Syrian Blood

Posted: December 3, 2015 by sgtpegasus in War!
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To war we march once again. Its becoming an all too common occurrence in recent years. The British Government has tonight voted to send Britain to war in Syria, supposedly against the Daesh terrorist organisation. MPs from various parties voted for the air strikes by a large majority, despite numerous polls suggesting many British citizens were against such actions in Syria.

Since the year of my birth in 1994, there has only been one year – ONE YEAR – that British forces were not engaged in combat – be it ground, air or naval – against a foe in one form or another. 1997 was that year. The British population are seemingly in agreement that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent 4 year war – during which the ideas for Daesh took hold – was a big mistake and was indeed illegal. Yet somehow, many people – particularly MPs – seem to have forgotten about that and the chaos that ensued and are blindly following the media driven line of ‘We Must Defeat ISIS By Force’. I’d love to know how they think these bombing strikes will help, because I see no clear strategy, no clear thinking and no clear solution to this at all.

When the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, Western governments instantly started backing any anti-Assad rebels in the region. Millions of pounds worth of arms were sent out to them in order to remove what we were all told was another ‘evil dictatorship’ from the Middle East – now where have we heard that before?  Yet the Western governments seem to have totally ignored the lessons from history. Look at the countries where Western governments have armed rebels before; Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. Do those names sound familiar? Within a decade or less of arming these rebels – in those cases, Viet Cong, Muhjahideen/Taliban, Daesh – the West has then gone to war against organisations that they have armed. So it was hardly a surprise when these anti-Assad rebels suddenly told the world they hated the West too and declared war on anyone not on their side.

The thing that worries me most about these actions is that we are playing completely into the hands of Daesh with these air strikes. Where do you think their support comes from? Certainly doesn’t come from love and acceptance within Western societies. It comes from violence, segregation and hatred. Sympathy for the group will sky rocket with every single passing air strike and recruits will flock to Daesh, eager to avenge the death of their children in a UN air strike. Daesh NEED the bombing to happen, otherwise they will peter out. They cannot keep fighting forever, their supply of numbers will dwindle until it is gone if they are given no grounds for support. However, that now won’t happen. They will grow in numbers, they will grow in efficiency and their attacks on the West will increase, so don’t be surprised the next time a bomb goes in London, you’ll know the cause behind it. The only way to beat Daesh convincingly, is to strangle them from their supplies. Stop the Turks buying their oil, stop Saudi Arabia selling them weapons and supplies, stop giving young men reason to join them. Without that crucial support, no militant organisation can sustain combat efficiency.

Another worry is what ramifications getting involved in Syria could have. With the Russians, Chinese and US all sending forces to the region, it becomes increasingly likely that this conflict will quickly escalate to something much worse. Every major war starts with a small scale conflict in a fiery region. The First World War is a prime example, escalating after tensions in the Balkans and culminating with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sarajevo. That sparked the First World War, so what will Syria spark? We know that Russia and China back Assad, we know that the West backs anti-Assad rebels – as long as they’re not Daesh – and we know that everyone is against Daesh, apart from Turkey and Saudi Arabia who seem quietly supportive. Its a relatively small region for such a large conflict with so many ‘players’ so ‘friendly’ fire incidents and worsening tensions are bound to happen. The consequences of this are something that doesn’t bear thinking about. Are we heading down a much worse path than it seems. Most of those supporting these barbaric strikes are comfortable with doing so largely because the danger doesn’t effect them, they don’t have to worry about bombs hitting their homes and killing their families, but if this escalates, what some may call ‘poetic justice’ – I personally wouldn’t call it that – may occur. Those people supportive of the bombing are also the ones that seem most outwardly concerned about the lives and well being of British service men and women, which everyone should be really, its their bravery that keeps us safe at night. However, these people don’t seem to realise that they are sending ‘our troops’ into danger by doing this, if a British Typhoon goes down then it will be mourned nationwide, without the realisation that it wouldn’t have happened without the bombing raids. Even wider, if this conflict escalates, normal people will get dragged into this; for example, me, my brother and all of my friends are well within conscription age should this conflict escalate. I don’t mind putting my life on the line to protect Britain and everyone I love – I had two great-great Uncles killed in the First World War, to fight is in my blood – but if its as a result of this ridiculous, pathetic and illegal war (Assad has not invited UN support into Syria so this is technically an illegal war) then I will be more than cheesed off about being blown up by a Russian mortar whilst trying to protect the outskirts of Munich.

