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Sketches of the East Africa Campaign by Robert Valentine Dolbey

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General Smuts, from her husband, and another time when a letter came
from Switzerland to tell her of her baby in Hamburg, her mother, and the
two brothers that were in the cavalry in the advance into Russia. At
first, I must confess, I thought that this charming and intelligent lady
had offered to work for us, especially as she refused our pay, in order
to get information of the regiments and the prevailing diseases and sick
rate of our army. Soon I had reason to know that she played the game,
and stayed only in order to work to help the prisoners of her own
people, and our wounded too. For any day her husband might want help
from us or might be brought in wounded to our hospital, where she could
nurse and tend to him herself. Our men liked to be attended by her, for
she was gentler far than I and never short-tempered with them.

Nazoro we found in chains on our arrival for the offence of having
attacked a German, and only his usefulness in the operating theatre
saved him from the prison. In spite of the disapproval of Elizabeth and
other Germans, I struck off the chains, feeling that he very probably
had good excuse for his offence. But the Germans never failed to point
out what a dangerous man he was. Once indeed he was slack and casual, so
I promptly ordered him to be "kibokoed," and thereafter I could find no
fault in his work and behaviour. Possessed of three wives, for he was
passing rich on sixteen rupees a month, he asked one day for leave to
celebrate the arrival of his first son. This I granted, only to be
assailed a fortnight later by requests for leave to attend his
grandmother's funeral, and to see a sick friend. But these had a
familiar ring about them, and were not successful in procuring the lazy
day that is so beloved by African humanity.

But Ali was of a different mould; small and slight and anxious to
please, he was nevertheless swift to leave his work when once my back
was turned. Forsaken in love--for he had been deserted by his wife--he
had forsworn the sex and buried his sorrows in "Pombe," the Kaffir beer
that effectually deprived him of what little intelligence he had. He was
a "fundi" at taking out jiggers, and sat for hours at the feet of our
foot-soldiers; quickly adopting an air of authority that occasionally
brought him swift blows from East African troopers, who do not tolerate
easily such airs in a native, he produced the unbroken jigger flea with
unfailing regularity and prescribed the pail of disinfectant in which
the tortured feet were soaked. Another long suit of his was the bandage
machine, and the hours he could steal away from real work were spent in
endless windings of washed though much stained bandages.

The German women hated us far more even than did the men; nor did those
who, like Elizabeth, knew England, fail to believe any the less the
German stories of English wickedness. When I told her of Portugal's
entry into the war, and how our ancient and hereditary ally had handed
over to England sixty out of the seventy-one German ships she had taken
in her ports, Elizabeth snorted with rage and said that England, of
course, forced all the little nations to fight against Germany.

One of my friends, and not the least welcome, was Corporal Nel. A Boer,
he had come up from the Union with Brits. Tiring of war, he chose the
nobler part played by the guard that cherishes German captured cattle.
Swiftly losing his job owing to an outbreak of East Coast fever among
his herd, he took to a vagabond's life. Wanted by the police in the
Union, I am told, he avoided his regiment and lived with the natives.
Forced to come to me one night with an attack of angina pectoris, he was
grateful for the ease from suffering that amyl-nitrite, morphia and
brandy gave in that exquisitely painful affliction. Accordingly he
consented to organise some natives who should be armed with passes
signed by me, and illuminated with Red Crosses and other impressive
signs, and collect eggs and chickens and fruit for my patients in
hospital. So impressed were the natives with the Ju-Ju conferred by my
illumination of these passes with coloured chalks, that they brought me
a daily and most welcome supply of these necessaries for our men. But
the arm of the Law is long, and it sought out Corporal Nel within the
native hut in which he made his home. And soon, to my sorrow and the
infinite grief of our lambs in hospital, for whom those eggs, chickens,
mangoes, and bananas spelt so much in the way of change of food, the
Provost Sergeant had this wanderer in his chitches.


"What do I think of this country, and how does the Hun of East Africa
compare with his European brother?" you ask me. Well, to begin with the
Colony, as of the greater importance, I must confess to be very taken
with it, and I hope most sincerely that our Government will never give
it back. Though it is not so suited as British East Africa for European
colonisation, there are yet great areas of sufficient elevation to allow
of white women and children living, for years, without suffering much
from the vertical sun and the fevers of the country. There are many
places where one only sees a mosquito for three months of the year, the
soil is very fertile, and labour not only willing and efficient, but
also very cheap. The European, too, has learnt to live properly in this
country, and to avoid the midday sun; all offices and works are closed
from twelve to three. If only man would learn wisdom in the amount of
beer he drinks, and the food he eats, the tale of disease would be much

The colony is fully developed with excellent railways, well-built
houses, a tractable and well-disciplined native population.
Dar-es-Salaam in particular, seems to have been the apple of the German
colonial eye. There are fine mission stations in all the healthy regions
of the country, and great plantations of rubber, sisal, cotton, and corn
abound. The white women and children, though rather pasty and washed out
after at least two years' residence in the country, do not appear
debilitated after their long tropical sojourn. The planters have, as a
rule, invested all their belongings in their plantations, and make the
country more a home than our people in East Africa, who are of a more
wealthy and leisured class. Roads have been made and bridges built. In
fact, the pioneering and donkey work has all been done, and the country
only waits for us to step into our new inheritance.

To me it has been a source of surprise that the German, who consistently
drinks beer in huge quantities, takes little or no exercise, and
cohabits with the black women of the country extensively, should have
performed such prodigies of endurance on trek in this campaign. One
would have thought that the Englishman, who keeps his body fitter for
games, eschews beer for his liver's sake, and finds that intimacy with
the native population lowers his prestige, would have done far better in
this war than the German. That in all fairness he has not done so is due
to the fact that we, as an invading army, were unable to look after
ourselves or to care for ourselves in the same way as the German.

We have had to carry kit and heavy ammunition, to sleep with only a
ground sheet beneath us, through the tropic rains, to do without the
shelter and protection of mosquito nets. The German soldier, even a
private in a white or Schutzen Kompanie, as distinct from the
under-officer with an Askari regiment or Feld Kompanie, as it is called,
has had at least eight porters to carry all his kit, his food, his bed,
to have his food ready prepared at the halting-places, and his bed
erected, and mosquito curtains hung. Only on night patrols has he run
risk from the mosquito. "How can you ask your men to carry loads and
then fight as well, in Equatorial Africa?" they say to us. His captured
chop boxes, for each individual is a separate unit and has his own food
carried and prepared for him, have provided us, often, with the only
square meals our men have enjoyed. Never short of food or drink or
porters, ever marching toward his food supplies along a predetermined
line of retreat, the German walks toward his dinner, as our men have
marched away from theirs. Well paid too, five rupees a day pay and three
rupees a day ration money, he had had no stint of eggs and chickens and
the fruit of the country, that have been rarest of luxuries to us. "Far
better if you had had fewer men and done them properly in the matter of
food and hospitals and porters," captured German officers have often
said to me. "How your men can stand it and do such marches is incredible
to us." That is always the tenour of their remarks, their criticism, and
they are clearly right, had such a policy been a practicable one for us,
which it was not. At first the feeling between the soldiers of the two
countries was good and war was conducted, even by them, in a more or
less chivalrous manner. We thought the East African Hun a better fellow
than his European brother. But it was only because he knew the game was
up in East Africa, and thought that he had better behave properly, lest
the retribution, that would be sure to follow, would fall heavily upon
him. Later we found him to be the same old Hun, the identical savage
that we know in Europe; the fear of consequences only restrains him
here. It is his nature and the teaching of his schools and professors.

We have often been amazed at the disclosures from German officers'
pocket-books. In the same oiled silk wrapping we find photographs of his
wife and children, and cheek by jowl with them, the photographs of
abandoned women and filthy pictures, such as can be bought in low
quarters of big European cities. Their absence of taste in these matters
has been incomprehensible to us. When we have taxed them with it, they
are unashamed. "It is you who are hypocrites," they reply; "you like
looking at forbidden pictures, if no one is about to see, but you don't
carry them in your pocket-books. We, however, are natural, we like to
look at such things, why should we not carry them with us?" If this be
hypocrisy, I prefer the company of hypocrites. In their houses it was
the same; disgusting pictures, masquerading in the guise of art, adorned
the walls, evidences of corrupt taste and doubtful practices in every
drawer and cupboard. Even the Commandant of Bukoba, von Stuemer, and his
name did not belie his nature, though, before the war, quite popular
with the British officials and planters of Uganda, had a queer taste in
photography. In the big family album were evidences of his astonishing
domestic life; for there were photographs of him in full regimentals,
with medals and decorations, sitting on a sofa beside his wife, who was
in a state of nature. Others portrayed him without the conventionalities
of clothing, and his wife in evening dress.

Officers from the Cameroon have confirmed the filthy habits of the Huns
and Hunnesses, how they defiled the rooms in the hospital at Duala that
they occupied just before they were sent away; how disgusting were their
habits in the cabins of the fine Atlantic liner that took them back to
Europe. Not that it is their normal custom; it was merely to render the
rooms uninhabitable for us who were to follow, and their special way of
showing contempt and hatred for their foes. Do you wonder that the
stewards and crew of the Union Castle liner struck work rather than
convey and look after these beasts on the voyage to Europe? Our French
missionary padre tells me that it was just the same in Alsace. The
incident at Zabern after the manoeuvres was entirely due to the disgust
and indignation of the French people at the defiling of their beds and
bedrooms by the German soldiers, who had been billeted upon them.


Looting, although you may not know it, is the natural impulse of
primitive man. And in war we are very primitive. To take what does not
belong to one is very natural when a man is persuaded that he can be
absolved from the charge of theft by quoting military necessity. How
surely in war one sheds the conventions of society! It has the
attraction of buried treasure; the charm of getting something for
nothing. But there are different ways or degrees of looting.

Now there were a few of us in German East Africa who had been in the
Retreat from Mons and the subsequent advance to the Marne and beyond it
to the Aisne. Indelibly engraved upon our minds were the pictures of
French chateaux and farmhouses looted by the German troops in their
advance and abandoned to us in their retreat. All along the countless
roads the German transport had pressed, hurrying to the Aisne, were
evidences of the loot of German officers and men. In roadside ditches,
half buried in the late summer vegetation, were pictures and bronzes,
china and statuary, the loot the German officer had chosen to adorn the
walls of his ancestral Schloss. Marble figures leant drunkenly against
the wayside hedges, big brass clocks strewed the ditches. Long before,
of course, had the German rank and file been compelled to jettison their
prizes, for the transport horses were nearly foundered and only
officers' loot could be retained. Later, when the exhaustion of the
horses was complete, and capture of the waggons seemed imminent, the
regimental equipment and food supply, and, finally, the loot of high
officers had to be abandoned. The whole story of that retreat was to be
read in the discard by the roadside. The regimental butcher had clung to
his meat and the implements of his trade until the last; and when we
found the roads littered with carcases of oxen, sacks of pea flour and
sausage machines, we knew that we would shortly find the General's loot
beside the hedge.

In the houses, too, both the chateaux and the comfortable French
farmhouses, we saw what manner of man the Hun could be in the matter of
looting. Where the soldier could not loot he could not refrain from
destroying. Floors were knee-deep in women's gear, household goods,
private letters and all the treasures of French linen chests. Trampled
by muddy German boots were the fine whiteness of French bed-linen. Nor
had the German soldier refrained from the last exhibit of his
"_Kultur_," but left filthy evidences of his bestial habits behind him
to ensure that the bedrooms would be uninhabitable by us.

Remembering all these things we wondered how our men would behave now
that the tables were turned and they in a position to loot the treasures
of many German farms and plantation houses. Of course, divisional orders
against looting and wanton destruction were very strict. Where houses
were at the mercy of small patrols and bodies of our men under
non-commissioned officers, far from the path of the main advancing army,
the temptation to all must have been immense, and it speaks volumes for
the natural goodness of our men and their ingrained sense of order that
never in this whole country was looting done by any of our troops. True
many houses were plundered, and there was a certain amount of wanton
damage; but it was all done by the plundering native or by the Hun
himself in his retreat.

