The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging


Published on the Website of the South African Military History Society in the interest of research into military history

Not much has been published about the South Africans who were involved in the the German East Africa campaign during the Great War. This is one diary which it is hoped might be of use to some future researcher.

Copyright Lyn Wood; April 2007

Among my late mother's personal effects I found this diary of my Grandfathers'. I have copied it to print as faithfully as I could. All of his entries after Fri 7th April 1916 to Mon 17th April are indecipherable, possibly due to illness. The writing appears to be reversed. He was hospitalised during this time. I have corrected obvious spelling mistakes, & included punctuation, which my Grandfather omitted in most entries. I have left African place names as he wrote them unless very well-known, such as Arusha etc. I have occasionally suggested alternate words in parentheses, along with my initial "L" to differentiate from a comment made in parenthesis by my Grandfather.




Dec 1915
B Sqd
4th Sa:H.
Show Ground


222 Proes Street


Diary of (illegible) Lister F.W. No 545 B Sqd
No 3 Troop
4th SaH


Dec 12th. 1915. Left home sweet home.

Dec 13th. Took train at Dulini station bound for Show Grounds Joburg.

Dec 15th. Arrived in Joburg & joined 4th Sa H under Capt Gedye.

Jan 27th 1916. Left Joburg.

Jan 28th. Embarked on HMS Laconia bound for Kilindini BEA.

Feb 3rd. Arrived & disembarked at Kilindini.

-- Feb/March 1916 --

Feb 4th. Arrived at Makatu BEA.

Feb 7th. Attached to the Jamison Military Police.

Feb 12th. First letter from home. Drafted on to head quarters staff without option.

Feb 14th. Saw Capt Gedye re G M P. Got orders to pack kit - making a move forward. Just about fed up of Makatu.

Feb 15th. Left Makatu, thank the Lord. Had a tedious journey, took all day, dust and heat enough to kill one. Arrived with A C & D & Headquarters staff at 5 PM at Mbuyini Camp.

Thur 17th Feb. In camp. Nothing doing. Preparing to advance.

Fri 18th Feb. Hurrah the boys had a good feed. Dear sister Marjorie sent a tin of cakes. God bless her. Went out shooting, had several shots, got a hartebeest.

Sat 19th Feb. Another shoot - no luck. Hit a sable antelope. Great excitement in Camp, all warned to be ready at 12PM, poor me had to stay in Camp. SMUTS ARRIVED.

Sun 20th Feb. Boys returned fed up after 20 hours in saddle. Saw no enemy.

Mon 21st Feb. Camp inspection. Nothing doing.

Tues 22nd Feb. Another day gone by. Nothing in particular doing. Off tomorrow to see if we can locate enemy.

Wed 23rd. Went out looking for Germans. None to be seen, had a charge at a Hartebeest. (illegible) shot a good day and enjoyed myself.

Feb Thur 24th. Went out for a shoot, dropped a fine Sable but he got away, also wounded a hell of an Eland, good day. No Germans visible.

Fri 25th Feb. Went out 12PM . Patrol 24 hours on & off saddle & no Germans.

Sat 26th. Returned off above patrol tired and weary & wet. Caught in a heavy thunderstorm.

Sun 27th. Nothing doing.

Mon 28th. Ditto. Van der Venter's men arrived. Caught German prisoners (3).

29th Tues. All the boys out.

Wed 1st March. The boys returned off patrol and had an encounter with the enemy. One horse shot and retired. O.C. orders not looking for trouble yet?.

-- March 1916 --

Thur 2nd. No news. All in Camp.

Fri 3rd March. Nothing doing.

Sat 4th. B Sqd on patrol. Self in Camp.

Sun 5th. The boys returned. Saw the enemy.

Mon 6th. All infantry moved forward & mounted ordered to pack surplus kit. Self kicked by Mitchell's horse.

Tue 7th. Preparing to advance.

Wed 8th. Deserted from Police & left Mbuyini Camp 5AM proceeding towards enemy. 7-30AM arrived at Sisingiti 4 miles from Mbuyini. 5th 6 7 8 9 10 11 12th. Infantry & 123rd mounted, also A & D Sqd of 4th mounted. Guns going all day. First shots fired by the boys, we awaiting orders.

Thursday 9th. Left Sisingiti 5AM with 13 Sqd, big Naval guns bombarding Silita(?)[prob Salaita] we, awaiting on left flank. Took Silita. No enemy to be found. Blew the hill to Hell, self riding dispatches.

Fri 10th. Proceeded to act as body guard to Jan Smuts. Occupied Police Camp Tivita. Van der Venter's men doing well. All troops crossed river.

Sat 11th. 4th S a H in action. Writing this in the thick of it. God help us all. Later. Very few casualties 2 men wounded & a few horses shot. Enemy held in thick bush. A big fight. 400 casualties.

Sun 12th. Advanced & entered German town Kibo River. No fighting. A few shells fired. Had a good time fowls eg loot.

