'Christmas Presents from home, Modder River, South Africa', 1899-1900.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
One of a boxed set of stereoscope photographs produced for sale to the general public by a profesional firm of photographers, Underwood and Underwood. The Second Boer War (1899-1902) was the first war to be covered comprehensively by both film and still photography. This was the result of improved technology in both photographic equipment and printing techniques; cameras were more portable and magazines reproduced half-tone photographs. When the war broke out on 11th October 1899, many British soldiers were confident it would be over by Christmas. Instead they found themselves on the defensive, and in Mafeking, Ladysmith and Kimberley, actually besieged, in the midst of the heat of the South African summer