I have recently completed a short series covering the 1st Anglo-Boer War of 1880-81. It is a campaign often forgotten and overlooked by military historians. Perhaps part of the reason is that the British lost every battle – Bronkhorstspruit, Laing’s Nek and Majuba amongst them.
For my research, I was lucky enough to walk some of the battlefields and you can see videos of them below.
The esteemed historian, Professor John Laband, also helped to add extra context and detail to the films and podcasts when he joined me on the show.
The first film in the series examined the reasons for war and the first battle – at Bronkhorstpruit. If you want to learn about British military incompetence at the time, then this battle is an important case study.
For the second film, John explained the doctrinal differences between the Boers and the Redcoats and why the Boers were so successful.
Myself and tour guide Sean Friend then went for a walk and explored the hill of Majuba – site of the final British defeat of the war. It was a shocking debacle, and Sean did a great job of relating how the terrain worked against the British.
We wrapped this short series up with a discussion about General Sir George Pomeroy Colley, the professor of tactics who lost every battle.