The fights for Saisi in summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border

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The fights for Saisi in summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border

Post by Tanzania » 18 Nov 2016 17:04

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The fights for Imageaisi / Jericho in summer 1915 on the British Northern Rhodesia / German East Africa border (Part I)



Because I am always more interest in smaller events in more remote and unknown areas during the Great War in East Africa,
let me add here some details and photos from the still today relatively quiet and isolated border-area of Zambia and Tanzania.



• This thread follow the operations in British Northern Rhodesia: The fights for Saissi summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border
• A second, separate topic will dealing with German East Africa: The German Fort Namema in 1915 / 1916 on GEA / BNR border
• A final thread will follow the footsteps of one Company in GEA: The tracks of the 29. F.-K. from Bismarckburg to the Bangala



Below is a comparison between a presently map with a colonial map from that time and the marked locations of Saisi and Namema.

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The border river was written by the Germany, Ssaissi and from the Britons Saisi. The spelling at that time placed by phonetic
records in the language of the respective Colonial power. Some sources mentioned this place was named by the Germans,
Jericho Farm and by the Britons, Saisi Post. To be exact, both was correct. It existed west from the River Saisi a Plantation
with a Farm house which was named at that time by the British owner themselves, Jericho Farm. - “I think he took that name
as assort of joke having been told by someone to go to Jericho.
Charles Hordern described this on his map as Lobb´s Farm.

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The owners of Jericho Farm were the related families of Mr. / Mrs. Charles William Blyth and Mr./ Mrs. Gordon Horak Lobb
This experimental rubber plantation, was situated 42 km east from Abercorn (Mbala). Both later warring countries Germany
and Great Britain started in the beginning of the 19th century with the cultivating of a special type of caoutchouc (Ceara and
Para trees; a rubber-bearing plant related to cassava) on the thinly populated and remote area of the Tanganyika Plateau
with its dryer and cooler climate. This first Farm house of the family Blyth-Lobb was built 1902 with a thatched roof west from
the River Saisi and the hill themselves was positioned east of the river. Gordon H. Lobb named this Farm also as `Mula´; the
local name for Sitatunga-gazelles, which appear occasional on this spot. The British military administration named their new
established outpost on the hill in absence of other references, Saisi. The distance between Farm house and Hill was 700m.
In 1914 activities on all Farms along both border sides stopped and the opponents evacuated their European civilian people.

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Mr. Lobb mentioned after the War that the Germans burned his Farm down. Maybe he was really not be aware that the British
District Commissioner Hector Croad themselves had given the order on the 23. December 1914 to burn down the Jericho Farm.
This was done with all buildings which are located directly at the border with GEA in order to avoid to give the enemy any shelter.
All settlements, nearer than 3 miles to the border were demolished and the people of this Mambwe Area were send to the south.
The same thing happened with the Saisi Outpost which was entirely destroyed by the withdrawing British forces in October 1915.

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Today are no remains of the buildings visible. The Farm and the rubber business were never rebuilt after the war there. In 1918
East Africa were affected by the rinderpest and the border area were closed by the Government. In addition, still there came the
dramatic drop in prices for law rubber. Also the lack of labours have had obstructed not only in the agriculture a considerably
decline, in some parts had brought it to a standstill altogether. Only in the north and north-east areas of North Rhodesia 50,000
served as carriers, 12,000 canoe men, 30,000 other men on line of communication and 8,000 with the fighting forces. The conflict
between the British Crown and the B.S.A.C. after 1918 contributed to the fact that the whole country took a long time to recover.

Specific Sources:
• The Abercorn May Day Party 1914”, Northern Rhodesia Journal. Vol. II, No.1.
• History of Abercorn by Marion and Hope Gamwell, Northern Rhodesia Journal, IV, No. 6.
• Gordon Lobb on his Ulendo to Abercorn in 1905, In: The writings of Gordon Horak Lobb.
• In Tropensonne und Urwaldnacht, Wanderungen und Erlebnisse in Deutsch-Ostafrika, Robert Unterwelz, Stuttgart 1923
• Deutsche Kolonialblatt, 24. Jahrgang, 1913, herausgegeben von der Kolonialabteilung des Auswärtigen Amtes, Berlin 1913
• Britain, Northern Rhodesia and the First World War - Forgotten Colonial Crisis, Edmund J. Yorke, R.-M. Academy, UK 2015.
• Der Tropenpflanzer, Zeitschrift für tropische Landwirtschaft, Organ des Kolonial-Wirtschaftlichen Komitees, IX. Jahrgang 1905.
• African Manpower Statistic for the British Forces in Eastern Africa, 1914-1918, G. Hodges, The Journal of African History, 1978.
• The British Annexation of Northern Zambezia (1884 - 1924) Anatomy of a Conquest, F. MacPherson, Edinburg University, 1976.
• The Great Plateau of Northern Rhodesia, Being some impressions of the Tanganyika Plateau, Cullen Gouldsbury, London 1911.
• Forged in the Great War, People, Transport, and Labour, the Establishment of Colonial Rule in Zambia, 1890-1920, Jan B Gewald.







