31 Mei 1773 – – 1 Junie 1773.
Die heldedaad van Wolraad Woltemade.
Wolraad was in 1708 gebore.
Gedurende 1752 verskyn sy naam die eerste keer op die dienste staat van die Verenigde Oos-Indiese Kompanjie as 44 jarige korporaal.
Wolraad was gedurende 1773 verantwoordelik vir die Kompanjie se melkery.
Gedurende die nag van 31 Mei 1773 breek ‘n strormwind die anker toue van ‘n skip,
“De Jonge Thomas” en strand naby die monding van die Soutrivier.
Wolraad se seun Ludwig was ook in diens van die Kompanjie, en het die rang van korporaal gedra.
Ludwig was verantwoordelik om die wrakstukke,
en dit wat van die skip gespoel het op te pas.
Vroeg die oggend van die 1ste Junie het Wolraad vir Ludwig versterkings geneem.
Met sy aankoms het hy die situasie opgesom en daarna met sy perd, Vonk die see ingeswem om die mense te gaan help.
In totaal het hy tesame met sy perd 14 mense lewens gered. Sewe keer het hy uit en in geswem,
maar die agste keer het die see Wolraad en sy perd se lewens geëis.
In totaal het 138 mense die oggend verdrink, en het afgesien die 14 wat gered was nog 53 ander die strand lewend gehaal.
Wolraad se vrou was na die tyd deur die Kompanjie vergoed, en was ook ‘n skip, “De Held Woltemade” na hom vernoem. Later in 1970 was ook ‘n reeks gedenkseëls ter ere van hom uitgegee, en was ‘n begraafplaas in die Kaap na hom vernoem.
‘n Toekenning vir dapperheid medalje was ook ter ere van hom ingestel.
The Woltemade statue by I. Mitford-Barbeton was erected in honour of Wolraad Woltemade, who saved 14 crew members of the De Jonge Thomas, a ship that ran aground in Table Bay in 1773. Both Woltemade and his horse died during this heroic attempt.
The statue can be seen in the grounds of the Old Mutual, Pinelands. Woltemade was born in Hesse-Schoumberg Germany at the beginning of the18th century and immigrated to the Cape Colony as an adult. He was employed by the Dutch East India Company as a dairyman.
One winter night in 1773, during a gale heavier than that usually experienced during the Cape winter storms, one of five ships anchored in Table Bay – the Jonge Thomas – broke loose from its anchor and began drifting towards the rocky shore at Salt River.
The ship’s captain, Barend Lameren, had become extremely concerned for the 270 passengers aboard, including women and children, as well as valuable cargo from the East. He ordered cannon to be fired so that people on shore would be aware of the impending danger to both passengers and cargo.
When the ship hit the jagged rocks, it broke in half and passengers and crew were thrown into the stormy sea, where many drowned attempting to swim ashore.
There were 30 soldiers on the shore warning people who wanted to help not to attempt to go into the turbulent waters. Woltemade came past on horseback and immediately rode into the waves on his horse and came back with two men, he repeated this dangerous act seven times and succeeded in rescuing 14 people, until his last attempt, when he was overcome by the waves and drowned.
Only 53 people survived that night, 14 of those rescued by Woltemade. The Dutch East India Company honoured his memory by naming a ship Die Held Woltemade and provided for his wife and children. In 1939, The Union of South Africa King’s Medal for Bravery was instituted. The medal depicted the heroic act carried out by Woltemade and in 1970 the highest decoration for bravery by a civilian was called the “Woltemade decoration for Bravery” and was replaced in 1988 by the “Woltemade Cross for Bravery”.
Jan Smuts Drive, Pinelands, Cape Town