Originally formed on the 24th May, 1854, and gazetted as the DURBAN VOLUNTEER GUARD on the 27th January, 1855, with a strength of 120. The uniform was of blue serge, with grey trousers, "if available", a home-made peaked kepi with the initials in pewter, and the equipment Brown Bess percussion muskets with triangular bayonets, cross-belts and cartridge box and pouch. It is on record that the Regulars declined to parade with the D.V.G. on the Queen's Birthday in 1855. In the same year artillery and engineer companies were added . The latter did not last long, but the artillery became the DURBAN VOLUNTEER ARTILLERY in 1870. In 1859 the title was changed to the DURBAN RIFLE GuARD, who wore drab, corded black, with a black band to the kepi, black belts, and carried the Enfield. In 1862 grey kit was worn with red facings. In 1873 the name was changed to the ROYAL DURBAN RIFLES, and four years later khaki was adopted in the form of drill from India. In 1889 there was an amalgamation with the Maritzburg Rifles, the new title being the NATAL ROYAL RIFLES, and in 1895 this amalgamation ceased, and the corps became the DURBAN LIGHT INFANTRY. In 1911 the regiment wore grey with white facings and helmets in full dress; in the field khaki has always been worn. In 1935 the regiment became "Royal", and it is allied with the Rifle Brigade, and carries both King's and Regimental Colours. The flash is three horizontal stripes of blue, yellow and black, with a blue diamond set transversely on the yellow. The badge is a shield with the arms of Natal, two wildebeeste galloping from left to right, a crown above, and the motto, Primus in Africa. The undress cap badge is a silver bugle. In 1891 there was a Caledonian company with pipers, wearing a dark blue doublet with trews of Black Watch tartan; and in 1902 there was an M.I. company, disbanded in 1905. There is a band. The H.Q. is the Old Fort, held by a detachment of the Inniskilling Fusileers in 1842. In 1879 the War Office sent out uniforms for the Royal Durban Rifles, and during the Zulu War the regiment was employed on local defence. It served in the S.A. War of 1899, mainly on L. of C. Detachments, and saw fighting in armoured trains. It served throughout the Zulu Rebellion of 1906-7.
A roll for the Durban Light Infantry for the Boer War and the 1906 Rebellion can be found
Picture courtesy of DNW
QSA (3) Transvaal, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (960 Dmr: M. Fitzgerald. Durban L.I.);
Natal 1906 (1) (Pte. M. Fitzgerald, Durban Light Infantry.)
QSA (2) Defence of Ladysmith, Transvaal (230 Pte. J. W. B. Middleborough. Durban L.I.);
KSA (2) (Sergt. W. Middleborough T.M.R.) re-engraved naming;
Natal 1906 (0) (Corpl. J. B. W. Middleborough. Durban Light Infantry)
Like many men in the DLI, he earned Tr and RoL.
There were no KSAs to the DLI and he is not on the KSA roll for the Transkei MR.
QSA (2) Transvaal, South Africa 1902 (Lieut., Durban L.I.);
Natal 1906 (1) (Lt., Durban Light Infantry)
Thomas McCubbin was born in Durban in 1879, the 3rd son of Colonel McCubbin, J.P., C.M.G., V.D. He was educated at Durban High School and Hilton College. He joined the Durban Light Infantry in 1901. Promoted to Lieutenant in 1902, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion Natal Composite Regiment (later known as the Natal Mounted Infantry). With the latter he was engaged in patrolling the border in the Newcastle district. As a Lieutenant in the Durban Light Infantry he later served in the suppression of the Natal Rebellion 1906.
Alexander Wright is confirmed on the nominal roll for Durban Light Infantry; served 29 September 1899 to 31 December 1901. He received a gunshot wound to the head and was captured during the armoured train engagement near Ladysmith in mid-November. He was among a group, including Winston Churchill, taken as prisoners by the Boers.
The following was reported in The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW) on Tuesday 2 January 1900, p5.
A PLUCKY AUSTRALIAN
Private Alexander Wright, whose portrait we give herewith, is an Australian who, as a member of the Durban Light Infantry, distinguished himself in company with Winston Churchill and others, in the gallant defence of an armoured train on November 15. Private Wright was commended by his superior officers for the coolness he displayed on the occasion referred to. He is said to have "fired from the knee in the regulation position, and, in a cool and collected manner, cracked jokes to keep his comrades from becoming excited," while pieces were being "flicked" from his right ear and his clothing.
Born in Pitt-street, Sydney, between Moore and Hunter streets, on the site of Gibbs, Shallard and Co.'s old premises, on the 14th March, 1876, he had not the advantage of that "Jackeroo" training which settles the muscles and moulds the determination of the bushman, and fits him for a soldier's duty in the rough country of the Transvaal. He was reared in the city, learned his trade here, and only lived a few years outside its boundaries, and then at Bathurst - "a city of plains." Here it was that his first training in military matters took place, and, evincing a liking for drill, he rose to the rank of sergeant of the Bathurst B Company.
Glowing accounts of South Africa attracted his attention, and on July 5th, 1898, he quitted the colonies for Durban, where he almost immediately joined the Light Infantry. After a nine mouths' sojourn at this place, trade becoming dull, Wright left for Johannesburg, and severed for the time being his connection with his regiment. From Johannesburg be subsequently journeyed to Krugersdorp, where he worked at his trade in the neighbourhood, and upon one of the richest of South African mines. Eventually these were shut down in view of the present trouble, and Private Wright, with the intention of placing his services at the disposal of his country, returned to Durban, arriving on a Friday afternoon in a coal truck, and at a critical period of the hostilities. His first act was to enrol in his old regiment, which step he took next morning, and that evening he was on his way to the front, with Colenso Bridge as his destination. The defence of the armored train is now a matter of history, and one of the regrettable features of it is that Wright, who fought so pluckily in the face of overwhelming odds, is now a prisoner.
