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War in South Africa and China

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The Royal Navy ashore

Conflict in the 20th Century is mostly associated with the two World Wars of 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945. However, at the turn of the 20th century the British were embroiled in conflicts on further shores.

The Boer War (1899 – 1902) and the Boxer Rebellion (1900) saw Royal Naval personnel landed from ships to fight as ‘naval brigades’ offering support to the British Army as artillery and light infantrymen.

The involvement of the Royal Navy in these land conflicts highlights the flexibility and adaptability of its personnel and weaponry.

It showcased, not only the vital long-reaching contribution of the Royal Navy in international and imperial matters, but also brought to the attention of military planners the navy’s vital gunnery expertise and infantry capabilities that could be employed ashore in coming conflicts such as World War One.

Queen's South Africa Medal 1899-1902, awarded to Petty Officer William Frederick Dennis who served in the naval brigade of HMS Terrible at the relief of Peking and relief of Ladysmith. Inscribed: TUGELA HEIGHTS, RELIEF OF LADYSMITH. (RNM)
Queen's South Africa Medal 1899-1902, awarded to Petty Officer William Frederick Dennis who served in the naval brigade of HMS Terrible at the relief of Peking and relief of Ladysmith. Inscribed: TUGELA HEIGHTS, RELIEF OF LADYSMITH. (RNM)

Article highlights

  • The Royal Navy ashore

  • The Boer War

  • The Boxer Rebellion



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