Mon 13th. Column proceeded to Musi.(This name is over-written - could be Moshi? - L) All German evacuated same. Col Stuart first man in. We returned & slept at River Mui near Kiba. Had a lovely feed, mutton, bacon, potatoes, rice and porridge, Also had a washing day. Us awaiting to assist Infantry.

Wed 15th. In Camp near River Mui. Nothing doing. Regiment caught one Askari prisoner who escaped in the evening.

Thur 16th. Gedye & 20 others visited mission nuns station. Had a devil of a feed. Sat at a table. First woman I've seen since left Kilindini. Was nearly put on the peg for being absent but had a good tuck in and soak. Nuns very hospitable. 12PM a false alarm. Camp very excited, all stood to arms, "Little Willie" terrible excited. Askaries attacked infantry camp & were captured.

Fri 17th. St Patricks Day. Still in Camp. Made a pretty bungalow but had to sleep in our trenches instead. Caught 3 Askaries, one 4 bullets through him but still alive.

-- March /April 1916 --

Sat 18th. Left Mui River in a hurry. Joined the 9th & 12th infantry & attacked Koppies (kopjes? - L) between River --- . Big guns shelling Koppies 1PM. After shelling the hill the infantry stormed but enemy had already dispersed. False alarm during night.

Sun 19th. B Sqd left 5AM on patrol. We came on top of enemy who sent a volley into us but no casualties up to writing 9AM. Awaiting reinforcements. Shelling all day. Infantry attack, enemy advance & our men fall back. 4th S A H save the infantry. We rode into a hail of bullets. One of our men shot (King) wounded severely. Enemy pursue us till dark. A terrible battle here after named Ufobia Hill & Kaki. (Kahe? - L)

Mon 20th. Left camp where we took up positions after retiring at 3.30PM. Rode all night & joined Van der Venter's lot to cut them off.

Tues 21st. 9AM started bombarding from behind them. Shells flying about. 6PM still fighting hard from every side. Shells maxims & rifles going strong. Self & Barton guarding river. Thank goodness night has come. Returned to camp.

Wed 22nd. Enemy evacuate their position during night. Casualties unknown yet. Poor B Sqd again to patrol 4AM but enemy nowhere to be seen. 11AM camped at River --- & had an enjoyable swim, and two lots of post came in. Fancy, post in the middle of forest. Self & Bob on picket. Some two hundred Askaries run about. Midnight - 3.30 an alarm & Currie shot through the hand.

Thur 23rd. Off saddled at Rail head. Left camp below & slept at Rail head. Nothing exciting.

Fri 24th. Left Battle field at Panjani River proceeding on 300 mile march to Tabora. Left 7PM & rode all night.

Sat 25th. 8AM camped at Musi and slept there after being buggered about all day.

Sun 26th. Still at Musi. Had a lovely wash & a feed of bananas.

Mon 27th. Still at Musi camped. Papers arrived

Tue 28th. Self sick. Bad arm.

Wed 29th. Some fools during night set their hut alight & exploded tons of ammunition. Jack arrived with horses looking well.

Thursday 30th. Still in Camp.

Fri 31st. Preparing to leave Musi on for Arusha.

April 1st. Marching en route to Arusha and at last got in some open country. Camped for the night under slopes of Kilimanjaro.

-- March /April 1916 --

Sun 2nd. Had a rough journey & slept in veldt.

Mon 3rd. Still on move to Arusha. A hell of a time with transport. Self arm very bad. Arrived at Arusha.

Tuesday 4th. Left in the veldt with 10 other cast-offs. Arm very bad. No attendance no orders no food. Regiment left going forward. Admitted to hospital.

Wednesday 5th. Spent a hell of a night no sleep, operated on by Dr Kennedy at 12 noon.

Thursday 6th. Still in hospital feeling better.

Fri 7th. Still in hospital very much better, Johnnie & the lads left for Camp

(Handwriting hereafter is indecipherable, possibly reversed & possibly not his writing, until 17th April)

Mon 17th. What Ho! Great rumour of Peace in the wind. General Smuts arrived, what's on Lord knows but seems to be something on. Rumours Kiliminbinde taken. Capital.

Tues 18th. Above news flat rumour as per usual. Still raining. Arm much better.

Wed 19th. Arm much better. Smuts arrived yesterday & left again. Raining like two Hells.

Thur 20th. Good Friday tomorrow. Hope peace will be declared. Fed up absolutely. Hardy the colour of a Greek. I had to wash him on account of his sore hand. He looks quite like a gentleman now.

Fri 21st. Good Friday. Had a hell of a feed two breakfasts & two dinners but out of my own pocket. Still on starvation diet - half rations. News still good. Rumour that 17 German prisoners & (illegible) Askaries captured by SaH.

April Sat 22nd 1916. The 7 & 8th infantry arrive & 7 G prisoners & 50 Askaries lodged here in gaol. Rumours still strong as regards to Yaburo fallen. Still in Convalescent Home. Nearly better & still on starvation rations. Fed up & wish everything was over. Absolutely no hope of catching regiment. No more interest in war.

