John Daniel Kestell, b4c2 (1854 - 1941) MP

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Death: Died in Bloemfontein, Motheo, Free State, South Africa
Managed by: Judith Susanna Hendrika 5 Marais, b2c1d6e5f2g7h7i12j2
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About John Daniel Kestell, b4c2

John Daniel KESTELL the well known son of Charles Kestell is burief at teh VROUEMONUMENT, Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa.

In his stepmothers will he is named as the person who inherited a diamond ring that must always go to the eldest son.

See biography at Dictionary of African Christian Biography

Kestell

The town of Kestell is named after the Reverend JD Kestell. Kestell was a descendant from 1820 settler stock, and was born in Pietermaritzburg. After completing his studies in Stellenbosch he took up several posts until in 1893, he came to the Harrismith district. Dr Kestell was the minister of the N G Congregation at Harrismith. Kestell was then part of his congregation. In 1905 it became an own congregation. By 1900 the Boer War had started, and Kestell served with the Harrismith Commando as a chaplain for men serving with the various volunteer corps. Many were foreign nationals and their own churches were discouraged from offering services to them by their home governments' policies of neutrality and the vigilance of the British who ensured that this prohibition was not broken. Similarly, those Boers who changed sides and joined the National Scouts also found themselves without the support of their churches.


In January 1900 JD Kestell again found himself in the middle of a fierce battle during General Botha’s Spioenkop Campaign. On the Sunday morning of 21st January, General Warren resumed the attack on the Boers with heavy artillery support. Botha's burghers were beginning to show signs of wavering as more shells hit the entrenchments, killing and maiming many of them. Kestell would later write about this day in his memoirs.


"I visited the battlefield when the bombardment was at its fiercest", wrote Kestell. "I found that it had often been so intolerable that the burghers were driven out of the earthworks and compelled to seek shelter behind the hill slopes. But they had always returned and kept up a continuous fire on the advancing soldiers. The direction of affairs was, however, in the hands of General Louis Botha, than whom there was no man better qualified to encourage the burghers. Just as at Colenso, so here he rode from position to position, and whenever burghers - as I have related - were losing heart and on the point of giving way under the awful bombardment, he would appear as if from nowhere and contrive to get them back into the positions by 'gentle persuasion', as he expressed it, or by other means." By the 25th of January the British had abandoned Spioenkop and 650 lay dead with many more wounded still lying on the battlefield. The Boer casualties were 59 killed in action, nine died of wounds and 134 wounded.”

At the Battle of Wagon Hill in January 1900 Kestell found himself caught in a running battle between the British and the Boers. The opposing troops were only metres apart and casualties on both sides were high. Kestell proved both his bravery and deep faith by providing assistance to casualties from both sides

The Reverend JD Kestell would be kept very busy seeing to the spiritual needs of the men.


Some months later the Groenkop Battle took place on the 24th and 25th December 1901 when General Christiaan de Wet led an attack on General Rundle's Yeomanry. The Groenkop Battle site is only 20 kms southeast of the village of Kestell.

JD Kestell would become a well known author after the war and wrote several books about his experiences during this time – most notably “Through Shot and Flame” the English translation of “Met die Boere-kommando’s”.

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John Daniel Kestell, b4c2's Timeline

1854
December 15, 1854
1941
February 9, 1941
Age 86
Bloemfontein, Motheo, Free State, South Africa
February 13, 1941
Age 86
Vrouemonument, Bloemfontein