SELOUS Frederick Courteney
25th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
Distinguished Service Order
Gazetted 26 September 1916, p9420
For conspicuous gallantry, resource and endurance.
He has set a magnificent example to all ranks, and the value of his services with his battalion cannot be over-estimated.
Distinguished Service Order
British War Medal
Born 1851 London, England
Died 4 January 1917 East Africa
Burial; The grave is located at Beho Beho, tucked into the northern edge of the Selous game reserve.
Frederick's life makes for an incredible story. Selous, after whom the world's largest game reserve is named, epitomised the British colonial gentlemanand African big game hunter. The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania at over 22,000 square miles is the largest big game reserve in the world and in 1982UNICEF declared it a "World Heritage Site" due to its unique ecological importance.
Frederick Courteney Selous DSO was born in London in 1851. He set himself up as a professional hunter in Africa at the age of 20 and began huntingextensively in Rhodesia. Though he began his career as a big game hunter his books gained him a world-renowned reputation as a naturalist, due in no small part to hisobservations about the ecology and wildlife which still continue to provide a valuable historical record of the life of an African big game hunter and are arich record of the fauna of the period. While hunting he collected hundreds of butterflies now held by the British Museum. Indeed, there is a memorial bust of Captain Selous in the main hall of the Natural History Museum in London. Many of his books are still available on the internet. His most popular book 'A Hunter's Wanderings in Africa', published in 1881, roused tremendous interest about the African interior in Britain. It is an autobiographical account of his life spanning a nine-year period between 1871-1880 and is still acknowledged to be one of the best books on the African interior. It is not overstating the case to say the book turned its author in to a legend, even today there are outdoor suppliers on the Internet using his name as a mark of quality. Selous is believed to have been the prototype for Ryder Haggard's Allan Quatermain. Selous himself wrote nine books in all, as well as numerous articles on hunting and natural history. Among his books were Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (1896) and African Nature Notes and Reminiscences (1908) which was written with and at the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt who wrote: "Mighty hunters, Dutch and English, roamed across the land on foot and on horseback, alone or guiding the huge white-topped ox-wagons; several among their number wrote with power and charm of their adventures; and at the very last the man arose who could tell us more of value than any of his predecessors."
Selous's resonant voice frequently related tales of his adventures in Africa, illustrated by his acute observations of the natural world. These stories were always told, according to his biographer J.G. Millais, at the urging of his audience and never in the service of vanity.
"Mr Selous is the last of the big game hunters of southern Africa; the last of the mighty hunters whose experience lay in the greatest hunting ground which this world has seen since civilized man has appeared herein." Theodore Roosevelt, The White House, May 23, 1907. During World War I, Selous became a Captain in the 25th Royal Fusiliers stationed in East Africa. He commanded troops on patrol against German forces along the coast of Tanzania and southern Kenya from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam. In January of 1917, Selous and his troops encircled a German force led by General von Lettow-Vorbeck. Outnumbered 5-1, the Fusiliers were attempting to close a road and prevent the Germans from escaping. Selous was shot in the head during this conflict, a few days after his sixty-fifth birthday. Lettow-Verbeck so admired his adversary that he sent a message of condolence. One observer wrote, "If there ever was such a thing as a gentleman's war, this may well have been one of the last examples".
His biographer, J.G. Millais wrote; "Selous set a standard of conduct which people of our own, as well as those of other nations might be proud to follow. He, as it were, stamped his personality on the wilderness, where life is hard and man easily loses his grip."
US President Theodore Roosevelt said of him: "There was never a more welcome guest at the White House than Selous. He told (me and my children) stories of his hunting adventures. He not only spoke simply and naturally, but he acted the part, first as himself, and then of the game, until the whole scene was vivid before our eyes. He led a singularly adventurous and fascinating life, and he closed his life as such a life ought to be closed, by dying in battle for his country while rendering her valiant and effective service."