Updated: Feb 10, 2022
During the First World War the Military Wing of the Northern Rhodesia Police was formed into an infantry battalion. This battalion served on the southern front in the East Africa Campaign and saw some hard fighting against German Askari. This Battalion proved to be just as good, if not better, than the best of the King’s African Rifles battalions.
On 4th October 1918 the Northern Rhodesia Police Battalion was moving to intercept German forces near Songea in German East Africa when, on approaching Fusi’s Village, a patrol came in and reported that the Germans were nearby. The Northern Rhodesians formed a hollow square with the hospital in a gravel pit and the stores and carriers in the centre.
The enemy quickly attacked the square and fierce fighting took place, but the square was not broken and the Northern Rhodesians held their ground. Two senior Northern Rhodesian non-commissioned officers, No. 229 Sergeant Chichasi (or Chikusi) and No. 640 Colour Sergeant Tegete, were instrumental in defeating the attacks of the German Askari, and both men were awarded the Imperial Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).
(The King’s African Rifles had their own version of the DCM but other African units such as the Northern Rhodesian Police Battalion were awarded the Imperial DCM, as were all other British and Empire troops.)
Colour Sergeant Tegete’s citation read:
At FUSI VILLAGE, on 4th October, 1918. While under heavy machine-gun fire he set an outstanding example to all present, showing complete disregard of danger by walking up and down the line giving the men targets and controlling their fire.
Sergeant Chichasi’s (or Chikusi’s) citation read:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at FUSSE’s VILLAGE on 4th to 5th October, 1918. This non-commissioned officer set a fine example to his section under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire at close range, and by encouraging the young Askari was largely instrumental in breaking off the enemy attack.
It was fearless senior soldiers like these who provided the examples that the younger Askari needed when they went into action for the first few times.