Daniel Patrick Driscoll
- Born: 11 May 1862, Burma
- Marriage: Isabella, Eugenie Marchall on 9 Jun 1880 in Calcutta, , West Bengal, India 4,5,6
- Died: 6 Aug 1934, Mombasa, , Coast, Kenya at age 72
- Buried: Mombasa, Kenya
Daniel Patrick Driscoll was certainly a great example of an Irish rover. His story begins in Ireland and covers Burma, India, South Africa, East Africa and the United Kingdom. He lived a very military life and was a true leader who had his own military Scout troop in the Boer War, helped shape and solidify the sometimes fractured Legion of Frontiersmen, an organization that still exists to this day as an organization in many forms throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand and he also formed the 25th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers before retiring to a coffee farm in Kenya.
The Australian journalist, A.G. Hales who knew Daniel Driscoll well in his Burma days and subsequently during the Boer War campaign wrote a book, "Driscoll King of Scouts" and another document "Campaign Pictures of the War in South Africa", which incidentally contains a chapter with the same name as the book, "Driscoll, King of Scouts". A.G. Hales uses an exaggerated and very romantic style in his writing and whilst much of the substance of the book and the document can be corroborated historically, some of it should probably be treated as a good story. Nevertheless in spite of its anecdotal style it does give us an insight into the character and charisma of the man.
Daniel Patrick Driscoll's early life is a bit of a mystery with some different answers to the question of where he was born and what his true origins were.
It is said that he spoke with a strong Irish brogue and there is some indication that he was born in Limerick, but this is contradicted by other records that indicate he was born in Burma and even a mention of him being from Cork, but then again that might well have been a reference to the homeplace of the Driscolls and O'Driscolls.
Whatever the truth is, there is no doubt he spent his early years in Burma and India. There is some doubt about his real birth date too. Some records indicate that he was born in Burma on the 11th of May 1862, the son a John Driscoll, mother unknown, however his service records in the Indian Merchant Navy indicate that he was born on the 11th May 1858, but it was not uncommon in those days to provide Birth dates that allowed men to meet the minimum age requirements for service.
It is generally thought that he was born in Burma, however his Indian Naval records indicate that he was born in Limerick, Ireland.
His Indian Naval records indicate that he served on the following ships:
"Koel", "Jaborona", "Celerity", "Sir W Peel" and "Koladyne" between 1879 and 1882. He is listed as having served in the Burma campaign 1886-88.
He married Isabella Marchall in St Thomas's Cathedral in Calcutta on the 9th of June 1880. His age was listed as 22 on the Marriage Certificate which is consistent with the Birth Date on his service records. Isabella's age was given as 15 on the same Certificate.
From September 1879 until 1882 he served in the Merchant Navy. He served on five ships, the "Koel", "Jaborona", "Celerity", "Sir W Peel" and "Koladyne" as an engineer. Witnesses were W.S. Oldfield and J. Marchall. Father's names listed as John Driscoll and I.M. Marchall.
Between leaving the navy and his involvement in South Africa in the Boer War, he became the father to three sons, Brian, Dermott, Terence and four daughters Kathleen, Eileen, Sheila, and ?
also joined the Upper Burma Volunteer Rifles in which he apparently served with distinction. He must have become an excellent horseman during this period which was to stand him in good stead when he later went to South Africa.
According to A.G. Hales the Australian journalist Driscoll, he served for 10 years in the Upper Burma Rifles and was known as "the most deadly rifle and revolver shot in all the East".
In his latter years in Burma he may also have been involved in a Timber business.
At the outbreak of war in South Africa, he decided to go primarily to help out after hearing that the Irish troops had suffered bad losses. A.G. Hales describes it thus
Driscoll was in Burmah when the news came of the first disaster to the Irish troops in South Africa. He threw up his business as lightly as a coquette throws up a midsummer lover, and started for the war. At Bombay he was stopped by a yard or two of red tape, and had to go back to Calcutta, where he used his Irish tongue to such purpose that he got a permit to leave India, and made his way to the scene of trouble".
The writer of the "Shamrock and Springbok", a very detailed record of the Irish involvement in South Africa during the Boer War, is not so certain that his decision was influenced by the losses described above, but sees it more as an Anglo-Irish loyalty to the empire.
By this time he had separated from his wife Isabella and he left all his property to her when he left for South Africa. He left all of his family behind at this stage, although his oldest son Brian was later to follow him and joined the Natal police.
He sailed from India to East London in South Africa in around 1899, where he joined the British in the Boer War.
There is not a great deal of information on his early involvement in the war, but we do know that he arrived in East London in 1899.
When he arrived he joined General Gatacre as orderly staff and later was attached to the Border Mounted Rifles. He rose to quickly the rank of Captain.
As part of the Border Mounted Rifles according to A.G. Hales he
"did splendid service at the battles of Dordrecht and Labuschagne's Nek. In the latter place he was the first man to gallop into the Boer laager before the fight had ceased. Captain, then Lieutenant, Davies was as close to his side as a shadow to a serpent, and they only had fourteen men with them at the time"
This is one of the best chronicled parts of Daniel, Patrick Driscoll's life. Following his early war exploits it became clear that he was an exceptional Scout and on the 17th March 1900 in Aliwal North, Natal Province he was ordered to form the Driscoll's Scouts, a group that eventually grew to become just over four hundred strong in June 1901, but initially consisted of only fifty to sixty men, who volunteered to cross into the Orange Free State after the Frontier Mounted Rifles had refused to, an act that resulted in their subsequent disbandment.
The Wikipedia describes their origins thus:
"Although all the regular units of Irish origin in the British Army have served in South Africa at some time during its colonial involvement in South Africa, the first autonomous South African units shaped by Irish influences were the Cape Town Irish Volunteer Rifles (raised by a Major O'Reilly in 1885 ) and Driscoll's Scouts (raised by Capt D.P. Driscoll during the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899 - 1902).
However, it should be noted that an Irish Brigade also fought on the side of the Boer republics."
An interesting anecdote was written by Captain Allan Taylor, MC in the Kentish Times on the 10th of August 1934, in which he tells the story of the passing of a great Scout "Jerry" Driscoll a name for which the origins are obscure and it may well have been confused with other Driscolls with the same name, but there is no doubt he is telling the story of Daniel Patrick Driscoll although it is impossible to corroborate the accuracy of the details in the story, specifically those of how the Driscoll Scouts came to be formed.
The story is that Daniel Driscoll approached Kitchener and requested permission to form a mounted Scout troop to combat the fast moving Boer commandos. This was to be the first of a number of run-ins with Kitchener. Kitchener apparently refused to consider the request and Driscoll was effectively sidelined without an appropriate supply of horses. Eventually Driscoll and a number of accomplices descended on a regular British unit and commandeered sufficient horses to supply his band of volunteers. The commanding officer complained to Kitchener who immediately ordered that Driscoll and his band be pursued. With his legendary scouting skills he eluded his pursuers and eventually received official recognition to be known as the "Driscoll's Scouts" and went on to play a key role in many major battles during the Boer War.
Driscoll's Scouts were eventually disbanded in Bloemfontein on the 4th July 1902.
Driscoll's Scouts were initially the eyes and ears of the Colonial Division under General Brabant and consisted of men like Driscoll himself, mainly colonial born British.
In an article on the "The South African Irish Regiment: An Exemplar of the Military Traditions of the Irish in South Africa" from Volume 6 of the Military History Journal, Cmdt O.E.F. Baker sheds some light on the history and composition of the Driscoll's Scouts and he writes words on the Irish connection that are again at odds with those expressed in the Shamrock and the Springbok:
"Autonomous South African Units shaped by Irish Influences. The first South African unit with a truly Irish background was the Cape Town Irish Rifles, raised by Maj O'Reilly in 1885. In 1891 the unit was absorbed into the Duke of Edinburgh's Own Volunteer Rifles as 'H' (Irish) Company. Regrettably, there is very little information available concerning the Cape Town Irish Rifles specifically, but it is hoped that further research will produce additional information. The helmet plate of the regiment is a magnificent specimen and closely resembles that of the Connaught Rangers who were contemporary. The Cape Town Irish Rifles may be said to represent the first predecessor of the South African Irish Regiment, in so far as it was the first indigenous South African unit with a distinct ethnic Irish component.
