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Boer War Mauser carbine. 
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Joined: 31 Mar 2009 19:10
Posts: 1851
Location: Eastern UK, Oregon USA and Ontario Canada
Post Boer War Mauser carbine...
I've just got back from shooting my Boer War 7x57 Mauser with its PROPER bullets, thanks to a generous guy on Gunboards.com.

Y'see, over here in yUK, I'm not allowed to buy the proper-shaped bullet long 175gr Round nose bullets as the only ones we can get here are soft-point - and as I don't go deer-stalking I'm prohibited from buying the bullets.

So I mentioned this on on of the other sites I haunt - www.gunboards.com - and to my amazement a guy in the next county told me he had pulled a load of 1899-headstamp stuff that was suffering from cracked cases, and I was welcome to 50-60 of them as a gift!

In deference to the age of the carbine, I kept the loads down - and shooting off the elbows managed about 2.5" groups at 100 - above the target of course...

But it was gazillion times better than the usual 175gr spitzer I have to shoot in my 1912 Model B sporting rifle.

If anybody is interested in the history of this little carbine, please let me know, and I'll post a precis of the details, y'see, I've found the grandson of the guy who last shot it in anger....on 10th May 1901.

tac


07 Mar 2010 15:45
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Joined: 25 Feb 2009 15:26
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Post Re: Boer War Mauser carbine...
Photos and history please Tac
Very interested

John


07 Mar 2010 19:04
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Location: Eastern UK, Oregon USA and Ontario Canada
Post Re: Boer War Mauser carbine...
kavanjoh wrote:
Photos and history please Tac
Very interested

John



Well, like many Boer guns, this one has the name of the owner cut into the stock - Pieter Huijsen.

The carbine itself was one of a special order of 2000 made for the OVS [Oranje Frei Staat] in 1897, and was actually built by Ludwig Loewe [DWM] of Berlin in July of that year and shipped to SA, arriving some time around Christmas. It has the serial number on the action AND the stock, but no receiver cartouche to avoid offending anybody. The series of manufacturing numbers is well-documented in Jon Speeds 'The Mauser Rifle..

The new owner, Mijnheer Huijsen, was a labourer at a diamond mine in Klippsdorf, and presumably went on Kommando like all the others at the outbreak of hostilities in 1899. He was caught up in a two day skirmish with the New South Wales Mounted Rifles in May of 1901, in which Lt Price of the NSWMR, in a conniption fit over a couple of Boer horsemen he could see over a kopje, took a flying charge at them, only to find that there were over a hundred waiting for him and his troop. He was killed, along with nine others, and several more were wounded, and in the subsequent keystone cops charade, the squadron managed to lose a few more before the vastly more numerous Boers had had enough, and surrendered.

Huijsen handed over his guns at the surrender, taken on the verandah of the farmhouse at Korannafontein, after which this sorry little battle was named.

I did some research with the help of Andreas in the Museum van de Anglo-Boerse Oorlog in Bloemfontein, and found a gentleman called Pieter de Jaeger- grandson of Piet - who was not only a local historian with great knowledge of the ABO, but willing to share it with me. He is the occupant of the aforementioned farm. Sadly, he is not a particulalry fluent English speaker, but this was not the problem it might have been, as I am a fluent Afrikaans speaker. He sent me the military history of the unit, which understandably plays down the reckless behaviour of young Lt Price, and is remarkably upbeat on the scant details of losing a third of his command to a bunch of farmers on nags at an unspecified location. The Boer report, giving full lack of credit to the hapless ineptitude of the Ozzies, is somewhat less fulsome in its praise of their reckless audacity, but then, it would be, eh? I've translated it into English from the original if anybody cares to see, but it's pretty mundane and terse to the point of being insulting, showing as it does the general lackadaisical attitude of the British towards a foe they saw as troublesome yokels who just happened to have the knack of slaughtering them at will with their unsporting long-range sniping.

Mijnheer De Jaeger was totally gobsmacked to learn that I was the new owner of his GD's old carbine, and is longing to see it some time.

I'll post some pics when I get my repaired PC back sometime this week [hah].

Meanwhile - I can send you a couple I've just taken in my back yard - via email.

It looks as though it has gone around the world by being kicked by a man wearing hobnail boots, but I've seen worse. The actual gun can be seen on page 234 of 'Carved guns of the Boers' if you can stand the price of buying it - eu175 per volume.

Needless to say, I don't have a copy.

Best

tac


08 Mar 2010 11:47
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Joined: 06 Jun 2009 09:39
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Post Re: Boer War Mauser carbine...
Nice info Tac ;)


08 Mar 2010 13:01
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Joined: 31 Mar 2009 19:10
Posts: 1851
Location: Eastern UK, Oregon USA and Ontario Canada
Post Re: Boer War Mauser carbine...
Glajja thort it was usish. :D

One of the mods will be posting some pics pretty soon, I have no doubts.

