World War I in Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa 1914.1025
Great War in Africa, East African Campaign, colonial campaigns (25 October 1914)
Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa
Just twelve years after the Second Boer War, many Afrikaners were still hostile to Britain and saw Germany as a natural ally when World War I broke out. In October 1914, Boer officer Manie Maritz and his troops went over to the Germans. Encouraged by this move, a number of Boer generals also revolted against the British but were quickly defeated by their loyalist compatriots.
Invasion of South West Africa
On 14 September 1914 British South African forces began their invasion of German South West Africa, crossing the border to capture Raman's Drift and advancing on Sandfontein. Meanwhile another British force landed at Lüderitz Bay, securing a coastline which had already been largely abandoned by the Germans. However, the German destruction of a British column at Sandfontein, and internal dissent from pro-German Afrikaners in South Africa, prompted the South African government to halt the invasion less than two weeks after it started.
Battle of Zanzibar
Learning that a British cruiser-HMS Pegasus-had arrived in Zanzibar for repairs, the German cruiser SMS Königsberg sailed from the Rufiji Delta into Zanzibar harbor. When Pegasus came within range, Königsberg opened fire; surprised, immobile, and outranged, the British ship was unable to mount an effective response and had to be abandoned after 40 minutes. With the destruction of Pegasus, Königsberg returned to the Rufiji Delta, bombarding the picket ship HMS Helmuth as it left Zanzibar harbor.
Pro-German and anti-British sentiment was still strong in the Afrikaner population of South Africa at the outbreak of World War I, leading a number of Boer War veterans to resign their posts. In October 1914 Lieutenant Colonel Manie Maritz mutinied and crossed into German South West Africa with his troops, encouraging the former Boer generals Christiaan de Wet and Christian Frederik Beyers to revolt and declare a provisional government. However the rebellion was swiftly suppressed by the government of Prime Minister Louis Botha, a Boer War hero who still retained the loyalty of most Afrikaners.