In German East Africa the British are frustrated by the continued resistance of Lettow-Vorbeck‘s army. The Germans are completely cut off from their homeland and have been driven into the interior of the colony but are nevertheless refusing to give up the fight. The campaign is becoming a game of cat and mouse, as the British hope to catch and annihilate Lettow-Vorbeck’s force while the German commander struggles to fight on.
For the last few days the two sides have been fighting at Mahiwa in the south of the country. British Nigerian troops have attempted to block the Germans’ withdrawal but have found themselves surrounded by the enemy. The engagement turns into the largest battle seen yet in the campaign, with large numbers of British forces and the bulk of Lettow-Vorbeck’s men deployed into a desperate struggle by both sides to gain a decisive advantage.
Today the battle draws to a close. The British have failed to block Lettow-Vorbeck’s withdrawal and have suffered horrendous casualties: something like 2,700 out of the 4,900 men deployed. However for the Germans too the situation has been a disaster. Their casualties are just 500 men or so, but this represents a significant proportion of Lettow-Vorbeck’s forces. Worse, in the fighting the Germans have used up most of their ammunition in the fighting; with modern smokeless ammunition almost completely depleted they are now reliant on obsolete rifles firing black powder rounds. The Germans have also had to abandon machine guns and face a surge in desertions from their African troops.
For all that, the Germans have escaped annihilation. Lettow-Vorbeck’s war continues.
German Askaris attack (Metropostcard: Africa and Asia 1915-1919)