Letter from Captain Alexander Wallace to his fiancee Ethel, 2 June 1916
Wallace was serving with the British South Africa Police during World War One (1914-1918) when he wrote this letter, which includes a description of the siege of Namema in German East Africa (Tanzania).
'We have been investing this place for 5 days and are all hopeful…We have lost 4 white men and 3 wounded, all on my side of the fort. They were an advanced post and were surprised at dawn. It is mostly night work here which is trying. We have captured a German officer, very badly shot, and have killed some natives but numbers are uncertain. The Germans' main position is on a hill but they have lots of small positions half way down all around. Their redoubts are built in between huge rocks and our guns can't make much impression and we haven't enough men to invest the place properly. However, with decent luck we ought to get them. We are trying to cut their water supply.
This is certainly an experience. Haven't had any clothes off since I left Abercorn. We live in dug outs and are quite comfortable…There is continual rifle fire all night here. We think there are 20 Germans and 200 askaris inside…Still to make certain the Germans don't break through we ought to have 500 more men…Our men are all doing well and we are quite hopeful of the result. We are quite comfortable here as well dug in. I never dreamt we should have this sort of warfare here…We get lots of queer food (beans etc) which we raid from the surrounding villages - the inhabitants having all cleared out'.
One of 142 letters, 1913-1918, written by Dr A F Wallace.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, London
National Army Museum, Study collection