The Great War Part 185, March 2nd 1918

578 The Great War DUSKY WEARERS OF THE RED CROSS OF SUCCOUR. British officers in East Africa training natives as stretcher-bearers. In a wounded and the natives proved valuable helpers in the stretcher- country where the conditions of campaigning were so difficult extensive bearing part of the work. Inset: Trainload of British armoured cars arrangements had to be made for dealing with many sick as well as with on a German East African railway. supplied magnificent fighting material and the Commander- in-Chief sought and obtained the sanction of the War Office for recruiting several thousands of these warlike blacks, or Askaris. Native soldiers were also sent to his assist­ance from West Africa. Amongst the earliest to arrive was the Gold Coast Regiment. Then followed the Nigerian Brigade under Brigadier-General H.F. B. Cunliffe C.B., C.M.G. which reached Dar-es-Salaam in the second and third weeks of December. The Nigerians were thoroughly seasoned as they had taken avery active part in the con­quest of Cameroon under the leadership of the same distinguished commander (Chapter LX XXVII. (Vol. V., p. 79). Of Smuts reconstituted army nearly a half con­sisted of Askaris about a quarter was white and the rest was composed of East Indians— Baluchis Kashmiris and Punjabis. In October 1916 the forces of General Smuts were in three main groups in the south-east of the country. In the east a force of some 2000 rifles under General Hannyngton had been concentrated at Kilwa on the coast. In the centre opposite the Germans on the Mgeta River stood the xst Division under General Hoskins. In the west the forward troops of the 2nd Division under General Van Deventer occupied Iringa and other adjacent points the remaining men being concentrated north on the Central Railway. Also around Iringa and south of it, in greater strength on the Rubudje River was the force of General Northey. Up till the end of Two German December when General Smuts began a forces join general offensive interest almost wholly centred in the western area during the last three months of 1916. In this quarter the scene of the fighting was the main road from Lake Nyasa to Kilosa or on ground in its vicinity. To Van Deventer and Northey had been assigned the difficult task of preventing the Germans, who had retreated from Tabora from joining up with the considerable body of their troops on the Mahenge plateau. The task in fact proved to bean impossible one. Under General Wahle and Major Wintgens the Germans from Tabora mustering about 1600 rifles had reached the neighbourhood of Iringa and Malangali in the third week of October. To deal with the enemy General Van Deventer pushed forward to Iringa the 7th South African Infantry and a cyclist battalion the latter under Lieut.- Colonel J. M. Fairweather who for the time being assumed command of the two battalions as well as of the portion of General Northeys force already thereunder Lieut.- Colonel T.A. Rodger. The 7th arrived at Iringa on October 23rd and the cyclist battalion next day. Before the troops from the 2nd Division had reached Iringa the major part of the Germans from Tabora had broken through southwards between Alt Iringa and Ngominyi. This took place on the night of October 22nd- 23rd and one of its results was to cut all communication with General Northey who for sometime remained without any means of issuing orders to his troops at Iringa. Smuts thereupon placed General Van Deventer in charge of the situation and gave him Enemy offensive control over Colonel Rodgers men. in the south Besides the major German force many small parties got across the inroad the darkness "which of course they were able ”to do commented General Smuts, “without any fear of detection over a large front.” The passage of the enemy through the British lines occupied threesome weeks and was marked by much fighting on a small scale. Meanwhile the Germans from Mahenge to aid their comrades in the break-through took the inoffensive the south against Northeys troops under Colonels Hawthorn and Murray. The Germans were commanded by Major Kraut and during the night of October 2ist-22nd he crossed the Ruhudje River with about 1600 men some of whom were mounted and all well found. His force included the 10th Field Company two hundred strong
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