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Thread on episode 72: Episode 72 - Breaker Morant, Bulala Taylor and a British Military War Crimes Court Case

Discuss this episode of The Anglo-Boer War

Feb 3, 2019 19m

This week we explore incidents involving Australians based in Pretoria who committed war crimes and were executed. But what really happened? I’m going to try and detach the myth from the reality about Breaker Morant, Bulala Taylor and the First Ever British Military War Crimes Court Case. It must not be forgotten that the Boer War was Australia’s first experience of a sustained imperial war fought beyond its shores. Just exactly what they did is still debated. I’ve researched these terrible incidents described by a doctor living in Pretoria called Doctor Alexander Kay. We’ve already heard from him, remember he was besieged in Ladysmith at the start of the war. Much of what he wrote about in his diary was corroborated by independent witnesses and court documents later. Still this remains an emotional tale so I’m going to have to tread very softly indeed. The trouble began at the end of March 1901, when a corps of volunteers was raised by the British in Pretoria under the name of the Bushveld Carbineers. In modern terms, they’d be somewhat like a band of mercenaries, mixed with imperialists, a sprinkling of criminals, some imbued with the character of vigilantes. Most were after treasure. Throw in greed, alcohol and a seriously warped sense of ethics, and that could describe the Bushveld Carbineers. At least, that’s what the facts say, so please don’t get angry if your ancestors fought in this unit. They were courageous, they were in a war. They were far away from home. The man who came up with the original idea of starting the Bushveld Carbineers was a barman who said he’d build a new unit for the British, but needed five hundred pounds to purchase equipment. As Doctor Kay writes: “…As a reward he was transformed from a bartender to a captain and paymaster…” Furthermore, this publican understood that if he played his cards right, great profits could be made. He could be granted land too, that most profitable of things, along with other financial and capital goods like cattle.

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Feb 3, 2019 19m

This week we explore incidents involving Australians based in Pretoria who committed war crimes and were executed. But what really happened? I’m going to try and detach the myth from the reality about Breaker Morant, Bulala Taylor and the First Ever British Military War Crimes Court Case. It must not be forgotten that the Boer War was Australia’s first experience of a sustained imperial war fought beyond its shores. Just exactly what they did is still debated. I’ve researched these terrible incidents described by a doctor living in Pretoria called Doctor Alexander Kay. We’ve already heard from him, remember he was besieged in Ladysmith at the start of the war. Much of what he wrote about in his diary was corroborated by independent witnesses and court documents later. Still this remains an emotional tale so I’m going to have to tread very softly indeed. The trouble began at the end of March 1901, when a corps of volunteers was raised by the British in Pretoria under the name of the Bushveld Carbineers. In modern terms, they’d be somewhat like a band of mercenaries, mixed with imperialists, a sprinkling of criminals, some imbued with the character of vigilantes. Most were after treasure. Throw in greed, alcohol and a seriously warped sense of ethics, and that could describe the Bushveld Carbineers. At least, that’s what the facts say, so please don’t get angry if your ancestors fought in this unit. They were courageous, they were in a war. They were far away from home. The man who came up with the original idea of starting the Bushveld Carbineers was a barman who said he’d build a new unit for the British, but needed five hundred pounds to purchase equipment. As Doctor Kay writes: “…As a reward he was transformed from a bartender to a captain and paymaster…” Furthermore, this publican understood that if he played his cards right, great profits could be made. He could be granted land too, that most profitable of things, along with other financial and capital goods like cattle.

  • This is a placeholder title for an episode

    Jul 20 2020 1h 30m
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    Jul 20 2020 1h 30m
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    Jul 20 2020 1h 30m

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