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Tribute to a Master Battlefields Guide – Ken Gillings

Tourism Tattler joins the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) in commemorating the tragic passing of one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most iconic tourism personalities, Ken Gillings.

“Ken was known for his work as a passionate and extremely knowledgeable battlefields guide. He brought the rich history of the area alive for so many visitors over the years. Our thoughts go out to his family and many friends over this difficult time,” said SATSA’s CEO David Frost.



Ken passed away while snorkelling at Cape Vidal on the afternoon of 09 December 2016, and has left a huge hole in the battlefields tourism industry.

“Ken was on holiday with his family when, according to NetCare, he got into difficulties. He was taken out of the water by locals who performed CPR and rushed Ken to a nearby doctor’s rooms where he was declared dead by paramedics. A life-long military man with family connections to the Dannhauser area, Ken was a great friend of Dundee having brought battlefields tourists here for over 40 years,” reported the Northern Natal Courier.

ken-gillings“On a personal level, I have known Ken for many years. His enthusiasm and willingness to share his extensive knowledge on the Battlefields Route will be sorely missed.” said Des Langkilde, editor of

A retired military man, Ken Gillings has conducted tours around the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal for over 40 years. He conducted tours of an elementary or technical nature to the scene of all actions in KwaZulu Natal. Ken undertook extensive research into South African Battlefields, especially those of KwaZulu-Natal and he wrote numerous articles and books on the subject.

Ken chaired the Anglo-Boer War Centenary Committee in KwaZulu-Natal. As a registered Culture Guide for KwaZulu-Natal, Ken studied the history, heritage and traditions of the “Land of Heaven” since his school days and spent a great deal of time exploring the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal, which he knew so intimately. Ken also lectured extensively on Zulu culture and the Zulu Dynasty.

To quote Ken’s Facebook post on the passing of his friend Alastair Cowan – the force behind the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: “Hamba kahle mfuwethu. And thanks for a job well done. Cease fire, hook up”.

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