THE ‘FOREIGN SERVICE’ HALF OF 1 KING’S AFRICAN RIFLES – NYASALAND ASKARI IN BRITISH & GERMAN EAST AFRICA Part 2: February 1915 to March 1916

 

The situation in February 1915

After the battle at Jasin in January 1915 the four companies of 1 King’s African Rifles (1 KAR) serving in British East Africa (BEA) were deployed on the coast, in the Tsavo Valley, along the southern end of the Uganda Railway or on the branch-line being constructed from Voi to Maktau. Their tactical role was the defence of the Uganda Railway, which was being increasingly attacked by Schutztruppe demolition patrols coming from the Kilimanjaro region of GEA.

At the beginning of March 1915 “B” Company was at Msambweni on the coastal border with German East Africa (GEA) and “A”, “C” and “E” Companies were at Voi. Cole’s Scouts, a mounted unit recruited from local Somali and officered by well-known settlers such as Berkeley Cole, Lord Cranworth and Denys Finch-Hatton, had been patrolling the plain northeast of Kilimanjaro to protect the Masai from German cattle-raids. In January 1915 some of the Somali became troublesome at the Loosoito base-camp, and the unit was withdrawn to Simba on the Uganda Railway for re-structuring and re-training. A detachment of 2nd Kashmir Rifles, Imperial Service Troops supplied by the Ruler of Kashmir, was sent to replace Cole’s Scouts. However, with the mountain towering above them the Kashmiris every-move was observed by the enemy, and in a surprise attack at Epiron on 10 March the Kashmiris were scattered, losing eleven men and Intelligence Agent F.C. Scott.

The Kashmiris were ordered to move to Loosoito, about 15 miles to the north-east, and as they were again threatened by a German detachment, two companies of 3rd Kashmir Rifles and “E” Company 1 KAR, from Voi, was ordered to march up the Tsavo River to strengthen Loosoito post.

Salaita Hill

The Germans had built a strong defensive position on Salaita Hill, seven miles east of Taveta, the BEA border-town below Kilimanjaro that they had captured in the first month of the war. Mombasa HQ now decided to demonstrate against Salaita to draw Schutztruppe reinforcements onto that position and away from Loosoito. A column was formed at Mbuyuni under command of Major G. Newcombe, 130th Baluch, consisting of a company of Baluch with two machine-guns, “A” Company 1 KAR under Lieutenant J.A. Richmond and 16 cars of the East Africa Motor Transport (EAMT) Company with a 12-pounder gun.

This was the first employment of mechanized first-line transport in the campaign, but the occasion also served as an example of the problems involved in moving guns and ammunition in East Africa when a railway line was not available. The column left at midnight on 28/29 March for its twelve-mile move, and the African rain came down heavily. When Major Newcombe turned north through the bush all the cars got stuck in mud, and had to be manhandled back down the road to Mbuyuni. However the Sepoys and Askari took the weather and the bush in their stride and pressed on.

At 0700 hours Major Newcombe was in position 1100 yards north-east of Salaita Hill with the Baluch on his left and 1 KAR on his right, nearest to Taveta. The machine-guns were in the centre rear. The British opened fire, the Schutztruppe returned it and also fired three signal rockets that were seen at Taveta. The British firing line now advanced 500 metres. Major Newcombe’s assessment of enemy intentions was that reinforcements would arrive around the southern end of Salaita, and so he dispatched his accompanying Intelligence Officer, Lieutenant LaFontaine, with three 1 KAR Askari in that direction. 1 KAR was responsible for the north end of the hill and Lieutenant Richmond positioned a 20-man patrol 300 to 400 yards to his right to block an enemy approach, and sent a three-man patrol under a Corporal around the rear of the enemy positions.

Major Newcombe was yet to learn how fast African troops can move through the bush, and he was still engaging the enemy on Salaita Hill at 1100 hours when an Askari from the three-man patrol ran back to report a large enemy force, about five companies strong, sweeping around the north of the hill. Lieutenant Richmond immediately faced his men to the right and commenced a fighting withdrawal. But nobody told the machine-guns in the rear, where Lieutenant G.A. Pim, 130th Baluch, was having stoppage trouble due to his guns running out of water and overheating. Lieutenant Pim saw what was happening as the Askari withdrawal came level with him, and he tried to get his guns away, but they were too hot to handle and his porters bolted into the bush. The gun crews escaped apart from one Sepoy who was killed, but they had to leave their guns behind to be seized by the enemy.

