The Great War Diaries - 1918/1919 (King's African Rifles)
Tuesday 1st. Up shortly after six. Moist & warm already, & the exertion of dressing puts you into a sweat. After breakfast Brown & I went up to Mombasa, had a game of pills at the club, & then went to the bank, which we managed to get into by the back door. We had forgotten that this being New Year’s Day would be a holiday. As a matter of fact, all the shops were shut with one fortunate exception, a British Store where we managed to get what we wanted. We also managed, thro’ the bank, to fix up for the storage of some of our kit — Brown left two boxes, & I one, - with Messrs. V. Mendonza & Bro, P.O.Box …,,Mombasa, (shipping agents). There is no receipt but they will be recoverable no doubt thro’ the Standard bank here, should anything happen to me. I have only some clothes, a pair of boots, mess tunic & tartan slacks etc. in my box. We embarked on H.M.T. Princess in the afternoon. She is a fairly big boat, captured from the Germans at the beginning of the war. I am very lucky in having a cabin to myself, altho’ it may only be for a night. As soon as I had seen the kit aboard I had a bath, a most acceptable thing too, & fine to get wallowing in water again. We left Kilindini just as the sun was going down. There was a stiff breeze blowing & a fair swell running. Dinner — a new year’s one at that, a short stroll on deck, & so to bed.
This was probably the Hamburg America liner KRONPRINZESSIN CECILIE. 8,689
gross tons, 471ft x 55.3ft, speed 14.5 knots. Built 1905 by Krupp, Kiel, she
was seized by British authorities at Falmouth in Aug.1914. In 1915 she was
requisitioned by the Admiralty, renamed PRINCESS and converted to the dummy
battleship HMS AJAX. Jan.1916 to Sep.1917 in service as an Armed Merchant
Cruiser. In 1919 she came under the Shipping Controller, managed by Ellerman
& Bucknall SS Co and in 1923 went to German shipbreakers at Bremen.
Pictures at http://www.greatships.net/kpcecilie_hapag.html
This should not be confused with North German Lloyd's 4-funnelled
KRONPRINZESSIN CECILIE which was a different ship.
Information kindly provided by Ted Finch firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 2nd. Wakened in good time by Haranja’s head at the door. We expected to go ashore this morning so had everything packed & ready by breakfast time. We got into Dar-Es-Salaam about 11 a.m. & dropped anchor outside the bar. The country is low-lying and wooded: what we can see of D.Es.S. amounts to a long white porticoed building on the sea-front, a few smaller ones in the trees & a couple of church spires. The real harbour lies further in, the entrance marked by a stranded steamer which the Huns tried to sink across the channel. On our left lie one or two islands — probably coral.
We hear now we are to be aboard until Friday. I have got a few letters written today and am reading Lavengro.
Thursday 3rd. Spent the forenoon darning socks. Still very hot and moist but there is a fair breeze out here especially at nights. I sat on deck last night for a long time with Lt. Sharpe Intelligence Dept. He has been away from home for 24 years, and has seen a good piece of the world. Of late years he has been trading round about the Lakes and lived with the Kavirondos for several years. Kavirondos belong to two races — Nilotic Kavs. & Bantu Kavs. Their farming — e.g. plowing, sowing etc. is governed by the stars which are interpreted for them by one of the old men of the tribe. He has been among the Masai too. They have been intermarrying with the other tribes for some time & may gradually be changed that way — e.g. they eat rice now, a thing they wouldn’t look at before. They have never learned to work because there’s no work in their country to be done. Their huts are only branches & saplings with cow-dung thrown on top. We got on to talking about religion. Sharpe believes this world is the end of everything, & if he didn’t argue very well about it he was dogmatic enough. He wouldn’t live at home now — too small & confined. Advocates the open air nomadic life as being the happiest, which I suppose it may easily be.
The staff changed its mind and decided that we should disembark today which we did, by means of a small tug and a bit of a scramble. It was dark by the time we got on shore. On the way in we passed the "Konig" which the Germans tried to sink across the navigable channel. The entrance is quite narrow, & then widens out into a capacious bay along the North? Side of which runs the town. In the centre are the two churches, & right & left runs a street of substantial white buildings, Cocoa-nut palms & flamboyant acacias grow along the streets & beach. We walked up to the camp, Brown & I together, & after a bit of a job managed to get a corner in a marquee. We turned in after a mangie dinner. Had to rig up our mosquito nets. A nice cool breeze blowing thro’ the palms and shaking the leaves like heavy rain.
Friday 4th. Up at 6 a.m. and had a bathe in the bay, about 200 ft. from the tent. Water very warm, nearly tepid. Very bad mess here run by a Greek who would be making a fortune if so many officers didn’t get their own back by going off without paying their mess bills. He charges 2R,75 a day, & draws our rations. Very hot and moist today; hardly able to do anything and it’s worse if you sleep: you feel so rotten when you waken.
After tea Brown & I had another bathe. It is worth living thro’ heat like this to have such glorious balmy evenings. The sand here full of land crabs — small ones, with highly coloured pincers. Also saw oysters & littornia rudis? growing on the stems of bushes on the sea-shore. After that we had a ricksha down to the town and back. The buildings, most of them, are very substantial, porticoed with jalousies on the German pattern, & it is queer to see all the German names, notices etc. still up. I only wish this was in Europe & we in a German town. As a matter of fact I believe a lot of Germans are still carrying on trade here. It is only lately that the German hairdresser was closed down I know. A great many of the buildings have been taken over as hospitals for which they seem admirably suited. The front is well lit up at nights — no lighting regulations here. A number of small dhows & one large one were lying just off the shore. The big one was a very queer looking thing with very high poop & forward slanting mast. We turned in early but Stuttaford & Co were in good form so it was some time before we got to sleep. We are for Lindi tomorrow.
Saturday 5th. We marched down from camp at 9a.m.: very hot & thirsty by the time we got to the quay so we had some lime-juice in a café run by as German looking a fraulein as you could want to see. She was also sulky. In the course of the forenoon, at the expense of much perspiration & with the aid of a tug & a lighter, we got out to the "Kwong-Sang", a Chinese steamer of small size, and after a bit of a struggle got aboard. The ascaris are very awkward about climbing & going up or sown stairs, especially if they are laden with a rifle, a bag full of water, a pair of boots slung round their necks, & full marching order in addition. If their boots are on their feet they are worse still. Water is going to be rather a problem on this boat so each man has brought a chagul & water-bottle full aboard, & we have done the same. We have also to look after our own feeding, & live entirely on deck. We managed lunch off tinned stuffs & bread. We left at 3p.m., or thereabouts; a good breeze blowing & as we were running broadside to the swell we rolled a good deal. We had dinner off bully& potato hash, & very good too. Turned in very early, about 7p.m. and had to lie watching the stars because the captain came down in a towering rage that he couldn't see to steer for our lamps.
Sunday 6th. Wakened in the small hours by Brown & Stuttaford who had to move from beside the funnel because of the rain & soot. I slept on till 6a.m., had a bath & dressed in some discomfort, the decks all wet & slippery. We got into Kilwa shortly after breakfast - bully & hash. The approach to the port - Kilwa itself lies 16 miles further up country - is more deceptive than Dar-Es-Salaam. We approached the low coast, with the usual cocoa-nut trees, an opening appeared in front of us, & we passed in with a line of surf on our starboard, breaking on a reef which lay well out from the land. This reef turned up the estuary, fringing it on both sides. We approached to within less than 100 ft., & took soundings, wanting to anchor I suppose but got no bottom, so backed out & after some wandering about a steam launch appeared round a corner further up & we were guided in. We anchored off the village which appears to consist only of a hospital, a camp & a jetty. A lot of M.T.C.[?] men got off here. I believe they have a hard time of it in this country. We lay there all day: it was very cool & cloudy, but there was a pretty bad miff emanating from the ascaris in the forward part of the ship & wafted back to us. A few dug-out canoes came off to sell brightly coloured "cockatoo" fish. We left about 5p.m. & I had another chance of seeing the coral reef. I read Darwin's theory in his 'Beagle' today. I suppose these here are fringing reefs. There is little in the nature of lagoon inside the reef - just low flats (sandy?). at the back of the shore there are large blocks & small cliffs of what I take to be eroded coral. They can be seen at Dar-Es-Salaam, & Kilindini. Also D.-Es-Salaam & Kilwa seem to be on a raised beach, This of course points to elevation along the coast here.
Monday 7th. It didn't rain last night so we rose in comfort this morning. We got into Lindi harbour soon after breakfast. It was a slow job transferring the men & baggage into lighters but we got ashore by about 2 o'clock. Marched to the camp at the back of the town. As usual we found that we weren't expected and that there was no accommodation ready. To add to the pleasantness of the situation it was raining heavily. At last the ascaris were housed & ourselves ditto but owing to some mix-up we could muster only a few biscuits & a couple of tins of bully by way of grub. This is about the first time I have been really dependent on ration & it brought home to me what our own men must have had to put up with in the old days in France when the rations "didn't come up". We managed a kettle of tea later on than which there is nothing better for cheering the drooping spirits. Four of us also managed a very fine bathe on the sands. There were a number of N.C.O.s dragging a net, in which I saw a good number of small fish - mostly an isobilaterally flattened species, & also a 'scabbard fish'. I got a few shells - cypraea, large strombus mitra ? ovula? The high ground on which our camp lies is evidently a coral reef: a similar reef runs along the other side of the estuary, & seems to consist of a number of terraces, each marking perhaps a stage in the elevation. The town is built on a sandy flat, at the foot of the reef, which has evidently been so much elevated as to have preserved it from erosion by the sea: in other words there seems to be more elevation here than at Kilwa, or Dar-Es-Salaam. I have left one of my boxes and my tin bath at a store in Lindi care of "S.S. and T.O.", Lindi. The box would be worth recovering as there's a good deal of kit in it. In view of an early start tomorrow we turned in after packing everything we want for 'the safari'.
Tuesday 8th. Up at 5, tea & biscuit, wash, and onto parade. Didn't get away until about 7a.m. Spitting rain. From the top of the ridge (reef) about 15 minutes walk from camp we had a fine view to the west - first a steep declivity, and then a series of low ridges away to the horizon: bush everywhere except for some broad sandy patches in the river bed. Had breakfast of bully, biscuits, bananas and tea at 9a.m. & reached Mingoyo shortly after noon ( 12 miles). Very moist walking. Mingoyo camp on high sandy ground between two small stream beds. A tidal arm runs up from Lindi estuary to Mingoyo where they have a wharf & where our kit was to arrive this forenoon. Owing however to the excellencies of the staff work it didn't arrive until 10.30p.m.when we scrambled for our valises in the stinking inside of a dhow, & after much ado, got to bed.
Wednesday 9th. I am orderly officer for this week so have had to buzz about trying to get our kit and the men's packs. The latter can't be found. Maloney fell foul of the U.L.O. this morning - a relation & namesake of Smuts. Very warm here during the day: some thunder further west. Had a fine sponge down after dinner just before to bed. Mosquitoes are pretty bad here.
Thursday 10th. Packs turned up today to my great relief. We are stuck here for the time being as there are no porters available. Our battalion is from 2-300 miles up & said to be making its way across to join up with Northey's column which has worked up from Nyasaland. In that case it will take us a considerable time to catch them up, anything up to six weeks; and with the rains so near the prospect isn't very fascinating. We had a very heavy shower today. The water ran off the sandy soil like off pavement and we had to get busy with spades and put ditches around the tents. It cleared up as soon as we had things in working order. I had a talk with Smuts tonight. He is a large Dutchman. "I am sick of men" he said, "& supplies & ships: I never want to see them again, after the war is finished. I will be quite content with my garden." I think it's the same with most. They will be glad to go back again to the quiet things when this is all over.
Friday 11th. There was a good deal of rain today. I wanted to go down to Lindi for pay for the men & to get a few things for ourselves. Thro the feeble intelligence of Haranja I missed the steam launch, tho' he didn't, taking my bedding etc. with him, & I had to follow several hours later on a small dhow. I only caught it by hiring a canoe & chasing it. The wind was against us, so after poling about 1/3 of the way down the crew intimated their intention of spending the night on the river & proceeding to Lindi the following morning. This was cheery news for me as I had only a burberry with me and it promised well to be a night of rain. I had the alternatives of the stinking hold beside the crew or the dripping poop and the mosquitoes. I was beginning to set the poop in order when we came in sight of a number of lights on the shore. This proved to be the camp of Arab House. The dhow anchored off it for the night so that they could send me ashore in the small boat. This they did and I inquired for the nearest Mzungu. By great good luck I struck two captains - Watkins R.E. & Skelly M.L.O. - just sitting down to dinner. They invited me in immediately and made me very welcome both to their food and to their whisky. Watkins gave me a tent, bed and blankets - "a home from home". Hospitality is one of the great virtues.
Saturday 12th. Slept rather restlessly as I was afraid of sleeping in and missing the dhow, which was to leave at 6a.m. The frogs in the side of the river made a tremendous noise last night. The mosquitoes didn't disturb me as I expected, altho' I had no net. The small boat picked me up at the wharf & we got under weigh. Arab House, I understand from the hosts of last night, stands on the site of an old Arab stockade which was the rendezvous for pirates & slavers. It is an ideal spot for that - on a low spit of sand among the mangrove swamps, and well up from the sea: the high reef behind would give a fine observation point.
There was a light wind down-stream so our passage was very slow to begin with but quickened when we got down to the broad stretch of water above Lindi. On landing I went up to the Detail Camp & found my boy: I gave a bit of my mind & very nearly my boot as well. I find I am getting very short-tempered. Haranja's face gets most enticing sometimes & I can hardly keep myself from skelping it. He is an absolute fool and looks it. I am surprised that I didn't see the utter stupidity on his face before I left M'bagathi. I wish I could sack him now.
There aren't many things one can buy in Lindi: matches & cigarettes aren't to be had, and soap is very scarce. It's the same all over the country. Very few consignments are coming out from home. We got the steam launch at 12.30p.m. Here again nobody knew when it was to leave not even the M.L.O. The stream is bordered on both sides by belts of mangrove trees. These aren't of one species only altho' the true mangrove seems to be there with its viviparous seedlings. The roots form an impenetrable tangle and the soft black ooze round them would wake walking an impossibility.
Penfold and I walked over to the 4/4th after tea. I called at the 1/3rd. to see Dannie Swanson but find he went to hospital in November. Maloney, Brown, Carter and Stuttaford went on by trolley this morning. They are to try to reach the battalion: if they can't they will wait for us.
Sunday 13th. Very little doing today: I was to have taken a military funeral party, but orders were cancelled. There are a good many crocking it in the hospital over the road - an average of 1 European a day, which is very little of course compared with France, but it gets monotonous hearing the last post. There has been a good deal of rain today. We are having our trials with Haranja and Alexander as cooks.
Monday 14th. Same as yesterday. Sleeping & eating. A few light showers, but more threatening. No word of porters yet. Battalion reported about 1/2 way between here & Lake Nyasa & going west.
Tuesday 15th. No rain today, but sky overcast. Several days since we have seen the sun so it is much cooler. We have taken to feeding under my mosquito net, to keep the flies off us. A small fly, like the common house fly, is the most troublesome and persistent. At night time all sorts of insects come to the lamps: it would be a rare field for an enthusiastic entomologist. We tried unsuccessfully to get a couple of mokes for the safari: the roads are reported to be very bad in places already, and unless we get porters soon, we will run a big risk of getting hung up by the big rains.
Wednesday 16th. Leaden skies today but very little rain. Preparations are being made for the rainy season. The Lindi road is closed to vehicles to prevent it being destroyed. They are cutting down every scrap of vegetation round the camp to keep down the mosquitoes; & everywhere drains are being dug and roofs strengthened. We hear now that the battalion has gone to join Northey at Songia, which is about 140 miles this side Lake Nyasa. Don't know what the ultimate object is, unless they are going down the lake. Von Lettow has made a raid near Port Amelia, chased the Portuguese home & taken a lot of stores There is some rumour of him going to try to get down to South Africa & stir up another Dutch rebellion. Penfold & I walked over to 4/4th. K.A.R. They are leaving very soon for Port Amelia, down in Portuguese East. The walk did us a lot of good, & we found a very tender steak ready for us when we got back here - the first of its kind that has appeared. We talked until pretty late about Spiritualism, the next world, Creation vs. Evolution etc. Penfold suggests that if the brain is what retains our thoughts etc. & the mind simply works over it, then when the brain is destroyed all these thoughts go with it.
Thursday 17th. Brighter today. Had a short walk in the forenoon. Peculiar erosion of sand in sandpit, evidently due to rain. Pinnacles of sand left where protected by small stone like Geikie's slide of the Austrian Tyrol. Got a lot of flakes of flinty stone, as well as of pure quartz, quartzite and hard quartzose grit. Couldn't say whether the flakes are human handiwork, but think not. They have been made from pebbles of above rock. Wonder where pebble bed is. Walked down to 4/4th. for dinner which was some affair. Got back pretty late: splendid night. Fireflies very thick early in the evening but disappeared later. I caught one the other night. The underside of the hindquarters is luminous with pulsating light as if when fly drew breath.
Sunday 20th. Have just got back from Lindi. I started off yesterday morning at 7a.m. We had a very slow journey down, in a rotten little dhow which was part of a tow. Put off a lot of time at Arab House and didn't reach Lindi until 1.30. I managed to get the stuff from Ordnance that we wanted, went along to the Carrier Corps for a cook, and got back to find there were no dhows going up to Mingoyo that night. There was nothing other for it than the detail camp: fortunately I had brought my flea bag & groundsht and so had the ascaris & boys. Had dinner at the Officers Mess there - nothing since breakfast so I made a square meal. Today we managed to miss the tow which by some perversion of the usual rule left before its time. We got our stuff into a small dhow & got away before 9a.m. Had fair good passage until we grounded at 1p.m. just short of Mingoyo & had to sit there in spasmodic drizzle, looking at a margin of mangrove swamp until the tide came up at 6p.m. A pleasant Sunday afternoon, if only we had had a full stomach, but we saw no food at all until after 7p.m.
Monday 21st. Spent the day equipping the draft & details & getting all ready for the start tomorrow. Am now just going to turn in: everything packed & carried over to the station except valises. Have taken on a Yao toto today: also got a Mziba cook from the Carrier Corps at Lindi on Saturday so we have some prospect of feeding decently. Weather cool & dull.
Tuesday 22nd. Wakened at 3.30a.m. Breakfast of bully & tea and got 'entrained' by 6a.m. We can't get porters at Mingoyo so are going as far as Mtama (28 miles) on the trolley. It is a very light railway made by the Germans and very useful to us for getting supplies up. The motive power are Ford driven trolleys, with Indian or Goanese drivers. I enjoyed the run up here very much. The track runs along the Lukeledi valley, now along the top, now down in the bottom. The ground is all composed of the same sandy stuff as at Mingoyo except when it is loamy occasionally. We passed thro' a couple of big rubber plantations lost now to the Germans whether we will make anything out of them or not. At Schadels farm the ascaris are cutting them down to make huts, but I understand that it is an inferior brand of rubber & not now paying. For the rest of the country, it is mostly bush, with occasional patches of bananas, & mango trees here and there. We had a few breakdowns on the way but got into Mtama about 11 a.m. & soon got settled down: for once we were expected. We are to go on tomorrow with a donkey convoy which is to take us as far as Tunduru.
Wednesday 23rd. Up at 5 but didn't get away till after 7 as the O.C. donkeys turned up late with a thick head. Slight friction to begin with which hasn't subsided yet quite. We have a lot of ammunition with us: the loads are put on the donkeys, one on each side in a rope net. The pace was pretty slow. We have come only about 8 miles & took nearly four hours. Road, which is in pretty good condition, tho' sandy, runs thro' Lukeledi Valley. Bush thick in places but mostly rather thin. A few palms (not cocoa-nuts) & bananas: plenty mimosas, many in flower. Arrive Mahiwa 11 a.m. Small camp & hospital, mainly occupied by Indians, on open ground on terrace above river. Camped just on the edge of the bush, among some tall trees. We bro't a tent from Mingoyo for which we are very thankful & will be more so when it rains. Very cool today. Twelve men sick: five including Haranja to go back to Mtama hospital tomorrow, mostly dysentery but Har. has fever. Trying to send remainder forward by car to Missassi. Saw two small snakes today; many queer grasshoppers of sorts here, fine examples of protective colouring, especially in the one which goes snapping thro' the air - yellow while 'flying' & drops to ground green & very difficult to see. Should be very successful with its double adaptation. Just killed a small scorpion on floor of tent. We have brought 11 chickens with us: unfortunately no cock. They are very much at home in the tent & do good work among the ants. We have them carried in a home made basket. Very evident that this part been lately elevated from sea level. Skyline straight as a ruler - just like Picardy: valleys scooped out in plateau. Soil sandy, like Mingoyo.
Thursday 24th. Started 6a.m.from Mahiwa, leaving ten men to go back to hospital. Had a mule to ride today, but found it almost as hard as walking unless I let him take his own time. If I lived among mules or ascaris very long I think my temper would go altogether. I suppose I don't understand them, that's the reason. Pretty hot today. The road runs more or less along the Lukeledi valley. It is in good condition & plenty gangs working on it, - laying metal, trees etc. They are using quartz pebbles , & schistose rocks. Passed several small bosses of the latter. Bush not thick here: bamboos common. The Romans must have tackled rather similar conditions in Britain, & yet their roads are in good order yet: ours will be obliterated in a couple of years. It was a long march today - 14 miles & took us nearly six hours. Got into Ndanda at noon. The boys weren't up so made coffee for ourselves. The tent was soon up, below some trees: the ascaris bivouacing, mostly under their mosquito nets only, beside us. We are near a small stream of very good water. this part of the country is well off in that respect, especially at this season. We have been eating & drinking ever since we came in: breakfast of course was very early & scrimpy. Had a bath in a hole in the ground with a waterproof sheet inside it, - much handier than carrying a bath.
Friday 25th. Rather a violent thunderstorm during the night, with very vivid lightning but not much rain fell. This morning it was drizzly but good for marching. The donkeys were rather done up after yesterday's long trek, but today's was only 5 miles. Consequently we got in about 8.30a.m. to Ndanda. It is a fairly big camp, with hospital in the old German mission buildings. The scenery is rather different from what we have had so far. The Lukeledi which is only a small burn runs behind the camp, & beyond it are two medium sized hills densely wooded to the top. The timber hereabouts is taller than nearer the coast & the bush, what you can see of it from the road, more open. People here are very dubious as to whether we'll get thro' to Tunduru or not. There seems to be some difficulty with regard to porters, & a couple of rivers we have to cross may give trouble. However Penfold is determined to go ahead & we have drawn 3 weeks rations, which ought to see us to Tunduru. From there to Songia is 10 days march. There are very few rations at Tunduru so we will need to go straight through. We put another 10 men, including the new cook, into hospital here - malaria and dysentery. - so we are now down to 37 - having started from Mingoyo with 58.
Saturday 26th. Left Ndanda at 6a.m. and marched till 9 a.m. Pitched camp at Tschikukwa, where there is a telegraph office, a few roadmen, & some water. Very fine day, & good road Ground rather flat, & drainage difficult, so the road will be pretty bad during the rains. They are metalling it with schistose rocks evidently from the rock which forms the hills on the left of the road. Saw some good specimens of Augen-gneiss; parrots & woodpeckers. Camped on the edge of the river bank. The river is only a string of holes with water, but the water is good. Spent the afternoon devising measures for the men's rations - starting with a tin of bully as unit of measure, and a piece of stick with cups tied to it as scales. The Q.M. clerk who was with us turned back at Ndanda sick so we are left to our own devices. Pratley & Cairncross, & S.Major Addey have joined us. Our chickens are a bit of a nuisance: they require careful transport on a donkey, & as we let them run loose when we get into camp, it takes about an hour every night to catch them again. We had a grand dinner tonight - roasted monkey nuts, followed by bully, some green vegetable like spinach which the boys got, and boiled beans, rice & date pudding & coffee. I took on a new boy last night, Light "Willie". I think he is a good one at last. The mtoto Asari, is pathetically stupid & slow but doesn't get on my nerves the same way as Haranja did, who was a sumpf, & I hope doesn't turn up again. By the bye, I owe him 12 rupees.
Splendid moonlight night. Fireflies and frogs galore.
