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Sketches of the East Africa Campaign by Robert Valentine Dolbey

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The bulk of these "Sketches" were written without any thought of
publication. It was my practice in "writing home" to touch upon
different features of the campaign or of my daily experiences, and only
when I returned to England to find that kind hands had carefully
preserved these hurried letters, did it occur to me that, grouped
together, they might serve to throw some light on certain aspects of the
East Africa campaign, which might not find a place in a more elaborate

For the illustrations, I have been able to draw upon a number of German
photographs which fell into our hands.

I should like to take this opportunity of thanking Mr. H.T. Montague
Bell for the care and kindness with which he has grouped this collection
of inco-ordinate sketches and formed it into a more or less
comprehensive whole.



_February_, 1918.



















These sketches of General Smuts' campaign of 1916 in German East Africa,
do not presume to give an accurate account of the tactical or
strategical events of this war. The actual knowledge of the happenings
of war and of the considerations that persuade an Army Commander to any
course of military conduct must, of necessity, be a closed book to the
individual soldier. To the fighting man himself and to the man on the
lines of communication, who helps to feed and clothe and arm and doctor
him, the history of his particular war is very meagre. War, to the
soldier, is limited to the very narrow horizon of his front, the daily
work of his regiment, or, at the most, of his brigade. Rarely does news
from the rest of one brigade spread to the troops of another in the
field. Only in the hospital that serves the division are the events of
his bit of war correlated and reduced to a comprehensive whole. Even
then the resulting knowledge is usually wrong. For the imagination of
officers, and of men in particular, is wonderful, and rumour has its
birthplace in the hospital ward. One may take it as an established fact
that the ordinary regimental officer or soldier knows little or nothing
about events other than his particular bit of country. Only the Staff
know, and they will not tell. Sometimes we have thought that all the
real news lives in the cloistered brain of the General and his Chief of
Staff. Be this as it may, we always got fuller and better correlated and
co-ordinated news of the German East African Campaign from "Reuter" or
from _The Times_ weekly edition.

But if the soldier in the forward division knows nothing of the
strategical events of his war, there are many things of which he does
know, and so well too that they eclipse the greater strategical
considerations of the war. He does know the food he eats and the food
that he would like to eat; moreover, he knew, in German East Africa,
what his rations ought to be, and how to do without them. He learnt how
to fight and march and carry heavy equipment on a very empty stomach. He
learnt to eke out his meagre supplies by living on the wild game of the
country, the native flour, bananas and mangoes. He knew what it meant to
have dysentery and malaria. He had marched under a broiling sun by day
and shivered in the tropic dews at night. He knew what it was to sleep
upon the ground; to hunt for shade from the vertical sun. These and many
other things did he know, and herein lies the chief interest of this or
of any other campaign.

For, strange as it may seem, the soldier in East Africa was more
concerned about his food and clothing, the tea he thirsted for, the
blisters that tormented his weary feet, the equipment that was so heavy,
the sleep that drugged his footsteps on the march, the lion that sniffed
around his drowsy head at night, than about the actual fighting. These
are the real points of personal interest in any campaign, and if these
sketches bear upon the questions of food, the matter of transport, the
manner of the soldier's illness, the hospitals he stayed in, the tsetse
fly that bit him by day, the mosquitoes that made his nights a perfect
torment, they are the more true to life. For fights are few, and, in
this thick bush country, frequently degenerate into blind firing into a
blinder bush; but the "jigger" flea is with the soldier always.

But this campaign is far different from any of the others in which our
arms are at present engaged. First and of especial interest was this
army of ours; the most heterogeneous collection of fighting men, from
the ends of the earth, all gathered in one smoothly working homogeneous
whole. From Boers and British South Africans, from Canada and Australia,
from India, from home, from the planters of East Africa, and from all
the dusky tribes of Central Africa, was this army of ours recruited. The
country, too, was of such a character that knowledge of war in other
campaigns was of little value. Thick grass, dense thorn scrub, high
elephant grass, all had their special bearing on the quality of the
fighting. Close-quarter engagements were the rule, dirty fighting in the
jungle, ambushes, patrol encounters; and the deadly machine-gun that
enfiladed or swept every open space. We cannot be surprised that the
mounted arm was robbed of much of its utility, that artillery work was
often blind for want of observation, that the trench dug in the green
heart of a forest escaped the watchful eyes of aeroplanes, that this war
became a fight of men and rifles, and, above all, the machine-gun.

In this campaign the Hun has been the least of the malignant influences.
More from fever and dysentery, from biting flies, from ticks and
crawling beasts have we suffered than from the bullets of the enemy.
Lions and hyaenas have been our camp followers, and not a little are we
grateful to these wonderful scavengers, the best of all possible allies
in settling the great question of sanitation in camps. For all our roads
were marked by the bodies of dead horses, mules and oxen, whose stench
filled the evening air. Much labour in the distasteful jobs of burying
these poor victims of war did the scavengers of the forest save us.

The transport suffered from three great scourges: the pest of
horse-sickness and fly and the calamity of rain. For after twelve hours'
rain in that black cotton soil never a wheel could move until a hot sun
had dried the surface of the roads again. Roads, too, were mere bush
tracks in the forest, knee-deep either in dust or in greasy clinging

Never has Napoleon's maxim that "an army fights on its stomach" been
better exemplified than here. All this campaign we have marched away
from our dinners, as the Hun has marched toward his. The line of
retreat, predetermined by the enemy, placed him in the fortunate
position that the further he marched the more food he got, the softer
bed, more ammunition, and the moral comfort of his big naval guns that
he fought to a standstill and then abandoned. Heavy artillery meant
hundreds of native porters or dove-coloured humped oxen of the country
to drag them; and heavy roads defied the most powerful machinery to move
the guns.

In order to appreciate the great difficulty with which our Supply
Department has had to contend, we must remember that our lines of
communication have been among the longest in any campaign. From the
point of view of the railway and the road haul of supplies, our lines of
communication have been longer than those in the Russo-Japanese War. For
every pound of bully beef or biscuit or box of ammunition has been
landed at Kilindini, our sea base, from England or Australia, railed up
to Voi or Nairobi, a journey roughly of 300 miles. From one or other of
those distributing points the trucks have had to be dragged to Moschi on
the German railway, from there eastward along the German railway line to
Tanga as far as Korogwe, a matter of another 500 miles. From here the
last stage of 200 miles has been covered by ox or mule or horse
transport, and the all-conquering motor lorry, over these bush tracks to
Morogoro. Can we wonder, then, that the great object of this campaign
has been to raise as many supplies locally as possible, and to drive our
beef upon the hoof in the rear of our advancing army? Nor is the German
unconscious of these our difficulties. He has with the greatest care
denuded the whole country of supplies before us, and called in to his
aid his two great allies, the tsetse fly and horse sickness, to rob us
of our live cattle and transport animals on the way.

At first we thought the German in East Africa to be a better fellow than
his brother in Europe, more merciful to his wounded prisoner, more
chivalrous in his manner of fighting. But the more we learn of him the
more we come to the conclusion that he is the same old Hun as he is in
Belgium--infinitely crafty, incredibly beastly in his dealings with his
natives and with our prisoners. Only in one aspect did we find him
different, and this by reason of the fact that we were winning and
advancing, taking his plantations and his farms, finding that he had
left his women and children to our charge. Then we saw the alteration.
For I had known what eight months in German prisons in Europe mean to a
soldier prisoner of war, and now I had German prisoners in my charge.
Anxious to please, eager to conciliate, as infinitely servile to us, now
they were in captivity, as they were vile and bestial and arrogant to us
when they were in authority, were these prisoners of ours.

Nor was this the only aspect from which the campaign in German East
Africa appealed to those of us who had taken part in the advance from
the Marne to the Aisne in September, 1914. Then we saw what looting
meant, and how the German officer enriched his family home with trophies
looted from many chateaux. We knew of French houses that had been
stripped of every article of value; we saw, discarded by the roadside,
in the rapid and disorganised retreat to the Aisne, statuary and
bronzes, pictures and clocks, and all the treasures of French homes. Now
we were in a position to loot; but how differently our officers and men
behaved! The spoils of hundreds of German plantations at our mercy; and
hardly a thing, save what was urgently needed for hospitals or food,
taken. Every house in which the German owner lived was left unmolested;
only those abandoned to the mercy of the native plunderer had we
entered. It pays a great tribute to the natural goodness of our men,
that the German example of indiscriminate looting and destruction was
not followed.

To people in England, and, indeed, to many soldiers in France, it seemed
that this campaign of ours in German East Africa was a mere side-show.
It appeared to be a Heaven-sent opportunity to escape the cold wet
misery of the trenches in Flanders. To some it spelt an expedition of
the picnic variety; they saw in this an opportunity of spending halcyon
days in the game preserves, glorious opportunities for making
collections of big game heads, all sandwiched in with pleasant and
successful enterprises against an enemy that was waiting only a decent
excuse to surrender.

How different has been the reality, however! The picnic enterprise has
turned out to be one of the most arduous in our experience. Many of us
had served in France and the Dardanelles before, and we thought we knew
what the hardships of war could mean. If the truth be told, the soldier
suffered in East Africa, in many ways, greater hardships, performed
greater feats of endurance, endured more from fever and dysentery and
the many plagues of the country than in either of the other campaigns;
the soldier marched and fought and suffered and starved for the simple
reason that time was of the essence of the whole campaign. From June
until Christmas we had to crowd in the campaigning of a whole year; for
once the rains had started all fighting was perforce at an end. Once the
transport wheels had stopped in the black cotton soil mud the army had
to halt. All the time the great aim of the expedition was to get on and
farther on. We had to advance and risk the shortage of supplies, or we
would never reach the Central Railway. And there was not a soldier who
would not prefer to push on and suffer and finish the campaign than wait
in elegant leisure with full rations to contemplate an endless war in
the swamps of East Africa.

The early history of the war in this theatre had been far from
favourable to our arms. In late 1914 our Expeditionary Force failed in
their landing at Tanga, a misfortune that was not compensated for by our
subsequent reverse at Jassin near the Anglo-German border on the coast.
The gallant though unsuccessful defence of the latter town by our Indian
troops, however, caused great losses to the enemy, and robbed him of
many of his most distinguished officers. But against these we must
record the very fine defence of the Uganda Railway and the successful
affair at Longido near the great Magadi Soda Lake in the Kilimanjaro
area. But when South Africa, in 1916, was called in to redress the
balance of India in German East Africa, the new strategic railway from
Voi to the German frontier was only just commenced, and the enemy were
in occupation of our territory at Taveta. To General Smuts then fell the
task of co-ordinating the various units in British East Africa,
strengthening them with South African troops, pushing on the railway
toward Moschi, and driving the German from British soil. In so far as
his initial movements were concerned, General Smuts carried out the
plans evolved by his predecessors. After a series of difficult but
brilliant engagements, the enemy were forced back to Moschi, and to the
Kilimanjaro area, which, in places, was very strongly held. From this
point he mapped out his own campaign. Colonel von Lettow was
out-manoeuvred by our flanking movements, and forced to retire partly
along the Tanga railway eastward to the sea, and partly towards the
Central Railway in the heart of the enemy country.

