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ATM

German South West Africa and East Africa

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ATM

Hello I am trying to piece together an idea of the order of battle for mainly the East African campaign, but also South-West African and Cameroon campaign of WW1. I am mainly interested in Brigades and Divisions in the earlier part of the war before they were broken down into columns and forces and where it all becomes rather confusing. If anybody has any links or info they could share I would be very grateful.

So far I have a good idea of the German south West African campaign but I have read that the South Africans formed divisions there, is this true? I can find no higher formation than five mounted brigades.

For the cameroon campaign in particular I am trying to find out whether the West African Frontier Force formed any brigades other than the Nigerian brigade and what the titles/No's were of the indigenious artillery units were that fought there.

As for East Africa I know of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd East African Divisions, as well as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd East African Brigades as well as the Voi and Nigerian Brigades for African units and the 2nd and 3rd South African Infantry Brigades and 1st and 2nd South African mounted brigades. Finally i know of the Imperial Service and 27th Bangalore Brigades from India. My main interest is finding which infantry battalions fought in these brigades as outside of the Indian Brigades and the 25th Royal Fusiliers details are very sketchy and the few sources I can find only refer to nameless KAR and South Afrucan infantry battalions.

If anybody could help me piece together the OOB for these campaigns I would be most grateful.

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cahoehler
ATM said:
. . . order of battle for mainly the East African campaign, but also South-West African and Cameroon campaign of WW1.

ATM

bushfighter is the acknowledged expert on GEA (and other campaigns in Africa) and I am sure he will be along soon.

 

Likewise Chris Boonzaier is the acknowledged GSWA expert and will also be here soon (and if not then a gentle PM . . .).

 

When it comes to the Heavy Artillery I have all the known primary and secondary sources and access to sources for the Field Artillery.

South African military history has never been properly documented and interested people are forced to consult a whole range of histories to get a comprehensive but not necessarily complete story. Paterson makes the point that the unit histories should also be consulted.

In Contested Histories van der Waag tells of how records [of the GSWA campaign] were withheld from Wyndham (the first Official Historian) and Leipoldt (his successor). There were issues over access to the captured German Archives in Windhuk, access to regimental records (units had been and were being disbanded); Collyer had wanted to write the history and was withholding some or all of the General Staff Records. The Official History which appeared in 1924 was largely written by Leipoldt while Collyer completed Campaign in 1937 (and German East Africa in 1939) after his retirement.

1. Boonzaier, C, German South West Africa, http://www.imperial-research.net/gswa.htm

2. Boonzaier, C, German South West Africa OOB, http://www.imperial-research.net/gswa_oob.htm

3. Boonzaier, C, World War One in Africa, http://www.trenchfighter.com/40117/home.html,

4. Boonzaier, C, The “Official History . . . , http://www.trenchfighter.com/41992/home.html

5. Collyer, Brig-Gen J J , Campaign in German South West Africa 1914-1915, (Pretoria 1937)

6. Collyer, Brig-Gen J J , The South Africans with General Smuts in German East Africa 1916, (Pretoria 1939)

7. L’Ange, G , Urgent Imperial Service (Rivonia 1991)

8. Defence Headquarters (Leipoldt, J G W), The Union of South Africa and the Great War, 1914-1918 (Pretoria 1924) – the Official History.

9. Paterson, H , FIRST ALLIED VICTORY - The South African campaign in German South West Africa, 1914-1915 (Military History Journal - Vol 13 No 2) http://rapidttp.com/milhist/vol132hp.html

10. van der Waag, Lt Col I J W, Contested Histories: Official History and the South African Military in the Twentieth Century in Jeffrey Grey, J (ed) Last Word? Essays on Official History in the United States and British Commonwealth (Westport 1999)

Carl

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bushfighter

ATM

I am glad to see your interest in these campaigns. There is a lot of satisfaction to be had in exploring them.

However providing a quick answer to your questions is nigh impossible.

May I suggest that you scrutinize the indices in the Official Histories of both the "East Africa" and "Togoland and the Cameroons" Campaigns.

Then please ask again for any clarification or interpretation.

(Certainly in East Africa, Formations established on paper at HQ may have meant little on the ground - except that one of the C in C's cronies now got promoted!)

Good Luck.

Harry

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Guest cairnie
Hello I am trying to piece together an idea of the order of battle for mainly the East African campaign, but also South-West African and Cameroon campaign of WW1. I am mainly interested in Brigades and Divisions in the earlier part of the war before they were broken down into columns and forces and where it all becomes rather confusing. If anybody has any links or info they could share I would be very grateful.

