Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Mystery Field Service Postcard


GavinH

Recommended Posts

I have a Field Service Postcard sent home by my Great-uncle, George Heaton. It is postmarked 'Makindu, ..........[Prote]ctorate, 12 April 1915', and also 'Mombasa 13 April 1915'. I have not yet been able to discover which regiment he was serving with.

Was Makindu a regular stopping off point for soldiers travelling between India and Britain, or is it more likely that he was actually fighting in Africa? Any thoughts?

Gavin

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a Field Service Postcard sent home by my Great-uncle, George Heaton. It is postmarked 'Makindu, ..........[Prote]ctorate, 12 April 1915', and also 'Mombasa 13 April 1915'. I have not yet been able to discover which regiment he was serving with.

Was Makindu a regular stopping off point for soldiers travelling between India and Britain, or is it more likely that he was actually fighting in Africa? Any thoughts?

Gavin

A little googling revealed only 1 hit and it relates to Australia.

http://www.frontiersmen.org.au/Downloads/Vol9_No1.pdf

Robbie

Link to post
Share on other sites

Makindu is a town on the Yatta Plateau, north-east of Mt Kilimanjaro. It is well inland and was possibly a staging post in the build-up of forces for Smut's campaign in German East Africa. The town does not get a mention in Anderson's recent book 'The Forgotten Front: The East African Campaign 1914-1918' but the location would strongly suggest your Great-uncle served in the campaign.

Robert

Link to post
Share on other sites

Robbie,

Thanks very much for the link. The reference actually relates to the 25th Battalion, Royal Fusliers, who were apparently in action at Makindu in 1915. This is very useful. The regiment doesn't appear to have arrived until May, so it seems that George Heaton wasn't in this unit.

Robert,

Thanks for the info on Makindu. It certainly looks now as if he was took part in the East African Campaign. I don't pretend to know much about it, but I believe relatively few British Regiments took part. Hopefully, this might help me to work out which of the George Heatons on the Medal Index Cards is him.

Thanks very much for both your help

Regards

Gavin

Link to post
Share on other sites

In April 1915 several units were involved in actions to the north east and east of Kilimanjaro - an area in which the British patrolled and the Germans raided. The principal units in the area were the 130th Baluchis; 3rd Kashmir rifles and 1st Kings African Rifles with possibly some 3rd or 4th KARs. I would suspect the 1st KAR unless you know your Great Uncle was an Indian Army man. There were 7 battalions of the K A R in al. In addition the 2nd Loyal North Lancs and 25th Royal Fusiliers spent some time in East Africa, though I am not sure if they were there in April 1915. The dates seem to tally with the days leading up to 15th April when MAj. Gen Wapshare was ordered from Nairobi to Mesopotamia and replaced by Brig. General M J Tighe. The railway from Nairobi to Mombasa ran through Makindu.

Did great uncle Heaton have any African links?

If he was Indian army there were a range of Indian Army units serving variously in East Africa.

Martin

Link to post
Share on other sites
In addition the 2nd Loyal North Lancs and 25th Royal Fusiliers spent some time in East Africa, though I am not sure if they were there in April 1915.

25th Royal Fusiliers left Plymouth on 10th April 1915 and arrived in Mombasa on 4th May 1915, a journey of 24 days.

Steve

Link to post
Share on other sites

Could this be your man? 9721 Pte. George H Heaton Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Link to his MIC is Here

Transferred to the Labour Corps after the Loyal North Lancs. A similar scenario to my GGFather who served in East Africa with the 25th Royal Fusiliers, contracted malaria and was transferred to the Labour Corps on his return to the UK.

Steve

Link to post
Share on other sites

Martin,

Thank you for your very useful, and intriguing reply. I don't know of any African links, but then again, I know very little about him. He was born in Fulham, London, in 1893, and his father was a labourer. I've always imagined that British soldiers serving in African and Indian units were officers or long serving NCOs. As he was only 21, he doesn't seem to fit my (Probably incorrect) preconceptions. There is one further clue, which I forgot to mention, but which now seems significant. The Postcard has 'Field Service India' on the top.

Is there any way to establish whether he was serving with an Indian Unit?

Thanks again

Gavin

Link to post
Share on other sites
Could this be your man? 9721 Pte. George H Heaton Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Steve,

This is even more promising than you might think! George's middle name was Henry!!! I didn't mention it earlier, as although it appears on his birth certificate, I didn't know whether he ever used the name in later life.

My only (Slight) problem with the identification, is that George was a Londoner. Far from impossible though. Thanks for taking the time to look it up

Regards

Gavin

Link to post
Share on other sites
My only (Slight) problem with the identification, is that George was a Londoner. Far from impossible though.

He may have been transferred to another regiment but wasn't his father from Birkenhead ?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not been able to establish when the Loyal lancs actually left East Africa. The 25th Frontiersmen left along with the Rhodesians in January 1917. However I have no mention in my documentation of the Loyals as part of any of the 3 Infantry Brigades. The 25th were with General Shepherds 3rd East African Inf Brigade, the 1st Brigade was almost exclusively South African so that leaves the 2nd Brigade under Van Deventer. My grandfather said the Loyals were with him, and he was with DeVenter.

Roop

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a copy of the two chapters re POWs in The Tmes History of the War written after the GW. It refers to British soliders taken POW by the Germans and placed in a camp called Windhuk. Of course, this was SW Africa and it belonged to Germany then. The prisoners were treated appallingly, so bad in fact that an inquiry was published in Capetown in 1916.

Robbie

Link to post
Share on other sites
I've just looked up the 2/LNLR. They were in East Africa by November 1914, and had travelled from India. Looks promising......

Yes, they had been based at Bangalore. They were part of 27th (Bangalore) Infantry Brigade, Indian Expeditionary Force A. The battalion took part in the abortive attack on Tanga, being one of the first units to land there.

Additional information here:

http://www.1914-1918.net/loyals.htm

notably

August 1914 : in Bangalore, India. Moved to Tanga, German East Africa, landing 3 November 1914 with the 27th Indian Brigade. Moved to Mombasa on 7 November and commenced operations in East Africa. Moved in May 1916 to South Africa, to allow for recovery from mass ill-health. Moved to Egypt, landing at Suez on 18 January 1917. 14 April 1917: attached to 232nd Brigade, 75th Division. The Battalion was moved in rapid succession to the 233rd and 234th Brigades of the same Division, and detached as a result of a medical board on 9 August 1917. Proceeded to Sidi Bashr and then placed onto Lines of Communication at Gaza. Moved to France, landing Marseilles 27 May 1918. 4 June 1918: attached to 94th Brigade, 31st Division. 28 June 1918: transferred to 101st Brigade, 34th Division

Robert

Link to post
Share on other sites

If the Loyals were with my Grandfather they must have departed for SA from Mombassa, I presume, as that is the only place he could have seen them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for the additional information. I now need to prove that the George Heaton in the LNLR is the right one. If his Medal Index Card shows entitlement to a 1915 Trio, and the 'Theatre of War' box shows East Africa, I'll be almost there! A great outcome if you consider my original post!

Thanks again for all your help

Gavin

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Update!

I was at the National Archives today, and had a look at 9721 Pte George Henry Heaton's MIC. He was entitled to a 1914-15 star, and the theatre of war first served in is shown as '(4a) AFRICA'!

looks very likely that I've found him. Thanks very much for the help.

Regards

Gavin

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...