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Remembered Today:

Loyal North Lancashires in East Africa


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The Kagera River east of Kyaka


In early August 1915 the Battalion moved into southern Uganda and northwestern GEA to take over positions on the Kagera River Line, Lt Col Edwards becoming OC of this sector. Here the BEA Police Askari frequently swam or silently canoed across the Kagera to raid Schutztruppe posts or burn down vegetation that provided cover for enemy patrols. Lt Col Edwards was now appointed Inspector General of Lines of Communication in East Africa, with the rank of Brigadier General. Captain W. Rigby became CO of the Battalion and was promoted to Major.

March 1916 saw the East Africa Police Service Battalion move from the Kagera River up through BEA to Northern Frontier Province where the Aulihan section of the Somalis was a threat. The Aulihan had over-run the Jubaland Armed Constabulary post at Serenli, killing 65 Askari and the British Post Commander, Lt F. Elliot. The Aulihan had seized all the arms and ammunition in the post including a Maxim gun.

The Battalion made a 450 mile march from the Thika railhead near Nairobi into the operational area and re-occupied Wajir Fort, which the District Commissioner had been ordered to evacuate after the Serenli disaster. On this march locally-hired camels were used to transport supplies.

Patrols went out searching for the Aulihan and their stock but were unsuccessful as the Somalis crossed the Abyssinian border whenever they felt threatened. In September 1916 the Battalion was ordered to leave one company at Wajir and to return to Nairobi, where it was disbanded at the end of the year, most of the Askari being returned to police duties. “D” Company, which had remained at Wajir was incorporated into a new KAR battalion, 5th KAR, that had been re-formed on 1st June 1916 for service in Jubaland and along BEA’s Abyssinian border.

In 1918 Brigadier Edwards commanded a column in Portuguese East Africa named “Edforce”. He was hot on von Lettow’s trail in October and he finally accepted the Schutztruppe surrender at Abercorn, Northern Rhodesia on 18 November 1918. After receiving Lettow’s sword Brigadier Edwards returned it as a gesture of respect.

Major Rigby was Mentioned in Despatches and received a DSO. He then went to Europe to command a Service Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry until the Armistice.

Another interesting officer in the East Africa Police Service Battalion was Geoffrey Le Blanc Smith. As a Trooper in the East Africa Mounted Rifles he gained a DCM (“For gallant conduct on 3rd November, 1914, during the engagement at Longido (East Africa), when he assisted to carry a wounded comrade into cover, whilst subjected to a very severe close range rifle fire.”) during the abortive Tanga diversionary attack.

Commissioned and appointed Adjutant and Quartermaster in the East Africa Police Service Battalion Geoffrey received a MC for the Turkana operation. He stayed on the Kagera Line as a staff officer when the Battalion went to Wajir and was recommended for a DSO, but this was reduced to a bar to his MC. He returned to Turkana as Supplies and Transport Officer attached to the King's African Rifles (KAR) during the Northern Turkana Expedition 1918, for which he received a promotion to Brevet Major and the clasp “East Africa 1918” to his East Africa General Service Medal.

The East Africa Police Service Battalion was a hasty war-time creation, as many other local units were, but it served its purpose and pulled its weight operationally. The decision to raise it was justified.
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liverpool annie

I've been following this thread for quite some time now and I just want to thank you Harry for all the work and effort you have put into this ....

it's terrific !

Thank you so much for letting us share it all !!

Annie :)

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The crater inside the summit of Crater Hill

(Official History Sketch 4)

The Fort on Crater Hill, beside the Tsavo River, was established by 2nd Rhodesia Regiment (2RR) in May 1915.
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Fort perimeter wall on Crater Hill.
(We are in Tsavo West National Park and an armed Park Ranger is on the other side of the wall.)

Lt Col E.A. Capell, CO 2RR, wrote:

“ On May 8th “D” Company had marched to hold Crater Hill, a strong position six miles east of Mzima, and on our Lines of Communication with Tsavo, a necessary step, for it was open for the enemy to occupy and “cut” our “lines”, and it being a first-class defensive feature commanding the road, they would have required some ejecting from it.”
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Walled post, probably for a machine-gun, on Crater Fort perimeter.

