Why I became interested in the German Colonial Armies

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Chris Dale
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Why I became interested in the German Colonial Armies

Postby Chris Dale » 12 Mar 2017 00:00

My first curiosity about the uniforms of the armies of the German colonies started as a youngster when I found lots of books about uniforms of the First World War but only small mentions of the colonial defenders. This was one of the small mentions I found. It is from Military Modelling magazine May 1980. They used to have a section where readers asked questions about uniforms.
What were other people's first curiosities about the German colonies?
Cheers
Chris

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danebrog
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Re: Why I became interested in the German Colonial Armies

Postby danebrog » 12 Mar 2017 15:32

My very first memory was a story told by my great aunt when I was around 12 years old, how a daring General Lettow-Vorbeck evicted the British with the help of wild bees from the beaches of Africa.
Many, many years later I made some studies about German colonies - and discovered an exoctic country named Tanzania were once a German General fought the British (even with bees)
Became interested, made some research, became more interested...
Well, you know the outcome :-D

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Chris Dale
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Re: Why I became interested in the German Colonial Armies

Postby Chris Dale » 12 Mar 2017 18:45

Interesting that the bees story is also told abroad, where was your great aunt from? I thought it was a story made up by British press.
Cheers
Chris

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why I became interested in the German Colonial Armies

Postby Sid Guttridge » 13 Mar 2017 12:07

Hi Chris,

African bees are particularly ferocious, as I found out in Rhodesia.

In early 1979 we were called out of depot to follow up a farm attack in the Bindura district north of Salisbury (Harare). It was actually an exercise designed to make us react as if we were on a real op, but we did not know this at the time.

During it Cloud M. (an African soldier) swatted a bee on the back of his neck. The scent of this aggravated the nearby nest and they swarmed over him. He threw himself in a shallow donga and stuck his fingers in his ears and nostrils and stayed still.

However, the rest of us (all Europeans bar one) strung out in line were caught by surprise and started to be extensively stung. We quickly lost formation and ran for it, dropping kit and rifles as we did so.

Fortunately RSM A. was an old hand and lit the grass and got us all to stand in the smoke, which the bees would not enter.

Unfortunately the wind changed and blew the fire back through our abandoned kit and rifles, and rounds started to go off at random all over the place.

When things had calmed down a helicopter was called in and two of our guys suffering from anaphylactic (spelling?) shock and the next two most seriously stung were casevaced by air to the Andrew Fleming Hospital.

We then searched for the remains of our kit and I distinctly remember the melted plastic butts and stocks of out G3 rifles we picked up.

Ironically, when we found Cloud M., although his back was still covered with bees, which we dispersed with a bit of smoke, he had only been stung five times.

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Regarding the bees in Tanganyika in WWI, I would question whether bees were controllable as a weapon. Like gas, how do you prevent your own side being affected? I can quite see this happening by accident, but I am dubious about it as a deliberate tactic.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. African bees were released in Southern Brazil a few decades ago and have now penetrated into the USA. Beware!

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Chris Dale
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Re: Why I became interested in the German Colonial Armies

Postby Chris Dale » 13 Mar 2017 12:25

Hi Sid,
Thanks for that first hand account of a bee attack. It sounds terrifying...
Chris

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danebrog
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Re: Why I became interested in the German Colonial Armies

Postby danebrog » 27 Mar 2017 19:06

Chris Dale wrote:Interesting that the bees story is also told abroad, where was your great aunt from?

She lived in Bremen (also my Birthplace) - and Lettow lived there for some years, too
I got the story about him when I was asking about the origins of the funny Elephant Statue in the City Park.
Image

The "Bee Story" was commonly known as British Propaganda lie to veil the truth about their defeat at Tanga and consequently target of some stinging mockery :wink:


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