despatch has been received by the Secretary of
State for War from General Sir Douglas Haig,
G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces
General Headquarters, 30th
SIR: I have the
honour to forward herewith the names of those
under my command whom I wish to bring to notice
for gallant and distinguished conduct in the
have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient
HAIG, General, Commander-in-Chief The British
Forces in France.
of MacGregor, Capt. Sir M., Bart.
Capt. D. M.
Cdr. (Acting Capt.) A. E. H.
Paymaster-in-Chief F. C., C.B.
Montmorency, Capt. J. P.
O.N.M.B.G. Chief Motor Boatman H. W.
O.N. 206939 (R.F.R. Po./B.6723) A.B., E.
O.N.J. 17246 A.B., E. A.
O.N. 195033 (R.F.R., Chat./B. 7702), A.B., W. J.
Royal Marine Artillery.
Maj. F. W., R.M.A.
Capt. M., R.M.A.
Temp. Lt. A. H., R.M.
Temp. 2nd Lt. F. R., R.M.A.
No. R.M.A./11901 Bombr. J.
No. R.M.A./10149 Bombr. W. T.
No. R.M.A./6809 Gunner A. E. E.
No. R.M.A./14142 Gunner J. R.
Royal Marine Light Infantry.
No. 24814 Acting Regtl. Serjt.- Maj. J. (lent to
Service Bn., Durham Light Infantry).
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
Lt. C. A., D.S.O.
Lt. P. W.
by Army lists)
22. ..... After the
loss of Kahe Hill the enemy realised its
importance as the key to the Ruwu position, and
made several determined attempts to recover it,
which were, however, beaten back with loss. A
mounted party which moved forward from Kahe Hill
to cut off the retreat of the enemy by the wagon
road south of the Ruwu found the enemy in force,
and had to retire. Van Deventer therefore waited
for the following day to develop the turning
movement, after his whole brigade should have been
brought across the Pangani. During the whole day
the enemy had two 4.1-inch naval guns (from
destroyed German cruiser Königsberg (below -
CyberHeritage/Terry Phillips)) in action,
one on a railway truck and the other from a
concealed fixed position south of the Ruwu. .....
of the Suez
War Office, 21st
despatches have been, received by the Secretary of
State for War from General Sir John Maxwell,
K.C.B., on military operations in the Egyptian
DESPATCH No. I.
General Sir J. G. Maxwell, K.C.B., C.V.O.,
C.M.G., D.S.O., Commanding the Force in Egypt.
I have the honour to
forward for the information of the Secretary of
State for War the accompanying report from
Major-General A. Wilson, C.B., Commanding the Suez
Canal Defences, who has conducted the operations
to my complete satisfaction. He has been ably
assisted by Brigadier-General A. H. Bingley,
I fully endorse what
General Wilson says of the conduct of the
regimental officers and men, both British and
Hydroplane Squadron and the detachment Royal
Flying Corps have rendered very valuable services.
The former, equipped with hydroplanes with floats,
ran great risks in undertaking land
reconnaissance, whilst the latter were much
handicapped by inferior types of machines.
Notwithstanding these drawbacks, they furnished me
regularly with all information regarding the
movements of the enemy.
I take this
opportunity of bringing to the notice of the
Secretary of State for War the great services
rendered by the Count de Serionne and the
officials of the Suez Canal Company; they have one
and all been most helpful, and have unreservedly
placed their own personal services and the entire
resources of the Suez Canal Company at my
disposal. The success of our defence was greatly
assisted by their cordial co-operation.
Also Sir George
Macauley, K.C.M.G., Major Blakeney and Captain
Hall, of the EgyptianState
Railways. In addition to building two excellent
armoured trains, these officers worked most
assiduously in organizing and superintending the
railway arrangements, both along the Canal and in
the transportation of reinforcements from Cairo.
No difficulties of any sort were made, and such
difficulties as existed were speedily overcome,
and I cannot sufficiently express my obligation tothem. Also Major Liddell, late Royal
Engineers, Director of Telegraphs under the
Egyptian Government. This official was largely
responsible for the excellent system of
intercommunication which prevailed throughout the
It is needless for
me to add that from Admiral Peirse and the ships
of His Majesty's Navy, as well as those of
under his command, most important and valuable
assistance was received.
have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,
G. MAXWELL, Lieut.- General, Commanding the
Force in Egypt.
Headquarters, Canal Defences, to the General Staff, Headquarters, Cairo.
I have the honour to
submit the following report on the recent attack
on the Suez
In order to make the narrative' complete, I will
preface it with a brief account of what has taken
place since I took over command of the Canal
2. I landed at Suez
16th November, 1914,
and went to Ismailia
the same day, having been preceded ten days before
by Brigadier-General A. H. Bingley, my Chief Staff
Officer, who was sent from India
in advance of the troops to make preliminary
arrangements for their landing and despatch to
destination. I there took over command of the
Canal Defences from Colonel W. G. Walker,
Commanding 9th Indian Brigade, which had been
detached from the 3rd (Lahore) Division for
temporary duty in Egypt.
3. In accordance
with the instructions received from the General
Officer Commanding-in-Chief,. the Canal Defences
were organized in three sections, with
headquarters at Suez,
Ismailia Ferry, and Kantara, respectively, my own
headquarters and the general reserve being placed
with the advanced base at Zagazig and base general
hospital at Cairo.
were completed by the
5th December, 1914,
when the last units of the force arrived from India.
for defence.- The months of November,
December and January were devoted to a systematic
development of the naturally strong line of
defence afforded by the Canal, thus completing the
work which had been initiated previous to my
arrival. A number of defensive posts were prepared
on the east bank, to cover the more important
ferries and provide facilities for local
counterattacks. Trenches were dug on the west bank
to cover the intervals between posts and frustrate
attempts at crossing. Communications were improved
by the construction of landing stages and
removable pontoon bridges for use at important
points. A flotilla of armed launches, manned by
the Royal Navy, was organized, for canal
patrols. A complete System of telegraph,
telephone, and wireless communication was
installed, linking up all the posts with
headquarters. A system of defence was established
for the protection of the railway, the telegraph
lines, and the sweet water canal. The detachment
of the Royal Flying Corps was organized, staffed
with observers, and equipped with accommodation
for its planes.
5. The resources of
the Suez Canal Company in tugs, launches,
lighters, &c., were carefully examined, so as
to utilise them for military purposes.
Arrangements were made with the Railway
Administration for the collecting of rolling stock
at convenient places, in. order to expedite the
dispatch of reinforcements to threatened points.
Provision was also made for the organization of
the water supply of the troops and the formation
of supply depots, as well as for the rapid
collection and evacuation of the sick and wounded.
A system of intelligence, censorship and police
surveillance was established, and plans were
devised, in consultation with the Canal
Authorities, for the control of shipping in the
event of an attack. Last, but not least, a scheme
for making inundations, and so limiting the front
over which the enemy could attack, was carried out
successfully, by the Irrigation Department at Port
and the engineering staff of the Canal Company at
EL Cap, Kantara and Ballah.
6. During this
period no active operations took place, except a
Bedouin raid made by the enemy in the direction of
Kantara. A patrol of the Bikanir Camel Corps under
Captain A. J. H. Chope, 2nd Gurkha Rifles,
consisting of one Indian officer and twenty other
ranks, encountered a force of some 200 Bedouins
and Turks on the 20th November, 1914, near
Bir-el-Nuss, and in spite of the enemy's
treacherous attack, due to the abuse of the white
flag, extricated itself successfully from a
somewhat difficult position. Our patrol, which
lost one Indian officer and twelve other ranks
killed and three Sepoys wounded, inflicted some
sixty casualties on the enemy. For their gallant
conduct on this occasion, No. 1534 Sepoy Ali Khan
was awarded the Indian Order of Merit, 2nd Class,
and No. 115 Sepoy Faiz Ali Khan the Distinguished
summary of events.- During the first
fortnight in January little direct news of the
enemy's advance was forthcoming, though reports of
considerable preparations in Syria
were constant, and information was received to the
effect that advanced posts and depots had been
formed at Khan Tunis,
El Arish, El Auja, and Kosseima. The country to
the east of the Canal within the radius of our
aeroplane reconnaissances remained clear of formed
bodies of hostile troops, though frequently
visited by Bedouin patrols which, in some cases,
were accompanied by German officers in Arab dress.
About 15th January,
however, it became clear that hostile forces of
some strength had entered Sinai, and on the 20th
the Canal Defence troops were reinforced from
Cairo by the 1st and 3rd Brigades R.F.A., East
Lancashire Division, T.F., which proceeded at once
to previously prepared positions.
8. On 18th January a
hostile force of 8,000-10,000 was located near
Bir-es-Saba by a French naval hydro-aeroplane, and
on 22nd a Turkish force was reported to be at
Moiya Harab, having arrived there from Gifgaffa.
This was confirmed by aerial reconnaissance thenext day, and about the same time reports of
the presence of hostile troops at Ain Sadr were
received, and our mounted troops obtained touch
with hostile patrols near Bir-el-Duiedar.
9. On the 22nd small
detachments were told off from the reserves to
hold lightly the trenches prepared along the west
bank. On the 26th forces of some 2,000-3,000 men
each were located at Bir Mabeuik, Moiya Harab, and
Wadi Muksheib, and the enemy, advanced and engaged
our covering troops near Kantara, retiring at .
On the same day two battalions 32nd Brigade (33rd
Punjabis and 4th Gwalior Infantry), were sent to
hold the trenches along the west bank from Bench
Mark post to Ballah; while G.O.C.'s of sections
reinforced the west bank trenches in their
sections from local reserves. The New Zealand
Infantry Brigade arrived from Cairo,
the Otago and Wellington
battalions proceeding to reinforce Kubri, while
Headquarters and the Auckland
battalions detrained; at Ismailia.
H.M.S. "Swiftsure," “Clio," "Ocean," and
"Minerva" entered the canal, taking station near
Kantara, Ballah, El Shatt, and Shalouf
10. During the 27th
and 28th the enemy was further reinforced, and
established himself in an entrenched position
about five miles east of Kantara, astride the El
Arish road. On the morning of the 27th attacks on
and El Kubri posts in No. 1 Section were made at
Both were beaten off without loss. On the morning
of the 28th the outposts at Kantara were attacked,
and the enemy was driven off with little
difficulty. One battalion from 31st Brigade (2nd
Rajputs) was sent to reinforce Serapeum.
11. From the
29th-31st the enemy closed towards the Canal, the
largest concentration appearing in the vicinity,
of Gebel Habeita. The 5th Battery, Egyptian
Artillery, was sent to Toussoum.
12. On the 1st
February an advance from the north-east towards
the Ismailia Ferry post was detected, and that
post, as well as Bench Mark post, was reinforced
under the orders of the General Officer Commanding
No. 2 Section. On the 2nd February our advanced
troops from Ismailia Ferry encountered the enemy
at some distance from the post, and a desultory
action ensued. This was broken off at 3.30 p.m.,
and the enemy then entrenched himself about 2 ½
miles south-east of our defences. In the course of
the day considerable bodies of troops were also
seen on the move in front of El Ferdan, Bench
Mark, Toussoum and Serapeum. During.the night of
the 2nd-3rd.some firing at El Kubri took place,
but nothing further of note occurred in No. 1
13. At about 3.30
a.m. on the 3rd.a determined attempt was made to
effect a crossing some 2,000 yards south of
Toussoum. The enemy brought up a number of
pontoons and rafts, several of which they
succeeded in launching, while two, if not more,
actually crossed the Canal. This attack was
covered by heavy rifle and machine-gun fire from
the east bank. It was met by parties of the 62nd
Punjabis under Major Skeen and Captain Morgan, as
well as by fire from the 5th Battery, Egyptian
Artillery. Several pontoons were sunk, and
all the men who crossed were disposed, of, except
twenty, who hid under the west bank and
surrendered to the 2nd Rajputs next morning.
14. At daylight the
enemy were found to have closed on the. Toussoum
post, and a counter-attack pushed forward from
Serapeum encountered a large force about half a
mile from camp. The enemy's attack was not pushed
closer than three-quarters of a mile from our
position, and they retired about 2 p.m. after
shelling our positions intermittently up to that
time. Seven officers and 280 men were taken
prisoners opposite Toussoum during the course of
the fight. A large number of the enemy's dead were
found outside Toussoum post, and along the east
bank of the Canal.
15. At 4.30 p.m. two
battalions 31st Brigade (27th Punjabis and 128th
Pioneers) arrived at Serapeum, and Major-General
A. Wallace, Commanding 11th Division, took over
command of the Section from the Great Bitter .Lake
to Lake Timsah. During the morning H.M.S.
"Hardinge" was struck by two 6-inch shells,
her funnel being split and forward steering gear
disabled. She moved into Lake Timsah; and later in
the day to Kantara, her place being taken by
H.M.S. "Swiftsure." H.M.S. "Ocean" also moved up
into this section of the defence. At Ismailia
Ferry post the enemy were found at daylight to be
entrenching some 700-800 yards from the defences,
and two hostile batteries opened fire shortly
afterwards. The infantry attack was not pushed
home, and no casualties occurred, though many
shells burst in the camp and in the vicinity of
the town. Shipping detained in Lake Timsah was
under fire and suffered slight damage, but no loss
were similar at El Ferdan, where a considerable
number of shells were fired, chiefly at the Canal
Gare and railway station, both of which were
damaged. No casualties occurred.
17. At Kantara the
outposts were attacked between 5 and 6 a.m., the
enemy being driven off, leaving many killed and
wounded and unwounded prisoners. Later in the day
a partial attack from the south-east was stopped
some. 1,200 yards from the position.
18. During the day H.M.S.
"Swiftsure," "Clio," "Hardinge,” and the
French ships "Requin" and "D'Entrecasteaux" were
engaged, as were also the torpedo boats and armed
launches, all rendering valuable services. The
bulk of the fighting fell to the 22nd and 29th
Infantry Brigades, but the 28tih, as well as
portions of. the 31st, 32nd, and New Zealand
Infantry Brigades, the Artillery and Engineers of
the Lancashire Division, T.F., and No. 3 Field
Company Australian Engineers, were also engaged.
Very efficient service was rendered by the
detachment Royal Flying Corps, several
reconnaissances over the. enemy's lines being
undertaken during the day.
19. The enemy
engaged at different points along the Canal on the
3rd appeared to number some 12,000 to 15,000 men
in the aggregate, and six batteries, with at least
one 6-inch gun, were located. It appears from
accounts received from prisoners that the
attacking force consisted of the VIIth and
portions of the IIIrd, IVth, and VIth Turkish Army
Corps and .that Djemal Pasha was in chief command.
The enemy's plan contemplated simultaneous attacks
on Kantara, Ferdan, Ismailia, Shalouf, and Suez,
coupled, with the main effort to cross the Canal
near Toussoum. At the first three of the
above-mentioned places their efforts, were only
half-hearted, while at Shalouf and Suez no attacks
materialised, though forces are known to have been
in the vicinity of those places. Headquarters,
with the 7th and 8th Battalions, 2nd Brigade, 1st
Australian Imperial Force, arrived at Ismailia
during the evening of the 3rd February.
20. On the 4th
February, as some firing had taken place from the
east bank during the night, two companies of the
92nd Punjabis were sent out at 8 a.m. to clear
that bank, and located a body of some 200 to 250
men still entrenched there. On the approach of
this detachment the enemy made signs of surrender,
but subsequently reopened fire. Supports of one
double company each of the 27th and 67th Punjabis
and 128th Pioneers were despatched under the
command of Major Maclachlan, 92nd Punjabis, who
concentrated his men, opened a heavy fire, and
then charged. This time the enemy threw away their
rifles and surrendered, six officers, 251 men, and
three machine guns being captured; 59 men,
including a German officer (Major von den Hagen),
were found killed at this point.
21. The trenches in
front of Ismailia and Kantara were found to have
been deserted, and the Imperial Service Cavalry
Brigade, supported by infantry, moved out from the
Ismailia Ferry post. A large body of enemy,
estimated at three to four brigades, were
encountered seven miles east of Toussoum, and
another body some miles to the north. Twenty five
prisoners and ninety camels were captured. No
other incident occurred along the front.
consisting of the Herts Yeomanry, 2nd County of
London Yeomanry (Westminster Dragoons), and one
squadron Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry, arrived
at Ismailia the same evening.
22. On the 5th
instant our aeroplanes reported that the enemy
were retiring towards Katia, while those who had
been in front of No. 2 Section appeared to have
concentrated about Gebel Habeita. Mabeuik was
still occupied, and a reconnaissance from No. 1
Section encountered some of the enemy's infantry
near Gebel Murr during the day. There was no
change during the 6th, the enemy being still in
strength near Gebel Habeita. A reconnaissance by a
mixed force, which had been contemplated this day,
was cancelled owing to information gathered from
prisoners to the effect that considerable
reinforcements of the enemy were expected and
might be at hand about this time. On the 7th,
however, our aeroplanes found this camp deserted.
Mabeuik was also found to have been vacated, and
the nearest enemy on the northern line appeared at
Bir-El- Abd. On the 9th the only enemy located
were in camps at El Rigum, Wadi Muksheib, and
Moiya Harab. On the 10th instant only some 400 men
were left at Rigum camp, and these appeared to be
23. The actions
at Toussoum and Kantara - I will now
supplement the general summary of events given in
the foregoing paragraphs with a more detailed
account of the fighting that took place at
Toussoum on 3rd February, and at Kantara on 28th
January and 3rd February.
24. The troops in
the Toussoum-Serapeum-Deversoir portion of No. 2
Section on the morning of 3rd February were as
Lancashire Battery, R.F.A., T.F. (four guns),
commanded by Major B. Palin Dobson.
The 5th Battery,
Egyptian Artillery (four mountain guns and two
maxims), commanded by Major I. D'E. Roberts,
1st Field Company,
East Lancashire Royal Engineers, T.F. (two
sections), under Captain J. G. Riddick.
Battalion, New Zealand Infantry (two platoons),
under Major C. B. Brereton.
Victoria's Own Rajputs, under Lieut.- Colonel F.
P. S. Dunsford.
under Lieut.-Colonel E. W. Grimshaw.
under Major T. R. Maclachlan.
Rifles, under Lieut.- Colonel F. G. H. Sutton.
(two platoons, acting as escort to 5th Battery,
Egyptian Artillery), under Lieutenant R. A.
Ambulance, under Major R. W. Knox, I.M.S.
25. These troops
were disposed as follows:
(a) On the east
bank, in the posts of Toussoum, Serapeum, and
Deversoir, a half battalion in each, furnished
by the 92nd, 62nd, and 2/10th Gurkha Rifles,
(b) On the west
bank, from the entrance to Lake Timsah to
Deversoir inclusive, 12 posts, each held by two
platoons. Each platoon was allotted some 600
yards of front and found three sentry groups,
about 200 yards apart.
(c) In reserve at
Serapeum, three double companies.
26. At about 3.25
a.m. on 3rd instant, the enemy were seen on the
east bank near mile 47.4. As the firing was heavy,
a double company of the 62nd Punjabis was sent
from the reserve to support this point, and this
double company was subsequently reinforced by six
platoons of the 2nd Rajputs.
27. The enemy made
three distinct attempts to cross the Canal at
points between miles 47.4 and 48.4. One boatload
of the enemy landed opposite mile 48.3, and were
charged by a small party under Major O. St. J.
Skeen, 62nd Punjabis. All were killed or wounded.
Two more boatloads landed opposite mile 47.6, and
these were promptly attacked by Captain M. H. L.
Morgan, 62nd Punjabis, who was wounded. Six Turks
were killed and four captured at this point, and
some 20 who got away and hid themselves under the
west bank were captured later by a party of the
28. At 8.40 a.m.
Colonel S. Geoghegan, commanding 22nd Brigade,
after a personal reconnaissance of the enemy's
positions, sent a detachment consisting of four
double companies drawn from the 2nd Rajputs and
the 2/10th Gurkha Rifles to clear the east bank.
As this counter-attack developed, the enemy fled
in large numbers from the broken ground whence
they had made their attempt to cross. Meanwhile
the enemy, from their camp at Kateid El Khel,
deployed a force estimated at two brigades with at
least six guns, and formed a line about two miles
north-east of Serapeum, and facing that post. Our
troops, delivering a counterattack, now occupied a
ridge about half a mile north-east of Serapeum,
and formed a line facing the enemy with their left
flank drawn back to the Canal. They consisted of
two double companies 92nd Punjabis facing
northeast, two platoons 2nd Rajputs facing north,
with six platoons 2/10th Gurkha Rifles in support.
The whole was under command of Lieut.- Col. F. G.
H. Button, 2/10th Gurkha Rifles.
29. The advance
northward on the east bank of the two platoons,
2nd Rajputs, was checked short of the broken
ground by fire from the enemy posted there, aided
by the fire of small parties which were still
hidden at the foot of the west bank. It was here
that Captain R. T. Arundell was killed while
gallantly leading his men.
30. While this
attack was in progress, the Commander of H.M.
T.B. No. 043, Lieutenant-Commander G. B.
Palmes, R.N., was asked by Colonel Geoghegan to
destroy the enemy's pontoons which were lying on
the east bank. Those on shore were destroyed by
shell fire, and a party then landed from the boat
to see whether there were any others lying behind
the bank. The leading party found themselves in
front of a trench full of the enemy, and on
getting back to their boat Lieutenant-Commander G.
B. Palmes, R.N., and Sub- Lieutenant C. V.
Cardinall, R.N.V.R., were wounded.
31. The enemy's main
attack from the north-east did not get within
1,200 yards of our line. They, however, shelled
our positions on the west bank intermittently
until about 2 p.m., when their main body retired
eastwards, and our forces withdrew to the
positions held in the morning. A small party of
the enemy reached the ridge which we had vacated,
but they were shelled off it by our artillery, and
32. In the attack on
the Toussoum post, about 350 of the enemy managed
to establish themselves during the night in some
of the outer trenches which are only occupied by
the garrison by day. A number of this party were
killed as soon as it was light by the fire of our
machine guns, and the remainder were either driven
out or killed, and some 80 prisoners captured by a
local counter-attack which was skilfully led by
Lieutenant J. W. Thomson-Glover, 92nd Punjabis.
Seven Turkish officers and 280 other ranks, with
much material, were taken on this occasion.
33. At 4.30 p.m.
reinforcements from the 31st Infantry Brigade
began to arrive at Serapeum, and in the course of
the evening four double companies were placed in
support at various points on the west bank, and
the garrison of the Serapeum post was
strengthened. The armed launches commanded by
Lieutenants W. H. B. Livesay and E. H. Daughlish,
R.I.M., rendered valuable service in this
section during the day, and were frequently under
fire of the enemy's snipers.
34. On the morning
of the 4th instant, as there was no sign of the
enemy's main body to the east, and as the armed
launch "Mansura" had been fired upon on the
previous evening and some sniping had taken place
during the night from the east bank, Major-General
A. Wallace, who had taken over command at Serapeum
from Colonel S. Geoghegan, ordered two double
companies of the 92nd Punjabis to move north along
the east bank of the Canal to examine this
locality. This party, which was commanded by
Captain L. F. A. Cochran, got to the south edge of
this area, which they found to be held by the
enemy, and then extended round to the east and
north-east to round the latter up. The enemy held
up a white flag and made signs of surrender,
whereupon Captain Cochran and some of hie party
advanced towards them. After three Turks had
surrendered, fire was re-opened by the enemy, and
our troops had to fall back. Major-General Wallace
then ordered out reinforcements, consisting of one
double company each of the 27th and 62nd Punjabis
and the 128th Pioneers, the whole under Major T.
R. Maclachlan, 92nd Punjabis. The latter collected
his men and charged, and the enemy immediately
threw down thedr arms. The prisoners taken here
numbered six officers and 251 men, of whom 52 were
seriously wounded. The enemy's killed numbered 59,
and among them was a German officer, Major von den
Hagen. Three machine guns were captured, as well
as a quantity of miscellaneous stores. It was in
this second attack that Captain Cochran was
35. Turning from
events at Toussoum to those at Kantara, the only
engagements that need be referred to are the
attacks made by the enemy on our outposts on the
28th January and 3rd February. In the attack of
the 28th January, the enemy advanced along the
telegraph line on one of our piquets, consisting
of a detachment of the 14th Sikhs under Captain
Channer, which they attacked about 2.45 a.m. The
action continued for about half an hour, and the
enemy attempted to advance, but was unable to do
so. Firing gradually ceased, and by daylight the
enemy had withdrawn gradually to Point 70 on the
Kantara-El Arish road, from which they were driven
out by five rounds of lyddite shell fired by H.M.S.
36. The attack of
the 3rd February was conducted on much the same
lines, and was directed on two of our piquets
furnished by the 89th Punjabis. The enemy's
advance was stopped without difficulty, and at
daylight 36 unwounded prisoners were found in our
entanglements. The enemy left 20 dead on the
ground, but their casualties were very much
heavier, as they removed many of their killed and
37. As the events
described may represent, but the opening phase of
the campaign, I do not propose; at this stage, to
mention the staff and departmental officers who
have rendered specially good service. I, however,
submit the names of the following regimental
officers whose conduct is deserving of notice:
38. I submit a list
of the non-commissioned officers and men whose
names have been brought to notice for gallant
conduct, with particulars of the services they
have rendered. (not included here)
39. All the units
engaged proved cool under fire and did their duty
in a highly satisfactory manner, the conduct of
officers and men being all that could be desired.
40. In conclusion I
desire to express my high appreciation of the
valuable work done by the pilots and observers of
the French hydroaeroplane squadron and the
detachment Royal Flying Corps in the numerous
reconnaissances carried out by them previous to
and during the advance of the enemy. They were
constantly under shrapnel and rifle fire and
carried out their difficult and dangerous duties
with courage, resourcefulness and success.
DESPATCH No. II.
Headquarters, Cairo, 19th August, 1915.
I have the honour to
forward the accompanying despatch of Major-General
A. Wilson, C.B., Commanding the Suez Canal
The troops under
General Wilson's command have been on service for
over eight months, and though the actual fighting
they have experienced has not been severe, yet
their work has been heavy and monotonous owing to
the large amount of patrolling necessitated by the
enemy's attempts at minelaying and to cross the
Owing to the
withdrawal of troops to other theatres of war, and
to sickness incidental to the hot season, this
patrolling has become very arduous, especially at
The list of
recommendations for rewards in which I concur and
forward is not, I submit, excessive, having regard
to the strength of the force, which rose in
February and March to 30,000 men.
number of the officers mentioned are now serving
either in the Dardanelles, Aden or France, some
have been killed and many wounded, but, none the
less, I feel it my duty to mention their services
It will be seen that
a good many recommendations on behalf of the
administrative staff have been made, especially;
the Medical Branch, but as Egypt has developed
into an Intermediate Base and Clearing Station for
the Indian Forces serving in France and in the
Mediterranean, the work and responsibilities of
the administrative staff and services have greatly
increased, and are consequently specially
deserving of consideration.
In conclusion I
would like very specially to bring to the notice
of the Secretary of State for War the eminent
services of Major-General A. Wilson, C.B., who has
commanded the Canal defences with ability, tact,
and resource since the 16th November, 1914.
G. MAXWELL, Lieut.- General, Commanding the Force
the General Officer Commanding, Canal Defences, to
The General Staff, Army .Headquarters, Cairo.
On the 11th
February, 1915, I submitted a report on the
operations which took place early in the month in
the Canal zone, and also a brief resumé of events
since I assumed command of the Canal Defences on
16th November, 1914.
At the time this
report was made it appeared from information at
our disposal that the operations under reference
might only be a preliminary to further
hostilities, and that a more determined attack on
the Canal would be undertaken in the near future.
These anticipations have, however, not been
realised, and though the enemy has continued to
hold the Sinai Peninsula in. some strength and has
undertaken several minor enterprises, with a view
to causing damage to the Canal and the shipping
using it, no further advance in force has taken
place. This result may be attributed to the fact
that the losses suffered by the enemy in the
attack on the Canal were, according to subsequent
reports from Turkish sources, heavier than had
been originally estimated, while the
demoralisation of the force, consequent on its
retreat across the desert, necessitated a
considerable pause for reorganization.
2. Now that the hot
season is well-established, and also as
considerable forces of the enemy have been
withdrawn to other theatres of operations, it is
probable that the existing state of affairs will
continue for some months. I therefore consider it
a suitable opportunity to forward a narrative of
events subsequent to my last report, and also to
submit the names of officers whose services during
the past eight months are, in my opinion, worthy
3. My last report
dealt with the operations in the vicinity of the
Canal up to 10th February, 1915, by which date
hostilities in its immediate neighbourhood had
ceased for the time being.
On the 12th
February, in accordance with instructions from
Army Headquarters, a battalion 2/7th Gurkha
Rifles, under Lieut.- Colonel Haldane, embarked at
Suez on board H.M.S. "Minerva" to proceed
to Tor, with a view to dispersing a force which
had been threatening that place for some time
past. This force landed at Tor during the night of
the 12th/13th, and, in conjunction with 150 men of
the 2nd Egyptian Battalion, which had been in
garrison at Tor, attacked the enemy at dawn on the
13th. The attack was completely successful, the
enemy losing some 60 killed and 102 prisoners; our
losses were 1 killed and 1 wounded. Since this
occasion no further forces of the enemy have
appeared near Tor.
4. For the remainder
of February and till the 22nd March no incident of
note took place. The Imperial Yeomanry Brigade, as
well as the Australian and New Zealand Infantry,
who had reinforced the troops on the Canal,
returned to Cairo.
reconnaissances, principally to Abu Zenima (by
sea), El Haitan, Wadi Muksheib; Moiya Harab
and Katia, were pushed out, but no enemy
received from agents and through aerial
reconnaissances, it appeared that during this
month the Turks had concentrated mainly at El
Arish and Nekhl, while considerable bodies of the
beaten troops were withdrawn to Syria, being, it
was rumoured, replaced by fresh formations from
5. On 22nd March an
infantry patrol moving from Kubri Post encountered
a force of some 400 men north-east of that post at
dawn. The enemy withdrew on being engaged by
troops from the nearest posts, and a subsequent
aerial reconnaissance discovered a force of some
800 infantry and 200 mounted men with guns about
10 miles east of the Canal.
From the report
furnished it appeared that the Turks were
entrenching and intended to stay, and,
consequently, orders were issued for a column,
consisting of 2 squadrons Hyderabad Lancers, 1/5th
Lancashire Battery R..F.A. (T.F.), detachment
Bikanir Camel Corps, 51st and 53rd Sikhs, and ½
battalion 1/5th Gurkhas, to move out next day to
engage and drive off the enemy.
This column, under
the command of Lieut.-Colonel Boisragon, V.C.,
moved out from Kubri at daylight (23rd), and
attacked the enemy in an entrenched position some
10 miles east of the Canal. After some resistance
the enemy fled hastily, leaving behind a quantity
of equipment and rifle ammunition, the heavy going
across the sandhills preventing our cavalry from
cutting off their retreat. Our casualties on 22nd
and 23rd were 5 killed and 19 wounded (Indian
ranks). The enemy's losses were estimated at about
6. The only other
incident of note during the course of the month
was the departure of the 30th Brigade for the
Persian Gulf on 23rd. Its place in No. 1 Section
was taken by the 28th (F.F.) Brigade, which in
turn was relieved by the 31st Brigade from the
reserve. Towards the end of the month reports were
received of a considerable concentration of the
enemy near Es Sirr, some 80 miles due east of
Ballah. These reports were verified later by
aeroplane observation, which estimated the hostile
force as some 4,000, with guns.
7. On the 7th April
our mounted patrols from Kantara encountered a
hostile force, estimated at 1,200 men, which
withdrew after shots had been exchanged. On the
same day an aerial reconnaissance reported
considerably fewer numbers retiring through
Dueidar. The Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade was
moved up to Kantara the same day, and on the 8th
moved out in conjunction with part of the Kantara
garrison. No enemy was encountered and the cavalry
moved back to Ismailia, reconnoitring the country
for some distance east of the Canal. On the 8th
April, owing to suspicious tracks having been
noticed on the east bank of the Canal between El
Kap and Kantara, the Canal was dragged and a mine
discovered and destroyed. The mine had
evidently been placed in the Canal under cover of
the demonstration of the previous day. Owing to
this occurrence it became necessary greatly to
increase our patrols. Intermediate night piquets
were established between Posts and a system of
hourly patrols along the east bank instituted.
Arrangements were made for a thorough search of
the Canal bank at daylight every morning, and
Officers Commanding Posts were authorized to stop
shipping in case of any suspicious circumstances
8. On the 28th April
a reconnaissance of 90 rifles, Bikanir Camel
Corps, encountered a hostile force estimated at
some 200 men, with guns, about 12 miles due east
of Ismailia Ferry Post. After a short skirmish the
patrol withdrew to the Ferry Post with the loss of
3 killed, 4 wounded, and 2 missing; the enemy did
not follow up their retirement. Later in the day
an aerial reconnaissance located a body of the
enemy in bivouac near El Hawawish, and the
Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade (eight
squadrons), supported by half-battalion 27th
Punjabis and one section Egyptian Artillery,
crossed the Canal after dark with a view to
engaging the enemy at his camp next morning; or,
should he have moved towards the Canal during the
night, to cut off his retreat. During the night
28th/29th a hostile party, evidently from
Hawawish, opened fire on a dredger in the
Canal north of Bench Mark Post, but retired when
engaged by one of our piquets. At daylight on 29th
an aeroplane found Hawawish evacuated, but later
on located the hostile force moving into Mahadat
from the southwest, and the cavalry were directed
on that place. Our column, however, only succeeded
in engaging the rearguard at about 2 p.m., by
which time the enemy had left Mahadat and was
moving on Bada. The pursuit was carried on for
three to four miles, but the great exhaustion of
men and horses, owing to the heat and heavy going
through the sandhills, prevented it from being
Our losses were one
British, one Indian, officer, and one sowar
killed; one British officer and seven rank and
file wounded. The enemy's losses in killed were
about 20, and 13 prisoners were taken. The column
returned to Ismailia early on the 30th.
9. On 7th April, the
7th Indian Mountain Artillery Brigade left the
Canal Defences to join the Mediterranean Force,
and on 26th, the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade left
for the same destination, being replaced in No.
