A Canadian mounted rifleman at war, 1899 – 1902. The reminiscences of A.E. Hilder – Edited and annotated by A.G. Morris



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    A Canadian mounted rifleman at war, 1899 – 1902. The reminiscences of A.E. Hilder – Edited and annotated by A.G. Morris

    Post by Nico10 on Sat 12 Nov 2011, 8:45 pm

    “A Canadian mounted rifleman at war ... ” is the recollections of one A.E Hilder, who was part of the British forces during the Anglo-Boer war of 1899 to 1902. It tell of his experiences in South Africa during the time of the war, and as such, is a value contribution to the body of literature that exists on the subject of the war.

    The work is written in very fluent and good English. The author had a great control of the English language and thus this book is very enjoyable, and already on that basis well worth the read. It is however as a general source on the history of South Africa that this work should be judged, and in that sense it can be debated.

    In many ways, Hilder’s recollections are remarkable, and in many ways not. What struck me most, is that the author spend very little (if any) time on questioning the politics and the purpose of the Anglo-Boer war. In most sources on the Anglo-Boer war, authors often tries to make sense of the whole mess that was the Anglo-Boer war. There is often an internal struggle on the part of the author, or sometimes just a very one sided interpretation. But in the case of Hilder, there is none of this.

    Hilder provides the reader with what I like to call a ‘light’ account of the events he lived thru. Although he is sometimes critical of certain events and certain individuals, he fails to go into deep discussions about the war. Instead loads and loads of seemingly trivial information is provided, for example descriptions of life during the war. He likes to recall funny incidents that happened during the time he served and this adds to the ‘light’ atmosphere if the book.

    Despite the fact that these recollections by Hilder is written in what I refer to as a very ‘light’ way, the book will be hard to chew on for some. While the account is fascinating, there is no ‘storyline’ behind it. It is unlike many books which explore certain events in order to argue a specific point of view. The author obviously had no strong agenda for writing this book. It seems that his biggest aim was to pin down his experiences so that it will not be lost forever.

    For doing this, he must be applauded. The book provides valuable information about life for these Canadians during the war. For those who are interested in the military operations during the Anglo-Boer war, this book will be useful. Hilder describes many incidents that took place during battle. He describes often how the soldiers were underfed and had to resort to stealing in order to survive.

    In summary, although these recollections by A.E. Hilder is an important part of our heritage, both for South Africans, Canadians and everybody with an interest in the Anglo-Boer war, I would not advise everybody to read this book. Of course, I would not discourage anybody to read it, but certain people might just stop reading it after a while and cast it aside. Those with a great interest in the Anglo-Boer war, in warfare and those with a general passion for the past should consider this one though.

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