Mafeking Memories is a memoir of the siege of Mafeking in South Africa during the Boer War, as recorded by Frederick Saunders (1883-1964). Saunders, sixteen at the time of the siege, volunteered for service in the Bechuanaland Rifles, defending Mafeking against the encircling Boers. The Boer War had just begun, and with Ladysmith and Kimberley under siege as well, British reverses signaled their possible defeat at the hands of the Boers, and an international humiliation for Great Britain. Of the sieges, Mafeking's was the longest, from October 1899 to May 1900. The British public watched events in South Africa intently.
Saunders gives us a vivid and unique soldier's-eye view of the siege, the daily life, the hunger, the regular bombardment from long-range Boer guns, the forays against the Boers, and the antics of Baden-Powell, who tried to keep up the morale of the garrison. Saunders's descriptions of the countryside are graphic too, revealing an artist's sensitivity. His account nicely supplements others written by journalists and by prominent officials at Mafeking. The editor, who obtained the memoir from the Saunders family, provides an introduction that places the siege in its historical context.
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