LEARNING THE HARD WAY - THE UNFORTUNATE DEATH OF MAJOR W.A.S. WALKER, 46th PUNJABIS, AND OTHERS
Mzima Springs in the Tsavo Valley
Major W.A.S. Walker served in the 46th Punjabis, Indian Army, but when the 130th (King George’s Own) Baluchis (Jacob’s Rifles), Indian Army, was ordered to proceed to British East Africa (BEA) for operations against the local German army named the Schutztruppe, operating out of German East Africa (GEA), a company of the 46th Punjabis was attached to 130th Baluchis to make up the latter battalion’s strength.
The 130th Baluchis arrived in BEA in early February 1915 & were sent to Voi on the Uganda Railway line north of Mombasa. Major Walker was appointed to command the post at Mzima, a location in the Tsavo valley where fresh spring water was abundant. Both sides fought for this water. On 11 April Major W.A.S. Walker was killed in action when his small patrol was surprised & attacked.
Sketch map showing the location of Mzima
Major Walker had gone out with BEA Intelligence Agent Chitty, 18 Wateita Scouts & porters and an escort of seven Kashmir Rifles to look at locations for a proposed screen of British African Scout observers west of Mzima. (The Wateita were the local tribe, mainly living in the Teita Hills to the east of Maktau.)
Shortly after setting out Walker saw a waterbuck & fired three shots at it, alerting everybody within earshot. Intelligence Agent Chitty then found the fresh spoor of between 40 & 50 enemy heading west towards Campi Ya Marabu, & he advised Walker to terminate the patrol. Walker, wanting to gain more information, proceeded for a time until Chitty & the Wateita refused to go on. The British patrol then turned around. Chitty advised that a new route should be used for the return journey but Walker did not think that necessary.
The lava field in the Tsavo Valley.
On the return journey a small enemy group (2 or 3 Germans & 12 Askari) that had been dropped-off by the main group in order to reconnoitre Mzima in daylight, ambushed Walker’s patrol at 20 yards’ range, killing him, two sepoys, one Scout & Chitty’s cook.
The remaining British troops ran into the adjacent lava-flow & escaped.
Later a strong King's African Rifles patrol recovered Walker’s stripped & mutilated body & the bodies of the two sepoys.
Major Walker's grave in Taveta Military Cemetery, Kenya
Havildar Khazan Singh & Sepoy Mahant Singh (3rd Kashmir Rifles, Raghunath Regiment), who did not deserve to die but who were killed alongside Major Walker, are commemorated on the Nairobi British & Indian Memorial.
Mzima Springs & the lava flow are tourist sites in Tsavo West National Park, Kenya.
A notification for tourists in the Tsavo West National Park