CENTRE AND EASTERN COLUMNS ON “HANNYNGTON’s LOOP” May 1916
This follows on from THE BRITISH ADVANCE FROM MBUYUNI TO THE SOUTH OF LAKE JIPE
Lembeni Station with the Ngulu Gap above the water tank
When Centre Column reached Same unopposed the British appreciation was that the enemy were likely to defend the area to the south at Bwiko where the Pangani River swings eastwards against the South Pare Mountains.
Sketch map showing Hannyngton's Loop passing through Zerizera and Gonja
Brigadier-General Hannyngton, the Commander of Central Column, was ordered to leave his ox-drawn transport and artillery at Same and to move east between the North and South Pares, with his foot soldiers and No 6 (Logan’s) Battery, and to join up with Eastern Column. Hannyngton was to then continue his advance, with the South Pare hills to his right, down to Mkomazi. This diversion was named “Hannyngton’s Loop.”
Looking east from Same. The low ground on the horizon is a gap between the North and South Pare Mountains, and Hannyngton used it to link up with Eastern Column at Mandi
Hannyngton took with him:
A detachment of East African Mounted Rifles
Half battalion 2nd Kashmir Rifles
No. 6 (Logan's) Battery (2 x 12-pounder guns manned by the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and using Reo lorries)
One section East African Pioneers
Two sections Indian Field Ambulance
The ox-drawn No. 7 Battery (4 x 15-pounder guns manned by details of Indian Infantry and Royal Fusiliers) and ammunition and supply columns continued to plod down the Central route under escort.
The British tactic was to have a good number of troops east of Bwiko should the Germans make a stand there.
On May 27th Hannyngton’s force left Same at 1400 hours, arriving at Mandi at 1730 hours. Here Fitzgerald’s Eastern Column joined it, having established contact by heliograph as the two columns converged, and came under Hannyngton’s command. Logan’s Battery War Diary states that at Same the men were on half rations but now they were down to quarter rations.
The lush vegetation on the eastern slopes of the South Pare Mountains
The column, with 3 King’s African Rifles as advance guard, then used the track along the MkomaziRiver which guaranteed them fresh water.
Near Gonja. Bananas and smart clothes for sale
The withdrawing Schutztruppe troops often felled large trees across the track.
Baobab trees on the Gonja road
On May 29th the column camped at Gonja where two destroyed bridges were re-built, using 3 KAR’s acetylene signal lamps for night illumination.
The road to Gonja
Some marching was done at night but Logan’s Battery found that night movement with Reo lorries, along an unknown track, was difficult.The Loyal North Lancashire regimental history states: “All this time the Reo lorries with drivers from South Africa had done excellent work; the South African drivers, though certainly not used to discipline, behaved well and soon became interested in their work and the Battery never had a breakdown.” Staff officers also had a tendency to suddenly allocate the Battery’s lorries for other tasks.
The road past Gonja
Just south of Gonja is a small lake named Lake Kalimawe. On the river running out of the southern end of the lake the Schutztruppe had effectively demolished the bridge at Shegulu. Hannyngton did not have the engineer resources to to re-bridge this gap, and he now moved on tracks east of Lake Kalimawe towards Lasa Hill’s eastern flank.
Lake Kalimawe from Gonja. The column moved from left to right on the far side of the lake
On 31st May 3 KAR killed an enemy sniper and drove an enemy picquet off Lasa Hill, and a few German 4.1-inch rounds were fired at the column without doing any damage. (At this stage the Schutztruppe had a Konigsberg 4.1-inch gun transported on a railway wagon up and down the line.)
Lasa Hill where a German picquet briefly engaged the Column
On 1st June at 1030 hours the column reached Mkomazi Station and made contact with the Mounted Infantry Company from River Column which was halted at Bwiko. The men were still on quarter rations. All columns now halted for a few days whilst supplies came forward.
Looking north from Mkomazi Station - the end of Hannyngton's Loop, which is a very scenic drive.