ALLIED WORLD WAR I HERO TO BE REMEMBERED AT VOI WAR CEMETERY
(Posted 02nd August 2015)
A hundred years ago did one Lieutenant William Thomas Dartnell die a hero’s death at the hands of Von Lettow-Vorbeck’s savage askaris. Following a major engagement in the Taita area of Kenya, where the German troops kept raiding into British territory, did he remain behind to look after the wounded who could not be immediately evacuated from the battlefield, intent to negotiate with the advancing enemy troops for a brief humanitarian ceasefire to tend to the injured and bring back the dead to the allied lines.
This however was not to be as he was killed as were the wounded and when the allied troops returned did they only find a field of pure carnage.
Repeated reference was made here in the article series ‘Battlefield East Africa’, inspired by several site visits when doing research out of the Sarova Taita Hills Safari Lodge.
At the same time did James Willson Esq. publish his book ‘Guerillas of Tsavo’ in which he extensively describes the action seen in the Taita / Taveta area of Kenya as well as other parts of East Africa.
As was the case a year ago in August when the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war was commemorated in Voi, Maktau and Taveta where war cemeteries are maintained, will tomorrow another such event take place and bring together the erstwhile foes in honouring one who gave his life to save the life of his comrades in arms.
In a related development will Sarova Taita Hills Lodge also host an event on the 12th of October when the centenary of flight will be remembered. It was the allied troops which brought in aircraft in 1915 through the port of Mombasa in crates, delivered by train to Voi station and then transported to Maktau near the lodge for assembly and testing. It was those flying contraptions which, when the first aerial surveillance flight was launched, which turned the fate of the war in East Africa as the Germans subsequently withdrew from Salaita Hill where they had held ground since the start of the war. Von Lettow – Vorbeck knew, when the news reached him, that the surveillance overflights was to ascertain the German strength and equipment on the hill top and pulled his troops out of Kenya before an attack was launched on his forward positions. Again, the event too was referred to here before and visitors are warmly welcome to visit Maktau and witness the various flying activities organized by Willy Mwadilo and the Aero Club of East Africa.
The programme for tomorrow is shown below and visitors are invited to share the commemorative event if they are in the Voi / Taita area.
THURSDAY 3rd SEPTEMBER 9.30 AM
Voi Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery Commemorative Remembrance Service
NATIONAL ANTHEM of Kenya
(It is recommended that Officers Commanding military contingents, etc, salute only when the National Anthem is played or sung, and not during the Last Post, Exhortation or Silence)
Led by Rev Godfrey Mwanjulu
“Let us commemorate and commend to the loving mercy of our Heavenly Father, the Shepherd of Souls, the Giver of Life Everlasting, those who have died in the service of our country and its cause.”
Buglers sound the “Last Post”
H.E John Mruttu, Governor, Taita Taveta shall recite:
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left to grow old,
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Response: “We will remember them.”
THE PLACING OF WREATHS ON CROSS OF SACRIFICE AND ON DARTNELL’S GRAVE
By High Commissioners, Ambassadors or Representatives of the following nations:-
Australia, Britain, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Tanzania, etc
Short homily given by Australian Ag High Commissioner at grave site
(The Silence may be of one minute or two minutes) Led by Band Commandant-KWS Band
Buglers sound: “Reveille”
DEDICATION by the Bishop Rt.Rev. Samson Mwaluda
“When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your
tomorrow, we gave our today” (Kohima Epitaph)
Response: “We will not break faith with you.”
Remember, 0 Lord, all those who have died the death of honour and are departed in the hope of resurrection to Eternal Life, especially the Officers, Men and Women of our Sea, Land and Air Forces, to whom it was given to lay down their lives for the cause of Freedom and Justice.
In that place of light, whence sorrow and mourning are far vanished, give them rest, 0 Lord, the Lover of Men.
Grant this for Thine only Son, Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen
End of Commemorative Remembrance Service