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Name: ROSS, Charles Joseph 'Biltong' DSO (Major)

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Birth Date: 4.7.1857 Orange, New South Wales

Death Date: 19.6.1922 Eldama Ravine, pneumonia

First Date: 1905

Profession: Went to Africa to explore and hunt but subsequently became a Game Ranger and did a great deal for preservation of wild life. 1912 Assistant Game Warden.

Area: Nairobi, 1909 Nakuru, Eldama Ravine

Married: 1. In Lethbridge, Canada 22 Mar 1888 Eleanora 'Nellie' Buchanan b. 25 Dec 1857 Hillier, Prince Edward, Ontario, d. 20 Jan 1959 Toronto; 2. In Newton Abbot 24 May 1910 Beatrice Mabel Theodora Smith b. 16 Jan 1883 Newton Abbot, d. 17 June 1969 Perth, W. Australia (later, 1926, Mrs Mathew Whitridge; she was the sister of Rosa Victoria Smith, wife of Thomas Turpin)

Children: 1. Jessica Alberta (11 Nov 1888 Lethbridge-1971); Douglas (13 Nov 1895 Lethbridge) 2. Gordon Charles (11 June 1911 Nakuru-1959); Charles William (6 Aug 1912 Eldama Ravine-1933); Beatrice Cecile Elizabeth (Croxford) (29 Apr 1914 Nakuru-16 Aug 1985 Armadale); John Percival (16.9.1918 Eldama Ravine-1996); Mary Elizabeth (6 June 1920 Eldama Ravine-1992)

Book Reference: Gillett, HBEA, Cuckoo, Klondyke, Police, Gethin, North, Kill, White Man, EAHB 1905, KAD, Red 25, Hut, Playne, Buffalo Barua 2, Drumkey, Murders, Fight, Debrett, Kelly,Gazette, Harmony, DSO, EAHB 1907, Leader14, Colonial, Chandler, Red Book 1912, Red 19

School: Santa Clara College, California

General Information:

