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Rob Milne
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Early in 1902, Colonel E.C. Knox’s column swept across the Eastern Transvaal in a great ‘drive’ to round up the scatted Boer Commandos. On 1st February 1902 there was a skirmish with the Bethal Commando near Witbank in which J Bryant of the 26th Mounted Infantry was killed. He was buried in the veld, where he fell, and a metal cross was later placed at the head of his grave. After the war a coal mine was opened in the area, and it was decided to build a railway station near to Bryant’s grave in the town now called Ogies, after the farm name Ogiesfontein or ‘the fountain with many eyes’ (springs). The Railways authorities determined that the tracks would pass over the grave so they decided to disinter the remains and re-bury Bryant under the station platform.

This became the only military grave in the world located on a railway station. However there are curious links to two railway stations in England. There is a plaque between platforms 1 and 2 in Manchester’s Victoria station recording that part of the old Walker’s Croft Cemetery lies under platform 2. In 1988 a grave, thought to be that of Boudicca the Icenic Warrior Queen, was discovered under platform 10 in King’s Cross station, London.

The story of Bryant’s grave under the platform at Ogies Railway station does not end here. As the station got busier it was decided to build on, and again the grave was in the way. The remains were left where they were, and Bryant’s cross was moved a few meters along the platform to the east of the new building extension. Now Bryant’s remains lie under the new building – the men’s toilet!

J. Bryant’s memorial on the platform at Ogies railway station on the left, and the men’s toilet on the right. When the men’s toilet was built over his grave his remains were not moved, only his memorial.

J. Bryant’s memorial on the platform at Ogies railway station on the left, and the men’s toilet on the right. When the men’s toilet was built over his grave his remains were not moved, only his memorial.
J. Bryant’s cast-iron cross on the platform at Ogies railway station, Mpumalanga. This is the only military grave in the world situated on a railway platform.

J. Bryant’s cast-iron cross on the platform at Ogies railway station, Mpumalanga. This is the only military grave in the world situated on a railway platform.

 

ROB MILNE

Rob MIlne

Rob Milne was born in Johannesburg in 1953 and educated at St. David's Marist College and the University of the Witwatersrand. From an early age he spent most of his free time in the veld exploring the South African battlefields with his father, developing a keen interest in the Second Anglo-Boer War, archeology and geology.

Rob Milne
Writer/Blogger