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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Jul 2006 12:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The weeping cross of Delville

During the First World War in 1916, South African troops (both Boer and Brit) were called upon to assist the British in the village of Longueval, France. On 15 July, the SA Brigade, under Maj-Gen.Lukin, was ordered to clear the d'elville woods, north-east of the village of enemy soldiers. The South African brigade was to cover the flank of a British brigade "at all costs"

On the night of the 17th/18th the woods were subjected to a bombardment which devastated the forest. At 6pm on 20th July, only 3 officers and 140 men, many of them wounded, marched out. General Lukin survived to take the salute. Six days earlier, on moving in, the strength of the brigade was 433, including all ranks.

A memorial is erected next to the historic wood just outside the village of Longueval, with replicas in the Company's Garden in Cape Town and in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The memorial consists of two life-sized figures clasping hands. These figures are symbolic of the two main White South African races (Boer and Brit), who fought side by side on the battlefields of France. Only a short while previously they had been fighting against each other in the Second Anglo Boer War.

General Lukin brought wood back from the Delville forest. A cross was later made of it and is now one of Pietermaritzburg city's war memorials. It is housed in the Garden of Remembrance. Called the "Weeping Cross of Delville Wood", it regularly attracts world headlines. For the cross "weeps" on, or around the July anniversary of the battle in which so many SA soldiers died.

It has been examined by amongst others the CSIR (scientific research council), the Forestry Department and the University of Natal. No rational explanation can be found for the reason why the pine cross still oozes sap. Two similar crosses in Cape Town and Durban do not exhibit this phenomenon. Local legend has it that when the last survivor of Delville passes away, the cross will weep no more.
http://www.encounter.co.za/article/31.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Jul 2006 12:01    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Weeping cross still a mystery
09/07/2004 08:49 - (SA)
Old Bill Roy Hendry, left, and Sergeant Major Eddie Hoffman consider patches of resin "tears" on the Weeping Cross of Delville Wood in Pietermaritzburg. (Ian Carbutt, Natal Witness)

Hannah Keal

Pietermaritzburg - The wooden cross in the Garden of Remembrance in Pietermaritzburg is tacky with resin just a few days before the anniversary of the massacre of thousands of South African soldiers at the Battle of Delville Wood during the Somme offensive of 1916.

The cross has wept resin "tears" almost every year, coinciding with the anniversary of the bloody battle that started on July 15, 1916. Out of the over 4 000 troops who defended Delville Wood, only 750 were left standing.

The South African brigade was ordered to occupy the French wood and hold it at all costs to protect British troops who had just taken the adjacent village of Langueval. Shells razed the woods, slamming into trees at a rate of 400 per minute and leaving only a few tree stumps intact. By July 18 the South Africans had been driven from their trenches, the wounded could not be evacuated and reinforcements could not get through.

After the battle, three wooden crosses were cut from the few remaining stumps and presented to Durban, Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg as memorials. The Pietermaritzburg cross, which is made from Scots Pine, is the only one that weeps.

The phenomenon baffles experts.

Sticky resin was visible on Thursday from a crack near the inscription and knots in the wood on both sides of the crossbar. Eighty-eight years after the battle, scientists still find it difficult to come up with explanations for the leaking resin.

Chemists who analysed samples of the substance in the past years found traces of lower linseed oil fragments and pine resin. This was expected as the carpenter, William Olive, soaked the cross in linseed oil before he worked on it. However, the phenomenon baffles forestry experts as it is unusual for wood to continue producing resin for such a long time.

Other suggestions include the dry, cold weather experienced around this time of the year, which would cause the wood to shrink and hence force the resin out. "It is an intriguing phenomenon," said Dr Ashley Nicholas from the school of Biology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville campus. "Many theories have been put forward but until someone scientifically tests it, we are just guessing."

Sergeant Major Eddie Hoffman has been keeping tabs on the state of the cross. "On June 17 it was as hard as a rock, but on June 29 it had already started getting tacky," he said, adding that if the weeping cross follows its usual pattern, it will have dried out again by the end of July.

"It is an unexplained mystery," said Old Bill Roy Hendry. "Authorities from all over the world have given their reasons but none can explain it."

The cross originally stood at the intersection of Durban and Alexandra Roads in Pietermaritzburg but was seen to be a traffic hazard and was moved to the Natal Carbineers Garden. In July 1956 it was moved to the Moth Remembrance Garden, where it has been ever since.
http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,6119,2-7-1442_1555201,00.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Jul 2006 6:04    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The wooden cross in the Garden of Remembrance in Pietermaritzburg is tacky with resin just a few days before the anniversary of the massacre of thousands of South African soldiers at the Battle of Delville Wood during the Somme offensive of 1916. The cross has wept resin "tears" almost every year, coinciding with the anniversary of the bloody battle that started on July 15, 1916. Out of the over 4 000 troops who defended Delville Wood, only 750 were left standing. The South African brigade was ordered to occupy the French wood and hold it at all costs to protect British troops who had just taken the adjacent village of Langueval. Shells razed the woods, slamming into trees at a rate of 400 per minute and leaving only a few tree stumps intact. By July 18 the South Africans had been driven from their trenches, the wounded could not be evacuated and reinforcements could not get through. After the battle, three wooden crosses were cut from the few remaining stumps and presented to Durban, Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg as memorials. The Pietermaritzburg cross, which is made from Scots Pine, is the only one that weeps.

The phenomenon baffles experts.

Sticky resin was visible on Thursday from a crack near the inscription and knots in the wood on both sides of the crossbar. Eighty-eight years after the battle, scientists still find it difficult to come up with explanations for the leaking resin.

Chemists who analysed samples of the substance in the past years found traces of lower linseed oil fragments and pine resin. This was expected as the carpenter, William Olive, soaked the cross in linseed oil before he worked on it. However, the phenomenon baffles forestry experts as it is unusual for wood to continue producing resin for such a long time.

Other suggestions include the dry, cold weather experienced around this time of the year, which would cause the wood to shrink and hence force the resin out. "It is an intriguing phenomenon," said Dr Ashley Nicholas from the school of Biology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville campus. "Many theories have been put forward but until someone scientifically tests it, we are just guessing."

Sergeant Major Eddie Hoffman has been keeping tabs on the state of the cross. "On June 17 it was as hard as a rock, but on June 29 it had already started getting tacky," he said, adding that if the weeping cross follows its usual pattern, it will have dried out again by the end of July.

"It is an unexplained mystery," said Old Bill Roy Hendry. "Authorities from all over the world have given their reasons but none can explain it."

The cross originally stood at the intersection of Durban and Alexandra Roads in Pietermaritzburg but was seen to be a traffic hazard and was moved to the Natal Carbineers Garden. In July 1956 it was moved to the Moth Remembrance Garden, where it has been ever since.

http://www.thesupernaturalworld.co.uk/index.php?act=main&code=01&type=00&topic_id=1449
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