After the disabling of the Konigsberg up the Rufiji
River on July 11th 1915 its crew, instead of being kept
together as one compact company after being stranded on the
river bank, was split up. Some became merged with the German
East African Military forces, and others, together with the crew
of the small Mowe, scuttled in Dar es Salaam harbour as a blockship on August
8th 1914, continued their naval activities on the lakes.
30 men of the Mowe contingent, under Lieutenant Horn went by train to Kigoma and went aboard the lake steamer Hedwig von Wissman (60 tons), arming her with four pom-poms brought from
This small ship was commissioned as a man-of-war in
miniature, though her best speed was 7 knots, and the range of
her guns did not exceed 2200 yards.
Kigoma harbour was fortified against any attack by lake.
There was one Belgian steamer, the Alexandre
Delcommune, of 90 tons, which on August 6th had called at
Kigoma but had been allowed to depart. This Lieutenant Horn
was ordered to seek out and destroy.
The Delcommune, being off the Belgian shore and
possessed of superior speed, was able to escape under the cover
of the batteries of Lukuja (Lukuga) River, but after an action of two
hours the Belgian steamer received from her enemy so many hits in the
boiler-room and funnel that she had to be beached, whilst the
Wissman had not been touched. Thus in one action the Germans
obtained what von Lettow rightly regarded as "the extremely important command of the lake". Next day Von Lettow, appreciating fully how desirable a natural defence were the
waters of Tanganyika, wisely decided not to waste the other 70
of Mowe's men by employing them as soldiers, but ordered them
up to the Lake, and appointed Lieutenant-Commander Zimmer to be
in command of both the Tanganyika and that smaller Lake Kivu
which lies to the north.
But the Delcommune was wounded rather than destroyed,
and it became Zimmer's duty to wipe her out utterly. She was
lying hauled up on the beach at Albertville by the Lukuja
mouth; so reported one of Mowe's steam-pinnaces, whereupon
Zimmer with two of his officers, Lieutenant Horn and Lieutenant
Odebrecht, proceeded thither in the Wissmann. it was a plucky
intention to blow up the Belgian steamer as she lay there
surrounded by a temporary protective breakwater of sand which
kept off the surf. One October night Horn with a party of men
landed on the silent shore. They made their way unseen past the
sentries and got right up to the steamer before the alarm was
raised. There was Just time to throw some dynamite into her
stokehold and light the fuse before rushing back towards the
On the following night Odebrecht with seven more men
landed less than a mile north of the spot, stole into within a
few yards of the Delcommune and by the light of the watchfires
ascertained that the explosion had certainly damaged her
bottom. But this was not enough, for the steel plates were
capable or repair, and another effort had to be made later that
month. This was a small but quite intriguing combined
expedition consisting (a) of the Wissmann and a steam-pinnace
afloat; (b) some of Mowe's men and Askaris ashore. Now the
Wissmann, having been built as a light passenger steamer for the lake, was too weak to carry any gun heavier than a pompom, so the pair of 22-pdrs, which had been brought up from
Dar es Salaam were mounted on a raft which was towed astern
of the Wissmann. It was an ingenious method for obtaining
some sort of a gun platform, though the speed of travel
under these circumstances was less than 2 knots even in
smooth water. Whilst Horn took charge of the Wissmann and
Odebrecht commanded the pinnace, Zimmer was on the raft.
The Belgian position was found to be impregnable
from the land, with wire entanglements, pits and earthworks. Furthermore, after the German craft steamed in to about 4000 yards of
Albertville harbour they were attacked by two 12-pdrs. One
of these was now silenced by the 22-pdrs and the Wissmann's
pom-poms. Additionally the Askaris engaged the Belgians'
3-pdrs. After the range had come down to 1800 yards, and
the raft's guns had for some time been shelling the Delcommune
Zimmer ordered Odebrecht to enter the harbour with his
pinnace. For the Belgian steamer had been repaired and
launched since the last attack; she was now lying moored
inshore and the Germans proposed to take her away. The
pinnace, however, ran aground and came under a very hot fire.
