The Boer Wars in South Africa resulted from over a century of conflict between the British Empire and the Boers (farmers), and comprised the First Anglo-Boer War 1880-1881, and the Second Boer War 1899-1902. The Boers formed two republics, the Transvaal and The Oranje Vrijstaat or Orange State, which they attempted to keep independent of British Colonial rule.
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.
British military service records show high losses, with more than half caused by illness, especially typhoid fever, rather than enemy action. 22000 British soldiers were killed, of which only 35% died in battle, and the remaining 65% from disease.
At that time, it became apparent that there were serious problems with public health in Britain: up to 40% of recruits in Britain were unfit for military service, suffering from medical problems such as rickets and other poverty-related illnesses. 80% of men presenting for service in the Boer War were found by the Army Medical Corps to be physically unfit to fight.
78 Victoria Cross war medals were awarded to British and colonial soldiers for action during the Second Boer War.
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