The Battle of Delville Wood – First World War
From the 14th of July to the 20th of July 1916 the 1st and 2nd South African Infantry Brigade were engaged in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought by South Africans under command of the 9th Scottish Division, the brigades were ordered to attack Delville Wood and to hold it “at all costs”. For 5 nights and 6 days the Brigades fought against units of the German 4th Army Corps. Outnumbered and attacked from 3 sides, the South Africans held the wood until they were virtually destroyed and until reinforcements arrived. 3153 South African soldiers entered the wood and only 143 survived, with only a single tree remaining standing after the battle.
12 of the 28 DHS boys who died in the First World War, were among the 3010 South Africans who died in the 5 day battle. Included in those 12 was Private L Kurz 2nd SA Infantry.
Max Oliva (DPHS 1989, DHS 1994) and his wife Jane Oliva (nee Kurz) and family visited Delville Wood to pay their respects in March 2019. Max presented the South African Delville Wood Memorial Museum with the DPHS and DHS school plaques to commemorate the Prep & DHS Old Boys that lay down their lives for our country. Both school plaques have been mounted in the museum’s foyer in honour of our great schools. To this day both DPHS & DHS still honour Armistice Day in commemoration of the Great War of 1914-1918.
The family were able to see their family member Private L Kurz’s name on the register of the soldiers who fell, as well as on the Thiepval Memorial to the 75 000 soldiers whose bodies were never found. In addition, the curator of the museum pulled out a photograph of the 1st & 2nd SA Infantry division taken in the days preceding the battle. Thank you to Barry Wilson (Headmaster DPHS) and Barry Coskey (Director of Admissions) of DHS for the donations of the school plaques and the loan of the DHS school flag.