As a side note, I should point out that I hope the bombs do smash straight into Daesh targets and somehow totally avoid civilian areas – obviously won’t happen but what can we do if we don’t hope? Daesh are vile, fascist murderers and deserve the die a slow painful death, but this bombing campaign will not bring that eventuality about, history has proved that time and time again. 340,000 people have already died in this conflict. Three hundred and forty thousand. Let that number sink in. Trying to claim these attacks are justifiable due to the murder of Alan Henning or the attacks in Paris doesn’t work, logic doesn’t allow it. Bombing campaigns like this will just cause more of these horrific events to happen.

I’m currently fuming with anger about tonight’s happenings, and I can only hope and pray that the innocent civilians caught up in these raids can forgive this country and those of us that are powerless to help, we are not worthy of our place on this planet. It won’t be Daesh that suffer from these attacks, it will be Syrian civilians, who are sick and tired of warfare and just want to live their lives. Its Syrian blood we’ll have on our hands.

May you stand strong, comrades. It appears there may be dark days ahead.

Robin Neillands

Robin Neillands

It was only recently that I found out that Robin Neillands (former Royal Marine with 45 Commando in Cyprus and Middle East in the 1950’s), without question my favourite and in my opinion the greatest military historian of all time, died as long ago as 2006.

This raised many emotions within me; confusion, anger, annoyance, sadness and admiration. Its angered me that so few people have heard of him, I know its a fairly specialised area admittedly and not one that is easily understood, but why have so few people heard of a man who speaks so much sense and truth. Ah yes, that’s why, because he shows the ridiculousness of American made World War Two myths. For example, taking D-Day as an example, it is widely accepted that the US troops saved the day from Montgomery’s failing plan as the British & Canadians were too slow in capturing Caen. However, anyone with even the slightest understanding of military tactics can see straight through that (suggesting numerous Americans, not all, do not have that in their arsenal) and Robin Neillands exposes it wonderfully, using official military histories from all countries involved. He shows how that the plan all along was for the British and Canadian armies to draw the vicious German Panzer divisions into a long, bloody fight around Caen, it didn’t matter too much whether it was taken or not, just as long as it preoccupied the Germans enough to stop them driving their professional Panzer divisions against the mostly untested US troops (I could and have written a whole essay on this, see my 2nd blog post).

Yet somehow, SOMEHOW, this has been totally overlooked in favour of books like Overlord by Max Hastings which, without wanting to sound too harsh, is a load of crap. Hastings happily swallows all the American myths and writes them as truth, hence why Overlord is such a popular book. Oddly, its tough to even blame Hollywood films for this, they are just repeating what some American historians and even an alarming majority of US Army officers, past and present, have laid out as the truth. The main reason being, I suspect, that the various tensions with Montgomery, who was, as Neillands happily admits, was a tad hot headed and hard to like, drove numerous US Generals to dismiss anything he said as rubbish and would therefore find anything that looked like a fault and run with it, despite Monty’s wonderful and incredible victory in Normandy.

This is why it has angered me that hardly anyone has heard of the brilliant man, people seem to think he attacks America and is totally obsessed with defending everything Montgomery did, despite Neillands readily admitting and showing Monty’s numerous mistakes and faults and the former’s unshrinking admiration of US troops. The relative lack of ‘fame’ Neillands got disgusts me, though I can’t really say it surprises me, seeing as he shows how the US Army was more at fault during Operation Market Garden, universally regarded as a British failure (if you want to know how, either read Neillands’ book The Battle for the Rhine 1944 or wait for me to do an essay on it, though Neillands’ book will blow anything I write out of the water) and an operation that failed completely because of the destruction of the British 1st Airborne, an utterly ridiculous myth that is shredded by Neillands.

Anyway, it truly has saddened me that this great man was dead before I fully took hold of my love for military history, also that I’ll never get to meet him either, something I would have absolutely loved.