Compelled to give up the task she retreated with her rudder
damaged and her hull punctured in many places. But the
Shells from the raft had been so well directed that it was
presently reported the Delcommune consisted of nothing
better than a wreck.
At the southern end of Tanganyika, where British
territory skirted the lake, there existed two ancient British
steamers possessing neither engines nor boilers. Lest
these hulls should become a threat at some later date,
Zimmer sent the Wissmann and Kingani, during November 1914, to destroy them likewise. The Kingani was built of wood. However this little
steamer was 55 feet long, and she had a speed of 7 knots which made her
more than useful. She had come by train from the Indian Ocean
but a sister ship (named the Wami) was still up the Rufiji.
With Zimmer's mixed flotilla of two small steamers,
pinnaces and motor-launches, the German Navy ruled the
Tanganyika waves and was keeping the Belgians from crossing
the lake into East Africa. The curious development meant that the Kaiser's colony was being blockaded by the British
at its eastern side off the Rufiji, whilst German mariners at
the western side were blockading the Belgians. Nor was the
miniature marine content to be passive. It kept the shipless
rivals in a state of suspense by repeated surprise visits and
raids. On November 20, 1914, the Wissmann and Kingani cooperated
in driving off a Belgian company in the bay of Bismarckburg, and in capturing four machine guns together with over 90 miles of telegraph wire that came in most useful to the
Germans. Lake stations were bombarded, landing parties
assisted by spies used to make night attacks on weak garrisons,
and altogether the Mowe's people were scouting, photographing,
harrying, pinning their enemies down, and thus rendering von
Lettow the greatest possible help.
So passed the first ten months of war, by the end of
which von Lettow was sending troops to Kigoma whence they had
to be taken down to the lake to Bismarckburg by the flotilla
and some dhows. But the shipwrights at Kigoma Dockyard had
not been idle and by June 9, 1915, they had succeeded in completing a
new steamer which was a very important addition. She was of
1500 registered tons, and similar to many a cargo vessel sailing off the British Isles. She was a three-island type, with a funnel rather shorter than is
customary at sea. She possessed a speed of 8 knots, which
made her the queen of Lake Tanganyika, though she was named
the Graf von Gotzen. Her immediate utility lay in respect of
trooping for she could carry about 900 men in a quarter of
the time taken by the dhows.
Until the end of 1915 Lake Tanganyika continued to
be dominated by the German flotilla, and there were naval
actions also on Lake Victoria, Nyassa and Kivu, on the first
of which the "Mwanza" took a prominent part.
Towards the end of 1915 news reached the Germans at
Kigoma that the Belgians had begun assembling a steamer of
1500 tons, similar to the Graf von Gotzen, which would be
named the Baron Dhanis. Their armed ships Wissmann and
Kingani were ordered to reconnoitre along the Belgian side,
and they paid careful regard to the mouth of the Lukuja River which seemed the most
likely site for its launch; but no signs of a slipway could be found.
Presently, however, the Belgian wireless imprudently
made a free gift of information; intercepted messages proved
that Lukuja was, after all, the spot. It was important to
know from time to time how the Gotzen's intended rival was
progressing, and when she was likely to be launched; so it was
this desire for knowledge which led to some thrilling
adventures. First came Lieutenant Odebrecht, who stole
ashore one night just to the southward and crept up till he
could clearly define a building slip being constructed. It
was 250 feet long which more than confirmed their
rivals intentions; for, whilst the Baron Dhanis had not yet
taken shape, it was within probability that she would be not
smaller than the Gotzen which measured 200 feet in length.
