Frederick George Dundas entered the Royal Navy as a Cadet aboard the
Training Ship BRITANNIA in June 1859, when aged 13 years. He was promoted to
Midshipman in 1863 and to Acting Sub Lieutenant on 5 July 1865. After
studying at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth 1864-65, he was appointed to
his first ship H.M.S. Wivern (February 1866), and was promoted to Lieutenant
on 21 January 1867. He next joined Jumna (May 1867) and whilst in this ship
the Admiralty Board expressed their satisfaction of his conduct in saving
the crew of Bucenta, a merchant ship wrecked off the South West Prong,
Bombay, with a lifeboat crew from Jumna on 8 June 1869. He subsequently
served aboard Research (June 1871), Lord Clyde (September 1871), Swiftsure
(May 1872), Daedalus (May 1874), R.N. College for Torpedo Course (July
1877), and Mallard (August 1878). He was next appointed to Indus (October
1879), VIigilant (October 1884) additional for service with the Coast Guard
at Galway, and Neptune (August 1887) for service with the Coast Guard at
Ilfracombe. He retired due to age with the rank of Commander on 16 June
1890, having served in the Royal Navy for just over 30 years.
Following retirement from the Royal Navy he was, in 1891, appointed
Commissioner and Principal Naval Officer to the Imperial British East Africa
Company, and successfully explored and surveyed the rivers Tana and Juba in
the Company's Steamer Kenia. In the former river, after ascending 350 miles
to its extreme navigable point, he left the vessel and proceeded with a
convoy through an unexplored region to Mount Kenia, making the ascent of
this 10,000 ft mountain from the southward. In July 1893 the Kenia started
up the river Juba, Commander Dundas being the only European aboard. He
succeeded in reaching Bardera, 387 miles upstream, a town of the up-country
Somalis who eventually became quite friendly and one of the Sheikhs with two
Chiefs went in the vessel 20 miles further up to the Rapids, where the wreck
of Baron von der Decken's steamer, the Guelph was lying, three rocks being
through her bottom.
Commander Dundas was the first and only European to have been to Bardera
since Von der Decken's ill fated expedition 27 years earlier, when he was
murdered with five of his companions, only two escaping down river by canoe.
In June 1893 he was appointed Superintendent of Marine in the Niger Coast
Protectorate under the Foreign Office and served in the Brass River
Expedition of 1895. He was mentioned in the Despatch of Rear Admiral F. G.
D. Bedford, Commanding the Brass River Expedition, dated 26 February 1895
‘The Yakoba was piloted up the creek with great ability by Captain Dundas,
late R.N., the Head of the Marine Department of the Niger Coast
Protectorate. She was anchored off Sacrifice Island as a General Depot and
proved most useful. Captain Dundas has done excellent work surveying and
piloting and has been most indefatigable and useful to me in many ways’.
Captain E. H. Gamble R.N., reported in his Despatch that ‘Captain Dundas has
worked very hard for us’. (ADM 159 36 pt.2)
Commander Dundas made the first exploration of the
river Tana and ascended Mount Kenia to the height of 10,000ft, a region also
Commander Dundas also explored the river Juba, where he landed alone among
the threatening Somalis . He managed to win over the hostile chiefs by "a
mixture of audacity and jolliness" as described by an old shipmate, Captain
He was recommended for the
Distinguished Service Order but being on the Retired List was adjudged to be
ineligible but he was granted a Naval Pension of £50 per year on 3 April
1896. In 1897 he was appointed Naval Adviser to the Chinese Government for a
term of three years. He was received at Portsmouth on 9/2/1897 for a three
week course of Instruction in Gunnery & Torpedo, preparatory to his
proceeding to Tientsin as Instructor of Cadets with the Chinese Navy.
Awarded the East and West Africa
medal 1887-1900, 1 clasp, Brass River medal 1895, Imperial British East
Africa Company medal 1888-95.