Skip to content ↓

View entry

Back to search results

Name: DROUGHT, James Justinian 'Jack' MC, FRGS (Major)

Birth Date: 12.4.1875 Dublin

Death Date: 20.9.1956 Mombasa, after a long illness. Buried in Malindi

First Date: 1904 March

Last Date: 1956

Profession: Took up farming at Mau Summit and after WW1 returned to farming in the Baringo district

Area: Mau Summit, Baringo. HBEA 1912 - Molo, 1922 - Londiani, 1925 'Park' Londiani, 1914 Molo

Married: Katharine Mathilda 'Katy'

Children: they had one child who died aged 16 days, and so adopted: Veronica Maslovska and Alex (Hughes)

Author: Further bookref: Red Book 1912

Book Reference: Gillett, HBEA, Cuckoo, Gethin, Joelson, Dunkley, KAD, Red 25, Red 31, Hut, EAMR, Curtis. mini-SITREP XIV, Buffalo Barua 2, Pioneers, EA & Rhodesia, Drumkey, Red 22, Land, EAHB 1906, AJ, Gazette, North, EAHB 1907, SKP, Masonic, Leader14, Rift Valley

War Service: WW1 with EAMR, E Sqdn. 15/1/15 - Lieut.; from Ross's Scouts; Capt. 1/9/15

General Information:

