Friday, December 11, 2015

Heliography and Funkentelegraphy in the Herero War

"The headquarters took its place behind the lead company and sent up a balloon antenna. With this we hoped to make contact with v.d. Heyde and v. Estorff. Rückforth set up his heliograph and began to exchange signals with Auer on the Waterberg. Auer was able to report about all he was able to see below him." - Major Max Bayer
Heliograph team in Southwest Africa

At the very outset of the German-Herero War in 1904, the Southwest Africa protectorate's single telegraph line along the train tracks from Swakopmund to Windhuk was cut in several places. Protecting these vital links from further sabotage tied down considerable resources, including heavy automatic weapons that could otherwise have been deployed against the Hereros. 

Communication between isolated commands over vast distances and across varied topography in this region would require portable, wireless technologies.  The Germans came to rely on two different systems during the war with the Herero: one with its roots in the armies of antiquity and the other a product of the modern age. Neither offered a perfect solution, and both would later be supplanted by subsequent advances in radio development, but together they had advantages that the Germans came to appreciate and which ultimately influenced the course of the decisive action at the Waterburg in August 1904.

The heliograph was a simple concept that used mirrors to direct the rays of the sun and communicate between observers using Morse Code.  It required no other power source and was mounted on a simple surveyor's tripod.  While reliance on the sun restricted heliography to daylight conditions with clear skies, it was well suited to the highveld and arid conditions of southern Africa. 

The British had uses heliographs during the Zulu War in 1879 and in the Sudan in the 1880s, while the American General Nelson Miles employed them during his campaign against Geronimo.  Both the British and the Boers employed heliography during the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902), and it may have been this conflict that caused Imperial Germany to reconsider investing in this technology.  They adapted the British Mark V heliograph with additional refinements in 1900, and initially used them in Southwest Africa at fixed stations to communicate with distant outposts that were not yet served by telegraph lines. 

As long as the receiver's location remained fixed or could be identified by the sender, sending messages this way was a reliable means of communication, bu there were disadvantages for its use in the field.  Heliography required a clear line of sight between sender and receiver, ideally transmitted from high elevation, but the dense thornfeld along the Swakop River and its drainages to the North and East of Okahandja offered few natural eminences, forcing troops in the field to improvise signal stations atop termite hills and thorn trees.  Von Glasenapp's Ostabteilung spent over a month maneuvering in pursuit of the Herero and was seldom in one place long enough to establish heliograph contact with the station atop Kaiser Wilhelmberg at Okahandja or with Winhuk via a heliograph station at Seeis, requiring riders to carry messages part of the way.  Intermittent heliograph communication delayed reporting the defeat of von Glasenapp's section back to headquarters, and it was impossible at this stage for mobile sections to coordinate their efforts, even when separated by as little as 50 miles, because the low topography and dense thorns prevented signalers for fixing the position of their counterparts.

During the build up of troops under Lothar von Trotha in May and  June, 1904, the Germans added wireless radio communications capacity in the form of three (some sources say four)  funkentelegraph equipped carts and wagons, each able deploy either a 12 ft2 kite or a 350 ft3 hydrogen-filled balloon to extend its antenna in the field.    Four commissioned officers, four NCOs and 27 men assigned to these wireless sections departed Hamburg on April 30th in the transport "Herzog", arriving at Swakopmund on May 24th, 1904. 

The portable wireless stations or funkenstationen were first used against the Herero during the Waterburg campaign that August, where their relative strengths and weaknesses soon became apparent.

Each wireless station required at least three two wheeled support vehicles, which together transported a broad array of equipment, including gasoline powered generating plant, cable drum for hauling the balloon, the receiving apparatus, and the hydrogen tanks and balloon.  The Germans found two wheeled cars less stable and prone to tipping than four wheeled wagons, and each weighted nearly a ton when loaded.  High winds tore kites and prevented the balloons from reaching an ideal elevation, and the balloons themselves, soaring well above the thorn trees, clearly marked the location of the units they served and made them attractive targets for Herero rifles.

