Length of War: 1899-1902
Numbers of Australians involved in the campaign: 16,463 troops
Numbers of Australian troops who died: 600
Numbers taken prisoner: 200 approximately
Prime Minister: Australia became a Federation in 1901 and Edmund Barton was elected the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Boer War
The War was fought in the Transvaal and Orange Free State in southern Africa between The Boers (Dutch-Afrikaner settlers) and the British.
Australia’s Involvement in the Boer War
When the Boer War broke out on the 11th October, 1899; Australia was still a group of separate British colonies, each of which offered a force to support Britain in her conflict with the Boers of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
By the time the war was over, Australia had become a nation and had sent a total of 16,463 men to South Africa. With them went 16,314 horses; and Australians became mounted infantry.
The War against the Boers demanded a new kind of fighting – guerrilla warfare, in which individuals and small groups acted on their own initiative.
The Australian soldier excelled in this sort of fighting and even won praise from the Boers. A Boer historian said: “Our men admitted that the Australians were formidable opponents and far more dangerous than any British troops.”
Nevertheless, the Australian mounted forces served with distinction in South Africa. “All the colonials did extremely well,” said Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces. Six Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australians during the Boer War.