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    To serve the Empire

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    WW1 British war and Victory medal (missing 14/15 Star) to Lieutenant William Kendrick Burkett or Burkitt, East African Intelligence Department Late 2nd Rhodesia Regiment

    William Kendrick Burkitt was born in Michigan USA, of British parents in 1884 and in 1911 he is found with his family living in Louth, Lincolnshire and the son of a Wall Paper factory worker which is also where he worked from the age of 16

    In 1909 He and his father set off on the SS Arnadale Castle to Natal both listing themselves as Engineers.

    On the 28th of July 1915 he enlisted in the 2nd Rhodesia Regiment and was noted in the regimental history (as Birkett) as one of those who were involved in scouting and intelligence gathering and going missing in early 1916 in the Serengeti!

    On the 11th January 1918 he was commissioned as Honorary Lieutenant (Intelligence Agent) in the East African Intelligence Department and was awarded a mention in Lieutenant-General Sir J. L. Van Deventer, (Commanding-in-Chief, East African Forces) dispatches, London Gazette 3rd June 1919

    William Kendrick Burkitt died in Bulawayo Rhodesia in 1960 aged 76 of Heart disease

    Of the men East African Intelligence department the following was written...

    "Of all the departments of War in German East Africa probably the most romantic and interesting is the Intelligence Department. Far away ahead of the fighting troops are the Intelligence officers with their native scouts. These officers, for the most part, are men who have lived long in the country, who know the native languages, and are familiar with the lie of the land from experience gained in past hunting trips. Often behind the enemy, creeping along the lines of communication, these officers carry their lives in their hands, and run the risk of betrayal by any native who happens across them. Sleeping in the bush at night, unable to light fires to cook their food, lest the light should attract the questing patrol, that, learning of their presence in the country, has been out after them for days. Hiding in the bush, short of rations, the little luxuries of civilisation long since finished, forced to smoke the reeking pungent native tobacco, living off wild game (that must be trapped, not shot), and native meal, at the mercy of the natives whom both sides employ to get information of the other, these men are in constant danger. Nor are the amenities of civilised warfare theirs when capture is their lot.

    Fortunately for the British Empire there has never been any lack of those restless beings whose wandering spirits lead them to the confines of civilisation and beyond. To this type of man the African continent has offered a particular attraction, and we should have fared badly in the East African campaign, if we could not have relied upon the services of many of them. They are for the most part men who have abandoned at an early age the prosaic existence previously mapped out for them, and plunging into the wilds of Africa have found a more attractive livelihood in big game shooting and prospecting".

    Burkitt 003.JPG





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