The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 12 No 6 - December 2003

The Lebombo Intelligence Scouts*

by Huw M Jones

Huw Jones is the author of several papers on military activity in and around Swaziland previously published in the Military History Journal and, in 1999, with Meurig G M Jones, he published A Gazetteer of the Second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902. He is currently completing a history of relations between Utrecht District and the amaZulu, culminating in the action at Hlobane in March 1879.

* Unless otherwise indicated, this paper draws on material from Captain David Forbes, My Life in South Africa (London, 1938); documents in the Miller Papers in the Killie Campbell Africana Library, Durban; and Huw M Jones, A Biographical Register of Swaziland to 1902 (Pietermaritzburg, 1993).

In Albert Grundlingh's opinion (see Grundlingh, 1979, pp1867; 1980, p 268), the Lebombo Intelligence Scouts (LIS) was one of the burghers' corps established in 1901. But evidence now available suggests that this is too simple a classification. Control of the eastern border of Swaziland to intercept messengers moving between Boer commandos and Lourengo Marques (Maputo) had been one of the activities of Steinaecker's Horse, but by late 1901 this unit was essentially limited to garrison duty at Pigg's Peak, Komatipoort and the Sabi River (see H M Jones, 'Neutrality compromised: Swaziland and the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902', in Military History Journal, Vol 11 No 3/4, October 1999, pp 99-119). Quite why the Lebombo Intelligence Scouts was raised at this late stage of the war remains to be determined, but it may well have been at the insistence of David Forbes, Junior, from Athole in the eastern Transvaal.

Since early 1900, Forbes had proposed the idea of raising a group of scouts to harry the Boers, counter their influence and harass the railway line, in particular by destroying the railway bridge across the Nkhomati River at Komatipoort. He had first made these ideas known to Mr S Evans who, before the war, was a prominent financier in Johannesburg with H Eckstein & Co. Evans had been sent by the High Commissioner, Lord Milner, to Lourengo Marques in late December 1899 to assess the possibility of the Boers smuggling war material through Delagoa Bay and the surrounding coastline. During his visit, Evans went up to Pisini, where Forbes had established camp after being forced out of Swaziland on the outbreak of war. Roger D Casement, a former consul at Lourengo Marques, returned there in January 1900 on a similar mission.

The reports of both Evans and Casement focussed on the possibility of destroying the bridge at Komatipoort to block the railway. In addition, Evans mentioned the possibility of creating a 'Forbes Swaziland Corps' to be established on the Lubombo Range to harass the railway and any burghers remaining in Swaziland. Forbes was then summoned to Cape Town to discuss plans for a strike against the Komatipoort bridge to be mounted from a sea-borne landing of a squadron of Strathcona's Horse at Kosi Bay supported and guided by a small force of local scouts to be raised by Forbes. Buller's preoccupation with his problems in Natal, and the fact that he had secretly mounted his own operations with a similar objective, effectively scotched Forbes's ideas of leading his own unit.

Sir E A Bartlett was a staunch defender of Swazi interests against those of the South African Republic and had persuaded Field Marshal Lord Roberts to sanction a secret journey to visit the queen regent. His appointment to guide Sir Bartlett on this occasion provided Forbes with another opportunity to press his views. Bartlett and H R Abercrombie, a Johannesburg journalist, took the train on 25 March from Lourengo Marques to Forbes's camp at Pisini. From there, guided by Forbes and A K Brooks, they rode across the Lubombo to Zombodze. Their mission accomplished, Forbes and Brooks remained in Nomahasha whilst Bartlett and Abercrombie returned to the consulate in Lourengo Marques on 3 April. Bartlett duly told Consul Ross that a force of 500 men was needed in Swaziland to deny the Mdzimba Range to the Boers. He then left to tell the same to Lord Roberts in Bloemfontein.

All this lobbying went for naught, and Forbes was next summoned to meet Strathcona's Horse personally at Kosi Bay and guide it northwards. He arrived there on 4 June, only to find that the expedition had been abandoned. He was then ordered to Eshowe, where he found that the elusive Canadian unit had been ordered to northern Natal. Forbes next served as an adviser to Johannes Smuts, erstwhile British consul in Swaziland, who was trying to make contact with the Swazi authorities and establish himself as frontrunner for the post of British Resident Commissioner in Swaziland when the war was over.

