9/5/1916 Kondoa Irangi: South Africans bloody Lettow-Vorbeck’s nose

Colonel Lettow-Vorbeck is striking back against the British Empire forces who have invaded German East Africa. He has concentrated his men and is attacking an isolated South African detachment at Kondoa Irangi. Lettow-Vorbeck hopes to destroy this South African force before it can retreat or be reinforced. This will then leave him free to attack other enemy formations in detail.

The first attacks forced the South Africans to withdraw from their outposts. They prepared to make a stand in the settlement of Kondoa Irangi itself. Today the Germans attack in earnest. Lettow-Vorbeck expects to smash the South Africans, who have been suffering from lack of food and the sicknesses that come with the tropical rainy season.

The attack is preceded by an artillery bombardment. Then at dusk the German infantry go forth. But things do not go Lettow-Vorbeck’s way. The South Africans mount a more spirited defence than he expected. He has also misread the location of their defensive positions. The Germans mount a series of assaults but are repelled with heavy casualties. When the fighting ends, the South Africans remain secure in their positions while at least 128 of Lettow-Vorbeck’s men (mostly Askaris) lie dead on the battlefield. Although these are tiny losses by the standards of fighting on the Western Front, for Lettow-Vorbeck’s small army they are unsustainable.

image source:

German troops helping a wounded comrade (Axis History Forum)

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