Chrissiesmeer – Swansons grave

In the graveyard at Chrissiesmeer is one grave amid yellow veld flowers that appears distinctively different from the others. It is the only one enclosed by a fence and it has a flat, white marble cross in the middle.

The grave belongs to Arthur William Swanston, a young lieutenant from the Innskilling Dragoons who was killed on 10 October 1900 while endeavouring to save the life of a Private J. Garlick during the Anglo-Boer War. Garlick and two others were killed at the same time and are buried close by.

What is touching about Swanston’s story is not only his deed of heroism, but also the way he was remembered and honoured by his fiancée back home in Scotland. For 65 years after the war she sent flowers to the postmaster of Chrissiesmeer with a request to put them on grave. They always arrived during the month of October. One year she’d send blue heather and the next year pink, always wrapped in the most beautiful matching ribbons. The post office also took responsibility for the upkeep of the grave and regularly painted the fence silver.

When the fiancée was in her early eighties she sent a letter with the bouquet explaining that, because of ill health, it might be the last time she would be sending flowers. She expressed her gratitude to the Postmaster of Chrissiesmeer, Rensie van Rensburg, and her predecessors for their assistance over the years. After that the flowers arrived just once more. One can only but wonder who this unknown woman was and how the loss of her fiancée shaped her life.

During those years that the flowers came, the Post Office and the Primary School, made a special occasion of it. They always cared after the grave and had a special annual ceremony when putting the flowers on the grave.

Now at every wild flower day the people of Chrissiesmeer still honour this love story by putting wild flowers on the grave at those days.