Book review: The Hall Handbook of the Anglo Boer War

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Major Darrell Hall was a well-known expert on the South African War and his “The Hall Handbook of the Anglo Boer War” was meant as a “general reference book, providing background information for those who wish to study the war, but have no real knowledge of how the opposing forces were organised, their equipment, the personalities involved, and so on.”

In this Hall succeeded brilliantly and this Handbook is should be a “must have” for anyone with even a casual interest in the “Boer War”. For easy reference the book is divided into ten chapters, starting with an analysis of the Boer forces; followed by the British Army, including colonial forces ; and a chapter on the Royal Navy. For the Boers this includes a detailed list of all the commandos and corps, including the artillery and foreign volunteers. He also reproduces diagrams of the Johannesburg and Pretoria forts. For the British, detailed records are provided of the various colonial and Commonwealth forces and the regiments of the British Army deployed here. Then follows a potted history of the war, followed by chapters on decorations and medals; casualties, prisoners and war graves; black, Coloured and Indian participation; blockhouses and concentration camps; and transport, uniforms, guns and costs.

Hall completed a draft of this Handbook just weeks before his death and the book was completed by a team of editors in time for the 1999 Centenary of that conflict. It was thus indeed his swansong… and what a song!

Darrell Hall

The Hall Handbook of the Anglo Boer War

University of Natal Press

Scotsville
1999