The Great War, I was there - Part 25

for that never-to-be-forgotten journey through the African jungle. Whilst the work of taking the boats and all gear off the train went on, hundreds of native carriers went ahead carrying stores, ammunition, and petrol for the motor-boats. By about the middle of August all was ready to move forward, and the “Impossible Adven­ture ”entered upon its second and more thrilling stage. Escorted by an armed guard of native troops, we offset into the Bush, and it was not long before we met with trouble.Some of the smaller bridges could not take the weight of the tractions and boats, and breakdowns became frequent. I took snapshots of several of these a t the Commander’s request, his idea being to send them to the Admiralty and just show the sort of picnic on which we were engaged. Bush fires were always a source of danger, and often all available hands were called onto beat out the advancing flames, with broken off tree branches, to keep them from reaching our precious boats. From now on my job became an measured 40 feet in length and 8 feet abeam, was to be mounted, in a specially constructed cradle, on thick rubber wheels, and drawn by a traction engine. It was necessary, therefore, to find a route as free as possible from steep gradients, marshland, and dried-up river courses, and to make sure that there would always abe plenteous supply of water both for the men and the tractions. I have few clear impressions left of that period except that we worked long and hard, covering many' miles daily, in mapping out a suitable route. A s this progressed, thousands of natives, recruited from the villages en route, were set to work to clear and level i t this, of course, under the super­vision of white gangers, all this having been arranged by the Belgians. Giant trees were uprooted and huge boulders dislodged with dynamite. Several yawning gorges had to be infilled with tree trunks, one of these measuring some 40 yards across and 20 yards deep.. Nearly 200 rough bridges and fords were made over the entire route, and hundreds of woodstacks prepared as fuel for the traction engines, as there is no coal in this country. Having finally chosen the route, and the work of clearing the way being well in hand, Lee and I returned to Elizabeth­ ville, and found that the two boats and remainder of the expedition had arrived. At this stage Lieut.-Com­ mander Lee went down with fever INCH BY INCHON JUNGLE InROADS page 981 Lieutenant Magee graphically describes the gruelling work that was often entailed when manpower, with block and tackle attached to trees, and teams of oxen had to come to the help of the two traction engines drawing the Mimi and the Tou-Tou. The top photograph shows exactly the scene that Lieutenant Magee describes when a steep ascent had to be negotiated. In the lower photograph men with drag-ropes are steadying the unwieldy load as it descends a steep incline. Photos, Lieut. Frank Magee and returned to England. Commander Spicer Simson, having examined our maps and plans and approved of them, a move was made, all members of the expedition and the two boats being taken to Fungurume by train. It was here that the railway construction finished and was the starting point 9S0 astonishingly varied one I developed, in fact, into the expedition’s handy­man. Not only was I in charge of stores and provisions, but was often called onto boss a gang of natives engaged inroad construction, or help in repairing breakdowns. What time was left from preoccupation of this kind was devoted
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