‘Genocide and Catastrophe!’

I was recently made aware of an exchange on one of the Facebook Boer War discussion groups, where an especially ignorant True Believer was making made a complete fool of himself once again. To get a bit of context of just what an utter clown, and wide-eyed fanatic, Hennie Bester / Larsen Bjørn[1] is, take a look at a previous article:


Anyway, Bester / Bjørn is back again, spouting more entertaining rubbish. This is what he spewed out when Colin Ross – one of South Africa’s leading battlefield guides – pointed out that people dying from measles is not the normal definition of ‘genocide’:

It is telling that Bester claims to be totally unaware of the fact that the vast majority of people (including all those with functioning brains) do not equate deaths which happened during a measles epidemic with ‘genocide’. Indeed, his resolutely closed-minded ignorance on the matter shows that he must exist entirely in an echo chamber of similarly uneducated fanatics. The inconvenient reality for Bester is that no international body describes the deaths in the Boer War concentration camps to have been a ‘genocide’ – nor, even, does the High Priest of Boer War myths – so old ‘Hapless Hennie’[2] really is very much in an extremist miniscule minority on this. And, I suspect, on pretty much everything else.

The rest of his rant shows that poor old Bester really is desperately in need of some sort of emotional crutch, thus it pleases him to pretend that ‘a simple pastoral militia set in motion the decline of a once mighty empire’. Though this is something those on the lunatic fringe of the AWB like to tell one another, it is – of course – utter nonsense.

The simple reality is that the British Empire did not even reach its zenith until over 20 years after victory over the Boer republics, and, indeed, until after victory in the really-rather-more-significant First World War[3]. In reality, it would then still take another generation, and another victory in another World War – and, much to the chagrin of those on the extreme-Right of Afrikanerdom (including, perhaps, Bester?) the defeat of Hitler – before the sun finally started to set on the greatest Empire the world has ever seen. It was not until the decades after WW2, that London – saddled with crippling debt incurred while defeating the most evil regime in history – started granting independence to huge swathes of territory across Africa and Asia, a steady process which continued through the 1960s and into the 1970s.

Of course, the process of granting colonies self-governing status, and then – ultimately – Dominion status (essentially, independence) had long been Britain’s preferred way of running her Empire. Basically, London took a ‘hands off’ approach, and wanted as little trouble and expense from her colonies as possible – which is why responsible rule had first been granted to Nova Scotia as far back as 1848. Most of the territories in New Zealand and Australia had been granted responsible rule by 1860, and both the Cape Colony and Natal were self-governing before Kruger’s forces invaded them in October 1899. None of this ‘scaling back of direct control’, therefore had anything to do with the British army defeating a ‘simple pastoral militia’ in the Boer War – even if that comforting fantasy helps poor old insecure Hennie sleep at night.

After a few others pointed out his abject ignorance, Bester doubled-down on his nonsense, spitting out this utter gobbledygook:

I have read and re-read this post several times, and it still makes little sense, presumably having been written after Bester had drunk a bottle of Klippies. What we can glean from Bester’s badly-written gibberish, however, is that he seems to have cherry-picked a single sentence, not provided any sort of context, and not even included which ‘British Colonies’ the quote referred to… and then – with the supreme arrogance of the stupid – triumphantly announced that this somehow proves some sort of (unspecified) point.

In fact, all it really proves is that Bester (as if there were any doubt) is totally incapable of critical thought, as it doesn’t seem to occur to him to wonder exactly how winning the Boer War can possibly have been ‘the greatest catastrophe’ the Empire endured ‘since the loss of the British Colonies’ (?).

If there was any sort of (ahem) ‘catastrophe’ in the Boer War, then it was a high level failure of military intelligence / planning, and of complacently being caught napping by Kruger’s invasions; of turning a blind eye to his empire-building aims in the decades prior to the old troglodyte starting the war; of penny-pinching on the defence of Natal; of ignoring the clear and present danger which was brewing in the region; of having no plan in place for war in South Africa[4], and of keeping an insufficient garrison in theatre.

