Strange action in East Africa in 1917

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Olivier Palardy
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Strange action in East Africa in 1917

Post by Olivier Palardy » 16 Jun 2003 07:36

Hello all,

I have been asking this question few months ago and I did not get any satisfactory answer so now that this board is more frequented, I am asking it again.

It concerns a decision made by a german officer during the East African campaign in 1917. Why did Max Wintgens break from the main body? While Lettow-Vorbeck was retreating south with all his army, this officer decided to take his own column north wreaking havoc behind the english lines for few months. But what was his objective?? I never found any answer to explain that and even Lettow-Vorbeck seemed to have been surprised by this move.

Kind regards
Olivier

Gwynn Compton
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Post by Gwynn Compton » 17 Jun 2003 10:32

Perhaps he thought it was the best course of action to allow Lettow-Vorbeck time to reorganise.

Gwynn

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Mike K.
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Post by Mike K. » 03 Jul 2003 09:43

There's surprisingly little information on this out there; I could only find one site addressing the East African campaign.

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Olivier Palardy
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Post by Olivier Palardy » 07 Jul 2003 02:13

Mike,

You are right. It is very hard to find precise information on this campaign on the web. You have to get very rare books to have more details.

Olivier

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Olivier Palardy
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Post by Olivier Palardy » 07 Jul 2003 02:18

Gwynn,

You could be right because Wintgens headed north while Lettow-Vorbeck was in the south. Some troops had to removed from the south to protect the north from german aggression. In this way, it may have removed some pressure on Lettow-Vorbeck. However, the latter strongly opposed himself to this operation.

Olivier

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 07 Jul 2003 03:56

Here's the bio of one of Lettow-Vorbeck's officer's that also served in WW2:

http://www.specialcamp11.fsnet.co.uk/Ge ... knecht.htm

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Re: Strange action in East Africa in 1917

Post by monk2002uk » 17 Apr 2004 16:56

Why did Max Wintgens break from the main body?


Anderson describes Wintgens as a 'strong-willed and difficult personality' who did not get on with Lettow-Vorbeck. The other suggestion for his break was that his Askaris wanted to return north to Tahora.

Robert

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Olivier Palardy
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Post by Olivier Palardy » 21 Apr 2004 04:25

Robert,

Thank you for the information but who is Anderson?

Olivier

monk2002uk
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Post by monk2002uk » 21 Apr 2004 19:18

Olivier Palardy wrote:who is Anderson?


Apologies. Ross Anderson, author of the recently released 'The Forgotten Front 1914-1918: The East African Campaign' (ISBN 0752423444 ). He also wrote 'The Battle of Tanga'.

Robert

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WalterS
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Post by WalterS » 22 Apr 2004 20:19

Wintgens's exploits are discussed in some detail in "The Great War in Africa," by Byron Farwell pp.323-328

Essentially, Wintgens took 700 askaris, some three hundred carriers, 3 small field guns and 13 machine guns and struck out on his own, heading north from von Lettow's main position. Wintgens forced the British to send a force after him because he was moving through areas that the Brits had thought were secure, and was raising hell among the Brit rear areas.

According to Farwell, von Lettow was taken by surprise and had not previously approved this maneuver.

Wintgens's force was seen as such a threat that the Belgians, having obtained most of the territory they wanted in East Africa and had then withdrawn their troops to the Congo, cooperated with the British and moved forces against Wintgens.

Wintgens contracted typhus and allowed himself to be captured by the Belgians so as to get treatment. His force, now under Captain Naumann, got away.

Naumann carried out several daring raids in the British rear areas, burning stores, looting trains and wrecking a couple of railway stations. His presence so far north of where the british Command had said the "front" was proved to be a great embarassment. Naumann's troops were accused of "savagery," including pillaging and rape.

Naumann was finally forced to surrender in October, 1917, having been on the loose for eight months. He was accused of murder but never brought to trial and was released after the war.

Von Lettow disapproved of the "adventure," but lost sight of the fact that Wintgens-Naumann did for him what he was doing for the German Armies in Europe: drawing off necessary Allied forces.

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Post by NIGEL1959 » 07 Dec 2004 20:50

My GG Grandad fought with the 25th Battalion Frontiersmen Royal Fusiliers against German Forces and was wounded which resuted in his death at Bukoba in 1915. Do any other forum members have info on this regiment or photographs etc, or have relatives who were in this Battalion ??

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Wm. Harris
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Post by Wm. Harris » 08 Dec 2004 00:02

NIGEL1959 wrote:My GG Grandad fought with the 25th Battalion Frontiersmen Royal Fusiliers against German Forces and was wounded which resuted in his death at Bukoba in 1915. Do any other forum members have info on this regiment or photographs etc, or have relatives who were in this Battalion ??


The 25th Royal Fusiliers was an interesting regiment. Farwell's book gives the following description:

"The 25th Royal Fusiliers, one of the most colourful battalions to serve in the Great War, was raised and led by Lt.-Col. Daniel Patrick Driscoll, fifty-five years old, who had served in the Upper Burma Rifles and had won the Distinguished Service Order leading Drisoll's Scouts during the Boer War...

"Included were a number of big game hunters, the most famous being sixty-four year old Lt. Frederick Courtney Selous...Another officer in the battalion was William Northrup, an American millionaire and owner of a large farm in East Africa...

"Angus Buchanan, a naturalist who had been collecting specimens in a remote corner of Hudson's Bay when the war began, hurried to enlist in the Frontiersmen. Advancing through all ranks, he was captain within eighteen months. Cherry Kearton, a noted photographer, also enlisted, as did an opera singer, a Buckingham Palace footman, several American cowboys (all said to have come from Texas), some Russians who had escaped from exile in Siberia, a former Honduran general (who rose to the rank of sergeant), several veterans of the French Foreign Legion and the Spanish American War, stock exchange clerks, a lighthouse keeper from Scotland, a circus clown, an Arctic explorer, and a lion tamer who professed to be afraid of lions.

"In East Africa, the Frontiersmen were known as the "old and the bold," for many, like Selous, were overage for hard soldiering and on their chests they wore the medal ribbons of other wars and distant campaigns."


Bill H.

NIGEL1959
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Post by NIGEL1959 » 08 Dec 2004 00:32

Thanks Bill. My GG Grandad private Harry Bird is the only one buried at Kisumo in what is now Kenya, he left Britain in 1883 and joined the 5th Cavalry US Army, he later came back to Britain after 11 years and then joined the Frontiersmen before the set out for Africa, he was 55 when he died 3 weeks after being wounded on the second day of the battle for Bukoba.

There is hardly any info left on this Battalion, and most of my info cames from people who had relatives in the Frontiersmen, as you can imagine, its very hit and miss, and very rare.

If anyone has any info or photos, or had relatives in this Battalion, i would be very interested to hear from them.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 08 Dec 2004 03:50


NIGEL1959
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Post by NIGEL1959 » 08 Dec 2004 13:43

Thankyou Peter, i know of that site, unfortunatley thats the only site with any info on the 25th, which is unbelievable as you could make a hollywood film about them even though they failed in their task.

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