Sunday 27th. Splendid morning. We had a short march of 8 miles today, getting in about 9a.m. Nice camping ground on a clear space near water. The wood is very thin here: we can see over the tops of the trees a number of bald rocky hills - granitic or gneiss I should say. The ground here is sandy, or rather gritty, with small quartz pebbles as main or only constituent. After issuing the rations I had a sick parade. First of all I set out all the medicine I have got so as to impress the ascaris & then had them brought up. A number of them are suffering from diarrhoea & one from dysentery, probably from drinking unboiled water. I have no medicine here for their trouble, so gave them quinine and some pure water. One had lumbago, so I applied iodine but must find something other as I haven't much of that. If they haven't faith I can do them no good, because I have very little medicine for them. There doesn't seem to be much fever among those who are left, altho' Penfold's boy, Alexander, seems to have a touch of it. I wrote home this afternoon but as there are no envelopes I'm going to tie it round a piece of stick. I wonder if it gets there. We killed & ate the first hen today: it is a long time since it was a chicken but went down nicely with greens & beans. My new boy is turning out quite well & is taking the lead in cooking. Today being Sunday, I felt rather good & went for a short stroll by my self. It is a lovely evening with full moon. The nightly noises have got into full swing and the camp is settling down except for an occasional word from the donkey corall.
Monday 28th. We started off at 5.30 this morning by moonlight. Splendid march to Massassi Boma getting there about 8.30. It was thro' more varied country than ever before, as we came right up to the hills I mentioned yesterday. They have perfectly rounded profile, & might easily be taken as glaciated, but it is only the way they weather - in the same way as a block of dolerite, by exfoliation. The tops of the hills were hidden in mist until about 8a.m. & the rising sun caught it & turned it red. It is just at this time of day & in the evening that this life is most charming and one feels inclined to follow it for the remainder of one’s days. We passed the British Mission at Massassi, built close up to a rocky boss, among the trees & commanding a very wide view. There are quite a number of natives living round here, with small shambas of maize & bananas. Massassi Boma, or camp, is on rising ground between a couple of prominent rocky hills. Water is rather difficult to get, otherwise the situation is ideal. We got into some bandas. Picked up other two N.C.O.s who have been waiting to get through. Managed to get some medical stores - aspirin, lead & opium, a thermometer etc. Two men went to hospital today - dys. & fever. Turning in early tonight. We are to rest here tomorrow as over a hundred of the donkeys are sick.
Tuesday 29th. Spent a quiet day. Climbed one of the smaller hills after tea. It is gneiss? as I expected, with acid veins running through. Got a good view of the country all round. It is rather open round about Massassi but more densely wooded further out. It is gently undulating with peculiar isolated, abrupt hills like those I was on - sort of large copjes, or like the Brackside Hills at Reay, on a very large scale. A haze prevented a good view. We are for the road for Tunduru tomorrow at 5a.m. I wonder how many of the askaris will stick it out.
Wednesday 30th. Got away at 5a.m. prompt. Fine morning. Thirteen miles today before we got to water, at Ngongomuthi (Mikangaule). Disturbed some white headed vultures in the bush evidently discussing a carcass of some sort. Four men down with fever - temperatures from 100 degrees to 104. One with dysentery. Have set aside a banda as an hospital: doctored them with aspirin & tea & when their temperatures turned to come down, I started them on quinine. Don't think they will be very fit for tomorrow. Very hot today in the afternoon, but we were in camp by 10.30. Met a large number of porters coming from the Rovuma & Tunduru. There has evidently been a good deal of rain there & the rivers are up.
Thursday 31st. A good deal of rain during the night, which was also disturbed by the donkeys, which happened to be rather nearer us than usual. On account of the rain, the start was delayed until 5.30a.m. when the clouds broke & we had a good march to Mtumbo, on the Bangalla River. The sick were sent on ahead and managed to do the journey all right. The country was as per usual - bush all the way, with a few of these bald rounded hills as a change. They are often very abrupt, & sheer, like Edin. Castle on theWest side. They must be intruded into the general body of the schists surely. We got into an old Indian camp about 9a.m. but put up the tent in preference to living in a lousy banda. There was a decent mess with seats & table. I understand these have been built at many points along the road so we shouldn't do too badly. There were bandas enough & to spare for all the men. I had one for the sick again. Three new cases today, - fever. They won't report sick for fear of being sent back. The spirit is all right, but the result is bad, as they are in a high fever before they come for medicine. Most of them lose heart then. Few of them have any guts when they are ill. I had their equipment & rifles carried on the mules today but the rifles will have to be carried tomorrow as Penfold had a row today with the Donkey man. I am rather anxious about one or two tonight, as their temperatures have gone up & one at least seems rather dotty. I should be inclined to send them back from here, altho' that wouldn't be easy to arrange, but Penfold wants them to try tomorrow yet. Very warm this afternoon, altho' the sun wasn't bright. Quite impossible to rest in the tent, so I went down to the river with a towel, & bathed my feet. The Bangalla river is a watercourse varying from three yards to thirty, and at this time of the year is represented by a series of pools of dirty brown water. Penfold & I went down after tea and poured several bucketfuls of water over us. We thought at first it would be rather dirty, but found later that it was the drinking pool we had struck. The Bangalla is a tributary of the Rovuma. We have crossed over from the Ludeledi valley into the basin of the Rovuma. The watershed is round about the high ground at Massassi.
Friday 1st. Got away at 5a.m. Country rather swampy: road built up on logs, & will be scarcely passable after rain. Marched about 11 1/2 miles to Mbarakwe where we got into a fairly decent camp. Roomy banda did Penfold & me as mess & sleeping apartments. Plenty water in stream near by. Behind the camp there is a high boss of rock which I climbed in the evening with Cairncross. It is practically bare rock & sheer sides: granite surrounding rock biotite schist. The sick all got in in good time altho' I was rather afraid of some of them. I have them now in a couple of comfortable bandas & most of them - 6 of the 10 at least are nearly all right. Penfold has a temp. of102 degrees tonight & seems to be in for fever.
Saturday 2nd. Off before 5a.m. Cool day threatening rain. Passed more of these abrupt rocky hills which we saw from hill top last night. I thought they were a days march away but we reached them in 1 1/2 hours. - Haze very deceptive. Road deteriorating but still good as long as it is dry. Passed spoor of elephants. Penfold still bad today & is in bed now with high temperature. We have camped among the bush on west bank of a decent stream of water. The ascaris have built lean tos for themselves and we have just had a heavy shower to test them. Todays march was full 15 miles & tomorrows possibly 20. All the sick got in to time but if they get a wetting now will probably be thrown back again.
Sunday 3rd Started before 4 this morning by the ‘pale moonlight’. Marched till 9 o'clock. Country more open: occasional hills. Had breakfast and a couple of hours rest. Then carried on to Limessule arriving about 1 o'clock - seven hours marching in all. It must have been very stiff for the sick, altho' they were put on donkeys for the last 2 1/2 hours. Penfold pretty bad too. Limessule is a moderate sized camp on open ground above the river of the same name. We got into an open banda & put our beds up. Very tired.
Monday 4th. Done up today, so didn't get up till late forenoon. Think I did too much yesterday. Have had occasional storms of thunder & lightning last few days but so far have escaped most of the rain. We heard today that the Mohese river, one day's march this side Tunduru is impassable & Brown, Carter & Stuttaford held up there. It is 3 days from here. Heard later they have got through now. We are discarding the donkeys here and going forward with porters which have been hired locally. There seems to be a fair population round about, but hidden away in the bush mostly. They are in straits for food, all their stores having been cleared out by Germans. They are getting seed from our political officers, which should see them through. We have been able to buy a few small tomatoes. Continual bully getting monotonous. The sick are progressing: I discharged four from hospital within the last two days. Two new fevers today.
Tuesday 5th. Didn't get away until 6.30 this morning. Country rather wilder, the track running thro' rocky hills, & across many small streams, some knee deep. The track is just a path now, without any preparation beyond cutting the bush. Pleasant marching in spite of heavy shower in middle of day. Some signs of game - zebra, elephant (spoor), baboon, etc. Good camp 6 miles out, built by 3/4 K.A.R. but we went on anther 5, and are now camped where the road emerges from between two granite bosses of usual type. Flies rather troublesome, among them clegs & tsetses (small variety, which attacks game). We are just going back to the last stream to have a douche. One of the two N.C.O.s has developed bad attack of fever on the road, so the two are being left behind here to come on when he is better. Otherwise a small sick parade today & no new cases. We have now exactly 40 askaris.
Wednesday 6th. Slight temperature last night, & was afraid of fever but it has cleared off. Marched from six to eleven today. Quite cool, sky overcast all day, as it usually is now. We seldom see the sun. The bush very open today, and glades frequent. No sign of game at all and we are too lackadaisical to go out to look for any after getting into camp. This is another old camp of the 3/4th. But the bandas are damp so we have put up the tent. Cairncross has joined our mess, & is a great acquisition because he can turn out some new and wonderful dishes, as well as scones and 'chipaties'. We are all rather off colour today - heavy and liverish. Met an officer ‘coming thro' from Tunduru today, who says the battalion has left Songia for the Lakes. Don't know when we'll catch them as Songia is still about 12 days march away. As long as the weather keeps like this it will be all right, but the heavy rains are due at the middle of this month. We may have to see them out at Songia. I enjoy the marching very much, Penfold and I usually in front with the askaris and as he doesn't talk much we get along fine.
One case of fever today: all the others are now discharged fit altho' some of them still look rather wan. Doctored a few of the porters.
Thursday 7th. Very dull this morning and we hadn't got long started before it rained very heavily: the path became a running stream, & we all got more or less soaked. It cleared up later but the clouds have been low all day, & the sun only looked out for a few minutes in the afternoon. We crossed the Mtitesa river easily enough by a rough bridge which show signs of being soon washed away. We got to the Mohese at 10a.m. which was the great anxiety of the journey as it has frequently been impassable lately & has held safaris up for some days. However we were lucky and found it less than waist deep. We had got the loan of a mule & got across, dry, on it one at a time. On the other side we halted & had a cup of OXO. The Mohese here is about 60 yards broad, with a shoal in the middle. The eastern channel is slightly the deeper. When the river is up, it will spread to include another channel to the west & will then be impassable. From the river to the camp here is 1 3/4 hours march. Altogether today we have done 6 hours, or about 15 miles. We have got settled down & had breakfast about 2.30 p.m. - porridge, sausages, green peas, tomatoes, tea & biscuits. It's really a question of food here. If you can't feed well, you can't keep fit. I am feeling fine now, especially since Penfold cut my hair with his nail scissors.
Friday 8th. Today has been very fine & even hot. We got into Tunduru shortly after eleven, after 5 hours good marching. We were climbing most of the time so finished up pretty high. The village of Tunduru lies in a valley, beside a small stream, with cultivated patches in the trees round about. The camp stands on the edge of the plateau just to the west. It had been cleared by the Germans probably for planting, and they had built a boma & large turreted, barrack-like building of red brick on it. From here there is a wide view to the north and east, over wooded valleys & ridges. To the south & west the view is shut in by the forest on the plateau. No. 3 Coy. 3/4 K.A.R. is stationed here at present, under command of Captn. Jardine. It seems this is to be my company, so my safari days are over for the present. I am sorry not to be going on with Penfold, but as I am to take over the company Lewis guns here there is something to be thankful for.
Most of the 3/4th. have gone down to Lake Nyasa, where we will be following them soon. There is no more news of the Huns breaking north. There have been no mails here for three months or so. They seem to be rather well off tho' as regards food, & there are some vegetables, especially pumpkin which is like turnip, to be had here.
Saturday 9th. Started work this morning. Drill from 7 to 8a.m. Lewis guns 9-11.30 and as it rained in the afternoon there was no parade. There are two Lewis guns here, rather deficient in spare parts, and about three men who know anything about them. Penfold looks like being held up here for some time as there are no porters to be had here. The local men have all been sent in to Massassi to fetch seed, which the British Govt. is supplying them with gratis.
Sunday 10th. No parades today, so spent the day quietly, and getting my banda put to rights. Have been troubled the last few days by a number of painful pimples on my arms & trunk. I thought they were due to "prickly heat", but was suddenly disillusioned when looking at one thro' my magnifying glass I saw movement inside it. Each pimple contained a grey maggot which had to be removed by squeezing. It's a loathsome affliction. I suppose I owe it to sleeping in a dirty banda at sometime, but another explanation I hear is that a certain fly occasionally deposits its eggs on clothes that are laid out to dry & the larvae afterwards work into your skin. Got a short letter away to Mother this afternoon. Have been feeling sort of homesick today, probably because I'm not too fit. And yet I have every reason to be content with my lot: but that seems to be a constitutional impossibility.
Monday 11th. Making some progress with the Lewis guns. The askaris are pretty keen to learn, and not too hopeless. Some of them pick it up surprisingly quick. Their attempts at pronouncing the names of the parts are rather ludicrous but I'm not putting any stress on that. I cut Penfold's hair tonight. It is easier than I thought but one is apt to leave ridges: it is a good job he can't see the back of his head very well. Cairncross left yesterday morning to take over a small post at Undi's, on the Rovuma. He'll be there for about a month, without any other white man.
Tuesday 12th. Rather a better day - quite bright & hot, but a pleasant breeze with it: we are well off in that respect up here. The nights are quite cool & even chilly and my sleeping bag and thin blanket aren’t enough. I find that most of the Lewis gunners don't know the numbers 1,2,3,etc. when they see them, so I have to start teaching them these, like little children. I don't know how they set the sights on the rifle. It requires a good deal of patience but they are very willing to learn & so good natured that I am ashamed every time I get ratty. It's wonderful what they do learn, especially considering the difficulties of the language which is just about as strange to them as it is to us. Asani came in tonight & suggested that he should get 16 rupees a month. I suggested 5. He said No, but I don't think he'll run away. I think he would be rather loyal, & wouldn't like to lose him altho' he's not worth more than 6 rups..
Wednesday 13th. Another very fine day: no sign of rain: sun very hot, especially down at the range where I have been this afternoon. They are putting the company thro' a rough musketry course but as the work is done by three white men and the company numbers about 90, it is very little instruction that the individual gets. Individual instruction is the only way to get first class results at musketry. The shooting is pretty bad. The range is about 130 ft. & half the men get only a couple of shots on the target. Of course they have had very little musketry training, & many have fired only 15 rounds before so we can't expect much. The effect of their fire against enemy in trenches would be almost entirely moral. Seeing that fire is employed by volleys it will be even worse in action than the mere excitement will make it. From the wireless news today it doesn't look as if we will have much chance of trying the effect on the Germans. Their askaris are deserting rather freely; and their columns are said to be moving toward the coast, north of Port Amelia. All news comes here by wireless. There is a station in the next field to us. It is funny to get & to see sent the most trivial messages by wireless. There is a daily communique too which keeps us in touch with the war. We have got orders today to wait here until further orders. We had expected to move to join the battalion on Lake Nyasa in a couple of days. That is postponed for the present and we aren't sorry. This is a fine place but it makes the chance of getting caught in the rains greater than ever.
Thursday 14th. Still very hot. Thunderstorm came up from the East in the evening but passed us by. Splendid cloud effects and brilliant lightning. Have been feeling very fit these last days, and am getting keen on the work and the men. I don't want to have the same reproaches to make my self on that score as with the old No.4 Pltn. which I seldom think of without regretting that I didn't do better by them. The only thing that remains now is to do my best at the job in hand which seems rather trivial after France, but such as it is may as well be done decently. We are doing pretty well for food here. The hens are laying a few eggs, & we usually manage one a piece each morning, There are some fresh vegetables to be got from Tunduru, at the foot of the hill - pumpkin & tomatoes mainly, as well as small lemons and inferior bananas which make weighty fritters. The cook is rather poor at making bread: it is just eatable. There is a fair stock of whisky in the mess, which will be very welcome someday if it lasts. At present an occasional 'sundowner' is very pleasant &, I like to believe, good for one.
Friday 15th. Hot, some rain in the evening. The days are most uncomfortable about 3p.m. - too hot to sleep & too sleepy to read. Had a pretty easy day. I am still reading Lavengro & am wading thro' the 'Origin of Species' & trying to digest it. I am very glad that I brought it with me. Î think that no matter where I was dumped I would be able to get up enough interest to pass the time quite pleasantly with the help of it.
Saturday 16th. Had the company by myself for an hour this afternoon & enjoyed myself thoroughly.
Sunday 17th. The only parade today was a kit inspection. However I got up at the usual time and went for a short stroll before breakfast. This is the best time of the day. The sun is too low to have much heat, & everything looks fresh and green. I picked some of these blue flowers which grow along the roadside,& examined them after getting back to camp. The floral axis is branched & enclosed in a sort of bract which forms a pouch, inside which there is a lot of mucousy stuff which keeps the young buds moist. I exposed this stuff to the sun's direct rays for more than 2 hours & it has only 1/2 evaporated then altho' the plant was withered. I started a letter to Col. Macfarlane today but don't know if I will continue it. I spent the afternoon in 'meditation' and watching one of these long wasp like things with the two drooping legs make a nest of some sort in my banda. It brought in a lump of moist sand in its mouth & kneaded it into position with its jaws & forelegs- first a platform and then the walls. It tested the length every time by shoving its head into the nest & when it had made it as long as necessary, cleaned its whiskers and left. I wonder when it will come back to deposit the eggs or whatever is to go into the nest. Had a game of chess with Carter in the evening which we drew. Felt rather groggy & have taken aspirine. Temperature up slightly.
Monday 18th. Had a day off, which I spent in bed. Think I must have got a touch of the sun: I don't think it's fever.
Tuesday 19th. Moult & Carter went out this morning on a 4 days' safari to see if they can do any shooting. A big herd of elephant was reported near at hand the other day but are believed to have moved away. However they may get some fresh meat for us, which will be very welcome. Captn. Jardine & I are left: I had an easy day after 11.30a.m. I'm reading "The Origin of Species" for the first time and am getting a lot of enjoyment & instruction out of it. I'm very thankful I brought it with me. I have finished Lavengro.
Wednesday 20th. Nothing exciting today. There has been no news for several days. The K.A.R. detachments which have been doing garrison & patrol work down about the Rovuma are all concentrating here and expect then to move on to Songia. The Rhodesian Native Regt. have taken over here, & are finding the posts. I took a photo today of some German porters who arrived here in an emaciated & tattered condition after having run away from the Huns. We have a wood fire in front of the bandas in the evening and sit round for an hour or so before dinner. The nights are so balmy that the fire isn't necessary for warmth. The sky is almost cloudless, & the moon is very bright. I had a mild argument or rather discussion with Jardine after dinner on the question of the origin of man. I was very much surprised to find that he knows absolutely nothing about modern natural science. He was at Cambridge for over two years, altho' he came down before graduating - he never qualified in the matter of residence, but he is a typical 'Cambridge man' with I suppose a typical Cambridge education. Yet he evidently believes if he has ever thought about the matter, that things are created as they stand. If the object of a university educn., as Sclater said one day, is to develop a ‘many sided curiosity’, he certainly hasn't got it, because there were other things e.g. the working of the human brain, that he confessed absolute ignorance of . The proper study of mankind is man.' And yet he is no doubt a very efficient person in his own line. I don't quite see in fact what he loses by his ignorance of this particular branch unless it is a good deal of enjoyment and a certain breadth & depth of view on many things, seeing that the theory of evolution has moulded thought on so many different subjects.
Thursday 21st. Penfold, Pratby & Hosegood are going on to Songia tomorrow, & taking letters with them so I wrote today, one home, one to Louise, and to Mason Macfarlane. There is a political here, living in the 'fort'. He has the supervision of the natives. He was up here tonight. The products of this part in normal times are bees-wax, maize, rice. I don't know if the natives have any system of beekeeping or not. The Germans swept up most of the rice & the shenzis haven't been able to plant much since. P.S. The wax is got from wild bee hives.
Friday 22nd. Was wakened early this morning by the draft etc. leaving. Fired the Lewis Gun this morning but had so many stoppages that we didn't get much done. My own efforts weren't exactly exemplary. MacCunn came in today with this party from Sassaware and with a large monocle. He reminds me of Splosh. I have been thinking tonight that after the war I'll go home & take up Palaeontology seriously. No doubt this idea is partly due to the Origin of Species, but it is always the same when I'm reading scientific works so I think my bent, such as it is, must lie that way: partly it is due to home sickness. The question of utility is going into the background. I have been looking for too obvious a utility. The common man living the humdrum life must have his usefulness.
Moult & Carter returned today from their expedition. They had neither shot nor seen anything except a stinking elephant whose tusks the Political Officer has cut out & is hoping to be able to stick to.
Saturday 23rd. The gun went rather better this morning. I think I'll get a couple of presentable men out of the lot, for each gun. One of my platoon deserted today, after pinching a rifle. I don't expect we'll see him again. The bush is a sure refuge. I sent a cable home today saying I am well. They should have it by about Tuesday. I hope they understand my slang.
The weather is still very warm, and almost too hot for parade at 3.30. There are a lot of clouds about tho' & a good deal of lightning at nights. The moon is very bright and the sky at night heaped with white cumulus clouds.
It is a triumph of cvilization to be in communicn. with home from the middle of Africa, in a few hours time. It is wonderful that "Cairnie Thurso" should be sufficient address: it is also good from an economical point of view.
Sunday 24th. I have had a very pleasant day. I wonder if it has been profitable at all: it is so easy to lie and let your mind wander as it likes over memories grave & gay & I am rather prone to doing it. We have had an absolutely free day & I have scarcely been across the door. I had no book that quite suited my mood. I felt in a perfect Sunday morning mood. I tried to rake up an old Testament but failed. I read about half of 1st. Corinthians, which was probably too much. I have started at the beginning of the 'Origin of Species' again, having read the parts that chiefly interested me. There's a lot I don't understand & far more that I haven't digested.
Cairncross came back from Undi’s today. It is 3 days good trek from here, on the Rovuma & seems to be very low, depressing & unhealthy. The natives are badly off for food, the seed which they have got from the government not having borne fruit yet.
Hindenburg is to be in Paris by 1st. April.
Monday 25th. There is a lot of thunder about tonight & the sky promises a lot of rain. There is no news yet of us going.
Tuesday 26th. Clouds heavy in the sky today: they seem to be gathering for rain. This evening orders came to pack off to Songia at once, so I understand we are leaving tomorrow morning. I am sorry to be leaving this place as we are both comfortable & happy and I don't expect we will move much further than Songia until the rains are over. The main factor in any position in life, geographical or otherwise, is the mental one. Heaven is within us.
Captain M. of the Rhodesian Native Regt. takes over command here. He is a type almost new to me but maybe the outcome of a life spent among an inferior race. He has a sledge hammer way of arguing, starting with "Of course, you know damn all about it" He has been in the police service in Southern Rhodesia for a good few years & has a lot of interesting stories.
The fly affair (hornet?) which I mentioned on the 17th. has been busy in my banda every day since, adding cell after cell & closing them up. I saw it one day evidently laying an egg in one. I broke open one cell tonight & found in it besides a small sort of maggot, a lot of dead or comatose spiders, evidently put there for feeding the young hornet.
Wednesday 27th. Moved out of Tunduru at 10a.m. Porters rather scarce & we had to squeeze well to make them go round. Pretty hot walking. . Had great difficulty in getting the donkeys along: they absolutely refused at some bamboo bridges & getting them thro' the water wasn't much easier. The road lay along a series gradual slopes & rapid descents into stream beds. Pebbles of coarse quartz grit same as I got at Mingoyo strewn all over the ground. Had to wait a long time for grub after we got into camp at 2p.m. Had it in the open air. Developed a temp. of 102 degrees in the evening so am just turning in.
Thursday 28th. Had a pretty rotten night with the aspirin I took. The road was very varied today: up & down the whole way & I saw several good exposures of a pebbly grit, which is evidently the main surface rock of the district. I didn't have a close look at the rock because I rode a donkey all the way. Carter has four donkeys & gave me one for the day. We had a lot of trouble with the others as their loads were always coming off, usually slipping forward on the steep declines or sideways when they trotted. The only thing is to keep them at the walk. I thought of R.L.S. & his ‘troubles with a donkey’.
We had breakfast under the greenwood tree, & I felt quite fit for it. However by the time I got to the village where we had lunch I began to feel seedy. We halted in the town hall & spread our beds. There was a congregation reciting the Koran in a high monotone in a hut not far away. We moved on later a few hundred yards & made camp. My temp. is higher than last night.
Friday 1st. A pretty long march today, about 17 miles but I managed it without taking to the donkeys. We rose a good deal on the day's journey, so that we were a good few hundred feet up at night. The road consists of an interminable number of up & downs, which are very tiring. We had breakfast about 8a.m. & lunch at noon in a deserted shenzi village. A lot of the native huts in this part are built on bamboo piles so that the living room, which is reached by a ladder is about ten or twelve feet off the ground. It is probably to guard against wild animals. There are more signs of native population hereabouts than anywhere I have been, & a lot of maize growing, but even here the people had all left their village & crops, - why I don't know. The last stage was a good two hours march to Mgwali's & we thought we were never going to arrive. The swamp just before reaching camp was fortunately fairly dry. We got in about 5p.m. I am practically recovered from the fever or whatever I had, but am thoroughly tired.
