Australian Military History - Boer War 1899 - 1902

Discussion in 'Other Conflicts' started by spidge, Nov 10, 2007.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Australia and the Boer War, 1899 - 1902


    [​IMG]From the time of its acquisition by Britain during the Napoleonic wars, southern Africa had been shared between British colonies and independent republics of Dutch-Afrikaner settlers, known as Boers. Throughout the nineteenth century the two powers had maintained a wary co-existence, although increasingly the question became whether Britain or the Boers should control southern Africa. The two had already fought an inconclusive war in 1880. The discovery of gold and diamonds in the Boer republics in the 1880s intensified rivalry, and British imperial ambition and Boer independence resulted in friction that in 1899 provoked the Boers to attack, in order to forestall what they saw as an impending British conquest.
    As part of the British Empire, the Australian colonies offered troops for the war in South Africa. At least 12,000 Australians served in contingents raised by the six colonies or (from 1901) by the new Australian Commonwealth (about a third of men enlisting twice), and many more joined British or South African colonial units in South Africa. At least 600 Australians died in the war, about half from disease and half in action.
    Australians served mostly in mounted units formed in each colony, often known as "mounted rifles", "bushmen" or "imperial bushmen". They fought in both the British counter-offensive of 1900 which resulted in the capture of the Boer capitals, and in the long, weary guerrilla phases of the war lasting until 1902. Colonial troops were valued for their ability to "shoot and ride", and they performed well in the open war on the veldt. Australians at home generally supported the war, but as it dragged on became disenchanted, especially as they became aware of its effects on Boer civilians, through cases such as the conviction and execution of Lieutenants Morant and Handcock in 1902.
    South Africa, c.1900: eight men of the 2nd South Australian (Mounted Rifles) Contingent, who fought in the Boer War. Third from the left is Trooper Harry "The Breaker" Morant.

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  2. tri-n-b-helpful

    tri-n-b-helpful New Member

    Have you read Kit Denton's book, The Breaker or seen the film? The acting by Jack Thompson was awesome!

    In the book I read how the front-line Australian troops spent some time with the Boer troops and had discussions around the campfire at night. The Aussies were convinced they were fighting on the wrong side! And did we learn? It appears not.:(

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