The Old and the Bold

War Diary






















2 Miles W. of MBUYUNI









1 January

2 January

11 January

12 January

16 January

18 January

19 January

20 January

21 January

22 January

23 January

24 January

25 January

27 January

29 January

31 January


M.I. Coy consists of one M. Gun, 5 Officers (5), 65 Rifles of the Loyal North Lanc. Regt. and 51 Rifles of the 25th Royal Fusiliers, 25 Private and public African followers, 12 ponies, & 148 mules.  

(5) The Officers are:-

Capt. G. P. Atkinson, Loyal North Lanc. Regt. Comdg. M.I. Coy.

Lieut. A. T. T. Storey, 3rd South Lancashire Regt. attached to Loyal North Lanc. Regt.

2/Lieut. W. Parker, Loyal North Lanc. Regt.

Lieut. J. E. P. Grenfell, 25th Royal Fusiliers.

Lieut. M. Ryan, 25th Royal Fusiliers.

None of the above have ever been through a course of M.I. duties, but Lt. Ryan & 2/Lt. Parker have both been in the ranks of mounted units before.

About 33% of my men are continually sick partly owing to exigencies of climate and long patrolling in the sun on empty stomachs (Breakfast before daylight not being conducive to a large appetite).  The percentage of sickness amongst the men of the Royal Fusiliers is much greater than in the Loyal North Lancs. who are about 10 years younger, more hardened, & used to Army life and rations, than the R. Fusiliers.  The men are quartered in G.S. tents, India, 160lbs. which hold 16 European Privates or nine K.A.R. (vide B.E.A. Standing Orders, Appendix A, Footnote P.  This is probably another reason as to why the askari can withstand the climate better than a private soldier.  I am of opinion that these tents are not sun proof for a white man during the heat of the day in B.E.A.  

In the following diary the weather is always fine unless otherwise stated.  In night operations the sky will always be presumed clear unless otherwise stated.  Reference will be made to moon in so far as it affects night operations.

Lt. Ryan, Lt. Parker & Pte. Stevens (att. M.I. Coy.) went on patrol towards MBUYUNI with object of finding out strength of enemy there.

There was no moon.  Passing round to the N. of MBUYUNI they turned S. until they met VOI-TAVETA ROAD, which runs through the enemy’s camp at MBUYUNI, at a point about 1 mile W of MBUYUNI.

Here they examined the spoor on the road with an electric torch and saw tracks of 15 men which had passed to E. & then gone back W. that evening at about 6 p.m.  They were probably the new & old relief passing.

The M.I. patrol then returned to Maktau.

3 Officers, 1 Machine Gun & 63 Rifles, M.I. Coy., left camp to reconnoitre MBUYUNI, which we passed to the N. of & then went S. meeting the VOI-TAVETA ROAD 700x W. of enemy’s camp.  Here we saw spoor of about 15 enemy, tracks fairly fresh.  The M.I. Coy. took up defensive position in the open space ½ mile N. W. of MBUYUNI, while Capt. Atkinson, Ptes. Brennan & Beresford, proceeded to reconnoitre the enemy’s camp.  The first quarter of the moon was getting low down in the W. & it actually set at 11 p.m.  This patrol of 3 then rode on to the thorn carpet on the W. side of enemy’s camp, reconnoitred along it for 50x to the N. then returned, crossed the road, & reconnoitred towards the centre of enemy’s camp, passing trenches & bomas which were unoccupied.  After proceeding like this for 200x parallel with the road we came on to a banda by itself and were challenged further on at a distance of 20x by a nigger, who shouted “NANNIE” (6).  

(6) ”NANNIE” is short for “NANNIE WAYO” which means “Who comes there”

We then returned the way we had come, without being fired upon, rejoining the remainder of the M.I. Coy.  An unsuccessful attempt was then made to pull down one of the enemy’s telegraph poles by the roadside with the intention of cutting the wire, but the pole proved too strong.

We now proceeded back much the same way as we had come until we reached a very large open space 2 miles N.E. of MBUYUNI where we slept.

We now rode on & came back on to the road 3 miles E. of MBUYUNI meeting the R.N.A.C. (7) and 100 Rhodesians in lorries 10 miles W. of MAKTAU.

(7) R.N.A.C. in this diary means Royal Naval Armoured Car.

We all returned to MAKTAU.

I received vague orders to go with Belfields Scouts & the M.I. Coy. to MBUYUNI.  The M.I. Coy. were to keep S. of VOI-TAVETA ROAD, while Belfield’s Scouts kept to N.  Maj. Keen DSO accompanied Belfield’s Scouts, while Capt. Percival I.D. (8) accompanied the M. I. Coy., who went with 4 Officers, 67 Rifles & 1 M. Gun.  On arrival at 3 miles E. of MBUYUNI, the 2 parties separated, Belfield’s Scouts going to reconnoitre MBUYUNI from N. while the M.I. Coy. were to do same from S.  The M.I. Coy. first reconnoitred the E. MBUYUNI RIDGE which is 2 miles W. of MBUYUNI.  There we found trench across road on each side of which was a boma extending for 200x, & barbed wire.  We then gallopped across the valley & advanced on MBUYUNI from the S.E.  Lt. Ryan getting within 10x of the enemy trenches there, which were occupied, the M.I. Coy. were 160x off so I decided to retire whereupon the enemy opened fire from about 6 rifles, which were later reinforced by 40 more.  We had no casualties.

