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Those Faking Combat Photographers in the Spanish-American War - 19 Fake Combat Photos - 4

Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Fake 8 Fake 9 Fake 10
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Only a year before the Boer War started, the Americans were busy fighting Spain in Cuba and the Philippines, during the Spanish-American War (1898.)

And the war photographers were out in full force, trying to fake combat photos.

They were faking the pictures because it was safer than shooting the real thing. And the audience they were selling to wasn't sophisticated enough to know the difference between the fake ones and the real.

But while some, like William Rau were faking combat pictures - see his Spion Kop fakes - in his own back forty, like New York or Pennsylvania, other photographers went to Cuba and the Philippines to where the fighting was actually done.

But that didn't mean their combat photos were any more real. They were after the "look" of combat photos, not the actual thing.

This so called charge was a transparently easy fake to spot, with the "hapless" photographer caught right in the middle between the chargers and the enemy.

He would have been shot in the back if this were for real.

Note the passive by-standers, watching the "silly boys playing at war," one on a standing horse and another on foot, showing conclusively that there are no hostilities going on anywhere in this neighbourhood.

Fake #68 - A Cavalry Charge of Cuban Troops, Remedios, Cuba
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Ooops... #23 - What often happens when doing fake combat photography... the seconds show up.

That's what betrayed Bob Capa's faked "Death of a Loyalist" better known as "The Photographer Killing his Actor."

Go to Bob Capa You Fake

This photo was taken immediately before, or just after the previous Fake #68.

The cavalry horses and men are the same in both photos. Also the trees and background, as well as the crisscrossing paths on the ground.

And now you know exactly where the photographer set up his stereo camera - on the balcony of the house, as he directed the men to make their head-on charge.

Makes for nice photography, but also helps betray fake combat photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Among the most popular photos to fake were troops "fighting" from behind stone enclosures.

Several from the Boer War were the celebrated Honey Nest Kloof fakes which we featured on other pages.

Others are below.

Fake #79 - Cavalry of Gen. Gomez' Army Remedios, Cuba
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Of course the absolute worst collection of fake Boer War photos ever produced - a co-production by the Canadian War Museum and James Lorimer of Canada - sported at least 43 fake pictures and captions, all within the covers of one book, Canada's first ever pictorial book of the Boer War, published in 2003 in honour of Canada's Boer War Centennial.

All the photos and captions were selected and made up by a female Lorimer editor (Lori McLellan), trying her first military book, and her partner in crime, a female Ottawa society photographer (Jana Chytilova below) seconded to the project at the behest of the Canadian War Museum.

"Wow! Did I ever get payed well for this gigg...! It was a gas... lol jana"

Together the girls came up with the 43 zingers in this book which is, easily, the worst case of publishing incompetence in Canadian - if not World - history. And will remain so, for the Ages.

In trying to decipher a pencil note on the back of the archival which no doubt said "sangar," a word the girls had never heard before, and rather than finding a dictionary, just opted to make up as a place called "Sangam." Probably, they reasoned, some place in Africa... In fact, it's entirely fictitious.

They just made up: "Designed to protect troops from observation and enemy fire." What? The Boers would never guess that troops were there in a stone fort in the middle of nowhere? We'll ignore the rifles sticking out.

In fact, contrary to the caption, stone sangars told the Boers exactly where British troops might be found, and far from protecting the men inside, made them a target for annihilation, which is exactly what happened to Canada's own William Knisley and his mates, who sought shelter in one in April 1902 as they fled from the Battle at Hart's River.

This book is a sober warning to all those who mindlessly classify history books as "non-fiction" - as if they somehow, held to a higher level of truth, accuracy, and reliability - that they can be every bit as trashy as the worst romance pot-boiler commonly dismissed as "fiction."

In September 2011, the top non-fiction book on the New York Times best seller list was "Angels are For Real" - listed as "a father recounts his 3-year-old son's encounter with Jesus and the angels during an emergency appendectomy."

