10th – 17th December 1899
At the close of 1899 the might of the British Empire went to war with the small Boer armies of the republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State in South Africa.
It was going to be a quick victory.
Within weeks the British forces were driven back and besieged in the towns of Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith and the road to Cape Town – and defeat – lay open.
The British government scrambled to assemble a new and much bigger force and on arrival in Cape Town the army was split into three columns each lead by an experienced general. They set off to relieve the besieged towns.
But in a single week (10-17 December 1899) each column was defeated at with nearly 3 000 British casualties making this a “Black Week” for the British Army.
These three battles – Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso – shook late-Victorian Britain.
Dr Spencer Jones of Wolverhampton University tells the story of Black Week – the battles, the generals and the mistakes.
Credit to : History West Midlands