Lieut. E.W. Bovill

Name ID 1308

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Samler Brown , A and Gordon Brown, G (Editors) South and East African Year Book and Guide for 1920, 26th issue
Page Number: 520-521E f
Extract Date: 1918

History of East Africa : The War with Germany in East Africa 1918

1918. - Desultory fighting between the diminishing German forces and the pursuing columns continued in Portuguese territory, the former being steadily shepherded southward, but successfully avoiding a final round up. In July, their main body, reduced to about 250 Germans and 1,300 Askari were located some 25 miles from Quilimane and nearly 500 miles south of the Rovuma River. At this time the pursuing forces consisted mainly of native levies. In August the main force was reported near Chalana, 60 miles west of Angoche, after abandoning a hospital containing 300 sick and wounded at Namirrue. Under pressure from the pursuing columns the Germans turned northward, recrossed the Rovuma River after a trek of over 1,000 miles, and were presumed to be heading for Tabora.

Rapid dispositions were made to check the advance northward, to avoid which the German Commander turned south into Northern Rhodesia. This was at the beginning of November, and a few days later the armistice put an end to further hostilities.

The fate of the remnant of the German force was provided for by the XVIIth clause of the Armistice conditions, which stipulated for their unconditional evacuation within one month. von Lettow-Vorbeck surrendered at Abercorn, in the extreme north of N.E. Rhodesia; his force consisted of 30 officers, 125 other Europeans, 1,165 Askaris, 2,294 native carriers, etc., and 819 native women.

The last shot is said to have been fired on the Chambesi River on November 13th, and the surrender took place a few days later.

The cost of the campaign among the British and their Native Allies (exclusive of that incurred by the Belgians) up to March 31st, 1919, was approximately L 72,000,000.

General van Deventer, in his final despatch, says : "The Germans rewarded their black troops by giving them a free hand in respect of loot and the treatment of women; but it nevertheless says much for the character of the German commander that he was able to keep these men with him through four years of most strenuous campaigning. There were occasions when atrocities were committed on our wounded, and the treatment of our prisoners - especially the Indians - was at times infamous; but the Germans themselves, with rare exceptions, tried to stop the former, while the latter was the work of men far behind the firing-line, most of whom have already been punished; and though it is impossible entirely to exonerate the Higher German Command with regard to these matters, it must in justice be said that the actual fighting of the East African Campaign was, on the whole, clean - and sometimes even chivalrous".

Lieut. E.W. Bovill (in The Journal R.G.S., Oct. 1917), refers to the total disregard by the Germans of the barest needs of the native population in their wholesale seizure of every vestige of foodstuff throughout the country left to them. "Those of the unfortunate people who were of any military value were commandeered at an early date. The able-bodied men were impressed as soldiers, but more generally as porters, while the younger women were distributed among the askari. But what of the old men, the old women, and the young children ? There was a desolate village and starvation."

Extract ID: 3534
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