Destruction of Boer farm

Destruction of Boer farm

Members of New Zealand's Sixth Contingent burn a Boer farm, 1901. This photograph may have been taken by Private William Raynes.

During the second phase of the war Boer farms were often cleared of their inhabitants before the houses and other possessions were burned. The livestock was either seized by the British or slaughtered. More than 30,000 farms were burnt out and up to 3.6 million sheep were destroyed.

Miserable scenes are to be seen on the travel, at farm houses men, women & children are to be seen almost starving, I have seen women & children crying terribly when we would burn down their wagons & take away everything that would be of use to the enemy, you cannot think what a horrible thing war is unless you have seen it with your own eyes, but the brutes still hold out.

Private Frank Swanwick, Fourth Contingent, quoted in Gavin McLean and Ian McGibbon with Kynan Gentry (eds), The Penguin book of New Zealanders at war, Penguin Books, North Shore, 2009, p. 83

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