In early September 1900, Forbes was summoned from Pisini to join Smuts and his secretary, A M Miller, in Pretoria. After they had prepared briefing papers on Swaziland for the Director of Military Intelligence, they left for Barberton at the end of the month. Here they met General French, Captain J Vaughan, French's DAAG (Intelligence) and Lieutenant-Colonel J Spens, military governor of the district, and attempted with little success to make contact with the Swazi royal family at Zombodze. As the military were unable to provide the necessary escort to the party, they eventually returned to Pretoria in mid-October and once more Forbes returned to Lourenco Marques.

By now Forbes had become very bitter at the success of Lieutenant Baron Ludwig von Steinaecker, who had been allowed to take six colonial scouts overland through Natal, Portuguese territory, and Swaziland, to attempt to blow up the Komatipoort bridge. British Intelligence in Lourenco Marques reported it too heavily guarded for such a small unit, and proposed another and smaller bridge in the vicinity of Malelane further west. This bridge duly destroyed, von Steinaecker crowned his success in early July by capturing Commandant G M J van Dam of the Johannesburg Police, who was in charge of the security of the railway line through the lowveld.

Von Steinaecker's successes prompted Lord Roberts to sanction an increase in the unit, and the British Resident in Lourenco Marques, newly promoted consul-general, recruited local residents and financed and provisioned their activities. Visiting Natal in August, von Steinaecker made arrangements for more recruits, supplies, personal promotion to the rank of major, and the creation of a unit to be called Steinaecker's Horse. These reinforcements were met by Forbes with three waggons at Kosi Bay and delivered to von Steinaecker's camp just south of Nomahasha.

An acerbic correspondence then took place between Forbes and Smuts on the one hand, and Captain W N Congreve, VC, the military secretary to Lord Kitchener, who had succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief on 29 November 1900, on the other. Smuts passed on a letter from Forbes which was viciously critical of Steinaecker's Horse. It was acknowledged by Congreve very briefly: Forbes had had his chance to do what von Steinaecker was doing, but had delayed so long that the work had been given to von Steinaecker. 'No-one', added Congreve (Public Record Office, London, CO 291/217/132, Maj W M Congreve to J Smuts, Pretoria, 1 January 1901), 'thinks S an angel, but he has his uses and Forbes being jealous must be taken at a discount'. According to his memoirs, Forbes then went to Pretoria himself and reported to Lieutenant-Colonel David Henderson, appointed by Kitchener to head the Field Intelligence Department (FID), who repeated what Congreve had said - that he had not taken his chance and had lost his commission.

Henderson could only offer him employment as a noncommissioned guide of the FID with Brigadier General J G Dartnell's column operating in the eastern Transvaal from late January 1901, into Natal along the Zulu land border, Brigadier General G M Bullock succeeding Dartnell at Vryheid on 25 April. With Bullock, Forbes moved north with the column to Ermelo in early May, and to Standerton in mid-June. The column operated into the Orange Free State where Brigadier-General J Spens took command. On 10 September, the column arrived in Kroonstad, and the next day Forbes, 'looking very fit', went to Pretoria to be offered the post as guide to the column newly formed under Lieutenant H de la P Gough (National Archives, Pretoria, Forbes Collection No A 602, Vol 13, Unknown to David Forbes, Senior, Kroonstad, 10 September 1901). News of Gough's disaster in Blood River Poort on 17 September, however, quashed that posting and he was sent to Natal to rejoin Spens's column, which moved from Natal through the Orange Free State to its original base at Standerton on 17 November. Once back at the railway, Forbes was sent to Pretoria for discussions with Henderson. He was commissioned captain in the FID on 7 December 1901, and instructed to raise a unit known as the Lebombo Intelligence Scouts.


So who was this Forbes who had so strenuously tried to have himself appointed to command his own corps of scouts? Born in Sinkwazi, Natal, in 1863, he had moved with the family in 1866 into the then undeveloped area of New Scotland in the eastern South African Republic. Here he was brought up at Athole, but lived on the diamond fields for three years while his father and uncle tried their luck. With his eldest brother, Forbes was commandeered for commando service in October 1882 in the campaign against the Ndzundza Ndzebele led by Mabhoko kaMagodongo. Fluent in siSwati, Forbes had been used by his uncle in attempts to secure mining and farming concessions in Swaziland. He became well known to the royal family, and was closely involved in the politics of the day. From 1890, however, he had concentrated on developing his farm in the neighbourhood of Nomahasha on the Lubombo Range, and the family coal mine in the valley of the Nsulutane River in the middle of the Swaziland lowveld. By the outbreak of war, Forbes was a 35 year old bachelor with some experience of military life and well accustomed to rough living in country of which he had an almost unique knowledge. Family connections provided expectations, but, as we have seen, they had counted for little with newly arrived imperial officers. Now, perhaps, his value was being recognised.