The converging German sections that fought below the Waterburg included several that were wireless equipped, including the headquarters section (von Muhlenfels), von Heyde's and von Estorff's sections.  While these allowed sporadic communication among these separate German elements, it was the simpler heliograph technology that played the divisive part in establishing communication between them, for Oberleutnant Richard Volkmann who was stationed to the North of the plateau wisely dispatched Lt. Auer. with a heliograph to the top of the Waterberg where he was able to communication with the various sections far below.

After the battle the wireless units were soon taken offline for servicing as the campaign against the Herero was winding down and war with the Nama shifted German attention to the south.  While these initial funkenstationen were down for repairs, an additional three units arrived from Germany and were deployed in the field.   The heliograph was a necessary supplement, and unlike the original wireless units remained in use by signal corps in many armies well after World War II.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Skirmish Scenario "Incident at Osona": Armored Trains and Herero Rifles (Part IV)

Download .pdf  of Playtest Version Here
Here is the play test version of a new German-Herero War skirmish scenario I have developed for use with the Jones/Alvarado Herero Wars Scenario and Rules book (based on TSATF Rules system).  It follows on the Ambush at Uitkomst scenario I developed in collaboration with Roy Jones last year.  Previous posts on this blog in the Armored Trains and Herero Rifles in 1904 category provide the historical documentation and assumptions that inform the design of this scenario.

The German force has two significant assets that require careful handling in order to function property and upon which the success of their expedition to relieve Okahandja depends.  They have a train pushed by paired Zwillinge engines and open cars with sides that have been hastily reenforced with sandbags.  In addition two 32 Schutztruppen (4 foot elements in game terms), the train carries a machine gun in one of its open cars.  Maintaining proper speed, avoiding derailment and keeping the machine gun on line, all the while repairing sabotaged sections of track under enemy fire, presents a significant challenge for the German player, as indeed was the case during the historical Maschinengewehr-Expedition on which this scenario is based.  The train crew members are essential, and the loss of all four puts the train out of commission and means certain defeat.

The Hereros have excellent cover in the dense bushes, among nearby steep cliffs and within a large stone house, but perhaps not quite enough riflemen to pour on a devastating fire and disable track simultaneously.  In the actual fight at Osona, the tracks were broken in three places before the Germans arrived and the Hereros had perhaps as much as a 7:1 advantage in riflemen.  The numbers are reduced for this scenario, and not all of the 8 Herero Foot units are available when play begins.

Until it has been play tested, I'm not sure that I have the forces balanced appropriately, and am eager to see how new rules I have developed for causing and spotting track sabotage, derailment, track repair, train movement and cover will function.  If you decide to give this scenario a try, I would be grateful for detailed feedback on your results.  Further updates to the scenario will be posted here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

WTB 28mm HLBS German Colonial Sets

The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company (HLBS) stopped making its 28mm German Colonial line before I had the chance to start collecting them, so I have been haunting eBay and various message boards for the last couple of years with decent results. 

I think the following is a near complete list of the old HLBS German Colonial Range, including set numbers and descriptions. 

GC1 Schutztruppe in slouch hat with colonial service cartridge belt (5 different figures)
GC1a Command Group (3 different figures)
GC2 Schutztruppe in peaked cap w/neck curtain, with colonial service cartridge belt (5 different figures)
GC2a Command Group (3 different figures)
GC3 Marines (seebatailon) in Pith Helmet with standard cartridge pouches (5 different figures)
GC3a Command Group (3 different figures)
GC4 Schutztruppe in Tropenhelm with standard cartridge pouches (5 different figures)
GC4a Command Group (3 different figures)
GC5 Askari in Fez with standard cartridge pouches (5 different figures)
GC6 Askari in Fez with standard cartridge pouches (5 different figures)
GC6a Askari N.C.O.s (3 different figures)
GC7 schutztruppe with maxim with colonial service cartridge belt (2 figures with gun&tripod)
GC8 Seebatailon with Maxim in Pith helmet with standard cartridge pouches (2 figures with gun&tripod)
GC9 Askari with Maxim (2 figures with gun&tripod)
GCM1 Camel Corps in slouch hat with colonial service cartridge belt (2 different figures and 2 different camels)
GCM2 Camel Corps (2 differing poses to GCM1)
GCM3 Camel Corps Command (2 different figures and 2 different camels)
GCM4 2 baggage Camels
GCM5 2 Kneeling Camels, with saddles for dismounted troops with holder
GCM6 Mounted Infantry, in slouch hat with colonial service cartridge belt (2 different figures and horse poses)
GCM7 Mounted Infantry (2 differing poses to GCM6)
GCM8 Mounted Infantry Command (2 different figures on two different horses)
GCM9 Two dismounted horses and holder

