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July 1916, Belgo-Congolese troops return home after a victorious battle in German East Africa
Belgo-Congolese Force Publique troops return home to Albertville (Today Kalemie) after the successful attack on Kigoma in German East Africa (Today Tanzania) in July 1916 during the Battle of Lake Tanganyika in World War I.Belgium may had lost more than 90% of its land in Europe to Germany, but it still had it's overseas empire in the Congo. Although the defense of the homeland was the top priority, the Belgian administration in the Congo was eager to strike the Germans where they still could–at German colonies in Africa. They had contributed some small forces to the conquest of Cameroon, but an attack against German East Africa had been beyond their capabilities until 1916, held up in part due to Belgian distrust of Britain’s colonial aims in Africa. That summer, in conjunction with Smuts’ advance from Kenya, a force of 10,000 under General Tombeur advanced through what is now Rwanda and Burundi to Kigoma, the western terminus of the Central Railway, taking it on July 28.Over the next month and a half, Tombeur’s forces pushed east along the Central Railway towards Tabora, the German provisional capital in the colony after the Governor left Dar es Salaam. From the north, British forces advanced from Lake Victoria, and the Germans arrayed their troops to defend against the British. After ten days of fighting in September, the Belgians outflanked and dislodged the Germans from the west. On September 18, realizing that the Belgians now occupied hills overlooking Tabora, the Germans evacuated the city. A decoy force headed east along the Central Railway, while the Governor and most of the troops headed southeast through largely uncharted territory to join Lettow-Vorbeck’s forces.
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