Witness too, the awful jingoistic frivolous trash written about Afghanistan by Canadians Rosie, Christie, & Maggie, and their wild, boozy, "partying in brothels" expatriate journalist friends in Afghanistan, about whom Kim Barker has written so revealingly from her years as a US scribe there.

She makes clear why Afghans have such contempt for the completely separate "European" expatriate community, including "NATO gunmen," journalists, and NGO types, whose members excessively booze, snort, and screw away their time in Kabul and Kandahar.


It also offers a stern warning to book publishers - who are forever trying to keep the government grants they get to publish heritage books in their own pockets - that hiring cheap help, obviously lacking university credentials as historians, elementary literacy skills, as well as basic common sense, is disastrous at producing serious history.

Move this book to the "Humour" section of the library...

The laughs come fast and furious in this truly awful book production.

Go to You Gals Sure Made Me Laugh 43 Times

Apology - We have tried to find a photo of Lori McLellan for our readers. Alas, she's not to be found on the internet, successfully trying to keep her head down after her disastrous foray into editing Canadian history books.

Fake # 52 - "Stone breastwork at Sangam" - Canada's Little War - James Lorimer, 2003

Orig. book photo - Image Size - 6 x 12 cm
Found - Ottawa, ON

This is a typical shooting from a stone breastwork picture that is transparently staged. Note how the rifles - at least seven - are all sticking out, pointed at the enemy, while the photographer is outside, in the danger area.

A sangar - a word imported from India - and known as kraals in Africa, is typically a stone enclosure that was designed, not as a military fort at all, but to protect livestock from marauding animals at night.

When built up they made handy little forts usually in the vicinity of farm houses, where both Brits and Boers liked to camp, when danger threatened. So stone kraals were often the centre of fierce fights. In 1896 Dr. Jameson and his rebels made their "last stand" in a kraal, as did Canada's William Knisley DCM in 1902. In areas where kraals were not handy the soldiers built their own "sangars."



Above publisher James Lorimer, the supervisor of this awful heritage book of fiction.

The text alone, in this pictorial book, is reliable, written by respected Canadian historian Carman Miller, left who was recruited by James Lorimer to write it, only to have his serious work defaced by a truly awful team of picture and caption editors.

Carman is Canada's top Boer War expert and also wrote the definitive "Painting the Map Red" which details Canada's part in this imperial war.



Alas, the girls were in something way over their head as shown by this photo, and accompanying caption, on which they collaborated, and which Ottawa society photographer Jana Chytilova shot for the book.

Probably having just returned from an Ottawa high society ball, she got carried away with pretty ribbons and things and thought these would be nice for a Boer War specialty pictorial book and then explained them by adding the caption above.

In fact, only the one on the far left is Boer War, a Queen's South Africa medal.

Sorry 'Bout Dat - The others were pretty enough but - we kid you not - are really commemorative medals from King George V in 1935 and King George VI in 1937, over thirty years after the Boer War had ended... Pouted Jana: "Well how's a girl s'posed to know dat?"

And Dat - The obverse of the medals carried the names and dates for all this. Not much help though when the girls can't read. Or haven't a clue about history in general...

And Dat - It gets better: the two medals also have the wrong - each other's - ribbons. Quite excusable though, because the girls picked them only cause they were pretty.

And these, like many of the hooters in the book, were taken on the premises of the Canadian War Museum, of its collections, and while under the supervision of its staff.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure The photo that comes closest to having the look and feel of a real candid battlefield exposure - like James Mason's genuine Paardeberg combat photo - is this Canadian one which is frequently supplied by Canadian archives to publishers of Boer War books.

This one comes from the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and was given huge prominence in Canada's definitive book on the Boer War: Painting the Map Red, by Professor Carman Miller in 1998.

The National Archives has its own copies which it issues. So for over 100 years this picture has been supplied as a real photo, of "nudge, nudge, wink, wink," Canadians - you know, the hats - under attack... inside a sangar, or stone kraal.

But it's a very poor fake, which anyone, but a sleepy archivist could see instantly.