I have plenty of dismounted slouch hatted Schutztruppen (GC1 and GC1a) and machine gunners (GC7),  though I wouldn't say no to adding more.  I have 26 mounted Schutztruppen (GCM6, GCM7, GCM9),  including 2 commanders (GCM8), and would like to have another 3 sets including the command set.  I have a large number of Askaris (GC5, GC6, GC6a, GC9) and Asia Corps types in peaked cap (feldmutze) (GC2 and GC2a) that will be useful for East Africa/ the Middle East.

What I still do not have nearly enough of, and would dearly like to acquire, are HLBS Schutztruppen or Marines in pith helmets and tropenhelms (GC3, GC3a, GC4, GC48, GC8), and Schutztruppen mounted on camels (GCM1, GCM2, GCM3, GCM4 or GCM5).  

I will gladly acquire individual figures or entire collections in this range, painted or unpainted.  Message me in the comments if interested and I'll make you a good offer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Osona Scenario Development - Armored Trains and Herero Rifles in 1904 (Part III)

Osona gameboard
Armored Trains and Herero Rifles at Osona Skirmish
Here is a work in progress: the main elements of a scenario I'm designing to wargame Leutnant Voigts' Maschinengewehr Expedition by train to relieve Okahandja on January 13, 1904 and the fight near Osona station.

For scale, the train bridge over the dry Swakop River on the base map at left is 16" on a 3' x 4' table.  There is dense bush near the river on both sides and the cliffs to the East are as steep as those at Otjosongombe described in the Jones/Alvarado Herero Wars Scenario and Rules Book (which forms the basis for the modified rules used for this scenario). The river banks are steep as well.  The stone house near the North edge of the board belongs to Herero Councillor Barnabas.

When play begins there are 3 Schutztruppen scouts in the riverbed at the bridge led by Unteroffizier Bahrs. The rest of the Germans have entered from the South with the train and are repairing the rails at the south end of the bridge.  The Germans have one pair of Zwillinge (twin) locomotive engines pushing from the rear served by two white engineers and two native train crew.  In front of the engines are a water tender and two open cars reenforced with sandbags.  The second car has a machine gun served by 3 men.   The train can be used as excellent cover for men on the far side but must stand still or move slowly.  The machine gun is vulnerable to fire from above if the train stands still. 

Lt. Gustaf Voigts was a resourceful officer and has multizug leadership abilities under the Herero Wars Scenario and Rulebook rules.  He has 28 Schutztruppen on the train in addition to the machine gun crew at the train and enough officers (Lt. Maul, Lt. Boysen and Deckoffizier  Uhlmann) to field 4 Schutztruppe Zuge.   Some of these, however, are needed as laborers assisting noncombatants Eisenbahn-Direktor Henning, Senior Mail Clerk Bartoschad and Postman Wolter with repairing the track and telegraph lines.

The German objective is to repair any breaks in the line or wires and advance off the Board at the north end with the train.  The yoke rails have been repaired at the south end of the bridge when play begins.  They can earn points by repairing track and telegraph wire, clearing any derailed cars, and killing Hereros and Herero leaders.

