The Great War in east Africa was much more than a ‘sideshow’ – it was a classic guerilla campaign that has entered military legend. The author of this account was an officer of the 25th Royal Fusiliers, a British unit in the predominantly Indian and South African allied army that attempted, with huge losses and only limited success, to hunt down the elusive Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the brilliant and resourceful commander in German East Africa. Lettow’s small force of white officers and native African ‘Askaris’ ranged across a vast region, twice the size of Germany itself, to keep one jump ahead of their allied pursuers. Initially outnumbered, the allies harried their quarry, but never finally defeated him. The Armistice found Lettow still in the field, barely able to credit the news that his beloved Fatherland had cruumbled. Buchanan’s book shows why one of his soldiers griped: ‘Ah, I wish to hell I was in France! There one lives like a gentleman and dies like a man; here one lives like a pig and dies like a dog’. The allies found themselves battling a hostile climate, terrain, and above all disease – especially the dreaded malaria – which took a greater toll of lives than the fierce enemy resistance. A nature lover, Buchanan makes many observations of African flora and fauna, as well as his unsparing account of the tough military campaign. The eight illustrations, including landscape drrawings, reflect the author’s love of nature. There are three maps.
THREE YEARS OF WAR IN EAST AFRICA
British officer’s account of the allied campaign against Lettow-Vorbeck in German east Africa in the Great War. Notable for the author’s African ‘nature notes’ as well as for the gruelling guerilla warfare.