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Army Mutiny - was that 1964

Started by Chuck Thompson, 20 July, 2009, 06:57

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Chuck Thompson

My parents had taken me out of Mbeya school because they were concerned about the possible need to leave the country quickly.  I attended a mission day school in Tabora.  My father drove me to school that morning and he stopped at the bank...there were policy "guarding" the bank and my father remarked about "tension."  The school day started normally and not long into it army trucks began to pass on the road.  The Head Mistress, Sister Francis Clair, requested all teachers to stand their students in front of the school to observe our glorious army pass by.  Once back in the classroom, we heard the repeat of machine gun fire.  Then a black man came running to report to the sisters that the police and the army were "fighting."  The sisters feared a repeat of the Congo emergency just a few years before...they asked all the white children (three teenage girls and myself) to leave.  As we ran to one of the girl's homes near by (a large house built by Germans with a door that could be barred) the machine gun sounds intensified.  I was not running fast enough and one of the girls, Mimi Fanelli< grabbed me and practically carried me over the mattutas in a field we had to cross to get to safety more quickly.  We spent most of the day listening to machine gun fire and not knowing if our parents were dead or alive...about 7 pm in the evening, a landrover arrived for three of us...the Biondi's house servant drove it and was the only occupant.  We climbed in and were covered with tarps for a slow drive to our homes (we were neighbours) where, to our great relief and theirs, all were still whole.  We went to bed in our clothes that night incase of an emergency evacuation...we left the following morning - six peope in the Biondi's fiat.  Our fathers remained in Tabora armed to the hilt in case they needed to defend.  The British had a war ship just off the coast from Dar...they sent in fighter jets which did a display over Tabora before landing to an immediate surreder from the Tanzanian troops who were all either drunk or high on "bangi" - marijuanna.  The women and children went to Mwadui which was considered the most secure location in the area.  We remained there a few days before things were "normalized."

john hubbard

Simon Watson

Hi Chuck,

I know that your post was ages ago,but I can confirm that it was Dec 63.I was with my Dad at Oyster Bay in Dar under "House-Arrest" for 2-3 days. Most of the rebels were high on Pombe and when the British Commandos arrived vanished into the Bundu and not seen again.....We were thus released! Best Regards...Simon Watson.


Hi - I was in boarding school in South Africa - but was at home in Arusha for the Christmas holidays when it was happening - Mum was sister of Arusha school and the embasy of various nations needed confirmation of their subjects.   I do remember talk of all the embasies - with exception of the British - had plans to evacuate their subjects.   I remember that our "safe house" was the hospital in Arusha which had been stocked with food - blankets - etc (all the goodies needed)   I also remember Dad showing us how to get up into the ceiling - and where to stand / sit if we needed to get there - so glad to have "met" others who remember the incident.   There are those incidents in life which one never forgets

Simon Watson

Hi June, It was interesting to see your post on the Tanganyika Army mutiny.In my post of December, I put  the date as December 1963.I was wrong,as it was in fact January 20th 1964. What I had'nt realised was that it affected the up-country regions such as Arusha and Moshi, as I was told at the time it was coast-based only.Arusha was indeed a lovely place with really clean air.I played cricket in 1964 to 1967  for the Tanganyika Twigas and we played at Arusha against Kenya. Best Wishes...Simon.


You are quite right, Simon, it was Jan 1964.  We were actually in pretty much the centre of things in Dar as we were staying at the New Africa during the mutiny (that hotel was taken over by the army!)

Victoria Butler

We were in Mtwara at the time of the Mutiny and I remember my mother stocking up with tinned food,(which was all returned!).   We were listening to the BBC World News to get the latest on the event. 

Herbert Thornton

06 August, 2011, 02:21 #7 Last Edit: 06 August, 2011, 22:17 by Herbert Thornton
I remember the mutiny very well.   It was indeed in January 1964.    I was living in the top floor of one of the Kinondoni Flats, facing the Bagamoyo Road, and was wakened by a voice - around 5.am I think - calling up to some friends in another flat - " Bill, Joe," (or whatever their names were) - "Don't go into work today.    The army's mutinied".    The voice was that of a man from the Canadian Embassy/High Commission:  he'd driven out to warn them.

Naturally everybody in our block was out of bed in a shot and none went back to sleep.

About an hour later we heard another voice.   It was the District Commissioner who'd arrived on his bicycle.     "I say you chaps, you need to know that the army's mutinied."

Anyway when it was light, we heard some lorries coming, heading into town, and some of us gathered outside to look at them - they were crammed with soldiers - and they were holding their white officers at gun point.   We learned later that they were transporting them to the airport with a view to putting them on planes to fly them out of the country.

Then one of the lorries slowed down, and all the rifles were pointed at us.    A voice from the lorry said "GO INSIDE SIRS".    We did too.

Everybody stayed at home for the next few days & then we began to drift back to work, but things felt very uneasy:   one day I was shopping for groceries in Dar and noticed an unruly crowd gathering further up Acacia Avenue (now Independence Avenue).     It seemed best not to linger & I drove straight back to my flat.    I believe they were looting.

Some time later - I don't remember how long, but it was a few weeks I think - we were again wakened by several explosions, followed by what sounded like a bombardment.     We learned later that it was the operation by British commandos to put down the mutiny and seize the barracks (a few miles down the Bagamoyo Road from where I was living.

My own house servant told me later that one of his friends was among the mutineers, and was actually in the guardroom when the commandos launched their assault - and that there was an explosion in the guardroom (I guess it was a grenade) and that when he looked round - there was the headless body of his sergeant - at which the friend leaped out of the window and fled.   

The government thought that it would be undesirable for the British commandos' presence to be continued for very long and after a few more weeks they were replaced by large numbers of Nigerian soldiers.

More detailed memories keep coming back as I type but this will do for now.
Needless to say, it was all very unsettling.