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Author Topic: Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers  (Read 3109 times)

Offline Helen

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« on: January 29, 2008, 04:13:59 AM »
Hi Folks,

Following up on Peder’s lovely gesture of sending some figures to Poly and also for showing some of his HLBSC German Cameleers here on this forum I thought I’d share an adventure with you that took place during the Great War in Africa.

This is a true story as told by an adventurer himself through his letters/dairies/story telling. But first I’d need to set the background prior to embarking on their hunt. The book I’ve used for this story is “The Eccentric Mr Wienholt” by Rosamond Siemond daughter of the late adventurer.

Arnold Wienholt an Australian with his companion Ivan Lewis (his station bookkeeper) joined the British South African Police Force for special service as privates. This was so because Arnold wanted to assist the government in utilising his special abilities (Arnold new the country well in the past and had also been mauled severely on his right arm by a lion he was tracking back in 1913).

News came in that there was a number of Germans trying to make there way to German East Africa (GEA) and meet up with von Lettow Vorbeck’s Army. So Arnold outfitted himself and Lewis with “salted” horses and mules (less prone to the area’s endemic diseases) and as uniformed mounted police troopers, they rode off with four others to keep watch on the Rhodesian, Angolan and German South West African borders.

Their four companions were well-known fearless hunters: Sinclair, who had shot a dozen elephants in one season, a Cape Dutchman, van Rensberg, a very small man and a first class shot with a lust for slaughter, and two Englishmen, Johnson and West.

They were a group of adventurers, highly suited to the job, who scouted in pairs using native Marosi runners from the Barotse tribe to carry reports. Each pair had designated areas to work in and were at the most seven days apart from each other, but occasionally would meet back at their well camouflage base camp situated deep in the Angolan bush in which Arnold named the “Bushrangers Rest.”

Their journey from the start was of sun-drenched plains that plunged into gloomy forests, skirting the Victoria Falls; they crossed the Zambesi River at Seshike (These rivers were fast rolling and a world of animal activity). Their journey now took them west to the Cuando and Okavango rivers and deep in the Angolan bush. There was plenty of game around for providing them fresh meat from their base camp.

Apart from patrolling the area looking for signs of German activity they were also on the lookout for Afrikaner rebels who were active in their area.

For many months the six troopers combed their area, always moving and in secret, trying to gain information from villages on German movements and at the same time trying to endear themselves to the villages by fostering good relations for King & Country and promising the villages that the British forces will soon drive out the Germans.
The Ovambo tribesmen seemed to be quite nervous and were uncertain as to which side to support -They feared the Germans more so!

It’s to be noted that besides the enemy to contend with, they endured many obstacles, far from base; they were, moving secretly, utilising every bit of cover, grass 10 feet high, snakes, parasites of every kind and crocodiles hiding in the reedy marshes. Then they had to contend with the stalker – Lions and Leopards stalking them!

Even the best hunter can meet his match and this so happened to Sinclair found with his rifle still loaded, lying partly beneath the dead lioness which had staked and killed him. Sinclair had defended himself with his hunting knife and stabbing into the underbelly whilst the lioness was inflicting his mortal wounds.

Rensberg, now without a partner, joined Wienholt and Lewis to patrol an area where the Germans might try to cross into Rhodesia. (Note I won’t go into their daily survival, but interestingly they were now riding mules ((most of the horses had died from horse-sickness)) and Johnson and West were reduced to using a huge Black and White bull as a pack animal). Remember too that they had porters!

News reached them that the German South West force had surrendered to General Botha (9 July 1915) so Wienholt, Lewis and Rensberg were ordered to marry up with Johnson and West and seek-out the Dutch rebel leader, Maritz. They caught up with one of his lieutenants whom had looted Portuguese cattle and had with him two riding mules – much highly prized considering their lack of riding mounts (their ‘salted’ horses had died)!

Johnson and West were now riding hard and on a fresh track made by four horses. Riding into Yangana Mission they were surprised to see a group of Germans and thou outnumbered promptly demanded what the Germans were doing there and bluffing them into thinking that a large British force was not too far away. Eight of the Germans were runaways and had camels, remainder horsemen and all heading for GEA. The Germans were determined to fight their way through to von Lettow Vorbeck - and they all swore never to surrender!

Night passes by and alas, no Germans to be seen at the yard! During the next few days the five troopers tracked their opponents who were heading not East across the river, but West to the sandvelt. They caught up with a number of German stragglers who surrendered. (oh! you might be thinking now what happened to the Rebel lieutenant they captured earlier, well he was given parole with a rifle and was to stay at their base camp whilst they were on the hunt for the Germans).

The five pushed down the Quito River looking for signs of a reported enemy expedition headed for GEA. They captured another Maritz rebel before being joined by Major Gordon (another Aussie from Queensland), and two orderlies from the South African Rifles who were in the vicinity trying to flush out the arch-rebel Maritz.

