Knys­na coun­cil­lor is an aut­ho­ri­ty on Wor­ld War I

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Nuus | News -

A­mong the ma­ny de­co­ra­ted ve­te­rans who took part in the me­mo­ri­al ser­vi­ce in Knys­na on Sun­day 11 No­vem­ber, kno­wn as Pop­py Day, to ce­le­bra­te the 100th an­ni­ver­s­a­ry of the end of the “Gre­at War”, was Knys­na coun­cil­lor Ian Uys.

In 1973, Uys’ first book For Va­lour de­tailed the bi­o­graphies of all South A­fri­cans who won the Vic­to­ria Cross (VC), the hig­hest de­co­ra­ti­on for bra­very in the fa­ce of the e­ne­my. He found that the first SA re­ci­pient, Jo­seph Cro­we, who won the VC du­ring the In­di­an Mu­tiny of 1857, was born and rai­sed in Ui­ten­ha­ge, Uys’ ho­me­town.

He re­se­ar­ched and met the fa­mi­lies of 15 South A­fri­can Wor­ld War I VC re­ci­pients, a­mong them Man­ny Faulds who was a­war­ded the VC at the fa­mous Batt­le of Del­vil­le Wood. Uys was as­ked as a com­mit­tee mem­ber of the SA Mi­li­ta­ry His­to­ry So­cie­ty to in­ter­view sur­vi­vors of the batt­le. As a bor­der war ve­te­ran who had been a­war­ded the De Wet De­co­ra­ti­on, Uys was accep­ted by the el­der­ly men. He spo­ke with and ta­pe-re­cor­ded the ex­pe­rien­ces of ma­ny of the­se men, who took him to their he­arts, and their pubs on oc­ca­si­on!

The­se men are all long go­ne, but their stories li­ve on in fi­ve books which Uys sub­se­quent­ly wro­te on Del­vil­le Wood, the first being pu­blis­hed in 1983. Uys vi­si­ted Del­vil­le Wood and the batt­le­fields in Fran­ce and Bel­gi­um on ma­ny oc­ca­si­ons, the most no­te­worthy being with the sta­te pre­si­dent’s en­toura­ge for the o­pe­ning of the mu­seum the­re.

Of the ma­ny com­pli­ments Uys re­cei­ved, he said, the one he en­joy­ed the most was w­hen flying ho­me with for­mer pre­si­dent PW Bo­tha, the pre­si­dent in­vi­ted a Del­vil­le Wood ve­te­ran, Co­lo­nel Vic­tor We­pe­ner DSO, to join the e­li­te group in first class. The old ve­te­ran de­cli­ned and said he pre­fer­red sit­ting with his friend Ian.

Uys’ la­te wi­fe Bar­ba­ra proud­ly wo­re her grand­fat­her’s me­dals which he had e­ar­ned in Fran­ce. T­hey will now be pas­sed on to his gre­at-grand­son, to­get­her with his bi­o­grap­hy. In t­his way, he will be re­mem­be­red as will the mil­li­ons of ot­hers who ser­ved in that war. –

P­ho­to: Sup­p­lied

Lo­cal coun­cil­lor Ian Uys (rig­ht) and his de­ar­ly de­par­ted wi­fe Bar­ba­ra, who proud­ly wo­re her grand­fat­her’s me­dals which he e­ar­ned in Fran­ce.

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