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Remembered Today:

Loyal North Lancashires in East Africa


bushfighter1

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1:500,000 military map of the Voi to Maktau area
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The armoured train "Simba" produced in the Uganda Railway Nairobi workshops
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"Simba" after an enemy night attack near Mtito Andei in 1915
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Non-too pleased British troops survey the wrecking of their train by enemy action near Voi in 1915
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A Loyal North Lancashire machine-gun emplacement. This could well be on the perimeter of Mashoti Camp (see Post 867 above.)
(Copyright with the QLR Museum, Preston)



THE FIRST INDEPENDENT LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE MACHINE-GUN COMPANY


On 6th October 1915 Mombasa HQ ordered 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Bura to organize the Battalion Machine-Guns as a separate unit.

Lt Col Jourdain immediately argued that a separate War Establishment for this new unit was necessary.

He noted in the Battalion War Diary:
"There is a perpetual tendency among superior authority to keep frittering away the Battalion by taking many of its best officers and men for various extra regimental employments at the expense of the Battalion."”





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Disguised MG post in termite mound.
(Copyright with the QLR Museum, Preston)


The Staff produced a Machine-Gun Company War Establishment for an eight-gun Company which, over an eight-month period, was developed to read:

8 Machine Guns
5 Officers
140 Other Ranks
120 First-Line Porters (carried first-line ammunition, water for guns, and spare parts and tended the mules)
500 Second-Line Porters (not with MG Company on the march, carried baggage, supplies, second-line ammunition, and rations for themselves and the first-line porters)
40 Mules (carried guns and ammunition for coming into action)

(The OR stength started at 80 but was inflated to 140 when the Battalion went to South Africa on rest and recuperation, leaving all fit men behind in the MG Company. The incidence of sickness in German East Africa showed that 140 was in fact a realistic figure if 8 guns were to be kept operational.)
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Rear of termite mound in previous post.
(Copyright with the QLR Museum, Preston)



Initially a typical machine-gun ammunition allocation for each gun on an operation was:
6,000 rounds carried on mules
3,500 rounds carried by first-line porters
9,800 rounds carried by second-line porters or in carts in the Ammunition Column.


To combat disease in both men and mules ten grains of quinine were issued daily to the British troops, and ten grains of arsenic to the mules (when these medications were available).

There is no record of preventive medication being issued to the African Porters.
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Protective shelters constructed for mules.



Sections of the Machine-Gun Company were dispatched, two at a time, to Nakuru to receive specialized training with mules.

The Divisional Machine-Gun Officer had designed a double Maxim Gun shield, to protect the crew during firing, that weighed 72 pounds.

Lt Col Jourdain, always eager for a challenge like this, designed a single shield weighing 28 pounds. This shield, because it presented a tilted face during firing, could not be penetrated during trials using British rifles against it.

There is no further mention of these shields. Probably they were not taken on mobile operations because of the weight penalty, but they would have been useful in defended locations and on armoured trains.
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Armed Masai Scouts.
(Copyright with the Queen’s Lancashire Museum, Preston.)



THE NATIVE SCOUTS


On 8th October 1915 Nairobi HQ suggested that 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment should employ 40 armed African scouts and take them onto strength as attached personnel.

The suggestion was partly prompted to counter Lt Col Jourdain’s complaints about Battalion manpower being posted away on extra-regimental employment but without being posted off the Battalion’s strength.
(Thus whilst the strength of the Battalion looked good on paper, it was actually much weaker on the ground.)

2/Lt Grierson was sent to Nairobi to raise and train the scouts, and on 26th October 1914 Lt Col Jourdain inspected the Scouts in Nairobi.

The Scouts joined the Battalion at Mashoti in November 1915 and worked in the field, manning outposts and carrying out reconnaissance patrols for Battalion Headquarters.

The Scouts also worked with the Intelligence Agents that were attached to the Battalion from the East African Intelligence Department.
Lt Col Jourdain did not have a high opinion of the Intelligence Department, and he ordered that all Intelligence Reports from his HQ had to be approved by himself before being sent to Brigade Headquarters.

