Battle of Mahiwa


Wounded Nigerian soldiers pictured after the Battle of Mahiwa.

October 18 1917, Mahiwa–The British had made little progress against the remaining German forces in East Africa in 1917; a few minor engagements had resulted in the Germans just retreating faster than the British could follow.  Max Wintgens’ column had raided through much of German East Africa before finally surrendering in early October, distracting the British for most of the year.  In mid-September, however, the British felt they could begin their advance against Lettow-Vorbeck, moving out in two columns from Kilwa and Lindi.  The group from Lindi found a German detachment under Wahle in mid-October, but soon faced essentially the entire German force.

The British ordered a frontal assault on October 17, which was repulsed with extremely heavy casualties.  On October 18, the Germans counterattacked and nearly broke the British lines, but the British were just able to hold on.  After two days of fierce fighting, both sides were exhausted.  The British had suffered nearly 3000 casualties, over half of their strength in the battle.  The Germans had suffered only around 500 casualties, but, unlike the British, these losses could not be replaced.  The German supply situation was also growing dire; he had been forced to abandon one of the guns from the Königsberg during the battle, and he was now nearly out of smokeless cartridges for his rifles.

Today in 1916: Austrian Foreign Minister Urges Peace

Today in 1915: Massive Italian Artillery Barrage Opens 3rd Battle of the Isonzo
Today in 1914: Ludendorff Orders Retreat from Warsaw

Sources include: Byron Farwell, The Great War in Africa; Randal Gray, Chronicle of the First World War.