For starters, look at the five men on the right... When have you seen five men, side by side, in a firefight, with totally identical poses, with right and left hands holding the rifle the same way?

Among settlers in a wagon train, holding off the Indians? Fat chance...

The men in a firing squad about to let loose one volley at a hapless victim? Perhaps...

Or men posing for a photographer? "Hurry up Bill, and take your damn photo. We can't hold this pose forever." Hey, that's it...

And what about the squatting guy smoking his pipe peacefully while the Boers attack? And is he scraping beans back into the cooking pot? Note the smoldering coals...

Some men have nerves of steel. Talk about insisting on having the Last Supper as his sangar is on the point of being overrun by dastardly Boers. Must have made his mates mad as hell...

Oh, and what about that nervy photographer, who sticks his head and camera above the protective stone wall, taking all the time it takes to compose such a good photo, as bullets are whizzing in...?

We contend that far from showing Boers attacking, this photo would be better entitled, "Killing Boring Time in a Sangar."

For the complete lowdown on this Great Canadian combat fake:

Go to Great Canadian Under Attack Fake
Fake #53 - "Under Attack" - pub. Carman Miller "Painting the Map Red" - 1998
Orig. archival issue - Image Size - 11 x 13 cm
Found - Ottawa, ON



flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A year before the Boer War started, American photographers staged their own sangar pictures, making like they were genuine combat photos, when they were patently not.

The men are just volleying for the cameraman, at a non-existent enemy.

Otherwise why would the cameraman with his heavy stereo view camera sit so high above the protective stone breastwork where he would be the first to get shot.

Note how most of the rifles are aiming up, and would all miss and shoot over the heads of any possible charging Spaniard.

Their job was to make smoke for the photographer not deal death at a charging enemy.

Note how the Red Cross men standing behind are just bystanders watching the fun. In a real battle situation they would be hunkered down, with stretchers, bandages, and first aid pouches etc. right beside them to give instant aid to any real casualties.

The photographers in many of these fake combat photos had a constant problem with failing to exert proper controls on the behaviour of "extras" in their setups and so often ruin the feel of a genuine combat photo.

Fake #69 - Fighting from Stone Wall Defences - Washington Volunteers - Taquig, Philippines
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
There are many photos from the Spanish-American War purporting to be combat photos that show men lined up - standing or lying in the open, in trenches, or behind barricades - shooting away usually in unison. Some look really good but...

They are all staged, re-enactments or plain fakes not photos of front line fighting as featured in the world's first frontline combat photo. HERE.

A Mobile War - The Spanish-American War was a mobile war, not a war of entrenched opposing forces, like the Crimean War, and later on, much of World War I.

Remember, the Americans were not defending home and hearth, which these faked photos seem to imply, with brave Americans supposedly fighting behind sandbags, rock walls, etc .against a hostile attacking enemy.

The Americans had come half way around the world to attack the Spaniards in the Philippines, invade the country, then came ashore, chasing them over hill and dale till they were subdued. In Cuba, the celebrated Charge up San Juan Hill was typical of combat that saw Americans running after an enemy who, in reality, was the one in defensive positions, defending home and hearth.

The rock walls and trenches are real enough, but they were done as a precautionary measure any army takes when it sets up camp in enemy territory to safeguard themselves should the enemy ever be foolish enough to attack, and to keep the men preoccupied so they wouldn't become despondent. After all they had joined up to fight, and doing boy scout stuff in camp was no way they were ever going to get the chance.

These massed shooting scenarios featured in so many of these alleged combat photos are another way to keep the men from grousing - make like the Spaniards are attacking and release some of that pent up frustration about being holed up in a camp while the generals were dilly dallying away trying to make up their minds where and when to attack next.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A second exposure shows that everyone is still potting at the sky and the Rd Cross men are still just standing and watching.

In the back, at the center, a guy is leaning against the stone wall, his legs leisurely crossed, and his arm akimbo, in an absolutely relaxed pose, while the enemy supposedly is whistling bullets around his ears...

His lackadaisical posture betrays this as a set-up.