Sun 23rd. Whit-Sunday. Meet McKenzie looking thin & mud from head to foot. Self still loafing in this City. Fed up, no scoff! & pining to get to the regiment - but absolutely no hope, rumours of the end still strong, would give 50 pounds to get to my pals. Still raining like hell.

Mon 24th. Easter Monday. Starving as usual. Raining ditto. Infantry left going forward. Daddy & self looking trying to work our passage to Nairobi. Had a game of bridge & won 12 & a half rupees & badly needed same.

-- April/May 1916 --

Tue 25th. Menu for breakfast: two pieces of bacon hardly visible to the naked eye, & a cup of coffee. Daddy wants to take a photo of the extra-ordinary meal.

Wed 26th. News that Van der Venter is still fighting near Tabora. Usual diet, a little more bread today.

Thur 27th. Self making tobacco & took a savage bee hive.

Fri 28th. Heaviest rain ever. Had a deluge.

Sat 29th. Great excitement. 4 of us jump a pig & one arrested by the Provo & taken to the fort, pig and all. Self & Tross make scheme to get Donnilly out. We pitch a tale & get him out, pig & all.

Sun 30th. Great joke with Tross. Nicked his map & put in its place a picture. Tross left for Nairobi. Told him he would be able to follow our movements by the map. What a surprise when he sees what's happened. Raining like hell. Awaiting remounts to go forward. Hope they turn up shortly.

May 1st. Mon. Usual rain & nothing doing. Jock our Scottie nicks a pig "doing well".

Tue 2nd. Raining all day & no scoff. Am fed up of this God forsaken place & scheming to get out.

Wed 3rd. Just fancy been here exactly a month. Just about time I did move out. Will see if it clears this afternoon & will get, even if I have to foot-slog. Absolutely nothing for breakfast. A cup of tea "what". (illegible) the Greek hotel as usual. Rain rain rain. Nothing doing.

Thur 4th. At last out of the Convalescent Home& sent to detail Camp "Arusha". Been exactly one month in Hospital & Convalescent Home.

Fri 5th. Attended funeral service as firing party. One poor fellow died of enteric fever. Put on guard with a son-of-a-bitch of a Sgt in charge, self & him had a devil of a row. I was damn near put under arrest. Anyway I got my own back by doing him a winger & doing my pals a good turn!

Sat 6th. McNabs trying to find out who wasn't on guard, but got no charge.

Sun 7th. Leaving for next camp "Kubulum" by wagon. Hardy & I went out stealing mealies & the old woman (illegible, in parentheses, possibly a Zulu word for old woman - L) chased us but I got away with the mealies.. Had an enjoyable journey, slept half way. Put three bullets into a huge baboon & brought him down.

May 8th. Left for Kumbulum. A devil of a row. Self in charge of all details & some jam nicked from Engineers wagon. They are going to place us under arrest & search our kits. Good luck to those who nicked it, & damn fools to those who left it in the wagon when chaps haven't seen jam for months.

-- May 1916 --

Tue 9th. Kumbulum is rather a pretty Camp, a good many of details from all regiments stationed here. Hope we make another move on in a few days.

Wed 10th. Good news. We are off to Regiment tomorrow with re-mounts. Self & Hardy getting together saddlery & rifles eg bits of rope for reins.

Thur 11th. At last left for Lobola Kasalli about 40 miles & proceeding to Dodonolanga. Self got hold of a huge 17 handed black gelding. He's not so bad to ride. When writing, Daddy & I have just made some coffee & had a guts full. Am reading old love letters to pass the time away. Still travelling had a good deal of excitement. Held up by lions, mules stampeding & eventually we arrived at 3AM at Camp Lola Kasali.

Fri 12th. Bad news. All troops to proceed onward at any cost. Van De Venter being driven back, chaps have to mount mules. 4PM self & 10 men ordered to proceed back in search of 86 mules lost from this Camp. Also 10 of Van De Venter's men. We arrived at half way camp after seeing a lion just after dark. Myself & one man along with Indian left all night in search of mules seen by Indian Patrol. Returned without seeing them.

Sat 13th. Anniversary of my leaving Dulini 5 months ago. We proceeded in search of mules. Found 20 in possession of Capt ---- in charge of shell ammunition & another 14 & handed to Sgt Major Gray. Left after having a few shots at buck & slept at Kubulum.. 45 miles with no scoff or sleep for 2 days & nights.

Sun 14th. Had a devil of a row with Sgt Curtis in charge of 4th Sa H details. He informed me that I had to take orders from him. I told him I had my orders & that he was to go to hell. Anyway we left with my men after reporting him to Commandant in charge of whole Camp.

Mon 15th. Slept at halfway camp & proceeded & arrived at Lola Kasali midday. Spent all day drawing rations & arranging for the long journey to the Regiment. Had a funny experience. During night I awoke to find an ox standing right over me warming himself by the fire. I really thought it was a buffalo.

Tue 16th. Left at 6AM proceeding to the front, a 200 mile march. Self in charge of 12 men. "What an adventure"! Slept at water hole. Water green & full of dead animals but never-the-less was well appreciated. Lions visited us & dozens of hyenas. One of my men shot one from his bed. A huge brute.