The enemy defenders on Salaita Hill now came down to join the Schutztruppe attack and so the Baluch extended the KAR line to the left and the fighting withdrawal continued to Njoro Drift on the Mbuyuni Road. The British troops returned to Mbuyuni having lost three Baluch and three Askari killed, and seven Baluch and three Askari wounded. Four Baluch, one Somali Interpreter, one Zanzibari stretcher-bearer and three WaTeita (the local tribe) porters were also missing.

The dead 1 KAR Askari were No 7 Corporal Maulana, No 37 Private Sulima and No 45 Private Buwando. The wounded were No 15 Bugler Jamba and No 63 Private Kambenje of 1 KAR and No 3184 Private Barbur Almas of 4 KAR.

The following members of 1 KAR were mentioned in reports:
Lieutenant J.A. Richmond “Conducted the retirement of his company with great gallantry and coolness”.
No 3 Colour Sergeant Madi “Was in charge of the Section on the extreme right. He kept his Section well together, and afterwards formed and commanded a flank guard. He himself shot 2 white men”.
No 40 Corporal Disi “Stopped behind and took Halmi Hasain, the Somali Interpreter on his back for some way, till he fell off, and had to be left.
No 35 Private Musa “Stopped behind with Corporal Maulana (killed) till it was evident he was dead.”

However two machine guns and 43,500 rounds of reserve ammunition (12,000 belonging to 1 KAR) had been lost, and in the report that followed General M.J. Tighe commented:
“This demonstration undoubtedly had the desired effect of drawing off the enemy’s forces near MZIMA and LOOSOITO. Major Newcombe committed an error of judgement in remaining on as long as he did but this would have been obviated had the scouting on his right been more effective. It is a pity that the guns were not either brought away or disabled.”
(At this stage of the campaign the Indian Army was still practicing its domestic procedures and dumping reserve ammunition too far forward in the bush.)

One year later history was to repeat itself at Salaita when a large British attack was defeated by German reinforcements from Taveta, alerted by rockets, counter-attacking around the north of the hill. But this time, instead of seasoned British Askari fighting a withdrawal, the white South Africans who received the counter-attack broke and fled.

Upper Tsavo Valley

Meanwhile, 35 miles to the north, on 30th March the Kashmiris at Loosoito were threatened by a Schutztruppe force of over 500 men with a small field gun towed by porters. The Kashmiri commander, Major R.A. Lyall, decided to swiftly move to Eidelal on the Nolturesh River which drains into the upper Tsavo. His men dumped 52,000 rounds of ammunition into the stream at Loosoito and abandoned 20 Martini-Henry rifles (destined for the Masai cattle-herders), along with 15 days rations and other supplies. The Kashmiris then moved without encumbrance to Eidelal and made contact there with the 3rd Kashmiris on 2nd April, moving down-river to Mzima the next day to meet up with “E” Company 1 KAR.

Captain D.W. Reynolds, commanding “E” Company 1 KAR, was now tasked to take a Flying Column of 60 men to Loosoito to try to retrieve the Kashmiris’ abandoned equipment and ammunition. One company of Kashmiris would be stationed at Eidelal in support. Capt Reynolds accomplished his mission, skirmishing with enemy at Loosoito (who turned out later to have been Somalis from Cole’s Scouts), and he returned to Mzima on 9th April with all the missing items.
(It is very likely that the 52,000 rounds of ammunition, by now well warmed in the African sun, were put back into store without being checked for serviceability after their immersion in the stream at Loosoito. The 2nd Rhodesia Regiment was operating in the Tsavo Valley later this month and the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel A.E. Capell, wrote in his subsequent account of the campaign: “Our ammunition at this time was most unreliable; many rounds had proved ‘misfires’ and ‘blowbacks’, when testing the rifles recently issued to us, and several cartidges that had misfired were found beside the dead; their lives may have depended on those cartridges, so Major Routh, Ordnance Inspecting Officer, passed along the line.”)

