Frederik (“Fritz”) Gerhardus Breytenbach saw service at Mafeking, Modder River and Magersfontein in the initial phases of the war. In July 1900 he met up with Gen Smuts on his way to the Western Transvaal and was transferred to the commando of General Liebenberg of Potchefstroom, together with a number of old friends. Eager for action, the group of friends soon tired of Liebenberg’s command as he seemed to constantly avoid direct confrontation with the enemy.
His standard instruction when a British column was in sight was: “Let’s go round the back and see what we can achieve” and they contemptuously referred to him as “General Round-the-Back”. As a result, a group of some sixty “fire-brands” broke away from Liebenberg and formed their own commando, which they called the Transvaal Brigade with Fritz Breytenbach elected as Field Cornet. Liebenberg laid a charge of desertion with Smuts, but at a subsequent hearing before Smuts and De la Rey they were cleared of the charges and officially recognised as a separate commando.
Breytenbach and his Transvaal Brigade were involved at Frederikstad but in the Boer retreat from the station Breytenbach was killed. He was almost 35 years old and left a widow and 6 children between the ages of 3 and 12.