Somewhere in Africa – 19th December 1918

Linda German East Africa

Linda German East AfricaHenry’s last letter in the collection that my husband has.

Lindi (On the Coast) – 19th December 1918

I have just received three of your letters dated July and August from Vancouver, also the various postcards. I am very glad to hear it was such an enjoyable holiday for both of you. You would certainly appreciate being by the sea once again with the complete change of scenery and climate, especially when these are so grand as you get in B.C. Poor old Scotland of course gets dwarfed by comparison when once you leave her shores, but she always remains Scotland.

Here we are waiting for a ship to take us up the coast. We are doing ourselves pretty well and get to bathe in the evenings, although it was probably responsible for bringing on a go of fever, and I went into hospital for a day or two. I am all right again and it was a pleasant change from camp life and diet, especially when I could partake of an egg and an occasional fish. I have nothing fresh to report and just wish there was word of a ship to take us away from the heat and mosquitoes.

Photo above is the main street of Lindi. Source: Getty Images.

I’ll try to find a picture of Henry Tod. I know that he married Ethel Scott later in life – 1947. Since he was born in 1882, he would have been 65 at the time. Henry died in 1975. 

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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 www.mktod.com.

Somewhere in Africa – 15th November 1918

Without any of your letters to acknowledge I am writing this on top of the news of the Armistice. Events of course had been leading up to it but it came, nonetheless, as a tremendously welcome piece of news. We are still at Ndanda, but under orders to proceed to Dar-es-Salaam. Our battalion is in sole possession of this post at present, but we made a determined effort to celebrate the occasion with the aid of the mission bell, of respectable dimensions, and much song and shouting. This despite the rather stiff-necked attitude of the C.O. (the fifth in my time and just arrived from Nairobi) who disapproved of it all and thought it necessary to warn us that is was only an armistice and not real peace, and that all rejoicing was unseemly. Well, chacun a son gout, as the native might say.

We learned the full terms of the armistice last night and if these do not amount to peace I don’t know what does. It seems to satisfy all the demands of the Allies and Germany knows that if she breaks the armistice she will be worse off than ever. There would be no lack of men willing to go on with the good work, under the able guidance of Monsieur Foch. One cannot help feeling that the Germans, as a people, have escaped punishment, escaped it for fifty years for that matter, and now that they have been brought to book they are getting off with little more than their claws being out. However everybody must be thankful it is over at last and one feels a good deal more about the occasion than one can write.

From Wikipedia: “The actual terms, largely written by the Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine, Allied occupation of the Rhinelandand bridgeheads further east, the preservation of infrastructure, the surrender of aircraft, warships, and military materiel, the release of Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, and eventual reparations. No release of German prisoners and no relaxation of the naval blockade of Germany was agreed to.” The agreement was signed in this railway coach.

I have no doubt we will be chained to this country for some months yet. I understand von Lettow is marching in to surrender with all his force. He was promptly advised of the terms of the armistice and he has intimated his compliance therewith. We have all a sneaking admiration for the redoubtable von Lettow and it must be a bitter pill to him to know that it has all been in vain. He was too hard a nut for the local military talent, and there is no doubt some truth in the adage that he who runs away lives to fight another day. I believe he has played the game pretty squarely, although some of his subordinates have been brought to book for cruelty to prisoners and it may be that he will be on the mat too. The German policy in East Africa was to poison the native mind against the British and foment racial trouble. They were in this part of the world on level terms with ourselves and it was a bad thing to go back on the common policy of upholding the prestige of the white man. [Interesting perspective.]

I see the terms of the armistice have for Russia what she could never have done for herself, but these people have such queer ideas that I do not suppose we shall be thanked for our pains. I have not yet decided whether I shall return to that country, except to try and realize what I left there. [Henry worked in Russia before the war.]

I have certainly had enough of these tropical regions to last me some time, but the highlands of B.E.A. may eventually see me trying to get a living out of coffee or flax. Land is none too cheap except at the back of beyond, but there has been some talk of special terms for K.A.R. and other officers who have taken part in this campaign.  Big land corporations have been early on the scene there and grabbed up the tit-bits. There is plenty of room for everybody of course but at present there is only the Uganda Railway running through the country  and I do not expect there will be very much done in the near future in the way of further development. There may be the alternative of remaining in the K.A.R. for a further period but there does not seem much of a future in that direction, as the establishment is bound to be cut down to normal in time. Latterly the South African element have had it all their own way in this force as a political sop to these zealous patriots.

The Spanish “flu” is sweeping over the continent, having come up here from the south, where it has taken a terrific toll of the natives. It has already gone through our battalion and for a time we were under quarter strength. The death rate however has not been excessive – under ten percent – considering the susceptibility of the African to lung trouble. We are all impatient to get back to Nairobi and I hope to date my next letter from there. I trust all is well with Andy.

Henry has survived the war. I’ve come to appreciate his character through these letters: tough-minded, a good leader, pragmatic, brave, and with a good sense of humour. One more letter which I will post tomorrow.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION – AND HENRY TOD’S WWI 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, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Somewhere in Africa – 5th July 1918

Portuguese East Africa WWI

Vapor “Luabo” – Empress Nacional de Navegacao – 5th July 1918

Portuguese East Africa WWIOn the high seas once more on the good ship (Portuguese) “Luabo”. We are making for a point not a thousand miles from the mouth of the Zambesi! Von Lettow’s object is apparently to get across this river and get clean away south and we are going round by the coast to try and cut him off. We have called at Port Amelia and Mozambique [city] on the way. The latter is an interesting sort of place, with quite a history dating from the earliest Portuguese settlement, when their great pioneer and navigator, Vasco de Game, sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and discovered the African continent in 1498. Before him again were the Arabs, Persians and Phoenicians, whoever they may be, and the ancient forts were a scene of many a tidy scrap.

I’m showing the above map again so you can see the coastal city of Mozambique and the Zambesi River at the bottom – so you can see why Henry’s battalion is taking a ship to cut off Von Lettow.

One does not associate this part of the world with historic romance, but this coast is full of it. I would like to delve into some book on the subject and get to know more about it.

Portuguese East Africa WWIMozambique is a long way behind Lorenzo Marques the principal port of Portuguese E.A., but it does quite a big trade both coastal and inland and in the bazaars you can buy almost anything besides native wares and produce. The bay is full of dhows of all sizes and to see them coming in reminds one of the herring fleet on the Clyde. They tell us it is not unlike Zanzibar, a place I have just missed on two occasions. The last time our ship went between the islands and Pemba but did not call. [You can see Lorenzo Marques much further south of Mozambique city.]

It has been fairly rough coming down and most of the askaris are sea sick, to say nothing of some of the other passengers. There are several Portuguese officers on board, with whom we swear eternal friendship nightly at dinner, but I do not think they are altogether pleased at our invasion of their country in the common cause. We shall doubtless have a busy time on landing but we have had no news while at sea. We are only half the battalion on board, under the Colonel; the other half proceeded us in another ship under the second in command Major Gore-Brown. We should land tomorrow.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION – AND HENRY TOD’S WWI 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, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.