Name ID 2348
Allen, John Richard Down Memory Lane in Tanganyika
Page Number: 56
Extract Date: 1940 Oct
After we had settled in [M'bagathi Holding Camp, five miles south (?) of Nairobi} the time was ripe for making arrangements for leave, for those so entitled, both European and African. My turn came round about the middle of October.
Two days before departure too Sao Hill, I developed 'German measles' so decided not to report it otherwise off into quarantine I’d go for 21 days! Fortunately, by the time I set off towards the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika I felt slightly better. The journey was rather tedious. I Departed from Nairobi Railway Station at 5.00 pm, or thereabouts, to Voi arriving there 01.00 am and then transferring to the Voi/Moshi train, due in at Moshi at about 4.00 pm. Being a 'Hornby' type railway set-up there were very few facilities, No restaurant car! But at Maktau Station there was a dak-bungalow, or station cafe, where one could buy a cup of tea and a few 'eats’. In my case I wanted some breakfast but, having overslept, by the time I was ready the train was about to depart so my next meal looked like being in Moshi much later in the afternoon.
My recollection of events in Moshi is rather vague! I met a family friend, now a captain in one of the KAR Battalion's, who told me to use his army quarter in the cantonment as he was living in the hotel with his wife. After a good night's sleep I was up at 6.30 am preparing for the lorry convoy departing for Mbeya, far to the south at 7.30 am. That day we, there were others like me proceeding on leave, traveled as far as Babati where the convoy pulled off the road for the overnight stop! There was no accommodation whatsoever, nor anything else, which meant sleeping under the stars on 'Mother Earth'. Fortunately, I had my bedding roll with me but no campbed, and was that earth hard! Food? the old standby, bully beef and biscuits, eaten in the flickering light of a small fire. Ablutions and calls to nature left a lot to be desired with us floundering around in the darkness. The convoy Commander could have warned us of what to expect on the journey, not that it would have made much difference. Anyway, I think everyone was mighty pleased to see the dawn. Next stopover, Dodoma. On reaching the Babati Trading Centre a hurried stop to make a few purchases of food and soft drinks to ensure I did not suffer from dehydration during the next 160 hot miles!
The convoy reached the Dodoma Transit Camp about 5.00 pm. Traveling in convoy is an ordeal, mile after mile in a constant cloud of dust, some grey, some red, resulting in a queer application of 'make¬up'. The camp consisted of dozens of wooden huts, some large, some small, all equipped with the essentials for comfort, with adjacent 'shower' huts. However, luck was on my side; making my way to the Camp Commandant's office for instructions on where to park myself I met the gentleman concerned. None other than my old friend from the Shinyanga days, 'Hicky”, now, Major Hickson- Wood! The first words he muttered were, "Where the bloody hell ¬have you come from?” rank forgotten, I told him. He insisted I spent the night in his large house and that Kathy would be only too pleased to see me once again. Within an hour I felt much better after having had a good long soak in the bath, most necessary after living in a dust haze for the two past two days. Three more dinner guests came in later, officers off a northbound South African convoy, so, much to Hicky's pleasure, the alcohol flowed rather freely
Next day we were away on the familiar 162 mile journey to Iringa, arriving there just before 6.00 pm. I had sent a telegram to my parents informing them that I would be in Iringa on the evening of 'such an' such' a date, hoping the ‘0ld Man' would take the hint to come and meet me. Thankfully, he did! Much to my surprise he appeared driving a very smart 1938 model Chevrolet estate car and when I asked who had been bold enough to lend him such a vehicle his reply was short and to the point. "I bought it," said he!
After chasing all round Iringa looking for the lorry my kit was on I eventually tracked it down and then retraced my way back to the hotel for something to wash down the dust in my throat. The Bar was full of young Rhodesians on their way to Nairobi to enlist. One of them, hearing I had just spent eleven months in the 'battle zone' (?) insisted on buying me drinks. After the second pint of beer I thought it advisable to make for home! I Rounded up Pa then away on the last lap of the journey - 61 miles in comfort. A pleasant change after being bounced around in lorries for the past twelve months. Those miles did not take long to cover, one and a half hours.
