouring to save the life of a Private J. Garlick during the Anglo-Boer War. Garlick and two others were killed at the same time- and are buried close by.

What is touching about Swanston's story is not only his deed of heroism, but also the way he was remembered and honoured by his fiancée back home in Scotland. For 65 years after the war she sent flowers to the postmaster of Chrissiesmeer with a request to put them on Swanston's grave. They always arrived during the month of October. One year she'd send blue heather and the next year pink, always wrapped in the most beautiful matching ribbons. The post office also took responsibility for the upkeep of the grave and regularly painted the fence silver.

When the fiancée was in her early eighties she sent a letter with the bouquet explaining that, because of ill health, it might be the last time she would be sending flowers. She expressed her gratitude to the postmaster of Chrissiesmeer, Rensie van Rensburg, and her predecessors for their assistance over the years. After that the flowers arrived just once more. One can only but wonder who this unknown woman was and how the loss of her fiancée shaped her life.

During those years that the flowers came, the Post office and the Primary School, made a special occasion of it. They always cared after the grave and had a special annual ceremony when putting the flowers on the grave.

Now at every wild flower day the people of Chrissiesmeer still honour this love story by putting wild flowers on the grave at those days.

During the recent (2005) Engen 'Village of the Year' competition SABC 2 broadcast the story and received an overwhelming response. One man said he was so inspired by it that he had decided to become a better person.

It has been written that what makes life meaningful is not what happens to you, but what happens between people. This seems to be true even in death.
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apanderson
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Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 2564
Location: Stirlingshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have this listed on our sister site, Scottish War Graves Project, see:
http://scottishwargraves.phpbbweb.com/viewtopic.php?t=476&mforum=scottishwargraves

Anne
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apanderson
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Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 2564
Location: Stirlingshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We also have the military graves in Eyemouth Cemetery, see:
http://scottishwargraves.phpbbweb.com/viewtopic.php?t=475&mforum=scottishwargraves

Anne
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