III Section by the East Lancashire Brigade
10. On 1st May a
half battalion 56th Rifles were despatched from
Suez to Abu Zemins owing to rumours of an attack
on the Egyptian garrison of that place. This
detachment returned on 3rd, no enemy having
appeared in the vicinity. On several occasions
during the month hostile patrols were located at
some distance from the Canal, but these all
retired eastwards as soon as forces moved against
them. On the 29th a small party reached the shore
of the Little Bitter Lake, and, wading out,
boarded a Suez Canal pile driver,
destroying one small boat and taking prisoner an
Italian employee of the company. Pursuit was
undertaken from the nearest Post as soon as the
occurrence was reported, but without result.
On the night of the
30th/31st a party of Turks was detected trying to
approach the Canal between El Ferdan and Ballah.
On being fired on they retired, leaving behind a mine,
which was discovered and brought in next morning.
The next night the party returned with the evident
intention of recovering the mine, but hastily
retired on being fired on by a piquet which had
been left near the spot to deal with any such
On the night of the
2nd/3rd June, parties, of the enemy opened fire on
the Posts of Kantara and El Ferdan, but withdrew
hastily when engaged. Small columns from the above
Posts moved out in pursuit, but were unable to
come up with the raiders, who appeared to be all
mounted men. One Turkish officer was taken
11. Several changes
in the garrisons of the Canal Defences took place
during the month, of May. Early in the month the
Artillery and Engineers, as well as the East
Lancashire Brigade of the Lancashire Division
(T.F.), left, to join the Mediterranean Force; the
4th Mounted Brigade and Divisional Artillery, 2nd
Mounted Division, arriving in replacement. On the
29th May orders were received for the 1/5th and
2/10th Gurkha Rifles to reinforce the 29th Indian
Infantry Brigade with the Mediterranean Force, and
these battalions left on the 31st May and 1st June
Consequent on the
above changes and reductions certain modifications
in organisation became necessary, and were carried
into effect during the month. It was decided to
abolish the divisional organisation of the 10th
and 11th Divisions and to include the whole of the
forces in the Canal zone in one command with a
Headquarter Staff approximating to that of a
division. These changes were brought into effect
from the 1st June.
12. During the month
of June there was little change in the situation.
Early in the month
the 9th Bhopal Infantry and 125th Rifles arrived
from France and were taken on the strength of .the
Canal Defence Force in replacement of the 1/5th
and 2/10th Gurkha Rifles.
On the 11th and 12th
five Turkish deserters arrived at El Shatt saying
that they had deserted from a force of some 300
men who had reached the vicinity of Mabeiuk with a
view to attacking the Canal. A column was at once
organised at Kubri to deal with the threat, but
nothing materialised, the enemy withdrawing to
A party of somewhat
similar strength was located by an aeroplane near
Katia about the middle of the month, but retired
on El Arish without undertaking any offensive.
On the 30th of the
month the British s.s. "Teresias" struck
a mine laid in the Naval Section of the Canal
Defences, near the South end of the Little Bitter
Lake. From investigations it appeared that a party
had reached the East bank of the lake, waded out
to the main channel, and succeeded in evading the
naval launches which patrol this section and in
placing a mine. Thanks to the skilful handling of
the ship and the prompt action of the Canal
Company's officials, the accident only blocked the
Canal for 14 hours, and the ship, though seriously
damaged, has since been towed into Alexandria for
13. During July
nothing of any note occurred. On two occasions,
owing to the reported presence of Turkish patrols
in the neighbourhood of Katia, a small column was
moved out from No. III Section to engage or cut
them off should they approach the Canal; but on
each occasion the hostile party retired without
toucli having been obtained. The extreme heat in
the desert made military operations very
difficult, and practically confined all movements
to the night time.
On the 8th July
orders were received for two batteries R.H.A.
(T.F.) and one infantry brigade to proceed
urgently to Aden, and accordingly "B" Battery,
H.A.C., the Berkshire Battery, R.H.A. (T.F.), and
the 28th (T.F.) Brigade (51st, 53rd Sikhs, 56th
Rifles and 62nd Punjabis) left Suez on the 12th
and following days.
The Artillery were
replaced by the 1/15th and 1/17th Batteries, E.
Lancs. R.F.A. (T.F.), while the Derbyshire
Yeomanry (dismounted) were also sent to the Canal
14. From the
foregoing it will be seen that no fighting of any
importance has taken place during the past six
months, and it appears evident that, owing to the
lack of water, climatic conditions and inability
to prosecute campaigns on so many fronts, the
Turks will be unable to undertake serious
operations in this region till the cold weather
arrives and a considerable change in the
strategical situation takes place.
At the same time
there is no doubt of their intention to detain as
many of our troops as possible on the defence of
the Canal by attempts to endanger navigation, and,
if possible, to block the Canal by sinking, a ship
in the fairway. Consequently the chief danger that
has had to be guarded against, since the main
attack in February, has been that of minelaying
in the Canal; and, to meet this danger, it
has been necessary to employ a large number of men
on night patrol duty, especially along the east
bank. Up to date, however, except during the
actual attack, traffic has continued practically
as in times of peace.
15. During the
period under review the morale and, with certain
exceptions, the health of the troops has been well
maintained. During March an outbreak of dysentery
occurred in one battalion, while one or two others
were less seriously affected. A great improvement
has, however, taken place lately, and the health
of the Force may now be taken: as normal for the
conditions under which it is serving.
When it became
apparent that a large force would have to be kept
on the Canal during the hot weather, a scheme for
providing shelter against the sun was initiated
and efficiently carried out. It has proved of
great value, especially in the case of the British
I have the honour to
submit this report on Military Affairs in the
Egyptian Command since the Turks attacked the Suez
Canal in February, 1915, which attack was made the
subject of a separate Despatch. I feel it my duty
to make this report because so much of the arduous
work done in Egypt by the Force under my Command,
with the cordial assistance of the Egyptian
Government, was in connection with the operations
of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in the
So far as I am
aware, no detailed mention of the services
performed has been made in any other Despatch.
The entire resources
of Egypt, Military and Civil, were unstintingly
given to further the necessities of that
The operations in
the Gallipoli Peninsula by threatening
Constantinople drew off the bulk of the Turkish
forces belonging to Djemal Pasha's command, which
had already been beaten back from the vicinity of
the Suez Canal. It was therefore possible, whilst
retaining just sufficient force to safeguard the
Canal, to move troops to other theatres: where
their presence was most required. (Senussi
Campaign) But throughout the summer
and autumn of 1915, my principal cause of anxiety
was the possibility of trouble on the Western
Frontier, which might lead to serious religious
and internal disorders. The attitude of Sayed
Ahmed the Senussi was becoming more and more
truculent notwithstanding my efforts to preserve
peaceful relations; everything possible was done
to avoid hostilities, and they were avoided until
late in the year, when hostile acts on his part
led to the withdrawal of the Egyptian Frontier
post at Sollum and subsequent operations.
Suez Canal Zone.
duty of guarding the Suez Canal was allotted to
the Indian Expeditionary Force "E" under the
command of Major-General Sir A. Wilson, K.C.B.
This force was
gradually reduced by calls on it for other
theatres; thus the 29th Brigade under
Major-General Sir H. Cox, K.C.M.G., C.B., C.S.I.,
was sent to Gallipoli; subsequently the
Punjabi-Mohammedan battalions of that brigade were
withdrawn from the Peninsula and replaced by
Gurkha battalions taken from brigades on the
Canal; two double companies of Sikhs from the
Patiala Imperial Service Regiment were sent to
replace losses in the 15th Sikhs, and every
British and Indian officer who could be spared was
sent to replace casualties; the 30th Brigade under
Major-General C. J. Melliss, V.C., K.C.B., was
sent to Basrah, the 28th Brigade under
Major-General Sir G. Younghusband, K.C.I.E., C.B.,
was sent first to Aden and then to Basrah; the
force was further weakened by the exchange of
tired units from the Indian divisions in France
with some of the best battalions on the Canal.
To this force fell
the tiresome and onerous duty throughout the
entire summer of exercising ceaseless vigilance
over the 100 miles of Canal front. Great credit is
due for the way this duty was performed;
indifferent troops would have been demoralised.
Though small bodies of the enemy were constantly
endeavouring, occasionally with success, to place
mines in the Canal or damage the railway, yet no
accident of importance occurred except that one
merchant ship, the s.s. "Teresias," struck
a mine. She fortunately escaped with but little
damage. The passage of the Canal was interrupted
on this one occasion for only a few hours.
A little affair,
creditable to the Imperial Service Troops engaged,
occurred on the 23rd November, when a squadron of
the Mysore Lancers operating 15 miles east of El
Kantara came upon a force of 60 or 70 Turks, the
advance party of a raiding party 200 strong. These
they pursued for 7 miles, killing seven, capturing
12 and wounding many others. Amongst the dead was
a Bedouin leader named Rizkalla Salim, who was
responsible for most of the raids on the. Canal;
since his death they entirely ceased.
Part of 30th
Squadron Royal Flying Corps, under the command of
Brevet Major S. D. Massy, I.A., with Headquarters
at Ismailia, carried out daily reconnaissances
without a single important accident.
The French Naval
Seaplane detachment, with Headquarters at
Port Said, under the command of Capitaine de
Vaisseau de-l'Escaille, whose services were placed
at my disposal for Intelligence purposes, was
continually employed in reconnoitring the Syrian,
and Anatolian Coast from the requisitioned vessels
"Raven" and "Anne" The results of
their work were invaluable. The "Anne" was
torpedoed near Smyrna during an armistice while
employed by the Royal Navy, but was
fortunately able to reach Mudros, where she was
patched up and returned to Port Said. I cannot
speak too highly of the work of the seaplane
detachment. Lengthy land flights are extremely
dangerous, yet nothing ever stopped these gallant
French aviators from any enterprise. I regret the
loss of two of these planes whilst making
dangerous land flights over Southern Syria.
I would be failing
in my duty were I not to bring to Your Lordship's
notice the valuable and whole-hearted assistance
always readily given by the Count de Serionne and
his able assistants of the Suez Canal Company. The
whole of the resources of this Company were put
unreservedly at my disposal.
It is perhaps
needless for me to report that His Majesty's Royal
Navy, under Vice-Admiral Sir R. Peirse,
K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, East Indies, were
always ready and anxious to help and facilitate
the duty of protecting the Canal and advising in
any enterprise that needed Naval assistance. To
the Navy fell the duty of guarding the Bitter
To the Vice-Admiral
Commanding the French Syrian Squadron I am
especially indebted, in that he and the Officers
and ships under his command maintained a constant
watch throughout on the Syrian and Anatolian
Coasts. They supplied me with the fullest
information of enemy movements that it was
possible to obtain by means of agents, etc. I had
only to express a wish and it was at once carried
now submit my report as follows:
OPERATIONS ON THE
WESTERN FRONT TO 31ST JANUARY, 1916.
of Hostilities on the Western Front.
Early in November,
during my temporary absence from Egypt to meet
your Lordship at Mudros, the situation on the
Western Frontier, which, as your Lordship is
aware, had for some months been a subject for
anxiety, became suddenly acute, and a series of
acts of hostility committed against our frontier
posts at Sollum and Barrani made final rupture
with the Senussi inevitable.
As early as May,
1915, signs were apparent that the steadily
increasing pressure brought to bear upon the
Senussi by the Turkish party in Tripoli, under the
leadership of Nuri Bey, a half-brother of Enver
Pasha, was beginning to take effect.
For some time, even
after the outbreak of hostilities between Great
Britain and Turkey in 1914, the anti-British
influence of this party was not strongly felt, and
the attitude of the Senussi towards Egypt remained
friendly. It was not until the advent of Gaafer, a
Germanised Turk of considerable ability, who
arrived in Tripoli in April, 1915, with a
considerable supply of arms and money, that this
attitude underwent a change.
From that moment it
became evident that the Turkish influence was
gaining weight, and it was only by means of great
forbearance, and by tactful handling of a delicate
situation by Lieutenant-Colonel Snow, commanding
the Western Desert, that a rupture was so long
The first incident
of importance occurred on August 16th, 1915, when
two British submarines (B.6 and B.11 (below
- Maritime Quest)), sheltering from
the weather near Ras Lick, on the coast of
Cyrenaica, were treacherously fired upon by Arabs
under the leadership of a white officer,
casualties being suffered on either side.
The incident was,
however, closed by the acceptance of the Senussi's
profound apologies, and of his assurances that the
act had been committed in ignorance that the
submarines were British.
A period of quiet
followed, but at the beginning of November a
series of events occurred which placed beyond all
doubt the insincerity of the Senussi's continued
assurances of friendship.
In the first week of
that month (November) the crews of H.M.S.
"Tara" and of H.M.T. “Moorina," torpedoed by
enemy submarines on the 5th and 7th respectively,
were, on landing in Cyrenaica, captured and held
prisoners by the Senussi, who, in reply to strong
representations for their immediate release,
merely feigned ignorance of these occurrences,
which he pretended to discredit.
Even then a last
effort was made to preserve peace, and Sayed
Mohamed el Idris was sent to arrange negotiations
whereby the Senussi should get rid of his Turkish
advisers in return for a sum of money. But before
any decision could be reached matters had got
beyond control, and the negotiations collapsed. On
the 9th an Emergency Squadron of the Royal
Naval Armoured Car Division was sent to
strengthen the post at Sollum, which three days
earlier had been shelled by enemy submarines, the
Egyptian Coastguard Cruiser "Abbas" being sunk at
her moorings, and another, the "Nur el Bahr,"
receiving considerable damage from shell fire.
On the night of the
14/15th two Egyptian sentries at Sollum were
rushed by Mohafizia (Senussi regulars), and were
severely handled and their arms carried off; the
following night the camp at Sollum was
systematically sniped, though no casualties
On the 17th the
Zawia at Sidi Biarrani (50 miles east of Sollum)
was occupied by a force of some 300 Muhafizia, and
on the 18th the Coastguard Barracks at that place
were twice attacked during the night, one
coastguard being killed.
This was followed on
the 20th by an attack on the Coastguard Outpost at
Sabil, a small post about 30 miles south-east of
Sollum, though in this case, as at Barrani, the
In view of these
circumstances there was clearly no alternative but
to recognise a state of war and to take action
The events recorded
above had caused a spirit of great unrest to
prevail throughout the country, and the
possibility of internal disturbances was a source
of greater anxiety than the external danger.
This unrest was
especially evident amongst the Arab population
inhabiting the western edge of the cultivation
-amounting in the Behera Province alone to over
influence of the Senussi is great amongst these
people, and their natural sympathies are inclined
towards their brethren in the Western Desert.
considerations made it imperative, on the one hand
to keep the sphere of hostilities as far as
possible to the west of the Delta and, on the
other hand, to avoid anything in the nature of a
In pursuance of this
policy it was decided to withdraw the Western
Frontier posts to Mersa Matruh, and to concentrate
at that place a force sufficient to deal swiftly
with the situation; to secure the Alexandria-Dabaa
Railway as a secondary line of communication by
land with the railhead at Dabaa; to occupy the
Wadi Natrun and the Fayum as measures of
precaution; and to watch closely by constant and
careful reconnaissance the Oasis of Moghara.
This course offered
the following advantages:
The advance of the enemy would be opposed at the
most westerly point at which a suitable harbour
could be found, within one night's journey by
sea from Alexandria, defensible on the land
enemy would be met on ground generally
practicable to all arms and comparatively well
supplied with water.
The Egyptian Bedouin of the coastal belt east of
Matruh would be protected if loyal, and coerced
opinion in the Delta would be affected
favourably by an offensive policy.
more troops and transport by sea became
available an opportunity would be afforded of
striking at the enemy's main lines of
communications by means of a landing at Sollum.
On the 20th November
orders were issued for the assembly of the
following force at Alexandria: (list of Army
units not included)
By November 23rd
concentration was completed, and on the night of
the 23rd/24th the first detachments of .the 15th
Sikh's, under Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. R. Gordon,
sailed from Alexandria, arriving at Mersa Matruh
the following morning.
The presence of enemy
submarines necessitated the sea journey
being performed by night only. Moreover, the depth
of water over the bar in Matruh Harbour limited
the ships immediately available for transporting
troops and supplies to six trawlers and two small
Coastguard Cruisers. Four additional small
steamers were obtained as soon as possible, and a
third cruiser was fitted up as a hospital ship.
The mounted troops
and transport were assembled at railhead at Dabaa,
and an advanced force was sent forward to make
good and develop the wells at Abu Gerab, Baggush
and Jerawla, which constitute the only watering
places on the 85 miles of desert which separate
Dabaa from Mersa Matruh. The condition of the
wells at the extreme end of the dry season only
permitted of two squadrons being passed across at
The concentration of
the force at Mersa Matruh, less five squadrons
left at railhead on account of insufficiency of
water, was completed on December 7th, and on the
same date Major-General Wallace moved his
headquarters to Matruh.
post had been evacuated by sea on the afternoon of
the 23rd November, such motor cars of the Royal
Naval Armoured Car Squadron as could be
moved having been dispatched by land previously.
In the evacuation it
was unfortunately found necessary to disable and
abandon three light Ford cars and the two Egyptian
Army 9 c/m Krupp guns, and to abandon an outlying
post of one Egyptian officer and fourteen other
ranks which failed to reach the beach in time to
embark, and were made prisoners.
The garrison of
Sollum - strength, British, five officers and
twelve other ranks, Egyptian, two officers and
ninety other ranks - reached Matruh safely on
The evacuation of
the posts at Bagbag and Sidi Barrani was effected
by land on November 23rd, everything of value
being removed, except four light cars at the
latter post, which were disabled before
abandonment. During, the march,, and after
arrival, at Matruh, a. number of desertions took
place among the Egyptian Coastguard Camel Corps.
These desertions amounted in all to twelve native
officers, two cadets, and 120 other ranks, the
deserters taking with them their arms, equipment,
and 176 camels.
It must be
acknowledged that this force, although the best
available in Egypt at the moment, was by no means
well adapted for the task which lay before it.
Regiments and Staffs had been somewhat hastily
collected and were not well known to one another.
The Composite Yeomanry Brigade, to give an
instance, contained men from twenty or more
different regiments. Before a really efficient
fighting force could be collected much
rearrangement was necessary; with the result that
the composition was constantly changing; and it
was, in fact, not until the middle of February
that the conditions of the Western Frontier Force
could be considered really satisfactory.
Moreover, the lack
of sufficient and suitable transport made it
necessary for General Wallace to withdraw his
troops to Matruh after each engagement.
I mention these
facts because it should be realised that General
Wallace had to overcome many difficulties beyond
those caused by the enemy.
On the 11th December
the undermentioned force moved out from Mersa
Matruh, with orders to disperse a hostile
gathering reported in the neighbourhood of Beit
Hussein and Ras Um Rakhum, and to reconnoitre
Lieut.-Colonel J. L. R. Gordon, 15th Sikhs (350
Yeomanry Regiment, (three squadrons with three
Nottinghamshire Battery;. Royal Horse Artillery
Naval Armoured Car Division (six armoured
cars, one wireless car).
One section South
Midland Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical
Corps (Territorial Force).
Marching at 7 a.m.,
the force moved westwards by the Coast road, and
on reaching Wadi Senaab the cavalry, pushed
forward in advance of the column, became engaged
with the enemy holding the southern side of the
Wadi in considerable strength.
Owing to the bad
going marching was difficult, and the infantry
were unable to cooperate, but, on the arrival .of
a reinforcement of a squadron of Australian Light
Horse in the afternoon, the enemy were finally
driven out of the Wadi with loss estimated at not
less than 100 killed and wounded.
Our casualties on
this day were one officer and thirteen other ranks
killed, and two officers and sixteen other ranks
wounded. Among the former I regret to report the
death of Lieutenant-Colonel Snow, killed late in
the day by an Arab whom he was endeavouring to
persuade to surrender. In the death of this
experienced officer the force suffered a heavy
In the action
valuable assistance was rendered by the armoured
cars of the Royal Naval Armoured Car Division.
After dark the column concentrated at Um Rakhum,
where the night was spent. On the 12th, owing to
the fatigue of the Yeomanry horses, nothing
further was attempted than the clearing up of the
Wadi Shaifa, which resulted in the capture of some
twenty-five prisoners and a number of camels and
cattle abandoned by the enemy in his retreat.
reconnaissance disclosed the presence of the enemy
in some force at Has Manaa, about thirteen miles
west of Um Rakhum.
The column was
accordingly reinforced by two companies of the
1/6th Royal Scots from Matruh, and orders were
issued for an advance on Ras Manaa on the
On the 13th the
column moved at 8 a.m. in the direction of Beit
Hussein, but on crossing Wadi Shaifa became
engaged with the enemy, and a sharp and somewhat
critical action developed.
The enemy, estimated
at about 1,200 with two guns and machine guns,
attacked with considerable vigour, but after a
critical period the arrival of reinforcements (two
guns Notts Royal Horse Artillery and two squadrons
Australian Light Horse) from Matruh, turned the
scale in our favour, and the enemy were driven
back about a mile with heavy loss, though dark put
an end to further pursuit.
The column retired
for the night to Um Rakhum, and the following
morning returned to Matruh.
Our casualties in
this operation amounted to nine rank and file
killed and six officers and 50 other ranks
wounded. The enemy's losses, on the other hand, as
estimated from observation and confirmed by
subsequent reports, must have .reached a total of
at least 250, of whom about 180 killed.
On the night of the
14/15th December the posts at the wells of Abu
Gerab, Baggush and Gerawla were withdrawn owing to
their somewhat dangerous isolation, this operation
being carried out without incident.
From the 15th to the
23rd no operation of importance was undertaken,
the period being devoted to the further organizing
and strengthening of the force at Matruh.
The experience of
the operations of the 11th and 13th December had
clearly shown that to obtain a rapid and decisive
result more strength was necessary.
During the third
week of December, therefore, the force at Matruh
was reinforced by the 1st Battalion, New Zealand
Rifle Brigade, two Naval 4-in. guns and
"A" Battery, Honourable Artillery Company (2nd
Mounted Division), while shortly afterwards the
161st Brigade (54th Division) relieved the 2nd New
Zealand Rifle Battalion on the lines of
communication, the latter being withdrawn to
In the meantime the
enemy was concentrating in the neighbourhood of
Gebel Medwa, about eight, miles south-west of
Matruh, and by December 24th his strength at that
place was estimated from air reconnaissance and
other sources to have reached about 5,000 men, of
whom more than half were Manhafizia or regular
soldiers, with four guns and some machine guns,
the whole under the command of Gaafer. I
In Command Main
Body.- Major-General A. Wallace, C.B.
concentration, on December 25th, the force
detailed above, with Major-General Wallace
personally in command, moved out from Matruh.
General Wallace's plan was to divide his force
into two columns:
(i.) The right
column, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Gordon, 15th Sikhs, and comprising the bulk of
the Infantry, with the Bucks Hussars and a
section of Royal Horse Artillery, to advance
directly on Gebel Medwa.
(ii.) The left
column, under Brigadier-General Tyndale Biscoe,
including the remainder of the mounted troops
and Horse Artillery, to make a wide detour
southward round the right flank of the enemy to
deny his retreat to the west.
to assist as occasion offered with gunfire from
Both columns moved
before daylight, and by 7.30 the Cavalry had
cleared the Wadi Toweiwa, about seven miles due
south of Matruh.
Meanwhile the right
column followed the Khedivial Motor Road westward,
until, at 6.30 a.m., the advance guard came
suddenly under fire from artillery and machine
guns from the south-west. The enemy were soon
driven off, and by 7.151 a.m. the main body had
crossed the Wadi Raml and could see the enemy
occupying an escarpment about one mile south of
At 7.30 a.m. the
15th Sikhs were ordered to attack the enemy from
his right flank, the Bucks Hussars, and 2/8th
Middlesex to cooperate by a containing attack
along his front, to be delivered simultaneously
with the attack of the. Sikhs.
The 15th Sikhs
accordingly deployed west of the road and
commenced their advance, despatching one company
to occupy Gebel Medwa in order to secure their
right. At the same .time the Bucks Hussars moved
forward, while the. Middlesex Battalion, keeping
to the north-east of Gebel Medwa, sent a company
to relieve that of the 15th Sikhs occupying the
hill, which thereupon rejoined the battalion.
The section Notts
Royal Horse Artillery, which came into action on
the high ground near the road 2,000 yards east of
Gebel Medwa, quickly silenced the enemy's
artillery, therein greatly assisting the advance
of the infantry, and at 7.45 a.m. H.M.S.
"Clematis" opened an accurate and useful
fire at a range of about 10,000 yards.
By 9.30 a.m. the
Sikhs, reinforced by two companies of the 1st New
Zealand Rifle Brigade (from the Reserve), were
still meeting with considerable opposition, and
shortly before 10 o'clock a third company of New
Zealanders was ordered up to prolong their line to
the left and to clear a Nullah running parallel to
the line of advance from which the Sikhs were
Before this company
could reach its position the crest in front of the
Sikhs was carried, and that battalion, with the
two New Zealand companies on t!he right, pushed
rapidly forward, driving the enemy into caves and
small gullies, all of which had in turn to be
At 11 a.m. the
western edge of the plateau was reached, and the
left column could then be seen operating about two
miles to the southwest. Signal communication was
opened, and the left column, which had been a good
deal delayed by some hostile mounted troops, then
changed direction north-east, and subsequently
north, along the Wadi Majid, where it again became
By 2.15 p.m. the
Nullahs at the head of the Wadi Majid had been
thoroughly cleared, and after an hour and a half
sharp fighting the Wadi was in our possession -
over 100 dead, 34 prisoners, 80 camels, and much
live stock, as well as 30,000 rounds of small arm
ammunition and three boxes of gun ammunition,
falling into our hands. At 4 p.m. the Cavalry
Column joined up with the left of the 15th Sikhs,
having finally driven off the enemy, with whom
they had been engaged since 2 o'clock.
remnants of the enemy had already made good their
escape westwards along the sea shore, and the
approach of darkness precluded the possibility of
After nightfall the
Cavalry returned to Matruh, the Infantry
bivouacking for the night at Gebel Medwa and
returning to Matruh the following morning.
during the day, which amounted in all to 14 rank
and file killed and 3 officers and 47 other ranks
wounded, were very light in comparison with those
of the enemy, of whom over 370 dead and 82
prisoners were accounted for apart from the
wounded - probably a considerable number - whom
they were able to get away. Amongst the booty were
the office and personal effects of the enemy's
commander, Gaafer, abandoned by him in his flight.
resolution, and initiative displayed by
Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon throughout this
operation is deserving of the highest praise, and
in his difficult task he was magnificently backed
up by his own regiment, the 15th Sikhs,
temporarily commanded by Major Evans, and by the
1st Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade, under
The immediate result
of the action was the retirement of the Senussi
with his Staff and tihe remains of his force to
Unjeila and Bir Tunis.
General Wallace was
now free to deal with the situation between Matruh
and Dabaa, and to this end, on 28th December, a
small column, under the command of
Brigadier-General the Earl of Lucan, was
despatched from Mersa Matruh to Jerawla. Several
enemy encampments were visited, but no resistance
was encountered, and on the 30th the column
returned to Matruh, having destroyed some eighty
tents and large quantities of grain, and bringing
in nearly 100 camels and 500 sheep.
During the early
days of January the weather made active operations
On the 1st of the
month a collection of eighty tents was reported by
aeroplane at Gebel Howimil, and a column was
formed to clear up the situation in that
neighbourhood. On the 2nd, however, torrential
rain fell, which continued, with rare breaks,
almost incessantly for a week, the country
becoming a sea of mud, so that the start of the
column was postponed from day to day. Finally, on
the evening of 9th January, the weather cleared,
and by the 12th the roads were sufficiently
passable to warrant a start being made.
On the 13th the
column reached Baggush, and on the 14th the march
was continued to Gebel Howimil, where several
small camps were destroyed, a quantity of stores
burnt, and some camels and live stock taken;
nowhere was opposition encountered. The column
returned the same evening to Baggush, having
covered during the day close upon fifty miles.
Under cover of this
operation the damaged telegraph line between
Matruh and Dabaa was successfully restored by the
Royal Naval Armoured Car Division, and by
the evening of the 14th communication was
On 15th January the
section Honourable Artillery Company and two
squadrons Australian Light Horse left the column
for Dabaa, the remainder of the force returning to
Bir Gerawla, and the following day to Matruh.
Marching throughout had been very difficult and
tedious owing to the deep going and swampy
condition of the ground.
On 19th January
aerial reconnaissance discovered the presence of a
considerable force of tihe enemy at Hazalin,
twenty-five miles southwest of Matruh, the camp
comprising at least 100 European and 250 Bedouin
tents, including that of the Grand Senussi, which
was recognised by Captain Royle, the observer.
In view of the
estimated strength of tihe enemy, General Wallace
decided, before striking, to await tihe arrival of
a reinforcement of one battalion of the South
African Infantry Brigade, then under orders to
sail from Alexandria. This battalion reached Mersa
Matruh on the 20th and 21st, and on 22nd January,
air reports showing that the enemy's position at
Hazalin was unchanged, the force shown below set
out with General Wallace in command, reaching Bir
Shola (16 miles) after dark, where troops
bivouacked for the night:
in Army forces)
Naval Armoured Car Division
6 a.m. on January 23rd the force moved off,
disposed as under:
Lt.- Colonel J. L. K. Gordon, 15th Sikhs.
Squadron, Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry.
Battery, Royal Horse Artillery.
South African Regiment.
Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
Column on compass bearing to reported position
of Senussi Camp.)
Brigadier-General J. D. T. Tyndale Biscoe.
Squadron, Australian Light Horse.
Squadrons, Royal Bucks. Hussars.
Squadron, Dorset Yeomanry.
Squadron, Herts. Yeomanry.
Brigade Machine Gun Section.
Battery, H.A.C. (less one Section).
Column echeloned to the left front of the right
moving parallel to and in close touch with it.)
Two Troops Yeomanry, 1/6th Battalion, Royal
Scots (less half Battalion) and S.A.A., moved
half a mile in rear of the Right Column. The
train, with half Battalion, 2/8th Middlesex
Regiment, remained parked at Bir Shola.
At 8.30 a.m., when
the Right Column were about 7 miles from Bir
Shola, the Left Column reported that the enemy
could be seen about 2 miles ahead of their
advanced Squadron, and shortly afterwards the
latter (Australian Light Horse) became engaged.
The Bucks, Hussars and H.A.C. were immediately
sent forward in support, and simultaneously
Colonel Gordon's Column pushed on in attack
formation, the 15th Sikhs leading.
Relieved by the
advance of the Infantry, the mounted troops
pressed on, endeavouring to work round the enemy's
right, and at the same time covering the left
flank of Colonel Gordon's attack. The latter,
spread over a front of nearly a mile and a half,
led across ground absolutely destitute of cover,
while mirage in the early stages made it
impossible for a considerable time to locate the
enemy's positions. During this advance the
Infantry suffered somewhat severely from artillery
and machine guns, the enemy's fire being both
rapid and accurate. Nevertheless, the enemy was
gradually pressed back, but his retirement of
nearly 3 miles on to his main positions was
conducted with great skill, denying all our
efforts to come to close quarters.
By 2.45 p.m. the
Sikhs and South Africans, with part of the New
Zealand Battalion, on the left of the Sikhs, had
reached the enemy's main line. But in the meantime
the flanks had not made equal progress, and bodies
of the enemy were working round both north and
south, the line gradually forming the arc of a
Soon after 1 p.m. so
great was the activity of one of these detachments
on our right, or northern flank, that the reserve
Battalion (1/6th Royal Scots) had to be put in to
restore the situation, but by 2.30 p.m. all danger
from that quarter was past. On the extreme left,
however; by 3.30 p.m. the Cavalry of the Left
Column had been forced to give some ground, and
with the H.A.C. guns were occupying a position
nearly 1,000 yards in rear of the Field Ambulance.
Colonel Gordon was
called upon to detach 2 companies of New
Zealanders to assist the Cavalry, who were being
pressed. With this reinforcement the threat
against our left rear was finally repulsed and the
enemy driven off.
In the meantime the
main attack by Colonel Gordon's Column had
progressed satisfactorily. By 3 p.m. the enemy had
been driven from his positions, and shortly
afterwards his camp was occupied and burnt, the
work of destruction being completed by 4.30 p.m.
As darkness was
approaching, and the exhaustion of the cavalry
horses forbade pursuit, General Wallace decided to
bivouac the force about 2 miles east of the
captured position, where the Field Ambulance had
been placed, and whence it could not be moved
owing to the deep mud. Throughout the day this,
factor - of mud - had played an important and
unfortunate part. The whole country had been
converted by the abnormal rains into a quagmire,
which had hampered the operations of the mounted
troops, preventing their full co-operation with
the Infantry. Owing to the mud, again, the
Infantry were deprived of the support of the Royal
Naval Armoured Car Division, intended to
co-operate against the enemy's left flank, a loss
seriously felt during the day.
The troops spent the
night in considerable discomfort, as the train was
unable to proceed further than about 3 miles west
of Bir Shola; neither supplies nor blankets could
be brought up, and the night was intensely wet and
cold. The enemy showed no inclination to renew
operations, and at 8.30 a.m. on the 24th the force
started for Bir Shola.
The march to Bir
Shola, through deep mud, proved an arduous
undertaking, all vehicles having to be drawn by
hand, but, above all, the transport of the wounded
presented the greatest difficulty. Those unable to
ride had to be carried on stretchers, a severe
strain upon the troops, tired and thirsty after a
cold and sleepless night. Eventually, however, the
train was met where it had parked, about three
miles west of Bir Shola, and the infantry were
relieved of their burden, the force reaching
bivouac at Bir Shola at about.5 p.m.
On the 25th the
weather cleared and the troops marched back in
good spirits to Mersa Matruh, the whole column
getting in by 4.30 p.m.
Our casualties in
the action of the 23rd were unfortunately heavy,
as the figures show:
of the enemy must have been far heavier, and,
although difficult to gauge accurately, a
conservative estimate based on observation and on
the reports of prisoners places his losses at not
less than 200 killed and 500 wounded.
In this action the
enemy received a very severe blow, and, if
deserters are to be believed, the effect of this
reverse, following upon that at Gebel Medwa on
December 25th, has gone far to discourage the
Senussi and to shake the faith of his followers in
It was unfortunate
that in this, as in previous actions, it was
impossible for the infantry to pursue their
success to the full, owing to the intense
difficulties of transport experienced on every
occasion. With greater mobility, allowing of an
active pursuit, particularly after the action on
Christmas Day, the success obtained would
undoubtedly have been far more complete, and would
have contributed largely to a more speedy
termination of the campaign.
