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Remembered Today:

Gold Coast Regiment 19th July 1917 incident


Peter Beckett
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I am involved in the CWGC missing persons project namely the East Africa area and in one of the reports (WO-95- 5352-2 page 75) on the 19th July 1917 the Gold Coast Regiment suffers over 30 deaths and nearly 100 wounded.

This is out of my areas of knowledge so can anyone enlighten me about the event and where it happened as a search on the internet does not help

Peter

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Good Morning Peter- Like you, I am in near total darkness about the campaign in East Africa (chasing a couple of London casualties has brought me to the same state of puzzlement as yourself!)

     The casualties were incurred by the Gold Coast Regiment  as part of HANFORCE- one of a number of  columns  advancing in German East in 1917-1918.   There are sporadic references about it on the Internet but only 2 mentions of it in posts on GWF.  It was named for it's commanders, Generals Harrington and Northey and contained mostly African and Indian troops  ( I note The Baluch Regiment was prominent).  There will be books that deal with it that are unknown to me, which other GWF members will point you at.  But to start the ball rolling, the War Diary for Hanforce is available at The National Archives - and,even better, can be downloaded for free.  The reference is:

image.png.a0f5048190663bb871f3e15b11b889a3.png

     This is quite a good war diary by the standards of such things and the fighting by the GCR on 19th July 1917 is described in detail.   I hope this gives a start on your work- The more knowledgeable on GWF will be along shortly, I expect.

 

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Good Afternoon Alan,

(Its 5pm here in Oz)

Thanks for that and I am downloading the file as I type

 

Peter

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The Diary lists 35 natives killed and 116 wounded with 2 died of wounds.

On the 18th July they camped at Kihumburu about 2 miles from the enemy camp. I think the place is now called Kihumbu  which is on the northern side of the Serengeti but no mention of where the conflict took place.

Here's hoping someone has some maps 

Peter

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1 hour ago, Peter Beckett said:

The Diary lists 35 natives killed and 116 wounded with 2 died of wounds.

On the 18th July they camped at Kihumburu about 2 miles from the enemy camp. I think the place is now called Kihumbu  which is on the northern side of the Serengeti but no mention of where the conflict took place.

Here's hoping someone has some maps 

Peter

  I too have found maps a bit of a problem, as well as the number of variant spellings of place-names. I have to look at map catalogues for myself re. East Africa- see what turns up.

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Well, this is a voyage of discovery for me as well this morning.    I am hazarding a guess that the main source for the Gold Coast Regiment   is going to be (Quel surprise):

The Gold Coast Regiment in the East African campaign

by
 
Clifford, Hugh Charles, Sir, 1866-1941
 
Although not technically such, this has all the hallmarks of one of those very thorough "unofficial officials" that characterise many of the smaller episodes of the Great War.   And, by good luck, it is also available to download for free at  archive.org.   (Note-It seems to have been digitised 3 times over- one of the digitisations has the illustrations and maps, including the general map of East Africa. The best text version has not digitised the map at the end)
    I think this should pretty much answer your questions.
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Alan,

I owe you a pint of Double Diamond or my preferred drop, McMullen AK from Hertford ( I used to live there)

 

Well Done !!

 

Peter

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1 hour ago, Peter Beckett said:

Alan,

I owe you a pint of Double Diamond or my preferred drop, McMullen AK from Hertford ( I used to live there)

 

Well Done !!

 

Peter

Pleasure-the real experts will be along in due course!

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Hello Peter

 

The event you mention was one of the biggest battles in GEA, along with Tanga, Kilimandjaro, Tabora and Mahiwa, and took place at Narungombe on July 19, 1917. On this day, Brigadier-General P.L. Beves attacked the detachment of Captain Eberhard v. Liebermann comprehensively and also frontally with three columns. British units included, the Gold Coast Regiment, 33rd Indian Punjabis Regiment, 7th & 8th South African Infantry Regiments, elements of the 129th Baluchen Regiment, 1./. K.A.R., 2./2. K.A.R. 3./3.K.A.R. and a battalion of the 40th Pathans.

