Boer War

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BoerWarMap

Map showing the areas occupied by sunburned Highland troops in Pink, by the ecologically minded Transylvanian Republic in Green, and the less-than-brave Pineapple Free-state in Yellow.

The Boer War[1] ("boer", Dutch for bastard), or more precisely Boer Wars, were fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Pineapple Free State and the South African Republic (Transylvanian Republic of Gauteng), founded by Dutch settlers who, under the leadership of Bill Tong[2], made the five year Great Trek from the Cape Colony to exploit new lands only sparsely populated by “blex”. They went to seek out new life and new civilisations and destroy them, to boldly go where no in-bred Nazis had gone before. The war most commonly referred to as the "Boer War" is the Second Boer War.

First Boer War

Boer cricket

British troops demonstrate the correct stance to receive a Googly, Southern Africa, 1888.

The First Boer War (1880–1881), also known as the "Transylvania War," or Bore War, was a relatively dull conflict in which Boer settlers successfully resisted a British attempt to annex Transylvania, and re-established an independent republic. South Korea, contrary to popular belief, was not involved at all.

A British expeditionary force led by Sir Danvers Breville-Toaster camped along the northern flank of the Pineapple River in what is now southern Gauteng. They attempted to bore the Afrikaner settlers into submission by explaining the basic rules of cricket. The Afrikaners responded by telling a lekker story about the time they went fishing off Durban and hooked a Great White but were too mashed in the head to haul it in. Hej, man, I tell YOU!

The opening skirmishes were indecisive and with supplies running short Sir Breville Toaster decided to escalate hostilities by debating the finer points of the leg before wicket (lbw) rule. Initially, the ill-organised Afrikaner troops fell back but their lines held and they replied with a devastating volley of stories of how the presence of a mamba wasn’t going to stop their braai, not while there were still steaks on the grill and Castle in the cooler.

Boer awb

Traditional Afrikaner meetings emphasised resistance to British pressure, racial integration and braai.

The panicked redcoats scattered and retreated across the Pineapple in disorder. Had the Afrikaners followed up on their advantage at this point it is doubtful that the British could have made it back to Cape Town. However, a passing Zulu impi distracted them and they abandoned the war to return to their traditional ethnic-cleansing while singing the Afrikaans nursey rhyme:

"We're going on a kaffir-hunt,

We're going to catch a big one,

We're going on a kaffir-hunt,

We're going to expropriate his land, subjugate his people, condemn them to a second-class existence and then blame him for being uncivilised"

Second Boer War

Boer pig with handgun

British troops were better equipped but ill-suited to the conditions.

The Second Boer War (1899–1902), or Boar War involved large numbers of swine from many British possessions. Unlike many colonial conflicts, the Boar War lasted three years and was very bloody. The British fought directly against Transylvania and the Pineapple Free State. The bloodshed that was seen during the war was alarming and many of the British porkers were fit for nothing better than sausage meat at its conclusion. The better prepared Afrikaners however had prepared an army of native Warthog who were much better suited to both the terrain and the climate.

Boer hogzilla

The Second Boer War was a tragedy even for the following generation, brutalised but well-fed by the conflict.

At Spion Kop two thousand Gloucester Old Spots were pinned down by Warthog gunners on an open mountain top without hope of cover. The slaughter was on an industrial scale and pork-belly futures dropped by a six point average around the world for the next six months. At Bloemfontein, the entire garrison was held under siege for three months and forced to eat the native population as their rations were only sufficient for six years.

Inhumane treatment of South African civilians caused many in Britain to view imperialism as great fun, especially the usage of the new concentration camps - an idea that found renewed popularity in Germany thirty years later. The cost of war in money, destruction, and demoralization was gigantic, and many in Britain began to believe the Empire was too costly to maintain and so it was torn down to make way for a larger, multiplex cinema with wider seating.

Third Boer War

Boa fighting

Initial British success in the Boa War was hampered when their crack regiment of constrictors attacked the Basarwa guides.

The third Boer war, or Boa War, was another brief affair in which the British utilised their Boa Constrictor allies on the assumption that they were better adapted to the style of fighting in Southern Africa. After initial successes however, the British-reptile army was trapped and destroyed at Ladysmith by the skillful use of mongoose reinforcements by the Afrikaners.

Mongoose 1

The spirit of the Afrikaners’ Mongoose allies surprised and overwhelmed the British.

Peace negotiations began and seemed to be making progress when they stalled on the status of Afrikaans as the official language of a new Union of South Africa. Opposition was led by the British general The Grand Old Duke of York who objected to “Being forced to gargle one’s own tonsils. I’m not bally Welsh, you know” and marched his men and remaining snakes to the top of the hill where, once again, Afrikaner artillery destroyed all hope of victory.