For our calculating enemy left no stone unturned to deprive us of any of
the useful booty of war. He deliberately destroyed and ravaged and burnt
the property of his fellow-countrymen, and mentally determined to send
in the claim for damage against us. A German will always complain and
send in a bill of costs to us, when he is once assured of the protection
of British troops.

Naturally, of course, we requisitioned and gave receipts for any article
or property that might be of use to us for our hospitals or our
supplies. In fact, our scrupulous regard for enemy property will
probably result in very many fraudulent claims against our Government
when the war is over. How easy to add mythical articles of great value
to the list attested to by the signature of a British Staff officer. Who
could blame a Hun when the British were such fools and forgery of
receipts so easy?

But such was the regard we paid to German women and children that, if a
house were occupied, we took nothing and disturbed nothing. A German
farmhouse was an oasis of plenty amid a very hungry army. It made us
sometimes wonder whether it was quite right to leave German ducks and
fowls and sheep behind us, when we had to live on mealie meal and tough
trek-ox. But the women were so terrified, at first, that we gave such
farms a wide berth when scarcity of water did not force us to camp
within the enclosures. Shortly, however, as is the German custom, these
women would profit by their immunity and come to regimental headquarters
that listened so patiently and courteously to the tale of pawpaws or
mangoes--fruit that was really wild--vanished in the night. In no
campaign, I dare swear, has so much respect been given to occupied
houses, so much consideration to conquered people. The German Government
paid this compliment to our army, that they left their women and
children behind to our tender mercies.

At Handeni, ours being a Casualty Clearing Station, our equipment
included 200 stretchers, with little hospital equipment, beyond the
men's own blankets and their kit. No sooner did we come along and
install ourselves in the abandoned German fort than the 5th South
African Infantry were in action at Kangata to win 125 casualties. For us
they were to nurse and keep until convalescent; for there was no
stationary hospital behind us, and forty miles of the worst of bad roads
robbed us of the chance of transporting them to the railway.

So every afternoon I went to German planters' houses (empty, of course),
for forty miles around, in a swift Ford car. And back in triumph we bore
bedsteads and soft mattresses that heavy German bodies so lately had
impressed. Warm from the Hun, we brought them to our wounded. Down
pillows, soft eiderdown quilts for painful broken legs; mattresses for
pain-racked bodies. And one's reward the pleasure and appreciation our
men showed at these attempts to ameliorate _their_ lot. They were so
"bucked" to see us coming back at night laden with the treasures of
German linen chests. It would have done your heart good to see their
dirty, unwashed faces grinning at me from lace-edged pillows.
Silk-covered cushions from Hun drawing-rooms for painful amputation

So I had the double pleasure, all the expectancy and the delight of
seeing our men so pleased. Forty bedsteads and beds complete we found in
that district, until the bare white-washed walls of the jail were
transformed. White paint, too, we discovered in plenty, and soon our
wards were virginal in their whiteness. And when I tell you that at one
time I had no less than thirteen gunshot fractures of thigh and leg
alone and other wounds in proportion, in the hospital, you may judge how
necessary beds were.

But the natives had nearly always been before us, and the confusion was
indescribable, drawers turned out, the contents strewed upon the floors,
cupboards broken into, and all portable articles removed. Pathetic
traces everywhere of the happy family life before war's devastating
fingers rifled all their treasures. Photographs, private letters, a
doll's house, children's broken toys.

And from some letters one gathered that insight into the relations
between the plantation owner and the manager who lived there. At one
farm, apparently owned by an Englishman who paid his manager, a German
Dane from Flensburg, the princely sum of 200 rupees a month, we found
that one, at least, of our own people knew how to grind the uttermost
labour from his German employee. For there were letters from the manager
asking for leave after 2 1/2 years' labour at this plantation, and
pointing out that the German Government had laid down the principle of
European leave every two years. To this came the cold reply that his
employer cared nothing for German Government regulations; the contract
was for three years, and he would see to it that this provision was
carried out. One later letter begged for financial assistance to tide
him over the coming months; for his wife and children had been ill and
he himself in hospital at Korogwe with blackwater fever for two months.
"And how shall I pay for food the next two months, if my pay is 200
rupees only, and hospital expenses 500?"


A common inquiry put to doctors is, "What do you think of the alcohol
question in a tropical campaign?" Do we not think that it is a good
thing that our army is, by force of circumstances, a teetotal one? Much
as we regret to depart from an attitude that is on the whole hostile to
alcohol, I must say that it is our conviction that in the tropics a
certain amount of diffusible stimulant is very beneficial and quite free
from harm. And the cheapest and most reliable stimulant of that nature
one can obtain commercially is, of course, whiskey. This whole campaign
has been almost entirely a teetotal one for reasons of transport and
inability to get drink. Not for any other reason, I can assure you. But
where the absence of alcohol has been no doubt responsible for a
wonderful degree of excellent behaviour among our troops, I yet know
that the few who were able to get a drink at night felt all the better
for it. At the end of the day here, when the sun has set and darkness,
swiftly falling, sends us to our tents and bivouacs, there comes a
feeling of intense exhaustion, especially if any exercise has been
taken. And exercise in some form, as you have heard, is absolutely
essential to health after the sun has descended toward the west about
four o'clock in the afternoon. For men and officers go sick in standing
camp more than on trek, and, often, the more and the longer the men are
left in camp to rest, with the intention of recuperation, the more they
go down with malaria and dysentery.

It is no sudden conclusion we have come to as to the value of alcohol,
but we certainly feel that a drink or two at night does no one any harm.
But the drink for tropics must not be fermented liquor: beer and wine
are headachy and livery things. Whisky and particularly vermouth are far
the best. And vermouth is really such a pleasant wholesome drink too.
The idea of vermouth alone is attractive. For it is made from the dried
flowers of camomile to which the later pressings of the grape have been
added. One has only to smell dried camomile flowers to find that their
fragrance is that of hay meadows in an English June! Camomile
preparations, too, are now so largely used in medicine and still keep
their reputation for wholesome and soothing qualities that it has
enjoyed for generations. How could one think that harm could lurk in the
tincture of such fragrant things as the flowers of English meadows? No
little reputation as a cure and preventive for blackwater fever does
vermouth enjoy! We know that we must always, if we would be wise, be
guided by local experience and local custom, and it is told of the
Anglo-German boundary Commission in East Africa, that the frontier
between the two protectorates can still be traced by the empty vermouth
bottles! But there were no cases of blackwater. I am told, on that very
long and trying expedition.

In the survey of the whole question of Prohibition in the future, the
essential difference of the requirements of humanity in tropical
countries must be taken into consideration. There is no doubt, and in
this all medical men of long tropical experience will agree, that some
stimulant is needed by blond humanity living out of his geographical
environment and debilitated by the adverse influence of his lack of
pigment, the vertical sun and a tropical heat. It is more than probable
that a proviso will have to be added to any world-wide scheme of
prohibition. The cocktail, the universal "sherry and bitters" and
"sundowner" will have to be retained. To expect a man, so exhausted that
the very idea of food is distasteful, to digest his dinner, is to ask
too much of one's digestive apparatus. And this we must all admit, that
if a man in the tropics does not eat, then certainty he may not live.


Toiling behind the column on march is the long and ragged line of native
porters, the human cattle that are, after all, the most reliable form of
transport in Equatorial Africa. Clad in red blankets or loin cloths or
in kilts made of reeds and straw, they struggle on singing through the
heat. Grass rings temper the weight of the loads to their heads, each
man carrying his forty pounds for the regulation ten miles, the
prescribed day's march in the tropics. Winding snake-like along the
native paths, they go chanting a weird refrain that keeps their interest
and makes the miles slip by. Here are some low-browed and primitive
porters from the mountains, "Shenzies," as the superior Swahili call
them, and clad only in the native kilt of grass or reeds. Good porters
these, though ugly in form, and lacking the grace of the Wanyamwezi or
the Wahehe.

At night they drop their loads beside the water-holes that mark the
stages in the long march, and seek the nearest derelict ox or horse and
prepare their meals, with relish, from the still warm entrails. This,
with their "pocha," the allowance of mealie meal or mahoga, keeps them
fat, their stomachs distended, bodies shiny and spirits of the highest.
Round their camp fires they chatter far into the night, relieved, by the
number of the troops and the plentiful supply of dead horses in the
bush, from the ever-present fear of the lion that, in other days, would
lift them at night, yelling, from their dying fires. One wonders that
their spirits are so high, for they would get short shrift and little
mercy from German raiding parties behind our advance. For the porter is
fan-game, and is as liable to destruction as any other means of
transport. Nor would the Germans hesitate a moment to kill them as they
would our horses. But the bush is the porters' safeguard, and at the
first scattering volley of the raiding party, they drop their loads and
plunge into the undergrowth. Later, when we have driven off the raiders,
it is often most difficult to collect the porters again. Naturally the
British attitude to the porter _genus_ differs from that of the Hun. Our
aim, indeed, is to break up an enemy convoy, but we seek to capture the
hostile porters that we may use them in our turn, all the more welcome
to us for the increased usefulness that German porter discipline has
given them.

Porters are the sole means of transport of the German armies; to these
latter are denied the mule transport and the motor lorries that eat up
the miles when roads are good. So they take infinite pains to train
their beasts of burden. Often they are chained together in little groups
to prevent them discarding their loads and plunging into the jungle when
our pursuit draws near. The German knows the value of song to help the
weary miles to pass, and makes the porters chant the songs and choruses
dear to the native heart. Increasingly important these carriers become
as the rains draw near, and the time approaches when no wheels can move
in the soft wet cotton soil of the roads. Nor are the porters altogether
easy to deal with. Very delicate they often are when moved from their
own district and deprived of their accustomed food. Dysentery plays
havoc in their ranks. For the banana-eating Baganda find the rough grain
flour much too coarse and irritating for their stomachs. So our great
endeavour is to get the greatest supply of local labour. Strange to say,
it is here that our misplaced leniency to the German meets its due

It is not easy to tell the combatant, unless he be caught red-handed.
They all wear khaki, the only difference being that a civilian wears
pearl buttons, the soldiers the metal military button with the Imperial
Crown stamped on it. When it is borne in mind that the buttons are
hooked on, one can imagine how simple it is to transform and change
identity. Nor are the helmets different in any way, save that a
soldier's bears the coloured button in the front; but as this also
unscrews, the recognition is still more difficult.

With these people, it has been our habit to send them back to their
alleged civil occupations after extracting an undertaking that they will
take no further active or passive part in the war. But, to our surprise,
when we sought for labour or supplies in their country districts, we
found that we could obtain neither. Upon inquiry of the natives we learn
that our late prisoners are conducting a campaign of intimidation.
"Soon--in a year--we shall all return, and the English will be driven
out. If you labour or sell eggs, woe betide you in the day of
reckoning." What can the native do? As they say to us, "We see the
Germans returning to their farms just as they were before; the
missionaries installed in their mission stations again. What are we to


How often, in this war, has not one pitied the Army Chaplain! As a
visitor to hospital, as a dispenser of charity, as the bearer of
hospital comforts and gifts to sick men, as an indefatigable organiser
of concerts, as the cheerful friend of lonely men, he is doing a real
good work. But that is not his job, it is not what he came out to do.

And the padre, willing, earnest, good fellow that he is, is conscious
that he is often up against a brick wall, a reserve in the soldier that
he cannot penetrate. The fact is, that he has rank, and that robs him of
much of his power to reach the private soldier. But he must have rank,
just as much as a doctor. Executive authority must be his, in order to
assert and keep up discipline. And yet there is the constant barrier
between the officer and the man. Doctors know and feel it: feel that, in
the officer, they are no longer the doctor. Now, however, great changes
have been wrought and the medical officer likes to be called "doc," just
as much as the chaplain values the name "padre." There's something so
intimate about it. Such a tribute to our job and our responsibility and
the trust and confidence they have in us.

The soldier is not concerned about his latter end; all that troubles him
about his future, is the billet he yearns for, the food he hopes to get,
the rest he is sure is due to him, his leave and the time when--how he
longs for that!--he may turn his sword into a ploughshare and have done
with war and the soldier's beastly trade.