Two outstanding features of this campaign may be mentioned: the faith
the whole army had in General Smuts, the loyalty, absolute and complete,
that all our heterogeneous troops gave to him; and the natural goodness
of the soldier. As for the latter, Boer or English, Canadian, East
African or Indian, all showed that they could bear the heat and dust and
dirty fighting, the disease and privation just as gallantly,
uncomplainingly, and well, as did their British comrades on the Western

Finally, there is one very generous tribute that our army would pay to
the Germans in the field, and that is to the excellence of the
leadership of Lettow, and the devotion with which he has by threats and
cajolings sustained the failing courage of his men. Nor can one forget
that in this war the mainstay of our enemy has lain in the discipline
and devotion of the native troops. Here, indeed, in this campaign the
black man has kept up the spirit of the white. Nor does this leave the
future unclouded with potential trouble, for, in this war, the black man
has seen the white, on both sides, run from him. The black man is armed
and trained in the use of the rifle, and machine-gun, and his
intelligence and capacity have been attested to by the degree of fire
control that he mastered. It must be more than a coincidence that in the
two colonies--East Africa and the Cameroon--where the Germans used
native troops they put up an efficient and skilful resistance, while in
South-West Africa, where all the enemy troops were white, they showed
little inclination for a fight to a finish. In Colonel von
Lettow-Vorbeck the German army has one of the most able and resourceful
leaders that it has produced in this war.


Since Alexander of Macedon descended upon the plains of India, there can
never have been so strange and heterogeneous an army as this, and a
doctor must speak with the tongues of men and angels to arrive at an
even approximate understanding of their varied ailments. The first
division that came with Jan Smuts from the snows of Kilimanjaro to the
torrid delta of the Rufigi contained them all.

The real history of the war begins with Smuts; for, prior to his coming,
we were merely at war; but when he came we began to fight. A brief
twenty-four hours in Nairobi, during which he avoided the public
receptions and the dinners that a more social chief would have graced;
then he was off into the bush. Wherever that rather short, but well-knit
figure appeared, with his red beard, well streaked with grey, beneath
the red Staff cap, confidence reigned in all our troops. And to the end
this trust has remained unabated. Many disappointments have come his
way, more from his own mounted troops than from any others; but we have
felt that his tactics and strategy were never wrong. Thus it was that
from this heterogeneous army, Imperial, East African, Indian and South
African, he has had a loyalty most splendid all the time. He may have
pushed us forward so that we marched far in advance of food or supplies,
thrust us into advanced positions that to our military sense seemed very
hazardous. But he meant "getting a move on," and we knew it; and all of
us wished the war to be over. Jan Smuts suffered the same fever as we
did, ate our food, and his personal courage in private and most risky
reconnaissances filled us with admiration and fear, lest disaster from
some German patrol might overtake him. To me the absence of criticism
and the loyal co-operation of all troops have been most wonderful. For
we are an incurably critical people, and here was a civilian, come to
wrest victory from a series of disasters.

First in interest, perhaps, as they were ever first in fight, are the
Rhodesians, those careless, graceful fellows that have been here a year
before the big advance began. Straight from the bush country and fever
of Northern Rhodesia, they were probably the best equipped of all white
troops to meet the vicissitudes of this warfare. They knew the dangers
of the native paths that wound their way through the thorn bush, and
gave such opportunities for ambush to the lurking patrol. None knew as
they how to avoid the inviting open space giving so good a field of fire
for the machine-gun, that took such toll of all our enterprises. With
them, too, they brought a liability to blackwater fever that laid them
low, a legacy from Lake Nyasa that marked them out as the victims of
this scourge in the first year of the big advance.

The Loyal North Lancashires, too, have borne the heat and burden of the
day from the first disastrous landing at Tanga. Always exceedingly well
disciplined, they yield to none in the amount of solid unrewarded work
done in this campaign.

Of the most romantic interest probably are the 25th Royal Fusiliers, the
Legion of Frontiersmen. Volumes might be written of the varied careers
and wild lives lived by these strange soldiers of fortune. They were led
by Colonel Driscoll, who, for all his sixty years, has found no work too
arduous and no climate too unhealthy for his brave spirit. I knew him in
the Boer War when he commanded Driscoll's Scouts, of happy, though
irregular memory; their badge in those days, the harp of Erin on the
side of their slouch hats, and known throughout the country wherever
there was fighting to be had. The 25th Fusiliers, too, were out here in
the early days, and participated in the capture of Bukoba on the Lake. A
hundred professions are represented in their ranks. Miners from
Australia and the Congo, prospectors after the precious mineral earths
of Siam and the Malay States, pearl-fishers and elephant poachers,
actors and opera singers, jugglers, professional strong men, big-game
hunters, sailors, all mingled with professions of peace, medicine, the
law and the clerk's varied trade. Here two Englishmen, soldiers of
fortune or misfortune, as the case might be, who had specialised in
recent Mexican revolutions, till the fall of Huerta brought them, too,
to unemployment; an Irishman there, for whom the President of Costa Rica
had promised a swift death against a blank wall. Cunning in the art of
gun-running, they were knowing in all the tides of the Caribbean Sea,
and in every dodge to outwit the United States patrol. Nor must I forget
one priceless fellow, a lion-tamer, who, strange to say, feared
exceedingly the wild denizens of the scrub that sniffed around his
patrol at night.

Of our Indian forces the most likeable and attractive were the
Kashmiris, whom the patriot Rajah of Kashmir has given to the India
Government. Recruited from the mountains of Nepal--for the native of
Kashmir is no soldier--they meet one everywhere with their eager smiling
faces. In hospital they are always professing to a recovery from fever
that their pallid faces and enlarged spleens belie, and they take not
kindly to any suggestion of invaliding.

These battalions of Kashmir Rifles, the Baluchis and the King's African
Rifles have done more dirty bush fighting than any troops in this
campaign. The Baluchis, in particular, have covered themselves with
glory in many a fight.

The most efficient soldiers in East Africa are the King's African
Rifles; unaffected by the fever and the dysentery of the country, and
led by picked white officers, they are in their element in the thorn
jungle in which the Germans have conducted their rearguard actions.
Known at first as the "Suicides Club," the King's African Rifles lost a
far greater proportion of officers than any other regiment. Nor is it a
little that they owe to the gallant leader of one battalion, Colonel
Graham, who lost his life early in the advance on Moschi. These
regiments are recruited from Nyasaland in the south to Nubia and
Abyssinia in the north. Yaos, known by the three vertical slits in their
cheeks; slim Nandi, with perforated lobes to their ears; ebony
Kavirondo; Sudanese of an excellent quality; Wanyamwezi from the country
between Tabora and Lake Tanganyika, the very tribe from whom the German
Askaris are recruited, and all the dusky tribes that stretch far north
to Lake Rudolph and the Nile. Nor should one forget the Arab Rifles,
raised by that wonderful fellow Wavell, whose brother was a prisoner
with me in Germany. A professing Mohammedan, he was one of very few
white men who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. He harried the Huns
along the unhealthy districts of the coast, until a patrol, in ambush,
laid him low near Gazi.

Last, and most important, the army of South Africans, whose coming spelt
for us the big advance and the swift move that made us master of the
whole country from Kilimanjaro to the Rufigi. A great political
experiment and a most wonderfully successful one was this Africander
army, English and Boers, under a Boer General. For the first time since
the Great War in South Africa, the Boers made common cause with us,
definitely aligned themselves with us in a joint campaign and provided
the greatest object lesson of this World War. If the campaign of German
East Africa was worth while, its value has been abundantly proved in
this welding of the races that, despite local disagreements, has
occurred. The South African troops have found the country ill adapted to
their peculiar genius in war, and the blind bush has robbed the mounted
arm of much of its efficiency. Not here the wide distances to favour
their enveloping tactics. Much have they suffered from fever, hardships
and privation, and to their credit lies the greatest of all marches in
this campaign, the 250 mile march to Kondoa Irangi in the height of the
rainy season. The South African Infantry arrived in Kondoa starved and
worn and bootless after this forced march to extricate the mounted
troops, whose impetuous ardour had thrust them far beyond the
possibility of supplies, into the heart of the enemy's country. We
cannot sufficiently praise the apparently reckless tactics that made
this wonderful march towards the Central Railway, or the uncomplaining
fortitude of troops who lived in this fever-stricken country, on
hippopotamus meat, wild game and native meal. To the Boer, as to all of
us, this campaign must have taught a wonderful lesson, for many
prejudices have been modified, and it has been learnt that "coolies" (as
only too often the ignorant style all natives of India) and "Kaffirs,"
can fight with the best.

This campaign would have been largely impossible, were it not for the
Cape Boys and other natives from the Union, who have come to run our
mule and ox transport. Their peculiar genius is the management of
horses, mules and cattle. Different from other primitive and negro
people, they are very kind to animals, infinitely knowledgeable in the
lore of mule and ox, they can be depended upon to exact the most from
animal transport with the least cruelty. Wonderful riders these; I have
seen them sit bucking horses in a way that a Texas cowboy or a Mexican
might envy.

One should not leave the subject of this army without reference to the
Cape Corps--that experiment in military recruiting which many of us were
at first inclined to condemn. But from the moment the Cape Boy enlisted
in the ranks of the Cape Corps his status was raised, and he adopted,
together with his regulation khaki uniform and helmet, a higher
responsibility towards the army than did his brother who helped to run
the transport. They have been well officered, they have been a lesson to
all of us in the essential matters of discipline and smartness, they
have done much of the dirty work entailed by guarding lines of
communication, and now, when given their longed-for chance of actual
fighting on the Rufigi, they have covered themselves with distinction.
For my part, as a doctor, I found they had too much ego in their cosmos,
as is commonly the fault of half-bred races, and a sick Cape Corps
soldier seemed always very sick indeed; yet, as the campaign progressed,
we came to like and to admire these troops the more, so that their
distinction won in the Rufigi fighting was welcomed very gladly by all
of us.

Later in the campaign arrived the Gold Coast Regiment; and now the
Nigerian Brigade are here. Very, very smart and soldier-like these Hausa
and Fulani troops; Mohammedan, largely, in religion, and bearded where
the East Coast native is smooth-faced, they will stay to finish this
guerilla fighting, for which their experience in the Cameroon has so
well fitted them. The Gold Coast Regiment has always been where there
has been the hardest fighting, their green woollen caps and leather
sandals marking them out from other negroid soldiers. And their
impetuous courage has won them many captured enemy guns, and, alas! a
very long list of casualties. But in hospital they are the merriest of
happy people, always joking and smiling, and are quite a contrast to our
much more serious East Coast native; they have earned from their white
sergeants and officers very great admiration and devotion. By far the
best equipped of any unit in the field, they had, as a regiment, no less
than eight machine-guns and a regimental mountain battery.


To the Navy that alone has made this campaign possible, we soldiers owe
our grateful thanks. But there have been times when, in our blindness,
we have failed to realise how great the task was to blockade 400 miles
of this coast and to keep a watchful eye on Mozambique. For before the
Portuguese made common cause with us, there was a great deal of
gun-running along the southern border of German East Africa, which our
present Allies found impossible to watch. Two factors materially aided
the Germans in making the fight they have. First, there was the lucky
"coincidence" of the Dar-es-Salaam Exhibition. This exhibition, which
was to bring the whole world to German East Africa in August, 1914,
provided the military authorities with great supplies of machinery,
stores and exhibits from all the big industrial centres; and these were
swiftly adapted to the making of rifles and munitions of war. To this
must be added the most important factor of all, the _Koenigsberg_, lying
on the mud flats far up the Rufigi, destroyed by us, it is true, but not
before the ship's company of 700, officers and men, and most of the guns
had been transported ashore, the latter mounted on gun carriages and
dragged by weary oxen or thousands of black porters to dispute our
advance. In due course, however, these were abandoned, one by one, as we
pressed the enemy back from the Northern Railway south to the Rufigi.
Last, but by no means least, was the moral support their wireless
stations gave them. These, though unable, since the destruction of the
main stations, to transmit messages, continued for some time to receive
the news from Nauen in Germany. By the air from Germany the officers
received the Iron Cross, promotion, and the Emperor's grateful thanks.