In the success
attained on the 23rd especial praise is due to the
leading of Colonel Gordon, who commanded the main
attack, and to the gallantry of the Sikhs, the
South Africans and the New Zealanders, who fought
with invincible dash and resolution throughout the
It was at this stage
of the campaign that General Wallace felt himself
obliged, owing to age, to tender his resignation
of the command which he had held with unvarying
success for the past three months.
I had decided that
the time had now come to undertake the
reoccupation of Sollum, and as General Wallace
considered that the operations involved a physical
strain which, would be beyondhis powers,
I appointed Major-General W. E. Peyton, C.B.,
C.V.O., D.S.O., in his place.
By this time the
force was thoroughly well adapted and equipped for
its work. The loss of the 15th Sikhs, ordered to
India, was severe, but it and the New Zealand
Battalion had been replaced by the South African
Brigade. The Composite Yeomanry Brigade had
vanished, and its place had been taken by the 2nd
Mounted Brigade. Two sections of Hong Kong and
Singapore Mountain Battery had joined, and with
the necessary services this little force was
complete in every respect. Lord Lucan's Composite
Brigade of three Territorial regiments was almost
all that remained of the original command.
In closing this
account of the operations on the western frontier
up to the end of January, 1916, I wish again to
emphasise the unvarying and whole-hearted support
accorded throughout by the Royal Navy. In
the onerous and often difficult task of
transporting troops and material by sea to Mersa
Matruh, and in the active co-operation of H.M.S.
"Clematis,"(below - near sister-ship
HMS Laburnum - Photo Ships) which by her
vigilant patrolling of the coast considerably
lightened the burden of the troops, and by her
effective gunnery materially assisted in the
operations in December; the assistance and the
support of the Navy has been from start to finish
as ungrudging as effective.
The Western Frontier
Force also owes much to the Royal Flying Corps,
whose work was, as always, of a high order.
Special mention should be made of a flight by
Lieutenant Van Ryneveld to Qara, by Lieutenant
Tipton from the Fayum to Moghara, and regular
flights to Baharia. The distances covered were
very great, and flights of 200 miles have become
I desire to place on
record my high appreciation of the invaluable
co-operation of all Departments of the Egyptian
My relations with
His Highness The Sultan, and his Ministers have
been most close and cordial, and their influence
has set a tone which has been followed by the
better-class Egyptian throughout the country.
The intricacies and
difficulties of martial law in a cosmopolitan
country such as Egypt have been made comparatively
easy by the advice and assistance of the advisers
to the Ministry of Finance and Interior. To Lord
E. Cecil, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., Sir R. Graham,
K.C.M.G., C.B., Sir W. Brunyate, K.C.M.G., Sir M.
Macdonald, K.C.M.G., Mr. Burnett- Stuart, of the
Ministry of the Interior, and Mr. Ward Boys, of
the Ministry of Finance, my thanks are especially
due. I am also greatly indebted to Colonel Harvey
Pasha, C.M.G., and Colonel Hopkinson Pasha,
C.M.G., the Commandants of the Cairo and
Alexandria Police respectively, for their
strenuous and difficult work in keeping order
under most difficult circumstances in these large
cities, and who, in addition to their civil
duties, have taken on that of Provost-Marshals at
my special request.
In fact, every
branch of the Egyptian Government has been used to
the uttermost with their whole and ungrudging
consent. Consequently the resources of Egypt have
been probed and developed with a result which has
surprised even those who knew them best, and I
have not only been able to carry on the
administration of my command, but also to assist
materially the interests of the Mediterranean
Expeditionary Force which were centred here, and
to administer Martial Law without inconvenience
and with a staff scarcely larger than that of the
small garrison maintained here before the war.
I therefore desire
to bring to your Lordship's notice for favourable
consideration the names of those officials of the
Egyptian Government whom I have mentioned.
In conclusion I wish
to express my gratitude for the assistance and
advice of His Britannic Majesty's High
Commissioner, Sir H. MacMahon, G.C.V.O., etc., and
to bring to your notice the valuable work and
assistance of Major-General H. E. Stanton,
Brigadier-General in charge of Administration, and
Brigadier-General N. Malcolm, Brigadier, General
I am submitting in a
separate Despatch the names of those I wish to
bring to your Lordship's notice for favourable
consideration on account of the services they have
have the honour to be, Your Lordship's obedient
G. MAXWELL, General, Commanding the Force in
DESPATCH No. IV.
Headquarters, Force in Egypt. Cairo, 16th March,
continuation of my despatch of the 1st March,
1916, I have the honour to submit the names of
officers and other ranks whom I desire to bring to
1.- In connection with operations on the Western
II.- In connection with Administration in Egypt.
have the honour to be, My Lord, Your most obedient
G. MAXWELL, General, Commanding the Force in
Operations on Western Front. Commanders and Staff.
in Army lists)
Royal Naval Armoured Car Division.
Comdr. C. Lister, R.N.V.R.
F. A. Yeo, R.N.V.R.
Administration in Egypt. Commands and Staff.
in Army lists)
Sir R. H. Peirse, K.C.B., M.V.O.,
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies.
H. R. Robinson, P.N.T.O.
DESPATCH No. V.
Headquarters, Cairo. London, 9th April, 1916.
On 1st March I
submitted a report on the Force in Egypt up to the
31st January, 1916. I now have the honour to
supplement that report up to 19th March, 1916, the
date on which I handed over command to General Sir
A. J. Murray, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., C.V.O.,. D.S.O.,
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, Expeditionary
The present Despatch
describes the operations under Major-General W. E.
Peyton, C.B., C.V.O., D.S.O., for the
re-occupation of' Sollum. I also venture to submit
herewith, for Your Lordship's favourable
consideration, the names of those officers,
non-commissioned and men, who have especially
distinguished themselves during the period covered
by this despatch.
have the honour to be Your Lordship's obedient
G. MAXWELL, General.
The Re-occupation of Sollum.
My last Despatch
ended with the successful engagement at Hazalin,
and General Wallace's resignation of the command
of the Western Frontier Force, on grounds which
have already been explained.
assumption of command on the 9th February
practically coincided with the final
reorganisation of the force, and the provision of
sufficient camel transport to render the column
completely mobile. Henceforth it was possible to
follow up any success, instead of having to return
to Matruh after each engagement. This meant that
the reoccupation of Sollum, which had already
received War Office sanction, was now a
possibility, and preparations were pushed on as
rapidly as possible.
various sources was to the effect that the main
hostile force, with certain reinforcements, was in
the neighbourhood of Barrani, and that another
smaller body was in the Camp at Sollum. It was
clear that if the country was to be pacified these
forces must be beaten. Two courses were open to
(i) To attack at
Barrani, and simultaneously to land a force at
Sollum by sea.
(ii) To move by
land, to supply the force by sea at Barrani, and
to arrange for naval co-operation at any point
which might be necessary.
were, as always, prepared to give me every
assistance in whichever course I might decide to
On the one hand,
Sollum Bay is completely commanded by encircling
heights, and, as it would be necessary to remove
the mines which had been laid at the entrance,
surprise would be impossible. On the other hand,
the country between Barrani and Sollum was known
to be almost devoid of water, and the physical
difficulties to be overcome would certainly be
Matruh, and going into the question on the spot
with General Wallace, who had not yet left, and
with Commander Eyres Monsell, Royal Navy,
I decided to utilise the land route only; supplies
to be put by sea into Barrani and Sollum as soon
as possible after their re-occupation by us.
These were my
instructions to General Peyton when he left Cairo
to take over command. As you are already aware, he
carried them out, with the assistance of the Navy,
to my complete satisfaction.
Just as the
preparations for the advance were approaching
completion, news was received that a hostile force
had occupied the Baharia Oasis on the 11th
February. This oasis lies some 200 miles
south-west of Cairo and about 100 miles from the
rich and thickly populated districts of Fayum and
Minia. The strength of this force, which was
discovered by an air reconnaissance on the day of
its arrival, was said to be about 500 men; it was
increased on the following day to about 1,000.
Further reinforcements are known to have arrived
from the west, and the more southerly oases of
Farafra and Dakhla had both been occupied by the
27th. All reports are to the effect that an
orderly form of Government has been set up -
indeed in most cases the Egyptian officials are
believed to be carrying on their ordinary duties,
but a few Copts have been induced to embrace the
Moslem faith. This move of the enemy had, of
course, been foreseen, and I had obtained War
Office sanction to organise a command, under
Major-General J. Adye, C.B., for the defence of
the southern provinces of Egypt. This command had
recently come into being, and General Adye was
able to establish his headquarters at Beni Suef
and to arrange for a thorough system of patrols
from the Fayum to the neighbourhood of Assiut and
the south, with a small guard on the important
bridge over the Nile at Nag Hamadi. Subsequently,
as our successful operations cleared the situation
in the north, and the centre of gravity began to
shift southward, General Adye was able to
strengthen and to extend his defensive line until,
at the moment of handing over my command to Sir A.
Murray, his most southerly detachment was at Esna.
Meanwhile I had
withdrawn the Civil Officials from the Kharga
Oasis as soon as it was known that Dakhla was in
the enemy's hands. I had the choice of occupying
and protecting that oasis or of withdrawing from
it everything which would be of value to the
enemy, and contenting myself with occasional
patrols. The strategical importance of these oases
is, of course, very obvious, but in view of the
uncertainty as to what troops would be under my
command at any moment I considered that any
enterprise distant from the Nile Valley would be
out of place, and I restricted General Adye to
purely defensive measures, with, however,
instructions to prepare a small mobile column;
with which he could strike at the enemy should he
approach the cultivation.
All this time the
oases were kept under constant observation by
means of aeroplanes. Very long flights were
necessary, and to reduce them as much as possible
a system of advanced depots in the desert was
started. The credit for originating this system is
due to Lieut. (now Captain) Van Rynefeld, R.F.C.,
and to Mr. Jennings Bramley, of the Sudan Civil
Service, and was first put into practice on the
occasion of the flight to Qara mentioned in my
Such was the
situation when I handed over my command on the
preparations for the advance in the North were
steadily proceeding. An advanced depot was
established at Unjeila on the 16th February, and,
on the 20th February, General Peyton despatched a
force under Brig.- General H. T. Lukin, C.M.G.,
D.S.O., consisting of one squadron Royal Bucks
Hussars, Queen's Own Dorset. Yeomanry, Notts
Battery, R.H.A., 1st South African Brigade,. less
the 2nd and 4th Battalions, a detachment 1/6th
Royal Scots and two field ambulances, with orders
to establish itself at Barrani, and thus to secure
the second stepping-stone on the way to Sollum.
On the following day
the hostile forces were located by air
reconnaissance at Agagia, some fourteen miles
south-east of Barrani. Reports by surrendered
Bedouin confirmed the accuracy of this
information, and added that both Nuri Bey and
Gaafer Pasha were in the camp, although Sayed
Ahmed himself had left for Siwa.
As General Peyton
considered that the advanced force was
sufficiently strong to overthrow any opposition
which it was likely to encounter he ordered
General Lukin to continue his march and to attack
so soon as he was within striking distance of his
In accordance with
this order the original March programme was
adhered to, and on the 24th February General Lukin
camped at the Wadi Maktil. The 25th was to be a
day of rest preliminary to a night approach and
attack at dawn on the 26th. However, as on all
previous occasions, Gaafer Pasha again showed that
he was by no means disposed passively to await
attack, and at 5.30 p.m. on the 25th two field
guns and at least one machine gun opened fire upon
the camp. The action which followed was without
importance as the enemy's artillery was soon
silenced and the threatened attack was repelled
with a loss to ourselves of one man killed and one
wounded. Nevertheless it had been sufficient to
bring about a change in General Lukin's plans, and
the night march was abandoned in favour of
reconnaissance sent out at daylight on the 26th
found that the position occupied by the enemy on
the previous evening had been vacated during the
night, but aerial reconnaissance and officers'
patrols discovered him in his old position near
Agagia. Having collected sufficient information to
enable him to form his plans General Lukin moved
out at 9.30 a.m. with his whole force except for a
small detachment left to guard his camp. By 10.15
a.m. the Yeomanry had seized a hillock 4,000 yards
north of the enemy's position, and three-quarters
of an hour later the attack was developed. In the
centre the 3rd South African Infantry advanced on
a front of about 1,700 yards, the Yeomanry (less
one squadron) and two armoured cars operated on
the right flank with orders to pursue the moment
the enemy should break; on the left was the
remaining squadron with two more armoured cars.
The 1st South African Infantry and two armoured
cars formed the general reserve.
As the attack
developed the enemy opened a fairly heavy fire
with rifles and machine guns, and two or three
field guns distributed their fire over the field.
The 3rd South African Infantry moved forward with
admirable steadiness. Then, acting exactly as on
previous occasions, the enemy's infantry moving
very rapidly, attempted an outflanking movement
against General Lukin's left. This was met by a
company from the reserve sent up in echelon behind
the threatened flank, and the counter-attack at
once faded away.
As soon as the
danger was over General Lukin, acting with
admirable promptitude, withdrew his squadron from
his left flank and sent it to strengthen his main
pursuing force on his right, and there is little
doubt that this quick decision did much to ensure
the success of the subsequent operations. As the
firing line was now within 500 yards of the
position, General. Lukin threw into the fight the
greater portion of his reserves, including his
last two armoured cars, and at the same time sent
a staff officer to warn Colonel Souter, of the
Dorset Yeomanry, to be ready for his opportunity.
In the face of this vigorous action the enemy was
compelled to evacuate his position, and, in exact
accordance with the plans, the fight was: taken up
by the cavalry. The rest of the story may be told
in the words of Colonel Souter's report:
"About 1 p.m. I
received a message from the G.O.C. saying that he
wished me to pursue and to cut off the enemy, if
possible. It was my intention to let the enemy get
clear of the sandhills, where there might have
been wire or trenches, and then to attack him in
the open. I therefore pursued on a line parallel
to, and about 1,000 yards west of the line of
retreat, attacking with dismounted fire wherever
the horses wanted an easy. About 2 p.m. I saw for
the first time the whole retreating force extend
for about a mile with a depth of 300 to 400 yards.
In front were the camels and baggage, escorted by
irregulars, with their proper fighting force
(Muhafizia) and maxims forming their rear and
flank guard. I decided to attack mounted. About 3
p.m. I dismounted for the last time to give my
horses a breather and to make a careful
examination of the ground over which I was about
to move. By this time the Dorset Regiment was
complete, and as the Squadron of the Bucks
Yeomanry had gone on ahead and could not be found,
I attacked with Dorsets alone. The attack was made
in two lines, the horses galloping steadily, and
well in hand. Three maxims were brought into
action against us, but the men were splendidly led
by their squadron and troop leaders, and their
behaviour was admirable. About 50 yards from the
position I gave the order to charge, and with one
yell the Dorsets hurled themselves upon the enemy,
who immediately broke. In the middle of the
enemy's lines my horse was killed under me, and,
by a curious chance, his dying strides brought me
to the ground within a few yards of the Senussi
General, Gaafer Pasha."
At this moment
Colonel Souter was alone, except for Lieutenant
Blaksley and Yeoman Brown, both of the Dorset
Yeomanry, who had also had their horses shot under
them. Around them about 50 fit or lightly wounded
enemy, and the situation was distinctly
threatening until the arrival of the machine gun
section decided the issue. Gaafer Pasha and his
staff were then escorted from the field to a place
For this happy
result great credit is due to Colonel Souter,
whose resolution and coolness stood him in great
stead at a very critical moment. His name has
already been submitted to Your Lordship for
Colonel Souter adds:
"It is difficult
accurately to express the effect of this cavalry
charge on the enemy. Throughout the day he had
fought with extreme boldness, but when the horses
got into him he had only one thought, and that was
to get away."
The losses in this
remarkable exploit were severe, but they were
justified by both the moral and material result
achieved. One squadron was deprived of all its
leaders, two being killed and two having their
horses killed under them. Without their officers'
control the men carried on too far, and it was
this squadron that suffered most of the
casualties. The enemy's losses' were also heavy,
and it is most improbable that anything would have
induced them to stand up to well-handled cavalry
This action on the
26th completed the first stage of General Peyton's
advance on Sollum, for Barrani was occupied
without further opposition on the 28th February.
The next stage was to bring up the remainder of
his force and to put sufficient stores into
Barrani to enable the advance to be continued.
This was a naval operation. For various
reasons the advance had been begun some days
earlier than I had intended or than the Navy had
been led to expect. The Australian Train, which
had worked splendidly, was required for duty
elsewhere, and, although 2,000 transport camels
had been provided, we were still dependent upon
the supply ships. Fortunately, these had been
provided and stocked in ample time, and Captain
Burmester, R.N., and Commander Eyres Monsell were,
in fact, able to put supplies into Barrani about a
week earlier than the date originally given to
The remainder of the
South African Infantry Brigade and the second
Mounted Brigade, together with the two sections of
the Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery, were
accordingly brought from Mersa Matruh, and the
whole force was assembled at Barrani by the 8th
After their defeat
at Agagia on the 26th February the enemy retreated
westwards towards Sollum, and the Egyptian Bedouin
(Aulad Ali) began to desert him in large numbers
and to appeal to General Peyton for pardon. A
number of prominent Sheikhs came into his camp,
but the necessity of pushing on the operations
made it impossible to enter into lengthy
negotiations for the moment. Air reconnaissance
and native report established the fact that the
enemy had reoccupied their old camps at Bir Warr
and Msead, which had been Sayed Ahmed's
headquarters before the opening of hostilities,
and it was possible that reinforcements might be
coming up from Cyrenaica.
From Barrani to
Sollum two possible routes were open to General
Peyton. One, following the Khedival road along the
coast line; the other climbing on to the inland
plateau by the Nagb Medean or some other of the
various passes, and then following along the
higher ground towards the camp at Msead.
Tactically and strategically the latter route was
undoubtedly to be preferred, since at Sollum the
escarpment rises sheerly from the shores of the
bay, and to climb it there in the face of
opposition must entail heavy loss of life. As is
usual in African campaigning the water question
was as important as either tactics or strategy. In
this case all information was to the effect that a
good supply could be found in the wells at
Augerin, and that there were large cisterns at the
Nagib Medean and Siwiat. This meant that by
careful use of the reserve water park which had
been organized, and by moving in two bodies, the
whole force could use the inland road by the
The first column,
which comprised all the infantry and slow moving
troops, left Barrani on the 9th March, under
General Lukin, with orders to secure a foothold on
the plateau, using the Nagb Medean. The second
column, comprised of mounted troops, horses and
camels, was to leave two days later and to reach
Augerin on the day after the Nagb Medean had been
secured. That is to say, that the whole force
would have been concentrated at Augerin with its
outposts in the high ground ready to make its
final and decisive attack upon Bir Warr and Msead.
This plan was upset by the discovery, on March
12th, that previous reports as to water were far
too optimistic. The supply at Augerin was found to
be quite inadequate, and the cisterns at Medean
and Siwiat were both reported to be dry. Some
reconsideration, therefore, became necessary. The
situation at that moment was as follows:
The armoured cars
had reached the plateau, using the most westerly
pass near Alim er Rabia. Telephone conversation
cleverly intercepted at Barrani by a
Turkish-speaking operator showed that the enemy
was anxious, and in two minds whether to fight or
fly; and Captain Blunt, R.E., had discovered a
cistern at Alim Tejdid containing sufficient water
for two battalions for one night. General Peyton
was still rightly averse to risking the losses
which he would suffer if compelled to attack the
Sollum heights from the coastline, especially as
he had already made good a footing on the plateau.
On the other hand, the water on the inland route
was only sufficient for a portion of his troops.
He therefore decided to send two battalions of
infantry, the armoured cars, his camel corps
company, and his mountain guns under General Lukin
along the top of the escarpment, while the
remainder of his force was to move by the coast.
At midnight on the 13th/14th General Lukin was at
Siwiat, the remaining infantry was at Alim Tejdid,
and the mounted troops at Bagbag. On the morning
of the 14th both columns moved towards Sollum; at
9 a.m. aeroplane reconnaissance reported that the
enemy was evacuating his camps. The mounted troops
under General Peyton then joined General Lukin's
column on the high ground, and, as the aeroplane
had discovered a hostile force some 20 miles to
the west, the armoured oars, under Major the Duke
of Westminster, were sent on in pursuit.
The result of this
pursuit has already been fully reported. It
resulted, as Your Lordship is aware, in the
capture of all the enemy's guns and machine guns,
together with about 40 prisoners, including three
Turkish officers, and in inflicting on the enemy a
loss of 50 killed and many wounded. Our loss in
this exceptionally successful affair was one
British officer slightly wounded.
By the re-occupation
of Sollum and this pursuit by the armoured cars,
the defeat of the northern column operating
against Egypt was made complete. In little more
than three weeks General Peyton's force had
cleared the country of the enemy for 150 miles,
had captured his commander, had taken all his
artillery and machine guns, and had driven his
scattered forces far beyond the Egyptian frontier.
more object remained to be achieved. It was known
that somewhere in Cyrenaica the Senussi held some
95 British prisoners, survivors from the
"Tara" and ''Moorina,'' which had been
torpedoed in November. After thorough examination
of prisoners taken on the 14th, Captain Boyle came
to the conclusion that these prisoners could be
found at a place some 75 miles west of Sollum. It
was decided to make the attempt, and, as has also
already been reported, it also was a complete
success. The task was again entrusted to the light
armoured car battery, under Major the Duke of
Westminster, accompanied by the motor ambulances.
The distance travelled was 120 miles, and the fact
that the rescue was effected without any loss of
life does not, in my opinion, detract in any way
from the brilliance of the exploit. To lead his
cars through perfectly unknown country against an
enemy of unknown strength was a feat which
demanded great resolution, and which should not be
forgotten even in this war, where deeds of rare
daring are of daily occurrence.
With the rescue of
the prisoners and the safe return of the armoured
cars, the campaign in the west came to an end, and
I think it may fairly be claimed that seldom has a
small campaign been so completely successful or
had such far-reaching results.
The effect of this
success has been to remove the anxiety which was
at one time felt as to the possibility of hostile
outbreaks in Egypt itself, where agitation was
known to be rife. The attitude of the people in
Alexandria, and more especially of the very large
Bedouin population of the Behera province, has
completely changed, and any prestige which we have
lost through the evacuation of Sollum has been
more than recovered. Moreover, through his failure
as a temporal leader, Sayed Ahmed has lost much of
the influence which was attached to him as a
On the west the
Aulad Ali, who had been induced to throw in their
lot with the Senussi in the belief that they would
soon be able to raid the rich lands of the Delta,
have been reduced to a state of starvation, and
are now surrendering in such large numbers that
feeding them has become so serious a problem that
it has been necessary to establish, a special
branch of the administration for their protection
On the east, the
failure of the Turks to carry out their threat to
attack Egypt and seize the Suez Canal has
similarly resulted in a loss of credit and
prestige. In the south, scattered forces: still
hold the Oases, and the inherent difficulties of
desert campaigning will make them troublesome to
deal with; but the failures in east and west have,
it may fairly be claimed, had the result of
establishing our hold upon Egypt more firmly than
ever, and of convincing all the more enlightened
of the people that they can gain nothing by
intriguing with our enemies.
List of Recommendations.
in Army lists)
General Headquarters Staff.
Capt. R. M., C.M.G., R.N.
Lt.- Comdr. (Acting Comdr.) B. M., R.N., M.P.
Comdr. (Resident Naval Officer) G. C., R.N.
Lt.- Comdr. W. P., R.N., ret.
- 30 JUNE 1916
CAMPAIGN - NAVAL MENTIONS
dated 8 May 1916
War Office, 30th June 1916.
Despatch has been received by the Secretary
of State for War from Lieutenant-General The Hon.
J. C. Smuts, Commander- in-Chief , East African
General Headquarters, East Africa, 8th May, 1916.
My Lord, In
accordance with the last paragraph of my Despatch
dated 30th April, 1916, I have the honour to bring
to notice the names of those whom I recommend for
gallant and distinguished service in the Field.
have the honour to be, Your Lordship's obedient
C. SMUTS, Lieutenant-General,
Commander-in-Chief, East African Force
Comdr. G. H., R.N.
Comdr. G. S., R.N.
Royal Naval Reserve.
Lt. C. B., R.N.R.
Royal Naval Armoured Cars.
Lt.- Comdr. H. G., R.N., Comdg. No. 10 R.N. Armrd.
Car Bty (Lt., R.N.V.R.).
Sub-Lt. R., R.N.V.R.
No. F. 512 C.P.O. Mechanic, 3rd Grade, A.,
No. F. 804 P.O. Mechanic T., R.N.A.S.
No. F. 1084 P.O. Mechanic J. L., R.N.A.S.
by Army lists)
- 4 JULY 1916
INDIAN EMPIRE OPERATIONS
ARMY DESPATCH dated 9 March
including Red Sea and Madras
War Office, 4th July, 1916.
Government of India has forwarded for publication
the following despatch from General Sir Beauchamp
Duff, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, India, on
military operations in the Indian Empire since the
outbreak of war:
Army Headquarters, India,
Delhi, 9th March, 1916.
the Commander-in-Chief, India,
the Secretary to the Government of India, Army
have the honour to submit the following despatch,
which deals with the minor military operations
undertaken since the outbreak of the present war,
on the North-West Frontier and elsewhere in the
Indian Empire, including Aden. They are described
in the following order:
(a) The Tochi Valley
(b) Mohmands, Swat and
(c) Black Mountain,
OPERATIONS IN THE VICINITY OF
On the outbreak of war with Turkey, on 31st
October, 1914, reports indicated that the Turks
were in some strength in the Shaikh Sa’id
peninsula, and tlhat they were preparing to
despatch troops to act against the Aden
Protectorate. Consequently on November 3rd orders
were issued to Brigadier-General H. V. Cox, C.B.,
C.S.I., Commanding 29th Indian Infantry Brigade,
then on the voyage to Suez, to capture Shaikh
Sa’id and destroy the Turkish works, armaments and
wells at that place. Three battalions from the
29th Indian Infantry Brigade and the 23rd Sikh
Pioneers were detailed for this operation, in
which H.M.S. “Duke of Edinburgh”
November 10th the transports conveying the force
arrived off the coast of the Shaikh Sa’id
peninsula, but adverse weather conditions
prevented a landing at the point first selected.
While the transports were moving to an alternative
landing place, H.M.S. “Duke of Edinburgh” engaged
the Turkish defences with satisfactory results.
by the fire of the naval guns, a landing was
effected, all opposition encountered was overcome
and the enemy were driven in land, abandoning
their field guns. On November 11th Turbah Fort and
other Turkish works in the vicinity were destroyed
by the troops and a naval demolition party,
and the force, having effected its object,
forwarding his report on these operations, General
Cox brings to notice the valuable assistance
received by him in the disembarkation and
re-embarkation of his force from Captain H.
Blackett, R.N., H.M.S. “Duke of Edinburgh”
and all under his command.
some time after the operations described above the
Turks did not show signs of advancing with a view
to attacking Aden; but their presence on the
northern boundary of the Protectorate rendered it
desirable to strengthen somewhat the garrison of
Sa’id was again occupied by the enemy, and on the
night of June 14th-15th, 1915, he endeavoured to
effect a landing on the north coast of the Island
of Perim. This attack was successfully driven off
by the detachment, 23rd Sikh Pioneers, which
formed the garrison of the island, under the
command of Captain A. G. C. Hutchinson.
During May 1915 the enemy was reported to be
becoming more active, and during the latter half
of June reports indicated a possible Turkish
advance on Lahai from Mawiyah. On definite
information being received that such an advance
was about to be made, Major-General D. G. L. Shaw,
commanding Aden Brigade, ordered the Aden Moveable
Column, under Lieutenant-Colonel H. F. A. Pearson,
23rd Sikh Pioneers, to move out to Shaikh Othman
on the evening of the 3rd July.
the following morning the advance was continued to
Lahaj, to which place the Aden Troop had
previously been despatched. The intense heat, sand
and shortage of water rendered the march and the
subsequent operations most trying, but
nevertheless the advanced guard reached their
objective, and engaged the Turks just beyond Lahaj
on the evening of the 4th July.
the desertion of the hired camels and the severe
climatic conditions so delayed and distressed the
main body as to necessitate a withdrawal from
Lahaj to Khor Maksar on July 5th.
recording this, Major-General Shaw pays a tribute
to the devotion to duty of the men of the Royal
Artillery, who effected the withdrawal of their
guns under the most trying conditions.
On the withdrawal of the Aden Moveable Column to
the Khor Maksar line the Turks occupied Shaikh
Othman, and it was decided to increase temporarily
the Aden garrison.
July 20th, the 28th (Frontier Force) Brigade, with
a battery Royal Horse Artillery and a detachment
of Sappers and Miners, afterwards reinforced by
another battery and the Aden Troop, the whole
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel A. M. S.
Elsmie, 56th Punjabi Rifles (Frontier Force),
moved out of Aden to attack the enemy next
morning. The Turks, completely surprised, were
expelled from Shaikh Othman. Their casualties were
some 50-60, in addition to several hundred
prisoners, mostly Arabs.
August 24th a small column under the command of
Major W. J. Ottley, 23rd Sikh Pioneers, engaged
the garrison of the Turkish post of Fiyush and
forced the enemy to retire on Lahaj.
on August 28th a similar successful reconnaissance
was made towards Waht.
September reports indicated that the Turks were
preparing to retire from Lahaj; a column under
Lieutenant-Colonel A. M. S. Elsmie, 56th Punjabi
Rifles (Frontier Force), was therefore directed to
ascertain the situation at Waht. On September 25th
this column surprised the enemy, estimated at 700
Turks with 8 guns and 1,000 Arabs, and seized and
Sir G. J. Younghusband, K.C.I.E., C.B., who was
commanding the Aden Brigade during a portion of
the period when these operations took place,
brings to notice the great assistance he received
on all occasions both by sea and land from Captain
Hall Thompson, R.N., H.M.S. “Philomel.’’
In October, and again in December, our cavalry
have had small affairs with hostile reconnoitring
parties, in which the latter were driven off with
loss, and in December friendly Arabs, supported by
a small infantry detachment, drove off a hostile
Turkish and Arab force which was advancing on
to the Turks despatching troops to coerce the
tribes in the East of the Aden Protectorate, a
demonstration in support of these tribes was made
by the Aden Moveable Column on January 12th, 1916,
in the direction of Subar. The column located a
Turkish force near Subar and engaged it,
inflicting considerable losses on it. As a result
of this action the Turkish pressure on the Arab
tribes is reported to have been relieved.
OPERATIONS IN THE GULF OF OMAN.
Arab unrest, which had been growing in ‘Oman for
some time past, culminated on the night of
10th-11th January, 1915, in an attack by some
3,000 Arab rebels against our outpost line
covering Masqat and Matrah. In the early morning
of the 11th January the whole available British
force, under the command of Colonel S. M.
Edwardes, D.S.O., 102nd King Edward’s Own
Grenadiers, took the offensive and defeated and
drove back the rebels, who fled into the interior,
having suffered losses estimated at over 300
killed and wounded.
Edwardes brings to notice the very valuable
assistance rendered by Lieutenant-Colonel R. A. E.
Benn, Political Agent, Masqat.
On the night of 16th-17th April, 1915, a raid
against the British post at Jask by disaffected
tribesmen was successfully repulsed by the
garrison under the command of Major W. H. Lane,
95th Russell’s Infantry.
On the night of 2nd-3rd May, 1915, a body of
tribesmen made a determined attack on the British
post at Chahbar, commanded by Lieutenant C. M.
Maltby, 95th Russell’s Infantry. The attack was
driven off with loss.
Owing to the activities of certain Germans and
other enemy subjects in Persia during the latter
half of 1915, it was found necessary to strengthen
our outposts on the borders of Sistan.
troops under the command of Lieutenant- Colonel J.
M. Wikely, 28th Light Cavalry, have successfully
carried out their orders and co-operated
effectively with the Russian forces.
(not included here)
OPERATIONS IN BALUCHISTAN.
The German cruiser “Emden” appeared in the
Bay of Bengal in September, 1914, and onthe
night of 22nd-23rd September this vessel opened
fire on the port of Madras. The troops in garrison
promptly turned out and engaged the “Emden,” the
guns causing her to cease fire at once and to
sheer off. She made no further attempts on the
coasts of India.
reporting this incident the Officer Commanding,
Madras, states that he was afforded great
assistance by the Madras Artillery Volunteers,
under the command of Major H. H. G. Mitchell.
There were also in Madras the Madras Volunteer
Guards, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel F. D.
Bird, I.S.O., V.D., the Madras and Southern
Mahratta Railway Rifles, under the command of
Lieutenant-Colonel P. G. Porteous, V.D., and “G“
Troop, Southern Provinces Mounted Rifles,
commanded by Lieutenant W. J. U. Turnbull. These
units, together with His Excellency the Governor’s
Bodyguard, are reported to have been most prompt
in getting to their posts.
also comments on the good work of Commander W. B.
In August 1915, owing to tihe activity of Germans
in the Far East, certain preventive measures were
instituted to safeguard the Indian coasts and to
prevent the smuggling into the country of arms and
ammunition. These measures were arranged by the
General Officers Commanding, Karachi, Presidency
and Rangoon Brigades; His Excellency the Naval
Commander-in-Chief, China Station,
subsequently taking over control of those in the
Bay of Bengal.
I desire to take this opportunity of placing on
record my sense of obligation to His Excellency
Vice-Admiral Sir R. H. Peirse, K.C.B., M.V.O., Naval
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station, as
also to His Excellency Vice-Admiral Sir T. H. M.
Jerram, K.C.B., and Vice-Admiral W. L. Grant,
C.B., Naval Commanders-in-Chief, China Station.
these officers and to all under their command I am
greatly indebted for the very cordial co-operation
that I have at all times received from them.
have the honour to be, SIR, Your obedient
BEAUCHAMP DUFF, General, Commander-in-Chief,
- 11 JULY 1916
GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN - NAVAL
ARMY DESPATCH dated 12 July
War Office, 12th July, 1916.
reference to the despatch published on the 10th
April (London Gazette, No. 29541), the following
are mentioned for distinguished and gallant
services rendered during the period of General Sir
Charles Monro's Command of the Mediterranean
General Headquarters Staff, Etc
in Army list)
Lt-Col. St. G. B., R.M.L.I.
Lt. E. M., Anson Bn., R.N.V.R.
Col. (temp. Brig.- Gen.) D., C.B., R.M.
Col. (temp. Brig.- Gen.) N. M., V.C., C.B.,
Lt.- Col. E. J., R.M.L.I.
in Army lists)
Royal Navy and Marines.
