detail - they also reveal that for most of his time he acted as a regimental tailor. The 1st Battalion's return to Scotland in March 1891 - to garrison Edinburgh Castle - coincided with the end of Colin's three year term of enlistment. Obviously disappointed with army life, he did not re-enlist, and returned to Beauly with little more than a tattoo on his left arm to show for his military service.
Some ten years later, however, he finally got the excitement he craved. The outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899 required a large increase in British army manpower, and in February 1900 Colin enlisted once again - as 'Colin MacLean' and claiming to be five years younger than he really was. He joined the Lovat Scouts, a unit that was hastily raised in the aftermath of the shocking defeat of the Highland Brigade at Magersfontein in Cape Colony in December 1899 - a bitter blow to Highland military prestige that had been caused mainly by a failure to scout properly the terrain against which the Brigade had been ordered to carry out a night attack. Lord Lovat, chief of the Frasers and the largest landowner around Beauly, suggested sending a few of the gamekeepers and stalkers from his estates out to South Africa, to employ their fieldcraft in military scouting, but the War Office insisted on the formation of a larger and more regular formation - along the lines of the volunteer 'yeomanry' units that were created in rural England. Consequently, any old soldier in the districts around Inverness was welcomed into the new unit - provided he was young and fit enough. The Lovat Scouts comprised two companies of infantry - one mounted and one on foot. Colin served with the latter, the 2nd Company, which arrived in Cape Town on 31 March 1900, on board the RMS Tintagel Castle.
Colin's service record gives no indication of what exactly he did in South Africa. However, we know that the Lovat Scouts were attached to the Highland Brigade - which was now commanded by General Hector MacDonald, the boy from Ferintosh in the Black Isle who had risen through the ranks of the Gordon Highlanders to become one of the most highly-respected and decorated senior officers in the British army, and whose memorial still towers over the town of Dingwall. The Highland Brigade, now recovering from Magersfontein, formed part of the great column under Lord
Roberts that marched north from Cape Colony into the Orange Free State and on to the Transvaal in the middle months of 1900. However, it was detached from the main column to strike into the eastern districts of the Free State, towards the border with Basutoland (modern Lesotho) in their one big set-piece event of the war - the bottling-up of Free State forces under the Boer general Prinsloo leading to their surrender in August 1900. Therafter, the war settled into a stalemate of guerrila tactics and counter-measures. For Colin Munro and his fellows in the Lovat Scouts life now became a matter of raids, ambushes, the burning of farm-houses and the 'concentration' of civilians into camps designed to prevent them giving aid to the Boer guerrilas. A morally-indefensible war - despite all the appeals to patriotism, it had been launched to serve the interests of the big gold-mine owners on the Witwatersrand - had now turned very ugly, and one suspects that the two companies of the Lovat Scouts were relieved to abandon South Africa and return home at the end of their period of enlistment. They arrived back in Scotland in late August 1901, to receive a civic welcome and the 'freedom of the burgh' in Inverness.
Colin never resettled to life back in the Highlands. Instead he drifted off to Australia - working for a time in Waroona in Western Australia - and from there crossed to New Zealand before taking steerage passage in 1904 on the steamship Sierra between Auckland and Seattle. He spent the rest of his life as a bachelor working on ranches and farms in southeast Montana, and regaling his nephews and nieces with tales of daring-do on the South African veldt. He died in Ekalaka in 1935.
When Colin joined his brother Roderick in Montana, he left behind yet another brother, William, in whose family home in Inverness he had been a regular visitor. William had departed the croft in Bridgepark to become a general labourer in Inverness. There in 1886 he married Isabella Grant (originally from the Foyers area on Loch Ness-side) and the couple had two children - Roderick (b. 1887) and Margaret (b. 1890) The family's fortunes improved somewhat in 1892 when William found employment with the Highland Railway Company and they took occupation of one of the cottages that the company had built for its workers. There, at 4 Railway Buildings (later known as Railway Terrace), close to the station and the yards, William and Isabella had another five children - James (b. 1892), Archie (b.1894), Colin William (b. 1895), Catherine (b. 1898) and
Inverness was the commercial and social hub of the Northern Highlands, and the railway complex of station, yards and workshops was its beating heart, contributing substantially to the economic growth - from tourism, distilling and agriculture - that the region enjoyed in late Victorian and Edwardian times. The railway was the most