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Armies in East Africa 1914-18 [Paperback]

Peter Abbott , Raffaele Ruggeri
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 18 2002 Men-at-Arms (Book 379)
One of the least-published campaigns of World War I (1914-1918) was that fought in East Africa by forces of colonial troops – British Empire, Belgian, Portuguese and German. Short of resources, many European, African and Indian soldiers recorded epics of endurance as they hunted the outnumbered but brilliantly led German colonial forces across a disease-ridden wilderness.
The achievements of Paul von Lettow Vorbeck – the last German commander in the field to lay down his arms – brought him fame and respect comparable to that won by Rommel in World War II. The events and the forces are described here in concise detail, and illustrated with rare photographs and striking colour artworks.

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About the Author

Peter Abbott has co-authored several titles for Osprey, including Men-at-Arms 131: ‘Germany’s Eastern Front Allies 1941-45’ and Men-at-Arms 202: ‘Modern African Wars 2: Angola and Mozambique’.

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First Sentence
WHEN LIEUTENANT-COLONEL Paul Emil von Lettow Vorbeck stepped ashore in German East Africa in January 1914, nobody guessed that within five years he would not only be feted by his own countrymen for being the last German commander in the field to lay down his arms, but also admired and respected by his British opponents much as Rommel was to be during World War II. Read the first page
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Order of Battle Data Feb. 7 2003
Format:Paperback
Since the amazing resistance of the German colony in Tanganyika in the First World War is rarely covered in any kind of detail, Osprey's Men-at-Arms volume Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is a welcome addition to the slim literature on that subject. While certainly not comprehensive, the author manages to pack a fair amount of data into less than fifty pages and is not distracted from his subject with trivia about collar piping or various types of footwear (a common flaw in the Men-at-Arms series). Instead, the author delivers a succinct summary of the campaign, with notes on equipment, organization, and uniforms. The best aspect of the volume is the considerable order of battle data provided on all combatants, included the usually neglected Belgian and Portuguese forces.
Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is divided into short sections on the pre-war colonial forces in place (Germany, Britain, Belgium and Portugal), a campaign chronology, the campaign of 1914-1915, the 1916 Allied offensive, and then stalemate and pursuit in 1917. There are eight pages of color plates, covering the uniforms of all the combatant powers. The author also provides a surprisingly detailed bibliography, which readers may find quite useful.
The detail on Belgian and Portuguese forces provided is particularly welcome, since most sources virtually ignore non-Commonwealth participation in the war in East Africa. Portugal was unique in sending several large expeditionary forces from Europe to fight in East Africa, instead of relying on colonial troops as everyone else did. The author also details the rather self-inflated reputation of the South African troops, who initially disparaged the black German Askaris and even their Indian allies.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Order of Battle Data Feb. 7 2003
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Since the amazing resistance of the German colony in Tanganyika in the First World War is rarely covered in any kind of detail, Osprey's Men-at-Arms volume Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is a welcome addition to the slim literature on that subject. While certainly not comprehensive, the author manages to pack a fair amount of data into less than fifty pages and is not distracted from his subject with trivia about collar piping or various types of footwear (a common flaw in the Men-at-Arms series). Instead, the author delivers a succinct summary of the campaign, with notes on equipment, organization, and uniforms. The best aspect of the volume is the considerable order of battle data provided on all combatants, included the usually neglected Belgian and Portuguese forces.
Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is divided into short sections on the pre-war colonial forces in place (Germany, Britain, Belgium and Portugal), a campaign chronology, the campaign of 1914-1915, the 1916 Allied offensive, and then stalemate and pursuit in 1917. There are eight pages of color plates, covering the uniforms of all the combatant powers. The author also provides a surprisingly detailed bibliography, which readers may find quite useful.