This officer and Lieutenant Rosenthal (late of Konigsberg)
specialised in a series of risky raids, which for downright
courage and cool determination stand out among the best stories
of the War. Not once, but repeatedly, these two either together
or independently courted death after landing from one of the
flotilla and trying to evade the alert Belgians. On one
night Odebrecht took a dinghy to make his way up the
Lukuja River; on another occasion Rosenthal went disguised as
a native, hoping to get through the sentries unsuspected. Both
these attempts failed, but Rosenthal had scarecly better luck
when he chose a particularly dark hour at a later date. He
was just foiled from arriving at the mouth of the Lukuja River near to the
building slip. In his escape, he managed to capture a patrol-boat manned by
Africans whose testimony still further corroborated the Germans'
The climax of Rosenthal's exploits took place on the first of December 1915. Before the night vanished he had brought the Hedwig von Wissmann within 200 yards of
Lukuja. Dawn broke, and at this distance he had just time to
get a good photograph of the building slip, though there were
but a few minutes to spare. With the coming of light burst
around this ship a hot squall of Belgian shells, yet somehow
there was no damage done and she got away. The photograph was
developed, and proved that the building slip was now completed,
and it seemed as if the new ship had already been begun. Further
details were imperative.
So Rosenthal steamed down again on the next night. He
then transferred to a boat, whence he would at the right moment
take to the water and then swim to the beach. It was an undertaking
of which the very bravest might think twice before attempting.
An iron nerve and great power of physical endurance were essential, but the difficulties were cumulative, in that they needed a man with almost superhuman valour to meet them willingly.
Firstly, these raids had become so frequent that the Belgians never relaxed their vigilance.
If the Konigsberg's officer was to reach the shore, make
his way through the sentries to the slip, and then escape, he
would have to dart like a javelin. But as a preliminary to
this he would have to contend with his body against the surf
which was hitting the strand, whilst crocodiles of uncertain
size and numbers intensified the suspense.
He started out, got within 500 yards by boat, took to
the water, reached soundings, stumbled ashore and ran dripping
inland without being noticed. He could see the slip just 50 yards away. But the area was crawling with sentries! They were moving
about in alarm and looking with lanterns, expecting to pounce
on an intruder at any moment.
He could advance no further, but turned and scurried
back. Plugging into the surf, hs swam away from the land and
was picked up by the boat in a state of exhaustion after a
mighty narrow escape. Did it damp his ardour? Not in the slightest.
For on the following night he went through the same proceedings,
except that he took with him a lifebelt, tied his
boots on his head and wore nothing except shirt, trousers and
cap. This time he actually did
reach the slip, where he found a couple of motor-boats but no
steamer. That was enough. Regaining the water he swam for the
boat, but could not find her. He kept swimming, and still he
failed to meet her; so, crocodiles or no crocodiles, there was not an alternative between keeping afloat and drowning. Morning came and found him still working his weary limbs, whilst away to the north he caught sight of the Hedwig von Wissmann steaming off home, having given him up as lost. It was enough to break even Rosenthal s stout heart, at this point there was every likelihood that the Belgians would open fire on his head. He therefore tore his way a couple more miles to the south, came ashore at 8.30 a.m. and hid himself.
Some Belgian askaris discovered him and took him prisoner. He attempted to get a message through to his Commander Von Zimmer, which however failed to reach him for over two months.
During December 1915 Commander Schonfeld was sent from Kigoma to raid Lukuja, and blow up the place.
He was unable to get near the slipway but brought back news of the two motor boats there. These were two very light Motor-boats whose 15 knots speed would far exceed that of the Hedwig Von Wissmann or the Kingani. Each boat was armed with one 3 pounder and a Maxim gun.
The British had not been idle and were keen to challenge German control of Lake Tanganyika. Mimi and Toutou had been prepared and and transported from the River Thames all the way to Africa. They were to be carried through the submarine zone by steamer. They were then at risk from German Atlantic Raiders before reaching Cape Town. Then they were moved on to railway trucks for the journey to Rhodesia. After Livingstone it was necessary to transport them over land. Their progress was akin to
that of explorers hewing along through virgin country, and it
was surely one of the strangest freaks in a complicated war
that through the bush, across African mountains, and down
tropical valleys two modern boats should be trundled.
