Category: African War History

Versions of African War History

THE OPERATIONS ON LAKE TANGANYIKA IN 1915

By COMMANDER G . B. SPICER-SIMSON,. S.O., R.N. Wednesday, 28th March, 1934, at 3 p.m. ADMIRAL SIR WILLIAM GOODENOUGH,. C.B., M.V.O., in the Chair. The Chairman, in introducing the Lecturer, said that Commander Spicer-Simson had had a very varied and adventurous career. He saw service in China; he was on the Boundaries Commission in North Borneo; he made a triangulated… Read more →

Ian Henderson and the Hunt for Dedan Kimathi

During the course of 1956 an extraordinary drama played out in the forests of the Kenyan Aberdare Range, as two men, Dedan Kimathi, a Kikuyu Mau Mau forest leader, feared in equal measure by friends and enemies alike, and Ian Henderson, a local Special Branch member and guerrilla hunter extraordinaire, enacted a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that marked the final… Read more →

I Can Never Say Enough About the Men

I had noticed in my general browsing of the web that a new book associated with the East Africa Campaign of World War I had been published, strongly titled I Can never Say Enough About the Men. It did not drift into my orbit, however, and I found no opportunity to read it until I was contacted by Andrew Kerr,… Read more →

The Rhodesia Regiment

The Old Drill Hall Nowadays serving as an Interior Ministry building along Leopold Takawira Street more or less opposite the Harare Gardens. The Lion & Tusk is still in evidence. This is a reproduction of an historic publication reproduced by the Orafs, otherwise known as Old Rhodesian Air Force Sods How many thousands of soldiers have passed through (and sweated… Read more →

The Shangani Patrol

As Rhodesian Administrator Leander Starr Jameson rode into the smoking ruins of Bulawayo in the aftermath of the first phase of the Matabele War he somewhat naively expected to find Lobengula waiting to surrender formally. This would have crowned an impressive advance with a clean victory and wrapped up the war in favour of the BSA Company with a minimum… Read more →

A Quick Sketch of the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia Bush War

I have noticed a lot of search traffic on this site pertaining to the Zimbabwe/Rhodesian War.  Aside from the Wikipedia entry covering the period, there is very little on the world wide web dealing with the subject. What follows is a thumbnail sketch drawn from my own reading of the episode which is not intended to be an accurate historical… Read more →

France in Centrafrique

An interesting project landed in my lap a few months ago. My publisher, Chris Cocks of 30° South Publishing in Johannesburg asked me if I would be interested in providing the copy for a pictorial account of Frances military relationship with the Central African Republic. What I knew about the country was fairly limited – it had been at one… Read more →

The fight at el Wak, Northern Province, Kenya 23rd August 1926

The background In the summer of 1926 No.4 Company of the 3rd King’s African Rifles (3 KAR) was stationed at Wajir and Mandera in Kenya’s Northern Frontier Province.  The company commander sent out regular patrols to monitor security activities along the border with Italian territory.  Jubaland had been ceded over from Kenya to Italy on 29th June 1925, purportedly as… Read more →

The fight at Gurin, The Cameroon Campaign 29 April 1915

In April 1915 Captain Derek Wetherall Pawle, 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment, was aged 27 and serving on secondment with the 2nd Battalion of The Nigeria Regiment, West African Frontier Force. At that time British, French and Belgian allied forces had invaded the Cameroons, Germany’s largest West African colony. The Germans put up a spirited resistance with their local troops… Read more →

The Action Around OK Pass, Somaliland Protectorate, 1st to 3rd March 1919

During the Great War internal security still had to be maintained throughout the vast British Empire.  One continuous problem facing the British was the ongoing insurgency in the Somaliland Protectorate inspired by the Dervish leader Sayyid Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, the so-called ‘Mad Mullah’.  This insurgency had been running sporadically since 1901 and adjacent Italian territory had often been used for… Read more →

Fighting the Aliab Dinka Southern Sudan, November 1919 – May 1920

  In southern Sudan in 1919 the Aliab Dinka, Bor Dinka and Mandari tribes inhabited an area west of the upper White Nile river.  The tribesmen tended to be tall and fit-looking cattle herders who were adept at using spears.  They had little if any time for western conventions such as wearing clothing or paying tax demands.  The shared governing… Read more →

The Gold Coast Regiment in East Africa

Once operations in West Africa were over, and the Cameroons had been seized from the German forces there, West African troops were nominated for the East African theatre. On 26th July the Gold Coast Regiment landed at Mombasa and joined General Smuts’ forces.  The Regiment was 1,428 men strong and had 12 machine-guns.  Also it incorporated two 2.95 inch mountain… Read more →

The Final Shots in Portuguese East Africa

SHORTCOL September 1918 On September 1 1918, The German Schutztruppe commanded by Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was moving northwards away from a fierce and costly battle fought over the previous two days at Lioma. The Schutztruppe’s strength on 1st September was 176 European officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and 1,487 African Askari plus a large group of wives and porters… Read more →

Proof that it wasn’t just white against black!

(Some interesting comments and observations on the theme of this article can also be found here) I was browsing through the photographs on the Rhodesian Military Facebook page, and noticed a comment attached to a picture of a black Rhodesian soldier manhandling a black guerilla corpse, that this was…‘Proof that it wasn’t just white against black!’ I hope that one… Read more →

Why the Native Regiments and Askari Corps of Africa fought

Colonialism as an institution has been blamed for almost every ill affecting the developing world, particularly Africa, which has limped along with the aid of this crutch for two generations. Africa’s imperial history is as varied as every other aspect of its history, and the colonial experience itself varied from territory to territory. The Germans were probably among the more… Read more →

The successful conclusion to the Battle of Lake Tanganyika

In researching this concluding chapter of the Mimi and Toutou saga, I waited until I was able to source a book written in the early 1960s by British author Peter Shankland, The Phantom Flotilla. This is an excellent book written largely from the verbal accounts of Doctor Hanchell, gathered during extensive interviews conducted by Shankland before the Doctor’s death sometime… Read more →

Mimi and Toutou arrive on the shores of Lake Tanganyika

The best source currently available for the journey of the Mimi and Toutou from Furungume to the Lake is the October 1922 National Geographic article written by Frank Magee. Spicer-Simpson himself submitted a series of notes and a lecture on the Expedition, but this has generally been agreed to be so filled with hyperbole and self aggrandizement that it probably… Read more →

The Battle of Lake Tanganyika, how the war on the lake was won…Part 2

Fungurume, lying some 100 miles further up the line from the Katanganese capital of Elizabethville (Lubumbashi), was the final railhead of the great Cape to Cairo rail project, a concept that had been the visionary quest of Cecil John Rhodes, master empire builder, and one of the greatest Sons of England. Despite these august credentials, the end of the line,… Read more →