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bushfighter

The Mounted Infantry Company (2 LNL & 25 RF), East Africa

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bushfighter

An illustrated account of the Mounted Infantry Company's actions in British and German East Africa is on the web here:

http://www.kaiserscross.com/188001/576601.html

Those Forum Members interested in the gallant action of Wilbur Dartnell, that resulted in the posthumous award of a Victoria Cross, may be interested in the observations of the Court of Enquiry and in the fact that at least one British prisoner from the action marched with his captors into German East Africa.

Harry

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SteveE

Another interesting and informative piece Harry, thanks.

As you're aware I have a vested interest in the MI Company, and we've probably discussed this before, but do you have a source for the following statement?

"Each Battalion was ordered to provide 75 men plus a proportion of NCOs. The MI Company had its own establishment tables for personnel, animals and equipment and it was recognised as an independent sub-unit."

The reason I ask is because I've been unable, so far, to reconcile the 25/RF with supplying 75+ men to the Company from the outset.

Steve

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KONDOA

An excellent piece Harry! Well done, very interesting.

Roop

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bushfighter

Steve

Thank you.

My source is the Regimental History of the Loyal North Lancashires by Colonel H.C. Wylly, page 122.

" . . . each found approximately 75 men and a proportion of NCOs."

However if 25 RF was having manning problems at that time, or was involved in other ops, then 75 wouldn't have just appeared one day. I believe that the mounted men who had been riding in the Kajiado - Longodo area would have been moved across first to the new MI Company.

Harry

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medals2

Hi Harry,

Well researched and excellent article.

Jean-Paul

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SteveE

My source is the Regimental History of the Loyal North Lancashires by Colonel H.C. Wylly, page 122.

" . . . each found approximately 75 men and a proportion of NCOs."

However if 25 RF was having manning problems at that time, or was involved in other ops, then 75 wouldn't have just appeared one day. I believe that the mounted men who had been riding in the Kajiado - Longodo area would have been moved across first to the new MI Company.

Harry

Many thanks for the source it's appreciated, I should have thought to check my copy.

I agree that the 25/RF mounted section would have moved across first with others following as and when available, I just wish I could sort out who and when. If only there was some surviving Part 2 Daily Orders to make it simple...

Steve

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zaalf

Dear Harry

As an avid follower of your wonderful research on the EA campaign I can only say, this time you have outdone yourself! You continue to inspire me in the slow work of researching, modelling and painting tiny 10mm figures for re-fighting some of the historical actions on tabletop!

Warm regards, Noel Zaal, Durban, South Africa

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bushfighter

Thanks Zaalf

What annoys me about accounts of the Dartnell VC action is the constant repetition that the Germans killed all the British wounded. They didn't.

But I think that this is typical of what the Great War centenary has thrown up - money-grubbing tour guides act just like politicians and they tell the public the best possible yarn irrespective of the documented truth.

Harry

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SteveE

What annoys me about accounts of the Dartnell VC action is the constant repetition that the Germans killed all the British wounded. They didn't.

Harry

I would be interested in what you think the reasoning was behind the German forces not killing Goddard when many of the other wounded had been finished off at very close range and all had two or more wounds, the implication being that the Germans had killed the wounded.

I haven't included Robinson and Bradley in the above as they may, or may not, have been wounded or taken captive. Their whereabouts was unknown and they were subsequently listed as missing so it is equally possible that they could have been killed in the action and their bodies simply not found in the bush whereas Bradley was known to have been wounded.

Steve

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Ithklur

The incident is mentioned in a footnote at Boell, pg. 114

Am 3. September brachte Leutnant d. R. Helfferich mit einem Zuge der 9. F.K. einer 4 Offiziere, 63 Mann starke Abteilung der berittenen europäischen Abteilung

( aus 2. Lancashires und 25 Royal Fusiliers zusammengesetzt) bei Makatu einen Verlust von 7 Toten, darunter 1 Leutnant, 7 Verwundeten und 4 Gefangenen (...) bei

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SteveE

The incident is mentioned in a footnote at Boell, pg. 114

Am 3. September brachte Leutnant d. R. Helfferich mit einem Zuge der 9. F.K. einer 4 Offiziere, 63 Mann starke Abteilung der berittenen europäischen Abteilung

( aus 2. Lancashires und 25 Royal Fusiliers zusammengesetzt) bei Makatu einen Verlust von 7 Toten, darunter 1 Leutnant, 7 Verwundeten und 4 Gefangenen (...) bei

Olav

Many thanks for posting that detail, although the numbers don't tally with the British version it does at least suggest that Robinson and Bradley were also taken prisoner.

Steve

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bushfighter

Steve

With Askari reason didn't exist. They killed until they were made to stop. The German commander managed to exert a grip before all the British were killed.

BUT who can say that some of the British did not fight back, (they had their rifles)? That was to my mind likely and it immediately legitimised the killings by the Askari.

I personally doubt that Wilbur Dartnell was able to influence the battle in any way.

The MI Company commander had screwed up by getting too far ahead of his infantry support and by siting his position very badly.

Harry

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SteveE

Harry

Whilst I appreciate that the Askari were likely to continue killing until stopped by the German officers, that was after all why Dartnell stayed behind in the vain attempt to prevent it, I cannot convince myself that the British wounded continued to fight on. After all, why would Dartnell have refused to be extricated from the, already lost, position if the remaining wounded were capable of 'looking after themselves'.

Dartnell would, I agree, have had little opportunity to influence the treatment of the wounded, especially if the Askari arrived before any German officer as would appear to me to be the case. The prisoners were perhaps 'lucky' in that a German officer may have been present when confronted.

Your summing up of why the action went wrong are, I agree, the main reasons. Those two details, coupled with the accidental discharge of a rifle by a Fusilier giving their 'poor' location away, meant that it was unlikely to end well.

Steve

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bushfighter

Wilbur Dartnell was a very brave optimist - but optimism does not stop enemy Askari from killing, especially if you don't speak their tribal languages and have no authority over them.

The Askari had taken hits and so were on the rampage. After the first Britisher (rifle with him) had been killed, I cannot believe that some of the Loyal North Lancs didn't say "Sxd it!" and start engaging the enemy.

John F.P. Butler was awarded a VC around the same time (August 1915) for gallantry displayed in West Africa ( http://www.kaiserscross.com/188001/264701.html) and my old mind, conditioned by exposure to years of military thinking, just feels that hints were dropped from London for VC nominations from East & West Africa to be submitted.

But that is not to cast doubt on the suitability of these two awards.

I think that in the MI Company incident Wilbur Dartnell realised that everyone left on the battlefield was a gonner and so he stayed with the men because it was the right thing to do.

Whether or not he spoke his quoted words we will never know, but that is now immaterial.

Harry

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