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Memories of the East Africa (and other African) campaigns


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#1 Anne Samson

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:27 AM

Dear all

As some of you may be aware from an earlier post, I am working on the memory of the East African campaign. More specifically it is about the role of the historian in using memory and their impact on memory, using East Africa as a case study.

One of the aspects I'm addressing is how people came to be interested in the campaign given that when I started working on the campaign in 1998, there was very little interest or knowledge of it in the public domain.

I'm keen to hear how you became interested in the East Africa campaign in particular, as well as any other campaign in Africa or concerning South African troops. I'd also be interested to hear your thoughts on why the campaign is becoming more popular all of a sudden. I'd be happy to receive a PM and explain how I intend to use the material etc if you've got any concerns.

Many thanks
Kind regards
Anne

PS: to put me in some perspective, Harry reviewed my book on the East Africa Campaign on the Forum in about July 2008 - I'm grateful to him for pointing out the errors on troop formation as this is definitely not my area of specialism!



#2 KONDOA

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:35 AM

My grandfather was there with DeVenter and he used to tell me about being there.



Roop

#3 Carl Hoehler

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 02:35 PM

QUOTE (Anne Samson @ Jan 18 2009, 01:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
. . . as any other campaign in Africa or concerning South African troops.

. . . Harry reviewed my book on the East Africa Campaign . . .


Anne

My interest in GEA and South Africa troops is really only peripheral to my interest in the (old) Heavy Artillery in the GSWA campaign and the (new) South African Heavy Artillery in Europe.

For others here is a summary on the military archives prepared by van der Waag

http://academic.sun....ry_archives.htm

Harry's review is here

http://1914-1918.inv...showtopic=99646

Carl


#4 bushfighter

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 02:47 PM

Anne

Greetings. It is nice to see you on the Forum, I think that you have much specialised knowledge that we could all benefit from.

In 1961 I was commissioned into the 1st Bn The Loyals (North Lancashire) and immediately became intrigued by the Battle Honour "Kilimanjaro".

Forty-eight years later, although the Loyals (North Lancashire) no longer exists, I'm still intrigued!

It is my own personal opinion that there is new interest in the Great War East African Campaign because:

1. The internet, and Fori like this, make it much easier for younger inquisitive people to discover more facts.

2. In a similar way that some people are looking for alternative leisure pursuits etc "to get away from the herd" so some of today's military enthusiasts want to get away from the Western Front which occupies, for very sound reasons, such a large part of Great War recorded history.
(In this argument Anne, you are a historical equivalent of a bungee-jumper over Victoria Falls!)

Harry

#5 Anne Samson

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 04:44 PM

Thanks for the responses already and especially to Harry for his words of encouragement.
I've been following the discussions on East and GSW Africa for quite some time but have felt quite daunted with all the military knowledge out there, and being 'a girl' (Harry, I wasn't even born when you were in the Loyals!).

My interest in the campaign arose from a minor comment in the biography of Smuts by his son JC Smuts jnr about him leading the campaign there. This just begged for investigation as all my pre-MA historical studies had been done in South Africa and I hadn't heard about the campaign at all. Having since visited the area specifically to get a feel for it (2000) and since for other reasons, I have become passionate about 'my boys' and ensuring they don't get forgotten.

I look forward to being a more regular contributor in future.
Best wishes
Anne

#6 SteveE

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:51 PM

Anne

Welcome to the forum, it's always nice to welcome fellow researchers of this 'minor' theatre of operations.

In answer to your original post my own interest stemmed from family history research and my GGFather's military service, firstly in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War and then, as a natural progression, to the Great War with the 25th Royal Fusiliers in East Africa. The East African theatre of operations has fascinated me ever since and I've always wanted to learn more, I do wonder sometimes if it would have been quite the same if my GGF had served in another more 'popular' theatre.

Regards

Steve

#7 brucehubbard

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:04 AM

Despite being a member of the WFA, I have gradually become interested in the GW in all respects. When I started researching men on war memorials, I came up agains such questions as what the heck were we doing in Mesopotamia? Like most, I suppose, we concentrate on the western Front, but then become aware that death was as real all over the place, whether it be France, Belgium, of Nauru or Tanganyika.
As I started reading, I became aware of gaining something of a new hero. Von Lessow Vorbeck seems to me to be something of a forgotten hero. He fought exactly the right war, in the circumstances, whilst also behaving correctly, returning home afterwards and retiring into anonymity.
I have never been to East Africa, and doubt I could afford to do so, but there are so many aspects of the war there that are of interest. How did they manage to get the guns off the konigsberg? How did they keep carrying the ammunition? To fight a campaign for four years, with absolutely no hope of ever getting any reinforcements or supplies, and still be undefeated by the end of the war.....what a record! Throw in African Queen, and mimi and Toutou and you have a campaign that has just about everything to interest anyone with an interest in the Great War.

