As they were arriving at Kondoa-Irangi the Germans fired 20 shells at them from one of the naval guns salvaged when the Konigsberg, the ship that inspired Shout at the Devil, was scuttled. The riders were spread out about 100 yards apart and none of them was hit. Motorcycle patrols were regularly sent out from Kondoa-Irangi looking for Germans during the six weeks the Corps was based there.  Riders out on patrol were often away for long periods and had to be constantly on the alert. Lieutenant Jackson led a patrol for over 200 miles in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the German Central Railway that linked Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean with Lake Tanganyika on the Belgian Congo border. In June 1917 two riders, Hyland and Harvey, who were camped out in the bush near Lupembe while on patrol, were rushed by Germans at midnight while they were asleep. They were both captured and their B.S.A.s smashed. “Official” photographs of S.A.M.C.C. have proved impossible to find but The Ditsong National Museum of Military History in South Africa has a donated album which includes faded photographs of motorcyclists in East Africa during the First World War. One of these photographs shows ten men and two officers with two broken up B.S.As. The caption reads “Soldiers posing behind the remains of captured motorcycles.” Could these be Hyland and Harvey’s motorcycles after being re-captured?

 Soldiers posing behind the remains of captured B.S.A. motorcycles. Photo: Ditsong National Museum of Military History, PretoriaRifleman R.D. Digby, SAMCC Dispatch Rider. Photo: South African Documentation Centre

The story of the German East Africa campaign was one of continual pursuit of the ‘wily’ German commander von Lettow-Vorbeck whose objective was to tie up as many British and Allied troops as possible to prevent their involvement in the conflict in Europe. From Kondoa-Irangi the Corps rode to Dodoma and was the first unit to enter the town on 27th July 1916, arriving just after the Germans had withdrawn. The pursuit of von Lettow-Vorbeck’s troops continued and following “a sharp engagement” by the S.A.M.C.C. on the 14th August 1916 at Kidete, Lieutenant Hall was awarded the Military Cross and Sergeant Coles the Distinguished Conduct Medal.


The November 23rd 1916 issue of The Motor Cycle described the load carried by the B.S.A.s in German East Africa:

“Firmly strapped across the carrier were a large kitbag and a roll of blankets done up in a waterproof sheet, surmounted by a mess-tin and a tin of “bully.” On the near side a spare belt was coiled up under the pannier bag, and on the off side a despatch and map case. The saddle down tube carried a spare inner tube in its leather case and a spare water bottle. Bags holding flour, coffee, and sugar were tied to the handle-bar, together with an enamel drinking mug and a tin of beef fat. Attached to the front fork was a long rifle holster, in which were a rifle and signalling flags, while on the other side of the fork were a native spear and a bow and arrows – souvenirs. A spare pair of puttees wrapped around the tank served as knee-grips.” 

Fully loaded B.S.A. and S.A.M.C.C. soldier Sketch of soldier and B.S.A. in German East Africa

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