The Hereros have 8 horsemen who are scouting downriver of the Bridge when play begins, four 8-man Zuge concealed in the dense thorns north of the bridge, and four more Zuge concealed on the cliffs to the East.   There are two more Herero Zug that enter from the NW in turn 3 with Samuel Maherero himself.   Accounts vary as to their actual numbers and for game balance I've kept them lower than the Germans estimated.  We do not know who lead them, but candidates include Ouandja, who was at Okahandja, and both Assa Riarua and Samuel Maharero who were both at their hilltop refuge at Osona (not the station where the action took place but 20K sw of Okahandja.  At the actual fight, the rails had all been disabled when the Germans reached each section (derailing the lead car the final time).  In this scenario, the Germans can discover that the rails north of the bridge are disabled if they scout north of the bridge before the train crosses.  Otherwise the lead car risks derailing and the Germans will have to try to push it over off the embankment and clear the tracks before they can proceed with repairs and advance.  The yoke rails have been removed on the north side of the bridge and the Hereros can disable two more sections of track if they are not interrupted (in the dense thorns north of the bridge and opposite the stone house).  It takes 2 Herero Zuge to remove a section of track each turn and two German Zuge to repair it or overturn a train car.  The Hereros will start to remove rails under cover of the dense thorns closer to the bridge in Turn 1 and will only break off if attacked.

The Herero objective is to drive off the Germans and prevent the train from passing on to Okahandja.   They can earn points by disabling track, killing the train crew and killing Germans.  German wounded rules apply. 
I'm working on rules for train speed, spotting broken track and derailments.  Ideas welcome.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"It was nearly by a hair that we weren't all killed." - Armored Trains & Herero Rifles in 1904 (Part II)

Detail from Blatt Windhuk, Kriegskarte von Deutsch-Südwestafrika
showing railway line and stations between Winkhuk and Okahandja
In Okahandja during the first weeks of 1904, tensions between the settler community in Deutsch-Südwestafrika and the indigenous Herero people had reached the crisis stage.  On January 11th, Distrikstchef Leutnant Zürn placed a panicky telephone call to headquarters in Windhuk believing that a revolt was imminent, if not already underway.  In response, a train left Windhuk for Okahandja carrying 20 soldiers led by Bergrat Duft, who hoped to negotiate with the Hereros.  Although this train arrived later that afternoon without incident, this proved to be the last time the line would be open for more than a week.  Armed Herero fighters soon surrounded Okahandja and attacked isolated farms throughout the district.

With Governor Leutwein and most of the regular Schutztruppe units far away to the South responding to the Bondalswart uprising that began the previous October, the nearest relief forces were reservists from Windhuk and regular Schutztruppen based in Swakopmund under Oberleutnant Theodor Kurt Hartwig von Zülow.

Conrad Rust's Krieg und Frieden im Hereroland (1905)  provides the most complete account of the first patrols and skirmishes along the railway attempting to reestablish contact with Okahandja from both ends of the line.  Other reports, including the official Generalstab History of the war, are quite brief and pass over many of the details needed to develop a more complete tactical understanding of these engagements.  They also tend to conflate several railroad episodes that took place near Okahandja on January 12th and 13th, and even confuse casualties from other contemporary events with those who fell during these railway actions. 

This post summarizes the opening skirmish on the outskirts of Okahandja on January 12th, and the sharper fight the next day on January 13th beyond the Swakop Bridge.  It is based on my translation of the relevant pages in Rust (pgs. 153 - 156), supplemented where indicated by other contemporary documentation. It describes what happened when reserves from the depleted Windhuk garrison attempted to reach Okahandja by rail.  A subsequent post will address von Zülow's effort to secure the railway from Swakopmund.

Leutnants Voigts and Maul and Deckoffizier Uhlmann, with Schutztruppen
(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)
On January 11th, a seven-man detachment left Windhoek for Brakwater Station under the command of Leutnant der Landwehr Gustav Voigts.  Leutnant Voigts was a prosperous trader whose business continues today in modern Namibia  as the family-owned Wecke & Voigts department store chain.  Leutnant Voigts summarized the fighting on January 13th in a brief letter to his brother Albert:

"Ich wurde am 13. Januar gegen Okahandja vorgeschickt, um das Maschinengewehr hineinzubringen mit den Reserve leutnants Maul, Boysen, [Director] Henning, Bartotschat und etwa 30 Mann. Bei dem Missionshause waren 60 Meter Schienen ausgerissen, die ich reparieren sollte – ich hatte das Kommando. Aber zwischen Viehe und Barnabas-Klippen faßten mich mehrere hundert Hereros derart hart an mit meinen wenigen Leuten, daß wir um ein Haar fast alle kaput waren. Leider blieb der junge Boysen mit vier Mann und zwei Maschinisten im Feuer."