The Crater Fort water supply was the Tsavo River below.

Strict anti-ambush procedures had to be followed whenever soldiers went down the hill to bathe or to fill cans with water for drinking and cooking.
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Old army tin on the perimeter wall, Crater Fort.

It is a 20 minute plus climb for an armed man carrying supplies or water up Crater Hill, so residents kept fit.



Thank you for your kind words.

I'm an old-fashioned chap, and proud of that, and I find that the self-discipline needed to maintain the thread is excellent for my research activities.

The cycle of reading, visiting and photographing, re-reading and attaching words to the photograph, and then starting the reading again on a different theme has allowed me to utilise interesting snippets of information in books and documents that I otherwise might have overlooked or failed to understand fully.

Also, as an ex-infanteer, I know how important ground is to the job, and I enjoy exploring the ground features in order to better understand the operations.

One day I'll expand the notes I post here into publications, as I believe that more accounts of unit-level activities will be easier for the average reader to digest, rather than the all-embracing campaign books, which leave your brain fatigued.

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“Leader” press cutting, January 1916

Life in the Tsavo Valley could be quite lively, as this January 1916 press account shows.

According to Meinertzhagen’s British Intelligence Supplement No 7, published in Dar Es Salaam in October 1917, the Dastardly Hun was:

Zeltmann, Lieutenant. . . . in charge of the enemy party who fired on our Motor Ambulance 4 miles from Crater Hill (Mzima Line) on the morning of 31/12/15. The driver of the car was killed and one of the occupants wounded, in spite of the car having several Red Crosses clearly marked on it.”

I don’t blame Zeltmann too much, he knew that all vehicles in the area belonged to the enemy and he may have thought that this was a Crater Hill supply lorry (or he may have previously observed the ambulance carrying non-medical military supplies and personnel).

When troops are operating in thick bush, hear a vehicle and give orders for an immediate ambush, then the target vehicle is in the killing ground and being fired at before the ambush commander can identify it.
That’s just how it goes on the ground.
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The tablet to the Faber brothers on the exterior of the English Church, Madeira, Portugal.

In his book “The 2nd Rhodesia Regiment in East Africa” Lt Col A.E. Capell wrote:

“Signal Hill (in the Tsavo Valley) was being held . . . by the 130th Baluchis . . ., the enemy made a demonstration towards them, and ambushed the daily (Rhodesian) patrol.

The men had no chance in the narrow gulch; they fought where they stood as the empty cartridge-cases testified, but Private Townsend, Signaller Wells, Privates Potts and Nelson died there, shot through and through, bayoneted, beaten to death with rifle butts, and stripped of their clothing.

Corporal Faber was missing : it later transpired that he was wounded, but knowing a little of the German language had been placed on a stretcher and taken to the German camp at Rhombo, where he subsequently died of his wounds.”
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Mzima Springs pool – an amazing find in the dense arid bush of the Tsavo Valley.
(Now it is Mombasa’s water supply.)

Lt Col Capell also wrote:

“At this time a well-known man of the regiment, Private Hart (62 years) used to patrol with two native scouts to the head waters of Mzima River, where it bubbled out of the lava into a beautiful, still, palm-shaded pool.

On July 1st (1915) he shot a rhinoceros which he stated had been in the habit of charging him daily, “and he couldn’t stick it any longer.””
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In late 1915, as plans for the invasion of German East Africa were finalized, accommodation for the thousands of South African troops who would soon arrive in BEA had to be prepared.

A new defended camp was sited at Mashoti, in between Bura and Maktau.

This site lay on the Voi – Maktau railway line, on the road, and also on the Bura Hills – Maktau water pipe-line route.

On 1st November 1915 No 2 Company, 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, commanded by Major T. McG. Bridges, was sent by train from Bura to Mashoti to develop the new camp and its defences.

