» The South African / Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902

With the discovery of gold in the Transvaal (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek) in 1886, The Boers, fearing an influx of uitlanders (foreigners), amended the voting act. The foreigners on the goldfields protested, certain members of the British government manipulated the situation to their own ends, and war between Britain and the ZAR, who were supported by the Orange Free State, broke out on 11th October 1899.

The northern triangle of Natal, which bordered both Boer Republics, was an especially vulnerable region and within the first two months of the war the Boers had forced the British troops back below the Thukela River line and besieged the town of Ladysmith, battles having taken place at Talana near Dundee and Elandslaagte.

Britain entered the war promising to give the “Boojers a lesson” believing it would all be over by Christmas, but as Rudyard Kipling pointed out, it was the comparatively small band of volunteers from the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek and the Orange Free State that were to give Queen Victoria’s proud British Army “no end of a lesson”. The three year conflict proved to be the longest, costliest, bloodiest and most humiliating war Britain had fought since the Napoleonic wars.

During the Anglo-Boer War, the Boers besieged the British army in Ladysmith for 118 days, an event that dominated world headlines. In doing so they held off British attempts to break through to Ladysmith along the Thukela River line at Colenso, iNthabamnyama, Spioenkop and Vaalkrans until finally succumbing to a massive 14 day offensive by the British known as the Battle of the Thukela Heights which was the biggest battle fought by the British in Africa until World War 2. The Boers then confounded British strategists by discarding conventional warfare and opting for guerrilla tactics, using relatively small, highly mobile mounted commando units.

Places of Interest

Elandslaagte Battlefield
Elandslaagte Battlefield, Glencoe/Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

702 | 21 October 1899 The Boers occupied the railway Station on the 20th October and early the following morning … Read More

Wagon Hill Battle Site
Wagon Hill Battle Site, Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

704 | Battle of Wagon Hill 6th January 1900 The Battle of Wagon Hill and Caesar’s Camp was fought on … Read More

Platrand, Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

705 | “The Platrand is a long hill on the south side of the town. It was a critical section … Read More

Armoured Train Incident
Armoured Train Incident - Churchill Capture Site, Frere Area, KwaZulu-Natal

706 | On the 15th November 1899 Winston Churchill, a war correspondent for the Morning Post persuaded his friend Capt … Read More

Battle of Willow Grange
Battle of Willow Grange, Estcourt Area, KwaZulu-Natal

707 | 23 November 1899 Most southern point that a pitched battle was fought between the British and the Boers. … Read More

Ladysmith Siege Museum
151 Murchison Street, Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

The Ladysmith Siege Museum is acclaimed as one of the best Anglo Boer War museums in South Africa, its displays … Read More

Ambleside Military Cemetery
Ambleside Military Cemetery, Colenso, KwaZulu-Natal

710 | Burial site of soldiers of the 5th Irish Brigade, killed in Battle of Colenso. The Irish Brigade had … Read More

Battle of iNthabamnyama
Battle of iNthabamnyama, Bergville Area, KwaZulu-Natal

711 | 20 – 22 January 1900 In an attempt to turn the Boer right flank Lieut. Gen Sir Charles … Read More

Rangeworthy Military Cemetery
Rangeworthy Military Cemetery, Bergville/Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

712 | Situated below iNtabamnyama Battlefield. Many of the men who lost their lives in the above and below actions … Read More

Spion Kop Battlefield
Spioenkop/Spion Kop Battlefield, Bergville Area, KwaZulu-Natal

713 | 24 January 1900 Certainly the most futile and bloodiest of five battles fought in an effort to relieve … Read More

Spearman’s Military Cemetery
Spearman's Military Cemetery, Ladysmith/Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal

714 | On R600 between Ladysmith and Winterton. Near the site of No 4 Stationary Hospital during Gen Sir Redvers … Read More

Chieveley Military Cemetery
Chieveley Military Cemetery, Colenso Area, KwaZulu-Natal

715 | Site of No 4 Stationary Hospital. Burial place of Field Marshal Lord Roberts’s son Lt. Freddie Roberts. Turn … Read More

Vaalkrans Battlefield
Vaalkrans Battlefield, Ladysmith/Winterton Area, KwaZulu-Natal

716 | 5-7 February 1900 Fourth unsuccessful attempt by Gen. Buller to relieve Ladysmith. Scene of the British feint movement … Read More

Battle of uThukela (Tugela) Heights
Battle of Thukela Heights, Colenso/Ladysmith Area, KwaZulu-Natal

717 | 12-28 February 1900 In a massive combined operation General Buller’s troops fought numerous battles on the south bank … Read More

Helpmekaar Battlesite
Helpmekaar Cemetery, Helpmekaar, KwaZulu-Natal

718 | 13 May 1900 British forces broke through the Boer line in Biggarsberg Resulting in the British recapturing Dundee. … Read More

Alleman’s Nek Battlefield
Alleman's Nek Battlefield, Volksrust Area, Mpumalanga

720 | This was the battle where the British forces under Gen. Buller finally broke through the Boer forces and … Read More

Scheepersnek Battlefield
Scheepersnek Battlefield, Vryheid Area, KwaZulu-Natal

721 | 20 May 1900 75 Swaziland Police and Vryheid burghers were stationed here. During a church service a Squadron … Read More

Lancaster Hill
Lancaster Hill, Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal

722 | 11-12 December 1900 The hill overlooking Vryheid was occupied by 900 men of the Lancaster Regt who fortified … Read More

Blood River Poort Battlefield
Blood River Poort Battlefield, Vryheid/Utrecht Area, KwaZulu-Natal

724 | 17 September 1901 Battle fought during Gen Louis Botha’s second invasion of Natal. A British Squadron attacked a … Read More

Mount Itala Battlefield
Mount Itala Battlefield, Babanango/Nkandla Area , KwaZulu-Natal

725 | 25-26 September 1901 The British position consisted of sangars on the summit of the hill manned by about … Read More

Fort Prospect
Fort Prospect, Babanango Area, KwaZulu-Natal

726 | 26 September 1901 This outpost was manned by 82 British Soldiers but were forewarned of the pending Boer … Read More

Holkrans Battlefield
Holkrans Battlefield, Vryheid Area, KwaZulu-Natal

727 | 6 May 1902 Louis Botha’s Commandos desperate for food began raiding local Zulus’ cattle and crops. The abaQulusi … Read More

British Soldiers Memorial
British Soldiers Memorial, Volksrust, Mpumalanga

728 | The Cross shaped Memorial in honour of British Soldiers who died during battles around Volksrust, and Amersfoort areas … Read More

Concentration Camp Memorial
Joubert Road, Volksrust, Mpumalanga

729 | In the Volksrust town square adjacent to the municipal buildings is a Memorial Statue and wall of Remembrance … Read More