Wed 17th. Proceeding on to River. Camped at river. Arrived 12PM & had a wholesale wash. Found 7 mules & taking same forward. 7 & 8th infantry passing in lorries. While three of us were shooting at some waterbuck one fool fired right past me the bullet going through my shirt & (illegible) my arm slightly. A bit sore.

Thur 18th. Left for Ifumumi (Ufiome? - L) & arrived at 3.30. What a hell of a place & had a job to get rations. Horses all knocked up. We passed a rather pretty valley with beautiful purple & white flowers. "The Valley of Flowers".. Two men down with fever. Going to rest for a day. (illegible) stopping (illegible) horse.

-- May/June 1916 --

Fri 19th. Still camped at Ifumume giving the horses a days rest. Drawing rations for journey.

Sat 20th. Left at 7AM proceeding to Kondo Arangi. Another of the 4th attached himself to me.

Sun 21st. Still on journey. Slept at ---- 12 miles from Kondo - heard the big guns going . (hell. I must go sick).

Mon 22nd. At last we arrived at the City of Kondo Aranji & there reported. The enemy are still shelling some of our chaps. It seems that they are very strong & hold a front of 7 miles.

Tue 23rd. Woke up freezing, wonder what they will do with us. Damned if all our horses are not lost. That does it! The devils have been putting shells into us all afternoon, but no one hit.

Wed 24th. Found some of our horses including mine. Off about 12 & left for Regiment - found everybody well. What Ho we spent the night in the trenches, cold as hell expecting an attack.

Thur 25th. Still alive & returned from the trenches. Relieved by the 9th Infantry.

Fri 26th. Regiment moved about 4 miles & camped. No news. Self on picket. Hyenas all round, Huns just in one front.

Sat 27th. Still holding position above Kondo, enemy shelling our hospital.

Sun 28th. Service held at 5th Regiment. Only two shells for breakfast - expect more this afternoon. Yes one or two.

Mon 29th. Self orderly for day. No shells in Kondo.

Tue 30th. B Sqd moved to a position lower down. Our guns shelling Huns, a maxim going in distance. Night in trenches.

May 31st. Union Day. Two of our aeroplanes made an appearance, 1st time since Kaki battle. Big guns going off & on all day.

June 1st Thur. Self not feeling too well. A touch of fever. Heavy bombarding all day. Bob, Jack, Eric (illegible) & self on picket. Fired at an Askari during night.

June Fri 2nd. 6AM Still bombarding enemy lines. They must be going to attack. Self still feverish.

-- June 1916 --

Sat 3rd. Relieved by D Sqd, us returning to camp. Still bombarding. Fever not so bad.

Sun 4th. (illegible, possibly Regiment - L) urgent call next camp. Huns put maxim on to D Sqd. Self nothing. Johnnie (illegible) arrived.

Mon 5th. 3rd & 4th Regiment also with 2 Indian Mountain Guns leave & attack Germans trying to outflank us. Result I will write later. Three of our men seriously wounded.

Tue 6th. We are reinforced by infantry men. Going to be a hell of a scrap. Not many shots exchanged. Shelling Copy(Kopje? - L) all day & sniping. 2 of ours wounded & 3 infantry men.

Wed 7th. Preparing to advance but did not. Infantry failed to take Copy (kopje? - L) on our right front. Us lying in our trenches day & night.

Thur 8th. Still in the trenches. Germans sniping at us. Self shut up a German sniper. Just as we were having a supper the devils gave us a warm time. The chaps made scoff on their guts around the pot.

Fri 9th. All our Infantry retired from our right position during night. Huns too hot. The devils put the maxims on our position. Bullets like hail. One man , Hayward, hit on the head, very lucky shave. Others overcoats riddled. One five bullets through his clothes.

Sat 10th. Still holding position & B Sqd left for position on extreme left flank.

Sun 11th. Off picket I having slept in a lot of rocks. Lieut Spencer sent Joe & I down river bed at night to look for 3rd Regiment picket. A rather tricky game. Yesterday as we were being fallen-in the Huns put the maxim on us. We got into cover in a second. Officers & men all messed up. Later. 12AM The Huns attacking us, we holding Copy awaiting reinforcements.

Mon 12th. Exactly 6 months since I left dear home. 1500 Huns working round us. We leave our position for the 5th time & take up position opposite. Got a good post unexpected. Nice letters from K., Marjorie, mother & others.

Tue 13th. Down the hill we descend only to be put on three & a half miles away on picket. Am fed up.

Wed 14th. What Ho another sweet letter. Letters & shells for breakfast.

Thur 15th. What Ho bread & jam issued (peace must be near). Self cooking today & inline(? - L) picket. Mr Lion gave me a lookup.

Fri 16th. Our chaps blazing at a few Askaries.

Sat 17th. Slight fever. News of Askaries going to surrender. (Rot).

