As the evening drew to a close, Judy
called for suggestions and ideas for a FFJ outing, my
wife Eileen immediately suggested a weekend at the
Taita Hills and Salt Lick Lodges Lodges as I was then
the Acting Manager there and we had also just ‘discovered’
in the Sanctuary; the ruins of Mashoti Fort that had
been built by the Loyal North Lancashire Regt in late
I don’t recall how many came for
that FFJ Battlefields weekend, but those that did,
must of enjoyed the exercise and the outing, as we
have since enjoyed many more trips into this
interesting area with members of the Friends.
On this first outing we did a
comprehensive walk around the Mashoti fort and the old
military camp site, where we identified the Smithy
with dozens of discarded horse shoes found beside the
overgrown fire pit.
In a dig a few weekends previously,
Eileen and I unearthed a meerschaum smoking pipe from
Dublin, a clay Ginger Beer Bottle, a silver fork and
what looked like glass bullets.
We then stumbled upon numerous little
piles of broken glass bottles.
Many of the shards were interesting as
they were so thick with raised embellishments,
obviously made for rough transportation.
After some difficulty we put some of
them together like a jig saw puzzle and discovered
they were Roses Lime Juice bottles.
I guess most people today realize how
important Vitamin C is against scurvy.
Thicker dark glass bottles turned out
to be one pint Beer bottles, the more complete ones
had Property of South African Breweries embossed on
Scotch whisky bottle bases, 'Lee and
Perrings' shaped bottles and wine bottles all started
being found, although I don’t think we ever found
any complete ones.
After further finds we realized the
‘glass bullet like’ objects were actually broken
bottle top plugs for the lime juice bottles, held down
in a similar way as a Champaign cork is today.
We walked and scrambled over Maktau
Hill, the British base where up 20,000 troops were
accommodated, and inspected the dry stone wall
defenses on the crest of Picket Hill, where we picked
up several rounds of unused British 303 ammunition,
and several cartridge cases.
I started to ask my self:
Where did these come from?
What final tragedy do those
cartridge cases conceal?
Who were the soldiers?
Where did they come from?
How were they fed?
What happened to casualties?
What became of prisoners of
gathering listens to the author presentation at
the book launch of 'Guerrillas of Tsavo' in the
main courtyard of Mombasa's historic Fort Jesus
What were the personal stories behind
those commemorated at the beautifully kept
Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries in the
How did 15,000 undefeated German and
colonial troops survive, under one Commander in Chief
Colonel von Lettow Vorbeck, survive four years with
virtually no supplies from the Fatherland while
holding up 300,000 British Empire and allied troops
from 21 countries under the command of a total of 137
It was always a temptation to
All these questions needed answers and
an explanation … Some of the answers are elaborated
in 'Guerrillas of Tsavo'.
In Judy’s absence, I have to blame
her entirely, with her deep interest in East African
history she told me that she had not come across much
written information about the FWW in East Africa, so,
she urged me to write down and document what we were
finding and discovering about those early days of the
GW in East Africa.
This was when the battle was actually
favouring the Germans and their Schutztruppen, as it
did throughout that long campaign, rather than the
Years later my book here, is the
After leaving Taita to work at the
coast, my interest grew deeper as we were unearthing
and finding all sorts of information and stories as
more and more people knew of my interest.
We have sallied forth periodically
into the depths of Tsavo West and the Shimba Hills and
elsewhere looking for any location with a mention in
the Official History of the East African Campaign.
We have so far found and identified
nearly 50 sites of interest.
Certainly, Important for Mombasa, are
the Wavell Gardens and the obelisk, erected by the
grateful towns people of Mombasa to commemorate Major
Arthur Wavell M.C. - a sisal farmer from Nyali Sisal
Estates, and his company of Arab Rifles.
Also in the Gardens and
standing side by side as Gate Guards and
Sentries to the entrance of Fort Jesus, are
the guns from H.M.S. Pegasus and the
German Cruiser S.M.S. Konigsberg, which
is partially hidden by that hideous red soft
H.M.S. Pegasus, was the
first British Warship to be sunk in action
during the First World War in the Zanzibar
Harbour on 20th September 1914 after being
shelled by the Konigsberg.
The Konigsberg then
became a target after many months of being
stalked by the Royal Navy, and destroyed in
the Rufiji Delta way down down in mangrove
forests of Southern Tanzania.
Cruiser S.M.S. Konigsberg
off Dar es Salaam and the British Warship H.M.S.
After having fought at sea, the guns
from both ships were recovered and converted to field
artillery pieces to again fight against each other in
several land battles of the East African Campaign, the
only guns ever to do so.
During a very memorable FFJ trip to
Zanzibar, I managed to obtain the brass name plate for
the HMS Pegasus.
It took us three attempts to climb
Mount Kasigau, before we located the Signal Post high
up on one of the mountain spurs.
The second time we got hit by a
torrential rainstorm, and had a truly frightening
experience trying to descend the 1000 feet down a
virtual rock precipice in the wet.
(Looking back, it could almost feature
on DSTVs ‘I shouldn’t be alive’ series.)
you read it first at coastweek.com