Of course, in little matters like swearing, the padre is wise and he
knows what Tommy's adjective is worth. He knows that Tommy is a simple
person and apt to reduce his vocabulary to three wonderful words: three
adjectives which are impartially used as substantives, adjectives,
verbs, or adverbs. That is all. The earnest young chaplain at first
gasps with horror at the flaming words, and would not be surprised if
the heavens opened and celestial wrath descended on these poor sinners'
heads. But he soon learns that these little adornments of the King's
English mean less than nothing. For Tommy is a reverent person, he is
not a blasphemer in reality; he is gentle, infinitely kind, incredibly
patient, extraordinarily generous, if the truth be told. His language
would lead one to believe that his soul is entirely lost. But when one
knows what this careless, generous, and kindly person is capable of, one
feels that his soul is a very precious thing indeed. And there is one
way the padre can touch this priceless soul: that is, by serving in the
ranks with him. Then all the barriers fall, all the reserve vanishes,
and the padre comes into his own, and saves more souls by his example
than by oceans of precept. There he finds himself, he has got his real
job at last.

Among the South African infantry brigade, that did that wonderful march
to Kondoa Irangi, two hundred and fifty miles in a month, in the height
of the rainy season, were fourteen parsons. All serving in the ranks as
private soldiers, they carried a wonderful example with them. It was
their pride that they were the cleanest and the best disciplined men in
their respective companies. No fatigue too hard, no duty too irksome.
Better soldiers they showed themselves than Tommy himself. Of a bright
and cheerful countenance, particularly when things looked gloomy, they
were ready for any voluntary fatigue. The patrol in the thick bush that
was so dangerous, fetching water, quick to build fires and make tea,
ready to help a lame fellow with his equipment, always cheery, never
grousing, they lived the life of our Lord instead of preaching about it.

For the padre's job, I take it, is to teach the men the right spirit, to
send them to war as men should go, to assure them that this is a holy
fight, that God is on their side.

He knows that Tommy, if he speculates at all upon his latter end, does
so in the pagan spirit, the spirit that teaches men that there is a
special heaven for soldiers who are killed in war, that the manner of
their dying will give them absolution for their sins. And the padre
knows that the pagan spirit is the true spirit and yet he may not say
so. He may not suggest for a moment that sin will be forgiven by
sacrifice, for that is Old Testament teaching; his Bishop tells him that
he must not trifle with this heresy, but he must inculcate in sinful man
that he can, by repentance, and by repentance only, gain absolution for
past misdeeds.

And the chaplain knows Tommy, and he knows that he will never get him on
that tack. He knows that any soldier, who is any good, looks upon it as
a cowardly, mean and contemptible thing to crawl to God for forgiveness
in times of danger, when they never went to him in days of peace. And I
know many a chaplain who is with the soldier in this belief.

A little of war, and the padre very soon finds his limitations. To begin
with, he is attached to a Field Ambulance and not to a regiment, as a
rule. The only time he sees the men is when they are wounded. Then he
often feels in the way and fears to obstruct the doctor in his job. So
all that is left is going out with the stretcher-bearing party at night,
showing a good example, cool in danger, merciful to the wounded. But
that again is not his job.

First, when he laid aside the sad raiment of his calling, and put on his
khaki habiliments of war, he thought that the chief part of his job was
to shrive the soldier before action, and to comfort the dying. Later he
found that the soldier would not be shriven, and found, to his surprise,
that the dying need no comfort. Very soon he learnt that wounded men
want the doctor, and chiefly as the instrument that brings them morphia
and ease from pain. And when the wound is mortal, God's mercy descends
upon the man and washes out his pain. How should he need the padre, when
God Himself is near?

Early in his military career the young ministers of the Gospel were
provided with small diaries, in which they might record the dying
messages of the wounded. Then came disillusion, and they found the dying
had no messages to send; they are at peace, the wonderful peace that
precedes the final dissolution, and all they ask is to be left alone.

So is it to be wondered at, that men with imagination, men like Furze,
the Bishop of Pretoria, saw in a vision clear that the padre's job lay
with the living and not with the dying, that he could point the way by
the example of a splendid life with the soldier, far better than by a
hundred discourses, as an officer, from the far detachment of the
pulpit. Thus was the idea conceived and so was the experiment carried
out. And all of us who were in German East Africa can vouch for the
splendid results of these excellent examples. For the private soldier
saw that his fellow-soldier, handicapped as he was by being a parson,
could know his job and do his job as a soldier better than Tommy could
himself. To his surprise, he found that here was a man who could make
himself intelligible without prefixing a flaming adjective when he asked
his pal to pass the jam. Here was a N.C.O., a real good fellow too, who
could give an order and point a moral without the use of a blistering
oath; a man who was a man, cool under fire, ready for any dangerous
venture, cheerful always, never grousing, always generous and open as a
soldier should be, never preaching, never openly praying, never asking
men to do what he would not do himself. Can you wonder that Tommy
understood, and, understanding, copied this example?

When he saw a man inspired by some inward Spirit that made him careless
of danger, contemptuous of death, fulfilling all the Soldier's
requirements in the way of manhood, he knew quite well that some Divine
inward fire upheld this once despised follower of Christ. Then lo! the
transformation. First, the oaths grew rarer in the ranks and vanished;
then came the discovery that, after all, it really was possible to
conduct a conversation in the same language as the soldier used at home
with his wife and children; that, after all, the picturesque adjectives
that flavoured the speech of camps were not necessary; that there was
really no need for two kinds of speech, the language of the camp and the
language of the drawing-room.

And the process of redemption was very curious. All are familiar of
course with the hymn tunes that are sung by marching soldiers, tunes
that move their female relatives and amiable elderly gentlemen to a
quick admiration for the Christian soldier. All know too that, could the
admiring throng only hear the words to which these hymn tunes were sung,
the crowd would fly with fingers to their ears, from such apparent
blasphemy. Well, these well-known ballads were first sung at the padre,
and especially at the padre who was masquerading as a soldier. And when
the soldier saw that the padre could see the jest and laugh at it too,
and know that it meant nothing, then he felt that he had got a good
fellow for his sky pilot. Can you wonder that the soldier spoke of his
padre comrade in such generous terms and that the whole tone of the
regiment improved? The men were better soldiers and better Christians

There is one trap into which a padre falls when marching with a
regiment. Provided, by regulations, with a horse, he is often unwise
enough to ride alongside his marching cure of souls. It would, perhaps,
do him good if he could hear, as I did, the comments of two Scottish
sergeants in the rear. "Our Lord did not consider it beneath him to ride
upon a donkey, but this man of God needs must have a horse."

"How is it that I don't get close to the good fellows on board the
ship?" said a very good and earnest padre to me. "Why don't these
fellow-officers of mine come to church? How is it that fellows I know to
be good and generous and kindly are yet to be found at the bar, in the
smoking-room, when my service is on? Why is it that the decent, nice
fellows aren't professing Christians, and some of the fellows who are my
most regular attendants haven't a tenth of the character and quality and
charm of these apparent pagans?"

What could I do but tell him the truth? I knew him well and felt that he
would understand. Most fellows, I said, don't come to church, because if
they've good and decent characters, they hate to be hypocrites. Now you
know, padre, in this improper world of ours, that many men are sinners,
by that I mean that convention describes as sinful some of the things
they do. What do you tell us when we go to early chapel in the morning?
"Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins and are in love
and charity with your neighbours and intend to lead a new life ... draw
near with faith and take this Holy Sacrament ..." Well, then, can you
conceive that such a state of mind exists in an otherwise decent man
that he finds the burden of his sin not intolerable, as he should do,
but that he hugs that special sin as a prisoner may hug his chains? That
his sin, or let us call it his breach of the conventions of Society, is
the one dear precious thing in his existence at the present moment. He
doesn't want to reform or to lead a new life. Later, no doubt, he'll
tire of this sin and then he may come to church again. But how could a
man of character go to God's House and be such an infernal hypocrite? He
cannot partake of the Body and Blood of Christ any more when he is in
that state of mind. So you see, padre, it is often the honest men who
won't be hypocrites, that won't go to your church.

Many the padre that used to drift into our hospital on the long trek to
Morogoro, Church of England, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and those
who look after the "fancy religions," as Tommy calls them. By that term
is designated any man who does not belong to either of the above three.
One such fellow came to our mess the other day, and in answer to our
query as to the special nature of his flock, he answered that, though
strictly speaking a Congregationalist, he had found that he had become a
"dealer in out-sizes in souls," as he called it. He kept, as he said, a
fatherly eye (and a very good eye too, that we could see) on Dissenters
in general, Welsh Baptists, Rationalists, and all the company of queerly
minded men we have in this strange army of ours. Later we heard that he
had brought with him an excellent reputation from the Front. And that is
not easy to acquire from an army that is hard to please in the matter of
professors of religion.


The missionaries and the Allied civilians released from Tabora have the
usual tale to tell of German beastliness, of white men forced to dig
roads and gardens, wheel barrows and other degrading work under the
guard of native soldiers, insulted, humiliated, degraded before the
native Askaris at the instance of German officers and N.C.O.s in charge.
The Italian Consul-General working in the roads! We may forget all this:
it is in keeping with our soft and sentimental ways. But will the
French? Will Italy forgive? There will be no weakness there when the day
of reckoning comes. All this we had from the Commission of Inquiry in
Morogoro and Mombasa that sat to take evidence. Gentle nurses of the
Universities' English Mission, missionary ladies who devoted a lifetime
in the service of the Huns and the natives in German East, locked up
behind barbed wire for two years, without privacy of any kind,
constantly spied upon in their huts at night by the native guard, always
in terror that the black man, now unrestrained, even encouraged by his
German master, should do his worst. Can you wonder that they kept their
poison tablets for ever in their pockets that they might have close at
hand an end that was merciful indeed compared with what they would
suffer at native hands? So with many tears of relief they cast friendly
Death into the bushes as the Askaris fled before the dust of our
approaching columns. Do you blame gentle Sister Mabel that she would
never speak to any Hun in German, using only Swahili and precious little
of that?

Far worse the story told by the broken Indian soldiers, prisoners since
the fight at Jassin, left abandoned, half dead with dysentery and fever,
by the Germans on their retreat to Mahenge. A commission of inquiry held
by British officers of Native Indian regiments elicited the facts. The
remains of two double companies, one Kashmiris, the other Bombay
Grenadiers, to the number of 150, were brought to Morogoro and there
farmed out to German contractors. Here they toiled on the railway,
clearing the land, bringing in wood from the jungle building roads, half
starved and savagely ill-treated. They might burn with fever or waste
their feeble strength in dysentery, it made no difference to their
brutal jailers. To be sick was to malinger in German eyes: so they got
"Kiboko" and their rations reduced, because, forsooth, a man who could
not work could also not eat. To "Kiboko" a prisoner of war and an Indian
soldier is a flagrant offence against the laws of war. But to the
contractor there were no laws but of his making, and he laid on thirty
lashes with the rhinoceros hide Kiboko to teach these stiff-necked
"coolies" not to sham again. And as these soldiers lay half dead with
fever on the road, their German jailers gave orders that their mouths
and faces be defiled with filth, a crime unspeakable to a Moslem. Will
the Mohammedan world condone this? The fruit of this treatment was that
eighty of these wretched soldiers died and were buried at Morogoro. But
these prisoners, on their release, marching through the streets caught
sight of two of their erstwhile jailers walking in freedom and security
and going about then daily avocations as if there was no war. These
Germans had, of course, told our Provost Marshal that they were
civilians, and never had or intended to take part in the war. So these
two men on their word, the word of a Prussian, mark you well, were
allowed all the privileges of freedom in Morogoro. One of them, Dorn by
name, a hangdog ruffian, owned the house we took over as a mess, and
tried to get receipts from us for things we took for the hospital, that
really belonged to other people.