But if you would see what work the Navy has done, you must first begin
at Lindi in the south. There you will see the _Praesident_ of the D.O.A.
line lying on her side with her propellers blown off and waiting for our
tugs to drag her to Durban for repair. And in the Rufigi lying on the
mudbanks, fourteen miles from the mouth, you will see the _Koenigsberg_,
once the pride of German cruisers, half sunk and completely dismantled.
The hippopotami scratch their tick-infested flanks upon her rusted
sides, crocodiles crawl across her decks, fish swim through the open
ports. In Dar-es-Salaam you will see the _Koenig_ stranded at the harbour
mouth, the _Tabora_ lying on her side behind the ineffectual shelter of
the land; the side uppermost innocent of the Red Cross and green line
that adorned her seaward side. For she was a mysterious craft. She flew
the Red Cross and was tricked out as a hospital ship on one side, the
other painted grey. True, she had patients and a doctor on board when a
pinnace from one of our cruisers examined her, but she also had
machine-guns mounted and gun emplacements screwed to her deck, and all
the adaptations required for a commerce raider. So our admiral decided
that, after due notice, so suspicious a craft were better sunk. A few
shots flooded her compartments and she heeled over, burying the lying
Cross of Geneva beneath the waters of the harbour. Further up the creek
you will see the _Feldmarschall_ afloat and uninjured, save for the
engines that our naval party had destroyed, and ready, to our amazement,
at the capture of the town, to be towed to Durban and to carry British
freight to British ports, and maybe meet a destroying German submarine
upon the way. Further up still you will find the Governor's yacht and a
gunboat, sunk this time by the Germans; but easy to raise and to adapt
for our service. Strange that so methodical a people should have bungled
so badly the simple task of rendering a valuable ship useless for the
enemy. But they have blundered in the execution of their plans
everywhere. The attempt to obstruct the harbour mouth at Dar-es-Salaam
was typical of their naval ineptitude. Barely two hundred yards across
this bottle-neck, it should have been an easy job to block. So they sank
the floating dock in the southern portion of the channel and moored the
_Koenig_ by bow and stern hawsers, to the shores on either side in
position for sinking. Instead of flooding her they prepared an explosive
bomb and timed it to go off at the fall of the tide. But the bomb failed
to explode, and an ebb tide setting in, broke the stern moorings and
drove her sideways on the shore. Here she lies now and the channel is
still free to all our ships to come and go. We found, at the occupation,
the record of the court-martial on the German naval officer responsible
for the failure of the plan. He seems to have pleaded, with success, the
fact that his dynamite was fifteen years old. After that no further
attempt was made, and for nearly a year before we occupied the town our
naval whalers and small cruisers sailed, the white ensign proudly
flying, into the harbour to anchor and to watch the interned shipping.
It must have been a humiliating spectacle to the Hun; but he was
helpless. Woe betide him, if he placed a mine or trained a gun upon this
ship of ours. The town would have suffered, and this they could not

Yet further up the coast, near Tanga, the _Markgraf_ lies beached in
shallow water, and the _Reubens_ a wreck in Mansa Bay.

In most of our naval operations our intelligence has been excellent, and
Fortune has been kind. It seemed to the Germans that we employed some
special witchcraft to provide the knowledge that we possessed. So they
panicked ingloriously, and sought spies everywhere, and hanged
inoffensive natives by the dozen to the mango trees. One day one of our
whalers entered Tanga harbour the very day the German mines were lifted
for the periodical overhaul. The Germans ascribed such knowledge to the
Prince of Evil. The whaler proceeded to destroy a ship lying there, and,
on its way out, fired a shell into a lighter that was lying near. In
this lighter were the mines, as the resulting explosion testified. This
completed the German belief in our possession of supernatural powers of
obtaining information.

Again at the bombardment and capture of Bagamoyo by the Fleet, it seemed
to the Hun that wherever the German commander went, to this trench or to
that observation post, our 6-inch shells would follow him. All day long
they pursued his footsteps, till he also panicked and searched the bush
for a hidden wireless. He it was who shot our gallant Marine officer, as
our men stormed the trenches, and paid the penalty for his rashness
shortly after.

The little German tug _Adjutant_, which in times of peace plied across
the bar at Chinde to bring off passengers and mails to the ships that
lay outside, has had a chequered career in this war. Slipping out from
Chinde at the outbreak of war, she made her way to Dar-es-Salaam. From
there she essayed another escapade only to fall into our hands.
Transformed into a gunboat, she harried the Germans in the Delta of the
Rufigi, until, greatly daring, one day she ran ashore on a mudbank in
the river. Captured with her crew she was taken to pieces by the Germans
and transported by rail to Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika. And there the
Belgians found her, partly reconstructed, as they entered the harbour. A
little longer delay, and the resurrected _Adjutant_ would have played
havoc with our small craft and the Belgians', which had driven the
German ships off the vast waters of this lake.


Lettow, the one-eyed, or to give him his full title, Colonel von
Lettow-Vorbeck, is the heart and soul of the German resistance in East
Africa. Indomitable and ubiquitous, he has kept up the drooping spirits
of his men by encouragement, by the example of great personal courage,
and by threats that he can and will carry out. Wounded three times, he
has never left his army, but has been carried about on a "machela" to
prevent the half-resistance that leads to surrender. And now we hear he
has had blackwater, and, recovering, has resumed his elusive journeys
from one discouraged company to another all over the narrowing area of
operations that alone is left to the Hun of his favourite colonial
possessions. For to the fat shipping clerk of Tanga, whose soul lives
only for beer and the leave that comes to reward two years of effort,
the temptation to go sick or to get lost in the bush in front of our
advancing armies is very great. He is not of the stuff that heroes are
made of, and surrender is so safe and easy. A prison camp in Bombay is
clearly preferable to this unending retreat. He has done enough for
honour, he argues, he has proved his worth after two and a half years of
resistance! This colony has put up the best fight of all, "and the
_Schwein Englaender_ holds the seas, so further resistance is hopeless."
"We are not barbarians, are we Fritz?" But Fritz has ceased to care.
"Ahmednagar for mine," says he, reverting to the language he learnt in
the brewery at Milwaukee, in days that now seem to belong to some
antenatal life. Soon he will look for some white face beneath the
strange sun helmet the English wear, up will go his hands, and
"Kamerad"--that magic word--will open the doors to sumptuous ease behind
the prison bars.

But Lettow is going "all out." His black Askaris are not discouraged,
and, in this war, the black man is keeping up the courage of the white.
Had the native soldiers got their tails down the game was up as far as
the Germans were concerned. But these faithful fellows see the "Bwona
Kuba," as they call Lettow, here encouraging, everywhere inspiring them
by his example, and they will stay with him until the end. Like many
great soldiers, Lettow is singularly careless in his dress; and the tale
is told at Moschi of a young German officer who stole a day's leave and
discussed with a stranger at a shop window the chances of the ubiquitous
Lettow arriving to spoil his afternoon. Nor did he know until he found
the reprimand awaiting him in camp that he had been discussing the
ethics of breaking out of camp with the "terror" himself.

A soldier of fortune is Lettow. His name is stained with the hideous
massacres of the Hereros in South-West Africa. His was the order,
transmitted through the German Governor's mouth, that thrust the Herero
women and children into the deserts of Damaraland to die. Before the war
in South Africa, rumour says, he was instructor to the "Staats
Artillerie," which Kruger raised to stay the storm that he knew
inevitably would overwhelm him. Serving, with Smuts and Botha themselves
in the early months of the Boer war, he joined the inglorious procession
of foreigners that fled across the bridge at Komati Poort after Pretoria
fell, and left the Boer to fight it out unaided for two long and weary
years more. No wonder that Lettow has sworn never to surrender to that
"damned Dutchman Jan Smuts." Chary of giving praise for work well done,
he yet is inexorable to failure. The tale is told that Lettow was
furious when Fischer, the major in command at Moschi, was bluffed out of
his impregnable position there by Vandeventer, evacuated the northern
lines, and retired on Kahe, thus saving us the expense of taking a
natural fortress that would have taxed all our energies. White with
rage, he sent for Fischer and handed him one of his own revolvers. "Let
me hear some interesting news about you in a day or two." And Fischer
took the pistol and walked away to consider his death warrant. He looked
at that grim message for two days before he could summon up his courage:
then he shot himself, well below the heart, in a spot that he thought
was fairly safe. But poor Fischer's knowledge of anatomy was as unsound
as his strategy, for the bullet perforated his stomach. And it took him
three days to die.

A tribe which has contributed largely to the German military forces is
the Wanyamwezi. Of excellent physique, they long resisted German
domination, but now they are entirely subdued. Hardy, brave and willing,
they are the best fighters and porters, probably, in the whole of East
Africa. Immigrant Wanyamwezi, enlisted in British East Africa into our
King's African Rifles, do not hesitate to fight against their blood
brothers. There is no stint to the faithful service they have given to
the Germans. But for them our task would have been much easier. For
drilling and parade the native mind shows great keenness and aptitude;
little squads of men are drilled voluntarily by their own N.C.O.'s in
their spare time; and often, just after an official drill is over, they
drill one another again. Smart and well-disciplined they are most
punctilious in all military services.


Of all the departments of War in German East Africa probably the most
romantic and interesting is the Intelligence Department. Far away ahead
of the fighting troops are the Intelligence officers with their native
scouts. These officers, for the most part, are men who have lived long
in the country, who know the native languages, and are familiar with the
lie of the land from experience gained in past hunting trips. Often
behind the enemy, creeping along the lines of communication, these
officers carry their lives in their hands, and run the risk of betrayal
by any native who happens across them. Sleeping in the bush at night,
unable to light fires to cook their food, lest the light should attract
the questing patrol, that, learning of their presence in the country,
has been out after them for days. Hiding in the bush, short of rations,
the little luxuries of civilisation long since finished, forced to smoke
the reeking pungent native tobacco, living off wild game (that must be
trapped, not shot), and native meal, at the mercy of the natives whom
both sides employ to get information of the other, these men are in
constant danger. Nor are the amenities of civilised warfare theirs when
capture is their lot.

Fortunately for the British Empire there has never been any lack of
those restless beings whose wandering spirits lead them to the confines
of civilisation and beyond. To this type of man the African continent
has offered a particular attraction, and we should have fared badly in
the East African campaign, if we could not have relied upon the services
of many of them. They are for the most part men who have abandoned at an
early age the prosaic existence previously mapped out for them, and
plunging into the wilds of Africa have found a more attractive
livelihood in big game shooting and prospecting. By far the most
exhilarating calling is that of the elephant hunter, who finds in the
profits he derives from it all the compensation he requires for the
hardships, the long marches, and the grave personal dangers. In the most
inaccessible parts of the continent he plies his trade, knowing that his
life may depend upon the quickness of his eye and intellect and the
accuracy of his aim. Nor are his troubles over when his quarry has been
secured. The ivory has still to be disposed of, and it is not always
safe to attempt to sell in the territory where the game has been shot.
The area of no man's land in Africa has long since been a diminishing
quantity, and the promiscuous shooting of elephants is not encouraged.
It becomes necessary, therefore, to study the question of markets, and
the successful hunter finds it convenient to vary the spheres of his
activities continually.

