February 28, 1916

Sally Wilson

British East Africa
28th Feb 1916


Dear Father,

I got about 6 weeks mail altogether the other day but there is no sign of the camera or the Xmas gift yet.  They will probably arrive in time for next Xmas.  It is very difficult to get anything where we are now as we are in the advanced post 20 miles from the base (Maktau) so we are at present living on our rations (very meagre rations at that) & using as little soap as possible.  We are part of the 1st East African Brigade which consists of the 2nd Rhodesians, North Lancs, 130th Baluchis & 3rd K.A.R.  The South Africans have not come up to expectations so far & have all been withdrawn to somewhere in the rear for two or three months training so that there is not much chance of an early finish to the war out here.  I expect if I gave you details they would not pass the censor, but I should say the prestige of white men amongst the natives just now is about nil.  The warfare out here is gradually evolving into trench warfare still in British East & not in German East as is supposed at home (according to the papers).  Smith-Dorrien turned in and resigned at the Cape, & Gen. Smuts has come up to take his place.  We had to go out when he arrived here & form a scrum in front of the German position while he climbed up a tree & had a look at the place, but I suppose the only remark he made was that “it was a very hazy day”.  It is going to be pretty bad here when the rains start.  There was a thunderstorm the other night accompanied by a terrific downpour of rain & everything was swimming in water in no time.  We had 48 mules in a dugout & had to go out & rescue them at 2 am as they were then up to their necks in water.  I do not suppose there will be much done now til after the rains as they are due very soon.  We have got one or two aeroplanes & a lot of armoured cars.  There were 12 new aeroplanes arrived from home with the wrong propellors which would not fit.  These sort of things are pretty common out here & I expect it will be just as bad at home.  We were handed over 24 Max Gun mules the other [day] (as teams for 4 new guns) without bridles or saddles.  We refused to take over the mules at first but were ordered to do so as they had been allocated to us but as there were no saddles or bridles available in the country it would be about 6 months before they arrived, meanwhile the mules are splendid company.  It is no wonder that you see some people praising the marvelous organisation of the British Army.  We do not get much time to ourselves out here as when we are not digging trenches we are out on patrol or some other duty.  I hear from the Colonel that I have to be awarded a Military Cross for Longido last September.  I expect by the time this reaches you that it will be time for getting in the garden again.

Yours Aye,


Serengeti 28/ 2/16


The Mules are Splendid Company Copyright © 2013 by Sally Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


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