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Geography of South Africa.
The British recognised South Africa as a
strategic point to take over because it
contained many natural resources, it was a
strategic position for `'ruling and
controlling the waves'. Britain also
recognised they could recruit the natives
into their army. Also, taking over South
Africa would show a sign of great power.…read more

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The state of the British Army. (1899)
Not vastly different from the Crimea war.
Smaller than rivals, even though numbers had slightly
increased. Relatively small force that governed the world's
largest empire.
Addition to regular army there was a 65,000 militia.
(non military soldiers)
Tommy's: organised into closely bonded regiments
(one battalion serving abroad and one at home training)
( cardwell reform) more people were drawn to the
ranks (fewer jobs in farming, move to city, no jobs, go
in army) low social standing (one shilling a day)
Tommy Atkins seen as low life at home but when
fighting on the fields they were seen as heroic.
Generous food allowance ( this was what drew many to
army life) discipline severe ( flogging abandoned in
1881) ( cardwell reform) roll call of drill, cleaning and
mundane tasks. Initiative was not encouraged. Still
trained for close order volley firing. 1899, Khaki worn (
shiny buttons still) equipped with Lee Enfield
magazine rifle. Improvements made to supply (…read more

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The state of the British Army. (1899)
Officer corps still from traditional wealthy
families; amateurishness in approach to
soldering. Needed another job or wealthy
family, the pay was bad. Abolishment of
purchase of commission ( cardwell reform)
½ time playing sport, ½ filling in
paperwork.…read more

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Black Week.
In Black Week, British suffered a series of defeats:
10th December: Gatacre's attempt to take
Stromberg ended in defeat. He walked into a Boer
force holding the railway junction at Stromberg.
1th December : Methuen ill judged attack at
Magersfontein. Highland Brigade pinned down by
Boer fire from well positioned trenches. Suffered
in the heat for 9hrs ( dehydration) the troops broke
in ill disciplined retreat to the Modder River.
Failed to relieve Kimberley.
15th December: buller + 21,000 men tried to cross
Tugela River to relieve Ladysmith. 8,000 Boers
repelled British efforts to cross. Buller retreated,
14,000 casualties. Resulted in communication…read more

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Spion Kop.
After the `Black week' defeats Field Marshall
Lord Roberts and Kitchener was sent out for
reinforcements. As `Bobs' reached the front
line in early feburary; Buller had suffered
further defeat in Spion Kop in a fresh
attempt to reach Ladysmith.
General Warren crossed the Tugela River
but faced a Boer defensive position centred
on a hill, Spion Kop. British troops captured
the summit, but as morning fog lifted they
realised they was overlooked by Boer gun
emplacements on surrounding hills. Caused
by poor communication between Buller and…read more

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