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Royal Naval Expedition to Lake Tanganyika

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Attached is a photo of the officers and men who took part in the Royal Naval Expedition to Lake Tanganyika in 1915. Geoffrey Spicer-Simson is identified in the caption (and with comparison to other photographs) as the officer central in the seated row.

Can anyone identify any of the other officers or men?


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Can't help you identify who is who but there's a good chance the following men mentioned in the London Gazette are among this group:


Gazette Issue 29603 published on the 30 May 1916, p.5417


Cdr. Geoffrey Basil Spicer-Simson, RN:

"In recognition of his services in command

of an Allied flotilla on Lake Tanganyika on

the 9th February, 1916, when, after a chase

and running fight lasting 3¼ hours, he sank

the German gunboat "Hedwig von Wiss-




Lieut. Alfred Edward Wainwright, RNVR

"In recognition of his services in command

of a motor-boat on Lake Tanganyika on the

occasion of the destruction of the German

gunboat "Hedwig von Wissman" on the

9th February, 1916."


Gazette Issue 29886 published on the 29 December 1916, p.10


Surgeon Hother McCormack Hanschell, RN:

"In recognition of his services with the Tan-

ganyika Flotilla. The comparative im-

munity from sickness enjoyed by the mem-

bers of the expedition was due to the unre-

mitting care bestowed by Surgeon Hanschell

on the health of the personnel and on the

sanitary state of the camps and vessels."

Lieutenant Arthur Darville Dudley, RNVR:

"In recognition of his services with the Tan-

ganyika Flotilla. He showed great coolness

and skill in handling his ship in all circum-



Gazette Issue 30182 published on the 13 July 1917,p.7070-7071


Awards to members of the Expedition:

Distinguished Service Order and Special Promotion to Commander

Commander G. B. Spicer Simson, R.N.

Distinguished Service Cross

Lieutenant A. E. Wainwright, R.N.V.R.

Lieutenant Arthur Dudley, R.N.V.R.

Surgeon H. McC. Hanschell, R.N.

Distinguished Service Medal

Actg. Chief Petty Officer W. Waterhouse, R.N.

Petty Officer 1st Class D. J. Murphy, R.N.

Petty Officer D. Flynn, R.N.

Petty Officer William Sims, R.N.

Petty Officer Mechanic Chas. Ernest Cobb, R.N.A.S.

Petty OFficer Mechanic Donald McLean Graham, R.N.A.S.

Engine Room Artificer 1st Class H. Berry, R.N.R.

Engine Room Artificer 1st Class J. S. Lamont, R.N.R.

Signalman George Sydney Tasker, R.N.V.R.

Able Seaman Herbert Wm. Marsh, R.N.

Able Seaman J. Brien, R.N.R.

Seaman G. Behenna, R.N.R.

The 13 July 1917 pages referenced above have a description of the expedition.



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Thank you for that, Martin.

It is, indeed, that list that I'm using as a basis for trying to name all those involved in the expedition, along with anything that might be in the National Archives (I've not tried there yet).

There is quite a bit in print about it, from two or three fairly modern books to McGee's account in the National Geographic, but putting names to faces is the problem!


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Good luck with that, Bob. Locating other photos of these men would be helpful but I couldn't find any online.

For interest, this auctioneer's site has Spicer-Simson's medals which were sold along with quite a collection of associated paraphernalia, incl. "a box file on Lake Tanganyika with over 70 photos most annotated on the back":


I wonder whether it was bought by a private collector or a museum.


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Thanks again, Martin.

I'm off to the NA soon as I've found several bits and pieces in their catalogue, including:

Piece reference ADM 137/268

Tanganyika, January -April 1916.

Includes 66 photographs depicting: Photographs taken during Cmdr G Spicer-Simson's Lake Tanganyika expedition (?) perhaps by Eng-Lt M W W Cross). Transportation of two large vessels over-land to the lake. Views of traction engines used to haul the boats. Dated 1915-1916.

I would guess that these are the photos most often reproduced in the various printed works. Whether or not they're captioned, who knows?

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Guest nefwm01

Hi, I know this is probably a long shot but did you ever get any more information about the men in the photograph? The reason I ask is that my Great uncle, Andrew Cuthbertson Morrison, was apparently part of this expedition force. I have a copy of his service record from the time he was in the Royal Naval Reserve and in the comments section it states "returned from service with naval expeditionary force to Lake Tanganyika East Africa. It would mean a lot to be able to identify him on this photograph.




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There is some information about this expedition in the GWF thread:

The Making of the African Queen


Includes a link to the London Gazette details of the expedition, provided by bushfighter, https://www.thegazet...supplement/7070 post 15.

Also angelab's comment post 13 "Spicer Simson's expedition was written up by Giles Foden, in "Mimi and Toutou go Forth" - a very amusing read.



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Dear Sirs,

I will be in London for visiting friends and some research from Wednesday 15. to Sunday 19. June 2016

My Intention is to find the Museum / Archive, where these pictures and the documents for this “Jungle Navy” are stored and where I can obtain good scans for a slide show about that expedition.

I will visit this part of Africa next year and would like to take some before / after pictures.