I do plan to put an essay up soon about Operation Market Garden, so bare with me on that. It may not be before I go on holiday (to revisit Normandy, for obvious reasons).

Soldiers, you are dismissed!

RAFairman's Blog

On the day that the Afghan government said it had taken over responsibility for combat operations across the whole of the country and after 12 years of invasion, war, occupation and counter-insurgency the Americans announced that they are to start diplomatic talks with the Taliban.  

This is good news.  Soldiers may fight wars, but it is politicians who not only start them, the politicians getting around a table and talking also finish them.  In a dirty and nasty war which has cost over 35,000 people’s lives, the only real way to come out with a solution to the annual cycle of fighting is to discuss it.  Talk about it.  Consider the other side and compromise.

This is not a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of strength.  It is only through talking that the problems that run so deep in that country can be solved.  It is a…

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Incredible picture of the British artillery barrage at El Alamein.

Incredible picture of the British artillery barrage at El Alamein.

War is always a defining feature of an Empire, for without wars it would be much harder to gain land, and the British Empire was no different. In the majority of Britain’s wars, they came out victorious, but there were the few in which they cut it very close and almost paid a heavy price, all played a major significance in the British Empire in Africa.
Aside from the Crimean War, Britain had faced no major war since the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 until the Zulu War in 1879. The war didn’t have a huge effect on the Empire itself but it did spark almost 70 years of warfare in some place or another. In their own way, almost every war played a part in adding to the Empire. The smaller colonial wars, such as the Anglo-Afghan wars, mostly added to the territory and played their part in strengthening the Empire.
Both the Zulu War (1879) and the First Boer War (1880-1881) went little way to making the British public worry about the Empire, even the lengthy, yet magnificently fought, Mahdist War (1884-1889) in Sudan didn’t dampen the atmosphere of jingoism in the British public and government. It wasn’t until the Second Boer War (1899-1902) that a small minority of the British public started to go off the idea of imperialism and have second thoughts about colonial rule.
The Second Boer War did not have this effect due to the result, it was the length and cost of the war that shocked the British public, along with the extremely controversial and inhumane use and condition of the concentration camps, it was Britain’s own equivalent of Viet Nam. By the end of the war, there were 500,000 British troops in South Africa and there was a staggering amount of casualties for what was more or less just a colonial war. These figures shocked the nation and the stories of hardship and suffering only furthered the growing murmurings of discomfort as an Empire nation. Battles such as the massacre at Spion Kop and the ‘Black Week’ trio (Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso) opened the eyes of the British public and government to the simple fact that the war was not going to be won easily. It also, worryingly for the British, opened the eyes of the world that defeating Britain in battle was far from impossible. The Transvaal President, President Kruger, stated that “The British will never reach Pretoria”, a statement that was welcomed with glee in his ancestral homeland of Germany.
The eventual outcome of the war was successful for Britain as the Empire gained Transvaal and the Orange Free State and it removed the last of the ‘powerful’ colonial enemies. However, in gaining all the land it had in the Scramble for Africa, the Empire now found former rivals with European enemies coming back to the fore. In Sudan, the British nearly clashed with the French in the Fashoda Incident (1898). Throughout the rest of Africa, the British were unofficially challenged. The German control of South East Africa was primarily to stop the British having complete naval dominance of South Africa as the territory was perfect for launching ships into the African and Indian Oceans.
The First World War saw little fighting in Africa, especially compared to the vast desert campaigns of the Second World War, but that did not mean there wasn’t anything to gain in Africa for the victor. With the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the war stripping Germany of almost all of her assets, there was left a small African empire to be divided. The British gained a small strip of Cameroon, most of Togo and a large chunk of German East Africa. It may not seem like much when the cost of the war is taken into account but the British had got some very good areas of land. “Britain emerged from the conflict with greatly extended imperial possessions that stretched unbroken from the Suez Canal to Singapore and from Cairo to the Cape.” In the West, they were gaining extra footholds for their trading bases, therefore increasing trade. The First World War had also had quite an effect upon the mind-set of the people of the Empire. A huge amount of soldiers in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) came from the Empire, with whole divisions from India, Canadian and Australian divisions and the famed King’s African Rifles regiment from East Africa. The people of the Empire were, on the whole (South Africa only passed their vote to help Britain by one vote), prepared to fight for Britain, showing the vast importance of having such an enormous Empire.
However, like with any war, there was still an economic cost for the victors. Britain’s previously booming economy had been hit incredibly hard during the war so the British government was forced into borrowing millions from the United States. This also meant that the British had to give up some of its assets in order to help repay the debt in the interwar years and after World War Two. This meant losing numerous territories and therefore trading opportunities and manpower, partly due to the USA’s anti-imperial viewpoint. The British didn’t lose any major territories but it showed the British that not all war would be good for the Empire.
In the years after the First World War however, the British did start to lose their grip on some areas of territory. In 1919, there was the third Anglo-Afghan War, leading to full Afghan independence and the loss of the tender grip Britain had on Afghanistan: “The Graveyard of Empires.” Also in 1919, there was the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) where, after centuries of fighting and ceasefires, the British granted Southern Ireland Dominion Status as the Irish Free State. This was not a trend that continued, however, as the British weren’t even involved in another conflict until the British-Zionist conflict of 1938, which lasted ten years and eventually led to the British withdrawal and the creation of Israel in 1948.

