Saturday 27 July 2013

The Battle of Arora Junction: The loss of Deutsches Sudan

Chapter 1 – The founding of Deutsches Sudan
During the latter part of the 19th century the German Empire set out to acquire its own colonies in Africa. Most of these colonies flourished, but one – Deutsches Sudan (German Sudan) – was only short-lived.

This colony was founded in 1885, and was situated on the Red Sea coast where the borders of Mahdist Sudan and Abyssinia were unclear. The main settlement – Neu Stettin – was a small coastal port whose main function was to act as a coaling station for the Imperial German Navy. Inland from Neu Stettin, and connected to it by a narrow gauge railway, was the settlement of Arora Junction. Arora Junction was garrisoned by an under-strength battalion of native troops, and they were quartered in a small fort in the centre of the settlement.

Chapter 2 – The Khalifa orders Emir Baggar-Tel to attack
The presence of these infidels on what he regarded as his land was a great irritation to the Khalifa, and he ordered his trusted lieutenant Emir Baggar-Tel to drive the "Turks" into the sea.

Knowing that the German troops would be armed with the latest weapons, Baggar-Tel gathered together a large force of riflemen and cavalry with which he planned to make a surprise attack on Arora Junction. His troops managed to avoid contact with the German patrols, and overnight they surrounded the settlement.

Chapter 3 – The Battle of Arora Junction
As the sun rose Baggar-Tel was amazed to see most of the German garrison forming up on the parade ground outside the fort.

Unbeknown to Baggar-Tel, the garrison commander had received orders from Oberstleutnant Ritter von Stümper – the Colonial Governor's military adviser – to move two of his three infantry companies to Neu Stettin because it was believed that a large Mahdist force was on its way there.

As soon as the German troops began to march towards the train, Baggar-Tel ordered his forces to attack. Surprise was total, and before the lookouts on the fort walls could call out a warning, hordes of Mahdist riflemen and cavalry began their attack.

The main body of German troops were caught outside the fort's walls, and were forced back on them by the sheer weight of the attack. They gallantly fought on despite the odds, but were eventually overcome and slaughtered to a man.

The remains of the garrison continued to defend the fort until nightfall, when they attempted to break-out. They managed to reach the train, but by then the locomotive's boiler was cold and the train was unable to move. They fought on as best they could in the area around the railway, but only one man managed to escape the slaughter.

Chapter 4 – The end of Deutsches Sudan
He reached Neu Stettin next day, and on hearing the news of the massacre the Governor - Doctor Konrad Klutz - contacted Berlin for urgent reinforcements. In reply he was told that a light cruiser of the Imperial German Navy would arrive the next day with orders for him.

At sunrise on the next morning the light cruiser SMS Kaiserberg steamed into Neu Stettin, and the Governor of Deutsches Sudan was summoned aboard. Much to his surprise Doctor Klutz was told to gather all the German citizens and their belongings together at once because the Imperial Government had decided to abandon the colony. The Governor was aghast at the news, but obeyed his orders, and by nightfall Deutsches Sudan had ceased to exist.

Modelling Notes
The troops featured in the photographs are mainly 20mm-scale Jacklex and Les Higgins figures. They were originally owned and painted by Richard Madder. The buildings are from the Hovels 15mm-scale Middle East Buildings range, the narrow gauge locomotive and rolling stock are made by Liliput™, the trees are Small Palm Trees supplied by Essex Miniatures, the terrain cloth was bought in the Maidstone branch of Games Workshop, and the hills are home-made from plywood, expanded polystyrene, white glue, Dulux matt emulsion paint, and various scenic scatter materials.


  1. Looked like a lost cause for the colonial force. Good way to save the battle reports.

  2. I am feeling a strong urge to dig out my Jack Scruby/Minifigs/Ral Partha colonials and get to work...

    Very inspirational, Bob!

  3. An enjoyable read and a most attractive looking game. It would seem like a sound plan for those battle reports

  4. An interesting scenario Bob, I'm looking forward to reading some more of them.
    Best wishes, Brian

  5. Sean,

    The Germans might just have survived if they had not been caught in the open.

    All the best,


  6. Steven Page,

    Well what are you waiting for! Get those figures on the table and start fighting as soon as possible!

    All the best,


    PS. Thanks for the compliment. It was much appreciated!

  7. Ross Mac,

    It was great to read the original battle report again ... and to remember how much I had enjoyed fighting the battle all those years ago.

    The latter reinforces my desire to save the battle reports I have written in a more permanent and accessible format.

    All the best,


  8. Brian Carrick,

    There are more to come ... and I hope that you find them equally enjoyable.

    All the best,



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