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Australian soldiers and bicycles, Boer War

Date: 1899-1902
Overall: 83 x 108 mm
Medium: Silver gelatin print
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Robert D McKilliam
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: ANMS0227[094]

User Terms

    A black and white image of three Australian soldier standing in a row with their bicycles in South Africa. Handwritten on the reverse is 'Boer War'.
    SignificanceThis image is a part of the Captain Robert McKilliam collection. Captain McKilliam worked for the Aberdeen White Star Line for 32 years and sailed aboard such famous clipper ships as SALAMIS and THERMOPYLAE. He moved to Sydney in 1913 where he served as Assistant Wharf Master on Darling Island.
    HistoryBicycles had been used in small amounts in the Franco-Prussian War but their use in the Second Boer War was much more extensive. Both the British forces and the Boer forces used bicycles for a number of reasons.
    The use of horses in mounted troops was fraught with difficulties. The harsh terrain and seasons the horses were forced to endure wore them down quickly. Poor quality and minimal feed along with disease weakened them further. Of the 519 000 horses used by the British, 300, 000 died in the war.
    There were no motor vehicles suited for the terrain as yet and it was left to bicycles to assist troops in carrying gear and covering distances quickly. Although not suitable for active weapon firing or sword use, the bicycle also allowed scouts to move quickly and quietly.

    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Australian soldiers and bicycles, Boer War

    Assigned title: Group of three men facing camera wearing military uniforms

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