Africa Imperial History

Siege of Elands River: 4 – 16 August 1900

August 1, 2012
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Download article as PDF Map: Siege of Eland’s River Staging Post 4-14 August 1900 Map: Battle of Eland’s River 4 August 1900 With the capitulation of Johannesburg and Pretoria by early June 1900, the Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in South Africa, Lord Frederick Roberts VC, divided the Western Transvaal operational theatre into districts, with the sole objective of mopping up pockets of Boer resistance.  The Marico District, including the towns of Mafeking, Zeerust, Lichtenburg and Rustenburg, was assigned to Maj. General Robert Baden-Powell, his force including 1,100 Rhodesia Regiment troops, Southern Rhodesia Volunteers and BSA Police. Boer Generals Koos de la Rey and Christiaan de Wet continued to believe that victory might still be within the grasp of their respective […]

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Operation Quartz: Zimbabwe/Rhodesia on the brink

April 18, 2012
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Download article as PDF Ceasefire and Elections The closing chapter of Rhodesian history was decided in Lancaster House, London, between 10 September-15 December 1979. There, in what has been described by some as the Funeral Parlour of the British Empire, the principal protagonists in the unfolding drama of the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia Bush War brought the curtain down on this, the last substantive act in the drama of British imperial disengagement. It was a moment of profound delicacy. The Rhodesian conflict had been deliberately regionalised in an effort (a) to attack and destroy external guerrilla forces in their bases of operation in both Mozambique and Zambia (also in Angola during Operation Vanity in February 1979), and (b) to so reduce the national […]

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Robert Bell Smart the Royal Engineers Signals Unit

January 27, 2012
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Download article as PDF I was recently contacted by Eleanor Smart regarding a collection of photographs belonging to her and concerning her father who served in East Africa during WWI. What follows is her own description of the circumstances of Robert Bell Smart, and a selection of his photographs. Robert Bell Smart.  Born in Glasgow July 1890. Died in Paisley Sept. 1962  My father started his working life as a telegraph boy in the Post Office in Glasgow. In 1915 he enlisted in the Royal Signals, or The Royal Engineers Signals Unit, as Sapper R B Smart.  Not sure exactly. He was sent to France. This bit he never spoke of, so I don’t know where he was or what […]

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ZAPU in the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle

January 6, 2012
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This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleAs the armed wing of ZAPU withdrew to ponder lessons learned, the detained leadership within Rhodesia settled into what seemed likely to be a sustained period of restriction. For Joshua Nkomo the prospect was particularly dreary. Somewhere between the claims of his apologists of untainted zealotry, and his protagonists insistence on his innate corruptibility, lies the truth of what motivated Nkomo. At the very least he was a comfort loving soul. He was not a flint hard, ascetic ideologue like Robert Mugabe, nor a spiritually driven humanitarian like Ndabaningi Sithole, and for him to be transported with the rudiments of life to an […]

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Rourkes Drift and Isandlwana: Key sites of the Anglo Zulu War of 1879

January 1, 2012
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Download article as PDF Deep in the signature countryside of Zululand – undulating grassland punctuated by rubble crowned kopjies and shallow river valleys – lie two key sites in the mythology of the black/white struggle for Southern Africa. The Anglo/Zulu War in many respects was the beginning of the end of black independent monarchy in Southern Africa. It came about as a consequence of a number of factors, some political and some visceral, but all of which were defined by one simple defining principal.: the simple fact that an aggressive and expanding British Empire could not tolerate the existence alongside it of of an independent, militarily vigorous, politically cohesive and culturally intact black mass such as the Zulu. Whatever might […]

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December 27, 2011

Download article as PDF By COMMANDER G . B. SPICER-SIMSON,. S.O., R.N. Wednesday, 28th March, 1934, at 3 p.m. ADMIRAL SIR WILLIAM GOODENOUGH,. C.B., M.V.O., in the Chair. The Chairman, in introducing the Lecturer, said that Commander Spicer-Simson had had a very varied and adventurous career. He saw service in China; he was on the Boundaries Commission in North Borneo; he made a triangulated survey of the Upper Yangtze; and between 1910 and 1914 he was the Director of the Gambia Survey. In 1915 he was sent out with a small party of officers and men on the expedition to Lake Tanganyika, which, if it was a minor operation of the War, was nevertheless one of great importance. Lake Tanganyika […]

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