Denis Finch Hatton

Name ID 1791

See also

Mercer, Graham Tarangire
Page Number: a
Extract Date: 1928

A few colourful Europeans

Even as late as German times (1880s 1916) Tarangire seems to have been largely overlooked, though once again it is likely that a few adventurous hunters visited the area during the dry season.

The British period is hardly any richer in historical information, though there is some interesting social history involved, as a few colourful Europeans once lived in and around Babati, just west of Tarangire.

Among the most notable was the Swedish Baron Bror von Blixen, ex-husband of the author of Out of Africa, Karen Blixen. The likeable but rather feckless Bror had remarried, to a lady called "Cockie" Hoogterp, and settled near Babati around 1928.

Bror and Cockie lived in a tent before building a very simple hut. In November 1928 Edward, Prince of Wales (who later abdicated the British throne) visited East Africa and travelled to Tanganyika to hunt lions, under the guidance of Denys Finch Hatton, Karen Blixen's paramour (Bror Blixen, when married to Karen, would introduce himself and his friend Finch Hatton by announcing "I'm Blixon and this is my wife's lover").

The prince badly wanted to shoot a fine lion, and Finch Hatton had recommended Bror as a good "lion man", so Bror and "Cockie" were invited to join the royal party at the New Arusha Hotel in Arusha.

Next day "Cockie" hurried back to Babati to prepare for the prince's arrival. When he arrived "Cockie" was asleep; Bror had invited the prince's party to lunch without telling her. "Cockie" had nothing to offer the guests except eggs, which Prince Edward happily helped her to scramble. Later he took Bror aside and asked how he could possibly allow his wife to live in such circumstances.

After lunch the party drove to Mount Ufiome (just outside present-day Tarangire) where the prince finally bagged the lion he so badly wanted.

However, the safari was abandoned when the prince received a telegram from London announcing that his father, George V, was seriously ill. He returned to England at once.

Extract ID: 5383

See also

Trzebinski, Errol Silence Will Speak
Page Number: 383
Extract Date: 14 Nov 1928


Denys had planned that the safari should depart promptly at 9 A.M. on the morning of 14 November but by 9.05 A.M. he abandoned all ideas of travelling by road to Kajiado in Maasailand. The rains had started with a vengeance and they would simply not get through to their first camp. Hurriedly alternative plans were made for a freight train to take the party instead.

At 2 P.M. the lorries and other vehicles were loaded on to the train. In this highly unorthodox manner the hunters began their safari. They were planning to move southwards to Longido, on to Arusha, west to Babati to the lake of that name where the Prince hoped for good duckshooting - thence to Kondoa-Irangi, Dodoma and Iringi moving westward to Mwenzo and Abercorn to Lake Tanganyika. The rains continued to be phenomenally heavy, which made camping slightly precarious.

Extract ID: 4658

See also

Trzebinski, Errol Silence Will Speak
Extract Author: Bror Blixen
Page Number: 386a
Extract Date: 16 November 1928

Arusha en fete

from African Hunter, by Bror von Blixen-Finecke, pub Cassell, London 1937 p153

On 16 November the party arrived at Arusha. Denys had contacted Bror arranging to meet him there.

It was an unofficial visit but all the town was en fete. The hotel was giving a dance; the Masai had arranged an Ngoma. A battalion of the King's African Rifles was paraded for inspection; a football match had been fixed up, there was as complete a festival atmosphere as the little town at the foot of Mt Meru could achieve. My wife and I had driven our 115 miles into the town like the rest and pitched camp not far from the hotel. I was just shaking a cocktail when a little man came into the tent and said: `I'm the Prince of Wales, and should like to make your acquaintance. '

Extract ID: 4659

See also

Trzebinski, Errol Silence Will Speak
Page Number: 386b
Extract Date: 17 November 1928

Arrangements for dinner

Cockie and Bror had been married just three months and had made alternative arrangements for dinner that night. But Denys cornered Cockie and told her under his breath `You've got to get out of it, Cockie. I want Blix to help me find the Prince a lion.' Of course, they cancelled their arrangements, Bror joined the hunting party and during the evening between dancing and dinner the plans were made to get a lion.

At about 2 A.M. Cockie took the vehicle they had come to Arusha in and drove back to their small homestead at Babati alone, through the night along a terribly rough road. She arrived at 7 A.M. exhausted and took herself straight to bed. Meanwhile the men were out after lion.

Extract ID: 4660

See also

Trzebinski, Errol Silence Will Speak
Extract Author: Bror Blixen
Page Number: 387
Extract Date: 17 November 1928

Lunch with the Prince

from African Hunter, by Bror von Blixen-Finecke, pub Cassell, London 1937 p154

Bror wrote later:

I had the opportunity of discussing and planning a lion hunt with my old friend Finch Hatton, who was already a member of the Prince's party. Unfortunately the Prince had no more than two days to spare ... no one knew that he could not extend his time ... so we had to look ... in the immediate neighbour-hood: . . at the foot of Mount Ufiomi - not far from my farm.

The usual baiting procedure was followed. The first, near the village of Kwakuchinjas, drew the lion who feasted very well then slunk off. `We had to return to Babati with long faces,' recalls Blix, `though the most crestfallen of the party was naturally myself. But I was not merely crestfallen - I was angry, and swore that the Prince should have his lion.'

At about midday of the morning Cockie had arrived home from Arusha her sleep was disturbed by voices and the sound of footsteps outside her bedroom door. She opened her eyes to see Blix standing there announcing that he had brought the Prince for lunch. She protested strongly saying she had nothing suitable to eat in the house and that she was still weary from her drive. `Whereupon the Prince himself appeared at the door, saying, "Surely, Cockie, you can get me something for lunch - you must have some eggs in the house!" Indeed she had to admit this was so and they lunched very well on scrambled eggs in the little mud and wattle dwelling which was the von Blixen's new home.

It was on this occasion that the Prince took Blix aside after eating and said, "I say, Blixen, you really oughtn't to let your wife live in a tumbledown place like this."

"I shall never forget the tone of his voice," Blix later wrote. "Naturally I felt ashamed, though my wife hadn't complained - and inwardly promised to put things right."

Extract ID: 4661
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