Tommy Atkins In South Africa: first-hand accounts of the experiences of British soldiers during the Anglo-Boer war, 1899–1902

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Venter, Louis Edian
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University of the Free State
This dissertation studies the experiences of 47 British soldiers as recorded in their first-hand accounts (diaries, letters, and personal remembrances) during the Anglo-Boer (South African) War between 1899 and 1902. Four facets of the experiences of these British soldiers during the War are studied. The first facet is the British soldiers’ journeys to South Africa, which includes their experiences of departing from home, the journey by ship to South Africa, and their first impressions upon landing. The second facet is the British soldiers’ experiences during campaigns, which includes their journeys to the front, experiences during battles, as well as everyday duties during campaigns. The third facet is the British soldiers’ experiences of life on the veld, which includes their experiences of sport and other pastimes, provisions such as food, water and clothing, as well as climate and animal life. The final facet studied is the experiences of British soldiers in social relations with South Africans and with other British soldiers, as well as experiences concerning religion and medical care. To this end, the dissertation used 47 first-hand accounts such as diaries, letters and personal remembrances that the British soldiers themselves documented during (or after) the war, recounting their personal attitudes and actions, namely their experiences. These first-hand accounts offer a glimpse into the lives of some of the men who fought in this important and impactful war. The experiences of the British soldiers with regard to the above-mentioned four facets diverged as the war progressed, and a marked distinction between the experiences of men who served during the four different phases of the war was clearly observed. The Anglo-Boer War may be split into four distinct phases, namely the Boer offensive (October 1899), the first British offensive (November 1899 to February 1900), the second British offensive (February to September 1900) and the guerrilla warfare phase (March 1900 to May 1900). Each phase had its own particular set of military circumstances which had an impact on the recorded experiences of British soldiers.
Dissertation (M.A.(History))--University of the Free State, 2023
Anglo-Boer War, South African war, British Empire, British soldiers, Australian soldiers, Canadian soldiers, New Zealand soldiers, first-hand accounts, diaries, letters, remembrances