Hayward Young & Co

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The Youngs of Port Elizabeth – Trenches

Port Elizabeth was far from the battlefields of the Orange Free State and Transvaal during the Boer War, but it was not untouched. John S Young recalled:

During the South African War the town was crowded with refugees from the Transvaal. The stores of war material and thousands of tons of forage were stacked in the harbour area from Humewood Road to the sea.

When Smuts and his commando appeared in the Zuurberg in late 1901, and seemed to threaten Port Elizabeth, John S Young and the other young men of Port Elizabeth were called out to dig trenches on the golf course and elsewhere – if you walk across to the other side of the Valley, to the west of the walkway, you may see today the remains of those which were dug above Settlers’ Park. But Smuts went no further south than the Zuurberg, from where his men could only look at the lights of Port Elizabeth [18] , and trekked on to towards the Little Karoo. He had no intention of engaging in battle with superior forces.

[18] After dark, camped on a height, we could see the lights of Port Elizabeth shining far off…  Deneys Reitz, Commando, Faber and Faber, London.