East Africa


The British West Indies Regiment had a notable presence in East Africa during the war. A draft of 500 men was sent to the region, comprised of two officers and 300 Other Ranks from the 1st Battalion, three Officers and 100 Other Ranks from both the second and third battalions. The detachment arrived from Egypt in August 1916 at Kilikandi in order to aid the British force that was being outmanoeuvred by the Askaris under German command. Their role mainly consisting of guard duties, although this did play a part in the strategy for the overall capture of Dar-Es-Salaam. Owing to the small size of the detachment, the difficulty of receiving reinforcements, and the reduction of effective strength by the harsh climate, it was not included in a division established to advance against the German forces.

In 1917, however, part of the detachment of the draft was sent to capture an enemy supply base at Maduba, a successful operation that resulted in Captain Cressell, the detachment commander, receiving the Military Cross. Later that year, a small party of six men, led by Corporal Tomlinson, found an enemy ammunition dump located south of the Rufugi River and then make a march of over 300 miles to re-join the main body of the draft. For this feat they were mentioned in dispatches. In June 1918, the detachment was inspected by Lieutenant General Van Derventer, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in East Africa, who commented the men had done all that was asked of them and that they had coped well with the difficult environmental conditions.