#8 aconnolly

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:42 AM

Dear Anne

My interest started as a general desire to know more about the full extent of the war - so many texts simply mention East Africa only in passing. I recently read "Tip and Run" by Edward Paice - fascinating. I agree with Bruce's comments about just how extraordinary the entire war in East Africa was. It was not only a forgotten war, but created many thousands of forgotten victims especially amongst the Carriers.

Regards

Andrew

#9 Theo

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 11:24 PM

I read a book entitled 'East Africa by Motor Lorry', the memoir of a driver in the ASC and also accounts in a German book called 'Heja Safari' about the exploits of Paul von Lettow Vorbeck and the Schutztruppe. For those who read German and don't know of it already, there is a good site about all the German colonies, both in Africa and the Pacific.

http://jaduland.de/k...ania/index.html

#10 MartinBennitt

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 01:47 PM

Hello Anne

welcome to the Forum. I'm sure we will all be interested to read the result of your researches

I have been interested in the GW since the age of 13 but never really appreciated the Africa perspective -- though I had visited the South African memorial at Delville Wood -- until I found Byron Farwell's book (in the library of the Hong Kong Football Club, by the way) and became fascinated by the saga of Von Lettow-Vorbeck.

I agree with Bushfighter that people in Europe at any rate whose interest is aroused in the War tend to start with the Western Front as closest to home and easily visitable then spread their wings into other areas of the conflict. People are also travelling more and coming into contact with other theatres; I have a daughter currently working in Botswana, and visited her last year. We went to Victoria Falls (but no bungee-jumping!) and I was interested to see the memorial to the soldiers of Northern Rhodesia there, having just read 'Tip and Run'.
This year we plan to go back, but on the Namibian side this time. I am looking forward to seeing Windhoek.

Good luck with your project

cheers Martin B



#11 KONDOA

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 01:50 PM

Will be in Tanzania again come April. Hopefully this time will get to Dodoma and Morogoro, possibly down to the Mgeta, we shall see how the weather and time work out.


Roop

#12 ShirlD

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:12 PM

Hello Anne,
I too look forward to reading results of all your research. I grew up in East Africa, but knew nothing about the War in that part of the world so I am very interested in the various campaigns. From memory my school history lessons focussed on Europe and touched on early East African settlement.

My husband's uncle was killed in Portuguese East Africa, and through this forum I have discovered much about his life. My interest in this area of the Great War continues.

Cheers
Shirley

#13 Anne Samson

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 10:46 PM

Many thanks all!
It's fascinating seeing how you've all come to know about the campaign and the hold it takes. When I finished my initial study on East Africa I thought I'd be able to easily move onto WW2 and other aspects, but the EA (and WW1) hold is still strong.

Roop, I'll be in EA at the same time as you - however, I'll be on Kilimanjaro (Marangu) where I'm overseeing a primary school education project. It astounds me everytime I visit the village just above Himo, looking over the Pare, Usambara and Tsavo mountains how the troops survived and managed, and that the locals don't seem to know anything about how their lives were disrupted not so long ago. - Shirley, my investigations on the ground so far, accord with your school experience, as does Giles Fodden's research for Mimi and Toutou (2004). For some reason, the memories in Zambia seem much stronger - both in terms of memorials and amongst the white population.

Martin, we were in Namibia for Christmas 2007, my first visit and found it an incredible country. Considering how long it was controlled by South Africa, I was surprised at the still strong German influence. If you get the opportunity to go on the desert drive http://www.namibweb....welwitschia.htm, you might be interested in stop "7: It comes as a surprise to find remnants of a human sojourn in this desolate landscape. On this spot South African troops made camp for a few days in 1915 during the First World War. Along with the broken bottles and rusted cans, one can also see the tracks of an early form of tracked vehicle. Please do not remove anything." From my knowledge, track vehicles (tanks) were used on the Western Front from 1916 which makes their use in 1915 in SWA very odd particularly given the paucity of other weapons in the theatre. The cynic in me disputes this being a genuine WW1 site.

Best wishes
Anne



#14 KONDOA

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:43 AM

Anne

I will also be around Moshi and Himo so theres a chance of a beer if you are around.

