Right: Heinrich Teske's colonial medal award document.
Slowly our fire died down... surely the enemy had had enough... but no, from their positions the Hereros returned fire. Again artillery rounds and machine gun bullets scythed through the bush, and once again the enemy fired back stubbornly. Our infantry advanced 100 paces, covered by the guns. With loud "Hurrah's" they rushed through the bush then threw themselves down to cover the gunners who then pushed their guns forward. Then it was the gunners' turn to provide covering fire as the infantry pushed ahead. In this manner the men fought their way forward.This was not the end of the battle as the Hereros made desperate attempts to beat us back.
Hauptmann Wilhelmi wrote in his diary: "We had taken the waterholes but the enemy fire still rained down on us. The 5. Batterie to the left of us was in danger of being overrun. It had lost many men and was almost out of ammunition. I took a handful of men and went to their aid, two of my men trying to pull one of the guns back. They managed to drag the gun about twenty paces before both were wounded. I lay with two of my Unteroffiziere next to the fieldgun. It was about 5 pm. Bullets whizzed around us and from behind a termite hill we saw a native´s head popping up, first to the left, then to the right, then to the left again. I pointed him out to my Unteroffiziere who began to fire at him. They were firing too high so I set my sights for 350m and told them to watch. The first shot was dead on, striking the termite hill dead centre. Having the range I waited for him to appear again then fired. After my second shot he no longer appeared. The next day we found him behind the termite hill with a bullet through the temple."
Another member of the column wrote: "The sun was low and the air was filled with dust and gunpowder. The atmosphere was tense. The dust was pierced with the flashes and explosions of bursting shrapnel . The gunners were firing over open sights into the advancing Herero who were 100m in front of us. The crash of the guns and rattle of the machine guns was deafening. Under heavy fire the guns were dragged forward, the bullets whistling dangerously close but mostly too high. On the second gun four of the gunners were wounded one after the other and the gun had to be brought back by our Hauptmann and Wachtmeiser v.K. with great danger to themselves. The supplies of ammunition were dangerously low."
Left: the march routes of the different columns
As darkness fell we consolidated our position, the H.Q. advancing to the wells. On the way, next to a bush, we passed a badly wounded officer. He was breathing painfully. A comrade was holding his hand and comforting him. In front of the well a soldier crawled past. He was shot through the leg and dragged himself along on his arms and healthy leg. Laying against a tree was a dead soldier, his tunic unbuttoned, his chest covered in dry, black blood. Heat, dust, a smell of decay hung in the air.
The column formed a square facing outwards, an "Igl" (hedgehog). At this point we discovered that the 9. Komp. had not yet arrived at our level and that the medical section was still missing. We were discussing whether to break out and send a group to look for them when suddenly the ambulance came crashing through the bush. The wheels began to sink in the sand and for a moment we were worried that the big wagon would get stuck,. Finally it moved forward rolling into the hedgehog. The doctors pulled on their aprons and set up their operating tables in front of their wagon. As bullets flew through the camp the doctors started to operate, stopping flowing blood, setting splintered bones and trying to still extreme pain.
Automatically philosophical thoughts cropped up... Was war not something terrible? Was it not crazy that on both sides, people who did not know each other shot at each other, trying to damage each others bodies, while here the doctors operated trying to fix those same shattered bodies? On the battlefield the hours of tension and stress made the mind wander to a utopia where there was no war and where mankind lived in peace.
As night fell the shooting died down. We assumed the enemy would attack us during the night or in the early hours of the morning. Thorn branches were chopped to build fences and barriers with holes for the fieldguns. From behind we heard cries of joy as the missing 9. Komp. with two machine guns pushed its way into the Igl. At last the whole column was reunited. At about 7.30 pm the last shots sounded, then night fell on the bush. Inside the square lay 12 dead and 33 wounded . Of the 11. Komp. 18% of the men were out of action, the 10. Komp. had lost 11 of its men. The men of the 10. Komp. had been so calm and disciplined in the 10 hour battle that they had used on average only 45 bullets per man. The enemy had fired on us with all possible forms of projectile, using the oldest flintlocks, blunderbusses and modern rifles. We had suffered bullets, leadshot, dumdums, even scrap iron.
At 7.00pm we had received a message from v.d. Heyde. They had reached a valley about 15km´s to the northeast of Hamakari. From here their artillery had fired on the dustcloud which was retreating towards the Waterberg. They had to cease fire due to ammunition shortages. V.d. Heyde was intending to continue his progression to meet up with us.
Neither v.d. Heyde or Deimling managed to reach us. Due to our exhausting fight and heavy losses we were not able to continue. All around us lay the enemy but due to the thick bush we had no way to estimate their numbers. We lay behind our barricades, watching, waiting ... freezing. The signallers worked without break as the messages flew backwards and forwards. Just before midnight a message arrived from v.d. Heyde. On his breakthrough attempt he had been attacked and had had to pull back. Ordered to advance again he signalled back that this was, under the circumstances, not possible.
And so it seemed that the first day had been only partially succesful. We were of the opinion that the enemy was still present in force and that the next day would see even harder fighting. At 2.00 a.m. a message from Deimling announced that he had taken the station at Waterberg and would be arriving at Hamakari in the morning. The situation had changed to our advantage! It was evident that the enemy resistance was breaking. Only our weaker Abteilung was no longer capable of pursuit. The next day the chase would begin.
The night was surprisingly quiet. No shot was fired. Our eyes scanned the darkness without finding a trace of the enemy. The wind from the east carried the sounds of cattle and we had the impression that the enemy was moving southeastwards. In our encampment we heard the steady pacing of the sentries and the whispers of men trying to keep each other awake. From the field hospital came the groaning of men in terrible agony.
After the Hereros were routed at the Waterberg they here chased and hunted until the last of the tribe was forced into the "Sandfeld" to perish.
No matter how the semantics of the German orders are dissected, the men who were there knew what the score was.
Max Bayer writes:
"We do not expect the Hereros to abandon the last well on the edge of the Omaheke (desert) without a fight. We expect him to make a last desperate stand before the race is pushed into the desert... it will be their end."
Heinrich Teske continued to fight in South West Africa until mid 1915 when he returned to Hamburg with a shipload of wounded in sick comrades.
The nature of Teske's invalidity is unknown, but it seems he was not able to serve in the first world war. In 1941 he received the 40 year service medal.