The detail on Belgian and Portuguese forces provided is particularly welcome, since most sources virtually ignore non-Commonwealth participation in the war in East Africa. Portugal was unique in sending several large expeditionary forces from Europe to fight in East Africa, instead of relying on colonial troops as everyone else did. The author also details the rather self-inflated reputation of the South African troops, who initially disparaged the black German Askaris and even their Indian allies. Perhaps the only area that is slighted is the German ground unit formed from survivors from the cruiser Konigsberg, and the role of the cruiser's salvaged 4.7" guns (they are briefly mentioned and depicted in illustrations, but the fact that these naval troops performed poorly in bush warfare - not surprisingly - is not mentioned). Otherwise, Armies in East Africa 1914-1918 is a fine summary of one of the more unusual campaigns and adaptive commanders of the 20th Century.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An essential reference for people interested in the World War I battles of East Africa April 4 2009
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The First World War was decided in Europe and the North Atlantic, there is no question that all other battlefields were sideshows. Nevertheless, they were important from the German side, for if they could keep armies in the field, the Allied powers would find it necessary to field armies to oppose them. With the German forces completely cut off from Germany and the Allies having full control of the seas, every soldier the Allies had to use in Africa meant one less soldier available for the Western Front.
The battles of World War I in East Africa were small, yet still significant. German General Paul von Lettow Vorbeck of German East Africa was the last German commander to surrender to the Allies and he led a brilliant campaign throughout the war. Vorbeck was also one of the few German commanders to reach a level of admiration in the eyes of the Allies, in many ways he was similar to Erwin Rommel of the Second World War.
This book is a brief history of the battles that took place in what is now Tanzania in Africa. Troops from all over the British Empire in combination with Belgian and Portuguese forces battled German forces throughout the war. Most of the soldiers were African in origin and in general, they fought very well, so well that the colonial powers were reluctant to have them officered by native Africans. There is a great deal of detail in the descriptions, all the way down to small features of their uniforms. The units and major combat operations are summarized in several tables.
East Africa was an area of combat that had no real effect on the final outcome of World War I, yet it is still important. For it was a battle of movement and in that sphere, the German forces were nearly always victorious. Fought primarily with native troops of the colonies, it demonstrated that Africans could be excellent soldiers, a lesson that their colonial masters took very seriously.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not enough Sept. 25 2009
By Robert Berkel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Great War was a sincere World War, not only was Europe involve on both the East and West Fronts, but also Africa (as well as China, the South Pacific islands of Samoa, New Guinea, the Carolines, the Solomans, Yap, and others). The German colonies in Africa were far greater in land mass than Germany itself. They yielded coffee, chocolate, metals, and a host of other products needed by the German homeland. When war broke out, many of the leading administrators of both the German and Entente colonies hoped not to fight each other but to keep the native blacks suppressed. This was not to be the case. Belgian, Portugese, French, and British troops all invaded German African territory.
German Togo, Cameroon, and Southwest Africa (Namibia) were speedily attacked and overwhelmed, since they were not prepared for war. German East Africa (Tanzania) wasn't such a pushover due to the military brilliance displayed by General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck. While this book is only a overview of the campaigns in East Africa during WWI it is very valuable because of it's illustrations of various uniforms and of native garb. It is of particular interest to collectors of toy soldiers, since similarities of khaki uniforms of WWI are specifically deliniated.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER LITTLE OSPREY GEM. April 7 2014
By Mark Waywood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
THE COLONIAL TROOPS SERVING IN EASTERN AFRICA CANNOT BE AN EASY TOPIC TO COVER; AND AFTER AN INITIAL READING OF THIS ENTRY IN THE SERIES, I REALLY NEED TO GO BACK AND RE-READ CERTAIN SECTIONS. MOST IRRITATING IS THE POOR QUALITY MAP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE VOLUME. I GUESS AFTER YOU BECOME A SENIOR CITIZEN THEY FIGURE YOUR EYESIGHT SHOULD IMPROVE???????? STILL THIS LITTLE TOME HAS DATA AND INFORMATION YOU'D SPEND HOURS TRYING TO GLEAN FROM A LARGER WORK, AND I CANNOT HELP BUT RECOMMEND IT AS A STARTING POINT.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine resource Aug. 17 2007
By James D. Crabtree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is almost a necessity if you're studying World War One in Africa. As always, this format is limited but typically packed with information available nowhere else. I only wish there had been some black and white plates of some of the regimental badges and other insignia.
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