Story of Salmon van As (With photos)

Salmon Gerhardus van As was born on 2 Mei 1878. He was the son of Hendrik Sebastian Van As and Maria Elizabeth Maritz and served as a field cornet during the Boer War as a member of the Heidelberg commando. He was involved in the killing of Captain R.C.H.Miers. The incident occurred on 25 September 1901 at Riversdraai 12 miles south of Heidelberg. Captain Miers approached the Boers under a white flag most likely with the intention to convince them to surrender. What exactly happened is not known, the British claim the Captain was shot in cold blood which makes this a war crime, van As claims he acted in self-defence.  On 23 June 1902 after the peace of Vereeniging he was trailed by a British court marshal and found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He was locked up in the prison on Heidelberg, Transvaal. Van As, one Cilliers and one Muller was not given amnesty The British felt so strong about it that their names came up in the peace conference at Vereeniging and Salmon van As was one of three burghers that had to hand themselves over to the British for investigation. He was imprisoned in the Heidelberg jail where the court case took place. Van As was not given the opportunity to call his own witnesses and found guilty and was condemned to die. Ds. A.J. Louw and some other persons tried to get him off but all in vain. Van As wrote letters to his parents and his fiancée and early that Monday morning he was put in front of the prison wall.  Ten soldiers from Somerset was the members of the firing squad. He refused to be blindfolded. The execution took place at the back of the jail, the bullet holes in the wall remain as witnesses to that event. His body was wrapped in a kaki blanket and he was buried in a shallow grave next to the road to the Heidelberg cemetery
A few years after that the father of van As received a letter of apology from the British admitting that the court case was irregular and thus van As had not received a fair trial, compensation was offered to the family but they refused.
Title: Salmon van As
By: Gert Strydom
(after C. Louis Leipoldt)
On a night just as the moon is rising
a British officer comes by horse with a white flag
and the rifle barrels of the Boers follow him,
as they are on guard at the front post.
Evening after evening he comes
and sometimes rides past in a cloud of dust
where he is spying on their positions
and tries to lead them astray with his chattering.
With words that by now they know:
“No nation will win against us.
Surrender tonight,
as you have already lost the war.”
On a hillock Salmon van As is at the front post
and something creaks below him in the trees and bushes
where he is standing with his Mauser rifle at the ready
and he knows of the atrocities of this Englishman
where with a thunder clap he shoots at him.
Some black men run back to the British camp
to tell the story of the shot,
where a red headed major stamps his feet in anger
and swears to God to take revenge.
Convinced of his own innocence Salmon van As
stays openly on his own farm,
where he goes on with his life in Heidelberg
and just after the peace of Vereniging,
when it fits the British,
they insist on his arrest.
He is brought before a military court
where he is not given any chance to defend himself,
as probably he would have succeeded in his own defence
and the British officer says his final say.
At daylight the Lee Metford rifles of the British soldiers fire
and like Gideon Scheepers there’s a Boer that falls,
a Boer citizen is murdered by the British
and in the cliff a thorn tree on his grave still tells that story.
[Reference: “Salmon van As” by C. Louis Leipoldt.]