In fact when many actors are involved the photographer often can't control everyone in his frame. Those that don't feel involved slouch about naturally and spoil the effect.

Boring... And the near two guys are now having a chat instead of tackling the charging enemy.

It all goes to show: time has elapsed and still the photographer hasn't been shot off his high perch.

Fake #70 - Fighting from Stone Wall Defences - Washington Volunteers - Taquig, Philippines
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure This is a classic camping setup with the shelters behind a trench, purely for defensive and precautionary measures.

"Awaiting orders to fire?" What, you mean the enemy is charging and threatening to overrun the camp?

Not on your life.

These men are posed like this only for the photographer, who, as usual seems impervious to the danger as he is propped up high above the trenches with no sandbags to protect him from the attacking rifle fire.

Very nicely composed with all the subject matter and lines nicely distributed across the frame. You can do that when it's a slow day in camp...

Fake #71 - American Soldiers Entrenched at Pasay - awaiting orders to fire - Philippine Islands
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Ooops #24 - Those seconds again...

One minute waiting the "order to fire," the next minute lounging about...

All set-ups for a photographer with troops who have lots of leisure time on their hands and the enemy far, far away.

This was taken at the far end of Fake #71 above.

Fake #80 - Fighting Line near Pasay - the Trenches and Lookout Guard
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Ooops #25 - Those seconds again...

Here is very likely a reverse angle of Fakes #71 and #80 above, with the general lay of the land, and huts etc.

The sandbags are lined up differently but this is likely due to being a different unit doing the work.

So no enemy within miles and miles in either picture, with the photographer and his rig perched high and totally exposed above the parapet in both photos.

And free to walk up and down the line to take his shots.

Fake #81 - The 14th Infantry entrenched at Pasay
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Another fine photo, but a total combat fake.

All the men holding their rifles like this never, ever happened in combat, only among a firing squad, or a fake combat photo, where a photographer ordered them to "make like you're shooting at charging Spaniards."

Note how, once again, the photographer has got his camera mounted on a wagon to get a pleasing camera angle for his shot.

But his highly exposed position betrays this as another fake combat photo.

"A desperate encounter?"

No, just some down time for troops waiting to be sent somewhere to do something... When a photographer showed up with an idea...

And the CO thought this was a good opportunity to get some good promo for the Army.

Fake #72 - A desperate encounter of our Philippine troops in the jungle
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure During the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, photographers were busy doing the usual setups when they had lots of men with guns they could just prop up in warlike situations.

Of course.

 

Fake #73 - The Mikado's Infantry Fighting behind in trench
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure This is the only totally honest photo on this page. Though it looks exactly like all the other volleying photos on these pages.

And they should all have had a caption similar to this as "parade ground" or "training ground" or "camp set-ups," instead of trying to pass them off as being under combat situations.

But publishers soon discovered that selling "a desperate encounter" was more lucrative than "parade ground."

No Fake - Sturdy Japanese Soldiers Ready to Fire - Parade Ground, Japan
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure "Ready for the enemy?" Maybe but the enemy is nowhere in sight, probably not even in the same county...

Or the men wouldn't have been able to do this setup, with the photographer and his rig out in the open while everyone else is hugging the ground for cover...

This kind of photograph would be common, the following year in South Africa, where men too, dug in or hid behind stone enclosures.

But hey, wouldn't it be nice if we could just do a little charge? You know have a few men run up and let loose a volley or two. You know so it looks like real action with smoke and all?

Great idea! Say no more, said the CO...

For the sceptics, who think the enemy is just beyond, not how photographically wonderfully the closest soldier's kit is laid out from right to left: Pack, canteen, messkit and bayonet for the perfect photo display. No other soldier has done so.

That's because the photographer wanted them all placed like that.

Thank the enemy for allowing them all time to do that without shooting or charging.

Hell, just another phony combat set-up in a training camp somewhere with the enemy 100 miles away.

Fake #82 - On the US Skirmish Line - Ready for the Enemy
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure We believe this is another set up.

