The Guns of the SMS Königsberg in German East Africa 1915-17
The Jinja Gun

This is one of the ten 10.5cm guns salvaged from the wreck of the SMS Königsberg and used in the land campaign in German East Africa during the First World War (see Königsberg Guns Page). The gun was installed on its pivot stand at Mwanza with a commanding view of Lake Victoria. It was captured when Mwanza fell to the British in July 1916, making it the third of the ten Königsberg heavy guns to be either destroyed or captured. It was displayed in British Uganda, initially in Kampala and later in Jinja, where it still stands today.

Bob Wagner with the Mwanza Gun at Jinja 1998
Note the lack of barrel flange and original fixed pivot mount. It is missing its breech block which was removed by the Germans before abandoning it. The sighting scope and elevation wheel are also missing (although they were present when it was captured). The traverse wheel and mechanism is still in position. The green paint is a more recent touch.
Photo © Bob Wagner

Deployment at Mwanza
The Mwanza Gun (serial number 362) was originally one of the side blister guns on the SMS Königsberg and had no barrel flange. After being salvaged and repaired at Dar Es Salaam, it was sent via the Central Railway to Tabora, then dragged by oxen overland over 200km to be installed in a fixed position on its original naval pivot base at Mwanza overlooking Lake Victoria in September 1915. It was an important defensive position, giving the Germans control of the Southern shore of the lake. British Uganda was on the Northern side. The gun was commanded by Oberleutnant d.R. Dr. Alfred Vogel.

Destruction and Capture
On 13th July 1916 Belgian and British columns advanced towards Mwanza and the gun opened fire on the enemy at night. Oberleutnant Vogel received orders to withdraw with the gun on a steamer if possible or if not possible to destroy it. Due to a bad telephone connection he misunderstood the order to read that he should cover the retreat of other German forces, namely Abteilung Rekowski before destroying the gun. Accordingly the gun remained in action until the 14th when it was blown up before British troops seized the city.

Local rice trader and veteran of the East African campaign, Carl Jungblut described the fall of Mwanza and the fate of the gun- "Plumes of smoke rose from individual points of Mwanza town. The remaining rice stocks in my mill had been ordered to be destroyed, as had the radio tower and the 10.5cm gun as far as possible with dynamite (which unfortunately failed)."
(Quotation from P100 "Vierzig Jahre Afrika 1900-40" by Carl Jungblut, Spiegel Verlag Paul Lippa, Berlin-Friedennau 1941)

Unlike in Kahe and Masassi, the barrel did not split in a spectacular fashion. A photograph of the gun immediately after its capture shows the breech block missing and the recoil springs removed but very little other visible damage.

10.5cm SMS Königsberg Gun as it was Captured at Mwanza, July 1916
It is mounted on its original fixed pivot stand with an improvised wooden shield camouflaged with branches and leaves. Its recoil springs have been removed and lie on the ground in the left centre foreground. The breech block has also clearly been removed.
Photo © Lt Col CG Hill Collection, Imperial War Museum

Post War Display
The British removed the gun and displayed it on its pivot stand in Kampala, British Uganda, across Lake Victoria. In the Summer of 1932 Carl Jungblut made a trip to Kampala and mentioned that- "Kampala has the appearance of a Northern Italian town... In the middle of the city stands our old naval gun from the cruiser Königsberg. It was formerly at the entrance of the port of Mwanza but was carried off by the British as a trophy during the war."
(Quotation from P192 "Vierzig Jahre Afrika 1900-40" by Carl Jungblut, Spiegel Verlag Paul Lippa, Berlin-Friedennau 1941)

Sometime after 1932 it was removed from Kampala to stand outside the Kings African Rifles barracks in Jinja, Uganda (where the young Lieutenant Idi Amin once trained). The barracks is now known as the Qadaffi Barracks and is the home of the Uganda Junior Staff College. Albert Whitwell (formerly of the Black Watch and 4th Kings African Rifles) remembered the gun still being outside the guardroom of the 4th KAR in Jinja in 1956. It was photographed by Bob Wagner in 1998 on a traffic roundabout at the baracks. It may be that the gun has not been moved since 1956 but that the guardroom was demolished and a traffic island built on the same spot. It remains there to this day (as of March 2014).


Photo Gallery of the SMS Königsberg Gun at Jinja
Photos © JR 2014

10.5cm SMS Königsberg Gun, Jinja 2014
This photograph shows the length of the breech and barrel seen from the right side. It has been repainted black since the 1990s. Note the recoil cylinder under the breech. The breech block is back in place but without its opening handle. It was removed by the Germans and is not there in the period photo of the newly captured gun. It must have been retrieved after the Germans disposed of it. This makes it the only Königsberg gun displayed after the war with its breech block. The absence of a barrel flange can also clearly be seen here.

This photograph shows a view of the breech from the gunners position. On the left is the traverse wheel. The breech and its block can clearly be seen. Below the barrel are the two recoil cylinders. Like the breech block they appear to have been replaced after the gun was captured with them removed. The plaque bearing a description of the gun's capture can be seen on the right at the bottom of the pivot stand.

Close up of the Breech
This close up photograph shows the top of the breech of the gun. The serial number should be visible here but cannot be read because of the several layers of paint over the gun. The current black paint is already peeling in places revealing the previous green paint seen in photographs from the 1990s. Beneath the green a pale grey can be seen in places. Black and white photographs of the gun on display in Kampala show it a light shade which may be this grey. It may or may not be the Königsberg's original paint.

Recoil Cylinder
This photograph shows a close up view of the left recoil cylinder. The gun's serial number, 362 can just be made out under layers of paint.

Maker's Plaque on the Gun Stand
This close up photograph shows the factory plaque on the left side of the gun stand. It is marked "10,5cm M.P.L. c./1904" showing the gun's calibre and the stand type "Mittel Pivot Lafette", model of 1904. The section below has the maker's mark "Fried. Krupp A.G." and below that an unreadable in ending with the gun's serial number, 362.

Pivot Stand
This close up photograph shows the naval pivot stand. The teeth for traverse rotation of the gun can be seen. Note the stand's aiming ring with degrees of rotation marked out on it. There appears to be small arms damage to the ring in the form a hole straight through it. There are several bullet marks on the right side of the gun. These may have been caused during the capture of the gun during the First World War. It is also possible that they were caused by fighting in the area in the 1980s between the Ugandan army and the Holy Spirit Movement during the Lord's Resistance Army Insurgency. The bullet marks may also have been caused at anytime since the First World War by people using the gun as target practice.

This close up photograph shows the muzzle of the gun, note the rifling grooves inside the barrel. Also note the small arms damage.

More Bullet Marks on the Barrel
This close up photograph shows more damage to the barrel caused by small arms fire.

Underside of the Barrel
This close up photograph shows the underside of the barrel fitting into the gun bucket of the pivot stand.

Plaque Describing the Gun's Capture
The plaque on the gun accurately records its history and capture-
"This 4.1" Gun which had been removed from the German cruiser "Konigsberg" was seized at Mwanza on 14th July 1916 when that town was captured by a force consisting of the 4th Battalion KAR and the Uganda Police Service Battalion, the Uganda Rifles and local details"


"Vierzig Jahre Afrika 1900-40" by Carl Jungblut, Spiegel Verlag Paul Lippa, Berlin-Friedennau 1941
"Kampf im Rufiji-Delta, Das Ende des Kleinen Kreuzers Königsberg" by RK Lochner, Wilhelm Heine Verlag, München 1987

Recommended Links-
Axis History Forum Discussion on the SMS Königsberg Guns
Panzer Archiv Forum Discussion on the SMS Königsberg Guns in German
Königsberg Gun in Uganda
The SMS Königsberg Guns on this website


The Research on the SMS Königsberg Guns has been done by Chris Dale, Bob Wagner, Oliver Eicke and Holger Kotthaus
with additional help on this page from
JR and Albert Whitwell.

Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

Back to Main Menu for German Colonial Uniforms