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Name: FORGAN, Walter Johnstone

Nee: bro of James Colville and Robert Richardson Forgan

Birth Date: 1892 Stirling

Death Date: 31 Dec 1967 Wincanton

First Date: 1911

Profession: In unhappy partnership? with Mat Kell. Forgan seems to have felt hard done by. Initially working for Kell but later expecting more of a partnership. Grew sisal at Taveta

Area: 1911 Mua Hills, Eldoret, 1930 Nairobi, Coast

Married: Muriel b. 7 Oct 1897, d. 8 Dec 1971 Nairobi

Children: David William Neil (1938); Sheila (1931); Jennifer J. (1933-1977)

Book Reference: Red 25, Red 31, Hut, EAMR, Wed, Gazette

War Service: WW1 with EAMR - A Sqdn. 5/8/14 - 12/12/14 - Cpl. 10/8/14; Sergt. 2/9/14

General Information:

Letter from W. Forgan to Matt Kell, written from Kedongai on 8th November 1914 regarding the progress of the War.  "My Dear Matt I received yr wire all right and applied for my discharge at once. The opportunity of obtaining our discharges was given us as it was said that a large number of the E.A.M.R. here belonged only to the 2nd line and had come down to the border when a German invasion seemed imminent. We were given till the 30th to decide & during the few days that were left about half of A Squad. resigned, myself amongst the number. It was a bad blow for the officers many of whom saw a snug little income falling away & many were the things said in mess that night.
On the following day Capt. Sandbach line (sic) all of us up & gave a speech, using as his text, 'England expects that every man will do his duty'. It was quite good but Sandbach did not quite see that the cause of so many resignations was that every was doing what he considered his duty was. However no discharges were to be granted until Nov 8 (today). Up till now no one has been allowed to go & I hear that it has not been decided yet whether any of us will be granted our discharges just at present. This last week I have been acting R.Q.M.S. & am in charge of stores etc. left at Kedongai camp. It means a lot of work, sending out food etc. to the column which is 11 miles away on the Namanga River. I have asked to be relieved from this post as I did not join the E.A.M.R. to be left in charge of a base camp but so far I have had no satisfaction.
You will know now that the reg. has had a very hot fight at Longido & had to retire. I, of course, was not present, which annoyed me greatly as I was only appointed to this post on the day the regiment left camp. It does no good to grouse about it but it is a little consoling to blow off steam about it a bit. I have had very confused accounts of the Longido affair, but every one seems to be of one opinion about the heat of the engagement. It rained bullets, it seems, almost all day, yet if that is so, Mat, it is very funny that the losses were so very small. A Squad. say they were 50 yds from the German trenches & had maxims playing on them all day yet there was only one man wounded & that slightly. Poor Moon (Moore?), you know was blotted & Kay-Mowat along with some other good men that you probably don't know. Not to forget old Sandbach, he died leading a bayonet charge of the Punjabis.
Sandbach was not very brilliant in any way, nor very popular, but he had plenty of guts in him and did his bit well. The Germans were heavily entrenched & must have been at least our equal in numbers though they had no guns, though lots of maxims. Almost all day hardly one of them was to be seen, so well and so thoroughly are their fortifications concealed. There is one waterhole close to the hill that some of our fellows went to take. They missed their way in the fog & on the return journey found it occupied by about 200 Germans who were entrenched.  This is where most of our casualties occurred as they were heavily fired on and had to retire. Needless to say the water never was captured by us. Had the water been taken it would have made all the difference as the Punjabis took three trenches & were well up the hill, but had to retire owing to lack of water.
Now the whole job has to be done all over again & as the Germans have found out their weak spots, it will be more difficult. Branetski, the Turk, who is in the mule troop came in here two days ago & told me about the fight. He says that he never fired a shot & very few of our men did either. The enemy fire was so heavy that no one could move an inch without being sniped up. As a result of all this a very large body of men were entirely inactive and useless all day. They might all have been still in the base camp. I think the Longido action has shown that the E.A.M.R. are, really, not of much use. That is my honest opinion. Reasons being that a soldier's duty is to do a bit of shooting now and again even if he never hits anyone he always makes the other man a bit more careful. As it was our men did not worry the Germans at all & men lay down until ordered to retire. The enemy did lose very heavily as the Indian guns were absolutely deadly & shelled them very heavily inflicting heavy losses.
There are lots of native Indian volunteers here but they bolted on hearing the first gun. They are awful cowards. The enemy are using lead & soft nose bullets which are cutting up our fellows dreadfully. I believe Capt. Sandbach's back was literally blown out. Very likely you will have more reliable news than I have concerning everything out here, we hear nothing at all. I've had no letters from you at all nor word of any description. I believe that a very large percentage of mail is lost in transit. Letters are only tied up in a gunny bag & thrown onto a wagon without being sealed so its not at all surprising that they are often lost.
Lushington is going to Nairobi (medically unfit) & is posting this for me. I hope it gets you. If I can work my discharge I'll get back to town as quickly as I can. I'm very fed up with this business. Store keeping does not appeal to me one bit. I joined this for a scrap & to be left here when the others are having their fun is too salt. Hope to follow this shortly. Regards to everyone. W.
Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Machakos - W.J. Forgan, Mua Machakos
Gazette - Voters List 1936 - Expunged from Nairobi North Register - Walter Johnstone Forgan, Sisal Planter
Gazette 6 Dec 1938 Coast Voters List
Barnes Langate cemetery, Nairobi: in loving memory of / Muriel Forgan / born 7th October 1898 / died 8 December 1971 [Ancestry Family Tree says b. 7 Oct 1897, as does 1958 passenger list]

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