ENEMY'S TACTICS IN EAST AFRICA.
MEJ? Ajjp METHODS ON THE "OTHER BIDE." WHAT THE BRITISH HAVE TO FACE.
Johannesburg, March 15
Some interesting notes on the na ture o£ the ooantry sn which the Union troops are now operating in eon junction with an Imperial force under Lieutenant General Smuts, and on the tactics of the enemy, have reached the Johannesburg "Star" from an officer of high BtandiDg in the imtne
di'i'H ih'-ntr:- of thn ojjer 1 n around Ki-irnanj-tro Th- coun <y (h- » ri f-s) varies from forest- and Heri-n hush to open gr.vsj glades or park like pasture ground. Probably 95 per cent of the trees are thorn bearing, which makes move., ment impossible in the dense bush except by means of specially cleared roads. Another characteristic is the greatly undulating nature of most of rhe terrnin, which means tbe absence of folds in tbe ground for the conceal ment of bodies of troops in open country Water is scarce, and seems practically to be confined to certain widely separated streams, though from the slopes of Kilimanjaro numerous streams flow, being fed by perpetual snow on its summit. Many streams, however, seem to disappear after a comparatively short course. It is understood that little or no boring for water by means of jumper drills has been as yet attempted Water is to be found iv pools after rain, and grazing is, on the whole, good.
Every post, detached house, village, kraal, etc., in East Africa may be said to be protected by a boma A noma is a rather thick impenetrable fence, made of thorn tree 3, cut down and placed with the thorns outward?, and the butts inwards, Thia fence may be made of any desired thickness, as material always abounds on the epot, and even in peace iime such protection is necessary against lions, elephants, rhinos, etc, Iv addition to such a boma, of unlimited height and thick thickness, a ''thorn carpet" is usually arranged round the approaches as a further protection. In a very short time cover from view and conpiderable protection from fire can be obtained by this means alone, and when a few hours are available for trench digging a very formidable defence can be ar ranged, capable of definite extension and improvements by means of deeper trenches, overhead cover, de-filading (that is protection by means of banks, etc., from flanking h'rp), communica tion trenches (eight or more feet deep) and concealment by grass and thorn bush from an aeroplane or other reconnaissance.
Tbe writer supplies a sketch, from which it is evident; that a frontal at tack by infantry in a position prepared as be describes a3 a most hazardous undertaking All approaches to a defended post have "lanes" cut through tbe bush of irregular shape, but so arranged that every open and, therefore, tempting piece of ground, is covertd by machine gun fire and cross rifle fire A widely extanded front ia usually occupied by tbe enemy, with Fomewbat similar, works on the ex trerne flanks, so that an attacking force ia liable to be caught in front, and flank without the most careful reconnaissance by aeroplanes, mounted troopg and scouts. The difficulties of an advance through tbe thick bush are well appreciated by the enemy, who are not slow to make the best use of them. Iγ. is very hard, indeed, for a large body of troops advancing to "keep touch" in the thick bush. With a range of vision varying from ten to fifty yards, progress is neces parily impeded by skilfully posted machine guns, snipers in trees and maxims mounted on and fired from the backs of grass covered animals.
Enemy troops, with the exception of artillery, consist almost entirely of infantry, and these ere organised in companies of about 200 Askaris with white officers and n.c.o.'s. These Askaris are natural fighters, well trained, and well handled, with the enormous advantage of having been bred and born in the thick bush, and accustomed to track, stalk and hunt game ail their lives for food ' They are, of course, of the same general race and type as our own King's African Rifles, whose bravery and mi i'ary ability are well known. When these natural qualities are developed by German military oxperts and in structors it will be seen that the black man js not to be despised as a soldier. Fortutmtely iot e;3 the Askari is but a poor shot-with tne rifle. FINE FIGHTING MATERIAL. Some of the finest fighting material in the world is now to be found in East Africa, They have still, per haps, much to learn about local con ditiono of fighting, but they are learning rapidly, and are applying themselves skilfully and energetically to meet the particular and peculiar
problems confronting them. It is not I or desirable to go into de tail-, biiv if' is quitH saf« to that, c j solution of various difficulties is in J sight, and this furnishes a well based confidence in the success of the oampaign. It is an interesting and picturesque army in many respeots, com prising as it ia does troops from England, many representative unit? of the Indian Army, East Africans, Swahilis, ag well a3 Rhodesian3 and South Africans. Every regiment bai? i"8 quota of African and South Afrioan natives and also East Indians, and is adapting itself to local conditions of transport, often reduced to native bßarers whose load must not exceed 501b to 601b. The pack mule is mucb in evidence, and Indian stretcher bearers are part of every column
The motor car ig much used where the bush permits. Nothing else atopa them in these immediate parts. They vary from the light ambulance to the heavy oar carrying three or more ton 1 !, or the armoured motor-car with its maxim crew and much ammunition, It is inspiring to see an armoured motor in action It manoeuvres with the utmost confidence and freedom in the park like stretches of country that interpersed with areas of thick tborn bush. Enemy bullets patter on their armoured harmlessly, and natives on the German Bide are simply terrified by these "rhinos," as they term them. When it is realised that they are each ootnmanded by a British naval officer it will be under stood that nothing is lacking in dash, bravery, or resource. Nothing below a field gun or pom pom can harm them, so they frequently barge up almost to an empty trench to deliver their fire The dash and skill of the mounted troops, both horse and artill cry will probably be an important factor before long. These are nearly all South Africans. Still, it will be the man with the bayonet (the in-, fantry "foot slopger") who will have i the last and decisive word. The &r I rival of so many and so valuable rein forcements from South Africa has pus new heart and fresh spirit into the vparworn troops, who, with such inadequate numbers, have kept the flag flying in East Africa during 15 de pressing months.
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ENEMY'S TACTICS IN EAST AFRICA., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXV, Issue 3546, 16 May 1916