Temp. Maj. J. W., D.S.O., R.M. (R.N. Divl.
Lt.- Comdr. E. L. C., D.S.O., R.N.
Comdr. G. T. C. P., D.S.O., R.N.
Capt. C. M., C.M.G., R.N.
Capt. D. L., C.M.G., R.N.
Comdr. H. D., D.S.O., V.D., R.N.V.R. (Drake Bn.).
Comdr. B. C., D.S.O., R.N.V.R. (Hood Bn.).
Temp. Maj. H. W., D.S.O., R.E.
Capt. C. J., R.N.R. (retired Rear- Admiral).
Acting Comdr. G. F. A., D.S.O., R.N.
Lt. R., D.S.O., R.N.
Lt.- Col. E. J., R.M.L.I., 2nd Bde., H.Q.
Lt.- Comdr. H. B., R.N.V.R. (Drake Bn.).
Acting Comdr. W. G. A., R.N. (Hawke Bn.).
Sub-Lt. S. P., R.N.V.R. (Hawke Bn.).
Surg. W., M.B., R.N. (Hawke Bn.).
Capt. A. K., R.M.L.I. (No. 1 Bn., R.M.L.I.).
Lt.- Col. A. R. H., R.M.L.I. (No. 2 Bn.,
Lt.- Comdr. P. H., R.N.V.R. (Howe Bn.).
la Motte, Lt. C. D. F., R.N.V.R. (Howe Bn.).
Comdr. J. P. R., R.N. (attached A. & N.Z.
Po./855 (S) Acting Corpl. R., R.M.L.I. (Divl. Cy.
London, 8/2922 P.O. C. L., R.N.V.R. (Drake Bn.).
London, Z. 385 C.P.O. W. C., R.N.V.R.
Mersey 7/5 C.P.O. W. J., R.N.V.R. (Nelson Bn.).
Clyde, Z. 232 Leading Seaman J., R.N.V.R (Drake
Tyneside, Z. 1299 Leading Seaman G. F., R.N.V.R.
Tyneside, Z. 960 Leading Seaman H. E., R.N.V.R.
(Hawke Bn.) (died of wounds).
K.W. 747 A.B., G., R.N.V.R. (Hood Bn.).
Clyde, 2/61 C.P.O., E., R.N.V.R. (Hood Bn.).
Ch./276773 P.O. A. E. (Hood Bn.).
No. Ply./191(S) Pte. G., R.M.L.I.
Po./16280 Serjt. A. H. (No. 1 Bn., R.M.L.I.).
Ply./1881 Acting Serjt.- Maj. E., W.O., Cl.1.,
R.M.L.I. (now Qrmr. and Hon. Lt.).
Po./15585 Acting Corpl. E. A. (No. 2 Bn.,
Po./343 (S.) Pte. M. (No. 2 Bn., R.M.L.I.).
Ch./SS/105803 E.F.E./B/ . C.P.O., T. (Howe Bn.).
Sussex, 1/218 Leading Seaman G. W., R.N.V.R. (Howe
Clyde, Z. 1646 Leading Seaman D., R.N.V.R. (Howe
Po./.846 (S.) R.M.L.I. Corpl. F. (No. 2 Bn.,
Ch.R.F.R. B/1952 Pte. T. H., R.M.L.I., Chatham Bn.
Royal Naval Armoured Car
Lt.- Comdr. A. D., R.N.V.R. (since transferred to
F.856 P.O. Mechanic F. B.
F.1391 P.O. M. A.
F.1255 P.O. J. V.
F.1172 P.O. J. H.
Royal Naval Air Service.
Comdr. C. B., D.S.O., R.N., Wing Comdr., R.N.A.S.
Lt.- Col. E. L., R.M.L.I., Wing Comdr., R.N.A.S.
Lt. E. B., V.C., D.S.O., R.N., Wing Comdr.,
Mersey 3/193 Signalman S. V., R.N.V.R. (deceased).
Maj. F. J., D.S.O., R.M.L.I., Bde. Maj.
Ch. 10171 Qrmr.- Serjt. W.
R.F.R., Ch.B.1826 Pte. J. J., R.M.L.I.
Lt.-Col. C. G., R.M.
Lt. A., R.N.V.R.
Lt. S. L., R.N.V.R.
Lt. E. V., R.N.V.R.
2/19M. P.O., H. A.
Dev.176156 C.P.O. E. W. J., R.N.
Sussex Z.64 Able Seaman W. E., R.N.V.R.
Sussex, 1/352 Leading Seaman G., R.N.V.R.
Lt. and Qrmr. R., R.M.
Bristol, 2/1221 Able Seaman G. H., R.N.V.R.
London, Z.2088 Able Seaman J. W., R.N.V.R.
Clyde, Z.3018 Able Seaman J., R.N.V.R.
London, Z. 1216 Able Seaman A. G., R.N.V.R.
Clyde, Z.971 Leading Seaman C. M., R.N.V.R.
1st Royal Marine Battalion.
Lt.- Col. G. J. H., R.M.
Capt. T. H., R.M.
Capt. J. C., R.M.L.I.
Lt. T. A., R.M.
Lt. C. W., R.M.
Lt. F. W., R.M.
Temp. 2nd Lt. J., R.M.
Ch/11201 Acting Serjt.- Maj. W., R.M.L.I.
Ply.12001, Serjt, J. L.
Ch.9244 Clr.- Serjt. F., R.M.L.I.
Ch.328 (S) Pte. S., R.M.L.I.
2nd Royal Marine Battalion.
Acting Lt. E. G. M., R.M.
Acting Lt. R. A. D., R.M.
Temp. Lt. L. C. T., R.M.
Lt. G., R.M.
Capt. C. G., R.M.
Capt. V. D., R.M.L.I.
Ply. 14106 Acting Serjt. S. J., R.M.L.I.
Ply. 16706 Pte. F. S., R.M.L.I.
Po1. R.F.R., B.1027 Acting Corpl. R. J., R.M.L.I.
Ply. 12302 Acting Serjt. W., R.M.L.I.
Divisional Cyclist Company.
Acting Lt. T. H., R.M.
Ch. R.F.R., B.1609 Serjt. B., R.M.L.I.
6889 Serjt. P. R., R.M.A.
Capt: J. S., R.M.
Lt. A. M., R.M. (died of wounds).
Capt. J. W., R.M.
Lt. C. F., R.M.
Capt. R., R.M.
Depot/S/421 Serjt. S., R.M.
587 Serjt. G. A.
Depot/S/234 Serjt. R. O. C., R.M.
Depot/S/314 Serjt. A. B. L., R.M.
26 Serjt. F. P.
Divisional Signal Company.
Lt. C., R.M.
466 Serjt. A. C.
Depot/S/642 Serjt. W. H., R.M.
Depot/S/11 Serjt. J. H., R.M.
1215 Corpl. W. J.
Depot/S/51 Sapper J. H. P., R.M.
Depot/S/335 Sapper W. E., R.M.
Depot/S/1008 Sapper L. F., R.M.
Depot/S/5022 Sapper R. S., R.M.
Lt. E. L., R.M.
Capt. L. M., R.M.
Ch. R.F.R., B.1968 Qrmr.- Serjt. E., R.M.L.I.
Ch. 16907 Pte. W. J., R.M.L.I.
Depot/S/1744 Pte. P., R.M.
Surg. J. H., R.N.
Staff Surg. E. B., M.B., R.N.
Temp. Surg. C. F., R.N.
Temp. Surg. C. H. S., M.D., R.N.
Temp. Surg. M., R.N.
Temp. Surg. G., R.N.
Depot/S/3278 Serjt. M., R.M.
Depot/S/3265 Pte. G., R.M.
Depot/S/3200 Pte. G. E., R.M.
Depot/S/3058 Serjt. R., R.M.
Depot/S/3105 Corpl. J. H., R.M.
Rev. R. B. M., M.A., Chaplain, R.N.
Rev. B. J., B.A., Chaplain, R.N. (attached
Rev. H. C., B.A., Chaplain, R.N. (attached
Rev.. C. W. G., M. A., R.N.
Ordnance Company (Royal Naval
DV/143447 C.P.O., J., R.N.
Tyneside, Z. 1109 Serjt. L. A.
- 1 JULY 1916
MESOPOTAMIAN CAMPAIGN - NAVAL
ARMY DESPATCH dated 13 July
War Office, 13th July, 1916.
reference to the last paragraph of General Sir
John Nixon's despatch dated 17th January, 1916
(London Gazette No. 29576, dated 10th May, 1916),
the following is a list of officers and men
brought to notice by Major-General C. V. F.
Townshend, C.B., D.S.O., in connection with the
operations under his command:
Lieut.- Comdr. C. J. F.
Lieut. G. E.
Sub-Lieut. L. C. P., D.S.C.
Sub.- Lieut. J. G., R.N.R.
Royal Naval Air Service.
Flight-Lieut. V. G., D.S.C.
Flight-Lieut. A. K.
Mr G. D., Warrant Officer, 2nd grade.
by Army lists)
in other units)
Royal Indian Marine.
Lt.- Comdr. C. R.
Engineer, Lt. T.
River Transport Service.
Lt.- Comdr. C., R.N.V.R., Comdr. of "Mejidieh".
Mr., Comdr. of "T-2."
Comdr. of "Salimi."
- 21 JULY 1916
IRISH EASTER RISING
ARMY DESPATCH dated 29 May
War Office, 21st July, 1916.
following despatches have been received by the
Secretary of State for War from the Field-Marshal
Commanding-in-Chief, Home Forces:
General Headquarters, Home
Forces, Horse Guards, London, S.W. 29th May,
have the honour to forward herewith a Report which
I have received from the General Officer
Commanding-in-chief, Irish Command, relating to
the recent outbreak in Dublin and the measures
taken for its suppression.
It will be observed that the rebellion broke out
in Dublin at 12.15 p.m. on April 24th, and that by
5.20 p.m. on the same afternoon a considerable
force from the Curragh had arrived in Dublin to
reinforce the garrison, and other troops were on
their way from Athlone, Belfast, and Templemore.
The celerity with which these reinforcements
became available says much for the arrangements
which had been made to meet such a contingency.
I was informed of the outbreak by wire on the
afternoon of the 24th ult., and the 59th Division
at St. Albans was at once put under orders to
proceed to Ireland, and arrangements were put in
train for their transport. After seeing General
Friend I gave orders for the movement of two
brigades to commence as soon as their transport
could be arranged. I am aware that in doing so I
was acting beyond the powers which were delegated
to me, but I considered the situation to be so
critical that it was1 necessary to act at once
without reference to the Army Council.
On the morning of the 28th April General Sir John
Maxwell, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., C.V.O., D.S.O., arrived
in Ireland to assume command.
I beg to bring to your notice the assistance
afforded to me by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty,
who met every request made to them for men, guns
and transport with the greatest promptitude, and
whose action enabled me to reinforce and maintain
the garrisons in the South and West of Ireland
without unduly drawing upon the troops which it
was desirable to retain in England.
have the honour to be, Your Lordship's most
Commanding-in-Chief, Home Forces.
From the General Officer,
Commanding-in-Chief, The Forces in Ireland.
To the Field-Marshal,
Commanding-in-Chief, The Home Forces
Headquarters, Irish Command,
Dublin, 25th May, 1916.
have the honour to report the operations of the
Forces now under my command from Monday, 24th
April, when the rising in Dublin began.
On Easter Monday, 24th April, at 12.15 p.m., a
telephone message was received from the Dublin
Metropolitan Police saying that Dublin Castle was
being attacked by armed Sinn Feiners. This was
immediately confirmed by the Dublin Garrison
Adjutant, who reported that in the absence of
Colonel Kennard, the Garrison Commander, who had
left his office shortly before, and was prevented
by the rebels from returning, he had ordered all
available troops from Portobello, Richmond and
Royal Barracks to proceed to the Castle, and the
6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment towards Sackville
fighting strengths of the troops available in
Dublin at this moment were:
6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment,
35 officers, 851 other ranks.
3rd Royal Irish Regiment, 18
officers, 385 other ranks.
10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 37
officers, 430 other ranks.
3rd Royal Irish Rifles, 21
officers, 650 other ranks.
these troops, an inlying picquet of 400 men, which
for some days past had been held in readiness,
proceeded at once, and the remainder followed
12.30 p.m. a telephone message was sent to General
Officer Commanding, Curragh, to mobilize the
mobile column, which had been arranged for to meet
any emergency, and to despatch it dismounted to
Dublin by trains which were being sent from
column, under the command of Colonel Portal,
consisted of 1,600 officers and other ranks from
the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Brigade.
immediately after the despatch of this message
telephonic communication in Dublin became very
interrupted, and from various sources it was
reported that the Sinn Feiners had seized the
General Post Office in Sackville Street, the
Magazine in Phoenix Park, The Four Courts, Jacobs'
Biscuit Factory, and had occupied many buildings
in various parts of the City.
the occupation of the General Post Office by the
Sinn Feiners denied the use of the telegraph, a
message reporting the situation in Dublin was sent
at 1.10 p.m. to the Naval Centre at
Kingstown, asking that the information of the
rising might be transmitted by wireless through
the Admiralty to you. This was done.
The first objectives undertaken by the troops were
to recover possession of the Magazine in Phoenix
Park, where the rebels had set fire to a quantity
of ammunition, to relieve the Castle, and to
strengthen the guards on Vice-Regal Lodge and
other points of importance.
Magazine was quickly re-occupied, but the troops
moving on the Castle were held up by the rebels
who had occupied surrounding houses, and had
barricaded the streets with carts and other
1.40 p.m. and 2.0 p.m., 50 men of 3rd Royal Irish
Rifles, and 130 men of the 10th Royal Dublin
Fusiliers reached the Castle by the Ship Street
4.45 p.m. the first train from the Curragh arrived
at Kingsbridge station, and by 5.20 p.m. the whole
Cavalry Column, 1,600 strong, under the command of
Colonel Portal, had arrived, one train being sent
on from Kingsbridge to North Wall by the loop line
to reinforce the guard over the docks.
During the day the following troops were ordered
(a) A battery of four
18-pounders R.F.A., from the Reserve Artillery
Brigade at Athlone.
(b) The 4th Dublin Fusiliers
(c) A composite battalion from
(d)An additional 1,000
men from the Curragh. This message being sent by
one of the troop trains returning to the
the afternoon and evening small parties of troops
were engaged with the rebels.
3rd Royal Irish Regiment on their way to the
Castle were held up by the rebels in the South
Dublin Union, which they attacked and partially
occupied; a detachment of 2 officers and 50 men
from the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment which was
convoying some ammunition from North Wall, was
surrounded in Charles Street, but succeeded in
parking their convoy and defended this with great
gallantry for 3 ½ days, when they were relieved;
during this defence the officer in command was
killed and the remaining officer wounded.
rebels in St. Stephen's Green were attacked, and
picquets with machine guns were established in the
United Service Club and the Shelbourne Hotel with
a view to dominating the square and its exits.
9.35 p.m. Colonel Kennard, Officer Commanding
Troops, Dublin, reached the Castle with another
party of 86 men of the 3rd Royal Irish Regiment.
defence of the Docks at North Wall was undertaken
by Major H. F. Somerville, commanding a detachment
from the School of Musketry, Dollymount,
reinforced by 330 officers and men of the 9th
Reserve Cavalry Regiment.
occupation of the Customs House, which dominated
Liberty Hall, was carried out at night, and was of
great assistance in later operations against
The situation at midnight was that we held the
Magazine, Phoenix Park, the Castle and the Ship
Street entrance to it, the Royal Hospital, all
Barracks, the Kingsbridge, Amiens Street, and
North Wall railway stations, the Dublin telephone
exchange in Crown Alley, the Electric Power
Station atPigeon House Fort, Trinity
College, Mountjoy Prison, and Kingstown Harbour.
The Sinn Feiners held Sackville Street and blocks
of buildings on each side of this, including
Liberty Hall, with their headquarters at the
General Post Office, the Four Courts, Jacobs'
biscuit factory, South Dublin Union, St. Stephen's
Green, all the approaches to the Castle except the
Ship Street entrance, and many houses all over the
city, especially about Balls Bridge and Beggar's
The facility with which the Sinn Feiners were able
to seize so many important points throughout the
city was, in my opinion, due to the fact that
armed bodies of civilians have been continually
allowed to parade in and march through the streets
of Dublin and throughout the country without
result was that the movement of large forces of
armed civilians, particularly on a holiday such as
Easter Monday, passed, if not unnoticed,
unchecked, and no opposition could be offered to
them at the moment when they decided to act.
the Dublin police, being unarmed and powerless to
deal with these armed rebels, were withdrawn from
the areas occupied by them.
At the time of the rising Major-General Friend,
then commanding the troops in Ireland, was on
short leave in England, and when visiting your
headquarters at the Horse Guards on that day heard
the serious news from Dublin. He returned that
night, and arrived in Dublin early on the morning
of the 25th April.
has informed me that at a conference with you it
was decided to despatch at once two infantry
brigades of the 59th Division from England to
Ireland, and that the remaining infantry brigade
and artillery of this Division were to be held in
readiness to follow if required.
On April 25th, Brigadier-General W. H. M. Lowe,
Commanding the Reserve Cavalry Brigade at the
Curragh, arrived at Kingsbridge station at 3.45
a.m. with the leading troops from the 25th (Irish)
Reserve Infantry Brigade, and assumed command of
the forces in the Dublin area, which were roughly
2,300 men of the Dublin garrison, the Curragh
Mobile Column of 1,500 dismounted cavalrymen, and
840 men of the 25th Irish Reserve Infantry
In order to relieve and get communication with the
Castle, Colonel Portal, Commanding the Curragh
Mobile Column, was ordered to establish a line of
posts from Kingsbridge station to Trinity College
via the Castle. This was completed by 12 noon,
25th April, and with very little loss. It divided
the rebel forces into two, gave a safe line of
advance for troops extending operations to the
north or south, and permitted communication by
despatch rider with some of the Commands.
only means of communication previous to this had
been by telephone, which was unquestionably being
Dublin University O.T.C., under Captain E. H.
Alton, and subsequently Major G. A. Harris, held
the College buildings until the troops arrived.
The holding of these buildings separated the rebel
centre round the General Post Office from that
round St. Stephen's Green; it established a
valuable base for the collection of reinforcements
as they arrived, and prevented the rebels from
entering the Bank of Ireland, which is directly
opposite to and commanded ; by the College
During the day the 4th Royal Dublin Fusiliers from
Templemore, a composite Ulster battalion from
Belfast, and a battery of four 18-pounder guns
from the Reserve Artillery Brigade at Athlone
arrived, and this allowed a cordon to be
established round the northern part of the city
from Parkgate, along the North Circular Road to
North Wall. Broadstone Railway Station was cleared
of rebels, arid a barricade near Phibsborough was
destroyed by artillery fire.
a heavy fire was being kept up on the Castle from
the rebels located in the Corporation buildings,
Daily Express offices and several houses opposite
the City Hall, it was decided to attack these
assault on the Daily Express office was
successfully carried out under very heavy fire: by
a detachment of the 5th Royal Dublin Fusiliers
under 2nd Lieut. F. O'Neill.
main forces of the rebels now having been located
in and around Sackville Street, the Four Courts,
and adjoining buildings, it was decided to try to
enclose that area north of the Liffey by a cordon
of troops so as to localise as far as possible the
efforts of the rebels.
Towards evening, the 178th Infantry Brigade began
to arrive at Kingstown, and in accordance with
orders received the brigade left Kingstown by road
in two columns.
left column, consisting of the 5th and 6th
Battalions, Sherwood Foresters, by the
Stillorgan-Donnybrook road and South Circular road
to the Royal. Hospital, where it arrived without
right column, consisting of the 7th and 8th
Battalions, Sherwood Foresters, by the main tram
route through Ballsbridge, and directed on Merrion
Square and Trinity College.
column, with 7th Battalion leading, was held up at
the northern corner of Haddington Road and
Northumberland Avenue, which was strongly held by
rebels; but with the assistance of bombing parties
organized and led by Captain Jeffares, of the
Bombing School at Elm Park, the rebels were driven
3.25 p.m. the 7th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters,
met great opposition from the rebels holding the
schools and other houses on the .north side of the
road close to the bridge at Lower Mount Street,
and two officers; one of whom was the Adjutant,
Captain Dietrichsen, were killed and seven
wounded, including Lieutenant-Colonel Fane, who,
though wounded, remained in action.
about 5.30 p.m. orders were received that the
advance to Trinity College was to be pushed
forward at all costs, and therefore at about 8
p.m., after careful arrangements, the whole
column, accompanied by bombing parties, attacked
the schools and houses where the chief opposition
lay, the battalions charging in successive waves,
carried all before them, but, I regret to say,
suffered severe casualties in doing so.
officers were killed, 14 wounded, and of other
ranks 216 were killed and wounded.
steadiness shown by these two battalions is
deserving of special mention, as I understand the
majority of the men have less than three months'
view of the opposition met with, it was not
considered advisable to push on to Trinity College
that night, so at 11 p.m. the 5th South
Staffordshire Regiment, from the 176th Infantry
Brigade, reinforced this column, and by occupying
the positions gained allowed the two battalions
Sherwood Foresters to be concentrated at
connection with this fighting at Mount Street
Bridge, where our heaviest casualties occurred, I
should like to mention the gallant assistance
given by a number of medical men, ladies, nurses
and women servants, who at great risk brought in
and tended to the wounded, continuing their
efforts even when deliberately fired at by the
Meanwhile severe fighting had taken place in the
Sackville Street quarter. At 8 a.m. Liberty Hall,
the former headquarters of the Sinn Feiners, was
attacked by field guns from the south bank of the
River Liffey, and by a gun from the patrol
ship Helga, with the result that
considerable progress was made.
the night of 26th/27th April several fires broke
out in this quarter and threatened to become
dangerous, as the fire brigade could not get to
work owing to their being fired upon by the
rebels. Throughout the day further troops of the
176th Brigade arrived in the Dublin area.
On 27th April the:
2/6th Sherwood Foresters,
3rd Royal Irish Regiment, The
Ulster composite battalion,
the command of Colonel Portal, began and completed
by 5 p.m. the forming of a cordon round the rebels
in the Sackville Street area, which operation was
carried out with small loss.
12.45 p.m. Linen Hall barracks, which were
occupied by the Army Pay Office, were reported to
have been set on fire by the rebels and were
night-fall the 177th Infantry Brigade had arrived
at Kingstown, where it remained for the night.
At 2 a.m. on the 28th April, I arrived at North
Wall and found many buildings in Sackville Street
burning fiercely, illuminating the whole city, and
a fusillade of rifle fire going on in several
quarters of the city.
by several Staff Officers who had come with me, I
proceeded to the Royal Hospital.
a conference with Major-General Friend and
Brigadier-General Lowe, I instructed the latter to
close in on Sackville Street from East and West,
and to carry out a house-to-house search in areas
was able to place the 2/4th Lincolns at his
disposal for the purpose of forming a cordon along
the Grand Canal, so enclosing the southern part of
the city and forming a complete cordon round
the afternoon the 2/5th and 2/6th South Staffords
arrived at Trinity College, and this additional
force allowed me to begin the task of placing a
cordon round the Four Courts area in the same way
as the Sackville Street area, which had already
been so successfully isolated.
the evening the detachment of the 6th Reserve
Cavalry Regiment, which had been escorting
ammunition and rifles from North Wall, and had
been held up in Charles Street, was relieved by
armoured motor lorries, which had been roughly
armoured with boiler plates by the Inchicore
Railway works and placed at my disposal by Messrs.
the night the process of driving out the rebels in
and round Sackville Street continued, though these
operations were greatly hampered by the fires in
this area and by the fact that some of the burning
houses contained rebel stores of explosives which
every now and again blew up.
other quarters of the city the troops had a trying
time dealing with the numerous snipers, who became
very troublesome during the hours of darkness.
Owing to the considerable opposition at
barricades, especially in North King Street, it
was not until 9 a.m. on the 29th April that the
Four Courts area was completely surrounded.
the morning the squeezing out of the surrounded
areas was vigorously proceeded with, the infantry
being greatly assisted by a battery of Field
Artillery commanded by Major Hill, who used his
guns against the buildings held by the rebels with
such good effect that a Red Cross Nurse brought in
a message from the Rebel leader, P. H. Pearse,
asking for terms. A reply was sent that only
unconditional surrender would be accepted. At 2
p.m. Pearse surrendered himself unconditionally,
and was brought before me, when he wrote and
signed notices ordering the various "Commandos" to
the evening the greater part of the rebels in the
Sackville Street and Four Courts area surrendered.
Early on the 30th April two Franciscan monks
informed me that the Rebel leader Macdonagh,
declining to accept Pearse's orders, wished to
was informed that only unconditional surrender
would be accepted, and at 3 p.m., when all
preparation for an attack on Jacobs' Biscuit
Factory, which he held, had been made, Macdonagh
and his band of rebels surrendered
the St. Stephen's Green area, Countess Markievicz
and her band surrendered and were taken to the
Castle. These surrenders practically ended the
rebellion in the City of Dublin.
Throughout the night of the 30th April/1st May
isolated rebels continued to snipe the troops, but
during the 1st May these were gradually cleared
out, and in conjunction with the police a
systematic house-to-house search for rebels and
arms was continued.
During the severe fighting which took place in
Dublin the greatest anxiety was caused by the
disquieting reports received from many parts of
Ireland, and chiefly from-
(a) County Dublin,
(b) County Meath,
(c) County Louth,
(d) County Galway,
(e) County Wexford,
(f) County Clare,
(g) County Kerry.
On the 27th April, as soon as troops became
available a detachment was sent by sea from
Kingstown to Arklow to reinforce the garrison at
Kynoch's Explosive Works, and a small party was
sent to assist the R.I.C. post over the wireless
station at Skerries.
the 28th April a battalion of the Sherwood
Foresters was despatched by rail to Athlone to
protect the artillery-and military stores there
and to hold the communication over the River
Brigadier-General Stafford, the Garrison Commander
at Queenstown, was directed to use his discretion
in the employment of troops under his command, and
on 30th April he was reinforced from England by
one battalion of the 179th Brigade, 60th Division,
a battalion of the Royal Marines, and
later by the remainder of the 179th Brigade.
Brigadier-General Hackett-Pain, who assumed
command of the troops in Ulster, made effective
use of the troops under his command, and it was
largely due to the dispositions made by these two
Commanders that the Sinn Feiners in the South and
North of Ireland were restrained from taking a
more active part in the rebellion.
received the greatest assistance from the
Inspector-General, Royal Irish Constabulary, and
from all his inspectors and men, and throughout
the rebellion I worked in the closest co-operation
with them. In many districts small posts of these
gallant men were isolated and had to defend
themselves against overwhelming numbers, which
they successfully did except in very few cases.
was with great regret I received the report on
28th April that a body of Royal Irish
Constabulary, under Inspector Gray, had been
ambushed by the rebels at Ashbourne, which
resulted in Inspectors Gray and Smith and eight
constables being killed and 14 wounded.
was not until 30th April that I was able to spare
a mobile column to deal with this body of rebels,
the leaders of which were secured.
other parts of Ireland similar attacks on police
posts had been made by armed bands of Sinn
Feiners. In order to deal with these, as soon as
the Dublin rebels had been crushed, I organised
various mobile columns, each consisting of from
one to two companies of infantry, a squadron of
cavalry, one 18-pounder gun and an armoured car.
column was allotted a definite area, which, in
close co-operation with the local police, was gone
through, and dangerous Sinn Feiners and men who
were known to have taken an active part in the
rising were arrested; in addition many arms
belonging to Sinn Feiners were surrendered or
am glad to be able to report that the presence of
these columns had the best possible effect on the
people in country districts, in many of which
troops had not been seen for years.
That splendid body of men, the Dublin Metropolitan
Police, could give me little or no assistance,
because they were unarmed. Had they been armed I
doubt if the rising in Dublin would have had the
success it did.
I am glad to report that the conduct of the troops
was admirable; their cheerfulness, courage and
good discipline, under the most trying conditions,
doors and windows of shops and houses had to be
broken open, no genuine case of looting has been
reported to me, which I consider reflects the
greatest credit on all ranks.
I wish to acknowledge the great assistance I
received from the Provost of Trinity College; the
clergy of all denominations; civilian medical men;
Red Cross nurses, who were untiring in their
attention to the wounded, often rendered under
heavy fire; ambulances provided by Royal Ambulance
Corps; the Irish Volunteer Training Corps and the
members of St. John's Ambulance Corps; the
Civilian and Officers Training Corps motor
cyclists, who fearlessly carried despatches
through streets infested with snipers; telegraph
operators and engineers; and from the lady
operators of the Telephone Exchange, to whose
efforts the only means of rapid communication
am glad to be able to record my opinion that the
feelings of the bulk of the citizens of Dublin
being against the Sinn Feiners materially
influenced the collapse of the rebellion.
I deplore the serious losses which the troops and
the civilian volunteers have suffered during these
very disagreeable operations.
have the honour to be, Your most obedient
G. MAXWELL. General.
From the General Officer
Commanding-in-Chief, The Forces in Ireland, to
The Secretary of State for War.
Headquarters, Irish Command,
Dublin, 26th May, 1916.
amplification of the report on the operations
undertaken by the troops in Dublin, which I
forwarded to Field-Marshal Lord French on 25th
May, I think it desirable to bring to your notice
the difficult conditions under which the troops
had to act.
The rebellion began by Sinn Feiners, presumably
acting under orders, shooting in cold blood
certain soldiers and policemen, simultaneously
they took possession of various important
buildings and occupied houses, along the routes
into the City of Dublin, which were likely to be
used by troops taking up posts.
Most of the rebels were not in any uniform, and by
mixing with peaceful citizens made it almost
impossible for the troops to distinguish between
friend and foe until fire was opened.
In many cases troops having passed along a street
seemingly occupied by harmless people were
suddenly fired upon from behind from windows and
roof-tops. Such were the conditions when
reinforcements commenced to arrive in Dublin.
Whilst fighting continued under conditions at once
so confused and so trying, it is possible that
some innocent citizens were shot. It must be
remembered that the struggle was in many cases of
a house-to-house character, that sniping was
continuous and very persistent and that it was
often extremely difficult to distinguish between
those who were or had been firing upon the troops
and those who had for various reasons chosen to
remain on the scene of the fighting, instead of
leaving the houses and passing through the
The number of such incidents that has been brought
to notice is very insignificant.
Once the rebellion started the members of the
Dublin Metropolitan Police - an unarmed uniformed
force - had to be withdrawn, or they would have
been mercilessly shot down, as, indeed, were all
who had the bad luck to meet the rebels. In their
absence a number of the worst elements of the city
joined the rebels and were armed by them. The
daily record of the Dublin Magistrates' Court
proves that such looting as there was was done by
There have been numerous incidents of deliberate
shooting on ambulances, and those courageous
people who voluntarily came out to tend to the
wounded. The City Fire Brigade, when turned out in
consequence of incendiary fires, were fired on and
had to retire.
As soon as it was ascertained that the rebels had
established themselves in various centres, the
first phase of operations was conducted with a
view to isolate them by forming a cordon of troops
To carry out this, streets were selected, along
which the cordon could be drawn. Some of these
streets, for instance, North King Street, were
found to be strongly held, rebels occupying the
roofs of houses, upper windows, and strongly
Artillery fire was only used to reduce the
barricades, or against a particular house known to
be strongly held.
The troops suffered severe losses in establishing
these cordons, and, once established, the troops
were subjected to a continuous fire from all
directions, especially at night time, and
invariably from persons concealed in houses.
To give an idea of the opposition offered to His
Majesty's troops in the execution of their duty,
the following losses occurred:
I wish to draw attention to the fact that, when it
became known that the leaders of the rebellion
wished to surrender, the officers used every
endeavour to prevent further bloodshed; emissaries
were sent in to the various isolated bands, and
time was given them to consider their position.
I cannot imagine a more difficult situation than
that in which the troops were placed; most of
those employed were draft-finding battalions or
young Territorials from England, who had no
knowledge of Dublin.
The surrenders, which began on April 30th, were
continued until late on May 1st, during which time
there was a considerable amount of isolated
Under the circumstances related above, I consider
the troops as a whole behaved with the greatest
restraint, and carried out their disagreeable and
distasteful duties in a manner which reflects the
greatest credit on their discipline.
Allegations on the behaviour of the troops brought
to my notice are being most carefully enquired
into. I am glad to say they are few in number, and
these are not all borne out by direct evidence.
Numerous cases of unarmed persons killed by rebels
during the outbreak have bean reported to me. As
instances, I may select the following for your
J. Brien, a constable of the
Dublin Metropolitan Police, was shot while on
duty at Castle Gate, on April 24th. On the same
day another constable of the same force, named
M. Lahiff, was shot while on duty at St.
Stephen's Green. On April 25th B. Waters, of
Recess, Monkstown, Co. Dublin, was shot at Mount
Street Bridge, while being driven into Dublin by
Captain Scovell, R.A.M.C.
these were unarmed, as was Captain Scovell. In the
last case, the car was not challenged or asked to
I wish to emphasize that the responsibility for
the loss of life, however it occurred, the
destruction of property and other losses, rests
entirely with those who engineered this revolt,
and who, at a time when the Empire is engaged in a
gigantic struggle, invited the assistance and
co-operation of the Germans.
have the honour to be, My Lord, Your obedient
Click the title for
some of the story - Chapter 13
War Office, 27th July, 1916.
following despatch from General Sir John Nixon,
K.C.B., relative to the operations at Bushire and
its vicinity between July and September, 1915, has
been forwarded by the Government of India for
15th January, 1916.
General Sir John Nixon, K.C.B., A.D.C. General,
Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D."
the Chief of the General Staff, Army Headquarters,
have the honour to furnish a report on operations
conducted at Bushire and in its vicinity between
July and September, 1915.
On July 12th, 1915, a force of Tangistani
tribesmen, at the instigation of enemy agents inPersia, made an unprovoked attack on the
British detachment at Bushire.
The attack was repulsed, but two British officers
(Major E. H. Oliphant, 96th Berar Infantry, and
Captain J. G. L. Ranking, Assistant Political
Officer) and one sepoy were killed, and two sepoys
As the Persian Government failed to make
reparation for the hostile action of the
Tangistanis, His Majesty's Government ordered
forcible measures to be taken.
It was decided that the port and town of Bushire
should be seized and occupied by a naval and
military force until the Persian. Government
complied with our demands.