Belfield’s Scouts had avoided MBUYUNI and gone on to look at SERENGETI.  The M.I. Coy. examined the road on the E. MBUYUNI RIDGE & found a covered in trench across the road 2½ E. of MBUYUNI, it was supported by wooden planks over which earth was thrown.

We then joined a Rhodesian piquet under Maj. Coope, 7 miles W. of MAKTAU.

Returned to MAKTAU all together.

(8) In this diary:-  I.A. means Intelligence Agent.  I.D. means Intelligence Department.  

M.I. Coy. & Belfield’s Scouts went to E. MBUYUNI RIDGE as a Railway Covering Party, the Infantry supports being 5 miles in rear.

The enemy sent forward a reconnoitring patrol which Belfield’s Scouts drove back without loss to either side.

We returned to MAKTAU.

4th Troop of M.I. Coy. under Lt. Ryan does Railway Covering Party.

M.I. Coy. 5 Officers & 84 Rifles, 1 M. Gun, move to BIBI CAMP, 5 miles W. of Maktau.  We hand over to Remounts all spare mules.

Arrive at BIBI.

3rd Troop of M.I. Coy. under Lt. Grenfell acts as Railway Covering Party.

Pte. Murrey, Loyal North Lanc. Regt. was accidentally severely wounded in right upper arm, in attempt to prevent cartridge explosions caused by fire.

Pte. Beresford, 25th Royal Fusiliers, accidentally shot dead in the head Pte. du Plessis, Belfield’s Scouts, while cleaning his automatic pistol.

Ptes. Brennan & Stevens M.I. Coy., accompanied Maj. Keen DSO & I.A. Parker on the reconnaissance to MBUYUNI.  They were fired on by the Rhodesian piquet going out & twice by enemy on the W. & S. of MBUYUNI losing one mule missing, which belonged to the I.D.

They returned to BIBI.

I returned 11 Royal Fusiliers to their regt.  The M.I. being better without them, half of them are always in hospital & the remainder discontented.  My strength is now 65 Rifles of 2 Loyal N. Lancs., & 40 Rifles of R. Fusiliers.  My sick number about 20% after these removals.

The M.I. Coy. move to MBUYUNI.

5 Officers, 70 Rifles, & 1 M. Gun of the M.I. Company received orders to leave the Eastern MBUYUNI Ridge, go round the S. flank of the enemy’s position on Western MBUYUNI Ridge, & cut off his retreat to the West.  After a long detour of two miles radius we came to a point about 2 miles W.S.W. of MBUYUNI from whence firing was heard.  I dropped one troop here to command a large open clearing, on the East side of which 3 mounted & about 20 dismounted enemy could be seen trying to cross.  I took the remaining three troops & 1 M. Gun half a mile further North to cut off enemy’s main body which did not appear, but 3 enemy porters were seen in the open ½ mile further North.  I let them run out into the open & then captured them.  They pointed to some bush where they said the rest of the enemy were.  I advanced through this bush with 2 troops & 1 M. Gun sending another troop ½ mile to my North & we all advanced in an Easterly direction for ½ mile suddenly about 15 enemy fired on us from the cover of thick bush at 40x range inflicting no damage.  I galloped my mules back 100x into cover & opened fire at 200x into the bush.  There was much shouting amongst the enemy, who now gave some orders in English which made me think I had run into British troops.  I ceased fire & rode out with 2 orderlies across the open to shew them who we were, they fired again killing my orderly’s horse.  The enemy then retired into the large bushy main MBUYUNI Ridge, where they evidently ran into our main body, as heavy firing was heard in that direction, but saw no more of them, they must have scattered to the South & hidden in the bush until all was clear.

We then steered due N. for the Voi-Taveta Rd which we struck 2 miles W. of MBUYUNI and heard from Belfield’s Scouts that MBUYUNI was occupied by us.

We returned to MBUYUNI Camp with three African prisoners.  Our only casualties were one horse killed & one rifle magazine lost.  Number of S.A.A. rounds expended 151.

4 Officers, 65 rifles of the M.I. Company, and 4 Armed Cars were ordered out to aid the Baluchi piquet being attacked on Voi-Taveta Rd about 2 miles W. of MBUYUNI by about 30 enemy without machine guns.

The M.I. met the Baluchis retiring & saw the enemy at once disappear into all available bush, I pointed out to the Armed Cars where I had seen them disappear & they immediately pursued followed by the M.I. Coy. who were extended in 2 lines.