-- June/July 1916 --

Sun 18th. Moved our kit 200 yards. No peace for the poor tired overworked soldiers. Been on picket 6 out of 7 nights. The devils shelling our horses. The horses stampeding like hell, all men chasing them. About 8 killed & 20 wounded. It strikes me we are all in for a bad time. 3 guns on us. Nobody hurt. Marvellous escape.

Mon 19th. 8AM All quiet up to now. Shifted horses during night. Self & Jack a bit sick.

Tue 20th. 4AM enemy attack our outpost right flank. Scott shoots an Askari. Our men beat them off. 4PM enemy shell our horses left flank. Hope they don't shell us. Damn them. Spoke too soon they are shelling us. No damage yet. One man wounded after heavy shelling.

Wed 21st. Nothing doing. All quiet;

Thur 22nd. What Ho all the boys happy, gifts from Natal Ladies Maritzburg Patriotic League. Cig in every man's mouth. Non smokers munching sweets.

Fri 23rd. News of General Ti...(barely legible, possibly Tighe - L) & Brits not far away on our left front. Germans here strong 16000, 80 machine guns & 60 big guns. Lord save us.

Sat 24th. Received letters from home. Two from Mater & two from Marjorie. Self & Bob on 36 hour picket. Snipers at work again.

Sun 25th. Sunday again & a general advance. Our chaps to take a copy (kopje - L)in our front. Good luck to them. I fancy this move is the beginning of the end. Left 10.30PM rode till 2AM & slept in donga. Rose & stood to till 8AM Mon 26th & then off saddled. Left at 11AM. Got an attack of fever & left for Kondoa Hospital. Arrived at 4PM. A rotten hole.

Tue 27th. In hospital. Put on liquid diet. Felt better & could eat an ox. Liquid diet is 80 per cent water the rest milk.

Wed 28th. Still in hospital. Poor me.

Thur 29th. Left tent hospital & fancy landing into Dr Kennedy's hospital. Its just like home again to see old Margetson's jolly face. Am feeling tip top. Fever left but still in bed, the first bed for months.

Fri 30th. Still with Dr Kennedy. Feeling ok.

July Sat 1st. Feeling fit but weak.

Sun 2nd. Meet JJ. Still in hospital, usual rumours. Our Regiment at a stand still.

Mon 3rd. Off to Ifumumi & probably on to Nairobi. Drs orders. Slept at Mission Station. Lorries just left so we have to wait two days.

-- July, 1916 --

Tue 4th. Awaiting lorries.

Wed 5th. Left for Ifumumi. Had lunch half way. Lorrie men good to us. Arrived at Ifumumi, had a hot bath & turned in. On the way we passed Hartigan's horse well mounted & equipped proceeding to Kondoa.

Thur 6th. Still in hospital being well fed & probably leave in a day or so for Musi (put down for evacuation).

Fri 7th. Still in hospital getting well fed.

Sat 8th. In convalescent home being fattened up.

Sun 9th. As above.

Mon 10th. As you were.

Tue 11th. Ditto. Got me building brick ovens. Didn't know I could work. Put down by major of hospital as 1st. class tradesman. Getting post on the strength of it, fancy I'll take my time, what!

Wed 12th. Still building for hospital requirements.

Thur 13th. As above.

Fri 14th. Making a move today.

Sat 15th. Heard that the 4th have been cut up, hope its not true. Above rumours false.

Sun 16th. The day of rest & gladness. Hard day of brick laying.

Mon 17th. Still working & shifted to rest camp.

Tue 18th. Still in rest camp.

Wed 19th. News that a small patrol of our chaps got hell. 1 killed & two wounded.

Thur 20th. Still in camp.

Fri 21st. As above.

Sat 22nd. Remounts arrive, will try to get forward. No luck. Waiting for David.

Sun 23rd. Same.

Mon 24th. Still waiting for remounts. Left at 4PM under command of Lieut Myburg for(? - L) Regiment & slept at Pineaars (Pienaars? - L) Heights. Dusty journey, couldn't recognise my half section for dust.

-- July/August, 1916 --

Tue26th. Still on trek. Dust worse than ever.

Wed 26th. Slept halfway.

Thur 27th. Arrived in Kondoa & slept at lake.

Fri 28th. Left at 5AM forward, Slept at Thika(? Barely legible - L) Lake.

Sat 29th. Proceed through 25 mile stretch of desert without water. A hell of a dusty ride leading 4 damn horses.

Sun 30th. Arrived at camp, caught up infantry & 2 howitzers. Meet old Mac.

Mon 31st. Left proceeding to front 5PM & rode all night. The worst trek I've ever experienced. Far more dust from head to foot, & cold.

Aug Tue 1st. Arrived at Regiment & attached Jijulo(? - L) & attached to A Squad & Head Quarters (as written - L). B Sqd some where near Kilimanbindi.

Wed 2nd. In camp & having a rest. Rail to Dar es Salaam only 14 miles away. German on the run.

Thur 3rd. Still with Regiment. Feel fed up as B Sqd is miles away parted from Regiment.