Further, as a punishment to the tribesmen
implicated in the incident of July 12th, orders
were issued for a naval and military force to
attack Dilwar, a fortified village which was the
headquarters of the hostile Tangistanis.
On August 8th, Bushire was occupied by a British
force without opposition.
A naval squadron under the command of
Captain D. St. A. Wake, R.N., arrived off Dilwar
on August 10th, but weather conditions were
unfavourable for landing operations until August
13th. On that day a mixed force, composed of
troops and a naval landing party, under the
command of Major C. E. H. Wintle, successfully
disembarked on the beach in the face of opposition
by the Tangistanis.
operation was assisted by the naval gunswhich
made excellent practice and drove the enemy
Several actions took place with the tribesmen on
August 14th and 15th. Stiff opposition was
encountered and the heat was great. As a result of
the operations Dilwar fort and village were
destroyed, and heavy losses were inflicted on the
Tangistanis by rifle and machine gun fire, also by
shell fire from the ships. Our casualties
were comparatively small.
The object of the expedition having been
successfully accomplished, the force was
reembarked, without interference by the enemy, on
the night of August 15th-16th.
The combined naval and military
expedition against Dilwar is an excellent example
of co-operation between the two Services, and it
was very creditably carried out by all concerned.
On the eastern side of Bushire, a lowlying sandy
tract joins the "island" to the mainland. This is
known as the "Mashileh." It is about seven miles
across to the mainland, and the same distance
divides the sea, which flanks the Mashileh on the
north and south. During high tides it is liable to
inundation. Along the edge of Bushire Island,
overlooking the Mashileh, extends a line of
cliffs, much intersected by nullahs and broken
During the period under report the British
garrison at Bushire maintained an outpost line for
the protection of the northern part of the island
from attack from the mainland. The eastern section
of the outposts lay along the line of cliffs; the
southern section extended across the island to the
sea on the west side of the island.
Tangistani raiding parties frequently crossed the
Mashileh at night and attempted to break through
the outpost line. Early in September it was
reported that they intended to make an attack in
At daybreak on September 9th a patrol from the
outposts located a party of enemy in the nullahs
at the edge of the Mashileh, at a spot where the
Tangistanis had collected a strong force on a
On receiving this report, Brigadier-General H. T.
Brooking, C.B., commanding the British garrison,
immediately made dispositions to attack the enemy
in front and to turn their left flank, and for the
cavalry to move out on the Mashileh on their line
After several hours fighting, the turning attack,
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lane, 96th Berar
Infantry, charged with the bayonet. The enemy,
some 600 strong, broke and fled across the
Mashileh. The cavalry then charged them in the
open, and our guns shelled them across the
Mashileh until they were out of range.
Throughout the period of his command at Bushire,
General Brooking dealt with an awkward situation
in a most capable manner. On the occasion of the
action of September 9th, thanks to his energetic
and skilful command, the Tangistanis were defeated
and lost heavily before they had time to deliver a
In this action, the bravery and endurance of the
troops in most trying heat, which claimed several
victims, was most commendable.
landing party of the Royal Navy afforded
charge by a squadron of the 16th Cavalry, led by
Major W. H. Pennington, 12th Cavalry, in which
both British officers and half of the Indian
officers lost their lives, was a most gallant
I append a list of names (all Army) of
those specially brought to notice in connection
with the operations at Bushire and Dilwar.
have the honour to be, SIR, Your most obedient
NIXON, General, Commanding Indian Expeditionary
- 1 AUGUST 1916
ARMY DESPATCH dated 20
- 1 AUGUST 1916
ARMY DESPATCH dated 1
including Lake Nyasa
War Office, 3rd August, 1916
Colonial Office has forwarded for publication the
following Despatch on military operations in the
From the Governor of
To the Secretary of State for
Government House, Zomba,
Nyasaland, 1st November, 1915.
the advent of reinforcements from the Union of
South Africa the military operations in Nyasaland
enter upon a new phase, and the moment appears to
be opportune for a brief review of the work of the
local forces since the outbreak of war and for
bringing to your notice the names of many officers
whose services deserve recognition. With this
object in view the accompanying report has been
prepared by the Officer Commanding the Forces in
Lieutenant-Colonel Hawthorn's recommendations have
my hearty support. With the work of many of the
junior officers I have not been in direct contact,
but I have closely watched the operations
throughout, and a recent visit to Karonga has
enabled me to judge better all that has been done
to maintain successfully for fourteen months the
defence of the Protectorate as well as the
cheerful and willing spirit which pervades all
refers to the good services of Captains Barton and
Stevens in the command of the troops. He is
debarred from mentioning himself, but I desire to
bring to notice the excellent work he has done
since he assumed command in December last, and to
recommend that this be marked by a Companionship
in the Distinguished Service Order.
have been much in contact with the work of Captain
Thorburn. In addition to his duties connected with
the Base and Lines of Communication, he has
rendered important services as Commanding Officer
of the Nyasaland Volunteer Reserve, and I was able
to mention him specially in connection with the
native rising in January, 1915. I feel that I
cannot speak too highly of the valuable assistance
he hasrendered in many directions, and of
his cheerfulness and indefatigability at all
regard to the Marine section, the report
refers to the work of Captain Rhoades in
surprising and disabling the German gun-boat
"Hermann von Wissmann" in August, 1914, which gave
Nyasaland the command of the Lake. Captain Rhoades
and Lieutenant Tate (until their departure on
leave in October and December respectively on
grounds of ill-health), as well as the remainder
of the staff of the Marine Transport Department,
rendered efficient service in the movement of
troops and stores and in attacking positions of
the enemy on the Lake. With the arrival of
Lieutenant-Commander Dennistoun and the Naval
contingent this Section has been placed on a
more satisfactory basis for naval operations, and
excellent work was done at Sphinxhaven at the end
of May, of which you and the Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty have already expressed your
with the Government Naval section must be
noticed the services of the staff of the "Chauncey
Maples," the steam vessel of the Universities
Mission, which was commandeered by Government on
the outbreak of hostilities, and of the African
Lakes Corporation's ss. "Queen Victoria," which
has been requisitioned on frequent occasions.
desire to take this opportunity of expressing
again my appreciation of the readiness with which
the Nyasaland Volunteer Reserve - and they
represent practically the whole of the British
male population of military age - have come
forward, and the services they have rendered in
various capacities in connection with the military
operations and the native rising of January last.
Several are specially mentioned by
the rank and file of the 1st Battalion, King's
African Rifles, there are recommendations with
which I cordially associate myself. This splendid
corps has won fame for itself on active service in
Africa on many previous occasions. In this war,
both here and in British East Africa, it has fully
maintained its reputation.
remains to me to add a few words on the services
rendered by the civil officers of the Government.
Many who had had previous military training joined
the Forces at once, others were detailed for
special work, but in all branches the state of
hostilities has imposed much extra work which has
been ungrudgingly and most cheerfully undertaken.
ENCLOSURE DESPATCH RELATING TO
Lieut.-Colonel G. M. P. Hawthorn, 1st K.A.R.,
Commanding Troops, Nyasaland.
His Excellency the Governor and Commander-
in-Chief, Nyasaland Protectorate.
Zombo, 11th October, 1915.
view of the impending arrival of the Central
African Imperial Service Contingent in this
Protectorate, and the consequent reorganisation of
the forces in the field, I have the honour to
submit for your Excellency's approval and favour
of transmission to His Majesty's Secretary of
State for the Colonies a report on the operations
carried out by the Nyasaland Field Force as
the outset of the war, on receipt of a telegram
from His Majesty's Secretary of State with orders
that precautionary measures should be adopted, all
troops were immediately mobilised, men on leave
recalled, and the K.A.R. Reserve called up, a
staff was formed of officers and civil officials,
and retired officers were posted to K.A.R.
Reserve. The force was organised in double
companies of African troops, the whole under the
command of Captain C. W. Barton, D.S.O.,
after receipt of a telegram to the effect that war
was declared between England and Germany the
troops marched from Zomba, arriving at Fort
Johnston on the 9th and 10th August.
August 8th the Government armed steamer
"Guendolen,"(sic) commanded by
Commander E. L. Rhoades, was ordered to proceed
north to reconnoitre Sphinxhaven, where it was
reported that the German Government steamer
"Wissmann" was undergoing repairs.
Rhoades surprised the ''Wissman" on the stocks at
dawn, August 13th. He found that it was impossible
to refloat her, so, after removing the armament
and important parts of the engines, he returned to
Fort Johnston on August 15th with the captured
Field Force embarked in the s.s. "Guendolen'',
"Chauncey Maples," "Queen Victoria," "Pioneer" and
"Adventure" on August 16th and 17th, and
disembarked at Vua on August 19th and 20th. By
August 22nd it had concentrated at Karonga.
August 20th an enemy patrol crossed the Songwe
River, which forms the Anglo-German boundary, and
fired on a police patrol of ours.
August 20th and September 8th various
reconnaissances were made towards the border, the
enemy holding an advanced position at Kapora,
about 5 miles south of the Songwe.
this time the enemy was reported to have about 700
rifles with 8 maxims and 1 field gun in the New
Langenburg and Songwe district, but this was
probably an over-estimate.
the beginning of September a reinforcement of 2
officers and 54 British Volunteers of the
Nyasaland Volunteer Reserve arrived at Karonga.
September 8th the force marched northwest from
Karonga towards the Lufira River, leaving a
garrison at Karonga under command of Lieutenant P.
D. Bishop, K.A.R. Reserve. It was the intention of
the Officer Commanding to attack and capture the
enemy advanced post at Kapora. The main body of
the enemy, however, advanced simultaneously close
to the lake shore to attack Karonga, strength, as
subsequently ascertained, about 400 with 2 light
field guns and 3 maxims. At about 7 a.m. September
9th a double company K.A.R. was ordered to attack
a company of the enemy reported on the north bank
of the Lufira. The enemy company retired, and at
about 8 a.m. gun firing was heard from the
direction of Karonga, and it was also reported by
scouts that the main enemy force had passed east
of our position during the night, marching south.
A double company with 1 maxim under Captain A. H.
Griffiths, 1st K.A.R., was ordered to march with
the utmost speed to relieve Karonga. The remainder
of the force with the transport, as soon as the
double company from the north bank of the Lufira
had rejoined, followed towards Karonga.
enemy had attacked Karonga at about 7 a.m., and a
continuous fire was kept up from 400 yards range
against the post by about 350 rifles and three
maxims; a few shells were also fired by two field
Griffiths arrived on the scene at about 11 a.m.,
completely surprising the enemy, whom he put to
flight, capturing two maxim guns.
the meantime our main body, hampered by transport,
was slowly returning towards Karonga; at about 11
a.m. it met half a company of the enemy, which was
quickly routed. At about 1 p.m. when crossing the
Kasoa stream, the force came into contact with the
enemy, who had reformed during the retirement from
Karonga. After a sharp action of two hours'
duration the enemy was completely defeated and
retired in disorder towards the German border,
losing two field guns, a quantity of small arms,
ammunition and stores. The enemy having been
completely scattered, our force was again
concentrated at Karonga.
total casualties on this day were:
3 officers, 2 British Volunteers, N.V.R., 8
K.A.R. rank and file.
3 officers, 4 British Volunteers, N.V.R., 42
K.A.R. rank and file.
enemy left on the field:
7 Europeans, 51 native rank and file.
and prisoners.- 2 officers.
prisoner.- 1 officer.
and unwounded prisoners.- 69 natives.
reports confirm that at least two other Europeans
were severely wounded, and 30 or 40 natives.
addition two field guns and two machine guns, 72
small arms, about 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and
a complete maxim tripod and spare parts, with a
quantity of stores and explosives, were captured.
Barton was himself wounded, and Captain H. W.
Stevens assumed command of the Field Force.
this success it would have been quite possible to
take up a position beyond the border, but as the
enemy could have reinforced from other parts of
their colony in a short time it was decided to put
Karonga into a state of defence and establish the
force permanently there. From this date until the
commencement of the rains in December various
minor encounters and patrol actions took place,
with no serious loss to either side, but resulting
advantageously to us. After the commencement of
the rains the country became impracticable for
operations, and the greater part of the British
Volunteers were allowed to return to their
arrived in Nyasaland in December 1914, and assumed
command of the Field Force on December 29th.
January 25th 1915 I received a telegram from Your
Excellency asking for troops to assist in quelling
a native rising in the Chiradzulu district. I
ordered Captain H. G. Collins, 1st K.A.R., to
proceed with the utmost speed to Zomba, with one
double company 1st K.A.R., one machine gun, and
one field gun. The Government steamer
"Guendolen" landed this force at Fort
Johnston on January 27th. Captain Collins detached
half a company under Captain J. L. Portal, 1st
K.A.R., to proceed to Ncheu, where there had also
been a disturbance. Captain Collins' force reached
Zomba on January 29th, having marched 86 miles
from Fort Johnston in 47 hours. The rebel force
had meanwhile been defeated and scattered by a
force of 40 British Volunteers and 100 K.A.R.
Recruits under the command of Captain L. E. L.
Triscott, K.A.R. Reserve. Captain Collins, on
arrival, assumed command of the operations, and
instituted a vigorous pursuit of the rebels by
small patrols, by which considerable numbers of
the fugitives were captured. The rising at Ncheu
collapsed before Captain Portal arrived there.
Your Excellency has already been furnished with
detailed reports by the officers who took part in
the suppression of the rising.
March a naval detachment under the command
of Lieutenant-Commander G. H. Dennistoun, R.N.,
with naval guns, arrived in the Protectorate.
having been received that the enemy were repairing
the ss. "Wissmann," it was decided to send a
combined naval and military expedition to
Sphinxhaven, to refloat the steamer if possible,
otherwise to complete her destruction. The
detachment undter Captain Collins was detailed for
this duty. The expedition embarked in ss.
"Guendolen" and "Chauncey Maples" at Fort
Johnston on May 26th. A landing was effected three
miles south of Sphinxhaven at about 3 a.m. on May
30th, and the enemy's position was assaulted and
captured by 11 a.m. after a bombardment by the
"Guendolen's" guns. The "Wissmann" was completely
disabled by dynamite charges, and the force
re-embarked about 2.30 p.m. The enemy returned
before the last section was withdrawn, and opened
fire with a maxim and about 40 rifles. The section
was re-embarked under cover of gun, rifle and
maxim fire from the ships. Our only casualty was
Volunteer Sutherland wounded. About 7,000 rounds
of ammunition, one maxim carriage and spare parts,
some rifles and stores, a green flag with crescent
and star, and a German flag were captured.
Collins' force rejoined at Karonga on June 1st.
in June reports of a considerable increase in the
enemy forces in the New Langenburg district were
confirmed from several sources, the reinforcements
being estimated at 200 Europeans and 400 native
patrols became more active, but owing no doubt to
the extremely thick nature of the country, the
grass being still green and varying from six to
ten feet in height, no serious movements were
attempted, though the hostile garrison at Ipiana,
about three miles north of the Songwe and five
miles from the lake shore, was considerably
strengthened, and new posts were established at
points along the Songwe.
July patrol activity increased, and one or two
affairs of scouts took place. At the end of July
it was reported that a considerable portion of the
troops from New Langenburg had moved north,
presumably to take part in an attack on the post
of Saisi, about 25 miles south of Abercorn, which
was held by Rhodesian and Belgian troops.
August 12th news was received that Saisi had been
invested by the enemy. Though it was unlikely that
at a distance of 180 miles it would affect the
situation at Saisi, I decided to make a
demonstration against the enemy's position on the
Songwe on the 13th, while the "Guendolen" under Lieutenant-Commander
Dennistoun made a simultaneous demonstration
at the north end of the lake. A letter, however,
was received on the night of the 12th which
informed me that the enemy had retired from Saisi,
and I returned to Karonga on the evening of the
Nyasaland Imperial Service Contingent from the
Union of South Africa arrived in the Protectorate
early in September and was conveyed in two
detachments to Karonga. The first detachment
arrived at Karonga on the 15th September, and the
second detachment on the 23rd.
September and October there were numerous
encounters between patrols in the vicinity of the
Lufira River, Captains Galbraith and Griffiths, of
the 1st K.A.R., being prominent in the conduct of
health of the troops since the outbreak of the war
has been satisfactory. There has been a
considerable amount of malaria and dysentery, but
the percentage of sickness has not been so high as
the average of previous years at Karonga; this is
no doubt due to the large amount of clearing which
has been done and to the sanitary measures carried
out by the medical staff. There was one case of
enteric at the end of 1914; the majority of
Europeans have since been inoculated, and there
has been no further case.
Europeans have been fortunately placed in the
matter of supplies at Karonga, cattle and fresh
milk being obtainable, also vegetables and fresh
fish, at most times of the year. Rations for
native troops, principally rice, were brought by
steamer from lake ports, and a full ration, with
additional issues of beans and fresh meat, was
rains at the north end of the lake fell between
the end of November and the early part of May, and
in the Songwe district the rainfall must have
reached nearly 150 inches. In Karonga itself the
rainfall did not exceed 30 inches, and this
difference favoured our forces very greatly as
compared with the enemy in the matter of health.
This in itself thoroughly justified the selection
of Karonga as our defensive position.
was impossible to maintain our telegraphic
communication with Rhodesia owing to the proximity
of the line to the border and the positions of the
enemy's main posts.
wish to acknowledge the cordial assistance which
has always been rendered by all the civil
officials, on whom a great amount of additional
work has been thrown, also the ready help which
has been given by the Free Church of Scotland
Mission and the Universities Mission. The former
placed all their buildings at Karonga at the
disposal of the Field Force for hospital purposes,
and also helped greatly by supplying labour and
growing vegetables for the use of the force. The steamer
owned by the latter was taken over by
Government for transport purposes, and her staff
has worked unremittingly during the whole period
considerable number of the Nyasaland Volunteer
Reserve has been employed during the whole period
with the Field Force in various capacities, and
has for the last eight months furnished a
machine-gun section with two guns. About 60 took
part in the action at Kasoa on September 9th 1914,
where their services were most valuable, two being
killed while working maxims.
men of the 1st K.A.R. and the K.A.R. reservists
have given entire satisfaction, and their conduct
reflects the greatest credit on the company
officers, especially as the men were mostly young
have the honour to bring to Your Excellency's
notice the names of the following officers,
non-commissioned officers and men:
(included in Army lists)
H. A. Channon, Universities Mission. Although he
is properly under the Senior Naval Officer,
his assistance to us has been so constant and
cheerful, and I feel that I should make special
mention of him.
would also request that the services of
Lieutenant-Commander G. H. Dennistoun, R.N.,
may be brought to the notice of the Lords of the
Admiralty. In addition to the admirable manner in
which he carried out the expedition to Sphinxhaven
on May 30th 1915, his cordial co-operation at all
times has been invaluable in overcoming
M. P. HAWTHORN, Lieut.- Colonel, 1st K.A.R.,
Officer Commanding the Troops, Nyasaland.
- 18 AUGUST 1916
ARMY DESPATCH dated 31 July
- 22 SEPTEMBER 1916
ARMY DESPATCH dated 1 June
War Office, 25th September,
following Despatch has been received by the
Secretary of State for War from General Sir
Archibald Murray, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian
Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1st June, 1916.
have the honour to submit a report on the
operations of the Force under my command from the
date on which I assumed command to the 31st May,
On 9th January, 1916, I arrived in Cairo, and, on
the following day, took over the command of the
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from General Sir
C. C. Monro, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., who had himself
arrived from Mudros but a few days before. At that
date the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was in
a state of transition as regards its larger
component, the Dardanelles Army. On the night of
the 8th/9th January this Army had completed its
successful evacuation of Cape Helles; its units
were still concentrated at Mudros and Imbros
awaiting transport to Egypt, where all the Force,
excluding the Salonica Army, had been ordered to
concentrate. Meanwhile, a portion of the Force,
which had been set free by the earlier evacuation
of the Suvla Bay and Anzac positions, had already
arrived in Egypt, where it had come under the
command of General Sir John Maxwell, K.C.B.,
K.C.M.G. The concentration of the Australian and
New Zealand Army Corps, for instance, was
practically complete, and the 53rd Division was
occupied in operations on the Western Frontier of
Egypt. General Headquarters of the Mediterranean
Expeditionary Force were temporarily established
instructions which I had received from the
Secretary of State for War placed under my command
all organized formations then in. Egypt, or on
their way to Egypt, with the exception of such
troops as might be considered necessary for the
defence of Egypt and the Nile Valley against
attack from the west, or for maintaining order in
the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta. The function
assigned to me was that of protecting Egypt
against attack from the east, and the westward
limit of my command was roughly fixed by a line
running north and south approximately five miles
west of the Suez Canal. The British Force at
Salonica was also placed under my general
During the period under review, in addition to the
extensive military preparations required for the
defence of the eastern front, the amount of purely
administrative work thrown on all sections of my
Staff has been extremely heavy. The exigencies of
the Gallipoli campaign had placed the Force under
my command in a state of serious disorganisation.
Some units were in Egypt, others on the sea,
others in Aegean ports. It was not until the end
of February that the last units of the Dardanelles
Army reached Egypt. Every day for over six weeks
ship loads of troops, guns, animals and transport
were arriving at Alexandria and Port Said. The
components of this mass had to be disentangled and
forwarded to their proper destinations; old units
had to be reorganised, new units to be created,
brigades, divisions, Army Corps to be re-formed.
The British troops from Gallipoli were incomplete
in personnel and material. It was urgently
necessary to bring them up to strength, re-equip
them, and provide them with train and mechanical
transport on a modified scale. The Australasian
troops also needed re-equipment, and, in their
case, there was the additional problem of dealing
with a mass of unabsorbed reinforcements. Further
training of officers and men was an urgent
necessity. Moreover, the embarkation of troops for
service elsewhere began in February and continued
without intermission till the end of April. To
this work must be added not only the maintenance
of my Force, both in Egypt and Salonica, with
animals, supplies, ordnance stores, works
material, and medical and veterinary stores, but
also the provision and despatch of ordnance
stores, works material, and supplies specially
demanded for Basrah and East Africa.
bulk of the work of disembarkation and
embarkation, including the very heavy work of
railway transport, fell upon the staffs of my
Deputy Quartermaster-General and Inspector General
of Communications, to whom great credit is due.
This work, together with the task of supplying and
maintaining the troops operating on the eastern,
and subsequently also on the western, front, was
efficiently carried out by the Ordnance, Supply
and Transport, Remount, and Works departments.
regards instruction, a training centre for
Australasian reinforcements was started at Tel el
Kebir and continued until it was decided that the
Australasian training depots should be transferred
to England. Further, a machine gun school was
formed at Ismailia which, after producing
excellent results, was merged in the Imperial
School of Instruction at Zeitoun. The latter
institution, which came under my control after
19th March, has since been increased in size so as
to train officers in all branches of warfare.
Under its commandant, Lieut.- Colonel the Hon. E.
M. Colston, M.V.O., its work has been most
valuable. Besides the ordinary courses, for
officers and non-commissioned officers, it holds
machine gun, Lewis gun, signal and telephone,
artillery, Stokes gun, and grenadier classes.
Between 7th January and 31st May, 1,166 officers
and 5,512 other ranks attended and passed in the
various classes. A machine gun school was also
started at Salonica.
work has been done by the signal service during
this period. In the first place, it has
efficiently carried out the work of refitting the
signal units from the Peninsula, reorganising them
to suit the conditions peculiar to Egypt, and
training locally officers and men to fill thegaps
and meet the increased demand for signallers and
telegraphists. Ninety-four officers and 1,305
other ranks have been trained in these duties at
Zeitoun and Alexandria this year. Secondly, it has
had to provide intercommunication for troops
engaged upon over 1,000 miles of front, which has
involved the development of an unusually extensive
network of military telegraphs. All the resource
and ingenuity of the service has been taxed to
cope with the conditions peculiar to this field of
operations - abnormal distances, unusual means of
transport, desert, sand storms and mirage. Lastly,
it has substituted a military telegraph and
telephone service for the civil system which,
until this year, had been the only available means
of communication throughout Egypt and was worked
mainly by native personnel.
would also specially mention the survey work that
has been carried out since the arrival of the
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Egypt. In
addition to the standardisation, printing and
issue of tactical maps of Sinai to the whole of
the army on the eastern front, a new survey on a
large scale of the Canal zone and certain areas
east of our lines and advanced posts has been
continuously carried on by the Topographical
Section of the Intelligence Branch, working in
close co-operation with the Royal Flying Corps.
This survey, which has now been in process for
nearly six months, is now approaching Qatia. I
believe that the map based on this survey is the
first map entirely constructed on this principle.
The work was initiated by Mr. E. M. Dowson,
Director-General, Survey of Egypt, who placed his
resources at the disposal of the Mediterranean
Expeditionary Force. The actual direction of the
work has been in the hands of the Intelligence
Branch of my General Staff, and is based on
experience, gained in Gallipoli, of the production
of trench maps from aeroplane photographs,
controlled by ordinary field survey methods.
Co-operation in this survey has been part of the
routine of the Royal Flying Corps.
labours, most of which demanded the utmost
despatch in their completion, were carried out
concurrently with the conduct of more strictly
military operations, to my report on which I will
When I arrived in Egypt the intentions of the
enemy as regards an attack on the Suez Canal were
by no means certain. Though his new means of
communication in southern Syria and Sinai,
commenced with this end in view, were still in a
backward state, he undoubtedly had at his disposal
the troops, amounting to 250,000 men or more,
necessary for such an attack. The adequate defence
of the Canal was, therefore, a matter of serious
importance. The outline of a scheme of defence had
already been prepared; certain works were being
constructed, railways and pipe-lines and roads
commenced, and troops were being concentrated in
the three sections of the Canal defences, which
were based on Suez, Ismailia and Port Said
respectively. A satisfactory agreement was arrived
at between Sir John Maxwell and myself regarding
the delimitations of our respective spheres of
command and the troops to be allotted to him. On
22nd January, General Headquarters opened at
chief concern was now the defence of the Canal.
The work on the stationary defences was backward.
Difficulties of water supply on the east bank were
increased by shortage of piping; labour troubles
had delayed the progress of roads and railways.
Guns had still to be emplaced, and no part of the
front defence line was actually occupied by
troops. Nevertheless, as there were no signs of an
imminent advance on the part of the enemy, the
question of the stationary defences caused me no
serious anxiety, though everything possible was
done to hasten on their completion. The
organisation of the offensive defence, which time
has proved to be paramount, was, however, a
pressing matter hitherto untouched. Practically
nothing had been done towards the organisation of
mobile forces. The collection of a large number of
riding and transport camels had to be undertaken
at once and a plan of campaign to be devised.
Moreover, time was short, for it was plain that
any offensive on a large scale by the enemy must
be commenced before the middle of March. For the
force under my command the only possible line of
advance was along the northern line from Qantara
towards Qatia and El Arish, and the task was at
once taken up of examining the possibilities of an
offensive on this line and solving the problem of
maintaining a considerable force at Qatia during
the summer months. The result of these
investigations is to be seen in my memorandum of
15th February addressed to the Chief of the
Imperial General Staff, in which I stated that the
first step towards securing the true base for the
defence of Egypt was an advance to a suitable
position east of Qatia and the construction of a
railway to that place.
to the middle of February aeroplane reconnaissance
was the only active military operation possible,
owing to the need for reorganising the units of
the Force and for pushing on the work of laying
roads, pipe-lines and railways to enable an
adequate force to be maintained on, and beyond,
the front lines. The magnitude of the latter task
may be judged from the fact that, during the
period covered by this despatch, 114 miles of
road, 154 miles of pipe-lines, and 252 miles of
railway were laid. The work of the Royal Flying
Corps, most actively and gallantly pursued,
enabled me to keep the enemy's posts at Hassana,
Nekhl and El Arish under close observation, and
neither their reports nor those of the equally
gallant and efficient Naval Air Service,
which observed by seaplane the garrisons of
southern Syria, showed any concentration of enemy
troops for a big attack on the Canal. On February
16th the Russian Army entered Erzerum, inflicting
a heavy defeat on the Turkish Army opposed to it.
It seemed likely then that all the enemy's schemes
for attacking the Canal in force must, for the
present, fall to the ground, and such has proved
to be the case. The garrisons in Syria were
gradually reduced, until it was estimated that not
more than 60,000 men were available for an attack
on Egypt. During the latter half of February the
work of reconnaissance beyond the front line began
in earnest, especially in the northern section,
where the 15th Corps patrolled as far as Bir El
Nuss and Hod Um Ugba, establishing the fact that
the country was all clear and practically
deserted. At this period, too, a reconnaissance
was undertaken from Tor. This post, and that of
Abu Zeneima, both on the Sinaitic coast south of
Suez, were then garrisoned by a battalion of the
Egyptian Army - subsequently by the 14th Sikhs -
and had, by arrangement with General Maxwell, come
under my direction. The reconnaissance from Tor
was undertaken against a concentration of a small
body of the enemy at Wadi Ginneh, some miles
distant from the coast. This minor operation was
in every way successful, though the enemy had fled
before their camp was reached, leaving behind
their baggage, which was destroyed. The troops
then returned without further incident.
From March onwards, the rapid embarkation of
troops for France depleted my forces considerably.
During this month the military operations on the
eastern front, if not momentous, were
satisfactory. On 6th March a very gallant and
successful attack on Hassana was made by the Royal
Flying Corps, which resulted in the destruction of
the pumping station. Bomb attacks were made on
Nekhl and other places in Sinai, and on 24th March
Hassana was again attacked in force with bombs. In
the northern sector, the preliminary steps were
being taken for the advance to Qatia. Week by week
permanent posts were pushed further ahead, special
reconnaissances were made with a view to testing
the water supply, and the broad gauge railway from
Qantara to Qatia was being carried forward as fast
On 11th March I received instructions from the
late Secretary of State for War that the command
of the troops in Egypt was to be reorganised, and
that I was appointed General Officer
Commanding-in-Chief all the Imperial forces in
this country, which added to my original command
the command held by General Sir John Maxwell. The
preliminary details for carrying this change into
operation were fixed at a Conference with General
Maxwell held on 13th March, and on 19th March I
formally took over the whole command in Egypt,
thus ending a system of dual control which had of
necessity been unsatisfactory, especially from the
point of view of economy. By this change I not
only became responsible for the administration of
martial law in Egypt and the maintenance of order
throughout the Nile Valley and Delta, but I also
succeeded to the direction of the operations
against the Senoussi (sic) on the Western
Frontier, which had very appropriately been
brought to a triumphant period by General Maxwell
by his victories which led to the occupation of
Sollum on 14th March, the capture of Gaafer, the
dispersal, with the loss of all his guns, of
Nuri's force, and the recapture from the enemy of
90 British prisoners taken byhostile
submarines. The unification of the command
in Egypt made large economies in staff possible,
and these were carried out at once. The Levant
Base also ceased to exist, General Sir Edward
Altham, K.C.B., remaining as Inspector-General of
Communications. The work of reorganising the
forces and staffs for the Delta and Western
Frontier Force was pushed on as fast as possible.
I decided to keep General Headquarters at
Ismailia, and to establish at Cairo a General
Officer Commanding the Delta District, who would
also act as Commander of L. of C. Defences. For
operations on the west I formed a Western Frontier
Force, divided into two sections, a north-western
and a southwestern, divided by a line drawn east
and west through Deirut. These staffs and forces
were definitely established and at work by 1st
April. The whole force under my command now took
the name of Egyptian Expeditionary Force. Towards
the end of March, at the request of the Sirdar, I
undertook the responsibility for the defence of
the reach of the Nile between Assouan and Wadi
Haifa. Captain F. H. Mitchell, R.N., D.S.O., was
sent for this purpose to make all arrangements for
an armed naval patrol of this reach.
18th March, Captain H. R. H. the Prince of Wales
took up his duties as Staff Captain on my Staff,
remaining till his departure from Egypt on 1st
As soon as the conduct of operations on the Western
Frontier devolved upon me, I took steps, in
consultation with the various officers who were
then best acquainted with the situation, to
estimate the size of the hostile forces with which
I should have to deal, and to determine the policy
along this front of over 800 miles by which the
Nile Valley could best be protected. It appeared
from the information placed at my disposal that
the Senoussi forces, spread over the whole Western
desert, did not exceed 3,000, and it was certain
that the enemy's moral had been severely shaken by
Sir John Maxwell's recent successful operations.
The chief dangers, therefore, against which I had
to guard were enemy raids upon the Nile Valley,
the stirring up of native tribes that were
inclined to be well-disposed towards the Senoussi,
and the creation of unrest in the Nile Valley and
Delta among disaffected or nervous elements of the
population. The chief end to be held in view was
to prevent any local success on the part of the
15th April the Kharga Oasis, which had previously
been reported by aerial reconnaissance and
resident agents to be clear of the enemy, was
occupied without incident. The movement of troops
was effected by the existing light railway, and by
the 18th April a force numbering 1,660 of all
ranks was concentrated in the Oasis.
the 27th April the small oasis of Moghara was
occupied. A strongly entrenched post has been
constructed. The occupation of this post has
materially assisted in preventing the passage of
foodstuffs from the Nile Valley to the west, and
denies the water to any enemy force attempting to
move in the contrary direction.
April frequent raids and reconnaissances, chiefly
with a view to capturing concealed depots of
ammunition, were undertaken on the Western Front;
in these enterprises our armoured and light motor
cars have been of inestimable value. On 7th April
a detachment of four armoured cars, accompanied by
the machine-gun section of the 2/7th Middlesex
Regiment, conducted a raid from Sollum upon an
ammunition depot at Moraisa, eighteen miles
north-west of Sollum. After a very slight
resistance from the guard of thirty Muhafzia,
twenty-one boxes of 8.9 centimetre Mantelli gun
ammunition and 120,000 rounds of small arms
ammunition were taken and destroyed. On 11th April
a motor car reconnaisance found and removed eleven
rifles and 7,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
some twenty miles west of Sollum. On 23rd April an
armoured car reconnaissance from Sollum discovered
and brought in 140,000 rounds of small arms
ammunition from a concealed depot. On the 30th
April a further 20,000 rounds were discovered and
brought in to Sollum. During this month, also,
four prisoners, including a Turkish officer, were
captured sixty miles west of Minia, and two small
camel convoys were captured near El Alamein. The
light car patrols were responsible for all these
During the month of April reconnaissance was
active all along the Eastern Front, with
the result that by the middle of the month all
water supplies of any importance within thirty
miles of the Canal were patrolled by our troops,
and mobile columns were ready to go out and deal
with enemy parties approaching them, or, in the
event of serious threat, to demolish the rock
cisterns. In No. 1 Section, on 20th April, a
patrol from Bir Mabeiuk came in contact with an
enemy patrol, fifty strong, on the sand hills near
the mouth of the Wadi Hamatha, some eighteen miles
W.S.W. of Suez. A squadron and fifty rifles
endeavoured to cut the enemy off, but he at once
retired and scattered among the hills. Our
casualties were two men killed. On 23rd April and
the following days four columns, each composed of
mounted troops and infantry, carried out
reconnaissances of the approaches from the west to
Ain Sudr and Sudr El Heitan. The columns returned
to their respective posts on 26th April.
