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Remembered Today:

Pte Daniel SULLIVAN, 7th Hussars, died 19.12.16

Guest Pete Wood

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There are a few things that are unique about this man – and many things that are puzzling me, as they don’t make sense. Hopefully, someone can help me out…..

Here are the details of our man, as found on the CWGC register


Initials: D

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment: 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars

Date of Death: 19/12/1916

Service No: 29434

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: R.C. III. A. 3.


Now for the details on SDGW:

Sullivan was born in Waterford (Ireland – where they make the famous Waterford crystal)

He lived in Liverpool – a lot of Irish emigrated to Liverpool, and worked at the docks or onboard ships.

Enlisted in Liverpool.

It is interesting to note that Sullivan is listed as being with the 2nd Reserve Regiment of Cavalry

The only soldier listed on SDGW as African Expeditionary Force.

Now according to the Long, Long Trail – and just about every other website I looked at, in the order of battle, the 7th (Queen’s Own) Hussars were (at this time) in India. However, when I looked up other deaths for this regiment on SDGW, it was obvious that men were stationed in India AND fighting (detached??) in Mesopotamia. But there was nobody else listed as dying in Africa.

So what was Sullivan doing in East Africa….??

First I thought that it might be a rare mistake on the part of CWGC. But when I looked at the cemetery reports, I found this man:

1638 Private J Prince, South African Horse, died 22/12/1916 - R.C. III. A. 1.

Prince is buried next to our man, Sullivan, and they died within a couple of days of each other, so there can be no mistake about the date and location. The cemetery is listed as being next to a large base hospital, so it seems likely that our man died of disease (illness) etc.

But what was he doing here……??

I know that some cavalry were in East Africa. For example, look at James Henry Knowlton, Herts Yeomanry KIA 16.11.17 .

My knowledge about the East Africa campaign is very limited. I know a fair amount about the (almost forgotten!) campaign in Palestine – but there is even less to be found about the war in Africa.

I do know that Smuts and Van Deventer, in charge of the allied force, were being led a merry dance by a resourceful German commander, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who held out for the duration of the war with virtually no supplies and little reinforcements (recruiting native soldiers along the way) and fighting with stolen/captured British equipment.

But I learnt some more at a very useful website which has an abridged version of a book on the campaign http://www.ntz.info/gen/b00628.html#03532

These were the main battles and engagements in the year of our man’s death:

Commencement of the advance west of Kilimanjaro. 5 Mar 1916.

Mkalamo. 9 Jun 1916.

Lukigura. 24 Jun 1916.

Matamondo. 10 Aug 1916.

Wami. 17 Aug 1916.

Capture of Morogoro. 26 Aug 1916.

Dutumi. 10-12 Sep 1916.

Njinjo. 9 Oct 1916.

Kumbarambara. 11 Oct 1916.

Kibata. 6-9 Dec 1916.

And this is a little potted history of the effects of the war in East Africa, especially post war:


World War I led to fighting between German and British forces, using African troops and porters, in Tanganyika (German East Africa). War proved disastrous for East Africans, who were forced to supply food, soldiers, and porters to the armies. Ten percent of the soldiers and 20 percent of the porters died, mostly from disease and malnutrition, totaling 100,000 deaths. War resulted in famine and disease throughout the region; cattle disease depleted the stored wealth of stock.

1917, Oct

The British defeated the German commander Lettow-Vorbeck at Mahiva; the Germans withdrew to Mozambique.


Resident Natives Ordinance in the Kenya colony forced African tenants to work for white landlords at least six months each year.


Just as the British occupation of Teso and Lango was completed, serious famine and rinderpest epidemic broke out in Uganda.


Native Registration Ordinance enacted to ensure tighter labor and tax controls over Africans, who were now required to carry a pass (kipande). Wages declined as the postwar boom ended.

1920, Jan

The British mandate over German East Africa went into effect. The name of the territory was changed to Tanganyika.

1920, July

British East Africa was renamed Kenya and made into a crown colony.

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I am aware that in October 1916, morale among the British troops was very low. Illness and disease had badly affected the fighting capabilities, and it was decided to send the men home.

Now this meant replacing them with fresh troops, and it took from November 1916 to January 1917 for the change-over to take place.

So the questions I hope the forum can answer, are:

Was Sullivan a replacement, or did he die just before he was to get a long leave at home….??

What was a soldier from 7th Hussars doing in East Africa when the rest of his regiment were either in India or Mesopotamia??

If he was being shipped to India, or Mesopotamia, and fell ill onboard – isn’t this a strange route to take (via the East coast of Africa)??

What can you add to the story….??

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The CWGC register gives no additional information on Sullivan though there are a wide variety of units represented in the cemetery - British, South African, Indian and East African.

The only other item that can be gleaned from the CWGC record is that he is buried in the Roman Catholic plot - not surprising considering his origins.

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The 7th Hussars went on active service from India rather late in 1917. They served in Mesopotamia. Soldiers that were on leave in the UK in 1914 were often distributed among other Regiments.

Some men of the 14th Hussars (also in India) served in East Africa. Some of these were linked to Supply and Transport Corps. Cavalrymen often ended up as Officer's batmen too. Does the MIC and Roll still list him as 7th Hussars? If so he must have been attached rather than transferred.

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I've had a trawl through the Official History, Becke and James.

James shows a link between 7th Hussars and 2nd Reserve Cav.

Becke indicates that a unit of LNL Mounted Infantry (presumably a la Boer War) was broken up around this time and then reconstituted in the 1st East African Division. The various cavalry elements may have been sent out to reinforce the reconstituted unit.

Or ships en route to India may have been stopping off in E Africa to unload a part-load before proceeding - White may have been landed due to illness.

As regards Prince, South African Horse units were part of the East African force.

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This is not a CWGC owned cemetery. In locations owned by other authorities, there are often segregated plots.

You are correct that there is not normally any segregation due to religion in a CWGC owned site. Although there are some cemeteries specifically for certain nationalities.

Also, there is a muslim plot in Brookwood Military Cemetery created when a separate muslim cemetery was cleared nearby.

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