On the quarterly “names for recognition” list that Brigadier Malleson ignored Lt Col Jourdain had listed:
2/Lt C.H.A. Grierson.
For good and successful work in raising and training 40 Armed Scouts for the Battalion, October – December 1915.”
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Officers in Wusa Sanitarium.
(Copyright of QLR Museum, Preston.)





WUSA SANITARIUM


An advantage of occupying Bura Camp was its proximity to Wusa, up in the Teita Hills.

“D” Section of 26 British Field Ambulance ran a convalescent camp here, where British personnel struggling to combat malaria could come and enjoy a cool mountain climate.

Just below in Bura “B” Section of 140 Indian Field Ambulance ran a facility for Indian soldiers.

Lt Col Jourdain prided himself on his physical fitness. In his War Diary of 18 July 1915 he entered:

Lt Col Jourdain visited Wusii Sanitarium. Took 2 hours up and 1 and three quarters hours down”.
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Nairobi from the Hospital.
At 5,500 feet above sea level, this offered a pleasant climate for recuperation.
(Copyright of QLR Museum, Preston)


LADY COLVILE’S CONVALESCENT HOME


There was also a private recuperation facility in Nairobi, offered in order to reduce the numbers of soldiers occupying hospital beds.

(In late 1914 this situation had got so bad that soldiers were being discharged from hospital before they were fully recovered in order to free-up bed space for new arrivals. If the men rejoined their units in malarial areas then they quickly relapsed and were re-hospitalised, but if they stayed in the Nairobi area then they had a good chance of re-gaining fitness.)

Lady Zelie Colvile, resident in Nairobi, opened her house to be used as a convalescent home for soldiers in 1914, with 12 beds available. Many men from the 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment stayed there after discharge from hospital.

Lady Colville was not given a medical orderly to assist her so she requested the services of a soldier. 8791 Private Frederick Beman was an early patient in her home, suffering from double-pneumonia, and after recovering he was detailed to stay on to assist Lady Colvile.

Fred Beman worked for two years with Lady Colvile, and they managed the Home on their own until Fred went to Egypt with his Battalion, the 2nd Loyal North Lancashires. An adjacent house was occupied and the bed number rose to 44. Fred bought the daily food, and according to Lady Colvile (who considered him to be scrupulously honest) he was so good at dealing with the Asian traders that he bought at much lower prices than she could. He also handled the accounting and was an excellent dessert cook.
He rose to the rank of temporary Serjeant to give him the authority he needed to deal with difficult residents.

As the number of sick officers in theatre increased, Lady Colvile’s Home was designated by the Medical Authorities as an “Officers Only” establishment.

(When medical orderlies were sent to replace Fred Beman, Lady Colvile got a shock, as she now had to put up with comments such as: “ that work is not my job”.)

Lady Colvile’s Convalescent Home was closed after three years, and she wrote to the Army Surgeon General in January 1918 requesting that Fred Beman receive some recognition for his services with her. In the final paragraph of her letter she states:

“The officers were far more tiresome than my dear Tommies – I cried when they replaced them by officers! . . . they (the Tommies) were more like my own children. When they were nervous they came and told me, I knew most of their family histories.
How I miss that work now.”


COMMENT
I have not been able to trace whether any official recognition was ever given to either Fred Beman or that magnificent matriarch of Empire, Lady Zelie Colvile.

Lady Colvile was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
She wrote two books, both published by Blackwood in 1893:

“Ten Days on an Oil River”
“Round the Black Man’s Garden”

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Ambulances used by the 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in East Africa
(Copyright of Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum, Preston)


SUPPORT FOR THE BATTALION OBTAINED FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM


Motor Ambulances
In December 1915 Lt Col Jourdain heard through 2/Lt Alan Storey (3rd Bn South Lancashire Regiment and attached to the 2nd Bn Loyal North Lancashires) that friends in England were sending out three motor ambulances for use by the Battalion.

These vehicles never appeared.
The following year Lt Col Jourdain noted in his War Diary:
“The Battalion never derived any benefit from these Ford cars, which were distributed for other purposes.”

Doubtless the Staff had judged that they knew of better uses for the ambulances, but it would have been appropriate, both for the Battalion and the private individuals in England who had contributed towards the cost, if just one of the vehicles had been allocated in support of the Loyal North Lancashires.


