The Old and the Bold

Archibald Harold Andrews

First published in;

The Leeds Mercury, Thursday, 26th August, 1915



Private A. H. Andrews, of Brighouse, who is serving with the Frontiersmen Fusiliers in British East Africa, writing to a friend says:

“No doubt you will have read about our attack on Bukoba in German East Africa. The fighting extended over two days. It was mostly a running fight, and pretty hot in places, as the Germans knew the ground and had the ranges to a yard. We surprised them in landing from the lake a good way above the town. Had they been aware of us and in a position to receive us, it would have been a rough day for us, and I should have been in a stew, as I was attached as a signaller to the officer commanding. We were the first boat to beach, and had to go out in Indian file through a banana plantation, and up a very steep pathway. We got into touch with their scouts at the top, and a few shots were exchanged. As there was little signalling to do, I had the opportunity of letting off a few crackers.

“We could see plenty of the enemy, but they were mostly a good way off. We had them whipped on the first day. The second day we made a quick advance, and after two or three hours a heavy rain stopped operations a bit. It knows how to rain here. We had to cross rivers, streams and swamps. When we got near the town it was simply a walk-over. Practically everybody had cleared out. A white man was made prisoner, who proved to be a British subject doing time.”

“We lowered their flag, and pinched a gun which rolled overboard into the lake [Nyanza]. We cleared out on the 24th and I had a swim in the lake. An officer said there were crocodiles, but no one got bit.”

“I was glad I didn’t miss the trip to Bukoba as it happened I had a return ticket, but nine poor beggars lost theirs, and we have eleven wounded. The enemy carried off nearly all their dead, so it is difficult to say what their casualties were, but they must have been heavy.”

“Though my camp is within a hundred miles of the Equator we can see the snow-capped mountain of Kilimanjaro over one hundred and twenty miles away.”




Pte. A. H. Andrews, a Brighouse man, serving with the Frontiersmen Fusiliers in British East Africa, says, in a letter to a friend:

“We started out one night for an enemy post, which I expect was really the objective of the whole expedition, the idea being to wipe the enemy out and get away as slippy as possible.  We were on the go all night, and part of the day, approaching our objective on the second night; but we found empty trenches, both at the outpost and the post.  As there was a big enemy base within a few miles we cleared.  At dusk next day we met one of our patrols coming up on the chance that we were pushed back and had to run for it.”

“All the track went through dense jungle and swamp.  Possibly we did from seventy to eighty miles, though some say more.  It was a pity we found our friends the enemy out.  It almost looks as if they were afraid of something happening.  You see, a week or two before, they got a patrol of eight natives and Indians and shot the lot through, of course, our men got one or two bull’s eyes.  The patrol had evidently got lost and ran right into them.  We found their bodies.  One of the Indians had both hands cut off.  Possibly he had been wearing bracelets that had aroused the envy of the enemy.”

“One day I was out with a patrol, only two of us whites with four Indians and two blacks, escorting a dozen carriers with rations which we handed over to an Arab patrol over a dozen miles from camp.  Our attempts at conversation were really humorous.”

“We saw lions’ spoor on the path in two or three places but that was the only sign of wild animals.  We were at a most unhealthy spot.  We did plenty of trotting about the first two weeks but after that we didn’t do much.  There were so many ill that it was as much as we could do to find men for duties.  I had my dose after leaving but am all right now.”

“There is no fighting going on.  The situation is rather peculiar, and naturally we should be better off with more troops.  Transport is difficult and water short.  The blacks don’t fancy fighting whites and they fight best when they are ten to one.  I was talking to one wounded man who owed his life to a German officer who stopped the blacks from finishing him, and also bandaged him.  One day a small force from our camp got ambushed and lost seven men including a lieutenant and a sergeant of ours.  Our lot had to retire quickly.”

“I am afraid I shan’t have much to write about if things go on as they are now.  When you get into a scrap in the jungle you hear a volley and the bang of the bullets, but see nothing.  That is if they see you first.  It’s a kind of “I saw you first” game, as the jungle affords so much concealment.”

Archibald Harold Andrews

Archibald Harold Andrews’ birth was registered in Halifax Registration District, this district covering the town of Brighouse where later censuses show him as having been born, in September Qtr. 1891.

The two censuses in 1901 and 1911 show him as Harold Andrews, the first name of Archibald having seemingly been dropped by the family when referring to him, living in Brighouse with his parents Henson and Alice Ann and a younger sister, Elsie.  In 1901 the family are recorded as living in East Street but by the 1911 census they have moved to 13 Simpson’s Yard in Mill Lane and where the 19 year old Harold’s occupation is recorded as a Draughtsman (Building, Proofing and Engineering).

Prior to the Great War Archibald’s previous military experience came in the form of a four year term of home service with the 4th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) to which, as a 17 year old apprentice architect and surveyor in the employ of E. C. Brooke, he attested on 25th June 1908. With the rank of Private and a service number of 567 he attended annual training camps at Redcar (1908), Peel, Isle of Man (1910) and Ripon (1911) with leave from camp being granted in 1909.

Archibald attested at Bradford and was approved for service as a Private with the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers sometime around mid-March 1915.  He was allotted service number 14989 and proceeded overseas with the battalion aboard the “Neuralia” on 10th April 1915.

As with the majority of white troops in East Africa Archibald would appear to have suffered from sickness as he was invalided back to the UK at the end of January 1917 although not seriously enough for him to be discharged from the service.  After a few months rest and recuperation, presumably with the 5th Battalion Royal Fusiliers at Dover, he was sufficiently recovered to be returned to frontline service.  At the beginning of June 1917 Archibald was heading to the Western Front having been posted to one of the Royal Fusiliers’ battalions there.  Initially he went to the 17th Battalion Royal Fusiliers in 5th Brigade of 2nd Division but on the 2nd July 1917 he was transferred to the 26th Battalion which formed a part of 124th Brigade in 41st Division.

Just short of a month later, on 1st August 1917, Archibald was killed in action as the 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers took part in the Battle of Pilkem, the opening phase of what was to become “Third Ypres”.  The 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers’ war diary for that date has the following entry;

“Two Coys attacked at 4 a.m,. lost direction, enemy put down heavy barrage inflicting casualties, these Coys afterwards occupied a trench by the KLEIN ZILLEBECK Rd J.31.a20.  Heavy rain throughout the day & night weather conditions very bad.  Two Coys remained with the 21st KRR, the remainder were withdrawn about 3 p.m. to IMPACT TRENCH.  At about 10 p.m. the Bn. relieved the 11th Royal West Kents in the front line B.H.Q I 35.95.9.  Details arrived that night.  Heavy rain.”

Archibald has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 6 & 8 of the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.

For his service with the 25th, 17th and 26th Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers he earned the 1914/1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.


British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920

British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920

WO 329/2634: 1914/1915 Star, Royal Fusiliers other ranks, Medal Roll

WO 329/764: British War & Victory Medal, Royal Fusiliers other ranks, Medal Roll.

WO 95/2644 26th Bn. Royal Fusiliers War Diary.

Soldiers Died in the Great War.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

1901 & 1911 England Census

England & Wales Birth Records

First published in;

The Leeds Mercury, Thursday, 25th November 1915

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