National Geographic : 1922 Oct
TRANSPORTING A NAVY THI immediately after the capture of the Kin gani. They came packed in crates and were assembled at a Belgian post some 25 miles down the coast from the depot. At about the same time, two portable wireless field sets carried on stout wagons arrived at our base. The wireless sets, with their tall steel masts, were erected in the British camp for experimental tests, much to the mystification of the natives, who, on being told that messages were being collected from the air, dubbed the operators "the White Chiefs who talk to Big Ju-Ju." WIRELESS COMMUNICATION TERRIFIES NATIVES It so happened that at about the time the Marconi operators made a test of their apparatus the Belgian airmen down the coast, having fixed up one of their seaplanes, decided to make a trial flight. Picture, therefore, the amazement of the superstitious negroes when, shortly after the wireless had begun sending test mes sages, with the rasping, crackling of elec tric sparks, lo and behold came the an swer to their prayers to Heaven, as the natives thought, in the form of a low droning, gradually getting louder! Suddenly the seaplane shot into view out of the clouds, describing circles and going through sundry evolutions over the camp. The natives stood spell-bound, gazing upward with arms extended, eyes bulging, and mouths agape. The airman then made a sudden dive downward and that broke the spell. The savages bounded off into the bush, terror lending wings to their progress. Mothers snatched up their pickaninnies and dived for the shelter of their kraals, shrieking at the top of their voices. It was real pandemonium. Hours later, after the seaplane had set tled on the lake, the natives returned, but were visibly agitated by what they had seen. They were reluctant to approach the machine for some time, but finally, coming to the conclusion it was not a monster bird bent on destroying them, they clustered round and referred to the airman as "the Great White Chief from Heaven." We come now to the sinking of the gunboat Hedwig von Tf'issmann bv the ROUGH JUNGLES OF AFRICA 361 Mini and Tou-Tou and Kin qani, the last named now in fighting trim and rechris tened Fifi. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SECOND GERMAN GUNBOAT At daylight on the 9th of February a message was received that a boat was in sight, steaming slowly southward. All being ready, the British flotilla started off to meet the enemy vessel, and at 8:35 a. m. she was sighted heading south southwest at about six knots. The enemy vessel turned immediately and attempted to escape, speeding up by putting oil on the fires. The British flotilla wer-t in pursuit at full speed, but until we were within 5,000 yards, the reflection caused by the glassy surface of the lake made the enemy ap pear like a dark blob suspended above the horizon, with a similar blob some distance below. The Mimi first opened fire at 3,800 yards, making several hits in the first few minutes. The Fifi opened fire from 7,500 yards, but was unable to register a hit. The range was reduced, and firing from about 5,600 yards, she scored about 40 hits out of 60 shots. One high-explosive shell burst in the engine-room, killing the engineer and a native stoker, and also burst an oil tank. A second shell burst between the engine and boiler, killing a native stoker and wrecking the engines. A third blew a large hole in the ship's bottom and set fire to the oil, with which the engine-room was drenched. ENEMY COMMANDER AND CREW JUMP OVERBOARD AND ARE RESCUED The whole ship then appeared to be enveloped in flames, and Lieutenant Odebrecht, commander of the German vessel, realizing that his ship was sinking, gave orders to abandon it. Two of his three small boats were still seaworthy and were dropped astern; but just at this mo ment a shell passed through one boat and blew the other to pieces, killing a warrant officer and some natives and slightly wounding a European stoker and a native seaman.