The strength of No 2 Company on that date was:

4 Officers
147 Other Ranks
3 Official Followers (from India)
4 Private Followers (from India)
21 Machine Gun Porters (locally enlisted Africans)

(Up to this point in the Battalion’s service in East Africa 836 men had been admitted to hospital for periods of illness, and only 278 had not been admitted.)
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Mashoti Camp.
A National Park Ranger stands behind a possible artillery position.
The Teita Hills are on the skyline
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A possible entrance gate on the east side of Mashoti Camp.

On 13 November 1915 the 25th Bn The Royal Fusiliers had taken over responsibility for the defence of Bura Camp, and 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashires was ordered to march the 9 miles from Bura to Mashoti, and join No 2 Company there.

The Battalion marching strength was 13 Officers and 395 Other Ranks.

The Bn Weekly Field State was:
In Hospital 159
Attending Hospital 39
Extra Regimentally Employed 217
Fit 513

(The high figure for Extra Regimentally Employed personnel reflects the Regular Army skills that the Battalion had brought with it from India – men were employed elsewhere as Mounted Infantry, machine-gunners, artillery gunners, signallers, Force military policemen,transport specialists, on ammunition train duties, in staff duties and as instructors.

Without any doubt the 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment contributed significantly to the establishing of a professional military presence in East Africa, as the only military presence before August 1914 was the King’s African Rifles, trained and equipped for Internal Security duties against spear-wielding tribesmen.)
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An elevated machine-gun post on the perimeter of Mashoti Camp.
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A machine-gun post at the western end of Mashoti Camp, covering the road approach from Maktau.

The 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment occupied Mashoti Camp until 17 January 1916, when a South African Brigade (probably the 2nd South African Infantry Brigade commanded by Brigadier-General P.S. Beves) arrived and took the camp over.

Whilst the Battalion was at Mashoti 9304 Private Charles Hawkins died of dysentery at Nairobi on New Year’s Day. He is buried in Nairobi South Cemetery

During their two-month occupation of Mashoti the Loyal North Lancashires had developed the camp defences in a professional manner, constructing many trenches, both straight-line communication and zig-zag, and earthworks.
(On arrival in BEA the South Africans took little interest in camp defences, believing that they were going to decimate the Schutztruppe in open combat. The Salaita Hill battle was going to considerably modify that opinion.)

One point of controversy between the Battalion and Brigadier Malleson, the General commanding Voi District, was the accommodation of mules. Brigadier Malleson stated that they should be inside the camp perimeter, Lt Col Jourdain stated that they should be outside. The outside view finally prevailed.

The scale of mules issued to the Battalion for 1st Line Transport pack work was significant, totalling over 100:

Small Arms Ammunition 35 mules
Signals equipment 3 mules
Water 16 mules
Cooking equipment 8 mules
One Day’s Rations 22 mules
Tools 8 mules
Medical equipment 1 mule
Spare 9 mules.

The cooking equipment included the Boiling Water Kit, designed by Lt Col Jourdain and manufactured in Nairobi.
The kit was a series of cylindrical metal boiling pots of different sizes, fitting into each other for easy packing onto mules.
The pots also could be used for measuring out allowances of water in the field.
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British troop locations between Voi and Maktau at the end of November 1915.
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The Teita Hills from the south


A major logistical problem facing the British as they planned the invasion of German East Africa was the provision of permanent water supplies along the proposed Voi – Taveta invasion route.

Sufficient water had to be provided not only for an adequate daily ration for men, horses, bullocks and mules, but also for use by the steam engines of the military railway being pushed west from Voi.

A suitable source of fresh water was located (1,500 feet head) up in the Teita Hills above Bura, and a dam was built. Eventually 40,000 gallons per day of this water ran by gravity to Mbuyuni, 37 miles away to the west.
(However the final Force requirement was 100,000 gallons per day, so water still had to be supplied by train until German East Africa was invaded.)
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The original water pipeline along the left side of the original Bura – Maktau road.
The Teita Hills form the background.

Twenty miles of 2.5 inch pipe was obtained from the Uganda Railway, and 17 miles of 4 inch, 3.5 inch and 3 inch pipe was supplied from India.
(A sapper later reported seeing some of this larger-bore pipe re-used first in German East Africa and then in Portuguese East Africa by British water-supply units.)