Cuckoo - 1904 - engaged in trading and elephant hunting up country. He was a tall, wiry and hard-headed Canadian, who had already seen a great deal of the world, much active service, and participated in many adventurous exploits. Born in Australia of Canadian parents, at an early age Ross sought adventure in the Australian Mounted Police, during which time he played his part in rounding up several fearless gangs of bushrangers. After his parents' death, he decided to go to Canada and enlist in the famous North-West Mounted Police - the "Mounties". With them he fought in the Red River War.
When his period of service ended, Charles Ross sought adventure further afield. He crossed the border into the USA, roamed about extensively, was a cow-puncher and goldminer in the "wild and woolly" West, and then drifted into Utah City.
Directly the Boer War occurred, Charles Ross joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles and sailed for S. Africa with them as a sergeant. He quickly earned promotion and was commissioned as captain, seeing considerable hard fighting in Lord Roberts' advance to Pretoria. For a time he was with the noted Col. Burnham, the Chief Scout to Lord Roberts; and his fine work soon attracted the personal notice of Lord Kitchener. Ross was empowered by Kitchener to raise and command a corps of irregular cavalry under the title of "The Canadian Scouts" being promoted to Major. The nationalities of his unit were less Canadian than their name belied, being a most cosmopolitan body of daredevil men of all races. His magnificent work in command of this unit gained him the DSO.
Many were the tales told of Ross's supreme courage and utter contempt for danger. He had no respect for rank or red tape.... After the Peace of Vereeniging, Ross went as an officer with the Boer Mounted Infantry contingent to British Somaliland, serving with distinction in the war against the Mad Mullah; and when his unit was withdrawn, drifted to BEA to seek such further adventures as offered. He discovered immense joy in the hunt after elephants and ivory.
Two years after arrival in the Protectorate, he was appointed an Assistant Game Ranger; and no more fitting work could have been given him. Fearlessness, contempt for personal danger and an iron will were his chief characteristics. He looked just what he was, that is to say, what the Western Americans would term "a pretty good Rocky Mountain man." Though the exterior was rough, his heart was sound. Ross had a motto which he lived up to throughout his adventurous life: "Shoot quick and straight always. The last man to draw gets the full service, and won't need any more." Judging by the tales he told of his varied life, a man angered Ross at peril of his life. None cared to trifle with this courageous Canadian, who held human life as cheap as his own. I always had a great liking for him and we were good friends.                                                                                
Klondyke - 'Major Ross, our O.C., treated us all as pals. No drill or anything of the kind was allowed. On one occasion an adjutant from Remington's column was sent over to lick us into shape. Major Ross heard early morning orders of 'Form fours! Flanks of fours prove !' He came out of his tent and shouted at the top of his voice : "Say, cut it out. These aren't gaddam tin soldiers!" He was an utterly fearless man, due to his wild upbringing in the backwoods of Australia and Canada. One day he borrowed fifty shillings from me. Years later I reminded him of the debt when we met at the horse-market in Johannesburg. "Quite right," said he, taking the money from his pocket. "But as you're in a good job and our friend here is not, we'll give it to him." And with that he handed it to Jim, who had been a trooper in our old regiment.'     
Gethin - Game Warden in NFD in 1909? - later commanded Ross's Scouts in the 1914 war.  ........….. About this time [1915] a Corps, known as Ross's Scouts arrived in Kisii on their way to the border, and with the object of playing merry hell in GEA. Major Ross was a Canadian and was well known in the Boer War for his ruthless methods of dealing with the enemy. He boasted he was wanted in 3 continents for murder, and he had a face like the bottom of a battle ship with knobs on. He had enlisted about 40 of the hardest characters in the colony, with a Major Drought, known as Goatee Drought on account of his beard.
Major Ross had been in GEA some years before the War, and with a party of his pals had rounded up about 500 head of native cattle and was making for the border when the German DC, Bwana Schultz, intercepted him with a strong force of German Askari and arrested the party. Schultz, who knew Ross's reputation, immediately put him in prison. Ross now had a force well mounted and was after Schultz's blood. Schultz was DC at Shirati and had been wounded in the arm in the Kisii fight, but was reported to be back at Shirati organizing raids over the Utende border. This was good enough for Ross and some of his Scouts, who had lost their looted cattle and been beaten up by the Germans on Schultz's orders.
Ross on his arrival in Kisii sent for the biggest male goat he could get, had the goat slaughtered and cut off the scrotum. This he sent by runner to Schultz at Sherati with a note to say he was coming to visit him during the next few days with 40 of his friends, with the sole object of doing the same to him as he had done to the goat. The report goes that on Schultz receiving the goat's scrotum and the note, he immediately packed up and did not stop till he reached Lindi in Southern GEA.
Ross's Scouts, I think, got as far as Musoma, looting and killing all before them, and then returned to British Territory where they were disbanded.Ross died about 1925 and his son was hanged at Nakuru for the murder of two European women.    
White Man - In Aug. 1914 Delamere went to Elmenteita station. On the platform he met a game ranger, Major Ross, on the way to Nairobi, who told him that the Empire was at war.
KAD 1922 - Asst. Game Warden, Ravine
Red 25 - Assistant Game Ranger 1907-22
Playne - Major Ross was appointed an Assistant Ranger for the preservation of Game on August 16, 1907. The appointment is for 3 years.
