The Fighting at Kisii on 12 September 1914

Updated: Feb 24

Sergeant Miydiyo, 4th King’s African Rifles


During the first few weeks of the First World War in East Africa the 4th King’s African Rifles (KAR) from Uganda was heavily involved in the defence of British East Africa (BEA), now Kenya. This was because the 3rd KAR, the BEA battalion, was mostly deployed in the north-east of BEA and it took time to march back on foot from the northern garrisons.


4th KAR’s first action against German invaders of BEA came at Kisii. In early September 1914 a large German force marched from Mwanza in German East Africa, now Tanzania, across the BEA border to Kisii where it halted before planning to move eastwards and destroy sections of the Uganda Railway that ran from Mombasa on the Indian Ocean to Kisumu on Lake Victoria.


A modern day view of 4th KAR position on the Ridge at Kissi

To counter this threat three companies from 4 KAR in Uganda were shipped across the Lake to Kendu, from where they marched to Kissi and occupied the ridge overlooking the town. The German troops in Kissi moved to attack the British and a fierce fight broke out resulting in casualties to both sides. A 4 KAR advance into Kissi was led by Captain Edward Thorneycroft but he was soon shot dead and the survivors of his group withdrew.


The British troops on the ridge began to run short of ammunition and they withdrew towards Kendu, but on the way they met another 4 KAR company that had just landed and was marching to support them. Ammunition was re-distributed amongst all the Askari and all the 4 KAR companies then advanced on Kissi to find it emptied of Germans apart from the dead and wounded that had been left behind. The German commander had lost too many men and he had decided to withdraw westwards into German East Africa.


During the fighting No. 1771 Sergeant Miydiyo of 4 KAR had acted very gallantly and he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal with the citation: For doing very good work and displaying great bravery when at close quarters with the enemy, although twice wounded, at the action at Kissi on 13th September 1914.



Edward Thorneycroft is buried in a grave near the old Kissi Boma.

Edward Thorneycroft's grave near the old Kissi Boma

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