Some items from England did arrive at the Battalion, and these had been obtained privately by Lt Col Jourdain.

Optical Sights
Lt Col Jourdain used Regimental Funds to buy 12 telescopic sights from Neill of Belfast, and they arrived at the Battalion on 30th December 1915.
These sights were also known as the Barnett or Ulster sight, and they cost one and a half sterling pounds each.
They were a very useful asset, particularly on the bright-weather days in East Africa.

(See pages 101 & 102 of “Out of Nowhere – A History of the Military Sniper” by Martin Pegler . Osprey. ISBN-10: 1846031400, ISBN-13: 978-1846031403)


Radium Night Sights
The men in the Battalion had reported that shooting at night down railway lines was difficult. Although the absence of bush on the line meant that an enemy could be detected, without a good moon it was too dark for a sentry in a block house to take an aimed shot.

Lt Col Jourdain therefore ordered six Radium night sights from Negretti & Zambra of London.
These presumably were designed as a set of two sights, the foresight with one line of radium and the rearsight with two lines, that were clipped on over the Lee Enfield rifle sights.
These sights, which Lt Col Jourdain paid for out of his own pocket, were put into use on 5th February 1916.
There is no record of their effectiveness.
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A small part of a Panoramic Field Sketch of the Taveta area by 2/Lt L.M. Kerr made on 3rd February 1916.


FIELD SKETCHES


When the 2nd Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment arrived in British East Africa it was short of Subalterns.
Not knowing when any would be sent from India or UK the CO conferred with the BEA authorities asking them to nominate suitable young gentlemen residing in BEA for commissions.

The Governor, Sir Henry Conway Belfield, on the recommendation of the GOC East African Force, commissioned four Second Lieutenants into the Forces of the East Africa Protectorate for service attached to the Loyal North Lancashires. Lt Col Jourdain had first selected these applicants.

Three of these men were serving in the ranks of the East African Mounted Rifles:
L/Cpl L.F. Evans (wounded at Ngiti Hills on 25 September but galloped with dispatch for reinforcements).
L/Cpl G.E. Grove (late Lincoln Regiment).
Signaller H.P. Woodgate

The fourth new Subaltern was L.M. Kerr, and in 1915 he transferred into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Lt Kerr had ability as a field sketcher, an important skill in those days when photography was in its infancy.

In the Maktau area he would go out accompanied by a patrol to a location where he could sketch the geography of the ground to be used in future operations.
Fortunately some of his panorama sketches have survived in the 2nd Bn Loyal North Lancashire’s War Diary.

He was Mentioned in Despatches on 30 June 1916.

In January 1917 when the Battalion moved to Egypt Lt Kerr remained in East Africa and was posted to the Staff.

From 26 September 1917 he was employed with the King’s African Rifles.
After an appointment as Post Commandant Nairobi in October 1918 he went back to regimental duty with 3KAR, and in 1921 he was operating against Masai cattle raiders near Narok.
His parent unit remained The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Harry,

I wonder if you can help me. Until now, my WW1 research (12th Bn Royal Fusiliers) has taken me primarily to the Western Front, with tantalising glimpses of actions in Gallipoli and now East Africa. I am finding it hard to get acclimatised with the latter country, despite my own military service in the Far East!

My new involvement with the operations in East Africa started first with my wider interest in the Royal Fusiliers but, most recently, through my specific interest in Claude Rex Cleaver, 29 Punjabis, when I discovered where he served and died. As a result I have been reading and re-reading your brilliant thread on the Forum and, now being well hooked, am going to start on some of the books listed on the various posts.

I am not familiar with Africa. Can you point me at any maps or photographs of the Mbuyuni area where the 14 July 1915 action took place? Also, I knew that Claude Cleaver had been killed on the 19th, but did not know that he had been wounded, taken prisoner, and died in captivity. Is this mentioned in a War Diary?

Any help you can give will be gratefully received.

Barry

Ex 22 Int Pl (as opposed to Coy!)

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Captain C.R. Cleaver's grave at Moshi CWGC cemetery


Barry
It is pleasing to see your interest in the campaign.