British Infantry storm a knocked out German tank.

British Infantry storm a knocked out German tank.

The Second World War posed the Empire with easily its greatest threat yet – a threat to the British mainland itself, and therefore a threat to the entire Empire, unseen since the days of Napoleon. Unlike the First World War, there were also threats to the colonies themselves. Throughout half of the war (1940-1943) there was intensely heavy fighting in North Africa through Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The British were not properly in control in Egypt but still had a military presence there. However, within Egypt lay the Suez Canal, a vital passage for support and trade to India; this to Britain was almost as important to defend as Britain itself. The fighting in Africa during the war was almost entirely constricted to North Africa (with the only other significant fighting coming in Abyssinia with the Italians) and as a result, few of Britain’s remaining colonies in Africa saw direct fighting, unlike Singapore and Burma in Asia.
However, similar to the First World War, the British were left with a crippling debt despite being victorious and were forced to sell off even more assets. Though once again, there were no major territories sold off in Africa. The Second World War also seemed to mark a turning point in the Empire. After the war, the British gained no more territory anywhere in the world and the Empire in Africa had grown to its peak. This does not mean that the Empire was on its way out though.
Another effect of the Second World War was the impact of the returning soldiers from regiments such as the King’s African Rifles. They had seen how fairly they had been treated in the Army yet they were treated as second class citizens when they arrived back home. They had also been told they were fighting to keep out the Nazi oppressors which was contradictory information, they were fighting for Britain who were ruling over the home lands of these soldiers, they were going to be ruled over by someone else either way. This helped to drive independence movements after the war. The returning soldiers wanted the same equality they’d seen in the Army and the same equality that they had supposedly fought for.
In Africa, the next challenge was the Mau Mau Uprising of 1952 (1952-1956) in Kenya. For the first time since the Second Boer War, the British faced a threat within one of their own African colonies. The threat came from the “Kikuyu-dominated anticolonial group called Mau Mau” who were determined to try and oust the British and European settlers from the ‘White Highlands’. The rebellion was violently put down from elements of the British Army with some controversy amid the treatment of prisoners. The war was not a huge one, no British Army personnel were killed, 32 white settlers were, and there was no huge strategic result other than the crushing of the rebellion. However, the rebellion has been said to have helped set the stage for the granting of Kenyan independence in 1963. This war gave hope to other African nations that were pushing for independence, it didn’t necessarily mean that other nations would resort to war but it showed that by doing something and bringing a case to the British that you could gain independence. It has also been said to have influenced the Ghanaian push for independence. It signalled the beginning of the end for British dominance in Africa.