Not the least of the assets of these men is the knowledge they have of
the native and the hold they have obtained over them. That man will go
farthest who relies on the respect rather than on the fear he inspires.
The latter may go a long way, but unless it has the former to support
it, the chances are against it sooner or later. One man I know of owed
his life more than once to his devotion to a small stick that walking,
sitting or lying he never allowed out of his hand. The native mind came
to attach magical powers to the stick, and consequently to the man
himself. On one eventful journey when he had gone farther afield than
his wont, and farther than his native porters cared to accompany him,
symptoms of mutiny made their appearance. A council was held as to
whether he should be murdered or not; he was fortunate enough to
overhear it. The only possible deterrent seemed to be a dread of the
magical stick, but the two ringleaders affected to make light of it.
Realising that the time had come for decisive action, the white man
summoned the company, told them that his stick had revealed the plot to
him and warned them of the danger they ran. To clinch his argument he
offered to allow the ringleaders to return home, taking the stick with
them; but told them that they would be dead within twenty-four hours,
and the stick would come back to him. To his dismay they accepted the
challenge, and for him there could be no retreat. In desperation he
poisoned the food they were to take with them, and awaited developments.
The two natives set off early in the morning. By the afternoon they were
back again, and with them the stick. In the solitude of their homeward
trek their courage had oozed out; they feared the magic, and fortunately
had not touched the poisoned provisions. In the feasting that had to
celebrate this satisfactory denouement it was possible to substitute
other food for that which had been taken on the abortive journey. Magic
or the fear of it had saved the situation; but the instincts of loyalty
had been fired previously by a character that had many attractive
features and never allowed firmness to dispossess justice.

At the outbreak of the war two of our Nimrods--whom I shall call Hallam
and Best--were camped by the Rovuma river. Hearing that there were
British ships at Lindi, they made for the coast to offer their services
in the sterner hunt, after much more dangerous game, that they knew had
now begun. The native runner that brought them the news from Mozambique
also warned them of the German force that was hot foot in pursuit of
them. So they tarried not in the order of their going, and made for the
shelter of the fleet. But Best would read his weekly _Times_ by the
light of the lamp at their camp table for all the Huns in Christendom,
he said, and derided Hallam's surer sense of danger near at hand. So in
the early hours their pickets came running in, all mixed up with German
Askaris, and the ring of rifle and machine-gun fire told them that their
time had come. Capsizing the tell-tale lamp, they scattered in the
undergrowth like a covey of partridges, Hallam badly wounded in the leg
and only able to crawl. The friendly shelter of the papyrus leaves
beside the river-bank was his refuge; and as he plunged into the river
the scattered volley of rifle shots tore the reeds above him. All night
they remained there. Hallam up to his neck in water, and the ready prey
of any searching crocodile that the blood that oozed from his wounded
leg should inevitably have attracted; the Germans on the bank. Next
morning the trail of blood towards the river assured the enemy that
Hallam was no more, for who could live in these dangerous waters all
night, wounded as he was? But if Hallam could hunt like a leopard, he
could also swim like a fish. Next day brought a native fishing canoe
into sight, and to it he swam, still clutching the rifle that second
nature had caused him to grab as he plunged into the reeds. With a wet
rifle and nine cartridges he persuaded the natives not only to ferry him
across to the Portuguese side, but also to carry him in a "machela," a
hammock slung between native porters, from which he shot "impala" for
his food. But somehow word had got across the river that Hallam had
eluded death, and the German Governor stormed and threatened till the
Portuguese sent police to arrest the fugitive. But the native runner who
brought him news of his discovery also brought word of the approaching
police. So with his rifle and three cartridges to sustain him, often
delirious with fever, and the inflammation in his leg, he commandeered
the men of a native village and persuaded them, such was the prestige of
his name, to carry him twenty-eight days in the "machela" to a friendly
mission station on Lake Nyasa. Here the kindly English sisters nursed
him back to life and health again.

Best was not so lucky, for he was taken prisoner. But there was no
German gaol that could hold so resourceful a prisoner as this. In due
time he made his escape, and was to be found later looping the loop
above Turkish camps in the Sinai Peninsula.

One German, of whom our information had been that "his company did
little else but rape women and loot goats," fell into my hands when we
took the English Universities Mission at Korogwe. Could this be he, I
thought, as I saw an officer of mild appearance and benevolent aspect
speaking English so perfectly and peering at me through big spectacles?
Badly wounded and with a fracture of the thigh, he had begged me to look
after him, saying the most disloyal things about the character and
surgical capacity of the German doctor whom we had left behind to look
after German wounded. Not that the _Oberstabsarzt_ did not deserve them,
but it was so gratuitously beastly to say them to me, an enemy. He
deplored, too, with such unctuous phrases, the fact that war should ever
have occurred in East Africa. How it would spoil the years of toil,
toward Christianity, of many mission stations! How the simple native had
been taught in this war to kill white men; hitherto, of course, the
vilest of crimes. How the march of civilisation had been put back for
twenty-five years. How the prestige of the white man had fallen, for had
not natives seen white men, on both sides, run away before them? Many
such pious expressions issued from his lips. But the true Hun character
came out when he asked whether the hated Boers were coming? The most
vindictive expression, that even the benevolent spectacles could only
partly modify, clouded his face, and he complained to me most bitterly
of the black ingratitude of the Boers toward Germany. "All my life, from
boyhood," he complained, "have I not subscribed my pfennigs to provide
Christmas presents for the poor Boers suffering under the heel of
England. Did not German girls," he whined, "knit stockings for the women
of that nation that was so akin to the Germans in blood, and that lay so
pitifully prostrate beneath the feet of England?" Nor would he be
appeased until I assured him that the Boers were far away.

Another, whose reputation was that of "a hard case, and addicted to
drink," I found also in hospital in Korogwe, recovered from an operation
for abscess of the liver, and living in hospital with his wife. Spruce
and rather jumpy he insisted on exhibiting his operation wound to me,
paying heavy compliments to English skill in surgery; not, mark you,
that he had any but the greatest contempt that all German doctors, too,
profess for British medicine and surgery. But he hoped, by specious
praise, to be sent to Wilhelmstal and not to join the other prisoners in
Ahmednagar. Bottles of soda-water ostentatiously displayed upon his
table might have suggested what his bleary eye and shaky hands belied.
So I contented myself with removing the pass key to the wine cellar,
that lay upon the sideboard, and duly marked him down on the list for
transfer to Wilhelmstal.

That the spirit of Baron Munchausen still lives in German East Africa is
attested to by Intelligence reports. It says a great deal for Lettow's
belief in the accuracy of our information that he very promptly put a
stop to the notoriety and reputation for valour that two German officers
enjoyed. One had made an unsuccessful attempt to bomb the Uganda Railway
on two occasions; but neither time did he do any damage, though, on each
occasion, he claimed to have cut the line. The other, possessed of
greater imagination, reported to his German commander that he had
attacked one of our posts along the railway, completely destroying it
and all in it. The painful truth he learnt afterwards from German
headquarters was that the English suffered no casualties, and the post
was comparatively undamaged.

The sad fate of one enterprising German officer who set out to make an
attack upon one of our posts was, at the time, the cause, of endless
jesting at the expense of the Survey and Topographical Department of
British East Africa. He was relying upon an old English map of the
country, but owing to its extreme inaccuracy, he lost his way, ran out
of water, and made an inglorious surrender. This, of course, was
attributed by the Germans to the low cunning employed by our
Intelligence Department that allowed the German authorities to get
possession of a misleading map.

That retribution follows in the wake of an unpopular German officer, as
shown by extracts from captured German diaries, is attested to by the
record of two grim tragedies in the African bush, one of an officer who
"lost his way," the other of an officer who was shot by his own men.


One of the features of German military life that fills one with horror
and disgust is their brutality to the native. Nor do they make any
attempt to cloak their atrocities. For they perpetuate them by
photographs, many of which have fallen into our hands; and from these
one sees a tendency to gloat over the ghastly exhibits. The pictures
portray gallows with a large number of natives hanging side by side. In
some, soldiers are drawn up in hollow square, one side of it open to the
civil population, and there is little doubt that these are punitive and
impressive official executions, carried out under "proper judicial
conditions" as conceived by Germans. But what offends one's taste so
much are the photographs of German officers and men standing with
self-conscious and self-satisfied expressions beside the grim gallows on
which their victims hang. From the great number of these pictures we
have found, it is quite clear that not only are such executions very
common, but that they are also not unpleasing to the sense of the German
population; otherwise they would not bequeath to posterity their own
smiling faces alongside the unhappy dead. With us it is so different.
When we have to administer the capital penalty we do it, of course,
openly, and after full judicial inquiry in open court. Nor do we rob it
of its impressive character by excluding the native population. But such
sentences in war are usually carried out by shooting, and photographs
are not desired by any of the spectators. It is a vile business and
absolutely revolting to us, nor do we hesitate to hurry away as soon as
the official character of the parade is over. I well remember one such
execution, in Morogoro, of a German Askari who assaulted a little German
girl with a "kiboko" during the two days' interregnum that elapsed
between Lettow's departure and our occupation of the town. To British
troops the most unwelcome duty of all is to form a part of a firing
party on such occasions. The firing party are handed their rifles,
alternate weapons only loaded with ball cartridge, that their sense of
decency may not be offended by the distasteful recollection of killing a
man in cold blood. For this assures that no man knows whether his was
the rifle that sped the living soul from that pitiful cringing body.

In the past the Germans have had constant trouble with the natives, not
one tribe but has had to be visited by sword and flame and wholesale
execution. That this is not entirely the fault of the natives is shown
by the fact that we have not experienced in East Africa and Uganda a
tenth part of the trouble with our natives, notoriously a most restless
and warlike combination of races.

It was thought at one time that, if the Germans seriously weakened their
hold on some of the more troublesome tribes and withdrew garrisons from
localities where troops alone had kept the native in subjection, risings
of a terrible and embarrassing character would be the result. That such
fear entered also into the German mind is shown by the fact that for
long they did not dare to withdraw certain administrative officials, and
much-valued soldiers of the regular army, who would have been of great
service as army commanders, from their police work. Notably is this the
case at Songea, in the angle between Lake Nyasa and the Portuguese
border. To the state of terror among the German women owing to the fear
of a native rising during the intervening period between the retreat of
their troops and the arrival of our own in Morogoro I myself can
testify. For the German nursing sisters who worked with me told of the
flight to this town of outlying families, and how the women were all
supplied with tablets of prussic acid to swallow, if the dreadful end
approached. For death from the swift cyanide would be gentler far than
at the hands of a savage native. But the Germans have to admit that as
they showed no mercy to the native in the past, so they could expect
none at such a time as this. They told me of the glad relief with which
they welcomed the coming of our troops, and how with tears of gratitude
they threw swift death into the bushes, much indeed as they hated the
humiliating spectacle of the gallant Rhodesians and Baluchis making
their formal entry into the fair streets of Morogoro.

The German hold on the natives is, owing to severe repressive measures
in the past and the unrelaxing discipline of the present war, most
effective and likely to remain so, until our troops appear actually
among them. Indeed, the fear of a native rising, and the butchery of
German women and children has been ever on our minds, and we have had to
impress upon the native that we desired or could countenance no such
help upon their part. All we asked of the native population was to keep
the peace and supply us with information, food and porters. We sent word
among the restless tribes to warn them to keep quiet, saying that, if
the Germans had chastised them with whips, we would, indeed, chastise
them with scorpions in the event of their getting out of hand. And we
must admit that, almost without exception, the natives of all tribes
have proved most welcoming, most docile and most grateful for our
arrival. Had it not been for the clandestine intrigues of the German
planters and missionaries whom we returned to their homes and
occupations of peace, there would have been no trouble. But the Hun may
promise faithfully, may enter into the most solemn obligations not to
take active or passive part further in the war; but, nevertheless, he
seems unable to keep himself from betraying our trust. Such a born spy
and intriguer is he that he cannot refrain from intimidating the native,
of whose quietness he is now assured by the presence of our troops, by
threats of what will befall him when the Germans return, if he, the
native, so much as sells us food or enters our employment as a porter.

But the native is extraordinarily local in his knowledge, his world
bounded for him by the borders of neighbouring and often hostile tribes.
We are not at all certain that any but coast or border tribes can really
appreciate the difference between British rule and the domination that
has now been swept away.