Mzima Springs

On 12th April at Mzima Springs in the Tsavo Valley an unfortunate incident occurred when Major W.A.S. Walker, 46th Punjabis attached to 130th Baluch, was killed by a Schutztruppe reconnaissance party. (130th Baluch had experienced problems with some of its Pathans who had mutinied in Rangoon, and as a result 2 men were executed and 198 sentenced to hard labour. A company of 46th Punjabis was posted in to make 130th Baluch up to strength for East Africa.)

Major Walker, accompanied by Intelligence Agent (IA) Chitty, seven Kashmiri Sepoys and 18 WaTeita Scouts, went out on patrol from Mzima. Unfortunately for everybody except a nearby German patrol Major Walker fired twice at a buck. The scouts came across very recent enemy tracks of around 40 men which Major Walker followed up; when the Scouts refused to go further Major Walker went on until IA Chitty refused to go further. Major Walker then insisted, despite IA Chitty’s advice to the contrary, on returning to camp by the same route used to come out. A Schutztruppe group ambushed the British, killing Major Walker, two Sepoys, one Wateita and IA Chity’s bearer. The remainder of the British party ran into the nearby Shetani lava-flow and hid successfully.

Lieutenant P.G.W. McMaster, 1 KAR, was sent out from Mzima with a platoon of “E” Company 1 KAR and a platoon of Kashmiris to investigate. He found the dead bodies and was of the opinion that they had all been first wounded and then finished-off with large-calibre soft-nosed bullets. Major Walker’s body had been stripped down to his shirt, and his penis had been severed and placed in his mouth. (This crude form of psychological warfare definitely affected some Sepoys and white troops, making them feel very uncomfortable when out in the bush.)

Expansion of the King’s African Rifles not recommended

Whilst by now most unbiased observers could see that the best way forward for the British Forces in East Africa was to recruit more Askari units, this suggestion was not endorsed by the Governors of British East Africa and Uganda, who expressed concern that the result would be an undesirable post-war colonial situation whereby even more Africans would have been trained in military skills.

In January 1915 Lord Kitchener had sent his elder brother, Colonel H.E.C. Kitchener, to Nairobi to confer with the authorities there “as to the desirability of raising irregular corps for Service in East Africa”. Colonel Kitchener disregarded recommendations from Lord Cranworth who accompanied him and from the CO 3 KAR, Lieutenant Colonel B.R. Graham, that expansion of the KAR was imperative. In his report Colonel Kitchener agreed with the Governors of the Protectorates who were the Commanders in Chief of the units raised in their Protectorates. The War Office accepted this advice and the Colonial Office approved only the additional recruitment of 600 Askari to meet demands caused by attrition.

This decision impacted on the four 1 KAR companies serving in BEA as by now about HALF of the Askari had either served beyond the period of time stipulated for Service away from Nyasaland or else they were due for discharge.
During this period when so much groundwork could have been done to prepare the KAR for its future expansion it is disquieting to note that the pre-war Inspector-General of the KAR, Colonel A.R. Hoskins, was serving in France as his KAR post had been discontinued. (It was not until April 1916 that all the King’s African Rifles units were treated as Imperial Troops for the duration of the war, thus relieving Protectorates of financial and other considerations that had up to then seriously affected decisions made about the Regiment.)

Uganda Railway

“B” and “C” Companies of 1 KAR had meanwhile been kept busy patrolling the Uganda Railway and the branch-line being constructed from Voi to Maktau. They often rode on Armoured Trains that were constructed in the Nairobi Railway Workshops. Schutztruppe demolition parties, sometimes mounted on mules but more often marching on foot, had been getting through from GEA to blow and mine sections of the track. Sometimes German ambushers shot-up trains as they passed by. After fighting on the line ceased an unsuspected German base camp was found on the Sabaki River to the east of the railway line – the British had been searching the ground to the west for German raiders who had settled themselves down on the east of the line!

At the beginning of June 1915 the 1 KAR companies were located at Voi (”A” and “E” Companies), Tsavo (“B” Company) and Makindu (“C” Company).