Ahead went a pioneering party, where roads had to
be made, nearly 200 bridges constructed, trees felled and
desert tracks indicated. It is true that a couple of traction
engines and trailers were also detrained, but these brought
their own difficulties with them. Bridges collapsed under
their weight, and they needed water for steam even when
neither well nor river was at hand; so the crew had to sacrifice
their thirst-quenching liquid to the boiler's greater need.
Under the scorching sun and over the irksome "roads" the
cavalcade swung forward painfully, the day's run being legged
at from 2 to 6 miles. On one special occasion they even did
Sometimes the expedition had to climb with their precious
burdens up to 6000 feet, and later on the boats were allowed
to float down stream so shallow that barrels had to be lashed
alongside the hulls whilst natives bodily lifted each craft
clear of the sandbanks; for projecting shaft-brackets always
seemed to be courting injury. At another stage the river
would deepen, allowing Mimi and Toutou the privilege of using
their own engines and towing the store-laden barges. Having
got well into the Belgian Congo area and come once more to a
railway, they were placed on trucks and in this fashion were
brought to Tanganyika's lakeside at Lukuja where the Germans had so unexpectedly come across them.
Following the arrival of these motor boats the Belgians
resolved to build an actual port at the Lakuga River mouth to service boats and to conduct the naval campaign on Lake Tanganyika. Kalemie Harbour was located in Albertville named after the Belgian king. The Mimi and Toutou were launched on December 23rd 1915 and next day had satisfactory trial runs.
Just a few days later on Boxing Day Lieutenant-Commander Geoffrey B. Spicer-Simson R.N and a party
of 28 were assembled for divine service on the shoreline of the lake. Whilst participating in their service they were made aware of an approaching steamer. It was not a very big one, nor apparently
very fast. It was slightly longer than the Mimi but with a greater tonnage. She was on a course which would enable her to pass Kalemie at a distance of 7 miles. Commander
Spicer-Simson allowed her to continue till she was not
merely abreast, but well to the southward, his intention being
to cut the stranger off from her Kigoma base to the north. It
was quite obvious that this steamer was heading for the Belgian
coast just below, for she was steering about south-west, and
presently she showed herself to be the Kingani. It was about
11 a.m. when the Mimi and Toutou set off from Kalemie in pursuit. The Teddington toy warships were to have their long deferred opportunity much sooner than had been anticipated. This was the day.
In the Mimi went Commander Spicer-Simson, in charge of the Toutou
was Sub-Lieutenant A Dudley, R.N.V.R., whose expert knowledge
of the African country had been so important that the transports
were entrusted to his care. This morning, however, found him
as captain of a man-of-war going into action. Motor-boats
such as these consumed large quantities of petrol when run at
full speed, and the vast extent of Tanganyika, with 1500 miles
of coastline, was very different from a narrow river, with all
facilities for refuelling. No one could tell how long this
chase might last, so a small Belgian motor-boat called the
Vedette, with a crew of British naval ratings, followed out from the shore carrying more petrol supplies and took up a position so as to be at hand if the chase came north.
These British boats had originally been built for the Greek seaplane
service, and drew only 2 and a quarter feet making them ideal for the shorelines of the lake. However, neither in design nor construction were they originally meant for knocking about
exposed waters, yet on this very first cruise they were put
to the severest of tests. They had come 10,000 miles from Teddington without
damage; hot and thirsty men had dragged and cursed them through
one long furnace with only half a pint of water daily for parched
throats. Through villages silent with sleeping sickness, through
thunderstorms and tropical rains; attacked by mosquitoes,
scorpions, rhinos, threatened by snakes and lions, 26 officers
and men besides their Commander had plodded on to deliver their
own tiny flotilla - yet today the weather seemed to mock at all their previous
By the time Commander Spicer-Simson had finished reading
prayers, ordered his men into clean shirts and shorts, and taken
his two boats out of harbour, the weather had begun to change for the
worse. Heavy rain squalls swept down, and soon there was a nasty
The Kingani carried only one gun - a pom-pom with a range
of 2600 yards - and that was mounted forward. Each motor-boat
carried a 3-pdr mounted forward, but the decks were so weak that
they would not tolerate the gun being fired abeam; therefore they had to be fired ahead. By such reasoning it was requisite that
the two boats must attack from a position astern of Kingani, which
would have the additional advantage of preventing the latter's
gun from being used. For it would be masked by the funnel and
It was decided, then, that Mimi and Toutou should not steam in line ahead, but in line-abreast; and this formation would be convenient if the enemy began running away. In that event, Mimi would take up a berth on Kingani's starboard quarter and Toutou on her port quarter.
