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Friends and Enemies: The Natal Campaign in the South African War 1899-1902

Friends and Enemies: The Natal Campaign in the South African War 1899-1902 (Paperback)

£15.99
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Synopsis

When the Boer Republics invaded Natal in 1899, the invaders could have been driven out with casualties measured in hundreds. Instead Britain was to lose nearly 9,000 men killed in action, more than 13,000 to disease and a further 75,000 wounded and sick were invalided back to Britain. The war ended in 1902 with a very unsatisfactory Peace Treaty. At the start of the conflict Britain's Generals were faced with problems new to the military establishment. Shows of force did little to intimidate a determined opposition; infantry charges against a hidden enemy armed with modern rifles resulted in a futile waste of lives. Artillery could now destroy unseen targets at great range. Lack of mobility resulted in more than half the army being besieged in Ladysmith bringing with it concomitant civilian involvement. Some generals learnt quickly- others were slower and yet others still, perhaps through pride and stubbornness, refused to alter their ways and thus their men paid with their lives. The bravery and sacrifice of men during the campaign have been described in many books, as have the faults - real and imagined - of the generals.

But little attention has been paid to the greatest blunder of all: a failure to take proper cognizance of local advice, opinion and capability. From the beginning, locally raised regiments demonstrated how the Boers might be defeated without incurring heavy casualties and, when they were finally given their head, they chased the invaders out of Natal while suffering only nominal casualties. This deeply researched study of the Boer War includes, for the first time, the experiences of the inhabitants of Natal- soldier and civilian, men, women and children, black and white. Diaries and letters vividly portray the actions at Talana, Elandslaagte, Colenso, Acton Homes and Spion Kop, as well as the siege of Ladysmith in which 15,000 military personnel and 2,500 residents and refugees were incarcerated for four months, slowly but surely dying from starvation and sickness until their relief. Before, during and after the Boer War many myths were created and facts hidden to suit political ends. The result was that lessons, which should have been learned were never adequately understood or applied.

With the West still engaged in foreign wars, these old mistakes should be remembered and not repeated. Friends and Enemies is the result of years of intensive research undertaken in archives in both South Africa and Britain. It offers an important and scholarly resource to students of nineteenth and twentieth century conflict.

History & PoliticsHistory: Chronological20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000History & PoliticsHistory: ChronologicalEarly history: c 500 to c 1450/1500History & PoliticsMilitary HistoryBoer WarsHistory & PoliticsRegional & national historyAfrican history Publisher: Chevron Publishing Limited Publication Date: 01/02/2015 ISBN-13: 9780957689237  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
Availability: Unavailable. No reason given.  

Hugh Rethman was born in Natal into a family of farmers and traders whose forbears numbered the early settlers there. His great grandfather commanded the Border Mounted Rifles, a volunteer colonial regiment which took part in various engagements preceding and during the siege of Ladysmith, as well as pursuing the Boers from the province. As a boy aged fourteen, following the death of his father, he had to find work sweeping and cleaning a shop for a trader to help support his family. He was educated at St Andrew's College, Grahamstown before reading English literature, economics, economic history, and political philosophy at the University of Natal. A keen sportsman and horseman, he later moved to England where he read law at the University of Leeds. He qualified as a Barrister and practised law in both England and South Africa, and also ran a retail business in Durban. He holds a wide range of interests, but is particularly passionate about history. He has written articles on the Boer War for the journals of the Victorian Military History Society and the Military History Society of South Africa. He lives in Suffolk, England. Friends and Enemies is his first book.

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