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SIEGE OF OMARURU NAMIBIA 1904. During the early days of the German colony the small town of Omaruru grew and played an important roll as the commercial centre for the outlaying farms...

 

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Siege of Omaruru - 17 January to 4 February 1904

   

German South West Africa: During the early days of the German colony the small town of Omaruru grew and played an important roll as the commercial centre for the outlaying farms, and by 1903 was also home to the 90 men of the Schutztruppe 2nd Field Company under the command of Captain (later Major) Victor Franke. The German military presence in the territory now comprised of 769 active Shutztruppe of which 500 were classified as Field Force soldiers while the remainder performed policing duties.

Captain V Franke

Captain V Franke

   

The Bondelswarts Uprising: On 25 October 1903 at Warmbad in the far South Eastern area of South West Africa, the Bondelswarts revolted. The guerrilla tactics of the Bondelswarts so frustrated the attempts of the Southern Field Force to quell the uprising that in early December, the Governor, Theodore Leutwein went south to personally take command of the campaign. The situation did not improve and by 25 December he sent orders for the 2nd Field Company to march south as reinforcements.

Governor T Leutwein

Governor T Leutwein

   

The Herero UprisingOn 11 January 1904 from his base near Okahandja. Samuel Maherero in the knowledge that Franke and his force were well on their way to the south issued a written order for the Herero Nation to revolt. The revolt was swift, spreading outwards from Okahandja which was occupied and sacked, and was aimed mainly at German males and the destruction of farms and looting trading stations etc.

Samuel Maharero

Samuel Maharero

 

The 2nd Field Company's Quick Reaction:

Franke and his Schutztruppe had travelling south reaching Gibeon on 15 January. On being advised of the uprising he about turned the company and made the return journey of some 380km to Windhoek within four and half days without overtiring the horses. On arrival at the city which had a garrison of 232 men and had not suffered attack allowed Franke and his men to advance on to Okahandja which had been under siege since 12 January. Heavy rains and the flooding of the rivers delayed 2nd Field Company for about four days and they finally reached Okahandja on 27 January, the Kaiser's Birthday where they broke the Herero siege of the town. Having achieved their objective they immediately road to Omaruru

 

The Siege of Omaruru:

From the first news of the uprising of 11th January a state of emergency was declared for all German towns and settlements. The Omaruru Commando comprised of 39 civilian reservists of whom some were retired Schutztruppe and were under the leadership of the military doctor P.H. Kuhn. On 17 January the Hereros attacked Omaruru and laid siege to it. The Commando managed to hold off the Herero force until Franke with men arrived on 29 January. The fighting was fierce and it was not unitilthe 4th of February that the siege was broken and the Herero retreated. The ferocity with which the battle had been fought signalled to the German government that the Herero were fighting as both a nation and a unified force, and that as an enemy they should not be underestimated.

 

Recognition of Franke and His Men.  Captain Franke's 2nd Field Company had left Gibeon on 15 January and covered over 900km in 20 days and then been involved in a close quarter combat from which they emerged victorious. A noteworthy achievement. In April 1906 a fund raising dinner was held in Omaruru for the purpose of erecting a suitable monument to honour the feat of Victor Franke and the men of 2nd Field Company.

 

On 4 February 1908, the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Omaruru, the round tower, known in Germany as a Bismarck Tower, was inaugurated. Victor Franke and some of the men who had fought at in the battle attended as honoured guests.

 

There is a bronze plaque to the right of the entrance door that reads:

Fanke Tower 1908

Franke Tower 1908

Franke Tower today

Franke Tower today

Erongo Region

2126'S  1556E

Population 7,500

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"They died as heroes"

27.01.1904 Officer of the Militia Heinrich Schneidewind | 27.01.1904 Trooper of the Reserve Joseph Obermaier

04.02.1904 Trooper Adolf Muller | 04.02.1904 Lance-Sergeant Wilhelm Otto | 04.02.1904 Lance-Sergeant Heinrich Pruess

04.02.1904 Trooper of the Militia Robert Seelmann | 04.02.1904 Lance-Corporal of the Militia Herman Gerlitz

04.02.1904 Lance Corporal of the Militia Herman Linke | 04.02.1904 Trooper Philibert Scherer

"They died of their wounds"

14.02.1904 Lieutenant Erich Baron v. Wollwarth-Lauterburg | 14.02.1904 First Lieutenant Griesbach

"Honour to their memory"

 

 

Acknowledgements and further reading:  H7, H12, P1, P2

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