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Sketches of the East Africa Campaign by Robert Valentine Dolbey

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lighted up at night with red and green lights, the ship that's going to
take him out of this infernal climate to where the mosquitoes are
uninfected and tsetse flies bite no more. And there are no regrets that
the rainy season is commencing, and this is no longer a campaign for the
white soldier. On the sunlit slopes of Wynberg he will contemplate the
white sands of Muizenberg and recover the strength that he will want
again, in four months' time, in the swamps of the Rufigi. Now the time
has come for the black troops to see through the rest of the rainy
season, to sit upon the highlands and watch, across miles of intervening
swamp, the tiny points of fire that are the camp fires of German

Through the shady streets of this lovely town wander our soldier
invalids in their blue and grey hospital uniforms, along the well-paved
roads, neat boulevards, immaculate gardens and avenues of mangoes and
feathery palm trees. Along the sea front at night in front of the big
German hospital that now houses our surgical cases, you will find these
invalids walking past the cemetery where the "good Huns" sleep, sitting
on the beach, enjoying the cool sea breeze that sweeps into the town on
the North-East Monsoon.

Imagine the loveliest little land-locked harbour in the world, a white
strip of coral and of sand, groves of feathery palms, graceful shady
mangoes, huge baobab trees that were here when Vasco da Gama's soldiers
trod these native paths; and among them fine stone houses, soft
red-tiled roofs, verandahs all screened with mosquito gauze and
excellently well laid out, and you have Dar-es-Salaam.

Nothing is left of the old Arab village that was here for centuries
before the German planted this garden-city. Sloping coral sands, where
Arab dhows have beached themselves for ages past, are now supporting the
newest and most modern of tropical warehouses and wharves, electric
cranes, travelling cargo-carriers and a well-planned railway goods yard
that takes the freights of Hamburg to the heart of Central Africa.

It must be pain and grief to the German men and women whom our clemency
allows to occupy their houses, throng the streets and read the daily
Reuter cablegram, to see this town, the apple of their eye, defiled by
the "dirty English" the hated "beefs," as they call us from a mistaken
idea of our fondness for that tinned delicacy.

But the soldiers' daily swim in the harbour is undisturbed by sharks,
and the feel of the soft water is like satin to their bodies. Not for
these spare and slender figures the prickly heat that torments fat and
beery German bodies and makes sea-bathing anathema to the Hun. On German
yachts the lucky few of officers and men are carried on soft breezes
round the harbour and outside the harbour mouth in the evening coolness.

Arab dhows sail lazily over the blue sea from Zanzibar. If one could
dream, one could picture the corsairs' red flag and the picturesque Arab
figure standing high in the stern beside the tiller, and fancy would
portray the freight of spices and cloves that they should bring from the
plantations of Pemba and Zanzibar. But there are no dusky beauties now
aboard these ships; and their freight is rations and other hum-drum
prosaic things for our troops. The red pirate's flag has become the red
ensign of our merchant marine.

All the caravan routes from Central Africa debouch upon this place and
Bagamoyo. Bismarck looks out from the big avenue that bears his name
across the harbour to where the D.O.A.L. ship _Tabora_ lies on her side;
further on he looks at the sunken dry dock and a stranded German
Imperial Yacht. It would seem as if a little "blood and iron" had come
home to roost; even as the sea birds do upon his forehead. The grim
mouth, that once told Thiers that he would leave the women of France
nothing but their eyes to weep with, is mud-splashed by our passing
motor lorries.

The more I see of this place the more I like it. Everything to admire
but the water supply, the sanitation, the Huns and Hunnesses and a few
other beastlinesses. One can admire even the statue of Wissmann, the
great explorer, that looks with fixed eyes to the Congo in the eye of
the setting sun. He is symbolical of everything that a boastful Germany
can pretend to. For at his feet is a native Askari looking upward, with
adoring eye, to the "Bwona Kuba" who has given him the priceless boon of
militarism, while with both hands the soldier lays a flag--the imperial
flag of Germany--across a prostrate lion at his feet. "Putting it acrost
the British lion," as I heard one of our soldiers remark.

"_Si monumentum requiris circumspice_" as the Latins say; or, as Tommy
would translate, "If you want to see a bit of orl-right, look at what
the Navy has done to this 'ere blinking town." The Governor's palace,
where is it? The bats now roost in the roofless timbers that the 12-inch
shells have left. What of the three big German liners that fled to this
harbour for protection and painted their upper works green to harmonise
with the tops of the palm trees and thus to escape observation of our
cruisers? Ask the statue of Bismarck. He'll know, for he has been
looking at them for a year now. The _Tabora_ lies on her side half
submerged in water; the _Koenig_ lies beached at the harbour mouth in a
vain attempt to block the narrow entrance and keep us out; the
_Feldmarschal_ now on her way upon the high seas, to carry valuable food
for us and maybe to be torpedoed by her late owners. The crowning
insult, that this ship should have recently been towed by the
_ex-Professor Woermann_--another captured prize.

What of the two dry docks that were to make Dar-es-Salaam the only
ship-repairing station on the East Coast? One lies sunk at the harbour
mouth, shortly, however, to be raised and utilised by us; the other in
the harbour, sunk too soon, an ineffectual sacrifice.

Germans and their womenfolk crowd the streets; many of the former quite
young and obvious deserters, the latter, thick of body and thicker of
ankle, walk the town unmolested. Not one insult or injury has ever been
offered to a German woman in this whole campaign. But these "victims of
our bow and spear" are not a bit pleased. The calm indifference that our
men display towards them leaves them hurt and chagrined. Better far to
receive any kind of attention than to be ignored by these indifferent
soldiers. What a tribute to their charms that the latest Hun fashion,
latest in Dar-es-Salaam, but latest by three years in Paris or London,
should provoke no glance of interest on Sunday mornings! One feels that
they long to pose as martyrs, and that our quixotic chivalry cuts them
to the quick.

There have been many bombardments of the forts of this town, and huge
dugouts for the whole population have been constructed. Great
underground towns, twenty feet below the surface, all roofed in with
steel railway sleepers. No wonder that many of the inhabitants fled to
Morogoro and Tabora. What a wicked thing of the Englander to shell an
"undefended" town! The search-lights and the huge gun positions and the
maze of trenches, barbed wire and machine-gun emplacements hewn out of
the living rock, of course, to the Teuton mind, do not constitute

But you must not think that we have had it all our own way in this
sea-warfare here. For in Zanzibar harbour the masts of H.M.S. _Pegasus_
peep above the water--a mute reminder of the 20th September, 1914. For
on that fatal day, attested to by sixteen graves in the cemetery, and
more on an island near, a traitor betrayed the fact that our ship was
anchored and under repairs in harbour and the rest of the fleet away. Up
sailed the _Koenigsberg_ and opened fire; and soon our poor ship was
adrift and half destroyed. A gallant attempt to beach her was foiled by
the worst bit of bad luck--she slipped off the edge of the bank into
deep water. But even this incident was not without its splendid side;
for the little patrol tug originally captured from the enemy, threw
itself into the line of fire in a vain attempt to gain time for the
_Pegasus_ to clear. But the cruiser's sharp stern cut her to the
water-line and sank her; and as her commander swam away, the
_Koenigsberg_ passed, hailed and threw a lifebuoy. "Can we give you a
hand?" said the very chivalrous commander of this German ship. "No; go
to Hamburg," said our hero, as he swam to shore to save himself to fight
again, on many a day, upon another ship.

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