It was not too long before the Kingani saw these craft racing so rapidly towards the bay that she would presently be trapped. She turned eastward and went off at full speed, being now only 5000 yards due south of her opponents. By 11.47 just as she was swinging gradually round to N.E., and the motor boats were only 2000 yards astern, fire was opened by the latter, though very slowly at first. Why? partly because the rough sea made these boats so lively that good gunnery was difficult and partly because only a limited number of shells could be carried on the small boats.
Kingani could not bring her gun to bear on Mimi, but she had a shot at Toutou as the latter was the inner side of the circle and at that moment turning North East. By 11.52 both motorboats were so placed that the enemy's gun was completely masked. The range had also been reduced to 1500 yards. They were now running before the sea rather than against it, which was all to their advantage. Their gunners were beginning to find their target. Soon, every shell registered a hit. The Commander ordered a change of ammunition to lyddite and to increase the rate of fire. Soon, a rain of destruction deluged the steamer. One projectile went through Kingani's armoured screen shielding her gun, blowing Sub-Lieutenant Jung in two and killing a nearby Petty Officer. Another shell wiped out a Warrant Officer and yet another blew three Africans overboard.
Soon there were only a couple of able-bodied seamen aboard. The helmsman and the Chief Engineer were still functioning although the former was so dazed that he had to rely on mechanical steering. However, he still managed to head the boat more or less straight towards Kigoma. The Chief Engineer took control for a few moments until he realised
that escape was hopeless. He stopped engines, hauled down
the German flag, and struck colours by 11:58. Thus, within eleven
minutes the action had begun and ended, thanks to the employment of clever tactics and superior speed.
Crippling the Kingani was one thing, taking her back to
Kalemie as a prize was another. It did not help that the sea state had been increasing from bad to worse.
Mimi came alongside the steamer on three occasions, and thrice
did she fail to transfer a man. The waves were so considerable
that during the attempt Mimi received such a nasty nudge
from the heavier vessel that she began taking on water. Under these
conditions the only possibility was to order the Kingani to steer
for Kalemie under her own steam under the watchful eye of the British boats. It was
desirable for the steamer to reach shallow water without delay
lest she should founder from the hole which had been made on
her port side abreast of the boiler. Escorted by Mimi and
Toutou she was brought into Kalemie harbour, where she took
the sand and grounded with a heavy list. Not one British
casualty had occurred that day, but both motor-boats had
suffered severely from the shock of their own guns. Toutou
eventually fared the worst and later on became a loss during
bad weather; but she had accomplished that for which she had
left the Thames, and had helped to provide a more seaworthy
vessel in Kingani, which was now repaired and commissioned as
a British man-of-war with the name Fifi. Fifi was the first German warship to be captured and brought into service with the Royal Navy.
When the Kingani failed to appear at Kigoma, the loss
could only be surmised, and next day (December 27) Commander
Schonfeld's search party were recalled after no success. Not till
early in February did Zimmer learn definitively that Kingani
had been lost, but even then the information lacked true accuracy. By means of African spies it was learned that she was lying in shallow water off Kalemie, and that her funnel
was visible. All this was fairly true - but only for a short time.
Apart from the news being out of date, it erred in reporting
that she had been sunk by means of a battery newly placed on
the shore. Hitherto these spies had always brought trustworthy
intelligence, but this time they mystified Zimmer by no reference
to British craft. The Senior German Officer had no definite
knowledge that the motor-boats were using the lake; and, indeed,
when a second German ship failed to return, he still believed
she had approached too near the Belgian battery. Recalling that Rosenthal's scribbled message had not yet come through and that the Schonfeld expedition had failed to get anywhere close to Kalemie.
