East African Campaign 1940/1

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by warwick ibertson, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. warwick ibertson

    warwick ibertson Junior Member

    My father Sapper Harry Ibertson was in 5 Field Company of the Sappers in the South African Army. 5 Field Company travelled overland from Pretoria to Kenya. This was unusual as most of the forces went by ship from Durban to Mombasa. Does anyone have any information about the route taken & the reason for travelling overland. The unit left on 15 November 1940 and took 9 days to reach Gilgil in Kenya.Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    My father Sapper Harry Ibertson was in 5 Field Company of the Sappers in the South African Army. 5 Field Company travelled overland from Pretoria to Kenya. This was unusual as most of the forces went by ship from Durban to Mombasa. Does anyone have any information about the route taken & the reason for travelling overland. The unit left on 15 November 1940 and took 9 days to reach Gilgil in Kenya.Any help would be appreciated.

    I spent several months in Gilgil in the early sixties. Not exactly a thrilling place, but probably better than in the 1940s!

    Chris
     
  3. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Had a quick look through some books I have which give a general overview of the war in Africa, but can't find anything.
    Would that be the 1st S.A. Division?
     
  4. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Might be worth looking here if you already haven't?
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hello and welcome

    There is a unit war diary but WO 166 suggests they were in the UK during the time shown. WO 166 is the UK Home Forces series.

    WO 166/3555 5 Field Company. 1940 July - 1941 Dec.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  6. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Wrong army I think Drew? Suid Afrika sappers, I believe, not RE? sent you a PM on another matter.
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    My mistake...Just woken up and not finished the first brew yet. I've replied :)
     
  8. warwick ibertson

    warwick ibertson Junior Member

    Yes - the 5 Field Company were part of the 1st SA Division.
     
  9. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    None of my books mention 1st SA Div. before they arrived in Kenya, although the books are mainly about the war in North Africa. Did you have any joy on the site I provided a link to?
     
  10. warwick ibertson

    warwick ibertson Junior Member

    Your link was very helpful in providing me with info on the Abyssinian campaign-Thanks.
    I am still cannot find any information on the overland trip from Pretoria to Gilgil other than it took 19 days. It must have been a big convoy transporting equipment for road making,water supplies and troops from South Africa and Rhodesia.
     
  11. nedrutland

    nedrutland Junior Member

    One observation; I don't know what route was taken but if it was through Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) then, as Portugal was neutral in WWII, their weapons would have travelled separately through British (or Belgian) territory.


    (In 1941, my father travelled by road from Kenya to Nyasaland through Portuguese East Africa and his weapons had to be taken separately via Belgian Congo)
     
  12. Cracker1

    Cracker1 Junior Member

    There is a route from RSA through Southern Rhodesia, Nyassaland, Tanganika and then to Kenya if I am not miskaken.
     
  13. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Well-Known Member

    In 2016 I spotted on a blogsite that a new book was due to appear 'First Victory' by Andrew Stewart. A short intro: The First Victory…
    See when published the reviews: https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Victory-Second-Africa-Campaign/dp/0300208553/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477170663&sr=1-1&keywords=The+First+Victory:+The+Second+World+War+and+the+East+Africa+Campaign

    There is a reference to an overland route from South Africa northwards: 18k trucks came overland from Broken Hill, now Kabwe in Zambia; the half-way point from the factory in South Africa, in the 2,900 mile journey to Nairobi.

    Alas I cannot provide a pg. number and the book has no map of the route. I am reasonable sure there was no transit via Portuguese Mozambique at that time in the war..
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019

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