Fri 4th. Mac gave us a lookup. Still waiting to move. News of B Sqd entered Dudomo & indulged in beer & such luxuries.

Sat 5th. Nothing much on. No move yet! Had an enjoyable concert during even over a camp fire. 4000 attended.

Sun 6th. Self out shooting. Shot a beautiful Kudu, horns 5ft long, at a range of 400 yds

Mon 7th. Nothing doing. Concert to be held at the 12th lines, don't think I'll go.

Tue 8th. Mac called & spent morning in our camp, also Owen Humphries.

Wed 9th. Nothing doing.

Thur 10th. Proceeding onward after camping a week or two at Kwa Njanpallo. David Fotheringham & myself the only two representing B Sqd, & had a scrap. 11 casualties. 9th Sa H took nek

Fri 11th. We acting as rear guard. Scrapping ahead, caught a couple of prisoners. No water. Paying a rupee a mug for dirty water. Left neck at 8PM & walked till 3AM. Damn the major.

-- August 1916 --

Sat 12th. Column ahead scrapping & took Mpapu. We left following on still leading horses, acting as rear guard & arrived at Mpapu (scrap)

Sun 13th. Camped at Mpapu. C Sqd yesterday had 4 casualties by our own guns (9th Sa H). One killed. Afternoon we (illegible) band played to cheer the poor lads up a bit, which is sorely needed.

Mon 14th. About to make another move this afternoon. Later cancelled.

Tue 15th. Moved from Mpapu to scrap, & camped near railway line. Fighting all night. 4th not in the actual fight.

Wed 16th. 4th Sa H proceed to railway station to cut them off through terrible bush, will continue later. Got round the station (Kidete) but the (illegible) Hun had bunked. Camped for the night.

Thur 14th. Proceeding in hot pursuit on to Kolosa but held up a few miles this side.

Fri 18th. Awaiting orders to move. Enemy reported well entrenched & strong.

Sat 19th. Picket on top of a devil of a mountain. Regiment stood to arm, major got the wind up him. Still in charge of picket. Evening had service.

Sun 20th. 3AM after enemy. 3PM guns shelling both sides.

Mon 21st. Pretty heavy bombardment towards Kilosa. Enemy evidently making a stand. Not much rifle fire.

Tue 22nd. Kilosa fallen, Huns kwenduru (? Possibly Zulu word for beaten - L). Self bunged on wagons, horse sick & damned thin. Entered Kilosa & found bags of loot - whiskey galore. Everybody drunk.

Wed 23rd. Camped at Kilosa. Self got two bottles of whiskey, intend getting "mlsely" (Zulu for drunk? - L) tonight. Huns gone south means another 2 or 3 months. A bit merry now? Later - didn't get drunk, thought better of it

Thur 24th. Leaving with regiment for Morogora & camped in veldt.

Fri 25th. Left midnight, we advance guard, chasing enemy. Rode my pony to a stand still so have fallen back. Got a bit boskey (drunk? - L) & had to pay for it by losing my haversack & water bottle containing all scoff. Lord knows what I'll do for my belly.

Sat 26th. Leaving with wagons as mounted escort. Wagons not going (later).

-- Aug/Sept 1916 --

Sun 27th. Still camped at river, big guns in distance. Self went out lion hunting. Walked for miles & never saw a damned thing. Same luck fell to anglers (fishing party). Also rumours to the effect that the Germans have gone south, which means 3 or 4 more months in this damn place (M'Katha station).

Mon 28th. Went out guinea fowl shooting. Have putrid luck. Have shot three & two got away in thick scrub. The third day without rations.. Afternoon went hunting for elephants mounted on Fahlaga. Saw tons of spore but no game. Shot a miserable pheasant.

Tue 29th. Out dusk in the morn shooting guinea fowl. Got two & lost one. Our little mess of (illegible - L) preparing a fishing tackle & got one fish. (Barble). We are quite happy in our little den in the forest 5 yds from a beautiful river. Tons of game but no rations. - Evening shot several guinea fowl & rations arrived.

Wed 30th. What! Last night it rained. Hope to God the rainy season hasn't started. Might be leaving for Regiment this afternoon. Left at 4PM & camped on Morogora plain. No lions visited us.

Thur 31st. Left 5AM & camped at native huts, some walking others riding. Horses about finished. Found pumpkins & sweet potatoes which were well appreciated Left en route for Malali with our little band of 10 tired men & horses, & arrived during night but camped about 1000 yds from camp to find that regiment moved & rumours that Huns are in big mountains practically surrounded & cut off. They have blown up all their big guns, & reports that Askaries are deserting wholesale. Joined up with 2nd Brigade.

Sept Fri 1st. Drew rations, & all tired & dismounted men to garrison pass in mountains. Distant guns going off. We proceed to this pass which took us all day. I can't describe this wonderful range of mountains, & have never done such a climb, thousands of ft, 5 yds at a time carrying all our kit, so finished. That one could (illegible).

Sat 2nd. Here we are perched on top of this wonderful range, our horses at the foot. Natives to bring us water, wood & scoff. All of which we are paying for out of our own pockets.

