The British Empire Library

Corporal Haussmann Goes To War; Armed With Motor-Cycle And Camera

by Colin Martin

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by H Y W S Dickson (Somaliland 1950-60, Nyasaland/Malawi 1960-74, Anguilla 1975-80)
The author retired to South Africa, where he met Leon Haussmann who, having joined the South African Imperial Service Contingent under General Northey, had sailed with it from Durban for Nyasaland, arriving in Zomba on 15 April 1915. Martin was so impressed by Haussmann's recollections and photos of events over the next 2 years that he produced this excellent booklet, well worth reading. Earlier, on the outbreak of World War I, action had been taken to disable a German warship on Lake Nyasa. This enabled the 1st Bn. K.A.R., with some European volunteers and local porters, to be moved by steamships up north to Karonga. By then German troops had already moved into Nyasaland, so most of the K.A.R. were moved out to intercept them, leaving a small garrison at Karonga. The Germans however avoided them and then attacked Karonga, where the defenders held out bravely until relieved by the returning K.A.R., who drove off and caused heavy casualties to the Germans. Three British officers, two volunteers and eight locals were killed, and 49 others wounded. The British Force then moved back to the border to prevent further German incursions during the rest of 1914 and '15.

Meanwhile the S.A.I.S.C. of some 1200 men had also been moved up Lake Nyasa by ship and arrived at Karonga in May 1915. Haussman's first photos are of Zomba, then of steamers at Fort Johnston and then of Karonga. General Northey's task now was to bring together all the border forces, to co-operate with the nearby Rhodesian troops and to plan a major offensive into German East Africa. This finally began in May 1916, and is depicted in the remaining photos. By July some 20,000 sq.miles of German territory had been occupied, with more land being taken in 1917 and a final German surrender in 1918. Meanwhile in 1917 Haussman was sent back to Zomba for hospital treatment, and then back to S. Africa for final discharge. The booklet with his stories and photos is a fascinating account of the above events and should interest any Colonial historian.

British Empire Book
Colin Martin
0 620 26482 9


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