Recent reports on all sides show the desire for peace and the end of the
war; for war brings in its train forced labour, the requisition of food,
and the curse of German Askaris wandering about among the native
villages, satisfying their every want, often at the point of the
bayonet. Preferable even to this are the piping times of peace, when the
German administrator, with rare exceptions, singularly unhappy in his
dealing with the chiefs, would not hesitate to thrash a chief before his
villagers, and condemn him to labour in neck chains, on the roads among
his own subjects. And this, mark you, for the failure of the chief to
keep an appointment, when the fat-brained German failed to appreciate
the difference in the natives' estimation of time. By Swahili time the
day commences at 7 a.m. In the past, it was no wonder that chiefs,
burning with a sense of wrong and the humiliation they had suffered,
preferred to raise their tribe and perish by the sword than endure a
life that bore such indignity and shame.

But our job has not been rendered any easier by the difficulty we have
experienced in pacifying the simple blacks by attempts to dispel the
fears of rapine and murder at the hands of our soldiers, with which the
Germans have been at such pains to saturate the native mind. This, in
conjunction with the suspicion which the native of German East Africa
has for any European, and more especially his horror of war, has made us
prepared to see the native bolt at our approach.

But if our task has succeeded, there has been striking ill success on
the part of the Germans in organising and inducing, in spite of their
many attempts and the obvious danger to their own women and children,
these native tribes to oppose our advance. Fortunately for us, and for
the white women of the country, tribes will not easily combine, and are
loath to leave their tribal territory.

Many of us have looked with some concern upon the mere possibility of
this German colony being returned to its former owners. We must remember
that we shall inevitably lose the measure of respect the native holds
for us, if we contemplate giving back this province once more to German
ruling. Prestige alone is the factor in the future that will keep order
among these savage races who have now learnt to use the rifle and
machine-gun, and have money in plenty to provide themselves with
ammunition. The war has done much to destroy the prestige that allows a
white man to dominate thousands of the natives. For to the indigenous
inhabitants of the country, the white man's ways are inexplicable; they
cannot conceive a war conducted with such alternate savagery and
chivalry. To those who look upon the women of the vanquished as the
victors' special prize, the immunity from outrage that German women
enjoy is beyond their comprehension. For that reason we shall welcome
the day when an official announcement is made that the British
Government have taken over the country. One would like to see big
"indabas" held at every town and centre in the country, formal raising
of the Union Jack, cannon salutes, bands playing and parades of


When the rains had finished, by May, 1916, in the Belgian Congo, General
Molitor began to move upon Tanganyika. Soon our motor-boat flotilla and
the Belgian launches and seaplanes had swept the lake of German
shipping; and the first Belgian force landed and occupied Ujiji, the
terminus of the Central Railway.

Then the blood of the Huns in Africa ran cold in their veins, and the
fear that the advancing Belgians would wreak vengeance for the crimes of
Germany in Belgium and to the Belgian consuls in prison in Tabora,
gripped their vitals. Hastily they sent their women and children at all
speed east along the line to Tabora, the new Provincial capital, and
planned to put up the stiff rearguard actions that should delay the
enemy, until the English might take Tabora and save their women from
Belgian hands. For the English, those soft-hearted fools, who had
already so well treated the women at Wilhelmstal, could be as easily
persuaded to exercise their flabby sentimentalism on the women and
children in Tabora. So ran the German reasoning.

Slowly and relentlessly the Belgian columns swept eastward along the
railway line, closely co-operating with the British force advancing from
Mwanza, south-east, toward the capital. But, in Molitor, the German
General Wable had met more than his match, and soon, outgeneralled and
out-manoeuvred, he had to rally on the last prepared position, west of
Tabora. Then, daily, went the German parlementaires under the white
flag, that standard the enemy know so well how to use, to the British
General praying that he would occupy Tabora while Wable kept the
Belgians in check. But the British General was adamant, and would have
none of it; and as Wable's shattered forces fled to the bush to march
south-east to where Lettow, the ever-vigilant, was keeping watch, the
Belgians entered the fair city of Tabora. And here were over five
hundred German women and children, clinging to the protection that the
Governor's wife should gain for them. For Frau von Schnee was a New
Zealand woman, and she might be looked to to persuade the British to
restrain the Belgian Askari.

But there was no need. The behaviour of Belgian officers and their
native soldiers was as correct and gentlemanly as that of officers
should be, and, to their relief and surprise, those white women found
the tables turned, and that their enemy could be as chivalrous to them
as German soldiers--their own brothers--had been vile to the wretched
people of Belgium. There was no nonsense about the Belgian General;
stern and just, but very strict, he brought the German population to
heel and kept them there. Cap in hand, the German men came to him, and
begged to be allowed to work for the conqueror; their carpenters' shops,
the blacksmiths' forges were at the service of the high commander. No
German on the footpaths; hats raised from obsequious Teuton heads
whenever a Belgian officer passes. How the chivalry of Belgium heaped
coals of fire upon the German heads! And had the Hun been of such, a
fibre as to appreciate the lesson, of what great value we might hope
that it would be? But decent treatment never did appeal to the German;
he always held that clemency spelt weakness, and the fear of the
avenging German Michael. For did not the Emperor's Eagle now float over
Paris and Petersburg? That he knew well; for had not High Headquarters
told him of the message from the Kaiser by wireless from Nauen, the
self-same message that conveyed to Lettow himself the Iron Cross

The Governor's wife was allowed to retain her palace and servants; but
all German women were kept strictly to their houses after six at night.
No looting, no riots, no disturbance. And German women began to be
piqued at the calm indifference of smart Belgian officers to the favours
they might have had. Openly chagrined were the local Hun beauties at
such a disregard of their full-blown charms.

"I fear for our women and children in Tabora," said the German doctor to
me in Morogoro. "Ach! what will the Belgians do when they hear the tales
that are told of our German troops in Belgium? You don't believe these
stories of German brutalities, do you?" he said anxiously, conciliatory.
But I did, and I told him so. "But you don't know the Belgian Askari; he
is cannibal; he is recruited from the pagan tribes in the forest of the
Congo, he files his front teeth to a point, and we know he is short of
supplies. What is going to happen to German children? It is the truth I
tell you," he went on, evidently with very sincere feeling. "You know
what became of the 1,500 Kavirondo porters your Government lent to the
Belgian General. Where are our prisoners that the Belgians took in Ujiji
and along the line? Eaten; all eaten." And he threw up his hands
tragically to heaven. "I know you won't believe it, but I swear to you
that Rumpel's story is true." Rumpel was Lettow's best intelligence
agent. "Our scout was a prisoner with a company of Belgian Askaris, you
know, and it was only that the Belgian company commander wanted to get
information from him that he was not eaten at once. Haven't you heard
the tale that Rumpel tells after his escape? How the senior native
officer came to his Belgian commander and complained that they had no
food, the villages were empty, not so much as an egg or chicken to be
got. Irritably, the Belgian officer shouted that the soldiers knew that
no one had food, and they must wait till they got to the next post on
the morrow. 'But,' urged the native sergeant softly, 'there are the
prisoners.' 'Oh, the prisoners,' said the Belgian officer, relieved by
an easy way out of a very difficult situation. 'Well, not more than
sixteen, remember that.' And the sergeant went away."

This and countless other lies did the Germans tell us of our Belgian
Allies. But how different the truth when it reached us at last along the
railway by our troops that came from the northern column to join us at
Morogoro. Not a German woman insulted; not one fat German child missing;
no occupied house even entered by the Belgian troops, not so much as a
chicken stolen from a German compound.

So just, so completely impartial was General Molitor, that he applied to
German prisoners, in territory then occupied by him, the very rules and
regulations that the German command had laid down for the governing of
English and Belgian and other Allied prisoners. Only the vile, the
unspeakable regulations, and every ordinance in that printed list of
German rules that destroyed the prestige of the white man in the
native's eyes, did he omit. If the Germans were indifferent to this one
elementary rule of the white race in equatorial Africa--the white man's
law that no white man be degraded before a native--then the Belgian
would show the Hun how to play the game.

"We must hack our way through," said Bethmann-Hollweg. And we, in
Morogoro, were very curious to see what manner of vengeance the Belgians
might wreak. Nor would we have blamed them over-much for anything they
might have done. I had lived in German prisons with elderly Belgian
officers whose wives and grown-up daughters had been left behind in
occupied parts of Belgium. We all had shuddered at the stories they told
us; nor did we wonder that these unhappy fathers had often gone insane.
And when we learnt the truth about Tabora, and knew too, to our disgust,
that such un-German clemency was attributed to Belgian fear of the
avenging German Michael and not to natural Belgian chivalry, we were
furious. What can one do with such a people?


A cloud of red dust along a rough bush track, a rattling jar
approaching, and the donkey transport pulls into the bushes to let the
Juggernaut of the road go by. Swaying and plunging over the rough
ground, lurches one of our huge motor lorries. Perched high up upon the
seat, face and arms burnt dark brown by the tropical sun, is the driver.
Stern faced and intent upon the road, he slews his big ship into a
better bit of road by hauling at the steering wheel. Beside him on the
seat the second driver. Ready to their hands the rifles that may save
their precious cargo from the marauding German patrol which lies hidden
in the thick bush beside the road. In the big body of the car behind are
two thousand pounds of rations, and atop of all a smiling "tota," the
small native boy these drivers employ to light their fires and cook
their food at night. And this load is food for a whole brigade alone for
half a day; so you may see how necessary it is that this valuable cargo
arrives in time.

It may sound to you, in sheltered London, a pleasant and agreeable thing
to drive through this strange new country full of the wild game that
glimpses of Zoological Gardens in the past suggest. "A Zoo without a
blooming keeper." But there is no department of war that does such hard
work as these lorry drivers.

For them no rest in the day that is deemed a lucky one, if it provides
them only with sixteen hours' work. The infantry of the line have their
periodical rests, a month it may be, of comparative leisure before the
enemy trenches. But for mechanical transport there is no peace, save
such as comes when back axles break, and the big land ship is dragged
into the bush to be repaired. Hot and sweating men striving to renew
some part or improvise, by bullock hide "reims," a temporary road repair
that will bring them limping back to the advance base. Here the company
workshop waits to repair these derelicts of the road. Burning with
malaria, when the hot sun draws the lurking fever from their bones,
tortured with dysentery, they've got to do their job until they reach
their lorry park again. But often the repair gang cannot reach a
stranded lorry, and the drivers, helpless before a big mechanical
repair, have to camp out alongside their car, till help arrives and tows
them in. A tarpaulin rigged up along one side of the lorry, poles cut
from the thorn bush, and they have protection from the burning sun by
day. A thorn hedge, the native "boma," keeps out lions and the sneaking
hyaena at night. Nor are their rifles more than a half protection, for
the '303 makes so clean a hole that it is often madness to attempt to
shoot a lion with it. Once wounded he is far more dangerous a foe. Here
the "tota" earns his pay, for he can hunt the native villages for
"cuckoos," the native fowls, and eggs.

The load of rations must not, save at the last extremity, be broached.

And the roads they travel on: you never saw such things, mere bush
tracks where the pioneers have cut down trees and bushes, and left the
stumps above the level earth. No easy job to steer these great lumbering
machines between these treacherous stumps. From early dawn to late night
you'll meet these leviathans of the road, diving into the bush to force
a new road for themselves when the old track is too deep in mud or dust,
plunging and diving down water-courses or the rocky river-beds, creeping
with great care over the frail bridge that spans a deep ravine. A bridge
made up of tree-trunks laid lengthwise on wooden up-rights. The lion and
the leopard stand beside the road, with paw uplifted, in the glare of
the headlights at night.

