7/5/1916 Kondoa-Irangi: Lettow-Vorbeck strikes back

British Empire forces are advancing into German East Africa, the Kaiser’s last remaining overseas colony. Thus far German forces have been retreating rather fighting battles to the finish. This suits the South Africans, who make up a large proportion of the British Empire forces, as they too prefer a war of manoeuvre rather than positional combat. But it does mean that the German army remains intact, ready to strike back against its enemies when Lettow-Vorbeck, its commander, sees fit.

Today he does see fit. A South African force under General Jacob van Deventer is encamped at the settlement of Kondoa Irangi. The rainy season has made communications difficult, meaning that Deventer’s men are effectively cut off. They are suffering from sickness and shortages of food, both of which are affecting their morale. Lettow-Vorbeck meanwhile has concentrated his forces and decides to attack Deventer, believing that he will be able to smash the isolated South Africans before they can be reinforced.

In the initial fighting things go well for Lettow-Vorbeck. His men (mostly locally recruited Askaris with a small number of European officers) are able to seize Deventer’s outlying positions. Deventer now concentrates his men in Kondoa Irangi itself, preparing for a final defence against the Germans.

image source:

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (Das Archiv zum 1. Weltkrieg)

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