One of my oldest  school friends,  the (now)  Californian based actor Howard Burnham commenting on my  memories of Empire pointed out that he too had  the blood of heroes in his veins.. And some.

Frederick Burnham(1861-1947) led an almost unbelievable life. His English parents were missionaries on  an Indian reservation. It was there he first learnt his field craft and tracking skills. His father died when he was eleven and he left school at 14. he graduated to the Wild West frontier. He became involved as a hired gun in the great prairie wars between ranchers and  settlers. He joined the US Army in its war against the Apache and was involved with the capture of Geronimo. For ten years he travelled around with older scouts learning their skills. One feels one has seen the film!

As the West became more civilised he saw South Africa as the next great frontier. What a mans gotta do, he’s gotta do. He became involved  with the British in their various wars against  the Matabele and the Boers.  Famously he was the of the few survivors of the ill fated  Shangani Patrol .He was promoted to major and   had several hair raising adventures being captured and escaping several times.  He lunched with Queen Victoria and was awarded the DSO. This guy was a hero.

Somewhere along the line he meets Baden Powell and  what he taught the First Scout became the basis of the whole movement. He  was involved in the Klondike Gold Rush. Exploration in Ghana and Kenya and schemes in Mexico. This guy was the real thing. The full ten yards. Going back to the States he made money prospecting for oil in California. Not surprisingly he is the model for Indiana  Jones  .

Ironically he is most remembered today for the ill fated attempt to bring the  African   hippopotamus to the swamps of Louisiana as a way of solving what many saw as a potential meat shortage in the burgeoning USA.

In these pc times enjoy  these Frederick Burnham quotes from Wikiquotes.

  • There is nothing that sharpens a man’s senses so acutely as to know that bitter and determined enemies are in pursuit of him night and day.
    • Scouting on Two Continents(1926)
  • Under the administration of Rhodes, there were the fewest laws, the widest freedom, the least crime, and the purest justice, that I have ever seen in any part of the world.
    • Scouting on Two Continents(1926)
  • As far as we can look back into history, the downfall of any nation can be traced from the moment that nation became timid about spending its best blood.
    • Taking Chances(1944)
  • I am more afraid of an army of a hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of a hundred lions led by a sheep.
    • Taking Chances(1944)

I think we could say he would not have supported Jeremy Corbyn, he didn’t smoke and was a very moderate  drinker. Yo!



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