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Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) - British Armed Forces (Other Ranks)

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Servicemen - British/Colonial

Image Right - Anglo-Boer war memorial, Belfast

Image Geograph © Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

This project is an extension of the The Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) Notable British Armed Forces. The focus of that project is to feature the prominent figures or Officers of the war. This project is dedicated to ranks other than Officers (Other Ranks) of the British Armed Forces. Please link GENi profiles of "other ranks" who fought in the Anglo-Boer War to this project. Please also share interesting tales and anecdotes about them. See the list below.

In the course of the war, the British Army was reinforced by volunteer contingents from Canada Strathcona's Horse , Australia, New Zealand, the Cape Colony and Natal. There is a list of all the British military units which illustrates the british strength. Large numbers of British armed forces were engaged first in open warfare, and subsequently in a long and bitter guerrilla campaign which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902.

Britain’s Native African Troops: Considered especially outrageous by Boers was the British use of native African troops (serving for pay or other inducements), particularly due to the manner in which Britain used the Africans. To preserve British troop strength for the “fighting war,” the British typically used their native African troops behind the lines to round up Boer families (as well as rounding up many native Africans working for Boers or simply “caught in the middle” of the war) and transport them to the squalid concentration camps in which thousands of women and children – Boers and native Africans alike – died or suffered terrible hardship. During these forcible round ups of civilians, numerous outrages and frequent instances of brutality by African troops occurred – including many contemporary accounts of “molestation” of Boer women (“molestation” being the Victorian era code word for rape and sexual abuse). Inevitably, this bred an enduring legacy of ill-feeling and resentment between Boers and native Africans that only exacerbated already strained race relations.

British soldiers

(Warrant Officers, Staff/Colour Sergeants, Sergeants, Corporals, Lance Corporals and Privates)




  • George William Crisp - always claimed to be of Scottish descent, served as a trooper in the 10th Hussars in the Boer War. He was a British-born, English and American film actor








  • Unit: 2nd Scottish Horse








  • George Henry Westmore - spent eighteen months in the British Army cavalry during the Second Boer War. He became prominent in Hollywood. Specialising in wig-making, and later make-up, he established the first movie make-up department in 1917



Other Ranks

Private On completion of Phase 1 Training, all new soldiers start as Privates although the title may be Trooper, Gunner, Signaller, Sapper, Guardsman Rifleman or even Kingsman depending on Corps/Regiment.

Lance Corporal Promotion to Lance Corporal may follow after Phase 2 Training or after about 3 years as a private. Lance Corporals are required to supervise a small team of up to four soldiers called a section. They also have opportunities to specialise and undertake specialist military training.

Corporal After 6-8 years, and depending on ability to lead, promotion to Corporal typically follows. In this rank additional trade and instructor qualifications can be gained. Corporals are given command of more soldiers and equipment such as tanks and guns.

Sergeant Sergeant is a senior role of responsibility, promotion to which typically takes place after 12 years depending on ability. Sergeants typically are second in command of a troop or platoon of up to 35 soldiers, with the important responsibility for advising and assisting junior officers.

Staff/Colour Sergeant After a few years as a Sergeant promotion to either Staff or Colour Sergeant may follow. This is a senior role combining man and resource management of around 120 soldiers, or even command of a troop or platoon.

Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company/Squadron Sergeant Major) This is a senior management role focussing on the training, welfare and discipline of a company, squadron or battery of up to 120 soldiers. WO2s act as senior adviser to the Major in command of the sub-unit and may also be selected for a commission as an Officer.

Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) The most senior soldier rank in the British Army, typically reached after 18 years of outstanding service. WO1s are the senior advisors of their unit's Commanding Officer, with leadership, discipline and welfare responsibilities of up to 650 officers and soldiers and equipment.

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See also

References and Sources

// this project is in History Link 

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