Saturday [2nd.] Today's march was a good 18 miles - from Mgwali's to Cliffs' Camp. We have been climbing slowly nearly all day & have landed in a nicely situated camp on the edge of a cliff which overlooks a great basin in the plateau. It hasn't been quite so hot today, as there have been a few clouds about. The bush is getting pretty thin, especially on the high ground which the path sticks to like a leech. The conformation of the ground is very peculiar. The path runs along ridges which fall away rapidly on both sides, - they have almost been eaten thro' by the heads of the streams. The rock is everywhere that coarse pebbly grit, more often red than not, & containing pebbles of quartz & shist.
Sunday 3rd. Today we have done a little over 17 miles but it didn't seem so long as yesterday as we did nearly 3 hours before stopping for breakfast. 'Chop' halt s are a matter of water: there's no good trying to cook where there's no water. Also the road today was fairly level - very few ups & downs. We are still rising & still on the pebbly grit. There are a few ranges of hills visible but it isn't often we can get a decent view even tho' we are so high up. The men are pretty tired & so am I - quite stiff. Jardine has had a bad leg for several days. Not very much sickness among the men. This should be pretty healthy country being so high up, but very dry in the dry season. We saw no signs of natives today. We are in Prior's Camp now. The water isn't very good. Carter, Cairncross & I are in one banda. Have just had a hot bath.
Monday 4th. Rather cold during the night & this morning when I went out the porters were huddled over the embers of last night's fire. There was a heavy mist which wasn't thoroughly dissipated until after 9a.m. I rode a donkey most of the morning as I am feeling rather tired. The path is on the whole still rising, and we had several extensive views both to North & South, of endless valleys and ridges all thickly bushed with the exception occasionally of grassy valley bottoms. A large 'tripartite' hill to the South looks rather like Donery, - flat topped. We had breakfast about 9.30 at a small stream where the water wasn't too good. We had some difficulty in persuading the donkeys across it. We got into camp here about 2p.m. after rather a wearisome march - mainly because we expected to get in sooner. I have had a good rest this afternoon & hope to be all right for foot-slogging it tomorrow. Today's march was 17 miles. We are rather troubled here with horse-flies & ticks.
Tuesday 5th. Heavy rain soon after leaving camp & we got wet about the legs: ground swampy in places. It cleared up after an hour & we had breakfast in comfort. We have come into fairly hilly country now: the latter part of the road was of the nature of a switch back, We are camped now at the foot of a long decline, with a stream just below us & hills rising on all sides. I think from the configuration of the hills & the fragments of quartz & schist lying about that we have got into the schistose country again. I am feeling very comfortable after a short sleep & a bath.
Wednesday 6th. We passed thro' fairly hilly country today, with many villages, some of them deserted but mostly inhabited. The houses are clustered irregularly among the maize fields, & the path winds round & between them in a most inconsequent manner. The villages stand in clearings which have usually been made by destroying the trees with fire - killing them so that they stand bare & leafless in the maize fields. The natives cultivate pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumber & these small tomatoes. The country here is well watered, at least just now, & probably always has a good supply. We were continually going down into steep valleys crossing shaky bamboo bridges & clambering up the other side. We had an open view several times and got glimpses of high hills on all sides. We are now among schistose rocks again & there is a tremendous lot of quartz about. We got into camp about 12.30p.m. and are having a good slack. The camp is nicely situated on rising ground below the last range which separates us from Songia. We should be there by noon tomorrow. I hope there is a mail for me.
Thursday 7th. We had a pleasant march most of the way today altho' we were later in getting into Songia than we expected. The road was very stiff where it crosses the range of hills & must have been killing work for the porters. We halted on the top and had a very wide view over the country we have been traversing for the last two days. Then we crossed the watershed & saw the hills stretching away to the west towards Lake Nyassa - which of course was invisible, and to the north the flatter ground on which Songia stands. We got in here at 12.30. Songia boma stands on a low swelling piece of ground and is separated from our camp by a shallow valley. We found on arriving that no bandas were ready for us or the men & had to bivouack. To add to the general atmosphere of cheerfulness it began to rain very heavily. We were invited into No.2 Coy. Mess where we had a good lunch, with green peas & most splendid bread. The rain has gone off now & things have dried up a bit. Brown I found just recovering from a bad bout of fever. There is no mail here but eight bags are expected tomorrow. Surely there will be something in it for me.
Friday 8th. A day of rest for us, but beyond being allowed to lie in bed till 8a.m.there wasn't much rest about it. The remainder of the day we spent laying out the new company lines. We have also marked out a mess banda and huts for ourselves. The mail has come & been distributed and not a scrape of any sort for me. I don't understand it: but some of the officers had letters today which were written almost a year ago. In the face of that I can't grouse. There are different rumours as to what we are to do. The general belief seems to be that we are going down to Zomba & Blantyre to do garrison duty, with a possibility of Palestine or Mesopot. In that case, everyone is agreed, it will be for the lines of communicn. as the askaris wouldn't stand shellfire.
We have had one or two sharp showers today & heavy thunderclouds have been passing at intervals. We have a splendid view over the plains to the S.W. and away to ridges of hills which rise behind each other as far as you can see.
Saturday 9th. The building of the bandas which was carried on today was interrupted a good deal by rain. It is raining very heavily just now, so I am taking the opportunity to write up my diary.
As regards the geology of the ground we have passed over, I think, broadly, it consists of a basis of metamorphic rocks - biotite schist, augen-gneiss etc, into which there have been intruded batholiths of granite - e.g. round Massassi & probably in this part too. On top of these metamorphic rocks have been laid down coarse sandstone & grits usually rich in iron, and occasionally hard quartzose sandstones. The whole has then been elevated to form a plateau which slopes up gradually from the coast. I think the sandstone I found at Mingoyo is part & parcel of the same deposits as I got between here and Tunduru. They are about identical lithologically. The big elevated reef behind Lindi shows that there has been a good deal of elevation recently I think, as it isn't much eroded. Perhaps elevation is still going on. I have seen practically no trace of any minerals of commercial value but I have been able only to look at chips on the road. I never had enough energy to leave camp on a geologising expedition.
We are about 5000 ft. above sea level here. The last part of the safari on the 7th. was over some pretty hilly ground, especially at one point where the climb was nearly vertical. Looking back there is little trace of hills in that direction so we must be in a sort of elevated basin here. The night s are pretty cold. We are just about the same altitude and longtitude as Nairobi. Still, it doesn't seem to be very healthy. There is a good deal of blackwater fever about. A good number of the officers have been down with ordinary fever. It seems that once you get fever into your system it only requires a chill to bring it out, so that you can get it without being bitten by a mosquito at a recent date. I don't know how long the 'poison' is potent but I should think there must be a limit.
Sunday 10th. had breakfast in bed this morning and didn't get up until 10.30. I usually feel lackadaisacal after lying in that way & have done so today, & had to fight against the constitutional melancholy. I wrote home today but found nothing much to say. I have been made Mess President for the month as Moult has resigned. I know I'll be no good at the job but as usual I am very keen to begin with. One thing I do aim at is punctuality because I can't stand waiting for my own food & for that reason alone am not sorry to have control of the kitchen for a short time. There is a fair variety of vegetables to be got here if one takes the trouble to hunt for them. Carter & I had dinner last night with the M.G. company. The menu was - vegetable soup; roast fowl, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, baked beans & potatoes: pancakes & jam: strawberries & ideal milk: pineapple: coffee & very good white flour bread. The ration bread here is very good indeed. It is much whiter than what we were getting at home when I left.
Monday 11th. We did a couple of parades today. The battalion is going strong on drill just now: the pace is very hot - about 150 to the minute. The rest of the day we spent on the bandas. The Mess is going to be rather a toney affair: we bricked in the floor today and made some chairs our of motor-spirit boxes, The hen house is finished too, & the hens safely housed in it. Not having wire-netting, a trellis work of thin bamboos has had to take its place & answers the purpose very well.
Tuesday 12th. Parades same as yesterday. The company is really very bad at drill. I have started arm-drill by numbers: it wants some ‘getting down to’. The men are a very poor lot, without soldierly bearing or instincts and it will take a lot of work to instil them. To begin with, we have no really first class N.C.O.s & all the junior ones are practically useless. There is some talk of us going to Palestine but I see no prospects of doing any good there as long as we are in the present state. The other companies may be better off.
I ‘flitted’ into my new banda today. It is very small, but cosy: from my seat at the table I can see across to the hills and all the intervening ground. The view runs to the hazy blue distance. Vivid blue flashes of lightning are flickering behind the dark clouds over the hills just now. We have been experimenting with a new cook today, & I think he will be a great improvement. He has produced some new dishes anyway so we intend taking him on. We have also taken on a mess boy whose sole duty is to look after the mess things & overlook the other boys in their work so far as it affects the mess.
Wednesday 13th. We have had some rain again today, and it promises to be a stormy night. There is a good deal of thunder & lightning about and the wind is rising.
There seems to be some truth in the rumour that the battalion is going to another 'theatre' because an officer is being sent down to Lindi to move all the kit that was left there up to Kilindini. The Company guard was furnished by my platoon today and was 'returned dirty' because the men were unshaved. There is only one blunt razor in the company so that shaving is rather a difficult matter. The company paraded by tribes today, to get a tribal return. The strongest tribes are Nandi, Kavirondo,& Buganda. This company used to be entirely composed of Nandi but there aren't very many left. They are rather a poor heartless lot, with the peculiarity of enlarged ear lobes, like the Kikuyus, which they twist up over the rest of the ear to be out of harm's way. I am beginning to be able to tell a few of the tribes at sight. The Kavirondos are the easiest as they are easily the ugliest. The Bugandas are fairly conspicuous too with their redder skin & protruding chin.
I paid off the old cook today: and sent my orderly & the mess boy Brahmin on a three days search for vegetables.
Thursday 14th. I had rather a disappointment today when I found Asani had pinched some curry powder from my box & then denied it. He was forced to admit it later and said he had been afraid to tell me the truth. He had the wind up pretty badly but I think it was mainly from fear of the kiboko & not shame. I have seen very little of him today. I was getting very fond of him too & thought he was quite honest but I suppose most of them pinch things. He has promised to behave better in the future. We are finding it difficult to live on our rations here - it's giving me something to think about, trying to make ends meet. Subalterns parade this afternoon under the Adjutant, sweating about on the parade ground for a solid hour.
We haven't got properly settled down in our new lines yet & I can't compose myself to write letters. There are always some small things to be done. The cheroni isn't finished yet, & the finishing touches have to be put to the mess still.
Friday 15th. Have been pretty busy today & had no time for reading of any sort. We have been trying to get the lines in order, mainly digging trenches thro' the lines to drain any rain away. It is very difficult to get the men to cut a straight edge even where it is marked out for them; it is the same at drill, - they can't march straight. Dugmore arrived today. It took him 2 months to get here from Nairobi, round by Zomba. He brought a great lot of grub and drink with him, all of which is very welcome because we can barely live on our rations here. The mess has taken over all the stuff. Dugmore seems to have had a varied career. His home now is in South Africa where he has been ostrich farming & poultry keeping, & has done some months on the diamond fields. He spoke of a deep bore well they put down thro' dolerite, shale, diorite & clay & got a good supply of water which rose & fell several feet at exactly the same time as the tide at Cape Town. He was on the Karoo at the time I believe. Cape Town geologists who were interested put it down to the existence of a very large subterranean lake which is affected by the moon. I wonder if this is likely. The tide in any known lake isn't very much: how would sieches[?] bear on the question? I wonder whether deep bore wells usually show a similar var’n? The moon must have some effect on the water table because it has a slight effect on the sold ground.
It looks as if there were going to be trouble between the Portuguese & us. They resent our incursion into their colony & are evidently afraid of our intentions, as Beira especially would be very useful. When Dugmore landed at Beira with his draft he had to hand over all his arms & ammunition without a receipt. There have been several collisions between British officers & N.C.O.’s & the Portuguese police, & our people haven't always come off best.
There has been a very bad cyclone along the coast of Portuguese East & a lot of vessels were wrecked. One small steamer coming from Beira to Chinde with home mails, disappeared entirely. I expect that explains how I've had none since Xmas.
Saturday 16th. early morning parade only today. After that the C.O.'s inspection of the lines for which there was a lot of sweeping up, & then the C.O. didn't come after all. I got hold of a few N.F. stamps today, which should soon be rather valuable as their number is limited. Northey himself is said to have bought most of them up himself so that he has a small corner in them. The 4d. stamps are already selling in London at £1 & 5/- is being offered for the 1d. I have 5 threepenny ones but will probably manage to get some more. We were very busy all evening getting the dinner ready for tonight. We had rather a good menu - hors d'oeuvres(bully & olives on toast); giblet soup; roast chicken; roast potatoes, breadcrumbs, bread sauce, pumpkin & tinned peas; mince cutlets with potatoes & beans; tinned pears & peaches, ideal milk; pancakes, limes & sugar; coffee; & about a dozen different kinds of wines. The worst of it was that I had to go to No. 4 Coy. , being invited there for dinner. I was glad in a way to get away from the job of seeing the stuff onto the table, and had a nice quiet evening, instead of being a wet blanket in an uproarious one.
Sunday 17th. It was a very uproarious night too. Not being one of the party I was able to retire to my banda when I wanted, but not to sleep, for the noise. I am orderly officer today but there is nothing much to do except to rise before 7.30a.m. while every other body sleeps in till 10 or 11a.m. There are no parades of any sort on Sunday, except Tamam[?] and Guard mounting, both of which are taken by the Orderly Officer. It was the first time I had addressed a battalion but it was only to dismiss it. The guard mounting is rather a stunt of the adjutant's; he has all the men who are checked one morning, parade the following but one, & every succeeding morning until passed clean & fit to appear by himself. His standard is ridiculous as it is applied to absolute unessentials, & he misses the necessary things entirely. Having the job of inspecting the guard I was able to liberate most of the defaulters. There were several sharp showers this forenoon but nothing much. We haven't had any rain for several days.
Monday [18th.] Had instruction today in the Barr & Stroud. Don't think it would be of much use in this country, as the field of view is usually very short. We are still on squad & company drill this week. I don't see much improvement coming. Company drill today was pretty hopeless; it is impossible to get the guides to march even in an approximately straight line & some of them know next to nothing about drill. It is the N.C.O.s we will need to take in hand. We got four new ones, who may be some improvement. The C.S.M. - Ajab Sidu Salmi has been returned to Bombo. He is under suspicion of witchcraft but whether that is the cause of his removal or not, I don't know. It seems that witchcraft is still strong enough to cause the death of men, no doubt due to self-hypnotisation. Capt. Morgan was at dinner tonight (not the adjutant). Feeling slightly off colour - like the preliminary symptoms of fever.
Tuesday 19th. Some thunder about today, but not much rain. Bartered a few handfuls of salt for a basket of potatoes and some mangoes. We are getting any amount of vegetables here & living like fighting cocks. The cook is a great acquisition and turns things our very well and punctually.
Wednesday 20th. Beginning to lose my rag with the platoon: must watch myself. I think they try hard enough but can't take it in. I think there is perhaps a slight improvement in handling of arms. There has been quite a cold wind today, but it has fallen now that evening has come.
Thursday 21st. The usual parades today. The company hasn't got together yet at all. The company drill today was appalling & will always be so until correct commands are given. I think we are the worst in the battalion, but on the other hand we have the happiest mess - no rows or unpleasantness in it. I have started reading Huxley's essays which Dugmore has lent me. He has some good books with him. We had a heavy thunderstorm tonight but only got the fringe of it. It passed along the hills in front. The lightning was very vivid. It is raining now & the mess isn't quite watertight. My banda fortunately is, thanks to a second lot of grass which I had put on top. Dugmore tells me that in his native town certain houses which stand on a dolerite reef were frequently struck by lightning: also that at Embamba bay on lake Nyasa, where there is a lot of dolerite, there are frequently casualties from lightning. He supposes it to be due to the iron in the rock.
Friday 22nd. Nothing new today. Drill worse if anything. A good deal of rain this evening and still spitting: fortunately it interrupted our evening parade. Had a humbugging paper on F.S. Regs. to do this evening.
Saturday 23rd. Colonel inspected our lines today & said they were the best in the battalion. That they are so is mainly due to Jardine's energy and fund of ideas, but we all take a little credit to ourselves. Dugmore & Carter went off this forenoon on a two days' safari for game. It has been raining practically ever since they left but now (9.30p.m.) the moon has come thro' & it is a fair night. Capt. Morgan (No. 2 Coy.) & Dodds have been in to dinner tonight, & are still there playing bridge with Jardine & Moult: consequently I have been able to retire.
An order was published today that no more applications for transfer to home units or to other corps would be entertained, & that officers wd. probably be required to serve for 6 months after declaration of a general peace.
Sunday 24th. I have been orderly officer again today but have had a pleasant day for all that. I rather like having to be up about 7a.m. & to be prevented from 'hogging' all morning in bed. I read some of Emerson's Essays today - on 'Character', & 'Books' and enjoyed them far more than I had expected. I tried to read them once long ago before I was ready for them, & that I believe is the reason I never tried them since. His three rules for reading are:-1. Never read a book that is not a year old: 2. Never read any but famed books: 3. Never read any but what you like. I think the last rule is the most sensible: apply it to boys & it includes all the books of adventure that Bill MacLaren used to refuse us: it also brings in penny dreadfuls. It isn't an absolutely correct rule tho' because it doesn't allow for the correction of bad taste.
I meant to do some writing this evening but as usual things came in the way. Carter & Dugmore came back just after tea without any bag, but having seen lion & eland? spoor and had a shot at a water buck..
We are very happy here and I am keen on the work. The feeling of depression which used to humbug me has practically disappeared.
Monday 25th. I had a day in bed today, having strained a tendon or something in my ankle. Consequently I read a good deal and wrote a couple of letters. I wonder whether Huxley's criticism of Darwin's theory has been answered yet or not - that altho' you can match most phenomena of nature by selective breeding you can't - or at least haven't yet done it - produce two forms from the same stock who will be sterile or whose hybrids will be sterile.
There was a heavy thunderstorm this afternoon, lasting for a full couple of hours & with a lot of rain. There is no word now of us moving. It is rumoured that the battalions with which we were to have been brigaded for Palestine have gone into Portuguese East Africa after von Lettow. If that is true we may be here for some time.
Tuesday 26th. Have had another day off & spent most of it reading. News arrived tonight of the big German offensive in France. "The 51st. Div. made a most gallant fight near Bapaume-Cambrai road against repeated attacks." We are all very anxious about the result but feel confident we will pull thro' all right. I wonder how the 5th. fared and whether David was in it, but it's no use speculating.
Wednesday [27th.] There was a short Reuters tonight: news so far good. I don't believe it does any good to pray for the safety of individuals, but we can pray that they be given courage, endurance & faith. The strain that must be on parents & wifes must be tremendous. I didn't appreciate it until now.
I did parades today: we are doing musketry now, but there is no apparatus. There is no local news, nor any new rumours as to moving. The Colonel has a scheme for sending an officer with about 15 men out into the bush for ten days or so at a time, so as to give us practice. Young set off today. This doesn't look like an early shift. The C.O. is busy making a map of the district & I suppose intends using these officers' road reports. We have been trying to buy hens & eggs but altho' we sent several parties in different directions, laden with salt, they have so far come back empty handed. Either there are no hens about, or the natives won't part with them.
Thursday 28th. David's birthday: wonder how he is spending it. There is very little news today - mostly of a bombastic tone, & nothing very definite in it.
A good deal of thunder & lightning tonight. We have a storm of some sort nearly every day but it seldom lasts more than a couple of hours. The rain is not exceptionally heavy.
Friday 29th. No. 2 Coy. left for Tunduru this forenoon, presumably to relieve the Rhodesians: so it seems that we are to be here for some time. I am glad it isn't No.3 who have to go back: the rivers & marshes will be much worse now, and there is almost a certainty of rain every day. We had more thunder & lightning today. Every morning there is a thick bank of mist in the valley beyond Songia, out of which the tops of the lower hills just emerge. As the morning wears on the mist slowly rises, in a level sheet. There isn't enough wind to dissipate it. There are to be no more parades, from 11a.m. this morning until 7a.m. Monday - this being Easter week-end. There has been little news today, but what there was, was good. The German offensive has begun to slacken, & they haven't managed to drive their wedge in between us & the French, which seems to have been their idea.
Saturday 30th. The Germans have got back from us all the ground we gained since July 1916 in the Somme district. Our line is still intact. The Huns are said to be losing very heavily: we must be doing so too. It is queer to think of the old familiar places round about Albert over-run once more by the Huns: Amiens will be wondering if there is to be a second occupation & will know that it won't be such a peaceful one this time. Irma will be anxious about her cottage & Gabrielle about her estaminet. And meanwhile I am here absolutely out of it, as much as if I had a job in the War Office at home. If they are to do away with all exemptions at home, Bob will likely be called up soon, if he hasn't been already. It struck me today, when thinking how I was out of it here, that he has given up more than any of us - first his business and then the army, & without making any song about it. If he goes, Bessie will have to stay at home, or else shut the shop for the time being. In any case it must be a very anxious time, & I am helpless to do any good. However I feel that whatever happens will be for the best. The more we suffer, the more good will we get in return.
I haven't put in a very useful day today, being too unsettled. It is very difficult to write - even home. Things must be in such a different condition by the time a letter reaches there. I walked this forenoon to the top of a small hill north of the camp & had a very fine view. The plateau on which Songia stands stretches very level away to the N. & NNE. To the N.W. & W. it is bounded by line after line of hills more or less rocky, the Southern end I believe of the Livingstone Mountains. The hill I was on is composed of gneiss, with acid veins running along the foliation planes.
I had the interesting experience of being stung by a bee, on the roof of my mouth - fortunately high up, so that tho' I had the wind up for a bit, it didn't swell much. We are rather humbugged by bees in the Mess just now: they come in after the sugar, dates & raisins.
Sunday 31st. I didn't get up until noon today, but read in bed. It is rather comfortless when the wind is from the S.W. & blowing straight into our bandas. I tried to write some letters in the afternoon but with very little success. Everything here seems so trivial in the face of what is going on in France. There hasn't been very much news today: the Anglo-French reserves are expected to put in an appearance soon & it is only to be hoped that they will be able to relieve the pressure.
There was a big Ngoma in the lines tonight. The Acholi and Kavirondo each had a dance going for hours, to the accompaniment of a couple of tom-toms. The dances are not pretty. The performers move slowly round in a circle clapping their hands or beating tin cans, & stamping their feet in perfect rhythm, singing a sort of chant at the same time and making stiff & rather wonderful movements with their shoulders & trunks. The Kavirondo dance was much more vigorous than the other, more of a war dance it seemed seeing the men in this barbarous state, rushing about with sticks, & bayonets & pangas made me wonder that we ever get them to stand steady on parade at all. The African mind is a strange thing & not easily known.
Monday 1st. Orderly officer today. Very cloudy & a lot of drizzly rain: coldish. Got very little reading done today, between going the rounds, and bricking in the entrance to my hut. Jardine got rid of Issa, who has been doing mess boy for a week or two. He didn't like his face, so he sent him away at a moment's notice. It is characteristic of him to make decisions quickly & do the thing at once. We very seldom see the C.O. He was down watching us drill this afternoon. As a rule he is reading, or drawing maps in his banda. He has regular student shoulders, & is a bit of a recluse. MacCunn went to hospital yesterday with jaundice which is a common concomitant of fever, so I may expect it if I get badly laid up. Dugmore is in bed again tonight with fever.
Tuesday 2nd. I sent in application for increase of pay today: having been commissioned 3 years I am entitled to an extra £25 a year. There was a lecture today by the adjutant on company drill. Most of the Chelsea stunts are to be washed out which is perhaps just as well. It is difficult to get uniformity. I am taking the N.C.O.s in "fire orders" but find it difficult to get them to understand the finger-breadth method. They say they understand it all right & then go and make the most hopeless mistakes. Asani has burnt his arm: the new skin is which is coming on is pinky, with large black spots - the pigment glands probably. He says that inside the black skin is a white one. He is black because "it's an order of God". I asked him about God. His idea seems to be that God is up above, & has a hot body (the sun?). He was rather under the impression that He is black. He is the same person as "Shaitani": he sends the rain to make things grow. He doesn't know any way of propitiating Him - if rain doesn't come for instance.
Wednesday 3rd. Off colour today, but don't know whether it is fever, the sun, or just a chill. Shivering, sore head & body. Had to take to bed after lunch & by taking a lot of aspirin had a good sweat. C.O. sent for me in the forenoon. He wants me to go out on patrol tomorrow to the Rovuma, at Makalogi, & beyond. Hope I'm all right by tomorrow morning, as this is just the sort of thing I'm wanting.
Thursday 4th. Very much better today, & would have been fit to go, but the C.O. has given me two days to get quite better. Quite deaf with the quinine I have taken, & my eyes are bad too: must have taken too much.
