It's my stop on the tour for "A Ghost And His
Gold" by Roberta Eaton Cheadle today, and Robbie has written a
fascinating post for me to share with you. I'll also be sharing my
review for the book at the end of this post. So, over to you, Robbie!
The Siege of Kimberley
The Siege of Kimberley, a diamond mining town in the Cape Colony, took place during the Second Anglo Boer War when Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (Transvaal) besieged the town.
Cecil John Rhodes, a British mining magnet and politician in Southern African and who served as the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896, was in Kimberley during the siege. Rhodes’ presence in the town was controversial as he was one of the main protagonists behind the war due to his involved in the botched Jameson Raid. Despite his arrogance and constant disagreement with the military personal charged with the defence of Kimberley, Rhodes was instrumental in organising the defence of the town.
The Boers tried to force the British garrison in the town to surrender by shelling the town with their superior artillery. The first British attempt to relieve Kimberley failed and it was only on the 5th of February 1900 that the siege was finally relieved by a cavalry division under Lieutenant-General John French. After relieving the siege, the British forces immediately continued to battle the Boers under General Piet Cronjé at Paardeberg.
Armoured Train: Siege of Kimberley, 14th October 1899 to 15th February 1900 during the Great Boer War. Source: https://www.britishbattles.com/great-boer-war/siege-of-kimberley/
Extract from A Ghost and His Gold
The following day, Pieter tells his family about his time on the western front and how, after he’d been injured, the loyal Mhlopi had assisted him home to Irene.
“How did you come to be near Kimberley, Papa? We thought you were still in Mafeking. Oom [Uncle] Jannie told us he’d seen you there.”
“Willem and I were part of the Boer force that left Mafeking on the 18th of November under the leadership of General Cronjé. We marched southwards to Kimberley. Our generals considered Kimberley to be key to the war on the western front.”
“Why is Kimberley more important that Mafeking, Papa?” Estelle looked at him with interest.
“Kimberley’s the second biggest city in the Cape Colony and the centre of the diamond mining operations of the De Beer’s Mining Company. De Beer’s supplies ninety percent of the world’s diamonds, and I’m sure this fuelled our leadership’s desire to occupy this town.”
“Don’t forget, Pieter, that Cecil John Rhodes controls De Beer’s and the mining activities in Kimberley. I’m sure his being in the town was one of the reasons our generals wanted to occupy it,” Marta gently admonished him.
“Yes, you are right, Marta, Cecil John Rhodes’ presence in the town was controversial for us.”
“Who is Cecil John Rhodes, Papa? Why don’t our generals like him?” Renette’s smooth brow wrinkled as she tried to understand the conversation.
“He was the Cape premier a few years ago and sponsored a raid by the British to try and overthrow Oom Paul and take over the South African Republic. The raid was led by a man called Dr Jameson and it is called the Jameson Raid. Luckily for us, it was unsuccessful, and Dr Jameson was sent to jail,” said Marta.
“Your mother is right. There were several reasons why General Cronjé felt it was important for us to join in the fight against the Khakis in the area surrounding the Modder River and Kimberley, and one of them was the presence of Cecil John Rhodes. Whatever the reasons, Willem and I ended up defending the area around the Modder River.”
Shifting in the bed, Pieter tried to relieve the pressure on his aching ribs.
“I was injured by falling off my horse during a fight with the Khakis’ mounted forces who were riding to relieve Kimberley. When I fell, I feared the worst and thought I would be left behind and captured. Luckily, Willem came to my aide. He managed to help me back onto my horse and we fled the scene and returned to our camp.”
“Why did you fall off your horse?” Renette asked. “You are a good rider.”
“Yes, I’m an excellent rider,” said Papa. “Oom Willem and I were scouting with a group of other Burghers when we saw a thick cloud of dust approaching. To be honest, the march on Kimberley under Lord Roberts took us by surprise. The Boers at Magersfontein were engaged in fighting the Khakis under Lord Methuen so they were not able to come to come to our aide. Do you remember that name, Marta? He was the British general who was defeated at Magersfontein on 11 December last year?”
“Yes, I remember,” Marta leaned forward in her chair. “He was attempting to relieve Kimberley. We heard about our splendid victories at the church service on Christmas Day.”
“That’s right. It was a black day for us when Lord Roberts replaced Sir Buller as the Commander in Chief of the Khakis in January. Together with his chief of staff, Lord Kitchener, they have implemented massive changes to the scale, organisation and tactics of the British Army. Lord Roberts has brought all the resources of the British Empire to bear against us and numerous reinforcements have increased the Khakis’ ranks significantly.
“Anyhow, while the Magersfontein Boers were fighting Lord Methuen, a few other commandos were fighting another division of Khakis, under Major General Hector MacDonald, as he marched westward to Koedoesberg. We were unprepared for a large-scale march on Kimberley, as Lord Roberts had been successful at keeping his plans secret, and our numbers were few between the Modder River and the town. The army we faced comprised five divisions and a whole division of cavalry under Lieutenant-General John French. That equals about forty thousand men, Marta.”
Pieter stops talking and gazes into space. Memories assail his mind in a kaleidoscope of sounds, smells and visions.
“At about midday, we saw a large cloud of dust coming our way. Having no idea how many horsemen there were, ten other Burghers, Willem and I quickly set up an ambush. As they drew closer, we could make out a mass of at least seven thousand horses and men. It was a hopeless situation and we prepared to withdraw, but the Khakis saw us and started shelling our position. My horse took fright at an exploding shell and bolted. I fell and broke two ribs, but luckily my horse is well trained, and he came back to me. Oom Willem hoisted me back onto my horse, and we were able to escape.”
Marta’s pale face and the tension around her mouth and eyes suddenly register with Pieter.
Is she upset because of my injury or because the Burghers ran away?
“It was cowardly of you men to flee, you should have stayed and fought,” said Marta, her lip curled with contempt.
How does she think I could have carried on fighting with broken ribs? She’s being ridiculous; if we’d carried on fighting, we would’ve all been killed. A handful of men couldn’t hold back such a significant force.
Smiling wryly, he took a sip of water. “Maybe you are right, Marta, but I was in too much pain to influence that decision.”
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
About Roberta Eaton Cheadle
I am a South African writer specialising in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. I am an avid reader in these genres and my writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.
I was educated at the University of South Africa where I achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. I was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.
I have worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and have written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. I have won several awards over my twenty year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.
I have been published a number of anthologies and have two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I have recently published my first adult novel called A Ghost and His Gold which is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War.
Other books by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Through the Nethergate
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
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A Ghost and His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a thrilling and gripping read, with a wonderful cast of compelling characters, not to mention a fantastic plot. The author clearly did a lot of research, and reading the details of the war going on when most of the events in the story take place is fascinating, despite the disturbing nature of some of the unfortunately entirely factual occurrences.
I only hesitate to give this book the full five stars because the way the different stories were told required some getting used to, so it took me some time to get in to the book (though I was thoroughly enthralled by the tale once I got used to the way it was being told). Also, I felt the definitions being presented as footnotes rather than simply in a glossary of terms at the end of the book interrupted the flow of the story - something possibly more noticeable to me due to the need to rely on a screen reader to read the book.
*NOTE: I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of the book or the contents of this review, and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.