During the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, the second predecessor of The South African Irish Regiment was formed. Driscoll's Scouts was founded by Capt D.P. Driscoll, who had previously served in Burma during the earlier part of the Anglo-Boer War and who decided to come to South Africa with the specific intention of forming an Irish unit. This was motivated by the losses suffered by Irish units within the British Army during the early battles of the War.
Eventually totalling a strength of just under 500 men of all ranks, it first served with the Colonial Division and was present at the siege of Wepener and operations around Lindley and Fouriesburg. In one particular action at Wepener, in which Driscoll's Scouts assisted the Cape Mounted Riflemen, the Scouts had an adventurous and hazardous ride across open ground from their bivouac, being exposed to the concentrated fire of two Maxim machine guns, a pom-pom, small arms fire and, at the end, to a barrage of shells from a field gun, during their entire four kilometre ride.
Their action helped to stabilise the British position. Later the Scouts formed part of 8 Division and were part of the force concentrated to oppose the incursions into the Cape Colony by the forces of General Smuts. Driscoll's Scouts also took part in the final operations directed against General de la Rey in the Western Transvaal."
Their first engagement was at Rouxville where they attacked from four sides at once in a brave assault that fooled the Boers into thinking they were being attacked by a force many times larger. The small band of approximately fifty Driscoll's Scouts forced the occupants to lay down their arms and Driscoll hoisted the British flag. This was considered a brilliant piece of work for which he and his band of scouts received little recognition at the time. The lack of combat recognition was to follow Daniel Driscoll and many who fought under him in later years too.
The Australian A.G. Hales who was a special correspondent of the Daily News wrote a four part book called "Campaign Pictures of the War in South Africa 1899-1902". The first part of the book describes his experiences with the Australians on the Colesberg front, the second with the Boers in the Stormberg region (where the Hales himself was held prisoner for a month) and finally various sketches, including one entitled "With the Basutos". A.G. Hales was fascinated by the work of the scouts and did a great deal to enhance the reputations of men such as Captain Driscoll & Lieut Jack Brabant even if it might appear a little fanciful and exaggerated at times. Hales' descriptions of some events would probably not be well regarded in modern South Africa with his rather derogatory descriptions of the natives.
Hales describes Driscoll in the same book, and similar descriptions are also found in Hales' novel "Driscoll, King of Scouts",
"about eleven stone in weight, and, roughly, five feet eight, clean cut and strong, with a face which tells you he was born in Cork, and had knocked about a lot in tropic lands; eight-and-thirty if he is a day, though he swears at night around the camp fire that the pretty Dutch girls have guessed his age as twenty-seven."
Driscoll's Scouts were also at Mafeking as the following extract outlines:
"Defence of Mafeking (13th October, 1899 - 17th May, 1900)
Issued to all troops in the garrison of Mafeking between 13th October, 1899 and 17th May, 1900 both dates inclusive. Approx. 1,300 present although some were unclaimed making a nett figure of approx. 1,150 issued.
Regiments present: South African Constabulary (14); Mafeking Town Guard (513); Mafeking Railway Vols. (26); Mafeking Cadet Corps (38); Protectorate Regiment Frontier Force (424); Bechuanaland Rifles (125);Cape Police District No. 1 (43); Cape Police District No. 2 (54); Special Police Contingent, Mafeking (5); B.S.A. Police B.P. Division (92); 1st Life Guards (1); Barkly West Town Guard (2); Border Horse (1); Border Scouts (1); 1 Brabant's Horse (1); 2 Brabant's Horse (2); Bushveld Carbineers (1); Cape Medical Staff Corps (4); Colonial Defence Force (1); Commander-in-Chief's Bodyguard (9); Diamond Fields Artillery (2); Driscoll's Scouts (4);"
Hales also gives the impression that he had a typical hot Irish temperament and was not a man to be crossed when he was in the wrong mood. In the text below describes Hales describes Driscoll and his moustache.
"In his softer moments Driscoll tells us that it used to "cur-r-r-l" before he had the "faver" in Burmah, and on such occasions we assure him that it "cur-r-rls" even yet. It is more polite to agree with him than to cross him--and a lot safer."
The next recorded engagement for the Driscoll's Scouts was at Wepener in early 1900, under Colonel Dalgety. In March 1900 the Boer leader Christiaan de Wet was conducting a successful guerilla war against the British forces. He had two victories over the British forces when captured prisoners informed him that Dalgety was digging in at Jammersberg Drift, close to Wepener. De Wet's force of around 6,000 men attacked and lay siege to Dalgety's forces which included just under sixty of Driscoll's Scouts. Many more men from other units applied to transfer to Driscoll's Scouts after the Wepener engagement.
Driscoll's Scouts played a major role in coming to the aid of the Cape Mounted Rifles who were under heavy attack from De Wet's forces.
The "Times History of the War", Volume IV records that:
"Driscoll's Scouts, closely followed by the company of the Royal Scots, arrived to reinforce the hard pressed C.M.R (Cape Mounted Rifles) They had an adventurous ride across the open from their bivouac by the farmhouse (where the unit was held in reserve) and, except for the shelter of a few undulations, they were exposed during the whole of the two miles ride to the concentrated fire of two Maxims, a pom-pom and rifles, and during the last part, when they dismounted and walked along the ridge to the south-west corner, a field gun was also turned on them… The C.M.R , backed up by the Royal Scots and the Scouts (i.e. Driscoll's Scouts), and later by a detachment of Brabant's horse sent to their assistance, could not be moved from their exposed positions. The attack was not pressed home during the afternoon, but the defenders got no rest till well into the night, as guns and rifles kept up an intermittent fire on anybody who appeared on the plain."
They had to survive by digging trenches for shelter and had no food or water in a hot African sun, until supplies and medical aid could reach them that night. A further 8000 Boer forces arrived to reinforce the siege and during the following nights de Wet launched further attacks on the area where the C.M.R and the supporting forces including Driscoll's Scouts were situated.
In the book "Shamrock and Springbok" it is noted that the diary of R.W. Glyn, who served with Driscoll's Scouts from October 1900 to September 1901:
"When I joined up in 1900… Capt. Driscoll had attained the rank of Major and how well deserved, he was a real warrior in every sense of the word and a grand O.C… When he was in a temper, his language was a real "education" and made everybody jump. He did not know what fear meant, but strange to say was still full of life when the war ended. He drank well, fought well and was as straight as a die. We were very proud to serve under him."
After Wepener was relieved Driscoll's Scouts were attached to General Brabant's Colonial Division and the Scouts became part of the advance through the east of the Orange River colony.
On the morning of 28th May 1900 after a stirring church sermon the previous day in the Senekal voluntary church with an entirely military congregation of worshippers, many of who were subsequently to return to the church in the guise of a temporary hospital,as wounded soldiers, Rundle left Senekal with a force of just under 4 000 men, including Driscoll's Scouts. The Scouts had just joined Rundle's 8th Division.
They slept out in the open on rocky ground with only a blanket for cover and no coats, on what was a bitterly cold night after their first day's march
Two groups, the Imperial Yeomanry and Driscoll's Scouts had been sent ahead to scout the area towards Biddulphsberg where they had encountered hostile rifle and artillery fire.
It was during one of these scouting expeditions that a group of Driscoll's Scouts were the victims of some treachery by a group of Boers and the incident was subsequently reported in the London TIMES.
"At a farmhouse on the north-east side of the Berg a white flag was seen to be flying, and two men of Driscoll's Scouts were despatched to ascertain if any Boers there wished to surrender. On approaching the farm the Boers opened fire killing one scout and dangerously wounding the other. The latter was taken to the farmstead where he was cared for"
Biddulphsberg is described as a large flat-topped, lozenge-shaped mountain standing 250 metres above the plain below and from the northern side of the overlloks the Senekal-Bethlehem road to the south of which is the flat-topped Tafelkop. The British commander who was determined not to ambushed, turned his attention to the northern Biddulphsberg. One company of the Imperial Yeomanry was directed toward Tafelkop and another to the south of Biddulphsberg;
The troops rose early on the morning of a cold and windy 29th May 1900, a day that was described as a red letter day for the 8th Division.
