103 years and still weeping

2019-07-10 06:00
The Delville Wood Cross recently­ began weeping for the 103rd year in a row. PHOTOS: byrone athman

The Delville Wood Cross recently­ began weeping for the 103rd year in a row. PHOTOS: byrone athman

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A CROSS that was formed out of wood and brought back by surviving World War 1 soldiers still weeps to this day, with some believing that the wood weeps for the fallen heroes who fought for their country during the Battle of Delville Wood in 1916.

This year marks the 103rd year since the cross was brought to Pietermaritzburg.

Members of the South African Legion, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (Moths), and defence force units, as well as family of the soldiers who died in the battle, will all make their way to the Moth Garden of Remembrance in Leinster Road, Pietermaritzburg to pay tribute to the fallen heroes at an annual service being held this Sunday.

“We come together every year to pay our respects to those South African soldiers who died in that battle and we do this by coming here where this cross stands, which was formed 103 years ago and has only been placed here, in Durban and in Cape Town,” said South African Legion and Moth member Dean Arnold.

Arnold says that to date no proper explanation has been given as to why the cross weeps, this despite the cross having been examined by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Forestry Department, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

“We still have not been given a rational explanation as to why the pine cross oozes sap every year around this time [end of June until the end of July.

“We have been told that it is not normal for wood to continue producing resin all this time but we have also been told by scientists that it could be a result of the cold weather —which causes the wood to shrink, thus forcing resin out,” said Arnold.

A total of 763 soldiers from the first South African Infantry Brigade lost their lives during the battle of Delville Wood over the period of July 15 to July 20, 1916.

The 103rd commemorative service of the Battle of Delville Wood will take place on July 14, this Sunday, at the Garden of Remembrance in Leinster Road.

The service commences at 11 am and members of the public are welcome to attend the service with the members of the SA Legion, Moths, other service organisations, and the military.

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