Novelist: Hans Heuer

Little seems to be known about the writer Hans Heuer. Hans was his author name, his official name being Willi Karl Otto Heuer.

1895 – 28 September born in Magdeburg
1930s – lived Berlin
1970 – 31 December died in Berlin

WW1 Books

1935 – Malumba. Mutter aller Mütter (novel on Tom von Prince and his wife Magdelena, nicknamed Malumba – mother of all mothers)
1940 – Ein Mann erobert Deutsch-Ost – not quite WW1 but tells of the life of Hermann von Wissmann (during WW1, a boat of this name played a part on Lake Tanganyika).


Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon – Das 20 Jahrhundert (Lutz Hagerstedt & von Wilhelm Kosch, published by de Gruyter)
Deutschtum im Ausland vol 19 1936, p884
Das Deutsche Koloniale jahrbuch, 1937, p148

Sailings Cape Town to England 1914

The following is extracted from WO 25/3696 (UK National Archives) being ships which sailed from Cape Town to England at the start of the war. Mostly they carried Imperial Garrison forces which had been relieved by the Union Government offering to take over defence of South Africa so the British forces could help the imperial power in its struggle. 

A few ‘indulgence’ names are recorded on the registers, invariably wives and children returning to England. However, it does not appear that South Africans travelling to Britain to enlist there were included in these lists, nor men those of the Royal Navy units being transported between ports. Where these names are recorded is yet to be identified.

22 Aug 1914 – 21 Sep 1914 – Kenilworth Castle to Southampton

23 Aug 1914 – 19 Sep 1914 – RMS Brittan to Southampton (? Sailed 27 Aug 1914)

26 Aug 1914 – 19 Sep 1914 – Guilford Castle to Southampton

27 Aug 1914 – 19 Sep 1914 – Goorka with Reservists to Southampton

3 Sep 1914 – 28 Sep 1914 – SS Ingoma to Southampton

20 Sep 1914 – 1 Oct 1914 – Garth Castle to Southampton

28 Sep 1914 – 20 Oct 1914 – Dover Castle to Southampton

29 Sep 1914 – 30 Oct 1914 – Kinfaus Castle to Southampton

21 Oct 1914 – 20 Nov 1914 – Balmoral Castle to Southampton

24 Oct 1914 – 13 Nov 1914 – Llandovery Castle to Southampton

9 Nov 1914 – 27 Nov 1914 – SS Britain to Southampton

The Union Castle line starts using Tilbury instead of Southampton

14 Nov 1914 – 2 Dec 1914 – Walmer Castle to Tilbury

20 Nov 1914 – 10 Dec 1914 – Durham Castle to Tilbury

See more about Tilbury Docks at – and specifically about WW1at:

It is from Tilbury that the Sopworth planes to track down Konigsberg leave and in 1915, the crew of the Lake Tanganyika Expedition.

Union Castle Line made ships available to the British Government for transport, also hospital…

Galway Castle sunk by torpedo on route to SA in 1918

Review: Battle for Hurungwe – John Padbury

Battle for Hurungwe by John Padbury is not about WW1, but rather an account of John’s involvement in the Zimbabwean civil war of 1965-1979 as part of Special Branch. 

It’s not the typical ‘bush war’ type book detailing battles and engagements. Instead it traces the evolution of a group of white men who saw the cause they were employed to protect being one of ultimate destruction and that the way forward to a better future for all was to work and live together. 

Using Mao’s Little Red Book, John discerned the thinking behind communism and used the same methods against the ‘terrorists’. A policy which bore positive results in the area of Hurungwe until politics denied Bishop Muzorewa an African solution to the struggle and the situation dissolved into a different violence.

This is a detailed, meticulously referenced book, verified by independent research conducted by Joshua Chakawa. In a few places, clearly annotated, the names and identities of individuals have been changed to ensure their and their families’ safety. Numerous maps, reports, air logs and photos are included. Apart from the strategies and tactics employed, John also covers the role of the Viscount plane shot down. 