The 8th Division lost 48 men that day and on subsequent days due to wounds received on that day, at the Battle of Biddulphsberg. Driscoll's Scouts lost one man during this encounter. Many of the wounded died in horrific circumstances when a bushfire caught in the very dry grass and whipped up by a strong wind, the fire moved so fast that there was no chance of rescuing the wounded trapped in the path of the fire.
A.G. Hales describes the intensity of the battle in his book "Driscoll, King of Scouts" which as I have mentioned previously is somewhat anecdotal and exaggerated in its style, but the historical facts are supported by other accounts such as Trooper Glyn's diary.
"There was no fooling around now, no playing at fighting; the Boer gunners made the air dance with the torrent of shells they poured into the British lines…. The British guns were not idle, the men worked like fiends, and every officer did his best to outdo his neighbour. When a man dropped he was picked up and carried away swiftly to the rear; when an officer fell another took his place. …
So under the shelter of the guns the infantry advanced, steadily as though at Aldershot. Never once under the thickest fire did they waver; every now and again they halted, and swept the face of the hills in front of them with flying lead, raking the rocky headland with messengers of death. The men on both flanks were ordered to advance at the double, whilst the centre kept steadily on, so that the advancing line soon looked like a half bent bow; the right and left wings were to rush a couple of gently undulating hills which guarded the gut, and clear a path for the centre. On those hills, and on the veldt at their base, the grass was thick, deep and dry, and, harmless as it seemed, it was destined to play a terrible part in that day's doings. So heavy was the fire, and so stubborn and determined were the Boers, that Rundle determined to make a feint to draw a portion of their fire from the gut.
The little band of Scouts, under Driscoll, were sent to charge an ugly kopje that frowned away under the right flank, while a small party of Hampshire Yeomanry, under Captain Sealy, were sent at another rocky fortress on the left front. Driscoll, as was his way, thundered forward at a headlong gallop, riding as if he had a special understanding with Providence that his hour was not yet come.
The kopje he was riding at was strangely silent, not a rifle spoke; but Driscoll, who knew the slimness (cunning) of his enemy, dreaded that apparent peacefulness more than he would have dreaded a warmer welcome. Jamming his spurs home in the grey stallion's flanks, carrying his carbine in his right hand, he peered with anxious eyes at the rocks ahead, ands saw nothing. Not a solitary foe was moving, not one rifle-barrel peeped over the edge of a boulder, yet no one living knew the immense importance of such a position better than the Irish scout. No one in the British Army knew the Boers half as well as he did, and in his heart he knew that the stillness meant a trap; but what was the trap? Suddenly he saw it, saw it in time to save the whole of his little troop from annihilation. Well it was for them that they followed a man who always rode twenty horse lengths in front of his men. Well was it for them that the man who led them was old in experience and full of the lore and legends of scouting.
He had looked from the rocks to the veldt, and there , almost entirely hidden by the long grass, he saw a wide sluit running like a moat right across the track he had to take, and his eager eye had caught the play of the sun on the rifles of the Boer commando that was patiently waiting for him, waiting with a death warrant in their hands for him and every man behind.
Never did a swallow veer in mid air with more speed than he did then. He did not lose his head, did not yell to his troop to halt, and so draw the enemy's fire whilst they were huddled together like sheep. Driscoll never made mistakes of that kind. He knew that his every action would be imitated by his followers , so as he wheeled he dropped his reins on his horse's neck, swung himself half round in the saddle , and loosed his carbine at the slouch hats he saw amongst the grass; and his men did as he did. As the carbines snarled forth their angry defiance, every Boer head dipped with the speed of thought below the edge of the sluit. They had been waiting to effect a surprise, and they had gathered one in themselves. Before the astonished burghers could collect their scattered thoughts, Driscoll and his adventurous band were racing like Sioux Indians for cover. Every man lay flat upon his horse's neck, and every spur was busy…..
There were no pluckier men in the Empire than those Scouts, but they were wise enough to know that pluck "won't stop lead". As soon as they got out of range of the rifles, Driscoll sent word by a galloper to the General, informing him of the position of affairs, and Rundle immediately dispatched a gun to make things lively for the burgers in the sluit.
The Senekal Church used by the British as a hospital after the battle at Biddulphsberg is still there today. There is a large monument to the Boers of the Senekal district who lost their lives in the Anglo-Boer War in its grounds.
An article on the July 1900 incident also appeared in the Daily Telegraph:
"Captain Driscoll, leader of the Scouts bearing his name, captured four armed Boers single-handed and brought them prisoners into camp. This was definitely a splendidly plucky feat"
R.W. Glyn's diary also records the same incident:
"An incident (which we are all very proud to relate) happened before I joined up, but it ignited a torch which will always burn. Capt. Driscoll, as his rank was then, went out one day scouting on his own. He dropped in at a farm house and discovered that the owner was pro-British, so he was made very welcome. He and his host of course had tons to talk about and were sitting in the living room which happened to be a large room, leading outside. Now, Capt Driscoll, being an old scout, never was completely off his guard. Before he went in the house, he hid his horse in an outbuilding and his rifle was never more than a foot or two away, well within reach. They were having a cup of coffee when the door darkened and in walked four armed Boers, quite oblivious to the fact that the enemy was there. As quick as lightening Capt. Driscoll grabbed his rifle, pointed it at them and shouted, "Hands up", which as he had the drop on them they were compelled to do. Being a bright sunshiny day, it took the Boers a few seconds to accustom their eyes to the, not too brightly lit, room, which just gave Capt Driscoll time to act. He, I believe rolled up in camp very pleased with himself, having brought in four prisoners. I was told that this incident gained him many recruits. I can imagine many youths, about my age, being very keen to join his regiment as they of course thought of him as an outstanding hero."
Following their involvement at Orange River the Scouts formed part of the 8th Division to oppose the incursions into the Cape Colony by the forces of Gen Smuts.
Driscoll's Scouts were also used in mopping up operations in the Western Transvaal against General de la Rey.
On April 18th 1901 the TIMES reported that Daniel Driscoll was mentioned in despatches by Lord Roberts and shortly afterwards Captain Daniel Driscoll was awarded the DSO. Captain C.F. Smith of Driscoll's Scouts was awarded a DSO in October of the following year.
Early in 1902 Driscoll's men were engaged further cleanup operations in the Orange River Colony area, Klerkesdorp and Fauresmith.
After the War
Daniel Driscoll was joined by his eldest son Brian in South Africa at the end of the war and Brian joined the Natal Police for a while.
As for Daniel, he found the transfer from the military to civilian life a little difficult and he seems to have slipped into a life without any real direction for a while, although a touch of bad luck might not have helped.
He was promised that he would be looked after by people such as General Hunter, Lord Milner and Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, but nothing came of the promises.
On Friday 14/11/1902 the London Times records
The Ortona has left Point Natal, for Mauritius, Andaman Islands, Rangoon, Madras and Colombo with the following:
1/ Liverpool - Lt.-Col. Schletter, Maj. Nicholson, Capts. Rawlinson, Finch, Lts. Owen, Prince, Vince, Hudson, 2/Lts. Dixon, Wilcox, 1 warrant officer and 610 men 2/E. Yorks. - 50 men Driscoll's Scouts - Col. Driscoll
He returned to Burma for the final time in order to wind up his business affairs there, resign his commission in the Volunteers, and say goodbye to his wife and children before returning to South Africa for several years and ultimately two failed businesses. He was seen off at Cape Town by many female admirers.
In 1904 it's recorded that from the period immediately after the war and one assumes after his return from Burma he was in the timber trade in Johannesburg, until his partner disappeared in approximately 1903, taking the business funds with him. Following the demise of the timber business followed two years of unemployment and hardship.
Meanwhile around this time his wife and some of the children, if not all except Brian the oldest son had sailed from Burma and settled on the south coast of England and were being temporarily supported by the Catholic Church. It would appear that at least one of the other sons, Dermot may have settled in Ceylon and become a Teaplanter until the outbreak of WWI, at which time he returned to enlist.
