Somewhere in Africa – 21 March 1917 continued


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We left Henry Tod yesterday with his journey to Nairobi partly complete. Picking up the threads today.


We got not Nairobi at 3 o’clock that afternoon and were met at the station by a staff major, who detailed us to our respective battalions. The K.A.R. is a comprehensive force and is comprised of 5 or 6 regiments with headquarters in different parts of the country; B.E.A. [British East Africa], Nyasaland [present day Malawi], Jubaland [now part of Somalia], etc. Each regiment has three battalions. I am in the 2nd battalion of the 3rd regiment, known as the 2/3rd K.A.R. We messed that night at headquarters of the 3rd K.A.R., which is Nairobi, and next day we were ordered to proceed to the training camps, about 10 miles out.

Greater Kudu – one species of antelope (buck)

Our kit was taken by ox waggon and we were given horses to ride there, with a native guide. At least 12 of us were mounted, the others getting a lift out by other means. We started out about 3 p.m. and it began to rain almost immediately and we all got very wet. The horses were fresh and there were several spills. I could just manage mine but had to take it out of him in the early stages. When we thought it was time we were getting there, we consulted the guide, as there was no sign of a camp anywhere. We then learned he did not know where the camp was or where he was himself. [Good grief!]

We scouted around for a bit but it was evident the camp was not in that neighbourhood, so after telling our “guide” what we thought of him in good English and bad Swahili we returned to Nairobi, there to be told we had taken the exact opposite direction. As out kit had gone on we had to follow our home and get to camp somehow so we made a fresh start with a fresh guide, with not much daylight left. The track skirted a forest with the open plain on our left and we had only gone about two miles when we found ourselves in the middle of a huge herd of buck and zebra which apparently had been lying down for the night. They didn’t know which way to run and the result was a stampede in which our horses joined. The beasts would not leave the track and I had the novel experience of doing a flat race with a buck on one side and a zebra on the other. It only wanted me to blaze off my six-shooter to complete the Wild West touch.

source: Project Gutenberg (there seem to be many styles of bandas)

The herd eventually scattered and night came down with its tropical suddenness. It was soon pitch black and we had some difficulty in keeping touch with each other. We got to camp wet, hungry and thirsty but found a warm welcome waiting us and a good meal at one of the battalion messes. We were shown our “bandas” or straw huts and as our boys had arrived well before us everything was ready for us. Thus ended the great journey which has taken well nigh three months.

source: Wikipedia

Next morning we reported to our respective commanding officers and have since been “carrying on” in the usual way – this time with native troops. My battalion is at present in the field in German East and I am attached for the moment to a battalion of the 2nd K.A.R. I am favourably impressed with the “askaris” and they drill as well if not better than our own soldiers. [askari is a word for soldier] They of course understand the English words of command but once you get beyond the mechanical side of the business they get lost. This lot I am with are Nyasas and do not speak Swahili, which is really the language of the coast. We have been recruiting from every tribe in the country and they have all their own dialects – the Nandi, Wakamba, Kikuyu, Kavarondo &c. A notable exception is the Masai, the most warlike of the tricks, who have so far refused to be recruited.

source: wikipedia – Thomson Gazelle

I have been twice out shooting, and the bag so far is a wildebeeste and Thomson’s Gazelle – known as a Tommy. It looks easy enough from the train but when you get out on the plain amongst them it is a different story. A three mile tramp from camp across a couple of ravines or dongas and you are on happy hunting ground. It is painstaking work stalking the brutes and to get the wildebeeste I sighted my rifle at 300 years. He presented a broadside target as he was standing sentinel to a herd of hartebeeste which had got wind of me and had made off. The shot did not bring him down and he made after the rest of the herd but he soon started to cavort around, no doubt wondering what was inside him. [poor fellow] I gave him another shot which missed but he soon collapsed before going much further. I closed on him cautiously with my boy well to the rear, but he had kicked his last when I got up.

My henchman came into his own at this stage and with my brand new hunting knife he soon carved up the carcass in the most scientific manner and with the aid of another buy carried a goodly portion back to camp. The meat was pretty tough but the black boys made short work of it. The buck meat was more digestible and made a welcome change to the rain beef.

I share my “banda” with another man and it is on the outskirts of the camp. The hyenas come right into camp every night on thieving bent and you hear their mournful howl all around you. My friends says he heard one sniffing inside our door and shouted at me to wake up but I remained blissfully ignorant of it all.

As this has brought my doings up to date I will now close.

Imagine how all this would seem to a man from Scotland? And what a contrast to the trenches in France and Belgium.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website

Somewhere in Africa – 21 March 1917


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It occurs to me that November 11th will mark 100 years since the armistice ending World War One. And as such, it seems fitting for Henry Tod’s war experience to wrap up as well. So I plan to do a Somewhere in Africa blitz for the next while so we can find out how he fares and how his war ends. I hope you’ll continue to follow Henry’s experience.

source: Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis

3rd K.A.R. [Kings African Rifles for those who’ve forgotten], Nairobi, 21 March ’17

Here we are at last and I can sit me down in comfort and get a line off to you. I think I wrote you last from Dar-es-Salaam, with a post card or two in between. We left the latter port with little regret on the 9th on a coasting steamer, in company with about 100 German prisoners and a number of German women and children, all of whom we dumped at Tanga, another port in what used to be German East. We had a day ashore there and it is also showing the effects of the bombardment from our ships. Here again the enemy have sunk their ships in the harbour. It [I assume he means Tanga] is quite a pretty place and laid out in true German fashion.

