More about Henry Tod’s early experiences fighting the Germans in East Africa.
Last time I was out with a patrol we were ambushed less than a mile from camp and how they did not “scupper” the lot of us I don’t know. [I’m sure his mother was happy to read that!] At the first crack we dropped in our tracks, flat, and as we were in extended order there was not much for him to pot at. I got my askaris to return the fire by volleys and it was not long before we silenced them. They were on both sides of my track but made no attempt to close on me. I caught a glimpse of a couple of a couple of them scuttling away for dear life and had a parting shot at them. I had one man hit in the shoulder and sent him back to camp with an escort of one. I followed up on our attackers and came on their lair, and what should I find but a perfectly good British made rain coat, which the officer in charge must have left in his hurry. There is no doubt that at one time it belonged to one of our fellows.
I continued my patrol, the object of which was to reconnoitre a small conical hill in the enemy territory and where I was to spend the night. The hill is quite a landmark and known to be well patrolled by the enemy. We had no further “bumps” and when night fell we made ourselves as comfortable as possible occupying the slope facing both their country and ours. I cannot say I slept very well in the middle of my little band of a dozen, with a sentry up of one in three. It was not so much the enemy as the wild beasts I was thinking of, and they were there all right. We found we could hear something or other throughout the night sniffing around and we were all a bit scared that a lion would snatch up one of us and vanish, which is a habit they have. I was quite glad when 5 a.m. came (stand to hour at camp) when I was to send up a Very light as a signal and return.
I have been learning something of the battalion’s doings in the earlier stages of the campaign and they have had a pretty thin time. Our last C.O. (Colonel Edwards) was killed in a recent action, and apparently he is sadly missed. I have just met our new C.O. (Lathom) and Irishman and a cheery sort of bloke. He is at the next post with half the battalion and I have just been escorting a full blown general to there by motor car. Poor Wilson our water expert and engineer, was killed the other day doing the same trip. His car was held up by a rope stretched across the track and he and his orderly were shot. A note was pinned on his chest “regretting the necessity of such action”. There have been several similar mishaps. His job was to advise and report on the various water supplies in our territory, which took him about a good deal.
I have had my first bout of fever and it was pretty severe while it lasted, but I was well looked after by the doctor who told me I was babbling quite a lot in my sleep. Our camp is very busy now and there is every sign of a resumption of active operations. A battalion of South African Infantry have arrived and some Indian units and there is quite a babel of tongues – English, Dutch, Hindustani and Swahili.
I wonder when I will get a letter from you and live in hopes.
Wild animals, jungle fevers, and enemy fire! So much for Henry and his family to worry about.
FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION – AND HENRY TOD’S LETTERS – FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)
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, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.