Whilst the Germans on Lake Tanganyika were still wondering
and guessing as to the fate of Kingani, she was again steaming
about the lake but now with a British naval crew. The Fifi, as
we must now call her, did not remain long disabled, for she
proceeded south on January 20 (1916) in order to collect fuel.
These lake steamers, like the locomotives of the Central Railway,
used to burn wood, though a certain amount of oil could be
consumed when required to give extra heating; and it was necessary
now that suitable wood depots be arranged. But so ill-known
was the change of fortune which had occurred on December 26,
that when this very familiar craft approached southern land
she was promptly fired upon by Belgian and British posts alike.
Fortunately no damage was incurred.
The Toutou suffered her disaster by a storm which
raged at the end of January, but the loss was not permanent.
She was salved, and was soon repaired. Similarly the
Delcommune, which had received about forty enemy shells was in such a bad condition that an intercepted Belgian wireless had reported her as "completement detruit". However, life was being breathed into the old ship yet, although she was in dire need of new propellers.
The allies had access to two small boats, the Vedette and the Dix Tonnes. Neither were particularly seaworthy and struggled in difficult weather, although the Vedette had managed to play an important role in the December 26th operation.
On February 8th Zimmer went with the Hedwig von Wissmann,
the Graf von Gotzen and a pinnace to reconnoitre Kalemie. Leaving
the last two temporarily near the eastern shore the Wissmann
approached Kalemie. When on February 9th this was sighted
Commander Spicer-Simson gave immediate orders for his flotilla
to get ready, and at 7.45 they put to sea. Forming line-ahead,
they proceeded across the lake with the Fifi (flying the Commander's
pennant) in the van, followed at 100 yards intervals
by the Mimi after which came the Dix Tonnes, together with
the Vedette carrying supplies.
It was an ideal day for frail, flat, motor-boats. The
surface of the late was like polished glass, with a long easy
swell that would barely hinder good shooting. Gloriously fine
and not yet too hot, there was an absence of wind, but the
atmosphere was hazy; the reflection and refraction making it
difficult to define the exact position of any object. For the
purpose of preserving a good head of steam in the Fifi, and of
retaining the flotilla together, the speed was kept down to 6
knots. It was 8.55 when the Wissmann was seen to the N.N.E.
about 6 miles distant, and approaching on a S.S.W. course.
Odebrecht evidently experienced the shock of his seafaring
life when the curious procession from Kalemie showed up,
so he put his helm hard over, put oil on his fires, and began
retreating to the N.E. just as quickly as his engines would revolve. His speed had been 6 knots, but he tried desperately to
improve on this when he witnessed the Kingani flying the White
Ensign, accompanied by the Mimi. Nominally the Wissmann's
maximum speed was 7 knots, but the application of oil in the
furnaces soon gave him speed for 2 knots more. On the other
hand Fifi having solely the wood fuel, could not raise such
a good head of steam as was desirable, as no draught came up the funnel this
windless day. The best she could do was an 8 knot gait. At 9:10 she fired a couple of rounds with
a recently mounted 12 pdr. However, the recoil was so powerful that it slowed her yet further. She was ordered to cease fire for the time being.
Commander Spicer-Simson found himself confronted with
an interesting problem in tactics. He ordered the fast Mimi to get
dead astern of the enemy, and attack from a distance of 5200
yards. It was known that the German steamer carried a 1.5 inch
revolving gun for'ard and another aft similar to that which had
originally been placed in the Fifi's bows, so that the
difference of 600 yards should be adequate to prevent the Mimi
from being hit. If, however, the Mimi kept shelling, the
Wissmann would most likely turn aside to port or starboard
for the purpose of concentrating both guns on the motor-boat,
in which case the Fifi would have time to catch up and fire her
It now became a battle not merely of guns and ammunition,
but of wits. The Mimi dashed in up to about 3800 yards, before opening fire once more. With her second shot she destroyed the port side of Wissmann's bridge. The latter then yawed to meet the threat, as expected, but before Odebrecht's guns could get the range sufficiently low, the Mimi had pulled back and allowed her slower but the more powerful Fifi to take station and open fire in her place. At 10.05 the Fifi commenced firing, but her shells were reported by Mimi as falling "over".
