The British Army in the Anglo-Boer War

South Africa, 11 October 1899 - 31 May 1902

  1st Battalion, Royal Scots, Northern Transvaal

The Boer War was a watershed event for the British Army, the Boers employed hit-and-run tactics that not only caused losses the British could not afford, they did not conform to the usual "gentlemanly" rules of war.

The British Army started off with 12,546 men in South Africa when the war began, but the number of officers and men actually employed from first to last, during the war, was officially given as 448,435.

It became clear to the British that they had to adopt new tactics to defeat the Boers. They needed to fight a series of battles over a long period of time covering wide areas of ground, this involved marching in long columns for days at a time across the vast plains or "veldt", often without proper uniforms or rations. The weather caused problems, with freezing temperatures and storms in the winter and very hot summers.

The Boer War, according to Rudyard Kipling, taught the British "no end of a lesson".. over 20,000 British Troops were laid to rest in the heat and dust of the South African veldt, with another 22,829 being wounded.

 

Casualties

 Removing the dead

 

There are discrepancies in the Casualty figures between the Official History and those recorded in 'The Times' Vol VII, whose figures are shown in brackets.

British Forces


Killed in Action or Died of Wounds
7,582 including 712 officers (7,894; 706 officers).

Died of Disease
13,139 including 406 officers (13,250; 339 officers).

Total Deaths 20,721 (21,942, includes accidental deaths).

The following Casualty figures have been extracted from 'With the Flag to Pretoria' and these cover the first part of the war. There was a comparison table compiled from official statistics which cover the entire war from the outbreak to the end of hostilities in South Africa

South African Field Force

Casualties

11 Oct 1899 - Oct 1900

 

 

Officers

Men

 

Killed in Action

302

2,902

 

Died of Wounds

89

893

 

Died of Disease etc

155

6,115

 

Prisoners who died in Captivity

3

90

 

Accidental Deaths

4

145

 

Total deaths in South Africa October 1899 - October 1900

553

10,145

10,698

Prisoners and Missing

7

822

 

Sent home as invalids

1,422

33,077

(See end column)

Wounded 5,196

Sick 26,800

Not specified 1,081

 

South African Field Force

Casualties

11 Oct 1899 - 31 May 1902

 

 

Officers

Men

 

Killed in Action

518

5,256

 5,774

Died of Wounds

183

1,835

 2,018

Died of Disease etc

339

12,911

 13,250

Prisoners who died in Captivity

5

97

 102

Accidental Deaths

27

711

 738

Total deaths in South Africa October 1899 - May 1902

1,072

20,810

21,882

Prisoners and Missing

 

105

 

Sent home as invalids

3,116

(8 Died)

72,314

(500 Died,

5,879 Discharged as unfit for further service)

[See end column]

Of 72,314 men;

Wounded 8,221

Sick 63,644

Not specified 449

Total casualties in South Africa October 1899 - May 1902

4,188

93,229

97,417

 

 

  New Zealanders burying a casualty

 

Casualty Searches, for both British and Imperial forces, charged at 5.00 per name can be made using the following categories;

Surname, Initials or Regiment. Often it is possible to state where the grave is located

All enquiries should be made to

DAVID J. BARNES c/o 46 Prestwich Street, Burnley, Lancashire, England BB11 4NZ

Please pay by PAYPAL or send a cheque, made payable to D J BARNES, along with your Stamped, Self Addressed Envelope.

[PLEASE NOTE: This Service is MAIL ORDER ONLY, all research is usually completed within 1 - 4 weeks.]

For Non-UK residents, I will accept currency notes to the equivalent value in US Dollars, Australian Dollars or Euros. No foreign cheques please as I have to pay bank charges for banks to negotiate settlement and I can exchange currency notes without charge