The outcome of this war will most likely be decided on the Western Front, where the bulk of German and Allied forces are deployed. But there are other fields of battle, and one of these is East Africa, where Lettow-Vorbeck has commanded German forces since the beginning of the war. His plan remains to keep his army in being, tying down as many Allied troops as possible and preventing their transfer to Europe. The forces ranged against him are overwhelming but Lettow-Vorbeck remains at large, his army (European officers and locally recruited Askaris) continuing to evade resist Germany’s enemies.
Lettow-Vorbeck has been unable to prevent the Allies from overrunning German East Africa. He has retreated into the Portuguese colony of Mozambique where his army is living off the land, often leaving starvation in its wake but also provoking native rebellions against their colonial masters. British Empire forces under South Africa’s Deventer and Portuguese army units seem powerless to stop Lettow-Vorbeck’s march; Deventer in particular is increasingly disdainful of the efforts of his Portuguese allies. He sees their troops as next to useless, an actual liability in combat against the Germans.
Fighting over the last few days at Nhamacurra, near the port of Quelimane, both accords with and runs counter to Deventer’s poor opinion of his allies. When Lettow-Vorbeck attacked the Portuguese here many of them quickly surrendered. However others, supported by a contingent of British Askaris, put up a stout resistance until they were eventually overwhelmed.
The vicotry at Nhamacurra is a godsend to Lettow-Vorbeck. As well as continuing to burnish his reputation for invincibility, his men have also captured the supplies of their enemies: stores of arms and ammunition and an enormous quantity of both food and quinine, the drug that protects his European officers from the ravages of malaria. The Germans also discover a large quantity of Portuguese wine and other alcohol, which leads to what Lettow-Vorbeck describes as “a wholesale jollification”, a surrender to drunkenness enjoyed by both his African and European troops.
German standard bearer (Africans and West Indians at War: German African Soldiers)
map (Wikipedia: Battle of Ngomano)