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East Africa Mounted Rifles KIA group

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Hello all,

I am currently researching medals that belonged to:

115 Private William Joseph BELLASIS, East Africa Mounted Rifles (Bowker's Horse).

William died in action at Longido Hill, Kenya, on 3rd November 1914, age 29. He is buried in collective grave 8.E. 6-13 in Dar-es-Salaam War Cemetery.

His brother Richard Fauconberg BELLASIS served as Private (690) in the same unit and was later commissioned as a Lieutenant, he was twice MID. Richard was Gold Staff Officer at the Coronation of King George VI. He finished Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall. Worked in Asutralia mines and then followed William to Kenya. After the war he settled in Kenya, at Rioki near Kiambu, where he bhought 500 acres of land.

Next brother Captain Philip Joseph BELLASIS was KIA 24th August 1916, serving with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry.

His half brother served as an officer too and were KIA; Captain Chearles Antoine De Guerry Dalgish - 1st Battalion, Black Watch, died on 8th September 1914 age 23.

Now, back to William.

He born 17th December 1884 in Kensington, Middlesex, UK. His father was William Dalgish-Bellasis and mother Mary Walmseley. Looks like father was only parent to him because Mary died 1888. So, that's explain as well half brother Cheales well.

William father held the office of Justice of the Peace (JP) and he was related to the Sir George Orby Wombwell, 4th Baronet (he was survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade during Crimea war!).

William finished as well Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall. Worked in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, where he was running a farm.

When the war broke out William was one of the first soldier's who enlisted to the East Africa Mounted Rifles. He was under Browker's Horse and his service number was 115.

Some of his letters home were printed in full in the Stonyhurst Magazine for February 1915, contain most interesting and vivid descriptions of the early stage of the campaign in British East Africa. He was on the British armoured river steamer on the lake Victoria, where they attacked and captured the German lake post of Korrungu and a German lake steamer. In a letter written late in September 1914 he described his pride in taking part in this the first naval action in equatorial waters. Another letter, written on October 14th, noted his arrival at a front ten miles from Longido, in the attack on which some weeks later he was to lose his life.

The Times for November 27th 1914, spoke of the action as follows:

"On 4th November news was received that a body of our troops had made an attack on the enemy's position at Longido on the German side of the frontier. The attack commenced at daybreak and continued until 7.30 in the evening. The German position was very strongly held, but our troops are reported to have behaved with the utmost gallantry. The enemy's counter attacks were repulsed and much ground gained, but when night came our troops were forced to withdraw through lack of water".

A comrade sent these details of the death of trooper Bellasis:

"The attack began at 7 a.m. on 3rd November; the fire was murderous, rifle and maxim bullets and shrapnel falling all around. Mr. Bellasis was with the advance guard who were all shot down by the same man, a Boer sharp-shooter in the service of the Germans. They were lying down to fire and nearly all were shot through the head". He goes on to say how much all were attached to Mr. Bellasis. "We were all devoted to him. He was always smiling, cheery and good-humoured". His Troop Commander, in a letter to his father, described him as his "greatest friend in the country and a universal favourite in the squadron". A comrade, who carried him from the open to cover after he was hit, found him "shot through the chest from one side to the other". It was quarter to nine when he died.

Edited by Noor
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Here's a photo from the East African Standard showing the first grave that the Germans put William into.

An article should appear soon on The Soldier's Burden website about the 29th Punjabis, who were the infantry element of that attack on Longido.

You will be able to then follow the stages of the battle.


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