"I was sent forward on 13 January against Okahandja bringing a machine gun together with Reserve Lieutenants Maul & Boysen, [Director] Henning, Bartotschat and about 30 men. By the Mission House 60 meters of track were torn that I should repair - I was in command. But between Viehe and Barnabas Cliffs I found several hundred Herero who pressed so hard on with my few people that it was nearly by a hair that we weren't all killed. Unfortunately, the young Boysen with four men and two machinists was killed in the fire." (translation mine).

Voigts' letter establishes that he was the senior officer during this engagement and pinpoints the general location of the fiercest fighting, but a carefully reading of Rust reveals that there were actually two engagements, at least two train engines, and several German detachments that came together prior to the second, fiercer combat as Voigts and his force approached "Barnabas Cliffs".

Brakwater bahnstation
According to Rust's account, early on January 12th Leutnant Voigts received a telegraph from Windhuk informing him that the wire had been cut at Okanhandja and that Waffenmeister (Armorer) Trampaneau was heading to Okahandja by train with a machine gun and a seven-man detail to repair the wires.  Learning that Leutnant der Reserve Maul  was also on his way to relieve him at Brakwater with a six-man detachment,  Leutnant Voigts and his men saddled up and headed out to secure the line towards Teufelsbach, using the railway, according to Rust, "als Reitweg" (as a bridle path).

Reaching Teufelsbach at 3 o'clock that afternoon, Leutnant Voigts learned from the local inhabitants that"die Weißen sein mit dem Zuge, aus dem sich mit das Maschinengewehr befand, sämtlich nach Okahandja gefahren" (the Whites, together with the train and the machine gun, all went to Okahandja).  A mile further down the track he encountered Waffenmeister Trampaneau coming back with the train and quite a tale to tell. 

Having reached the outskirts of Okahandja, Waffenmeister Trampaneau's train hit a section of torn up track, sending "der erste Wagen" (the first car) off the rails into the sand.  While attempting to repair the rails, Trampaneu's detail came under heavy fire from Hereros concealed in the town.  The machine gun expended more than 2,000 rounds of suppressing fire "eine gute Wirkung" (to good effect), but the Herero gunfire increased in intensity.   After four of his seven men had been wounded, Trampaneau extricated his battered force and retreated with the train, though probably not with that upset first car.  How was that possible?

The best explanation is that that the train actually approached Okahandja in reverse.  If so, then what Rust reported as the "first car" was in fact the last in line and the first to enter.  That is certainly the position of the train during the second attempt to reach Okahandja by rail, as is discussed below.  Quite possibly the train had twin or zwillinge locomotives, coupled end to end to facilitate transitioning from forward to reverse using just a single engine crew. This was the most common configuration for feldbahn engines in use on the Swakopmund-Windhuk line. 

One of the Boysen family is on the horse at left. It is probably Leutnant Boysen's father, but if it is actually the son, this  may have been taken shortly before he lead his reënforcements toward Okahandja, possibly even that very day.
(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)
Back at Teufelsbach, Leutnant Voigts reported these developments by telegraph to Windhuk.  He learned that a strong reënforcement was on the way by train.  This force of twenty-one men was commanded by Leutnant der Reserve Raimund (Reimund) Boysen, who had settled in the colony with his parents after serving in 1899 as a one-year volunteer and became in the Schutztruppe.  He was,  like Voigts, a merchant and farmer as well as a reserve officer.  Boysen had twenty-one soldiers with him, along with Railroad Director (Eisenbahn-Direktor) Henning, Senior Mail Clerk (Oberpostsekretär) Bartoschad and Postman (Postbeamte) Wolter, who were sent to repair the tracks and communications with Okahandja.  The train included two open provision cars, with the sacks stacked up along the inside walls of the cars to provide cover.  Leutnant Boysen's train would reach Teufelsbach at 7 o'clock that evening.

Leutnant Maul also reported that he was now on his way from Brakwater with his six-man force.  The night, says Rust, was pitch dark and rainy ("regnerisch und stocksinster") and it took Leutant Maul six hours to travel the short distance between Brakwater and Otjihavera Station, at which point the Germans left their fatigued horses and went on toward Teufelsbach on foot.

