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These skeins, or threads, mainly comprise personal experiences and the written records in which they are embodied. The editors have been fortunate in securing access to several distinct skeins of experience relating to the German East African Campaign of While Delville Wood was in progress in , however, there were many thousands of South Africans doing their share of the war in German East Africa under the command of our very respected Jannie Smuts.
Collyer, Smuts praised our opponents the Germans , the Belgians and other Allied forces who took part in the campaign. Next month I shall attain the age of 90, but in I was 20 and a machine gunner in the 7th South African Infantry, in which I served for 2. When we landed in Mombasa in January , our strength was in excess of 1 ; in December of that year, in Iringa, we numbered less than I was one of those. I think the Foreword is worth recording somehow in our Military History Journal and would form a belated acknowledgment of the struggles and efforts in that campaign of 70 years ago.
Further, it would warm the hearts of the few East African veterans still in the land of the living. The theme of this extract is a tribute to those South Africans who were involved in the Campaign.
The severe casualties which Col Thompson hints at - due in large measure to disease - are ample testimony to this fact. Although those South Africans who fought in France and especially at Delville Wood have enjoyed greater renown, their comrades who endured the East African Campaign are equally deserving of respect, in view of what they too had to endure. As Gen Smuts states, the Campaign was a protracted, harsh test of endurance and pursuit, in which the German forces only surrendered after the Armistice in Europe.
Thousands of them sleep in East African soil. I know my other comrades will not mind my saying so. They were mostly young men, civilian volunteers from the veld and the towns, from the open country and unrivalled climate of their native land, with scanty military training, with no knowledge or thought in any quarter of what awaited them in East Africa, either in the manner of fighting or in the climatic or biotic conditions of nature.
Immediately on arrival they were flung against military positions skilfully prepared for more than a year; they had to face a well-led army, skilled in bush-fighting; they had to make acquaintance with unknown devastating tropical diseases. As they fought their way through, and lines of communication rapidly lengthened, hospital equipment, transport, and supply arrangements proved inadequate, reduced rations became an effective ally to malaria and the host of other tropical diseases.
Bush and forests, mountains, rivers and deserts proved far more formidable than the enemy army. The Equatorial sun blazed on them from above, disease and hunger sapped them from within. All around spread the endless bush, cutting off vision, full of lurking invisible danger, fear-inspiring, heart-breaking. With this went hard labour in long marches, in road and bridge-making in cutting their way through endless obstacles.
And all this immense exertion under conditions of intolerable lassitude, and weakness from disease. It was their greatness of spirit, the high tension of their effort that kept them going, kept them from faltering. And supporting them there was the immense drive which was necessary to keep so great a machine from slowing down in the face of such obstacles. They kept marching and fighting on.
From the Lumi to the Rufiji, from the Indian Ocean to the Great Lakes they fought their way through, and in eleven months had mastered a huge stretch of primeval Africa. They stood a test almost beyond human endurance. They have received scant recognition. After all, was East Africa not one of the little side-shows of the Great War? The honours have gone to those of their comrades who went to the Western Front.
But equally, let us not forget that there was no less heroism in East Africa, no less endurance to the utmost limits of human nature, no less a contribution to the heroic record of South Africa. Thousands of them lie there, in the furthest north of our African Trek. This book, with its ample record of their achievements, will help to keep the memory of their service green. This medal group embodies the distinguished career briefly elucidated by Mr Gooderham.
Maj Jackson donated his medals to the Museum in He was granted the acting rank of Major on 28 September but relinquished this acting rank upon the disbandment of the Northern Signals Company, SA Corps of Signals, on 10 December On 27 February he relinquished his Imperial Commission by a decision of the medical board.
Following the close of World War 1 he continued his military career with 10 Infantry Regiment Witwatersrand Rifles , and was called up for active service in the Rand Revolt of On 30 August he was granted the temporary rank of Major and appointed second-in-command of the Regiment.
He was granted the honorary rank of Major on 1 February He was placed on the Retired List on 23 February For over four years during World War I he kept a large allied army chasing him, but always succeeded in repulsing attacks and threatening further guerilla action.
The action took place over a stretch of East Africa then known as Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda some 1 km in length and km in breadth. At one time the Germans were operating south of the present Mozambique border.