But being unprepared for the Boer invasions was far from being a ‘catastrophe’. It wasn’t even a ‘disaster’. It was more on the scale of a simple ‘cock-up’, really, for, as soon as the British army mobilised a reasonable number of troops to the theatre, the Boer invasions (which had not even been able to take the likes of Mafeking or Ladysmith, let alone Cape Town) were brought to a juddering halt, and then quickly driven back from whence they had come. Once the tide turned, thousands of burghers surrendered en masse, or simply threw in the towel and headed home, their pie-in-the-sky dreams of looting their way to the coast, and eating bananas in Durban, shattered. The Boer republics were then swiftly annexed and Kruger, who had started the whole thing, shamelessly ran away.

Despite the British army enjoying no clear technological advantage, the guerrilla phase of the war was then won with less troops than modern military doctrine declares to be required[5], and in less than a quarter of the average length of a 20th century counter-insurgency[6]. Furthermore, Imperial casualties were hardly ‘catastrophic’ – especially when compared with those sustained in other wars of the age, like the Franco-Prussian War[7], or the Russo-Japanese War[8] – with the Tommies twice as likely to die from disease than to be shot by a Boer[9]. And, despite what various National Party myth-enthusiasts like to tell one another, the cost of the war barely registers as a blip in terms of London’s expenditure on HM Forces over the centuries.[10]

So what ‘great catastrophe’ is the laughable Bester / Bjørn crowing about, exactly?

On the contrary, victory in the Boer War added considerable territory to the Empire, with the two Boer republics being annexed. It also ended the Apartheid-like discrimination against the Johannesburg Uitlanders, meaning they – along with Jews and Catholics – finally got the democratic representation they should have had all along[11]. The Boer War also shattered the Kruger-clique’s long-held dreams of replacing Britain as the preeminent power in the region, ending their plans of building an empire ‘from the Zambesi to the Cape’, and thus – most importantly of all – removing the threat to the strategically critical Royal Navy base at Simon’s Town. What is more, the war showed that the bonds between the various scattered colonies and Dominions of the Empire were strong, with contingents of volunteers rushing to defend Natal and the Cape from all over the globe. British victory over the Boers also directly led to the creation of the Union of South Africa, a nation which stood loyally by Britain’s side in two World Wars[12].

If that was the ‘greatest catastrophe’ the Empire endured since (presumably?) the American War of Independence, it was a pretty minor one – indeed, actually rather a beneficial one.


[1] So desperate was this buffoon to submit negative reviews of my books on Amazon, that he took to submitting others under a false name

[2] Or is he ‘Blundering Bjørn’ today?

[3] It was not until 29 September 1923, that the British Empire reached its greatest extent, covering a quarter of the World’s landmass, and with stewardship over 460 million people. For more details, read ‘One Fine Day’ by Matthew Parker

[4] Pakenham, The Boer War, p.71

[5] The figure of a 10:1 advantage being required for success in a guerrilla war is quoted in both:
Brown, Coté Jr., Lynn-Jones & Miller, Offense, Defense and War, p. 360, and
U.S. Army / Department of Defense, Counterinsurgency Handbook, pp. 1–13.

[6] Ricks, Fiasco, p.433

[7] Lasting only 6 months, the Franco-Prussian War nevertheless claimed the lives of over 138,000 Frenchmen, and 44,000 Prussians. Additionally, over 470,000 French troops (ie. more than the number of British / Empire troops that served throughout the Boer War) were captured. Suddenly the c.22,000 Imperial troops who died (overwhelmingly of disease) during the roughly-two-and-a-half years of the Boer War looks anything but ‘catastrophic’

[8] Though only lasting about half as long as the Boer War, Russia lost some 70,000 men killed, while Japan – though victorious – lost around 80,000

[9] Hall, Handbook of the Anglo-Boer War, p.187

[10] https://www.chrisash.co.za/2024/04/24/british-military-expenditure/

[11] Alas, in the former republics, and as a sop to the defeated Boers, this liberalisation of the franchise laws did not extend to non-whites

[12] Aside from – surprise, surprise – a few pro-Nazis on the extreme-Right of Afrikanerdom


  • Colin Posted May 10, 2024 1:43 pm

    Thank you for your kind words sir . I would not be in the least surprised to find Hennie on Russian Brides.com as Henrietta Macleod of the clan Macleod born in 1518 in the village of Trumpton and I am an immortal ***t

    • Bulldog Posted May 10, 2024 2:36 pm

      Who knows what utter rubbish he – or one of his bizarre sock-puppet identities – will come up with next… but at least his complete lack of understanding of the Boer War provides us with a lot of entertainment.