The LIS formed

On the same day that Forbes was commissioned, his great friend, A M Miller, another Swaziland resident, was commissioned as a lieutenant in the FID to act as adjutant of the LIS. From Pretoria, they travelled down to Barberton to start recruiting and assembling the necessary supplies, equipment, waggons and, most importantly, horses. The first two scouts were recruited on 18 December and, not surprisingly, they were both old friends of Forbes and Miller from Swaziland. Walter Guy Miles was a partner in the trading firm Rogers, Miles & Co which had stores throughout the territory. The other was Henry Pattinson, a builder from Bremersdorp (Manzini). On the following day, another four men from Swaziland joined the LIS: Pattinson's partner, Wigglesworth; the Bremersdorp blacksmith, Carl Gustav Lange; the storekeeper at Croydon, Frank Buckham; and the proprietor of the International Hotel in Bremersdorp, Richard Lewis.


A third batch, of eight, enlisted on 23 December, and all of them had some previous military experience. The most senior in these terms was Andrew Edward Quirk from the Cape, who had served for ten years with the Cape Mounted Rifles, sixteen months with Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, and a very short spell with Steinaecker's Horse, from which he had transferred to the Utrecht-Vryheid Mounted Police for six months.

Word had clearly gone out from Pretoria to selected individuals to rendezvous in Barberton. Among the latest recruits were three burghers from Volksrust who had fought with the Swaziland Commando and then taken the oath of allegiance before being recruited to work with the FID. They were Cornelius Rudolph McSeveney and his brother William, who farmed at Mooiplaats in southern Swaziland, and Jacobus Christofel Potgieter from the neighbouring Piet Retief district, who had been a member of the Swaziland Police before the war. All three were married and had left their wives in the concentration refugee camp in Volksrust. Another batch was accepted on 26 December, all of them British subjects with previous war service, including four from Steinaecker's Horse, bringing the total number of scouts to 24.

Miller's first orders for the day were issued in Barberton on 27 December, by which time horses had been obtained and stabled. But no tents had been issued, so the recruits were assigned quarters. The first parade was to be at Fountains Hotel, presumably where Forbes and Miller were staying. The first promotion was that of Harry Emmanuel as acting quartermaster-sergeant and Miles as acting corporal in the orderly room. Two days later Miller suggested that all scouts should provide for themselves a jack knife, notebook and indelible pencil, and various toiletries, including a one-ounce bottle of Eau de Luce. On 31 December, the scouts paraded to take the military oath and attest, some before Colonel W Giffard, acting military commandant, Barberton, and the remainder before Major T M H Tierney, the town's resident magistrate.

On the following day Quirk (who was drilling recruits), Pattinson and Waechter were appointed sergeants, Wigglesworth and Barnshaw, corporals, and Lange, farrier-corporal. Arnold and St John, with previous service in Menne's Scouts, enlisted on 4 January. But not all who enlisted went on to serve. J H Dennis, working for the FID in Barberton, enlisted on 2 January, but was discharged about 18 January for 'defective eyesight'. One of the early recruits was George Nelson, a 35 year old diamond driller from Johannesburg. He had previously served with the Prince of Wales's Light Horse, and later with Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, but lasted only six days before being discharged as 'unsuitable'. On 29 December, Miller sent a note to Mrs Forbes (NA, Forbes Collection No A 602 Vol 13) asking her to give the trooper who carried it, 'Captain Forbes's kit', and telling her that 'Dave is somewhere down Komati way just now'.

Into the Lowveld

By 29 December there were enough recruits to form two troops. 'A' Troop was commanded by Sergeant Quirk, and 'B' Troop by Sergeant J W Reilly. On the following day, they left Barberton for Komatipoort. For unknown reasons, Emmanuel was ordered to stay in Barberton, whilst Sergeant Waechter was given sick leave. This was probably for an enormous hangover, since he was discharged for misconduct - drunkenness, in fact - on the day the LIS left town. The unit rode down to Hectorspruit, remaining there for two days. Water was scarce and troop sergeants were ordered to see that none was wasted. Going into the hot, dry climate of the lowveld probably made several scouts ill. Miller issued orders that 'anyone feeling out of sorts' should report as soon as possible since there was a plentiful supply of drugs. '".men will be saved much sickness if they will report any constitutional disarrangement at once'. Before the LIS rode on to Komatipoort, Arnold was made regimental sergeant major.

