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Enemy Commanders: Britain's Greatest FoesEnemy Commanders: Britain's Greatest Foes


Bill Cainan
28 February 2012, 1.44pm

He led the greatest single

He led the greatest single guerilla operation in history.

1 March 2012, 9.28am

In South African military

In South African military history he holds a place akin to Robert E Lee in the USA. Considered a fine soldier who regretably fought for the "wrong side".

David Cohen
1 March 2012, 3.53pm

No doubt a most capable

No doubt a most capable adversary - unbeaten - he has my vote.

8 March 2012, 9.41pm

After listening to a recent

After listening to a recent podcast on Lettow-Vorbeck he seems the kind of character that we Brits think we had patented. Dashing, honourable, an excellent commander with a strong sense of loyalty to the native troops under his command. He also is reputed to have told Hitler to go 'f*** himself' when asked to return to service.

George Barry
9 March 2012, 11.33pm

A Brilliant leader and worthy

A Brilliant leader and worthy opponent!

20 March 2012, 1.11pm

Unbeaten and surrendered on

Unbeaten and surrendered on enemy territory post Armistice.....

20 March 2012, 3.09pm

An astonishing commander.

An astonishing commander. Read "Battle of the Bundu" for a splendid description of his exploits

24 March 2012, 12.19pm

Despite my great admiration

Despite my great admiration for such great military leaders as Collins and Botha, my vote has to go to von Lettow-Vorbeck. I agree that 'Battle for the Bundu' is a very good read, but 'Tip and Run, by Edward Paice (Orion Publishing: 2007) is also excellent - and is more comprehensive.

John Hoare
29 March 2012, 6.13pm

My sentiment would favour

My sentiment would favour Collins or Washington but in terms of both the odds he faced and the success he achieved with the very limited forces under his command von Lettow-Vorbeck has to be the winner hands down. Probably the best guerilla warfare commander of all time.

daantjie vorbeck
12 November 2013, 9.09pm

I'm proud to have the same

I'm proud to have the same surname.

Broderick Ailts
3 March 2014, 3.22am

I can trace my ancestry to

I can trace my ancestry to this gentleman and I'm pleased to be a relative. Mother's maiden name is Lettow.

Gerald Rilling
9 June 2014, 5.04am

The Article and comments are

The Article and comments are generally correct; but there are couple of corrections (1. The British sent an active soldier with a white flag with word of the end of the war on 13 Nov. The message got back to Lettow & he met with the British officers on the 14th. There were cables back & forth to Germany & Lettow agreed to surrender. The British did not have the necessary men, etc. & they move the official surrender to the 25th much closer to Lake Tanganyika & easier transport. 2. Lettow made the comment to Hitler when he was offered the job as Ambassador to England.) There is a Great War in Africa Association that covers the campaign. My bibliography is in excess of 1,200 significant titles. I have been in contact with Lettow's daughters & was able to publish the 1st English translation of his autobiography 'My Life'.

Paul Herbert
19 July 2014, 7.40pm

I have met Gen.von Lettow

I have met Gen.von Lettow Vorbeck, when I was a boy scout in 1954, on a summer camp at the Baltic sea near KIel at the Howacht beach. We the young boys were deeply impressed about the General and his charisma. He spoke to us about his time in the African war. He
spoke about the soldiers of the other side with high respect - a real gentleman. I still see see him in the evening at the camp - fire on the beach. I will never forget him, and give him my saluts, from soldier to soldier. Herbert Paul, Capt. rtd. German army

john t bannon
15 December 2014, 11.04pm

My grandfather RSM John T

My grandfather RSM John T Bannon DCM, 1/4 KAR (1916-18) and Royal Irish Rifles wrote a 32 page account of his service in Uganda, German East Africa, Portuguese East Africa and NE Rhodesia (Zambia). He fought in the final WW1 scrap/battle "into like hell" against Gen. Lettow Vorbeck's main body (at Kassama/River Chambesi (in present day NE Zambia) on (Armistice Day) 11 Nov. 1918. "At 6-30 pm on 12th November, 1918, we retired....The following day...the ground was littered with dead."