After Mbuyuni Brigadier Malleson wrote a report rather full of whitewash about the whole thing. In an Annex is the casualty list with a note that Captain Cleaver was wounded and taken prisoner.

This afternoon I just finished writing an article on another unit that fought at Mbuyuni, so I'll put the Mbuyuni part in my next post with some images of the site.

Sadly you will see that 29th Punjabis did not cover themselves with glory at Mbuyuni. Brigadier Malleson ordered the main attack in the wrong place (it should have been on the right flank), and so extreme confusion reigned within 29th Punjabi's ranks once the CO was killed and Rex Cleaver was out of action.

Harry
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It is pleasing to see your interest in the campaign.

Harry,

Thank you very much for the image of Claude Rex Cleaver's grave. I am looking forward with great interest to reading your next post about Mbuyuni.

Being no stranger to 'forgotten wars' having served in Malaysia, I am intrinsically attracted to the East Africa campaign. I am now compiling my reading list and I have no doubt that I have started a fascinating journey.

I visited the National Archives yesterday and read and photographed the War Diary of the 29th Punjabis for July 1915. There is what is titled a detailed report on the action in July, and it tells of how CRC (the Adjutant) went to be with the CO when he was wounded and died '15 minutes' later. The diary and the report reflect a time of chaos, disarray and inept leadership. But I read those papers in ignorance - without any prior knowledge of the background to the operation, the geography, etc. I am looking forward to learning more.

Thanks again,

Barry

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Looking from the German defence line eastwards.
The British Main Column attacked using the road as its axis of advance. The KAR Mounted Infantry were on the right as we look, 1 KAR in the centre astride the road, and most of 29th Punjabis on the left, all of them down in the valley.
Right Column was operating out of our sight to the left.


Mbuyuni

In early July 1915 Brigadier-General Malleson, commanding Mombasa District, decided to attack and seize the Schutztruppe camp at Mbuyuni which was 12 miles west of Maktau on the Taveta road. This camp was a base for German sniping and raiding parties that were attacking Maktau Camp and the railway lines. Mbuyuni was defended by 46 German whites and 600 Askari with six machine-guns, under the command of Captain Vorberg.

Brigadier Malleson assembled a force of over 1,200 men with 11 machine-guns, two mountain screw-guns (the barrel was in two pieces that screwed together) and one ex-naval 12-pound gun, and he marched from Maktau westwards on 13th July. An observer watching the troops step out commented:
“Then came the King’s African Rifles, sturdy limbs moving in perfect rhythm. They left an impression of shiny black faces, white teeth, and unceasing, animated talk. Little they cared about the future. The British officers combined an air of detachment with unrelaxing hold upon their men.”

Two companies of 1 KAR were in the force, destined to be the Advance Guard during the assault by the Main Column. A second column, Right Column, swung north through the bush to attempt to get behind the enemy left flank. The main column halted for the night four miles short of Mbuyuni where unfortunately a picquet from the 29th Punjabis opened fire with a machine-gun against an enemy patrol. If only rifle fire had been used (as had been ordered) the enemy would have thought little of it, but when a machine-gun fired it signaled that something more than a British patrol was on the move.

The ground was in the shape of an upside-down letter U pointing north, with a broad valley within the U. The Taveta road ran down into the east side into the valley, crossed it where there were many large baobab trees, and then ran up the west side where the German defences were well-sited. Right Column navigated north of the top of the depression but lost visual contact with Main Column. At 0530 hours Main Column advanced down into the depression led by the two 1 KAR companies, with the KAR Mounted Infantry Company (raised from Ethiopians and Somali from 3 KAR) securing the south flank.

1 KAR became heavily engaged with the main enemy defence line at a range of 300 yards, and Brigadier Malleson ordered four companies of 29th Punjabis to advance forward across the valley on the KAR right. The Punjabis ran into enemy snipers and machine-guns concealed on the western side of the valley, and at 1015 hours the Punjabi Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel H.A. Vallings, was killed and his Adjutant wounded. The Punjabis were soon in disarray (afterwards around 30 Sepoys were court-martialed for withdrawing from the battlefield with self-inflicted wounds to their hands).
Amazingly Brigadier Malleson then ordered four of the Loyal North Lancashires’ machine guns that had excellent fields of fire on the east side of the valley to go down into the valley to support the firing line. These guns immediately had their visibility vastly reduced and became much less effective.