Have written to a firm in Johannesburg - J.C. Juta - for some books & have sent them a cheque for 20 rupees. I have asked for fairly heavy stuff, as I find that I don't want to read light novels here. Whether it is just a passing mood or not I'm not quite sure.
Friday 5th. Have done very little today. Rheumatic pains in arms, legs & back which I thought were perhaps the symptoms of another attack of fever but I understand how that they often follow it. Cairncross is down with fever again. Brown is going out to build some bridges on the Lindi road tomorrow, so I may have his company for a part of the road. I have just been getting a few things ready , written the kids at Crossgates & sent the 3rd. film to Nairobi.
Saturday 6th. After a lot of running about, I got away from camp about 3p.m. with my safari of 17 askaris & 40 porters. There was a good deal to be thought about but I am always slow at a thing like that. I get obsessed by details & can never do things in the right order. Also I try to do everything & go everywhere myself instead of sending chits & making other people do it. I have twenty days rations and enough calico to do 5 days more. That should see me thro', the C.O. says. I have a guide for the first part of the road. He is armed with a nasty looking spear & is not unpicturesque: he tried a short cut & nearly lost himself in the first mile. I am going to have no more of them. We halted about 5.30 at a good stream & made camp. I have had a grass hut built & intend doing so every day as it is worth the trouble if it keeps me fit: besides, the trouble isn't mine. I have left Asami behind as his feet aren't very good & he gets tired easily. I have 17 chosen men from the Coy. But whether they are well chosen or not remains to be seen. Willie is doing my cooking for me. I have just had a bully beef dinner & feel replete enough, but I can see that rations are going to be a bit of a problem - mine at least. It will depend on what I can get from the country but as regards jam & milk I will need to go very cannily.
Sunday 7th. I didn't know till just now that this is Sunday. We got away shortly after 6a.m. & didn't get into camp until 10, altho' we didn't come far. We are sleeping tonight in the same camp as on the 6th, March . I interviewed three of the headmen here which is part of my job, questioned them as to the crops etc. & arranged for destroying them or hiding the grain that has been brought in, in the case of the Huns coming north again. It is most unlikely that they will come, at least in this direction. There isn't a great amount of food at the present time, but the maize is about half of it ready: there is plenty pumpkins and tomatoes. No goats or fowls at all. Also nearly all the able bodied men have been taken for porters so that the women & the old men alone are left. The weather has been fine today - rather misty & cold early in the forenoon, but later just warm enough to be nice. Handasyde & Grant came into camp in the evening, en route for Tunduru. I managed to increase my milk & jam supply by one tin of each. Funny that Grant should know Mary Cairns & Handasyde - Connie Walker!
Monday 8th. Have had a very long day. Started before 6a.m. & followed a track thro' the Mkokomo Mts. to Mlimamo where we are sleeping tonight. After five hours and a half on the road I had to stop & let the men feed & feed myself too. Another couple of hours brought us here. The porters were very slow but the track is bad & as a rule could go only in single file. That meant losing double time at all obstacles. Raining very frequently, & Scotch mist on the higher parts. Had just got my banda made when the rain set in & it looks like a night of it. Afraid we'll have more sick tomorrow: only 3 porters bad so far. Not much food to be had here altho' for our needs there are plenty. Bought 1 1/2 doz eggs & got some Mohindi & pumpkin for the men.
Tuesday 9th. Left Mlimamo shortly before 7a.m. It was a night of rain & I don't think either the porters or the askaris got much sleep which considering the heavy day they had, was rather unfortunate. We got to the Likonde after an hour's march & found it up & still rising. The bridge had been half washed away and it was only with the greatest difficulty that we got the porters & loads across. The water was 8 - 10 feet deep & a muddy bottom. We had to extemporise a bridge of sorts with bamboos & trees but even this platform was often waist deep below the surface & had to be sorted several times. Thanks to the energy of two of the corporals & some Kavirondos I had with me, we got everything over safely & with only a ducking for two or three porters. It took us 4 hours to get everything over. Standing that long in wet clothes, plashing feet & a steady drizzle nearly the whole time can't have done any of us any good. There are seven porters sick today altho' they hadn't a heavy day as they sat and watched the askaris do all the work. After everything was across I went on ahead with the guide, in my shirt tails with my shorts hanging out behind on a stick to dry. We got to Ligera after 2 1/2 hours marching - about 2.30. It seems rather a populous place - perhaps 40 men, & a good many shambas. I got enough Mohindi (maize), beans & pumpkin off the chief to feed all the men for 3 yards of calico. Later on he brought in a fine big water melon for me. The kids are running about already in the white cloth & looking quite clean: it hides their grotesque stomachs anyway. It has cleared up this evening for a good thing altho' everybody is safely housed, & I have been able to get my bedding & clothes dried.
Wednesday 10th. From Ligera to Msamo's today - about 12 miles. Not bad going until we got into the valley of the Lukimwa which is flat & swampy. There are three villages within about 3 miles. Good deal of Mohindi & Matawa. I was able to feed the men pretty well on 6 yards of cloth, & got some native tobacco for them at the same time. I am very glad that the country isn't going to be laid waste as it would mean chaos for these poor people for this year & next. There was a good deal of rain in the forenoon but dried up nicely later on. Good camp just outside of shambas.
Thursday 11th. Had a very short march today - not much over 10 miles from Msamo's to Mwangata's. We would have gone further but have had to wait until we can get a canoe built to take us over the Lukimwa. The Jumbe Chikwawa has sent along some of his men to do the job but they were late in arriving. The shambas don't seem very flourishing here, & the people rather poor. I saw a man today with bark clothing. They take the bark of the tree & put it in the river & beat & twist it until it gets soft & pliable. He says it will only last three days in the bush. Mwangata himself is a smith & we found him making spear heads. They get the iron from spades or hoes & fashion it into spears. He can make one a day, & sell it for a rupee. He has rather a cute idea for bellows. There is a mixture of Ungonis & Yaos in the Lukimwa & Nyamahoca valleys. The latter seem to be rather backward & cultivate practically Mohindi only. Chikwawa is an alert little man in white shirt, khaki tunic & sun helmet. He seemed rather upset about his men being late. My guide is a good chap & plies the Bwana mkubwa stunt very consistently. We had had practically no rain today.
Friday 12th. Crossed the Lukimwa by canoe this morning: took us nearly 2 hours. Not so bad as the Likonde, anyway. Track very difficult to follow, & even Mwangata himself who was guiding us was occasionally in difficulties. Plenty elephant & game spoors. Didn't get a shot. Had breakfast 1p.m. at a small stream & pushed on for another 1 1/2 hours. Made camp in the bush: no water but had brought enough for a wash & dinner.
Saturday 13th. Arrived Halifa's this forenoon. Busy writing up reports for Songia. Also arranging for crossing Rovuma tomorrow. Took a photo of Mwangata making fire with two pieces of stick.. Also one of Halifa & his minions bartering vegetables for cloth.
Sunday 14th. We got safely across the Rovuma this morning. It is about 100 ft. wide at Halifa's & a fair current running. We got over in a couple of bark canoes, which are perfectly safe & not the flimsy things I had expected. They are made rather uncouthly out of one long piece of bark, kept apart by bamboos & pegged at each end. There is no path leading up from this side to the main road to Makalogi so we have been making our way thro' the bush most of the morning - rather warm & tiring work, altho' the bush is mostly very open, and quite like an English park in places. There have been plenty traces of game and I had a shot coming along at a barapi, whatever that is. It had a pair of very fine horns. I hit it the first shot & had 4 rounds rapid as it crossed our front but didn't stop it. After getting into camp I went out with the guide but with no luck. I have sent a couple of ascaris down to Bwana Issa's on the N. side of Rovuma to arrange for a canoe to take us back. I believe it will take us 5 days to get to Makalogi's. I'll have to wait there at least 6 days & have only 11 days rations, so must supplement them somehow. Halifa's people have been on the river now for 6 years & haven't learnt to catch fish yet., altho' he says there are plenty in it. They are living at present on dry maize, crushing enough just for their daily wants. They have very little else: their diet must be very circumscribed. Halifa himself has some skin trouble for which I gave him some Potass. Permang., Iodoform & Boracic lint, with copious instructions. He seems rather a decent person altho' not above begging for salt. He first of all brought me a water—lemon on & then some tomatoes: I didn't see what he was on for.
It is a perfect night tonight. I have a big fire going. The moon is in the first quarter, not a cloud in the sky. I am enjoying being by myself very much.
Monday 15th. Marched for 5 1/2 hours today thro' very dry country: a few water holes at first & plenty signs of game: later, all water courses, dried up, vegetation rather thorny, but a few palms amongst it, & few traces of game except elephant: earlier in the morning we saw spoor of lion, & leopard as well as different kinds of small game & hartebeest. I was very glad to get into camp, & so were the porters, the roughness of the path being bad on their feet. The boy who is guiding us doesn't no[sic] much about the place, but we are on a cut road so will have no difficulty. Weather still very good: very warm in the middle of the day.
Tuesday 16th. We crossed the Lutambila R. an hour out of camp this morning. There is about 9 inches of water in it, & all the other streambeds were dry until we came near the Legolongo Hills. I shot a dik-dik on the way along. He was standing on the top of a rock, watching us. I thought I missed him but on going up we found some hairs, & about 30 yards away traces of blood. It wasn't easy tracking her as the foot prints are very faint. We came on her after about half an hour & a second shot laid her out. The Nubian corporal immediately dashed up & cut her throat, according to custom. We got to Malakita's village at 12.30. It isn't a very big place & most of the men are away as porters. They cultivate maize only & it's ready now: they are planting a second crop. Some of the magnates of the place turned out in full paraphernalia, one of them in a Hussar's dress tunic which might have done duty at a fancy dress ball in Lisbon or Madrid but I wonder how it came here. I managed to buy some maize & flour for the men, as well as a plateful of fish & a dozen eggs for myself. I have just had a fish supper & very good too. The fish are caught in the river here: they are about the size of gillocks & not oppressed by too many bones. I tried round about for more game in the evening, but beyond falling into the river nothing exciting happened. I took a couple of photos of the assembled villagers. The village is situated at the foot of the Ligarongo hills; plenty of water - as I found.
Wednesday 17th. Very heavy rain during the night so the grass was hung with more than dew this morning. Of course we had a lot more long grass to go thro' than ever before & everybody got pretty wet. However the sun came up pretty hot and dried us. One of the porters bolted at the second halt - this is his second time & if I get him we'll wish he had carried his load. The march was mostly thro' open parkland & not a bit stiff. We got to Mwaga at 11 a.m. in spite of the delay with the runaway. The crossing was managed in a bark canoe - poled this time, not paddled. The river (the Luchringo) isn't very deep here - about 6 feet - but has a fair current and also a good supply of hippos & crocodiles which come up from the Rovuma. I had a shot at one of the former this afternoon but as he was showing only a square foot of nose at the time I couldn't have done him much harm if I hit him, which I doubt. He was right in the middle of the river & came up to snort about every 3 minutes. They come ashore between 7p.m. & 3a.m. & eat grass. We got their spoor today up in the hills a couple of miles away from the river. I am living tonight in a banda built by a European who stayed here for some time last month. We are all pretty tired I think, at least I am, but as we are behind time I can't afford to take a day off as I would like to.
Thursday 18th. Had a lie in this morning after starting off 3 patrols, one up the Luchringo, one down to get in touch with Bwana Issa's and one out towards the Oizulu Hills. In the forenoon I got hold of the jumbe and lugged him up to the top of a hill on the other side of the river & took compass bearings on all the objects he could identify. We had a splendid view of the Luchringo valley & the country to the S.E. It is rather flat for the most part but studded with abrupt rocky excresences from hillocks up to mountains which give a variety to the landscape which it wouldn't otherwise have. We made a detour on our way back, looking for game & hippos, but saw none. I spent the rest of the day round about my bed & wrote up the road report etc. since leaving Halifa's. I managed to get a good deal of information out of the natives, considering my Swahili, the guide usually acting as interpreter. Only I'm not very sure how much reliance can be put on it. They have a very good sense of direction but very little of time, especially such as is kept by a watch. They can understand a sketch map on the sand pretty well & that's how I get most of the information I want. Mwaga has been trying to wheedle my shorts off me and parading his poverty, but I have had to refuse him. I am certainly getting a lot of use out of him & his men but I don't see how I can be expected to pay for services rendered to the Government out of my private wardrobe.
Friday 19th. Had another long lie this morning but got most of a letter home written before breakfast. Dressed about 9.30 & started off for Kumimasuba's village at a great rate as the idea had just occurred to me. We got there in 2 hours, after stiff walking. The assembled male element of the village was discussing the next meal in the village soup-kitchen. This is a Myao village. I got the jumbe to start his women crushing the mohindi & went and interviewed his next neighbour Mperakamoyo, on the other side of the river. This is a very pleasant featured individual and one of the decentest jumbes I have seen so far. He didn't ask for my trousers or for salt. I got about 1/2 a sackful of meal from Kumimasuba's people, & saw some of the women making straw matting, which they pleat very neatly. The people here aren't too badly off for food if it weren't that they have taken on their hands the fugitives from lower down the river who fled on the approach of the Huns. I came back at the same rate & felt pretty stiff by the time we reached camp. There seems to be a good deal of game here but we can't get onto it. The only remaining corporal was out twice today without seeing any & we only frightened one on our way home, without getting a shot. The runaway porter was bro't in today. We have him safely trussed up.
Saturday 20th. Left Mwaga's today, himself guiding us, half under compulsion & half in the hope of backsheesh. Shot a 'swara' on the way down - thro' the heart first time. Got in here before noon (Makalogi) & had a look at the boma where the Portuguese ran way and left for the Germans to burn. Mwaga lived here then too, and he & his fled up the river to their present village. Have been writing up reports again, a thing I don't like. I can't condense. It's a book I have written, not a report.
Sunday 21st. A night of rain & didn't get under way till 7.30. Feeling seedy today, like fever coming on. Took us 4 hrs. to reach Bwana Issa's. very swampy bad piece of country: marched in rainproof, without puttees or socks: uncomfortable. Rain kept off till we got into camp. Fine night now. Hippos snorting near at hand. Just finished reports etc, & letter for home.
Monday 22nd. The days I have nothing to do are the days I feel like doing least. Rather washed out today: lay on my bed and read bits of half a dozen different books, but feel like nothing serious. Some of the men have been out after game but got nothing, altho' there is a good deal hereabouts. There were some baboons in the trees who followed me as I took a short stroll. They were pretty bold and I didn't test them to see how near I could get to them as I believe they are apt to be nasty. Sent a patrol down to the Usanyando River & I hope they find it unfordable as I said it was, in my report. They expect to be back here tonight. Also sent 3 porters back to Songia with my report.
Tuesday 23rd. The Usanyando turned out fordable after all! Had another very slack day, but got the bulk of the porters & loads & all the ascaris over to the other side in the afternoon. Went out after tea & hit another swara. Followed him for a couple of hours by blood & footmarks but tho' we came up with him once or twice, couldn't get a shot & lost him near camp. Will try to pick him up in the morning. I am sleeping on the south side of Rovuma tonight, moving over early tomorrow. Juma Fayalla has come [not] back with the Salamand patrol but he is certain to be tomorrow.
Wednesday 24th. We got that swara this morning but the vultures had been there before us, & there was only skin and bone left. Didn't get a shot altho' we saw some more swara & a baropi (sable antelope). Got the remainder of the safari across the river this morning. When I arrived I found they had built me a nice little hut which made me sorry I wasn't going to stay more than one night. In fact I didn't intend to stay that even but Juma Fayalla didn't arrive until 5 o'clock. According to himself he has been walking ever since he left, but I am inclined to think he is exaggerating. I find it rather difficult to get much out of him. The people here are very badly off for food, in fact they are bordering on famine from their own accounts & living to a certain extent on roots dug up in the woods. Still I see no great evidence of starvation on the stomachs of the population.
I am feeling all right again & ready for the road.
Thursday 25th. Got away at dawn this morning: dull & good for marching. Grass pretty long in places but not so bad as south of the Rovuma. & as there had been neither heavy dew nor rain it wasn't very wetting. We have one of Halifa's men to guide us but he doesn't know the local features here. However it is surprising how little these people sometimes know of their own district. Very few of Issa's people know the name of the big hill which stands just behind their village. My own guide is the most knowing of all the people we have come across and very clever in picking up my own, often obscure meaning, & interpreting it to others.
We reached Matanda at 12 noon - a small stream nearly dry, & altho' it was early I stopped for the day as I can't do the journey to Halifa's any quicker by going further today. We climbed a small hill on the way along and had a last look at Makarogi and the Luchringo valley. Also took bearings on a number of points. It is a lovely evening now: the sun is just on a level with the tops of the trees & sending "her last rays adown the little glen". I have been thinking again today of what to do after the war. The sooner I convince myself that I am not a Darwin or a Geikie the better, & make up my mind to start low down - the lower the better so long as I get a living. I am reading Emerson's Essays which are partly responsible for my state of mind but I hope it will be an enduring one especially as regards Darwin etc. also half way thro' "The Romany Life".
Friday 26th. Another good marching day followed by a splendid evening with a full moon. Arrived at Liunga River after 4 1/2 hours: we are getting along pretty well and according to the map covering tremendous distances. I think there is something wrong with the map. Have been reading Emerson today, on "Self-Reliance" which I have so much need of, as I think too much of other people's opinions. Henceforth I will try to think more of my own and feel tonight in doing so as if fetters had dropped off.
I don't know how the niggers get along on one meal a day. I sometimes come down to a couple, with a cup of tea in the morning but that's about my limit. They certainly don't live to eat. And it's always the same - rice & salt, yet they eat it with a distinct relish. If our civilisation has provided us with a more varied menu it has also lost us the power of living on a simple diet.
Saturday 27th. Did over 6hrs. marching today & feel tired now. Reached the Litiki River. Shd. be at Halifa's early tomorrow forenoon. Country rather monotonous here but not difficult. Suffering from itchiness of hands & face - Willie says due to rubbing of the grass on the skin when wet with perspiration. Quite possible. Was afraid I had transferred some of the Dobie's itch which I have had for a month or so.
Sunday 28th. Got into Halifa's about 9.30 & found Dugmore & Hawkins there. The former going to form a post at Makalogi & the latter come yesterday from Carter, at Likerume. The company is at Namahoka where we go tomorrow. Had food with them, & very glad of a change of diet. They have not much news of France except that the Boche is still pushing. Feeling rather depressed today at the thought of the time they must be having at home.
Monday 29th. Left Halifa's shortly after 6a.m. with Hawkins. Reached Lukimwa about 2p.m. having halted for an hour for breakfast. When coming from Mwangata's I had cut into this path just an hour from this crossing place. The river is fordable here now but I don't think it would be when I came down. Met safari of porters going down with rations for Carter & Dugmore. Had a decent dinner tonight - curried buck & a chicken.
Tuesday 30th. Crossed the Lukimwa about 6.30 this morning carrying my clothes on my head. Arrived in camp about 1p.m. just in nice time for lunch. Found four November letters from home & Crossgates waiting me & very glad to get them. Jardine hascleared a good space in the bush for the camp, & has the women of the neighbourhood clearing the grass & shrubs. There is a substantial mess, & our huts have been practically finished tonight. Jardine has also been busy clearing hilltops so as to get bearings on different points, & be able to make accurate maps: also working at roads, bridges etc.
Wednesday 1st. Three years today since the 5th. went to France & I said goodbye to so many good friends. Did very little besides get banda set in order: also wrote Bessie.
Thursday 2nd. Jardine wants a road blazed straight from the camp here to the ford on the Lukimwa river. Sgt. Robertson went down there yesterday to make bridge & to send back bearing on hill near our camp. As the runner didn’t turn up by lunch time I started off myself, to work from the ford to the camp. Arrived here before 6p.m. so that in actual marching dist. is just about 4 hours. Had a halt for tea on the way. Was surprised to find the bearing of our beacon hill only 26o as it is 25o from camp, so that the bearings practically coincide.
Friday 3rd. Have had a very hard day blazing this blasted trail. Started off at 6a.m. & was soon soaking with the heavy dew. The way I worked was to take a baring & march on an object in line with it, the men coming behind & blazing the trees as I told them. It is a pretty slow process where the bush is thick. Stopped for breakfast and lunch as it was evident it would be an all-day job. Got rather a fright at one point, when I sent Willie up a tree to see the direction of the beacon hill. He picked up the wrong hill & I of course found I was miles out. However on climbing up myself I saw that we were dead right. Willie climbs like a monkey. After crossing the Namahoka the men were so tired that I decided to camp for the night & finish the job in the morning. It was then close on 5p.m. & I didn’t think we could get in before dark. Two very charming kids have come up from the shamba in the valley below, one of them especially with such a fine smile that I wish I could get a photo of him. They were wearing bark cloth which they say may last for a month.
Saturday 4th. We got into camp shortly after 9 this morning, and struck it almost plumb: I was very satisfied with the result. The jumbe’s people got started on it at once, & have cleared about a mile of the road. Jardine seems to expect that it will run absolutely dead straight but that is impossible as we couldn’t always get trees in the correct line. He is very efficient at this sort of job himself & looks for a high standard. I give him my best which is all I can do, but sometimes I find my best isn’t very good. I have slacked all day since I came in, feeling a bit stiff. Spent the afternoon reading one of L.T. Meade’s morbid productions. Hawkins goes out tomorrow to try to establish a helio station N.W. of the Likonde, to get in touch with Songia and Sassawara. He has a very hearty laugh & it is good to be beside him. The cook dished up a fowl at lunch today, which was meant for tonight’s dinner, so Jardine reduced his pay by half. I suppose he did it in the hopes that he would clear out, because they are fed up with him now.
Sunday 5th. Breakfast in bed. Had a look at the women working on the new road this forenoon. They work pretty hard, with their kiddies strapped onto their backs, & getting bumped about as the mother stoops and works the hoe. Climbed the beacon hill in the afternoon & took some bearings. A very pleasant evening. I am usually very blind to the beauties of the woods and I wish it weren’t so. Darned my socks today & read a good deal of the Golden treasury, mainly Matthew Arnold whom I have read very little of before.
Monday 6th. Had the men in the ‘gubbah’ this morning for extended order work: then the Lewis gunners. There is one gun here, the other being with Dugmore. The stores which we ordered from Zomba per the quarter master arrived today so we are well off for chop, cigaretttes & whisky once again. Dugmore’s & Carter’s shares have had to be packed. I am to relieve the former at Makalogi or whenever he has taken up his headquarters about the 20th of the month — unless we get orders to move elsewhere before then. Von Lettow is unofficially reported to be going S.E. across the Lurio R. If that is really the case, our work here is practically finished.
Tuesday 7th. Hawkins came back this afternoon rather ill & has gone to bed. The new road is now 3/4 hour long. The women are to camp along side it at nights so as to be nearer their work.. There is an ngoma practically every night among the shenzis: I don’t know whether it is some festive season or not, but they are brewing drink for a regular blow out one of these days. I hope I am here to see it.
Wednesday 8th. Sham fight today between Hawkins platoon & mine. I had a pretty strong posn. On other side Namahoka which he attacked. I have a lot to learn about bush warfare, & so have the men, especially as regards scouting. No doubt they would be good enough if it was the real thing. Climbed the Garden City in the afternoon & took some bearings but my compass isn’t working properly: it also seemed to be affected by the rocks which perhaps had iron in them. It was quite dark by the time we got back to camp. The view from the top of the hill was splendid, just as the sun was going down, & very peaceful.
Thursday 9th. Dug some trenches & repaired bridges on site of yesterday’s scheme. After lunch, got a big batch of letters from home, up to 28th Jany. & also a number of ‘Groats’ all of which were very welcome. David has got the M.C. tho’ he doesn’t say what for, nor do they at home. Splosh is killed, Addie reported missing, believed killed. Pitman missing. I can hardly believe it all — somehow I can’t appreciate it. I can’t think of old Splosh being dead, for he was so full of life. I was glad to have a letter from Louise from which she seems to be tolerably happy.
Friday 10th. Had a walk down to the Namahoka with Jardine this afternoon. They put a bridge across it today. The road is now about 2 hours long & the worst of the ground is past. Hawkins rather bad today, & getting down in the dumps. Jardine talks of sending him into Songia. Von Lettow’s main force reported making for the Luginda so we may have him up this way yet.
Saturday 11th. Left camp in the forenoon with a few men & porters, to visit Kilanda’s & the other jumbe’s in the Lukumwa valley, & arrange for collecting the food. If the Huns come up this way we have to destroy what we don’t require for ourselves, so Jardine wants it collected now so far as poss. . There is a good deal of dry maize stored on the shambas, but the matani and malezi won’t be ready for a month or two yet. I have brought out Jardine’s tent with me, & pitched it on the valley side near Kilanda’s. Very fine evening & sunset, the light striking the other side of the valley & leaving us in the shade but gilding the clouds overhead.
