None the worse for two years as a prisoner of war

We get a glimpse into wartime in a peaceful art of British-occupied Africa (now part of Tanzania). The Ruvuma River forms the bundary between Tanzania and Mozambique, which was in 1918 still a Portugese colony.

1-3-18. Massassie.
R.A.M.C
29th M.A Convoy
British East Africa

Dear Sir,

It is not some time since I wrote to you last, but trust you received my letter in answer to your most welcome letter of 6-8-17. Since writing to you last I have travelled the greater part of this country, the South of Central Railway, I have been over the Ruvoma river into Portuguese territory, but am now back in East Africa.

During the last few months I have had rather a busy time, and have also had my share of illness. I am picking up quickly again now, and feel as full of life as ever. The weather is still very hot. We have had very little rain this season so far: this time last year we were having very heavy rains and were stranded in the swamp for quite a month at a time.

I expect to be going on leave to South Africa some time this month; there are only 5 of us left out of 22 who left England 2 years ago, so I think we shall stand a chance of leave this rainy season.

There is very little game in this part of she country but about 50 miles from here, near the Border almost everything can be seen.

Football is the great game at present as the evenings are very cool now. Our Unit has started a Weekly Paper which is a great success throughout the camp, it is called the “Masassi Times”. If possible I will send you a copy which I am sure you will find very interesting, in fact we can boast the wit of two famous brother Comedians. We are having a very busy time just at present, for the sick average is very high again now, 3-3-18.

It is now Sunday afternoon, tonight we have another service which will be taken by the Rev. Archdeacon Hallet in a Banda at our park. I have had several talks with him, he tells me he has preached at Sunningdale and Ascot and remembered our church when I showed him a photo which I received from home a few months ago. He has been a prisoner in the country for 2 years, but he seems none the worse for his experience, for he is now back at the same Mission as before the war, which is only 4 miles from our camp. The Mission has been used for a hospital by both the Germans and ourselves, but is now given over for its work to be carried on.

It is a lovely building built of stone and brick by the natives, it is built on a hill only a few yards from a great rock several hundred feet high. Looking from a distance the rock appears to overhang the Mission. We have one of these great rocks on all four sides of us, with just a road running between, which is called Bhna. Some of the greatest fights of the campaign took place here, which makes it very historical.

We had a Native Regimental Band here for 2 nights last week, which we all enjoyed being the first we had seen or heard since landing in the country. The natives are very busy with their crops now, most of the land being very fertile, we are able to grow almost anything in the garden we’ve made, but our great trouble is to get the seed. Shops of any description are unheard of in this country so you can imagine our solitude. I think it will appear very strange but pleasant to us all when we get down to South Africa on leave.

I am so pleased to hear that Mrs. Cornish and Miss Mirriam are enjoying good health, please convey my best wishes to everyone at the vicarage. I will now conclude, thanking you for your kindness and trusting you are in the best of health,

Yours sincerely,

W. R. Lewis.

Sunningdale parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P150B/28A/10)

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“Pray very earnestly for our people, both white people and black in this part of Africa at this difficult time”

The war was being fought in the British and German colonies in Africa as well as in Europe. The Anglicans of Bracknell had a special interest thanks to their longstanding commitment to Christian missions. German East Africa encompassed present-day Rwanda, Burundi and part of Tanzania

MISSIONS.

The annual contributions from the Bracknell Sunday School, £8, has been sent to the Treasurer of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, and the following letter of thanks has been received.-

9, Dartmouth Street,
Westminster,
August 6th, 1915

DEAR CANON BARTLETT,

Thank you very much indeed for the contribution received from Bracknell Sunday School to-day. Please will you thank very warmly for me all those who have helped to collect this sum? We are most grateful to all.

You will be glad to hear that we have heard from our Missionaries in German East Africa. They are all well, although all have been interned. The ladies with two Priests are at Mwapwa, and the rest of the men are at two other separate camps.

We can, however, hear nothing at all of the Africans. We hope of course that the teachers have been allowed to continue their work, but we cannot in the least tell.

We should be very grateful if you will ask all friends of the Mission to pray very earnestly for our people, both white people and black in this part of Africa, that they may be specially strengthened during this difficult time.

With grateful thanks, yours sincerely,

S. M. ELLIOTT

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/9)