But the Indian soldiers' evidence was the undoing of Dorn and his
fellow-criminal. Arrested and put into jail, they were sent to
Dar-es-Salaam for trial by court-martial on the evidence. How the guard
hoped that an attempt to escape would be made, such an attempt as was so
often the alleged reason for the shooting of so many of our English
prisoners. The sense of discipline in the Indian troops was such that,
no matter how great the temptation to avenge a thousand injuries and the
unexampled opportunity offered by a long railway journey through dense
bush, they delivered their prisoners safe in Dar-es-Salaam. It is said
that nothing would persuade Dorn and his comrade to leave the safe
shelter of the railway truck. No, they did not want to go for a walk in
the bush, they would stay in the truck, thank you! No matter how great
the invitation to flight was offered by an open door and the temporary
disappearance of the guard. Do you think these two ruffians will get the
rope? I wonder.

The other day at Kissaki the Germans sent back ten of our white
prisoners, infantry captured at Salaita Hill, Marines from the
_Goliath_. All these weary months the Huns had dragged these wretched
prisoners all over the country. And yet there are some who tell us that
the German is not such a Hun here as he is in Europe. The fact is he is
worse, if possible, inconceivably arrogant and cruel at first,
incredibly anxious to conciliate our prisoners when the tide had turned
and vengeance was upon him. Burning by fever by day, chilled by tropic
dews at night, these poor devils had been harried and kicked and cursed
and ill-used by Askaris and insulted by native porters all that long
retreat from Moschi to Kissaki and beyond. No "machelas" for them if
they were ill, no native hammocks to carry them on when their poor
brains cried out against the malaria that struck them down in the
noonday sun. Kicked along the road or left to die in the bush, these the
only two alternatives. And the beasts were kinder than the Huns: they at
least took not so long to kill. Forced to do coolie labour, to dig
latrines for native soldiers, incredibly humiliating, such was their
lot! Many of them died by the roadside. Many died for want of medicine.
There was no lack of drugs for Germans, but there was need for economy
where prisoners were concerned. What more natural than that they should
keep their drugs for their own troops? Who could tell their pressing
need in months to come? But the indomitable ones they kept and keep them
still. Only yesterday they released the naval surgeon captured on the
pseudo-hospital ship _Tabora_ in Dar-es-Salaam. Did he get the treatment
that custom ordains an officer should have, or did he also dig latrines
and cook his _bit_ of dripping meat over a wood fire like a "shenzy"
native? I leave that to you to answer. How could we tell he was a
doctor? that is the Huns' excuse. "He only had a blue and red epaulet on
his white drill tunic, there was no red cross on his arm." But
apparently after twenty months they discovered this essential fact. And
what was left of him struggled into our lines under a white flag the
other day. But here, as in Germany, not all the Huns were Hunnish. Some
there were who cursed Lettow and the war in speaking to the prisoners,
and, in private talks, professed their tiredness of the whole beastly
campaign. But these, our men noticed, were ever the quickest to
"strafe," always the first to rail and upbraid and strike when a German
officer was near.

Fed on native food, chewing manioc, mahoja for their flour, the ground
their bed, so they existed; but ever in their captive hearts was the
knowledge that we were coming on, behind them ever the thunder of our
guns, the panic flights of their captors, timid advances from native
soldiers, unabashed tokens of conciliation from the Europeans
alternating with savage punishment. This was meat and drink indeed to
them. Cheerfully they endured, for Nemesis was at hand. How they
chuckled to see the German officer's heavy kit cut down to one chop box,
native orderlies cut off, fat German doctors waddling and sweating along
the road? Away and ever away to the south, for the hated "Beefs" were
after them, coming down relentlessly from the north. Even a lay brother,
"Brother John," they kept until the other day. And their stiff-necked
prisoners refused to receive the conciliatory amelioration of their lot
that would be offered one day, to be, for no apparent reason, withdrawn
the next. "No, thank you, we don't want extra food now! We really don't
need a native servant now, we will still do our own fatigues. No. We
don't want to go for a walk. We've really been without all these things
for so long that we don't miss them now. Anyhow it won't be for long,"
they said.

The German commandant turned away furiously after the rejection of his
olive branch. For he knew now that his captives knew that the game was
up, and it gave him food for thought indeed.


We are camped for the present on the edge of a plateau, overlooking a
vast plain that stretches a hundred miles or more to where Kilimanjaro
lifts his snow peaks to the blue. All over this yellow expanse of grass,
relieved in places by patches of dark bush, are great herds of wild game
slowly moving as they graze. Antelope and wildebeests, zebra and
hartebeests, there seems no end to them in this sportsman's paradise. At
night, attracted by to-morrow's meat that hangs inside a strong and
well-guarded hut, the hyaenas come to prowl and voice their hunger and
disappointment on the evening air.

The general impression in England, you know, was that in coming to East
Africa we had left the cold and damp misery of Flanders for a most
enjoyable side-show. We were told that we should spend halcyon days
among the preserves, return laden with honours and large stores of
ivory, and in our spare moments enjoy a little campaigning of a picnic
variety, against an enemy that only waited the excuse to make a graceful
surrender. But how different the truth! To us with the advance there has
been no shooting; to shoot a sable antelope (and, of course, we have
trekked through the finest game preserves in the world, including the
Crown Prince's special Elephant Forests) is to ask for trouble from the
Askari patrol that is just waiting for the sound of a rifle shot to
bring him hot foot after us. So the sable antelope might easily be
bought by very unpleasant sacrifice. All shooting at game, even for
food, except on most urgent occasions, is strictly forbidden, for a
rifle shot may be as misleading to our own patrols and outposts as it
would be inviting to the Hun.

This war had led us from the comparative civilisation of German
plantations to the wildest, swampiest region of Equatorial Africa. After
rain the roads tell the story of the wild game, for in the mud are the
big slot marks of elephants and lions and all the denizens of the bush.
But at the bases and back in British East Africa where there are no
lurking German Askari patrols, many fellows have had the time of their
lives with the big game. Afternoon excursions to the wide plains and
their bush where the wild game hide and graze.

We are often asked how we manage to avoid the lions and the other wild
beasts of the country that come to visit the thorn bomas that protect
our transport cattle at night? Strange as it may seem, we do not have to
avoid them, for they do not come for us or for the natives, nor yet for
the live cattle so much as for the dead mules and oxen. I dare say there
have never been so many white and black men in a country infested with
lions who have suffered so little from the beasts of the field as we

In the first place, the advance of so great an army has frightened away
a very large number of the wild game. All that have stayed are the
larger carnivora, like the hyaena or the lion. And they are a positive
Godsend to us. For instead of attacking our sentries and patrols at
night, as you might imagine, they are the great scavengers and camp
cleaners of the country. Of vultures there are too few in this land,
probably because the blind bush robs them of the chance of spotting
their prey. Were it not for lions and hyaenas, we should be in a bad
way. For they come to eat all our dead animals, all the wastage of this
army, the tribute our transport animals are paying to fly and to
horse-sickness. For in spite of fairy tales about lions one must believe
the unromantic truth that a lion prefers a dead ox to a man, and a black
man to a white one. So you will not be surprised when I tell you that in
this army of ours of at least 30,000 men I have only had two cases of
mauling by the larger carnivora to deal with. And such cases as these
would all pass through my hands. There was only one case of lion
mauling, and that a Cape Boy who met a young half-grown cub on the road
and unwisely ran from it. At first curiosity attracted this animal, and
later the hunting instinct caused him to maul his prey. So they brought
him in with the severe blood-poisoning that sets in in almost all cases
of such a nature. For the teeth and claws of the larger carnivora are
frightfully infectious. This Cape Boy died in forty-eight hours. Yet one
other case was that of an officer who met a leopardess with cubs in the
bush when out after guinea fowl. She charged him, and he gave her his
left arm to chew to save his face and body. Then alarmed by his yells
and the approach of his companion she left him, and he was brought one
hundred miles to the railway. But he was in good hands at once, and when
I saw him the danger of blood-poisoning had gone and he was well upon
his way to health again.

The same experience have we had with snakes. The hot dry dusty roads and
the torn scrub abound with snakes and most of them of a virulently
poisonous quality. But one case only of snake-bite have I seen, and that
a native. The fact that the wild denizens of the field and forest are
much more afraid of us than we of them saves us from what might appear
to be very serious menace. Even the wounded left out in the dense bush
have not suffered from these animal pests, but the dead, of course, have
often disappeared and their bleached bones alone are left to tell the
story. One might think that the hyaena, the universal scavenger, would
be as loathed by the native as he is by us whose dead he disinters at
night, if we have been too tired or unable to bury our casualties deep
enough. But, strange as it may seem, the hyaena is worshipped by one
very large tribe in East Africa, the Kikuyu. For these strange people
have an extraordinary aversion to touching dead people. So much so, that
when their own relatives seem about to die they put them out in the bush
with a small fire and a gourd of water, protected by a small erection of
bush against the mid-day sun, and leave the hyaenas to do the rest. So
it comes about that this beast is almost sacred, and a white man who
kills one runs some danger of his life, if the crime is discovered. It
is hardly to be wondered at that the hyaenas in the "Kikuyu" country are
far bolder than in other parts. Elsewhere and by nature the hyaena is an
arrant coward. Here, however, he will bite the face off a sleeping man
lying in the open, or even pull down a woman or child, should they be
alone; elsewhere he only lives on carrion.

The German is not a sportsman as we understand the term, though the
modern young German who apes English ways, comes out to East Africa
occasionally to make collections for his ancestral Schloss. That the
Crown Prince should have reserved large areas for game preserves speaks
for this modern tendency in young Germany. The average German is not
keen on exercise in the tropics, he will be carried by sweating natives
in a chair or hammock where Englishmen on similar errands will walk and
shoot upon the way. This slothful habit leads us to the conviction that
very much of the country is not explored as it should be, and I have
been told by prospectors for precious minerals, who were serving in our
army, of the wonderful store of mineral deposits in German East Africa.
One noted prospector who fell into my hands at Handeni could so little
forget his occupation of peace in this new reality of war, that he
always took out his prospector's hammer on patrol with him, and chipped
pieces of likely rock to bring back to camp in his haversack. He it was
who told me of his discovery of a seam of anthracite coal in the bed of
a river near the Tanga railway. On picket he had wandered to the edge of
the ravine and fallen over. Struggling for life to save himself by the
shrubs and growing plants on the face of this precipice, he eventually
found his way to the bottom of the ravine, on the top of a small
avalanche of earth. Judge, then, of his astonishment when, looking up,
he saw that his fall had exposed a fine seam of coal. This discovery
alone, in a country where the railway engines are forced to burn wood
fuel or expensive imported coal from Durban, is of the greatest
importance. The experience of most of us seemed to be that the Germans,
in the piping days of peace, preferred elegant leisure in a hammock and
the prospect of cold beer beneath a mango tree to the sterner delights
of laborious days in thickly wooded and inaccessible mountains. One of
the first results of this campaign will be to bring the enterprising
prospector from Rhodesia and the Malay States to what was once the
"Schoene Ost-Afrika" of the German colonial enthusiast.

But big game hunting, except a man hunts for a living, as do the
elephant poachers in Mozambique or the Lado Enclave, soon loses its
savour to white men after a time. It is not long before the rifle is
discarded for the camera by men who really care for wild life in wilder
countries. Herein the white man differs from the savage, who kills and
kills until he can slay no longer. Strange it is to think that farmers
and planters in East Africa so soon tire of big game hunting, that they
do not trouble even to shoot for the pot or to get the meat that is the
ration provided for their native labourers, but employs a native, armed
with a rifle and a few cartridges, to shoot antelope for meat.