Sunday 12th. Had an excellent early breakfast and then went along to Linganda’s. The grass as usual very wet: splendid morning, sort of Sunday feel about it. Very little mohindi at Linganda’s — they have had to buy enough from Msamo to keep them going. They cultivate malezi principally. After lunch I went round Msamo’s shambas. The mohindi has been grown entirely on the flats alongside the rivers (Lukimwa & Ludjirikuru): matama & malezi are grown on the higher ground, where it is sandy. Msamo’s people have a good lot of food, all stored in these little lofts they make. As far as I can make out, a man gives each of his wives a shamba to work & she stores her mohindi there. This idea of collecting it all together is going to upset their usual way of working, & they were suggesting difficulties in knowing whose is whose. I came across a number of traps for wild pig etc., made out of a bent branch & a noose of string: when the beast puts its foot in the noose, up goes the branch & he’s caught. He is prevented from biting thro’ the cord by apiece of bamboo which slips down & protects it. Got back to camp here (Namahoka) at tea time. Hawkins up & about but looking thin and white.
Monday 13th. Addensell & 5 B.N.C.o.s arrived this forenoon from Songia. The former comes as 2nd. in command. The N.C.O.s are mainly Scotch — one from the 6th. Seaforths. We celebrated Hawkin’s birthday tonight & had a sumptuous dinner.
Tuesday 14th. Did little today. Getting things ready for safari tomorrow. Divided the chop, paid mess bill (£4-10/-): wrote Standing & sent 10 R.s. to a/c. Wrote Louise.
Wednesday 15th. Left Namahoka this morning after an early breakfast, en route for Bwana Issa’s to relieve Dugmore. Had a pretty easy day, at least it seemed so, partly because we halted for a couple of hours in the middle of the day & had lunch. I am going to give up the practice of going straight on and getting into camp early. I think it’s important to keep meals as regular as possible: besides it breaks the monotony, & rests the porters. No recent signs of game here.
Have two white sergeants with me — Kendall, & Hosie. I wonder how we are going to get on.
Thursday 16th. Marched for 5 1/4 hrs. today besides building a bridge over the Liwawa, which however is only a small stream. Country easy: no steep hills: undulating. Sky overcast & threatening rain. Had half a dozen men with cut feet & legs. Some of them are pretty bad, & the sores are quite old. They can stand a lot of hacking, & lose half a toe with the greatest sangfroid. Kicked a porter today: bad business: must keep my temper better or I’ll be returning to civilization with rather brutal manners. Besides, I don’t think he deserved it.
Friday 17th. Marched good 5 1/2 hrs. today, down to the Nakawale R. Rather interesting country — more varied and one or two extensive views from the higher ground. The path twists about a good deal, from E.S.E. to S.W. The men seem rather tired but I think it’s more moral than physical. I don’t think they are getting a very full ration, & they seem quite sure of it. Signs of elephant having preceded us by a few hours today, probably making for Rovuma. They have a bad habit of following the native tracks & cutting up the path with their huge footprints. We crossed one path which belongs to them alone, & it was, rather strangely, much better walking than the native path. We had breakfast at the Ligunga (2 1/4 hrs.) & then came straight on here. I am having a smokeless day today, to test the strength of my will. This is the worst time of the day — after dinner.
Saturday 18th. Had breakfast at the Matanda: just before we came down to the river we put up a large herd of buck of some sort but the safari was making too much noise, so I didn’t get a shot. Had lunch & a rest at Kipembere stream: pretty warm marching. Got into bwana Issa’s about 4p.m. after 6 1/2 hours. Found Dugmore in good health & form and a good camp. As usual he has been doing himself very well and consequently has had very little fever. Good feeding seems to keep it away. We had a very good dinner, water buck soup: liver & kidneys: banana fritters & tinned pears. He has found how to make a good spinage of green bean leaves, & gets beans all the way from Halifa’s. His men have been shooting a great deal as is witnessed by the number of skins, biltong, horns etc. about the place. He has dug a system of trenches, & has a bamboo canoe under construction.
Sunday 19th. Rather a restless night with hippos wandering about in the long grass in front. Sgt. Kendall & party left for Mwaga’s this morning to relieve Dugmore’s post there. I am keeping Sgt. Hosie here. Dugmore took me round the place in the forenoon. Food is very scarce here, the people living partly on grass seed which they winnow very laboriously. They are very near famine. Dugmore’s boy ‘Ansi’ put up some more delicacies today — fried brains, steak, fritters etc. He is a very good cook. Festo came in today & reported killing two buck ( Grant’s gazelle Dugmore says) with one shot. He was tremendously pleased with himself. A man came down in the afternoon with his finger bitten by a tarantula. Dugmore lanced it with a safety blade. The victim & his friends were much relieved that they had caught & killed the insect as the poison wouldn’t be nearly so potent. A couple of lions in the distance tonight. There seems to be a fair number here.
Monday 20th. Dugmore left about 9a.m. We had our photos taken by the sergeant, in front of the hut, our two orderlies & boys behind. There is still a patrol and the people from Mwaga’s to come in; they are to follow on to Namahoka. Had men out morning & evening for game and got none, which is a bad beginning. No eggs either. We haven’t got quite settled down yet but intend to start regular parades tomorrow. Humbugged by thousands of small ants in the hut: they are everywhere, & tho’ they don’t bite I hate to have them crawling about me. Visited Bwana Issa after tea. His people are very near starvation but their ribs are still well covered & they seem quite happy.
Tuesday 21st. Got the framework of new banda put up today. May move into it when completed as the ants here are getting unbearable. They seem to be living in the grass walls. Had five different parties out today for game & all came back empty-handed. It looks as if the game has got a fright. The meat we dried is half gone already. When it is finished I’m going to put the men on half rations so that they’ll hunt in earnest. Splendid day, & very pretty sunset. The river is especially pretty in the late afternoon & evening.
Wednesday 22nd. Sgt. Pagau, No. 9 Platn. arrived today from Mwaga’s bring six bags of food with him. He reports plenty of food in the Luchringo valley. We have shot nothing today so I sent Alijabulako & 2 askaris a days march up from the river to try for some of the game we saw there on the 18th. Had a chit from Jardine saying no enemy north of Msalu River. Also a wire from home saying David wounded & missing. I have been fearing for something of the sort for a long time. Now that it has come I can’t appreciate it. It must be want of imagination because I’m sure it’s not want of love. I find myself going on with my ordinary work in an ordinary way, & every little while brought up dead by the thought. I believe there is good room for hoping he may be a prisoner and wrote home in that strain, perhaps not very successfully, in fact I found writing difficult.
Thursday 23rd. Have had a full day today which has kept my mind & body busy. After seeing Sgt. Pagau’s party off to Namahoka & looking after sick, went down the river & shot a hippo. He was lying close in below the bank & I fired down on the top of his skull. He came up shortly after & showed his whole head & I let him have another. I fired about seven shots altogether, & after plunging about a bit he turned over, waggled his feet in the air & disappeared. We got him with a canoe & he was towed downstream to the next village. Hard work getting him up onto the bank. Spent the afternoon cutting him up. The men & shenzis very keen & delighted. Several squabbles over tit-bits. Not much fat on him. Askaris got gazelle & water buck this morning so well off for food now. Also some food arrived from Halifa’s (flour, nuts etc.)
Friday 24th. Alijabu returned today empty handed except for the skin of a half-grown boa constrictor or large snake of that sort. No shooting done today. Lay out on the sands across the river in the evening hoping buck would come to drink but we went out too late. Splendid sunset & moonrise on the river.
Saturday 25th. The Bishawish came down from Mwanga’s today with six loads of food. He has been to the Oizulu Hills about 5 days south of here & been in touch with Portuguese Intelligence troops there. We are now well off for food & I will be able to increase the men’s rations. Lay over on the sands this afternoon again, & after waiting for about 1/2 hour a fine doe reedbuck came across. She couldn’t have been more than 50 yards off when I fired & as usual thought I had missed. I fired again & she bolted for the bush. There was a young one following her & I tried a shot at it but missed & it was off before I had time for another. We got the doe dying just inside the bush. Bwana Issa’s son cut its throat, he being a True Believer, and we brought it over in the canoe.
Bwana Issa says his people have used up all the grass seed that is to be found. I have given him permission to send some people across the Rovuma for food. I asked him if he had had any of the hippo’s flesh. He said ‘no’, he didn’t like hippo. They are very conservative in their habits. I find the same thing among the men in camp. A lot of them - Bugandas, Nandis, etc. won’t eat hippo, not on any principle except that they never have eaten it, & neither have their fathers before them. Buganda men from the shores of Victoria Nyanza eat it greedily. This shows how slowly they will adopt new customs if left to themselves.
Sunday 26th. Bishawish left for Namahoka & Sgt. Hosie for Mwaga’s to help Sgt. Kendall who has fever. Looked at the rocks a few hundred yards down the river. They have a thin skin of iron oxide, I think, over them. I believe Darwin mentions something of the sort in the Beagle. Got some small garnets in a vein. Tried the sands again after tea & had a long shot at a buck, hitting him. I came up with him in the bush & tried another shot seeing only his horns but pretty close & don’t understand how I missed. Am sending my orderly out in the morning to see if there is any trace of him. One of the men I sent to Makalogie shot an eland today, not full grown but still very big, & a good load for eight men.
Monday 27th. Sent the men to wash their clothes in the river today & they are consequently looking rather clean, had a go at some guinea-fowl this evening: fired 8 rounds & got one bird but hit at least three. They have wonderful vitality. The men brought in 2 buck today so we are very well off in the meat line. I hope I’m not going to have an outbreak of diarrhoea — two cases at present, one probably dysentery.
Tuesday 28th. Started Lewis gun in earnest today & feel happier for it. Intend having two parades a day, at least for some time. I don’t know what to turn the rest onto in the way of fatigues. Made a pit and screen of branches on the sands today, commanding an all round view & hope to use it with advantage tomorrow. The hippo head which was buried several feet down - so that the ants might clean off the remnants of meat was dug up and carried away by a hyena last night so I have lost the teeth. However it wasn’t a very large specimen & I can easily get another. The hyena must have a wonderful nasal organ.
Wednesday 29th. Threatening rain this afternoon but cleared off in the evening. No game today and no news. Didn’t try the sands today as I don’t know that the game have got used to my shelter yet or not. There are some mussels (Anodonta?) in the river & I have told off a mtoto to collect them for me in the hopes of getting some pearls.
Thursday 30th. Shot another hippo today as we were short of meat. I got him with one bullet, somewhere behind the ear, which was a much better show than last time especially as he was over at the other side of the river. Also hit a big croc. but he got away. Saw a few turtles perched on the rocks midstream. All the men and porters were down cutting up the hippo in the afternoon and we took away as much as they could carry, leaving the rest — one side — for the shenzis. The men are in high spirits in the prospects of a good feed.
Have one bad case of dysentery on my hands & I have run out of medicine for that sort of thing. Don’t know how it is going to end. The scarcity of eggs was explained this morning by Willie finding a nest in the grass with 9 in it so I am well off now. The hens have reverted to primitive type & roost in the big tree above my banda. They have got the length of flying from branch to branch, but mostly get there by tight-rope walking: they roost far out in the small branches.
Friday 31st. The dysentery invalid is slightly better today. I got a shenzi woman to bring some roots which are supposed to be good for the complaint but he says they made him worse. I am giving him a little opium, but why I don’t know. Had some women up grinding mahindi today as I think some of the diarrhoea may be the result of eating the hard corn. Had eight loads of food from Mwaga’s today. We have got all the hippo pretty well dried now & I am going to send it and some of the dried buck up to Mwagas, where they haven’t had any meat ration yet. The man I sent out for honey came back today with a bottle full but not of bee’s honey. It is made by a small kind of fly & has a particularly medicinal flavour & smell.
Saturday 1st June. The glorious first of June has been rather dull & a strong SSW wind blowing promising cold if not rain. Sent a lot of the dried meat off to Mwagas today. Sgt. Kendall there has established a post now at Terera’s one day from Oizuli Hills & they should be in touch with the Portuguese there. One of the men got a new buck on the other side of the river this morning — they call it "Dandara" but it may be koodoo. The horns are very fine and spirally twisted. We got a waterbuck too, so I sent a hindquarter down to the Sultani who won’t eat hippo. He told me yesterday he would rather die, but couldn’t give any reason for not doing so except that he didn’t like it.
The dysentery case is much improved today but I am doubtful as to whether as a result of the shenzi medicine, mine, or sheer neglect. I am starving him anyway. He has been very plucky & hasn’t given in as they usually do.
Sunday 2nd. Up early & went across to see if I could get any of the relatives of the dandara but no luck. Over again at night & hit a waterbuck with good horns. He went down & rolled over with his feet up, & then took to his heels. Night came on & we had to give up the chase. Going out in the morning in hopes of getting him. Has been very dull today again - S.S.W. wind but not so strong. Saw rain up the river tonight.
Monday 3rd. Didn’t manage to find the buck this morning which is pity. We are wounding too many, but the long grass makes it easy for them to get away, & the dry ground leaves no footprints. I was going to kiboko one of the local ‘messengers’ today but he bolted & seems to have cleared out with his wives. I am having his house watched. Tried for buck again tonight. Rather think I hit one again but if so he got away. It is the 6 o’clock aim that is putting me off. I always aim at the belly line instead of at 6 o’clock on the heart itself, so I expect most of my shots go low. Had a shot at a hippo in the dark. He was eating the maize about 50 yards below my hut. I don’t know if I hit him or not but he kicked up a lot of noise & betook himself back to the river.
Tuesday 4th. Tried a ‘drive’ up to Makalogi this morning in the hopes of getting some fresh meat for the people at Mwaza. Afraid unsuccessful. Our people are to sleep at Makalogi tonight. I got a buck tonight — through the head, so I nearly missed him, spoiled his horns. The people are much troubled by hippos coming up at night and eating the young maize. In fact it seems wonderful that they are ever in anything but a precarious position regards food, but they take it very philosophically — it is a matter of Providence.
Wednesday 5th. Hit two buck today & got neither of them: feeling very fed up with my shooting & with having to let wounded beasts go. They will only fall a prey to hyaenas and ? The Makalogi party had no luck either but brought in a small water ….day. We are running short of ? I have very little reading material here unfortunately — an old Hibbert? (1914), & the Jesus of History being my two main diversions. However I am glad to find that I am not slipping back into the old moody habits which made me avoid solitude.
Thursday 6th. Went down the river by canoe this morning after hippo. A lot of them seem to have flitted from their old spot but after waiting some time I got one and followed him down until he me another good chance. Unless they are properly hit the first time they never show more of themselves again than their nostrils. If they are badly hit they come up struggly and snorting & can’t help giving a good target. I got a small bush-buck too on the way down. The men & porters went down to get the hippo ashore & cut him up. They haven’t come back yet, so I suppose they have got him all right. There is so much water just there that there’s a danger of not finding him. The men brought in two other buck today, so I have sent one down to the Sultani who won’t eat hippo. I have promised to shoot some more hippo for them tomorrow as half a one doesn’t go far among them all. The people down on the shambas where I shot the last two are reported to be fattening up and very happy. Am aspiring to be the universal provider — the Carnegie touch.
Friday 7th. Didn’t manage to get a hippo today. They are getting very wary, & keep in the middle of the river, showing very little of themselves. Got 3 river ‘mussels’ today but no pearls: don’t know if they are the pearl-producing kind even. Sgt. Hosie came back from Mwaga’s tonight, bringing a lot of food: I have enough now to last me for 3 weeks, provided I get meat as heretofore. He brought back Sergt. Juma Tangoon back too: the latter is quite broken up between fever & his wife’s death. There has been an epidemic of smallpox at Bombo, & he has lost his sister & child as well. He has brought down a goat & two hens which he intends to sacrifice. He must have loved his wife.
Saturday 8th. Shot a buck tonight. Got him thro’ the neck but even then he travelled about half a mile: fortunately leaving a trail of blood so we were able to follow him up. The Rovuma is following pretty rapidly & big patches of sand are appearing, but in other places there is a good depth of water. There are a lot of crocodiles about & these will prevent a person crossing on foot until the river is pretty shallow — a month yet I should think. The grass is drying up too, & withering: the shorter it gets the better for shooting. Eremia shot a hippo far down the river today and we have brought up some of the meat, which I will send up to Mwaga’s tomorrow.
Sunday 9th. Have had a very peaceful Sunday, reading & writing. However in the afternoon word came from Namaroka, recalling us immediately, & since then I’ve been thinking out ways & means. I have too much food here & goodness knows how much more there is at Mwagas. Also three men here not fit to walk & will have to get carriers for them. I have to leave a party of seven men at each of the fords on the Rovuma — Mwaka’s, Bwana Issa’s & Makalogi. Same runner also brought a few letters — all of January. They took me out of the state of anaesthesia the I’ve been in for some time, and brought them all at home very vividly before me.
Monday 10th. Got some of the ‘walking cases’ away this morning, also Sgt. Hosie & a number of askaris & porters. Unfortunate that I have two more cases today but hope they will soon be O.K. Have got hold of 4 natives to help carry two of the bad cases tomorrow: they will probably take 5 days on the road. They will sling blanket on a bamboo & carry them that way.
Bwana Issa came up today begging for cloth or clothes. It seems he has had a very bad time with the war. An English patrol reached here while the Huns were still in the district, & evidently he had given the former some assistance. The Huns came down on him, carrying him away to prison where he got kibokod & was kept for 7 months. He is about 75 I should think. They drove 25 of his men into the Rovuma & shot them. They took away practically everything he had - implements, pots, ‘tea-pots’, ‘furniture’, 20 packets of tea!, £15, and his Koran. The loss of his book seemed to be as bad as anything as he has’nt had it now for 2 years & asks how he can help losing his intelligence — he was in the habit of reading it every day till 2 o’clock. I asked him what was in the Koran — if it forbade him to eat meat. He says no, but to wash his back every day. These are the orders of God. I asked him about God. He says he is up above. He sends rain or sun according as he wishes but it is no use asking him for either. When a man dies, that’s the end. His mind doesn’t live afterwards — how could it he asked in amazement. However he says the black man’s mind is different from ours. They know only how to cultivate the ground but the Europeans especially the English ------. He had been greatly impressed by an aeroplane he saw at Tunduru.
Tuesday 11th. Went across the river this morning to try for some fresh meat for the road tomorrow, but no luck. Fired at a buck but missed: I have given up firing at their bodies & try for the neck or head which is rather a small target. Got the two ‘stretches cases’ away this morning. We will be arriving at Namahoka in penny numbers. The ants have been a fair nuisance in my bed the last two nights. The tsetses are very bad on the other bank, where the game is, but fortunately they seldom trouble us on this side.
Got a reed buck in the evening — a female. She walked to within 40 yards without seeing us tho’ we were standing up. My orderly carried it to the canoe. I went round another way and unconsciously stalked him, thinking the buck on his shoulder was another, Good job I didn’t take a pot shot. Men & porters arrived tonight from Mwagas. Sgt. Kendall is to come on in a few days: he will have to be carried — too ill to walk. We are a bonny lot. This is my last evening here & I am sorry to leave. I took some cloth to the Sultan tonight, & a little maize. He was pleased & was more profuse in his thanks than they usually are. They are generous themselves & when you give them a present they don’t usually overload you with thanks. I think it is good taste.
Wednesday 12th. Got away at 9 a.m. today. Porters very heavily laden as two of them are sick & not able to carry much. I have brought a number of hippo teeth & a few sets of horns but don’t know if I will be able to take them far. Two of the ascaris gone sick already — both Nandis. It’s wonderful what an unstable constitution the nigger has — especially Nandis. They seem to have very little power of accommodation or adaptation. We got to Matanda — 4 1/2 hrs. Climbed a hill behind the camp in the evening and had a good view of Likoronga Hill on the other side of the Rovuma which latter can’t be much more than 5 miles away. There is practically no water to be had here & what there is, is quite opaque.
Thursday 13th. Had breakfast at Nakaware and reached Ligunga River at 2, where we have camped for the night. The water here is good & plentiful. No signs of game or tsetse, but plenty of these abominable little honey-making flies which persist in getting into your eyes. I can feel the difference in the air already, as we get up to higher ground: quite chilly tonight.
Friday 14th. We are camped at the Liwawa River tonight. The march today was a bit tedious, a good deal of it being uphill. The ridge up which the track climbs after leaving the Ligunga seems to be composed of a quartzose grit which I found fragments of all along today’s march. Soon after starting I got a piece of silicified wood, showing the cells very well. I remember getting a very similar thing between Tunduru & Songia but I didn’t see any cellular structure in it — perhaps didn’t look carefully enough. A microscopic section might help to determine the age of the grit: the wood was evidently dicotyledonous.
I believe this is the 3rd. anniversary of ‘C’ Company’s fateful charge.
Saturday 15th. Arrived Namahoka at 2p.m. & found it deserted except for 2 BNC.os & a few of my own men. All the rest have gone to Salimu’s, on the Njuga about 9 hours west of here. Von Lettow has moved south and we are evidently detailed for road-making. They have built a palatial mess here since I left & it’s a pity to see it empty. I got a Drosera today in a marshy spot. It seemed very similar to our own species at home, having spoon-shaped leaves. It wasn’t in flower. Strange getting a plant like that which grows only in very special ground at places so far apart. Wonder if migrating birds could bring the seed. The two stretcher cases arrived here yesterday. One of them gave a bit of trouble on the road, threatening to die as he had been caught by the same devil as caught his mother. I don’t know exactly what the correct treatment would be but he seems quite convinced of the truth of the idea himself.
Sunday 16th. Left Namahoka after an early breakfast for Salimu’s. Crossed the Likonde after a little over 4 hours march. On high ground all the way, but forest fairly thick & did’nt get a wide view. Have camped at a small stream an hour W. of Likonde. The man with the devil has not arrived in camp yet, so I fancy he is spending the night on the roadside. There are two askaris with him. I find there has been a good deal of sickness at Namahoka while I was away. All the whites were down with fever except Carter, & a lot of the askaris. Perhaps the end of the rains has an effect: I believe insects are supposed to be particularly lively then. I came across similar grit to that mentioned on 14th. on path today. All the ground round Namahoka is probably underlaid by it. Big exposure in Lipya river bed.
Monday 17th. Arrived Salimu’s at 9a.m. Carter down with fever: Dugmore & Hawkins out of camp. Jardine, Addinsell, & Moult in and slightly liverish. We were to have made a motor road from Songea to Ssassawara but orders are now to proceed Nbamba Bay, for Fort Johnstone. Rovuma posts are to be recalled, so Moult & I leave for Halifa’s tomorrow morning to collect them.
Tuesday 18th. Left Salimu’s at 7a.m. with Moult & 10 porters. Followed track leading along the high ground w. of Njuga & Lukimwa. Very little water. Have camped beside a stagnant pool. Bath & dinner and so to bed.
Wednesday 19th. Left camp at daybreak with guide and orderly in order to get to Halifa’s in good time. Did’nt gain much as the guide took the wrong road & consequently I got in only a few minutes ahead of Moult who left a good hour later. Sent runners to Bwana Issa & patrol to Likeruma & Mitimoni. Shot a reedbuck in the evening, on the other side. Not much game to be seen, & grass very long. Indigestion.
Thursday 20th. Had a lie in this morning. Moult went out but got nothing except the sight of some eland. Read Churchill’s From London to Ladysmith. Interesting to contrast it with present conditions. Have passed a lazy day. The people here are observing the month of Ramayan — public service of some sort in a large hut, at 6a.m., 12, 2p.m., sunset, & 9p.m. Very like "Wee Frees" reading the line. They eat only in the evening just now.
Friday 21st. Moult left for Likarume — one day’s march up the Rovuma — this morning. Subsequently orders came in that he is to stay there. The company will be there tomorrow, en route for Mitimoni, so we are evidently going to the Lake that way. I am ordered to be at Mitimoni on the 27th. but that is impossible. Another lazy day: still a bit off colour and dosing myself with Salts. Started "The Mill on the Floss".
Saturday 22nd. Felt the heat very much today & am afraid of one of these turns coming on. Spent the day inside reading, except for a short walk on the other side in the evening but did’nt get a shot. Read part of The Jesus of History in the forenoon. Am beginning to see the necessity for studying the Bible as distinct from merely reading it. There are a lot of things I don’t of things I don’t understand & can’t say this book does much to clear them up. We have splendid evenings here — and mornings, but especially the former. The red tints on the long brown grass, the brilliant quiet sunsets & the reflections in the river are making me fonder of this place than I ever thought to be of any place that is’nt home.
Sunday 23rd. Reading, writing, and generally slacking all day. Five sick men arrived from Bwana Issa’s today. I am sending them on to Mitimoni tomorrow. Expect the remainder tomorrow or next day. Halifa brings me a small present every day — nuts, tomatoes, flour etc. I have nothing to give him in return: he wants clothes but these I cant spare. He is rather a good chap. I find, according to him men’s souls do live after death, so Bwana Issa must be heterodox.
