Duncan Watt












The Wallace Boys Books Series

was published by:

Graham Brash Publishing

Graham Brash Publishers (Singapore)
Tel:  (+65) 6262 4843
Fax: (+65) 6262 1519


Duncan Watt:

Tel:(+65) 6469 3893


Other Activities:

School Visits


Private Tuition





Duncan Watt, an only child, was born in the little town of Livingstone near the Victoria Falls in the country which was then called Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia - and his mother says that so still was the night of his birth that she could hear the roar of the tumbling waters of Mosi-oa-Tunya, the ‘Smoke that Thunders’, ten kilometres away!


As a child growing up in the 1940s and 1950s in Central Africa, he led a very exciting life; far more so than for a lot of other youngsters - camping on the banks of the Zambezi, visiting Game Reserves and travelling widely.

The family setting off - solar
topees and all!

A fairly typical bridge

On the road to Katambora

The boat at Katambora on the Zambezi

Forcing the Zambezi’s rapids

Duncan swears he was alone!


His father, known to many as Wattie, was an accountant with many clients out in the bush, and on regular auditing trips the family would head up the Zambezi by outboard boat to places like Kazungula, the Caprivi Strip, Sesheke and Katima Mulilo. In those days there was no accommodation in these places, so the family would set up camp on the banks of the river.


On one occasion, a restless herd of elephants, on one side, had decided that the trees the family was camped under were just what they wanted. On the other side, a school of curious hippos was intrigued by the fire. So, when the hippos approached, Wattie would hastily remove logs from the fire; when the fire died down and the hippos lost interest, the elephants then began approaching!

Another time, his mother recalls camping near where a wounded female elephant kept the camp awake with her pitiful cries and trumpeting; the elephant had got caught in a wire trap with a stake embedded in the ground.


She had freed herself, but still agonizingly dragged the heavy wooden stake behind her; Duncan’s mother was relieved to hear afterwards that the elephant had survived and was thriving.


Many years later, Duncan and his mother, while driving through the Kafue National Park, were charged by a cantankerous elephant who had decided he didn’t like motor cars and regularly caused motorists some concern, to put it mildly!

Just after this photo was taken, the elephant charged, and Duncan panicked, stalling the car!


Actually, Duncan’s father, Wattie, appears in three of the books in the guise of Mr Scott-Hallam, a Fox Moth flying ex-RAF type, called Scottie in the stories, always managing ‘to save the day’ in the final chapters!


Duncan’s father took up flying mainly to visit his clients, and he owned a Tiger Moth and a Fox Moth, in which he kept an RAF fold-away bicycle for when he landed at out of the way spots.



Duncan near his father’s Fox Moth


Even before learning to fly, he had always been interested in flying and was part owner of an air charter business that operated at the Victoria Falls - sightseeing and game viewing trips.


Duncan remembers when one of the company’s planes was damaged when landing on a salt pan. The passengers were flown out by another aircraft, but Wattie had to deliver a new propeller which he did by open lorry, driving cross country with the aid of a compass; at one stage, when heading through tall grass, Wattie had to stand on the seat of the lorry with a stone keeping the accelerator in position. Quite a hairy experience! All of these episodes have found their way into Duncan’s books.


Duncan Watt’s primary schooling was in Bulawayo at a boarding school set amid the rocky kopjes that are so typical of Zimbabwe’s Matopos - the home of the Wallace Boys in Duncan’s books. This was followed by St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown, South Africa, where the headmaster was Frederick Spencer Chapman.


Spencer Chapman was the author of The Jungle is Neutral, that most famous of books dealing with the stay-behind parties known as Force 136, fighting the Japanese in Malaya. Spencer Chapman had a tremendous influence on Duncan and two of his books (set in South-East Asia) refer to The Jungle is Neutral. There is a dedication to his former mentor in The Treasure of the Tiger.

For those who are interested, The Jungle is Neutral has recently been republished by Times Publishing, Singapore. If anyone would like to buy a copy of this excellent work, please contact Times Publishing.

This dam formed the boundary of Duncan's primary school grounds





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Duncan with the horns of a kudu killed by lions.


Copyright 2013. Duncan Watt. All rights reserved.


Graham Brash Publishers in Singapore are well-known for their wide collection of works on Asia, particularly reprints of early books. To contact them directly to find out about what they produce, click here