Germany Loses Vast Empire in Africa to the British
Allied Forces, 50,000
Loyal Boer Leaders
General Louis Botha
General J. C. Smuts
Major General Stewart
Brigadier General Cunlifle
Capt. F. C. Bryant
Lieut. Colonel MacLear
Brigadier General Dobell
German—Boer—Native Forces, 20,000
General Christian Beyers, Orange Free State
General de Wet, Transvaal
Major von Doering
Colonel S. G. Maritz
The war was carried into Africa at the very outset of hostilities in Europe; it continued there three years, and in the end Germany was dispossessed of a colonial empire four times the size of her European possessions. Germany controlled four huge colonies in Africa: Togoland (Togo), about the size of Ireland, with a native population of 1,000,000; the Kameruns (Cameroon), greater in area than the Germany, with a population of 2,500,000; German Southwest Africa, comprising 320,000 square miles, and with a native population of 300,000 ; and German East Africa, twice the size of old Germany, and with a population of 8,000,000.
Boers Rebel in Union of South Africa
Within a week after Germany had flung down the gauntlet to Europe, mutterings of discontent against British rule were heard among a certain class of Boers in the Union of South Africa, particularly in the western Transvaal. Ostensibly the disaffected Boers were influenced by their ambition to found an Afrikander Republic; in reality, they were dupes of Germany, who had heard the "call of the blood" and the ring of German gold. These conspirators really plotted the downfall of the British Empire. If Africa and Egypt could be won from Great Britain, control of the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the trade routes to India might pass to Germany. These were the tremendous prizes at stake in the Boer uprising.
Boer Parliament Is Loyal
The leaders of the Boer revolt were Gen. Christian Beyers, Gen. de Wet, Col. S. G. Maritz, and Gen. Hertzog. All four had served with distinction in the Boer War of 1898, and there still rankled in their hearts a hatred of Great Britain.
Though still a commander of Union militia, Col. Maritz had entered into a secret pact with the German Governor of Southwest Africa, in which the independence of the Union as a Republic was guaranteed, but Walfisch Bay and other parts of the Union had been ceded to Germany, and providing that the Germans should defer their invasion of the Union, until asked to do so. The great majority of the Boer burghers, however, refused to join with the rebels. Their spokesmen were Gen. Louis Botha and Gen. Smuts, both eminent leaders in the last Boer War, but now reconciled to British rule.
On August 15, 1914, a convention of 800 burghers was held at Treurfontein and resolutions were passed expressing confidence in the British Government. A month later, Gen. Christian Beyers, commandant general of the Union forces, who had been secretly organizing the rebellion, resigned his command. He had previously won over to the rebel cause Gen. Delarey, a leader of the Boer forces in the Transvaal.
Delarey soon after was killed by a police patrol near Johannesburg, before the rebellion was well under way. Meantime, a thousand armed Boers in the Transvaal had definitely united with the rebellion. In this crisis, Gen. Louis Botha appealed to the loyalty of the Boers, calling for volunteers to aid in suppressing the rebellion and promising to lead the Union forces in person. The Boers flocked by thousands to his standard.
When the Boer Parliament met on September 8, 1914, Gen. Botha, the premier, moved a resolution assuring Great Britain of its loyal support. Gen. Hertzog, the minority leader in the Parliament, and a pro-German, sought to amend this by moving a declaration that an attack upon German Southwest Africa was against the interests of the Union of South Africa. Hertzog's amendment was rejected by a vote of 104 to 12.
The "Prophet" of Lichtenberg Stirs Rebellion
Emissaries of Germany spread themselves through the Transvaal, inciting the Boers to rebellion. Among these was a fanatic by the name of Van Rensberg, better known as the "Prophet of Lichtenberg." Ever since the Boer War, in 1898, when a few of his many predictions were said to have been verified, the "prophet" had been held in high esteem. He now solemnly declared that the events predicted in the Apocalypse, or Book of Revelations, were soon to be fulfilled. Germany, he averred, had been divinely ordained to subjugate and purify the sinful world. Rensberg, in one of his pretended "visions," saw standing forth as divinely appointed leaders who should restore the Boer Republic, the traitors Delarey, Beyers, and de Wet.
The Massacre of Sandfontein
Lieut. Col. Maritz, meanwhile, had secretly accepted a commission as a general in the German service. His first overt act was to plot the massacre of a small force of British and Boers who were assembled at Sandfontein, near the Transvaal border. While these British-Boer troops were advancing toward a water-hole, on September 26, 1914, Col. Maritz and his rebel band ambushed them in a circular basin. Concealed batteries deluged the loyal troops with high explosive shells. The trapped Boers fought heroically till their ammunition gave out, after which they were slain or captured. Maritz followed up this act of treachery by arresting all the loyal Boers and banishing them across the border into German territory. Ordered by Gen. Smuts, the Boer Minister of War, to report at headquarters and resign his command, Maritz, on October 8, 1914, sent back a defiant reply.
Defeat of Gen. Maritz at Keimos
Proclaiming martial law throughout the Union of South Africa, Gen. Louis Botha despatched a force of loyal Boers, under command of Gen. Brits, in pursuit of Maritz. The rebels were overtaken and routed at Ratedraai on October 15, 1914. A week later, with a force of 1000 rebels and 70 German gunners, Maritz attacked the port of Keimos, which was defended by a garrison of 150 loyalists. Defeated in his purpose by the arrival of reinforcements of loyal troops, Maritz soon found himself hard pressed and even offered to surrender if granted a free pardon. This being denied him, the battle was resumed and the rebels were defeated. With the remnant of his band Maritz, wounded, fled across the German border. Two days later his followers met defeat at Kakamas and the rebellion in the Union of South Africa was at an end.
Togoland the First to Surrender
The first to fall of the four German colonies in Africa was Togoland. On August 4, 1914, the day Great Britain declared war against Germany, the British acting governor of Nigeria and the French governor of Dahomey planned a concerted campaign by land and sea against Togoland, which is hemmed in on three sides by the territories they governed, with a seacoast easily approached by warships. On August 7, 1914, a British warship appeared off Lome, the capital, and the town surrendered without the firing of a shot. The German garrison, comprising 60 whites and 400 natives, escaped to Atakpame, 100 miles in the interior, uniting there with 3000 native troops.
On the following day a French force crossed the Dahomey frontier, while a British force, under Capt. F. C. Bryant, crossed the Gold Coast frontier into Togoland. These Allied forces, after effecting a junction, advanced toward Atakpame where the little German-Negro band had entrenched on the northern side of the Monu River. Crossing the river, on August 25, 1914, the Allies drove the Germans from their trenches with a loss of 75 men, and, after seizing the important wireless station at Kamina, occupied Atakpame.
The German commander, Major Doering, then surrendered unconditionally, losing 1000 rifles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition. By arrangement, Togoland was thenceforth governed jointly by France and England, each nation controlling that part of the surrendered colony which was nearest to her African possessions.
The United Kingdom was one of the Allied Powers during World War I (1914–1918), and developed as a nation throughout the war in order to further its goal of defeating the Central Powers (the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria). The country's armed forces were reorganised—the war marked the creation of the Royal Air Force, for example—and increased in size because of the introduction of forced conscription for the first time in the country's history. At the outbreak of war, patriotic feelings spread throughout the country, and it has been argued that many of the class barriers of Edwardian England were diminished during the period.