Roop

#15 Anne Samson

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 06:28 PM

QUOTE (KONDOA @ Jan 25 2009, 11:43 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Anne

I will also be around Moshi and Himo so theres a chance of a beer if you are around.

Roop


Sounds good Roop, I've sent you a PM.

Many thanks to everyone for your comments. It's fascinating seeing how people have come to know about the sideshows...
Best wishes
Anne

#16 Phil Elliott

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 02:02 PM

Dear Anne,
I have only just 'found' this thread, but hope that my Fathers' brief Memoir will be of use. He wrote it down in 1973 and was a bit 'crook' at the time, so details are not for the pedant. I have just picked a few bits out.

Sailed from Southampton December, 1915. Troopship[Trafford Hall]. Reached Las Palmas in 7 days. Ship took on coal and then set off for journey to Durban, South Africa, which lasted 5 weeks. By-passed Capetown, but had a wonderful view of Table Mountain.

Arrived at Kilincline[?] Mombassa, where we were concentrated into a Division, and proceeded by slow train to Voi, a journey taking 24 Hours.

VOI. We split into tracking units, and moved to Maktau, with our 4 guns, ammunition, etc., 12 Oxen pulling each gun, and 10 Oxen pulling the ammunition wagons plus rations.

First engagement in action took place at Sailita[?] Hill. We did not have any casualties; these were confined to the infantry, whose losses were slight. My particular work was forward observation, seeking out exact positions of machine gun units, not easy by any means. We pushed forward to Tavita Hills where the Germans were strongly entrenched and put up a very strong resistance. Casualties were heavy on both sides, but after 5 days of continuous fighting, we were able to advance and capture the hills.
I committed my first murder of a German soldier here. I felt quite sick after it, but it was war and a case of kill or be killed in order to survive.

ARUSHA---Lower slopes of KILIMANJARO---MOROGARO---REPUGI RIVER.

Enemy firing was rather heavy here but by good fortune I was able to direct our Battery fire on the machine gun nests...........

One of my best friends, Dick Pooley, who came from Penzance killed in this action. [Dad was MID].

Lions, Hyeanas, wild dogs, baboons, monkies, elephants, poisenous snakes.[Plus his story of being kept up a tree all day with a Rhino underneath]


There are two and a bit A4 pages of his East African War, and these are just a taster. The usual stuff about food and water shortage,foot slogging, clothes boiling with lice, is in there too. He even learnt Swahili, and taught my brother.

Kwa heri,

Phil.





#17 SBW

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 07:21 AM

Hi Anne

A year since you posed your questio:-). For what its worth coming so long afterwards;-) my interest comes from looking at any links between NZs, specifically miners working in SA at outbreak of war and then joining SA forces. Miners were part of a large world wide community of men in the mining industry moving between countries to work. Its of interest to learn more of NZ miners generally and their role in WW1. How their country of employment, age and mining related health conditions may have affected where/how they served.

As well as being in SA, NZers were in England when war broke out. Some of these men joined the 25th Royal Fusileers. So NZs who served in other countries died in SA but are not acknowledged and remembered as much as they could be in their home country. I guess my interests are more social military history.

I have noticed a greater interest shown in the Legion of Frontiersmen and the role men within this organisation played in 25th RF and therefore SA.

All the best with your work.

Sue

#18 Jean-Paul

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 03:16 PM

QUOTE (Anne Samson @ Jan 18 2009, 12:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
One of the aspects I'm addressing is how people came to be interested in the campaign given that when I started working on the campaign in 1998, there was very little interest or knowledge of it in the public domain.


Hi Anne,

Just came across your post which is now 1 year old, but decided to reply to your question as my reason for an interest in the East African Campaign is different from those posted thus far.

My interest in this little known campaign was peaked while taking a military history course through the Royal Military College in Guerilla Warfare. One of the examples used was that of the success of Paul Von-Lettow in GEA. If one looks at the principles of war, most of these are covered in this campaign. Selection and maintenance of the aim was certainly key to meeting his objectives. We can also see how the requirements needed for a successful guerilla campaign were in place for the Germans. So, overall, a very good example of a successful guerilla campaign. Even in today's war against terrorism, guerilla warfare is being used as the main strategy against coalition forces.

As well, an interest in medals quickly convinced me that I'd concentrate my interest on this campaign. Forums like this and the ever increasing amount of information available on the internet has certainly added to my interest and knowledge.

Good luck with your project.