The strength of the `Schutztruppe´ was 945 rifles, the British troops numbered more than 8,000 rifles.The German detachment was in a well-prepared defensive situation with expanded positions, a clear field of fire and was well prepared for the attack thanks to captured map material. Brigadier-General P. L. Beves had the 7th & 8th South African Rifle Regiments attack the enemy frontally five times, which led to these catastrophic losses and gave the German `Schutztruppe´ time until October at Mahiwa.

Narungombe Google Position (About 50 km South-west of Kilwa) https://www.google.de/maps/place/Narungombe,+Tansania/@-9.2343118,39.2648405,7838m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x18f462e1594c4445:0x48c13f83bebe7dbf!8m2!3d-9.233333!4d39.283333

Not this Narungombe! https://www.google.de/maps/place/Narungombe,+Tansania/@-10.0205249,38.8348116,19143m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x18f3cce0b8d90415:0x1313b2b446f2dd85!8m2!3d-10.016667!4d38.866667

Battle of Narungombe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Narungombe

 

On July 19, General Beves led his 6,000 men (mostly white troops) against Liebermann's detachment of 850 men and 12 machine guns (10th, 11th, 17th, 21st field, 6th rifle, 14th reserve, Wangoni company and a C. 73 gun). The enemy suffered defeat as he did had not yet experienced. Only attacking our machine guns, he tried again and again to storm our high position head-on. The unsuspecting South Africans, who had been told that waging war with our Askaris would be child's play, were completely wiped out. Only 60 men remained of the 7th South African regiment and only 50 of the 8th. The others had fallen, and according to their own reports, all the enemy officers had fallen out, were wounded, got lost, died of thirst, or died in the burning bush. The rest of the 7th and 8th South African Infantry Regiments fled, we captured four officers. We captured four machine guns, many rifles and ammunition. Their losses amounted, as they themselves state, to about 1,500 men. We lost a machine gun, an officer (Lieutenant Bleeck*), 4 Europeans were killed and 20 Europeans were wounded. About 100 Askari were dead and wounded. The moral impact of the defeat from the new South African troops was immense. Two companies with the Leaders wanted to surrender to a weak platoon of the 17th Field Company during the battle. The latter had carried out a flank attack. During the handover negotiations, some braver people of the company, which had become completely insane, must have changed their minds in view of the small number of our Askari; they suddenly began firing, and the rapidly developing skirmish prevented and thwarted the surrender. To carry out the last offensive in German East Africa, the enemy had sent officers, machine guns and battery commanders from Flanders. These were used for the first time in the Narungombe battle. In the later battles, however, we found that the artillery in particular was better commanded and achieved significantly greater success than before. The victory at Narungombe stalled the offensive there from two months. General Deventer was furious. At the beginning of August the last enemy offensive began on our front, which was carried out with short interruptions until the end of the campaign in German East Africa.”

Copy and paste-Translation of Original Source: https://digi.landesbibliothek.at/viewer/image/AC10724635/112/

 

On 19 July 1917, the Gold Coast Regiment formed the centre of No 1 Column for an attack on Narungombe. At 8.15am, Lieutenant Elgon commanding, and later, Sergeant Major Awudu Bakano, B Company Gold Coast Regiment were killed, total Gold Coast casualties amounting to 20% of the combatant strength of the force. It is not clear whether Grunshi was in B Company but given the citation and the description of the events of the day, it is likely he was. [check WO 329/2329 at Kew]. Faced with bush fires encroaching, the HQ Diary notes: ‘The gallantry and staunchness of the Gold Coast Regiment and other units on the right flank in the face of these fires was beyond praise.’ On 21 July, Colonel Rose assumed command again.

Original Source: https://gweaa.com/home/theatres/personal-histories/alhaji-grunshi-gold-coast-regiment/

 

DOA-Boell-Karte-7988.png

Edited by Holger Kotthaus
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Holger,

That's fantastic and thanks very much. Its always great to read of the action from the other side. I found Narungombe  from the book by Sir HC Clifford and its certainly in the middle of nowhere.

Peter

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