OUTRIDER OF EMPIRE
The Life and Adventures of Roger Pocock
by Geoffrey A. Pocock,
historian of the Legion of Frontiersmen
A dreamer of dreams, an adventurer, and a man of many ideas, Roger Pocock was an inveterate, world-ranging traveller. But Canada was always the land he loved best after his native Britain. Although his service in the NWMP proved brief and undistinguished, the experience launched his career as a writer, and provided a major source of inspiration, both for his stories and in the creation of his greatest and longest-lived achievement, the Legion of Frontiersmen. Frontiersmen were men of action, rather than words, and few of them wrote of their experiences, so we are left with few formal written accounts. Roger did write about his own life, but his two autobiographies fail to tell the whole truth. This is scarcely surprising, for he made many mistakes in his life, including some serious ones, though any degree of culpability in the death of Sir Arthur Curtis fell well short of murder. Both Roger and the society that shaped him are long gone. But his life of adventure, with its many failures and a few outstanding successes, is well worth recording for what it reveals about both the man and his social milieu.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS
of the Legion of Frontiersmen
by Geoffrey A. Pocock,
historian of the Legion of Frontiersmen
This is the extraordinary story of the Legion of Frontiersmen, a band of patriots and adventurers, whose exploits throughout Britain and the Commonwealth in the hour of need cover the last hundred years. Formed in 1904 by Roger Pocock to be ‘the eyes and ears of the Empire’, the Frontiersmen came close to becoming the official British intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence organisation. Their unwavering patriotism shines throughout their century of adventure: the Legion’s Manchester troop were the first British in action in 1914, fighting with the Belgian army before Britain declared war; frontiersmen served between 1915 and 1917 in East Africa, winning many decorations, including a V.C. Frontiersmen from Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the outposts of Empire rushed to serve the mother country and some 9,000 lost their lives in the First World War.
They Chose Adventure
Historian Bruce Fuller has just published a new book They Chose Adventure . This is the story of men who left New Zealand to fight for the Crown in the First War in the 25th (Service) Bn Royal Fusiliers (Frontiersmen). It was originally thought that there were five of them, but Bruce has uncovered seven. Their story has never been told before. They are typical of the breed that was the original Frontiersman, one was the son of a very well-known Englishman, another was a liar drunkard thief bigamist and wife-beater, others just the heroes that they were.
Colonel Manuel Herrera de Hora Biography
The first real “rogue” of the Legion of Frontiersmen was Colonel Manuel Herrera de Hora, the first London Commandant. For a start, this was not his real name. He was christened Henry George Melville Hora but was known by many other names, including Henri Melville and George King. He was such a plausible liar that his stories were believed by many of his fellow Frontiersmen as well as others outside the Legion. However, to know the full amazing story of de Hora, we recommend Bruce G. Fuller’s biography of him de Hora: A man of many places & many names (Auckland, New Zealand. Fenreach Family Trust). (Temporarily unavailable.)
Roger Pocock’s highly-regarded and much-recommended 1917 book Horses has now been re-printed by The Long Riders Guild and is available from them. It contains a new introduction by Roger Pocock’s biographer, Geoffrey A Pocock. www.horsetravelbooks.com
Suggested books with reference to the history. (This list is only intended as a guide)
by Christopher Andrew, pub. Heinemann, 1985
The author feels that many early Frontiersmen stories were somewhat fanciful, but the recent release of the M.I.5 files 1908-19 at the P.R.O. show there was more than an element of truth in some of these stories.
The Advocacy of War & Re-armament 1896-1914, by A.J.A. Morris, pub. R.K.P. 1984
This book gives a good idea of the background and public feelings which had a major part in the formation of the Legion.
by Tim Jeal, pub. Hutchinson 1989
Particularly in the early days, there was always a close relationship between the Scouts and the Legion. This book discusses the way the relationship started and developed.
"Sons of the Empire"
The Frontier and the Boy Scout movement
by Robert H. MacDonald, pub University of Toronto Press 1993
A clear and well-researched book on the adventurer and Frontiersmen in that period. With considerable detail on the early Frontiersmen.
(The above four authors consulted me and asked for information from my researches which I was happy to provide. Any small contribution I made is kindly credited in the books by these noted historians)
"Following the Frontier"
by Roger Pocock, recently reprinted, pub. The Long Riders' Guild Press.
"Chorus to Adventurers"
by Roger Pocock, pub. John Lane,
The Bodley Head, 1931
"Myself a Player"
by Lena Ashwell, pub. Michael Joseph, 1936.
The autobiography of Roger Pocock's sister.
"The History of the Legion of Frontiersmen"
with particular reference to the Legion of Frontiersmen, Canadian Division.
Complied and produced by the Legion of Frontiersmen (Canadian Division), Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
"The Frontiersman's Pocket Book"
ed. Roger Pocock, pub. John Murray, 1909 (very rare)
Now reprinted and available from University of Alberta Press or via most good booksellers” C$ 39.95 - £33.50
25th Fusiliers (Frontiersmen). There are a number of books which make reference to their service in East Africa during the First War. The following are some of the major ones.
"The Battle for the Bundu"
by Charles Miller, pub. 1974. later re-published in a Book Club Edition.
"The Royal Fusiliers in the Great War"
by H.C. O'Neill, Heinemann, 1922
One chapter on the 25th Fusiliers (Frontiersmen)
"Three Years of War in East Africa"
by Capt. Angus Buchanan,
pub. John Murray, 1919
"Life of Frederick Courteney Selous"
by J.G. Millais, pub. Longman 1919.
"Marching on Tanga"
by Francis Brett Young, pub. Collins, 1917
(also fiction book "Jim Redlake" - where fictional characters say home truths about the campaign he could not otherwise write! - highly recommended reading)
"Adventures With Animals and Men"
by Cherry Kearton,
pub. Longmans Green & Co. 1935
(also "Photographing Wild Life Across the World" n.d. -192?- revised edition of pre-WW1 book, and "Cherry Kearton's Travels" 1942)
"The East African Force 1915-19"
by Brigadier C.P. Fendall, first pub. 1921, reprinted by The Battery Press, Nashville, 1992
"Military Operations, East Africa Vol.1"
compiled by Lt-Col Charles Hordern, founded on a draft by Major Stacke
pub. The Battery Press in association with the Imperial War Museum, 1990
"Duel for Kilimanjaro"
by Leonard Mosley. first pub. 1963
by Brian Gardner (1963)
"Jambo" or with Jannie in the Jungle
by Capt. A.W. Lloyd, M.C.
A brilliant artist
Many books by C.T. Stoneham refer to his service with the 25th Fusiliers, particularly "From Hobo to Hunter" and "The Phantom Flotilla" by Peter Shankland has some relevance. See also "Memories of Kenya" Stories from the Pioneers, ed. Arnold Curtis, pub. Evans Brothers Ltd.
"The Great Trans-Pacific Flight"
by Kingsford-Smith and Ulm.
"Life & Death of Lord Erroll"
the truth behind the Happy Valley murder
by Errol Trzebinski, pub: 4th Estate, 2000
Also of some interest is "Lost Lion of Empire" by Edward Paice, the story of "Cape-to-Cairo" Ewart Grogan, another keen Frontiersman, and an earlier book on Grogan "The Man from the Cape" by Norman Wymer.
Inclusion of links does not imply endorsement of contents.