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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


KARAGEORGOS, Effie. "Educated, tolerant and kindly": Australian attitudes towards British and Boers in South Africa, 1899-1902. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp.120-135. ISSN 2309-8392.

The Anglo-Boer War marked Australia's first experience of actual combat, with the participating colonies to serve as a "token" ally of the British against the seemingly corrupt Boer forces. Men initially enlisted eagerly, viewing the British Empire as their natural ally and the Boers their enemy, encouraged by military attitudes and Australia's commercial press, which - closely following Britain's jingo newspapers - ensured these views characterised the atmosphere from which these men left for the South African battlefront. After encountering the harsh South African terrain, however, the attitudes of the Australian troops towards others on the battlefield soon altered dramatically. This was caused partly by the eventual realisation by these men - most of whom were from a rural background - that they had more in common with the Boer combatants than the British Tommies. This caused many Australians to reject the official portrayal of the British and Boer forces by the military and commercial press, openly revealing disdain for their allies, and admiration for the enemy in their warfront letters and diaries. This challenges traditional perceptions of colonial forces in this war as loyal British subjects and presents an alternative view of Australian identity on the South African battlefield.

Keywords : Anglo-Boer War; soldiers; Australia; Britain; South Africa; identity.

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