My father served in German East Africa in 1917-19 in the King's African Rifles and kept a diary which I have transcribed at http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_Great...rican_Rifles%29

There is a separate instalment for 1918-19 to be found in the index.[/size] thank you Alan Cairnie

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bushfighter

Here's an informative (if not always accurate) free-download book that covers RNAS Armoured Car activity in both theatres:

http://www.archive.org/details/withbothasmutsin00whituoft

("With Botha and Smuts in Africa" by Lieutenant Commander Whittall, downloadable from Internet Archive)

Harry

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ATM

Thankyou very much for your help. I only have a few minutes on here as I have my wife repeatedly shouting down my ear "Bored, bored, bored!" at me so i will elaborate on what I am looking for later. Since you say that it is almost impossible to compile accurate OOB's for East Africa do you know whether the two south african mounted brigades in East Africa were supported by horse artillery batteries? I have seen a photo recently in a book by Ross Anderson saying that in the photo a horse artillery battery is being moved across country. They are white faces so I am assuming that they are South African. However in that link that you gave me Carl it says that there were horse artillery detailed to teh 1st south african mounted brigade. Could it hav been sent later. For the meantime I think i may try to compile a small OOB for the South African forces that served outside of South Africa and GWSA, perhaps I can put it here and you can tell me if anything is missing. Sorry if this is a bit rushed as I am now being poked in the ear. I find it quite sad that the South African forces get little mention outside of the loss of the Mendi and Delville wood. They contirbuted as much as New Zealand. It's a pity that their contribution has been neglected thanks to partly apartheid, with this very common view of every single South African.... http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=v439zTOJVho

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bushfighter

ATM

Sorry about the lack of discipline surrounding you.

You didn't see my word "quick".

The book you need to refer to is:

"The South African Field Artillery: Germany, East Africa & Palestine 1915-1919" by Adler, Lorch & Curson. Published by van Schaik Ltd, Pretoria, 1958, for The South African National War Museum.

Reference your comment on lack of mention of South African military involvement, if the South Africans had written more books in English on their Great War campaigns then we would all know more.

Having said that, one of the best regimental histories that I have read is the "History of the 1st Cape Corps 1915-19" by Captain I.D. Difford, and you can get a free download from the internet.

Regards

Harry

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cahoehler

ATM

Among the problems in trying to sort out the South African units in WW1 is that all service was voluntary and there is no connection between the units that served in GSWA, GEA and Europe. All of these units were disbanded by the end of December 1919. There were and still are very old units but these would only be a source of volunteers to serve in Europe and GEA although these units had served as such in GSWA.

A soldier was required to re-volunteer for each theatre / campaign and so for example the GSWA Heavy Artillery units were disbanded and new Heavy Artillery units formed for service in Europe with new Field Artillery units formed for service in GEA and Palestine. There was of course a Permanent Force that provided the core but the units were raised specially as Imperial Service units from volunteers both officers and other ranks.

I will try and get the commanders' files from the SANDF Documentation Centre as I think even for example General van Deventer, General Britz, General Lukin etc would have had to volunteer for service outside the Union.

Carl

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cahoehler
. . . if the South Africans had written more . . .

Harry

Just written more even if not in English and even if they were handwritten on scraps of paper . . . .

The unit histories are a fascinating source but of course are limited, often not with enough hard detail and not enough photographs.

Carl

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cahoehler
ATM said:
. . . horse artillery battery is being moved across country.

ATM

There are some snippets on the field artillery in this topic

" The South African Field Artillery . . . " was based on Lorch's diary and so this record is also incomplete.

Likewise Brown's They fought for King and Kaiser: The South Africans in German East Africa is silent about the formation of the Infantry and Mounted Brigades as well as the support units

December 1915

2nd SAI Brigade (Beves)

1st Mounted Brigade (van Deventer)

SA Field Artillery Brigade (Taylor)

Early 1916

3rd SAI Brigade (Berrange)

[Another] Mounted Brigade (Brits)

2nd Mounted Brigade (Enslin)

Carl

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Pete1052

Click here for a journal article from 2004 that may be germane to this thread. At the bottom of the page there is a link to an index of articles during the past 40 years in the source of the article, the journal of the South African Military History Society.

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KONDOA

ATM

There were no horse artillery units with the South Africans in GEA but two field artillery units and one heavy battery. One field artillery battery and one heavy battery were with the 2nd Division (DeVenter) , the second field artillery unit was with the 1st and 3rd Divisions.

Roop

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cahoehler
. . . Brown's They fought for King and Kaiser: The South Africans in German East Africa is silent about the formation of the Infantry and Mounted Brigades as well as the support units . . .

ATM

Appendix B and Appendix C has further details of the forces available while Appendix D has an "approximately correct list of the men of the Union Forces who lost their lives" up to the end of February 1917 with their units. You now have enough to start with an order of battle.

You might also want to use geoff501's powerul search engine at http://www.hut-six.co.uk/cgi-bin/search14-21.php to start compiling a list of units but first you will need to be sure about the dates (probably after Dec 1915 until . . . ) and you will need to build up a list of cemeteries and this list will include South African cemeteries.

