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Southern African Collections : Letters from James Dick

Southern African Collections

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Forty manuscript and typescript letters from James Dick in South Africa to his wife. The first seven letters relate to his involvement in the disturbances of 1906-1907, and include comments on conditions and views on policy. Nos 2-40 are written in pencil and unsigned, and may be copies made at an unspecified date. Dick's letters were censored, and they include some guarded references employed to comply with the censorship. General Botha, for instance, is referred to as 'Rhoda Birtwell's Uncle'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Two maps (see RCMS <a href='/view/MS-RCMS-00193-00002-00001'>193/2/1</a> and RCMS <a href='/view/MS-RCMS-00193-00002-00002'>193/2/2</a>) and photographs (see RCMS <a href='/view/MS-RCMS-00193-00003'>193/3</a>) accompanying Dick's letters have also been digitised. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Biographical/historical notes: 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 & Co., 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 in 1914 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, and returned to Durban on 9 July, disbanding on the 18th. James Dick died in Edinburgh in 1926.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Related materials: The RCS Manuscripts Collection includes an account by James Dick of a journey he took in East Africa in 1912, (see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>RCS/RCMS 154</a>, not digitised). The University of Edinburgh holds a typescript by Dick relating to his childhood in Scotland (identifier: Coll-1900)</p>

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