  • James Grant Posted May 10, 2024 1:58 pm

    Yeah, must admit I can’t see either a genocide, or a catastrophe… maybe you need to have been forcefed propaganda at school during Apartheid to be able to believe that bollocks?

    • Bulldog Posted May 10, 2024 2:38 pm

      Indeed. Winning a war is not the normal definition of a ‘catastrophe’.

      When it comes to believing Boer War myths, National Party indoctrination certainly helps, as does having a very low IQ and / or crashingly low self-esteem.

  • Niall Beazley Posted May 10, 2024 4:36 pm

    Great rhetoric guys, let us hope dear Hennie chokes on his met eis, ja? after that misrepresentation. Well done Bulldog for highlighting the gross indecencies. How about a good old G & T to celebrate. Cheers….

  • Colin Beazley Posted May 11, 2024 12:08 am

    Somehow, in this conflict, the winners have become the losers, the aggressors the heroic defenders and the morally bankrupt, the defenders of virtue.
    This fellow has been completely captivated by the myths, but is by no means the most delusional of this mob.
    I’ve spoken to friends who were absolutely convinced that the British started the war by invading the Republics, despite all the initial battles being fought outside the Republics.
    Call it cognitive dissonance, the Dunning Kruger effect or whatever, this wilful blindness can only be cured by exposing their myths as nonsense.

    • Bulldog Posted May 11, 2024 6:54 am

      Absolutely. Like you, I’ve been assured a thousand times that ‘the British attacked us to steal our gold’… even though all the battles in the first few months of the war were fought in British territory. You need to be a different level of willfully ignorant not to realise just how ridiculous the myths are. But, hey – if pretending Kruger’s Boers were heroic victims who (by starting a war that they lost) somehow brought down the British Empire helps poor old Hennie feel more of a man, then fair enough.

  • Hennie Bester Posted May 12, 2024 12:09 pm

    Hi, it’s me Hennie here. This post was brought to my attention recently. I just wish to express my deepest thanks and great appreciation for the entertainment provided. The same breathless hysterical tone, the somewhat leaden insults delivered as amusing attempts at wit – and all that, just for me! Oh, and not to mention the commentary – the barmy army of historical revisionism actually exists – putting the histrionics into history! Caricatures and tropes that I wouldn’t have been able to come up even if I tried – delivered on a platter.
    You have truly laid on the a connoisseur’s feast. I feel immeasurably honoured.

    On a serious note: the gist of my comments was set in the context of a debate of what the ABW actually cost the Empire. You’ve snipped two of my posts but neglected rhe others – somewhat sneakily. So I’ll summarise – the British won the war, but lost its Empire because of it. I quoted my sources: Ferguson and Brendon’s, both actual historians unlike you you, from their magisterial and quite separate works on the Empire.

    • Bulldog Posted May 12, 2024 5:12 pm

      Ah! So are you performing as Hennie today? Not indulging in your Viking fetishism, and pretending to be ‘Larsen Bjørn’ again?

      It is a delight to meet someone so intergalactically pig-ignorant, blinkered and wedded to National Party myth, that they genuinely believe people dying during a measles epidemic is the same as ‘genocide’, that winning a war is somehow a ‘catastrophe’, and that defeating Kruger’s invasions ‘lost Britain the Empire’ (and only two World Wars, and about three generations later).

      Despite what you like to pretend – you did not provide references that show either Ferguson or Brendon stated that winning the Boer War cost Britain her Empire (and even if they did, that would clearly be a ridiculous claim).

      Anyway, enjoy your AWB conference. In the meantime, I’ll drop a line to the Royal Historical Society to tell them that a barely literate schizophrenic (with a bizarre Viking fantasy) called Hennie / Bjørn doesn’t recognise their Fellowships.

      I am sure they will be devastated.

      • Stranger Here Myself Posted May 30, 2024 8:48 pm

        wrt ‘the greatest catastrophe … since the loss of the British Colonies’, Piers Brendon actually writes ‘the American colonies’, and it is the loss of those that forms his first chapter.