Best

tac, over here


08 Mar 2010 15:54
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Joined: 30 Mar 2009 08:29
Posts: 337
Location: Ireland
Post Re: Boer War Mauser carbine...
Hi Tac,

You never cease to amaze with your useful knowledge. Will buy you a pint one of these days!!!!!


08 Mar 2010 23:27
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Joined: 31 Mar 2009 19:10
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Location: Eastern UK, Oregon USA and Ontario Canada
Post Re: Boer War Mauser carbine...
kryten wrote:
Hi Tac,

You never cease to amaze with your useful knowledge. Will buy you a pint one of these days!!!!!



Yes, I'm a man of many parts, some of them still working. ;)

Slainthe

tac


10 Mar 2010 19:31
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Post Great film
A great film of historic interest.

Breaker Morant Film Trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-AKnXME ... re=related

Sikamick


20 Oct 2010 22:11
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Post Re: A bit of history
The First Anglo-Boer War 1881-1882

The Boer Republics were primarily agriculturally based, and also, compared to the British ruled Cape, comparatively poor. The discovery of diamonds in the interior - in a region claimed by both the British and Boers, called Griqualand West, caused a fresh wave of White immigration from Europe, mainly British but also small numbers from other European nations, including a group of European Jews who were soon to wield great influence in the affairs of the region. The influx of British settlers caused the already strained relations between the Boer Republics and the British to deteriorate.

The Boers were not only politically weak but also militarily divided, with the result that the British were able to annex the Transvaal Republic in 1877 with a tiny force which met no resistance at all. Within a few days, the British flag was hoisted in the Transvaal capital, Pretoria, (named after the Boer leader at the battle of Blood River) and British rule was extended into the interior without a shot being fired. It took three years and a Herculean effort on the part of three young Boer leaders to organize their people and to motivate them into fighting the British occupation of the Transvaal: eventually in 1881, a Boer rebellion finally broke out. The British were unexpectedly badly beaten by a Boer army at the battle of Majuba in February 1881, and the British then announced that they were prepared to restore self-government to the Transvaal. One of the young Boer leaders of the rebellion, Paul Kruger, was elected president of the once again independent Boer republic in 1883.

Second Boer Republic in Natal

In the far north of Natal, in land previously agreed as belonging to the Zulus, a small Boer population established themselves after providing military assistance to one of the Zulu factions which came to dominance in Zulu politics: this republic of Northern Natal was eventually to join up with the larger Boer Republic of the Transvaal, giving the latter access to the coast for the first time.

The Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

The discovery of gold in the southern Transvaal in 1886, caused a new wave of British and European Jewish immigrants to come flooding into the Transvaal. The number of immigrants swelled: in certain areas like Johannesburg, the city founded at the center of the gold bearing reef, British and other non-Boer elements greatly outnumbered the Boer population. The Boer Republic refused to grant the new immigrants voting rights, correctly foreseeing the loss of political power, and this "Uitlander" ('Foreigner") question was to serve as the spark for the Second Anglo-Boer war of 1889 - 1902, the one that is most often remembered in the annals of history. After protracted negotiations between the British government at the Cape, headed by one Cecil John Rhodes, and the Boer president, Paul Kruger broke down, a small Uitlander rebellion broke out in Johannesburg. Simultaneously a small private English militia under the leadership of one of Rhode's adjutants, actually invaded the Transvaal Republic. The invasion and rebellion were quickly suppressed by the Boer forces, but the die had been cast; war between the Boer Republics and the British was thereafter inevitable.

Boers Strike First

Sensing that war was near, the British began moving troops up to the borders of the Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics, and started preparations to ship out further troops from Britain. The Transvaal President, Kruger, sent an ultimatum to the British administration in the Cape to stop the troop build up or the Boers would regard it as an act of war (which it of course was).

The British ignored the ultimatum, and in October 1899, the Boers went over to the offensive, launching two pronged invasions in British ruled Natal and the Northern Cape. The White population figures of the Boer Republics at this stage of the proceedings make interesting reading: in total the White population of the Transvaal and Orange Free States State was just over 200,000, and together with 2,000 Boer sympathizers recruited from Natal and the Cape, the Boer armed forces in total were never more than 52,000 at any one stage in the three year war which followed. The British in the other hand had 176,000 soldiers alone in the Cape by the end of 1899, and by the end of the war itself had deployed 478,725 soldiers in the field: nearly twice as many military personnel as the entire Boer population, men, women and children included.