Cuckoo - 1904 - decided to go up on the Mau Plateau and prospect for land there. He finally chose a grand area on the summit at Molo, which he is still farming most successfully; but recently returned to his original profession as a mining engineer, and is now profitably developing a promising block of reefs at the Kakamega goldfields. During the EA Campaign in the Great War he greatly distinguished himself by raising and commanding an irregular corps of native warriors, earning the Military Cross and several "mentions in despatches." (1936). Mau Summit - where Jack Drought had taken up land. His selection was a fine belt of grass country, surrounded by forests and well watered, bordering on the railway for 8 to 10 miles in the direction of Londiani. The location looked very much like the wooded park of an English manor.
Joelson - pioneer settler at Molo  
Dunkley - Memoirs of K.L. Hunter - " .... I was visited by a Major Drought who told me that he was a blood-brother of the tribe [the Nandi] and had therefore knowledge of many of their secrets ...… "
Curtis - p. 91 - 'Eldama Ravine and Baringo - Later' from the District Record Book - 1915: Londiani Estate owned by Mr J.J. Drought, who was at the front with Ross's Scouts since the beginning of hostilities, has been in the charge of his brother, Mr E.B. Drought. Livestock - 200 grade cattle, 28 native cattle, 76 bulls and bullocks (including one pure-bred Shorthorn bull). The dairy on this farm was one of the finest in the country and butter was supplied at Rs. 1/12 per lb. 1918: An unfortunate incident occurred in the murder of Mr E.B. Drought which was however, not committed by natives of this District. The murderers were caught, convicted and hanged. The incident caused no panic. 1919: Crops were a failure due to lack of rain and the assistance of the Famine Committee had to be sought for supplies of maize meal throughout the reserves. Mr J.J. Drought was the heaviest loser in livestock, showing a decrease of 500 grade cattle at his farm in Londiani, rinderpest, anthrax and East Coast fever being the causes.
mini-SITREP XIV - letter from Eric Lanning ..... I first met Jack Drought in the Kakamega Goldfields in 1926 where he had some 'mining' interest. He lived in a neat mud and wattle abode along the road leading from the township to Picadilly Circus. I knew him as an absorbing raconteur as well as an interesting source of information on the progress of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia which he followed in detail on large-scale maps. I lost touch with him (on my departure to West Africa) but caught up with him again in 1941, after my return to East Africa. As for his Independent Unit, raised in 1940, I always thought this was known as 'Drought's Horse' although the name was soon changed to the Kenya Independent Squadron (KIS). Reference to this appears in Ted Crosskill's (1980) excellent book 'The Two Thousand Mile War', at page 83, "a volunteer cavalry unit mounted on polo ponies and mules ........... I understood a reason for the disbandment of Drought's KIS was that they operated too far back. The irregular lot did a far more worthwhile job during those early days, patrolling the considerable unoccupied areas between our static posts and the equally static positions of the Italians. I last enjoyed Drought's company in No 2 General Hospital (Rhodesia) in Nairobi, round about July/August 1941 when he was admitted to my ward
Buffalo Barua 2 - Drought's Scouts - We have received a number of letters in response to Ray Nightingale's original article - "My brother Ken married Veronica Maslovska who was one of Jack Drought's two adopted daughters. Jack 'adopted' the mother and two daughters some time during the second world war when they came out of Poland via Persia as refugees. They lived most of their lives at Kikambala until the girls grew up. Ken met Veronica in Mombasa and married in about 1952. Her sister Alex married Mike Hughes who had a farm in Mau Narok well into the 1960s. Veronica died of alleged liver failure when she was about 40 and Alex was widowed and bought a cattle ranch near Baringo I believe. Jack had moved to Malindi as he was very ill and lived with Ken and Veronica until he died but I cannot recall the year. The two girls inherited most of Jack's fortune but it was frittered away on bad businesses and high living. The only son of Ken and Veronica, Garth Braye, inherited what little there was left and has settled in S. Africa. Ken died in the UK some years ago. …. Sadly I believe all Jack's memoirs and books were stolen when Veronica died because she was alone in a house in Nakuru and was not found for several days by which time the house had been ransacked. Even the rings had been taken from her fingers. Foul play was suspected but Kenya Police never made any effort to investigate. - Nigel Braye"
Extract from 'A Company Commander Remembers' by Major 'Chooks' Blamey - Battle of El Yibo - "Due to intense heat and thirst it had been a gruelling baptism of fire for all those who had been in it. Many men were extremely exhausted. Donald and his men had much to tell me about their experience with vivid accounts of the bullets which had whizzed past them. For some unknown reason our elderly friend Major J.J. Drought, had accompanied them. When they suddenly came under the first burst of heavy fire, Donald deployed his sections, but feeling agitated, he wondered what his next move should be. He looked round to see Major Drought calmly standing next to a tree sweeping the area ahead of them through his binoculars. Obviously he thought the Major should be taking cover, so he ran towards him to ask what he was doing. Quite unconcerned, he replied 'I am searching for their machine-gun nests.' Donald said the old veteran's coolness under fire came not only as a tonic to him but inspired him with the confidence he felt he needed. Soon after this the gallant old gentleman was wounded in the hip to be evacuated later in an armoured car."
Letter from J.T. Herselman to Monty Brown - "We were on the move going forward, when we came to a stop. Why? I wouldn't know, but these things happen. I got out of the ambulance and walked forward - there was an open space, and there I found a man on a stretcher, carefully bundled up on the ground. This I could not understand - why not in an ambulance? On closer investigation I realised he was one of the East African forces and he was being brought in to us. I spoke to him - just a couple of words. He was much older than me, I think a Major or Colonel, I can't remember. I left him then, in an attempt to find him a mug of tea, as it was obvious he had come a long way, and I can assure you an ambulance is by no means the most comfortable way to get anywhere. He was on his way to Nairobi. I did not have time to fix him a cup of tea, but he called me back and addressed me as 'Sonny'. No man had ever addressed me so in the Army, and what is more he gave me two camel hair blankets, insisting that I take them. I thought it so much nonsense, but months later, in the winter, in the desert, I discovered he was right. I wondered if he was aware of the favour he showed me - and no - dammit - I do not remember his surname." Monty Brown says - "Drought was the only one wounded at El Yibo, so this is who it had to be!"