Can you recommend someone who will be able to find the right museum / archiv and guide me for 1-2 days to these museums and archives?
I am prepared to pay for the effort to find the storage place of the original slides.

Best Wishes from Windhoek, Namibia

Carsten Möhle


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Guest Colin Carlin

Signalman George Tasker DSM, RNVR settler in Abercorn Northern Rhodesia where he was a well know figure for many years.

His family are still in Zambia. I knew him when I was a boy. He regarded Spicer Simpson as "quite mad"!

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Holger Kotthaus


Dear Colin,

Nice to see you here. Welcome.

Maybe not really mad. But to wear a little skirt in Africa is at least a slightly strange. Spicer Simpson is seen far left.





Edited by Holger Kotthaus

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I am responding to a post from Colin Carlin On November 2016.

Colin had commented that he knew George Sydney Tasker who was signalman on the expedition. My wife; Florence Tasker, is the granddaughter of George and we would love to hear any information regarding George and his part in the campaign.  

Kind regards


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Colin hasn't been on here since he posted on 30 Nov 2016.

I have sent him a mail to alert him to this post.

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Guest Karin Eldredge

My grandfather Hother McCormick Hanschell was the doctor with the expedition. The Phantom Flotilla is based on interviews with him in his eighties. I have transcripts. He is sitting on Spicer Simpson's right in the group photo, i.e. Second from left. I have his scrap book with other photos. according to him, Simpson was a braggart and a fantasist, over compensating for failures in his career by making up wild stories of his achievements. My grandfather invalided him out with 'acute mental debility' when he lay on his bed rather than take action at the fort. Not mad but very eccentric  - hence the Africans' nickname for him of Lord Bellycloth, and the Belgians' 'le commandant a la Jupe'.  (It was the commandant bit he objected to as he regarded himself as superior to that apparently - he was proud of the jupe. ) My grandmother had been at school with his wife in British Columbia and when they all went out together she found him the sort who shouted at waiters. His wife apparently believed all his stories. My mother was very disappointed that he didn't bring Josephine the chimp home with him.

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Of the 28 that went on the expedition, I think I have the identities to 27 of them.

                                                                                   additional links

George Behenna                         1887-1965                      1

Hubert Berry                               1889-?                             

Jeremiah Brien                             1878-?

William Carey (possibly)                 1872-1918
Martin William Wallace Cross       1883-1951

Charles Ernest Cobb                   1883-1968 

Arthur Darville Dudley                  1879-1942                  (2nd Row, far Left)

William R. Eastwood 

Declan Flynn                                1883-1919                     

Donald McLean Graham              1890-1964

Dr. Hother McCormack Hanschell 1880-1968                  (2nd Row, far Right)     1

Douglas Edward(Edmund?) Hope                  

John Scotland Lamont                  1889-?                           

John R Lee

Frank Joseph Magee             1882-?

Herbert William Marsh                   1895-?

Charles William Mollison             1894-1966

Andrew Cuthbertson Morrison      1889-1936

Reginald Henry Mullin                   1883-1967

Daniel Joseph Murphy                   1883-?

William Ernest Sims                   1882-?

Geoffrey Spicer-Simson               1876-1947                 (2nd Row, center)

James William Tait                                                               1

George Sydney Tasker                 1893-? (alive in 1964)    1

Charles (Thomas?) Tyrer

Alfred Edward Wainwright             1872?-?                    (2nd Row, second from Right)

William "Brum" Waterhouse          1878-?                        


Mollison and Tait were Lance Corporals of the London Regiment, Eastwood was the paymaster, Hope had served in the Boer War, Magee was a former journalist who published a National Geographic article about the expedition in 1922, and Lee was an honorary Lt. commander of the R.N.R



Distinguished Service Medals awarded to the Royal Navy

Royal Naval Medals awarded in 1916

Naval Despatches and Awards, London Gazette, Oct-Dec 1916

Naval Despatches and Awards, London Gazette, Jan-Mar 1917


Edited by UndercoverSoup

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Given the very unpleasant and common sweat rash known as 'jock rot'  suffered by personnel serving in the tropics, Spicer-Simpson's skirt - if worn without underwear-would actually be probably comfortable and practical. I admit it was ahead of its time in the Royal Navy 1915 though.

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My grand father was also on the expedition as a civilian, but it is mention in his military papers. His name was Malcolm Meikle he and his partner a Fred Locke were hired to transport the boats to Lake Tanganyika.The family history is not clear because he appears to have left the army shortly before the start of the expedition so was he partner in a business at the same time as being in the army?   There is no reference to him in either books that i have read but there is a reference to a Boer in charge of oxen and as my Grandfather spoke Dutch that could have been him. According to my Grand Mother he was offered a position of petty officer when they got to lake Tanganyika which he declined. She also said that the local Africans thought of Commander Simpson as a God of account that he had a serpent tattooed on his front which he could move by moving his belly and chest muscles. I noted the African nickname for him of Lord Bellycloth mentioned in Karin Eldredge post.

There is often not much said about the many tens of thousands of Africans who lost their lives working for the British Army in East Africa campaign. My Aunt who has now died who visited South Africa met a African who was on the expedition and had good memories of my Grandfather on account of been given double food rations.        

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