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'East Africa and Uganda 1912'

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 154

Scope and Contents

This account (81 pages) describes a visit to East Africa from South Africa in 1912 by James Dick. He travelled by the Uganda railway from the coast to Kisumu, with stops on the way including Nairobi and a visit to the bamboo forest. Dick crossed Lake Victoria on the ‘Clement Hill’ to Entebbe, and thence went by rickshaw to Kampala. His journey ended at the Ripon Falls. There is a good deal of historical background and other information; the journey covered well-traversed ground, but the narrative is informative. The collection is accompanied by a letter from Nancy Dick (James's daughter) to D.H. Simpson, R.C.S. Librarian, 9th February 1974, supplying further biographical details of her father.


  • Creation: 1912


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

James Dick (1862-1926) was born at Shotts in Scotland and educated at George Watson School and Edinburgh University. He emigrated to South Africa in his twenties, and became manager of Steel-Murray & Company, merchants in Durban. In December 1890 he was made Lieutenant in the C (Caledonian) Company of the Natal Royal Rifles (later the Durban Light Infantry). After serving in the Boer War, he commanded the newly-raised volunteer corps, the Natal Rangers, during the Zulu Rebellion of 1906. The forces were demobilised in July 1906, but were called out again in November 1907 following the murder of the loyal chief, Mpumela. On the outbreak of the First World War, a second battalion of the Durban Light Infantry was raised under Dick's command for the invasion of German South-West Africa. The battalion arrived at Walfisch Bay on 29 January 1915, but was not involved in any fighting. It returned to Durban on 9 July, and was disbanded on the 18th. James Dick died in Edinburgh in 1926.


1 folder(s) (1 folder) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference

MSS 468

Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 96.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Miss Nancy Dick in 1973.

Related Materials

The R.C.S. Manuscripts Collection includes letters written by James Dick in South Africa 1905-circa 1915, RCMS 193.

A map of East Africa and Uganda included with this collection is held at RCMS 154/MAP 1.


The material has been microfilmed, and is listed on Reel 6 of: 'Africa through western eyes, parts 1 & 2: original manuscripts from the Royal Commonwealth Society Library at Cambridge University Library - a listing and guide to the microfilm collection' (2000), Adam Matthew Publications Ltd.

For further details of James Dick's career, see A. C. Martin, ‘The Durban Light Infantry, 1935-1960’ (Durban, 1969).


This collection level description was created by WS and MJC using information from 'Africa through western eyes.'


Dick, James, 1862-1926, businessman and soldier in South Africa

Includes index.
2007-01-19 15:43:03+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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