The Story of a Lion Hunt With Some of the Hunter’s Military Adventures During the War
by Arnold WienholtTwo brilliant first hand accounts from the First World War in Africa
The First World War in Africa has always been a subject of fascination for military historians. It involved regular British and German forces, unique and special corps on both sides, irregular units raised from colonials, Askaris and famous regiments such as the K. A. R. It drew adventurers from all over the world to action including men like F. C Selous and the outstanding German commander von Lettow (both of whom appear in these pages). It was fought in parched deserts and in bush terrain alive with dangerous wildlife. This ‘two-in-one’ Leonaur special edition will need little explanation to persuade aficionados of this subject that a real treat awaits them. The first account was written by a doctor of the Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance attached to the 3rd Mounted Brigade as part of Botha’s German South-West African campaign. This was a mobile ‘hit and run’ war involving mounted riflemen, burghers of the commandos and, on the German side, the remarkable Camel Corps among others. The second narrative bears an unusual title. It refers to an actual lion hunt (which almost costs the author his life) but also to the German ‘lions’ of von Lettow’s force. The action moves from German South West Africa, through the Okavango to East Africa where the author was employed as a scout, a free ranging intelligence officer waging a guerrilla war in the bush and as a member of the East African Mounted Rifles. This is a story of astonishing adventure and a must read.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
A German artilleryman taken prisoner in the recent fight paid a glowing tribute to the manner in which his battery was stalked. They were on an eminence, and he had just trained his gun on some horsemen advancing on his right front. “Don’t fire there,” said his officer. “Shoot at these men in our left rear.” While he was turning the gun round they were shot at by riflemen on their right rear, and the officer was slightly wounded.<br>
“What shall I do?” said the gunner.<br>
“Wait a moment,” replied the officer. “I will be all right, and will direct your fire.” Just as he spoke a shell fell on them, as if from the clouds. It decapitated the wounded officer and killed the mules.<br>
Another and another shell, and the gunner was the only living thing left in the vicinity. “I then crawled under the gun and took out my rifle. The battery never fired a shot,” he concluded.<br>
I have had conversations with a number of boys (most of them were little more) who took part in the fight and were wounded. In one bright little ward at the Antonius Hospital are three youths who were severely wounded. They are on the highroad to recovery, and are very cheerful and happy. They do not seem to realize in the slightest what they have gone through or what they have been doing; for they relate their experiences of killing and being killed in a flippant, cheerful manner that is rather terrible. One with the eyes of a cherub, and another child whose downy beard may or may not have experienced the razor, were with Collins in the attack upon Jackalswater. Early in the afternoon they found themselves on a small kopje with but little shelter, only 300 yards from some Germans who were sheltering in railway waggons and in one or two small houses.<br>
Said the child: “We could not see the Germans very well, but whenever we saw a little smoke our fellows let rip at it. They had a little black dog which stood in front and wagged his tail, but we did not shoot at it.”<br>
“Men kept crawling up behind us,” interrupted the cherub, “and firing off their rifles close to our heads, at anything they could see. It made my head ache. Somebody put his rifle very near my ear. ‘Don’t shoot,’ I said; ‘there is nothing to aim at.’ ‘I’ll let them have it through the windows, anyhow,’ he said; and he put a bullet through each of the four windows of the little house. Just then M—— hit a German, under a truck, in the leg. He got up and limped off to get behind a big stone. We didn’t shoot at him while he was going; I don’t know why. M—— looked out to see where the man was, and I saw the pith fly out at the back of his helmet. I thought he was shot through the helmet, but he sank down dead without a sound. The German looked out, and I shot him. I know he was dead because he threw up his arms.”<br>
“But the worst was,” said the child, “when we had to clear. We got on our horses, and bullets were falling all round. My arm was so painful I had to hold it with my other hand, and put the reins in my teeth. Twice my horse stumbled, but we got away. We came to a Scotch cart, and were put in, the cherub and I. We lost our way all Sunday and till Monday. We had plenty of food, but no water. We tried to eat biscuits, but they came out of our mouths like powder. I shan’t forget that drive! But I’m going back if the guv’ner lets me.”