Allen, John Richard Down Memory Lane in Tanganyika
Page Number: 92
Extract Date: 1942
My leave date eventually came round and since I was going to the ancestral home, Sao Hill, 680 miles away in a southerly direction, it was necessary to plan the pick up points for petrol ration coupons en route. To complicate the problem even more I would be traveling over the weekend when Petrol Ration Offices would be closed from 12.30pm Saturday until 08.00am Monday. On the Friday afternoon I called at the Nairobi Office and after explaining to the pleasant young lady behind the desk that I wanted sufficient fuel to reach Kondoa Irangi, 360 miles away. This was to insure against the Arusha Office being closed. So she gave me 16 gallons worth of coupons. I offered to take her out for a dinner on my return but She declined.
Our Sgt. Maurice Tyrant was in luck in more ways than one. Since he was spending his leave in Dodoma his transport worries were over as I had to pass through the town to reach my destination, another 220 miles further on. Also, by giving him a lift instead of taking the usual route by train and bus he gained two extra days holiday, plus saving expenses on food and accomnmodation en route. For my part I was thankful tor his company since it is not advisable to make long car journeys solo in Africa.
It was my intention to leave Nairobi at 7.30am on the Saturday but like all well made plans there is always a hitch, which delayed us for 30 minutes. Time was an important factor since I wanted to reach Arusha by 12.30 pm, a distance of 184 miles. That meant averaging a speed of 41 miles per hour over an indifferent earth road. A tall order. For the first 60 miles the road surface was corrugated and there is only one way to tackle such a surface to avoid rattling the car to pieces - speed! Consequently, after one hour that came to an end and from there onwards the road wasn't too bad and we carried on non-stop, except for a very brief halt at the Customs Post on the Kenya/Tanganyika Border.
And on to Arusha in time to collect some petrol coupons, by which time our dry throats were in need of a gargle. So along to hotel where the cold beer tasted like ¬nectar. Entirely the wrong liquid to drink knowing there is a hot afternoons driving ahead, By the time we had quenched our thirst, partaken of a good lunch followed by coffee and taken fifteen minutes shut eye in a comfortable chair the hour of departure was upon us and I had yet to make a decision whether to spend the night in Kondoa or carry on another 100 miles beyond to Dodoma, From Arusha that would entail a total ot 280 miles or six hours driving. A tiring thought after the morning's rush, Maurice, who is in the Transport Section of the Service Corps was not, in my estimation, a very good driver so that left me to do all the work!
After filling up with petrol, and purchasing a few groceries to top up my 'chop' box - in case of emergency, the hour had moved round to 1430hrs. So, without further delay - off. Glancing sky-wards in our general direction the clouds were rather black and heavy and it was the' rainy' season. After a few more miles the heavens opened and remained 'open' for miles which reduced our speed. An army convoy of about 50 vehicles that he would be along to see her in the very near future - and Dodoma had its fair share of licentious soldiery (to be continued later!). The last 60 miles to Kondoa Irangi - to give the place its full name, took more time than anticipated due to the wet conditions prevailing over a 35 mile section of road commonly known as 'Pienaars Heights", with plenty of bends and hills to contend with. By the time the sun had long disappeared over the horizon, and with no lamp available in the Rest House, we had to grope around with a torch and the car lights shining through the doorway. With regard to beds etc. I was self-contained with campbed, bedding, food and drink. Maurice had no choice, He had a couple of blankets in his kitbag to put on the rickety old iron bedstead and mattress, too dreadful to describe!travelling in the opposite direction had churned-up a few muddy stretches of road. By this time it became obvious that the Kondoa Rest House would be our sleeping quarters for the night. Perhaps just as well because Maurice hadn't informed his wife, an attractive, young, 'white' Seychellois lady, who enjoyed life to the full,
Our greatest priority was a cup of tea so calling on the services of the RH attendant a kettle full of boiling water was soon on the table. With the torchlight becoming dimmer by the minute we didn't waste much time sitting around drinkiing tea. To quell that empty feeling the edibles purchased in Arusha, biscuits, butter, ham and cheese went down very well. And so to bed, rather earlier than usual. Breakfast on that Sunday morning was a repeat of last night's 'dinner'. At 8.30am I plucked up courage to call on the Asst District Officer to enquire about the possibility of petrol coupons, eight gallons worth. He was very pleasant and co-operative, so along to the Boma (District Office) which was not far from the ADO’s house, for the important piece of paper. I now had on board sufficient petrol for the 324 miles to Sao Hill with a drop or three to spare! By the time we arrived at the Dodoma Hotel, 11.00am, I felt the need for a cup of coffee so, after Maurice had unloaded his kit, we went into the so-called hotel lounge where Mrs Maurice just happened to be with six army chaps in tow! Safety in numbers, but the look of surprise on her face was worth being photographed! The menfolk disappeared into thin air.
