Malcolm is the oldest son of a father who is immensely proud of him, while being obstinately determined not to show him any sign of that pride. The two of them have something of a mutually destructive relationship.
Eager for adventure and the chance to see the wider world, Malcom joins up for the South African War, back then more familiarly known as the Boer War.
This conflict was the first time New Zealand was formally involved in an overseas war. Our Prime Minister of the day, Richard John Seddon, was eager to show New Zealand's willingness to accompany Britain into battle—so eager that he offered troops before war had actually been declared.
He certainly had no difficulty in making good the offer. All 6,500 New Zealand troops who served in South Africa were volunteers, and there was a steady supply of them, despite the requirement for each soldier to provide his own rifle and equipment, and preferably his own horse; a total cost of around £25, which was a substantial sum in those days (over $4,000 in today's money). The New Zealand troops were mounted riflemen, and the volunteers had to pass riding and shooting tests as well as medical ones. 8,000 horses went with them from New Zealand.
|Group of soldiers departing for the South African War. Ref: 1/2-030101-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23016278|
|Montbard, G, fl 1900. Montbard, G :A tight corner, a New Zealander [ca 1900]. Ref: A-256-002. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22382878|
|Albert Park, Auckland. New Zealand soldier of the South African War.|