Political map of Sub-Saharan Africa on 04 Feb 1915 (World War I in Africa: Early German Victories in Africa), showing the following events: Ottoman entry into World War I; German campaign in Angola; Battle of Tanga; Battle of Kilimanjaro; Ottoman Jihad; Chilembwe uprising; Battle of Kakamas.

Early Victories of the Schutztruppe

World War I in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa 1915.0204

Early Victories of the Schutztruppe

Great War in Africa, East African Campaign, colonial campaigns (4 February 1915)

Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa

The Maritz rebellion forced South Africa to postpone its invasion of German South West Africa, allowing the Germans to launch counteroffensives into South Africa and Angola. Meanwhile the Germans were faring even better in East Africa, inflicting humiliating defeats on the British at Tanga and Kilimanjaro.

Main Events

Ottoman entry into World War I

In a surprise attack, Ottoman warships bombarded the Russian ports of Odessa and Sevastopol, initiating war with the Russian Empire and bringing the Ottoman Empire into the Great War on the side of the Central Powers.

German campaign in Angola

On 19 October 1914 Portuguese forces near Naulila, Angola, fired on a German column which had crossed into Angola from South West Africa in violation of Portugal's neutrality. In retaliation, on 31 October, Germany launched an attack on Cuangar and several other border outposts, then crossed the border in force to seize Naulila on 18 December. The campaign incited tribal unrest in southern Angola,, leaving Portugal unable to reoccupy the region until July 1915.

Battle of Tanga

On 2 November 1914 the British protected cruiser HMS Fox arrived off the coast of Tanga, German East Africa, and demanded its surrender; the town refused and convinced the British that it's harbor had been mined (it had not). The next day British General Arthur Aitken and his 8,000-strong force of insufficiently trained Indian reserves landed 3 km south of Tanga to avoid the alleged mines, but by now German Lieutenant Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and his 1,000 defenders were ready. Although the invaders made it as far as Tanga's customs house, they were broken up by German counterattacks and further harassed by swarms of angry bees. On 5 November the routed British retreated in their boats, leaving behing almost of all of their equipment.

Battle of Kilimanjaro

As a secondary offensive to accompany the British attack on Tanga, some 1,500 Punjabi troops under the command of Brigadier J. M. Stewart advanced from the East Africa Protectorate towards Longido, over the western slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The British force was quickly ambushed by the 600-strong German 8th Rifle Company and, having lost much of its supply train, ignobly abandoned the invasion by nightfall. Emboldened by their successes at Kilimanjaro and Tanga, the Germans launched raids into British East Africa, capturing Jasin in January 1915.

Ottoman Jihad

On the behest of Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire, the Sheikh-ul-Islam formally declared a jihad against the Entente Powers, urging Muslims across the world to take up arms against Britain, France, Russia, and their allies.

Chilembwe uprising

John Chilembwe, a US-educated radical Baptist minister, led a rebellion against British colonial rule in Nyasaland from his church in the village of Mbombwe, to the south of Chiradzulu. On 23 January 1915 the rebels attacked the Alexander Livingstone Bruce plantation headquarters in Magomero, killing two white men with spears and decapitating manager William Jervis Livingstone (an alleged relative of David Livingstone); the women and children were briefly held prisoner but released unharmed. The British responded forcefully, defeating and dispersing the rebels in fighting on 25 and 26 January. Chilembwe himself was shot dead by a police patrol near the border on 3 February.

Battle of Kakamas

German forces under Major Hermann Ritter crossed into the north of South Africa's Cape of Good Hope province in support of Maritz's Boer rebellion. When news reached Ritter of Maritz's surrender, Ritter turned south in an attempt to capture two Orange River fords but was repelled by Colonel J. van Deventer and his 6,000 South African troops at Kakamas on 4 February. The defeated Germans withdrew, returning across the border into South West Africa the following day.

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