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bushfighter

Private OSWALD PUCKLE, 2nd Rhodesia Regiment

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bushfighter
post-20901-1202840409.jpg
German defenders on the east slope of Salaita Hill.
A thorn-scrub zareba is at the bottom, a stone rampart half-way up, and bunkers on the top.



1010 Private Oswald Puckle, 2nd Bn Rhodesia Regiment


“Remembering Today” features Private Oswald Puckle, killed in action at Salaita whilst serving in the 2nd Battalion of The Rhodesia Regiment (2 RR).

2 RR was recruited from volunteers in Southern Rhodesia and after initial training the Bn was despatched to British East Africa, arriving in March 1915.

Preparing for the forthcoming advance into German East Africa the British wished to push the Voi – Maktau railway further west towards Taveta but the Schutztruppe defensive position on Salaita Hill (known to the Germans as Oldorobo) lay in the way and had to be captured.

On 12 February 1916 the British commander Brigadier-General Malleson advanced to attack Salaita. The British 1st East African Brigade advanced in line from the east towards Salaita Hill. The Mounted Infantry Company secured the left (southern) flank, 2nd Rhodesia Regiment were on the left of the line, 2nd Loyal North Lancashires were in the centre and 130th Baluchis were on the right.

To the north and moving independently the 2nd South African Infantry Brigade under Brigadier-General P.S. Beves deployed to make a right-flanking attack, with 5 SA Infantry on the left, 7 SA Infantry in the centre and 6 SA Infantry on the right. Belfield’s Scouts (a mounted unit of Boers resident in BEA) were tasked to secure the right (northern) flank.

Supporting fire was provided by the Indian Volunteer Maxim Gun Company, four RNAS armoured cars, 28th Mountain Battery, No 1 Light Battery (Logan’s), Calcutta Volunteer Battery, No 3 Heavy Battery, and No 4 Heavy Battery. For the first time in this theatre the British artillery attempted to use Forward Observation techniques.
The 61st Pioneers supported the advance with pioneer activities, mainly track preparation for the artillery.

The Schutztruppe on Salaita Hill were 1, 14, 15, 18, and 30 Field Companies and No 6 (European) Company, a total of around 1200 Askari and 120 Germans. A similar total number of men was available for quick reinforcement from the Taveta area.

The British artillery pounded the hill but expended their ammunition on unoccupied German positions. 1st EA Brigade halted about noon 1,000 yards east of the hill at the edge of cleared ground which Schutztruppe machine guns were dominating.

2nd SA Infantry Brigade was in its first action and the soldiers struggled to cope with a hot sun, thick bush and thirst. 7 SA Infantry got to within 500 yards of the hill but began taking casualties, 6 SA Infantry to the north were ordered to continue advancing, and 5 SA Infantry were deployed in reserve. Belfield’s Scouts lost contact with the infantry.

15 Field Company then suddenly counter-attacked 6 SA Infantry and Brigadier-General Beves sent 5 SA Infantry to secure the northern flank. Abteilung Schulz (6, 9 and 24 Field Companies) had been swiftly marching towards the sound of the guns from the west, and as it rounded the north end of the hill it immediately counter-attacked 5 and 6 SA Infantry.

The exhausted and disorientated South Africans now suddenly saw 600 Askari with bayonets fixed charging down on them screaming “Piga! Piga!” (Shoot! Shoot!). The South Africans mostly broke and bolted back towards their start line. Some platoons of the 7 SA Infantry ran south into the 1st EA Brigade’s area.

As the CO of 2 RR wrote:
"Men of two broken regiments streamed through our ranks, running to the rear, getting to safety, and yet Rhodesians lay there, quietly shooting when targets offered, quietly enduring a shell-fire that our guns had failed to silence, and then failed to reply to.”

The 130th Baluchis retrieved the situation by moving to face Abteilung Schulz’s attack and stopping it with effective fire, supported by 28 Mountain Battery, Logan’s Battery and the machine guns of the Indian Volunteers and the Loyal North Lancashires. Under this covering fire 1st EA Brigade conducted a fighting withdrawal in good order.

2nd SA Infantry Brigade suffered 138 casualties (30 men were missing and were never seen again).

2 RR suffered five men slightly wounded, three men severely wounded, and lost three men killed:
1087 Sergeant Arthur Roland Carter (ex-BSAP)
1212 Private Robert Cran Jamieson and
1010 Private Oswald Puckle.

All three are buried in Taveta CWGC Cemetery, Kenya.

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bushfighter
post-20901-1202841788.jpg
The northern end of Salaita Hill today, viewed from the direction of the South African attack.
Some of the original defensive works are visible.

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1st east yorks

Bushfighter,

Remembered.Good before and after photos.

