End of the Boer War

On the 31st May 1902 – The Boer War ended between the Boers of South Africa and Great Britain with the Treaty of Vereeniging.

howseactionDuring the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, the Victoria Cross was awarded to Major General Sir Neville Reginald Howse VC, KCB, KCMG, the very first Australian to receive our highest award “For Valour”. At the time a Doctor and Captain in the Medical Corps, on the 24 July 1900 during the action at Vredefort he went out under a heavy cross fire and picked up a wounded man, and carried him to a place of shelter from the battlefield.

Also, as a consequence of the executions of Harry “Breaker” Morant and Peter Joseph Handcock, the Boer War was the last time that Australian Troops have been placed under the jurisdiction of another nations military justice system. In the First World War, 121 Australians were sentenced to death primarily for desertion, none were carried out with all being commuted to prison sentences and soldiers generally being paroled back to their units almost immediately. and,Breaker_Morant

Gandhi_Boer_WarMahamta Gandhi who was a lawyer working for Muslim Indian Traders in Natal at the time, formed a volunteer Ambulance Corps for the British Army. The British commander General Buller mentioned the Corp in despatches and Gandhi and 34 of his men were awarded the Queen’s South Africa campaign medal.

The peace settlement entailed the end of hostilities and the surrender of all Boer forces and their arms to the British, with the promise of eventual self-government to the Transvaal (South African Republic) and the Orange Free State as colonies of the British Empire. The Boer Republics agreed to come under the sovereignty of the British Crown and the British government agreed on various details including the following:Treaty of Vereeniging

All Boer fighters of both republics had to give themselves up
All combatants would be disarmed
Everyone had to swear allegiance to the Crown
No death penalties would be dealt out
A general amnesty would apply
The use of Dutch would be allowed in the schools and law courts.
To eventually give the Transvaal and the Orange Free State self-government (civil government was granted in 1906 and 1907, respectively).
To avoid discussing the native (Black) enfranchisement issue until self-government had been given.
To pay the Afrikaners £3,000,000 in reconstruction aid.
Property rights of Boers would be respected
No land taxes would be introduced
Registered private guns would be allowed

Subsequent to the British government giving the Boer colonies self-government, the Union of South Africa was created on 31 May 1910. The Union gained relative independence under the 1926 Imperial Conference and the 1931 Statute of Westminster. The country became a republic in 1961 therefore severing all connections with Great Britain. The country rejoined the Commonwealth in 1994.

Although the treaty is named after the town of Vereeniging in Transvaal, where the peace negotiations took place, the document was actually signed at Melrose House in Pretoria.

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