July 2018 Update

It seems to be a busy time of the year …

An interesting map has come onto the market for sale regarding WW1 East Africa. The seller assumes it is a Meinertzhagen map – what do you think? I’m not convinced.

There are still a few more days for people in or near London to see the exhibition Somalis in World War 1 – it runs until 23 July

A number of people contacted me about William Kentridge’s The Head and The Load exhibition/show at Tate Modern. You can read more about it on my blog
Similarly, John Siblon has very kindly provided an overview of the SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Dance performance which took place in Southampton.

The Royal Navy – First World War at Sea looks to be a very helpful resource in tracing people and ships of the time. It contains Service Records, which at this stage, for Africa, only includes Cameroon action between 7 September and 8 October 1914. More to follow in due course hopefully.
For more general info, ship logs and other reports, Naval History is an excellent link.

Melvin Page has a new article, Africa’s first “high-tec” war: The Technological Impact of World War One on Africans, published in The Journal of African Military History, 2, 1 (2018), 24-61 (there is a charge for this article unless you can access it through an academic or other library subscription).

This article by Jennie Els makes mention of Harold Eastwood’s death in East Africa during the 1914-1918 war.

North Africa gets a mention for work on the Western Front.

If you are in South Africa, or able to get there for 12-13 November, and to Pretoria in particular, please consider presenting a paper on the aftermath of the war at the Unisa conference. The deadline for proposals is 13 August. There’s also the Away from the Western Front creative competition and Diversit House events. More info is available through the calendar links.

Can you help? A researcher is trying to find information on his grandfather – William H Simons – who served in YMCA in East Africa from March 1918. If you are aware of where information is held on the Indian YMCA in particular and American involvement, please can you let me know so I can pass this on.

25 November 2018 sees the centenary of the end of the war in Africa. There are various events being planned, one of which is in Zambia with a memorial service on 24 November at Chembeshi, where the initial notice of peace was handed over, and on 25 November at Mbala (previously Abercorn) at the spot where the original surrender took place. Claire from Thorn Tree Safaris is able to organise travel and accommodation for people. There are a number of people going from the UK travelling following various routes to be at the main centres – Chambeshi on 24 and Mbala on 25th together. If anyone is looking to go and wanting to visit some of the battlefield sites, John Bannon has a route planned to see some of the places his grandfather Jack Bannon of 1/4 KAR went. This includes a trip into Tanzania. The proposed itinerary can be found here. If you are interested, please get in touch with John to discuss costs etc.

Further north, in Kenya, at the spot where the first shot of the war in East Africa was fired and where there was a commemoration in 2014 to mark the outbreak of war, there will also be a service to mark the end of the war. To find out what is happening there, Guerrillas of Tsavo have a newsletter providing info on the run-up to the end of war commemoration events in Kenya. They are also crowd-funding to improve the information display boards in Taita area.

If anyone is close to London and is interested in having a say in how The National Archives supports users, the User Advisory Group Recruitment campaign 2018 has now gone live. Early next year I step down from the Group having represented on-site users and those who cannot get to be on-site (ie many of the GWAA).

The Museum of Military Intelligence is looking for information and artefacts – can you help?

A number of people have asked if there is a photo of Henry Belfield, Governor of East Africa when war broke out. Thanks to Guerrillas of Tsavo, here’s one:

2 thoughts on “July 2018 Update”

  1. Hi Anne
    I have just read your article about the Road Corps. As the unit was set up by Dealy there might be more information about the background to this in his Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) war diary, which is in the Archives at 95/5301.

    I suspect the impetus for the formation of the unit was the approach of the 1917 rainy season, which had caused such problems in March and April of the previous year during the advance from Taveta to Moshi and Arusha. Those rains had been exceptionally heavy but the failure to deal with the supply problems they caused – roads being impassable for weeks – had been the source of major friction within the HQ staff, and in particular between Smuts and Dealy, whose relationship I don’t think ever really recovered.

    I wonder if the “politics” behind the formation of the unit was Smuts’ departure from the theatre in January 2017. Hoskins, who replaced Smuts, was much more conscious of logistical issues than Smuts and would have been more willing to commit resources to deal with this, and pre-empt the problems that the rains would inevitably bring again. But this is just speculation.

    In any event it would have been one of Dealy’s last actions as CRE as he left East Africa in early February 2017, invalided out with bad malaria. He was replaced by Collins, also mentioned in your article – who had also actually been Dealy’s predecessor, as the senior engineer in the theatre before the arrival of the new staff in early 1916. Sadly Collins died a month later of fever, and I think is buried in Morogoro Cemetery.

    You also mention the Faridkot Sappers & Miners in the article and I am sure you are already familiar with the very good paper on the Faridkots written by Robin Sneyd, who is a descendant of one of the officers who was with them through the whole campaign.


    (P. S. Anyone who has ever tried to drive through “black cotton” soil after rain will sympathise with the Road Corps and the challenges they faced. In 1969 my family and two others got caught by rain on a dirt road across the Aberdares and had to be pushed out …. by a passing group of off-duty British soldiers !)

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