Anthony

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bushfighter
post-20901-1202842183.jpg
Taveta CWGC Cemetery

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1st east yorks

Bushfighter,

Another beautiful cwgc cemetery befitting the men who lie there.We dont often get the chance to see cemeteries in far away places,thanks.Its easy sometimes to forget other theatres so thanks for reminding us of Salaiter Hill.REMEMBERED WITH PRIDE.

Anthony.

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Helen Bachaus

Hi Harry,

Thankyou for writing up this battle with the forces involved. I've just finishes reading the 2nd Bn RR and also the RNR (1st Battalion) as well. Both very good reads and again for both little is known.

Thankyou again for sharing your knowledge.

Best Wishes

Helen

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Chris_Baker

Great stuff, bushfighter. Thank you.

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ShirlD

This is very much appreciated - thank you

Cheers

Shirley

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Kathie

Bushfighter,

Thank you for the info and particuarly for the photos. I have spent quite a while on South Africans who (mainly ) served in the SA regiments but have tended to avoid researching the time spent in GEA. Mainly, France and belgium have always seemed more interesting and (strnagely) more accessible. however, I am currently editing a set of letters written by a young boy from the Eastern Cape - Grahame Alexander Munro - who served int he SA Motor Cycle Corps in GEA - and who was killed there in December 1916. The letters have reallly, for the first time, got me looking carefully at the GEA campaign.

So - the point of this reply is to thank you for the photos particuarly. I have no idea (apart from the WWI original b & w photos) of what the campaign looked like but know from all I hae now read how horrible it was. Do you have any other photos - my boy - wrote to his family by his nickname 'Yum" - went from Kilindini to Voi to Moshi to Kondoa Irangi to Dodoma to Kilossa and then down across and along the Ruaha river for months. It seems he was killed either at Lipili or a place called Mbete/Ulete Farm and was then buried at Iringa - I suppose after the War.

I am actually spending tomorrow in the SADF archives in Pretoria looking for what I can find onthe Motor Cyclists and am trying to get to grips with a most futile and rather unkionwn campaign.

How did you come to take the photos

Kathie

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bushfighter

Kathie

I suggest that in "Other Theatres" you start a thread titled The South African Motor Cyclists Corps, state your interest and ask for information.

That way you will attract a much wider audience. I will contribute with what facts I have.

(The campaign wasn't futile - and we couldn't even win it as Lettow was invading Northern Rhodesia when Armistice was declared. If Lettow had not been challenged in 1914 then he could have seriously affected the allied war effort by demolishing the Belgian Katanga and British Northern Rhodesian copper mines, amongst many other things.

He would have been able to roam from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic coast, perhaps putting some stiffening into the GSWA spine. So the allies had to have a campaign. It was how they sometimes conducted it that bordered on futility.)

I will PM you about photos.

Harry

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Mike Hopkins

I have just joined in the hope of finding some information about my grandfather John Gerald Hopkins who servered with the Rhodesia Regiment 1914 - 1917, he joined from having been involved with the newly formed South African Aviation Corp 1912 -1913 any information would help,

many thanks

Mike Hopkins

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SteveE

Hi Mike

Welcome to the forum.

According to Lieut-Col. A. E. Capell's book on the 2nd Rhodesian Regiment your Grandfather's service number was 868, he held the rank of Lance Corporal and he attested 14/12/1914.

Regards

Steve

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SteveE

His Medal Index Card is not yet available on the Ancestry website but it can be downloaded (costs £3.50) from the National Archive website

Medal card of Hopkins, John G

Corps Regiment No Rank

Rhodesia Regiment 868 Lance Corporal

East African Company 7040 Staff Serjeant

Date 1914-1920

Catalogue reference WO 372/10

Here's the link to the card..... http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=1

Hope this helps.

Steve

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Mike Hopkins
His Medal Index Card is not yet available on the Ancestry website but it can be downloaded (costs £3.50) from the National Archive website

Medal card of Hopkins, John G

Corps Regiment No Rank

Rhodesia Regiment 868 Lance Corporal

East African Company 7040 Staff Serjeant

Date 1914-1920

Catalogue reference WO 372/10

Here's the link to the card..... http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=1

Hope this helps.

Steve

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Mike Hopkins

Hi Steve,

Many thanks for the swift reply, just from your info I have 2 new bits of information.

kind regards

Mikie Hopkins

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cuthbertp

Can anyone assist please

I read with great interest your postings on the Rhodesia Regiment. I am researching a Roll of Honour on which a certain Albert Henry McLachlan, 2nd Bn. Rhodesia Regiment appears. CWGC records show him as having died on 13th April 1917, but listed on the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton. Do you know whether any detachments from the Rhodesia Regiment were being sent overseas which would cover that date.