The following own photos are taken during a trip in June and July 2016 from both border sides of present Zambia and Tanzania.
Starting on this morning from Mwenzo Mission western from Nakonde on the main road D1 to the direction of Mbala (Abercorn).

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After comparison with the geographical road course with the counted mileage we turned right into a track. No one was seen to ask
about the correct way. The ever shrinking tracks to the rough direction of Saisi are not pictured in any map. Only questions to the
very less people and sometimes the usage of a compass led us finally, after four hours from the tarmac main road to the right place.

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Today is no signage for Saisi, Jericho or the present named Nyembe. At some point we found a reference on a board. But the
name, Isofu, have no relationship to `our´ location. Safu (Siafu or Isofu?) is the border-river 50 km in the North-West. The sandy
ground showed always bicycle tracks. During the following days between Saisi, Kawimbe and Mbala we didn´t saw any other cars.

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When we reached a bank with this view on the Saisi Valley and Mambala River in the foreground, it was clear where we are.

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Below is also another comparison between a present Google picture with Charles Hordern´s map of the area around Saisi in 1915.

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Original Source: https://www.google.de/maps/@-8.9395114, ... a=!3m1!1e3

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Original Source: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id= ... 0;size=150



Will be continued. . .
.
“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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Re: The fights for Saisi in summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border

Post by Tanzania » 20 Nov 2016 17:43

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The fights for Imageaisi / Jericho in summer 1915 on the British Northern Rhodesia / German East Africa border (Part II)



Our Camping ground were near the only `Saisi settlement´ with one bricked-house and five clay-huts. Regarding Hordern´s
map this should be the same location where the German forces have had their two camps south-west of the Saisi Hill. This
area is a part of the Tanganyika Plateau with a much cooler climate then the Tanganyika rift valley or the Rukwa lowlands.
We visited Saisi at the same, coolest months June / July, like the events at that time. The temperature in the nights were 9°!

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It´s not possible to rent a car without driver for border crossing from Tanzania to Zambia, because Zambia is not in the East
African community. So we took this time a car with driver. Sikoyo comes from Moshi / Tanzania near Kilimanjaro and due to
this very familiar with such temperature on the Tanganyika Plateau. But it made me chuckle, because he was amazed about
such `backwardly areas´ in West Tanzania and North Zambia. It was also new for him that nobody understand his Kiswahili;
they speak only Bemba. English is also not very common so far there, but we used gestures and signs and we got on well.

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The `main-traffic-road´ of the present `Saisi settlement´ in the morning. This track joins later in the south-west direction over
Chikoti and Chalomba back to the D1 main tarmac road between Nakonde and Mbala. The experience which I have made
before, was here in Nyembe also the case that no one of the local people had ever heard the, in the map mentioned names.

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Views on the West flank from the foot of the Saisi Hill. This should be with a distance of 300 m the maximum range of the
former trench system and barricades of the defenders around the hill. But after 100 years you can´t distinguish between a
trench at that time or an actual ditch for drainage of cassava cultivation. The tree population may also have looked different.

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The west flank from the top of Saisi Hill with the just visible Saisi River in the background. The showed arrow was the furthest
point which the 29.- Feld Kompanie achieved during the diversionary tactic on 28.June 1915 at 06:00 a.m. from the West side.

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View to North-West . . .

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. . . to the North . . .

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. . . and the North-East.

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View to the South-East. The pictured arrow showed the main direction of the German unsuccessful attack on 28. July 1915
during the whole day with the other parts of General-Major z.D. Kurt Wahle´s detachment, the 22.- and 24.- Feld Kompanie.

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Will be continued. . .
.
“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

stevebecker
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Re: The fights for Saisi in summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border

Post by stevebecker » 24 Nov 2016 02:50

Mate,

Thanks looks good.

Amazing how much your country looks like the Australian bush.

Cheers

S.B

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Re: The fights for Saisi in summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border

Post by Tanzania » 24 Nov 2016 20:14

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Hi Steve,

I never been in Australia. I only saw many nice eucalyptus trees in East Africa which comes
original from Australia. Seems to be the main differences; - you have more marsupials there.
Maybe they find one day also the way to East Africa as a first step for a cultural interchange?