Monday 24th. Alijabu Lako turned up this forenoon with all Bwana Issa men: he has been more expeditious than I expected. He is camped on the other side of the river now: we will cross tomorrow morning and start for Mitimoni. Read all day: troubled with my head and back — fever, perhaps, but I think a touch of sun. Splendid evening, with full moon. Tonight is the end, I think, of this phase: "tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new".
Tuesday 25th. Got loads across river by 7.30 & marched to Bangalola’s arriving 3p.m.: breakfast en route. Bang.’s is on the Rovuma, w.s.w. of Halifa’s. Track runs along river most of the way, thro’ long grass. Not much shade. Crossed river — took us 2 hours as only one small canoe available: then marched to Likarumi , arriving 5.45p.m. Put up in Carter’s camp: very good banda’s. All very tired. Jardine has swept up all the men of the district so I have to keep the two shenzis I have under guard in case they bolt.
Wednesday 26th. Left 6.30a.m. hoping to reach Mitimoni for lunch, not knowing the distance, arrived 4p.m. — 20 miles. Not much water, especially in later part of journey: porters very tired and self ditto. Country rather monotonous: underlying rock quartzose grit: ground very dry, occasional view of mountains this side Lake Nyasa. On arriving Mitimoni found the company moving across the river (Rovuma) preparatory to starting for Mbamba Bay tomorrow. Officers to cross tomorrow morning. Jardine in bed with fever. Moult & Dugmore gone on ahead to round up jumbes & collect food. Carter & Addinsell here.
Thursday 27th. We got across the Rovuma, which runs by Mitimoni by 7a.m. this morning, the crossing being made in a large bamboo canoe attached to a long rope to either bank. The river is about 50yds. wide here. Mitimoni is rather a large place & is presided over by a woman, with three jumbes under her. Jardine had to be carried on a hammock, slung on poles & borne by 4 porters & must have had a pretty rough journey, as the road is pretty hilly. He is a bit better tonight. We have camped a short distance into the hills: marched 14 miles. Higher hills rising in front so tomorrow will be heavier going. The rock is still grit. We have a pretty big safari of porters including a lot of shenzis from Silimus & Likarume & had to get hold of some women to bring some of the loads here today. The Jumbe of Likarune is also accompanying us as penance for his sins.
Friday 28th. Got away very early this morning: started to rain at once & continued till we got to camp about 11.45. Road very hilly & slippery with rain. No view to be had, because of thick mist. Hills are volcanic — basalt I think. Jardine good deal better today. Very strained relations between him & Addinsell, & things very unpleasant. Cleared up in the afternoon: played Addinsell several games of chess.
Saturday 29th. dry today, fortunately, as we had several hard hills to climb, some parts being almost perpendicular. There is a bara-bara most of the way but it follows the native track all the way & there is no attempt to avoid hills. Had breakfast at a narrow deep stream, which the donkey found it impossible to cross & had to be shot amidstream. He was nearly dead with fly anyway. The valley slopes are very steep, convex, and usually go abruptly down to the edge of the stream. We had a very good view from the top of one hill, back as far as Kuntanda and Legolongo, & forward over the hills towards Nyasa. The hills over which we had come, looked rather insignificant a tumbled mass, without any arrangement altho’ there seems to be a tendency for the long ridges to run N. & S. The hills were very pretty, covered for the most part with trees, with patches of brown grass showing thro’, & dappled with the shadows of clouds. Some of the higher hills were quite bare of trees. Camped on a slope above a good stream. Very good dinner — tomato soup, salmon, chicken fritters. Beat Jardine at chess: he does’nt like the game of attrition.
Sunday 30th. Had a very good breakfast this morning — 3 eggs apiece. Had lunch on the road too, & played Carter at chess. Had a very fine view of Lake Nyasa from the top of the hills. The coast on the other side could just be seen — blue range of hills. The hills run down very steeply to a stretch of sandy flat ground along the lake. The sun was on the Lake, & showed up the valleys to the north of us: heavy dark clouds kept the sun off ourselves & threw the scene below into greater contrast. The descent was very steep and took us a good hour. Granite, basalt, volcanic ash, mica-shist. Camped at the foot among old shambas.
Monday 1st. Left at 7a.m. after hurried breakfast for Mbamba Bay arriving there about 11.30a.m. & picking Moult & Dugmore with the other two platoons on the way. The track lay over the sandy flats and occasionally right on the shore of the Lake. Waves of quite respectable size: the askaris quite delighted when the water came rushing up round their feet. Got a few small shells. Pretty hard going on the loose sand. Good number of native huts along the shore, built of reeds with mud plastered over them. The natives sitting round the doors seemed very dirty, & so was the ground round their houses — not swept like the villages on the Rovuma. Lots of dug out canoes were lying about but nearly all in disrepair: that and some were very skinny specimens, hardly better than skeletons, on the shore gave an impression that all isn’t well here but yet some of the women especially looked well fed and happy. Mbamba Bay is a small cove, with hills at either end: the camp runs right down to the water & backs onto the sandy flats behind: it consists of rows of huts set apart for officers, & N.C.O.’s, & behind that for African troops & porters. There is a very poorly equipped canteen, a post commandant, post office & pier. Had a fine bathe in the evening, the bottom runs down very quickly, & the water is very clear & not cold. Got a bunch of letters and papers from home, up to end of February. It is awful reading them now, knowing what has happened. They are all so full of David and his homecoming: I had to leave off reading several times. It is very hard sometimes to see any meaning in it or find the necessary consolation: if this is the end then there can be none except that he did his duty. Ordinarily I don’t feel much depressed: viewing it from this distance, especially when not actually seeing the sorrow at home seems to be like thinking of something that has happened a long time ago: at least that’s the only way I can explain what looks almost like callousness on my part: it is partly lack of imagination.
Tuesday 2nd. Had a bathe before breakfast, no parades today. Wrote home. Hawkins arrived from Songia this evening, fit and happy. We are going to Limbi, near Blantyre, to rest.
Wednesday 3rd. Early morning parade: rest of the day idle. Caught a cold last night but don’t think it will develop into fever. Climbed a small hill to take photo of the camp and got a dose of buffalo-bean: it seems to belong to a climbing plant, has a hairy outside which leaves its hairs on the skin & sets up great itchiness: it lasts only about half an hour.
A good motor road runs from Mbamba Bay to Songia. A very fast service of cars has been kept up over a difficult road.
Thursday 4th. Embarked on H.M.S. Guendolin — an ex-gunboat at 12 noon, of small dimensions.
[There is quite a lot of history connected with shipping on Lake Malawi. There has only been one recorded battle on the lake that took place at the outbreak of hostilities during World War One. At the time Malawi was a British colony and the colonial authorities, as a show of force in 1899 launched the largest ship on the lake, the HMS Guendolin, weighing 340 tonnes and equipped with two powerful guns. She was built by G Rennie & Co in Greenock, Scotland and reassembled at Mangochi. There were two rival colonial powers with colonies bordering the lake, the Portuguese in present day Mozambique and German East Africa in present day Tanzania. The Germans also had a gunboat on the lake, the Hermon von Wisseman, and the two captains were reportedly the best of friends, often meeting up somewhere around the lake for a drink. In 1914 when war was declared the Guendolin was ordered to destroy the Wisseman. The British captain knew were the Wisseman would be because the two captains had arranged to meet for one of their regular drinks. The German captain was unaware that war had been declared and was completely caught by surprise as the Guendolin steamed up and opened fire, putting the German ship out of action and taking the crew as prisoners of war. The Guendolin remained in government service until 1940 when she was sold to Nyasaland Railways and converted to a passenger ship; she was broken up for scrap four years later.
There were about 400 native troops on board, & 23 whites. The officers slept on upper deck, in our camp beds: the askaris were packed into every corner. As soon as we got outside the bay we began to pitch, & had a fairly rough crossing to Mkata Bay, on the other side. There we took in 160 porters & the store manager & his wife. We had a stroll on shore. Mkata bay is a mission station, with a large brick built & red-tiled store, but with very little to sell. Behind it is a nice bungalow belonging to the manager — one Miller, evidently of Edinburgh. Bought some bananas, pineapple, papaws & eggs. Left again at 6p.m. Seasick.
Friday 5th. Had a very good night & wakened feeling nearly all right except for my cold. We were fed by the steamer, but rather meagrely. Fine to see their numbers etc. again. The mountains skirt both shores of the Lake, occasionally showing gaps of low ground. Arrived off the Bar at 5p.m. & disembarked in barges. Marched in the twilight & dark to the ferry on the Shiri River & crossed to Fort Johnston. Askaris bivouaced & we were put up at the hotel where we had an excellent dinner and then to bed in white sheets.
Saturday 6th. Carter and I didn’t get up till 8 as we weren’t due to leave before 12 noon. The remainder left about 5.30a.m. We had a very good breakfast and early lunch. Fort Johnston isn’t a big place. It consists of one wide main street, with off shoots. The street is lined by two rows of acacias, & the low bungalows and stores stand back from the road. The hotel seemed to the only two-storied place: most of the buildings are of brick. Saw a number of white women and children, as well as native women in European garments, which is rather ludicrous. We got away about 1p.m. in a good car; there is a very large M.T. camp here with any number of cars, mostly rather dilapidated. We got through to Zomba by about 5p.m. changing cars at Fraser’s Camp: total distance about 85 miles. The road for the first half of the way runs down a very wide valley which seems to be a strict continuation of the Lake valley — mountains running along on either hand. After leaving Fraser’s Camp we ran into very mountainous country, the hillsides scored by v-shaped ravines, tree-clad lower down and showing bare and arid above. Zomba lies at the foot of Zomba Mountain, facing South. The Europeans live mostly along the lower slopes, where are also the Boma and 1st. K.A.R. mess. The village lies lower down, composed mostly of Indian stores, African Lakes Corporn. Stores & now of course M.T. etc. parks and camps — but we had no time to go round the place. We slept in the detail camp & messed with the 1st. K.A.R. They have a very fine place here with splendid view down the valley to Mlanji Mtn. They have also a billiard room and a very fine gramophone which I enjoyed very much.
Sunday 7th. After early breakfast at the Mess, left by car for Limbi where we arrived about 10a.m. travelling most of the way at hair-raising speed. Very cold especially when we ran into thick Scotch mist. The country struck me as very uninteresting , altho’ hilly: it is comfortless, few trees & those mostly stunted & deformed. Plenty cotton growing & lying in bales on road side. This part & more especially the country between Fort Johnston & Zomba is very thickly populated & the natives seem very prosperous — well clothed and well fed. There is also a marked difference in their attitude especially that of some of the women towards Europeans — they have lost coyness and occasionally modesty: some of the children are regular guttersnipes. Limbi is about 1 and 1/2 miles from our camp: small place, mainly Indian dukas: it is railhead for this L. of C. Blantyre is about 6 miles away but I didn’t go over as I have got more cold & being afraid of fever went to bed in forenoon. I wish we weren’t doing this journey so fast: we have no time to see places or to buy things. We are bound for Port Herald tomorrow where the rest of the battalion is. Whether we are to sit down there or push right into the blue, is quite uncertain. Von Lettow seems to be leading them a fine dance once more.
Monday 8th. Left Limbi by Shira Highland Railway at 7.30a.m. The carriages are very poor, not even up to those we travelled in from Mombasa to Nairobi. No cooking apparatus on board & no refreshment rooms. Managed to make tea with water from engine: bought some fruit en route. Travelling very slowly — much worse than our own Highland Ry. Country not very interesting: hilly, with occasionally thick, dry thorny bush. Distant view of Mlanji, its summit high above the clouds: the highest mountain I have seen unless Kilimanjaro. At Chiromo found part of No. 4 Coy. with Simpson, Haslam, & Brown whom I haven’t seen since April. He is now keeping much better. They are guarding Ry. Bridge here & patrolling country to East. Arrived Port Herald about 4.30p.m. Battalion bivouacked beside station, officers billeted in bungalows. Not a big place: 10 whites and one lady, married. Ground very flat: plenty trees in the town, & short European-like grass: close by is Shire River: boundary between Nyasaland & Portuguese East. No. 3 Coy. billeted on verandah of civilian’s house; owner not too pleased: things unpleasant & food late & scanty. Heaps of mosquitoes.
Tuesday 9th No parades today, Dugmore & Addinsell down with fever. Very warm during day & thick mist in the morning. Books arrived from Jo’burg last night so have now plenty good reading material on hand. No news of the Huns. Nobody seems to know where they are. They have got 2 cannons from Portuguese — captured them along with spare parts. "The enemy is now well equipped in every department." Things seem no nearer an end. Everything topsy-turvy.
Wednesday 10th. Went across the Shire River this forenoon with Jardine & the rest and visited the Portuguese post there. The Portug. fellow has been there about 20 years, and has a couple of black wives and a numerous half caste family, the most loathsome looking things. He is very affable himself. Jardine & he spoke French, with lapses into English & Swahili. We started mapping the Port. side. It is very flat & uninteresting, full of swamp and mosquitoes. The latter are very big & bite all day as well as night. The house we are living in is supposed to be mosquito proof but isn’t.
Thursday 11th. Went down the River about 3 miles by canoe and walked back. The river is very uninteresting, winding about between banks of black cotton soil, with stretches of swampy ground & everywhere very long coarse grass & reeds. There are a good many natives living on the banks, who seem to spend most of their time fishing or standing waist deep in water mending their traps. Got back at 2.30. No. 1 Coy. in to dinner tonight: not very rowdy. My platoon on picket round west side of town. Lost myself trying to go round the posts, even with help of a lantern.
Friday 12th. Addinsell has been laid up for several days with his throat: going to hospital tomorrow. Moult laid up as result of last night & ordered Castor Oil. Spent a pleasant hour after dinner with one of the Scotch residents of the place, listening to his gramophone and looking thro’ his books.
Saturday 13th. Addinsell left for Limbi hospital today. We are rather relieved that he has gone as it clears the air a bit. There is little camaraderie here: we are all far too critical and liable to give & take offence too easily. Not having anything big to think about and no common danger to bind us together, we magnify trifles: but on the whole we are very happy together.
Sunday 14th. No parades today: wrote home & to Logan: read Macaulay’s essay on Clive. Outbreak of chickenpox in No. 1 Coy. which has gone a few miles out into quarantine. Very close today: plenty mosquitoes out & biting all day. Marabout storks building in the trees round about. No definite news of Von Lettow yet, except that he seems to be near the coast somewhere north of Quilimane. No news at all of France.
Monday 15th. Pegging out the new lines today. No.2 & 4 Coys. arrived by train so all the battalion is here now. Brodie in to dinner: reminds me of D.B. K. [That would be JBC’s school friend D. Barrogill Keith, later Sheriff of Orkney] He and Jardine both lived in Uganda before the war. They agree that it is much better run than Nyasaland or B.E.A. but no place for the individual settler. Cotton in Uganda is a native product, & coffee they think won’t do well in the future, altho’ it gets a good price at present. Nyasaland also produces a great amount of cotton. Both countries are handicapped in the matter of outlet, Nyasa produce all having to pass thro’ a foreign port. Labour is cheap in both places — a boy gets 4 to 7 shillings a month. In B.E.A. labour seems much dearer, at least personal boys are. The real power of Nyasaland is in the hands of the African Lakes Corporn. — a Scottish missionary concern.
Tuesday 16th. Orders came today that we are to return to the Bar: there is evidently some possibility of the Huns going north again. We won’t be able to start to move at least till the day after tomorrow. Ordered some books for Jardine from J.C. Jeta. Uproarious dinner tonight, & more uproarious sequel in Black’s house, which I have just slipped away from with Jardine while most of the furniture was still intact.
Wednesday 17th. Moult & I left by train for Limbi en route for Zomba & the dentist. Had a very good journey. Much brighter than the day we came down, & consequently much better impression of the country. Had also the advantage of the company of men who knew the country, on an ex-employee of the sugar factory on the Zambesi, & the other an Italian planter. The main crops of the country are tobacco round Blantyre, tea at Mlange Mountain, & cotton on the low ground from Chiromo southwards. Chiromo used to be the railway terminus, & the river steamer came right up the Shire to there: in fact in early times they came to within 26 miles of Blantyre. Now they can only reach Port Herald in flood time & the railway has been produced from Chiromo to there and then to Chimdio. Before the war there was a scheme for bridging the Zambesi & carrying the railway to Beira. Chimde is inaccessible for boats over 600 tons & the bar is dangerous. The reason for these changes is that Nyasa is drying up. The steamers used to come down the Shire to within 12 miles of Blantyre. There is only sand & reeds there now; sometimes the river flows back into the Lake. The latter has fallen 9 feet within 40 years or so. It is a long climb up from Chiromo to Limbi, up the valley of the Ruo, thro’ fine scenery. We had a good view of Mlange which is about 9000 ft. high. It consists of a high plateau (6000 or so ft.) with absolutely precipitous sides, & two high peaks which were lost in clouds. There is a mission station, & plantations along the southern base: on the plateau there are a few houses for Europeans in the hot season: no trees except cedars in the ravines, & elsewhere short grass. So far as I could make out the hills thro’ which the railway runs consist of granitic rocks with associated volcanic rocks: they weather to a rich dark red earth. Got into Limbi after 7p.m. & walked up to detail camp. Lovely night but cold.
Thursday 18th. By car to Zomba after breakfast. Got a few things at the stores & walked up to Church of Scotland Mission. The church is rather a fine building — entirely brick, & built by native labour. It is on cathedral lines, but without transept: high vaulted roof with dark wooden panels. They have attained to some rude decoration on the brickwork which has a venerable look quite like some of the Cambridge colleges. It has several stained glass windows, and the pulpit reading desk & choir were more like English Church productions than Old Kirk. There’s a small pipe organ too. Round the walls are inset brass tablets in memory of many of the pioneers, including Livingstone. We were shown over the school by one of the ladies. The children come in to start at all ages. They learn to read & write in their own language first — Chinyanza and then go on to English. We saw specimens of their writing, heard them read etc. feeling rather like H.M. Inspectors must do. They go up to Standard VI, which seems to correspond pretty much to our own standard. They are even taught parsing & analysis. The teaching is mainly done by native pupil teachers who get 5 shillings a month. They are trained as interpreters, typists etc. We saw over the carpenters’ shop. All the furniture of the country is made by these natives in solid mahogany: they turn out quite good work. In the mission there are about 15 white men & about same number of women: most of the men have been called up. In Blantyre itself there are about 1000 whites. The town is very well situated, but covers too much ground for convenience.
Friday 19th. Walked into Blantyre with Moult and had lunch & tea at James’s Hotel: played game of pills & wrote home. Morgan, Wiggell & Young arrived tonight from Port Herald, also on dental tack.
Saturday 20th. Sat beside the road with our kit from 7a.m. till 3.30p.m. before getting it aboard a car for Zomba. Got a lift ourselves in a touring car & came along in fine style. The country looking fine under the bright sun. Roads in good condition.
Sunday 21st. Read thro’ casualty lists for April & May today in the K.A.R. Mess. Found David’s name, also C.A. Mackay’s & David Soutar’s, & a number of others, mostly April 16th. & 17th. Wish I knew how they are at home. Went to church tonight — first time since October. Not a bad sermon, but very few people there. Church brick-built, bare & rather comfortless. Have got a hut on the hillside behind the mess.
Monday 22nd. Bought a few things at the African Lakes stores today & read most of the day.
Tuesday 23rd. Have been reading up the war news of March, April & May. Rather depressed all day.
Wednesday 24th. Climbed Zomba Mountain today with Moult & Young, taking lunch in a haversack. The mountain rises abruptly up behind the town, in fact the Europeans have built their houses on the lower slopes. It is a pretty steep climb, to go straight up, but there’s a good motor road winding gradually up. The top is called "the plateau". It is here that the Europeans live in the hot season: there are a number of bungalows. The Plateau is really a basin the sides of which run up here & there into peaks. Quite a number of small streams rise on the hill-sides — evidently from very high-sited springs, & join up into one quite respectable burn which runs down the middle of the valley thro’ thick bush & over many falls. The stream has been stocked with Loch Leven trout which I understand aren’t breeding well tho’ & no fishing is allowed. The Government Forestry Depart. has planted a lot of firs of some sort in the valley, for the sake of the timber I understand, but, incidentally giving the landscape a homelike touch. We fed at the side of the burn & followed it up some distance. I saw tree-ferns, royal fern, ordinary bracken and any number of flowers whose names of course I didn’t know: it was like walking thr’ a Botanical Garden, & the smell often took me back to Edinburgh days. When not sheltered the wind is quite cold up here even at midday.
No. 4 Coy. arrived today. It, & No. 2 & the M.G. Coy. are to march from here to Malakotera’s. No. 1 &3 to go by car at least as far as Namwera’s, East of Fort Johnstone. The Bosche is evidently going North.
Thursday 25th. No. 2 Coy. & M.G. Coy. arrived today: great crush in the mess: they are very good to put up with so many of us,
Friday No. 2 Coy. & No.4 left this morning with C.O. to march to Malakotera’s, going round south end of Lake Shirwa. M.G. Coy. went by car by Fort Johnston.
Saturday 27th. Got 6 pounds from Treasury today. Auction sale of deceased officers’ kits: impossible to bid against M.T.C. men who are rolling in money. So had to do without a table & chair wh. I hoped to pick up. No.3 Coy. arrived after dusk.
Sunday 28th. No. 3 Coy. left by car for Fort Johnstown, en route for Malakotera’s. Wrote Bessie in afternoon & went to church in the evening. Borrowed some books of the minister and so wangled a dinner. He couldn’t give me much help on the point I wished. The native congregation numbers 1500. The elders he says are very strong & thoroughgoing: also that the natives have a deep sense of sin: that they are building their own churches in many villages, defraying all expenses & giving the labour. Parallel with the church is the educational movement: no native is baptized till he can read: so schools are established all over, & are eagerly taken advantage of.
Monday 29th. A rotten wet day, with scotch mist. This is a wretched place in bad weather: no chance of getting warm or comfortable even in the mess. Spent the afternoon below the blankets reading the Koran & James’s ‘Varieties’. No.1 Coy. arrived today, the last of the battalion now.
Thursday 30th. Better weather today. Wrote Mother & Miss Reid. Dentist for second time: won’t have lower plate in just now as it would take too long.
Wednesday 31st. Had 2 molars out today, which I funked badly. Arranged to leave tomorrow, & am glad to get away as this place is getting rather stale.
Thursday 1st. Gen. Hawthorne inspected 1st. Depot today. Got away by 12 o’clock convoy, changing from Hupps to Ford’s at Fraser’s Camp and getting into Fort Johnston at 4.30p.m. very hot: many bush fires. Staying at Mrs. Martins Chigawe Hotel.
Friday 2nd. Walked from Fort Johnston to Hill Camp leaving 9.30 and arriving 2.30, lunch en route. The road crosses the old levels of the Lake for about 4 miles & then winds up the hills. Very good motor road with hairpin bends. Road cut in rubble & rock (metamorphic with volcanic dykes) & in places we got very large biotite flakes. Hill camp practically empty. Telegraph N.C.O. here tells us of two man eating lions in neighbourhood, which have carried off several natives in middle of day. He hit the male last night & followed it all day today, but didn’t get him. Showed us rock-python skin with claws on underside: these not present on ordinary veld-python. Had splendid view of Lake Nyasa & surrounding country as we came up but too hazy to see distance distinctly. Our personal boys are doing guard over the porters tonight as 6 ran away yesterday.
Saturday 3rd. Five hours marching took us to Namwera’s. The road lay thro’ the hills but we had done most of the climbing yesterday: in fact we were going down-hill most of the time. Passed thro’ two fairly large villages with groves of banana trees, the fruit mostly picked & what was left, unripe. The country in front of us looks rather flat with isolated rocky hills. Namwera’s has been a big camp but is now nearly empty. A few of our officers are here trying to get thro’ to the battalion which is 6 days further on, but there are neither cars nor porters, so we have just to wait & see.
Sunday 4th. Spent the day writing, and reading Public Opinion which I got last night from South Africa. It gives a good idea of the stress & strain of March & April, when the German offensive opened. Escort & the two Morgans left for the battalion this morning, and Moult & I have been fortunate enough to get fixed up with porters, and leave tomorrow.
Monday 5th. And the 5th. Year of the war. Left Namwera’s about 8a.m. with 15 porters, Fairly easy march of 4 and 1/2 hrs. to a standing camp which we found empty. The country today has been rather un-interesting and we seem to have left the hills behind: the vegetation is mostly withered up, all the streambeds dry, & a number of bush fires to be seen. Big safari of porters arrived in camp in the afternoon. The road is still a good motor one. We are now in Portuguese territory once again.
Tuesday 6th. Marched 4 and 3/4 hrs. today, arriving just W. of Lujenda River. Very warm marching & road crowded with the safari which came along last night: they are simple straggling along in their own time. Nothing of the country is to be seen beyond the roadside — high grass restricting the view & the land flat.