Daniel's wife and the children were obviously finding it hard to make ends meet and this prompted a series of pleading letters written by Catherine, the eldest daughter, but no doubt dictated by Daniel's wife Isabella. One of these letters lead to the report in August 1905 from a Sergeant Grimaldi of the Natal Police in reference to enquiries from his estranged wife about the possibility of obtaining maintenance. It would appear that Daniel Driscoll had been working with the "Chamber of Mines Importation Labour Association" for around twelve months but had now been retrenched and had fallen upon hard times. At this time he was living in Butterworth's Buildings in Durban, a place with a less than savoury reputation.
Sergeant Grimaldi's letter also reveals the following:
"He was employed by the Chamber of Mines for twelve months, and received a salary of per month; the little money that he saved was sent to Johannesburg to pay creditors, to whom he was indebted in connection with a Timber business which he was running in company with one, McEnery, who bolted with the proceeds of the business and left him (Driscoll) to face the creditors"
At present he is absolutely without property or funds, and in consequence is unable to remit any allowance to his wife and family"
In an earlier letter Grimaldi describes Daniel Driscoll as having "an unsavoury reputation" and while he was staying at Jacobs Camp during his employment at the Chamber of Mines, he had another mistress. Stories abound about his vanity and his eye for the ladies and he is rumoured to have married at least twice while in South Africa, in addition to the many mistresses he kept.
A.G Hales makes reference to his vanity and his eye for the ladies in his book "Driscoll King of Scouts" and the Campaign Stories".
It is unclear exactly when he returned to England from South Africa, but it would appear that it was around 1907. One thing is clear and that is he returned to join an organization called the Legion of Frontiersmen.
The Legion of Frontiersmen
This is not the place to try and describe the ideals or the history of the Legion of Frontiersmen because there are many who have already done it in far more detail and with far more authority than I can ever do. One of the best sources is from a book on the history of the Frontiersmen by Geoffrey Pocock, but you will also be able to find related material compiled by him at <http://www.frontiersmenhistorian.info>.
Geoffrey Pocock, the Legion of Frontiersmen Historian records that
On Sunday January 1st,1905, Roger Pocock wrote in his pocket diary, "Began year working on the League of Frontiersmen". His first name for the Legion was "League" and this inaccuracy has been used in books more than once. Number 6 on his list of members was Sir William Eldon Sergeant, a barrister who had commanded a battalion in the Boer War. He was a Victorian hunting, shooting and fishing gentleman who did not really approve of Pocock, although he was a keen supporter of the Legion and became its Commandant-General for a while in 1909 after a fierce battle with Pocock and his supporters. He was involved in the Army reform plans and was general adviser to the Legion.
Pocock's background was essentially from the police and military as he had served first in the North West Mounted Police and then in South Africa during the Boer War in a group that was an irregular group of Scouts, the Waldron Scouts. The uniform and the ideals of the Frontiersmen were subsequently heavily influenced by both the Mountie origins and the military scout background. You could be forgiven for mistaking members of the Legion for Mounties because their uniforms were very similar.
Also just like the core attributes of the Driscoll's Scouts, people who were attracted to the Legion also had that strong common bond of being a band of military adventurers. Pocock's ideal was to protect the empire and perhaps the world by forming "Listening Posts", which was a role that the Legion did actually play in its early days and this concept also explains the brief flirtation between the Legion and what ultimately became MI5 and MI6. Sponsorship for their cause flowed in.
However where you have a group of strong characters many of whom have a military background and many striving for rank and control, there is inevitably conflict and unfortunately the history of the Legion from almost its very inception has been one of conflict that haunts it to this day. This detail is especially relevant when I describe the role that Daniel Driscoll played in shaping this organization.
This conflict led to many power struggles at the head of the organization, but it also cost it dearly with astute observers quickly declining to have anything further to do with the organization.
The Legion was formed in 1904 and gradually accumulated many names with British society and military connections. Pocock's sister Lena Ashwell played a major part in providing Pocock with these connections.
There have been many illustrious names associated with the Legion throughout its history. They include King Edward VII, Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer; Joseph Conrad the author who also served in the Boer War; Patrick Hastings who also served in the Boer War and was later to become one of the greatest criminal lawyers of all time; Capt Frederick Courtney Selous, big game hunter and naturalist, (Rider Haggard of Zululand, though not a Frontiersman, had modelled Allan Quartermain on Selous); Capt Robert Falcon Scott, RN, of the Antarctic, and Capt Oates in Scott's party was also a Frontiersman; Baden Powell of scouting fame; Sir Hubert Opperman; Weary Dunlop the Australian doctor, rugby player and soldier; Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith the aviator; John Boyes the "King of the Wakikuyu"; Arthur Conan-Doyle and many others too numerous to mention. The stories of these men's lives occupy many separate books.
Today the Legion exists in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States to mention some, but the conflict I mentioned earlier continues unabated and there seems to be no end to the conflict. Attempts are being made to try and resolve the differences but there are many strong egos involved and many who are not willing to take a backward step, so one has to be pessimistic that there is any hope of the Legion reuniting under a single leadership with common goals. There is also the issue of relevance and purpose in the modern world and some branches of the organization seem to have reinvented themselves with specific goals in mind, while others do not seem to have progressed at all.
However in 1907, three years after the organization had been formed, Pocock recognized his limitations as a leader and recounts in his book "Chorus to Adventures" that "
In the autumn of 1907 Lieutenant-Colonel D.P. Driscoll had joined, and never was a man so welcome. For a time he consented to serve on the Staff, but presently succeeded the great de Hora as Commandant for London.
I knew Colonel Driscoll as an honourable man, unselfish, with a gift of leadership which I sorely lacked".
Whilst Driscoll provided good leadership in the organization, there was conflict and Pocock offers further insight into this in his book. It would appear that Pocock was advised that the Legion had been infiltrated by German spies and Pocock's attempts to have them expelled were met with derision and ultimately Pocock was dismissed from the Legion.
Geoffrey Pocock, the Legion Historian summarises the situation thus:
"By 1909, the Legion had many powerful supporters but was close to open rebellion against its Founder, who was not considered as a true gentleman in those class-conscious days. Although an ideas man, Pocock was not a born leader. The Esher Committee had engaged in regular meetings which led to the appointment of Vernon Kell and Mansfield Cumming and the formation of what was to become M.I.5 and M.I.6. Following the assassination in February 1908 of the King and Crown Prince of Portugal, King Edward VII had been very keen to secure the position of the new boy King, Dom Manoel, who dared not leave his palace, even to take the oath. Information had come in to the Legion that an assassin had been hired by revolutionaries to murder the young King and been engaged as a servant in his Palace. On 27th January, 1909 in a thick London fog, Pocock went to the house of King Edward's friend, the Marquis de Soveral to pass on the information, who was extremely grateful. De Soveral in turn told the King and information came back to the Legion that King Edward was very grateful. A subsidy to the Legion was to be placed in the hands of Lord Esher.
Pocock visited Esher on June 11th, and it is likely that Esher and the King felt that these amateurs could be used to the benefit of the country, because Esher told Pocock that subject to the abolition of the Legion Council and the appointment of Esher's nominee, Col. Ricardo, the Legion was to be subsidised to the tune of £500 a year. Col. Ricardo looked at the constant squabbles among the leading members and politely declined. Pocock was expelled from the Legion at an acrimonious A.G.M. and eventually, Driscoll, who had been serving efficiently as London Commandant came to be at the Legion head. He soon put matters on a sure and economic footing so that by 1914 the Legion was a strong, if more militaristic, organisation and Driscoll showed his powers of leadership".
In 1911 the picture of Col D.P. Driscoll, "The Old Warhorse" was published in the English Vanity Fair magazine.
At the outbreak of WWI, Driscoll offered the services of around 100 Frontiersmen for deployment in France performing a Special Air Service type role. His old protagonist, Kitchener refused the offer because regular army units were to be given priority. Driscoll cam back with another offer and that was to take on the Germans in East Africa. Again Kitchener knocked back the offer, but Driscoll persisted and eventually the War Office relented.
East Africa 1915 - 1918
There are many descriptions of how the 25th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers came to be formed and I am not going to attempt to cover them all here, but I will provide references to appropriate reference material and cite some extracts from selected sources.
Recruiting advertisements appeared in English newspapers and in May 1915 Col DP Driscoll DSO raised a 1200 strong unit of the 25th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and they sailed to East Africa.
