The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names

The King´s African Rifles

Most people are aware of the First World War when the British Expeditionary Force reinforced the French lines to defend Paris and the rest of France from the German Forces. However the war also spilled into Africa and elsewhere. In 1914 Tanzania was the core of German East Africa, but also included Rwanda and Burundi. In 1915 the German east African forces attacked British East Africa (now Kenya), Nyasaland and Zambia (then called North Rhodesia). This was a relatively small, but highly skilled German force commanded by Colonel, later General Paul von Lettow Vorbeck. He managed to tie up over 370,00 Allied soldiers for over four years. The Germans had forces ranging from 14,000 to just 4000 men at various times during the war.

In 1916 South Africa´s Jan Smuts was appointed Commander in Chief of the British Forces in Africa. These were reinforced by soldiers from South Africa, Rhodesia, India and Britain. These included the King´s African Rifles (KAR) who comprised of battalions raised from the British Colonies of East Africa since 1902 (picture right) .

In 1914 the strength of the force had been 60-70 British officers, two British NCO´s and approximately 2,300 African and Indian soldiers. They covered an area of over 800,000 square miles with little transport and no artillery.

To deal with the German problem, the King´s African Rifles were quickly expanded, growing to a strength of 1,400 British Officers, 2,000 British NCO´s and 32,000 African soldiers. (19,000 of these were from Nyasaland and 9,000 from British East Africa (Kenya). However the regiments had to deal with a lack of roads, heavy rain, sickness, difficult terrain, and wild animals such as crocodiles, hippos and lions.
Four soldiers of King Edward VII's African Rifles by Sir (John) Benjamin Stone
It was estimated that one in fifteen of the fighting force died from sickness or in accidents. In 1915, nearly 12,000 white British troops were evacuated to South Africa, with significant sickness and disease.

The German capital of Dar-Es-Salaam surrendered to the Allied forces in September 1916, but Lettow-Vorbeck and his forces refused to admit defeat. The skirmishing continued and the Germans replenished their supplies of guns and ammunition with Equipment captured from the British.

Josiah Burgum, from Farnworth, in Lancashire was a sergeant in the Machine Gun Corps, and was then attached to the 1st and 2nd King´s African Rifles, after enlisting at Coventry, in Warwickshire with the army service number 1843. He died on Wednesday 17th October 1917. He was just 21 years old.

Josiah was interred at Mtama Cemetery, which is 10 kilometres the city centre of Nairobi, in Kenya (picture left). He is also remembered on the Commonwealth War Graves Commision Memorial at the Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery, in Tanzania, (picture below).

Josiah was the son of John Dean Burgum and Mary Burgum, of 79 Lorne Street, Farnworth, Lancashire. In the UK his sacrifice is remembered with a memorial in the churchyard of St Michael´s Church, Great Lever, near Bolton, Lancashire.

The war continued in Africa for another year and Lettow-Vorbeck undefeated, finally surrendered to the Allies on 25 November 1918, with just 175 European and 3000 African troops remaining. That was not the end however.

The German prisoners were in Dar Es Salaam, waiting to sail home to Germany, when the world-wide pandemic of Spanish influenza arrived in the city. It killed ten percent of the Germans who had survived the war and huge numbers of the African troops. The Germans who did survive sailed home on 17th January, 1919.

Josiah Burgum was part of the HH family tree