It was the Portuguese that captured Maritz! Major Gordon’s mission and his police troopers’ role was now completed. However, the story doesn’t finish here!

Major Gordon, his orderlies, Johnson, West (went home) and the prisoners headed back to Livingstone whilst Rensberg, Lewis and Wienholt crossed the Okavango River to the Portuguese side and were told of a party of German South West Camel Corps heading up the Quito River and destined for GEA.

The German Cameleers had a three-day start on them. Sending a runner back to advise Major Gordon, travelling light they went cross-country to the Quito River and for eight days tracked the German Cameleers through Lion infested country. On day seven as they were drawing near a message arrived by runner informing the party that Major Gordon and Johnson were close behind them.

Not wanting to be out done by glory and prize they hurriedly advanced on the German camp only to find it deserted. Meanwhile Major Gordon and Johnson had ridden hard covering 30 miles to reach them! Further up the track and together they hauled out of a canoe two Germans and found seven more in their camp.

As you can expect to understand the return journey to Livingstone was not without adventure and naturally horses and mules don’t like the smell of camels and so they bolted in every direction imaginable. Only experience in tracking found their riding mounts and pack mules. The unarmed German Cameleers had to travel a few miles ahead of the party so not to frighten away the horses and mules. They relied on the troopers for their food through game hunting along their way.

So the story will end here. This account would serve well as an adventure. Not too many figures required and you have all the elements of a good game. Besides German Cameleers and some horsemen, you have Dutch rebels, looted cattle, natives with questionable loyalty, Lions, Leopards, crocodiles and the wilderness to contend with.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I hope someone will use this story as a gaming adventure.

Figures are readily available except for the German Cameleers, which know doubt will be hard to find. Maybe, Brigade Games or Tiger miniatures might make some in the future. You could possibly use some Ebob camels with Brigade Games WW1 Germans in Slouch hat on a separate base to reflect that they are cameleers. If you are handy in converting figures then there are a number of additional Brigade games figures you can use to boost up the German Forces.

For the British South Africa Police Force I’d use Brigade Games Yeomanry and Aussie horse.

Best Wishes

Helen

Edit: I just noted on this forum that Tiger Miniatures have just made some German Cameleers

Offline Hammers

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2008, 09:37:05 AM »
Thansk for that great story, Helen. I had read elsewhere that the Cameliers saw almost no action in the Great War. I am happy, for gaming purposes, to see it is note entirely true.

Offline Helen

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2008, 09:49:48 AM »
Hi Peder, Glad you like the story as it took me a little while to compile and write up the story in this lovely hot weather we are having at the moment 8)

Best Wishes.

Offline Prof.Witchheimer

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2008, 11:42:37 AM »
another great and exciting story, Helen, thank you!

It's really worth to play, just have to take a close look at the Tiger Cameliers.

Offline Plynkes

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2008, 12:01:15 PM »
Nice one. Keep 'em coming!  :)
Thálatta! Thálatta!

Offline PeteMurray

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2008, 01:37:45 PM »
Great story, Helen!

It sounds like the sort of thing that got me into Victorian "Darkest Africa" gaming, with the exception that it's a half-century later, and still the continent is full of all sorts of peril. I agree that it would make an excellent campaign, and would let you use all sorts of fun miniatures.

Good friends of my wife's family were van Rensbergs from South Africa. I wonder if there's a family connection? The family friends are Methodist clergy, so not so much into patrolling the bush looking for rebels and camels these days.

Offline Ironworker

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2008, 04:38:06 PM »
If I didn't have too many other projects going on I think it would be cool to get into The Great War in Africa.  I'll have to keep this in mine as it would be a very good adventure to do.

Offline Ironworker

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2008, 04:40:48 PM »
Oh and damn straight they were using mules!  Mules being smarter, stronger, and much tougher.  That's just natural selection in action.

Offline Helen

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2008, 06:54:51 AM »
Hi Guys, Glad you like the story. :)

Iron Worker, you can start off witha small number of figures and still have a good game. Throw in other elements and you have an excellent adventure.

Guys, I'm working on a number of adventures that are true accounts and will post them as I complete them.

Best Wishes.

Offline darquebus

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2008, 02:46:35 AM »
Hi, I was actually looking for some German colonials and had a look at the tiger minis website...
Maybe it is my browser but I couldn't find any camels!?
And the pics seem very blurry...are the figures ok? They look not very detailed but maybe that is just the pictures.
Has anybody seen the real figures?

 :?
Ex-Kieler in Down Under

Offline Plynkes

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Cuando Bushrangers and the chase of the German Cameleers
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2008, 10:33:41 AM »
The camels aren't up on the Tiger site yet. They are on the site of their US distributor, Recreational Conflict, though.



http://www.recreationalconflict.com/

I have their Askari artillery piece. They are quite nice, maybe not in the top rank (not quite as good as Copplestone or Brigade), but acceptable to my eyes. Useful for filling in those gaps in other people's ranges.

 

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