Alistair McCalman's paper in the Kenya Regt. Archive about the Ethiopian Irregulars - "Our other casualty was our Intelligence Officer. He was an old man of over seventy. I'm not sure now of his name and will call him Capt. 'S'. He looked just like Colonel Sanders in the Kentucky Fried Chicken adverts. He was from England but had fought in the Matabele Rebellion, Boer War and Great War. Everyone said he was too old but he said he would serve without pay and make no claim if wounded. He was the finest Intelligence Officer I have ever met. He had a particularly gentle kindly voice and the tribesmen who I heard him interrogating would be quite taken in by his friendly manner. Suddenly when he knew they were lying he would, in a flash, bark out an accusation and could look quite terrifying. Well, during the attack on El Yibo Captain 'S' and Karl Nurk, whose company was in reserve were watching from about a mile away when a stray bullet hit Captain 'S' on the knee. He put his hand on his knee saying "You know Karl. This is my ninth war wound, two in the Boer War, six in the Great War and now". That at last took him out of the Army for keeps."
War Office Records - from Nigel Braye - "Information from Officers Papers (WO 374/20803) J.J. Drought. Lieutenant 15 August 1915, Temporary Major 23 October 1918, retired 19 April 1919. MC - no citation.
London Gazette 26 June 1916 (ZJ1/633 P.6316). Mid 30 April 1916 whilst in Intelligence. General Smuts Despatch. Order of Chevallier de Leopold (Belgium) 25 June 1918. MID (Belgium) 20 January 1919. Wounded three times. Also served in the Boer War, East Africa 1895 and Nandi 1895-96. There are 19 pages in his Officers Papers. Most seem to deal with the date of his promotion to Captain (probably to do with a pension) There is a hand-written letter from him describing his military service during WW1 which makes interesting reading."
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'. ……. [More on operations of the Skin Corps]
East Africa & Rhodesia - 7/5/53 - When General Paul Von Lettow Vorbeck, who commanded the German forces in East Africa in the 1914-18 war, was recently in Mombasa, he stayed with Major J.J. Drought, who served with distinction in that campaign. The General is now 83 years of age.
East Africa & Rhodesia - 11/10/56 - Major James Justinian Drought, MC, whose death in Mombasa at the age of 81 was briefly reported last week, had one of the most remarkable military records of any man in Kenya. He served in the South African War, being wounded four times and mentioned in despatches; in the Sotik and Nandi rebellion; and both the World Wars. One of his outstanding military achievements was the formation of "The Skin Corps" in the East African campaign during the First World War. Starting with nothing but an idea and a close knowledge of African mentality, he raised and commanded a body of Native irregulars, nearly all of whom owed allegiance to the Germans. Operating along the Mara River border between what were then British and German East Africa, he rallied chiefs and elders who were dissatisfied with German rule. Finding it impossible to equip his men he insisted that all newcomers must bring their own rifles and ammunition from the German lines before volunteering. As members of the corps could not penetrate the German lines in uniform, they went naked, hence the name of the unit. When the Mwanza column, to which he was attached, advanced sedately, disregarding his intelligence reports, he complained to headquarters and was transferred to another front. Later he became Provost-Marshal at GHQ. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He settled in Kenya in 1904, taking up land in Mau Summit, and was at one time the largest wheat-grower in the Colony. Having previously mined in South Africa, he was one of the first to reach the Kakamega gold fields after the first discoveries had been made. In the 1939-45 war he assisted in the formation of a commando unit mounted on mules, and later became commandant of Polish refugee camps. For some time he had been in bad health, living at the coast. A strong and colourful personality, commoner among pioneers, than it is today, he will not be readily forgotten by any who knew him.
Land - 1906 - J.J. Drought - Grazing, 5000 acres, Molo, 13-9-04, Registered 18-7-06
Pioneers - Londiani & Mau Summit - Major Jack Drought, a colourful Irishman, bought large tracts of land before the First World War at sixpence an acre, and traded in cattle, hides and skins. In spite of a leg badly damaged in the first war he took part in the second, when the same leg was again wounded and he spent over a year in Mombasa Hospital. He lived to a ripe old age and is buried at Malindi.
Agricultural Journal 1908 - Brands allotted and registered - J. Drought, Molo - Lumbwa T2D
Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Ravine - J.J. Drought, Londiani
Gazette - 4/11/1914 - Appt. - Second Line of Defence - To be Lieutenant - J.J. Drought
Gazette - 4/11/1914 - Appt. - Permitted to resign his commission, Lieutenant J.J. Drought to date October 16th 1914
Gazette - 4/11/1914 - Appt. - Ross's Scouts - To be Paymaster & Quartermaster (with rank of Lieutenant) - J.J. Drought
North - Arr. Mombasa from Delagoa Bay 19/3/1904; Landholder's Game Licence, Ravine 4/5/1905; visiting Mombasa from Molo 19/8/1905; awarded the Africa GSM, clasp 'East Africa 1905' for work with Intelligence Dept. during operations against the Nandi; 1906 resident at Molo
EAHB 1907 - Molo
SKP - 1938 - Society of Kenya Pioneers - over 30 years in Colony - arrived Mar 1904 - Mau Summit Masonic - District Grand Lodge of East Africa - Deputy District Grand Master - 1926-33
Rift Valley - Member of the Rift Valley Sports Club - Jan 1929 - Elected - 21 Aug 1919 - J.J. Drought
Red Book 1912 - J.J. Drought - Nandi
Gazette 1/2/1913 - Dissolution of partnership between Adolf Zarge, James Justinian Drought, Grant Allan Ross and Michael Eywaz under the style of the 'Nandi Trading Syndicate' was dissolved as from 17/10/1912. The interests of Messrs Zarge and Drought were purchased by the Nandi Trading Syndicate Ltd. Who will carry on the business.
Gazette - 12/11/1919 - Register of Voters - Lake Area - James Justinian Drought - Settler - Londiani
Barnes - Malindi Portuguese Chapel - Major J.J. Drought - soldier, pioneer, farmer - 1875-1956
Cuckoo - close friend of Robert Foran and arrived in Kenya with him.
Gethin - 1908 - 'Goatee Drought occupied his farm on Mau Summit …'
Drought's Scouts - Kenya Independent Squadron - one of the smallest units to operate in WW2. It was formed and commanded by Major J. Drought in 1940 when the Italians attacked on the Kenya Abyssinia Border. Major Drought had been a Scout in the South African War and also served in the 1914-18 Campaign in German East Africa. Incidentally he completed his 'Hat-Trick' by being wounded in each of the three wars. .…… The senior NCOs were elected .…. Among them were Cpl. Dugand, a French sailor who had left his ship at Mombasa early in the century and earned his living by Riding Transport to the Frontier posts. .…. The Kenya Independent Squadron was disbanded after 6 months.
Gazette - 4/5/1921 - Presentation of Honours by Governor - Major J J Drought - MC & Croiz de Chevalier de Leopold James Justinian Drought born 12 Apr 1877 at Avoca Avenue studied geology at the Royal College of Science, Dublin.  He left Ireland for South Africa in 1896 to work for the New Croesus Gold Mining Company in Johannesburg.  He enlisted in       South Africa and fought with the Rand Rifles Imperial Light Horse during the Boer War and was badly wounded.  He married Martha Frang in 1901.  He was working in Australia in 1902.  He also served during WW1 with the East African Mounted Rifles, South African Expeditionary Force and was awarded the Military Cross in                 1916 and the chevalier of Ordre of St Leopold in 1918.  He worked with the Kenya Development Ltd and in 1934 was technical assistant to Sir Albert Kitson.  He died in Mombasa, Kenya, on 20 Sep 1956.  They had one child Reginald who died aged 13 days.

Back to search results