Komatipoort was reached on 15 January, and the unit stayed there for five days before moving out southwards. On the line of march, the scouts were to ride with the waggons. Tents were to be pitched at night only if the weather was threatening. Otherwise, the waggons were to be pulled together and the sails pulled out from one to the other. The rations carried on the waggons were to be treated strictly as a reserve, and could not be broached without the permission of an officer. In addition, there were donkeys with pack saddles.

Forbes made it clear that 'the friendship of the natives in Swaziland is of vital importance to the expedition' and that nothing, therefore, was to be taken by force without the written sanction of an officer. Cattle and property were to be respected. Everything was to be paid for, and under no circumstances were the Swazi to be harassed or ill-used or disturbed in the possession of their property. It was by no means clear from Miller's orders what the objectives or destination of the expedition were, but by moving via Komatipoort the main concentrations of Swazi population in the middleveld would be avoided.

From Komatipoort, the waggons wound their way in inclement weather up the Lubombo Range to Nomahasha where Forbes found three more recruits. On 24 January, Thomas de Courtney Oswin, another Bremersdorp blacksmith, enlisted as a veterinary sergeant. Oswin had served in the Cape Colony for three years with the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police (later the Cape Mounted Riflemen) and probably also took part in the Anglo-Zulu War. On 7 January, James Munro, the storekeeper at Nomahasha, joined the corps. He had served with the Seaforth Highlanders, and more recently as a lieutenant with Steinaecker's Horse. Just as the LIS moved out, John Daniel Wyne Kestell, a Swaziland transport rider, was engaged as conductor in charge of the waggon transport. His father was C B Kestell, a prominent gold prospector for many years, and well known to both Forbes and Miller.

Young Kestell was a further example of how this war split families. His father was from Natal, but Kestell Jr was born in Camden, not far from the Forbes's ranch at Athole in the eastern Transvaal and was, therefore, technically a burgher like Forbes himself. However, he had had to take the oath of neutrality. Also recruited as scouts were the McFadden brothers, Henry and James, who were both masons from Mooiplaats in southern Swaziland. Both had been born in Uitenhage in the Cape and, on enlistment, asserted that they were not burghers, but had been forced to join the Swaziland Commando and had deserted at the first opportunity. This was a statement that would have later repercussions.

There was clearly tension between the officers, neither of whom had any formal military training, and the non-commissioned officers, who had. At Nomahasha, Quirk was fined ten shillings and reprimanded for 'using improper language to a superior officer', and Barnshaw was reduced to the ranks and severely reprimanded for unbecoming conduct. After three days in Nomahasha, the LIS moved on and reached Signal Hill, probably the site of von Steinaecker's picquet post overlooking the lowveld, still known today as Piketesi. In this area they had to repair the waggon route, which took them across the plateau and then down into the lowveld towards the Mbuluzi Mnyana (Black Mbuluzi) River. This they reached on 2 February. Forbes had by now recruited black scouts, probably from the Nomahash a area where he was well known, and they were posted to the outlying picquet. They were also used for pitching tents, building sangars and general work around the camp.

The LIS made steady progress southwards under the western scarp of the Lubombo until, on 14 February, it reached Ngwavuma Poort. Here the unit was split in two, one half for service on top of the Lubombo and the remainder for service in the lowveld 'under the hill'. But it took only a day to realise that there were many cases of sickness, and the two troops amalgamated in camp on the Lubombo above the poort. Scouts had to groom their own horses, but the non-commissioned officers had black scouts to attend to theirs. Latrines were dug for the corps, but not used. 'Any man found to have committed a nuisance in the vicinity of the camp will be severely dealt with.'

Into Action

On 20 February, a detachment left the Ngwavuma camp for its first action. Commanded by Forbes, it comprised RSM Arnold, Sergeant Reilly, Corporal Edington and Scouts Justice, Potgieter, Lee, Jones, the McFadden brothers, the McSeveney brothers, Kestell, Barnshaw, Munro and Longstaff. It took three days' rations of biscuits, tea, sugar and salt, and beef, for one and-a-half days. Pack horses carried fodder for the horses. The objective of the detachment was the laager of Nicolaas Jacobus Marthinus (Theunis) Vermaak at Mkwakweni on the southern border of Swaziland. Vermaak was about 57 years old and had been a special resident vrederechter at Zombodze. Given his close relationships with the Swazi, his task had been to advise Ngwenyama Bhunu. During the war he had been left in charge of the small number of burghers from the Swaziland Commando who remained in the territory. He was well known to Forbes and Miller. The exact location of the laager is not known, but it was not far from Hluti (Sihlutse). It may well have been on the site of the camp which marked the end of the Jagd Pad (hunting road) which had brought both Boer and British hunters from Natal over the previous sixty years to hunt in the lowveld of the southern Swazi country.

