The South African War: Source 6b

Qualifications for Service
4 (a) Every Imperial Yeoman must enlist for one year or for the war. In the event of the war being over in less than one year he will have the option of being discharged at once or of completing his one year’s service in the Transvaal Police.
(b) He must be not less than twenty nor more than thirty-five years of age for service in the companies. For service at the base, candidates may be accepted up to forty-five years of age.
(c) He must, before being selected, first satisfy the Officer Commanding a Yeomanry Regiment, or such other officer as may be appointed for the purpose, that he is a good rider and a marksman according to Yeomanry standard.
(d) He must be of good character.
(e) He must be up to the following physical standard: – Height, 5 feet 3 inches and upwards; chest measurements, 34 inches and upwards; weight, 115 lbs. and upwards.
(f) He must be medically fit for active service.
(g) Preference should be given to unmarried men, or widowers without children. Married men and widows with children should be accepted only in the event of an insufficient number of single men or widowers without children volunteering.

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Look at Source 6.

Extracts from a memo to recruit more men into Imperial Yeomanry with details of requirements. Catalogue ref: WO 108/375

After the initial military disasters at the start of war in South Africa, it was necessary to raise a Mounted Infantry force. A mobile army, with soldiers who could fight on horseback was vital. British authorities recruited men from its colonies (mainly from southern Africa), and also from the United Kingdom. Those from Britain who joined the Imperial Yeomanry would probably not have otherwise joined the armed forces. Recruitment took place for three contingents throughout 1900 and 1901 and raised over 13,000 men.

  • How does the source infer the popularity of the Imperial Yeomanry?
  • What requirements were necessary for acceptance into the Imperial Yeomanry?
  • Why do you think mounted forces like the Imperial Yeomanry were used in South Africa?
  • What do you think made the Imperial Yeomanry popular among those who would not have ordinarily served in the armed forces?