Mbuyuni

In early July 1915 Brigadier-General Malleson, commanding Mombasa District, decided to attack and seize the Schutztruppe camp at Mbuyuni which was 12 miles west of Maktau on the Taveta road. This camp was a base for German sniping and raiding parties that were attacking Maktau Camp and the railway lines. Mbuyuni was defended by 46 German whites and 600 Askari with six machine-guns, under the command of Captain Vorberg.
Brigadier Malleson assembled a force of over 1,200 men with 11 machine-guns, two mountain screw-guns (the barrel was in two pieces that screwed together) and one ex-naval 12-pound gun, and he marched from Maktau westwards on 13th July. An observer watching the troops step out commented: “Then came the King’s African Rifles, sturdy limbs moving in perfect rhythm. They left an impression of shiny black faces, white teeth, and unceasing, animated talk. Little they cared about the future. The British officers combined an air of detachment with unrelaxing hold upon their men.”

Two companies of 1 KAR were in the force, destined to be the Advance Guard during the assault by the Main Column. A second column, Right Column, swung north through the bush to attempt to get behind the enemy left flank. The main column halted for the night four miles short of Mbuyuni where unfortunately a picquet from the 29th Punjabis opened fire with a machine-gun against an enemy patrol. If only rifle fire had been used (as had been ordered) the enemy would have thought little of it, but when a machine-gun fired it signaled that something more than a British patrol was on the move.

The ground was in the shape of an upside-down letter U pointing north, with a broad valley within the U. The Taveta road ran down into the east side into the valley, crossed it where there were many large baobab trees, and then ran up the west side where the German defences were well-sited. Right Column navigated north of the top of the depression but lost visual contact with Main Column. At 0530 hours Main Column advanced down into the depression led by the two 1 KAR companies, with the KAR Mounted Infantry Company (raised from Ethiopians and Somali from 3 KAR) securing the south flank.

1 KAR became heavily engaged with the main enemy defence line at a range of 300 yards, and Brigadier Malleson ordered four companies of 29th Punjabis to advance forward across the valley on the KAR right. The Punjabis ran into enemy snipers and machine-guns concealed on the western side of the valley, and at 1015 hours the Punjabi Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel H.A. Vallings, was killed and his Adjutant wounded. The Punjabis were soon in disarray (afterwards around 30 Sepoys were court-martialed for withdrawing from the battlefield with self-inflicted wounds to their hands). Amazingly Brigadier Malleson then ordered four of the Loyal North Lancashires’ machine guns that had excellent fields of fire on the east side of the valley to go down into the valley to support the firing line. These guns immediately had their visibility vastly reduced and became much less effective.

Meanwhile the 130th Baluchis in Right Column had run into unexpected enemy trenches and been stalled. Lord Cranworth, who was operating the Cole’s Scouts’ .450 machine-gun, got around behind the enemy trenches and shot-up the German administrative area. He could hear the Askari of the two 4 KAR companies alongside him in Right Column begin their rhythmic grunting that preceded an attack, but the Column Commander (Lieutenant Colonel C.U. Price, CO 130th Baluchis) did not order an attack as he felt that his Column was not strong enough, and the moment passed.

By noon enemy reinforcements were reported to be arriving from the Upper Tsavo and Taveta, and by 1300 hours the British were fighting a withdrawal action. The enemy defenders left their trenches to attack the withdrawal, causing the Loyal North Lancashires to lose a machine-gun when five out of the seven-man crew were hit, and forcing the Punjabis to abandon their reserve ammunition.
Brigadier Malleson reported: “The withdrawal was steadily carried out under a galling fire, the two companies 1st KAR being especially noticeable.”
Total British casualties were 2 Officers and 31 Other Ranks killed, 8 Officers and 157 Other Ranks wounded, and 1 Officer and 12 Other Ranks missing (mostly wounded and captured). The 1 KAR casualties were 3 Askari killed, 2 Officers, 31 Askari and 4 Porters wounded. The wounded officers were Lieutenants L.G. Murray and L.C. Collings-Wells.
The German defenders lost 5 Askari killed, and four Germans (including Captain Vorberg), 17 Askari and 9 followers wounded.

