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European colonialism was at the heart of his conflict. From early in the nineteenth century the southern tip of Africa had been shared between the British and Dutch settlers and the relationship was an uneasy one. The Afrikaners or Boers, were descendants of the original seventeenth and eighteenth century Dutch settlers. The discovery of gold and diamonds in the Boer republics in the 1880’s further intensified the rivalry, as British subjects traveled into Boer territories in search of wealth. The unease spilt over into the first Boer War was fought between the British and the Boers from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881.
The second Boer War broke the uneasy truce since the end of first war hostilities. As loyal subjects of the British Empire, around 16000 Australians volunteered to fight for “the mother country” against the Boers. The onset of the war was pre-Federation, when Australia was still made up of six colonies and each of the colonies sent contingents to support Britain. Partially as a consequence of this, enlistment detail is notoriously inaccurate. In many cases, formal enlistment did not occur until arrival in Africa.
Post-Federation in 1901, an additional three contingents were raised by the new Commonwealth of Australia but most arrived too late or were still at sea when the war ended on 31 May 1902, with a British victory. All Boers became British subjects upon the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging. Ironically, within nine years South Africa became a self-governing dominion led by former Boer generals.
Approximately 600 Australian soldiers died in the Boer War; about half from military action and half from disease.
The Boer War spawned the first military folk-heroes in Australia, including the legend of Private Harry (“Breaker”) Morant which became the subject of books, a stage play and a 1980 film adaptation by Australian Director Bruce Beresford.
Horses played a vital role in the Boer war. Reputedly over 360 000 horses were shipped into South Africa, as well as vast numbers of mules and donkeys.
In the field of battle, horses had many roles including the carriage of infantry, to the field of battles, cavalry conflict where the soldier stays on his horse and as gun-horses which dragged large guns to the front. Different breeds of horses were better-equipped naturally for these various tasks. The breeds and varieties of horses actively engaged in the Boer War included Argentinian and Burmese ponies, English chargers and Cape horses.
The uniquely Australian colonial horse, “The Waler” was the preferred mount for Australian troops. Approximately 16 000 were shipped to the Boer War; in approximate alignment to the number of Australian troops. The Waler arose from cross-breeding of a number of breeds brought to the new colonies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and was considered a versatile work-horse, with good weight-carrying capabilities, speed and endurance.
Walers were bred not just for domestic needs but to supply a lucrative export trade, initially to the British army in India. The term “Waler” was coined by the British in India for those horses that were bred in the colony of New South Wales, but breeding of the Waler was not limited to north of the Murray river. In fact, Walers were reputedly bred and supplied to the British and then Australian army from Gidneys Farm, which formed part of the contemporary Aintree site.
The Boer War conditions took great toll on horses. Many were ill-equipped for the tasks they were required to undertake. Approximately 60% died in combat or as a result of mis-treatment or disease. Many were slaughtered for their meat.
This was the initial engagement of the Waler horse in combat. From this bloody beginning the breed later became legendary for its feats of endurance and courage with the Australian Light Horse regiments during World War 1, when approximately 121 000 Walers were engaged in the North African desert campaigns and later France.
One of our GREAT residents has started an evening walking group from 7pm each Monday and encourages everyone to come along! The walking group commences at Frontier Park on Monday's at 7pm - we hope to see you there.
Who made it to our annual soccer clinic? Check out the highlights for those of you who missed out. Here's to living fitter at Woodlea!
It's mid week and the last thing you want to be doing is spending hours in the kitchen preparing dinner...check out this great range of fuss-free recipes that will keep your children as well as your feet happy!!
Get into the Christmas spirit by decorating your house and go into the draw to win some great prizes! Click below to find out more.
Do you have a HOT business idea but no idea how to bring it to life? No matter how crazy it may be, the 'Hot House Project,' run by the City of Melton, is your opportunity to receive training, mentoring & inspiration that will help you transform your idea into a new business startup!
Our water play zone is back up and running for the season!! Make the most of the warm weather this evening by bringing your kids down to the Fronier Adventure Park.
What a great turn out we had at the opening of Aintree's Walk Of Honour at this morning's Remembrance Day service. To honour & recognise those whom fought and still fight for our country is an honour and and now a long lasting legacy. For more details on the Walk Of Honour initiative, view channel 9's story here.