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Frederick Courteney Selous was an English hunter and explorer, living most of his life in Africa. When the Great War broke out, Selous joined the British Army.

By 1916, he had risen to the rank of Captain and was the commander of the famed 25th Frontiersman Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, better known as the "Old and The Bold."


In the latter part of the first decade of the 1900s, Frederick Selous served as a guide to a hunting expedition for the Smithsonian, led by former US President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. While in Kirinyaga, a young Indiana Jones met him, when the Jones family visited the Kirinyaga safari camp.[1]

During the World War I, Selous was hunting Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, and managed to him in the Karoo mountains, where von Lettow demostrated a "brilliant flanking maneuver" and drove Selous' forces in a hurry.[2]

In 1915, Selous was one of those who formed the 25th Frontiersman Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in British East Africa and their leader; under orders of General Jan Christiaan Smuts, he was tasked in 1916 with a mission to discover and disable the German Phantom Train. He assembled a team of colorful veteran soldiers, the "Old and the Bold", but could not find a member specifically skilled enough to complete a team of seven.[2]

When Jones and Remy Baudouin were lost on their way to Lake Victoria and found their way to the battalion, Selous found the man he needed for the mission, since Indy had working knowledge of trains and spoke German. Along with Donald Parks, Birdy Soames, Bill "Big Mac" MacMillan, Mr. Golo and Zoltan, they visited Smuts on the beach, where the Germans had pinned him down, not allowing his force to move on to Morogoro.[2]

There, Selous met Major Richard Meinertzhagen and based on his estimates, Big Mac and Birdy agreed that the cannon would be mounted and possibly sliding in the German railroad 30 miles inland. Selous then presented his men to the general and major, forcing a reluctant Indy to "volunteer" in.[2]

Against the Phantom Train[]

Two nights later, the band found a German camp just ahead the railhead where they believed the Phantom Train would be. Pretending to be drunk German officials, they just walked in, singing O Tannenbaum. Once in, Parks suggested that the group should split up and after stealing "toilet paper" — made up of old documents, memos and invoices — with Indy, they took a Daimler and rejoined the others.[2]

Having already pinpointed the position of the cannon that night, Selous ordered Indy and Birdy to take a flatcar he'd found while he and the rest would approach the train on the Daimler from another direction until they met the Train halfway where the road intercepted the lines some 20 miles down. At the joining point, he could see the Phantom Train in the distance, when it seemingly disappeared downhill. After puzzling themselves, Indy noticed that among their "toilet paper" was the ordering of 40 km of telegraph cable, which they found buried by the railroad. They followed the cable to an apparent dead end, before discovering the rock wall was fake.[2]

Selous and his Old Bold men before the Phantom Train

Discreetly, they entered the secret base-station, rode the train and placed dynamite according to Big Mac's orders. However on their way out, the timer did not blow as expected. Selous ordered Zoltan and Mac to reset the timer, while the Train started off for a new duty. After Indy neutralized Schultz, the shovel man, Selous tasked Indy to take his place, stalling them with blunders. The Train was eventually taken outside, while Selous and his men clung to its sides as Zoltan and Mac finished resetting all the timers.[2]

After Indy dispatched the drivers so that the band can climb aboard, the soldiers took notice of Zoltan and Mac. Zoltan isolated the wagons from the main engine before ropewalking back to the group on Mac's rope lasso. Once more, however, the detonation didn't go as planned and the cannon remained intact. Indy set the engine backwards to join up with the wagons, while Mac pinned the soldiers who stayed behind with the mounted machine gun; with the whole train once more, they decided to deliver it to the general. Unfortunately, in the distance they found the Germans destroying the tracks while an army was quickly closing in on them.[2]

Selous and Jones witness the Phantom Train's destruction.

The Old and the Bold managed to stop the train and fled to 500 yards while the soldiers mounted the vehicle and disarmed the dynamite. Selous, "the best shot in Africa", according to little Indy years before, aimed at a pack of dynamite with his scoped rifle. Just as a German soldier removed the explosive from the mortar shells, Selous' bullet blew the dynamite taking out the armed wagon along with the rest of the train.[2]

A week after their departure, the band of seven returned to the encampment of Smuts, who welcomed them as heroes.[2]

The hunt for Von Lettow[]

While Indy tried to comfort Remy and explain about their delay on reporting to their Belgian unit, Smuts asked Selous if he would attempt the kidnapping their old nemesis, Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. According to Meinertzhagen, von Lettow was to be found at a nearby lake, 35 miles southwest of their position, posing an extraordinary opportunity for his capture. When Indy and Remy showed up asking for a way to return to their unit with a letter explaining their absense, Selous once more managed to trick Indy and convince him that the best way to travel would be by a lake, right through the heart of the German territory, disguised as Boer settlers.[2]

On their way with the wagon, Selous noticed a courier on horseback, and again demostrating his marksmanship, shot and untied the saddle. The band approached the fallen courier, who was none other than Margaret Trappe, the daughter of a woman with whom he'd had an affair and considered the the best female aviator of Africa. The next morning, they were intercepted by Germans and taken to the camp of von Lettow, who Selous finally met face to face. After exchanging a handshake, von Lettow ordered them to be shot by morning.[2]

Escaping the German camp

At night, Birdy, who was hidden in the wagon cache with captive Margaret, walked in and persuaded the sentry at gunpoint to release the prisoners. Having sabotaged a plane and the trucks, they entered von Lettow's tent and kidnapped him. Soon after, the camp was aroused and Selous and his men were riding a car driven by Parks when they saw Indy, Remy and von Lettow stuck in a hot air balloon hovering above them. Unable to return the three to the ground, Selous and his men abandoned the camp during the chaos.[2]

Several days later, the Old and the Bold was reunited with Indy and Remy, who had lost von Lettow, but Selous promised to finally get them to Lake Victoria.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

Paul Freeman played the role of Frederick Selous in the episodes "British East Africa, September 1909" and "Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom" of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Frederick Selous, an explorer, officer, hunter, and conservationist, was famous for his exploits in south and east of Africa. His appearance as a character in the Indiana Jones franchise is of particular note since his adventures inspired Sir H. Rider Haggard to create the fictional Allan Quatermain character. Quatermain was one of the pulp heroes whose template inspired in turn the creation of Indiana Jones character.[3][4][5]



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