is a collection of military tales mostly based upon the activities of
officers and men from the British County Regiments who came to Africa
to do their duty as they understood it had to be done. There is also
some description of events during the Great War in Africa, and details
of war-time units raised within the continent. Most of these accounts
have been published in regimental and museum newsletters and journals.
Some constant themes run through accounts of fighting in Africa:
-The ferocity of the fight – killing is the only thing that counts.
problems, particularly the provision of water and the vulnerability of
lines of communication, often determine tactics.
of the terrain dictates that infantrymen do the fighting – armour,
field artillery and aircraft may be useful but their presence involves
costly technical support.
-Tribal custom and belief can win or lose the day.
-The local enemy leader does not burden his mind with complications such as taking prisoners or evacuating casualties.
-Africa always wins – the invaders or colonizers in the end acquiesce.
50 years of observing campaigns in Africa – mercenary insertions,
tribal conflicts, colonial actions, and liberation struggles – it is
noticeable that nothing much changes. As you read these words some army
somewhere in Africa, probably equipped with very basic weapons, will be
fighting and killing.
That is how it is.
So sit back and savour some military moments from the past.
After a particularly rough battle in Africa Sir Henry Newboldt wrote in his poem “Vitai Lampada”:
“The sand of the desert is sodden red, Red with the wreck of a square that broke; The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead, And the regiment blind with dust and smoke. The river of death has brimmed his banks, And England's far, and Honor a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks, "Play up! play up! and play the game!""
Above: The Medals of Major E.W. Hunt DSO, MC. Major Hunt was an old Africa campaigner, besieged with Baden Powell at Mafeking he later fought in German South West Africa then German East Africa.
Harry's Wars in Africa
--Egypt 1882: Wolseley leads his men from Alexandria to Tel-El-Kebir
Narungombe water holes: Lieutenant John Lawrence Leslie-Smith, originally
of The Border regiment, won the Military Cross while fighting with the Gold
Coast regiment in the Kilwa - Lindi region in German East
-- From Rumbo to the
Rovuma River : The
Nyasaland-recruited 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Regiment of the King’s
African Rifles in action during 1917
HERE -- Loyal North Lancs MGC Part 1: German East Africa October 1915 to April 1916 HERE
-- Loyal North Lancs MGC Part 2: German East Africa May to December 1916 HERE -- The "Mad Mullah" :The Second British
Campaign in Somaliland against the “Mad Mullah”