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13 October 1899 - 17 May 1900

War: Boer War 1899-1902
Where: Mafikeng
South Africa


Belligerents: Canada Transvaal
Britain Orange Free State
Robert Baden-Powell
Colonel B T Mahon
General Piet Cronje
General J. P. Snyman
Forces: 1,500 Men 8,000 Men

Decisive British Victory

Casualties: Canada & Allies Opponents
812 2,000

In October ob 1899 Mafeking was surrounded by a Boer force of about 5,000 men under the command of Piet Cronje the son of General Cronje. The British commander was Colonel Robert Baden-Powell (later known as Lord Baden-Powell, the fonder of the Boy Scout movement) who had about 2,000 officers and men. The siege was to last for 7 months and achieve fame throughout the world due to the fact that their were 4 reporters from large London daily newspapers trapped in the town who managed to get reports out to a telegraph office for the world to read.

As the siege was underway, a British force under Colonel Mahon began to march towards Mafeking to relieve it. He command about 1000 troops and some artillery. The Boers decided on November 19th that they would continue the siege but re-deploy troops to stop British relief forces. The Boers dispatched a force to meet Mahon but were unable to tempt them into a frontal attack against prepared Boer positions.

The city was pressured but it was not until May 12th that a concerted attack was made by the Boers to capture the city.

The Boer attack began early in the morning and after some initial success began to break down. The attacking Boer force was either captured, killed or retreated after swift counterattacks y the British forces. This organized action by Colonel Baden-Powell accounted for the successful defence of the position and the discouragement of any additional attacks by the Boers.

A second British relief force had also been dispatch to Mafeking from Rhodesia under the command of Colonel Herbert Plumer. They were to March south into the Transvaal and meet up with Mahon at Mafeking.

In April of 1900 the departed southwards with a contingent of the Royal Canadian Artillery, C Battery, which had been transferred from Capetown for the operation. They travelled by ship to Beria in Mozambique and then west by train to Marandellas in Rhodesia and then 500 kilometres to Bulawayo. After re-supplying and stocking up they traveled by rail to within 100 kilometres of Mafeking  where they linked up with the other British forces on May 15th and then went into battle the next day. The Canadian artillery went up against the Boer guns and managed to force them to retreat thus opening the road to Mafeking.

In the early hours of May 17th the British relief forces reached Mafeking and the siege was lifted. Among Mahon's relief forces was Baden-Powell's younger brother. In honour of the Canadian contribution to the victory the reply to the sentries challenge that night was "Canada"

After the relief of Mafeking in May of 1900 the action was viewed as an important British victory in the war and the victor of Mafeking, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell was considered the hero of the action.

Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's exciting account of the Battle

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