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TOPIC: Military Intelligence in Natal, 1899-1900

Military Intelligence in Natal, 1899-1900 4 years 2 months ago #22805

  • Brett Hendey
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It seems that in most, if not all Victorian wars, Britain realised the importance of military intelligence in a somewhat disorganised and often reactive way. The Boer War was no exception, and the military intelligence gathering in Natal before, and during the early months of the war was complex. The Colonists had many experienced 'guides', 'scouts' and 'interpreters', both civilian and military, which provided input to the Imperial intelligence gathering. It is with the latter that I am having some difficulties.

In June 1899, Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Murray was appointed Head of Intelligence in Natal, and he formed a 'Corps of Guides' made up of 45 whites and 50 blacks. These men did an important job in intelligence gathering in the months leading up to the war, and thereafter. The black 'guides' grew into what became the Natal Native Scouts, about whom I have written elsewhere on this forum. It is the whites that now have me puzzled.

On the QSA medal roll for Murray's Scouts, their officer commanding, The Hon T K Murray CMG, has noted against 10 names:
"Will appear on Roll of Natal Imperial Guides."
The men are: B Hobson, W A Knight, G L Langridge, T J M MacFarlane, W M Struben, T H Smith, A Vimpany, C Windham, H Weldon, & J E Worthington.

What I would like to discover is whether or not 'Natal Imperial Guides', for whom there is no medal roll, is synonymous with 'Natal Guides', who do have a medal roll? Also, what link, if any, did the 'Natal Guides' and 'Natal Imperial Guides' have with the 'Corps of Guides' established in June 1899?

All the 'guides' and 'scouts' in South Africa were consolidated into the Field Intelligence Department in July 1900, so perhaps the names listed above appear on the FID Roll?

I would be grateful for any comments on these questions.

Brett

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Military Intelligence in Natal, 1899-1900 4 years 2 months ago #22807

  • LinneyI
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Brett
Just now I had a look in my well thumbed copy of Buxton's FID book with particular reference to the FID roll with sub heading "Natal Corps of Guides". I can tell you that there is no B.Hobson therein; however, there is a B.Hodson with a nice run of clasps on his QSA.
Regarding the rest:
W.A.Knight on NCoG, with MiD and CMG
G.L.Langridge on NCoG with MiD and CMG
T.J.M.Macfarlane on NCoG with MiD and CMG
W.M.Struben on NCoG with MiD and CMG
T.H.Smith not on NCoG roll
A.Vimpany on NCoG roll and also served with 2/ScotH.
C.Windham on NCoG roll and also served Murray's H
H.Weldon on NCoG roll
J.E.Worthington on NCog roll.
It would appear that your comment about the Natal Guides and the Natal Imperial Guides did link with the Corps of Guides.
Hope this helps a bit
Regards
IL.

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Military Intelligence in Natal, 1899-1900 4 years 2 months ago #22810

  • Brett Hendey
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Ian

Thank you for replying to my enquiry. It is what I had hoped for, in spite of the few inconsistencies. I will now take forward my project on Murray's Horse/Scouts, which has turned out to be a bit more interesting than anticipated.

Regards
Brett

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Military Intelligence in Natal, 1899-1900 4 years 2 months ago #22845

  • Frank Kelley
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Gentlemen,
The Corps of Imperial Guides and the Natal Guides were the same organisation.

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Military Intelligence in Natal, 1899-1900 4 years 2 months ago #22851

  • Brett Hendey
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Thank you for the additional confirmation, Frank.

Not including the Natal Native Scouts, this is my third venture into the ranks of the Boer War scouts from Natal;
Sergeant T F Vinnicombe, Natal Guides
Lieutenant (Interpreter) J F Ingram, Murray's Scouts & FID
Trooper A R Smith, Murray's Scouts

It would have been, and still would be very helpful if someone as knowledgeable as Frank and Ian compiled a definitive nominal roll for the Natal Corps of Guides, and also one for the FID. The nominal roll for the FID recorded elsewhere under 'Unit information' on this site has many transcription errors (some corrected), and seems to be too short to be comprehensive. Also, it perpetuates the distinction made between 'Imperial Guides' and 'Corps of Guides' (e.g. on pages 1, 13 & 19).

Another matter that has puzzled me is the use of the name "Natal Guides" after the establishment of the FID in July 1900. I noted this in the case of Sgt Vinnicombe, who served in the Transvaal between June and October 1900, and I wondered if , initially at least, some members of the FID continued to be identified with their original units.

I have not found a history of the Natal Guides, which is odd given their notable contributions to the war effort. The many honours awarded to this relatively small number of men (120 according to one report) was remarkable (1 KCMG, 5 CMG's and 9 DCM's). A good example of their achievements was that of the Natal Guides besieged in Ladysmith, who led the successful raid on Gun Hill on the evening of 7/12/1899 (see pic below).

Brett


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Military Intelligence in Natal, 1899-1900 4 years 2 months ago #22852

  • Frank Kelley
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Hello Brett,
It the point these men were put together, they were called "Imperial Guide's" and when on duty normally wore "IG" on their hats.
As far as I know, the Murray's Scouts QSA roll is the only place that they are referred to as "Natal Imperial Guides"
Kind regards Frank

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