In his after-action report Brigadier Malleson mentioned five members of 1 KAR:
Captain C.G. Phillips “This officer was in command of the advance guard. Subsequently he led the attack, and he was the last to come out of action. Of the other three officers with him one was killed and two were wounded, one severely. His gallantry throughout was most marked.” (The dead officer was Lieutenant W.S. Wedd, 3 KAR, KAR Mounted Infantry.)
No 103 Colour Sergeant Juma “For gallant leading of the vanguard under heavy fire, and continuing to command his men after being severely wounded.”
No 157 Sergeant John Ali “For leading his section with great gallantry, and having it under complete fire control throughout the engagement.”
No 121 Sergeant Longolora and No 286 Corporal Kaisa “Distinguished themselves for coolness and bravery, after their British officers had been disabled.”
In January 1916 No 103 Colour Sergeant Juma received an African Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Now about HALF the Askari were sent back to Nyasaland to take their discharge or to be granted leave if they re-enlisted. At the beginning of August only two 1 KAR companies were left in BEA, one temporarily at Mombasa and the other at Voi.

Kasigau

Kasigau is a large, prominent and isolated mountain rising out of the plain 30 miles south of Voi. It was garrisoned by 1 British Officer (Captain H.G. Sealy), 4 Indian Officers and 74 Rank and File of the 130th Baluchis. Captain Sealy did not approve of the defence arrangements that he took over and was in the process of re-building them. Even so his new positions were overlooked by higher ground – a fatal flaw.

On 13th August at first light a party of around 50 Schutztruppe unexpectedly attacked Kasigau, killing 7 defenders and capturing Captain Sealy, Intelligence Agent Perks and 30 Sepoys, around 8 of whom were wounded. The Germans also captured the prisoners’ and dead mens’ rifles and around 35,000 rounds of ammunition. The Germans then withdrew to GEA with their prisoners and booty. Two German whites and three Askari had been wounded during the fight.
Lieutenant M.W. Whitridge, 1 KAR, was tasked to follow the enemy party with some of his Askari. Three miles from Kasigau an enemy resting area was found, where bark had been stripped from thorn trees to make sandals. The Schutztruppe had used these sandals to quietly approach the British defences. About six miles further on a base-camp was found with discarded bloodstained dressings, showing that the Germans had halted here on their return journey and tended wounds. Another interesting find was 15 abandoned calabashes used as water containers. These calabashes were from the Gonja area of GEA, 60 miles southwest of Kasigau. The WaPara people of Gonja had a tribal affiliation with the WaKasigau people. Lieutenant Whitridge and his party then returned to Voi.

After further investigation the British authorities decided that the WaKasigau had colluded with the German attackers, and the entire WaKasigau tribe was re-located to the BEA coast.
For the remainder of 1915 the two remaining companies of 1 KAR operated out of Voi, Bura and Maktau against German raiding parties. Then, as white South African troops flooded into the Voi – Maktau area, 1 KAR was ordered to Nairobi for re-deployment.

The advance into German East Africa

In early February 1916 1 KAR, under command of Captain G.J. Giffard, entrained at Nairobi for Kajiado, and then marched down the long road to Longido, a mountain across the GEA border on the road to Arusha. The unit’s strength now was 12 British Officers, 1 Assistant Surgeon, 318 Rank and File, 193 Followers, 4 Maxim Guns and 10 mules, with 6 ox-waggons for transport. The battalion, organized into two double-companies (“C” Company under Captain R.C. Hardingham and “E” Company under Captain W.T.H. Gregg), was now part of the British 1st Division commanded by Major-General J.M. Stewart.

A South African, General J.C. Smuts, was now the new Commander in Chief in East Africa and he had made his plans for the invasion of GEA. The bulk of the German forces were concentrated at Moshi, just south of Kilimanjaro and west of Maktau and Mbuyuni, from where the British 2nd Division and a South African mounted Flanking Force would advance westwards. 1st Division was tasked to advance south to draw-off enemy units from 2nd Division’s front and to cut the Schutztruppe line of retreat, which was predicted to be westwards through Arusha.

