Destruction of Trains and Railway Installations

Headaches Upon Headaches for British Communication and Supply Lines

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Bridge blown by Boer Train Wreckers

How to get this heap of metal back onto the tracks without the use of a modern crane? A costly disaster which would be yet another stone in the shoe of the Imperial war effort. The locomotive is Dutch and belonged to the Netherlands Railway Company (NZASM). Dutch trains had side-boilers as this picture clearly shows. 

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Another expensive act of sabotage

Again, how did the British engineers ever manage to get this heavy locomotive back on it's tracks? British engineers spent much of their time trying to get Kitchener's rolling stock rolling once more. The act of sabotaging British military trains infuriated the military authorities to such an extent that they began burning all Boer farms in the vicinity of any attack -- something which is widely criticized to this day.

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For how many days will this disaster block the railways?

One of the main purposes of wrecking the British rail system, lay in the fact that long delays disrupted communications and the delivery of supplies that were vital to the war effort. The other purpose was to lift as much war materials as possible from the enemy in order to continue their own war. The Boers were could no longer import war supplies so they turned the enemy into their commissariat. In British parliament, one member complained loudly about the fact that the British government was supplying its own enemy's with all their war materials.

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Another truck of war supplies goes up in smoke

If the Boers couldn't destroy the trains by wrecking them physically, they often set them on fire. The open trucks were often covered with heavy, waterproofed buck-sails, which burned like tar when a shovel full of coals from the boiler was deposited on them. Wood was also used in most of the trucks' construction, so the trucks burned readily and were thus often destroyed completely.

A bridge destroyed by the Boers.

Railway tunnel blown up by the Boers during their retreat from Natal to Wakkerstroom. The damage was slight and was quickly repaired by the British advance.

The bridge across Blood River, destroyed by the Boers.

A successful demolition job by the Boers, and one which would take considerable time to repair.

Acknowledgement: Photos reproduced, courtesy of the National Archives in Pretoria, South Africa