Supposedly the enemy is 800 yards in front. That's a long way away.

The men don't "advance" very far in two photos taken of this scene. Time has elapsed.

Maybe it's too dangerous to move ahead and the rifle fire too fierce.

But do note that the photographer was actually up front with his rig set up before the attacking men in the background moved up. So he's been under fire for some considerable time...

The soldiers are not so foolhardy as the cameraman and are soon diving for cover.

 


Looks Good But...

The photographer is standing up and exposed and using a huge and cumbersome stereo view camera, that it takes time to set up. He would be the first one shot as an unprotected unmoving target.

Furthermore the camera is locked down while he takes multiple exposures.

Absolutely, a faked charge against a non-existent enemy...

Fake #74 - Heroic Washington Volunteers advancing across an open field - Filipinos 800 yards in front - Taquig, Philippines
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure The men have all hunkered down for safety.

Then why are the two men standing up without fear, while all the riflemen are shooting from cover.

They're as brave - or as foolhardy - as the cameraman.

Clear proof, more troops with time on their hands and a photographer keen to have some good "combat" shots for his editor back home.

And forgetting to tell two bystanders to "get with it" and do something combative...

One of the men is so "out of it" that he actually faces not the enemy that could kill him but the only real person of note in the area, the photographer.

The Spanish-American War lasted only a few months in 1898, but a year later the Boer War broke out in South Africa.

American war photographers like William Rau turned their talents to try to do better quality fake combat shots without going to the war front.

Alas. They turned out to be truly awful...

Go to Bill Rau You Fake
Fake #75 - Heroic Washington Volunteers advancing across an open field - Filipinos 800 yards in front - Taquig, Philippines
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A dozen years after the Boer War the war photographers were still faking combat photos during World War I.

For the same reason: it was too damn dangerous to sit up with a camera where the shooting and the dying was taking place.

Here the French are supposedly charging the hill at Notre Dame de Lorette. Two nicely placed corpses are photogenically arranged.

Notre Dame de Lorette has one of France's biggest war cemetery, containing over 40,000 dead.

You can be certain all these closely packed men are there, picked off by a single machine gunner in about 3.5 seconds flat.

Do you think the photographer survived this combat photo shoot?

Nice picture though...

The caption on the back makes clear that the home front is expected to believe this photo is real.

Fake #76 - French storming hill Notre Dame de Lorette - c 1917
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Carlisle, PA
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A very interesting photo of one of the rare views taken on the Boer side, during the war, supposedly showing a laager under British artillery fire.

Boer camp views during the war are fairly rare; Boer commandoes under fire, ultra rare. Which is why this photographer had to go beyond the call of duty, to create this photo.

Van Neck, like many photographers of the era, was also a darkroom magician - though a poor one - in producing fake combat photos. Sorry, this one just didn't pan out... and rates an F.

Notice the photographically symmetrical shell bursts wonderfully placed, first, exactly on the skyline, and then nicely separated from each other. And note how all are also, at exactly the same microsecond interval during their burst patterns.

You couldn't, if you waited forever, get these kinds of shell burst patterns happening at the same time. on a real battlefield, and so nicely spaced from the frame edge of the picture.

If he had one of them, he might have carried it off. Two, totally unconvincing. Three, absolutely never, ever.

Note the total disconnect, of the background, death-dealing shelling, with the peaceful, foreground subjects.

If the laager was under this kind of attack, would the Black helper be fiddling with the teapot on the fire? And the men nonchalantly around the wagon, going on with their hymn singing, or getting the mail, just arrived in the buggy on the right?

Fake #66 - Bursting shells round Boksburg lager
Orig. photo pc - Image Size - 23 cm
Found - Guernsey, UK



The way a real random shell burst should look in a genuine candid photo grab.

A Russian shell bursting near the Japanese siege guns at Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.

Catching the cameraman by surprise he had only a split second to frame his shot. Not great. Certainly not as photographically perfectly positioned as the Boer War bursts above.

But the location of the burst is clearly random, not only in the frame, but in the landscape. So good proof it is not a darkroom creation.