British troops at the Suez Canal

British troops at the Suez Canal

What seemed to be the final straw for the British in Africa, however, was the controversial Suez Crisis of 1956-1957. The crisis came about as a result of the Egyptian government being led by Gamer Abdel Nasser, a man who the West suspected to have Soviet links due to arms deals with the Russians. He decided that the Suez Canal should be nationalised, therefore removing Britain’s majority stock and control of the canal. Britain’s Prime Minister of the time, Anthony Eden, struck up a secret deal with the French authorities, who were also desperate to regain control of the canal, and the Israeli authorities who were keen to attack Egypt. The British and French couldn’t legally declare war on Egypt to regain control of the canal so, when Israel declared war on Egypt, as had been planned, the British and French were to go in as peacekeepers, using the barrier of the Suez Canal to keep the two sides apart. The plan failed as the British and French withdrew and the secret was revealed to the world. This showed the British in a terrible light and more or less destroyed any more support for British imperialism. Both the British public and the people of the Empire saw the corruption behind Empire due to this war. Added to this, Anthony Eden’s successor in office, Harold McMillan, rapidly increased decolonisation as to appease the United States in order to maintain the famed ‘special relationship’.

I think war had a huge significance upon the British Empire in Africa; it built the Empire to its peak but also helped to bring around its demise. Without the wars fought once they were there, the British would’ve struggled to keep what they had in the face of Boer or Zulu opposition. However, the wars they fought so hard in to keep their colonies; World War Two, Mau Mau Uprising and Suez Canal would prove to be the British’ downfall. If the Second World War had not been fought, the British would not have been in the position of being so independent on the United States and so economically crippled, the Empire could’ve kept efficiently running. Whilst the Mau Mau Uprising and its result was no fault of the British, they still lost colonies and territories because of it, whilst the Suez Crisis was the nail in the coffin for the African Empire, it was all decline from there on. All in all, I believe that war had a massive significance in the British Empire in Africa from 1879-1980, it was the cause of its spectacular rise to power and its feeble, almost embarrassing ending.

 British Infantry

The Boer War was possibly the largest test the British Empire had faced since the American Revolution of the 1770s; it pushed the Empire to its very limits and showed the world the British Empire was not the force it once was. It also created huge divides in British society, media and government, with a number of speeches in Parliament denouncing the war and its practices.
The war started after an ultimatum issued by the Orange Free State government to the British was rejected and all Boer Republics (Orange Free State and Transvaal) declared war against the British Empire. The ultimatum called for the withdrawal of all British troops from the borders of the Boer Republics and was swiftly rejected by the British. The tension had been high since the end of the First Boer War but escalated after the discovery of gold and diamonds in the Transvaal which highly increased British interest in combining the Boer Republics into the British Empire. After 3 years of fighting a numerous bloody noses, the British finally defeated the Boers and gained control of the Boer Republics.

