Updated: Feb 10, 2022
Troopers A. Cooke, P.R. Heaton and G.J. Le Blanc Smith, East African Mounted Rifles
On the outbreak of World War I the East African Mounted Rifles (EAMR) was quickly formed in Nairobi from European volunteers. The unit was soon despatched to patrol the border area with German East Africa around Namanga.
Just across the border lay Longido Mountain which, it was believed, was occupied by around 600 German troops. In an attempt to divert German attention away from the landing of Indian Expeditionary Force ‘B’ at Tanga a British attack was launched on Longido on 3rd November 1914. Indian Army infantry and mountain and machine guns were involved along with five squadrons of the EAMR.
The attack was not a success and one squadron of the EAMR named Bowker’s Horse found itself in a dangerous position whilst looking for a water hole. German Askari fired on the Troopers both from the hill above and from adjacent bush. The total EAMR casualty list was ten men killed, four seriously wounded and five slightly wounded. Two of the badly wounded Troopers had to be left behind as the squadron extricated itself out of range of the enemy riflemen. The British force then withdrew to Namanga.
During the evacuation of the wounded, three Troopers of the EAMR, A. Cooke, P.R. Heaton, and G.J. Le Blanc Smith, displayed great gallantry and all three later received the Distinguished Conduct Medal. All three men had a similar citation that read:
For gallant conduct on 3rd November 1914, during the engagement at LONGIDO (East Africa), when he assisted to carry a wounded comrade into cover whilst subjected to a very severe close-range rifle fire.
The EAMR, although shrinking in strength as men were posted into newly formed battalions of the King’s African Rifles or were released for other duties, took a conspicuous part in the 1916 advance into German East Africa.