-- Getting ready for takeoff from
Maktau: 12 October 1915 - The first
Royal Navy Air Service inland operational
flight over enemy territory took place from
Maktau with a Caudron GIII piloted by Flight
Commander J.T. Cull.
Willson launches his epic
history guide 'Guerillas of Tsavo'
FROM AN ADDRESS BY AUTHOR AND HISTORIAN JAMES
WILLSON AT THE LAUNCH OF HIS NEW BOOK 'GUERILLAS OF
TO A GATHERING OF THE FRIENDS OF FORT JESUS IN
around in the Nairobi National Archives several gems
were unearthed which I believe formed part of Edward
Rodwell’s extensive collection.
home we have boxes of printouts as a result of
continually having to update the manuscript.
erstwhile Editor (I assume in cahoots with my
family) eventually threw her hands in after five
years of frequent updates as more information kept
coming to light and so revisions and corrections had
to be made.
last five or six years have seen an immense amount
of detail becoming available through an increasingly
keen and dedicated network of enthusiasts, who have
evolved and became the Great War East Africa
website http://www.gweaa.com is becoming a
valuable source of information where you will find
many links of interest on the entire East African
add that there has never been a detailed document
published about the first two years of the campaign
whilst it remained in British East Africa.
in the last couple of weeks a most important and
significant find has been made, the field diary
written by General von Lettow Vorbeck has just been
re found at the IWM, it had even been translated
into English then forgotten, until it turned up in
another box mixed with completely different
documents from another time.
-- Mount Kasigau rises from the flat
plains outside the Tsavo National Park.
this sort of thing has been the root problem as to
why the book took so long to come out.
I have derived immense enjoyment in researching the
detail for this book, which recounts the first two
years of the East African campaign whilst it
remained in the B.E.A.; the best part though was
always the field work.
supported and encouraged by my family, Eileen and
Joan, and to whom I owe so much credit to.
long I have thought, dreamed and talked about
nothing else, the house is full of war books and
magazines, and bits of metal and all sorts of things
we have found and collected, they have been very
add, on a more recent foray, Eileen was subject to
an unprovoked attack and mauled on the leg requiring
anti rabies injections and treatment by no lesser
creature than a honey badger, one of the fiercest
and most powerful creatures for its size in the
that now 'Guerrillas of Tsavo' is in print,
that many of you may glean some further interest and
insight about a little known campaign that took
place on our own back door step between 1914 and
time you are in Tsavo West I hope you will be able
to add interest to your visit.
-- Railway line from Voi to Taveta,
looking towards Wundanyi and Taita
years ago, we went to South Africa with Keren and
Andy Burnard, for three weeks, first visiting the
Western Cape and Namaqualand to view the wild
course, whilst in the area we had to include visits
to the Fort in Cape Town and a museum with artifacts
from the Konigsberg at Simons Town.
more importantly for Andy and I, was a special treat
of 10 days visiting the Anglo Boar War and Anglo
Zulu War sites in Natal.
certainly was not long enough.
witnessed an industry there that had developed
around the history of these wars with Battlefield
and Heritage Tourism, we were told that there
was at least a two year waiting list to be escorted
around by licenced professional guides who really
know their subjects.
were very lucky to have the Chairman of the South
African Military History Association Raymond Herron
of Spion Kop Lodge to show us around.
belong to the International Group of Battle Guides,
there are some 550 world wide of us who have
interests ranging from wars that took place B.C.
right through to more recent conflicts.
that U.K. based members are fully booked during the
summer months taking bus loads of veterans and their
families, students and others on Battlefield Tours.
can’t Kenya develop something like that here, we
have much more to see and offer, as most of our
battle sites and forts, are located in or near the
have the advantage of the wild life and the sights
reasonably close to each other, with excellent
accommodation facilities nearby?
centenary of First World War [1914-1918] is fast
approaching in under two years time and many
countries world wide are gearing up to handle a
potential tourism windfall that will last at least
for four or five years, you just have to look at the
various tourism websites to understand how big this
example, Australia announced two weeks ago that they
are limiting participation to their commemoration of
the Gallipoli Campaign in 2015 to 10,000 people.
-- World War One Voi Cemetery: Voi
became a hospital centre early in 1916. In the
period August 1915 to December 1917, 100
burials were made in the cemetery and after
the Armistice, a further 37 graves were
brought in from Bura Military Cemetery (14
graves of the 2nd Loyal North Lancs, 29
September 1915), Maktau Military Cemetery (17
graves, largely 3 September 1915) and Tsavo
Military Cemetery (six graves). The cemetery
now contains 137 Commonwealth burials of the
First World War.
per cent of those people will be passing with easy
access to East Africa, it makes one think of the
possibilities and potential.
Africa is also gearing up with people wanting to
visit the great European battlefields along the
Somme, they too could be tempted to stop over here.
touched a little this evening on the history and
compilation of this book and where it has taken us,
but what now …it can not end now ...
have a dream … a dream to commemorate the
centenary of the start of the first would war in
August 2014, where the National Museums of Kenya,
the Kenya Wildlife Service Ministry of Tourism,
Kenya Tourist Board, and the Ministry of Defense
would join together and plan a pageant to honour and
remember the over many Kenyans who played such a
substantial role in one way or another during the
East Africa Campaign of 1914 – 1918, so long ago.
not too late to start planning.
from the sale of this book (which I may add is being
distributed on a non profit basis) will go to the Askari
Fund that is run by the British Legion of Kenya,
in support and aid of the welfare for families of
Kings African Rifles askaris, who I always felt were
rather hard done by, during both World Wars.
addition a donation will also be made to the F.F.J.
from books sold tonight.
Chairman of F.F.J. way back then had given me a
tough and challenging assignment and it was not an
Reid, later took up the mantle too, and has also
over the years greatly encouraged me to complete
also go to Shel and Blake Arensen of Old Africa
Publications who prepared the layout and design
and finally got the manuscript and all the photos to
the printers, and to the posts in Coastweek.
closing and without further ado I would like to
present this evening, the very first copy of 'The
Guerrillas of Tsavo' to Marlene, as the Chairman
of F.F.J., as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for
yours and the FFJs continued support.
ALSO - OFFICIAL 'THE GUERILLAS OF TSAVO' WEBSITE:
you read it first at coastweek.com