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1917: January 17
Hippo in African battle
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.
An Ulster ‘Soldier’s Song’
We have received the following verses from a soldier serving at the front with the 36 th (Ulster)
Division who writes : ‘Enclosed find a few verses which I trust you will consider worthy of publication. It is my tribute to the memory of one who, though mistaken in his policy, was one of Ireland’s most intellectual sons ... As this tribute comes from one who belongs to the Ulster Division, I trust it will coincide with the change of outlook which should come to every Irishman as a result of this terrible catastrophe (the Dublin Rising).
‘Oh, Erin, my country, I think now of thee, And long for your beauty wherever I be; Thy mountains and rivers and valleys so fair, Thine own little emblem the Shamrock so rare. Your history has sure been a history of tears,
Thy people divided by doubts and by fears; Distrust and oppression by lot in the past All yearnings for freedom by might overcast. When the halo of glory was shed round they name, And ‘Erin go Bragh’ was the pathway to fame,
The deeds of thy soldiers will light up the soul Of the people of Erin to strive for the goal. Oh people of Ireland! The dawn is now here, The era of freedom today draws near, So bury the past, relegate all your dread
To the graves of misrule, now filled with its dead. Signed: HM