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On This Day… The Dairy Farmer Wolraad Woltemade

Written by: George Chittenden : 20 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 1st June back in 1773 when a dairy farmer died whilst recusing sailors from a ship that had wrecked near Cape Town. The unfortunate hero was Wolraad Woltemade. He migrated to the Dutch settlement at Cape Town (Kaapstad) and worked for the Dutch East India Company. The ship that wrecked was named De Jonge Thomas, and she was blown into a sandbar in Table Bay where she began breaking up. The incident attracted spectators; some were eager to loot the ship if the opportunity presented itself. A small number of soldiers were dispatched, and the hero of this stories’ son was one of those soldiers.

Wolraad Woltemade travelled to the beach from his farm, only to give his son some provisions, but when he spotted the stricken ship and the poor souls clinging to her hull and drowning when they attempted to swim to shore, he snapped into action. Steering his horse into the waves he approached the wreck and urged sailors to jump free and grab his horse’s tail. Incredibly this brave man rescued fourteen people, before the situation worsened. On his final trip six survivors jumped clear of the wreck and grabbed onto his poor horse who was already exhausted. Unfortunately, it was too many and they all disappeared below the waves. Wolraad quite rightly became a hero and has a suburb of Cape Town named after him.

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