Meanwhile the 130th Baluchis in Right Column had run into unexpected enemy trenches and been stalled. Lord Cranworth, who was operating the Cole’s Scouts’ .450 machine-gun, got around behind the enemy trenches and shot-up the German administrative area. He could hear the Askari of the two 4 KAR companies alongside him in Right Column begin their rhythmic grunting that preceded an attack, but the Column Commander (Lieutenant Colonel C.U. Price, CO 130th Baluchis) did not order an attack as he felt that his Column was not strong enough, and the moment passed.

By noon enemy reinforcements were reported to be arriving from the Upper Tsavo and Taveta, and by 1300 hours the British were fighting a withdrawal action. The enemy defenders left their trenches to attack the withdrawal, causing the Loyal North Lancashires to lose a machine-gun when five out of the seven-man crew were hit, and forcing the Punjabis to abandon their reserve ammunition. Brigadier Malleson reported:
“The withdrawal was steadily carried out under a galling fire, the two companies 1st KAR being especially noticeable.”

Total British casualties were 2 Officers and 31 Other Ranks killed, 8 Officers and 157 Other Ranks wounded, and 1 Officer and 12 Other Ranks missing (mostly wounded and captured). The 1 KAR casualties were 3 Askari killed, 2 Officers, 31 Askari and 4 Porters wounded. The wounded officers were Lieutenants L.G. Murray and L.C. Collings-Wells.

The German defenders lost 5 Askari killed, and four Germans (including Captain Vorberg), 17 Askari and 9 followers wounded.

In his after-action report Brigadier Malleson mentioned five members of 1 KAR:
Captain C.G. Phillips
“This officer was in command of the advance guard. Subsequently he led the attack, and he was the last to come out of action. Of the other three officers with him one was killed and two were wounded, one severely. His gallantry throughout was most marked.”
(The dead officer was Lieutenant W.S. Wedd, 3 KAR, KAR Mounted Infantry.)
No 103 Colour Sergeant Juma
“For gallant leading of the vanguard under heavy fire, and continuing to command his men after being severely wounded.”
No 157 Sergeant John Ali
“For leading his section with great gallantry, and having it under complete fire control throughout the engagement.”
No 121 Sergeant Longolora and No 286 Corporal Kaisa
“Distinguished themselves for coolness and bravery, after their British officers had been disabled.”

In January 1916 No 103 Colour Sergeant Juma received an African Distinguished Conduct Medal.
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  • 3 months later...

This is a truly epic piece of research and has been a virtual tour of the parts of East Africa my Dad and the 134th. Cornish Heavies had to operate in. The photographs are superb and realistically will be the nearest I get to Kenya. Thanks for all the hard work.

I came upon it because I had put Denys Finch Hatton into the search and having just discovered he was a real person, and not R.Redford, was wondering if he had cropped up on the GWF. I was surprised to see the award of the MC on page 19 of this thread.

To get some more background to the "Out of Africa" theme I have found 'Too close to the Sun', Sarah Wheeler, in a local library and this is the biography of D. Finch Hatton, and look forward to a ripping yarn!

Dad was not in East Africa until very early 1916 but this tour covers so much of the places in his journal. Thanks again.

Phil.

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Phil

Thanks for the interest.

I have a little more information to add about 2nd Loyal North Lancashires in the Maktau area, then, after my next trip to East Africa I hope to cover the ground at Kilwa and Lindi.

That will leave me with the Loyals Machine Gun Company 1916 route to follow from Handeni to Morogoro, and then 259 Machine Gun Company's (previously the Loyals MG Company) activities in the Lindi hinterland during 1917. But there is no 259 MG Coy War Diary to follow, and I have to piece a narrative together from other War Diaries and Dispatches.

Luckily 259 MG Coy received six or seven Distinguished Conduct Medals during 1917 in East Africa, which gives some indication of the work it did.