The bulk of the pipeline work was done by the East African Pioneer Company. This was one of the most successful local units raised during the campaign.

The Company recruited a nucleus of local white skilled engineers and mechanics who supervised large gangs of African labour.

The East African Pioneer Company is one of the very small number of local units that submitted names of African members for Mentions in Despatches.
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The original water pipeline running west towards Maktau.

Elephants interfered with the pipe-laying more than the enemy did.

When the pipeline terminal was first opened in Mbuyuni Camp some white war-time service units refused to drink the water, as initially it was tainted with oil from the construction work. These white troops were pandered to and moved back to Maktau Camp until the problem was solved by pipe usage.

The Regular Army personnel, the Africans and the animals just drank the water thankfully, though doubtless the Loyal North Lancashires boiled it first in the kit designed by Lt Col Jourdain.
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Reserve water tanks at Maktau.
(Courtesy Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum, Preston.)

On 20 January 1916 Major T. McG. Bridges relinquished command of No 2 Company, 2nd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (handing over to Lt R.L.C. Keays) and assumed the appointment of Force Water Officer.

Six days later a Schutztruppe raiding party commanded by Leutnant Baron von Stietencron celebrated Major McG. Bridges’ appointment by blowing up the water supply dam in the Teita Hills above Bura.

This act galvanized the British command into deploying troops far and wide, and von Stietencron was captured.

The dam was quickly repaired but now guarded with more strength.
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Water tanks in front of a hanger at Maktau.
(Courtesy Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum, Preston.)
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Evening at Salt Lick waterhole south of Bura.


After the Bukoba operation (See Post 845 & previous) the 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was moved down to the Voi – Maktau railway line area.

Initially the whole Battalion moved to Maktau, but as Maktau Camp was under the command of Lt Col C.U. Price, CO 130 Baluchis, Lt Col Jourdain was not happy being subordinated to another Lt Col.

Commander Voi Brigade, Brigadier W. Malleson, moved Bn HQ plus Nos 2 and 4 Companies 2nd Loyal North Lancashires to Bura Camp on 8th July 1915, where Lt Col Jourdain was placed in command.
Bura was at Mile 22/4 on the Voi – Maktau military railway (see map in Post 864 above).

Nos 1 and 3 Companies 2nd Loyal North Lancashires under the Bn Senior Major, Major H.A. Robinson, remained at Maktau. Major Robinson commanded the Maktau Mobile Column which was always on stand-by as a quick-response column.
Major Robinson and his men would have come under the tactical direction of Lt Col Price whilst Lt Col Jourdain would have continued to command them administratively.

Brigadier Malleson had produced a solution to nullify the competing claims of seniority between British and Indian Army units (and their COs) and now had an additional Bn HQ responsible for the Bura area.

Coles Scouts had been disbanded and the Mounted Infantry Company, which contained men from both the Loyal North Lancashires and the 25th Royal Fusiliers, was established as an independent unit and operating out of Maktau.
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Bura Camp.
Copyright of Queen's Lancashire Museum, Preston.

At this time Brigade HQ, concerned about British troops firing on each other in thick bush, had instituted a colour-recognition scheme.

For example, from 12th July 1915 all British troops outside camps in the Voi-Maktau area wore a green patch on their left shoulders.

Lt Col Jourdain, very much the British professional soldier, disliked this scheme, claiming that the wearing of vivid colour-patches assisted the enemy, could easily also be used by the enemy, and led to a relaxation in standards of fieldcraft by British troops.

He wrote in his War Diary, not without some justification:
“"This order commits the common fault of working down to a standard instead of up to a standard.
As long as senior officers continue to do this sort of thing, there is no hope to gain the ascendancy in any way or in any particular.
There is no doubt that the Germans hold ascendancy in patrol work and scouting generally."”

