You are on page 1of 4

NAVAL

BRIGADES
in “In The Heart of Africa”
by
Chris Peers
I had always envisaged "In The Heart Of Africa" as being mainly
concerned with exploring expeditions rather than proper colonial
forces, but naval landing parties were frequently involved in small
scale operations even before the era of colonial occupation began,
and we had already covered their traditional enemies - notably the
Zanzibaris and other slaving types, the Native Warlords, and now the
Somalis. During the 19th century, of course, the navy which was
most in evidence on the coasts of Africa - and everywhere else in the
world - was the British. The Royal Navy's campaign against the slave
trade on both the east and west coasts involved it in countless small
boarding actions offshore, and landing parties were regularly
despatched to eliminate the bases of slavers or pirates, to protect
European traders, or to avenge attacks on them. Naval personnel also
manned small gunboats on inland waterways such as Lake Nyasa.
With the establishment of British rule in what was to become Kenya
in the 1890s, naval brigades took on a more ambitious role, playing a
major part in the suppression of Swahili resistance along the coast. In
the 1870s the Royal Navy had also maintained a presence at the
mouth of the Congo, where local pirates were in the habit of boarding
trading vessels which ran aground on the sandbanks. On numerous
occasions landing parties were sent a short way upriver to burn the
perpetrators' villages, although the malarial climate and the dense
forested terrain made large-scale operations very difficult.
Royal Naval Boarding Party

The French navy was also involved in similar operations on the west SOME SAMPLE ORDERS OF BATTLE FOR
coast. In fact until the late 1880s some areas, such as Gabon, were
officially under the control of the navy, and skirmishes were often NAVAL FORCES IN AFRICA
fought there against the chiefs who tried to prevent traders
penetrating up the Ogoowe River. The German navy played an The Congo Expedition, 1875
important part in the Abushiri War in Tanganyika in 1888 - 90, when A sizeable British fleet was sent up the River Congo in August 1875
its sailors and marines garrisoned the strategic towns along the coast. to avenge an attack on a merchant schooner by "river pirates". This
They were heavily engaged in street fighting in places like force comprised:
Bagamoyo, Pangani, Kilwa and Lindi, as well as on expeditions
inland, in co-operation with other colonial forces. 7 ships: HMS Active (10 guns), Encounter (14), Spiteful (6), Merlin
(4), Foam (4), Ariel (4) and Supply (2).
But although most landing parties will undoubtedly be British,
French or German, this list could also represent other colonial 150 Marines were landed on the first day. The campaign lasted for 18
powers which theoretically possessed the capability to intervene, days altogether, with the Marines from the ships bearing the brunt of
even if in reality they made less use of their naval forces in Africa. the fighting, although an unknown number of sailors were also
These might be Portuguese or Italians, for example, or even complete landed.
outsiders like the Americans, who had once had a strong interest in
Zanzibar, and could certainly have got involved again during this
period if they had wanted to. The nearest that two rival naval forces The Bagamoyo Expedition, 1889
came to outright war was probably between the British and the A German assault on the stronghold of the Arab Abushiri in May
Portuguese on the Zambezi c. 1890, but other "what if" scenarios 1889 involved elements of Hermann von Wissmann's
would be quite plausible, such as the British and the Germans coming "Wissmanntruppe" as well as Admiral Deinhard's naval forces.
to blows over Witu in the same period. Altogether, it consisted of:

200 German Marines and a small number of


sailors, drawn from the cruisers Leipzig,
Schwalbe, Sperber, Carola and Pfeil.

40 German Army NCOs deployed as


sharpshooters (treat these as Regulars in the
rules).

4 Companies of Sudanese askaris and 1 of


Zulus, totalling about 500 men.
German Sailors at Bagamoyo

4 machine guns.
50 local askaris.
1,000 porters.
100 Nyamwezi irregulars and porters.
The Mwele Expedition, 1895
1 60mm mountain gun. Rear-Admiral Rawson, in co-operation with General Mathews, the
British commanding officer of the Zanzibar Army, was sent to
2 revolver cannon. capture Mwele, the stronghold of the Swahili rebel Mbarak, in
August 1895. Their forces were composed as follows:
2 more companies of Sudanese and 30 Somali sailors were left
behind to reinforce the garrison at Bagamoyo. 5 Cruisers: HMS St. George, Phoebe, Racoon, Barrosa and Blonde.

400 sailors and Marines from the ships.


The Bulhar Expedition, 1890
The British gunboat "Ranger" landed a small force on the Somali 60 Sudanese askaris.
coast to punish the Esa tribe, who had attacked the town of Bulhar.
This involved: 50 local askaris.

A "small naval brigade" and some Marines from HMS Ranger. 1 7-pounder field gun.
Probably not more than about 40 of each.
1 rocket tube.
2 Companies of the 17th Bombay Native Infantry.
2 Maxim guns.
80 "native sappers".
800 porters.
Unlike most naval expeditions, which met with little serious
resistance, this one very nearly came unstuck. The Somalis attacked A preliminary reconnaissance had been made by 150 Sudanese,
its camp at night, broke into the "zeriba", and killed or wounded 20 supported by some sailors and Marines from Racoon and Phoebe.
men before being driven off.
The Wanga Expedition, 1896
The Witu Expedition, 1890 This small expedition marched from Wanga on the East African
In October 1890 a British naval expedition under Admiral Fremantle Coast in February 1896 against another Swahili rebel, Aziz. It
was sent against the Swahili town of Witu, a notorious nest of comprised:
outlaws in the forest north of Mombasa. This force consisted of:
2 gunboats: HMS Widgeon and Thrush.
9 ships: HMS Boadicea, Cossack, Brisk, Turquoise, Kingfisher,
Redbreast, Pigeon and Humber. Hired merchant vessels SS Juba and 40 sailors and Marines.
Somali.
An unknown number of "Indian troops".
700 sailors and Marines from the ships' companies.
2 rocket tubes.
100 Indian police in the employ of the British East Africa Company.
2 Maxim guns.
100 Zanzibari soldiers.