Initial British Defeats

At first the war went well for the Boers: several British defeats followed one another in quick succession, created by the skillful use of trenches by the Boers and unconventional mobile tactics. Another advantage, exploited to the hilt by the Boers, was their modern semi-automatic Mauser rifles - a gift from the German Kaiser - while the British still had manual loading Lee-Enfield rifles as their main infantry armament. The Boers laid siege to three towns inside British held territory: Mafikeng and Kimberley in the Northern Cape and Ladysmith in Natal. It was however in besieging these three towns that the Boers lost their chance of winning the war. Initially the plan had been to strike down into Natal and seize the port of Durban, whilst simultaneously seizing the large ports in the Cape (Port Elizabeth and eventually Cape Town itself) thereby preventing the British from sending in more troops. However, the main Boer force became bogged down besieging what were in reality relatively unimportant military targets, and the British were able to land many thousands of troops in the country unmolested.

Inevitable British Victories due to overwhelming numbers

Eventually the sieges of all three towns were lifted and the British then pressed home their military superiority, occupying Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, and Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, in quick succession. The British then expected the Boers to surrender after the fall of their major cities: but instead the remaining Boer forces - now numbering only some 26,000 - started a hit and run guerrilla war which was to last from 1900 to 1902. Operating in the open veld, the Boer guerrillas could rely on provisions and support from the rural Boer community, and as a result the British occupation only extended as far as the range of their guns: as soon as they moved out an area it was quickly re-occupied by Boers, who then waged a highly effective campaign of sabotage and raids against British columns.

Scorched Earth and Concentration Camps

By mid 1900, the Second Anglo-Boer War had been raging for well over a year: the overwhelming British force had occupied all the major towns and centers of the Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, and the Boers had been forced to resort to hit and run guerrilla tactics in the open veld. The Boers continued to inflict defeats upon the British in this way: so much so that eventually the war was to cost the British government £191 000 000 (191 million Pounds - a fortune by 1901 standards, and many hundred times that amount today). By mid 1900, however, the British had become exasperated with the military situation: the Boers seemed to be able operate with impunity in the veld: a new course of action was decided upon. In the last months of 1900, the British began to build what eventually became 45 separate concentration camps, established to systematically remove women and children from their farms to prevent them aiding and supplying the Boer soldiers ("burgers") in the field.

The British ironically justified rounding up thousands of women and children - something unprecedented before in any other war which the British Empire had fought. So it was that the British started not only rounding up as many Boer women and children as they could, but also destroying the farms, their only source of survival. The evacuation of the farms was accompanied by the burning and dynamiting of all farm houses and buildings. Poultry, sheep and cattle were slaughtered, the houses looted and all fruit trees, grain or other crops burned down. This is not to say that all the British undertook this task with relish: many ordinary British soldiers were themselves appalled at what they were ordered to do.

Transported in open wagons, and sometimes in open flatbed trains, the Boer women and children so evacuated were taken to the camps which were scattered all over the country, from Howick in Natal through to Kroonstad in the Orange Free State. The terrain upon which the camps had been built was poorly chosen: exposed to the elements and under supplied. Too many people were assembled in too short a time without adequate preparation. The administrative personnel and medical services were inadequate, the rations unsatisfactory; there were dishonest contractors and inefficient officials who were unable to cope with the epidemic of measles and pneumonia which broke out.

The wave of evacuees soon overwhelmed the inadequate preparations the British had taken. Up to October 1901, the number of inmates in the 45 camps increased to 118 000 Whites and 43 000 non-Whites. The death rate was 344 per thousand amongst the Whites; at one stage in the Kroonstad camp the death rate was 878 per thousand. Eventually 27,927 Boers died in the camps, of whom 4177 were adult women and 22,074 were children under the age of 16. Since the entire Boer population in both republics was just over 200,000, the mortality rate meant that just under 15 percent of the entire Boer population was wiped out. Such a figure is of genocidal proportions. These figures are even more revealing when the actual combat fatalities for the entire war are reviewed: some 7091 British soldiers died, while on the Boer side some 3990 burgers were killed, with a further 1081 dying of disease or accident in the veld. Twelve percent of Boer deaths were battle related; six percent died from other causes while on commando; 17 percent were adults in the camps and 65 percent were children under the age of 16 years. It has been estimated that without this loss, the White population of South Africa would have been as much as a third larger than what it eventually became.

Boer Surrender

Although the guerrilla war itself was reasonably successful - with one Boer commando under the able guerrilla leader general, Jan Smuts, raiding so deep in the Cape that they came within sight of Table Mountain in Cape Town - the pressures brought to bear by the concentration camp issue forced them to eventually surrender or face total extermination. In 1902, the Treaty of Vereniging brought the war to an end, and Britain formally annexed the Transvaal and Orange Free State.


24 Nov 2010 21:02
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