The Isle of Wight County Press of 3 February acknowledged that W.H. Brown; left Sandown on Thursday morning for embarkation for active service in South Africa. Research carried out in South Africa shows that Brown, along with the other members of the NFBU, sailed with the appointed Principal Medical Officer, Lieutenant Colonel (later Sir) Arthur Thomas Sloggett, onboard the Norman from Southampton on 10 February.
Wilfred Brown disembarked his voyage of many weeks at Cape Town, the sole member of the Southern District of the National Fire Brigades Union to respond to the call (out of an eventual total of 47 men).
On arrival the firemen were welcomed by Captain Hayes of Cape Town Fire Brigade. A puffing locomotive conveyed Wilfred and his colleagues along with 1,700 tons of equipment, north from Table Bay, between Paarl and Stellenbosch, through Worcester and over the Groote River and on into the heart of Cape Colony.
For a young Islander of the late Victorian era the sights, sounds and smells of this foreign land may have been overwhelming; the awesome vastness either side of the carriage, low dry Karoo bushes dotted across the barren dust for as far as the eye could see and in the distance the table-shaped koppies shimmering beneath a baking sun against a back drop of the bluest sky.
470 miles later the train squealed to a halt, Colonel Sloggett stepped from his carriage and declared ‘this spot is in the very heart of the Karoo. It has a bracing climate and an excellent never-failing water supply. Speaking from experience I consider the place ideal.’
Sloggett was also considered ideal, as a leader of men, treating his staff as friends and always getting the best out of them having instilled in them the desire to do their very best for their Colonel.