However, the war was not as favourably looked on as most other colonial wars the British Empire fought. The war was looked at with criticism and disgust at home and further afield, not just because of the embarrassment of the world’s most feared and undefeated army taking 3 whole years to defeat a ‘rag-tag’ bunch of farmers and making hard work of it, but also because of the way the war was fought. The British had been the first to coin the phrase “concentration camps” which were used to house the Boer families that were left as refuges as a result of Britain’s “Scorched Earth” policy, which itself caused a huge amount of concern. These concentration camps caused huge debate and criticism due to the appalling conditions endured by the occupants.
David Lloyd George, at the time just an MP for Caernarvon Boroughs, and John Dillon MP (East Mayo) raised the issue in Parliament on 25 February 1901 and brought the issue of illegal warfare to the fore. Dillon claimed that the Boer fighters were simply scattered bands of ‘Kommando’ fighters and in fact nothing to do with the native Boer population, thus making it even more abhorrent that Boer families were being forced to live in the afore mention concentration camps. He proved this by quoting two letters sent between Lord Roberts and the Boer kommandant General Botha. Roberts told Botha that he could no longer accept Boer women and children entering the camps as the conditions were too appalling (showing the British were aware of the conditions in the camps) and that Boer families would be left with the Boer guerrilla fighters if there farm was burnt down as part of the “Scorched Earth” policy. This caused Botha to reply saying that the Scorched Earth policy was not needed by the British anyway, as the guerrilla fighters were spread out over large distances and not housed with any of the native Boer population, as some of the British High Command and more Conservative MPs seemed to believe. This suggests that the British were aware of the fact they were committing numerous war crimes and breaching the law of war. This caused shockwaves throughout the world, when the conditions in camps were made public, the opposition to the war at home massively increased and the British drew vicious and increasing criticism from within and from watching powers.
This source is backed up by David Lloyd George’s speech in Parliament on 17 June 1901, where he claims that Lord Kitchener was completely aware of the deaths in the camps and even admitted the exact figures of those that died every year. Kitchener confirmed numerous claims that the death rate in the camps was as much as 450 per thousand. Both of these sources can be relatively trusted as it is from the time of the conflict and it has the British High Command admitting the figures that people have claimed to be true are actually correct. The sources also shed light onto the opposition to the war at home, with numerous MPs in Parliament voicing opposition to the war, creating a split in government possibly showing that the Empire was weak.
The failures of Britain in the war were not just on a humanitarian level. Throughout the war, the British Army struggled to contain the Boers, pouring huge amount of resources into relieving the sieges of Mafeking, Ladysmith and Kimberly in the early stages of the war, with the siege of Mafeking lasting 217 days from October 1899 until May 1900. The guerrilla tactics of the Boers was a serious problem for the British to overcome, with Allan Mallinson saying in his 2009 book The Making of the British Army, “To many a distant observer it looked like a war as ill matched as David’s fight with Goliath had first seemed. But David started well…” The British Army’s streak of being undefeated in a full blown war looked to be close to being ruined, with eyes all over the world watching in amazement, with one German general, Count Von Bülow, claiming with glee “The vast majority of German military experts believe that the South African war will end with a complete defeat of the English… Nobody here believes the English will ever reach Pretoria.” This suggested that not only did the world not believe that the British would ever be successful against the Boers, but also that a large portion of the world, particularly the major powers, wanted to see the British defeated.
However, the news was not all bad, after the disastrous defeat at Spion Kop, “the steel began to re-enter the army’s soul – as if the hill were a sort of watershed” and there were even joyous celebrations in Britain at the news that the Siege of Mafeking had been lifted and the British force there was relieved.
However, even after the British had dispersed the Boer forces in the last pitched battle of the war (Bergendal in August 1900), public support for the war decreased after that, the longer the war went on, the more support waned for the war, and, most importantly, questions about the concentration camps started to arise. The speeches from the Houses of Parliament show the clear split in government at the time, with many Liberal MPs desperate to put an end to the suffering in the camps, most even wanted an end to the war itself. This split showed a weakness in the British Empire, showing a divide which, if exploited in the right way as the Boers nearly did, could be fatal for the British.

Those watching from afar had also seen this. A quote from Allan Mallinson suggests this to be true, “…there were gloating eyes in Europe and further afield: was this all it took to bring the British Empire practically to its knees? There were covetous as well as gloating French eyes on colonial Africa, too, and opportunistic Russian eyes on the North-West Frontier of India. Most menacing of all, there was calculating German eyes scrutinizing every detail of the fighting…” This war suggested the Empire was much weaker than its outwards appearance, its gleaming self-portrayal as an undefeatable military power was simply a façade. This also suggests a great effect on the Empire itself; it gives the impression that if Boer farmers could challenge the British Empire, then a stronger, well organised military force anywhere in the Empire could too couldn’t it?
However, this is not necessarily true. Rudyard Kipling, famous poet and outspoken commentator of the war, said at the time “Let us admit fairly… we have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good.” This suggests that, whilst the British knew they had been dealt a bit of a bloody nose by the Boers, they had also learnt from the mistakes made in the war. They had come face to face with guerrilla warfare and, whilst using fairly brutal tactics to defeat it, had come out victorious. Kipling was right in his prediction of the British learning from the war, for decades to come, the lessons of the Boer War served the British well all over the Empire, crushing rebellions in Borneo, Malaya and Kenya which were all fought using guerrilla tactics. The war could be said to have even strengthened the British Empire, adding a steel and resilience that wasn’t there in practice before.
The war also drew in a huge amount of resources from the rest of the Empire. Once the Boers had been defeated on the battlefield, the few hard liners left, led by Christian de Wet, waged a guerrilla war and caused the British no end of problems. Soldiers as far away from Canada fought for the British in the war, and suffered in just the same way. The letters of Trooper W. H. Snyder, of B. Squadron, 2nd Canadian Contingent, show the appalling conditions all troops went through simply to defeat the Boers but also have a surprising chirpiness in their tone, suggesting the troops themselves were confident the war would be worth it for the sake of the Empire and were happy enough to fight and save the reputation of the Army and of the Empire. It suggests that dominions of the Empire were actually in support of the war, much more so than the actual British themselves.
However, not all soldiers share the views of Trooper Snyder. Thomas Packenham, author of “The Boer War”, interviewed remaining veterans many years after and was given a completely different view. Veterans he interviewed said “It was a cruel war, it was … We were half-starved all the time … I never saw the point of it … It was the worst war ever … Johnny Boer, he used to shoot niggers like you’d shoot a dog … It was all for the gold mines.” This suggests that not all soldiers were in support of the war, and were in fact just trying to survive rather than keep the integrity of the Army and the Empire intact.

