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As a coup de main against Regone offered no prospect of success, and a prolonged enterprise, in view of the intervention to be expected from outside, could not be relied on, I determined to resume the march. On account of the obstacles formed by the rivers and swamps south of Lake Nyassa, the line of march I had formerly decided on to the west appeared ill-advised, especially as the enemy could, with the help of steamers and railways, easily concentrate and maintain a force there. A further march north seemed to me more practicable, passing the lake on the east; it seemed probable that our return to German East Africa would be a complete surprise to the enemy, who would take our objective to be the natural capital of this district, Tabora. Under this impression he might be expected, in order to save his main force the difficult overland march to Tabora, to withdraw to the Portuguese coast, take ship from there to Dar-es- Salaam, and proceed by rail to Tabora. These calculations were to a large extent realized. It was natural that, having reached the north end of Lake Nyassa, 1 should continue my march, not to Tabora but n another direction, probably west. In any case, the first thing was to reach the north end of the lake. This could not be done in less than a month and meanwhile the situation might alter considerably.
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It soon grew dark; the firing increased and died down again, until suddenly heavy firing was heard from the direction of Goering's detachment. Then there was silence. Goering's detachment had surprised the enemy in the rear and stormed some stubbornly defended trenches. The retreating enemy was, however, not recognized as the enemy by another German detachment and got away. The night was unpleasantly cold ; it was pouring with ram and our baggage had not yet come up. On the following day 3 enemy Europeans and 41 Askari were buried by us; 1 European and 6 Askari wounded. 1 European, 7 Askari and 28 other blacks unwounded were taken prisoner. Among the prisoners was the enemy Commander, Major Garrod, who commanded the half of the 2nd battalion 4th King's African Rifles here. On our side, Sergeant- Major Nordenholz was shot through the head; 6 Askari and 1 machine-gun bearer were killed; 3 Europeans, r8 Askari and 4 machine-gun bearers were wounded; 40,000 rounds of ammunition and two light machine guns, in addition to hand-grenades, medical stores and large quantities of supplies, were captured. Among our wounded left behind in the clean, massively built houses was Lieutenant Ott, cheerful as ever. Fortunately, his wound was not so serious as was feared at first, but it was not possible to take him with us.
Lieutenant von Ruckteschell returned to his guest as he had promised, an hour later, but unfortunately with a shattered leg. His orderly who, when he was wounded, had tried to carry him out of the fight, was shot down under him. Meanwhile Captain Muller had climbed the hill from the other side and stormed the camp. It was occupied by a squadron of mounted infantry of the Gold Coast Regiment of whom hardly one came out alive. Even the horses were killed almost without exception. On our side brave Lieutenant Selke was killed by an enemy bullet shortly before the storming of the camp. He was buried on the battlefield. The materiel captured was small, but the two days of fighting had cost the enemy heavy losses m men. His detachments, which were numerically hardly less strong than our own, were literally annihilated. Here, as at Namacurra, it turned out that the English had conscripted black troops from German East Africa into their fighting force, including a considerable number of old German Askari.
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The country along the river Malema in which we had our camp was quite extraordinarily fertile. The mtama was perfectly ripe, and there was an abundance of tomatoes, bananas sweet potatoes (batatas) and other fruits. The food was also very varied. Game and fish were plentiful. The natives knew the German troops from previous acquaintance, and were very friendly. When I rode from one detachment to another the women came running out of their houses to see the "Njama" (animal, game, flesh), a creature quite unknown to them. I was riding a horse, of course ! The fertile country was so extensive that we could not even approximately exploit or protect it. We could not prevent it supplying the necessities of life to the large number of Askari and non-combatants with our enemies, as well as ourselves. We could not deprive the enemy of the possibility of also making this prolific region in a large measure into a new base and shortening his line of supply. From our point of view the country was, if anything, too fertile and we were not in a position, as on earlier occasions, to exploit - to such an extent before we left that it was insufficient to support the enemy masses. But at any rate it had the result that for the moment we were very mobile as, thanks to our sojourn of several weeks, our wounded and sick were so far recovered that all, even the inmates of the field hospitals, were quite fit for marching.
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I did not wish to linger long north of the Lurio, for I thought that this river, which had been very high only a short time before, would be a serious obstacle. For that reason I proposed to cross it with our large quantity of transport quickly and without let or hindrance. When we actually reached the Lurio it appeared that at this time of the year there were plenty of fords which offered a comfortable crossing. We left some of our troops on the northern bank without anxiety as to the drawbacks involved, and established a camp for the main body on the southern bank. The country was very fertile and the inhabitants trusted in us; good relations had been established by the earlier visits of the patrols and raiding parties. One of my orderlies had a hearty reception from some old acquaintances.
RICHARD BRANSON: How A Canceled Flight Led To The …
Unmolested by the enemy, I now made for the fertile district of Kwiri, south of Mahua, and from thence on to the Lurio. It turned out, however, that some of our seriously wounded and sick would not be able to endure several days of such marches in their "Maschille" (litters}. Nor was it easy to ensure medical attention. We had too few attendants to be able to leave the sick behind individually. So there was nothing for it but to collect our Invalids from time to time, turn them into a complete Field Hospital, under a single medical officer, and take our leave of them finally. Even the senior medical officer of the Protective Force, Dr. Meixner, was left behind at Kwiri with one such hospital. On that occasion I said farewell to Lieutenant Schaefer who had rendered us such exemplary- service in the preparations for the action at Jassini, and was now stricken with black-water fever. This experienced "African" was fully aware of his situation, but was as cheerful as ever and faced his inevitable end, which was approaching fast, with composure.