Died: 16 March 1917; Elizabethville, Belgian Congo
Other: Mentioned in despatches
BOYD ALEXANDER CUNINGHAME was born 19 Jul 1871 in Sale, Victoria, Australia, to parents William
Boyd Cuninghame and Marion Harriett Paterson.
He died, aged 46, on 16 Mar 1917 in Elizabethville, Belgian Congo of
typhoid fever while on leave, and was buried at Lubumbashi Cemetery,
Congo. He is commemorated on the M.C.C.
members’ memorial at Lords Cricket Ground.
In 1916 (Jul-Sep), he married Elsie Burrell at St. George, Hanover Square, London.
He was the nephew of Mrs John Cuninghame of Creich,
Fairlie, with whom he stayed after being invalided home from German East Africa
in early 1916.
SERVICE DETAILS Served with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
in the Boer War, where he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal with clasps. At the outbreak of the First World War he
owned an estate in Northern Rhodesia, and was instrumental in raising
volunteers to form the Northern Rhodesia Rifles. He was given command of a force, and rendered
valuable military service against the Germans - his medal index card shows
entry into theatre of war in German East Africa on 2 Feb 1915. He received the 1914-15 Star, the British War
and Victory medals, and was mentioned in despatches. After the war, his aunt, Mrs. John Cuninghame
of Creich, Fairlie applied for his medals on behalf of his widow.
OBITUARY Largs & Millport Weekly News, 31 March 1917
The death of Major Boyd A. Cuninghame, which
occurred on N.W. Rhodesia on the 16th inst., brings to an untimely end the
career of one who, a few years ago, was one of the best known and most popular
figures in the county, and whose achievements in the realm of sport commanded
the admiration of a wide circle.
A straight and true rider to the hounds,
when “Bailey’s Magazine” some years ago balloted for the twelve best men to
hounds in Great Britain, he found himself placed third, in good company with
“Charlie Southampton” and Lord Lonsdale as first and second. As a cricketer he was generally regarded as the
finest batsman of his time in Scotland, and his exhilarating displays and
scoring feats, while a member of Lord Eglinton’s XI, brought him such
prominence that he received a pressing invitation from Middlesex to qualify to
play for them in English County Cricket.
At golf he achieved similar success, being a scratch man in Prestwick
Club, whilst he was also esteemed one of the finest game shots in the county.
When the Boer War broke out Major Cuninghame
went to Africa with his regiment, the 4th A. & S.H., and later on was given
command of a Mounted Infantry Commando.
At the close of the war he went with the Tanganyika Concessions
Expedition to Angola, where he took the first soundings of Lobito Bay in
1902. In 1905 Major Cuninghame embarked
on a big Wagon Trek, cutting a Wagon Road from Lobito Bay to the Luabula River,
a distance of 1,215 miles, and taking machinery to the alluvial gold fields at
Rueve-Katanga. His return freight
included the transport to Lobito of the first copper smelted in Katanga. This double trip of 2,430 miles is regarded
as a record journey by ox-wagon, and was certainly an adventurous
achievement. At a later period Major
Cuninghame crossed Africa from Lobito Bay to Lhinde, via Nyassaland, and five
times he walked from Lobito to Elizabethville in the Congo State. On one of these trips, throughout a distance
of 1,450 miles, his party made the remarkable average of fifteen miles a day.
Five years ago Major Cuninghame acquired an
estate in Northern Rhodesia, and settled down to planting and farming, and at
the outbreak of the present war he was given command of a force operating in
this region. In that capacity, he
rendered valuable military service against the Germans. In particular, he distinguished himself in
charge of a wagon journey of 500 miles in the height of the rains, cutting the
road which took the Northern Rhodesian Rifles to the German East African Border
in December and January, 1914-15, and into the fighting line. Unfortunately, the hardships of the campaign
made serious inroads on his health, and about a year ago he was invalided
home. This furlough he spent with his
aunt, Mrs. Cuninghame, Creich, Fairlie.
Prior to leaving he married Miss Elsie Burrell, daughter of the late R.
Burrell, Esq., of Thetford, for whom the deepest sympathy is felt.
career was a brief but crowded one, and his death at a comparatively early age
will occasion deep sorrow amongst all who knew him. Frank and manly in disposition, he was a
sportsman of the truest and finest type, while his solid achievements in Africa
will entitle him to a high place among the pioneers who so bravely “carry on”
for us on the outposts of our Empire.