1887

n Historia - "Educated, tolerant and kindly" : Australian attitudes towards British and Boers in South Africa, 1899-1902

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Abstract

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.

Die Anglo-Boereoorlog het Australië se eerste ervaring van werklik gewapende stryd aangedui, met die deelnemende kolonies om as 'n "simboliese" bondgenoot van die Britte teen die skynbaar korrupte Boeremagte te dien. Mans het aanvanklik gretiglik aangesluit, aangesien hulle die Britse Ryk as hulle natuurlike bondgenoot beskou het, en die Boere as hulle vyand. Hierdie gesindheid, gekweek deur die atmosfeer waaruit hierdie mans na die Suid-Afrikaanse gevegsfront vertrek het, is aangewakker deur militêre houdings en Australië se pers wat Brittanje se bjingo-nuusblaaie nougeset nagevolg het. Na hul kennismakig met die ruwe Suid-Afrikaanse terrein het die houdings van die Australiaanse troepe teenoor andere op die gevegsterrein baie gou dramaties verander. Dit is deels weens die uiteindelike besef deur hierdie manne - van wie die meeste uit 'n landelike agtergrond afkomstig was - dat hulle meer met die Boere-vegters gemeen gehad het as met die Britse Tommies. Dit het meegebring dat talle Australianers die amptelike voorstelling van die Britse en Boeremagte deur die militêre en kommersiële pers afgekeur het deur openlik in hulle gevegsfront-briewe en dagboeke minagting vir hulle bondgenote en bewondering vir die vyand openbaar het. Dit daag tradisionele persepsies van koloniale magte in hierdie oorlog as synde lojale Britse onderdane uit en bied 'n alternatiewe gesigspunt van Australiaanse identiteit rakende die Suid-Afrikaanse slagveld.

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/content/hist/59/2/EJC163427
2014-11-01
2016-12-06
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