Nor is there only danger from flood and fever and the denizens of the
forest. There is ever to be feared the lurking German patrol that trains
its dozen rifles upon the driver, knowing full well that he must sit and
quietly face it out, or the lorry, once out of control, plunges against
a tree and becomes, with both its drivers, the prey of these marauders.
So, while his mate fumbles with the bolt lever of his rifle, the driver
takes a firmer grip of the wheel, gives her more "juice," and plunges
headlong down the road. At Handeni I once had a driver with five bullets
in him; they had not stopped him until he reached safety, and his mate
was able to take over. Nor does this exhaust the risks of his job, for
there is the land mine, buried in the soft dust of the road, or beneath
the crazy bridge. Laid at night by the patrol that harasses our lines of
communication, they are the special danger of the first convoy to come
along the road in the morning. Troops we have not to spare to guard
these long lines of ours, so, in particularly dangerous places, the
driver carries a small guard of soldiers on the top of his freight
behind him. Native patrols, very wise at noticing any derangement of the
surface dust, patrol the highways at dawn to lift these unwelcome
souvenirs from the roads.

From South Africa, from home, and from Canada, come the drivers and
mechanics of the motor transport. The Canadians, stout fellows from
Toronto, Winnipeg, and the Far West, enlisted in the British A.S.C. in
Canada, and arrived in England only to be sent to East Africa. It seems
at first sight a strange country to which to send these men from the
north, but in fact it was a very happy choice. For they got away from
the cold dampness of England and Flanders into the summer seas of the
South Atlantic, where the flying fish and rainbow nautilus filled them
with surprise. Cape Town and Durban must have been for these Canadian
lads a new world only previously envisaged by them, in the big all-red
map that hangs on the walls of Canadian schools, A little difficult at
first, apt to chafe at the restrictions that, though perhaps not
necessary for themselves in particular, were yet essential in preserving
discipline in the whole mixed unit, rather inclined to resent certain
phases of soldier life. But soon they settled down to do their job, to
take trouble over their work rather than make trouble by grousing over
it. Well they proved their worth by the number that now fill the
non-commissioned ranks, and may be judged by the commendation of their
commanding officers. I used to think that they came to see me in
particular, at the long sick parades I held in Morogoro and Handeni,
because I too lived, like some of them, in British Columbia. I cannot
flatter my soul by thinking that they came for the special quality of
the quinine or medical advice I dished out to them. It may have been
that they were far from home, and I seemed a friend in a very strange

All I know is, that I felt a great compliment was paid to me that they
should be grateful for the often hurried and small attentions that I
could give them. They would sometimes bring me Canadian papers that took
me back two and a half years, to the time when I came to England on a
six weeks' holiday from my work, a holiday that has now spun out to
three and a half years, and shows every sign of going further still.
Very well these men stood the climate, in spite of their fair colouring,
in a country that penalises the blonde races more than the brown, that
makes us pay for our want of protective pigment. One stout fellow I well
remember, who had acute appendicitis at Morogoro, was the driver, or
engineer as they are called, of a Grand Trunk Pacific train that ran
from Edmonton in Alberta to Prince Rupert on the Pacific. We operated
upon him, and, though he did very well, yet he must have suffered many
things from our want of nursing in his convalescence. Very considerate
and uncomplaining he was, like all the good fellows in our hospital,
giving no trouble, and making every allowance for our difficulties. In
fact, the great trouble one has among soldiers, is to get them to make
any complaint to their own medical officer. If one suggests things to
them or asks them leading questions, they will sometimes admit to
certain deficiencies in food or treatment by the orderlies. But of what
one did oneself or what the German sister left undone, there was never a
complaint to me; though I rather think there were many grouses when once
they left the hospital. It seemed to me that it was not that they didn't
know better, or that they didn't know that certain things were wrong,
for it is a very intelligent army, this of ours, and has been in
hospital before in civil life, but all along I felt that they did not
like to hurt one's feelings by not getting well as quickly as they
might, and that they often pretended to a degree of comfort and ease
from pain that I'm sure was not the fact. But this phase is often met
with in civil life too, a doctor has much to be grateful for that many
of his patients insist on getting well or saying that they are better,
just to please him.

The German surgical sister was always kind to our men, and when the
serious state of the wound was past she would do the dressings herself,
while I went about some other work. Our men liked her, and I remember
that our Canadian engine driver offered her, in his kindly way, to give
her a free pass on the Grand Trunk Railway. He little knew that this
German sister represented no small part of two big German shipping
companies that could once have provided her with free passes over any
railway in the world. I had under me, too, a couple of Canadian drivers
whose lorry in crossing one of the ramshackle bridges over a river, hit
the railing on the side and plunged to the rocky depths below. A loose
tree-trunk that formed the roadbed of the bridge had jerked the steering
wheel from the driver's hands. Over went the lorry on top of them, and
the mercy of Providence only interposed a big rock that left room below
for the two drivers to escape the crushing that would have killed them.
Badly bruised only, they left me later to recover of their contusion in
the hospital at Dar-es-Salaam.


"Please give us a drop of Johnnie Walker before you do my dressing,"
said my Irish sergeant, who had lost his leg in the fight at Kangata.
Lest you might think that by "Johnnie Walker" he asked for his favourite
brand of whiskey, I may tell you that we had no stimulant of that kind
with us. It was chloroform he wanted to dull the pain that dressing his
severed nerves entailed. Always full of cheer and blarney, he kept our
ward alive, only when the time for daily dressing came round did his
countenance fall. Then anxious eyes begged for ease from pain. But this
once over, he laid his tired dirty face upon the embroidered pillow and
jested of all the things the careful German housewife would say could
she but see her embroidered sheets and the blue silk cushion from her
drawing-room that kept his amputated leg from jars. We had no water to
wash the men, barely enough for cooking and for surgical dressings, but
there were silk bedspreads and eiderdown quilts and all the treasures of
German sitting-rooms. And the fact that they were taken from the Germans
was balm to these wounded men.

There was Murray, a regimental sergeant-major, his leg badly broken by
the lead slug from a German Askari's rifle, ever the fore-most at the
padre's services, chanting the responses and leading all the hymns. And
Wehmeyer, the young Boer, who had accidentally blown a great hole
through his leg above the ankle joint. And Green, the Rhodesian sergeant
who had been brought in, almost _in extremis_, with blackwater. Nor was
his condition improved by the experience of having been blown up in the
ambulance by a land mine, hidden in the thick dust of the road. Thrown
into the air by the force of the explosion, the car had turned over on
him and the driver, who was killed. And there was Becker the blue-eyed
German prisoner with a bullet through his femoral artery and his hip.
Blanched from loss of blood before I could tie the vessel and stanch the
bleeding, his leg suspended in our improvised splints, and on his way to
make a splendid recovery. And Taube, another German prisoner, shot
through the abdomen, and recovering after his operation. Gentle and
conciliatory, with eyes of a frightened rabbit, he was the son of the
great Taube, the physiologist of Dresden.

Cheek by jowl, in the best bed, was Zahn, the hated Ober-Leutenant,
loathed by his own men, one of whom wrote in his diary that he loved to
see the bombardment of Tanga, "for Zahn was there, the ----, and I hope
he'll meet a 12-inch shell." Jealous of his officer's prerogative, and
disinclined to be nursed in the same ward with our soldiers and his own,
he gave a lot of trouble, demanding inordinately, victimising our
orderly, unashamedly selfish. But he was sheltered from my wrath by the
grave gunshot wound of his thigh. Cowardly under suffering, he was in
striking contrast to Becker, who stood graver pain with hardly a flinch.
After a great struggle he was eventually moved to Korogwe to the
stationary hospital. There it became necessary to amputate his leg, and
Zahn surrendered what little courage he had left. "No leg to-night, no
Zahn to-morrow," he said to his nurse. And he was right, for at eleven
that night he had no leg, and at two the next morning there was no Zahn
upon this earth.

And there was Sergeant Eve of the South African Infantry, who got a
D.C.M., a Londoner, and of unquenchable good humour. Vastly pleased with
the daily bottle of stout we got for him with such difficulty, from
supplies, he faced the awful daily dressing of his shattered leg without
flinching, pretending to great comfort and an excellent position of his
splint, which his crooked leg and my practised eye belied.

And there was Smith, yet a boy, but who always felt "champion" and
"quite comfortable," though his days were few in the land and his pain
must have been very severe. Yet in his case he had days of that merciful
euthanasia, the wonderful ease from pain that sometimes lasts for days
before the end. In great contrast with these was an individual with a
wound through the fleshy part of the thigh, by far the least seriously
wounded of all in the ward, who never failed with his unending requests
to the patient orderlies and his eternal complainings, until a public
dressing-down from me brought him to heel. And Glover who wept that I
had lost his bullet, that unforgivable carelessness in a surgeon that
allows a bullet, removed at an operation, to be thrown away with
discarded dressings.

But, of all, the perfect prince was De La Motte, a subaltern in the 29th
Punjabis, ever the leader of the dangerous patrols along the native bush
paths that give themselves so readily to ambush. Shot through the spine
and paralysed below the waist his life was only a question of months.
But if he had little time to live, he had determined to see it through
with a gay courage that was wonderful to see. Previously wounded in
France, he yet seemed, though he cannot possibly have been in ignorance,
to be buoyed up with the perfect faith in recovery with which fractured
spines so often are endowed; never asking me awkward questions, he made
it so easy for me to do his daily dressing, so grateful for small
attentions, and so ready to believe me when I told him that it was only
a question of weeks before he would be home again. And in spite of all
fears I have just heard he did get home to see his people, and by his
cheerful courage to rob Death of all his terrors.


Up the wide stone steps, under the arch of purple Bougainvillea and you
are in my operating theatre. A curtain of mosquito gauze screens it from
the vulgar gaze. Behind these big wooden doors a week ago was the office
of this erstwhile German jail. To the left and right, now all clean and
white painted, were the living rooms of the German jailor and his wife,
but for the present they are transformed into special wards for severely
wounded men. On the lime-washed wall and very carefully preserved is
"_Gott strafe England_" which the late occupants wrote in charcoal as
they fled. Strange how all German curses come home to roost, and move us
to the ridicule that hurts the Hun so much and so surely penetrates his
pachydermatous hide. That the "Hymn of Hate" should be with us a cause
for jest, and "strafe" be adopted, with enthusiasm, into the English
language, he cannot understand. To him, as often to our own selves, we
shall always be incomprehensible.

Through the gauze screen on to the white operating table passed all the
flotsam of wounded humanity in the summer months. All the human wreckage
that marked the savage bush fighting from German Bridge to Morogoro came
to me upon this table. And its white cleanness, our towels and surgical
gloves and overalls, filled them with a sense of comfort and of safety
after weary and perilous journeys, that was in no way detracted from by
the gleaming instruments laid out beside the table. Even this chamber of
pain was a haven of refuge to these broken men after long jolting rides
over execrable roads.

But a particularist among surgeons would have found much to disapprove
of in this room. Cracks in the stone floor let in migrating bands of red
ants that no disinfectant would drive away. Arrow slit windows, high up
in the walls, gave ingress to the African swallow, redheaded and
red-backed, whose tuneful song was a perpetual delight. His nests
adorned the frieze, but they were full of squeaking youngsters and we
could not shut the parents out. So we banished them during operating
hours by screens of mosquito gauze; and to reward us, they sang to our
bedridden men from ward window-sills.