Sun 3rd. Damn the army. Orders to climb down the mountain & proceed. All of us (the party), horses included, finished. Camped below mountain.

Mon 4th. Still camped at Malali. All details fell in. Those who were fit proceeded how far God knows. Some have already fell out & returned. Us (the party) still remaining sick & footsore & fed up.

Tue 5th. Still in camp.

Wed 6th. Ditto. No rations. Guns in distance

Thur 7th. Still waiting & praying. Askaries coming in to surrender.

-- Sept 1916 --

Fri 8th. Guarding Askari prisoners who are happy to be so for where they like.(as written - L) . Eg we teaching them English. Murderous lot. News of 1st Brigade going home shortly.

Sat 9th. Self in charge of picket.

Sun 10th. News that Bob has got his commission as Lieut. Expecting to move.

Mon 11th. Drew a spoon of sugar - first for over a week. No rations in this army. Two aeroplanes passed to give the Huns hell. 70 white prisoners captured. Got two jumbos (possibly means Jumbis - L) to work.

Tue 12th. Got a touch of fever. Some wagons left for rations. My birthday tomorrow. Lord knows how old I am. I feel 60 or more.

Wed 13th. Celebrated my birthday under a shady tree. Feeling better. Bad in need for horse.(As written - L). I want to catch Regiment. No news of B Sqd! Rumours of peace close at hand. Oh for that day.

Thur 14th. Received orders to march to Morongora tomorrow.

Feb 15th. Left with wagons en route for Morongora & got chased by bees, mules mostly stung to death.

Sat 16th. Camped 3 miles from Morongora. Wrote home.

Sun 17th. The Sabbath. News of a 24hr armistice "lies"

Mon 18th. Rumours still strong

Tue 19th. Ditto - self in charge of picket.

Wed 20th. Armistice at an end.

Thur 21st. Raining like Hell, wet clothes all day. "Who wouldn't be a soldier"

Fri 22nd. Rain stopped, but rained all night. Regiment & all 1st Brigade left front returning to Morogora. Rumours that we might be sent back to Union.

Sat 23rd. Rumours still strong. Still raining. Tobura fallen (true rumour).

Sun 24th. Moved to detail camp 2 miles from Morongora. Had a devil of a feed in town. Three and a half rupees. Rumour that when 1st Brigade arrives we proceed on back to Tobura, God forbid it, we want to go home.

Mon 25th. Strong rumour that 1st Brigade are going home shortly.

Tue 26th. Heartbreaking rumour that we are going back to Kilosa. Lord forbid.

-- Sept/Oct 1916 --

Wed 27th. 7th infantry arrived at Morogora. Rumours of our disbandment still strong.

Thur 28th. Still living on rumours which all point to Kilosa & further back.

Fri 29th. Still loafing in camp. No scoff.

Sat 31st. Was going out shooting for camp but leg gone in.

Oct Sun 1st. Went out about 12 miles for big game shooting on foot. Saw few & tracked lion spoor but no luck. Leg gave in so returned.

Mon 2nd. Nothing doing.

Fri 3rd. Ditto.

Wed 4th. Our chaps are having a most strenuous time in firing line. 75 per cent down with fever & living on hippo meat. All coming back to Morogora for rest.

Thur 5th. Preparing camp. All 1st Brigade to reorganise & God knows what's to follow.

Fri 6th. Had a concert in our tent.

Sat 7th. David says we are off to Union

Sun 8th. Boys not in yet. Nothing doing.

Mon 9th. Expecting Brigade in & also a dose of fever well on the way.

Tue 10th. All regiments arrived from front 56 strong. Others down with fever. B Sqd & 350 men still at Kiliminbindi.

Wed 11th. Camp duties

Thur 12th. Ditto.

Fri 13th. Ditto.

Sat 14th. Medical Board. 3 Drs. All 1st mounted Brigade. Don't know result.

Sun 15th. Informed that I am booked as medically unfit. God knows why.

Mon 16th. General Nussy addresses 4th SaH & introduces Colonel Reitz who is to take command of 4th. The 3rd Regiment to be absorbed by 4th. Those left of them. Nussy speech rotten. Could make a better one myself.

Tue 17th. Still on grazing guard. All unfit men to be sent back to Union shortly.

-- Oct/Nov 1916 --

Wed 18th. Visited 2 Brigade camp & saw cousins Randal Lister & Jack Holding & other friends. Was put on peg for leaving camp before time stated on Pass.

Thur 19th. Self 3 days CB for damn all. Finished with the army.

Fri 20th. Orderly Corten(? - L) A Sqd rubbing it in. I'll be square with him, the Swine Hound. (A traditional curse in our family! - L)

Sat 21st. My CB ends. Am with a touch of fever. God I would like to get out of this country, & quick.

Sun 22nd. Reported on sick list. Medicine & duty. (Doesn't matter if one is near dying you have to do duty. Oh this starvation army).

Mon 23rd to Tues 31st. In camp.