I believe that the coloured images of East Africa make this story, but when considering a manuscript for a book it appears that cost prohibits the use of a lot of coloured photographs.

I hope that technology can soon solve that.

Harry

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Harry

More re Arthur Eric Forrest (see Posts 471 and 474)

He was the son of Arthur Lowther Forrest, a clerk in the General Post Office, and his wife, Elizabeth Margaret Bell.

Before he had turned 20 he had taken a job as a bank clerk. When the national census was taken in April 1911, he was described as such, living at No. 43, Grange Park, Ealing in Middlesex with his uncle, Augustus Henry Forrest, a 53 year old bank accountant.

Thereafter he joined the Civil Service as described above ... and on to the 2nd Loyal North Lancashires ...

William

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  • 2 weeks later...

William

Thank you for that.

I have been intrigued by today's REMEMBERING TODAY subject: Lieutenant John Edward McMICHAEL, 4th/3rd Kings African Rifles, who died on 12.05.1917, Dar es Salaam war memorial

His CWGC details show a South African background. His MIC shows that he enlisted in Belfield's Scouts - a Boer mounted unit from western British East Africa. He became a 2/Lt on the EA Unattached List and a Lt in 3KAR. But the Great War History of 3KAR makes no mention of him at all, though it lists all dead and wounded British officers.

The Cross of Sacrifice Vol 1 shows that he was first buried in Dar Es Salaam Sea View Cemetery - which makes me think that he died in hospital there. I have a photo of his grave in Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery (not the War Memorial).

4/3KAR had not been formed when he died.

There is perhaps a clue on the brass memorial tablet to KAR officers in Nairobi Protestant Cathedral. There he just could be associated with the Mounted Infantry Company that was raised from 3KAR at the start of the war. His Belfield's Scouts service would have well-qualified him for that role. Sadly the historians have neglected the Mounted Infantry Company and no War Diaries appear to exist.

One day perhaps we will discover his story.

Harry

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  • 6 months later...

Bushfighter and Kondoa,

Just a little piece from an autobiography by Gerald Palmer.

"My father was the district engineer of the Beira, Mashonaland and Rhodesia Railway in Umtali, Southern Rhodesia. He was responsible for the track from Salisbury to Beira. During WW1 this was the vital link ferrying English and SA soldiers to the East African war and the costly campaign against Von Lettow's guerillas in Tanganyika. There was torrential rain in 1916 and one night the swollen River Odzi [inland from Umtali] swept away the steel railway bridge. There was overbearing pressure on my father to achieve a speedy repair. The solution was to dismantle another bridge on a less important line near Beira. I was then 6 years old and the picture is still clear in my mind of enormous girders being hauled up through Umtali on flat platform trucks. Pontoons were used; Mashona workers poured concrete into steel caissons, and after a month a trial crossing by steam locomotive took place."

Who Gerald Palmer? Post WW2 he designed the Jowett Javelin and during his BMC stint was responsible for the MG Magnette, Riley Pathfinder, Wolseley, etc. of the 1950's.

There must have been many such families in the area who were caught up, and involved in the logistics of this campaign. I wonder if my Dad and the Cornish 134th. Heavy ever crossed the bridge?

Cheers,

Phil.

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Hi Phil,

No the 134th would not cross that bridge. It is an unusual piece because Beira is of course in PEA and Mashonaland in Rhodesia. It is the first inference (I am aware of) that this was a route used for troops to East Africa because most went via sea to Mombasa of course, rail routes existed into Northern Rhodesia and the lakes region.

Thanks for posting it.

Roop

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Roop,

He was only 6 at the time, and that is not a good age for remembering those details. However, the book was published in 1998, and he had plenty of time to check how correct his recall was. Sadly, he died shortly after publication. Understandably, he has a strong memory of those motor trollies made by Shelvoke and Drury that were propelled by a five man crew. The boys[he had an older brother] often went to Deroy in a special Cabosse, as well as the Wankie colliery, on the line towards Victoria Falls. Finally, his nanny, Mrs Hodgson, had a daughter who married a man called Smith, and their son Ian.......[uDI].

Cheers for now,

Phil.

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