VINCENT ARDERNE WENTZEL
Private, No. 16344, A Company, 2nd. Regiment (Natal and Orange Free State),
South African Infantry
Wounded in Action, Guache Wood near Villers-Guislain,
died of wounds 22 March 1918 at the age of 20.
He is commemorated at Roye New British Cemetery, Somme, France.
Grave Reference: III. A. 5.
ROYE NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, Somme France.
He was originally buried at MARCHELEPOT BRITISH CEMETERY, used by the British in the early months of 1918 and by the Germans in March-August, 1918, and containing 115 British graves. In 1921 these graves were exhumed and re-buried at Roye New Cemetery.
He was the Son of Mr C. D. Wentzel and Mrs. A. A. Wentzel, of Franschhoek, Cape Province. His Next of Kin in 1921 was his brother, Llewellyn Durand Wentzel, then a Master at Rondebosch Boy’s High School.
Vincent was a clerk with the Chamber of Mines until he enlisted on 13 July 1917 at the age of 20.
He embarked for overseas service on the same day on HMT Llanstephan Castle (a Union Castle ship that was now a Troopship) and arrived on 14 August 1917, he was then taken on strength of the Reserve Battalion (presumably for training) and was transferred to A Company, 2nd. Regiment on 20 February 1918, just one month before his death.
He was wounded at the Battle of Guache Wood, his wounds are recorded as being side, chest and abdomen, wounds of this type were incredibly difficult to treat but it appears he was evacuated some 30 km’s to a Casualty Clearing Station at Marchelport where he died of these wounds.
Possibly the most impressive feat of arms by the South African forces in the war took place in March 1918, when the Germans attacked in Operation Michael. The brigade fought a staunch defence on the first morning of the attack – 21 March 1918 – at Gauche Wood, near Villers Guislain. By 24 March they had carried out a fighting withdrawal to Marrieres Wood near Bouchavesnes and there held on, completely unsupported. They fought on until only some 100 men were left, yet it was only when ammunition ran out that the remnant, many of them wounded, surrendered.
Once again, the South African Infantry Brigade had been all but wiped out. However, new recruits were available and in the next action it would be the turn of our Franschhoek resident, CAREL HENDRIK BAUMJRATS VAN SCHALKWYK, to meet his fate.
Little is known of Vincent’s family (or where they lived in Franschhoek) other than his brother Llewellyn, he is listed as NOK in 1921 so it is assumed their parents died between 1918 and 1921:
Sarah Isabella van der Spuy (Baby) was born on 26 March 1892. On 9 January 1917, she married Llewellyn Durand Wentzel in the Dutch Reformed Church at Philadelphia, Western Cape. After their wedding, the couple settled at Carnarvon in the Karroo where Llewellyn was a school teacher, (Llewellyn had studied at Victoria College, Stellenbosch, later to become Stellenbosch University).
In 1921, they moved to Glamorgan Villa in Kildare Road Newlands, when Llewellyn was appointed a Master at Rondebosch Boys High School where he taught various subjects, including Afrikaans and Bookkeeping/Arithmetic (now called Accountancy). He was also involved in their extracurricular activities as sports Master (co-coach 1st Rugby team) and held the rank of Lieutenant in the Cadet Corps. Llewellyn died on 10 December 1942.
The family subsequently moved to Camp Ground Road, Newlands., after which Baby sold the house and relocated to a flat (Leighwoods) in Kenilworth. In 1974, she moved to Huis Luckhoff in Rosebank where she lived out the last five years of her life. She died on 3 November 1979 and was buried next to Llewellyn in the family plot, no.19277 a/b, in the Dutch Reformed allotment, at Woltemade, Maitland, near Cape Town.