As shots were coming from the patch of bush on the left flank I ordered two troops under Lt. Grenfell to clear the enemy out, which they did without the aid of Armed Cars which had all gone due West.  I ordered 2/Lt. Parker with two troops to pursue the Armed Cars which had now extended on a very broad front chasing scattered groups of the enemy.  2/Lt. Parker pursued with the 2 cars in the centre of the line, while I followed the car on the left.  This pursuit went on for about 2 miles, the officer’s ponies being well ahead of the mules, who could only hope to capture those of the enemy who had laid down in the long grass if they were fortunate enough to come across them.  No doubt many were passed over in this manner.  If we had been mounted on horses we should have captured many more (9).

(9) I strongly recommend that the grass be burnt, wherever possible, to prevent the enemy from hiding & being passed over.

2/Lt. Parker was now 1000x to my right with 2 troops who suddenly rode into a heavy fire from a ridge 500x away, which turned out to be part of SERENGETI CAMP.  These two troops were enfiladed from their right flank and the left flank was therefore pushed forward, 2 Armed Cars were 200x to the right of the M.I. & were drawing the fire of a pom pom & machine gun.  The M.I. wisely withdrew with the exception of 2/Lt. Parker who was wounded & Pte. Higgins who stayed behind, in the hopes of getting him on to his mule, 2/Lt. Parker’s horse having got away loose.  The 2 Armed Cars with the M.I. now retired following the M.I. to the South where they rejoined me & another Armed Car (the fourth being 1000x in rear on the road).

On learning that 2/Lt. Parker had been abandoned I requested Lieut. Walden to send 2 Cars to rescue him which they did under heavy fire.  Great credit is due to the persons who actually lifted 2/Lt. Parker into the Car under heavy fire from a pom pom & 2 machine guns.

We now collected on the road 1 mile E. of SERENGETI & learning that No.1 Light Battery were on the road, I asked them to come up & Major Robinson then took command.  The 2 troops which I had left behind on the left flank to clear the bush, rejoined me 2 miles from MBUYUNI CAMP.  Lt. Grenfell reported having cleared the bush killing one askari & capturing one askari, the remainder escaping to the South, the mules being unable to overtake them.  On their return they scouted back over the same ground and found Ober. Lieut. Paul Grosstuck lying in the long grass, feigning death, close to the place where fighting started.  He was armed with a .303 rifle belonging to the 61st Pioneers.

Amount of S.A.A. expended by M.I. Coy. was 427 rounds.

Our Casualties were:-

2/Lt. Parker, 2/Loyal N. Lancs. Rgt. very severely wounded.

One mule slightly wounded in mouth.

Enemy’s Casualties were:-

1 White & 19 Askaris killed.

1 White & 7 Askaris captured (10).

About 10 rifles captured.

I recommend the gallant conduct of 9671, Pte. W. Higgins 2/Loyal N. Lancs. Rgt., on a separate memo.

(10) 1 Askari captured today (24 Jan. 1916) is not included in this total.

M.I. Coy. did not take part in today’s occupation of enemy’s camp at SERENGETI.  Rhodesian Regt. found one wounded askari, as result of yesterday, who they took prisoner.  They also recovered 2/Lt. Parker’s equipment.

Pte. Cunningham 2/Loyal North Lanc. Regt. died of pneumonia today at MAKTAU & was struck off strength of M.I. Coy.  He was an excellent soldier, having won the D.C.Medal at Tanga.

M.I. Coy. moved on to new camping ground & the tents, having just arrived from MAKTAU DEPOT, were pitched.

The 18 S.A. mules for our 1st Line Transport arrived.  Heavy rain at night.

M.I. Coy. were ordered to reconnoitre LANJORO being guided there by two WATEITA scouts of I.D.  We were taken to the E. NJORO RIDGE about 2 miles S. of NJORO DRIFT & were told that LANJORO (11) was 600x farther on.  We saw it was occupied by the enemy who we saw ½ mile to our W.  We also disturbed out of a tree 3 enemy scouts who retired.  We then retired 2½ miles to SERENGETI.

(11) This was not LANJORO.  LANJORO NDOGO is 5 miles S.W. of SERENGETI.

I then decided to reconnoitre NJORO DRIFT as ordered.  We proceeded along the VOI-TAVETA ROAD until we came on to enemy scouts on the E. NJORO RIDGE 2 miles W. of SERENGETI CAMP.  My orders being not to fight I retired back to MBUYUNI.


2 p.m.

9 p.m.

4.15 a.m.

3.30 p.m.

9 p.m.

9.30 p.m.

11 p.m.

11.30 p.m.

1 a.m.

4.45 a.m.

6 a.m.

8.30 a.m.

6 a.m.

12 noon

4 p.m.

6 a.m.

1 p.m.

4 p.m.

6 a.m.

3 p.m.

4.30 p.m.

6 a.m.

10.15 a.m.

4.30 p.m.

8 p.m.

7 a.m.

5 a.m.

8 a.m.

12.30 p.m.

2 p.m.

2.10 p.m.

2.15 p.m.

2.45 p.m.

3 p.m.

3.15 p.m.

6 a.m.

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