Sikhs In The Army


Indian Mountain Battery WW1 East Africa

Image from Harjinder Kanwal -

Victory medal awarded to


Service No: 802

Date of Death: 19/07/1917

Regiment/Service: Indian Mountain Artillery 22nd Derajat Mountain Battery




Son of Bishun Singh, of Khori, Gujrat, Punjab.


History of the Battle at NARUNGOMBE 19/07/1917


The advance began on July 5, in the direction of Liwale, it being hoped to force von Lettow to disclose his intended line of retreat. Three columns were formed, the forces engaged including South African infantry, King's African Rifles, the 23rd Punjabis and two mountain batteries. After some sharp fighting the Germans fell back to Narungombe, where an engagement was fought on July 19. The fighting was very severe; the Germans delivered several well-sustained counter-attacks and the issue appeared doubtful. The fight showed that " the enemy's capacity for resistance had not in any way been weakened by the rainy season, and that the moral and training of his troops remained high " (Van Deventer).


After the fight at Narungombe the Germans, who were under Capt. von Liebermann, retreated south. Von Lettow regarded the action as an opportunity missed by von Liebermann and as further proof of the immense difficulty of carrying out successfully in the bush operations in which several columns are engaged. But Beves's offensive was spent, and his troops suffered heavily from sickness. It was not until mid-Sept. that a new Kilwa force was ready to take the field. In the meantime preparations had been made for the advance from Lindi. In Aug. Brig.-Gen.

History of East Africa Military Operations WW1 1914-18

E. AFRICA, 1914-18. The proposition at the Berlin Conference that neutrality should be observed in the colonies in the event of war in Europe was turned down by the Allies and the conflict was thus extended to the African continent where many European powers had carved out colonies. The Germans had a vast colony-German. East Africa (Tanzania) wedged between British East Africa (Kenya) to the north and Portugese East Africa (Mozambique) to the south. It was a vast theatre from Kilimanjaro in the north to the river Zambezi in the south and from the Indian Ocean in the east to the Great Lakes in the west. The country was ideal for defence; the thorn scrub restricted visibility to 150 metres. The thorns would cling to clothes and flesh. The land became a quagmire during rains and scarcity of water made the heat unbearable. Bees, rhinos, sleeping sickness, malaria, intestinal and other tropical diseases all took their toll. Horse sickness killed horses by the thousand. Roads were practically non-existent in German East Africa. It was mostly an

infantry war.The British opened the hostilities in November 1914 with an Indian brigade to capture the port of Tanga some 200 kilometres north of Dar-es-Salaam, the capital. The operation was a dismal failure as the troops had had no training in beach landing and the brigade was badly led. The British based at Nairobi resumed the offensive in March 1916 at Kilimanjaro, cutting roads as they advanced. The force consisted of South Africans, Indians (who had been withdrawn from France) and a small British contingent. The Indian State Forces were also well represented. The wily enemy commander Gen Vorbeck had some 16,000 aksaris (African soldiers) well trained in bush warfare and led by German civil servants, businessman and planters. He obtained whatever food, clothing, medicines and ammunition he could get from the Portuguese and fought a brilliant guerilla campaign, causing delays on the British during his retreat to the south and tied down a vastly superior allied force by fighting on ground of his own choosing. After a number of skirmishes, German East Africa was cleared steadily by half a dozen columns hunting the Germans. Major actions took place in 1917 at Beho Beho, Narungombe and Nyangao. The campaign was virtually over in November 1917 but without a decisive victory. During 1918, .the Germans were pursued and mopped up in Mozambique and Rhodesia. Vorbeck, who had eluded capture for four years, when told of the armistice and the Kaiser's abdication, surrendered on 25 November two weeks after the armistice. Five Indian units received the full honour and others for shorter periods.

Sada Singh Medal sikh_army_for_ww1 east africa