To one in whom the spirit of adventure and romance is not dead what more
attractive than an elephant hunter's life? To work for six months and
make two or three thousand pounds, and spend the proceeds in a riotous
holiday, until the heavy tropic rains are over and the bush is dry
again. But few realise the rare qualities that an elephant hunter must
have. He must be extraordinarily tough, quite hardened to the toil and
diseases of the country, knowing many native tongues, largely immune
from the fever that lays a white man low many marches from civilisation
and hospitals, of an endurance splendid, with hope to dare the risk, and
courage to endure the toil. For the professional elephant hunter is now,
by force of circumstance and white man's law, become a wolf of the
forest, and the hands of all Governments are against him. He must mark
his elephant down, be up with the first light and after him, must
manoeuvre for light and wind and scent to pick the big bull from the
sheltering herd of females. If the head shot is not possible, the lung
shot or stomach shot alone is left. And six hours' march through
waterless country before one comes up with the elephant resting with his
herd is not the best preparation for a shot. If one misses, one may as
well go home another eight hours back to water. But if you hit and
follow the bull through the thorny bush, you do not even then know
whether you will find the victim. If, however, you find traces three
times in the first hour, or see the blood pouring from the trunk--not
merely blown in spray upon the bushes--then the certain conviction comes
that within an hour you will find your kill. Then the long march back to
camp, all food and water and the precious tusks carried by natives,
often too exhausted at the end to eat. A man who cannot march thirty
miles a day, and fulfil all the other requirements, should relegate
elephant hunting to the world of dreams. All the big successful elephant
poachers are well known: most of them are English, some of them are
Boers, a few only French or American; but seldom does a German attempt
it or live to repeat his experience. Far better to shut his eyes to this
illicit traffic and assist these strange soldiers of fortune to get
their ivory to the coast, and then enjoy the due reward of this
complaisant attitude.


I think it is rather a pity that no naturalist has studied the birds of
German East Africa in the intimate and friendly spirit that many men
have done at home. It has been said that the bright plumage of Central
African birds is given them as compensation for the charm of song that
is a monopoly of the European bird. That this is the case in the damp
forests and swamps and reed beds along the Rufigi and other big rivers,
there is no doubt. Gaudy parrots and iridescent finches flash through
the foliage of trees along the Mohoro river, monkeys slide down the
ropes formed by parasitic plants that hang from the tree branches, to
dip their hands in the water to drink; only to flee, chattering to the
tree-tops, as they meet the gaze of apparently slumbering crocodiles.
Great painted butterflies flit above the beds of lilies that fringe the
muddy lagoons, the hippopotamus wallows lazily in the warm sunlit
waters. Here, it is true, is the Equatorial Africa of our schoolboy
dreams; and the birds have little but their glittering plumage to
recommend them.

But we are apt to forget that the greater portion of Tropical Africa,
certainly all that is over five hundred feet above the sea, which
constitutes the greater part of the country with the exception of the
coast region, is not at all true to the picture that most of us have in
our minds. For the character of the interior is vastly different: great
rolling plains of yellow grass and thorn scrub, with the denser foliage
of deciduous trees along the river-banks. Here, indeed, you may find
sad-coloured birds that are gifted with the sweetest of songs. In the
bed of the Morogoro River lives a warbler who sings from the late
afternoon until dusk, and he is one of the very few birds that have that
deep contralto note, the "Jug" of the nightingale. And there are little
wrens with drab bodies and crimson tails that live beside the dwellings
of men and pick up crumbs from the doors of our tents, and hunt the rose
trees for insects. In the thorn bushes of higher altitudes are grey
finches that might have learnt their songs beside canary cages. The
African swallows, red headed and red backed, have a most tuneful little
song; they used to delight our wounded men in hospital at Handeni when
they built their nests in the roofs of this one-time German jail, and
sang to reward us for the open windows that allowed them to feed their
broods of young.

In the mealie fields are francolins in coveys, very like the red-legged
partridge in their call, though in plumage nearer to its English
brother. There, too, the ubiquitous guinea fowl, the spotted "kanga"
that has given us so many blessed changes of diet, utters his strident
call from the tops of big thorn trees. The black and white meadow lark
is here, but the "khoran" or lesser bustard of South Africa, that
resembles him so much in plumage on a much larger scale, is absent. The
brown bustard, so common in the south, is the only representative of the
turkey tribe that I have seen here. Black and white is a very common
bird colouring; black crows with white collars follow our camps and
bivouacs to pick up scraps, and the brown fork-tailed kite hawks for
garbage and for the friendly lizard too, in the hospital compound. One
night, as I lay in my tent looking to the moon-lit camp, Fritz, our
little ground squirrel that lived beneath the table of the mess tent,
met an untimely fate from a big white owl. A whirr of soft owl wings to
the ground outside my tent, a tiny squeak, and Fritz had vanished from
our compound too.

Vultures of many kinds dispute with lion and hyaena for the carrion of
dead ox or mule beside the road of our advance. King vultures in their
splendour of black, bare red necks and tips of white upon their wings,
lesser breeds of brown carrion hawks and vultures attend our every camp.
Again the vulture is not so common as in South Africa, for here it is
blind in this dense bush and has to play a very subsidiary part to the
scavenging of lions and hyaenas. Down by the swamps one evening we shot
a vulture that was assisting a moribund ox to die. True we did not mean
to kill him, for we owe many debts of gratitude to vultures; but, to my
surprise, my native boy seemed greatly pleased. Lifting the big black
tail he showed me the white soft feathers beneath, and by many signs
appeared to indicate that these feathers were of great value. Then I
looked again, and it was a marabou stork. My boy, who had been with
marabou and egret poachers in the swamps and rice-fields of the lower
Rufigi, knew the value of these snowy feathers.


Of the many plagues that beset this land of Africa not the least are the
biting flies. Just as every tree and bush has thorns, so every fly has a
sting. Some bite by day only, some by night, and others at all times.
Even the ants have wings, and drop them in our soup as they resume their
plantigrade existence once again.

The worst biter that we have met in the many "fly-belts" that lie along
the Northern Railway is the tsetse fly: especially was he to be found at
a place called Same, and during the long trek from German Bridge on the
Northern Railway to Morogoro in the south. At one place there is a belt
thirty miles wide, and our progress was perpetual torture, unless we
passed that way at night. For the _Glossina morsitans_ sleeps by night
beneath leaves in the bush, and only wakes when disturbed. For this
reason we drive our horses, mules, and cattle by night through these
fly-belts. Savage and pertinacious to a degree are these pests, and
their bite is like the piercing of a red-hot needle. Simple and innocent
they appear, not unlike a house fly, but larger and with the tips of
their wings crossed and folded at the end like a swallow's. They are
mottled grey in colour, and their proboscis sticks out straight in
front. Hit them and they fall off, only to rise again and attack once
more; for their bodies are so tough and resistant, that great force is
required to destroy them. They are infected with trypanosomes, a kind of
attenuated worm that circulates in the blood, but fortunately not the
variety that causes sleeping sickness. At least we believe not. In any
case we shall not know for eighteen months, for that is usually the
latent period of sleeping sickness in man. Their bite is very poisonous,
and frequently produces the most painful sores and abscesses. But if
they are not lethal to man, they take a heavy toll of horses, mules, and
cattle. Through the night watches, droves of horses, remounts for
Brits's and Vandeventer's Brigades, cattle for our food and for the
transport, mules and donkeys, pass this way. Fine sleek animals that
have left the Union scarcely a month before, carefully washed in
paraffin in a vain attempt to protect them from flies and ticks. But
what a change in a short six weeks. The coat that was so sleek now is
staring, the eye quite bloodless, the swelling below the stomach that
tells its own story; wasting, incredible. Soon these poor beasts are
discarded, and line the roads with dull eyes and heavy hanging heads. We
may not shoot, for firing alarms our outposts and discloses our
position. To-night the lions and hyaenas that this war has provided with
such sumptuous repasts will ring down the curtain. A horse's scream in
the bush at night, the lowing of a frightened steer, a rustling of
bushes, and these poor derelicts, half eaten by the morning, meet the
indifferent gaze of the next convoy. More merciful than man are the
scavengers of the forest. They, at least, waste no time at the end.
Strange that the little donkeys should alone for a time at least escape
the fly; it is their soft thick coats that defeats the searching
proboscis. But after rain or the fording of a river their protecting
coats get parted by the moisture, and the fly can find his mark in the
skin. So the donkey and the Somali mule that generations of fly have
rendered tolerant to the trypanosome are the most reliable of our beasts
of burden. Soon, these too will go in the approaching rainy season, and
then we shall fall back on the one universal beast of burden, the native
carriers. Thousands of these are now being collected to march with their
head loads at the heels of our advancing columns. The veterinary service
is helpless with fly-struck animals. One may say with truth that the
commonest and most frequently prescribed veterinary medicine is the
revolver. Certainly it is the most merciful. Large doses of arsenic may
keep a fly-struck horse alive for months; alive, but robbed of all his
life and fire, his free gait replaced by a shambling walk. The wild
game, more especially the water buck and the buffalo whose blood is
teeming with these trypanosomes, but who, from generations of infection,
have acquired an immunity from these parasites, keep these flies
infected. Thus one cannot have domestic cattle and wild game in the same
area; the two are incompatible. And shortly the time will come, as
certainly as this land will support a white population, when the wild
game will be exterminated and _Glossina morsitans_ will bite no more.

More troublesome, because more widely spread, are the large family of
mosquitoes. The _anopheles_, small, grey and quietly persistent, carries
the malaria that has laid our army low. _Culex_, larger and more noisy,
trumpets his presence in the night watches: but the mischief he causes
is in inverse ratio to the noise he makes. _Stegomyia_, host of the
spirium of yellow fever, is also here, but happily not yet infected; not
yet, but it may be only a question of time before yellow fever is
brought along the railways or caravan routes from the Congo or the
rivers of the West Coast, where the disease is endemic. There for many
years it was regarded as biliary fever or blackwater or malaria. Now
that the truth is known a heavier responsibility is cast upon the
already overburdened shoulders of the Sanitary Officer and the
specialists in tropical diseases. _Stegomyia_, as yet uninfected, are
also found in quantities in the East; and with the opening of the Panama
Canal, that links the West Indies and Caribbean Sea, where yellow fever
is endemic, with the teeming millions of China and India, may materially
add to the burden of the doctors in the East. Living a bare fourteen
days as he does, infected _stegomyia_ died a natural death, in the old
days, during the long voyage round the Horn, and thus failed to infect
the Eastern Coolie, who would in turn infect these brothers of the West
Indian mosquito.

Fortunate it is in one way that _anopheles_ is the mosquito of lines of
communication, of the bases, of houses and huts and dwellings of man,
rather than of the bush. Our fighting troops are consequently not so
exposed as troops on lines of communication. For this blessing we are
grateful, for lines of communication troops can use mosquito nets, but
divisional troops on trek or on patrol cannot. Soon we shall see the
fighting troops line up each evening for the protective application of
mosquito oil. For where nets are not usable it is yet possible to
protect the face and hands for six hours, at least, by application of
oil of citronella, camphor, and paraffin. Nor is this mixture
unpleasant; for the smell of citronella is the fragrance of verbena from
Shropshire gardens.

Least in size, but in its capacity for annoyance greatest, perhaps, of
all, is the sand fly. Almost microscopic, but with delicate grey wings,
of a shape that Titania's self might wear, they slip through the holes
of mosquito gauze and torment our feet by night and day. The three-day
fever they leave behind is yet as nothing compared to the itching fury
that persists for days.

Finally there is the bott-fly, by no means the least unpleasant of the
tribe. Red-headed and with an iridescent blue body, he is very similar
to the bluebottle, and lives in huts and dwellings. But his ways are
different, for he bites a hole into one's skin, usually the back or
arms, and lays an egg therein. In about ten days this egg develops into
a fully grown larva, in other words a white maggot with a black head. It
looks for all the world like a boil until one squeezes it and pushes the
squirming head outside. But woe to him who having squeezed lets go to
get the necessary forceps; for the larva leaps back within, promptly
dies and forms an abscess. Often I have taken as many as thirty or forty
from one man. It is a melancholy comfort to find that this fly is no
respecter of persons, for the Staff themselves have been known to become
affected by this pest.

With the flies may be mentioned as one of the minor horrors of war in
East Africa, one of the little plagues that are sent to mortify our
already over-tortured flesh, the jigger flea. As if there were not
already sufficient trials for us to undergo, an unkind Providence has
sent this pest to rob us of what little enjoyment or elegant leisure
this country might afford. True to her sex, it is the female of the
species that causes all the trouble; the male is comparatively harmless.
Lurking in the dust and grass of camps, she burrows beneath the skin of
our toes, choosing with a calculated ferocity the tender junction of the
nails with the protesting flesh. No sooner is she well ensconced therein
than she commences the supreme business of life, she lays her eggs, by
the million, all enclosed in a little sack. What little measure of sleep
the mosquitoes, the sand flies and the stifling nights have left us,
this relentless parasite destroys. For her presence is disclosed to us
by itching intolerable. Then the skill of the native boys is called
upon, and dusky fingers, well scrubbed in lysol, are armed with a safety
pin, to pick the little interloper out intact. Curses in many languages
descend upon the head of the unlucky boy who fails to remove the sack
entire. For the egg-envelope once broken, abscesses and blood poisoning
may result, and one's toes become an offence to surgery.