No. 2 Section, on 27th March, the 2nd Australian
and New Zealand Army Corps came into existence on
the departure of the 1st Australian and New
Zealand Army Corps to France. The Corps was
commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander
Godley, K.C.M.G., C.B., and consisted of the 4th
Australian Division, commanded by Major- General
Sir H. V. Cox, K.C.M.G., C.B., C.S.I., the 5th
Australian Division, commanded by Major-General
Hon. J. MacCay, V.D., and the Anzac Mounted
Division, commanded by Major-General H. G.
Chauvel, C.B., C.M.G. (attached). In this section,
the wells at Moiya Harab and Wadi Um Muksheib
having been brought into the regular patrolling
area, a very successful reconnaissance to Jifjaffa
was carried out between 11th and 15th April. The
troops for this enterprise were a squadron of the
9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, accompanied
by a detachment of Bikanir Camel Corps, and
commanded by Major Scott, D.S.O., 9th Australian
Light Horse. The objective was fifty-two miles
from the starting point, and a jumping-off place
for the attack, eight miles south-west of the
objective, was reached at 2.30 a.m. on 13th April.
From here an attack was launched by three troops
upon the enemy's position at 9 a.m. The enemy, cut
off in their attempted retreat by the right
flanking party of the attack, stood at bay on one
of the hills above the village, and lost six men
killed and five wounded before surrendering. One
Austrian lieutenant of engineers and thirty-three
other prisoners were captured, our own casualties
being one man and one horse killed. The
destruction of the enemy's camp was thoroughly
carried out, a quantity of correspondence was
taken, and the elaborate well-boring plant, which
had been at work for five months, was completely
demolished. The manner in which this operation was
carried out was most creditable, both to the
commander of the column and to all ranks composing
conjunction with this reconnaissance, a mounted
column was sent out in No. 1 Section to
reconnoitre Bir el Giddi and the roads leading
east from it. This force satisfactorily
accomplished its mission, and, after an encounter
with a hostile patrol, captured unwounded three
the Qatia District, where alone there is
sufficient water supply to maintain a large body
of troops, preliminaries to the accomplishment of
our ultimate aim - the permanent occupation of the
well-watered zone radiating 15 miles east and
south-east of Qatia - were steadily pushed on. On
2nd April, a squadron of the Gloucestershire
Hussars under Lieut.-Colonel Yorke, with a
detachment of Bikanir Camel Corps, reconnoitred
Bir el Abd, some 15 miles east of Qatia, met with
no resistance, and burnt some tents and stores
belonging to the enemy. On the following day, Bir
Mageibra, 10 miles south-east of Qatia, was
reconnoitred by the Worcestershire Yeomanry. On
the 6th April Brigadier-General E. A. Wiggin,
commanding the 5th Mounted Brigade, took command
of the Qatia District, and was made responsible
direct to the headquarters of No. 3 Section.
9th April, a further reconnaissance of Bir el Abd
was undertaken by a squadron of Worcestershire
Yeomanry. This time a strong party of enemy were
found in possession of a ridge north-east of Bir
el Abd. A sharp skirmish ensued when the Yeomanry
attacked, and the enemy was driven eastwards from
his position, but, owing to the heaviness of the
sand, it was impossible for our cavalry to keep up
the attack, and, after easily fending off an
attempt at a flank attack, they withdrew
unmolested. On 12th April, on orders being
received for General Home to proceed to France,
Major-General The Hon. H. A. Lawrence took over
the command of No. 3 Section.
the 21st April, the railway towards Qatia had
reached a point upon which a serious advance to
hold the whole district could be based, as soon as
the necessary dispositions could be made. On the
23rd, however, the enemy attempted to forestall
any such advance by making a sudden raid in force
upon Qatia. This operation, though comparatively
small forces were engaged, produced the severest
fighting yet experienced by the force under my
On 21st April, the 5th Mounted Brigade were
disposed as follows: The Worcestershire Yeomanry
at Qatia, the Warwickshire Yeomanry, less one
squadron, at Hamisah, 3 miles S.S.W. of Qatia, and
Brigade Headquarters and the Gloucestershire
Yeomanry at Romani, 6 miles N.W. of Qatia. General
Wiggin, commanding the Brigade, had received
orders to dispose his Brigade in the Qatia
District in such a manner as to protect all
railway, topographical and water survey parties,
with special attention to the exploitation of the
water supply; also to observe the route eastwards
towards Bir el Abd, but not to take any serious
offensive measures without further orders. It had
also been impressed on General Wiggin by the
General Officer Commanding No. 3 Section that,
since it would take two days to reinforce him with
infantry, he was, in the event of a heavy attack,
to manoeuvre back upon Dueidar, 13 miles from
Qantara on the Qatia road, or upon the railhead
near El Arais some 7 miles N.W. of Qatia. On the
evening of the 21st one squadron of Worcestershire
Yeomanry moved into bivouac at Oghratina, 7 miles
E.N.E. of Qatia, to cover an R.E. party detailed
to prepare wells. On the 22nd another squadron of
Worcestershire Yeomanry proceeded to Oghratina,
being replaced in Qatia by a squadron of
Gloucestershire Yeomanry, pending the arrival of
one regiment of the Anzac Mounted Division, which
had been ordered up from Salhia so as to reach
Qatia on the 24th. The remainder of the 2nd
Australian Light Horse Brigade was marching to
arrive at Qantara on the 23rd.
Qatia the squadron of Gloucestershire Yeomanry was
covered by good trenches for some 50 or 60 men,
and a number of smaller shelters afforded good
covers. Their horses were picketed close to their
Officer Commanding the two squadrons of
Worcestershire Yeomanry at Oghratina had been told
to push on entrenchment as far as possible, and it
was General Wiggin's intention that these
squadrons, if attacked in force, should retire on
Qatia and thence, if necessary, on Romani, with
their left flank covered by the Gloucestershire
Yeomanry and their right by the Warwickshire
Yeomanry from Hamisah.
the morning of the 23rd, both posts stood to arms
at 4 a.m., and I have ascertained that patrols had
gone out by that hour, though those at Oghratina
were probably much hampered by a thick fog.
the 22nd April the Royal Flying Corps reported to
No. 3 Section that new bodies of enemy troops were
at Bir el Bayud, 15 miles E.S.E. of Qatia, and Bir
el Mageibra, 10 miles S.E. of Qatia. Upon receipt
of this information, General Wiggin obtained leave
from General Officer Commanding No. 3 Section, to
attack the enemy at Mageibra that night, reporting
that he intended to use two squadrons of
Warwickshire, and the one remaining squadron of
Worcestershire Yeomanry. General Wiggin, with
Lieut.-Colonel Coventry, commanding the
Worcestershire Yeomanry, accompanied the raid to
Mageibra. Finding very few enemy, they destroyed
the camp and returned to Hamisah about 9 a.m. on
the 23rd with six Turkish prisoners. In the
meantime the post at Oghratina was attacked at
5.30 a.m. This attack was repulsed. No further
information was received from the Officer
Commanding at Oghratina until 7 a.m., when he
reported that he was again heavily attacked on all
sides. This attack carried the post, all the
garrison of which were either killed, wounded, or
captured. No details of the fighting have,
therefore, been obtainable. Qatia itself was
attacked about 9.30 a.m. Lieutenant-Colonel
Coventry was detached with one squadron of
Worcestershire Yeomanry from General Wiggin's
Force to operate towards Qatia. Unfortunately,
this squadron became involved in the unsuccessful
resistance of the Qatia garrison, and, with the
exception of some 60 men and one officer who were
able to disengage themselves, fell with it into
the hands of the enemy. I have therefore been able
to gather no detailed information of the actual
fighting at Qatia.
Wiggin and Colonel Yorke, commanding the
Gloucestershire Yeomanry at Romani, both showed
great judgment in dealing with the situation, and
did all that was possible with their small forces
against the enemy force of about 2,500, with four
guns of small calibre. General Wiggin pushed
forward from Hamisah north-east against the
enemy's left, south of Um Ugba, and drove him back
for about a mile; the advance was slow owing to
the nature of the ground and the determined
resistance encountered. Colonel Yorke. after
hearing that Dueidar was safe, moved his whole
force at 10 a.m. to attack the enemy's right
advancing on Qatia. He skilfully drove the Turkish
right back to El Rabah, and caused their guns to
shift their position further east. The enemy gave
ground slowly, and, since by 3.30 p.m. it was
evident that Qatia had fallen, General Wiggin
determined to fall back; he himself retired on
Dueidar by way of Hamisah, Colonel Yorke on
Romani; neither were followed. Meanwhile, at 5.30
a.m. a Turkish force, 1,000 strong, with one gun,
advancing from the south, attacked Dueidar, the
most advanced defensible post, which was held by
100 men of the 5th Battalion, Royal Scots
Fusiliers, under the command of Captain Roberts,
5th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. This
officer, who throughout showed conspicuous skill
and ability, succeeded in repelling two determined
attacks on the position at 6.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m.
respectively. Both attempts cost the enemy dear.
At 9.30 a.m. reinforcements of two companies 4th
Royal Scots Fusiliers, under the command of Major
Thompson, 4th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers,
who had been despatched from Hill 70, seven miles
away, on the first news of the attack, arrived at
Dueidar. The various posts were strengthened, and
a counter-attack, delivered at 12.30 p.m. with
great spirit, forced the enemy to retire, leaving
30 prisoners in our hands and 70 dead. The Turks
were pursued in their retreat by the 5th
Australian Light Horse, who had only arrived at
Qantara at 1 p.m., and by aeroplanes, thereby
suffering further loss. Besides the three and a
half squadrons of Yeomanry and details lost at
Qatia and Oghratina, our casualties on the 23rd
were two officers and 18 men killed, four officers
and 21 men wounded. Aeroplane reconnaissance on
the evening of the 23rd established the fact that
the enemy force, which included a large body of
picked Turkish regular troops, was already
retiring. At dawn on the 24th eight machines of
the 5th Wing, Royal Flying Corps, made a bomb and
machine gun attack from a low altitude on the
enemy troops left in Qatia, causing very heavy
casualties and completely destroying the camp. One
machine also located and attacked a large body of
enemy at Bir el Abd, and located another party
retiring on Bir el Bayud. On the morning of the
25th further bomb and machine gun attacks were
made by the Royal Flying Corps on enemy forces at
Bir el Abd and Bir el Bayud. Both attacks were
extremely successful, working great havoc among
men and animals. I cannot speak too highly of the
admirable work done by the 5th Wing, Royal Flying
Corps, during these few days. The strain thrown on
pilots and machines was very heavy, and the former
displayed the utmost gallantry and resource on all
occasions. Chiefly through their efforts the enemy
was made to pay a very heavy price for his
partially successful raid. The general situation
in front of No. 3 Section was not affected by
these operations. Our Cavalry continued to patrol
the Qatia district, which was now practically
clear of the enemy, while our infantry posts at
Dueidar and Romani were strengthened, and the
railway towards Romani was pushed on with all
After 16th January, when General Sarrail assumed
supreme control of the operations of the Allied
Forces at Salonica, the British Force
there commanded by Lieutenant- General Sir B. T.
Mahon, K.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., only remained under
my control for administrative purposes. From the
beginning of January to the end of April no active
operations of importance took place. The general
line of defences remained practically unaltered.
Some 200 miles of deep trenches, including
communication trenches, 710 emplacements for guns,
230 reduits or strong posts, 160 miles of
obstacles (barbed wire), and 1,300 miles of
telegraph cable have been completed; and the
defences as a whole are now quite ready for
occupation should the situation demand it.
in Egypt, so in Salonica, the administrative work
has been extremely heavy. At the, outset the state
of the communications was very unsatisfactory.
There were only two metalled roads leading to our
lines, both in a shocking state of repair; the few
existing tracks soon became impassable in wet
weather for everything except pack animals. The
construction and repair of roads had, therefore,
to proceed simultaneously with the preparation of
the defences. Roads in the forward area were all
begun by the troops themselves, and all ranks
worked admirably, the men thoroughly recognising
the importance of the matter. Later, it was found
possible to organise local civilian, labour
companies, who have largely been employed to
complete and maintain the road work begun by the
troops. Altogether about 90 miles of new metalled
cart roads have been constructed, and 105 miles of
mule tracks, besides some 60 miles of repairs to
previously existing roads and tracks. Railway
extensions leading to the various depots on the
Monastir road, with the necessary sidings, have
been constructed, and Decauville lines laid within
the depots themselves. Preparations have been made
for further extensions. Another great difficulty,
that of insufficient wharfage accommodation, has
been met by the construction of new piers in the
bay itself and at Skala Stavros. These have
reduced the congestion to an appreciable extent
and fully justified the labour and expense
supply system, though hindered at first by the
state of the communications and by the fact that
the equipment of the force with a special scale of
transport was only in process of gradual
completion, has worked with uninterrupted success.
The health of the troops has been excellent, all
ranks having benefited by hard physical work in
good climatic conditions. In view of the approach
of summer, when malaria is likely to prevail in
certain districts through which our line passes,
special precautions have been taken for the
protection of the troops and, where possible,
alternative positions prepared.
the period the importance of training the troops
has been insisted upon. At first one day weekly
was devoted to training, as opposed to road-making
or work on the defences. This proportion has
gradually risen to four days weekly, excluding one
day of rest. On 9th May, under orders from the War
Office, Lieut.-General G. F. Milne, C.B., D.S.O.,
succeeded Lieut.-General Sir Bryan Mahon,
K.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., in command of the Salonica
Army. General Mahor sailed on the same date to
take up command of the Western Frontier Force in
In Egypt during the month of May there was
no major operation to record. Intelligence
received early in the month showed that the Turks
had materially increased their numbers in Sinai,
doubtless with the view of detaining troops in
Egypt. The enemy's main concentrations were too
far away for me to strike at them, and I was in
hopes that he might be induced to cross the
barrier of hills which extends from north to south
some sixty miles from the Canal: he would then
have been exposed to attack with the denies behind
him. However, he made no such advance, and, during
the hot weather in the middle of May, there were
indications that he was drawing in his advanced
posts. On the 8th and 21st May enemy aircraft
attacked Port Said with bombs, doing no material
damage. On the first occasion three civilians were
wounded; on the second two civilians were killed,
five soldiers and thirteen civilians were wounded.
In each case the attack was answered by prompt and
successful retaliation by the Royal Flying Corps.
In all sections of the Eastern front
reconnaissances were frequent, particularly in No.
3 Section, to which were now allotted three
brigades of the Anzac Mounted Division. During the
month the Mahemdia-Romani district has been
occupied in some force, and at a conference, held
on 17th May, at which General Lawrence, commanding
No. 3 Section, was present, further decisions
regarding the occupation of the Qatia district
were arrived at.
the month several successful reconnaissances to
the east were made by the Anzac Mounted Division,
which proved itself a unit upon which I could
absolutely depend to display energy, resource and
endurance. On the 8th May, starting early from
Oghratina, the 2nd Light Horse Brigade
reconnoitred to Bir el Abd with patrols pushed out
to Hod Salmana. On the 16th May, a day of intense
heat, the same brigade, starting from Hod el
Sagia, five miles E.S.E. of Qatia, reached Hod el
Bayud, 15 miles on in the same direction, at 7
a.m. Camels and dismounted men were seen making
off in a north-easterly direction. The enemy's
camp was destroyed, and one prisoner, 36 camels,
and a quantity of ammunition were brought in. The
reconnaissance returned to Qatia, having covered
60 miles in 30 hours. During this time the
Canterbury Mounted Rifles went out to Bir Abu
Afein, covering 40 miles in 30 hours.
the 18th May a very successful bombardment of El
Arish from the sea and the air was carried out. A
sloop and two monitors of His Majesty's Navy bombarded
the town, reducing the fort S.W. of the town to
ruins and damaging the aerodrome. The seaplanes of
the Royal Naval Air Service then attacked
with bombs, being followed later by 6 machines of
the Royal Flying Corps, who had orders to attack
any enemy aircraft that appeared and to bomb the
enemy's camp and troops. The camps were
effectively bombed, and three bombs exploded in
the middle of a body of a thousand men who were on
the march south of the town. A close
reconnaissance of El Arish from the air was made,
and many valuable photographs taken at the same
time. All ships and aircraft returned safely. On
22nd May the Royal Flying Corps carried out a
highly effective bombardment of all enemy camps on
a 45 mile front roughly parallel to the Canal,
during which severe damage was done to the
waterworks at Rodh Salem and to buildings at El
Hamma and Bir Mazar. On 23rd May the 2nd
Australian Light Horse Brigade reconnoitred Hod el
Gedaidia, 15 miles east of Qatia, where shots were
exchanged with a patrol of 40 men on camels, who
retired. Finally, on 31st May, the New Zealand
Mounted Rifles Brigade, one regiment of Australian
Light Horse, and a sub-section of the Ayrshire
Battery R.H.A., attacked the enemy's post at Bir
Salmana, 20 miles E.N.E. of Qatia. The post was
surrounded before dawn, and an enemy post on the
Ganadil road was rushed, while a camel detachment
was seen making off to the south-east. The enemy
lost 15 men killed and 2 men captured. Our cavalry
pursued till 8 a.m. when the pursuit was taken up
by aeroplanes which bombed scattered parties with
effect, killing 20 camels and 8 more men. The
force returned, having covered 60 miles in 36
hours besides fighting an engagement. The only
casualties were two men slightly wounded.
the Western Front during May preliminary
measures for the occupation of the Baharia Oasis
have been in progress. A line of blockhouses has
been established along the Darb el Rubi which runs
due west from Samalut on the Nile. Four
blockhouses were completed and occupied by 23rd
May. Work on the two remaining blockhouses has
been postponed till the railway has reached a
point where it can materially assist in the supply
of stores: this should be about the end of June.
From the most advanced blockhouse it is now
possible to reconnoitre as far as the Mohariq sand
dunes, some 80 miles west of Samalut. The
difficulty of maintaining such a line in a
waterless desert subject to frequent and severe
sand storms has not been small, but all ranks have
worked well and with great keenness.
enemy has a small body of troops, under the
command of Nuri, collected on the Libyan side of
the frontier west of Sollum, but as yet he has not
openly displayed his intentions. Two battalions of
Italian troops landed at Moraisa during the month
and have occupied Bardia. The relations between
the Italian and British commanders on the frontier
are excellent. The area between Sollum and Barrani
has been cleared of the Bedouin population, and,
though it has been impossible entirely to prevent
communication between the Bedouins and Siwa, the
energy of our patrols, according to numerous
reports, is successfully restricting the entry of
food supplies into Siwa.
means of patrols of Imperial Camel Corps and motor
cars, communication between the oases occupied by
the enemy and the Nile Valley and Delta has been
rendered almost impossible. In particular, the
camel patrolling from Kharga towards Dakhla and
Beris has been carried out most efficiently by No.
1 Imperial Camel Company under especially trying
conditions. The Farafra, Baharia, Mognara and Wadi
Natrun fronts have also been controlled with great
Aulad Ali tribes in Egyptian territory are now all
west of Barrani, except for a receiving camp at
Sollum. Markets have been established for the sale
of food at Sollum, Mersa Matruh, Dabaa, El Hamman
and Wadi Natrun, where they are allowed to
purchase what is necessary for their daily needs.
This restricts indiscriminate movement to the west
or to the Delta.
spite of the occupation, during very hot weather,
of so many advanced posts in the desert or on its
edge, I am glad to report that the health of the
troops has been remarkably good. I much regret,
however, that General Sir Bryan Mahon, shortly
after his arrival in this country to take up the
command of the Western Frontier Force, had to be
invalided home owing to severe sunstroke. In the
meantime, Major-General A. G. Dallas, C.B., has
continued, with great ability, in temporary
command of that force.
I beg to acknowledge with great respect the
valuable assistance I have received trom His
Highness the Sultan of Egypt. He has with great
kindness placed at my disposal his unrivalled
knowledge of affairs affecting his country.
His Excellency the High Commissioner,
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir A. H. McMahon, G.C.V.O.,
K.C.I.E., C.S.I., and to the Government of Egypt,
I owe a deep debt of gratitude for whole-hearted
co-operation and help.
am very greatlv indebted to Vice-Admiral Sir
R. E. Wemyss, K.C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O., and
the naval forces under his command for constant
assistance and active co-operation.
construction of Roads, Waterworks, and kindred
tasks in connection with the Canal Defences, which
I have described to you, owe their accomplishment
in a very large measure to the admirable services
of Colonel Sir Murdoch Macdonald, K.C.M.G., of the
Public Works Department of Egypt. His wide
experience and capacity have been an indispensable
asset to me in dealing with these important
am particularly indebted to the Railway
Department, under Colonel Sir George Macauley,
K.C.M.G., R. of O., Royal Engineers, for the
highly successful manner in which Railway
communication has been carried on under great
difficulties. The movement of a large number of
troops and impedimenta of an Army has severely
taxed the capacity of the railway, and has put a
great strain on its staff. That it never failed to
accomplish what was desired is due to the high
efficiency this Department has attained, and to
the personal exertions of Colonel Sir George
wish to bring to your notice the very responsible
and important duties that have fallen to my
Director of Army Signals, Brigadier- General M. G.
E. Bowman-Manifold, D.S.O., R.E., and to the
admirable way in which he has discharged them.
operations on the two fronts have been spread over
a very wide front, amounting to close on 1,000
miles in the west and 90 miles in the east. Prompt
and reliable inter-communication has been a matter
of vital importance.
the successful achievement of this I beg also to
bring to your notice the services of the Egyptian
Telegraph Department under Lieutenant-Colonel J.
S. Liddell, D.S.O., Royal Engineers, and to
express my thanks to the Eastern Telegraph Company
and the Telephone Company of Egypt, who have given
my Director of Army Signals unceasing valuable
beg to bring to notice the valuable services
rendered to the Canal Defences by the
representative and principal officer of the Suez
Canal Company, Charles Comte de Serionne, Agent
Superieur de la Compagnie du Canal de Suez, and by
the staff of that company.
arduous and important work of the care of the sick
and wounded in the Hospitals has been considerably
lightened by a large amount of voluntary aid. I
wish specially to mention the work of the British
Red Cross Society and Order of St. John of
Jerusalem under Sir Courtauld Thomson, C.B.
Nursing services, both English and Australian,
have done admirable work, and the voluntary aid of
the Sisters of Notre Dame de la Delivrance,
working at the Austrian Hospital at Alexandria,
have been specially brought to my notice.
and in conclusion, I wish to bring to notice the
admirable services of my Chief of the General
Staff, Major-General A. L. Lynden-Bell, C.B.,
C.M.G., my Deputy Quartermaster-General,
Major-General W. Campbell, C.B., D.S.O., and my
Deputy Adjutant-General, Major-General J. Adye,
C.B. No Commander-m-Chief has ever been more
loyally served, and no staff has ever worked with
have other names to bring to notice for
distinguished and gallant service during the
operations under review, and these will form the
subject of a separate communication.
have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient
J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian
War Office, London, S.W. 25th
following despatches have been received by the
Secretary of State for War from the
Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force:
General Headquarters, 1st
accordance with the closing paragraph of my
despatch of 1st June, 1916, I have the honour to
submit a list of the names of those officers,
non-commissioned officers and men whose services I
consider deserving of special mention, and I beg
to recommend them to your notice.
will, at a later date, submit to you a further
list of names of officers, non-commissioned
officers and men, belonging to the Salonika Army,
whom I desire to mention in despatches and
recommend for reward.
have the honour to be, Your most obedient
J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief. Egyptian
Capt. F. H., D.S.O., R.N.
by Army lists)
General Headquarters, 13th
accordance with the closing paragraph of my
despatch of 1st June, 1916, and with reference to
the last paragraph of my letter, dated 1st July,
1916, I have the honour to forward herewith a
further list of the names of officers,
non-commissioned officers and men belonging to the
Salonika Army whom I desire to mention in
despatches and recommend for reward.
have the honour to be, Your most obedient
J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian
- 10 OCTOBER 1916
dated 12 August 1916
War Office, 11th
The following Despatch from Lieutenant-General Sir Percy Lake,
K.C.B., relative to the operations in Mesopotamia
from 19th January to 30th April, 1916, has been
forwarded by the Government of India for
Headquarters, I.E.F. "D.," 11th August, 1916.
From Lieut.- General Sir P. H. N. Lake, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.,
Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D"
To the Chief of the General Staff, Army Headquarters, India,
I have the honour to submit a Despatch describing the operations
of the Force under my command from January 19th,
1916, the date of my assuming command, up to April
2. Sir John Nixon's last Despatches, dated January 17th, referred
to General Aylmer's advance from Ali Gharbi; his
capture of the Turkish position at Sheikh Saad
after severe fighting on the 6th, 7th and 8th
January; the battle of 13th and 14th January on
the Wadi River, and the retreat of the enemy to an
entrenched position across the Umm-Al-Hannah
3. The period now under report includes three phases in the
further attempt to relieve Kut:
1st Phase. - 19th to 23rd January.
Unsuccessful attempt to force the Hannah defile. Commander,
Lieut.- General Sir F. Aylmer.
2nd Phase. - 24th January to 10th March.
A period of rest and reorganisation, followed by the unsuccessful
attempt to outflank the enemy's right in the
vicinity of the Dujailah Redoubt. Commander,
Lieut.- General Sir F. Aylmer.
3rd Phase. - 11th March to 30th April. A brief period of
preparation, followed by the attack and capture
of the Hannah and Falahiyah positions; failure
to force the Sannaiyat position, and fall of
Kut. Commander, Lieut.- General Sir G. F.
4. The general position of affairs on the Tigris front on January
19th, 1916, was that the bulk of General Aylmer's
force, after the heavy fighting referred to in
paragraph 2, wasencamped on the left bank
of the Tigris, above the Wadi River; the advanced
troops were in touch with the Turks entrenched in
their Umm Al-Hannah position. General Aylmer was
actively engaged in reorganising his force for a
further advance with the least possible delay. He
fully realised that an immediate advance must
involve some deficiencies in his organisation and
fighting strength, but was influenced by the
(i.) General Townshend's reports as to the limit of his food
supplies, and the influence of food supply
questions generally on the operations of the
(ii.) General Townshend's anxiety about the sufficiency of his
ammunition supply and the condition of some of
(iii.) The rapidity with which the Turks might be able to
reinforce the troops opposed to General
Townshend, and the desirability of forestalling
It was, I understand, those three considerations that had mainly
influenced my predecessor in ordering General
Aylmer to advance as early in January as possible
with the force which would then be concentrated at
It was not until after the heavy fighting for the Hannah position
on January 21st that General Townshend's report of
January 25th, 1916, to the effect that as regards
food supplies he could hold out for another 84
days, reached General Headquarters.
5. The difficulty experienced in pushing up reinforcements,
supplies and munitions of war to the front
seriously affected the operations.
The number of steamers available in January, 1916, for river
transport purposes was practically the same as
when in June, 1915, the first advance up the
Tigris took place. Additional river craft had from
time to time been demanded, as augmentations to
the force in Mesopotamia were decided upon, but
owing to the peculiar conditions which vessels
intended for the intricate navigation of the
Tigris have to satisfy, the provision of these
vessels was a difficult problem, necessarily
entailing long delays, and the supply was never
able to keep pace with the requirements of the
In consequence of this it was never possible during the period
now under report either to concentrate at the
Tigris front the whole of the forces available in
the country or to equip such forces as could be
concentrated there with sufficient transport to
make them mobile and enable them to operate freely
at any distance from the river.
It was always necessary therefore for General Headquarters to
balance most carefully the flow of reinforcements
and supplies, so that the former should not outrun
1st Phase. - 19th to 23rd January.
6. After the battle of Wadi River General Aylmer's leading troops
had followed the retreating Turks to the
Umm-Al-Hannah position, and entrenched themselves
at the mouth of the defile, so as to shut the
enemy in and limit his power of taking the
7. The weather at this period was extraordinarily unfavourable.
Heavy rains caused the river to come down in flood
and overflow its banks, and converted the ground
on either bank into a veritable bog.
Our bridge across the Wadi was washed away several times, while
the boisterous winds greatly interfered with the
construction of a bridge across the Tigris, here
some 400 yards in width.
8. It was essential to establish Artillery on the right bank of
the Tigris so as to support, by enfilading fire,
the attack of our Infantry against the Hannah
9. Guns and troops were ferried across, with difficulty, owing to
the high wind and heavy squalls of rain, but by
the 19th all troops allotted to the right bank had
crossed over and were established in the positions
from which they were required to co-operate with
the main force on the left bank.
10. Meanwhile the leading Infantry Brigades on the left bank had
pushed nearer the enemy. January the 20th was
devoted to a systematic bombardment of his
position, and during the night the Infantry pushed
forward their advanced line to within 200 yards of
the enemy's trenches.
11. On the morning of the 21st, under cover of an intensive
Artillery bombardment, our Infantry moved to the
On our right the troops got to within 100 yards of the enemy's
line, but were unable to advance further. Our left
column, consisting of the Black Watch, 6th Jats
and 41st Dogras, penetrated the front line with a
rush, capturing trenches which they held for about
an hour and a half. Supports were sent forward,
but losing direction and coming under heavy fire,
failed to reach them. Thus, left unsupported, our
previously successful troops, when Turkish
counter-attacks developed, were overwhelmed by
numbers and forced to retire.
12. Heavy rain now began to fall and continued throughout the
day. Telephone communication broke down, and
communication by orderly became slow and
After further Artillery bombardment the attack was renewed at 1
p.m., but by this time the heavy rain had
converted the ground into a sea of mud, rendering
rapid movement impossible. The enemy's fire was
heavy and effective, inflicting severe losses, and
though every effort was made, the assault failed.
Our troops maintained their position until dark and then slowly
withdrew to the main trenches which had been
previously occupied, some 1,300 yards from those
of the enemy.
13. As far as possible all the wounded were brought in during the
withdrawal, but their sufferings and hardships
were acute under the existing climatic conditions,
when vehicles and stretcher-bearers could scarcely
move in the deep mud.
14. To renew the attack on the 22nd was not practicable. The
losses on the 21st had been heavy, the ground was
still a quagmire and the troops exhausted. A six
hours' armistice was arranged in order to bury the
dead and remove the wounded to shelter.
15. I cannot sufficiently express my admiration for the courage
and dogged determination of the force engaged. For
days they bivouacked in driving rain on soaked and
sodden ground. Three times they were called upon
to advance over a perfectly flat country, deep in
mud, and absolutely devoid of cover, against
well-constructed and well-planned trenches, manned
by a brave and stubborn enemy approximately their
equal in numbers. They showed a spirit of
endurance and self-sacrifice of which their
country may well be proud.
2nd Phase.- 24th
January to 10th March.
16. The hurried improvisation of temporary Brigades, Divisions,
etc., with which the force had been obliged to
commence its advance from Ali Gharbi was now
showing its inherent weakness. Divisions and
Brigades, the units of which knew each other and
had served together in France, had perforce been
broken up to meet the difficulties of transport on
a long sea voyage. There had been no time on
arrival in Mesopotamia to await belated units. In
many cases, Field Ambulances had arrived after the
combatant units. Brigade and Divisional formations
had been made up with such units as were first
available. This was a severe handicap to the
troops, and steps were now taken to reconstitute
formations as far as possible in their original
17. Throughout the month of February, preparations were made for
resuming the offensive. Reinforcements were pushed
up from the Base by steamer and route march;
reorganisation and training were carried on at the
front. On the left bank our trenches were again
pushed forward towards the Hannah position.
Frequent reconnaissances were made by land and air
on both banks. During this period no severe
fighting took place, though several minor
operations were undertaken to gain information and
to harass the enemy. On February 11th the bridge
which had been destroyed by floods on January 14th
18. The situation at the end of February was briefly as follows:
On the left bank the enemy, having been reinforced, still held
the Hannah position in force; further in rear were
other defensive lines, at Falahiyah, Sannaiyat,
Nakhailat, and along the northern part of the Es
Sinn position. All except the last-named had been
constructed since the battle of Hannah on 21st
January. They were all protected on both flanks,
by the Tigris and the Suwaikieh Marsh
respectively. On the right bank, the Es Sinn
position constituted the Turkish main line of
defence, with an advanced position near Beit
Aiessa. The right flank of the Es Sinn position
rested on the Dujailah Redoubt, which lay some
five miles south of the river and 14 miles
south-west of the British lines on the right bank.
19. It was decided to attack the Turkish right flank and Dujailah
Redoubt, as the first step towards the relief of
Kut before the arrival of the flood season,
expected about the middle of March. It was feared
that, as soon as the Tigris came down in flood,
the Turks would cut the bunds and so flood the
country as to render further offensive operations
impracticable. The whole area was so flat that
there was hardly any portion of it which could
safely be said to be above flood level.
20. General Aylmer made his arrangements accordingly. He decided
not to wait for further reinforcements, but to
advance with the maximum force for which land
transport could be made available with two days'
food and water. To conceal his intentions during
the period of preparation, our Artillery on both
banks engaged the enemy's trenches on the left
bank, whilst the force in front of the Hannah
position displayed great activity.
21. Operations were again interrupted at the beginning of March
by adverse weather conditions. This delay was
unfortunate, as it gave time to the enemy to
construct trenches closing the gap which had
hitherto existed between Dujailah Redoubt and the
22. On the afternoon of March 7th, General Aylmer assembled his
subordinate Commanders and gave his final
instructions, laying particular stress on the fact
that the operation was designed to effect a
surprise; and that, to prevent the enemy
forestalling us, it was essential that the first
phase of the operation-i.e., the captureof
the Dujailah Redoubt-should be pushed through with
the utmost vigour.
23. His dispositions were briefly as follows: The greater part of
a Division under General Younghusband, assisted by
Naval Gunboats, contained the enemy on the
left bank. The remaining troops were formed into
two columns, under General Kemball and General
Keary, respectively, a reserve of Infantry and the
Cavalry Brigade being held at the Corps
Commander's own disposal. Kemball's column,
covered on the outer flank by the Cavalry Brigade,
was to make a turning movement to attack the
Dujailah Redoubt from the south, supported by the
remainder of the force operating from a position
to the east of the Redoubt.