The Germans had planned defences along the Longido – Arusha road manned by Abteilung Fischer (two Field Companies of Askari and three smaller white units), but 1st Division operated a deception plan and on 5th March the bulk of the troops took a route east of Mount Meru and nearer to the flank of Kilimanjaro. There were skirmishes but no real actions as the Division advanced on rough tracks from one water-hole or river to the next. Mount Kilimanjaro proved to be a real obstacle to wireless traffic between General Smuts’ HQ and 1st Division, and aircraft were sent from Mbuyuni to observe the Division’s advance, when the troops could be spotted below the tree cover.
1 KAR acted at first as Rear Guard during the advance and then, as Moshi got nearer, as Advance Guard. On 12 March 1 KAR Askari captured some GEA natives carrying 140 pounds of butter for the Germans on the Arusha road, needless to say the butter was distributed to the Divisional troops. The following day things became a little more serious. General Stewart and the Divisional infantry had pushed on ahead through close country and the mounted troops were following in the rear. Suddenly the mounted troops found Schutztruppe units on a ridge ahead of them; these were the units of Abteilung Fischer from the Arusha road moving south-east towards Moshi. The Germans deployed to attack but were deterred by artillery fire from a South African battery (this was the first use of South African artillery in the war in East Africa). The British mounted troops advanced but did not press home an attack due to indecision by the mounted commander, and the Schutztruppe vanished into the trees.

Meanwhile up ahead the Divisional infantry had cut the Moshi – Arusha road on 13th March and a force of mounted troops and infantry was now dispatched south-eastwards to cut the railway running south from Moshi. Wireless traffic with HQ was restored and an order received to march eastwards on Moshi immediately. The infantry was recalled from the southeast and tasked with capturing Moshi. The next day HQ ordered a change of plan and an advance westwards on Arusha. Two hours later that order was countermanded and Moshi reconfirmed as the objective.

General Stewart had specifically requested General Smuts to prevent his South Africans from firing on 1st Division as the Division approached Moshi. 1 KAR was the Advance Guard on the approach to Moshi and carried aloft as identification a Union Flag sized 6 feet by 3 feet. Nevertheless on 14th March as Moshi was approached South African mounted troops opened heavy fire on 1 KAR, killing three porters and a mule and wounding Private Amin. 1 KAR returned fire with rifles and machine-guns until a senior officer, Colonel J.A. Hannyngton, intervened, and the South African fire ceased.

1 KAR entered Moshi that evening, soaking wet from the rain. General Stewart commented: “Every house in Moshi, whether enemy or neutral, was looted by the South Africans and much wanton destruction occurred. New typewriters were smashed, every locked drawer was forced and their contents scattered.”

The Germans had made a clean break from heavy fighting with 2nd Division, and had withdrawn a few miles south down the railway line from Moshi to Tanga. General Smuts, now displaying his political nature, blamed General Stewart for not preventing the enemy withdrawal. General Stewart was dismissed and ordered back to India. (He was then posted for the duration of the war to Aden, an active if remote theatre, as military commander and to be in charge of political affairs.)
The German commander charged with blocking 1st Division’s advance south from Longido, Major Fischer, was judged by his Commander in Chief, Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck, to have not tried hard enough. Von Lettow-Vorbeck handed a revolver to the unfortunate Fischer, who dutifully went away and shot himself.