The Legion of Frontiersmen Historian ( 25th Fusiliers Frontiersmen in East Africa <http://www.frontiersmenhistorian.info/fusiliers.htm>)is a good source of history for the 25th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and the Legion itself. Many members of the Legion and other soldiers had held out hope of joining this band when it was eventually officially sanctioned and many had given up hope that it would happen, so when the official War Office sanction did eventually come, many who had in the meantime joined other regular army groups, there were many desertions to join the Fusiliers.
The Fusiliers were officially raised on the 12th of February 1915 and two months later around a thousand men set sail on the "Neuralia" from Plymouth on 10th April 1915 and arrived in the Kenyan port of Mombasa on the 6th May. The "Neuralia" later became a hospital ship off the East African coast.
"Three Years War in East Africa" by Catp. Angus Buchanan is an excellent book on the campaign in East Africa and the Fusiliers voyage to Mombasa in Kenya. He describes how they sailed via Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said and the Suez Canal to Mombasa where they docked on the 4th or 24th of May depending on whose account you read.
Ewart Grogan who was described as the British Ernest Hemingway and whose main claim to fame was to be first man to walk from the Cape to Cairo, (in reality he fell slightly short on both accounts because he didn't start at the Cape and neither did he finish at Cairo on foot) was another larger than life character who had a profound influence in the shaping of early life in the British colony of Kenya.
Grogan was a very controversial character in many respects and his life was described as a being like a late Victorian's schoolboy's adventure yarn. Grogan was a visionary in terms of what he thought should happen to develop Kenya and much of the early success in building a healthy colony with good governance can be traced to him. Like many of his contemporaries he had a healthy disrespect for British bureaucracy and its inefficiencies. He once said "East Africa is the home of the leopard, the tick, the baboon and the amateur official."
Grogan was himself a Legion of Frontiersmen and contributed to the Frontierman's Pocket Book, a sort of Bible for the Frontiersmen.
"Military Operations of East Africa Volume 1, Aug 1914 - Sept 1916" records that:.
"As early as the 16th December 1914 the Colonial Secretary had suggested a blockade of the German East African coast. The task was accepted by the Admiralty, but it was not until the 1st March 1915 that the necessary ships could be provided. In the meantime Mafia Island had been seized, but the naval problem of the Konigsberg had not been solved."
The story of the sinking of the Konigsberg and how the German General Von Lettow Vorbeck retrieved its guns and hauled them across East Africa to taunt the British is another enthralling story which has been covered in several books. Von Lettow Vorbeck and the Konigsberg guns were to play a huge part in the life of the 25th Fusiliers in their subsequent years in East Africa. One of these guns can still be seen guarding the entrance to one side of the port of Mombasa outside the fabulous old Portuguese Fort Jesus.
The scene in East Africa at the outbreak of the WWI was a very well prepared German force and a generally disorganized and indifferent British colonial community.
Richard Meinertzhagen, an acquaintance of T.E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia fame was an army intelligence officer whose life story also makes fascinating reading. Meinertzhagen was a supposedly expert ornithologist who spent much of his time in Kenya and other parts of Africa, including Egypt and the Middle East. His insights into life and events in Africa and the Middle East make for fascinating and very insightful reading. His character even featured in the film of Gallipoli and he was generally regarded as one of the best British intelligence officers. Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books described another of Meinertzhagen's books Kenya Diary as "by far the most exciting autobiography I have read since the war". However an interesting post script indicates that Richard Meinertzhagen was quite probably a total fraud with his Ornithology and it would appear now that there is little doubt that he stole many of his samples from museums and the general view is that most of what was previously regarded as expert research in ornithology must all be discounted and regarded as probably extremely unreliable. One wonders how much we can trust his Diary writings, but there is plenty of supporting detail from other sources when it comes to his observations on the Fusiliers.
Meinertzhagen complained that patriotism did not exist in Kenya at that time. Ewart Grogan observed that in spite of the lack of patriotism at the time and the fact that Paul von Lettow Vorbeck's troops were well and truly dug in and prepared for conflict in German East Africa, there were some bright moments, one of which was the arrival of some well prepared Rhodesian troops and what Grogan describes as the adult's version of the Boy Scouts, the Legion of Frontiersmen to be known throughout the war as the 25th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. Grogan was actually a committee member of the Legion of Frontiersmen, but that didn't stop him being derogatory on occasions when referring to this illustrious band of adventurers as the "Boozaliers".
Grogan describes the Fusiliers as the "most extraordinary military unit in British history" and then goes on to describe some of the men who made up this remarkable group. Its members consisted of strange collection of characters from all over the world including the sixty three year old photographer, naturalist and game hunter Frederick Courtenay Selous, himself a fellow veteran of the early conflicts in Matabeleland South Africa with Grogan. Other members included several ex French Foreign Legion members, Texan cowboys, a Palace footman, lighthouse keeper, seal poachers from the Artic Circle, American soldiers, circus acrobats and clowns and then there was Northrup MacMillan.
MacMillan was certainly a larger than life, literally. MacMillan was an American who weighed twenty Seven stone and apparently had to travel everywhere on what must have been a very strong mule! Grogan describes his sword girth as being sixty four inches!
It was indeed extraordinary that this band of men were accepted as part of a regular army because surely no other army would have accepted many of these men for many valid reasons, yet they proved to be a very capable fighting force, albeit one that paid heavily for their heroics.
Meinertzhagen's reactions to the arrival of the Fusiliers and the Rhodesians are recorded in a number of places:
"In May of 1915 Kenya was reinforced by troops of the 2nd Rhodesian Reg. and the 25th "Frontiersmen" Battalion R.F. The 25th "Frontiersmen" was made up of 1,116 volunteers under the command of Col. "Paddy" Driscoll DSO of the Boer War (1899-1901) "Driscoll's Scouts" fame. This Battalion was unique in that it included a number of famous hunters, Boer War veterans and other 'old hands'. On the 22 May 1915 Capt. Meinertzhagen inspected the Frontiersmen in Nairobi and stated that "They are a rough but interesting lot and I doubt if such a motley collection of men has ever been bought together before into one unit. Most men have one or more war medals among which I noted the Mateble, Indian Frontier, Senegal, Tongking, Madagascar and an Italian Order for work during the Syracuse earthquake." Among this 'motley collection' he met his old friend Lt. Fredrick. C. Selous who was a pre-war African big game hunter of international renown and 64 years old!
Whilst in his own book "Army Diary", he records on 22nd June 1915:
"I returned from Kajiado, where Tighe inspected the 25th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, just arrived from England and the first unit of Kitchener's Army which I have seen. They are commanded by Colonel D.P. Driscoll, DSO of South African fame and who has become prominent by his work with the Legion of Frontiersmen. The adjutant is Captain H.H.T White, late of the 60th Rifles. Among the officers are W.N. MacMillan, an American weighing 24 stone and a reputed millionaire. He did not look well in service kit. His sword belt was 64 inches in diameter. Also Cherry Kearton the bird photographer. But first among the officers is my dear old friend F.C.Selous. There he was standing in front of his platoon. I found myself discussing the Nakuru Hertebeeste (a type of Eland native to the central Kenyan town of Nakuru) with him on parade, also the nesting of the Harlequin Duck in Iceland, until (General) Tighe drew my attention to the fact that he was inspecting a battalion and not come to hear a debate of the Natural History Society.
Being a war battalion of my old regiment I took immense pride in seeing them. They are a rough but interesting lot and I doubt if ever such a motley collection of men has ever been brought together in one unit. They are all as keen as mustard and longing to have a dash at the Germans. They are in the ranks a millionaire from Park Lane, a late subaltern from the Garrison Artillery, Colour Sergeants from the Brigade of Guards, men from nearly every regiment in the Army, a flunkey from Buckingham Palace, several late members of the French Foreign Legion, Sappers, Gunner etc…."
Meinertzhagen finishes by saying "Yes, I am proud of this latest unit of my regiment and told them so"
"Military Operations of East Africa Volume 1" continues
the second week of February Major-General Wapshare was called upon for a report on a naval proposal to land 2000 Royal Marines for a. combined operation against that vessel.
