The S African part in the Great War began with operations to secure objectives in German South West Africa but these had to be hastily abandoned when armed rebellion broke out back home led by General Beyers De Wet and others involving some 11500 pro-German rebels. The rebellion lasted five months from September 1914 to February 1915 when they surrendered to General Botha and his force of 300 two thirds of whom were of Dutch descent. With the rebellion over the S Africans resumed the campaign for the conquest of German SW Africa. As the official historian points out whereas the other Dominions’ efforts were more or less centralized - Canadian Corps Australian Corps New Zealand Division - the S African activities were directed into diiverse operations that bore little relations to each other and this is reflected in the structure of this history which is divided into several parts. The first part covers the initial operations in German SW Africa and the rebellion at home. Part II deals with the resumed operations after the rebellion in SW Africa. Parts III and IV are concerned with the German East African campaign in which S African troops played a large part. Perhaps the best known of the S African forces of the Great War is the S African Infantry Brigade which operated first out of Egypt against the Senussi tribesmen (Part V) and then on the Western Front (Part VI) where they earned the reputation of being among the finest troops in the BEF and their action in Delville Wood during the Somme offensive is legendary. This Part VI takes up the main part of the book coverering almost one hundred pages. But they weren’t the only S African troops in France. Five siege batteries 71st to 75th each equipped with 6” Howitzers arrived in France in April 1916 followed by a sixth (125th Battery) in July but it wasn’t till January 1918 that they were brought together forming two Heavy Artillery Groups 44th and 50th. In Part VII the doings of each battery are treated separately. Also covered in this Part is a divisional signal company which became XV Corps Signal Company the S African Medical Services in France two railway companies and eight horse transport companies manned by Cape Coloured drivers. The final part Part VIII is given over to administration. The book concludes with the list of S African VCs with their citations and the casualty (deaths) figures shown by unit they amounted to 12452 of whom 8551were combat troops. In all 220196 S Africans served of whom 92837 were Cape Coloured and S African Native personnel of the Labour Battalion and Corps
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