Freedom of a captivated mind

The Morphew family, a shot down plane over Libya, and Trout in 2020

“As I weakened I set myself landmarks to be reached in order to earn regular rests of a few minutes in that hellish, barren land.  My one great desire was to go to sleep in a pool of cool water under a tree, a pool and a tree such as the ones nestling in the lovely rolling hills of my native Dargle Valley in faraway Natal, a valley green in summer when storms and gentle rains water the land; tawny under blue skies in winter when little or no rain falls. There on the farm at the foot of the ‘Nhlosane’ mountain – Zulu for ‘budding breast’- I used to run and ride and fish for trout in the pristine streams.”

Jeff Morphew, describing his escape from his “Tommy” , shot down by German F109’s on 4 June 1942, Libya.

from: Five Frontiers to Freedom:  Jeff Morphew, Vinyard publishers 1999

Before  Jeff Morphew died in 1993, he was the only man living to have escaped from an Italian POW camp in World War II while Italy was still at war. He had grown up on the farm Furth, in the Dargle, where he was born in 1918.


The only prior record (before this year)  that I have been able to locate of trout being caught in the Furth stream (a tributary of the uMngeni) , was a verbal account from Jeff Morphew’s nephew, about Jeff catching trout on forays to this small stream from his retirement home at “The Fextal”, which overlooks the stream.

Yours truly, with a small brown from the Furth Stream, 21st March 2020. (Photo Sean Rogers)



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8 Responses

  1. Lovely Andrew – indeed, a stream for the the brave and sure-footed. I have not forgotten about the bottle of “Mkhize’” that I owe you for that little beauty!

    1. 🙂 Thanks Neil. Well, Morphew successfully crash landed his shot up plane in the libyan desert without the use of his wounded arms, and released himself from his harness with his teeth, and wriggled to what he thought was safety, only to be ground strafed by the 109’s….. so he certainly was “sure footed” , not to mention brave! Wish he was still around to share an “Mkhize” with…imagine the stories he could tell!

  2. Well done Andrew. I wasn’t aware of this stream, but even then there’s something reassuring in finding out the trout are still there, so many years on. I’m sure you must have enjoyed this discovery immensely!

  3. A lovely drone photo of the Furth farm, thank you.

    My great granddad worked on the Furth farm in 1882 / 1883, so 35 years before Jeff was born. To get to Furth farm, my grandad at the age of 18 describes in his diaries how he rented a horse in PMB to get there, and the road was pretty much non-existent so a lot of hard cross-country riding. Lovely stories in his diaries of the nearby streams, and infinite Natal crabs biting his bits whenever he tried to bathe in the waters!

    He also speaks of a Mr Yonge who was the owner at the time. My Yonge’s cousin was also resident in the farm at the time, a Mr Vernon. Do you know when the Morphew family bought the farm, and if it was from this Mr Yonge?

    Many thanks again

    1. Thanks so much for adding to the history with some stuff I didn’t know! I am not sure when the Morphews bought, but had imagined it might have been around 1850, because from what I can tell, that is when the crown was selling off land (in 3000 or 6000 acre lots) abandoned by more some (more pastoral) Afrikaaners some years earlier (around 1843…the annexation). From your info it sounds like there might have been owners within the British era of control, but before them. Those two names are not ones I have come across before. It would be fun to piece it together. I am told that Rob Spier from Boston is the man to talk to…..

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