According to Forbes, he approached the laager before dawn and decided to send a letter to say that it was 'Surrounded and should be surrendered. Forbes made William McSeveney sign a post-script, since he was Vermaak's nephew - although this may have been an honorary relationship. Forbes had brought several Swazi with him, the most prominent of whom was Tshingana kaTole who knew Vermaak well. He was given the task of taking a message into the laager, for which he was later rewarded with four head of cattle. As dawn broke on 22 February, Tshingana arrived at the laager shouting that it was surrounded by the British. The burghers and their families panicked. Acting Field Cornet PT Vermaak and a burgher, CJ Botha, were killed, and Vermaak himself was mortally wounded. Some burghers escaped, whilst others with wives and children were taken prisoner. Vermaak was taken on a litter to Bethel Mission Station, not far from Hluti, where he had allowed Miss Malia Moe, the missionary in charge, to remain during the war. Here he was given a room with his wife and children to look after him, but he died on 27 February, and was buried at the mission. Forbes and his detachment now hastened back to the Lubombo and they returned to their camp there on 26 February. Miss Malia Moe later wrote to Lt-Col E H H Allenby, the British officer whose column had been camp near Hluti almost a year previously, that Capt Forbes had been very good to her, and had given her 'no trouble'. He had also been kind in that he took with him the Boer families who had been living at the mission since being left there by another British column led by Lt-Col A E W Colville in the previous November.

Life on the Lubombo

For the remainder of February and early March, the LIS settled into a camp routine. They now had many black auxiliaries under the Nduna Moliso doing the routine work of the camp from 07.00 to 17.00, with breaks for breakfast and dinner. Buckham was discharged for 'incompetency', and Justice was discharged as his time with the unit had expired. On 11 March, a British-born burgher named George Reed arrived to be taken on strength after taking the oath of allegiance-he had served with the Volksrust Looting Corps and with Field Intelligence. Reed had Swaziland connections, having secured a small land concession on the borders of the Klein Vrij Staat in the south-west of the country. A mason by trade, he had once lived at Mahamba, but before the war had a store and was farming in the Piet Retief district.

Reed was the precursor of a large batch of men taken on strength three days later who, like Reed, came from the Volksrust concentration refugee camp where they had left their families and children. A party of nineteen burghers, all of whom had fought with the Boer commandos, had been selected from the camp, four from Swaziland, nine from the border in Piet Retief district and Steynsdorp, and the others from Wakkerstroom and elsewhere. Only four had had previous service with the British. They enlisted formally on 14 March, were issued with horses and left under the eye of Charles Walter who, before the war, was a tin prospector and storekeeper at Forbes's Reef.

Walter had served for two years with Kitchener's Horse, and enlisted in the LIS on the same day as the burghers. In Miller's orders for 24 March, Scouts Kestell and Freeland were ordered to take five led horses and meet a party under Acting-Corporal McSeveney halfway between the main camp and the homestead of Bokweni Mamba. This was on the southern slopes of Ngudzeni Hill across the lowveld from the Lubombo. Mamba had been supplying Forbes with information on the movements of burghers in the area. This unidentified party was almost certainly a group of burghers riding from Volksrust, where they had left their relatives, to the main camp of the LIS which they probably reached on the following day:

The large numbers of women and children, and the growing strength of the corps, had prompted the need for some professional medical assistance, and Cpl Lee Downey had been attached to the unit from the Royal Army Medical Corps on 12 March. One of his main responsibilities, not surprisingly, was camp sanitation. Forbes's request for a doctor had been turned down, so he had asked his friend and personal doctor, Thomas Dunn, the medical officer for Piet Retief district, to join the LIS as a scout (civil surgeon). This he did at 1 a day from 1 May. As the main camp settled down into a routine - one from which alcohol was banned - promotions took place. Miles was promoted from orderly room corporal to paymaster sergeant. Cornelius McSeveney was promoted to sergeant, as was his brother William, with the responsibility to 'control all native intelligence'. Munro, Lewis and one of the newly recruited burghers, GC du Plessis from Wakkerstroom, were promoted to corporal. In early April, Forbes heard that his younger brother James, an intelligence officer operating along the Swaziland border in Piet Retief district with a small number of scouts, had been attacked by some burghers under the command of AsstCmdt Christiaan Botha, a group reported to be in Swaziland at Rudolph's Ground, close to the location of the modern village of Nhlangano (Goedgegun).