All is well, if a drop of iodine be ready to complete the well-conducted
operation; but the poor soldier, whose feet, perforce, are dirty and who
only has the one pair of socks, pays a heavy penalty to this little
flea, that dying still has power to hurt. Dirt and the death of this
tiny visitor result in painful feet that make of marching a very
torture. So great a pest is this that at least five per cent. of our
army, both white and native, are constantly incapacitated. Hundreds of
toenails have I removed for this cause alone. Nor do the jiggers come
singly, but in battalions, and often as many as fifty have to be removed
from one wretched soldier's feet and legs. So we hang our socks upon our
mosquito nets and take our boots to bed with us, nor do we venture to
put bare feet upon the ground.

A yell in the sleeping camp at night, "Some damn thing's bit me;" and
matches are struck, while a sleepy warrior hunts through his blankets
for the soldier ant whose great pincers draw blood, or lurking centipede
or scorpion. For in these dry, hot, dusty countries these nightly
visitors come to share the warm softness of the army blanket. Next
morning, sick and shivering, they come to show to me the hot red flesh
or swollen limb with which the night wanderer has rewarded his
involuntary host.


There's nothing quite so wideawake as a tropical night in Africa. At
dawn the African dove commences with his long-drawn note like a boy
blowing over the top of a bottle, one bird calling to another from the
palms and mango trees. Then the early morning songsters wake.

There is no libel more grossly unfair than that which says the birds of
Africa have no song. The yellow weaver birds sing most beautifully, as
they fly from the feathery tops of the avenue of coconut palms that line
the road to the clump of bamboos behind the hospital.

But they fly there no longer now, for our colonel, in a spasm of
sanitation, cut down this graceful swaying clump of striped bamboos for
the fear that they harboured mosquitoes. As if these few canes mattered,
when our hospital was on the banks of the reed-fringed river. Morning
songsters with voices of English thrushes and robins wake one to gaze
upon the dawn through one's mosquito net. Small bird voices, like the
chiff-chaff in May, carry on the chorus until the sun rises. Then the
bird of delirium arrives and runs up the scale to a high monotonous note
that would drive one mad, were it not that he and the dove, with his
amphoric note, are Africa all over. A neat fawn-coloured bird this, with
a long tail and dark markings on his wings.

Then as the sun rises and the early morning heat dries up the song
birds' voices, the earth and the life of the palm trees drowse in the

But at night, from late afternoon to three in the morning, when the life
of trees and grasses and ponds ceases for a short while before it begins
again at dawn, the air is full of the busy voices of the insect world.
Until we came south to Morogoro, to the land of mangoes, coconut, palms,
bamboos, we had known the shrill voice of cicadas and the harsh metallic
noises of crickets in grass and trees. But here we made two new
acquaintances, and charming little voices they had too. One lived in the
grass and rose leaves of our garden, for the German blacksmith who
lately occupied our hospital building had planted his garden with
"Caroline Testout" and crimson ramblers. His voice was like the tinkling
of fairy hammers upon a silver anvil. And with this fine clear note was
the elusive voice of another cricket that had such a marked
ventriloquial character that we could never tell whether he lived in the
rose bushes or in the trees. His note was the music of silver bells upon
the naked feet of rickshaw boys, the tinkle that keeps time to the soft
padding of native feet in the rickshaws of Nairobi at night. At first I
woke to think there were rickshaw boys dragging rubber-tyred carriages
along the avenues of the town, until I found that Morogoro boasted no
rickshaws and no bells for native feet.

Punctuated in all the music of fairy bands and the whirr of fairy
machinery were the incessant voices of frogs. Especially if it had
rained or were going to rain, the little frogs in trees and ponds sang
their love songs in chorus, silenced, at times, by the deep basso of a
bull frog. And often, as our heads ached and throbbed with fever at
night, we felt a very lively sympathy for the French noblesse of the
eighteenth century, who are said to have kept their peasants up at night
beating the ponds with sticks to still the strident voices of these

With it all there is a rustling overhead in the feathery branches of the
palms in the cobwebby spaces among the leaves that give the bats of
Africa a home. A twitter of angry bat voices, shrill squeaks and
flutters in the darkness. Then stillness--of a sudden--and the ground
trembles with a far-off throbbing as a convoy of motor lorries
approaching thunders past us, rumbling over the bridge and out into the
darkness, driving for supplies.

The road beside the hospital was the old caravan route that ran from the
Congo through Central Africa and by the Great Lakes to Bagamoyo by the
sea. For centuries the Arab slaver had brought his slave caravans along
this path: it may have been fever or the phantasies of disordered
subconscious minds half awake in sleep, or the empty night thrilling to
the music of crickets, that filled our minds with fancies in the
darkness. But this road seemed alive again. For this smooth surface that
now trembles to the thunder of motor lorries seemed to echo to the soft
padding of millions of slave feet limping to the coast to fill the
harems or to work the clove plantations of his most Oriental Majesty the
Sultan of Zanzibar.


Halfway between the Usambara and the Central Railway, the dusty road to
Morogoro crosses the Turiani River. In the woods beside the river, the
tired infantry are resting at the edge of a big rock pool. Wisps of blue
smoke from dying fires tell of the tea that has washed beef and biscuit
down dry and dusty throats. The last company of bathers are drying in
the sun upon the rocks, necks, arms and knees burnt to a sepia brown,
the rest of their bodies alabaster white in the sunshine. It is three
o'clock, and the drowsy heat of afternoon has hushed the bird and insect
world to sleep. Only in the tree-tops is the sleepy hum of bees, still
busy with the flowers, and the last twitter of soft birds' voices. Soft
river laughter comes up from the rocky stream-bed below, and, softened
by the distance to a poignant sweetness, the sound of church bells from
Mhonda Mission floats up to us upon the west wind.

Yesterday only saw the last of Lettow's army crossing the bridge and
echoed to the noise of the explosion that blew up the concrete pillars
and forced our pioneers to build a wooden substitute. Alas! for the
best-laid schemes of our General. The bird had escaped from the closing
net, and Lettow was free to make his retreat in safety to the Southern
Railway. Here at Turiani for a moment it seemed that the campaign was
over. Up from the big Mission at Mhonda, the mounted troops swept out to
cut off the German retreat. All unsuspected, they had made then-big
flank march to meet the eastern flanking column, and cut the road behind
the German force in a pincer grip. But the blind bush robbed our
troopers of their sense of direction, and the long trek through
waterless bush, the tsetse fly and horse-sickness that took their daily
toll of all our horses reduced the speed of cavalry to little more than
a walk. A mistake in a bush-covered hill in a country that was all hill
and bush, and the elusive Lettow slipped out to run and hide and fight
again on many another day.


Of the many aspects of this campaign none perhaps is more thrilling than
life on the forward patrol. For the duty of these fellows is to go
forward with armed native scouts far in advance of the columns, to find
out what the Germans are up to, their strength, and the disposition of
their troops. Their reports they send back by native runners, who not
infrequently get captured. Like wolves in the forest they live, months
often elapsing without their seeing a white face, and then it is the
kind of white man that they do not want to see; every man's hand against
them, native as well as German, unable to light fires at night for fear
of discovery, sleeping on the ground, creeping up close, for in this
bush one can only get information at close quarters; always out of food,
forced to smoke pungent native tobacco. They have to live on the game
they shoot, and it is a hundred chances to one that the shot that gives
them dinner will bring a Hun patrol to disturb the feast. Theirs is
without doubt the riskiest job in such a war as this.

Here is the story of a night surprise, as it was told me. The long trek
had lasted all day, to be followed by the fireless supper (how one longs
for the hot tea at night!), and the deep sleep that comes to exhausted
man as soon as he gets into his blankets. Drowsy sentries failed to hear
the rustling in the thicket until almost too late; the alarm is given,
pickets run in to wake their sleeping "bwona," all mixed up with
Germans. The intelligence party scattered to all points of the compass,
leaving their camp kit behind them. There was no time to do aught but
pick up their rifles (that is second nature) and fly for safety to the
bush. Now this actual surprise party was led by one Laudr, an
Oberleutnant who had lived for years in South Africa, and had married an
English wife. Laudr had the reputation of being the best shot in German
East, but he missed that night, and my friend escaped, unharmed, the
five shots from his revolver. Next morning, cautiously approaching the
scene of last night's encounter, he found a note pinned to a tree. In it
Laudr thanked him for much good food and a pair of excellent blankets,
and regretted that the light had been so bad for shooting. But he left a
young goat tied up to the tree and my friend's own knife and fork and
plate upon the ground.

Another story this resourceful fellow told me concerning an exploit
which he and a fellow I.D. man, with twenty-five of their scouts, had
brought off near Arusha. They had been sent out to get information as to
the strength of an enemy post in a strongly fortified stone
building--the kind of half fort, half castle that the Germans build in
every district as an impregnable refuge in case of native risings. With
watch towers and battlements, these forts are after the style of
mediaeval buildings. Equipped with food supplies and a well, they can
resist any attack short of artillery. Learning from the natives that the
force consisted of two German officers and about sixty Askaris, my
friend determined not to send back for the column that was waiting to
march from Arusha to invest the place. Between them they resolved to
take the place by strategy and guile. Lying hid in the bush, they
arranged with friendly natives to supply the guard with "pombe" the
potent native drink. Late that night, judging from the sounds that the
Kaffir beer had done its work, they crept up and disarmed the guard.
Holding the outer gate they sent in word to the commandant, a Major
Schneider, the administrator of the district, to surrender. He duly came
from his quarters into the courtyard accompanied by his Lieutenant.
"Before I consider surrender," he said, "tell me what force you've got?"
"This fort is surrounded by my troops, that is enough for you," said our
man. "In any case you see my men behind me, and, if you don't 'hands
up,' they'll fire." And the "troops"--half-clad natives--stepped forward
with levelled rifles.

The next morning the Major, still doubting, asked to see the rest of the
English troops, and on being informed that these were all, would have
rushed back to spring the mines that would have blown the place to
pieces. But the Intelligence Officer had not wasted his time the
previous night, and had very carefully cut the wires that led apparently
so innocently from the central office of the fort. My friend brought
this Major, a man of great importance in his district, to Dar-es-Salaam;
and during the whole journey the German never ceased to complain that
bluffing was a dishonourable means of warfare to employ.

On yet another occasion he had an experience that taxed his tact and
strength to the utmost. In the course of his work he seized the
meat-canning factory near Arusha that a certain Frau ----, in the
absence of her husband, was carrying on. The enemy used to shoot
wildebeest and preserve it by canning or by drying it in the sun as
"biltong" for the use of the German troops. My friend was forced to burn
the factory, and then it became his duty to escort this very practical
lady back to our lines. This did not suit her book at all. With tears
she implored him to send her to her own people. She would promise
anything. Cunningly she suggested great stores of information she might
impart. But he cared not for her weeping, and ordered her to pack for
the long journey to Arusha. Then tears failing her she sulked, and
refused to eat or leave her tent. But this found him adamant. Finally
she tried the woman's wiles which should surely be irresistible to this
man. But he was unmoved by all her blandishments. So surprised and
indignant was he that he threatened to tell her husband of her
behaviour, when he should catch him. But here it appears he made a false
estimate of the value of honour and dishonour among the Huns. "A loyal
German woman," she exclaimed, laughing, "is allowed to use any means to
further the interests of her Fatherland. My husband will only think more
highly of me when he knows." So this modern Galahad of ours turned away
and ordered the lady's tent to be struck and marched her off, taking
care that he himself was far removed from her presence in the caravan.
"What fools you English are," she flung back at him, as he handed her
into the custody that would safely hold this dangerous apostle of
_Kultur_ till the end of the war.


