Boer War Past Paper Qs

January 2010

(b) (ii) Use Sources 7, 8 and 9 and your own knowledge.

Do you agree with the view presented in Source 9 that critics of the Second Boer War ‘were wrong to say that the concentration camps were part of the deliberate use of the “methods of babarism”’ (Source 9, lines 48–50)?

Explain your answer, using Sources 7, 8 and 9 and your own knowledge. (40)


(From Robert Ensor, England 1870–1914, published 1936)

In 1901, the war entered the final phase in which lines of blockhouses, linked by wire fences, were built across the country to divide it into sections. One section after another was ‘swept’ and every person found taken to a concentration camp. These camps, into which the Boer women and children were collected, were grossly mismanaged. Disease became rife, and, within fourteen months, 20,177 inmates had died.

(From a speech in June 1901 by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the leader of the Liberal Party. A few days earlier Campbell-Bannerman had met Emily Hobhouse who, supported by the Committee of the Distress Fund for the Relief of South African Women and Children, had visited the concentration camps.)

A phrase often used is that ‘war is war’. But when one comes to ask about it, one is told that no war is going on – that it is not war. When is a war not a war? When it is carried on by methods of barbarism in South Africa.

(From Andrew Roberts, Salisbury: Victorian Titan, published 1999)

The concentration camps were set up for the refuge of the Boers who flooded into them for food, shelter, clothing and, above all, protection when the men left their homesteads to fight. Once the harsh homestead-burning policy was adopted, there was no alternative accommodation on the veldt. Attendance was normally
voluntary. It was not all unrelieved horror either. In some there were musical societies, reading rooms, games and sports. Critics of the war were wrong to say that the concentration camps were part of the deliberate use of the ‘methods of barbarism’. They were rather a terrible unexpected by-product of guerrilla war.
June 2010

(b) (i) Use Sources 4, 5 and 6 and your own knowledge.

Do you agree with the view that the Second Boer War advanced the cause of social reform in Britain?
Explain your answer, using Sources 4, 5 and 6 and your own knowledge. (40)


(From Rex Pope, War and Society in Britain, 1899–1948, published 1991)

The Boer War demonstrates the difficulty of establishing any firm causal relationship between war and improvements in social welfare. The immediate effect of the war was to divert political attention, and potential economic resources, from two important areas for which there had been mounting pressure in the 1890s. These were the provision of old-age pensions and of subsidised working-class housing. However, the rejection rate among would-be volunteers for the army (and the exaggeration of this problem by military men) did reinforce concern over the condition of the mass of the population.


(From the findings of the Select Committee on Physical Deterioration, published in 1904. This parliamentary committee was set up after the Boer War as a result of concerns over the poor condition of recruits.)

The one subject which causes anxiety for the future as regards recruiting is the gradual deterioration of the physique of the working classes from which the bulk of recruits must always be drawn. When it is remembered that recruiters are instructed not to submit men for medical examination unless they are reasonably expected to be passed fit, we cannot but be struck by the percentage considered unfit for service. The poor physical condition of the urban poor is easy to understand when we reflect that their poverty includes defective housing, overcrowding and insanitary conditions.


(From Norman Lowe, Modern British History, published 1998)

Recruitment for the Second Boer War drew attention to the problem of poverty when it was found that almost half the men who volunteered for the army were physically unfit for military service. This convinced the government to help the poor, otherwise Britain might be unable to defend her Empire adequately in the event of a major war.

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