Cheers Holger
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The fights for Imageaisi / Jericho in summer 1915 on the British Northern Rhodesia / German East Africa border (Part III)




Some remaining and still visible semi-circular stone-formations are the sole discernible remnants from this defensive position.
It is extraordinary that these were particularly on the South-east and West flanks existing. The only logical explanation is that
the remaining directions were protected through the Saisi River against West and North and by the Mambala River to the East.

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It seems to be that only the below picture survived from the Saisi Post in 1915. It showed the defenders busy to dig trenches on
the foot of Saisi Hill. The exact date wasn´t mentioned. Because of this it could be in May, June or July. The stock of trees and
bushed is compared also very thinned out and maybe used for protection measures and barricades primarily on the top of the hill.

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Original Source: Moto-Moto Museum, Mbala, Zambia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moto_Moto_Museum



An graphic from today shows Saisi Hill and fortifications from the Belgian point of view in the Belgian-Congo Forum. Interesting
that this picture show the old Congo- and Belgian flag and not the British. The illustrated fortification on the Hill looks more, as
example like the Belgian Outpost Uvira on the north-west shore at Lake Tanganyika as well from that time. (One photo deeper)

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Original Source: http://www.congo-1960.be/EspacesEnfants ... gique.html



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Original Source: http://images-02.delcampe-static.net/im ... 30_001.jpg



The search for further information on the top of Saisi Hill, was, like expected without any further findings there.

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As already mentioned, currently no further proved photos are known from the British-Belgian Fortifications on the Saisi Hill. On the
lower photo are visible several British, South African or Rhodesian soldiers inside a sheltered out post. For certain recorded in East
Africa
. It´s also shown a, by straw covered shelter or housing. This was indispensable during the cloudless summer months June to
August for any temporary established outpost of all opponents. Of course, for these general frame criteria existed many, many other
locations through the campaign in East Africa. But what this photo makes particularly interesting and bear a clear reference to the
Saisi Post is the visible and identifiable old British gun-type. (Title: “ A a VI/143 / Geschütz der Schutztruppe / D.O.A”; - Later more.)

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Original Source: http://www.ub.bildarchiv-dkg.uni-frankf ... 0_0064.jpg



Example for a typical simple defences by stone formations, in this case for a British-Indian unit during the East African Campaign.

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The `Headman´ (Zambian counterpart to a Tanzanian `Chairmen´ or European `Mayor´) of the settlement near Saisi Hill told us
about a still remaining monument on the top of the hill. After some searching in the elephant grass we found the probably last
remain part of this memorial stone from 1915. The type of the concrete consistency showed that this stone is older than 80 years.

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The remaining and still visible S for Saisi on the memorial stone make sense. It would be interesting to know the further inscription.
I have deliberately chosen not to dig for the missing parts of this stone board, due to the reference that this memorial was at that
time, in October 1915 established for those who are killed in action at Saisi and that these victims were buried with great probability
under this board. I never took anything with me what have been found at such places. I am also not interested in such found objects.

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Another part of the remaining and still visible defence `systems´ are the many termite mounds special around this area.
These small hills with up to five meters diameter and high provided a very good cover against bullets from the opponent.
The records of Oberleutnant Wolf v. Debschitz mentioned these advantages for his, 29. Feld-Kompanie at the red herring.
The present grazing cover of the many hills however show at one glance that they were abounded by the termite long ago.
Two photos in BNR and GEA: http://www.fotocommunity.de/photo/termi ... z/23622023 . https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... %BCgel.jpg

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Vertical Google picture with a 180° photo-round-view from west to the east near the bridge over the Saisi River.

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Finally, the lower Google picture and following five photos will give an overview how the eastern bridge on River Mambala looks.
Oberleutnant v. Debschitz´s records explained, and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Hordern’s map illustrated that the Main attack of
the 22.- and 24.-Feld Kompanie on 28. June 1915 comes from the eastern direction over this smaller, and easier crossings river.

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Will be continued. . .
.
“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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Re: The fights for Saisi in summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border

Post by Chris Dale » 27 Nov 2016 13:21

Very interesting Holger, this is great work that you're sharing with us.

Thanks
Chris

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Re: The fights for Saisi in summer 1915 on the BNR / GEA border

Post by Tanzania » 27 Nov 2016 19:25

Hi Chris,

My information and datas should be understand as additions to Harry’s article in, “The Soldiers Burden”.
The attacks on Saisi http://www.kaiserscross.com/188001/363401.html
in: The Northern Rhodesia Front, 1914 - 1915, Belgian Congolese military support for the Northern Rhodesia Police


His article was also published in the Zambian magazine:
The Lowdown – 2015-08 August, Page 43-44-45
https://issuu.com/thelowdown/docs/the_l ... 5_-_08_web


And my (future) amendments (will) cover only the German point of view at that time a little more.

Cheers Holger
“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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