Wearily along the road from Korogwe to Handeni toiled a little company
of details lately discharged from hospital and on their way forward to
Division. Behind them straggled out, for half a mile or more, their line
of black porters carrying blankets and waterproof sheets. Arms and necks
and knees burnt black by many weeks of tropic sun, carrying rifle and
cartridge belts and with their helmets reversed to shade their eyes from
the westering sun, this little body of Rhodesians, Royal Fusiliers and
South Africans covered the road in the very loose formation these
details of many regiments affect. Far ahead was the advance guard of
four Rhodesians and Fusiliers. Nothing further from their thoughts than
war--for they were thirty miles behind Division--they were suddenly
galvanised into action by the sight of the advance guard slipping into
the roadside ditches and opening rapid rifle fire at some object ahead.

For at a turn of the road the advance guard perceived a large number of
Askaris and several white men collected about one of our telegraph
posts, while, up the post, upon the cross trees, was a white man, busily
engaged with the wires. One glance was sufficient to tell these wary
soldiers that the white men were wearing khaki uniforms of an unfamiliar
cut and the mushroom helmet that the Hun affects. So they took cover in
the ditches and opened fire, especially upon the German officer who was
busily tapping our telegraph wire. Down with a great bump on the ground
dropped the startled Hun, and the Askaris fled to the jungle leaving
their chop boxes lying on the road. From the safe shelter of the bush
the enemy reconnoitred their assailants, and taking courage from their
small numbers, proceeded to envelop them by a flank movement. But the
British officer in charge of the details behind, knew his job and threw
out two flanking parties when he got the message from the advance guard.
Our men outflanked the outflanking enemy, and soon as pretty a little
engagement as one could hope to see had developed. Finding themselves
partly surrounded by unsuspected strength the Germans scattered in all
directions, leaving a few wounded and dead behind upon the field. There
on his back, wounded in the leg and spitting fire from his revolver, was
lying the German officer determined to sell his life dearly. His last
shot took effect in the head of one of the Fusiliers who were charging
the bush with the bayonet; up went his hands, "Kamerad, mercy!" and our
officer stepped forward to disarm this chivalrous prisoner. Then they
wired forward to our hospital, at that time ten miles ahead, for an
ambulance, and proceeded to bury their only casualty and the dead

Happening to be on duty, I hurried to the scene of this action in one of
our ambulances, along the worst road in Africa. There I found the German
officer, an Oberleutnant of the name of Zahn, lying by the roadside
gazing with frightened eyes out of huge yellow spectacles. We dressed
his wound and gave him an injection of morphia, a cigarette, and a good
drink of brandy, and left him in the shade of a baobab tree to recover
from his fears. Then I turned toward the dividing of the contents of
captured chop boxes that was being carried out under the direction of
the officer in charge. On occasions such as these, the men were rewarded
with the only really square meal they had often had for days; for the
Hun is a past master in the art of doing himself well, and his chopboxes
are always full of new bread, chocolate, sardines and many little
delicacies. I stepped forward to claim the two Red Cross boxes that had
obviously been the property of the German doctor, and with some
difficulty--for no soldier likes to be robbed of his spoil--I managed to
establish the right of the hospital to them. In the boxes were not only
a fine selection of drugs and surgical dressings and a bottle of brandy,
but also the doctor's ammunition. And such ammunition too. Huge
black-powder cartridges with large leaden bullets; they would only fit
an elephant gun; and yet this was the kind of weapon this doctor found
necessary to bring to protect himself against British soldiers. Had that
doctor been caught with his rifle he would have deserved to be shot on
the spot. Nor were our men in the best of moods; for they had seen the
dead Fusilier, and were furious at the wounds these huge lead slugs

The orderlies then lifted the German officer tenderly into the
ambulance; and the prisoner, now feeling full of the courage that
morphia and brandy give, beckoned to me. "Meine Uhr in meiner Tasche,"
he said, pointing to his torn trouser. "Well, what about it?" I asked.
Again he mentioned his watch in his pocket, and looked at his torn
trouser. "Do you suggest," I said sternly, "that a British soldier has
taken your beastly watch." "No, no, not for worlds," he exclaimed; "I
merely wish to mention the fact that when I went into action I had had a
large gold watch and a large gold chain, and much gold coin in my
pocket. And now," he said, "behold! I have no watch or chain." "What," I
said again, "do you suggest that these soldiers are thieves?" "No! Not
at all; but when I was wounded the soldiers, running up in their anxiety
to help me and dress my wound" (as a matter of fact they had run up to
bayonet him, had not the officer intervened, for this swine had
forfeited his right to mercy by emptying his revolver first and then
surrendering) "inadvertently cut away my pocket in slitting up my
trouser leg." "Then your watch," I continued coldly, "is still lying on
the field, or, if a soldier should discover it, he will deliver it to
General Headquarters, from whence it will be sent to you." Sure enough
that evening the sergeant-major in charge of the rearguard came in with
the missing watch and chain.

Later, we learned, from diaries captured on German prisoners, what
manner of brute this Zahn was.


Judge of my surprise when, one morning in hospital at Morogoro, a fellow
walked in to see me whose face reminded me of times, two years back,
when I was in the Prisoners of War Camp at Minden in Westphalia. He
showed a fatter and more wholesome face certainly, he was clean and well
dressed, but still, unmistakably it was the man to whom I used to take
an occasional book or chocolate when he lay behind the wire of the inner
prison there. "It can't be you?" I said illogically. But it was.

But what a change these two years had wrought! Now an officer in the
Royal Flying Corps, the ribbon of the Military Cross bearing witness to
many a risky reconnaissance over the Rufigi Valley; but then a dirty
mechanic in the French Aviation Corps and a prisoner. But in December,
1914, there were no fat or clean English soldiers in German prisons.

And, as I looked, my mind went back to a wet morning when, the German
sentry's back being turned, a French soldier, working on the camp road,
dug his way near to the door of my hut and, still digging, told me that
there was an Englishman in the French camp, who wanted particularly to
see me. So that afternoon I walked boldly into the French camp as if I
had important business there, and found my way to the further hut. There
lying on a straw mattress, incredibly lousy and sandwiched between a
Turco from Morocco and a Senegalese negro soldier, I found a white man,
who jumped up to see me and was extraordinarily glad to find that his
message had borne fruit. Clad in the tattered but still unmistakable
uniform of a French artilleryman, three months' beard upon his face,
with white wax-like cheeks, blue nose and a dreadfully hunted
expression, stood this six emaciated feet of England. Drawing me aside
to a sheltered corner he told me his story; how, despairing of a job in
our Flying Corps at the commencement of the war, he had joined the
French Aviation Corps as a mechanic, and how he had been taken prisoner
early in September, 1914, when the engine of his aeroplane failed and he
descended to earth in the middle of a marching column of the enemy. Of
the early months of captivity from September to December in Minden he
told me many things. He and all the others lived in an open field
exposed to all the Westphalian winter weather, with no blankets, nothing
but what he now wore. They lived in holes in a wet clay field like rats
and--like rats they fought for the offal and pigwash on which the German
jailors fed them twice a day. Now he had been moved into a long hut,
open on the inner side that looked to the enclosed central square of the
lager, but well enclosed outside by a triple barbed wire fence.

"Why do they put you in with coloured men?" I asked, as I looked at his

"Oh, that's because I'm an Englishman, you know," he said. "When I came
here the commandant, finding who I was, was pleased to be facetious.
'Brothers in arms, glorious,' he chuckled, as he ordered my particular
abode here. 'You, of course, don't object to sleep with a comrade,' he
said, with heavy German humour. And I wanted to tell him, had I only
dared, that I'd rather sleep with a nigger from Senegal than with him."

"How about the lice?" I said, for it was not possible to avoid seeing
them on the thin piece of flannelette that was his blanket.

"Oh, I'm used to them now. Time was when I hunted my clothes all day
long, but now--nothing matters; in fact, I rather think they keep me

So I was quick and glad to help in the little way I could. Not that
there was much that I could do. But I at least had one good meal a day
and two of German prison food, but he had only three bowls of prisoner's
stew and soup. Lest you might think that I exaggerate, I will tell you
exactly what he had, and you may judge what manner of diet it was for a
big Englishman. Five ounces of black bread a day, part of barley and
part of potato, the rest of rye and wheat; for breakfast, a pint of
lukewarm artificial coffee made of acorns burnt with maize, no sugar;
sauerkraut and cabbage in hot water twice a day, occasionally some
boiled barley or rice or oatmeal, and now and then--almost by a miracle,
so rare were the occasions--a small bit of horseflesh in the soup. Could
one wonder at the wolfish look upon his face, the dreary hopelessness of
his expression? And on this diet he had fatigues to do; but on those
days of hard toil there was also a little extra bread and an inch of
German sausage.

But I could get some things from the canteen by bribing the German
orderly who brought our midday food, and I had some books. So the sun
shone, for a time, on Minden.

Nor was this fellow alone in these unhappy surroundings. There with him
were English civilian prisoners, clerks and school-teachers, technical
and engineering instructors, who once taught in German schools and
worked at Essen or in the shipyards. These wretched civilians, until
they were removed to Ruhleben, were not in much better case; but they
might, at least, sleep together on indescribable straw palliasses. Then
they were together; there was comfort in that at least.

By a strange turn of Fortune's wheel this very camp was placed upon the
site of the battlefield of Minden, when, as our guards would tell us, an
undegenerate England fought with the great Frederick against the French.

Moved to another camp this fellow had escaped by crawling under the
barbed wire on a dirty wet night in winter when the sentry had turned
his well-clothed back against the northern gale.


All the Army is looking for the gunnery lieutenant, H.M.S. ----. Time
indeed may soften the remembrance of the evil he has done us, and in the
dim future, when we get to Dar-es-Salaam, we may even relent
sufficiently to drink with him; but now, just halfway along the dusty
road from Handeni to Morogoro, we feel that there's no torture yet
devised that would be a fitting punishment.

Strange how frail a thing is human happiness, that the small matter of a
misdirected 12-inch shell should blight the lives of a whole army and
tinge our thirsty souls with melancholy. For this clumsy projectile that
left the muzzle of the gun with the intention of wrecking the railway
station in Dar-es-Salaam became, by evil chance, deflected in its path
and struck the brewery instead. Not the office or the non-essential part
of the building, but the very heart, the mainspring of the whole, the
precious vats and machinery for making beer. And there will be no more
"lager" in German East Africa until the war is over.

All the long hot march from Kilimanjaro down the Pangani River and along
the dusty, thirsty plains we had all been sustained by the thought that
one day we would strike the Central Railway and, finding some sufficient
pretext to snatch some leave, would swiftly board a train for
Dar-es-Salaam and drink from the Fountain of East Africa. The one bright
hope that upheld us, the one beautiful dream that dragged weary
footsteps southward over that waterless, thorny desert was the
occupation of the brewery. We had heard its fame all over the country,
we had met a few of its precious bottles full at the Coast, had found
some empty--in the many German plantations we had searched.

Now "Ichabod" is written large upon our resting-places, the joy of life
departed, the sparkle gone from bright eyes that longed for victory,
and, as King's Regulations have it, alarm and consternation have spread
through all ranks. Even the accompanying news of the tears of the Hun
population in Dar-es-Salaam at this wanton destruction, failed to
comfort us.

The Navy were very nice about it. They were just as sorry as we, they
said. The gunner had been put under observation as a criminal lunatic,
we understood. But they had just come from Zanzibar, and every one knows
that all good things are to be found in that isle of clover. All the
excuses in the world won't give us back our promised beer again.


Standing on the river bridge that crossed the main road into Morogoro
was a slender figure in the white uniform of a nursing sister. In one
hand a tiny Union Jack, in the other a white flag.

"Don't shoot," she cried, "I'm an Englishwoman;" and the bearded South
African troopers, who were reconnoitring the approaches to their town,
stopped and smiled down upon her. "Take this letter to General Smuts,
please; it is from the German General von Lettow;" and handing it to one
of them, she shook hands with the other and told him how she had been
waiting for two years for him to come and release her from her prison.
For this nursing sister had been behind prison bars for two years in
German East Africa, and you may imagine how she had longed for the day
when the English would come and set her free.