Finally, probably one of the biggest impacts of the war upon the Empire was the Treaty of Vereeniging which had a clause in it which demanded the British paid £3 million of war debts to the Boers, despite the fact they were the victors. This not only put even more of a strain on Britain after pouring so many resources into the war in the first place, but it was also embarrassing. After being pushed all the way by a group of farmers, they then had to also pay them a huge sum for beating them. The Treaty also demanded repatriation of Boer prisoners of war and generous relief for victims of the war, the British did not feel like they’d won a war, they were being punished for it.

In conclusion, the Boer war had a long lasting effect upon the British Empire, some positive effects and some negative effects. The British were certainly less foolhardy in more colonial wars in the future and were much more efficient in crushing their enemies, the war taught the Army new things and advanced them to a new level of warfare. However, the war also encouraged nationalist uprisings in many colonies over the next few decades, particularly in Ireland where Irish nationalists sympathised with the Boer struggle against the British. It also encouraged other European powers to challenge the British as it showed that the Empire was not as strong as it first appeared. Finally, the war caused huge divides in British politics and society for many years, the use of concentration camps still causes controversy today, over 100 years since the war ended.

Boers at Spion Kop

Boers at Spion Kop

1. (Secondary source)
2. The Making of the British Army: From the English Civil War to the War On Terror – Allan Mallinson – Chapter: No End of a Lesson (Secondary source)
6. The Boer War – Thomas Pakenham (Secondary source)
7. war#S4V0089P0_19010225_HOC_520 Irish Party “Pro-Boer” amongst other criticisers of the war.
8. David Lloyd George on “concentration camps” and state of affairs past Bloemfontein.
9. Illegal nature of the way the war was carried out – “scorched earth” policy.


Posted: June 11, 2013 by sgtpegasus in War!
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Okay, I did say I’d write something by late December and we all (all being probably just me) know that I didn’t do that. Its now early/mid June and I plan to put something up TONIGHT. Again, its going to be something I did for college but I’m making up for not putting anything up because I’m now putting TWO (YES TWO) pieces up!

The first one is about the Second Boer War and is written using sources (which I will put up with the essay) and the second is about the effect of warfare upon the British Empire in Africa. I’ll put them up post haste!



Posted: November 26, 2012 by sgtpegasus in Update
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I really expected myself to post more often than I have but I’ve been snowed under at college with coursework, pointless essays and UCAS application stuff. I did start one on the British role in Operation Market Garden and the ensuing disaster at Arnhem but I lost my way with that one, got distracted by other work. I’ll attempt to finish that one but I’m not promising anything and it probably won’t be great. Failing that, I’ve become completely obsessed with the Napoleonic Wars, principally the Peninsula War and the Hundred Days War culminating with Waterloo (owing mainly to the section of Allan Mallinson’s “The Making of the British Army” that covers the 2 decades of war with Napoleon). Its a battle which I’ve always been fascinated in and could describe the events of what happeneded in Year 4 so I’ll probably think up an essay question about that. If not before then I will get it up once the Christmas holidays start (21st December, yeah, the day we’re all supposed to die) so expect it some time around then. I can’t promise it’ll be brilliant but I see no reason not to try. Hope the tiny number of you who have ever read this enjoyed my last one about D-Day, any feedback WHATSOEVER is appreciated.

Many thanks!