We reached Mombasa on the evening of the 12th under escort of a small cruiser. We landed on the following morning and received instructions from the Commandant to entrain that afternoon for Nairobi, which gave us time to look round the place. The population seems to be a mixture of Indians, Arabs and Swahilis. There is an old fort which has changed hands many times between the Arabs and the Portuguese when they were fighting for this part of the country in the long ago. The native quarter is very quaint with its narrow tortuous streets, where you soon get lost. There are some fine buildings and shops in the European quarter.

The climate as in all these coast towns is pretty trying – blazing hot all day and sultry at night. We had a good lunch at the only hotel worth the name and were entertained on the veranda by an Indian snake charmer who chanted weird noises to a 12 foot python [!!] and did sundry other tricks for the consideration of a rupee or two, which is the currency of the country. Our ‘boys’ had meantime got our kit to the station and we found everything ready for entraining when we got there. The us rickshaws here, as in most of the places we stopped at, and there is also a miniature railway track along the main streets, on which a little bogey, complete with sunshade, is pushed by four runners. They invariably missed the points when they came to a junction, but time is no object in these Eastern parts. We found ample accommodation arranged for us on the train – twenty of us. The compartments have sleeping accommodation for four and are fine and roomy in the day time. I enclose a p.c. [post card?] which hits off the scene at entraining very well.

WWI campaigns in German East Africa

WWI German East Africa campaigns

The Uganda Railway runs from Mombasa to Lake Victoria Nyanza with Nairobi about midway between. It is a climb all the way to well beyond Nairobi, which is just under 6000 feet about sea level, and after touching about 9000 feet descends to the Lake level which is still a few thousand feet above the sea. The country near the coast is rich in tropical vegetation, with extensive cocoa-nut and rubber plantations and at the different stations we were offered fruit of every known variety. All this however did not appeal to us so much as the prospect of seeing the game country higher up, which we reached next morning. [sounds like he’s on holiday rather than at war]

Snow-clad Kilimanjaro, 19,000 feet, is seen to the south of the railway and makes a fine spectacle. We had dinner at a restaurant station and turned in fairly early to be up first thing in the morning to see what was to be seen. We were not disappointed. The whole aspect of the country had changed and we were now on the plains, as wide and rolling as in Canada with ranges of hills to be seen all round in the distance. It was not long before we came on the game, dotted all round us on all sides of the line. They were mostly hartebeeste, a big and rather ungainly looking specimen of the deer family. Soon we came to much larger herds which seemed to contain every known variety of deer, with a plentiful mixture of zebra and ostrich. The finest looking animal of the lot is the wildebeeste, which is very like a buffalo and probably bigger. I have since shot one. It was a veritable zoological gardens, except that we did not see any lion or other wild beast, although one fellow swore he saw one; however he is the sort of fellow who would see it.

This is a very lengthy letter, so I’ll finish it tomorrow and now, having peeked ahead, I can assure you that Henry soon returns to soldiering.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website

Book blogs galore


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WOW – this year’s reader survey asked participants if they had a “reading related blog or website.” Of 2418 responses, 294 provided the names of their sites. What does this tell you about the reading ecosystem and readers’ desire to share their thoughts?

As promised, here’s the list.
Regency Retro Reads
Caz’s Reading Room
All About Romance
Destination: Fiction
Louby’s Lush Reads
Tomes and Tequila Blog
Brandnewbooksmell on YouTube
What Cathy Read Next
Miss Darcy’s Library
Just One More Chapter
Book Date
@whatrachelread ,
FB Nose in book
Brayton’s Book Buzz
Healthy people
Writers Who Kill, The Stiletto Gang &
Books Etc.  (author website)
Rebecca’s Book Reviews
I Love Books (Facebook)
Http:// and
A Novel Bee
You can find me on Wattpad under user name ivy475.
I don’t have one, but thank you.
Nut Press (; member of @theprimewriters
Sue’s Booking Agency
My Cozy Chaos
Instagram account under @Crypticartisan
Instagram: _magicbookdom_
Http:// (thank you!)
Book Natter
Svetlana’s reads and views
Elle Thinks (
I am in process of starting one
White Pine Cozy Mysteries
Reader Report Cards group on FB
Bitty’s Buried in Books
Dacebook Page: Sean Kevin Gabhann
Sally E. Johnson facebook page
Discovering Diamonds :
Musings of a Bookish Kitty (
Caz’s Reading Room
Rakes and Rascals
Book Blog
Seamus O’Griffin
Passages to the Past (
Charles Ray’s Ramblings ( (French language blog on historical fiction)
In Literary Love
The Queens Quill Review
Http:// and Montana Women Writers
The Owl Lady Blog
Suzy Approved Book Reviews
Where Genres Collide

Thanks to all who shared their information and their love of reading.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website