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Ambush in the Kagera Salient - Germans hit British Patrols Hard

Updated: Feb 11, 2022

Looking from the north across the bridge over the Kagera River at Kyaka

Looking from the north across the bridge over the Kagera River at Kyaka

Lieutenant Colonel W.T. Shorthose DSO commanded the 1st Battalion 4th (Uganda) King's African Rifles in German East Africa (GEA - Tanzania) later in the war, but in 1915 he was sent as a Captain with that battalion to be part of the British garrison in the Kagera Salient that British troops occupied in GEA.

Other troops in the Kagera Salient were 13th Rajputs, (Indian Army), the Baganda Rifles and the Uganda Police Service Battalion.

Here is an extract from Colonel Shorthose's very informative book Sport & Adventure in Africa (Seeley, Service & Co. Ltd., 1923):

Early in the campaign our troops had taken Kyaka (where a German fort was positioned), but in turn were driven out by a superior force, after a most gallant defence, in which the enemy suffered considerably. After this we had taken up the line . . . from Sango Bay to Rukuba.

(For a relevant map refer to the article on the Uganda Police Service Battalion.)

The site of the German fort at Kyaka

During the first few months of our tenure of this line both sides had been most active in patrolling. I quote one instance of an enemy success.
Two of our patrols, consisting of Indian troops, King's African Rifles reservists and a few Baganda Levies, had been wont to converge onto a cross path which was well in front of our position. Becoming aware of this, the enemy one day placed a machine gun, with a few riflemen, in ambush.
Sure enough our patrols kept their rendezvous, and joined up at the usual time. While they were chatting and, I suppose, discussing the success of their rounds (patrols), a machine gun opened up on them at close range and killed almost all of them immediately. The remainder returned the fire, but nearly all were picked off, and out of some twenty men only two or three returned to tell the tale.
Needless to say our patrol tactics changed after this needless debacle.

The panels commemorating the dead of the 13th Rajputs on the British and Indian Memorial, Nairobi

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