In February 1915 Colonel Driscoll, who had raised and commanded Driscoll's Scouts in the South African War, obtained permission to organize a unit from the Legion of Frontiersmen, a picturesque body of experienced fighters well known in London before the war. Within three weeks he had obtained the necessary numbers, one-third of them from the Legion They included men of every type from every land, among them the famous hunter F. C. Selous ; some who wore French decorations won in the Foreign Legion ; W. N. Macmillan, an American of great wealth and corresponding physique ; an ex-General from Honduras, and so on. Their average standard of experience and intelligence was so high that it was decided the battalion should carry out its military training in East Africa, and it sailed from Plymouth on 10th April 1915.
On arrival at Kajiado it was found that nearly half the battalion had never fired a British musketry course and on 16th May these men were sent to Nairobi for this purpose."
Whilst many would probably consider the Fusiliers a band of adventurers, Robert Dolbey probably summed it up best when in the following extract from his "Sketches of the East Africa Campaign" (1918), he described them as soldiers of fortune, although he was a little inaccurate about Daniel Driscoll's age because he was in fact only just over 50 years of age.
"Of the most romantic interest probably are the 25th Royal Fusiliers, the Legion of Frontiersmen. Volumes might be written of the varied careers and wild lives lived by these strange soldiers of fortune. They were led by Colonel Driscoll, who for all his sixty years, has found no work too arduous and no climate too unhealthy for his brave spirit. I knew him in the Boer War when he commanded Driscoll's Scouts, of happy, though irregular memory; their badge in those days, the harp of Erin on the side of their slouch hats, and known throughout the country wherever there was fighting to be had. The 25th Fusiliers, too, were out here in the early days, and participated in the capture of Bukoba on the Lake. A hundred professions are represented in their ranks. Miners from Australia and the Congo, prospectors after the precious mineral earths of Siam and the Malay States, Pearl-Fishers and elephant poachers, actors and opera singers, jugglers professional strong men, big game hunters, sailors, all mingled with professions of peace, medicine, the law and the clerk's varied trade. Here two Englishmen, soldiers of fortune or misfortune, as the case might be, who had specialized in recent Mexican revolutions, till the fall of Huerta brought them, too, to unemployment; an Irishman there, for whom the President of Costa Rica had promised a swift death against a blank wall. Cunning in the art of gun-running, they were knowing in all the tides of the Caribbean Sea, and in every dodge to outwit the United States patrol. Nor must I forget one priceless fellow, a lion tamer, who strange to say, feared exceedingly the wild denizens of the scrub that sniffed around his patrol at night."
So by now you should have the picture that the men of the 25th were probably the strangest group that have ever been assembled under the guise of a regular army group.
Their exploits during WWI in East Africa have even been immortalized in such literary epics as the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. The following piece describes one episode where they featured:
The episode on "The Phantom Train of Doom" was based on the exploits of people in the 25th Btn of the Royal Fusliers, most notably the gamehunter and photographer Frederick Selous who was shot dead at the battle of Beho-Beho. Von Lettow Warbeck who lead the allied troops a merry dance through East Africa during the East Africa campaign even went so far as to send a note of regret when Selous was shot dead, such was his respect for the man."
As this description of the "Phantom Train of Doom" describes, the 25th paid a heavy price for their heroics and by the end of the war, their numbers had been drastically reduced through combat casualty, disease and malnutrition.
An extract from the story is reproduced below:
"After briefly serving as a motorcycle courier for the French army, Jones was reassigned to Africa, receiving a promotion in the process. Along with Remy, Lieutenant Defense became lost in transit and came to serve with the very unorthodox 25th Royal Fusiliers as they tracked down enemy artillery in German East Africa.
Indy rejoined his unit in Lake Tanganyika, where he continued to prove himself despite differences with his commanding officer, Major Boucher. Jones received a promotion to Captain, and was given the grueling task of crossing the unforgiving elements of the Congo to deliver weapons. Many of the unit's soldiers died of disease, including Boucher. Incapacitated by jungle illness, Jones recovered in a hospital run by Albert Schweitzer.
Indy and Remy, sick of the war in Europe, request and receive a transfer to Africa. Upon their arrival, they receive promotions to lieutenant. They are assigned to a unit stationed at Lake Victoria in Niarobi. However, they board the wrong train and end up in Moshi. They get directions for the right train, but still manage to board another wrong train. The second train breaks down and the engineer sets off to bring back a repair crew. Unfortunately, this will take about a week. Consulting a map, Indy finds another line running parallel to them ten miles east. He and Remy head out. While admiring the beautiful sunset, Remy realizes that they have been heading in the wrong direction. As they try to make their way back to the train, they find an allied camp staffed entirely by old soldiers. Indy and Remy ask to see the commanding officer who turns out to be none other than Captain Fredrick Selous, whom Indy had met when he was in British East Africa at age nine and Selous was hunting with Roosevelt. Indy explains to him the situation and Selous promises to take him to his commanders, General Jan Christian Smuts and Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, and explain the situation. He takes Indy and Remy to a section of the front lines that is under heavy bombardment. Meinertzhagen figures that the Germans have a battleship cannon mounted on a railway flatcar. Before he realizes what has happened, Indy finds himself "volunteered" by Selous to be part of a group called the 25th Royal Fusiliers that is to find the train and destroy it. The other members of the group include Bernie Salt, naval expert, Big Mac, demolitions expert, Mr. Golo, an expert native tracker, Zoltan, a mechanic and Donald Parks, strategist. Selous is in command. Remy is furious when Indy tells him and is convinced that they will both be shot as deserters. The group set out on horseback. That evening, they make camp. Selous admits to Indy that they don't have much of a plan, and that they will just improvise. The Germans begin shelling and Selous times the shells' flights, estimating a location for the rail line. That morning, Indy accidentally gets the explosives wet. Big Mac is furious, but says everything should be all right even though he's not sure about the detonator caps. They set out and soon find a German camp set up along some rail lines. Waiting until dark, they walk right into the camp, posing as drunken soldiers. They split up and Indy is sent off to steal toilet paper. He also steals a car with Bernie. They meet the others outside of camp. They had procured a railway handcart. Indy and Bernie are given the handcart and the rest will take the car to the other end of the rail line. Starting at opposite ends, they'll push towards the center and find the gun. Indy and Bernie catch up to the gun train early the next morning. It fires once and then starts down the line. They race after it. Meanwhile, up the track, the others spot the train coming and hide. Indy and Bernie try to catch up to the train, but lose site of it when it disappears behind a hill. Eventually they come into sight of the others, but the train did not pass them. It has seemingly disappeared! While the others try to decide what to do next, Indy examines the toilet paper they stole, which is actually old documents being "recycled" due to the scarcity of paper. One of the documents is an order for forty miles of telegraph cable. They find the cable buried along side of the track and follow it. It leads to a dead end at the side of a cliff face. Further examination of the cliff face reveals that it is artificial, hiding the entrance to a cavern. They sneak in and find the train. Big Mac immediately begins supervision of the laying of the explosives. They have to hurry when some Germans begin to approach the train to prepare for another mission. They quickly set the timers and get to cover. Unfortunately, nothing happens due to faulty wiring in the timers. They have to go back and reset them. Selous manages to jump the shovelman, knocking him unconscious. Indy is to replace him in the engine's cab and try to delay the train's departure. Despite his best efforts, the train begins to pull out of the cavern with the rest of the group hanging onto the side. Big Mac and Zoltan go back and reset the timers. Indy throws the two engineers out of the cab so the others can get in. Soldiers further back on the train spot the engineers' "departures" and try to storm the engine. A fire fight ensues. They manage to separate the car with the soldiers from the front half of the train and make off with the gun. Indy suggests breaking through the German lines and taking the gun right back to the Allied lines. Unfortunately, the German have telegraphed ahead. They manage to blow up a section of track and send soldiers down to meet the train. The group stops the train and manages to escape under the cover of steam. From a couple of hundred yards away, they witness the German troops arriving and disarming the explosives. Selous takes out a sharpshooter's rifle, intending to shoot and detonate the dynamite. Indy is skeptical of him making the shot, however, Selous manages to do it. The train explodes and they head back