        I assume Bester is referring to Niall Ferguson and his 2003 ‘Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World’. Niall deals with the topic of the Second Boer War in Chapter 5, on pages 273–284 of my Penguin 2004 paperback. His writing here seems to draw heavily on Packenham and is very much grist to the Bittereinder mill, claiming ‘that Chamberlain and Milner provoked the Boer War’ (274) and quoting Irish nationalist MP John Dillon’s remark that ‘it was “the British Empire against 30,000 farmers” ’. No mention of Kruger’s ultimatum or his declaration of war, proceeding from British provocations (highly debatable) to ‘By Christmas 1899 the Boers had struck deep into British territory. This time, it seemed, the turkeys were shooting back’ (275).

        He goes on to write ‘What Vietnam was to the United States, the Boer War very nearly was to the British Empire, in two respects: its huge cost in both lives and money … and the divisions it opened up back home. … And at the end of it all it was far from clear that the British had achieved their original objective. The challenge for the jingoists of the press was to make something that looked so like a defeat feel like another imperial victory’ (276).

        On p.278 there is that damning line from Milner about ‘sacrific[ing]’ the ‘n****r’ (presumably taken from Packenham, pp.129–30,131—‘The Boer War’. 1979. Abacus, 1992) but this is a gross mischaracterisation of Milner’s meaning, see Peter Dickens’ refutation of Packenham here (6th paragraph after the ‘Telling Porkies’ subheading https://samilhistory.com/2023/11/22/un-packing-pakenham/) and from yourself here (reply to comment at 8/12/18 10.12am https://www.chrisash.co.za/2018/11/27/berg-times-balderdash/).

        Then, after juxtaposing the awfulness of the concentration camps with Lord Roberts dancing ‘the Gay Gordons and Strip the Willow’ (280) in ‘the spacious ballroom’ of the Bloemfontein Residency (279)—as if Kruger was taking potshots at Brits from behind a ‘schantze’ instead of whiling away the days in a nice wee cottage (the Krugerhof) at Waterval Onder—we have p.281, which is the closest I can find to the claim:

        ‘In many ways the consequences of the Boer War in Britain were even more profound than in South Africa, for it was revulsion against the war’s conduct that decisively shifted British politics to the Left in the 1900s, a shift that was to have incalculable implications for the future of the Empire.’

        This is but *interpretation* of facts, and much informed by hindsight. If the butterfly’s wings had flapped just a little differently over the course of the 20th Century… e.g. if we (Britain and/or France) had *enforced* the Versailles treaty (the failure to enforce it being at fault not its alleged harshness) and stamped on Adolf’s toys at the beginning, in 1935, then no Second World War, and today’s world would look very different—the Union of South Africa might exist yet (and we would be spared the Y-fronts of Freedom flag). Or, as described by former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith in his 2001 ‘Bitter Harvest’, if the Southern Rhodesians had voted in the 1922 referendum to join the Union of South Africa, that would have ensured increased Anglo support for Smuts’ United Party, keeping them in office in 1948—Anglo/European immigration would have continued, leading to a far larger white population (Smith estimating a white to black population ratio of 1:2 instead of 2001’s 1:5) and the UP would not have imposed the harsh apartheid of the Herenigde Nasionale Party, leaving South Africa far more acceptable to the world. The UP actually received more votes than the HNP in 1948 but five less seats, so if only some extra votes in the right places had given them enough extra seats to remain in office, that likely would have been enough to save South Africa.

        I don’t suppose you could persuade Niall Ferguson to an exchange of views on this topic?

    • James Grant Posted May 12, 2024 6:35 pm

      Fuck, youre classic. I reckon if my name was Hennie, I’d pretend to be Bjorn too.
      I’ve got a copy of Ferguson’s Empire in front of me now. Tell me the page number where he says beating the Boers lost the Brits the Empire.
      He doesnt,. So you can’t.
      You lie about your name, and everything else.

      • Bulldog Posted May 12, 2024 8:04 pm

        Indeed, Mr Grant… one wonders which pretend ‘quote’ from Ferguson is Hennie / Larsen claims to be referencing?
        Of course, when you are a National Party myth fanatic, you just make up whatever you want.

        I guess the knowledge that the Boers started a war, only to get thumped by the British army, makes poor old Hennie / Larsen feel rather less of a man, thus Apartheid-regime myth is comforting to him.

