Major General Sir Henry Timson Lukin (1860-1925) : the making of a South African hero
Henry Timson Lukin was born and educated in Britain. After completion of his schooling at the Merchant Taylor’s School in 1875 he had hoped to enter the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, but failed the entry examinations. However, seizing the moment of a war in South Africa, he left in 1879 for Natal, where he worked first as a road foreman, but soon, with the help of a cousin, Lieutenant Jack Spurgin, he was commissioned into the 77th Regiment and under the command of Major H.M. Bengough and saw service during the Anglo-Zulu War. Having distinguished himself in the field in Zululand, Lukin was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Cape Mounted Riflemen (CMR) and served with this outfit in the Basuto War (1881), the Langeberg campaign (1896-97) and the South African War (1899-1902). During the South African War he received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for the defence of Jammersbergdrift and played an important role in capturing key rebel commando leaders, including Commandant Johannes Lötter and Commandant Gideon Scheepers. After the war he received the Commander of the Order of St Michael & St George (CMG) and was appointed as the Commandant General of the Cape Colonial Forces. He played an important role in establishing the structures of the Union Defence Forces (UDF) and was appointed as Inspector General of the Permanent Force in 1912. He influenced the debate on colonial warfare with the writing of the maxim handbook and a training pamphlet, Savage Warfare: Hints on Tactics to be adopted and Precautions to be taken and during the First World War distinguished himself as commander of a force of the South African troops in German South-West Africa (1914-1915) and as commander of the South African Brigade in Egypt (1916) and in France (1916-17). He was promoted to Major General when he assumed the command the 9th Scottish Division in December 1916. In 1917 one of the highest honours was bestowed upon him when he was knighted. The illness of his wife, Annie Marie (Lily) necessitated a transfer to Britain, where he commanded the 64th Division until the end of the war. He retired from the military shortly after the Armistice and returned with his wife to South Africa, where he remained active in a variety of ex-servicemen’s organisations, including that of 1 South African Infantry Brigade. He was also a guest speaker at various functions, including the unveiling of monuments and memorials, and served on the Defence Commission of Enquiry (1924). Major General Sir Henry Timson Lukin died after a full, varied and distinguished military career in December 1925. Lukin and the Brigade had an enormous impact on the creation of a new South African identity during the First World War and period immediately after and played an important role in the formation of a new South African military organisation and culture.