At 5000 yards the Commander had more success with his shooting and increased the rate of fire also.
Repeatedly Odebrecht endeavoured to get within range, but
he was inferior to the Mimi in regard to speed and to the Fifi
in regard to gunnery; so that it was now only a question of time
before a very clear result would show itself. Nevertheless no
action is finished until it is won, and it needed just one lucky shell to bring any of the ships to disaster. But
there could be no question that Odebrecht would need a large slice
of luck if he was to extricate his ship from so difficult a
position; and help could only come with the arrival of Zimmer in
the Gotzen who should have been steaming down the lake and not very
far away. The latter's 4.1 inch gun, which had once been
Konigsberg's, would make all the difference - outranging all the
Matters developed quickly, even as eager German eyes looked up the
lake in vain for a sight of the Gotzen's upper works. The action developed rapidly when one shell shot down into the Wissmann's engine-room killing the Engineer and bursting the tank which contained the oil
fuel. Another shell turned the engines into twisted metal, pierced a
boiler, opened a big hole in the ship's bottom, set alight the
oil-soaked firewood, and turned the ex-passenger steamer into a
mass of flames. She stopped going ahead, and Odebrecht gave
orders that she was to be abandoned. One apparently seaworthy
steel lifeboat remained into which the African crew jumped, whilst the
European survivors put on lifebelts and then jumped overboard,
being afterwards picked up by Commander Spicer-Simson's flotilla.
The lifeboat was so full of shot-holes that she sank. By 10.47
the Wissmann was doomed and the attack on her ceased; less than
ten minutes later she disappeared beneath the surface. There
were no British casualties of any sort, but the enemy lost 7 killed and 5 wounded. The survivors having been rescued, nothing
now remained but to make for Kalemie after the decisive engagement.
The Gotzen then returned to harbour at Kigoma which was rapidly
converted into a fortress employing the 4.1 inch and 22 pounder guns from
the Konigsberg. These however were soon required urgently elsewhere with
only a single pom-pom being retained for defence against aircraft.
This single gun was put into operation on June 1916 when the Gotzen was bombed by Belgian airplanes.
On July 26 Kigoma was evacuated because the Belgians had
captured the railway link, so the Gotzen was filled with cement by the
Germans who then sank her. The next day the Wami took on board what remained of Zimmer's detachment
and landed them at the southern end of the lake by the mouth of
Malagarassi river, unseen by the motor-boat which was
patrolling off Kigoma. The Wami, having fulfilled her function,
was also sunk by the Germans. And with this incident the Konigsberg's crew became
a spent force insofar as a force of mariners.
Commander Zimmer's Tanganyika force (known officially by the
Germans as the "Mowe Detachment" even till the end) consisted of
106 men from his Mowe, 53 officers and men from the Konigsberg, 44
reserve officers and men from the German East Afrika liners at
Dar-es-Salaam, or about two hundred in all.
The final campaign involved taking the German bases at both ends of the great lake. While Belgian forces struck Kigoma to the north the Naval Africa Expedition supported the attack on Bismarcksburg to the south. A column of Rhodesian infantry led by Lt. Col. Murray assaulted the Beau Geste-style castle with vigor but met no resistance.
Spicer-Simson’s unwillingness to engage the fort from sea allowed the garrison to slip away aboard native dhows. When the Rhodesians entered the fort they found the German guns were mostly wooden fakes.
Despite this setback, Lake Tanganyika had finally become a British and Belgian Lake. The Gotzen was eventually raised and put into service as the "Liemba".