The second or Okahandja bridge (Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)
Voigts understood from past experience that there Hereros were likely to occupy the granite hills near the rail line to the south of Okahandja, and that these offered additional cover to Herero Councillor Barnabas' massive stone house on the outskirts of the settlement that could easily be fortified and defended by the besiegers.  The key to relieving Okahandja was to prevent this from happening and to do that, the line needed to be secured.

At midnight, January 13, Leutnant Voigts send Unteroffizier Bahrs and two men to scout the railway line in the direction of Okahandja and determine whether the tracks were in order.  Leutnant Maul had still not arrived by 3 o'clock in the morning when Leutnant Voigts decided to follow the scouts by train with his strengthened force. It was still very dark and the train moved very slowly. 

As they approached the first (160m long) bridge over the dry, ephemeral Swakop river, one of Unteroffizier Bahrs' men came back and reported that the connecting rails on the near or South side of the bridge had been pulled up.  The train reached the site of the damage at 6:30 in the morning, when the men discovered that not only the rails but the telegraph wire and rods as well had been heavily damaged.  The Hereros evidently took these steps after the fight with Waffenmeister Trampaneau's train on January 12th which had been able to pass over the rails the previous afternoon.

Detail from Blatt Winhuk, Kriegskarte von Deutsch-Südwestafrika.
Osona, shown to the West of the rail line, refers to a hill 20 km SW of Okahandja,
not to Osona Station which was a short way beyond the Swakop Bridge

Leutnant Voigts sent six flankers out into the riverbed to either side of the bridge and across toward the far shore where they found the connecting rails had been torn up and removed a considerable distance away.  They could see a few Hereros also, withdrawing deeper into the bush   A few distant shots came from the direction of Okahandja, and they learned from Unteroffizier Bahrs that there had been heavy firing in the town all through the night.  Herero horsemen also appeared in the riverbed in the distance.

Oberpostsekretär Bartoschad attached a telephone to the damaged wire and reestablished contact with Windhuk.  Because the track proved to be more severely damaged than had been previously thought, Direktor Henning odered up an engine car with replacement track yokes from Teufelsbach.  The engine that brought these supplies forward also carried Leutnant Maul and his half dozen men.  The rails were reconnected at the South end of the bridge and the train with the machine gun started across at a slow pace so the six flankers could make use of it for cover.

Machine gun emplacement with a low barrier of sacks
(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)
There was dense bush on the far side, and as the engine entered the thickets it came under brief but heavy fire from up ahead, though this was quickly silenced when the machine gun came into action.  Reports from Okahandja later stated that machine gun firing was heard at 9:30 coming from the direction of Osona (station), which helps to establish when the fighting began along the rail line.As the train approached the granite cliffs that came near the track, it once again came under brisk attack by Hereros firing from good cover above.  Ten more rails had been removed at this point and the train could not proceed until these had been repaired.  It was going to be very hard work under enemy fire, but Leutnant Boysen had brought with him instructions from Windhuk that the work parties must advance and repairs go forward under all circumstances.  

The train slowed.  Those in charge intended to bring the train as close as possible to the place where the rails had been removed since the replacements were so heavy.  The signal of the platoon leaders was heard but the engine failed to stop in time, and three axles of the first carriage went of the tracks so that only one remained on the rails.  The situation was critical and the Hereros took advantage of the situation and to increase their fireThe Germans hurriedly brought out the machine gun and 18,000 cartridges in the second car, piling sacks of rice from the first car around it to provide hasty protection

To make the line free, there was nothing for it but to quickly decouple the derailed first car and heave it over the embankment.  This was a piece of work, says Rust, that proved to be "schwierig als gefährlich" (as difficult as it was dangerous), and it took three attempts under heavy fire for a combined effort to overturn the car.