Official History of the War Military Operations East Africa Volume 1 - "Early in November 1914 a troop of the East Africa Mounted Rifles known as "Ross's Scouts", 40 strong, under Major C.J. Ross DSO, was sent as an independent force to reinforce the border. Major Ross, not a regular officer, resigned his commission in December 1914. Some of the European volunteers of his troop followed suit and subsequently the remains of it, under Lieutenant (afterwards Major) J.J. Drought, evolved into what became known as Drought's Scouts or the 'Skin Corps'.
Drumkey 1909 - Game Dept. - Assistant Game Warden
Web - Beatrice Mabel Ross, b. 1883 Devon, d. 1969 Perth, Australia, m. 1st Charles Ross who d. 1924 in Kenya, 2ndly. Matthew William Whitridge, 1926 Eldama Ravine; children 1. Anthony, Michael, Edith 2. Isabel
Murders - Trial of Charles William Ross for Menengai murders - Other testimony concerned the behaviour of Ross's father, a psychopathic case from the description of those who knew him in his lifetime. Two men who served under him in the Boer War recalled his savagery and ungovernable temper. He shot prisoners without mercy. Once when a native dared insist on payment for eggs supplied, Major Ross had drawn his revolver and emptied it into the man's head. So brutal was he to all who crossed his path and so ruthless with his men, that they were goaded to revolt. Only then did they see something human in the pitiless soldier. He went to his tent and sobbed.
No woman could have faced a greater ordeal than Ross's mother when she entered the witness-box to reveal the intimacies and tortures of her life with her former husband, and to convince the jury that the son of such a father could not be normal. Her life had been one of unending horror. Her husband thrashed her unmercifully. Frequently he threatened to shoot her. Once, in a towering rage, he seized her baby and attempted to put it on the fire. A moment later he dropped on his knees and begged forgiveness.
Debrett 1928 - Major Charles Ross, DSO; b. 1857; served in N.-W. Rebellion 1885, and in S. Africa 1900, as Lieut. Roberts's Horse (despatches twice, DSO); m. 1889, Nelly, da. of A.W. Buchanan, of Belleville, Ontario, cr. DSO 1900.
Kelly 1903 - Maj. Charles Ross, DSO; b. 1857; m. 1889, Nelly, dau of late A.W. Buchanan, of Belleville, Ontario; served as scout in United States, Indian Wars 1878-9, chief of scouts for col. Otter's column in N.W. Rebellion 1885; served with Roberts's Horse and under gen. Hutton in S. African war 1900-1; Pretoria S. Africa.
Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Ravine - Major C.W. Ross [sic], Ravine
Gazette - 4/11/1914 - Appt. - Ross's Scouts - To be Major and Commandant (to draw pay of Captain) - Major C.J. Ross, DSO
Member of Lodge Harmony - Initiated 5/8/07, age 50, Assistant Game Ranger, Nairobi
DSO - … became a Scout in the USA Service (Ness Percy, Indian War 1877; Bannock Indian War 1878; Ute Indian War 1879). He was Chief of Scouts for Colonel Otter's Column in the NW Rebellion, Canada in 1885 and was several times Mentioned in Despatches. He had 8 years service in the NW Mounted Police, Canada. In the SA War he served in Roberts's Horse as Lieut. from Jan to April 1900, and was 3 times Mentioned in Despatches. He served under General Hulton in command of the 1st MI Scouts from May to Nov 1900. Sir A Conan Doyle describes (page 529) in "The Great Boer War" the campaign of Jan-April 1902. He tells us of a drive sweeping backwards towards the Heilbron-Wolvehoek line, which "ended in the total capture of 147 of the enemy, who were picked out of holes, retrieved from amid the reeds of the river, called down out of trees, or otherwise collected.
So thorough was the operation, that it is recorded that the angle which formed the apex of the drive was one drove of game upon the last day, all the many types of antelope which form one of the characteristics and charms of the country having been herded into it. More important even than the results of the drive was the discovery of one of De Wet's arsenals in a cave in the Vrede district. Half-way down a precipitous krantz, with its mouth covered by creepers, no writer of romance could have imagined a more fitting headquarters for a guerilla chief. The find was made by Ross's Canadian Scouts, who celebrated Dominion Day by this most useful achievement. Forty wagon-loads of ammunition and supplies were taken out of the cave. He was mentioned in Despatches, and for his services at Sanna's Post was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (London Gazette 19/4/1901) ….. The Insignia were presented to him by the Duke of Cornwall and York 14 Aug 1901. He was subsequently promoted to Major.
Leader14 - Assistant, Game Dept.
Web - On the disbandment of Ross's Scouts, Charles Ross dropped out of sight. The Official History states that he resigned his commission in December 1914, but his unit wasn't disbanded until mid-January 1915. He qualified for the 1914/15 Star, & for the War & Victory Medals & his Medal Card lists him as a Major in Ross's Scouts, East African Mounted Rifles & East African Signal Company. The History of the East African Mounted Rifles does not list him as ever being on strength.
Neil Speed, who wrote his biography "Born to Fight" believes that he may have joined his old pals Paddy Driscoll & Frederick Selous in 25th Royal Fusiliers (The Legion of Frontiersmen) & become involved in Intelligence duties. Certainly he was convalescing back in UK in 1917 when the remnants of 25th Royal Fusiliers also were. After the war Ross re-joined the BEA Game Department, working from his home in Eldama Ravine, Rift Valley Province in what is now Kenya. On 19 June 1922, just 15 days short of his 65th birthday, he died of double pneumonia caused by exposure after a fall whilst out on patrol.
Colonial 1912 - Game Dept. - Assistant Game Ranger
Red Book 1912 - C.J. Ross - Eldama Ravine
Gazette - 3/12/1919 - Register of Voters - Rift Valley Area - Major C.J. Ross DSO - Farmer - Eldama Ravine
Gazette 28/6/1922 - Obituary - His Excellency the Governor deeply regrets to announce the death from Pneumonia of Major C. J. Ross, DSO, Assistant Game Warden, which occurred at Eldama Ravine on 19th June 1922
Red Book 1919 - Game Department - Asst. Game Warden - Major J.C. Ross [sic] DSO
EAHB 1905 has J.C. Ross - Nairobi.
KAD 1922 - Game Dept., Ravine

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