Front Page
Whats New
Search the Site!!
For Sale
Guest Book
The Kaisers Cross
Fake Documents.
Which Unit?
Uniforms + Militaria
The Raiders
In the Trenches
Mobile warfare
The Casualties
The Battles
The German Army
Bavarian Army Photos
The Weapons
Photo Corner
The Croix de Guerre
The Men
German DSWA
South Africa: WW1 in Africa
Harry's Africa
Who is Harry
The Jebu War
Angoniland Rebellion
Gambia 1866
Egypt 1882
Sierra Leone 1887-88
Witu 1890
Gambia 1891-2
Juba River 1893
Bronkhorst Spruit
Bechuanaland 1896-97
Rejaf 1897
Taita Hills 1898
East Africa Police
British East Africa, 1913
Baganda Rifles
Ross's Scouts
Lake Chad area 1914
British East Africa 1914
Tunduru GEA
Nyasaland 1918
Narungombe GEA
Zuganatto GEA
Mafia Island GEA
Kikarunga Hill GEA
Cameroon 1914
Kisii 1914
Tanga 1914
2LNL in East Africa
Kamerun 1915
Lubembe Point, 1915
Advance into GEA 1916
Blockade Breakers GEA
Wienholt, the Bush Scout
Darfur 1916
Kibata, GEA 1916-17
Bweho-Chini 1917
Lukuledi GEA 1917
Narunyu GEA 1917
Longido West 1915
Somaliland 1884-1898
Somaliland 1901
Somaliland 1902-1903
Somaliland 1903-04 A
Somaliland 1903-04 B
Somaliland 1903-04 C
Somaliland 1903-04 D
Somaliland 1905-13
Suez Canal 14-15
Suez Canal 15 cont.
Sikhs and the Senussi
Magadi Defence Force
The Gambia Company
The Uganda RVR
Capt. Bloomfield VC
Shimber Berris
Northern Rhodesian Rifles
Northern Rhodesia 14-15
BSAP Special Reserve
Cole's Scouts
Togoland 1914
Jasin 1914-15
Yabasi, Kamerun 1914
Uganda Volunteer Reserve
EA MG Coy 1915-16
Malangali 1916
Lake Victoria Ops
Portuguese East Africa, 1918
Lioma, PEA, August 1918
Somaliland Camel Corps
Somaliland 1915-19
Southern GEA, Oct 1916
Cape Corps in Action
Rhodesia Native Regt.
Uganda 1902 - 1913
Portuguese Ops, GEA 1916
Mounted Infantry Coy
2nd KAR in GEA 1917
Rumbo to the  Rovuma
The "Mad Mullah"
Mad Mullah - The End 1920
Loyal North Lancs MGC 1
Loyal North Lancs MGC 2
African Odyssey
Tug Argan
Initial Encounters Sudan 1940
Somaliland 1940-41
MiD - West Africa
MSM to WAFF - West Africa
MiD to WAFF - East Africa
WAFF East African DSO
Kenya - June 1940
Operation Line: 1942
The Somalia Gendarmerie
Northern Rhodesia 1918
Tunisia 1943: 1st Loyals
Awash Gorge 1941
Harry's Sideshows...
Stars and Hearts
Freikorps Documents
French Colonial Awards
GSWA History 1914-15
The Boer war
British Groups
Research Links
Assorted maps/Photos
Whats New to end mar
GMIC Newsletters
The EK1

In 1914 The Gold Coast, now named Ghana, was a British possession on the West African Coast. The territory maintained a very efficient infantry battalion "TheGold Coast Regiment" that contained two 2.95-inch mountain guns as integral artillery support. 

On 17 June 1914 a regular army officer of The Border Regiment was seconded for service with the Colonial Office and posted to The Gold Coast Regiment. He was Lieutenant John Lawrence Leslie-Smith, and he had arrived in theatre just in time. In August 1914 the Gold Coast Regiment, along with French colonial troops, invaded and captured Togoland, now named Togo, an adjacent German colony.

The Gold Coast Regiment was then involved in a much tougher operation to subjugate German Cameroons. The German troops in the south of that colony fought well against the French and British invasion, until in February 1916 they finally withdrew across their southern border into Spanish Guinea, where they were interned. On 8th August 1915 during severe fighting in thick bush north of the Spanish Guinea border, the Gold Coast Regiment had taken 29 casualties, one of the wounded being Lt Leslie-Smith.

John recovered from his wound, was promoted to Captain, and then took part in the Gold Coast Regiment's campaign in German East Africa (now named Tanzania). Here a determined German commander, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, constantly foiled the efforts of the British and South African commanders who were trying to defeat him.

Von Lettow-Vorbeck and his army of African soldiers finally surrendered in 1918 two weeks after the Armistice was agreed in Europe.

In German East Africa the Gold Coast Regiment quickly earned a reputation as first-class infantrymen. White troops from England and South Africa - and Sepoys from India - quickly succumbed to the tropical diseases and harsh climatic conditions prevalent in East Africa. At the end of the campaign the only British battalions remaining in the field were African infantry.

Gold Coast Regiment 2.95-inch gun and crew

Left: A map showing the East African coast where the Regiment was operating in 1917

In July 1917 the Gold Coast Regiment was involved in operations between Kilwa and Lindi on the southern coast of German East Africa. On 19 July the Regiment advanced towards a known enemy position as part of a column manoeuvre to seize water holes at Narungombe, and quickly became embroiled in fierce fighting in high grass. Other units in the column deployed on either side of the Gold Coasters, as did two other columns in the vicinity, but when British shells caused a grass-fire on the left flank the South African and Indian troops there withdrew, leaving that flank open.

The right flank units held their ground and a general advance was ordered, some of the Gold Coast Regiment charging into and seizing enemy trenches, but without support on the left flank the captured position could not be held. A withdrawal was ordered through the bush and defensive positions dug.

During the night the German troops withdrew, having achieved their objective of making the British pay a heavy price for the seizure of the Narungombe water-holes. The Gold Coast Regiment had lost 20% of its effective strength – 37 men killed and 114 wounded. Amongst those severely wounded was Captain J.L. Leslie-Smith.

In a supplement to the London Gazette dated 7 March 1918 an award of a Military Cross was made to:

Capt. John Lawrence Leslie-Smith, Bord. R
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his company across the open under heavy hostile fire of every description to a point within 150 yards of the enemy trenches, where he established himself, thereby enabling troops to be deployed on his flanks and to carry the enemy trenches from that position. Although wounded he commanded his men throughout the day with the greatest gallantry and determination."

Right: The Military Cross shown is NOT that of John Leslie-Smith

John Leslie-Smith displayed his usual resilience, recovering from his wounds and resuming his appointment with the Gold Coasters. In May 1918 the Gold Coast regimental history mentions his excellent patrol work in Portuguese East Africa (now named Mozambique), where the Regiment was fighting.
Finally, in July and August 1918 John and his tough Gold Coasters sailed from Portuguese East Africa back home to West Africa. Their Regiment had fought proficiently and hard losing 215 men killed, 725 wounded, 13 missing, 270 died of disease and 567 invalided out of theatre. The regimental strength had averaged 900 men and continuous drafts from the Gold Coast had maintained that strength.

After the war John Leslie-Smith returned to regimental duties with the Border Regiment, relinquishing the temporary rank of major that he had been granted in 1918.
The December 1926 Army List shows him as the senior Captain in the regiment.

To return to Harry's Africa click HERE

Further reading:

"Tip and Run" by Edward Paice (now in paperback).
Free download of the regimental history "The Gold Coast Regiment in the East African Campaign" by Sir Hugh Clifford from: