On This Day: Hippopotamus joins in World War One battle
January 17, 1917
The Press Association’s special correspondent with the British forces in East Africa wires:
Following on the dislodgement of the enemy along the Tulo front on January 1 st , General Dyke joined hands with General Lyall at the Boho-Mahinda junction roads and together they pursued the enemy south.
The Germans fought their customary series of obstinate rearguard actions in one of which Captain Selous was killed while pluckily leading the Fusiliers and the Frontiersmen.
The road borders the Tagalela Lake which was full of hippopotamus, gambolling in the waters.
The enemy appeared to have taken up a position on an old German bridge. Consequently, General Sheppard moved his men under cover of darkness across the river in small boats.
The crossing continued uninterruptedly except that the hippopotamuses attacked one of the boats which the men defended with their bayonets.
The crossing continued through the night but on the morning of January 7 the enemy, who had been reinforced, attacked vigorously, subjecting the boats to shell and machine-gun fire.