General Jan Smuts visiting African labourers on the Western Front, 1917 (c).
Lantern slide, World War One, Western Front (1914-1918), 1917 (c).
Although he had fought the British with great distinction during the Boer War (1899-1902), Smuts was eventually reconciled with his erstwhile enemy, concluding that South Africa's future lay within the British Empire. He therefore supported South Africa's entry into the war and formed the South African Defence Force. In 1915 he and General Louis Botha conquered German South West Africa.
In 1916 Smuts commanded the conquest of German East Africa, but despite mobilising a large force he struggled to defeat Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck's guerillas. Von Lettow-Vorbeck was still at large when Smuts left to join the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917. He made several morale-raising visits to Allied troops on the Western Front and the following year he helped create the Royal Air Force.
From a box of 72 lantern slides.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, London
National Army Museum, Study collection
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