His account ties with that of the General i.e., "Some time later I was making an inspection of our picquets reported to me that a white man on a motor cycle carrying a white flag had passed along the road going in the direction of the Huns camp. we did not know what to think of this.....we then decided at about 2-30pm on the 14th November, 1918, to again attack the Huns, and we moved out again onto the Kasama road., but when we reached the road to our further surprise we met two German askaris with a large white flag with a message to our commanding officer that the war was over...on the 15th November, 1918, I was chosen to go into Kasama to the German camp and take over all allied prisoners [including Col. Richardaon who had expressed his admiration for Vorbeck during three month's travels/travails as his prisoner].

Zacharia Hans Poppe
20 June 2015, 3.30pm

My grandfather Oberst Max von

My grandfather Oberst Max von Poppe fought under Gen von Lettow Vorbeck and he has written memoirs in German that I have in my possession. I hope to have them published one day and may shed more light on that part of history.

5 July 2015, 2.22am

Dear Zacharia Hans Poppe It

Dear Zacharia Hans Poppe

It would be wonderful to share the diary records of our respective grandfathers. Gen. Lettow Vorbeck wrote (in english translation of his erinnenen/reminiscences, at page 295, about your grandfather who led two companies and severely wounded in the chest when engaging (1/4 KAR) who were attacked also by Goering's detachment which simultaneously attacked from the North. This incident occurred on 30 August 1918 on the march from Regone to Lioma in PEA/Mozambique ----located in northern Zambezia province close to Maua in southern part of Niassa province.

My grandfather wrote (90 years ago) that his 1/4 KAR joined up with 1/1 KAR, 2/4 KAR, 3/4 KAR and the RNR at Regone on 28 August 1918 and set out to attack the main body (of the Schuetztruppe. however L-Vorbeck had just moved the main body , leaving a small party to fight a rear-guard action. On 29 August the KAR marched six miles. On the 30 August "we caught up with and engaged mostly rear-guard" [IT IS QUITE LIKELY THAT BOTH GRANDFATHERS FOUGHT AGAINST EACH OTHER THAT DAY]. On the 31 August the KAR marched 12 miles "still in touch with the Huns."

He describes more fights/skirmishes during the first week of September. On the 8 September they continued pursuing the Schuetztruppe and having marched 17 miles that day they camped. They were putting up pickets when they were attacked by machine gun fire and "wounding quite a few."

On 9 September the KAR continued the pursuit keeping in touch with the Germans on the Maua Road, but did not engage.They reached the Mskesi River after marching 17 miles that day. On the 10 and 11 September they marched a total of 28 miles to Maua and remained there until 16 September. on 18 September they arrived at Kanind/Kanine. The KAR attacks on the Schuetztruppe ceased as they headed by mid-September north through western part of Niassa province to the Rovumma river and GEA.

The KAR marched back to Fort Johnston near the southern shore of Lake Nyasa for one week's rest prior to being shipped to the northern shore to Alt. Langenburg, and thence marched over the Livingstone Range to arrive on 14 October 1918 at Tandala to re-engage L-Vorbeck's long column----and finally to Kajambi and Kasama north of the Chambesi River by 12 November 1918.

I also am working on a book about my grandfather's role in East Africa, and in Ireland.

Piotr Letowt-Vorbek
8 February 2016, 7.55pm

I am from the last Polish

I am from the last Polish Lettow family. From eastern Pomerania we moved to Belgium (van Lettows) and Elbing (now Elbląg in Poland) and in 1593 to Vilnius in Lithuania. For many years I have been working on family history and genealogy of this old pomerainan nobility. The Polish National Anthem "Mazurek Dombrowskiego" is closely connected to Maria-Zofia de Lettow-Vorbek - the mother of that national hero of Poland. In today's Warsaw there is no monument or street in Warsaw called this name.

Gen. Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck had his family estate in western Pomerania, near town Węgorzyno but, by marriage was lost to our cousins von Bismarks and von Puttkamers (too connected with Africa).

derek dutton
23 February 2016, 5.21am

A snide article suggests

A snide article suggests Vorbeck was lucky and criticises the loss of life he caused and to the economy. It was nothing to the loss of life in Europe. He was trained soldier and carried out his duty. He was so admired by his enemies South Africa arranged pension for him after WW2. Hearing he and wife were in dire straights. His visit to Dar-es-Salaam had his old African Schutztruppe ecstatic.

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