Battlefield Tour

LUMO is surrounded by historic first world war sites. The campaign between German and British East Africa (sometimes referred to as The Ice Cream War because the troops melted in the sun) took place between 1914 and 1918.

‘Shout at the Devil’
It was on these plains that one of the most eccentric campaigns of the first world war was fought. Here, the British led by General Jan Smuts pitted their wits against one Germany’s most charismatic generals, General Paul Von Lettow in a bizarre battle that featured fleets of Rolls Royce, blown-up railways lines, lack of men, lack of guns and a final surrender that came three months after the rest of the world had signed an armistice. Commemorated in the book ‘Shout at the Devil’ by Nevil Shute and later made into a film, all that remains of this bitter and bloody war are thousands of brass shell casings and several hundred soliders buried in the war cemetery of Warangu.

'Peggy III' infront of Mwakitau Hill.
This gun was on board the British ship, HMS Pegasus, when she was sunk in the harbour of Zanzibar by the German ship, Koenigsberg, in September 1914
She was salvaged and this photograph shows one of two guns which was used in the area. Another is mounted outside Fort Jesus.

Mwakitau Hill is 10 km drive from Lions Bluff and is clearly visible from the Lodge. You can take a tour to the top of the hill where there is an old British encampment.

The lower photograph shows Makitau HIll from Lions Bluff today.

German forces presented a potential stranglehold to both British forces and the settlers in Kenya if they could capture the land through which the vital link of the railway linked Mombasa, Nairobi and Uganda. It was a difficult campaign, dominated by shortages of men, equipment, water, logistic problems and the higher priority action in Western Europe. Most of the troops died of malaria and dysentery before they engaged in battle.

At the very beginning of the world war the British experienced a disastrous raid on Tanga by the German forces from the sea. Meanwhile, German forces made raids from their stronghold at Taveta ( 80 km from The Bluff) towards Voi to disrupt the railway line. In Feb 1915 the British War Office authorised the construction of the railway west from Voi towards Taveta to carry supplies to the front of battle in order to overcome the german forces.

A large British force with considerable artillery and air support was based at Mwakitau ( 10 km from The Bluff) ,which covered the main German approaches from their bases towards the east and from where counter attacks could be launched to clear enemy positions at Salaita and elsewhere. The railway and water pipe line reached Mwakitau by June 1915.

There is a fort to the side of the main road on the approach to Lions Bluff Lodge and Mwakitau Hill, where the remains of an encampment can be found, and Mwakitau war cemetery is 10km from Lions Bluff.