1207 Pte. P. Andreasen 2nd Rhodesia Reg.

 

Plaque and scroll to 1207 Private Peter Andreasen, 2nd Rhodesia Regiment.
Killed in action March 11th 1916 

Jens Peter Kristian Andreassen was born in Hilleroed, Denmark on November 2nd 1871. He was babtized March 17th 1872. His father was Stationmaster with the Danish Railways, Jens Peter Andreassen, born in Asminderoed Parish in 1851. His mother was Ane Andreassen (b. Larsen), born Tjaereby parish in 1846.

 

In the 1880 census, Jens Peter Kristian Andreassen, aged 8, lived with his parents Jens Peter, Ane and six siblings at Maarum Station. Those were: Mathilde Elisabeth aged 9, Carl Anton aged 7, Georg Albert aged 5, Alexander Julius aged 4, Hansine Caroline aged 2 and Vilhelm below one year. Later that year Ane gave birth to another son, Niels Peter Viggo.

Maarum Station

Unfortunately his mother Ane died January 29th 1883, giving birth to a boy who died with her. She was 37 years old and was burried together with her son on February 4th in Hilleroed.

 

In the 1890 census, the Stationmaster family still lived at Maarum Station. His father Jens Peter had remarried Poline Eugenie Lundbeck, born in Copenhagen 1866. Jens Peter Kristian Andreassen is not listed with the family. He was probably working and living nearby, or maybe he had already left Denmark for a new life in Africa.

 

The next time we hear from Jens Peter Kristian Andreassen, he has shortened his name to Peter Andreasen, and according to his Medal Index Card, he has enlisted as a private in the Transvaal Scottish.

Later on he transferred to the 2nd Rhodesia Regiment as private with the servicenumber 1207 (Attested August 30th 1915). As his MIC states that his 15-star is claimed by the Transvaal Scottish, I believe he entered theatre of war (4A - East Africa, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia) with that outfit on October 3rd 1915.

 

Peter Andreassen is mentioned in the book "The Rhodesia Regiment in East Africa by Lieut-Col A. E. Capell, on page 53:

"Intelligence of the enemy was scanty, their dispositions obscure, and it was nessesary for us to pierce his outpost line; and as usual when special work was afoot, the Rhodesians were asked what they could do. Sgt. Guiney, Cpl. Ledenham, Ptes. Bayliffe, Brikett, Cowie and Andreasen undertook the hazardouz venture and gathered invaluable information. Only Birkett did not return."

 

The Rhodesia Regiment in East Africa by Lieut-Col A. E. Capell:

On Saturday March 11th, about midday, the 1st E.A. Brigade moved out of Taveta to attack Latema and Riata hills, covering the road to Kahe on the German Central railway, a mere "pass" between them, which rose rugged and bush-covered some 300-400 feet above the grassy plain.

 

The attack was preceded by a heavy bombardement of the enemy positions, to which they did not reply; then about 2 p.m. the 130th Baluchis and 3rd K.A.R. deployed to the attack, and were met by a heavy rifle, pom-pom, adn machine-gun fire, and eventually were held up unable to gain superiority.

 

Abot 3 p.m. I requested permission for the 2nd Rhodesia Regiment to advance to "ginger up" the operation; it was rifgly refused for there were no other reserves, a fact of which at the time I was unaware. At 5 p.m., a reserve of S.A.I. was available, and the 2nd Rhodesia Regiment were ordered to advance and carry forward with them the firing line of the 130th Baluchis and 3rd K.A.R.. Unhappy time!

 

The Regiment advanced over the open vlei country, as though on a parade ground, steadily marching on into a zone beaten by shot and shell-advanced with dazzled vision against two black hills silhouetted against the glow of the setting sun; hills in such deep shadow that choice of an aiming mark was out of the question, a sight impossible of an enemy that fired incessantly at troops crossing a sun-lit plain. At last the shade thrown by the hills was reached, and fire was opened; but it was too late – an hour too late; the 130th Baluchis and 3rd K.A.R. were already retiring, withdrawing from a position they had held for three-and-a-half hours. To carry them forward with us to the assault was not possible, so the Rhodesians advanced alone on those two black hills, alone and unsupported except by 5 gallant British officers and 10 rank and file of the 3rd K.A.R. who pressed on with us.

 

Another hour of daylight and the position might even have been captured; a strong footing would certainly have been estaplished. Coker and Dunn with "A" and "B" Companies pressed far on into the enemy stronghold, ably supported by McCarthy; but night fell, and touch was soon lost on the dark bush-clad slopes – company lost contact with company in the dark outer darkness; section with section, man with man.

 

Ammunition ran out in the rapid fire at point-blank ranges; the ammunition mules heavily shelled in the initial stages of the action had been ordered to cover in the bush, and could not be found, and as ammunition of units neared vanishing point, each reluctantly left the hard-won ground. Twom companies in reserve held the lower slopes till ell into the night, when a heavy couter-attack was delivered from three sides, an attack by an overwhelming force had pressed on. But it was beaten off, and it then being obvious that all our forces had withdrawn and the action had been broken off, it in turn retired, with only 12 rounds per man remaining out of 300 each had taken into action.

 

But some of the stray and disconnected parties, seperated by darkness, had individually estaplished themselves on the crest of the enemy's position, and once there, there they remained, heavily and intermittedntly attacked, snatching the intervals to dress and tend their wounded; while one courageous but wild-eyed hero watched for an oncoming enemy, an enemy that came again and again out of the gloom, vanished and left its dead.

 

Rhodesians only of the Army in East Africa kept their vigil on the heights of Latema on the night of March 11th and 12th, two isolated little clumps of men who had won through in the darkness to summit, and refused to move therefrom.

 

When the moon rose at 3 a.m. two battalions of S.A.I. gallantly assaulted this prepared position; no element of surprise was present on initiated, just a night attack upon an enemy ready for it – how could it succeed? It dwindled and wilted and faded away before a merciless fire.

 

At daybreak reconnoitring parties crested the hills, found them unoccupied by the enemy, and occupied only by two little detached parties of Rhodesians, the only troops of five battalions that had gained and maintained a footing on them in the face of a stubborn and resolute resistance. One hour more of daylight! – the attack of the 2nd Rhodesians launced but one hour sooner! – and the Hille Latema would have been taken by them.

As it was a splendid attempt, frustrated by darkness and shortage of ammunition, was made. Sixteen officers and 525 rank and file marched into this action and suffered sixty casualties, namely: Killed 15, missing 2, severely wounded 11, wounded 23, slightly wounded 9.

 

One of those killed in action was a Dane, Peter Andreasen, 44 years old.

Peter Andreasen's grave, burried at Taveta Military Cemetary in Kenya

 

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