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The first English War Balloon, Bechuanaland, 1885 1 year 4 months ago #80000

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From a Sketch by an Officer of the Bechuanaland Field Force

....It was here at Mafeking, in the centre of South Africa (map students will find it in 26 south lat., and 26 east long.) that the great event took place of sending up the first war balloon that ever accompanied a British Army into the field. Although so largely occupied with the Soudan campaign (where just lately a second balloon corps has actually faced the enemy), public attention still watches another British expeditionary force, which has penetrated 1,200 miles into the heart of South Africa, under Sir Charles Warren, who, greatly to his credit, and in spite of pertinacious prophecies by nearly all local authorities, has most successfully accomplished his allotted task without firing a shot. This is chiefly due to the admirably complete arrangements in every department of the force, for the expedition is a model one; hence the Balloon Corps. There are three balloons with the force, travelling in their own waggons wvith all appurtenances. The necessary arrangements for the first ascent were made in a tree-sheltered but open space in the native town of Mafeking, close to which the head-quarters camp was pitched. There was naturally a great concourse of natives, headed by our veteran ally, the native chief Montsioa,eighty years old, and his stalwart son, who took a most keen interest in all the proceedings. The General, Sir C. Warren, was accompanied by Colonel Curtis, of the Inniskillings, Colonel Walker, Chief of the Staff, Mr. G. Baden-Powell, C.M.G., and a large company of officers. Major Elsdale, in command of the Balloon Corps, made the first "tethered" ascent. The General next made an ascent, being towed about over the open veldt, and after him several other officers followed. It was found that the buoyancy of the balloon was greatly aflecteci by the fact that this place is about 5,000 feet above sea level. More experiments are to follow; and it is most satisfactory to see what a profound impression of England's greatness these practical and scientific exhibitions have made on the wondering native mind, and it is indeed to be hoped that our friends the Boers may likewise feel inclined to raise their estimation of British power. Our engraving is from a sketch by Mr. G. Baden-Powell, C.M.G., an officer of the Bechuanaland Field Force.
The Graphic [London], Saturday 6th June 1885
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The first English War Balloon, Bechuanaland, 1885 1 year 4 months ago #80017

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That must have been quite an experience for those men.
Dr David Biggins

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