Having gained his DSO in the South African War Lt Col Jourdain also held strong views, based on practical experience, about securing railway lines.
He wrote, again with justification:
"The present system of leaving lengths of the railway of 5, 7 and 9 miles unguarded, and the sending out of patrols of 20 rifles to catch raiders after a raid is not calculated to be ever successful.
I have suggested blockhouse posts, but suggestions are not even listened to."”

Brigadier Malleson now got even more fed-up with Lt Col Jourdain than usual, and punished the Loyal North Lancashires by stopping purchases of beer that the Battalion had been ordering in India and bringing over to BEA to be sold to the men.
General Stewart's HQ in Nairobi had approved this practice as a useful health and welfare measure, but Brigadier Malleson now commanded, and seeing a chance to be vindictive he took it.
(But to give the man his due, on occasion Brigadier Malleson could be a Good Sport.
He allowed the Loyal North Lancashires to issue beer to the men with the Christmas Day 1915 meal.)

However some very practical support did arrive from India.
Lady Carmichael's Fund in Calcutta sent the Battalion several pairs of field glasses which the CO had requested.
These binoculars were sent "on loan" from private individuals in India, and it was expected that they would be returned to their owners after the war.

There is no record of exactly what happened to the field glasses after the war, as Lt Col Jourdain was killed in action in France in 1918 whilst leading the Battalion in an attack.
However this is a very interesting example of how civilian groups around the Empire were helping the troops in the field.
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A blockhouse.
Copyright of Queen's Lancashire Regiment Museum, Preston.

Many of Lt Col Jourdain’s suggestions, after an initial rejection by the older Indian Army staff, were later adopted.
The construction of blockhouse posts along the railway line was one.

He experimented, using stacks of wood for protection against fire, and determined that if a stack was two feet thick then 8 out of 10 rifle bullets were unlikely to penetrate through the stack, due to a hard core of wood in the centre of each log.

(At Mashoti he built a small guard house to cover the railway entrance to the camp, using logs dumped as Railway Fuel. The Brigade Staff immediately ordered replacement of the logs, following a complaint from Railway management.
Lt Col Jourdain snorted:
"This is a typical instance of Departmental narrow-mindedness as the Guard House was only just an intelligent and temporary use of idle material".”)

The Schutztruppe made a big effort against the Uganda Railway and the Voi-Maktau branch line during late 1915.

Whilst never dangerously disrupting rail traffic, these enemy attacks were a serious irritant.
Sometimes locomotives were wrecked or damaged by mines laid under the rails.

When the British used the South African War practice of pushing empty trucks ahead of the engine, then the Schutztruppe demolition parties introduced delay fuzes.
But counter-measures such as this reduced the tonnage of freight being hauled, and so the Germans gained some satisfaction from their efforts.
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An Armoured Train.
Copyright of Queen's Lancashire Regiment Museum, Preston.

The Nairobi workshops of the Uganda Railway produced Armoured Trains by adding steel plates to locomotives and wagons.

These Armoured Trains would be manned by infantrymen and used as quick-response transport when attacks on railway lines were reported.

On 15 August 1915 at around 0720 hours the Loyal North Lancashires at Bura heard an explosion towards Maktau.
Ten men were sent west along the line in the daily Construction Train that came through Bura at 0800 hours.

They found that a party of about 20 Schutztruppe whites on mules had blown up the Armoured Train from Maktau, just west of Mashoti.
2nd Lt E.B. Brown (3rd Bn Loyal North Lancashires attached to the 2nd Bn) and seven of his men were on the train as the defence crew, but although the preceding truck was demolished and theirs was blown off the track, none of the men were hurt.

After that incident Standing Orders were re-written to state that “when not responding to attacks the Armoured Trains could not move along stretches of line until morning foot patrols had inspected the line for signs of enemy interference”.

On 21 September 1915 Lt M.E. Leeb took over command of the Armoured Train on the Voi – Maktau line.
Lt Brown was posted to “Logan’s Battery” (No 1 Light Battery on the ORBAT shown in Post 869 above) at Maktau.
(The Regimental History states that he was “. . . generally known as “Dynamite Brown” as he had come from an armoured train on which he was regularly blown up on Sunday mornings at 11.30 a.m., the Germans being very methodical.”)
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