You can see how difficult it is for a cameraman to get a single unpredictable explosion going off within his viewfinder, let alone three perfectly positioned.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure An amazing picture of Boer General Cronje at Modder River, where he and his 5,000 fellow prisoners were marched to the rail head after their defeat at Paardeberg, on Feb. 27, 1900.

From there they will head south by train to Cape Town and then by ship to a prisoner of war camp on St. Helena, the same place where Napoleon was exiled almost a century before, after his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

Note the fine image of the rifle boots on the near horses in which the butt of the rifles were placed when the Mounted Infantry Regiment was on the march. The muzzle end of the rifle would be strapped to the infantryman's shoulder with a leather tie.

The MIR was invented so that infantrymen - who could never catch the Boers on foot - could be as mobile as their quarry, hopefully catch them, and then dismount to fight on foot.

So the men nearby are Mounted Infantry.

It does look like the buildings at Modder River, where Lord Methuen had his HQ when he launched his ill-fated attack at Magersfontein in Dec. 1899.

Except the photo caption is probably a total fake...

See the following pic.

 

Fake #64 Arrival of Gen. Cronje at Modder River, a prisoner of war, escorted by CIV Mounted Infantry
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Stratford, ON
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure What a hoot... Exactly the same photo, and issued, no less, by the same American publisher...

Yet the caption names a totally different place, and instead of Boer prisoners arriving, claims it's the Australians...

So totally different on time, place, and event...

It shows how little you can trust the media, any time, any place, to report properly, or honestly.

Not just combat photos which were deliberately faked, or misrepresented, but ordinary theatre of war photos.

As it stands now there is no way to tell which is the fake - so both have to be regarded as incorrect.

Perhaps a clue is a central figure wearing the kind of hat Cronje wore at the time, in front of a crowd near a buggy he and his wife, who endured the ten day battle with him, may have been brought in with.

Or has a celebrity British or Aussie war correspondent/photographer just arrived in his buggy and is jawing away with officers?

Fake #65 Gras Pan Stables - the Australians just arrived are welcomed by London Volunteers
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Stratford, ON






flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Boer War balloon pictures are in high demand because they were a spectacular part of the war scenery during the early part of the war, and only a very few good images were taken.

So "Boer War balloon photos" pop up on ebay constantly.

Left is one that was auctioned off as "rare Boer War balloon."

The pitfalls are numerous, when there is no title on a photograph and sellers make it up as they go along. Fake photos are the result. The gullible, the unwary, and the uninformed, bid it up.

It is one of the problems when people don't know history or the visual symbols that accompany the historical record. Or flags.

They took the flag - those who actually spotted it - on the balloon to be a Union Jack. (The one on the right is probably a Red Cross flag.)

In fact it is a Japanese Rising Sun.

And the photo was probably taken at Port Arthur, Manchuria, in Asia, during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904.

There was not a Boer on the continent...

Fake #61 - untitled (Japanese observation balloon, probably Port Arthur, 1905
Orig. Stereoview - Size - 9 x 18 cm
Found - Stratford, ON
A British Boer War balloon, typically surrounded by miles of veldt, during Lord Roberts' advance on Pretoria in May 1900.

These balloons were used in the opening months of the war, as the British invaded Boer territory and needed "eyes in the sky" to see dangerous obstacles ahead of the advancing army. Because filling one with gas was cumbersome, and took time to do, balloons were often transported, fully inflated, by lumbering teams of oxen. You didn't want horses thank you, because they might spook, stampede, and drag the balloon to disaster.

General Buller had sent a balloon like this to Lord Methuen who was preparing to attack the Boers, at night, with the Highland Brigade at Magersfontein.

They were ambushed from trenches far in front of where the British expected the Boers to be, and almost annihilated, losing many officers including General Wauchope.

Had Lord Methuen used his balloon, his observers would have spotted the network of Boer advance trenches that blocked the British march and planned a different strategy.

Instead Magersfontein became one of the spectacular British defeats of Black Week in December 1899.

 
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