Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Global Wars

Take note of the small hole near the top of this hat. The accompanying panel explains it.

The Second Boer War (or South African War) was fought between 1899 and 1902, between the British and two Boer republics over the status of the Empire in southern Africa (an earlier, smaller conflict twenty years earlier was the first). Aside from British forces, volunteers from across the British Empire answered the call, including Canadian troops, who found themselves far from home in a place very different from what they had known. Have a look at this museum link for the overview of Canada's place in that war that straddled centuries. The South African War was one that shifted from battlefields to guerilla warfare, and is often overlooked when you consider the great cataclysm that was just over a decade away. The War Museum's second section opens up with a look at this conflict that most people today have forgotten. It includes this mock-up of a soldier in uniform.

Uniforms and other items of that war are in this display case. They include items ranging from weapons to the more personal like a tobacco pipe or a personal bible.

A Lee-Enfield rifle and crocheted scarf are in this display case. Both belonged to Canadian privates; the scarf was one of eight done by the Queen for battlefield valour in that war.

This field artillery gun, a 12 pounder saw action at a battle called Leliefontein, used by D Battery of the Royal Canadian Field Artillery against Boer opposition. It had a range of up to four thousand metres and  fired both shrapnel and high explosive shells.

Over seven thousand Canadians served in various capacities in South Africa during the war. 267 of them were killed in action. It was the first time Canadian troops served in action outside of North America. A few years later Canadians would be drawn into the First World War. 

Some of you might remember this large painting that we find in the next section of the Museum, focusing on that war. Canada's Answer is a painting by Norman Wilkinson, depicting the ships carrying 32 000 Canadian soldiers in October 1914, the first wave of Canadians to head to the front. They would be the first of many to come.

Rifles of the period are in this display case.

This cannon, advanced compared to what Canadians had used in South Africa, stands nearby in an area focused on the Second Battle Of Ypres, the first major battle involving Canadian soldiers.

For today I finish off with this spot nearby, which deals with wartime propaganda. The sculpture of an apocryphal story- the crucifixion of a Canadian soldier on a barn door by Germans- is at the left. At the right is a porthole taken from the passenger ship Lusitania, which was sunk by a German submarine, accompanied by other items in the case.


  1. I remember hearing of the Boer Wars but know literally nothing about them so I appreciated this particular post for the information it includes. Your last few posts have impressed upon me the amount of money, energy and time countries spend on facilitating engines of death to use against perceived enemies. And we never learn that while sometimes the bad guys lose a war, the winning comes with a horrible price. It's all very sad.

  2. Isn´t the movie The Wild Geese also about this war?

  3. Hello William!
    Thank you for sharing all those interesting information with us and all those nice pictures!
    Like the painting with the ship. Enjoy your day!

  4. Muito interessante estas peças, uma bela exposição.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  5. Hello, great photos and exhibit. The painting is my favorite. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!

  6. ...the Boer War is one that I've heard of, but know little about.

  7. @Lowell: it wasn't taught in our schools, at least when I was in elementary through high school. I had to come to university before I heard about the South African War.

    @Maywyn: thank you!

    @Iris: not quite, that movie is based in Africa, but the events take place decades later. I remember seeing it years ago.

    @Dimi: thank you.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Eileen: it's a formidable painting.

    @Grzegorz: thank you.

    @Tom: that's the case for many people. It gets overshadowed by the big one a few years later. Much is the case for the Mexican War, overshadowed by the Civil War just a few years later.

  8. I always forget about the Boer War because we never hear about it over here -- mostly I hear about it when I read Victorian-era mysteries! So thanks for this.

  9. That so many Canadians took part in that Second Boer War in South Africa is new for me.

  10. I always seem to come across the war graves of Canadian personel in this country, they dies a long way from home. Such a sad loss

  11. cool hat. we were visiting a battlefield (fort) with cannons and i was curious how they did move them ...they look so huge and very cumbersome? i guess these folks had to be pretty big (muscles) to move them? ( ;

  12. I had forgotten about that one, William.

  13. Nice exhibit. Hope we will continue to enjoy peace and no more war.

  14. That hat looks very much like it might have belonged to Indiana Jones, bullet hole and all.

  15. Surprising that many of the Boer war veterans signed up for WW I. Interesting displays with genuine artifacts.

  16. @Jeanie: I can imagine either one of the two Boer wars turning up in such novels, as both took place during the Victorian era.

    @Jan: it's a war that's so easily overlooked.

    @Bill: I imagine a lot of them would have died in field hospitals there, and the tradition at the time was to bury them close to where they died.

    @Beth: in these wars, transport would have been done with horse teams, and shifting into trucks with the Great War somewhat, but if you had to adjust your cannon in place, your crew would work together on it.

    @Marie: it's easily overlooked.

    @Nancy: one would hope.

    @Sharon: a Stetson isn't that different from a fedora.

    @Red: that's true, but there weren't that many years between the two wars.

  17. Pretty good idea to use the hat that that way.

  18. So many atrocities. In the past and today... Humanity is not learning from history.

    "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

  19. Another interesting post, gives me the shivers but it's history. The bullet hole in the hat says it all.

  20. The bullet hole in the hat is incredible. Nice exhibit, William.

  21. Although it is often difficult to look at 'war' displays due to the subject matter and the human loss, it is worthwhile every time to remind us of what we should avoid! Thanks for sharing this fine exhibit, and for your recent visit to my blog!

  22. Good argument for a hat's high crown. :-)

  23. @Happyone: it was.

    @Catarina: a lesson we so often fail to heed.

    @Denise: that was one hell of a sniper.

    @RedPat: unfortunately not.

    @Bill: thank you!

    @Angie: you're welcome.

    @Revrunner: that it is.

  24. Great post and excellent photos as always ~

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  25. I think they're still debating today the sinking of the Lusitania. Was it a deliberate provocation? Arguments on both sides.

    1. I read a hell of a compelling book about the sinking awhile back.

  26. It's interesting to be reminded of and even learn more about our involvement in the Boer War.

    1. Yes, the South African War isn't really taught in school.

  27. I did not realise Canadians fought in the Boer war William, learn something everyday when blogging ✨