Carl

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ATM

Thanks for all of your help. I don't think I will ever sleep easy at night until I know the perfect OOB, and by God their Field Artillery is confusing. Why couldn't they just have formed an infantry division to fight in Palestine of East Africa! It would have been so much simpler. Just looking about on wikipedia about Deventer apparently he couldn't speak a lick of the queens, well he greatly struggled according to a rumour on there. Does anybody know if there is any truth to this? Like I say thanks again for all of your help. I don't know where to begin.

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bushfighter

ATM

If you send me a Personal Message with your email address then I'll email you some Orders of Batle for the first years of the East Africa Campaign.

(Googlemail is best for handling and storing data.)

Harry

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Chris Boonzaier

Here is a link for the GSWA and Rebellion OOB...

It takes a bit of figuring through.

http://www.kaiserscross.com/40117/40726.html

As Carl pointed out, GEA is a totally different game.

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ATM

Thankyou. It seems rather daft to form so many independant brigades and have no higher formation to command them other than GHQ, or am i redaing it wrong?

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Regulus 1

One of the youngsters of the Dutch Forum added this text which might be of interest to you :

http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=10824

I added the pictures <_<

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cahoehler
. . . .

I added the pictures . . .

Johan

And very interesting. :D

I am sure bushfighter and KONDOA can add some more details.

Carl

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cahoehler
. . . no higher formation . . .

The Union Defence Force was only about one year old and was busy transforming from the original pre-union colonial defence forces and Boer War type citizen units. The basis of the Permanent Force were the five South African Mounted Rifle regiments which had a dual function (basically formed in terms of the Defence Act but given police functions under the Police Act. These regiments were typical colonial mounted police forces with policemen-soldiers (originally modelled on the Royal Irish Constabulary like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and others) but with an artillery battery for each regiment. The South African Police would be formed from the urban (foot) police forces (often modelled on the London Metropolitan Police) and the rural mounted police forces (as above) with the last SAMR regiment disappearing by 1926.

General Botha was very much a "hands on" commander and this expeditionary force had (like Topsy) "just growed".

By the end of the campaign the strength was about 47000 organized in a Northern Army (Botha himself) and a Southern Army (Smuts). Initially everything (including drinking water) was shipped from Cape Town (and the facilities at the three harbours were sub-standard if not virtually non existent) and it would only be towards the end of the campaign that rail links would be available.

The South Africans had received a rude surprise at Sandfontein and with no idea of how determined Imperial Germany would be to retain the jewel in their Colonial Empire, General Botha was determined to fulfil that "Urgent Imperial Service" when the campaign resumed after the 1914/1915 Rebellion.

From L’Ange in Urgent Imperial Service

. . . If your ministers at the same time desire and feel themselves able to seize such part of German South West Africa as will give them command of Swakopmund, Luderitzbucht and the wireless stations there or in the interior, we should feel that this was a great and urgent imperial service.

-- From a British Government cable to Prime Minister Louis Botha of South Africa August 6 1914.

Walvis Bay was a Brtish enclave and 80 years would pass before it would be reincorporated in Namibia as GSWA had become.

Carl

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bushfighter

Regulus

Many thanks for the Dobbertin images posted on your own Forum, and for the excellent texts and maps supplied by colleagues.

It is terrific that the Great War African Campaigns are at last getting exposure like this.

Well Done!

Harry

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thesamsonsed@gmail.com

Hello all

The Union Defence Force officially came into being with the 1912 Defence Act but no real action was taken within the country to create a unified force. Hew Strachan's book The First World War in Africa explains the command structure in general terms and, more particularly, how Smuts undid it. He draws on L'Ange and others - another excellent bibliography for reference purposes.

Regarding finding information in Pretoria on the Orders of Battle, I wouldn't hold my breath. I plead ignorant as to details of the orders, being more interested in the 'high politics' of the South African forces fighting in Africa from WW1 onwards, but having just worked through some of the 1st and 2nd WW SANDF papers in December, it reconfirmed that there is much missing. Given the lack of communication between the fronts and Pretoria (and given that the head of the ministry was leading troops in East Africa), little made its way back. As in the GSWA campaign, Botha was a hands-on general and whilst Smuts was in EA, he took over the Ministry of Defence which caused staff there to get annoyed as he didn't let them get on with their work. Further evidence of the chaos in the Defence force during WW1 is that everything to do with the EA campaign is filed under GSWA. If you do plan to contact the archive, it's best to phone as I'm still waiting for a reply to my emails from October 2008.

There might be some information regarding the South African formations in the books on Delville Wood by Ian Uys (he has 4 out) - I haven't yet had a chance to look at these myself, but having discussed other aspects of the EA campaign in relation to Delville Wood, I am planning to do so. I also understand that he has a book on who's who in the SA military (he was a military man himself) but again, am not sure how far back that goes - it might well cover Deventer etc.

I'd like to echo Harry's sentiments on the increasing popularity of the campaign. (When I started working on it 10 years ago, I really struggled to find people who had even heard of the campaign! They kept directing me to Ethiopia during WW2. As I result, I am now working on the memory of the campaign - if you're prepared to share how you became interested in it, I'd be most grateful to hear.)

Kind regards

Anne

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