Thursday, April 30, 2020

Mafeking! Chronicles of an old scout.

" All right. Four hours of bombing. A dead dog."

...-There are many versions of the siege of Mafeking. Historians say that without this Battle, Baden-Powell would not be known as it is today. True or not his style of his way of acting, the famous " Mafeking Blefes Game " made him a hero who raised him to the noble title of " Lord " and after the Queen's " by the Queen. Let's face it, defending an open city with just over 800 soldiers against 6.000 Boers is a feat that can't be dismissive. Stand by for other Mafeking posts.

Everyone acknowledged that without B.P. Scouting would never have seen the light of day. To this, it can be added that without his world prestige, as a war hero, the Scout movement would never have reached its current dimensions. The renowned of B. P., as a war hero, was won from 11 October 1899 to May 17, 1900-exactly 217 days. In the almost seven months, he emerged as a savior of what will forever be known in history as the siege of Mafeking, a dark town located in South Africa that, by accident, was designed on the world stage when it became the scenario of the conflict between the " Boers " and the British. The world's reputation of B. P, it can reassemble to the role he played in the siege of Mafeking.

It's not easy to explain the collective hysteria that took over the British people - usually so calm and fleumatic - when it was announced the lifting of the siege of the city, so long forgotten. But, nothing was normal, in those frenetic days of the month of May 1990, and the British Nation gave his relief and acclaimed his hero - Baden-Powell - and he himself was haunted with the fame that they imposed on him The best of the world. The telegram announcing the good news took about ten hours to arrive from Pretoria to London. Fell into the Reuther news birot 17 minutes after 9 o'clock at night. Half an hour later, a huge crowd invaded the streets of London to break into an orgy, and was followed by the rest of the country, a few minutes later.

Applates, artists, actors, in the theatres of varieties, spontaneously, rose to sing the national anthem. Queen Victoria left the dinner table to dispatch telegrams of congratulations, on behalf of the British Empire, Baden Powell and his troops, thousands of miles away, in South Africa. The newspapers, in special editions, described the bravery of the British forces, as "a new page in the history of human heroism". B.P. was promoted to General of Division at the time - the youngest in that post, in the British Army. I was 43 years old. A model of him, in wax, took place on the front platform, of the famous Madame Tussaud Museum in London. The winner of Mafeking suddenly became the greatest hero, after Nelson and Wellington.

With all due respect to the innocent victims of the legendary Mafeking, it should be mentioned that the siege was not remarkable for the bravery, from either side. In all, 20.000 grenades fell on the city, some 100 per day, causing relatively small damage and interfering very little in the daily lives of its defenders. In addition to this, Mafeking was in no time entirely besieged by the Boers. Spies and messengers were in and out freely and, according to the words of a modern and irreverent historian, about the event, the worst enemies of the troops and the population, in the besieged city, were the fleas, flies, mosquitoes and ants. The food supplies were suitable and there wasn't even a shortage of fun. For example, the dinner offered on the eve of the New Year, which made up of a dozen different dishes, could not have defamed a three-star hotel. Polo and card games (bridge), billiards, and theatrical performances, and the atmosphere that was especially characterized by boredom.

There were, of course, some fatal cases and material damage, but the total number of deaths was not higher than 400. On the British side, the fighters totaled 1.213 officers and squares, and 6.000 on the Boers. The civilian population, in the city, was estimated at 1.800 white people - including women and children - and 7.500 black people. Nor was the cost of the war-GBP 123.251, which included the costs of feeding the defenders and the compensation for the damage caused by the local population.

And first of all, it wasn't a bloody siege. In fact, there were only two clashes, which could be described as violent. No wonder, therefore, that the siege of Mafeking was skilfully described by an eminent historian as "the last of the wars of gentlemen". By way of clarification, the hostilities ceased on Sundays that were observed as an unofficial truce, on both sides. That was the day for the church, or for rest and for women to wash and ironing the clothes. White Flags of the Red Cross were scrupulously respected and the messengers who were handled from the attackers were treated with deference and even cumulated with gifts.

The British empire was at the apex of its glory and it was inconceivable that "British Peace" could be disturbed by any quadrant of the world. Two absurd republics, as they were called by the British press - The Transvaal (commonly known as South African Republic) and the Free State of Orange, inhabited by frustrated and religious peasants - had dared to twist the tail of the invincible British Lion, for the rest of the rest of the rest of the world.

Despite its numerical and technical superiority, the British Army had suffered humiliating and unexpected defeats and the obscure siege of Mafeking suddenly became the symbol of the British Empire's survival - the largest the world had seen. After the humiliating defeat at Magersfontein - an event that traumatized the British public opinion, more than any other, during the Victorian era - the Nation's hopes were centralized on Mafeking. Rescuing the city from the Boer s' domain, became a point of honor.

As for Baden-Powell, it was his fate: a soldier by accident, a hero by accident, who thus filled a public need. No one disputed their qualities, and not in a military level. With a handful of men only, he had resisted a large army that was at least three times more numerous, and thus allowed the bulk of the disorganized British troops to regroup for a counterattack. In a humanitarian level, it was equal to the image that the public had created around his personality: calm, phleumatic, courageous and capable of performing acts of heroism where the need arises. And his sense of humor just increased his popularity. He was a master of writing self-critic war newsletters: " All right. Four hours of bombing. A dead dog.".

Note - I will be publishing more articles on Transvaal and Mafeking.

Special Thanks to
Espírito Escoteiro

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