Certainly an interesting choice of illustration for it's cover for a book about the Anglo Boer War, one wonders what George Smith would have made of it?
David Grant wrote: I have just finished this collection of essays looking at the crisis in Imperialism in Literature, Theatre & song developing out of the Boer War.. Initially I was looking for something to explain the "muscular Christianity" of the initial phases of the war; chivalry & attitudes to race & gender . It did not answer many of my questions but it is entralling read without any reference to the War as such. More of the "back home" attitude to the soldiers. A difficult book if you are not an historian seeped in the language of historians but I am glad to have come across it.
Stennett, Alan (2012). 'LINCOLNSHIRE LADS ON THE VELDT: Letters home from Volunteer soldiers in the South African War 1899-1903'
I picked this title up brand new off e-bay. A little pricey at £19.99 for 116 pages.
However, I found it a very interesting read. Written by the grandson of one of the Stennett brothers, a pair of farm boys by the names of Arthur and Herbert, who volunteered for the South African campaign with the Lincolns.
Their campaign is followed by way of letters sent home from SA, the author's notes of the war and from his visit to South Africa to retrace his ancestor's footsteps. There are also copious amounts of photographic images of the Lincolns going about their duties.
In addition, a Private David Wilkie sent reports to the Lincolnshire Echo reporting of the progress of the Lincoln's campaigning and an overview of what he could see of proceedings (no censorship of mailings in those days!). A good selection of these accompany the letters making for an enjoyable journey through the book.
There are a number of things which struck me and which are common throughout any account of Tommy Atkins' Anglo Boer War experience as follows;
1---food and the boring monotony of army rations. Any addition of fruit or fresh meat was a lucky event.
2---the awful weather, constantly getting soaked to the skin.
3---homesickness. Letters from home were a lifeline to lads on the' slog'.
4---the hope and opportunity of fulfilling duty to the Queen, empire, regiment.
5---faith in God to bring them through their trials.
6--- pride at being present at Lord Roberts' victory parade in Pretoria in 1900.
7---an important note to QSA collectors in that as we know the Lincolnshire Regiment the Stennett brothers served with were involved in the bloody events at Zillikat's Nek. One could assume that both men were present at this engagement. However, the letters home provide evidence of whether present or not in a way that only killed, wounded or captured normally would. Herbert was indeed present as detailed in his letters home and found it to be a harrowing ordeal he was lucky to return unscathed from. But Arthur had been seconded temporarily to one of the hospitals in Pretoria as an orderly and so avoided the regiment's most severe test of the war.
There is more to the story of the brothers Stennett, Herbert returned to SA and enlisted with the British South Africa Police and eventually took on a police farm in the Matopos Hills in present day Zimbabwe. Arthur returned to Lincolnshire.
RED ROSES ON THE VELDT
Lancashire Regiments in the Boer War, 1899-1902 (2000). Carnegie Publishing
Author: Lt. Col. John Downham
Recently read and one of those you can't put down until you have reached the last pages!
The author takes us through the history of the Lancashire Regiments in the South African campaign by beginning with a short introduction to the beginning of the conflict.
We then proceed through chapters 1 through 3 which deal with the departures and arrivals in South Africa of each regiment and their involvement in the major battles and reverses of the early phases and the Great Advance.
Downham quotes from letters home and diaries which add a deep appreciation from the reader of the hardships endured by Tommy Atkins during long marches, extreme conditions and intense combat against a worthy foe.
There are amusing anecdotes from the regular foot soldiers which inject some typical squaddie humour to a tough environment. One stands out to me where the infantry are told to be ready to stand to at a moments notice. The alarm goes up and the occupants oa tent scramble to get out of the tent and men are trying to grab the same rifle, webbing etc in the dark or two men trying to get into the same pair of trousers!
Perhaps alot of the accidental gunshot wounds were inflicted in this way?
I also have to comment on the crossing of a spruit where a certain Pte. Lombard slipped on a stepping stone and received a soaking. The spruit became known as Lombards Spruit thereafter!
Chapter 4 entitled 'Boots and Saddles' deals with the Guerilla phase from garrisoning johannesburg to the raising of the Mounted Infantry(to which one battalion almost unanimously claimed knowledge of horses in order to be considered!).
Much convoy work was 'enjoyed' by the infantry along with blockhouse duties.
We are informed by diarist Sergeant Hackett of this period of operations and receive welcome insight.
A detailed account of a game hunting trip by Colour Sergeant James Ferguson and his mate Clr. Sgt. Pat Lydon. Which turned out to be quite an adventure makes an entertaining tale.
Of particular interest is the account of the siege of the little town of Zeerust. Another small scale siege and investment by the boer pluckily defended.
The book culminates in the boer surrender and the General Bruce Hamilton organising a dinner for the 600 men of the Vryheid Commando after their surrender. Downham leaves us with the thought; 'perhaps it was, after all, the last of the Gentlemens wars.'
Finally, there are sections listing awards to the Lancashire Regiments and also a Roll of Honour for those men that died, were wounded or taken prisoner.
Thoroughly recommended reading.
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