First World War CentennialFirst World War Centennial

Battle of Tanga

The Battle of Tanga took place between November 3 and November 5 at Tanga, German East Africa. It was the first major battle in Africa during the First World War. British forces, under Major General Arthur Aitken, made an amphibious landing on November 3, and marched on Tanga the next day. The result was a disaster for the British. German Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck had reinforced the defences of Tanga. Even though he was outnumbered by a ratio of 8 to 1, many of the Indian troops used by the British were raw and poorly trained and were routed by the Germans and Askaris. It didn't help that the British 98th Infantry was beset by a swarm of bees. The British withdrew, leaving large amounts of materiel that von Lettow-Vorbeck would later put to use against them. On November 5, the British sent Richard Meinertzhagen to Tanga to negotiate a surrender. In the battle, the British had sustained around 1,000 casualties, as compared with around 150 for the Germans.