24. The night march by this large force, which led across the
enemy's front to a position on his right flank,
was a difficult operation, entailing movement over
unknown ground and requiring most careful
arrangements to attain success. Thanks to
excellent staff work and good march discipline,
the troops reached their allotted positions
apparently undiscovered by the enemy, but while
Keary's Column was in position at daybreak ready
to support Kemball's attack, the latter's command
did not reach the point selected for its
deployment, in the Dujailah depression, until more
than an hour later. This delay was highly
prejudicial to the success of the operation.
25. In spite of their late arrival the presence of so large a
force seems to have been quite unexpected by the
Turks, as Dujailah Redoubt was apparently lightly
held when our columns reached their allotted
positions. Prompt and energetic action would
probably have forestalled the enemy's
reinforcements. But time was lost by waiting for
the guns to register and to carry out
reconnaissances, and when, nearly three hours
later, Kemball's troops advanced to the attack,
they were strongly opposed by the enemy from
trenches cleverly concealed in the brushwood, and
were unable to make further ground for some time,
though assisted by Keary's attack upon the Redoubt
from the east.
The southern attack was now reinforced, and by 1 p.m. had pushed
forward to within 500 yards of the Redoubt, but
concealed trenches again stopped further progress,
and the Turks made several counter-attacks with
reinforcements which had by now arrived from the
direction of Magasis.
26. It was about this time that the Corps Commander received from
his Engineer officers the unwelcome news that the
water supply contained in rainwater pools in the
Dujailah depression, upon which he had reckoned,
was insufficient, and could not be increased by
digging. It was clear therefore that unless the
Dujailah Redoubt could be carried that day, the
scarcity of water would of itself compel our
troops to fall back. Preparations were accordingly
made for a further assault on the Redoubt, and at
5.15 p.m. attacks were launched from the south and
east under cover of a heavy bombardment. The 9th
and 28th Infantry Brigades got within 200 yards of
the southern face, where they were held up by
heavy fire, although reinforced. Meanwhile the 8th
Infantry Brigade, supported by the 37th, had
assaulted from the East; the two leading
battalions of the former, the Manchesters and 59th
Rifles, and some of the 37th Infantry Brigade,
succeeded in gaining a foothold in the Redoubt.
But here they were heavily counter-attacked by
large enemy reinforcements, and, being subjected
to an extremely rapid and accurate shrapnel fire
from concealed guns in the vicinity of Sinn Aftar,
they were forced to fall back to the position from
which they started.
27. The troops, who had been under arms for some 30 hours,
including a long night march, were now much
exhausted, and General Aylmer considered that a
renewal of the assault during the night 8/9th
March could not be made with any prospect of
success. Next morning the enemy's position was
found to be unchanged, and General Aylmer, finding
himself faced with the deficiency of water already
referred to, decided upon the immediate withdrawal
of his force to Wadi, which was reached the same
28. The evacuation of our wounded had preceded our retirement.
The first parties of wounded reached Wadi at 4
p.m. on March 9th, and the last wounded man was
attended to in Hospital at that place at 2 a.m.,
March 10th. The Corps Commander speaks in high
terms of the gallantry and devotion displayed by
officers and subordinates of the Medical Service
and Army Bearer Corps during the fighting. They
collected and attended to the wounded under heavy
fire in a manner which called forth the admiration
of the whole force.
3rd Phase.- 11th
March to 30th April.
29. No further operations of any importance occurred during
March, though minor engagements took place on the
right bank, in which enemy trenches were taken and
prisoners captured. But rain fell, and the Tigris
came down in heavy flood on March 15th, causing
extensive inundations, which compelled our troops
to evacuate their advanced positions on that bank.
For the remainder of the month there was a
strenuous struggle with the inundations to prevent
the whole country being flooded. Every available
man was engaged in digging embankments, and
operations were temporarily suspended.
30. On March 12th Major-General Sir G. F. Gorringe succeeded to
the command of the Corps. Fresh troops now began
to arrive upriver, and it was decided to renew
active operations as soon as this reinforcement
was complete. Careful investigations were made
meanwhile as to the feasibility of an advance on
Kut by the right bank from Shaikh Saad, but as
inquiry showed that the country along this route
was not flood-proof, and would be liable to
inundation by the breaking of the bunds on the
right bank of the Tigris, which were under Turkish
control, it was decided that conditions were more
favourable for an attack on the Hannah position
and an advance tip the left bank.
Preparations were accordingly made for putting this plan into
31. The 7th Division had been engaged in sapping up to the
enemy's front trenches, continually under heavy
fire and hampered by floods. By March 28th their
sap-heads were 150 yards from the Turkish front
On April 1st the 13th Division moved up from Sheikh Saad to
relieve them in the front trenches preparatory to
the assault. Heavy rain fell, however, on this and
the following day, and floods rendered some of the
positions of our troops on the right bank
untenable. The ground became impassable and
operations had to be postponed.
32. By the evening of April 4th the ground had dried sufficiently
for the assault. At daylight the next morning the
13th Division jumped out of their trenches and
rushed the Turkish first and second lines in quick
succession. Our Artillery and machine-guns at once
opened on the third and other lines in rear, and
by 7 a.m. the whole position was in our hands.
33. The attack on Hannah had been prepared witn the greatest
care, and was brilliantly executed by General
Maude and the 13th Division. The enemy's position
was a maze of deep trenches occupying a frontage
of only 1,300 yards between the Tigris and the
Suwaikieh Marsh, and extending for 2,600 yards
from front to rear. Although it was lightly held
by the Turks with a few companies and some
machine-guns it was a position of great strength.
34. Meanwhile, on the right bank, the 3rd Division had been
gaining ground. In the morning the 8th Infantry
Brigade, led by the Manchesters, captured the
Turkish position on Abu Roman mounds. An attempt
by the enemy to recapture this position in the
afternoon was beaten off.
During the day the river rose considerably, and it was evident
that a fresh flood was coming down. This pointed
to the urgency of capturing the Falahiyah and
Sannaiyat positions, three and six miles
respectively West of the Hannah position, before
the rising river should enable the Turks to flood
the country between us by opening the bunds.
35. After nightfall a heavy bombardment was directed on the
Falahiyah position from 7.15 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.,
after which the 13th Division assaulted and
captured a series of deep trenches in several
lines. The position was stubbornly held by about
three Battalions of Turks, but by 9.30 p.m. it was
completely in our hands and consolidated.
The 38th Infantry Brigade and the Warwicks and Worcesters of the
39th Infantry Brigade did particularly well in
this assault. High praise is due to Major-General
Maude, his Brigade commanders, and all under their
command for this successful night attack. The
Division suffered some 1,300 casualties during the
36. The 7th Division, which had hitherto been in support, now
moved forward, and, passing through the 13th
Division, took up a position about two miles east
of Sannaiyat, ready to attack the northern portion
of these entrenchments at dawn on April 6th. The
line of direction was to be maintained by moving
with the left flank along a communication trench
which joined the Falahiyah and Sannaiyat
positions. Previous reconnaissance of the terrain
to be traversed had, of course, been impossible
during daylight, as it was then still occupied by
37. The passage, however, of numerous and deep cross-trenches so
hampered the advance that, at dawn, when the
assault was to have taken place, the troops were
still some 2,300 yards from the enemy's position.
This delay was fatal to their chance of success,
as the ground was perfectly flat and without any
vestige of cover. In these circumstances it would
have been wiser to have postponed the attack at
the last moment. The advance was, however,
continued with the greatest gallantry under heavy
artillery and machine-gun fire, to within 700
yards of the Turkish trenches. Here the attacking
lines were checked, and eventually fell back on to
the supporting 3rd line, where they dug themselves
in at about 1,000 yards from the enemy.
38. During the night of 5/6th April and throughout the 6th the
river rose steadily, until at mid-day it reached
the highest level of the year. The wind changed to
the north, and blew the water, of the Suwaikieh
Marsh southwards across the right of the 7th
Division; protective bunds along both the Tigris
and the edge of the marsh had then to be
constructed under the enemy's fire. Our guns were
surrounded by floods, and for some time the
position was distinctly critical.
The marsh continued to encroach so much on the ground occupied by
the 7th Division that all efforts had to be
devoted to securing from the floods the positions
already gained. On the right bank the inundations
rendered communication most difficult, and
threatened to isolate the 3rd Division altogether.
On April 8th, in face of many difficulties, a new
bridge over the Tigris was completed at Falahiyah.
39. During the night 8/9th April the 13th Division took the place
of the 7th Division in the trenches, and at 4.20
a.m. advanced to the assault on Sannaiyat. When
within 300 yards of the enemy's front line they
were discovered by the Turks, who sent up Very
lights and flares and opened a heavy rifle and gun
fire. The first line, including detachments of the
6th K.O. Royal Lancaster Regiment, 8th Welsh
Fusiliers, 6th L. North Lancashire Regiment, and
5th Wiltshire Regiment, penetrated the centre of
the enemy's front line trench. In the glare of the
lights the 2nd line lost direction, wavered, and
fell back on the 3rd and 4th lines. Support thus
failed to reach the front line at the critical
moment, in spite of the most gallant and energetic
attempts of officers concerned to remedy matters.
Our troops who had reached the enemy's trenches were heavily
counter-attacked by superior numbers and driven
back to from 300 to 500 yards from the enemy's
line, where brigades dug themselves in.
40. I had been at Wadi in close touch with the Corps Commander
since April 6th, and after the failure of this
attack we met and discussed the situation together
in detail. While it was clearly very desirable to
secure the Sannaiyat position with its obvious
advantages, yet we had to bear in mind how very
short the time at our disposal was if Kut was to
be relieved, and the delay which a systematic
approach by sapping right up to the position must
involve. It was therefore decided that another
attempt to force the enemy's right about the Sinn
Aftar Redoubt offered prospects of speedier
41. General Gorringe accordingly proceeded to make the necessary
arrangements for this move. As will be understood,
it involved securing the control of the river
bunds which were covered by the enemy's advanced
position at Beit Aiessa, and establishing
communications across the intervening flooded
areas which must be traversed before we could
reach that position. It should be borne in mind
that there is no such thing as a road, in the
sense in which we use the word, in this part of
the country, and that no road material or
metalling of any sort exists; yet in order to
supply the troops with food and ammunition when
they should have succeeded in crossing the
inundations, some sort of permanent track above
flood level, along which transport could work, was
42. The 7th Division now again took over and pushed forward the
trench work in front of Sannaiyat as far as
constant interruptions by floods would permit. The
13th Division was held back near Falahiyah Bridge
43. On April 12th, the 3rd Division, advancing across belts of
inundation intersected by deep cuts, drove in the
enemy's picquets east of Beit Aiessa and occupied
their outpost line, consolidating their position
during the night.
On April 15th and 16th, some of the enemy's advanced trenches
were captured and counter-attacks were repulsed.
Our new line was consolidated by night, guns were
moved forward and preparations were made for the
attack of the main Beit Aiessa position on the
morning of the 17th.
44. Under cover of an intense bombardment, the 7th and 9th
Infantry Brigades advanced at 6.45 a.m., and
actually reached the Turkish trenches before our
Artillery fire lifted. When the bombardment ceased
they leapt into the trenches, bayonetted numbers
of the enemy, and the Beit Aiessa position was
soon in our hands. The enemy left 200 to 300 dead
in the trenches and 180 prisoners were captured.
These operations, culminating in the capture of Beit Aiessa,
reflect great credit on Major-General Keary and
the troops under his command. Steady and
consistent progress was made day after day in
spite of most difficult conditions and often with
a shortage of rations which the transport was
heavily strained to bring forward.
45. Orders were now issued for the 13th Division to move up in
relief of the 3rd Division, after dark, the latter
to concentrate on the left rear of the 13th,
preparatory to further operations next day.
46. At 5 p.m. the enemy's artillery commenced to bombard Beit
Aiessa and to establish a barrage in rear of the
3rd Division, sweeping the passage through the
swamps along which its communications lay. An hour
later a very strong counter-attack came from the
southwest. In spite of heavy shelling from our
guns, the attack was pressed home against the 9th
Infantry Brigade, from which a double company had
been pushed forward to guard two captured guns
which could not be brought in during daylight. In
retiring the double company masked our fire; the
9th Infantry Brigade was pressed and gave ground,
exposing the left of the 7th Infantry Brigade,
which was also forced back. Our troops rallied on
the 8th Infantry Brigade, which was holding its
ground firmly on the left of the line, and on a
portion of the 7th Infantry Brigade.
Reinforcements from the 13th Division were already moving
forward, but owing to the darkness and boggy
ground they were delayed, and some hours elapsed
before they arrived.
The attack which commenced at 6 p.m. was followed by a series of
heavy attacks throughout the night, the 8th
Infantry Brigade on the left repelling as many as
six such attacks. But our line held firm, and the
enemy retreated at dawn, having suffered losses
estimated at 4,000 to 5,000 men.
47. In this engagement the following units particularly
distinguished themselves by their steadiness and
gallantry:1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers; 27th
Punjabis; 89th Punjabis; 47th Sikhs and 59th
Rifles - also the South Lancs., East Lancs, and
Wiltshire Regiments. The 66th and 14th Batteries,
R.F.A., did good service, also the 23rd Mountain
Battery, which expended all its ammunition, and
did great execution at close range. Generals
Egerton and Campbell, who commanded the Brigades
most heavily engaged, set a fine example of
coolness and gallantry in the hand-to-hand
fighting which took place.
Although the enemy had suffered heavy losses and had failed to
obtain any success after their initial rush, they
had checked our advance and regained that portion
of Beit Aiessa nearest the river which included
the bunds controlling the inundations. Its
recapture was essential.
48. During the succeeding days some progress in this direction
was made by trench fighting and by consolidating
positions pushed out towards Sinn Aftar. The boggy
nature of the ground made movement difficult, and
many of the troops were worn out with fatigue.
Meanwhile on the left bank, although frequently interrupted by
floods, the 7th Division had been steadily pushing
forward saps, and as there were some signs of a
weakening of the enemy's forces at Sannaiyat,
there appeared to be an opportunity to make
another attempt to capture that position. The 7th
Division was ordered to prepare for an assault on
the 20th, supported by troops from the right bank.
But on the afternoon of the 19th the wind veered
round to the north, water from the marsh flooding
their trenches and the ground in front of them;
the attack had therefore to be postponed.
49. Throughout the 20th and 21st the Sannaiyat position was
bombarded. Arrangements were made for the assault
to take place next morning, on a front which
eventually had to be reduced to that of one
Brigade, the extreme width of passable ground
being only 300 yards. After preliminary
bombardment the 7th Division advanced, the 19th
Infantry Brigade leading. Besides our Artillery on
both banks, massed machine-guns on the right bank
covered our advance. The leading troops carried
the enemy's first and second lines in their
immediate front, several of the trenches being
flooded, but only a few men were able to reach the
50. Large Turkish reinforcements now came up. They delivered a
strong counter-attack, which was repulsed. A
second counter-attack, however, succeeded in
forcing our troops back, as many men were unable
to use their rifles, which had become choked with
mud in crossing the flooded trenches, and so were
unable to reply to the enemy's fire. By 8.40 a.m.
our men were back in their own trenches.
51. By mutual consent parties went out, under the Red Cross and
Red Crescent flags, to collect their respective
wounded. The Turkish casualties appear to have
been heavy as they were evacuating wounded until
nightfall. Our casualties amounted to about 1,300.
52. Persistent and repeated attempts on both banks had thus
failed, and it was known that at the outside not
more than six days' supplies remained to the Kut
garrison. General Gorringe's troops were nearly
worn out. The same troops had advanced time and
again to assault positions strong by art and held
by a determined enemy. For 18 consecutive days
they had done all that men could do to overcome,
not only the enemy, but also exceptional climatic
and physical obstacles - and this on a scale of
rations which was far from being sufficient, in
view of the exertions they had undergone, but
which the shortage of river transport had made it
impossible to augment. The need for rest was
53. There remained but one chance if the relief of Kut were to be
accomplished, and that was the introduction by
some means of additional supplies into General
Townshend's camp, which would enable him to hold
out for a still longer period.
Faint as the chance was, the "Julnar," one of the fastest
steamers on the river, had for some days been
under preparation by the Royal Navy for an
attempt to run the enemy's blockade.
54. At 8 p.m. on April 24th, with a crew from the Royal Navy
under Lieutenant Firman, R.N., assisted by
Lieutenant-Commander Cowley, R.N.V.R., the
"Julnar," carrying 270 tons of supplies, left
Falahiyah in an attempt to reach Kut.
Her departure was covered by all Artillery and machine-gun fire
that could be brought to bear, in the hope of
distracting the enemy's attention. She was,
however, discovered and shelled on her passage up
the river. At 1 a.m. on the 25th General
Townshend reported that she had not arrived, and
that at midnight a burst of heavy firing had been
heard at Magasis, some 8½ miles from Kut by
river, which had suddenly ceased. There could be
but little doubt that the enterprise had failed,
and next day the Air Service reported the "Julnar"
in the hands of the Turks at Magasis.
55. The leaders of this brave attempt, Lieutenant H. O. B.
Firman, R.N., and his assistant -
Lieutenant-Commander C. H. Cowley, R.N.V.R. - the
latter of whom had throughout the campaign in
Mesopotamia performed magnificent service in
command of the "Mejidieh" - have been
reported by the Turks to have been killed; the
remainder of the gallant crew, including five
wounded, are prisoners of war.
56. In the hope of prolonging the resistance of Kut for even a
day or two, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal
Naval Air Service had dropped into Kut,
between April 16th and April 29th, approximately 8
tons of supplies, besides fishing nets, medicines
Although these supplies could not materially alter the course of
the siege, it was a performance which is deserving
of high praise, for it involved a great strain on
the pilots, and the journeys were subject to
attacks by enemy aircraft of superior speed and
fighting capacity. One of our machines was shot
down while engaged on this supply service, another
was damaged, but brought home safely with great
57. With the failure of the "Julnar" there was no further
hope of extending the food limit of the garrison
of Kut. Everything that was possible with the
means to hand had been attempted. The troops only
desisted from their efforts when, through battle
losses, sickness and exhaustion, the limit of
human endurance had been reached. On April 29th
I need not enlarge upon the bitter disappointment felt by all
ranks on the Tigris Line at the failure of their
attempt to relieve their comrades in Kut. It was
mitigated by His Majesty the King's gracious
message of May 7th, 1916, in which His Majesty
expressed his feeling that his troops had done all
that was humanly possible.
58. By the courtesy of the Turkish Commander-in-Chief -
Major-General Khalil Pasha - I was able to
arrange, on April 30th and the following days,
that all the more serious cases among the sick and
wounded of the garrison of Kut should be handed
over to me in exchange for an equivalent number of
Turkish prisoners. In this connection I should
like to acknowledge my indebtedness to Captain
Hon. A. Herbert, M.P., Irish Guards, and Captain
T. E. Lawrence, General Staff, Intelligence,
Egypt, who greatly assisted me in these
59. This report would be incomplete without some reference to
occurrences in the other parts of Mesopotamia.
During practically the whole period under review,
neither the Turks on the Euphrates nor the Arab
tribes in the vicinity of that river have given us
any trouble. When, however, in January the advance
against the hostile positions in front of Kut took
place, it was thought advisable to make a
demonstration northwards to a short distance from
our advanced post at Nasiriyah with a view to
deterring as many of the hostile tribes on the Hai
River as possible from joining forces with the
60. The major portion of the force at Nasiriyah accordingly moved
out at the beginning of January and encamped in
the neighbourhood of Butaniyah Lake. Early in
February, when the object in view had been
attained, the troops returned to Nasiriyah. On the
return journey some of the villages, with whom
friendly relations had hitherto obtained,
apparently mistaking our movement for a retreat,
treacherously attacked our rearguard. The attack
was beaten off, a party of the Royal West Kents
and the 30th Mountain Battery behaving very
gallantly. A small force marched out the following
morning from Nasiriyah, surprised and destroyed
the offending villages in retaliation for their
Nothing of importance occurred on the Karun Line, that country
and the neighbourhood of the Oilfields, as well as
the country to the West and South of Basrah,
remaining quiet and undisturbed throughout the
period under review.
61. When my predecessor, General Sir John Nixon, submitted his
Despatch of January 17th, 1916, he had had no
opportunity of bringing to notice the names of
those officers and men who had distinguished
themselves during the actions at Shaikh Saad from
6th to 8th January and at the Wadi River on 13th
January 1916. I have therefore included them in
62. I desire to place on record my appreciation of the services
rendered by Lieut.-General Sir F. Aylmer. Faced by
great climatic and other difficulties, and unable,
for reasons already referred to, to allow himself
the time for reorganisation and preparation which
under other circumstances he would have deemed
essential, he applied himself to a difficult task
with an energy, ability and determination which
enabled him twice to defeat a brave enemy at least
equal to himself in numbers, and which would in
all probability have carried him to success at the
Umm-Al-Hannah position but for weather conditions
which proved an almost insurmountable obstacle.
Major-General (temporary Lieut.-General) Sir G. F. Gorringe has
rendered valuable service to the State. As Chief
of the Staff to the Tigris Column from January
28th, and in command of the Column from March 12th
onwards, he has shown untiring energy, ability and
devotion in dealing with the many difficult
situations which he had to face. He is a Commander
of proved ability in the field.
Major-General C. V. F. Townshend has already shown himself a fine
Commander of troops in action and a tactician of
no mean ability. It was mainly his personal
example of cheerfulness, courage and resource
which inspired the garrison of Kut to sustain a
siege of nearly five months, under every sort of
trial, until sheer starvation compelled surrender.
Major-General H. d'U. Keary, after commanding his Division in
France with distinction, has led it with resource
and success throughout the operations under
review. He could always be depended upon to handle
his Division with skill in any operation with
which he was entrusted.
Colonel (temporary Major-General) H. T. Brooking has displayed
much ability in his administration of the
Euphrates area and in the various minor operations
which he has conducted.
63. This campaign in Mesopotamia has been one in which the
difficulties experienced by the troops in actual
contact with the enemy have been all but equalled
by those which have had to be faced by the
Headquarters and Lines of Communication Staffs and
the Departments of the Army, upon whose exertions
it depended that their comrades in the
fighting-line should be fed and supplied with the
material they required to enable them to carry out
their arduous task.
Major-General M. Cowper, as head of my Administrative Staff, has
rendered most valuable service. His energy and
ability, when things threatened to go wrong and an
awkward emergency had to be faced, have more than
once saved the situation.
Major-General A. W. Money, as my principal Staff Officer, has
shown himself an exceptionally able Chief of the
General Staff. With wide experience and sound
judgment, his advice has always been of the
highest value to me on all occasions.
Brevet Lieut.- Colonel W. H. Beach, R.E., has continued to give
me the valuable assistance which he rendered to my
predecessor. As head of my Intelligence Section he
has displayed a cool, well-balanced judgment of no
64. To Rear-Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.,
D.S.O., Naval Commander- in-Chief, East Indies, I
am indebted for much useful advice and cordial
co-operation. Captain Nunn, C.M.G., D.S.O.,
Commander Wason, and the other officers of the
Royal Navy have afforded us the able assistance
which we have become accustomed to receive from
I have referred elsewhere to the daring attempt made by the S.S.
"Julnar" to run the gauntlet of the Turkish
defences. Knowing well the chances against them,
all the gallant officers and men who manned that
vessel for the occasion were volunteers, among
themEngineer Sub-Lieut. Lewis Reed, the
regular Chief Engineer of the vessel. I trust that
the services in this connection of Lieut. H. O. B.
Firman, R.N., and Lieut.-Commander C. H. Cowley,
R.N.V.R., his assistant, both of whom were
unfortunately killed, may be recognised by the
posthumous grant of some suitable honour.
65. The Air Service, which includes both the Royal Naval Air
Service and the Royal Flying Corps, has
distinguished itself throughout by hard work and
devotion to duty, and the assistance which it has
afforded to the other arms has been invaluable.
Never fully manned, it found itself, towards the
end of the last advance, very short-handed and
faced by one or more enemy machines of
considerably greater speed and fighting capacity,
but its efficient work was nevertheless
66. The manner in which the Signal Service, only recently
organised, and augmented from time to time with
but partially trained men, has succeeded in
carrying out its duties reflects credit upon both
officers and men.
67. None know better than the officers of the Royal Indian
Marine how inadequate to meet the
ever-increasing requirements of this force have
been their resources in personnel, in materiel,
and especially in river craft. Their endeavours to
satisfy those requirements have been unceasing,
and the measure of success obtained has been
highly creditable to all concerned. In addition to
the permanent officers I would especially mention
the temporary officers in command of the river
steamers plying between the Tigris front and the
Base, who, working always at high pressure and
often under dangerous conditions, have displayed a
patriotic devotion to duty worthy of high praise.
68. The energy and devotion to duty shown by the personnel of the
Medical Services deserve commendation. Overworked
and undermanned as they were during the advance in
January - for the greater portion of the medical
organisations then in the country had been shut up
in Kut, and the medical units of the 3rd and 7th
Divisions had only begun to arrive - they did
their utmost with the means at their disposal to
alleviate the sufferings of the sick and wounded.
With the arrival in February of the first river
hospital ship "Sikkim," and a steady
increase in personnel, their power of dealing with
the situation was considerably improved, as the
action on March 8th showed.
69. No report on the Medical Services would be complete without
reference to the splendid services rendered by Mr.
T. A. Chalmers, of Assam, who brought out, and
himself drove, his specially designed motor-boat
"Ariel." He spent his whole time, frequently
under fire, in conveying sick and wounded between
collecting stations, field ambulances and river
hospital craft in a manner which no other boat in
our possession could have imitated.
70. The Ordnance Services, under Colonel A. P. Douglas, with many
serious difficulties to combat, have throughout
worked quietly and efficiently to keep the force
at the front supplied with the munitions they
71. The Supply and Transport Corps have had their establishment
seriously reduced from sickness and other causes,
and have always worked at high pressure. They have
been constantly confronted with the difficulty
that sufficient river transport tonnage could not
be allotted to them to admit of the full scale of
rations being delivered at the front.
72. The Military Works Services, though having to compete with an
enormous and ever-increasing volume of demands
with a staff whose increase was by no means
commensurate, has carried through creditably an
amount of work the sum total of which can only be
realised by those who have seen it actually in
73. The Remount and Veterinary Services, the Telegraph and Postal
Departments, have all worked very satisfactorily.
74. The Survey Department has performed valuable, if
unostentatious work, often under very adverse
75. The Army Chaplains of all denominations have worked devotedly
and given unstinted service to the Force. In their
ministrations to the wounded they have freely
exposed themselves in the front line.
76. I wish to record my appreciation of the valuable work
performed by the Officers of General Headquarters
and my personal Staff, to whom I am much indebted
for their loyal assistance on all occasions.
77. I would express my deep obligation to Lieut.- Colonel Sir
Percy Cox, Mr. Dobbs, I.C.S., and the officers of
the Political Department for their valuable advice
and assistance freely rendered on every occasion.
The remarkably small amount of tribal interruption
along our extensive Lines of Communication and the
satisfactory condition of internal affairs
throughout the occupied territory and adjoining
districts are a high testimony to Lieut.- Colonel
Sir Percy Cox's ability, tact and experience.
78. Accompanying this Despatch is a list of officers and men
whose names I would bring to notice in connection
with services rendered during the operations
herein reported upon.
have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient
LAKE, Lieutenant-General, Commanding Indian
Expeditionary Force "D."
NOTE.- The list of mentions referred to in paragraph 78 will be
gazetted in a few days.
- 17 OCTOBER 1916
CAMPAIGN - NAVAL MENTIONS
dated 24 August 1916
War Office, 19th
The following Despatch from Lieutenant-General Sir Percy Lake,
K.C.B., has been forwarded by the Government of
India for publication:
Quarters, Indian Expeditionary Force "D,"
Basrah, 24th August, 1916.
From the General
Officer Commanding, Indian Expeditionary Force
To the Chief of
the General Staff, Army Headquarters, India.
Sir: With reference to my despatch dated 12th August, 1916,
paragraph 78, I have the honour to submit a
detailed list of Officers, Warrant Officers,
Non-Commissioned Officers and Men whom I desire to
bring to special notice.
have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient
LAKE, Lieutenant-General, Commanding, Indian
Expeditionary Force "D."
Bickford, Lt.- Commander J. E. P.
Cameron, Staff Surgeon E., M.B.
Chapman, Mr. H. P.
Eddis, Lt.- Commander C. J. F.
Firman, Lt. H. O. B. (killed).
Hitch, Surgeon F. G., M.B.
Nunn, Capt. W., C.M.G., D.S.O.
Robertson, Lt. G. W. T.
Rutherfoord, Commander E. Mc.
Wake, Commodore D. St. A.
Wason, Commander C. R.
Webster, Lt. R. P. D.
Wemyss, Rear-Admiral (Acting Vice-Admiral) Sir R. E., K.C.B.,
Wright, Paymaster S. J.
Ham, Gunner J. B.
Robertson, Petty Officer J.
Spanner, Gunner J. P.
Wakeling, O.N. 190329 Petty Officer W. H.
by Army lists)
in Army Units and Corps)
Alexander, Capt. (temp. Maj.) R. D. T., London Scottish.
Beckingsale, Temp. Sub-Lt. F. H., R.I.M.
Blackmore, Temp. Engineer J. C., R.I.M.
Boultbee, Lt. H. T., R.I.M.
Boykett, Lt. C. H., R.I.M.
Brown, Sub-Lt. J. H., R.N.V.R.
Bugg, Temp. Lt. H. J., R.I.M.
Chalmers, Esq., T. A.
Collins, Temp. Lt. F. J., R.I.M.
Cowley, Lt.-Commander C. H., R.N.V.R. (killed).
Cowley, Sub-Lt. R., R.N.V.R.
D'Eye, Sub-Lt. E. C. R., R.N.V.R.
Duncan, Temp. Lt. I. J., R.I.M.
Follett, Sub-Lt. E., R.N.V.R.
Gosling, Sub-Lt. W. G., R.N.V.R.
Harvey, Temp. Capt. B.
Harold, Commander A. E., R.I.M.
Hearn, Temp. Capt. E. S., I.A.R.O.
Hindman, Engineer G. H., R.I.M.
Howes, Temp. Lt. G. A., R.I.M.
Huddleston, Commander W. B., R.I.M.
Hughes-Hallett, Lt. H. P., R.I.M.
Hull, Engineer G., R.I.M.
Innes, Temp. Engineer R. M., R.I.M.
Kinch, Lt. A. G., R.I.M.
King, Lt. W. K., R.N.V.R.
Llewellyn, Temp. Sub-Lt. A. P., R.I.M.
MacCallum, Temp. Lt. H., R.I.M.
Marsh, Lt. B. C., R.I.M.
Milne, Temp. Lt. W. A., R.I.M.
Morgan, Temp. Lt. P. R., R.I.M.
Nicoll, Lt. C. J., R.I.M.
Newton, Engineer T. B., R.I.M.
Poyntz, Lt. A. R. C., R.I.M.
Readman, Temp. Lt. W. G., R.I.M.
Reed, Sub-Lt. W. L., R.N.V.R.
Salmond, Commander H. M., R.I.M.
Scott, Lt. C. A., R.I.M.
Skliros, Esq., Chief Engineer, Motor Workshop.
Symonds, Temp. Engineer W., R.I.M.
Szulezewski, Lt. O., R.N.V.R.
Vincent, Engineer R., R.I.M.
Ward, Lt. J. C., R.I.M.
Wilkin, Esq., P.
Buchanan, No. 15 Pte. G. W., East Ind. Railway Vols.
Geary, No. 28 Pte. R., East Ind. Railway Vols.
Roy, Temp. Jemadar G. C., Marine Workshop.
Shaikh Abdul Rahman, Master T.3.
Shaikh Mohamed Baba, Master "Bahrein."
Abdul Karim Saleh, Master "Shurur."
Hassan Ghulam, Master "Salimi."
Haji Ibrahim Saig, No. 1 Pilot.
Abdullah Sangur, Master "Shihab."
War Office, 19th
The Government of India has received from Lieutenant-General Sir
Percy Lake the following list of names of officers
and others recommended by Major-General Townshend
for distinguished service during the defence
Tudway, Lt. L. C. P., D.S.C., R.N.
by Army lists)
in Army Units and Corps)
Merriman, Lt. R. D., R.I.M.
Tait, Corpl. J. R., Calcutta Volunteer Rifles.
Shaikh Abdul, Lascar, Motor Boat 32.
- 24 OCTOBER 1916
SUDAN AND DARFUR
dated 8 August 1916
- 14 NOVEMBER 1916
dated 27 August 1916
The following Despatch from Lieutenant-General Sir Percy Lake,
K.C.B., relative to the operations in Mesopotamia
subsequent to 30th April, 1916, has been received
from the Government of India for publication.
In forwarding this Despatch to the Government of India the
Commander-in-Chief expressed his appreciation of
the zeal and perseverance with which Sir Percy
Lake faced and energetically improved the
difficult conditions encountered by him during the
tenure of his command:
Headquarters, I.E.F. "D.," 27th August, 1916.
From Lieutenant-General Sir P. H. N. Lake, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.,
Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D."
To the Chief of the General Staff, Army Headquarters, India,
SIR: On relinquishing command of Indian Expeditionary Force
"D" I have the honour to submit a short Despatch,
dealing with the operations of this Force since
the fall of Kut on April 30th, and also describing
in general terms the work carried out at the Base
and on the Line of Communications up to the
1. No operations on a large scale have been undertaken since the
fall of Kut. On the Tigris Line the troops
immediately facing the enemy were, with the
exception of those actually on duty in the
trenches, resting, recuperating and consolidating
their position. Fatigues were very heavy, the heat
of summer came on rapidly, and a good deal of
Nevertheless pressure on the enemy was never relaxed, and every
opportunity was taken to test his morale by
bombardments and minor engagements whenever
2. During May the pressure of the Russian advance from Persia
towards Baghdad must have begun to make itself
felt by the enemy, for on the 19th May General
Gorringe reported his apparent withdrawal from his
advanced positions at and in front of Es Sinn on
the right bank, though the Sannaiyat position was
still strongly held. This withdrawal was followed
up, and by the evening of May 20th General
Gorringe was able to report that, except for small
rearguards covering the bridges over the Hai
river, the right bank of the Tigris as far as the
Hai was clear of the enemy.