But despite these shortcomings of the operating theatre itself, we did
good work here, and got splendid results. For God was good, and the
clean soil took pity upon our many deficiencies. Earth, that in France
or Gallipoli hid the germs of gangrene and tetanus, here merely produced
a mild infection. Lucky for us that we did not need to inject the
wounded with tetanus antitoxin. But an added charm was given to our work
by the necessity of improvisation. Broken legs were put up in plaster
casings with metal interruptions, so that the painful limb might be at
rest, and yet the wound be free for daily dressings. The Huns left us
plaster of Paris, damp indeed but still serviceable after drying; the
corrugated iron roofing of the native jail provided us with the
necessary metal. Then by metal hoops the leg was slung from home-made
cradles, and I defy the most modern hospital to show me anything more
comfortable or efficient. Broken thighs were suspended in slings from
poles above the bed, painted the red, white and black that marked German
Government Survey posts. Naturally in a field hospital such as this, we
had no nurses; but our orderlies, torn from mine shafts of Dumfriesshire
and the engine sheds of the North British Railway, did their best, and
compensated by much kindliness for their lack of nursing training.

Sadly in need were we of trained nurses; for the bedsores that developed
in the night were a perpetual terror. Ring pillows we made out of grass
and bandages, but a fractured thigh, as you know, must lie upon his
back, and we had little enough rectified spirit to harden the
complaining flesh. But nurses we could not have at so advanced a post as
this. The saving factor of all our work lay in the natural goodness of
the men. They felt that many things were not right; for ours is a highly
intelligent army and knows more of medicine and surgery than we, in our
blindness, realise. But they made light of their troubles, as they
learnt the difficulties we laboured with. So grateful were they for
small attentions. That we should go out of our way to take pains to
obtain embroidered sheets and lace-edged pillows, absolved us in their
eyes from all the want of surgical nursing. Liberal morphia we had to
give to compensate for nursing defects. I have long felt that I would
rather work for sick soldiers than for any class of humanity; and in
fifteen years I have come to know the sick human animal in all his
forms. So that the least that one could do was to scheme to get the
precious egg by private barter with the natives, and to find the silk
pillow that spelt comfort, but was the anathema of asepsis. No wonder
that such splendid and uncomplaining victims spurred us to our best
endeavours and made of toil a very joy.


This is the season of blackwater fever, the pestilence that stalks in
the noontide and the terror of tropical campaigning. Hitherto with the
exception of the Rhodesians who have had this disease previously in
their northern territory, or men who have come from the Congo or the
shores of the Great Lakes, our army has been fairly free from this dread
visitation. The campaigning area of the coast and the railway line of
British East Africa that gave our men malaria in plenty during the first
two years of war, had not provided many of those focal areas in which
this disease is distributed. The Loyal North Lancashires and the 25th
Royal Fusiliers had been but little affected. The Usambara Valley along
the Tanga-Moschi railway was also fairly free. On the big trek from
Kilimanjaro to Morogoro the blackwater cases were almost entirely
confined to Rhodesians and to the Kashmiris, who suffer in this way in
their native mountains of Nepal. But once we struck the Central Railway
and penetrated south towards the delta of the Rufigi the tale was
different. British and South African troops began to arrive in the grip
of this fell malady. It was written on their faces as they were lifted
from ambulance or mule waggon. There was no need to seek the cause in
the scrap of paper that was the sick report. All who ran could read it
in the blanched lips, the grey-green pallor of their faces, the
jaundiced eye, the hurried breathing. Thereupon came three days'
struggle with Azrael's pale shape before the blackwater gave place to
the natural colour again, or until the secreting mechanism gave up the
contest altogether and the Destroying Angel settled firmly on his prey.
At first, if there was no vomiting, it was easy to ply the hourly drinks
of tea and water and medicine. But once deadly and exhausting vomiting
had begun, one could no longer feed the victim by the mouth. Then came
the keener struggle for life, for fluid was essential and had to be
given by other ways and means. Into the soft folds of the skin of the
arm-pits, breast and flanks we ran in salt solution by the pint. The
veins of the arms we brought into service, that we might pour in this
vitalising fluid. Day and night the fight goes on for three days, until
it is won or lost. Here again, as in tick fever, we use the preparation
606, for which we are indebted to the great Ehrlich. Champagne is a
great stand-by. So well recognised is the latter remedy that all old
hands at tropical travel take with them a case of "bubbly water" for
such occasions as these. Blessed morphia, too, brings ease of vomiting
and is a priceless boon.

You ask me the cause of this disease, and I have to admit that among the
authorities themselves there are no settled convictions. Some hold--and
for my part I am with them--that the attack is caused by quinine given
in too large a dose to a subject who is rotten with malaria. But there
are others who maintain that it is a malarial manifestation only, and
that the big dose of quinine, which seems to some to precipitate the
attack, is only a coincidence. Be that as it may, there is little
difference in the treatment adopted by either school. Death achieves his
victory as frequently with one as with another. Certain it is that, to
the common mind, quinine is the reputed cause and is avoided in large
doses by men who have once had blackwater, or who are in that low rotten
state that predisposes to it. In one point all agree, that one must be
saturated with malaria before blackwater can develop. So great is the
aversion shown by some men to the big doses of quinine as laid down by
regulations, that men have often refused to take their quinine. Others,
too, who have protested at first, take their quinine ration only to find
themselves in the grip of this disease within twelve hours. Such a case
was a Frenchman named Canarie (and the colour of his face, upon
admission, did not belie his name), who had been treated for blackwater
fever by the great Koch in Uganda many years before, and had been warned
by him against big doses of quinine. That evening he was on my hands,
fortunately soon to recover, and to win a prolonged convalescent leave
out of this rain to the sunny and non-malarial slopes of Wynberg.

Seldom do the rumbling ambulances roll in but among their human freight
is some poor wretch snoring into unconsciousness or in the throes of
epileptiform convulsions. Custom has sharpened our clinical instinct,
and where, in civil life, we would look for meningitis, now we only
write cerebral malaria, and search the senseless soldier's pay-book for
the name that we may put upon the "dangerous list." As this name is
flashed 12,000 miles to England, I sometimes wonder what conception of
malaria his anxious relatives can have.

For there is no aspect of brain diseases that cerebral malaria cannot
simulate; deep coma or frantic struggling delirium. A drop of blood from
the lobe of the ear and the microscope reveals the deadly
"crescents"--the form the subtertian parasite assumes in this condition.
No time this for waiting or expectant treatment. Quinine must be given
in huge doses, regardless of the danger of blackwater, and into the
muscles or, dissolved in salt solution, into the veins. The Germans have
left me some fine hollow needles that practice makes easy to pass into
the distended swollen veins. Through this needle large doses of quinine
are injected, and in six hours usually no crescent remains to be seen.
As a rule, conscious life returns to these senseless bodies after some
hours; but, unhappily, such success does not always crown our efforts.
Then it is the padre's turn, and in the cool of the following afternoon
the firing party, with arms reversed, toils behind our sky-pilot to that
graveyard on the sunlit slopes of Mount Uluguru, where our surgical
failures are put to rest.

One can always tell, you know, the onset of such a complication as this;
for when one finds the victim of malaria hazy and stupid after his fever
has abated; and, more especially, if he develops wandering tendencies,
leaving his stretcher at night to choose another bed in the ward, often
to the protesting consternation of its present occupant, then one passes
the word to Sister Elizabeth to get the transfusion apparatus ready. I
shall not readily forget one stout fellow, a white company
sergeant-major in the Gold Coast Regiment, who was lost in the bush and
discovered after many days in the grip of this fell disease. Him they
bore swiftly to me at Handeni, and after many injections and convulsions
innumerable, he was restored to conscious life again. Sent back by me
eventually to Korogwe with a letter advising his invaliding out of the
country, he opened and read my report upon the way. But he was of those
who do not take kindly to invaliding. Who would run his machine-gun
section, if he were away, and his battalion in action? Who like he could
know the language and the little failings of his dusky machine-gun crew
that he had trained so long and so carefully in the Cameroon? So he
appeared in the books of the Stationary Hospital at Korogwe as an
ordinary case of convalescent malaria on his own statement. And when
they would send him still further back to M'buyuni he broke out from
hospital one night, and, with his native orderly, boarded the train to
Railhead and marched the other 200 miles to Morogoro. Here I met him on
the road starting out on the next long trek of 125 miles to Kissaki. For
news had come to him that the Gold Coast Regiment had been in action and
their impetuous courage rewarded by captured enemy guns and a long
casualty list. But he was determined and unrepentant, one of his beloved
machine-guns had been put out of action. How could I hold him back? So
joining forces with another white sergeant of his regiment, who was
hardly recovered from a wound, these two good fellows set out with a
note that, _this_ time, was not to be destroyed, for the instruction of
their regimental doctor.

A third scourge responsible for frequent admissions into hospital is
"tick-fever." Rather an unpleasant name, isn't it? And in its course and
effect it fully acts up to its reputation. More commonly known as
"relapsing fever," this illness attacks men who have been sleeping on
the floor of native huts, which in this country are swarming with these
parasites. Once in seven days for five or seven weeks these men burn
with high fever--higher and more violent even than malaria--but sooner
over. As you may imagine, it leaves them very debilitated; for no sooner
does the victim recover from one attack than another is due. The ticks
that are the host of the spirillum, the actual cause of the disease,
live in the soft earth on the floor of native huts at the junction of
the vertical cane rods and the soil. Here, by scraping, you may discover
hundreds of these loathsome beasts in every foot of wall. But they are
fortunately different from the grass ticks that, though unpleasant, are
not dangerous to man. For the tick that carries the spirillum is blind
and cannot climb any smooth surface. So to one sleeping on a bed or even
a native "machela" above the ground, he is harmless. But woe betide the
tired soldier who attempts to escape the tropical rain by taking refuge
on the floor. In sleep he is attacked, and when his blind assailant is
full of blood he drops off; so the soldier may never know that he has
been bitten. I got twelve cases alone from one company of the
Rhodesians, who sheltered in a native village near Kissaki. Of course,
not every tick is infected, and for that we have to be very grateful. At
the height of the fever the spirillum appears in the blood as an
attenuated, worm-like creature, actively struggling and squirming among
the blood corpuscles. A drop of blood taken from the ear shows hundreds
of these young snakes beneath the microscope. For the cure we are again
indebted to that excellent Hun bacteriologist Ehrlich, who gave us
.606--a strong arsenical preparation that we dissolve in a pint of salt
solution, and inject into the veins at the height of the paroxysm of
fever. This definitely destroys the spirillum, and no further attacks of
fever result; but this injection, once its work is done, does not confer
immunity from other attacks. It is typical of the Hun and his
anti-Semitic feelings that Ehrlich, the most distinguished of German
scientists, perhaps, after Koch, has never received the due reward of
all the distinction he has conferred on German medicine, for the offence
that he was a Jew. We should have honoured him, as we have done Jenner
or Lister.

Relapsing, or _Rueckfall_ fever, as the Germans call it, was one of the
common dodges used by them to deceive the ingenuous British doctor. For
the subtle Hun prisoner knew that, if he pretended to this disease, it
would win him at least a week in the grateful comfort of a hospital, and
perchance the ministering joys conferred by German nursing sisters,
until the expected relapse did not occur; then the British doctor,
realising the extent of his deception, would thrust these shameless
malingerers to the cold comfort of the prison camp.

How is it, you might ask me, that there are any natives left, if
tropical Africa is so full of such beastly diseases as this? Is it that
the native is naturally immune, or is it that the white man is of such a
precious quality that he alone is attacked by these parasites and
poisonous biting flies? The fact is that the native is affected also,
and in childhood chiefly, so that the infant mortality in many native
tribes is very high. And there is little doubt that repeated attacks of
malaria in youth, if recovered from, do confer a kind of protection
against attacks in adult life. But this is not the case with newly
introduced disease; for the sleeping sickness that came to Uganda along
the caravan routes from the Congo, has swept away fully a million of the
natives along the shores of Lake Victoria Nyanza.

