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Remembered Today:

Gold Coast Regiment in Portuguese East Africa 1918


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Hi Harry,

As always, very interesting and informative.


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  • 4 months later...

It has taken me a while to catch up on all the material on the Kaiser's Cross website but always worth a visit and as ever Harry this is another fascinating account. Thanks.

One thing jogged a memory of an alternative account relating to 'The final encounter' and the capture of Koehl's baggage column. Your account refers to the 3/1 Kings African Rifles (KAR) stumbling across the baggage train on 22 May 1918. Tim Stapleton's book 'No Insignificant Part – The Rhodesia Native Regiment and the East African Campaign of the First World War' paints a different picture highlighting the role of the Rhodesia Native Regiment (RNR) and the Cape Corps. I reproduce some extracts below from p124 of the book.

The account uses an article in The Outpost (January 1939) called "C Company Rhodesia Native Regiment" by a Captain H. Bugler and the diaries of Major Carbutt both of the Rhodesia Native Regiment.

'At this time, C Company of the Rhodesia Native Regiment (RNR) under Captain H. Bugler, the RNR mortar section, and a company of Cape Corps were pushing east toward Nanungu and had joined up with 3/1 battalion KAR under Colonel A.H.D. Griffiths that had moved up from the southwest.

On the morning of 22 May [1918], not far from Nanungu at Mwamba Hill, this mixed force, with the RNR company in the lead, suddenly made contact with the main German column, captured its baggage train, and dug in a circular position to await the inevitable counterattack. Maxims, Lewis guns, and mortars bolstered the defence.

At noon, theGermans, who desperately needed to recapture their supplies, began to fire at the Allied position but with the thick bush, it was difficult to see any targets. In turn, Lieutenant Douglas Blin's RNR platoon was sent forward of the Cape Corps rifle pits to "test the strength of the enemy." They advanced 500 yards but then came under heavy fire and had to retire. At 3:00pm the Germans launched a concerted attack, the main thrust of which was directed at the Cape Corps company. By dusk, however, the Allied position was still intact.

That day, five RNR privates were killed, though their names were not recorded, and another twelve were wounded. The next morning it was obvious the Germans had fled and were continuing south.

In this fight, the RNR company captured thirty-nine boxes of rifle ammunition, two cases of field gun shells, 150 rifles, one three pounder field gun, 256 porters, and all the baggage for four enemy companies.'

Stapleton goes on to point out that this incident was never mentioned in Moyse-Bartlett's official KAR history. This is puzzling given the amount of detail in Moyse-Bartlett's book. Were there tensions and rivalries between the KAR and RNR that led to the latter being written out of the former's history or just a simple oversight?

james w

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Thank you.

Moyse-Bartlett's aim was to produce a military history of the King's African Rifles (KAR).

He relied on KAR war diaries for his basic information.

He didn't refer to non-KAR war diaries perhaps because that would have diluted his aim.

What I find now as I research multi-unit actions is that relying on one unit's war diary is misleading.

It is not just a case of rivalries, but in action each battalion was likely to be given a seperate mission and the battalion focused on that mission and then diaried afterwards.

The diary writer may have been unaware of significant events affecting other units but more likely he rightly understood that his duty was to record events affecting his unit.

Actually, if you can pull all the diaries or histories together you learn some interesting things about actions as seen from different perspectives, and the challenge is to use your own experience and judgement to recreate the action from an overview position above the densely-bushed battlefield.

Appearing soon, I hope, will be an account of an action fought at Rumbo, German East Africa.

I had to use three different diaries and histories to present a balanced view - but I accept that situation, as when you are in action as a unit or sub-unit commander then you are totally focused on your own troops' performance. There is no other way to fight.

In the example that you mention I would expect that Moyse-Bartlett did not have access to the RNR war diaries, nor did he have the desire to use them. His aim was to present the KAR account of the KAR's involvement.

This may be perceived as a historical weakness but I think that perception is rather naive. Moyse-Bartlett's strength lies in his unfaltering pursuance of his aim, and we have an excellent account of KAR operations.

It is then up to historians such as Edward Paice, and amateurs like myself, to write books or articles that take a multi-unit view.


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Another detailed and fascinating piece of history in the Southern African area of operations.

Thank you Harry, as you know this interests me greatly.

James, I appreciate your input very much.



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