The Kahe Area

Brigadier S.H. Sheppard now took over command of 1st Division and he tasked 1 KAR with reconnoitering a 20-mile route from New Moshi to the new German defensive position at Kahe. This was accomplished on 16th and 17th March, and the information gained was used by the South African mounted troops when they advanced to Kahe on 21st March. 1 KAR was in reserve whilst the actions at Store and Soko-Nassai were fought on 20th and 21st March, but the following day the battalion advanced across the Ruvu River without serious opposition to seize a bridgehead and capture a destroyed 4.1-inch German gun recovered by the enemy from the sunken battle-cruiser “Konigsberg” and used on land. (25th Royal Fusiliers also claim to have seized this gun.) The enemy had withdrawn a few more miles down the railway line to Tanga and the heavy rains now started. General Smuts, who had approved the re-forming of the 2nd King’s African Rifles, halted his advance and sheltered his troops in the best accommodation he could find. On 23rd March Lieutenant H.C. Gouldsbury, 1 KAR, patrolled five miles south with 50 Askari and captured 2 Germans, 2 Askari, 4 mules and 3 rifles. This was the last recorded contact of the “Foreign Service Half” of 1 KAR with the enemy in East Africa in the Great War. On 25th March 1 KAR commenced marching back to Taveta, arriving there the next day and immediately entraining for Voi. Nineteen hours later the battalion was back in Taveta due to the train derailing. Finally 1 KAR arrived in Nairobi on 28th March 1916 and prepared for the reforming of 2 KAR. Four days later, on 1st April 1916, the unit re-titled to 2nd King’s African Rifles, and on 12th April a draft of 1,115 Non Commissioned Officers and Askari arrived from Nyasaland. Sources referred to (in order of narrative):
Mombasa Area HQ War Diary February to December 1915.
Official History of the War, Military Operations East Africa, 1914 to September 1916.
The King’s African Rifles by H. Moyse-Bartlett.
The 2nd Rhodesia Regiment in East Africa by Lt Col A.E. Capell.
Ambush by Wynn E. Wynn.
The Army List 1916.
War Services 1922.
The African DCM by John Arnold.
2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment War Diary for July 1915.
Jimmie Stewart – Frontiersman by R.M. Maxwell.

Author: Harry Fecitt

Leading on from Howard’s initiative please may I introduce myself. This is a best done by reference to an internet site Harry’s Africa where you will see some biographical detail and the results of some of my research into African military history, especially the Great War period
Reference to another site, in the Great War Forum (http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=65037&st=0), should you have the stamina to plough through it, will show you the Great War East African battlefields that I have visited and photographed:
Recently I have turned my research attention to German & Portuguese East Africa as operations in those countries are not fully covered by an official history, and so much interesting & important military information lies unperused in the UK National Archives.
The results of some of this work can be seen at http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-on-land/other-war-theatres.html and http://peterbaxterafrica.com/.
I am particularly interested in the roles played by the African, Indian, West Indian, Cape Coloured and Arab soldiers of both sides during the East African WW1 campaign. Nearly all books on the campaign tend to highlight the activities of white units, yet most of the heavy fighting was done by darker-skinned soldiers.
I wish to actively support any activity that leads to more public awareness of the Great War East African campaign.
I have tried to interest people in battlefield tourism in East Africa, but I failed to make significant progress – now I prefer to leave that to the specialists. I can provide some of the historical information if required.
(I believe that a first step should be a guidebook containing good military information about the units involved, so that the guidebook becomes a reference book to interested parties around the world, even if they never visit East Africa.)
As the centenary of the Great War approaches I am determined to do my best to try and make the general public aware that the Great War did not just happen in France & Flanders. To this end I have started contributing to another site named Harry’s Sideshows (http://www.kaiserscross.com/304501/home.html).
You will see an interesting comment there on German plans to promote a Turkish invasion of Sudan & Uganda aimed at supporting von Lettow’s resistance in East Africa.
What time is left, and I hope for quite a bit of it, will be spent in trying to commemorate through words the gallant actions of soldiers of all creeds & cultures on both sides of colonial & imperial struggles around the world.
At first I wanted to write a book or two, but my belief now is that most publishers will only entertain scripts about unknown war theatres if the accent is on sensationalism and the writing is dumbed down to the level of today’s casual reader. So I concentrate on writing short articles. I do not copyright my work and I see it being ‘lifted’ by several others. That is good – the word is being spread. I hope that we can collaborate in as many practical ways as possible.

One thought on “THE ‘FOREIGN SERVICE’ HALF OF 1 KING’S AFRICAN RIFLES – NYASALAND ASKARI IN BRITISH & GERMAN EAST AFRICA Part 2: February 1915 to March 1916”

  1. Thanks Harry! Another fascinating episode in the history of the King’s African Rifles. The incident at Kasigau reminds me of one night at Gala Camp. We were trying to get some sleep in our tent, despite the constant croaking of an army of bullfrogs in a waterhole at the base of the kopje on which Gala Camp was located. Suddenly the bullfrogs fell silent as we heard the unmistakable sound of a male lion roaring out his territorial claim and challenge to all comers. It sounded as if it was just outside our tent! After an uncomfortable night, we mentioned it at breakfast and asked how close he was. The reply was that he was on Kasigau, some 10kms away!

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