Maurice had told me she was forever running into debt in spite of collecting practically all his monthly pay in the form of family allowance and he, rather foolishly, was accepting more pay over the table in excess of the amount he had elected to receive, due to the lack of an endorsement in his Pay Book. When the Army Pay Records discovered the anomaly his wife's allowance was cancelled until the over-payments had been paid off. Result - a broken marriage. After his leave he transferred to another unit and I didn't see him again until the mid 1950s. But a few months after their separation - or divorce, the young lady made the headlines rather tragically. Her demise being recorded as murder, a mystery which I do not think was ever solved.
After that digression, back to Dodoma. I left at 11.30am and after an uneventful 222 miles, or 5 hours of driving, I arrived at my destination to enjoy many cups of excellent tea and good food, etc, etc; But I couldn't get away from the army! Every day members of the Forces travelling from Nairobi and South Africa and in the opposite direction would call in at the hotel for refreshments and acommodation. This was all good for trade, but acting as barman, to give the 0M a rest, made a slight hole in my pocket. But it was enjoyable. I visited a few friends and aquaintances to catch up on the local news. Mother had been invited to attend a wedding in Iringa so I had to act as chauffeur. In uniform, and 'gatecrashed' the party, but that was no problem since I knew the bride and her two sisters well enough not to worry about being the uninvited guest and their father couldn't care less. Anyway, a good time was enjoyed by all and the party was still in full swing when 'Mama' and I left at 5.00 pm.
Extract Author: Richard Allen
Page Number: 2008 03 23
Extract Date: 1950-61
Having been born in Arusha in 1950 and living the next 11 years of my life in Northern Tanganyika I find the personal memories of others in your website interesting and fascinating.
Many thanks for your hard efforts.
My 11 years were spent, along with my family, in the villages of Kondoa, Babati and finally Biharamulo, West Lake Province. My memory of years isn't too bright but we lived in each location for approximately 3 years before moving on to the next, except Kondoa where my Father John 'Jack' Allen spent 2 tours.
My early education, along with my brothers David Allen the elder and Robert Allen the younger, was undertaken in the HRH Aga Khan School, Babati, where my Mother Marjorie Allen was the teacher and co-founder of the school. Brother David started at Mbeya School at some stage during this tour in Babati.
On moving to Biharamulo in 1958/59 my younger brother and I were sent to Mbeya School and David started at St Michaels, Iringa. I have many happy, and some more painful, memories of Mbeya. The House (Wallington) Matron living in her flat at the end of the dormitory, The fear of the House Masters flexible black rubber 'tacky', Mr Morgan (I think) running the Cub Scout pack. Birthday teas, Saturday letter writing home followed by a visit to the Tuck shop and a film in the afternoon, Sundays visit to the River Garden, and many more.
On my Mothers death I found that she had kept a large number of those Saturday letters home and amongst them was a sketch of the River Gardens as drawn by a not so budding artist. This last may be of help to Judith Anderson
On a different tack, before his death, my Father wrote part of his life story. The story begins in Notttingham, UK, and goes on to his move to Tanganyika in 1928, at 13 years old, with his parents to an estate in Sao Hill. It tracks his life in the nTZ area during the 30s to joining and leaving the East African Army between the years 39 - 42. Unfortunately he didn't have time to continue the story further.
I have now copied this story to PC along with photos taken at the time and would be happy to pass on a copy to you if it interests you.
By way of interest, Sao Hill is named after the estate my Grandfather named and ran and subsequently where he built the Highlands Hotel in said place.
Again many thanks for your informative and entertaining website.
Extract Author: James Sanders
Page Number: 2008 12 22
Extract Date: 1955
My mother and father (John Sanders) managed a farm called I think Turferu Farm near Sao Hill from about 1955. I believe they worked for a couple called David and Barbara Ricardo. Mum didn’t really like the life and bought my brother and I back to England in 1957. Any news or feedback would be great! Thanks James Sanders