German mainland reinforcements to East African Troops?

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Chris Dale
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Re: German mainland reinforcements to East African Troops?

Post by Chris Dale » 30 Apr 2017 18:52

Thanks Holger for more great work.

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Re: German mainland reinforcements to East African Troops?

Post by Tanzania » 04 May 2017 19:32

Hi Chris,
This is a very interesting thread with the question: What would have been, If . . .

The topic of support for the colony of German East Africa contains also some other unknown details. However these
operations were not executed, but were no less adventurous than the well-known event of the Zeppelin L 59 (LZ 104)

LZ 59s Return: /viewtopic.php?t=90396
LZ 104 (L 59)
The Long, Strange Journey of L.59:

There has been much written about the Zeppelin and the two auxiliary ships, but little was known about further operations.
After the first and second auxiliary ship "Rubens" and "Marie", which arrived in German East-Africa in 1915 and 1916, there
were further considerations and also concrete plans by the Imperial Admiral Staff and the Reichskolonialamt to send more
auxiliary ships to East-Africa. The two German aid cruisers "Möwe" and "Wolf" had proved that it was possible, also in 1917
and 1918 to operate undercover in the Indian Ocean and near the East African coasts. The considerations even went so far
as to send these auxiliary ships accompanied by one or more submarines!



We want to continue this adventurous idea with its technical and operational options and see at what the sources indicate:
Further help expeditions from home – F.T. (radio) connections with the Colony

`` "Marie" was interned in Batavia in August 1916. The crew was dispersed, and when the attempt was made to reach home,
partly in war captivity. This was also the case with the energetic and tenacious leader of the "Marie," Captain Sörensen, who,
after an adventurous attempt to return to the country by sailboat through Manila and America, to order the Governor's orders
personally, was captured by the Americans Who had been subjected to physical and mental agony in Manila's native breeders'
houses on Manila.

The telegraphic reports and orders from East Africa, which had been promoted by Batavia via Holland, reached home on 20.
May 1916, only four weeks after departure from German East Africa, thanks to the sacrificial activity of the "Marie" crew.
Thereupon, the admiral staff proposed immediately, in an immediate report to His Majesty on 27. May 1916, the dispatch of
two additional auxiliary ships to German East Africa. The proposal was approved by the emperor, and the preparatory work
was undertaken together with the Reichskolonialamt.

The news arriving from German East Africa in the summer of 1916, especially the ever-increasing occupation of the coast by
the English, had a lingering effect on the resolutions of the authorities in the country. However, large quantities of supplies were
already ordered in tropical packaging, and there was already a great deal of work on weapons and ammunition. The artillery
depot in Wilhelmshaven, for example, had received the order to provide packaged packaging by 1 October 1916:

Twice 3000 rounds of 10.5 cm ammunition for the "Koenigsberg" guns, each with 1500 10.5 cm high-explosive-shells with
Nose-detonators (K.Z.) and 1,500 x 10.5 cm explosives each with a delayed-action-detonator (B.Z.) for the 10.5 cm-S.K. L/40

The two ships which was planned for the expedition to German East Africa were ready to go and ready for use in September
1916, with equipment and supplies for the journey, and at the shipyard of Blohm & Voss in Hamburg. 4000 cbm as apparent
charge for covering the actual auxiliary ship cargo stored in Wilhelmshaven. When the full occupation of the coast of German
East Africa became known in Germany at the end of September 1916, the admiral staff asked the Reichskolonialamt whether
the provision of the two ships still had purpose. The Imperial Colonial Office requested that the preparations should still be kept
in flux and that the operations should not be abandoned as a hopeless prospect, but suggested on 28 November 1916 to the
admiral staff:
"Since the situation was to be released, the internal reconstruction had to be
abandoned In the event that there is still a possibility to carry out the business. "

The project "Third and Fourth Auxiliary Ship for German East Africa" was finally abandoned by the Reichskolonialamt and
the admiral staff of the navy at the end of December 1916, but a quarter of a year later, the Reichskolonialamt, led by a report
received by the Governor from German East Africa Dr. Schnee from the beginning of 1917, again approached the admiral staff.
In the report of the governor, the proposal of the commander of the Navy forces, Captain Looff, had been included, a company
accompanied by an aid ship to unwind the British blockade forces-similar to the German navy with its submarines at the
Dardanelles barrier had been successful - to be sent to East Africa. One of the island groups north of Madagascar, for example
the Aldabra island group, was proposed as an operational base. Because of the different opinions of the Reich authorities on this
proposal, the following correspondence is given:


The State Secretary of the Imperial Colonial Office –
(State Secretary Wilhelm Solf) – Berlin, April 21, 1917.
M. 778/17 AI

According to my knowledge of the situation in German East Africa, at least a part of the protected area can be held against the
enemy rush. Like news from the protected area, the troops themselves were convinced at the beginning of January 1917, that
they would be able to hold on until the middle of July of the year. In the meantime, the possibility of the consistency of the troop
has not deteriorated, but has improved as a result of the recent pause (during the rainy season), so that the possibility of a
continuation up to the autumn can be expected if the confidence of the troops can be strengthened. In order to maintain and
reinvigorate the spirit of perseverance, however, it will be necessary to undertake a relief action from the home as soon as

It is, unfortunately, impossible during the summer months to send an auxiliary ship in the manner of the two former excellently
successful undertakings, for which I should not fail to express your Excellency once more the thanks of the colonial administration.
Rather, such a company will have to be postponed until longer and darker nights of a later season allow the exit. But it seems to
me to be possible and for the preservation of a part of the colony, to be of the utmost importance to send a submarine of great
type and a great radius of action to the coast of East-East Africa at the earliest time. The task of this boat would be:

1. To carry fear and restlessness into the blockade fleet by sinking blockade ships.
2. To annihilate the supply of the English Expedition Corps by the destruction of transport and merchant ships.
3. To raise their confidence and perseverance by communicating with the German troops.
4. To announce and prepare the immediate material aid to be envisaged for autumn

In the autumn of these years an auxiliary ship, or several, accompanied by a submarine, would be able to provide the necessary
energetic support. Your Excellency would be extremely grateful for the examination and realization of the plan. I do not overlook
the fact that, from a purely military point of view, a submarine could be more valuable in the North Sea and the Atlantic than in the
East African coast, but politically it is of great importance, especially for peace, when the German Empire at least a part of his
colonial possessions will have been firmly in his power.

The Secretary of State for the Foreign Office also attaches great importance to the fact that everything is done to ensure the
preservation of the rest of our colonial possessions by all means.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Army and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs have received a copy.

Signed: Solf.


Chief of the General Staff of the Field Army - (General Field Marshal Erich F. W. Ludendorff) - Large Headquarters, 28. 4. 17.

Your Excellency, I have the honour to reply to the letter of 21.4.17 that I am obliged to take the view that a submarine for this
purpose of its decisive activity in the war, while fully appreciating the value of such an activity on the East Coast Cannot be
withdrawn at sea.

Signed: Ludendorff


The proposed posting of additional auxiliary vessels for German East Africa, with the participation of one or more submarines,
was omitted as a result of this opinion by the two authoritative Reich authorities. There were many experts in naval and colonial
circles who regarded the conduct and success of the enterprise quite optimistically. The rejection of the navy was mainly due to
the ever-growing demand for submarines for the domestic war zone, which had to meet the human and material resources of
the Navy to the limits of the possible. Whether the company was militarily feasible and promising was only a second priority.

The strategy pursued by the commander of the Schutztruppe, General Major v. Lettow, in the course of 1917, to move the warfare
within the colony more and more from the coast into the interior of the country would not have been favourable to the planned
enterprise Cooperation with the helpers from the home. By skilful use of the radiotelegraphy, or by means of special messengers,
however, an influence on the strategic measures for cooperation with a submarine or auxiliary ships would still have been possible
by July of 1917. Until that time, the Commander-in-Chief to Lake Looff was still in constant contact with the coast, and would thus
have had the opportunity to make contact with German naval forces and to initiate cooperation.

The withdrawal of all German troops into the interior of the colony, for an auxiliary ship enterprise from August 1917 onwards took
all possible successes as far as the direct support of the troops of the colony was concerned. The task of disturbing the blockade
and supply to the enemy troops remained a worthwhile see strategic goal which indirectly benefited for the defenders of German
East Africa.

Total Source:
The War on the Sea 1914-1918, The Fights of the Imperial Navy in the German Colonies, Part II GEA, pp. 204-209

As far as the source position.
“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. . . . All History was a
palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

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