Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

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Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

Postby Pigling » 01 Nov 2008 20:17

I am researching the life of my grandfather, Trooper 1511 John Stuart, who fought with Kitchener's Fighting Scouts in the 2nd Boer War. He held the Queen's South Africa Medal with bars for Cape Colonies, Orange Free State and Transvaal.

According to his obituary in the local paper: "It was not long before the wanderlust seized Mr. Stuart again and as South Africa was at that time in the throes of a gold rush he decided to try his luck and set forth for the nugget crazy Rand as a prospector. He never “struck It rich“, indeed there were times when he barely managed to exist, but with the start of the Boer War Mr. Stuart donned uniform once more and joined Colonel Brandon known as the Great White Chief of Bulawayo as a scout. Mr. Stuart’s intimate knowledge of the country, gained while prospecting, was valuable to him, particularly during the tough guerrilla warfare which followed the cessation of the main struggle."

I cannot find any mention of Colonel Brandon and I would appreciate any advice about this and on how to find out more about John Stuart's carrer with the KFS.

Thanks in advance for any reply to this posting.
Pigling
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Re: Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

Postby Brett Hendey » 05 Nov 2008 06:19

Kitchener's Fighting Scouts was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Colenbrander, so it seems the report simply shortened the OC's name. You can find out more about KFS in the book:
The Colonials in South Africa 1899 - 1902 by John Stirling
My copy is a Naval & Military Press reprint.

KFS get good coverage in this book - more than a lot of Colonial irregular regiments.

Colenbrander is (was) a prominent family in the old Cape Colony. It might be worth Googling it.

Regards
Brett
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Re: Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

Postby Brett Hendey » 10 Nov 2008 07:22

I took my own advice and Googled 'Colenbrander' and discovered why the name had been nagging at my (failing) memory. Rather than the Cape Colony, the Colenbrander in question was born not 10km from where I live and is mentioned in the official history of the Natal Mounted Rifles, one of the Natal volunteer regiments that has been the focus of my collecting interests. In the book he is described as "one of the most fascinating characters of South Africa and Rhodesia".

He was born in Pinetown on 1/11/1856, the son of Dutch parents who had emigrated from Java to Natal in 1854. He started his soldiering life as a Trumpeter in the Stanger Mounted Rifles (one of the forerunners of the NMR) during the Zulu War and took part in the engagements at Inyezane and Gingindhlovu. Because of his attributes he was given the Zulu name that translates as "The White Whirlwind", which became the title of his biography written by T V Bulpin (Thomas Nelson & Son, Johannesburg, 1961).

He is recorded as being a "soldier, businessman, interpreter, agent and hunter" in Natal, Swaziland, Rhodesia and Mexico. He came back to South Africa from Rhodesia in 1900 to command Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, which proved to be one of the more successful mounted irregular regiments of the Boer War. He was awarded a CB for his military services.

His offers to serve in World War I were rejected and in 1918 he was playing the role of Lord Chelmsford in a film of the Zulu War (The Symbol of Sacrifice) and was drowned while trying to cross a river on horseback.

I realise that this information is of no use to Pigling, but it does shed light on the man who commanded KFS.

Regards
Brett
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Re: Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

Postby Pigling » 10 Nov 2008 12:16

Many thanks for all your help, Brett.

After I had posted my original enquiry, I started an internet search for the Fighting Scouts and discovered that there were two separate units.
1st Kitchener's Fighting Scouts. 400 strong. Commanded by Col JW Colenbrander.
2nd Kitchener's Fighting Scouts. 400 strong. Commanded by Col AE Wilson.
Raised in Pretoria on 23-11-1900 and disbanded in Johannesburg on 7-7-1902.

As I stared at this information, wondering how I could find out which unit my grandfather had joined I saw the clear answer to my problem; Colenbrander - Col Brandon. I came to the same conclusion as you! However, soubriquet of "The Great White Chief of Bulawayo" still eluded me until, googling for Colenbrander information I found mention of his biography by T V Bulvin, "The White Whirlwind". About 50 years had elapsed since my Grandfather, Trooper 1511 J Stuart, had fought in the Boer War and since that time he had fought in The Great War and had had many other adventures. Perhaps he meant to say, the great (meaning 'famous' or 'admirable'), "White Whirlwind from Bulawayo". Given the error in reading the shorthand for 'Colenbrander', it is possible that he did say 'Whirlwind' & 'from' and the reporter made the error!