Von Lettow finally surrendered on 25 November , days after the official armistice of 11 November, at Abercorn in present day Zambia. At most, the German forces numbered approximately 3 white troops and 11 Askari. At the time of the surrender white troops and Askari laid down their arms and were allowed the honours of war.
The topography of the country, the climate and the heavy rain were an onerous handicap to the allied forces which were drawn from South Africa, Great Britain, Belgium, India and Portugal. Malaria, dysentery and other tropical diseases took their toll of unacclimatised troops. By the end of , it is recorded, 12 white troops had succumbed and been repatriated.
If the objective of war is to nullify the fighting ability of the opposition, disease was certainly a factor which assisted von Lettow-Vorbeck. The local British forces were too few and. Help had earlier been sought from India and in November , an Anglo-Indian landing was attempted at Tanga which was repulsed.
A period of inconclusive skirmishing followed with the Germans enjoying a slight advantage after their victory at the battle of Jasini in January The future pattern of hostilities was, however, clearly predictable. Britain, with her command of the seas could, given time, provide reinforcements.
Von Lettow-Vorbeck, on the other hand, could not expect similar support and would be forced to adopt guerilla tactics. The next event of significance occurred in October Would he raise an expeditionary force in South Africa to fight in East Africa and assume overall command of Allied forces in that theatre? His response was positive. The first time was, of course, the conquest of German South West Africa which was completed by July On conclusion of the South West African campaign, a substantial expeditionary force of volunteers had been formed, equipped and despatched for service in the European theatre.
The latest request was still within the capabilities of the country. Within a few months yet another substantial force had been planned, the first elements assembled and sent on their way north. General Smuts arrived in Mombasa on 19 February , a week after the first contact between South African and German forces.
Movement of the remainder of the expeditionary force continued through the months of March and April. He is the author of the diary from which the following extracts have been taken.
Captain Jackson was a part-time, volunteer soldier, then aged 39 years with previous experience of campaigning.
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On his return to England he had rejoined the volunteers. Two years later he returned to South Africa to take up employment in the Transvaal. In this regiment he attained the rank of sergeant and was later appointed a second lieutenant in the Witwatersrand Rifles Transvaal Volunteers on 1 November In an earlier diary kept during his service in the Anglo-Boer War, Fred Jackson had expressed an interest in, and recorded the experience he had had, in regimental signalling.
This interest clearly evolved over the years for, in , his military record reveals, he transferred to the 10th Infantry Brigade as a signals officer. He had become a specialist. He would promptly gain experience in this post during the industrial strike which had erupted on the Witwatersrand and which was quelled by the intervention of the Union Defence Force.
A year later, with the outbreak of the First World War he was again on full time service in the South West African campaign during which he was promoted to the rank of Captain on 1 February When recruiting started in the Union for a force to be sent to serve in Europe, Capt Jackson probably found that, as a specialist officer approaching the age of 39 years, preference was being given to younger volunteers. The intention behind the publication of these extracts is to provide the student of military history with side-lights on the day-to-day events in the life of a staff officer during the East African campaign, in the belief that these might serve to illuminate the major studies.
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It is felt that the descriptions of the terrain and the movement of certain units, the observations made on the inhabitants of the territory, and even the comments on personalities are all of them of historical interest.
The extracts which follow are a transcript of the the original handwritten diary. Draw 30 UK Pounds less certain deductions for equipment as clothing and equipment allowance.
Seccull at 10 am. April 20th Thursday Meet J. Catch 8 pm train for Durban. Brink Bde Maj Capt G. She has about 1 horses as cargo, they are for the 2nd Mtd Bde Genl Brits who are due to sail in a few weeks time. Pass Guildford Castle making for Zanzibar.
They are to be ready tomorrow night. Horses are now being off-loaded in lighters. Post letter to W P Stanley. May 11th Thursday Little sleep last night for the noise of hyaenas but shall soon get used to these strange noises, I presume. The Huns are using 4. May 13th Saturday Draw clothing from Ordnance for my groom. Lt De Wet down with malaria. The Genl gets a set of leather buttons from me for his new uniform as I have a spare set. Nineteen sisters arrive here today from Egypt. May 17th Wednesday Lieut De Wet is removed to hospital in ambulance with malaria.
Lt Neethling arrives with all the horses. I play Auction Bridge tonight until 11pm.