Wednesday 7th. Crossed the Lujenda & turned south along Lake Amaramba, to camp of that name. The Lake is hardly to be seen from the road, for the trees & high grass: it is about 15 miles by 2. Got good news from France here: then carried on to 4mile camp. Met a sergeant on the road with the most perfect Highland accent — from Inverness. This is a very dirty camp, as porters have been sleeping indiscriminately in all the huts. There is good water here, & plenty of it in a sluggish stream, where there are very fine blue water-lilies & other queer plants. I tried for game in the evening but the grass is too long. There was plenty about last night’s camp, jackal & hippos were kicking up a row, & this morning we got lions & buck tracks quite close, on the road.
Thursday 8th. Marched 17 miles today over very flat & almost water less country. Saw some buck & a buffalo but too far away for a shot. This is the first buffalo I have seen altho’ we often came across their fresh tracks on the Rovuma. He was cantering along, parallel to the road: the porters dropped their loads & made for the nearest trees, headed by Willie. After getting into camp ("21 Mile Camp") we both went out after game, but with no luck. I put up another buffalo but he made off. Ground very dry, only a few water-holes. Very fine evening, with new moon.
Friday 9th. Marched 15 miles today, but it seemed more like 20. Country very dry, a few low hills of granite. Passed thro’ one village where we got a cock for sixpence but without getting the owner’s permission. The women here have the usual nasal ornament moved from the left nostril down to the middle of the upper lip, which consequently protrudes. Very little water at this camp, & what there is is got by digging in the river bed. Plenty game-tracks on the road today, but we saw no animals. They seem to use the road a good deal by night — hyaena, jackal, buck, leopard etc. Moult & I shaved our moustaches off.
Saturday 10th. Got into Malakotera’s about 11 a.m. with the aid of a "tin Lizzie". After some trouble found the company, with them all in good form. Malakotera’s is a Portuguese boma post, with whitewashed embattled fort, and wide ‘market square’. We had expected to remain here at least a few days but orders came in in the afternoon to move tomorrow for Muleterre. There is some word of a small native rising in that quarter. We are in Baxter’s column, along with 1/1st. & 2/4th. battalions. Had to give some thought to getting our loads down to the regulation four.
Sunday 11th. Got away at 6a.m. Rather slow going, as a battalion, like Divisional days at Bedford, & occasionally going very fast. Passed through between some very curious hills. One great hill on the left of the road, rises a solid mass of granite sheer upwards, with all its lines rounded off as if it were a diagrammatic example of a glaciated mountain. The sides of it were all scored with perfectly perpendicular runnels, thro’ some of which water tumbles downwards. At one point what seemed to be two long streaks of carb. of lime issued from a crack halfway up & fell down to the base like two waterfalls, but we were too far off to examine them. We have camped for the night at the foot of this precipice: there isn’t a single piece of vegetation on it & only a few bushes near the top. The camp is very concentrated & I expect won’t be very peaceful to sleep in, but I’m very tired personally.
Monday 12th. A long march today, about 17 miles, & a very tiresome path thro’ long grass, & over occasional rough ground. The path lay between ranges of rocky hills, all with the same rounded lines as the one we passed yesterday, but on a smaller scale. I think the rounding is mainly due to the action of the sun. We crossed the Lurio river about 1.30p.m. — very little water: camped on the other side. The loads didn’t arrive till about 5 p.m. In the meantime I went out for buck but without success. Had a bath in the river at sundown, & am now waiting for the first meal of the day, & very hungry too.
Tuesday 13th. Had a fairly easy march today, of about 11 miles, arriving at Muletere about 11a.m. It is a small place, with a white Portuguese boma lying at he foot of a high rocky hill: there is a good stream of water, & we found a fairly good camp to march into. We pitched our tents, but it was too hot to sleep in them during the day.
Wednesday 14th. Parade in the bush this forenoon: getting down to field work again — advanced guards etc. Very hot indeed in the middle of the day but I think this heat is unusual. It was hot all last night. Wrote home today, & had my hair cut. Capts. Grant & ‘Samaki ‘ 2/4 K.A.R. to dinner.
Thursday 15th. Still very hot but have got into a banda. We expect to be here at least six days as our porters have been sent to Malakotera’s to bring up our food. The Hun is still down near the coast and doesn’t seem to be coming to much harm.
Friday 16th. Visited the 2/4th. who are camped near us here. Saw Straiton, and Sinclair Macpherson, Reay. Fried zebra kidneys for breakfast this morning, but found them rather strong. There is a good deal of game about here, but our men have brought in very little so far. The 2/4th. have got some good sable & kudu.
Saturday 17th. Sham fight in the bush this morning. Hawkins in defence & rest of Coy. attacking. Some good work by our Lewis guns. After lunch Dugmore & I with 12 porters left camp and went south for 3 hours along the line of hills to W. of Muletere. We camped there for the night in a small hollow, in bamboos, beside small stream. Followed lion spoor but didn’t come up with him.
Sunday 18th. Left camp shortly after 6 with orderly & 2 porters each. We struck off in different directions after crossing the Lualo River. The country doesn’t look good for game — very dry, long grass & patches of bamboo. About 8a.m. I came on a herd of 13 sable antelope and 3 hartebeest. I tried a longish shot at the bull but missed. They didn’t take fright tho’ and after about 1 and 1/2 hours stalking I got among them & brought down three. I got back to camp one o’clock & sent out all the porters, who got in at 8p.m. Had a good feed of grilled steak done on the embers. Fine night, with bright moonlight.
Monday 19th. Had breakfast at 6.30a.m. — fried kidneys & rice, etc. Arrived Muletere 11a.m. after very warm march. Good news from France — Bosches losing many prisoners & guns.
Tuesday 20th. Kit inspection, but no issue of stuff, which is sorely needed & has long been indented for. Many of the men are in rags, & when there is a guard to be mounted there is a lot of swapping of clothes to make them look respectable. Orders to move came in tonight: we are going south again, leaving tomorrow morning.
Wednesday 21st. Breakfast at 5.45, marched off 6.30, by same road as Dugmore & I took on Saturday. Very slow going as there were a number of dry gullies to be crossed. Got into camp about 1.30p.m. Very hot. Camped near a stream issuing from hills on right. After lunch went out shooting & came on fine herd of eland. While I was stalking them an askari came up & began shooting at some guinea fowl close by, so I had to take a long & hurried shot & missed. Followed up the herd into patch of long grass, where they began rushing round, not knowing where to go. Unable to get a shot tho’, especially as there were a number of people round about & a lot of shots going. The herd cleared off & we lost them. Shower of rain tonight and threatening more.
Thursday 22nd. Left camp at 5.30a.m. Had a hurried breakfast on the road, & arrived Lioma (13 miles) at 11a.m. Fortunately day very cloudy. Started again at noon & arrived here (11 miles) about 4.45p.m. All fairly tired & a few porters fell out. Have made a perimeter camp, as whereabouts of Huns not known. Lioma looked a fertile place — Portuguese Boma with sisal, rubber, cotton & tobacco. Good road all the way, but a few bridges wanted. Country hilly, but the road follows the valleys.
Friday 23rd. Did about 20 miles today, in two stages as yesterday. Hotter. Everybody pretty tired today, but in good form. Hun reported about 70 miles S.S.E. of Regone two days ago, so we are marching with advanced guard & rear guard, & forming squares at midday halt as well as at night-time. However I don’t think they are very apprehensive of the Hun being near us, as no other precautions are being taken.
Written up on 30th.
Saturday 24th. Shortly after we got into bed last night No. 3 & 4 Coys. and four M.G.s were ordered to Regone. The Hun was reported marching on that place and the 2/4th. were going out to meet him. We got a splendid moonlit night and arrived Regone 7.30a.m. — distance 14 miles. Found 2 Coys. 2/4th. still there. Camped outside the boma, but moved up in the evening to the boma and took up position on the hill. Word had come in that Numarroe — 20 miles out, held by 2 Coys. 2/4th had been attacked. We moved out at midnight in that direction but soon heard Numarroe had fallen & began to meet parties of 2/4th straggling back to Regone. We went forward very slowly in this order No. 2 Coy., No. 1, No. 4, No.3. No. 3 had to look after large safari of porters with reserve ammunitn. etc. so were well spread out.
Sunday 25th. Marched all night a mile an hour and halted at 9.30a.m. to cook breakfast. The place chosen was a basin, quite surrounded by hills. Just getting down to food when rifle fire started between our advanced guard and enemy and there was a stampede among the porters. Most of them rushed down into a small stream & buried their faces in the bank, others got below the little bridge. I thought we were going to lose them all, but they didn’t run far and as the firing died down we got them back to their loads & the column moved on a few hundred yards. We hung about here for some time, No. 3 Coy. not being called on. The firing was not brisk & mostly ours. The Hun was reported clearing out of Numarroe & coming in our direction. The day was misty & drizzly — it had been raining all night. The mist lifted for a little at noon, & we saw the German safari moving along a mountain side across our left flank. H.Q. wasn’t sure whether they were Huns or not so our M.G.s were not allowed to fire. This matter of identifying the enemy is one of the great difficulties. They were afraid Von Lettow was making for Regone so we about turned & boosted back there, my platoon doing A.G. En route we had another stampede of the porters but arrived Regone safely about 6.30p.m. in heavy rain. Fortunately Hawkins had arrived and had food and tents ready for us, fished out our loads from the middle of chaotic mass in the boma square and we got into bed.
Monday 26th. A few rifle shots got us out of bed in a hurry, but only a patrol scrap. Huns reported all round us in the bush. Worked all day putting up barricade of sisal and improving trenches. Huns sniping at us in the afternoon. He brought up a M.G. in the evening and gave us a few bursts which sent us all to the trenches. Late in the evening he crept up to the sisal but thought better of it when we opened heavy fire on him. Manned the trenches all night, but all quiet after this.
Tuesday 27th. No. 1 Coy. went out this morning & worked round the boma. Meanwhile a Hun party 60 rifles or so strong, with 1 M.G. crept up from the Lioma road. No.1 Coy. got on their flank & drove them off, taking some ammn. Etc. off them, & nearly getting a gun. Huns kept on sniping at us giving us bursts of M.G. In the afternoon the whole battalion moved out & wheeled round the boma intending to attack Von Lettow, No.4 Coy. forming screen, No.3 on left flank, and the others completing the diamond. We didn’t go far tho’ for some reason & returned to the Boma for tea. Manned the trenches again at night. ‘Short-Col’ was in touch by signal lamp tonight. Von Lettow’s camp fires visible about 2 miles away. Quiet night. Moult with patrol today got alongside Hun porters on march. They had been passing across our front. Kendall did the same & captured a porter with a box of good loot.
Wednesday 28th. Short Col & R.N.V.R. closed up today and we marched out of the boma at 8.30 to attack, the Huns being reported still in their camp. 2 Coys. held the boma, remainder of force as follows
2 Coys. 2/4th.
| | | | No. 3 Coy. 3/4th.
No. 2 3/4th.| | | | No.1 Coy. 3/4th.
| | No.4
We made another elaborate wheel thro’ the bush, which took an unconscionable time. There was a machine gun somewhere which kept bothering us, but this was the only fire we came under. We found out later, from captured porters, that the Huns had cleared out early in the morning & while we spent the day feeling our way thro’ the bush he was getting a move on, & is away north again. Returned to the Boma & slept in comfort.
Thursday 29th. Moved out of the boma and made camp about 1 and 1/2 miles out. Had pickets out at night in from of Zareba. Huns reported at Mogomo, on road to Lioma.
Friday 30th. Moved out about 4 miles and formed a camp on other side of Luo River. Now in "Fitz-Col." Loads late in arriving. Hawkins rather ill.
Saturday 31st. Transferred to Barton’s Column today. Left at 9a.m. for Mogomo, but only did about 17 miles. Made perimeter camp as usual. Huns reported working south again but nobody sure where. Carter left us as Barton’s Staff Captain, & Moult as temp. Col. Signal officer. Sgt Barrow as R.Q.M.S.
Sunday 1st. At 10.30a.m. No.3 Coy. marched out along Lioma road to find out if Mogomo still occupied by enemy, & to send out patrols from there if enemy gone. We went with screen flankers & rearguard, & had 2 M.G.s. No.11, 12, 9, 10 platoons. Met no opposition & arrived Mogomo 12.30p.m. 1/4th. askaris reported Shorcol had moved on to Lioma. Bartons two battalions moved thro’ us at 5p.m. & we fell in behind 3/4th. Very good news — Huns badly knocked at Lioma, losing 24 whites, 50 ask., 200 porters baggage & hospital on the 30th., & now gone east in disorder. We marched till 7.30p.m. but too dark for night march.
Monday 2nd. Left camp 6a.m. and arrived at scene of fight about noon. Occupied the British camp. Very hot today. Our Coy. 3/1st. to search the ground for wounded & ‘kag’. ‘Kartocol’ in action today to the east but no news yet. Hear that 44 German whites have now been accounted for.
Tuesday 3rd. Left camp 6a.m. after early breakfast. Marched till 11a.m. towards Muletere, then from 2 — 4 p.m. arriving & making camp at same spot as Dugmore & I stayed on 17th. August. Very warm again. Passed thro’ large village, now deserted, & all the millet strewn about the fields & road, wasting & being carried off by anybody who wishes it. Suppose the inhabitants have fled to the hills. Jardine’s feet bad these days & making him irritable. Huns reported north of Muletere — Malema road. Three of his companies not yet located.
Wednesday 4th. No. 3 Coy. did rear-guard today, a slow job with such a long column — about 5000 porters in it. Reached Muletere about 11.30a.m. (10 miles). Rested for a few hours and then went on to "Lurio Crossing", same as on 12th. Aug. Arrived there 8p.m. (10 miles) and had some difficulty in camping in the middle of a shamba.
Thursday 5th. Had a slack day: wrote home: saw Morrison who used to be in No.2 Platoon, 5th Seaforths, now Adjt. 3/1 KAR. Talked with him about old days and got some news of the old boys. Huns reported going N& E along banks of Lurio. Big kiboko parade tonight.
Friday 6th. Marched to stream midway between Muletere & Malema — back over same road. Have left Barton’s column now. Heard stokes guns to North this morning. Met Moodie 1/1 KAR at Muletere. Very hot and dusty on the road. Got into camp after 6p.m. in darkness & very dirty. Now waiting for a bath, but not much water.
Saturday 7th. Arrived Malema 12.30 this forenoon. Very hot and dusty march. Breakfast on the roadside. Bush now practically leafless. Some rather wonderfully shaped hills on our right, like huge boulders rolled together: bare tops, precipitous sides. Crossed Malema river — a fine stream, 30 yards wide, 5 —6 feet deep, clear & strong. Boma on E. bank burnt some months ago. We seem to be making for further East, - perhaps the coast.
Sunday 8th. Spent a lackadaisical day: wrote one letter: church service in the evening, congregation of 10, in the Q.M. Stores.
Monday 9th. Left for Ribane 6a.m. Another hot dusty march, of 15 miles. Rather interesting country, passing round flank of another range of tooth-like mountains, still with all their features smoothed and rounded off. As we are now at a good distance from the Hun we have no picquets out, and don’t dig in at nights.
Tuesday 10th. Marched 21 miles today, getting in at 6p.m., my platoon being rearguard. Not a bad march: not so much dust on the road & more leaves on the trees. We seem to be getting into lower & warmer country, but still passing thro’ hills of same smooth type. Carried water from the midday halt as there was said to be none here but we have found enough for a bath.
Wednesday 11th. Marched about 19 miles: midday halt of 2 and 1/2 hrs. below mangrove tree growing in a dampish spot. Lower parts of stem (or aerial roots) showed numbers of hacks as if with panga. Country still hilly: good camp tonight, beside a field hospital & small clear stream. Moult to hospital with diarrhoea this morning & fearing the worst: Brown yesterday with fever. Jardine very quiet these days & rather fed up with us all I think.
Thursday 12th. Arrived Ribaue 8a.m. Boma has been burnt by Huns: now rebuilding. Not much sign of cultivation. A few shenzi huts round about but people very shy and frightened. Could get no potatoes, but a few bananas & tomatoes. Lay outside the boma all day in very hot sun waiting for rations. Left at 3.30 & came about 4 miles. Just had a pretty good dinner. We are now heading N.E. for the Nampula — Lurio motor road, 4 days away. Moult & Brown left for Mozambique today, much envied by us all.
Friday 13th. Marched about 16 miles today. The road has now become a bush track, & more pleasant. Rather unlucky day for us losing our flour among other things. Plenty water along route today as we were passing thro’ rather hilly country. No news of the Huns who seem to have been lost again: suspected going North on W. bank of Lurio R.
Saturday 14th. 19 miles today: crossed Muenbura River at noon & have been going ENE most of the day: many deserted shambas but practically no sign of natives. Camping tonight about 5 miles from "Nampula — Lurio Crossing" motor road. Late in getting in, No.3 doing rearguard. Water bad here, but daily rum ration now. Penfold went back to Ribane yesterday, sick. Major Carr crocked now & will no doubt be going down the line too.
Sunday 15th. Reached Muenbura boma on the motor road at breakfast time this morning. Marched total of about 22 miles today, getting in 6.45p.m., the afternoon march being longer than was intended as no water could be found. Very dusty on the road and walking heavy: everybody very tired. A good deal of sickness among the men — diarrhoea, fever and fatigue. Von Lettow reported making for Mtarika’s on the Lujenda, having got north of all our columns. Opening up Mbamba Bay again.
Monday 16th. Did only y 9 miles today, starting 8a.m. so had a good night’s sleep. Spent most of the day in a dry stream bed in good shady spot, and came on here in cool of the evening. Some trouble about heavy loads — my box among them. Rations rather short here. Understand we are bound for Medo & then Ngomano on Rovuma. Bosch near Mwembe.
Tuesday 17th. 17 miles: quite comfortable march. Country rather tame. Some good trees near the streams, including vegetable-ivory palms which seem to favour lower country, men brought us some "tamarinds" today — sort of bean with spongy inside: remember we had some in the press in Rose Cottage long ago. We are all fairly well rested now but safari life is beginning to pall a bit — especially the early rising.
Wednesday 18th. Left camp at 7a.m. after breakfast. No.3 rearguard so no hurry. Arrived Lurio crossing 11a.m. (9 miles). River here divided into 4 channels by sandy islets. Said to be plenty crocs.. Cars cross by bridge & pontoon. Camped among big trees on N. bank. 4/4th here too: 1/3rd left today: all going to Medo. Bosch rumoured near Nudi’s on Rovuma.
Thursday 19th. Day of rest: men washing & cleaning up. Wrote home & to Louise. Rather hot here: but no mosquitoes, or tsetses as far as we have seen altho’ there’s said to be plenty fever and sleeping sickness in the Lurio valley. Didn’t risk a bathe.
Friday 20th. Left 6 a.m. Marched 16 miles N.W. thro’ rather dry & quite uninteresting country. Still driving with us a herd of oxen for fresh meat but they are getting very thin, & dying on roadside — when they are cut up usually & brought into camp. There’s very little for them to eat. Got into camp at 1p.m.. Water rather bad. Jardine’s knee showing signs of giving out.
Saturday 21st. Jardine went to hospital today & probably won’t come back as he is fed up. Dugmore in command of Coy. Marched 16 miles: very hot & practically no shade: not so sandy. A lot of diarrhoea today, probably bad water or these oxen. Camped at (left blank). Battn. ordered to Port Amelia and we hear is bound for Dar-Es-Salaam.
Sunday 22nd. This is my 29th birthday. Easy march 15 miles getting into camp noon. Good shade below mango tree. Wrote Bessie: reading Sartor Resartus, & making resolutions.
Monday 23rd. Very easy 12 today, mainly owing to C.O. being down with diarrhoea. Country gently undulating: bush, bamboo & occasional small mangoes. Lay all the rest of the day below a grass shelter. This is war as it should be fought.
Tuesday 24th. Passed thro’ Medo 11a.m. and camped on east side of Moma ( 9 miles today). Big camp round the Boma — signals, supplies etc. Very sandy, hot & no shade: glad to get down into the bush again. Jardine left by car for Port Amelia today: we may see him there. 4/4th leaving by motor for same place today: we are to march ( 128 miles ).
Wednesday 25th. 17 miles today: not very interesting country. Lots of old camps & trenches along the road. Flies getting very troublesome now in the middle of the day. 4/4th still going through in lorries & making plenty dust. Got into camp 4.30. Sky overcast and like rain in the afternoon, Finished Sartor Resartus.
Thursday 26th. 15 miles today, resting for 3 and 1/2 hours at noon as the C.O. has diarrhoea: we would have preferred to come straight on. Country getting lower: atmosphere muggy, but perhaps just temporary: heavy mist last night. Considerable difficulty in getting water — only in holes & not good. Carter started as assistant adjutant today. Very good news from France for some days back — good news from all fronts except this one. Some secrecy as to our final destination: consequently much speculation.
Friday 27th. Arrived Meza ( 6 miles ) at 9 a.m. Drew 2 days rations, rested & cooked day’s food: went on 10 miles, sleeping near water hole with very little water but we brought a lot along with us. Meza is quite a poor place: no sign of natives or buildings except old bandas: just a small ration dump. Rations very bad & many items missing: river undrinkable.
Saturday 28th. 13 miles, reaching Ankuabe 11.30 a.m. Plenty water here, & good. Spent the day in dry stream bed, below the bushes. This life is making me very lazy, but we will soon be at the coast. Some word of a mail arriving tonight.
Sunday 29th. Bosche reported at Haliffa’s, burning villages & collecting food. He has got away from all our people tho’ still some forces about Songia & Lupumba. We marched 17 miles today: water more plentiful, but still has to be got from holes in river beds. Hawkins very fed up these days & no wonder. Gen. Rawlinson reported at Dar-Es-Salaam clearing out staff funkholes and making enquiries. Hope it is true.
Monday 30th. May’s birthday. Got the first sight of the sea at 8a.m. Easy march of 12 miles to Mahiba where there is a large hospital. Very comfortable shelter amongst some dense bushes, but with a good breeze from the sea. Batch of letters today March — May from home, written after opening of German offensive. D. evidently fell 21st. March.
Tuesday 1st. Arrived Mtuge ( 10 miles ), marching over low, thickly bushed country. Very sultry today & some rain in early morning. Rock here sedimentary grit, sandstone, flag & limestone. Saw no fossils. Made camp in bush; very hot & high wind in afternoon.
Wednesday 2nd. Kit inspection, hoping to re-equip here. Bulgaria thrown up the sponge: everybody greatly pleased: good news from France too. Hawkins left for Dar-Es-Salaam — dental treatment, & is to send off my cable. We expect sail about 8th.
Thursday 3rd. Crossed to Port Amelia this forenoon with Herring to buy chop. Pretty rough crossing as the equinoctial gales are on. Tug took over seven dhows & tow rope broke: bit of confusion. Port Amelia bay very big: rather shallow & tide leaves wide flats at least on w. side. The port lies under an old coral reef which has been raised up just as at Lindi but not so as to bring the flats behind it above water. Very hot crossing & I got a touch of the sun. Found Jardine still in hospital & likely to get his ticket. Detail camp, hospital etc. up on top of old reef: very exposed to sun, wind & dust.
Friday 4th. Returned to battalion this evening. Good crossing. Some confusion as regards boats to take battalion . 2 & 4 Coys. have marched round the Bay, arriving P. Amelia today. We will follow suit in a few days. 1/2 arrived at Gaia & camped there today. Dodds reached us with a lot of whisky this afternoon, so some gaiety in the camp.
Saturday 5th. One hour’s parade today: rest reading, writing etc. Very warm midday but high wind. No mosquitoes here. Saw a wild pig for the first time tonight. Dugmore tried a shot but no luck.
Sunday 6th. Out after guinea fowl with Dugmore early this morning: got none. There is a black crested kind here which doesn’t seem to rise off the ground at all & several have been run down by the men. They take refuge in the thickest clumps of bush. Photographed a number of men today as types of the different tribes: hope they come out. Wrote a couple of letters: reading "John Halifax, Gentleman" — a good old book, very full of the glamour of English countryside and home life, and am consequently feeling a bit homesick. This is a splendid evening, with quite a Sunday feel: not such a high wind as these last few days. Very quiet in the company now with only Dugmore & Carter, & the latter mostly at H.Q..
Monday 7th. Left camp at 5.30a.m. to march round to Port Amelia. Road follows high ground round S. end of bay. Number of exposures of sedimentary rocks- from conglomerate to limestone. No sign of fossils tho’. Marched about 12 miles, getting into camp 10a.m.: made shelter under shady tree. Finished "John Halifax". Good many birds here, some quite songful, like thrushes. Dugmore & Carter both rather groggy with diarrhoea which is pretty rife still. Roberts & MacCunn in hospital in Port Amelia with it: Michie ( Q.M. ) pretty bad with enteric. No. 2 & 4 Coys. shd. have sailed today on the Salamis. We’re down for the 9th.