Any assistance would be most appreciated

Cuthbertp

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SteveE
Can anyone assist please

I read with great interest your postings on the Rhodesia Regiment. I am researching a Roll of Honour on which a certain Albert Henry McLachlan, 2nd Bn. Rhodesia Regiment appears. CWGC records show him as having died on 13th April 1917, but listed on the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton. Do you know whether any detachments from the Rhodesia Regiment were being sent overseas which would cover that date.

Any assistance would be most appreciated

Cuthbertp

Cuthbertp

Albert Henry McLachlan, according to Lieut-Col. A. E. Capell's book on the Regiment had service number 1675, held the rank of Private and attested 26/10/1916.

It also shows him as having died on 13/04/1917 which was also the date the Regiment, or rather what was left of it, arrived in Beira on the way home to Rhodesia.

The Hollybrook Memorial, amongst others, bears the names of those who were lost or buried at sea, Capell makes mention that one of the ships in the convoy buried 28 men of the Cape Labour Corps at sea over a three day period, I wonder if it's possible that this was McLachlan's fate also.

Regards

Steve

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SteveE

Nothing additional on his MIC....

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cuthbertp
Nothing additional on his MIC....

Steve

Many thanks for the information on Albert Henry McLachlan, if I may, I would like to include those details in my write up on him, but choosing my words carefully to ensure that they are not taken as positive fact.

Maybe of interest, but Albert Henry McLachlan was also a Freemason, a member since 18th December 1912 of Bulawayo Lodge, No. 2566, Bulawayo. His records are very basic. According to them, he was a Stationer, aged 34 and lived in Bulawayo. A rank had been added, that of Trooper, killed in action, 10th April 1917.

Regards

Cuthbertp

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SteveE

Cuthbertp

The date of 10th April would have put him well and truly 'at sea' aboard H.M.S. Himalaya if that is indeed what happened, the remnants of the Rhodesian Regiment had left East Africa two days earlier on the 8th. Capell notes that they had 84 cases on the sick list, mostly malarial, but doesn't mention any casualties as such which doesn't help us. I'm not quite sure how to prove this one.

Steve

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cuthbertp
Cuthbertp

The date of 10th April would have put him well and truly 'at sea' aboard H.M.S. Himalaya if that is indeed what happened, the remnants of the Rhodesian Regiment had left East Africa two days earlier on the 8th. Capell notes that they had 84 cases on the sick list, mostly malarial, but doesn't mention any casualties as such which doesn't help us. I'm not quite sure how to prove this one.

Steve

Steve

Again, many thanks for your continued interest

The date, the 10th April, stems only from his Masonic record, and may possibly be inaccurate. I have examined a number of such records and a good many have contained date errors, but now having read about the Rhodesian Regiment leaving East Africa on the 8th, I cannot be certain of such errors in this case. I will add the various notes in my write up

The entry on Albert McLachlan's Masonic record was gathered from information supplied, sometime between the date of his death and the 16th November 1917, as part of a yearly return for those of the fraternity who had fallen. The information regarding date of death and military rank could only have been furnished by his family, or perhaps by a friend who knew he was a Mason, or by a comrade who may have been a Freemason, and then only through the offices of the Secretary of his Lodge, who was the only person(s) who could have made up the returns for that year. The Masonic element of his record would only have been supplied by the Lodge Secretary.

I do note, however, that his MIC states 'Deceased' as opposed to 'KiA' or 'DoW', which may indicate just that, he died, cause of death unknown.

Regards

Cuthbertp

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bushfighter
post-20901-1225362729.jpg

Oswald Puckle's grave in Taveta CWGC Cemetery, Kenya

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audreymoran@btinternet.com

Cuthbertp I havee read your posts on Albert Henry McLachlan. My father was his nephew, I know that my aunt married a B. Cuthbert in the 40s, I wonder are you a relation,I am very interested in finding information on Albert,why he went to Rhodesia for instance.

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Noor

Hi all,

 

I just purchased a Victory Medal that post to be named to (I haven't received the medal) Pte. R.W.Holmes SAI. I have second thoughts about that SAI part:

I start to thinking can it be 1352 Robert Wilson Holmes, 2nd Rhodesia Regiment KIA 11 March 1916 in Kenya age 50 (!!!). Born in Ireland.

 

Can some of you please confirm that his medal was probably named to SAI. In this case also what that unit did and where they engaged the enemy on the 11th of March where Robert lost his life?

 

Thanking you in advance,

 

Noor

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SteveE

Noor, I answered the question on your pm but I’ll put my reply here too so that it doesn’t appear you haven’t had an answer 😊.

 

In this instance the medal you’re purchasing will be a bilingual Victory Medal issued by the South Africans, they name their medals with Rank, Name and Unit only, no service number.

 

He is not 1352 Robert Wilson Holmes of the 2nd Rhodesia Regiment as his medals would be marked as such and that units medals were issued by the British.  There is no way a 2nd Rhodesia Regiment medal would be named to SAI.

 

Steve

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