I have now ordered Bulvin's biography from my local library and I have discovered that Colenbrander's son, Johan Cornelis Alphons Lawrence Colenbrander, gathered together all his father's papers and photographs and donated them to Yale University, in America. I have sent an e-mail asking about their availability for viewing. I have also ordered, from my library, 'Colonials in South Africa, 1899-1902', by John Stirling. These should provide me with some stories of the exploits of the Fighting Scouts with whom John Stuart fought.

Now I have another problem! John Stuart had to be in Manchester in March 1900 (when my mother was conceived), and in March & May 1901 (for the 1901 census and for the conception of my uncle)! He holds the QSA medal with clasps for Transvaal, Cape Colonies & Orange Free State, and his name and number are inscribed on the rim of the medal, so he was there! The question is; how long would it take for him to travel to & from South Africa and England and why did he have so much leave? And, if he didn't, who was my real grandfather!!!

Can Brett or anyone help with this?

Thanks again for all help and advice so far.

Malcolm 'Pigling' Bland
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Re: Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

Postby Brett Hendey » 11 Nov 2008 06:34

Hi Malcolm

Congratulations on the success of your Colenbrander search. The Colonel's branch of the Colenbrander family seems to have been small in spite of several wives, but there were, and probably still are living in Natal many other members of the family descended from the 1850's patriarch. The Natal Archives in Pietermaritzburg have a few hundred Colenbrander files listed on their website (under Pietermaritzburg Repository in the S A National Archives website).

I think your lineage is pure! John Stuart could have come out to SA after March 1900, served with KFS in the CC, OFS and TVL and then returned home to be there on the 1901 dates you mention. The fact that his QSA does not have a 'SA 1901' clasp suggests that he was out of uniform by that year, although the 'SA 1901' clasp was often a late issue and either not claimed or added loose on the ribbon and subsequently lost. His clasp entitlement is easily verified. His returning home before the end of the war may have been due to wounding or illness, a common occurrence amongst British troops.

If I can help in any other way, please let me know.

Regards
Brett
Last edited by Brett Hendey on 12 Nov 2008 07:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

Postby Pigling » 12 Nov 2008 01:10

Another winning reply from Brett! Thanks.

I'm winding down this enquiry a bit, while I await the arrival of 'Colonials in South Africa, 1899-1902', by John Stirling, and 'The White Whirlwind',
by T.V. Bulpin, both of which I have ordered from The British Library.

However, John Stuart's arrival in South Africa after March 1900 and then return home to be there on the 1901 dates I mentioned is improbable on two counts.

1. In my original posting I quoted: "It was not long before the wanderlust seized Mr. Stuart again and as South Africa was at that time in the throes of a gold rush he decided to try his luck and set forth for the nugget crazy Rand as a prospector. He never “struck It rich“, indeed there were times when he barely managed to exist, but with the start of the Boer War Mr. Stuart donned uniform once more and joined Colonel Brandon." Unless he was lying, which is possible but uncharacteristic, John Stuart was already in the Rand prospecting for gold before the Boer War broke out.

2. And then I have to ask; how did he get permission to leave the battlefield, in January 1900, after only 3 months of fighting? If wounded, did he then return? If so it cannot have been much before June 1900, and 7 months later he was on his way back to England again! Wounded again? If not, how did he get permission to leave the Fighting Scouts for a second time in less than a year? If he did NOT return, could he have been entitled to all three clasps (CC, OFS and TVL), in the three months he was there?

Is there anywhere that I can obtain his Army Record in South Africa? He was, after all, fighting in a South African led unit raised in South Africa. Where can I get information about soldiers who were wounded so badly that they had to be transported back to England, rather than be treated in South Africa?

You mention a 1901 clasp. Was there a clasp for each year? You also state that, "His clasp entitlement is easily verified." How?!

More questions, and I have to admit that you have been more than helpful already! If this thread is dragging on too long, I shall understand.

Thanks again,

Malcolm
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Re: Kitchener's Fighting Scouts.

Postby Brett Hendey » 12 Nov 2008 06:57

Hi Malcolm

This is getting complicated! I think the next best step would be to find out what is recorded in the National Archives at Kew and, if you can't do this yourself, there are several (?many) professional researchers that will oblige. The researcher that I have used is Meurig Jones (http://www.Casus-Belli.co.uk and meurig@casus-belli.co.uk), who specialises in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. Other VWF members may well have other suggestions.

A researcher will be able to provide verification of QSA clasp entitlement and, if you are lucky, a copy of the relevant attestation document. I haven't checked but I think that KFS papers are likely to be in the National Archives, rather than in South Africa.

If you want to know more about the Boer War, another useful website is http://www.angloboerwar.com.

I will look forward to reading the results of you research in due course.

Regards
Brett
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