to Allied lines. Remy is glad to see Indy for he is anxious about rejoining their unit. Meanwhile, General Smuts is telling the others about the chance to capture General Paul Von Letow-Vorbeck, a German officer who has been a thorn in the Allies' side. Indy arrives and asks the General for a letter to his commanding officer explaining the circumstances of their tardiness. Selous convinces Indy to take an alternate route to Lake Victoria and that they'll accompany him on the trip. They neglect to tell Indy that the new route will bring them close to where the reports saw Von Letow-Vorbeck is. Since they'll be passing through German territory, they disguise themselves as Boer settlers. Remy is not happy with the plan, especially since he's the one who has to wear the dress. On the first day out, they spot and overtake a German courier. It is a woman by the name of Margaret. Selous knows her and her mother, who is one of the finest aviators in Africa. They take her prisoner and make camp that night. Indy takes Margaret something to eat and tries to engage her in conversation. She tells Indy that they'll never catch "him," but he doesn't know what she is talking about. He asks Selous about it, but he feigns ignorance. The next day they encounter a German patrol. They hide Bernie and Margaret in a secret compartment, however, their disguises don't fool the Germans and they are taken prisoner. The wagon is searched, but Bernie and Margaret are not found. At the German camp, they are brought before Von Letow-Vorbeck who recognizes Selous. They exchange some polite compliments before Von Letow-Vorbeck orders them to be shot in the morning. Until then they are placed in a prison cell. Later that night, Bernie emerges from the hidden compartment and makes his way to where the group is being held. Knocking out the guard, he frees them. They sabotage the Germans' motor pool and reconnaissance plane so they can't be followed. They take one car for their own escape. Selous decides that they should try to kidnap Von Letow-Vorbeck. They sneak into his tent and take him easily. Meanwhile, Margaret has kicked her way out of the compartment and sounded an alarm. The group splits up, leaving Indy and Remy with Von Letow-Vorbeck. They take cover in a large basket which turns out to be a balloon gondola. As the German soldiers get closer, Indy launches the balloon. It floats to where the others are waiting with the car, but Indy can't get it to land. With the German soldiers closing in, the others have no choice but to make their escape. Indy gets the balloon high enough to make their own escape. The next day, Von Letow-Vorbeck is becoming increasingly disgusted with Indy and Remy's ineptitude. He checks his compass and tells them that they are heading for German territory and that he'll be glad to accept their surrender. They take the compass to check for themselves and find that they are actually heading towards the north which is Allied territory. Just then, some pursuing German troops come into range and begin to open fire, puncturing the balloon. Despite Indy's frantic attempts at patching and Remy throwing over the ballast, they lose altitude and the balloon starts skimming the ground. Indy has to fight off the few soldiers daring enough to try to board the balloon. It seems hopeless when the balloon suddenly gets swept into an updraft and floats out over a cliff, stranding their pursuers. As Indy finishes patching the balloon, Margaret shows up in the repaired reconnaissance plane. Remy pulls out a heavy machine gun and manages to hit the plane, disabling it. As she comes around for one last pass, Indy tries his hand at the machine gun. Unfortunately, it walks up on him and he winds up shooting the balloon to ribbons. The craft makes a soft crash landing. They must now proceed on foot. As they walk, Von Letow-Vorbeck tells how he has managed to run circles around the Germans for the last two years. He explains that the soldier has two imperatives - one is to follow orders and the other is to stay alive. The next day, they encounter some tribesmen who look threatening. They try to run for it, but are followed. Indy gives Von Letow-Vorbeck a gun as a gesture of trust. The tribesmen have the three surrounded, when Margaret appears and buzzes them in the repaired reconnaissance plane. The tribesmen flee in terror. She lands and Von Letow-Vorbeck tries to escape to the plane. Indy pulls a gun on him and Margaret pulls her gun on Indy. Remy is pointing his rifle at Margaret. They are trapped in a standoff and German soldiers can be seen coming in the distance. Following Von Letow-Vorbeck's logic, Indy concludes that since he has no specific orders concerning Von Letow-Vorbeck his first responsibility is to stay alive. He lets Von Letow-Vorbeck go. In return, he gives Indy and Remy his compass and promises to call off the soldiers. Two days later, Indy and Remy are still making their way back to Allied territory when they find Selous and the rest of the group. Selous offers them a ride. They just might have to make a stop or two along the way."
One of the first engagements for the 25th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in the war in East Africa was at Bukoba a German naval station situated on the western shores of Lake Victoria. If one reads Richard Meinertzhagen's description of events that lead up to and during the battle of Bukoba, you will understand that it is a wonder that the British triumphed. It would hardly have been a secret to the Germans because the British forces talked openly in Kisumu, the Kenyan town from which they embarked on their mission, about their destination. Meinertzhagen bemoaned the lack of discipline in talking about their plans and the fact that it was primarily the officers who were the culprits.
On the night of the 21st and 22nd of June 1915 the Fusiliers set sail for Bukoba. The Germans had no trouble spotting the invading fleet because they had been ordered not to extinguish their lights so they didn't ram each other, but they didn't put them out until too late. The Germans then used flares which immediately caused the invading fleet of at least four ships to turn around and escape into the darkness. They returned early the next morning and met no opposition when two of the ships landed just north of Bukoba. Two other ships, the Nyanza and the Rusinga went south and were fired on a by shore batteries.
The modern day Nyanza was still in active service until sometime in the late 1990's but more recently caught fire and sank in Lake Victoria.
Thanks to Dennis Driscoll(no relation) who lived in Kenya at the time for pointing out that the Nyanza was still float many decades later on Lake Victoria, where I spent many a weekend sailing yachts from the Kisumu Yacht Club, although having said that I believe that the Nyanza has since sunk!
You can see some great pictures of the modern day MV Nyanza courtesy Eric Schoute, <http://www>.schoute.org/MVNyanza.htm
The invading forces including the Fusiliers spent the whole of the rest of that day and part of the next in combat with the well prepared German forces in Bukoba. The invading forces had no rations, there were no reinforcements, there was hesitation amongst some commanding officers about when to attack and there was no cooperation between the ships gunners and the land troops and when the ships guns did eventually start firing they were hopelessly inaccurate. Eventually on the 23rd of June the Fusiliers ably supported by some land artillery triumphed and took down the German Flag before hoisting the Union Jack. One of the captured flags was subsequently presented to General Stewart by Driscoll and his men, the commander of the British forces and is still on display somewhere in Royal Fusiliers Museum at the Tower of London.
There were a number of flags captured and one of these is known as the "Driscoll Flag". In 1996 a Major Dunkerley of the UK branch of the Legion of Frontiersmen confirmed that in the headquarters of the Royal Fusiliers in the Tower of London is a 5'x 3'6" frame with another German Flag which has a silver plate on it and the details about Daniel Driscoll presenting it to General Stewart.
Meinertzhagen himself played a very active front-line role in the capture of Bukoba and he describes one of the real blots on the Driscoll's Fusiliers.
Captain Meinertzhagen describes in Army Diary:
"When I got back I found Stewart reading a message from Driscoll asking permission for his men to loot the town. To my utter astonishment Stewart replied that they could provided there was no violence or drinking. One might as well tell a ferret that he can enter a rabbit hole but must not touch the rabbits. I first of all went down to the wireless station which the engineers were demolishing. I then went into the town where the Fusiliers were looting hard. All semblance of discipline had gone, drunkenness was rife and women were being violated. Men were threatening their officers and altogether it was a shocking sight . We eventually had to get some Lancs(Loyal North Lancs) to stop it, for Driscoll had completely lost control. I trust I never again witness the demoralizing effect of looting. To see a battalion of my own regiment doing it was distressing to a degree. Just fancy Stewart allowing such a thing to spoil and mar the creditable victory of Bukoba, the first real success we have had in the colony."
This sad event became known as the "Sack of Bukoba" and it is believed that due to the misbehaviour of the Fusiliers, no battle was awarded.
Ewart Grogan's description of the Fusiliers as the 'Boozaliers' was enhanced by these events and in his book "Lost Lion of Empire" he states:
"After a successful attack in June on Bukoba, on the east side of Lake Victoria, Driscoll lost control of his men altogether after they captured the town and reports of the resultant looting, boozing and consorting with local African girls considerably alarmed Meinertzhagen. But he could not deny their courage, or its cost: nineteen months after their arrival only sixty of the original 1166 'Boozaliers' were left alive.
In a strangely ironic alliance given the role he played in fighting the British during the Boer War, the South African forces in East Africa to support the fight against the Germans were led by Jan Smuts
The Diary of J.D Fewster describes what hardships the East African forces had to endure:
"The shortage and poorness of the rations, the scarcity of water, the long daily treks in terrible heat told its inevitable tale.
Malarial, Blackwater, enteric fevers and dysentery were rampant, to say nothing about such things as Veldt sores which covered men from head to foot with sores that almost made him frantic. Just imagine marching 20 or 24 miles in a temperature of 120 degrees in the shade, if you could find any. Before you started, your water bottle was filled and if you did not strike water that night, you had no more until the next morning. Thirst is a terrible thing and it is under these conditions that one finds this out. In France, you could always quench your thirst within an hour or so.
Also, I sincerely believe that all the flying and crawling insects in the world make East Africa their playground. They worry you by day and devour you by night. But perhaps the worst thing of all was the scarcity of news from home. The Field Post Office was in the hands of Indian staff. Whether they were careless and did not trouble to send the mail down the line, I do not know. I do know that a great number of my letters went astray. If one received a letter within three months of it being posted, one could count oneself extremely fortunate. I was once about 10 months without news from home, although my wife and daughter were writing every week. This is very trying when one knows that one's family lives in an area that is constantly being raided by German aircraft. In France, we usually received letters seven or eight days after posting."
KILIMANJARO Jan-Mar 1916
Around January 1916 the Fusiliers formed part of a force assembled to combat the German troops around Mt Kilimanjaro. Von Lettow Vorbeck had put a lot of effort into preparing for the outbreak of war on the western German East African side of Kilimanjaro with a small force of German soldiers and a very well trained local force of natives.
This engagement did not start well. The British forces were defeated in their first encounter and Smut's South African forces also lost many men. General Smuts who ultimately became a Frontiersman came from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, my birthplace, to take charge of all the forces in British East Africa.
Smuts formulated a plan to encircle Kilimanjaro and in March 1916 the battle started in earnest. The battle lasted for three weeks before it was completed and the German forces were driven south. Daniel Driscoll 25th Fusiliers were awarded the battle honour of "Kilimanjaro" for their part. The British lost over 300 men in this battle and the full story of this battle is well told in the "Duel for Kilimanjaro" by Leonard Mosley and also the "The South Africans with General Smuts In German East Africa, 1916" is another useful source on this battle.
By this time the campaign, the country, disease, insects and all of the other challenges that Africa can throw at you were taking their toll on the Fusiliers.
From Daniel Fewster's diary again:
August 12th. 1916
"We are away again this morning and pass through the gap which the Germans have held for the last few weeks. We had not time to view the fortifications closely, but one could see at a glance the strength of the position. At some distance in front of the trenches there was a belt of pointed stakes driven into the ground. The points of the stakes were breast high and they were fixed in the ground at such an angle that any attacking force would have impaled themselves on them. The belt was from 30 to 40 yards deep. To my mind, barbed wire is but a cobweb compared with these things. The gap itself is only 20 or 25 yards wide with the mountains towering up on either side. The place gives one the impression that it never could be captured by a frontal attack. Yet Colonel 'Jerry' Driscoll (of Driscoll's Scouts, famous in the South African War), now in command of the 25th. Battalion (Frontiersmen) of the London Fusiliers, volunteered to capture the position with all that he had left of his battalion, about 300 men, all told. His offer was not accepted.
The road is fairly good along here, but of course we are hampered by obstacles which the Germans have left behind them. Huge trees have been felled across the road, whilst in places, the road has been blown up with road mines. These are trifling incidents compared with what we have experienced lately, so we make progress. By evening we arrive at a place which is marked on the map as Kanga.
October 14th. 1916
We find the 'line' here only very lightly held, no one being permanently in the trenches. Our front extends from Duthumi to a town named Kissaki, 16 miles away, both places being in our hands. There are not many troops here, and the 'line' itself is held by patrols of the various units which mount for 24 hours duty. Apparently the enemy hold their line by a similar procedure. When two opposing patrols bump into each other, then there is a bit of excitement until reinforcements arrive and drive the enemy back. The artillery here consist of one section of the 3rd. SAFA with two 18 pdr. Guns, one section of the 7th. SAFA with two obsolete l5pdr. Guns and our obsolete but useful 5 inch howitzer. The infantry are Col. 'Jerry' Driscoll's 25th. Battalion of the London Fusiliers (Frontiersmen), the 2nd. Rhodesian Regiment, which are all of the whites, the Jumna and Cashmere Rifles (Gurkhas) the 30th. Punjabis and a battalion of the Nigerian Rifles. All these units are down to about half strength, or even less brought down by fever, etc. I was speaking to one of 'Driscoll's boys' today and he tells me that when all ranks are paraded, they muster about 200 men. Of course, the battalion came out a 1,000 strong, not counting a reserve company, so one may form a slight idea of the losses in this country."
BEHO-BEHO Dec 1916-Jan 1917
In September 1916 Smuts's forces had captured the German East African coastal capital and now capital of Tanganyika, Dar Es Salaam.
In 1918 at the end of WWI he returned to his old job as Commandant General of Legion of Frontiersman, but resigned after becoming disillusioned with the way the organization was being run.
In 1919 he sailed on the SS Durham Castle for Kenya where he became a Soldier Settler.
He purchased a Coffee farm and subsequently became a District Commissioner.
His Memorial Service notice in TIMES newspaper of 20/8/1934 list chief mourners as Miss Eileen Driscoll, Miss Kathleen Driscoll, Miss Shiela Driscoll, Captain Brian Driscoll and Lieutenant Terence F. Driscoll.
A fascinating news film clip from the Pathe News can be found at <http://www.britishpathe.com> which shows a large contingent of Frontiersmen parading through the streets of London, lead by Roger Pocock their founder, on their way to St Clement Danes church. Selected frames can be viewed in thumbnail form and you can also download the full clip for a fee.
The transcript of the commentary reads thus:
"There were very few on parade without decoratoins and war medals when, in honoured memory of this tough, hard-bitten, boisterous Irishman, King of Scouts and Prince of Adventurers, a Legion attended a Memorial Service at St. Clement Dane's Church.
Diplomats, soldiers and public joined in paying a last tribute to this old campaigner whose deeds read like a boy's adventure book. A born leader, a fearless rider, Col. "Jerry" Driscoll, D.S.O., who with his friend, Capt. Roger Pocock, who was present at this Service, formed the immortal Driscoll's Scouts which did Yeomanry service in the Boer War and raised the Frontiersmens Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers"
Noted events in his life were:
• Occupation: Engineer, 1883, Rangoon, Burma. 7 Engineer in Charge JM Stohman and Co Rice Mills
• Will: England & Wales Probate Index, 1936, United Kingdom. Driscoll, Daniel Patrick, of Thererika Estate Ruiru, Kenya Colony, did 6 August 1934 at European Hospital Mombasa Kenya.
Colony Probate Nairobi to Dora Develin spinster.
Effects 812 stg 10s in England. Sealed London 5 November
Daniel married Isabella, Eugenie Marchall, daughter of William Shields Marshall and Elizabeth Newbold, on 9 Jun 1880 in Calcutta, , West Bengal, India 4,5.,6 (Isabella, Eugenie Marchall was born in 1865 in Calcutta, christened in 1870 and died on 18 Apr 1944 in Richmond, Surrey, England, United Kingdom.)
Rev E. Lafont
Winesses at marriage were J. Marchall and W.S Oldfield. Residence listed as Calcutta. Fathers listed as John Driscoll and W. Marchall
From Times of India, 21/6/1880:
Grooms Surname Driscoll
Grooms First names D
Brides Surname Mill
Brides First names Isabel May Marshall
Place Calcutta Year 1880 month Jun day 9 Register
Entry Jun 9 at Calcutta D Driscoll Esq Engineer IN to Miss Isabel May Marshall daughter of Mrs E Mill of South Colinga Calcutta
Edition Year 1880
Edition Date 21 Jun