is the largest online archive of world war 1 photographs and texts. the Archive of World War 1 Photographs and Texts
History of World War 1 The Western Front The Russian Front Italian Front The Middle East Air Warfare War at Sea
A First World War Soldier

Prev | Next | Contents


All the Army is looking for the gunnery lieutenant, H.M.S. ----. Time indeed may soften the remembrance of the evil he has done us, and in the dim future, when we get to Dar-es-Salaam, we may even relent sufficiently to drink with him; but now, just halfway along the dusty road from Handeni to Morogoro, we feel that there's no torture yet devised that would be a fitting punishment.

Strange how frail a thing is human happiness, that the small matter of a misdirected 12-inch shell should blight the lives of a whole army and tinge our thirsty souls with melancholy. For this clumsy projectile that left the muzzle of the gun with the intention of wrecking the railway station in Dar-es-Salaam became, by evil chance, deflected in its path and struck the brewery instead. Not the office or the non-essential part of the building, but the very heart, the mainspring of the whole, the precious vats and machinery for making beer. And there will be no more "lager" in German East Africa until the war is over.

All the long hot march from Kilimanjaro down the Pangani River and along the dusty, thirsty plains we had all been sustained by the thought that one day we would strike the Central Railway and, finding some sufficient pretext to snatch some leave, would swiftly board a train for Dar-es-Salaam and drink from the Fountain of East Africa. The one bright hope that upheld us, the one beautiful dream that dragged weary footsteps southward over that waterless, thorny desert was the occupation of the brewery. We had heard its fame all over the country, we had met a few of its precious bottles full at the Coast, had found some empty--in the many German plantations we had searched.

Now "Ichabod" is written large upon our resting-places, the joy of life departed, the sparkle gone from bright eyes that longed for victory, and, as King's Regulations have it, alarm and consternation have spread through all ranks. Even the accompanying news of the tears of the Hun population in Dar-es-Salaam at this wanton destruction, failed to comfort us.

The Navy were very nice about it. They were just as sorry as we, they said. The gunner had been put under observation as a criminal lunatic, we understood. But they had just come from Zanzibar, and every one knows that all good things are to be found in that isle of clover. All the excuses in the world won't give us back our promised beer again.

Prev | Next | Contents