Colonel Frederick Burnaby: An Englishman

Vernon Coleman

Our weak, vacillating, treacherous politicians have betrayed almost everything we hold dear.

But there is one thing they cannot destroy: the history of those exceptional, idiosyncratic, courageous and sometimes eccentric Englishmen and Englishwomen whose determination and bravery made our country great.

Here is a short biography of a forgotten Englishman who took life by the throat and never let go. His name was Frederick Gustavus Burnaby and he was a Colonel in the Royal Horse Guards.

1. Burnaby was born in Bedford in 1842 and joined the Royal Horse Guards in 1859.
2. He was immensely strong and really did twist iron pokers into neckties (and then untie them).
3. In 1864 he jumped into a hot air balloon in a park in London as a stowaway.
4. In 1869 he founded the magazine Vanity Fair.
5. In 1874 he went as the Times correspondent to visit Gordon at Khartoum.
6. In 1875 he rode 300 miles on horseback across the frozen wastes from Kazala to Khiva for no reason other than because the Russian government had prohibited travel in the area. He wrote a bestselling book about it.
7. In 1877 he rode 13,000 miles through Asia Minor. He wrote a bestselling book about that too.
8. In 1878 he fought with the Turkish army at the Battle of Tashkesan.
9. In 1879 he married an Irish heiress. On their honeymoon his wife was diagnosed as suffering from consumption so he took her to a sanatorium in Switzerland.
10. In 1882 Burnaby crossed the English Channel in a hot air balloon.
11. In 1884 Burnaby joined General Baker at Suakim. He shot numerous Arabs with a double barrelled shotgun and stopped only when he was speared in his left arm.
12. In 1885 he rode a camel across 96 miles of desert to reach Gadkul and join General Stewart’s army. He fought with a huge sword but was repeatedly injured by spear thrusts and died a hero at the age of 43 years. Queen Victoria sent Mrs Burnaby a telegram of condolence. An obelisk was erected in Birmingham where the Colonel had stood as a Conservative candidate. Colonel Burnaby RIP. An Englishman.

Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and the assorted riff raff now sitting in the House of Commons are not fit to have polished Colonel Burnaby’s boots. He took life by the throat and never let go.

And, with Englishmen like Colonel Burnaby to come, England will survive and thrive despite the miserable efforts of our weak, lily livered politicians.

Copyright Vernon Coleman April 2019

For more stories about 100 remarkable English heroes read Vernon Coleman’s English Heroes – available as an eBook and paperback on Amazon.