        Perhaps this explains his fantasies concerning rapacious macho Vikings too?

  • Stephen Hunt Posted May 12, 2024 6:39 pm


    As ever, an excellent post and response to this deluded individual.

    However, as a reminder of the uphill struggle that we face, please see the recent Facebook postby the Anglo-Boer War Museum.

    • Bulldog Posted May 12, 2024 8:00 pm

      Hennie (or whatever his latest made-up fantasy name is today) is certainly deluded, though willfully so.

      The museum in Bloemfontein is one to avoid – for decades they had displays of ‘broken glass’ which (they claimed) the ‘wicked’ British put in the rations that were given to the residents of the camps. Pure National Party fantasy, though much-loved by muppets like Hennie / Larsen.

  • Peter Dickens Posted May 12, 2024 8:08 pm

    This has got be the purest example of the Dunning-Kruger effect in full fledge I’ve ever seen. Any historian worth his salt will consult primary data and not opinion – as to data and economic history, the GDP spends on the military, and therefore the greatest ‘impact’ to the British Empire are found in World War 2, followed by World War 1, then the Napoleonic wars, then the Korean War and even the Crimean War … the expenditure of Boer War 2 pales into insignificance as a percentage of GDP and it pales into insignificance compared to any other of these conflicts – the only thing the UK saw as a consequence of the Boer War was a change in political parties and the opposition won the next election, a trait that is constant after every major conflict fought – even the last Iraq war which saw Labour out – bottom line these cyclical movements in Westminster are irrelevant to ‘empire’. The ‘blip’ that the Boer War impacts the general time-line of Empire is literally nothing more than a blip, and after the Boer War the empire continued to grow – not reaching its zenith until many years later. In truth, the war that saw to ‘the end of empire’ was World War 2 – a war in which our plucky Boere joined hands with Nazi Germany and chose to try and sit it out instead. ‘Hennie’ needs to clutch onto that glass of Klippies, I’d hate to be the one to tell him his Christian Nationalist Education is not worth the paper it’s written on.

    • Bulldog Posted May 12, 2024 8:12 pm

      Good points, and well made.

      One should also remember that the first election held after the Boers attacked the British Empire led to the ruling (Conservative) Government retaining power. Furthermore, though they won the 1906 General Election, the Liberals lost their majority by 1910, and had to rule as a minority government (a minority government which, just a few years later, brought in none other than the NP’s arch-bogeyman, Lord Milner, as a major player).

  • Gaz Posted May 12, 2024 8:55 pm

    In the words of a Yorkshire man “what a Buffoon Hennie is, clearly has a lack of knowledge and understanding

    “Lights are on, no one is in” springs to mind

    • Bulldog Posted May 12, 2024 9:07 pm


      You always have to remember that people like Hennie / Larsen have no interest in what actually happened.

      To them, their whole persona is built on the Boers being these (ahem) invincible warriors who brought down an Empire – despite not even being able to take Mafeking, and… err… well, losing the war they started.

      This is what helps such insecure souls sleep at night; what actually happened in reality is irrelevant – all that matters to these idiots is National Party myth.

      Plus, Hennie / Larsen is clearly incredibly ignorant: he likes to pretend that (winning) the Boer War ‘brought down the British Empire’… even though it kept expanding, and won two World Wars before (voluntarily) ending.. How thick-headed do you need to be to pretend that beating the Boers three generations earlier was responsible for this?

  • Mike Oettle Posted May 21, 2024 7:16 pm

    Chris, while the war of 1870 is widely known as the Franco-Prussian War, it actually involved all the German states that, at the end of the war, joined in the German Empire.
    My great-grandfather served in the Württemberg army, and he could hardly be called a Prussian.
    The major drawback of the war was the, with Prussia in the driving seat, Germany was now bound to be involved in further wars with further massive casualty figures.
    My great-grandfather did not want his sons to be conscripted to serve as cannon fodder, so he and his wife emigrated to the Cape.

    • Bulldog Posted May 22, 2024 8:29 am

      Thanks Mike – good point, and well-made. The switch from calling it ‘Prussia’ to ‘Germany’ was still taking place – one still sees references to ‘Prussian’ troops / officers (rather than German) for years thereafter.

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