A tall glass of iced beer and previous drouth

Posted on January 29, 2015 by Cape Rebel

From No Outspan

by Deneys Reitz


Early in 1925 I went on a business trip into German South West, the territory we had invaded and captured in 1915.

It is a large and barren country. It stretches from the Orange River in the south to the Cunene, eight hundred or a thousand miles to the north, and from west to east it lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Kalahari Desert, a width of four hundred miles.

I travelled first of all by rail to Windhoek, the capital, where I discussed various matters with the officials at the Tinten Palast (government buildings), and then I returned down the line to Rehoboth to report on an alleged gold strike.

I had been here nine years before under different circumstances. Some companions and I had been following in the wake of the retreating German troops during the 1915 campaign. We had clung to the railway track hoping to find water at the stations and the sidings, but everywhere they had dynamited the wells and boreholes and tanks.

By the afternoon of the second day we were in a serious plight. Our flasks were empty. We had come too far to return, for we would have died of thirst before we could reach the nearest water to the rear, and ahead of us almost certainly we would find none, so thorough was the work of demolition we had encountered.

We stumbled along in the heat, our tongues parched and swollen, and the knowledge that the prospect of water was remote increased our sufferings.

Towards evening, approaching the limit of endurance, we came upon a railway engine lying in a dry riverbed where the Germans had wrecked it; and in a corner of the boiler we found a few gallons of water providentially unspilt. This saved our lives and, continuing forward, we came to Rehoboth, where next morning we discovered more water in a little engine that had been overlooked in a shed.

Now I sat on the hotel stoep with a tall glass of iced beer in front of me, remembering my previous drouth.

Posted in English