Mrs. Millar, Private Wright's mother (that good lady having been twice married), in the course of a chat with a "Daily Telegraph" reporter, at her residence, George-street, Redfern, on Saturday afternoon, supplied the foregoing particulars. Mrs. Millar is amazed at the coolness displayed at a trying moment by her son, for he was an impulsive lad.
"My boy went to Africa to better himself," said Mrs.Millar, with a smile, "and if he has not made his fortune he is getting a grand lot of experience, any way. Oh, yes, I'm proud of him - all mothers ought to be proud of their sons, and especially those sons who are offering themselves for the service of their country."
QSA (1) Defence of Ladysmith (689 Pte G.B.Humphreys. Durban L.I.)
George Bolton Humphreys (AKA Humphries) confirmed on nominal roll for Durban Light Infantry; served 29 September 1899 to 31 May 1902; one of only 5 men of Durban Light Infantry to receive the Defence of Ladysmith clasp. He was shot through both legs and captured during the armoured train engagement near Ladysmith in mid-November. He was among a group, including Winston Churchill, taken as prisoners by the Boers. His wife, Mrs Laura Humphreys, in Wollongong received some support in the form of a bank draft from the Harmsworth Armoured Train Relief Fund at Pietermaritzburg. Mr Humphreys had been working in Johannesburg as a carpenter when the war with the Boers started and he joined the Durban Light Infantry (see below). His two sons were killed in action serving with the AIF during World War I. Lt Robert George Humphreys MM, 1Bn, KIA at Strazeele, Belgium; and 2858 Pte Harry Bolton Humphreys, 1Bn, KIA Pozieres, France. Both recorded their father as G.B.Humphreys, Vogerfontein, Transvaal, South Africa. George Bolton Humphreys died at Johannesburg on 24 March 1941.
The following was reported in the Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW) on Saturday 10 March 1900, p2.
On Monday last Mrs. George Humphreys, of Belmore-street, Wollongong, received a cablegram from Durban from her husband informing her that he was well. The news was joyful to her, as she had not heard direct from him since before the besiegement of Ladysmith. As previously stated in the Mercury, he joined the Durban Light Infantry, on the treatment of the Britishers in the Transvaal by the Boers becoming intolerable to him. He was too true a Briton to take up arms with them against his own country. And, as they would not treat him, as a Boer would be treated in any part of the British Empire, he decided to join the ranks of those who were determined, even at the point of the bayonet, that "Britons never shall be slaves," under Kruger or elsewhere.
He is a good shot, and, as a member of the Wollongong Rifle Club, under the captaincy and 'coaching' of Captain Prott, made 'bull's-eyes' and 'centres' that were worthy of his subsequent military profession. Indeed, it is more than probable that many a misguided Boer has suffered the leaden consequences of Mr. Humphreys' 'practice' and Prottarian training on the Wollongong rifle-range. Doubtless, on account of his expertness with the rifle, he was selected as one of a company of volunteers to man an armoured train, intended for the relief of Ladysmith, within less than a month after the war commenced. The Boers proved more than a match for the train, however, and Humphreys, in the course of a hard fight, was seriously wounded and taken prisoner, among others, by the Boers.
Probably, on account of the serious nature of his injuries, he was subsequently given up by his captors, and convoyed for medical treatment to Ladysmith where he continued to be imprisoned with the rest of the British inhabitants there until Wednesday evening last week, when Lord Dundonald and his gallant "soldiers of the Queen" marched into that town to the inexpressible joy and relief of the brave inhabitants of the four-months besieged garrison.
Mrs. Humphreys learned from Natal newspapers about a month ago that he was returned to Ladysmith, and that was a great relief to her, even dangerously wounded though he was reported to be. The fact that he was being carefully attended to among British people, instead of being a wounded prisoner in the hands of the Boers, was like a joyful ray of light to her amidst what otherwise was dense discomforting darkness. Her feelings on receipt of the cablegram from him on Monday, informing her that he was well and again at liberty, may be imagined, but not described. It would have gladdened his heart also if he could have witnessed the magnificent public rejoicings that took place in Wollongong on Monday evening, in celebration of the relief of Ladysmith, which town nearly cost him his life, and in which he was three months a wounded captive.
Together with Wollongong Civilian Rifle Club prize medal in silver (35mm), suspension loop removed, reverse inscribed, 'Wollongong/C.R.Club/won by/G.Humphreys./Aug.1895'; Transvaal Light Infantry Regimental Rifle Association prize medal in silver (31mm), by Heydenrych, Johannesburg, reverse inscribed, 'Disappearing Targets/Won by/"C" Co/Score 233 Pts/Pt G.B.Humphries (sic)/22.11.03'.
Wollongong Civilian Rifle Club
At the close of the annual meeting of the Wollongong Civilian Rifle Club held on Saturday night 5 October 1895 the chairman (also club patron) Mr A.Campbell M.P. distributed quarterly prizes. Mr G.Humphries (sic) was the recipient of a silver medal presented by Mr S.Cutcher.