4 7-pounder field guns.


Royal Navy attacking Slaving Dhow, 1892

THE ARMY LIST Notes:


1). This list cannot be used before 1875. It represents naval or marine
forces operating within a short distance of their ships. It should
NAVAL LANDING PARTY (Aggression 4). therefore be employed with caution in a campaign, as such a large
body of European troops could not realistically be maintained at the
Standard Bearer (50 points) 0-1
end of long overland supply lines. In practice most African
Regulars (28 points each) 2-4
opponents withdrew into the hinterland rather than engage in a stand-
Soldiers (20 points each) 0-4
up fight against this sort of firepower, and your native players should
Heavily-armed Askaris (12 points each) 0-2
be allowed to do the same without too serious penalties. Perhaps,
Askaris (6 points each) 0-2
when using the campaign rules, you should not allow this army to
Artillery (50 points each) 0-1
actually conquer native players like ordinary Colonial Expeditions
Machine Guns (50 points each) 0-1
do, but at least at first should make it collect "hongos" like the
Gunboats (100 points each) 0-3
natives. This would represent the improvement of the commanding
officer's career prospects as he inflicts increasing damage on the
The commander of a Naval Landing Party may be a Disciplinarian,
slavers and other hostiles. If its "hongos" fall below 3, the defeated
Eloquent, or an Organising Genius.
force will be withdrawn by its government and its commander retired
on half pay. After 1885, if they exceed 15 at any time, he has been
Home terrain is not really applicable. If this force does find itself on
appointed colonial governor of the country, and can now proceed to
the defensive, it should use the Home terrain of the army it is fighting,
conquer it like a normal Colonial Expedition.
on the assumption that it has built a temporary camp in their territory
and is defending that.
2). In a campaign a player using this list should add 20% to his
permitted points total, like a Colonial Expedition, whatever his
current total of "hongos". A
native player who defeats a
Naval Landing Party should
take 2 hongos off it instead of
the usual 1.

3). In the rules, White Men


generally represent explorers
and big-game hunters rather
than serving officers, and so
are not likely to be found
accompanying a landing party. However the force's C-in-C can be a bombardment of Sadani in 1889, was armed with 5 5-inch guns and 5
White Man, complete with Gun bearer, at a cost of 40 points (plus an 37mm revolver cannon. If you really must deploy this sort of
optional 20 for the Bearer). Alternatively, he may be classed as a firepower, I suggest paying the points for 3 gunboats, but using just
Regular. one model with 6 shots per turn instead of the usual 2. Its
vulnerability is the same as a normal Gunboat, because of the navy's
4). Regulars represent European sailors or Marines, or the occasional understandable reluctance to have such a valuable ship damaged. In
exceptional non-European unit such as the Sikhs in British service. this case you might get away with a model in a smaller scale than the
Soldiers are other drilled regular troops such as Indians or Sudanese, figures (1/300 for example), to represent a ship lying some distance
and Askaris are local levies or the private armies of trading offshore. Alternatively, use one or more ordinary Gunboats to
companies or friendly Sultans. Sailors and Marines should be in represent converted dhows or other trading vessels, or ships' boats
separate units, but may be fielded in any proportion. A force may fitted with boat guns.
consist entirely of Regulars, but most large scale naval operations
also involved colonial army units and/or locally raised askaris, and Special Rule: "Double Grog Ration!”
players may find a few units of such cheaper cannon fodder useful. This rule applies to British sailors and Marines only. Before the game
begins, the player may choose to issue a double ration of rum to all or
5). The combined total of artillery pieces and machine guns cannot none of his Regular units (there will be a mutiny if some get it while
exceed 3, and no more than 2 of either type can be used. Machine others don't!) This cannot be done during the game, and - needless to
guns cannot be used before 1885. In the 1880s they would normally say - cannot be withdrawn once issued. Its effect is to add 1 to all
be Nordenfelts or Gardners, replaced by Maxims later on. Rocket hand-to-hand combat and morale dice scores made by these units
tubes, and German revolver cannon should be treated as ordinary during the game, but to deduct 1 from all their shooting dice.
field artillery.
SOURCES:
6). Gunboats in "In The Heart Of Africa" are really intended to Orders of battle are from:
represent small improvised craft such as might be found on lakes and W. L. Clowes, "The Royal Navy - a History", London, 1903.
rivers inland, and not the heavily-armed naval vessels which A. Becker, "Herrmann von Wissmann", Berlin, 1911.
sometimes appeared along the coast. A typical British gunboat, such
as HMS Redbreast (805 tons), which in 1890 became the first armed In The Heart Of Africa, is available from Copplestone Castings, at
British vessel on the Zambezi, carried 6 4-inch breechloaders, 2 3- £6.99 plus postage.
pounder quick-firers, 2 Nordenfelt machine guns, and a boat gun. For All miniatures form the new Copplestone Castings “Return to
comparison, the German "Mowe" (848 tons), which took part in the Darkest Africa” range.

British Sailors after capture of Mwele, 1895