Forbes decided to attack, and on 16 April he personally led a patrol of three sergeants, a corporal and 23 scouts, together with Downey and acting storekeeper, St John. Travelling by way of Bokweni Mamba's homestead, the patrol arrived close to its objective, only to be told by two scouts who had gone ahead that the group of burghers had moved back into the Transvaal. So the patrol returned without any contact. While Forbes was away, the camp had been left in charge of RSM Arnold, and not Miller, the only other officer, who continued to act as adjutant.

On patrols such as this, it was customary to purchase a beast from a Swazi homestead and cut it up for meat. According to Forbes, all these beasts were paid for, but allegations arose that the LIS had taken cattle from the Swazi, and that some 150 head were being held at a homestead on the Lusutfu River looked after by the corps. In a distinctly odd move, Sir Thomas Cunningham, staff captain intelligence at Barberton, ordered James Forbes to hold an enquiry. Given his instructions by his brother, David Forbes left the LIS main camp with an escort of Lewis, Bouwer, de Beer, van den Hiever and de Jager, provisioned for a five day patrol, on 23 May. The result of the patrol and enquiry is not known. Forbes had established a separate camp for the women and children, some 6km away from the main camp, but the wives of other married scouts now came to live on the Lubombo, and it became necessary for Miller to make rules as to when the husbands were allowed to sleep in the married quarters. For Miller, his business life continued in anticipation of the end of the war. He received letters from his principals in London, The Swaziland Corporation Ltd, addressed to him at 'The Lebombo Intelligence Scouts Main Camp Ingwavuma'.

According to Forbes, William McSeveney and two others were given permission to ride to Volksrust to see their families, and bring back more recruits. This they undoubtedly did, but only brought back three - two burghers from Swaziland and one from Piet Retief, the last having served with the National Scouts. The war ended officially on 23 May, and on 13 June, Forbes already having left camp, Miller wrote in his daily orders that picquet and outposts were withdrawn, scouting had ceased and 'a state of war no longer exists'. On 21 June, the four waggons were loaded and the corps left the Ngwavuma camp for Komatipoort and Barberton, where it was officially disbanded on 15 July.

It remained only for Miller to draw up a list of the 61 men who had served with the LIS, and to note who was entitled to receive the King's Medal. It was a strange selection - all those of British origin were recommended for entitlement. Oswin, the veterinary sergeant who had been reduced to the ranks for insubordination and afterwards dismissed for wilfully destroying Government property, was not recommended. Neither were any of the Boers, nor the three whose nationality was suspect (Reed and the McFadden brothers), nor any scouts who had served for only a short time. Buckham, dismissed for 'incompetency', was also not recommended. On enlistment, the McFaddens had claimed British nationality, but when burghers were issued with saddles on disbandment, they stepped forward to claim their entitlement. Forbes was awarded the DSO for the action near Hluti, the medal being presented to him in Amsterdam, New Scotland, by the resident magistrate of Ermelo District in June 1903.

The Lebombo Intelligence Scouts has remained a 'ghost' unit for a hundred years. Adjutant Miller simply bundled up all the unit's documents and took them home. A great proponent of white settlement in Swaziland, Miller never mentioned the LIS in his long career as author and journalist. Wisely, he had perhaps decided that it would be imprudent to reopen old enmities. Far better to lose the records and avoid recriminations and forget an episode that had split families and strained relationships.


Forbes, Capt David, My Life in South Africa (London, 1938).
Miller Papers, Killie Campbell Africana Library, Durban.
Jones, Huw M, A Biographical Register of Swaziland to 1902 (Pietermaritzburg, 1993).
Grundlingh, Albert, Die 'Hendsoppers' en 'Joiners' (Pretoria, 1979).
Grundlingh, Albert, 'Collaborators in Boer Society' in The South African War (London, 1980).
Jones, Huw M, 'Neutrality compromised: Swaziland and the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902', in Military History Journal, Vol 11 No 3/4, October 1999.
Public Record Office, London, CO 291/217/ 132.
Pretoria Archives Repository, Forbes Collection No A 602 Vol 13.

Return to Journal Index OR Society's Home page

South African Military History Society /