What appeals with this account is the striving for peace within the armed struggle – changing minds and building trust in the face of counter-propaganda is no easy task. The book contains a blue-print to help bring other conflicts to a win-win conclusion. A point summed up in ‘politics is war without bloodshed; war is politics with bloodshed’ – and as Kitchener discovered, all the progress that soldiers make towards peace is so often undone by politicians. And for politicians wanting an insight to what they have to overcome, perhaps a reading (and intellectual digestion) of The Challenge for Africa by Wangari Maathai might help.

Currency issues

Without getting into the ongoing debate of Britain’s relationship with Europe, I was intrigued to read on 24 April 1919 of a suggestion to introduce “an international note of currency”. Its purpose would be “to supply the credit which will pay for food, raw materials – not to speak of reparations! Two birds with one stone.” 

The one bird being finance, the other linking people/countries together as a means to maintain peace. (Smuts papers iv, p127). This tied in with the idea behind the League of Nations, the single currency idea being put forward by Keynes and backed by Smuts.

So often, we see rates of pay, income, salaries and costs stated without any context. This is fine when working in a single currency at a particular time, but it can cause problems working cross-culturally and over time.

Over the years I’ve been researching the First World War in Africa, I’ve come to realise that there were different currencies in operation in the same East African theatre: the Indian rupee in the north as it was the main currency in British East Africa (Kenya) and the shilling in the south, as used in Nyasaland (Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). The Germans had their own currency too. What is therefore helpful in books mentioning rates of pay etc, is the comparative such as Sana Aiyar notes in Indians in Kenya. In the 1920s when the currency was changed from the rupee to the East African shilling, the income level of black Africans effectively reduced by 33%. The rate of pay was not changed but the cost of living increased based on the exchange rate of the new currency.

In 1915, the hut tax in BEA was 3 rupees 5, increased in 1920 to no more than 10 rupees each.  At that time, the rupee exchanged at R1,500 to £100, ie 1 rupee 4 was the equivalent of 1 shilling. With the new currency, the exchange dropped to R1,000 to £100 (pp86-90, Indians in Kenya). In Chiwaya War Voices, covering the experiences of Nyasalanders in the war, hut tax was between 2.5s and 6s.

Some years ago, I came across this little site ( which measures the purchasing power of the British pound since 1270. It’s quite sobering. Taking 3s as the most commonly quoted hut tax charge in war-time Nyasaland, today it would be the equivalent of £12.29 or £108.20 depending on what you take into consideration. So, if we take the BEA hut tax as equating to 4 shillings, this equated to £16.39 or £144.20. What we need to know for both, however, is what their respective earnings were. The Nyasalander soldier was paid £1 1s 4d = £87.42 or £769.40. One assumes this was per month.

Concerning West African currency during the war years, Bamidele Aly explores the monetary policy and introduction of bank notes in Southern Nigeria in 1916 in There Came a Time.

If nothing else, a single currency would make historians’ lives easier when it comes to comparing standards of living and other such factors.

Novelist – CS Forester

Forester’s most well-known World War One story is The African Queen, the film rather than the book. I’ve written on this before, there being numerous versions of the story with the book having more on the actual campaign than the film. His only book on World War 1 Africa is The African Queen inspired by a poster he saw in a London tube station after his agent pressured him to write something again. The events he writes about in the book happened when he was 16 years old.

The film released in 1964 has its own story to tell. Katherine Hepburn wrote of her experiences of the filming in The Making of the African Queen or How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost my Mind (and I see there’s a Youtube version too). And in case you weren’t aware there is another book and film of the time leading up to the making of The African Queen. This by Peter Viertel who tidied up the script of the film and tried to keep Huston on the straight and narrow. His account in both film and book are under the title White Hunter, Black Heart. Interestingly, in neither Hepburn nor Viertel’s account does CS Forester feature.

1899 – Born, 27 August in Cairo, Egypt
1921 – starts writing, using pen name of Cecil Scott Forester rather than his birth name Cecil Louis Troughton Smith
1924 – First novel published A pawn among kings
1926 – married
1935 – Published The African Queen
1945 – divorced
1947 – married
1951 – Film The African Queen released
1966 – Died, 2 April in California

Books on World War 1

The African Queen (1935)


The CS Forester Society
Wikipedia – for a clear layout of publications and dates