But the native has a sure sense of the unhealthiness of any locality,
and one must be prepared for trouble when one notices that the native
villages are built up on the hillsides. This was specially remarked by
us on our long trek down the Pangani, and thus we were warned of the
fever that lurked in the bright green lush meadows beside the water, and
the "fly" that soon overtook our transport mules and cattle and the
horses of General Brits' 2nd Mounted Brigade. At first we thought the
columns of smoke along the mountain-sides beside the Pangani were signal
fires for the enemy; but before long, when the roads were choked with
victims of "fly" and horse-sickness, we realised the wisdom that induced
the simple native to take his sheep and cattle up the hillsides and
above the danger zone. When one spends only a short time in some native
huts, it is quite clear how he escapes infection. For the floor is
covered with a layer of wood ashes that is usually deadly to bugs and
fleas and ticks and other crawling beasts; and the atmosphere is so full
of wood smoke that the most enterprising mosquito or tsetse-fly would
flee, as we do, choking from the acrid smoke. So the native fire that
burns within his hut day and night not only serves to cook his food and
to keep wild beasts away, but also supplies him with an excellent form
of Keating's Powder for the floor and smoke to drive the winged insects
from the grateful warmth of his fireside.


Lying beside the road with outstretched neck and a spume of white froth
on nose and muzzle are the horses of the 2nd Mounted Brigade; with
bodies swollen by the decomposition that sets in so rapidly in this sun,
and smelling to high heaven, are the fine young horses that came so
gallantly through Kahe some ten days ago. "Brits' violets" the Tommies
call them, as they seek a site to windward to pitch their tents.
"Hyacinths" they mutter, as the wind changes in the night, and drives
them choking from their blankets, illustrating the truth of the South
African "Kopje-Book" maxim, "One horse suffices to move a camp--if he be
dead enough." For weeks after the Brigade passed through M'Kalamo the
air was full of stench, and the bush at night alive with lions coming
for the feast. For this is horse-sickness, the plague that strikes an
apparently healthy horse dead in his tracks, while the Boer trooper
hastily removes bridle and saddle and picks another horse from the drove
of remounts that follow after. No time to drag the body off the road; so
the huge motor lorries choose another track in the bush to avoid this
unwholesome obstruction.

Horse-sickness takes ten short days to develop after infection, and the
organism is so tiny that it passes through the finest filter and is
ultramicroscopic. That means that it is too small to be recognised by
the high power of an ordinary microscope. There was horse-sickness in
the bush meadows beside the river near Kahe. Careless troopers watered
their horses, after sundown, when the dew was on the grass and death
lurked in the evening moisture where it had been absent in the dry heat
of the afternoon.


Two very busy days were before us when the wounded came in from Kissaki,
so badly shaken and so pale and wan after their journey. They had been
cared for by the Field Ambulance before I got them, and by the
extraordinary excellence of the surgery paid the greatest of tributes to
the care of the surgeons in front. The German hospital there, half
finished--for our advance had been far ahead of German calculations--
fell into our hands and with it a German doctor and some nurses. The
nurses had been very kind to our men and worked well for our doctors,
but they had followed the usual German custom in this country, of being
too liberal with morphia. That this drug can become a curse is well
known, though it is, when given in reason, the greatest blessing, the
most priceless boon of war. One feels perhaps that the sisters had given
it without the surgeon's knowledge, and not entirely to give ease from
pain, but also perhaps to give rest to the ward, the quiet that would
allow these over-worked women to get some sleep themselves. It was
written on the faces of the three amputation cases that they had had too
much morphia. And as this drug robs men of their appetite, keeps them
thin, and prevents their wounds from healing, it became my unpleasant
task to break them of it. This was only to be done by hardening one's
heart, by giving bromide and stout, and insisting on the egg and milk
that interspaced all meals. It is so easy to get a reputation for
kindness by being too complacent in giving way to requests for morphia.
It made one feel such an absolute brute to disregard the wistful
pleading eye, the hands that tugged at the mosquito curtains to show
they were awake, when, late at night, I made my evening round. But it
had to be done, and I fear the work and the sun and the tropics made
one's temper very short, particularly when it was only possible by
losing one's temper to preserve the indifference to these influences
that was necessary to complete the cure. It was very hard on them at the
time, especially as they were rotten with malaria and tick fever, in
addition to their wounds. But there were other ways in which one made it
up to them, if they did but know it. Nor did they see that quinine given
by the veins, so much more trouble to me and to the sister, was better
for them than the quinine tablet that was so easily swallowed, and so
ineffectual. Nor could they, one thought, always know that 606 had to be
given for tick fever, and that it was of no value save when given at the
height of fever, when they felt so miserable and so disinclined to be

There was Shelley, the Irishman, a big policeman from Johannesburg,
badly wounded in the thigh. He had been taken prisoner by the Germans
and remained so for three days, until our next advance found him
installed in the German hospital. His wound was so bad that amputation
alone was left to do. When the worst of the dressings was over and the
stage of daily change of gauze and bandage had arrived, he always liked
Sister Elizabeth to do his dressings. Sister's hands were much more
gentle than mine, and Shelley always associated me with pain, little
knowing that, if a dressing is to be well and properly done, it is
always inseparable from a certain amount of suffering. But I saw through
his blarney, and he was added to the list of those who preferred
sister's hands to my attentions.

And there was Rose, a mere lad, who had also lost a leg from wounds; he
lay awake at night, though not in great pain, during the process of
breaking him of the morphia habit. When I pretended not to hear his
little moan, as I made my evening round, he tugged at his mosquito
curtain to show that he was awake. But asperin and bromide and a nightly
drink of hot brandy and water soon broke off this habit. After that it
was easy to cut off the alcohol by degrees as he grew to like his eggs
in milk the more. He, too, always had some reason why Sister should do
his dressings, and I think that Sister Elizabeth and he plotted together
that I should have some other more important job to do when Rose's turn
came to go upon the table.

Then there was Parsons, the printer, who in times of peace produced the
_Rand Daily Mail_; he had also lost a leg and he surprised me with his
special knowledge of the various qualities of paper.

In the corner of the verandah that had been turned into an extra ward by
screening it off with native reed-fencing was Gilfillan, the most
perfect patient. Propping his foot against the wall to correct the
foot-drop that division of the nerve of his leg had caused, he had
passed many sleepless nights in his long and wearisome convalescence.

Beside the door, beckoning to me in a mysterious manner, was Drury, a
trooper in the South African Horse. In his eyes a suspicious light, as
he earnestly requested to be moved. "For God's sake take me away,
they're trying to poison my food; and those Germans over there are going
to shoot me to-night." This poor lad had been shot badly through the
shoulder, and only by the skill of Moffat, the surgeon from Cape Town,
had he retained what was left of his shattered arm. Now malaria, in
addition, had him in its grip, and his mental condition told me plainly
that his brain was being affected. With the greatest difficulty Sister
Elizabeth and I persuaded him to undergo the quinine transfusion into
his veins that restored him to sober sense the next day. "I really did
think those two German prisoners were going to shoot me," he said. But
the two prisoners in his ward were more afraid of him than he of them,
and their broken legs, for they had got in the way of one of our
machine-guns, precluded any movement from their beds. Our men were
extraordinarily kind to German prisoners in the ward. The Boers were
different; they were never unkind, but they ignored them completely, for
the Union of South Africa had too much to forgive in the Rebellion and
in German South-West Africa. "Now then, Fritz, there ain't no bleeding
sausage for you this morning;" and Fritz, smilingly obedient, stretched
out his hand for the cold bacon that was his breakfast. Toward the end
Sister Hildegarde was just as kind to our men as she was to her own
people, and she was highly indignant with me when I stopped the night
orderly from waking her, early one morning, when I had to transfuse a
blackwater case with salt solution. She thought, she who had had quite
enough to do the day before, that I did not call her because I thought
she did not want to get up. She felt that I was tacitly drawing a
distinction between her conduct of that morning and the self-denial of
the other night, when she and Elizabeth sat up all night and day with a
German soldier who had perforated his intestines during an attack of
typhoid fever. I had operated upon him to close the hole the typhoid
ulcer had made. The German doctor, to whom we had given his liberty, in
order that he might attend the civil population, and whom I had called
in consultation over the case, had disagreed with our diagnosis. But I
had overruled him, and at the operation was glad to be able to show him
and the German sisters that our diagnosis was right, and that I was not
operating on him just because he happened to be a prisoner of war. The
German sisters were grateful to us for getting up at night and in the
early morning to give him the salt solution that might save his life,
and they repaid it in the only way they could, by kindness to our men.
But in any case they could not help liking our sick soldiers, and many
is the time that they have been indignant with me for deficiencies in
food and equipment which I could not help. "Our German soldiers would
have complained until their cries reached Lettow himself," they said,
"if they had to put up with what you make your soldiers endure."

And if, at first, Hildegarde, of the sour and disapproving face, did
little irregular things for wounded German soldiers, faked temperature
charts, prepared little forbidden meals at night, and in other ways
pretended to a degree of illness in her German soldiers that my clinical
eye refused to see, I could not altogether blame her. When I remembered
the treatment that I saw our sick and wounded prisoners in Germany get
from the Hun doctor, I was often furious, and determined to do a bit of
"strafing" on my own. But I could not forget that the French and Belgian
nurses did just the same for our wounded in German hands, adding
bandages to unwounded limbs, describing to the German doctor our
sleepless nights of pain when the walls of that French convent had
echoed only to our snores, preparing delicious feasts, at night, for us
to compensate for German rations, and in many ways contriving to keep us
longer in their hands and to postpone the journey that would land us in
the vileness of a German prison hospital. Hildegarde had her troubles
too, for she had not heard for two years of her lover in Germany, whose
mild and bespectacled face peered from a photograph in her room. He did
not look to be made of heroic mould, but who can tell? Long ago he may
have bitten the dust of Flanders or found another sweetheart to console
him. And the native hospital boys, swift to recognise the changes of war
and the comparative leniency of British discipline, got out of hand and
failed to clean and scrub as they did in former days. Then I would
inquire and uphold Hildegarde, and the recalcitrant Mahomed would be
marched off to receive fifteen of the best from the Provost Sergeant.


"Jambo bwona," and the sycophantic Ali would leap to his feet and raise
the dirty red fez that adorned his head. "Jambo," said Nazoro, the
senior boy, standing to attention. For Nazoro was a Wanyamwezi from Lake
Tanganyika and disdained any of Ali's dodges to conciliate me. Graceful
as a deer was Nazoro, and a good Askari lost in a better operating-room
boy. This was my morning greeting as I peeped in before breakfast to see
that the operating theatre was swept and garnished for the day's work.
"Good morning," said Elizabeth, looking up from the steriliser where she
was preparing instruments for the morning operations.

Educated partly in England and speaking the language perfectly, she
hated us only a little less than the other Germans. But she was good at
her job and conscientious, and a very great help to us. Always as
cheerful as one could expect a woman to be who worked for the English
soldiers and dressed the wounds of men to fit them to return to the
field to fight against her people again. Who knows that the tall
Rhodesian, from whose feet she so skilfully removed the "jiggers" and
cleansed the wounds of a long trek, would not, all the sooner for her
care, perhaps be drawing a bead upon her husband in the near future?
Very proud was Elizabeth of her husband's Iron Cross that the Kaiser had
sent by wireless only last week; news of which was told to her by a
wounded prisoner just brought in. For her husband, who, to judge from
his wife's description, must have been quite a good fellow for a Hun,
was in command of one of the "Schutzen" companies down near the Rufigi.
He, too, had lived long in England to learn the ways of English shipping
companies that would prove of such value to the Deutsch Ost-Afrika Line.
So jubilant was she at the news that I had to give her a half-holiday to
recover; twice only in the four months we worked together was Elizabeth
as happy: once when she got a letter, by the infinite kindness of

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