Jean-Paul

#19 Billy Webb

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 06:12 PM

Hello Anne,
Listening to my grandfathers stories, he was a Serjeant in the Nigeria Regt. As a young lad my hair used to stand on end.
Best Wishes
Billy

#20 mthatcher61

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 12:19 PM

Hello everyone. My interest in the Sub Shaharan and East African campaigns came about through watching the BBC series based on the Hew Strachan book. I was pretty ignorant of much in the Great War and this introduced me to many facets I immediately became very interested in. I am getting ready to take a reading based self study course at a Connecticut University and have narrowed my area of interest down to Africa in the Great War. East Africa and the Lettow-Vorbeck campaigns seem like a really neat place to start. I have yet to specify a topic.

Some of the questions that the East African Campaigns spring to mind is, how did Lettow-Vorbeck achieve such success and command such loyalty from his Askaris after the horrors the Germans had visited upon the Herrerro and Nama 10 years earlier in German Southwest Africa? Was the attitude and policies toward the East African natives so different from that towards the Southwest Africans? To what extent did Lettow-Vorbeck contribute towards the Herrerro and Nama genocide in German Southwest Africa and how did his attitude change (if at all) later on towards the Askari?
Thanks

#21 Carl Hoehler

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 04:04 PM

QUOTE (mthatcher61 @ Jul 8 2010, 02:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
. . . . Sub Shaharan and East African campaigns . . . . I have yet to specify a topic.


I do not think there is a logical link between the campaigns in GSWA and GEA. bushfighter is the best qualified to comment on this - there are of course large distances, poor communications and tribal/language/cultural issues complicating the discussion. I personally doubt whether the genocide in GSWA would have affected attitudes in GEA and even in GSWA alone there were, and are, complex tribal / ethnic / cultural issues that complicate understanding.

You might want to start with this topic http://1914-1918.inv...howtopic=113962 and with Chris Boonzaaier's web site http://www.kaiserscross.com

The campaigns in the German colonies started with the Allies' desire to damage the German wireless system which enabled communication literally across the globe (the German submarine cables were separately severed). There was of course a colonial dimension with access being enviseaged to gold, diamonds, etc.

The original request from the UK was for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to undertake that "great and urgent imperial service" while Britain herself would undertake the remaining campaigns. Some of the campaigns were of course easy while others were not. It would take 8 decades for the eventual resolution of the GSWA / SWA / Namibia question.

There are no complete "Official Histories" (the GSWA OH is disjointed, incoherent and incomplete, while the last volume of the GEA OH exists only as a unpublished draft).

I would start with Strachan's monumental work (although sections are available separately) and then add depth by reading the suggestions that have been offered.



#22 bushfighter

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 10:37 AM

I agree with Carl in that there is not much of a logical link between the campaigns in GEA and GSWA.

There is a similarity of colonial activity in that in GEA rebellions were crushed ruthlessly, (as they were in other European colonial possessions), such as the Maji-Maji rebellion.
But this did not stop the average African in GEA from supporting his German colonial masters on the outbreak of war.

Also I am not too sure about the "Guerrilla Warfare" aspect.
In GEA the Germans nearly always worked backwards onto prepared lines of withdrawal whilst foraging parties collected and dumped food along those lines.
In comparison the Allies were continually extending their lines of communication with inadequate resources, with the result that food shortages led to debilitation, sickness & loss of manpower.
I would call the German campaign in GEA an orderly fighting withdrawal rather than a guerrilla campaign.
Africa is so vast, and then it offered so much concealment for movement, and so it is very difficult to make comparisons with other theatres.

Tactically the Germans knew how to use machine guns efficiently (white Germans fired the guns) and initially had more of them in their infantry companies, and it took the allies a long time to catch up in this aspect of weaponry.

Apart from the Indian Mountain batteries packed on mules, the movement of heavier artillery and its ammunition was difficult for both sides, making swift artillery responses a rarity unless one of the few set-piece actions took place.

The Allies had total air superiority, but the dense African bush hindered observer visibility. Aircraft were probably most efficiently used for delivering messages.

So my present thinking is that Paul von Lettow Vorbeck was a conventional rather than a guerrilla soldier, he fought using interior lines of communication, fed his local troops from local resources, used improvised local solutions to solve equipment and logistical problems, tactically his junior commanders understood when to offer resistance and when to break contact, and his strategy as a military commander worked as he was still in action after Armistice Day.

