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  • James Houser

Unknown Soldiers Podcast #41, "The Kaiser's Lions," Maps and Sources (You Guys Might Need Some Maps)

This is a campaign I've been wanting to talk about for a while. I didn't get the chance to do it in the 365 days of history posts, so let's get some maps out here so you know what I'm talking about!

You guys REALLY need some maps.

THIS map shows all the European colonies in Africa in 1914, just to give you a strategic picture. Let's be very clear: all these guys were just straight douchebags to their colonies, though some were douchier than others.

German East Africa, 1914-1915. Note the locations of Tanga (Battle of Tanga), Jasin, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Uganda Railway.

The Journey of the Mimi and Toutou from London to Lake Tanganyika, 1915-1916

The Allied Offensive of 1916. Note 3 major attacks: the main attack under Smuts from British East Africa, the Belgian Attack through Rwanda and Burundi towards the town of Tabora, and the British attack from Northern Rhodesia towards Iringa.

The Campaign of 1917, note Wintgens' raid and the Allied offensives against Von Lettow's positions in the south

Von Lettow's Campaign of 1918, the great journey across East Africa until his surrender


So hey guys. If anyone's reading this, I have some recommendations. See, there's no really GREAT book on this campaign. Farwell is fun and interesting, but very dated and very rah-rah British Empire. Gaudi is fascinating, but excessively glowing about Von Lettow and the German war effort; a romantic and gripping narrative, but not really impartial. Paice is excellent for a scholarly, unbiased narrative, and he's the only one who really digs into the logistics and the carrier corps casualties, but he can get super dry and bog down at points, though I found it fascinating, you might not. So those are my assessments! For a first-time reader, I recommend Gaudi, with a HEAVY dose of cynicism, keep in mind.

Foden's book is well-reviewed and a lot of fun, and concerns the weirdest battle in this episode, so go for it!

Farwell, Byron. The Great War in Africa, 1914–1918. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986.

Foden, Giles. Mimi and Toutou Go Forth: The Bizarre Battle for Lake Tanganyika. London: Penguin Books, 2004.

Gaudi, Robert. African Kaiser: Paul Von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa, 1914-1918. New York: Penguin Books, 2017.

Hoyt, Edwin P. Guerilla: Colonel Von Letow-Vorbeck and Germany's East African Empire. New York: MacMillan, 1981.

Paice, Edward. Tip and Run: The Untold Tragedy of the First World War in Africa. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2007.

Smith, David. The East Africa Campaign 1914-1918: Von Lettow-Vorbeck's Masterpiece. Oxford: Osprey, 2022.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War in Africa. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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