Tuesday 8th. Road climbed up onto old raised coral reef, which runs along parallel to coast & terminates to the N. in the point on which P.Amelia lies. Road here pretty heavy in a rich looking red sand. Arrived P.A. at 11a.m. Many baobab trees along the sea front. No arrangements for our accommodation. Ultimately got into a marquee with some of No. 4 Coy. Played a football match tonight & played very badly.
Wednesday 9th. Went down to the beach in forenoon. Got quite a lot of shells but mostly rolled & water-worn. Old coral beds above high water mark weathering into fantastic shapes. Conus, sypraia ovula? Natica?: turbo etc. etc. Many highly coloured Brittle stars ( 2 species ) hermit crabs, sea slugs etc. Shrimp with trigger-action in its’ big —toe. No signs of living coral. The reef can be seen on the other side of the harbour entrance, tho’ it doesn’t seem to be so pronounced as on this side. Saw Anderson ( Seaforths ) 2/2 K.A.R. in hospital, wounded Chikola lately. Good match between K.A.R. & Hospital — former winning 1-0.
Thursday 10th. Early morning parade: platoon pretty rotten. Very stiff so lay in bed most of the day. Rugby tonight between K.A.R. & hospital, latter winning easily. Osler, who is dentist here & used to play for Edin. University, was playing for them — an unexpected link with the past. We are still waiting here for a boat: we should have sailed yesterday. There seems to be nobody who knows what is happening: no cooperation between Navy & Army: if we don’t hurry up, we’ll be too late to get onto the Central Line. Concert in Y.M.C.A. tonight — rather poor but the sound of a piano is a novelty.
Friday 11th. Down town with Brown & McRitchie. Greek who sells lemonade says he has to save up rain-water for drinking purposes. He must save it a long time. Water here is very bad — quite salt and almost impossible for drinking. K.A.R. beaten 4-0 by hospital. A boat came in tonight, so we are under orders to embark at an hour’s notice. Hope we don’t move till tomorrow. Exactly a year since we left England.
Saturday 12th. Ordered to be on the quay at 8a.m. with all kit. Arriving there found boat not to be loaded until noon. Sat about all day on the beach, occasionally resorting to a little tin tea-shop, & whiling the time away till 3p.m. when we at last got aboard. Usual mix up: very slow embarking: no method at all, & nobody directing operations. Got away at 6p.m. Good breeze blowing, but tho’ we are now well outside there isn’t much sea on. Am sleeping on deck. Ngoma left in front of us today: some civilians still on her who went up to D.S.M. on her last trip & weren’t allowed to land: so they are still occupying cabin space where we are so much pressed for space and time.
Sunday 13th. Sea calm all day: slept and read.
Monday 14th. Arrived D.S.M. 6a.m. Got into harbour 10a.m. & started disembarking at once. As usual no arrangements had been made at the Detail Camp. Had lunch at the Burger Hotel, and bought a V.P.K. camera, for which I paid 45R. ( 3 pounds ) films 1 and 1/2 R. Battalion had to pitch its own camp — small ‘bivvy’ tents. Brandy Bill gone hospital with diarrhoea: Dugmore laid up with fever & not too good myself.
Friday 25th. It is a long time since I wrote up my diary: I am doing it now in hospital — 84th General or ‘Germani’ where I have been sent with a slight attack of fever. No. 2& 4 Coys. with 1/2 M.G.s under the C.O. went up the line before we landed & are now marching from Dodoma to Iringa. The Hun is somewhere about Njombe, south of Dodoma. No.1 & 3 &1/2 M.G.s under Hewitt are still here. Col. Wilkinson & Beamish arrived two days ago & "are getting down to a job of work". After spending a few days in the Detail Camp in great discomfort we moved out beyond & pitched a marquee near the askaris lines. Van Deventer inspected the 2 Coys. on Monday. Dar-Es-Salaam is fairly warm by day but cool breeze in the evenings when everybody comes out to take the air. Quite a number of German ladies, mostly to be seen sitting on the sands in the evening: also some of their husbands & a few officers — prisoners I suppose. Good dinner to be got at the Burger Hotel.
Monday 28th. Still in hospital, but expect to leave tomorrow. Fever quite better but the appendicitis pains wh. were troubling still there. Hospital life very dull. Have been reading Les Miserables & played some chess. Was at church last night — German Lutheran one, whitewashed inside, something of cathedral type. Very rich toned organ and the singing was hearty and good. Very fiery preacher. German hymn books still in the pews. Splendid news from Europe. Talk now of an armistice. The hymns last night were triumphant, victorious ones. No news of Von Lettow. Troops still going up the central railway. Spanish flu is ravaging South Africa. Passenger traffic suspended: no evacuations from here to there. A few suspected cases in hospital here. Saw Ralph McKay here a few days ago: in good form & health.
Wednesday 30th. Came out of hospital yesterday afternoon. Field stunt this morning under Col. Wilkinson versus 5/4 under Col. Harvey. Different feel abut the battalion already. Everybody keen. Visited Ralph: 1/3 down with flu: we are taking precautions to keep our men clear.
Thursday 31st. Left tonight under secret orders at 7p.m. — No. 3 Coy. & 1 section M.G.s by train. Dinner at the Burger before leaving, Jardine & Col. Harvey seeing us off. Pretty good 1st.class carriage, with cold spray, beds longitudinally arranged.
Friday 1st. Arrived Morogoro 9a.m.: breakfast on platform. Picturesque hills behind the town wh. is reckoned a health resort. Native villages high up on N. side of hills ( Uluguru Mtns. ). Kilossa 1p.m. unhealthy. Very hot all day: men crowded in iron trucks must be feeling it badly especially as they’re not allowed out at the stations even to go to cheroni as the C.O. is afraid of desertions. Country from Kilossa to Dodoma ( 9p.m. ) very dry, uninteresting. Dinner here at an Indian shop.
Saturday 2nd. Not so hot today but bad enough. Country flat open bush, very dry. No signs of game but this said to be giraffe country, as shown by very high telegraph poles. Tabora 4.15p.m. Changed trains. Medical inspection revealed 15 cases for hospital, mostly Spanish flu. Willie got it too I think. Owing to red tape on part of Belgians who seem to run this part of the line, we have to wait here till tomorrow. Detrained & extended the company to prevent infection. Myself orderly officer: got a tent up & am fairly comfortable. Remainder sleeping in train & probably dining at the hotel. Glad to have this chance of writing up my diary. We are evidently bound for Bismarkburg, foot of Tanganyika. Bosche reported in Tife. Hope flu doesn’t spoil our tour, which we are all looking forward to.
Sunday 3rd. Great many cases of flu today, including Willie & the cook: all sent to hospital. A general medical inspection brought out a lot more: all the askaris were made to gargle with Pot. Permang. — which they didn’t enjoy. After some hesitation it was decided to send 2coy. 1/2nd K.A.R. to Bismarkburg instead of us. We were very much disappointed but have only 8 N.C.O.s ( mostly L/cpls. ) left with the Coy. Slept as last night, the others round about the station.
Monday 4th. 10 more cases in No.3 this morning. Left Tabora about 7a.m. & marched 11 and 1/2 miles south to Urumwa where there is a water hole & pump attached. Laid out lines which took us all afternoon to measure out, and weren’t well done when finished. Dugmore feeling off colour but thinks it’s only fever. Our kit didn’t turn up till about 9p.m. as the ox wagons had got stuck in the sand.
Tuesday 5th. Men worked on their lines all day, ourselves sitting in the sun, & feeling very uncomfortable. Austria signed armistice yesterday. Dugmore very ill — temp. 106 degrees. Fewer cases among the men.
Wednesday 6th. Dugmore still very ill: temp. 103 — 4 degrees & won’t come down. No ambulance to be got to take him to hospital: all the sick men lying among the bushes: great slackness somewhere. Sun very hot here from 8a.m. to 5p.m. Men’s lines practically finished now. Grass & wood getting scarce.
Thursday 7th Dugmore a little better today but still high temp. Got him away to hospital today: Carter also. Sgt. Macgregor went a few days ago. Very few new cases among askaris but porters still bad, & at nights great coughing in camp. Started on officers lines today & moved into new mess before heat of the day.
Friday 8th. Got my hut practically finished this afternoon, so am able to escape the heat & do some writing. Great plague of flies here, most probably due to shenzis living round about. Arap Mossuk doing boy & orderly for me with some acceptance. Gargling parade daily for all African troops. Think the flu has about run its course now.
Monday 11th. Armistice signed at 11a.m. this morning: the news reached us at 5p.m. C.O. announced it on parade. I can’t realize it, that the war is finished, probably because we are so far from everything. Had dinner outside, with C.O. etc. Sounds of revelry all over the camp, altho’ I don’t think the askaris know what has happened, except in a vague way.
Tuesday 12th. A full holiday today. Preparations for big ngoma tonight — firewood & native beer in large quantities. 3/4 K.A.R. played West African Ambulance at soccer. We were beat 2-0 altho’ we had nearly all the play. Ross (Edin. Varsity & Scotland rugger) played for them. Had a peace celebration dinner in the evening. The ngoma rather a failure as the women got the wind up and went home.
Wednesday 13th. Lay in this morning. Parade at 4.30 — 6. Company in horrible condition. Von Lettow ordered report Abercorn.
Thursday 14th. Orderly officer. Saw a lot of natives today returning to their villages, having heard the war is over.
Friday 15th. Started bayonet fighting and musketry today. Doing 3 hours parade daily — practically the only hours one can be outside with any comfort. Everybody feeling slack & in spite of all the good news, perhaps a little depressed. Heavy clouds about tonight & some light showers. Rains will soon be starting, according to C.O. Von Lettow surrendered unconditionally 96 miles south of Abercorn, in accordance with armistice.
Saturday 16th. Good game of football against same people as on Tuesday, & beat them 1 — 0. Enjoyed the game very much. A good deal cooler today: heavy clouds, and occasional showers morning & evening. About 50 askaris came out of hospital today. Willie is very ill indeed. I have taken a new boy on trial — Salimu, from Morogoro.
Sunday 17th. Battalion sports this evening — great success. Spear throwing interesting — 50 yards greatest distance but the spears weren’t up to much. They take a short run before throwing. Thundery weather, & a good few showers going.
Monday 18th. Orderly officer. Had a lot of hunting round to do; the C.O. very keen on having everything spick & span. Sports finished tonight. As a rule the men aren’t keen on sports: they’re rather self-conscious. We marched them down to the ground so as to be sure they would get there. Otherwise they would probably have lain in their huts all evening.
Tuesday 19th. By autocar to Tabora today. Thornhill drove me out to the Carrier Depot Hospital where I recovered Dennis the cook. Willie died yesterday. Bought a few things & had lunch at the Tabora Hotel. Tabora lies on the low ground west of the Boma. The buildings are nearly all of the Arab type — solid whitewashed walls, deep windows & heavy doors. Great deal of colour about the market, wh. is just in front of the Tabora Hotel. The latter run by a Greek. Good food. Got back to camp in afternoon. Hawkins laid up with high temperature.
Wednesday 20th. Bush work in the morning, musketry in the evening. We are working fairly hard — at least the end of the war hasn’t slackened things off at all and parade is parade these days with the C.O. always on the go. Very heavy clouds in the evening, a lot of thunder, lightning & rain about. The rains have started now. Spanish flu very bad in Tabora. Rumour we are to go to Bombo, via Mwanza.
Thursday 21st. Orderly officer. Safaris coming up from the south nearly every day: the line is pretty well cleared now. Expect the 4/4th. soon. Dugmore came back from hospital today, looking pretty thin.
Friday 22nd. Carter joined headquarters mess today. He, Hawkins & Dugmore on stout, as all run-down, greatly to their delight. Football match tonight, K.A.R. vs. Ambulance, which we won 1 — 0.
Sunday 24th. Very slack day, & very hot indeed. Wrote most of the day. Askari football match in the evening gave us some amusement.
Monday 25th. Very heavy rain this afternoon, accompanied by abrupt change of wind from N.E. to S.W. Most of the bandas leaked badly. Started teaching Moult, Dugmore & Hawkins chess. Showed McCunn Tosh’s poems today, which he says are "quite in the front rank". ‘War the Liberator’ is on the same level as Rupert Brooke.
Tuesday 26th. Some rain today, & quite cold at midday. One coy.4/4th.arrived today. They are to garrison (i.e. Battalion) Mwanza, Tabora, Dodoma & Irangi. Hear the 5/4th are also for garrison duty. Small mail arrived today, up to August 28th.
Wednesday 27th. One coy. 4/4th. passed thro’ early this morning taking with them all our Mwanza & Kisumu (Kavirondo) porters. The porters were highly delighted. Their singing wakened me. Officers played and beat B.N.C.O.s today 3-2.
Thursday 28th. Brown & McRitchie left this forenoon with 100 men for Morogoro. Later we had orders to move to Tabora 6.30a.m. tomorrow. Played 4/4th.tonight & beat them 1-0: very hot game. Good deal of rain tonight.
Friday 29th. Marched to Tabora today: a fine dull morning. Photographed Sultan Saidi chief of the Wanyamwezi, en route. Hung about the station all day till evening: entrained 6p.m. after hurried dinner on the platform. Accommodated in iron trucks — 4 officers in each. Colonel in guard’s van. All decent carriages being kept for Von Lettow & his minions who are expected one of these days.
Saturday 30th. Very hot in the van: dry waterless country, hardly a leaf or blade of grass to be seen: water courses all bone-dry. Cooked breakfast on the side of the line. Lunched at Dodoma, which is a dreary looking place. Met Carter 2/6th.here. Left 5p.m. Fine evening.
Sunday 1st. Arrived Morogoro 7a.m. having got stuck on the line for some hours. Camp being pitched at foot of mountains to south of town. Splendid view from my tent. On the left the Crown Prince’s shooting box, in front the camp & his quondam rubber plantation. Further out across the plains another line of hills. Close on the right a small spur behind which 1/3rd. are camped. Splendid water supply laid on in pipes, & a mountain stream below the shooting box.
Monday 2nd. Orderly officer, so had to be up while the others lay in bed. Splendid sunrise, gilding the hills opposite. We are well in the shade of the hills here until about 7.30a.m. A number of officers applied yesterday to stay on in the K.A.R. I am not among them.
Sunday 8th. The whole battalion has concentrated here but there is no definite word as to what is to happen to us. We will probably be disbanded at Nairobi in the near future. Meanwhile we have got settled down here & cleared a parade ground. We start regular parades again tomorrow morning.
The weather has been very hot, especially in the afternoons, when it is almost worse than useless to go to sleep. We are expecting rain and looking forward to it to cool the air.
The people here are Wakami, & cultivate the usual maize mohogo etc. while at the Mission they grow English vegetables etc. Eggs are 7 cents, fowls 1 — 1 and _ R. Fruit not too plentiful: no mangoes.
Mica is mined or quarried in the hills behind. One mine, 2 days up, has closed down since the war finished & paid off 1200 boys. The mica was being used for gas masks etc. I believe it wouldn’t pay a private firm to run it. It is in pegmatite veins & has been worked in shallow tunnels near the camp.
Von Lettow surrendered with 155 whites, 1186 African ranks, 37 M.G.s, 200,000 S.A.A. He & some of his party passed thro’ by train yesterday and spent an hour on the platform where they were met by practically the whole of the German population — women & girls mainly. They looked very fit indeed, their clothes a bit worn certainly but no signs of crumpling up with fever. I couldn’t help admiring them. They are a tough lot.
Today Moult and I climbed the mountain and visited what was the German mission in prewar days. It harbours now 17 German women, & their 20 children, for whose sake they live so high up. The air was quite cool up there and the children looked a good deal better than those who live down in Morogoro. We had a cup of tea, altho’ they were pretty hard up themselves. The lady who entertained us was very well educated — the grand daughter of two Gottingen professors. She thought that things couldn’t be so bad in Germany as they were made out to be. She had very strong feelings, naturally, & we had to be pretty careful. I think the difficulty now will be to convince the German people that the war was carried on dishonorably by their side. I don’t see how general repentance is to be brought about; but insofar as they were misled in that respect by their powers that were, repentance won’t be necessary.
Tuesday 17th. Still in Morogoro, but we hope to leave this week. However we had 3 cases of flu this morning: if it gets worse we may be quarantined again. Besides, D.S.M. is congested with troops waiting for transport. Our B.N.C.O.s left yesterday for Nairobi & Blighty. The 1/3rd left end of last week also for Nairobi.
The time is passing very slowly. It is just as well we have two parades a day, otherwise we would be too slack for anything. As it is, the only man with any keenness left is the C.O.. The days are very hot, especially about midday, & it’s impossible to be comfortable anywhere then. We put the time in reading, sleeping, at cards, chess etc. All are pining for a move, & discharge.
We have had several games of football & beat the 1/3rd.
Saturday 21st. No.1 & 2 Coys. left for Morogoro by train this evening. 3 & 4 left here with John Parker in charge.
Sunday 22nd. Remainder of the battn. entrained this evening & left Morogoro 6p.m. We have 2nd. Class carriage this time. Sorry not to see the country between here and D.S.M.
Monday 23rd. Wakened in D.S.M. Breakfast at the Burger & entertained to dinner there by No.2 Coy. Back by boat.
Tuesday 24th. Paraded today & handed in rifles, bayonets, S.A.A. etc. Men very pleased at retaining their equipment, so as to distinguish them from porters. Had dinner at the camp, & had very quiet evening.
Wednesday 25th. Very hot: unlike Christmas, no such feeling in the atmosphere. Regimental dinner at the Burger, joint with _. Met Lt. Miller 1/5th Seaforths there but he was too tight to have a rational conversation with. The Doc. & I walked home before the evening got too uproarious.
Thursday 26th. Breakages last night came to 10 pounds, not too bad for 2 battns. Bought about 25 pounds of ivory this afternoon, half of which at least I hope to sell at a profit in London. Difficult to know what presents to take home. Nothing distinctly African to be got. Dinner at the Burger, & back by boat.
Friday 27th. Paraded 5.30a.m. Started embarking on ‘Salamis’ at 6.00a.m. Accommodation poor. Three sittings for meals. Left 11a.m.. Very smooth but good deal of rain. Still some cases of flu cropping up. Slept on upper deck.
Saturday 28th. Arrived Kilindini 6a.m. All disembarked by 9.30a.m., after breakfast. Brown & I picked up kit at Mendoza’s. Found I have a bank balance of only 12 cents. Train to Nairobi at 2p.m. Remainder to leave at 4.30. High tea at Sumburn.
Sunday 29th. Pleasant journey, but slow. Usual game: very cold, especially on front of engine where we sat part of the way. Arrived Nairobi 7p.m. K.A.R. band on platform but no welcome from the civilians. They are very apathetic. Moult & I ordered to leave the train here & go to detail camp. Disappointed not to see Uganda etc. Hurried goodbye to platoon: sorry to see the last of them when it came to the point.
Monday 30th. Hawkins & a lot more came up from the station this morning, being redundant like ourselves. To Donnie Rose’s for dinner with John Munro etc. in the evening & enjoyed myself.
Tuesday 31st. Moult went to hospital today with high temp. Hope it’s not flu. Very cold here & weather wet: many have colds: have put on my thick underclothing. Very quiet hogmanay. Went to bed 10p.m.
Wednesday 1st. Game of pills. Time going in slowly. Visited Moult: he is rather bad.
Thursday 2nd. Moult seriously ill with flu & pneumonia.
Thursday 9th. Cabled home today: we were to have gone to Mombasa tomorrow, but put off till Saturday. We are all fed up with being here so long, & getting no local leave. I have been quite off-colour for several days, & fear flu. Sore heads all day however seem to be afflicting others besides myself: I think the altitude doesn’t suit my heart either. I have passed most of the time playing chess or studying it in my tent. Dr. Rendle of the Uganda service is stationed here & a good player. I have learnt a lot by playing with him. That & excursions down town have helped to put the time in. No word of the remainder of the battalion. Moult has got round the corner & getting on now, but fed up at not being allowed to go home with us. He is quite unfit for it tho’.
Have been inquiring into vacancies in Gov’t service here, but found nothing decent going. Salaries 250 — 300 pounds a year, & perhaps 60 pounds house allowance. That’s no good here.
Friday 10th. Wind fairly up today about flu but felt better in the evening & on doctor’s unofficial advice decided to chance the voyage. Packed up, & sold off some of my unnecessary clothing.
Saturday 11th. Left Nairobi 2.30p.m. Platform crowded with officers & civilians. K.A.R. band playing selections. Ralph there too. Fine sight of game on Athi plains.
Sunday 12th. Arrived Mombasa 2.30p.m. after quite a pleasant journey. Embarked at once & by manoeuvering managed to get a share in a cabin on upper deck. Slept on deck: very warm.
Monday 13th. Ashore & settled up with bank in morning. Sailed at 1p.m. in freshening breeze. Boat H.M.S. Patris, ex-Greek emigrant ship. Not too bad but very crowded. Slept on deck again, along with a lot more.
Tuesday 14th. Out of sight of land all day. Sea fairly calm & boat very steady. Making good speed. Not at all squeamish except for some nasty odours. Not too much deck room for exercise. Read most of the day, finishing Trollope’s "The Warden".
Wednesday 15th. Passed close along shore of Italian Somaliland all day. Low, sandy, uninviting: a few groups of buildings at different points. Breeze freshening in the evening, but boat still steady as a rock, for which we are all thankful.
Thursday 16th. No land visible today: wind fresh in the evening but we are still running straight into the swell & not rolling. Getting distinctly colder, especially in the evenings. Full moon.
Friday 17th. Passed close to ‘Ras Hafun’ this forenoon — a broad flat-topped cape of horizontally bedded rocks with small slopes below. Later, at 6p.m., rounded Cape Guardafur, similar to ‘Ras Hafun’. After that had following wind & sea. Saw the North Star tonight for the first time since October last year.
Saturday 18th. Milder today, but mornings creeping in a bit. Ship rolling considerably today, & with list to starboard. No more fresh water for baths. Passed Aden 6p.m. in the distance — long high rocky outline thro’ thin haze was all we saw of it, & now its two light-houses.
Sunday 19th. Passed thro’ Straits of Bab-El-Mardeb during the night. Was up at 3a.m. & saw what I took to be part of them. All forenoon we kept passing small barren, rocky islands, a few with light-houses: also about half a dozen steamers going south. Heavy following swell & wind: boat rolling a good deal & this list makes it worse: racks on the tables. Sea down in the evening.
Monday 20th. Calm sea & quite stuffy today, but later strong head wind rose. Interesting talk with Indian purser — well educated: on religion, colour question etc.: comes from Rajputana.
Tuesday 21st. Little to be seen today: wind ahead but not much sea. The North Star & Cassiopia are getting well up in the sky, & the Plough comes up about 8p.m.
Wednesday 22nd. Running up the Gulf of Suez all day: it gradually narrowing. Some very fine stretches of coast, ridge behind ridge of barren fawn-coloured rock with screes & V-shaped gullies. The further hills could just be seen thro’ a faint haze but Mt.Sinai itself invisible. Reached Suez 7p.m. Been very cold all day and serge uniforms in evidence.
Thursday 23rd. Our luggage was bumped down into a lighter this morning. We got ashore about 3p.m. and had a look around Port Tewfik, at the entrance to the canal, where we had tea & changed some money. French is the common language here, as we found it to be at Port Said too. Train later to Suez, a dirty town with a native bazaar. Took a ‘two-horse phaeton’ to the Detail Camp where we had dinner & boarded the train at 10p.m. for Port Said. Very uncomfortable journey & quite cold.
Friday 24th. Arrived Port Said noon & found the Transit Camp a change from what we have been accustomed to, in being well run. Port Said very cosmopolitan. The native quarter out of bounds. One very good street with handsome shops, hotels etc.
Saturday 25th. Spent most of the day in the town where there isn’t very much to do. Silk stuffs fairly cheap but little ivory.
Sunday 26th. Game of tennis with Hawkins at the Sports Club. Didn’t go to church.
Tuesday 28th. Embarked this forenoon on R.M.S. Ormonde.
THERE WAS A NEWSPAPER CUTTING IN THE DIARY ENTITLED
"A UNIQUE CAMPAIGN"
DISPATCH ON THE EAST AFRICAN OPERATIONS
VAGARIES OF BUSH FIGHTING
A supplement to the London Gazette contains a dispatch to the Secretary of State for War from Lieutenant-General Sir J.L.Van Deventer, K.C.B., C.M.G., Commander-in-Chief,East African Force, in which the operations in East Africa from September 1 to the conclusion of hostilities are reviewed. It is recorded that on August 30 the enemy has been repulsed with considerable loss at Lioma, and on the 31st. had barely escaped from the converging attacks of the 2nd. King’s African Rifles Column east of that place.