Rust reports that the Hereros responded to the disorder on the tracks with "Größerem Wagemut" (greater daring).  Just how many Herero fighters were involved at this point is not known beyond Voigt's estimate of "several hundred", nor is it clear who led them.  Samuel Maharero was not in Okahanda at this time but instead gathered with hundreds of armed supporters at Osona, a defendable hilltop 20 kilometers to the Southwest of the settlement.  This put them well in range of the action on the rail line on January 13th that the Germans came to call Osona because Osona Station was a short distance further down the tracks.  Samuel would later write; "Here in Okahandja we have fought three times with the machines and I won", a statement that historian Jan-Bart Gewald believes refers to separate engagements against German trains.  Whether the paramount chief as actually in command during these actions is not clear.  He very well could have been, but he had many of his Councillors with him at Osona and some of these were excellent war leaders.

The German leaders at this point, including Leuntants Voigts, Maul and Boysen, Deckoffizier Uhlmann and Direcktor Henning, were on either side of the railway line in the riverbed.  The enemy fire came from the Viehe house about 250 meters ahead and also rattled down from the hilltops above.  Leutant Voigts ordered the machine gun in the second car to come into action but it remained silent.  The weaponmaster reported that despite the rail car being well entrenched, it was impossible to bring the machine gun into position while it was under heavy fire.  Going back down the track, however, was going to be difficult, for by this time the train crew was taking heavy casualties.  One locomotive operator (
Phillip Fackert) was dead, and the second (Maschinenführer Feldmann) severely wounded.  Rust makes it clear that Voigts went to the rear to confirm this was the case, proof that the train had approached Okahandja with the locomotive(s) behind.

The situation deteriorated by the second as the Hereros moved closer.  Leutant Voights gave the order to give covering fire and slowly move the train back down the track.  Getting the train in motion had little success. "Unter Wutgeheul" (with a furious howl) the Hereros sprang forward to within 30 paces.  Voigts yelled; "Alle Mann zu den Wagen!  Maschine schneller rückwärts!" (All men back in the carriages! Engine quickly to the rear!). 

It was very difficult both to save the machine gun and its ammunition and provide cover for the soldiers returning on the train, the Hereros all the while converging in a closing ring.  German reports from Okahandja also mention that "Gegen 12 Uhr arbeitet das maschinengewehr nur kurz und unregelmäßig" (at 12 O'Clock the machine gun operated but it was brief and irregular firing).  It seems that the machine gun attempted to give cover as the train withdrew, and that three hours had elapsed between the first shots and the last.  It does not appear to have jammed  but rather that the Germans were only able to bring it to bear as they were coming and going and not when the train was stationary.

Getting the train moving quickly was easier said than done, because one engine had a dead operator and
Maschinenführer Feldmann who drove the other was almost unfit for service because of his wound.  These were twin or zwillinge engines, coupled cab to cab, and could therefore be driven by a single operator.  The Germans were lucky that on this day they had two drivers, because without them they would have been stranded, without horses, and surrounded by well concealed enemies.  As it was, they took significant casualties extricating the train.

Finally, the engine started going faster - almost too fast for the soldiers who were still trying to get on board. A native member of the train crew seems to have opened the steam valve too far.  Rust wrote that "nicht alle die mann auf den Zuge zurückerwartete, trafen ein." (not all the men who were expected were met back on the train) and gives the names of five men among the missing who soon proved to be among the fallen.  Whether they were left behind, or were shot down prior to withdrawal, is not clear from his account.
A pair of twin or zwillinge 0-6-0 engines and carriages in front of the Boysen & Wullf Co. store in Windhuk
(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)
The dead soldiers were Leutnant Reimund Boysen, Unteroffizier Paech (who came to the Schutztruppe from Ulan Regiment No. 1),  Gefreiters August Rudolph and Josef Zülot (both builders) and Reiter Wilhelm Gerwinsky (a Magazin-Aufseher or Magazine Supervisor). Herero losses are unknown, but were likely very slight given that they fired from concealment and from above the stranded train.

After withdrawing about 1500 meters, the train slowed, and the Germans considered making another attempt to press forward.  After cafeful consideration, they concluded the risks were too great and withdrew back toward Windhuk.

"Der Feind erwies sich als übermächtig" says Rust succinctly; "The enemy proved to be overpowering."  He concludes;
"Die Maschinengewehr=Expedition schnitt schlecht ab.  Aber es hätte noch ärger kommen können." 

"The Machinegun-Expedition faired poorly.  But it could have been worse."