Commandant William Comley Memorial
The monument in memory of Commandant William Charles Comley stands on the grounds of the Apostolic Church (previously the Methodist Church) on Njoli Street, the main street through town. Commandant Comley died in King William's Town as a result of a fever contracted in combat during the Galeka War in 1878.
Who was William Comley? The following piece was found on the Genealogical Society of South Africa website (https://www.eggsa.org/) for those interested.
THE LATE COMMANDANT COMLEY
William COMLEY deserved well of his country. When the Government in sheer desperation resolved illegally to enforce the Burghers Act, and when the proceedings at Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg showed that the attempt to force people to go to the front was utterly useless, it was William COMLEY who first started the idea of getting the farmers to do willingly what they could not be compelled into doing. Quietly working in his own ward, quietly making use of his influence over his Dutch neighbours privately, and talking Dutch easily and good humouredly at private meetings, he got 41 men of his ward to come in with him, armed and mounted, and ready to follow him wherever he went. We all recollect that warm Thursday in January when the burghers met under the oak trees whilst the Magistrate used his eloquence in vain to induce the burghers to go to the front, and Mr. DE WET did his best to no purpose to induce them to volunteer; and when about a half dozen Bowker’s stood on one side looking vainly for recruits who never came. Then when everybody thought the movement would be a complete failure, William COMLEY cried out in Dutch “Let the men who came with me draw up in the street”. The 41 went out immediately and drew up in a line, and answered to their names. This was the turning point. The enthusiasm spread. Man after man joined them. Soon there were 80, before night there were a hundred, and in four days a force of more than 130 men started for the front. This was not all. The enthusiasm spread through the district, and in a couple of weeks Mr. BOTHA came in from Zwager’s Hoek with the information that 100 men were ready to start if Government required their services. Their services were declined, but the bravery of William COMLEY in the field, and his attention to the comfort and safety of his men, procured him such a high character that as soon as it was known that he was to lead the burghers a second time, so many offered themselves that it became possible to form a force of picked men. This force he again led to the front, and of this he is the first whose life has been lost in the war. Mr. COMLEY leaves a wife and two children, as well as an aged mother, and a large number of brothers and sisters to whom for many years he has acted as father. – Somerset Courant.