Battle of Kibata (1916)

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Battle of Kibata 1916
Part of East African Campaign
Date October 1916 – 6 January 1917
Location Kibata, German East Africa
Result German withdraw

 German Empire

United Kingdom British Empire

Commanders and leaders
German Empire Paul Erich von Lettow-Vorbeck United Kingdom Brigadier general Henry de Courcy O'Grady

The Battle of Kibata was fought north-west from Kilwa during the East African Campaign of World War I. The British theatre commander, South African General Jan Smuts, planned to seize Kibata and prevent German forces from withdrawing southwards.


On 14 October, Kibata was reached and the empty fort seized; Germans withdraw to the hills. On 6 December, main German troops led by Lettow-Vorbeck advanced on Kibata. British forces were driven out from they outposts to two redoubts on Picquet hill, north from Kibata. The German guns (One recovered from the sunken light cruiser SMS Königsberg ) then shot against the two redoubts; later German field companies attacked them but were repulsed. One company dug itself in on the western slope of Picquet Hill. This German position was named the Lodgement. By then the British forces, Baluchis from India and KAR from Nyasaland (modern-day Malawi),were well dug-in on a series of low hills near Kibata, but German troops with heavy artillery were occupying a surrounding ring of higher hills. The recent recruits became used to the shelling and they quickly adapted to trench warfare. The battle was raging which was more akin to the battlefield in Europe than in the African bush. On the night of 15 December, British forces attacked on Lodgement German position near redoubts. They were using Mills grenades for the first time in East Africa. The Germans fell back and the Lodgement was occupied by KAR supported by a section of Loyal North Lancashire machine gunners. On 1 January 1917, the two 5-inch howitzers had arrived at Kibata, which signalled the end of German hopes of destroying the British garrison. A few days later, Germans withdrew six of nine field companies from the Kibata area to north to meet General Smuts main British troops which was fighting for crossings over the Rufiji River. On 6 January, Brigadier General O'Grady ordered a general advance and the KAR Askari quickly took the hill crests previously occupied by the Germans.



  • Chisholm, Hugh (1922). The Encyclopædia Britannica, The Twelfth Edition, Volume 2. New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company, LTD.