The Horn of Africa
22.10.14 (to father)
....I will let you know what we've been up to since
we left Bombay.....you will have received my letter saying
I'd gone trooping.
Two days previous to sailing each transport got their
convoy orders from the Flagship: scattered all over Bombay
harbour were 47 ships all with steam up and waiting for
the signal to weigh anchor and proceed. Looking through
your telescope you could see thousands and thousands of
eager watchers all along the seafront waiting to see the
3rd batch of Indian troops leaving. Launches with privileged
officials, their wives and daughters on board, went backwards
and forwards waving to the troops as they passed each
At last at the appointed time the signal went up "Sub-division
A weigh anchor and proceed" This was meant for the
Barjora and thirteen others. When we got under way the
signal for sub-division B went up and so on until all
the ships passed out of the harbour. As the ships left
a great cry went up from over 40,000 Indian throats. It
was grand! Once outside the transports filed into their
appointed places, a man-o-war at the head of divisions
A, B and C. Enclosed you will find the formation (drawing).
When we got about 600 miles due West of Bombay we
joined the Karachi divisions from which four ships joined
our sub-division. After proceeding a few miles until all
vessels were in their proper order the Persian Gulf batch
left the convoy and headed for Muscat. When the remainder
got to a rendezvous about 200 miles from the Arabian Coast
sub-division A detached and headed about South West led
by HMS Goliath, sub-division B made towards Aden with
HMS Swiftsure leading while sub-division C left for the
Gulf with HMS Ocean leading.
We have on board 4 companies of the Kashmir Rifles
and 4 companies of the Gwalior Regiment. The Pentakola
has the other (letter indecipherable here)
At the time of writing we are about 200 miles NE of
Socotra (an archipelago of four islands off the Horn of
Africa) and as far as we know Zanzibar is our destination.
All this is a very novel experience, what with rifle drills,
bugles going and signallers always on duty on the bridge.
Last night we got precautionary orders from our escort
to the effect that should we be attacked the convoy is
to disperse and meet at a rendezvous 120 miles on our
present course. They haven't got the Konigsberg or the
Emden and they're somewhere round this vicinity alright.
The Goliath is more than a match for them however, she
being a first class battleship
Oct 26th (letter continued)
We've been coming down on a 552W course at a speed
suiting the slowest ship. The Emden and Konigsburg must
still be at large for the escort is taking extraordinary
precautions. All you can see of this convoy at night is
17 white lights, these being the stern light of each ship,
all the other lights being switched off. Every day each
ship signals her noon position to the Goliath. Haven't
seen a single ship except a .... liner since we left Bombay.
Oct 30th (letter continued)
I turned out this morning at 7.30 like every other
morning and found the convoy stopped. Moreover I saw HMS
Fox which had come out to meet us, evidently with dispatches.
During the day each transport sent a boat to the man-o-war
and received their preliminary orders for disembarkation.
It turns out that our destination is Tanga, after Dar-Es-Salaam
the most important port in German East Africa. At 4pm
we made a move at 5 knots towards this place and from
what I can gather they intend to bombard it and land their
troops there. It promises to be exciting. I shall continue
again and let you know all about the disembarkation!