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The Boer War

The Second Anglo-Boer War

There were two Anglo-Boer wars fought between the United Kingdom and the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State.  The first was fought between December 1880 and March 1881; the second, in which both the Devonshire Regiment and the Dorsetshire Regiment were involved, broke out on 11th October 1899 and ended on 31st May 1901.

The origins of the Boer Wars were complicated and part of the ‘Scramble for Africa’ by many European nations keen to acquire natural resources.  Conflict between the Dutch settlers (Boers) and the British Territories led to war for the for the following reasons:

  • The Boers refused to accept the abolition of Slavery in the British Cape Colony and migrated north to found the colonies of Transvaal and Orange Free State.
  • Diamonds were found in North Cape Colony, and gold in the Transvaal. Many Europeans migrated to work in the mines but the Boers refused them any civil rights and taxed them heavily.
  • The Boers refused to accept the borders of the British Colonies and Protectorates and independent native kingdoms.
  • Germany had colonies to the east and west coasts north of Cape Colony and laid claim to Transvaal. Its takeover would allow the Germans to encircle Cape Colony, allowing unhindered access to other Northern BritishTerritories. A Dutch/German Company also owned the railways in the Boer States.

The Second Boer War was possible the first guerrilla war of modern times.

Read about some of th men who served with our Regiments in this war:

Captain Claude Alexander Lafone DSO, 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment in the Boer War

Lieutenant James Masterson VC, 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment in the Boer War