Military Record of Harry William McCleland

I never knew my grandfather, Harry William McCleland, as he passed away in 1924, twenty-nine years before I was born. Harry William was attested into the Union Defence Force at Roberts Heights aka Voortrekkerhoogte at the age of 43. It was in all probability desperation which spurred him to be attested at such an advanced age. After failing twice at farming, once due to a flood in the Gamtoos Valley and then as a cattle farmer at Destades due to the rinderpest and then being declared insolvent, Harry had relocated his family of five children [at that stage] to Schoenmakerskop. Without an income and a family to support, joining the army was Harry’s solution to his financial woes.

Main picture: Harry William McCleland in army uniform

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The Art of Mea Culpa and Conduct Unbecoming

Bruce Koloane obviously agreed to plead guilty to his three charges at his disciplinary hearing which meant that no evidence was led and, hence, no red faces, particularly for No. 1 – that is if his face could turn red.  Thinking about it, even if he was melatoninally challenged like me, he still would not
blush as he has no sh
ame.

But I digress. Pleading guilty is very useful in certain cases.

Main picture: Uit klaar parade, Officers Course, Tech Services Corp, Dec 1981

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The Uninvited Guest Who Stayed – Part 1

Herbie arrived uninvited at our house one night in 1973 when Dean rocked up with a buggered 1961 1200cc VW Beetle.   We didn’t actually name it Herbie but that name had been made famous by the 1968 movie, The Love Bug, and so I shall refer to it thus from time to time.   The family all trundled out into the dark to watch proud Dean show off his new little baby.  Dad was aghast as, with his superior experience, he knew that it was a piece of junk and washed his hands of it.  Dean’s friend, Michael Baker, owned one and it was he who had convinced Dean to buy it for R90.  I was in Standard 9 and this was a lovely, real life challenge for me.  I had done my apprenticeship on Mom’s sewing machine and Dad’s lawnmower.  Now for the big time.

Main picture: 1960-1969 Volkswagen Beetle – Not my vehicle as only one photo exists of it

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Schoenies: A Very Special Place

Mom hated Schoenies, or Schoenmakerskop, to give it its full name.  Maybe that’s a bit strong, but she was bored, bored, bored with the place.  Dad was seldom adventurous and since he grew up there in the early 1900s, he kept returning to it like a homesick baby desperately trying to return to the womb.  Saturday afternoon, summer and winter, would invariably find us there.  Maybe Mom had a spirit of adventure after all.  I, however and I think my siblings, loved the place.  We kids knew that place like our own backyard as we explored every little bit of it – multiple times.

Main picture: Main gully at Schoenies showing the two islands at mid tide and how the obliquely running rocks form a natural breakwater

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Reverend Francis McCleland: A Life in Port Elizabeth 1825 – 1853

At best the Irish 1820 Settlers in Clanwilliam eked out a precarious existence. The settlement could not have been called a resounding success either by the settlers generally or the McCleland household in particular. After a number of unseemly quarrels, Francis was granted a transfer to the newly created hamlet of Port Elizabeth which was meant to have been their original disembarkation point. 

It was here that Francis and Elizabeth would spend the rest of their lives. This chronicles the lives of my great-great-grandparents in Port Elizabeth.

Main picture: Castle Hill in 1851 painted by engineer Henry Fancourt White of White’s Road fame. Number 7 Castle Hill is the commodious double storey house on the right on top of the hill

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