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Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Boer War

The Boers were European settlers of the land now called the Republic of South Africa. They fought for, and lost, some of their land in the Boer War, which was fought from 1899 to 1902.

The origins of the war lie in an incident when "Jameson's raiders," a group of British Uitlanders, tried to take over Johannesburg, the capital of Transvaal, in 1895. They failed, but Brit­ish troops gathered along the Transvaal border in support of the British settlers. Transvaal and the Orange Free State then declared war on Great Britain.

After the Boer War broke out a student called Alexander Fleming and two of his brothers joined a Scottish regiment. This turned out to be as much a sporting club as anything; they spent their time honing their shooting, swimming, and even water polo skills, and never made it to the Transvaal

The Boers had about 60,000 men, who were fine horsemen and good shots with their guns. The British had old-fashioned weapons and not enough horses. They suffered many defeats before they defeated the Boers.

British soldiers fighting in the Boer War were issued with the first composite emergency ration packs containing two tins to be used only in extremity. One held four ounces of beef concentrate and the other five ounces of cocoa paste.

In 1900, Queen Victoria sent her New Year's greetings to the British troops stationed in South Africa during the Boer War in the form of a specially molded chocolate bar.

Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the Scout movement first won fame during the Boer War as the defender of Mafeking. The siege of the British garrison at Mafeking by Boer forces lasted 217 days and was finally broken on May 17, 1900. Colonel Robert Baden Powell was the British garrison command.

Picture from The Graphic of Boers firing from their trenches at the siege.

The color khaki was first used in the Afghan War in 1880 — the color was considered good camouflage. It was not until the Boer War that the khaki battle dress was universally adopted.
The Treaty of Vereeniging ended the Boer War and ensured British control of South Africa. It was signed at Melrose House, Pretoria, on May 31, 1902. Transvaal and the Orange Free State became British colonies.

Peace conference at Vereeniging

The Boer leaders were not punished for their part in the war. Several of them held posts in the colonial governments. Four years later the two colonies were granted independent government, which led to the formation of the Union of South Africa.

Sources, Food For Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles Of The World by Ed Pearce

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