D.C.M. London Gazette 27.9.1901.
Captain Ernest William Warby, D.C.M., was an Australian who served with distinction as one of the 'Fighting Five Hundred' of the I.L.H., and a friend of "Breaker" Morant.
He recounted his memories of the young "Breaker" in Australia in the late 1880s to Hedley Chilvers, who used them as the introduction to his stylised version of the Morant saga in The Yellow Man Looks On:
'... Morant proved himself the very soul of versatility. He out-shot them all. He put on the horse-hair gloves, and outboxed them. As a sprinter he outran them. Yet he kept them in the dark - would never say who he was. On one occasion only did he let a little light into the darkness. Ernest Warby, the station manager [in Cloncurry], for whom he had taken a fancy, often rode with him far into the bush.
"What to you make of these lines, Warby" he asked one day, "written by a friend of mine?"
"Bluey the cattle dog's almost asleep,
The pine-sparks fly and the embers glow,
While the horse-bell rings and the crickets cheep
And the black ducks call in the swamp below.
Night-dews are drenching the tasselled grass,
Away in the west the moon rides low,
And the bushman's wakeful fancies pass
To the light o'love of a year ago."
Verse after verse he reeled off, all revealing an abiding love of the bush and deep knowledge of this life.
"How did you learn all them?" Warby demanded.
"From a friend of mine."
He would say no more. But Warby knew he must have written it himself, so he said "The man who wrote that knew the bush. You wrote it, of course. Who the devil are you?"
Morant smiled and shook his head. All he would admit was that he knew his Australia. He had grown to love its wild spaces, its lonely bush, the grand men who roughed it, and the moon that rode high over the Mulga and Gidga scrub.
Fifteen years elasped. Warby campaigning with the British colonial troops in the Anglo-Boer War, and incidentally present at the reliefs of Ladysmith and Mafeking, began to hear of certain queer doings near Spelonken, a savage region north of Pretoria in the Transvaal.'
Chilvers, writing in 1933, went on to narrate the tale of Hunt's death and Morant's revenge as told by Warby. It is a colourful account which illustrates the common version of the story which existed until the 1980s - the romantic Morant avenging his friend, only to be 'scapegoated' by Kitchener at the instigation of the German government. Chilvers concludes:
'Who, then, was Morant? Whence came he? He was said to be a member of a distinguished Naval family, though the family itself repudiated the relationship. Known far and wide in Australia as a keen bush poet he contributed verses to the Sydney Bulletin signed "The Breaker", a name he earned as a breaker in of horses [other versions have hearts, promises or cheques as the reason for his nickname]. In Cloncurry to this day he is know as "Warby's Morant" - a tribute to a fine friendship.'
Warby joined the Imperial Light Horse the day after its inception on 23.9.1899. He was in the first section of British troops to relieve Ladysmith and with Corporal A.B. Duirs, I.L.H., also in the first section to relieve Mafeking. As well as being awarded the D.C.M., he was commissioned, promoted Captain and twice Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazettes 8.2.1901 and 2.4.1901 refer).