This was Sister Mabel, the only nursing sister we had in Morogoro for
the first four months of our occupation. Her memory lives in the hearts
of hundreds of our wretched soldiers, who were brought with malaria or
dysentery to the shelter of our hospital. In spite of the fact that she
was one of the trained English nursing sisters of the English
Universities Mission in German East Africa, she was imprisoned with the
rest of the Allied civil population of that German colony from the
commencement of war until the time that Smuts had come to break the
prison bars and let the wretched captives free. She had had her share of
insult, indignity, shame and ill-treatment at the hands of her savage
gaolers. But in that slender body lived a very gallant soul, and that
gave her spirit to dare and courage to endure. So when we occupied
Morogoro and Lettow fled with his troops to the mountains, this very
splendid sister gave up her chance of leave well-earned to come to nurse
for us in our hospital. The Germans had failed to break the spirits of
these civilian prisoners, and they had full knowledge of the army that
was slowly moving south from Kilimanjaro to redress the balance of
unsuccessful military enterprise in the past. One can imagine the state
of mind of these wretched people when the news of our ill-fated attack
on Tanga in 1914 arrived; when they heard of our Indian troops being
made prisoners at Jassin, and saw from the cock-a-hoop attitude of the
Hun that all was well for German arms in East Africa. Then when Nemesis
was approaching, the German commandant came to their prison to make
amends for past wrongs. "I am desolated to think," he unctuously
explained, "that you ladies have had so little comfort in this camp in
the past, and I have come to make things easier for you now. The English
Government," he continued with an ingratiating smile, "have now begun to
treat our prisoners in England better, and I hasten to return good to
you for the evils that our women have suffered at the hands of your
Government. Is there anything I can do for you? Would you like native
servants? Would you care to go for walks?" But these brave women
answered that they had done without servants and walks for two years
now, and they could endure a little longer. "What do you mean," he
exclaimed in anger, "by a little longer?" But they answered nothing, and
he knew the news of our advance had come to them within their prison
cage. "Would you care to nurse our wounded soldiers?" he said more
softly. Sister Mabel said she would. So now for the first time she is
given a native servant, carried in state down the mountain-side in a
hammock, and installed in the German hospital in Morogoro. There, in
virtue of the excellence of her work and knowledge, she was given charge
of badly wounded German officers, and received with acid smiles of
welcome from the German sisters.

To her, at the evacuation of the town, had Lettow come, and, giving her
a letter to General Smuts, had asked her to put in a good word for the
German woman and children he was leaving behind him to our tender
mercies. "There is no need of letters to ask for protection for German
women," she told him; "you know how well they've been treated in
Wilhemstal and Mombo." But he insisted, and she consented, and so the
bearded troopers found this English emissary of Lettow's waiting for
them upon the river bridge.

Back came General Smuts's answer, "Tell the women of Morogoro that, if
they stay in their houses, they have nothing to fear from British
troops, nor will one house be entered, if only they stay indoors." And
the Army was as good as the word of their Chief; for no occupied house,
not one German chicken, not a cabbage was taken from any German house or

And now the despised and rejected English Sister had become the
"Oberschwester," and her German fellow nursing sisters had to take their
orders from her. But she exercised a difficult authority very kindly and
adopted a very cool and distant attitude toward them. But there was one
thing she never did again: she never spoke German any more, but gave all
her orders and held all dealings with the enemy in Swahili, the native
language, or in English. In this she was adamant.

Now, indeed, had the great work of her life begun; for into those four
months she crammed the devotion of a lifetime. Always full to
overcrowding, never less than 600 patients where we had only the
equipment for 200, the whole hospital looked to her for the nursing that
is so essential in modern medicine and surgery. For nurses are now an
absolute necessity for medical and surgical work of modern times, and we
could get no other sisters. The railway was broken, the bridges down,
and where could we look for help or hospital comforts or medical
necessities? We had pushed on faster than our supplies, and with the
equipment of a Casualty Clearing Station we had to do the work of a
Stationary Hospital. No beds save those we took over from the German
Hospital, no sheets nor linen. Can one wonder that she was everywhere
and anywhere at all homes and in all places? Six o'clock in the morning
found her in the wards; she alone of all of us could find no time to
rest in the afternoon; a step upon the verandah where she slept beside
the bad pneumonias and black-water fever cases found her always up and
ready to help. Nor was her job finished in the nursing; she was our
housekeeper too. For she alone could run the German woman cook, could
speak Swahili, and keep order among the native boys, buy eggs and fruit
and chickens from the natives, so that our sick might not want for the
essentially fresh foods. Then at last the railway opened up a big
Stationary Hospital, our Casualty Clearing Station moved further to the
bush, and Sister Mabel's work was done. But there was no elegant leisure
for her when she arrived at the Coast to take the leave she long had
earned in England. An Australian transport had some cases of
cerebro-spinal meningitis aboard, and wanted Sisters, and, as if she had
not already had enough to do, took her with them through the sunny South
Atlantic seas to the home that had not seen her since she left for
Tropical Africa five weary years before.


The journey from Morogoro to Dar-es-Salaam is a most interesting
experience, a perfect object lesson in the kind of futile railway
destruction that defeats its own ends. For Lettow and his advisers said
that our long wait at M'syeh had ruined our chances. Complete
destruction of the railway and of all the rolling stock would hold us up
for the valuable two months until the rains were due. Our means of
supply all that time would be, perforce, the long road haul by motor
lorry, by mule or ox or donkey transport, two hundred miles, from the
Northern Railway. Lettow bet on the rains and the completeness of the
railway destruction he would cause; but he bargained without his
visitors. Little did he know the resource and capacity of our Indian
sappers and miners, our Engineer and Pioneer battalions.

They threw themselves on broken culverts and wrecked bridges; with only
hand tools, so short of equipment were they, they drove piles and built
up girders on heaps of sleepers and made the bridges safe again. Saving
every scrap of chain, every abandoned German tool, making shift here,
extemporising there, bending steel rails on hand forges, utilising the
scrap heaps the enemy had left, they finally won and brought the first
truck through, in triumph, in six weeks. But the first carriage was no
Pullman car. It exemplified the resource of our men and illustrated the
idea that proved Lettow wrong. For we adapted the engines of Ford and
Bico motor cars and motor lorries to the bogie wheels of German trucks
and sent a little fleet of motor cars along the railway. Light and very
speedy, these little trains sped along, each dragging its thirty tons of
food and supplies for the army then 120 miles from Dar-es-Salaam.

This adaptation of the internal combustion engine to fixed rails may not
be new, but it was unexpected by Lettow. And the German engineers left
it a little too late; they panicked at the last and destroyed wholesale,
but without intelligence. True, they put an explosive charge into the
cylinders of all their big engines and left us to get new cylinders cast
in Scotland. They blew out the grease boxes of the trucks; but their
performance, on the whole, was amateurish. For they blew up, with
dynamite, the masonry of many bridges and contented themselves that the
girders lay in the river below. But this was child's play to our Sappers
and Miners. With hand jacks they lifted the girders and piled up
sleepers, one by one beneath, until the girder was lifted to rail level
again. Now any engineer can tell you that the only way to destroy a
bridge is to cut the girder. This would send us humming over the cables
to Glasgow to get it replaced. It was what they did do on the most
important bridge over Ruwu River, but in their anxiety to do the thing
properly there--and they reckoned four months' hard work would find us
with a new bridge still unfinished--they forgot the old deviation, an
old spur that ran round the big span that crossed the river and lay
buried in the jungle growth. In ten days we had opened up this old
deviation, laid new rails, and had the line re-opened. When I passed
down the line we took the long way round by this long-abandoned track
and left the useless bridge upon our right. Much method but little
intelligence was shown in the destruction of the railway lines; for they
often failed to remove the points, contenting themselves with removing
the rails and hiding them in the jungle.

The German engineers must have wept at the orgy of devastation that
followed: blind fury alone seemed to animate this scene of blind
destruction. At N'geri N'geri and Ruwu they first broke the middle one
of the three big spans and ran the rolling stock, engines, sleeping
cars, a beautiful ambulance train, trucks and carriages, pell mell into
the river-bed below. But the wreckage piled up in a heap 60 feet high
and soon was level with the bridge again. So they broke the other spans
and ran most of the rest of the rolling stock through the gaps. When
these, too, had piled up, they finally ran the remainder of the rolling
stock down the embankments and into the jungle. Then they set fire to
the three huge heaps of wreckage, and the glare lit the heavens for
nearly a hundred miles. But the almost uninjured railway trucks that had
run their little race, down embankments into the bush, were saved to run

Into Morogoro station steamed the trains with the German lettering and
freight and tare directions, carefully undisturbed, printed on their
sides. To us it seemed that the destruction of an ambulance train that
had in the past relied upon the Red Cross and our forbearance, was
cutting it rather fine and putting a new interpretation upon the Geneva
Convention. The Germans, however, argue that the English are such swine
they would have used it to carry supplies as well as sick and wounded.

And what a magnificent railway it was, and what splendid rolling stock
they had! Steel sleepers, big heavy rails, low gradients, excellent cuts
and bridge work; cuttings through rock smoothed as if by sandpaper and
crevices filled with concrete. Fine concrete gutters along the curves,
such ballasting as one sees on the North-Western Railway. Nothing cheap
or flimsy about the culverts. Railway stations built regardless of cost
and the possibility of traffic; stone houses and waiting-rooms roofed
with soft red tiles that are in such contrast to the red-washed
corrugated iron roofing one sees in British East Africa. Expensive
weighbridges where it seemed there was nothing but a few natives with an
occasional load of mangoes and bananas. Here was an indifference to mere
dividends; at every point evidence abounded of a lavish display of
public money through a generous Colonial Office. For in the
Wilhelmstrasse this colony was ever the apple of their eye, and money
was always ready for East African enterprises.

Yet the planters complain, just as planters do all over the world, of
the indifference of Governments and the parsimony of executive
officials. A Greek rubber planter told me, from the standpoint of an
intelligent and benevolent neutrality (and who so likely to know the
meaning of benevolence in neutral obligations as a Greek?), that the
Government charged huge freights on this line, killed young enterprise
by excessive charges, gave no rebates even to German planters, and in
other ways seemed indifferent to the fortunes of the sisal and rubber
planters. True they built the railway; but what use to a planter to
build a line and rob him of his profits in the freight? This gentleman
of ancient Sparta frankly liked the Germans and found them just; and he
was in complete agreement with the native policy that made every black
brother do his job of work, the whole year round, at a rate of pay that
fully satisfied this Greek employer's views on the minimum wage.


(The Haven of Peace)

This town is indeed a Haven of Peace for our weary soldiers. The only
rest in a really civilised place that they have had after many hundreds
of miles of road and forest and trackless thirsty bush. In the cool
wards of the big South African Hospital many of them enjoy the only rest
that they have known for months. Fever-stricken wrecks are they of the
men that marched so eagerly to Kilimanjaro nine weary months before.
Months of heat and thirst and tiredness, of malaria that left them
burning under trees by the roadside till the questing ambulance could
find them, of dysentery that robbed their nights of sleep, of dust and
flies and savage bush fighting. And now they lie between cool sheets and
watch the sisters as they flit among the shadows of cool, shaded wards.
Only a short three months before and this was the "Kaiserhof," the first
hotel on the East Coast of Africa, as the German manager, with loud
boastfulness, proclaimed.

There had been a time when we doctors, then at Nairobi and living in
comfortable mosquito-proof houses, had blamed the men for drinking
unboiled water and for discarding their mosquito nets. But even doctors
sometimes live and learn, and those of us who went right forward with
the troops came to know how impracticable it was to carry out the Army
Order that bade a man drink only boiled water and sleep beneath a net.
Late in the night the infantryman staggers to the camp that lies among
thorn bushes, hungry and tired and full of fever. How then could one
expect him to put up a mosquito net in the pitch-black darkness in a
country where every tree has got a thorn? Long ago the army's mosquito
nets have adorned the prickly bushes of the waterless deserts. "Tuck
your mosquito net well in at night," so runs the Army Order. But what
does it profit him to tuck in the net when dysentery drags him from his
blanket every hour at night?

From the verandah of the hospital the soldier sees the hospital ship all

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