Who am I?
Researched by E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003)
- I was born in Halifax on 28 Feb 1863.
- I graduated from RMC in 1885.
- I accepted a commission with the Royal Engineers.
- I worked as a civil engineer in New Zealand from 1882-85.
- I was appointed by Henry Morton Stanley, an American journalist
and adventurer, as a military commander to search for Emir Pasha,
governor of Equatoria. Emir Pasha was beleaguered in central Africa
(Congo) since the fall of Khartoum, Sudan. During the Relief Expedition
1886 – 1889, we were “penetrating dismal forests and encountring
ferocious savages.” I was wounded by a poison arrow and nearly died.
Stanley`s story Heroes of the Dark Continent: or How Stanley Found Emir
Pasha was published in 1890. I visited the United States and Australia
on lecturing tours in 1891. A sketch map of the 5000 km route of the
Emir Pasha Relief Expedition, prepared by the Royal Geog. Society for
the Stanley Reception meeting, 5.5.1890 is in the collection of the
Australian National University, Canberra. Stanley praised my skill in
making geographical observations, my command of small bodies of troops
facing vastly superior forces, my tact, and my adroit strategems which
won bloodless battles.
- I discovered one source of the Nile, the Semliki River.
- I was the first non-African to climb Mount Ruwenzori in 1889.
Mount Ruwensori ranks as the third snow-capped mountain in Africa
(Western Uganda) , both in height (1700 metres to 5109 metres) and date
of discovery (1888 by Henry M. Stanley). Mount Rwensori has been a
National Park with the fabled `Mountains of the Moon` accessible to
hikers since 1991.
- I accepted a commission in the Royal Welsh Regiment.
- In 1891-2, I commanded a military expedition of 400 men sent by
King Leopold of Belgium to take Katanga (Shaba) copper lands from King
Msiri. Msiri was arrested and killed when he refused to sign the treaty
acknowledging King Leopold as sovereign. Msiri`s adopted son, Makanda
Bantu, was installed as chief to replace Msiri and to sign the treaty.
- Only 189 of the 400 men on the expedition made it back; the rest
died or deserted during on the long return journey to Zanzibar. I died
on June 9, 1892 of malaria and I was buried in the European cemetery in
- The names in the Memorial Arch at the Royal Military College
begin with mine.
- Hon. Roy MacLaren`s African Exploits was based on my diaries,
1887-1892, (1998) McGill-Queen’s University Press
b) 51 Col. (ret’d) George Mowat Duff (RMC 1882)
c) 52 Capt. (ret’d) William Grant Stairs (RMC 1882)
d) 45 LCol. (ret’d) Edward Thornton Taylor (RMC 1878)
Answer: c) 52 Capt. (ret’d) William Grant Stairs (RMC 1882)