Nov Wed 1st. Unfit men leave for second medical board, & all passed unfit. We camp away from Regiment. 80% unfit.

Thur 2nd. In camp'

Fri 3rd. General Nussy gives unfit men farewell.

Continued in New Book

Sat 4th to Tue 14th. In camp Morogolo.

Wed 15th. Leave by motor train for Dar es Salaam & arrive at Mairingiri.

Thur 16th. Stuck. Hundreds of troops to go before us.

Fri 17th. (no entry - L)

Sat 18th. Leave Mairingiri & arrive at Dar es Salaam. Rather a pretty place.

Sun 19th. Meet Young Egland. We draw kit & I have sea bathing. Feel better after the sea air.

Mon 20th. Might leave tomorrow. Took snaps of bay & troop ship. Received first parcel from Olive Hurst since I got to this country. Olive such a sweet cousin.

Tue 21st. Orders to shift about 30 yds. Just like the army.

Wed 22nd. Not going by boat - 2nd Brigade have preference. Poor things have done their share. We have to shift another 30 yds into tents. Men just (illegible) with (illegible) the way they fool us about, specially orders from conscripts. We shift like lambs.

-- Nov/Dec 1916 --

Thur Nov 23rd. By the Lord Harry I'm damned if they don't want us to shift again. We all decide to strike. They pull the tents down over our heads. We nearly mutiny. Anyway the shining 4th move again like lambs. No sign of leaving for Union.

Nov Fri 22nd. Rumours of another shift. Men are simply frantic & swear never again will they wear khaki. Not for the King of England, & I don't blame them. Anyway things are quiet. Had letters from south.

Sat 23rd. Still longing for the word "Union".

Sun 26th. Some of our chaps have to shift a few more yds - they can't leave one in peace in this army.

Mon 27th. Nothing doing.

Tue 28th. Another shift. God help these men in civil life.

Wed 29th. Nothing doing.

Thur 30th. Our names taken down in Orderly Room. Might be away in a day or two.

Fri 1st Dec. Went with party for (illegible) & tea in town. Also saw Bioscope.

Dec Sat 2nd. Might leave tomorrow.

Mon 4th. No such luck.

Tue 5th. Men going down fast with fever. 10 to 12 a day, & every day. No hope of getting (word omitted? - L) till we are all dead.

Wed 6th. Still awaiting Infantry leave.

Thur 7th. Orders at last to be ready by 4AM. Received letters & cigs from home - it never rains but it pours. Its as you were. Not going till the tomorrow. Just the 4th all over after being rudely awaken at 4.30 & having everything ready. Never say die! The shining 4th.

Fri 8th. At last we embark on the Ngoma (appears to be what is written - L) which will leave tomorrow.

Dec Sat 9th. Draw anchor at 8AM for Zanzibar where we take water. Arrive at 2PM & anchor.

Sun 10th. Leave at 2PM but anchor at first refuses to lift. Up comes ship's engineer & after all hopes of leaving disappeared "She Rose".

Mon 11th. Well away. Sea calm, bound for Cape Town - just our usual luck.

-- Dec 1916 / Jan 1917 --

Tue 12th. (no entry - L)

Wed 13th. Buried one poor chap at sea.

Thur 14th. (no entry - L)

Fri 15th. Probably arrive Durban tomorrow. Hold crew down with fever, no hope of disembarking at Durban.

Dec Sat 16th. Passed Durban at 4PM & not even calling. Fancy, only 2 days from home from this spot, & 11 days via Cape Town from here. (opposite Durban). Our hearts are very sore not being disbanded in poor old Durban, & 90% on board are more or less Natal.

Dec Sun 17th. Well on the way. Ship doing 11 knots. Another poor chap snuffed it from Black Water.

Mon 18th. Slung the corpse overboard.

Tue 19th May. See Cape Town today. Had a rough night, thought that I was kaput. Poor old Cape Town at last. Landed & took train to Wynberg. Thousands of troops here.

Wed 20th. All awaiting developments. Spent afternoon & evening in Cape(Cape Town? -L). Sent wire off home.

Thur 21st. to Sun 24th. Camp. Not too well, & occasionally in Town.

Dec 25th. Xmas day. Medical exam. Spending Xmas under fir trees in Camp. No energy to go out.

Wed 27th. Obtained my discharge today.

Thur 28th. We leave tonight bound for home at last. Order of leave cancelled, leaving tomorrow.

Fri 29th. Left Wynberg en route home at 10.10AM. Hurrah.

Dec Sun 31st. Arrived Joburg.

Mon 1st 1917 Pietermaritzburg.

Tue 2nd. Home, & here endith.

Frances (Frank) Walton Lister, of English descent, believed born at Kokstad, Kwa-Zulu Natal on 13th September circa 1896. Married Daphne Aitken, of Scottish descent, lived and farmed at Twist-Niet farm, Glengarry, Natal. Had five children: Joan, Gwenyth, Maevis, Elizabeth and Michael, all deceased. Died at Hilton, Pietermaritzburg, circa 1972.

Copyright Lyn Wood; April 2007

South African Military History Society /