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Jan Christian Smuts - Parliament Square, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.052 W 000° 07.614
30U E 699407 N 5709440
Quick Description: This statue of Smuts stands on the northern side of Parliament Square in Westminster. He is honoured as many of his neighbours, in the square, were Prime Ministers or national leaders.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 6/28/2012 12:45:47 PM
Waymark Code: WMEQR2
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Metro2
Views: 12

Long Description:

Jan Christian Smuts was a South African born soldier and statesman who rose to great fame because of his heroic actions during the Boer War. It was his show as a master tactician in South Africa that allowed him to enter the British Army firstly as a General in the First World War and then most famously as a Field Marshal in the Second World War. Smuts is recognised by many as one of the masterminds behind the victory of the allied forces in 1945.

Like other statues in this square this one is also Grade II listed. The Historic England website lists it thus:

Statue of Field Marshal Jan Smuts G.V. II Memorial statue. Erected 1956, by Jacob Epstein. Bronze figure in uniform on granite pedestal.

The statue, standing on a granite plinth, is cast from bronze. The front of the grey, granite plinth is inscribed:

Jan / Christian
Smuts
1870 - 1950

The life-size statue shows Smuts in uniform with his hands clasped behind is back. His gaze is forwards and slightly upwards as if looking to the land of his birth - South Africa. He is leaning forward slightly with his left leg, slightly in front of the right, taking his weight.

The Spartacus Educational website tells us about Smuts:

Jan Christian Smuts was born in Malmesbury, Cape Colony in 1870. Educated at Christ's College, Cambridge he returned to South Africa where he became the state attorney of Johannesburg and a member of Paul Kruger's government. In 1899 Smuts contributed to A Century of Wrong, a pamphlet that explained the Boer case against Britain.

During the Boer War (1899-1902) Smuts established himself as a guerrilla leader of exceptional talent. Smuts was also one of the leading negotiators involved in the production of the Vereeniging Peace Treaty (1902). An opponent of extreme nationalism, Smuts argued that South Africa's future lay in co-operation with Britain.

Smuts held a succession of cabinet posts, including defence minister, under President Louis Botha but on the outbreak of the First World War, Smuts rejoined the army and led South Africa's successful campaign in German East-Africa.

In 1917 David Lloyd George invited Smuts to join the Imperial War Cabinet in London. He soon obtained a high reputation and was an influential figure in devising Allied war strategy. While in England he played a leading role in establishing the Royal Air Force.

At the Paris Peace Conference, Smuts worked closely with Woodrow Wilson, in advocating a League of Nations. Smuts returned to South Africa after the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919 and soon afterwards became prime minister. Smuts lost power in 1924 but later returned to office as deputy prime minister (1933-39) and prime minister (1939-48).

Smuts worked closely with Winston Churchill during the Second World War and was the only man to sign the peace treaties at the end of both wars. Smuts was also a leading figure in the drafting of the United Nations Covenant. Jan Christian Smuts died in 1950.

 

URL of the statue: [Web Link]

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