Boer war memorial

THE Boer War Memorial Society WA invites the public to a commemoration and reconciliation service at the South African War Memorial at King’s Park on May 27.

The service marks the 116th anniversary of the signing of the Vereeniging peace accord, which brought the Anglo Boer war to an end.

Kevin Bovill from the Cockburn RSL was the driving force behind the society’s WA branch and we’re sorry to report he recently suffered a stroke.

The WA branch was founded in 2016 as part of an effort to raise funds for a national memorial. On May 31 2017 the memorial was opened on Anzac Parade in Canberra, and now the society holds yearly services, with the aim of getting the Boer War included in the education curriculum.

Often overshadowed by the Great War, the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) fought between the British Empire and Afrikaans-speaking descendants of the Dutch East India Company’s colony was a war of little-known firsts.

• William Skeoch Cumming’s image of a Mounted Yeomanry trooper.

Some of the first Aboriginal Australians to volunteer for service in a foreign war were involved: About 50 Aboriginal men served as troopers, trackers and stock handlers, including WA’s John Robert Searle who was born in Albany in 1869 and served with the Imperial Bushmen.

The war also saw the term “concentration camp” come into widespread use. In an effort to combat the guerilla tactics of Boer commandos who eschewed uniforms and were sometimes indistinguishable from civilians, the British rounded people up into concentration camps, where about 28,000 died from poor hygiene, malnourishment and a lack of medical treatment.

The commemoration and reconciliation service starts 11am on Sunday May 27 at the King’s Park South African War Memorial.

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