German forces in South West Africa are coming close to collapse. South African columns are rampaging across the vast arid colony, carrying all before them. German forces have retreated to the north of the colony, but the South African are in hot pursuit. The Germans hope to build a strong fortified position at Tsumeb. To buy time, a rearguard is left to hold off the South Africans at Otavi.
The Germans under Major Hermann Ritter have some 1,000 men to hold the line at Otavi. The mountainous ground is favourable to the defence. However, the South Africans, under General Louis Botha, their prime minister, have more than three times as many men. Travelling on horseback, the South Africans are able to move quickly. They overawe the Germans, who break without offering serious resistance.
African battles are often puny affairs by the standards of fighting in Europe, but Otavi is an especially bloodless affair, with total casualties of only around 20. Yet the battle is decisive. The way is now clear for the South Africans to race on to Tsumeb and hit the Germans before they have time to build up their defences.
image source (The Soldier’s Burden)