My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–Riding in the Reserve

“Now looking back on my life in Africa, I feel that it might altogether be described as the existence of a person who had come from a rushed and noisy world, into a still country.”–How I would like to be in a “still country.”

“One can always impress a Native by wasting more time over a matter than he does himself, only it is a difficult thing to accomplish.”  Too funny!!!!

“And there is magic in words; a person who has for many years been known to all his surroundings by the name of an animal in the end comes to feel familiar with and related to the animal, he recognises himself in it.  When he is back in Europe it is strange to him to feel that no on ever connects him with it.”  –Her whole thoughts on names and myths is intriguing.

p. 103:  “once in,–how the delighted spirit pants for joy.” -“The Cenci” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Here is the entire play.

p. 104:  “an old Egyptian epitaph.”- inscription upon a tomb.  The custom dates back to ancient Egypt.

p. 105:  veldt-sores – veldt is open country; grasslands with little trees.  The sores are caused by a microorganism.

p. 106:  sacred maze of sophistry – a subtle, tricky, or superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.

p. 106: a place called Buramur – I couldn’t find any location.

p. 106:  which means half waregilt – in German ware = good; commodity and gilt = golden.

p. 107:  indemnification – often used in legal settings.  damage; a sum of money paid for loss or injury.

p. 108:  Dagoretti – an area in western Nairobi

p. 109:  Ancients of the Kyama – Kyama are a people group.  Although I don’t believe Karen Blixen was referring to the Kyama of the Ivory Coast there is an interesting page about them on The Joshua Project.  They are without the entire Bible.

p. 109:  profusion of potentialities – love the alliteration!!!

p. 111:  Odin – one of the major gods of Norse mythology.  He is the same as the Anglo-Saxon god Woden.  Which is where we get the funny spelling of the name Wednesday.  It is literally Woden’s day.  Woden’s son was Thor.  Which is where we get Thursday–Thor’s day.  Woden or Odin is mainly associated with war.

p. 111:  Pax Britannica itself – excerpt from Wikipedia.

Pax Britannica (Latin for “the British Peace”, modelled after Pax Romana) was the period of relative peace in Europe (1815–1914) when the British Empire controlled most of the key maritime trade routes and enjoyed unchallenged sea power. It refers to a period of British imperialism after the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, which led to a period of overseas British expansionism. Britain dominated overseas markets and managed to dominate Chinese markets after the First and Second Opium Wars.[1]

p. 112:  Lord Delamere – from The Stadard the oldest Kenyan newspaper.

was Lord Delamere ?

Who was Lord Delamere ? ( published in The Standard )
By John Kamau
When Lord Delamere first set foot in Kenya in 1887 the Uganda Railways
was just starting to be laid down and when he came back to acquire land for
farming Nairobi –or what colonialists baptised “Tinville” because it was simply
a tin shack- was beginning to take shape- at least by 1901. It would seem
that unlike many of his descendents, the Third Baron Delamere got along very
well with his Maasai neighbours. So well, indeed, that fears were expressed
among the contemporary white community that he might ‘go native’. Lord
DelamereThat Lord Delamere pioneered the dairy industry in 1905 has been one of
the most repeated stories. He was also credited with experimenting with cross
breeding, after importing a herd of exotic breeds for mating with local Boran
cattle.  To finish reading click on this link.

p. 112:  the fate of the Carrier Corps – excerpt from Wikipedia.

The Carrier Corps was a military organisation created in Kenya in World War I to provide military labour to support the British campaign against the German Military forces in East Africa, commanded by Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.

Whereas von Lettow armed and trained African Askaris to create an effective guerrilla force able to live off the land; the British attempted to deploy Indian Army troops under General Smuts and keep the King’s African Rifles as internal security troops, with limited success. Not only were they unused to the terrain, the need to feed a large body of foreign soldiers presented severe logistical problems, as troops in the interior had to be supplied over long distances without rail or road lines of communication. To deliver one kilogram of rice to the interior it could take 50 kilograms of rice at the coast—most of it being consumed en route to feed all the porters needed to carry it inland.

The British Administration formed a military labour organisation, the Carrier Corps, which ultimately recruited or conscripted over 400,000 African men for porterage and other support tasks.

p. 112:  trenches at Vimy Ridge – excerpt from Spartacus Educational.

Vimy Ridge ran almost 12km north-east of Arras. The Germans occupied Vimy Ridge in September 1914 and their engineers immediately began to construct a network of artillery-proof trenches and bunkers. These were protected from infantry attack by concrete Machine Gun Posts.

The French Tenth Army responded by digging its own system of trenches at Arras. Repeated French attempts to take Vimy Ridge cost about 150,000 casualties between May and November 1915. Although the French were able to take the villages of Carency, Neuville St Vaast and Souchez, Vimy Ridge remained under the control of the Germans.

As part of the general reorganization the British took over the Arras sector in March 1916. British corps commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Wilson, immediately planned a large-scale counter-attack, but this was vetoed by his commanding officer, Sir Douglas Haig. The Canadian Corps, commanded by Lieutenant Sir Julian Byng, replaced the British at Arras in the winter of 1916.

In December 1916 Robert Nivelle replaced Joseph Joffre as Commander-in-Chief of Allied forces on the Western Front. Nivelle immediately began to plan a major offensive on the German front-line. An essential part of what became known as the Nivelle Offensive, was an attempt to capture Vimy Ridge. As the ridge was 60 metres high, Nivelle argued that if Allied forces could control this area, they would have a commanding view of the German activities behind the front line.

On the evening of 8th April, 1917, 30,000 members of the Canadian Corps began to move to the front line. At 5.30 the next morning, 2,800 allied guns began pounding the German trenches and soon afterwards the Canadian infantry went over the top into No-Mans-Land. Supported by a creeping-barrage, the 1st Division, led by Major-General A. W. Currie, captured the Zwolfer Graben trench system within 30 minutes. After another hour had passed, the intermediate line south-east of Thelus was also under Canadian control.

Major-General L. J. Lipsett and the 3rd Division took the huge Schwaben Tunnel. However, several concrete Machine Gun Posts had survived, and these were causing heavy casualties. The Canadian 4th Division was especially badly hit. One battalion, the 87th, incurred losses of over 50% in less than a few minutes.

In an attempt to stretch German defences, General Hubert Gough and the British Fifth Army launched an attack further south. Even though Gough used tanks in the attack, it was repulsed by the Germans at Bullecourt. The Australians, also took part in this operation and suffered its worst day’s losses on the Western Front.

The Canadians was still making good progress and by 12th April they were firmly in control of Vimy Ridge. Forced to the bottom of the hill, the Germans were unable to launch a successful counterattack. That night, under the cover of darkness, the Germans withdrew from the area.

By the time the Arras offensive was halted at the end of May, the British had suffered heavy losses: First Army: 46,826; Third Army: 87,226; Fifth Army: 24,608. The Canadian Corps lost a total of 11,297 men killed, missing or wounded.

Despite British failures at Arras, the Canadians had broken through the most formidable portion of the German line. The capture of Vimy Ridge was a great tactical success. The Canadians had seized ground of great military importance, and inflicted heavy casualties on the German Army.

File:USMA - Battle of Arras - Vimy Ridge derivative.png

The chapter ends, “All this was sad to think of.  I rode home.”  –not “I was sad when I thought on all these happenings.  I rode home in despair of soul and sadness of heart.”  The short sentences emphasize her state of heart.

Coming up next is the chapter called, “Wamai”.

Until next time,


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