Face’s account

My parents lived in Enugu at the outbreak of the war. The war started a few months after my dad returned from Germany at the end of his studies. He worked for the government throughout the war as their department rendered essential service to the Biafran government, which meant that he was always on the move.

The move from Enugu:

They were at home one day when my Uncle De Smart, who was a major in the Biafran army went to their house and advised them to leave as Enugu was about to fall. He told them that there was fierce fighting at Emene and it might spread to Enugu. Ehamufu, Opi and Nssuka had fallen to Nigeria at the time. De Smart who stood at more than 6ft 6 went back to the battle front after his pass and he fell in battle at Emen; according to relatives who were in the same sector as he was.

Following De Smart’s visit, my mum nagged my dad to take them to Umuahia but he refused to believe that Enugu would fall. Then a few days later, he went to work and that was when the first MIGs first appeared in the Sky and caused endless havoc and destruction of life. My dad then relocated his family to Umuahia and went back to Enugu. He drove a Cortina in those days.

Enugu fell a few days later and my dad was posted to Aba.My father was on admission at the Aba general hospital when it was bombed by Nigeria; Souls perished in that bombardment.Nigeria war strategy was to bombard anywhere that had signs of life and all zinc roofs had to be covered with palm fronds.


Umuahia was a major trading centre before the war. Umuahia was the oil palm capital of the east and by default the oil palm capitalof the world. Companies UAC, John Holt, PZ were some of the traders in Umuahia-Ibeku.
Umuahia was a major war zone and aerial bombardment was like no mans business .No where was spared including churches, markets, hospitals and villages.

Many people from my kindred went to battle and many did not come back. The national war museum and Ojukwu’s bunker tell some of our stories.

Everybody in Umuahia had learnt how to dodge a MIG on a strafing mission. According to my mom, when the plane tilted to the left, they ran to the right and into the dense forest and they would keep their eyes on the plane in order to select an escape route when it came for another strafing run. This led to a high case of poor vision from looking skywards all the time.

Anyway, she had gone to the market one day when strafing and aerial bombardment started and she escaped the strafing only to be pinned down by artillery bombardment. Artillery shells were exploding all around her and she was flat beside an oji (iroko) tree. The bombardment lasted for a long time and by the time it ended, news had gone back home that she was killed, but God kept her.

Another near death experience was when a bomb was dropped in our compound but it failed to detonate and the Biafran bomb experts were called to remove the bomb.

After a very hard an intense fighting, Umuahia fell and my parents went to Orlu and then to Mbaise as the war was ending and back to Enugu at the end of the war . It did not matter how much you had in the bank before the war, you got no more than £20 after the war.

My Uncle De Martin (Lt). Rest his soul:

He saw war and war saw him. Trying to get him to tell me some war stories was like trying to get blood from stone. He would say to me “hapu ife-o, ife anyi furu na agha”, but each time he opened his mouth to trade war stories, I lived and breathed Biafra; proud of our fallen heros.

Just a snippet here; he was in the force that got to Ore. He said that they got to Ore and were there for two days without advancing or retreating even though there was no resistance. Soldiers were uneasy and did not understand why Banjo halted the advance and he kept saying that he was waiting for orders. When the counter attack started, Biafran troops did not retreat as a unit or a fighting force. It was everyman for himself. He walked back some of the way and was posted to the Calabar sector when he returned to Biafra.

De Martin and his section covered the Biafran retreat from Calabar. He always referred to his gun as his LMG-3. He was holed up in SPC Calabar for three days with his men; returning fire for fire and giving more than they received. He said that it was a miracle that they got out of the encounter alive and finding themselves many miles behind enemy lines,they had to fight their way through. “ife anyi furu na SPC Calabar, anyi mere awusa ife n-di egwu”. De Martin was a proper combat soldier.