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Sins of the Fathers

25 February 2013, 12:00

During 1987 I and the family made a visit to the Women’s monument in Bloemfontein. The purpose of the monument was to commemorate the deaths of thousands of women and children during the Anglo Boer War. The monument took up a large area of the grounds and we spent a rather tedious hour walking from point to point.  Adjacent to the women’s monument the ABB museum was located.

The usual war paraphnalia was exhibited and I left the wife and kids to sort themselves out while I took it easy on a chair.

Later I heard my daughter calling me and very irate too. She showed me an exhibition of clothing for children that lived during the war. Some of the clothing had marks and colouring to make them appear as blood marks. Food tins were paraded as that supplied by the British army to the concentration camps.  Nearby was a small heap of triangular bits of metal plating.  These triangles were supposed to have been placed in the tins of food and thus poisoned those who ate the contents.

For years after, this particular exhibition bothered me because something seemed awry.  The average canned food tin is about 100mm high and about 70mm in diameter and will give a plate a circumference of about 220 mm. In the process the plate is flat and then the triangles are stamped off and the plate rolled up and the open end triangles are now interlocked and the seam is then automatically soldered and the base fitted.  I worked for a company that produced tins for fish but: The seam system was abandoned and a full length seam was resorted too.

The food was produced and processed in the UK and it was spread over the entire country and hence highly unlikely that a certain batch would be sent to South Africa and so to concentration camps. Civilians and army staff were getting the same rations.

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