Harry


#23 mthatcher61

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 12:17 PM

Thanks Carl and Harry,
I can see a couple of links between GSWA and GEA. First being Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, and the second being Jan Smuts. Smuts was involved with both campaigns andLettow-Vorbeck, although not involved with the GSWA WWI campaign was involved with the Herrerro and Nama Genocide there ten years earlier.That is one link I would like to find out more about. What little I know about Lettow-Vorbeck I have gleaned from Wikipedia and my DVD set of 'BBC The First World War' based on Strachan's book . I have ordered his Lettow-Vorbeck's 'Reminiscences", Schnee's "German Colonization Past and Future",the Strachan, Paice and Farwell books, along with Mimi and Toutou's big Adventure (just for fun). The course doesnt start till September but I am going to need a head start on the reading.
The Lettow Vorbeck thread is the one I am initially interested in. I would like to know what his role was in the Herrerro 'insurrection' and did it color his use of the Askari troops later. Was he repulsed by the tactics and treatment used during 1904-09 rebellions in GSWA and did it make him a more compassionate and better leader of the Askaris in GEA 1914-1918? or, Did he accept the tactics used to crush the Herrerro and Nama as just a normal extension of Total War, warranted by the circumstances, and see need for different treatment of 'his' natives later on? Hopefully I will be able to find out more about some of his attitudes towards the native Africans from his 'Reminiscences' . I dont hold any illusions, from what I have read, it will be a tough read and the reminiscences were written down years later.

"in GEA rebellions were crushed ruthlessly, (as they were in other European colonial possessions), such as the Maji-Maji rebellion.
But this did not stop the average African in GEA from supporting his German colonial masters on the outbreak of war."

This is somethng worth exploring. Was the Maji-Maji rebellion crushed as ruthlessly as the Herrerro? Were there other tribes that were in higher favor with the Germans? Why would they be so willing to die for these cruel masters? were different tribes better suited for Askari duty vs porter duty? in other words were some tribes higher up on the food chain that they were thought 'more equal than others' so those lower (maji maji maybe) were carriers/porters and different tribes, higher in favor and better treated were askari, hence more loyal to the German masters?

I know there were outragously high casualties in the GEA campaigns but wasn't this more attributable to disease and poor treatment of the porters, particularly among the ones carrying for the British?

thanks
Mark



#24 Carl Hoehler

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 05:11 PM

Mark

Some Herero / Nama (GSWA) references with which to start

http://traveltonamibia.com/ccamp.htm

Lüderitz’s forgotten Concentration camp
Jeremy Silvester & Casper Erichsen


http://traveltonamibia.com/ccamps.htm

Namibian Concentration camps
Casper Erichsen


http://traveltonamib...m/hererohol.htm

THE HERERO HOLOCAUST?
The Disputed History Of The 1904 Genocide

Jeremy Silvester, Werner Hillebrecht & Casper Erichsen


https://openaccess.l...1236144-066.pdf
This will give you a .pdf of Erichsens's Thesis which was issued as a book

http://www.ascleiden.../publicatie5494


"The angel of death has descended violently among them"
Concentration camps and prisoners-of-war in Namibia, 1904-08


C.W. Erichsen
Leiden: African Studies Centre, Research reports 79, 2005.

Abstract
Based on archival research, this book deals with the mass killings of peoples (particularly Herero and Nama) and conquest of land by German colonial forces between 1904-1908 in what was then known as German South West Africa (present-day Namibia). Most histories dealing with this Herero-German war at best only make passing reference to concentration camps and the prisoners kept there. The present book retraces the history of the concentration camps, also paying attention to patterns in the way prisoners were treated and what internment in the camps entailed for these people; the history of the Shark Island concentration camp in Lüderitz; and the authorities responsible for the concentration camp mortalities.

Carl

#25 Carl Hoehler

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 05:59 PM

Mark

Jannie Smuts was a hardworking and gifted administrator although he was cold blooded and ruthless as he had proved during the (pre- and post-WW1) industrial unrest in SA and the 1914/15 Rebellion. He had essentially ran the SA Government while General Botha was in command of the GSWA campaign and Smuts would only take command of the forces in the southern portion of GSWA during the last months of the campaign. As a self-taught soldier he was out of his depth in GEA (GSWA was not really a challenge). The most note worthy issue in the GSWA campaign was the utter lack of German resistance although the conditions and the logistics were to prove a real test of skill and the availability of resources from South Africa.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_smuts has some good info although the comments on his military service in GSWA and GEA are not reallistic. A proper assessment of Smuts during this period can probably only be made from Selections From the Smuts Papers: June 1910 - November 1918 [Volume 3] by Keith Hancock and Jean van der Poel

Carl



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