The Fourth Boer War

Highland regiment

Highland regiments terrified the Boers who referred to them colourfully as “Devils in skirts” or “Ladyboy warriors”.

The fourth Boer war, or alternatively the second Boa war, finally brought the protracted hostilities to a conclusion. The Honourable James Fernley-Crotchgrope decided to exploit Afrikaner fear of his highland regiments – the so called devils in skirts. Arming them with dangly ear-rings, tiaras and feather-boas the British began to subjugate Southern Africa through unceasing drag acts.

The Gordon Highlanders minced from Natal to Pretoria while a pincer movement of Black Watch shimmied from the Cape to Johannesburg. Finally, the Afrikaners had no response, laid down their weapons and returned to their homestead to abuse native girls, boys and puppies.

Significance

The Boer War was a major turning point in British history, due to world reaction over the anti-insurgency tactics the army used in the region. This led to a change in approach to foreign policy from Britain who now set about looking for more allies. To this end, the 1902 treaty with Japan in particular was a sign that Britain feared attack on its Far Eastern empire and saw this alliance as an opportunity to import affordable stereo equipment. The war also led to a change from "splendid isolation" policy to a policy that involved looking for allies and improving world relations. Against popular opinion, Britain made a treaty with France (The so-called “Entente Betrayal of our national Heritage") and another with Russia which seemed like a good idea at the time. These were major factors in dictating how the battle lines were drawn during World Wars One and Six.

V small beard

Poor equipment, ammunition and inappropriate uniforms hampered the British army throughout the conflict.

The Boer war also had a deeper significance: It was discovered by the Army Medical Corps that 40% of men called up for duty were physically unfit to fight due to cowardice. This was the first time in which the government was forced to take notice of how scared the British were. This led to individual investigations by Booth and Rowntree into the state of Britain’s nerves, and ultimately gave the Liberals ideas on which to base their reforms beginning in 1906. As a direct result, fun was banned, children were forbidden from being born to reduce infant mortality, and compulsory finger insurance was introduced for nail-clipper merchants.

Notables who served in the Second Boer War

  • Winston Churchill served in the British Army as a lieutenant, and was a prisoner of war, war correspondent and enthusiastic cross-dresser in the final months of the war.
  • The famous author Arthur Conan Doyle served as a doctor, seeing more soldiers die of fever than of actual war wounds. It is thought that his experiences in South Africa influenced his later career and he is known to have been involved in the apprehension of the culprit in the ‘Case of the Johannesburg Jackanapes’ and to have personally tracked down the mysterious Kimberley arse bandit.
  • Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, was a general, and achieved fame with his defence of Mafeking. Faced with public criticism for the number of casualties lost in defence of a dusty, fly-ridden armpit he devoted the rest of his life to his hobbies, writing the hugely successful “Scouting for Boys” and putting theory into practise running rent-boys in the East End.
Kilt beard

George Frederick Ives sporting the boa he wore in the final months of the war with his original war reportage.

  • Frederick Russell Burnham, the British Army Chief of Scouts, was twice captured and twice escaped. He was the highest decorated American to serve in the war. On returning to America he was forced to retake eighth grade Geography and admitted to thinking he had been fighting the American civil war.
  • Mahatma Gandhi served in the Yogic Flying Corps.
  • Jan Smuts, a Boer guerrilla leader, was later Prime Minister of South Africa, a Field Marshal in the British Army and pioneer Astronaut. The only man to sign the peace treaties ending both the First and Second World Wars, he was involved in the foundation of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. His contribution to the creation of Apartheid was honoured with a Nobel Peace Prize and a medal from the Humanitarian Society.
  • The last surviving veteran of the Boer War was George Frederick Ives, a trooper in the Imperial Yeomanry. He died in 1901, 1903 and finally 1993.

Footnotes

  1. The Boer War(s) should not be confused with the long, bitter Beer Wars fought between the Carlsberg Empire and the Republic of Heineken in the Eighteenth century or the Bear Wars which have been fought between Polar Bears and Pandas since pre-History. A tense cease-fire has been in place since the retreat of the Asian continental Ice-sheet 15,000 years ago. Finally, the Boer War(s) should be confused with the Bar Wars which ended with the final rout of Milligan’s Irish Pub (Warsaw branch) by the triumphant forces of “Rendezvous” Lesbian drop-in hostelry, Brighton, UK.
  2. Celebrated chef Bill Tong (great grandfather of the dj 'It's All Gone Pete Tong' ) was driven out Cape Province by the British who disapproved of his meat dishes. They believed only in bully beef and boiled cabbage.

See Also

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