3. As the enemy's retention of the Sannaiyat position prevented
the passage of our supply ships up the river, our
troops operating on the other bank towards the Hai
had to depend for food, forage, and in some cases
even water, upon land transport.
Consequently, General Gorringe's occupation of the positions
evacuated in the enemy's retirement could only be
gradual, and was largely dependent upon the
construction of new roads and a reorganisation of
his supply system.
These conditions have continued practically unchanged up to the
present date. The abatement of the floods and the
intense heat have dried up the ground, caused the
marshes to recede and made movement easier. On the
other hand, water difficulties have increased, and
drinkable water away from the river is difficult
to find, the soil being usually impregnated with
The Turks still hold the Sannaiyat position, and have constructed
other lines behind it on the left bank, which they
appear to hold in force.
On the right bank their outposts reach the Hai river, which is
now fordable. We hold positions from which we
dominate the Hai and can deny its passage, while
we could, if we pleased, bombard Kut itself.
4. One incident requires mention. On May 20th a strong Russian
Cavalry patrol of three officers and 110 other
ranks arrived unexpectedly at Ali Gharbi. The
patrol had started from the neighbourhood of
Karind and had safely executed an adventurous
march of some 200 miles, much of it through the
Pusht-i-Kuh hills. The officers came to report
themselves to me in person at Basrah, where, by
command of His Majesty the King, I decorated them
with the Military Cross, in recognition of their
exploit, and of this, the first meeting of British
and Russian troops as Allies in the field for 100
The patrol left Ali Gharbi on their return journey on June 4th,
and after skilfully surmounting various
difficulties succeeded in reaching their main body
5. On July 11th General Gorringe was succeeded in the command of
the Tigris column by General Maude, who has held
it up to date.
6. As regards aviation, the superiority of certain of the hostile
aeroplanes over any of our machines in the matter
of speed, combined with a large reduction in the
number of our pilots (due to sickness partly
attributable to overwork), enabled the enemy in
May and June to establish what was very nearly a
mastery of the air.
With the arrival of more pilots from home, matters improved,
until in August three of our machines, working
together, forced the best enemy machine, a Fokker,
to descend, seriously damaged, in its own lines.
7. Operations on the Euphrates have been confined to raiding
expeditions, carried out in order to punish
attacks on our vessels, damage to the telegraph
line, or attacks on tribes who are our allies. All
these expeditions have been well organised by
8. On the Karun Line the only incidents worthy of note have been
attempts by pro-German Persian tribesmen, who had
been cooperating with the Turks against the
Russians, to escape to their own mountains, where
they were likely to make mischief. These attempts
were frustrated by the 23rd Cavalry operating on
the Kharkeh and Ab-i-Diz rivers.
Lieutenant-Colonel Younghusband's arrangements
were well conceived, and resulted in the complete
discomfiture of the tribesmen and the capture of
9. During the hot season, now drawing to a close, the business of
administration and the work of preparation for
more active measures during the coming cold
weather assumed relatively great importance. I
make no excuse, therefore, for alluding at some
length to the work performed.
10. The valuable co-operation of the Royal Navy, under
Captain W. Nunn, has, as usual, been conspicuous
during the period under review. The gunboats
stationed on the Euphrates took a leading part in
the successful minor operations referred to in
paragraph 7 on that river and in the Hammar Lake.
I would also bring to notice the able assistance given by Mr. W.
Grant, Admiralty Overseer at Abadan, in
preparing river craft for service.
11. In my previous despatch I alluded to the difficulties against
which the Medical Services have had to contend.
Much thought and hard work have been devoted to overcoming these
difficulties and meeting the medical needs of the
force. The advance made in this direction is
clearly shown by the fact that the total
accommodation for sick and wounded in Mesopotamia,
which on January 21st (exclusive of Kut) was 4,700
beds, and by May 13th had risen to 9,425, amounted
on July 1st to 15,745, with 2,700 more in process
The advent of the hot weather early in May, with a sudden rise in
the temperature, increased the number of sick
rapidly. The intense heat was aggravated at the
front by the total absence of shade and by the
failure of the "shamal" or north wind, which,
usually due about the middle of June, did not
commence to blow till July 19th. The admissions to
hospital then at once lessened, and are still
decreasing. The majority of the cases are not
An outbreak of cholera occurred at the Tigris front at the end of
April, but was got under control in the course of
a short time, since when only a small number of
isolated cases are reported from time to time from
various parts of the country.
I am much indebted to Surgeon-General F. H. Treherne for the
valuable assistance he has consistently rendered
since his arrival in the country; also to Colonel
W. H. Willcox, Consulting Physician, whose high
professional knowledge has always been at the
service of the force. Much credit is due to the
Nursing Sisters, who have carried out their duties
with great devotion, and have shown untiring zeal
and energy in alleviating the sufferings of those
who have passed through their hands. By the
untimely death of Colonel Sir V. Horsley, both the
force and the medical profession sustained a
12. In the Supply and Transport Corps much sickness, followed by
invaliding, occurred, especially among the senior
officers. As a result the duties of the Corps fell
heavily on those who remained, while the service
of supply was much hampered by a shortage of river
transport on a rapidly falling river. That the
supply of food, clothing, etc., has nevertheless
been maintained without serious deficiencies
reflects credit upon the work of the Corps.
13. During the flood season, from April to June, nine-tenths of
the country round Basrah is under water, and in
normal years a continuous belt of flood, from 6 to
9 miles wide and from 1 to 4 feet deep, separates
the Basrah tract from the higher lying desert
country to the south-west.
This flood water in 1915 forced its way into and inundated
the Makina Masus Camp area. This year, in order to
meet the needs of the constant stream of troops
and stores pouring into Basrah, it was imperative
to safeguard from floods the ground space required
for camps, hutting, store depots and additional
hospital accommodation. This was done by
constructing, first, a main protective embankment
or "bund" from the Tigris at Magil to the higher
ground at Shaiba. This "bund" was 11 to 12 miles
long, and completely shut off the belt of flood
water above referred to.
It was supplemented by a second bund, which branched off from it
about 2 miles from the river, and was carried to
the neighbourhood of the Zubair Gate of Basrah,
some 3 miles. A series of smaller subsidiary bunds
was constructed along the river front and the
intermediate creeks. The whole system, covering a
total length of some 20 miles, safeguards an area
of some 48 square miles in all, and of 1 1/2
square miles at Magil and Makina Masus, which has
been adopted as the main camp for troops in and
near Basrah. Wharves have been constructed, and
ocean-going steamers are now able to come
alongside and unload.
A large amount of hutting for hospitals and troops has been
erected, providing accommodation for 8,700 sick
and 15,000 troops; water supplies for the troops
have been installed at Basrah and Amarah, and many
important miscellaneous works have been carried
The amount of valuable work brought to completion reflects credit
on Major-General J. C. Rimington, Chief Engineer;
Colonel E. K. B. Stokes-Roberts, Director of
Works, and those serving under them.
14. Two railways are now in course of construction.
Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. White and his assistants
are pushing on both lines with much zeal and
energy, in spite of considerable difficulties in
the transport of materials.
15. A new powerful wireless station has .been installed. Work was
commenced on the 10th February, 1916, and
completed on the 25th August, 1916. The rapid
erection of this station is due to the
energetic co-operation of the Director-General,
Posts and Telegraphs, India; to Mr. E. L.
Bagshawe, Director of Telegraphs, Force "D," and
especially to the ability and energy of Mr. J. G.
P. Cameron, Assistant Superintendent of
Telegraphs, the engineer in charge of the
16. The Veterinary Services, under Lieutenant-Colonel W. S.
Anthony, have done much to maintain the animals of
the force in good condition, in spite of hard work
and unavoidable short commons in certain cases.
17. The administration of the Remount Services, the care and
training of the horses reflects credit upon
Captain J. F. H. Anderson, Army Remount
18. I am anxious to place on record my deep sense of the good
effect produced throughout this force by the Army
Chaplains of all denominations, whose devotion to
duty and contempt of danger while performing it
deserve the highest commendation.
19. Like other departments, the Royal Indian Marine(below,
RIMS Dufferin, troop transport - Photo Ships)
has suffered severely from sickness and
invaliding, especially among its superior
officers. The rapid growth of its duties may be
gathered from the fact that whereas in January,
1916, there were nineteen permanent and twenty-one
temporary officers and 525 other ranks employed,
by July the number had risen to forty permanent
and 163 temporary officers and 3,981 other ranks,
besides native labourers. The necessity for
assimilating this large influx of newly-appointed
officers and men threw a heavy strain on the
permanent cadres, who were also faced with many
unforeseen demands. That under these conditions
its duties have been carried out with a
considerable measure of success is distinctly
creditable to the Service.
20. The thanks of the whole force in Mesopotamia are especially
due to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the
British Red Cross Society, including its Indian
branch, and the Young Men's Christian Association.
The two former, through their representative, Lieutenant-Colonel
J. Gould, have devoted their resources to
supplementing the medical appliances and comforts
provided by the State for the care of the sick and
wounded. All officers and men who have passed
through the hospitals at any time would desire to
express their gratitude to these Societies.
The Young Men's Christian Association, on the other hand, through
its able officials, among whom I would specially
mention Mr. L. A. Dickson, Revd. B. H. McLain,
Revd. T. S. Riddle, and Mrs. Webley, has
contributed most materially to the well-being,
physical and moral, of the troops in general
outside the hospitals in a manner deserving of the
21. The appointment of Sir G. C. Buchanan to the Force as
Director-General of Port Administration and River
Conservancy has been of undoubted value. Owing to
the difficulty experienced in obtaining certain
stores and equipment from India and Burma, and to
sickness among the supervising staff, the work of
developing the Port of Basrah, and of dredging and
improving water communications generally, was at
first delayed. It is now, however, well in hand,
and the results already achieved are sufficient to
show that the projected measures will have
far-reaching effect on the business of the Port
and our all-important river communications. Sir G.
Buchanan especially desires to mention the
assistance he has received from Lieutenant J. G.
22. My thanks are due to Captain the Honourable Malik Sir Umar
Hayat Khan for many valuable services rendered in
connection with the Army of Occupation; also to
2nd Lieutenant E. Ezra, I.A.R.O., attached General
Headquarters, who held his fast motor-launch
at all times at my disposal.
23. The able services of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir P. Z. Cox and the
officers of the Political Department, to which I
referred in my previous Despatch, have continued
to be of high value to the State during the period
24. The administration of the Lines of Communication has
throughout been extremely arduous and difficult;
to Major-General G. F. MacMunn, Inspector-General
of Communications, and his Staff I am greatly
indebted for the manner in which they have handled
the many intricate problems of supply and demand
with which they have been constantly confronted.
The administration of the Base Depots, under
Lieutenant-Colonel d'A. C. Brownlow, Base
Commandant, has been carried out in a highly
25. In conclusion, I desire to bring again to your notice the
able and devoted assistance that I have at all
times received from the General and Administrative
Staffs at General Headquarters and from my
personal Staff, to all of whom I am deeply
indebted. In this connection I would especially
mention Major-General M. Cowper and Major-General
A. W. Money, heads respectively of the
Administrative and General Staffs;
Brigadier-General O. B. S. F. Shore, Sub-Chief
(now officiating as Chief) of the General Staff;
Lieutenant-Colonels W. H. Beach and H. K. Hopwood,
of the General Staff; and Captain L. G. Williams,
Assistant Military Secretary. The work of all
these officers has been of high value to the
The clerical establishment have one and all shown untiring zeal
and energy in the performance of their arduous and
responsible duties. .
26. I have in my previous Despatch submitted a list of officers
and men whose services were deserving of reward.
That Despatch covered a period of active
operations, and the bulk of the names were those
of officers and men who had distinguished
themselves actively at the front.
I now submit a list composed chiefly of those officers and others
who deserve commendation and reward for services,
less interesting, but equally essential to the
well-being of this force, rendered in connection
with its administration.
have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient
LAKE, Lieutenant-General, Commanding Indian
Expeditionary Force "D."
List of Officers
brought to notice.
Bingham, Commander A. G., R.I.M.
Campbell, Lt. C. R., R.I.M.
Jones, Commander B. H., R.I.M.
Robertson, Chief Engineer H., R.I.M.
Thyne, Commander W. K., R.I.M.
Ward, Lt. J. C., R.I.M.
Lieut.- General, Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D."
- 1 DECEMBER 1916
CAMPAIGN including Sinai
dated 1 October 1916
War Office, 1st
The Secretary of State for War has received the following
despatches from General Sir Archibald Murray,
K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary
Headquarters, Egyptian Expeditionary Force. 1st
I have the honour to submit a report on the operations of the
Force under my command from the 1st June to 30th
1. On the eastern front, during the month of June,
vigorous counter-measures, culminating in the
successful attack on the enemy's aerodrome at El
Arish, were undertaken to check the much increased
activity of hostile aircraft. This operation was
brilliantly carried out on the morning of the 18th
June. The first British, machine to arrive
descended to 100 feet and attacked, blowing to
pieces an aeroplane on the ground and its
attendant personnel. A second machine on the
ground was also put out of action by bombs. Heavy
fire from rifles and anti-aircraft guns was now
opened on the attackers, but the British pilots
carried out their orders most gallantly.
Altogether six out of the ten hangars were hit,
and two, if not three, were burnt to the ground. A
party of soldiers on the aerodrome was also
successfully bombed, and at the close one of the
observing machines attacked the hangars with its
machine gun from a height of 1,200 feet. During
the action three of our machines were forced to
descend; two were destroyed and one sank in the
sea. Two of the pilots were rescued, and the third
was taken prisoner.
On the eastern front there was comparatively little activity
during the month of June, beyond the usual patrols
and reconnaissances, which were actively carried
out. A column of Australian Light Horse, with
detachments of engineers and of Bikanir Camel
Corps, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel T.
J. Todd, D.S.O., successfully executed the task of
draining the rock cisterns and pools in the Wadi
Um Muksheib, some 40 miles S.E. of Ismailia,
between 10th and 14th June. Some 5,000,000 gallons
of water were disposed of in four days and nights
of continuous effort, and the fact that every man
and animal that left railhead on 10th June
returned safely testifiesto the
efficiency of the staff arrangements. A column of
Yeomanry co-operated with this force, and did very
2. On 10th and 11th June, Bir Bayud, Bir El Mageibra and Bir El
Jefeir were reconnoitred. Enemy stores and huts
were destroyed at Hod El Bayud, and at Hod El
Dababis a hostile patrol was successfully disposed
of. On 15th June Bir El Abd was reconnoitred, and
between 21st and 23rd June a reconnaissance of the
Hod El Ge'eila, Hod Um El Dhaunnin and Hod El
Mushalfat area was carried out by an Australian
Light Horse Brigade. During the latter operation
one of our aeroplanes was reported missing, and
the reconnoitring troops were ordered to find it.
This they successfully accomplished, after
considerable prolonged exertion in trying weather
conditions, and the damaged engine and the machine
gun were brought in on the 23rd. Bir El Abd and
Mageibra were reconnoitred on 30th June and found
to be clear of the enemy.
At the beginning of July a small reconnaissance was carried out
from Abu Zeneima by detachments of the Sikh
Pioneers and the Bikanir Camel Corps, under the
command of Major W. J. Ottley. The column left Abu
Zeneima on 11th July and returned on 14th July,
having captured an Arab Sheikh and some other
3. As regards the western front, during the month no
important enemy movements took place. In the
coastal section reconnaissances by aeroplane,
motor and camel corps, to assure the safety of the
Sollum post, were carried out, irrespective of
frontier, and with the agreement of the Italian
local military authorities, with whom a complete
accord has been established by the interchange of
visits between the respective commanders. Progress
on the Baharia railway continued, though slower
than was anticipated, and the defences of posts in
the Kharga Oasis were completed. Aeroplane
reconnaissance established the continued presence
of an enemy force of some 1,800 rifles in the
Dakhla Oasis. On 25th and 26th July a raid from
Sollum was carried out by a detachment of light
armoured cars, under the command of Captain C. G.
Mangles, Hussars, in conjunction with some motor
cars and personnel furnished by the Italian
garrison of Bardia, supported by half a company
Imperial Camel Corps, and by the Italian armed
yacht "Misurata," ably commanded by Captain
Como, Italian Navy. The objective was a party of
some 100 Muhafzia, located near ths mouth of the
Wadi Sanal, in Italian territory, 40 miles west of
Has El Melh, whence they had been robbing the
Bedouin under pretence of collecting taxes for the
Senussi. A complete surprise was effected, but
only about twenty-five Muhafzia were found in
camp. These fled towards the sea, after a slight
resistance, leaving six killed and three
prisoners. Scattered groups on the seashore came
under the gun fire of the "Misurata." The
importance of this well-conducted operation lies
in the proof which it gave to the Arabs of the
close cooperation and good fellowship that existed
between our Italian neighbours and ourselves.
4. More than half the month of July passed without any important
occurrence on the eastern front (Sinai).
In the northern section mounted troops carried out
frequent reconnaissances to the east, penetrating
on 9th July as far as Salmana, but found the
country clear of all but a few Bedouin. On 17th
July, however, enemy aircraft were active over the
Romani-Dueidar area, and on the 18th a patrol came
in contact with a camel patrol of fifteen Turks,
with whom shots were exchanged. The Turks retired
rapidly eastwards. Up till this date there was no
considerable body of Turkish troops further west
than Bir El Mazar, some 18 miles east of
Oghratina, where for some time there had been a
camp of between 1,500 and 2,000.
The situation suddenly changed on 19th July, when an evening
reconnaissance by the Royal Flying Corps revealed
the fact that a. large force of the enemy had
moved westwards from El Arish and established
itself on the line Bir El Abd-Bir Jameil-Bir
Bayud. Their numbers were estimated to be between
8,000 and 9,000, of which from 3,000 to 4,000 were
at Bir El Abd, and the remainder divided between
the other two places. It was not immediately clear
whether the enemy's intention was to repeat the
raid of 23rd April on the Qatia district on a
larger scale, or to makea more deliberate advance,
but I at once decided, on receipt of this
information, to reinforce the troops in this area.
Early on the morning of the 20th the cavalry reported that
Oghratina was held by strong forces of the enemy,
who were entrenching. This was confirmed by the
Royal Flying Corps, who further reported that the
pile of stores at Bir el Abd had increased in
size, and that the troops reported on the previous
evening at Bir Jameil and Bir El Bayud had moved.
A further air reconnaissance, in the afternoon,
revealed that this force had moved to Mageibra,
where there were between 2,000 and 3,000 men, with
bodies of between 500 and 600 moving on a line
between that place and Oghratina. Instructions
were issued that the enemy was to be allowed to
become involved in an attack on our defences, if
he would, and that any such intention was not to
be hindered by a premature counter-attack. The
cavalry were in touch with the enemy all day,
capturing a few prisoners, from whose information
it appeared that the force in front of us was the
3rd Turkish Division, consisting of the 31st,
32nd, and 39th Regiments, with mountain guns,
heavy artillery, and special machine gun
companies; the artillery was manned by Turks,
Germans and Austrians, and there were Germans with
all the machine gun companies. Prisoners also
stated that there were other echelons following
behind these advanced troops at a distance of one
day's march. This information was confirmed in all
essentials by the completer knowledge subsequently
obtained of the attacking force, except that
prisoners all exaggerated the number of troops
that was following behind them. The whole force
consisted of the Turkish 3rd Division, with eight
machine gun companies, officered and partly manned
by Germans, mountain artillery, and some
batteriesof 4-inch and 6-inch howitzers and
anti-aircraft guns, manned chiefly by Austrians,
with a body of Arab Camelry. It was commanded by
Colonel Kress Von Kressenstein, a German officer
in Turkish employ, and the German personnel of the
machine gun units, heavy artillery, wireless
sections, field hospital and supply section had
been organised in Germany as a special formation
for operations with the Turkish forces. The force
was in fine physical condition and admirably
On the evening of the 20th a demonstration with artillery against
Oghratina disclosed the fact that the enemy were
entrenching on a general line running south-east
from Oghratina, with their left flank thrown
forward to Mageibra, which was strongly held. Bir
El Abd was used by the enemy as an advanced base
throughout the operations.
During the next few days there was no appreciable change in the
situation. The enemy confined himself to closing
up his troops and strengthening the position
already occupied, pushing forward in one or two
places and entrenching wherever he established
himself. There were constant encounters between
our cavalry patrols and the enemy's, but the
latter handled his covering troops well and
extended his right flank far enough northwards to
prevent anything less than a very strong attack
from interfering with his communications along the
Bir El Abd-Oghratina road.
By the 24th the enemy had established a force, estimated at 5,000
men, in a series of entrenched positions extending
from Hod En Negiliat through Oghratina to Hod El
Masia, with supporting bodies of about 1,000 each
at Bir Abu Afein and Bir El Abd behind his right
flank. On his left Mageibra was entrenched with a
series of strong redoubts and held by some 3,000
troops, with small connecting posts northward to
Hod El Masia.
By 22nd July it was evident that the enemy had no intention of
making an immediate raid upon the Qatia district,
but was either contemplating a serious attack upon
the canal defences further west or preparing to
establish himself firmly in the Um Alsha district,
so as to block our further advance towards El
Arish, to protect his own communications between
Syria and the Hedjaz, and to prevent us from
denying to him the whole of the Qatia area - the
only district within which he could collect and
maintain any considerable force within striking
distance of the Suez Canal. In either case,
whether, on the first alternative, he was waiting
for further echelons to arrive before attacking,
or, on the second, he was preparing to establish
himself permanently, there was only one course of
action that commended itself to me -namely, to
attack the enemy and inflict a decisive defeat
upon him as soon as possible. To do this forthwith
was impracticable, since 15 miles of desert
separated my main position from that of the enemy,
and it would be absolutely necessary that any
force destined to advance across this tract to an
attack on a strong enemy position should be
equipped with camel transport on a very complete
scale. While I was compelled, therefore, to remain
for the moment on the tactical defensive, I took
immediate steps to put everything in train for the
adoption of a vigorous offensive at the earliest
possible moment. The General Officer in command in
the locality was instructed to formulate his plan
for the earliest possible assumption of the
offensive, and to proceed with all speed with the
mobilisation of his striking force on a pack basis
with camel transport. I calculated that all
arrangements would be completed during the first
days of August, and this calculation was borne out
by events. By 3rd August all the formations were
ready to take the field. My intention was to
attack the enemy in force about 13th August, the
date of full moon, unless myself attacked earlier.
Major-General Hon. H. H. Lawrence was placed in
local command of the operations.
During this period of energetic preparation the Mounted Troops
kept in constant touch with the enemy, harassing
him in every possible way and making valuable
reconnaissances; and the Royal Flying Corps,
having concentrated all available machines and
pilots in Egypt on the Eastern Front, was able to
make valuable reports upon the enemy's movements
in rear of his advanced line.
On the night of the 27/28th the enemy pushed forward all along
his front and occupied a line in advance of his
former entrenched position, running from the
eastern end of Sabkhet El Amya on the north,
south-eastwards to Abu Darem on the south. On his
right the advance was small, for his advanced
troops, which at one time advanced to Hod Um Ugba,
were driven back after a sharp skirmish by the
Canterbury Mounted Rifles, the enemy sustaining
heavy losses. The chief advance was made by his
left flank, which swung up in a north-westerly
direction from Mageibra to Abu Darem. It now
seemed likely that the enemy meant to attack, but
for the next few days be continued strengthening
his new positions, while continual reinforcements
were observed to be reaching him along the
northern road. This movement of reinforcements
ceased on 31st July, by which date the enemy
appeared to have completed the concentration of
troops in his front line. From 29th July onwards
the Royal Flying Corps, whose role had hitherto
been only one of observation, passed to the
offensive, and constantly harassed the enemy with
bomb attacks. From the 30th onwards H.M.
Monitors lying off Mahemdia rendered most
valuable assistance in shelling the enemy's camps
and works, in which the Royal Flying Corps
successfully co-operated. On 28th July I gave
instructions for the formation of a mobile column,
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel C. L.
Smith, V.C., Imperial Camel Corps, to operate
against the enemy's left flank and left rear in
the neighbourhood of Mageibra and Bayud
respectively. This mobile column proved itself
invaluable in subsequent operations.
The Mahemdia-Romani position consisted of a series of strong
poste extending southwards from the sea to a point
on the east of the Katib Gannit hill, and thence
curving backwards round the southern slope of that
hill northwestwards towards Etmaler.
On 2nd August there were indications of a forward move on the
part of the enemy, who made a strong
reconnaissance towards Er Rabah-Qatia and Bir El
Hamisah, but his advanced troops were driven in,
except on the north, by the Australian and New
Zealand Mounted Troops after some sharp
encounters. By the evening of the 2nd August his
general position was but little altered. Even up
to this time it was still uncertain whether the
ultimate assumption of the offensive would come
from our side or the enemy's, but on the following
day the enemy disclosed his intention of taking
the initiative by making a general move forward
and occupying a semicircular line running from the
immediate west of Hill 110, past the high ground
north-west of Rabah, over the high ground east and
southeast of Qatia to the high ground north-west
of Bir Hamisah. It then appeared certain that he
would attack the Romani-Mahemdia position, and it
appeared to me extremely probable that, while
holding us east of that position, he would throw
his main attack against the Katib Gannit-Bir El
Nuss line in a north-westerly direction, with the
object of forcing back our entrenched line before
we could interfere from the west and north-west. I
warned General Lawrence of this possibility, which
was confirmed by events.
5. On the night of the 3rd/4th August, owing to the proximity of
the enemy at Qatia, the cavalry, in addition to
leaving out the usual officers' patrols, put out a
strong outpost line which extended from just south
of Katib Gannit along the entrance to the gullies
between the sand dunes up to and including Hod El
Enna, thus preventing the enemy from penetrating
unobserved into the waterless area of sand dunes
south-west of Romani, into which I anticipated he
would attempt to move. This outpost line, formed
by two regiments, was attacked by the enemy in
increasing strength from midnight onwards. Several
attempts to force the line were repulsed, a
bayonet charge on Mount Meredith, a high sand dune
midway between Katib Gannit and Hod El Enna, being
beaten off between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. The
continuous pressure of the enemy gradually forced
back the outpost line, which by 4.20 a.m. was
facing generally south along the dune called
Wellington Ridge, between Mount Meredith and Katib
Gannit. Before long the enemy's threat to outflank
our right made it necessary to retire slowly
northwards towards the railway. It was evident by
daylight that the enemy had committed his troops
to a decisive attack, as he was pressing the line
of fortified works from the east under cover of
artillery fire from field guns and heavy howitzers
at the same time as he was moving round the
southern flank of the position with strong forces,
before which our cavalry, while stubbornly
resisting, were slowly retiring.
The situation had developed in accordance with my anticipations,
and it was certain that, once the force of the
enemy's attack from the south was spent, a
decisive and rapid counterattack would place him
in a position of great difficulty. General
Lawrence issued orders for all available troops to
be ready to operate against the enemy's southern
flank in the direction of Mount Boyston, a high
sand dune about two miles south of Pelusium
Station: a Mounted Brigade was directed to act
vigorously from Dueidar towards Hod El Enna;
another Mounted Brigade was ordered to send one
regiment to Hod El Aras, and to be prepared to
follow it up with the whole Brigade, so as to
co-operate with the first-mentioned Mounted
Brigade. Finally, I issued orders to the Mobile
Column, under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, V.C., to
commence operations against the enemy's left rear
towards Mageibra and Bir Aweidiya, working wide of
the flank of the last-named Mounted Brigade. This
Column at once started for Hod El Bada, which it
reached by the evening of the 4th.
During the forenoon the enemy made several attacks against the
Romani-Mehemdia defences from the east, south and
south-west. These were repulsed by the garrisons,
composed of Scottish and Welsh Infantry, with
considerable loss, and in spite of heavy artillery
fire from the enemy's heavy howitzers, which in
one or two cases inflicted severe casualties on
our troops, who behaved with admirable steadiness.
The fire of these howitzers, however, was very
effectively kept down by the guns of the monitors,
with the co-operation of the Royal Flying Corps.
There was, unfortunately, more delay than had been anticipated in
moving up the infantry reinforcements to Pelusium
Station, so that during the morning of the 4th no
infantry was available for an attack on the
enemy's flank at Mount Royston. This caused the
whole brunt of the fighting in this area to fall
upon the cavalry, whose casualties had not been
light, and whose right flank was unprotected. A
squadron of cavalry from 7.45 a.m. onwards held
off attacks from the south-east for three hours
till a yeomanry regiment, which had come into
action at 9.45, gained touch with it. The result
of the somewhat rapid advance of the Turks from
the south was that General Lawrence was obliged to
divert the cavalry originally destined to operate
against the enemy's rear to strengthen the line of
resistance on the north. By 12.30 p.m. the enemy
on our southern flank reached the furthest point
of his advance - a line running from Bir Abu
Diyuk, north of Mount Royston, along the southern
slopes of Wellington Ridge, and thence bending
round to the east and north facing the
southernmost infantry post. Shortly after 1 p.m.
New Zealand mounted troops, with some Yeomanry,
began to attack Mount Royston from the west. This
attack was pressed slowly forward, and was
accompanied, in spite of heavy fire from the
enemy, by a general move forward of the cavalry.
By 3.30 p.m. two battalions of the E. Lancashire
Regiment, closely followed by a third, were on the
march southwards from Pelusium Station, and by 4
p.m. all the troops were ordered to press forward
for the counter-attack and gain and hold the line
Mount Royston-Wellington Ridge. By 6.30 p.m. Mount
Royston, with about 500 prisoners, some machine
guns, and a battery of mountain artillery were in
our hands. At 6 p.m. an attack was made on
Wellington Ridge by infantry, supported by the
fire of our artillery. The ridge was strongly
held, and, owing to darkness, the enemy remained
in possession of part of it during the night. The
result of the day's fighting was that we had
repulsed a vigorous attack, capturing between 500
and 1,000 prisoners, retaken Mount Royston and
part of Wellington Ridge, and were pressing back
on the south a now exhausted enemy. The outpost
line for the night was taken up by the leading
battalions, with some of the cavalry in the
centre. Some Australian cavalry which had reached
Hill 70, was ordered on to Dueidar to be ready to
take up the right flank of the pursuit.
Vigorous action, to the utmost limits of endurance, was ordered
for the next day, and the troops, in spite of the
heat, responded nobly. At daybreak the Scottish
Territorial Infantry, assisted by Australian and
New Zealand mounted troops, took the remainder of
Wellington Ridge by assault, capturing about 1,500
prisoners. Elsewhere the mounted troops pressed
forward, meeting with some opposition, but
prisoners continued to come in steadily, and it
was soon obvious that the enemy's offensive was
completely broken. An advance was ordered all
along the line, and all mounted troops were put
under the command of General Chauvel, with orders
to push on as far and as vigorously as the
resources at his disposal would permit.
The mounted troops pressed steadily forward, and found the enemy
holding the ridge west of Quatia, supported by
artillery. The Australian Light Horse, which had
moved forward from Dueidar by Bir El Nuss, came
into contact with the enemy near Bir El Hamisah
and captured some 450 prisoners, with machine guns
and other materiel. The further advance of these
troops, however, was met with heavy fire from
field guns and howitzers, and no further progress
was made. Further northwards, as soon as the
infantry had cleared Abu Hamra, the advance was
continued towards Qatia, where the enemy's
rearguard was found firmly established east of the
palm trees, with both flanks well protected. A
strong attempt was made to eject him by dismounted
action, but the attack failed to make progress,
and darkness found our troops and the enemy's
facing each other roughly on parallel lines.
During the day the Royal Flying Corps reported
that the retreat of the Turks was general
throughout their depth, and our aeroplanes most
effectively harassed his movements and threw his
columns into confusion by well-directed bomb
On the morning of the 6th the enemy was found to have retired
from Qatia, and, while the cavalry pressed on in
pursuit, the infantry moved forward and occupied
the line Er Rabah-Qatia-Bir El Mamluk. These
Australian Light Horse regiments, which had borne
the brunt of observing and harassing the enemy's
advance, were given a day's rest in camp, while
the remainder of the cavalry continued the
advance. The enemy's rearguard was found to be
occupying his previously prepared position
extending across the road and telegraph line
between Hod El Reshafat and Hod El Dhaba. Our
attempts to turn his flanks by Hod En Negiliat on
the north and Hod El Sagia on the south were
frustrated by heavy artillery fire.
On the same morning the Camel Corps detachment of Smith's Mobile
Column occupied Bir El Mageibra without
opposition. Another body of mounted troops also
moved to Mageibra in support at Bir El Jafeir. In
the afternoon Major J. J. de Knoop, commanding the
Camel Corps detachment of this column,
reconnoitred towards Hod El Bayud, and reported
that a force of the enemy was in occupation of Hod
El Muhammam, five miles north-east of Mageibra.
Orders for an attack next morning were issued by
On the 7th August the cavalry maintained their action with the
enemy's rearguard, which had fallen back to the
line of his first entrenched position running from
Oghratina to Hod El Masia, with flanks thrown well
out to the north and south. There was continuous
fighting throughout the day, but the enemy were
too strongly supported by artillery for the
cavalry to drive him from his position. Meanwhile
the Mobile Column, operating from Bir El Aweidiya,
had fought a very successful action with the enemy
force - consisting of 1,000 rifles, three machine
guns and two 12-pounder guns - in the
neighbourhood of Hod El Muhammam. The camel
detachment and cavalry, the whole under the
command of Lieutenant-Colonel Grant, drove the
enemy out of several successive positions,
capturing 53 prisoners, and successfully withdrew
at nightfall. This threat to his flanks was
probably an important factor in determining the
enemy to continue his retreat. I regret to say
that Major de Knoop, who had handled the camel
detachment throughout with great skill and
judgment, was killed while directing operations.
On the 8th August the enemy was found to have abandoned Oghratina
and, by the evening, to have taken up a position
covering Bir el Abd, his advanced base. It was
here that the enemy made his final stand to cover
the evacuation of his camp and stores. Touch was
now gained between the cavalry and Smith's Mobile
Column, and was maintained from this time onwards.
On the 9th August the cavalry which had hitherto carried out the
pursuit was reinforced. A strong effort was made
to encircle both flanks of the enemy at Bir El Abd
and cut off his further retreat. Strong opposition
was, however, encountered on both flanks, and it
was decided to deliver a dismounted attack with
the object of driving out the enemy. Our field
batteries got close enough to shell effectively
the convoys removing stores from the pile at Bir
El Abd, but our artillery fire drew a heavy reply
from the enemy's howitzers, which caused some
casualties. The enemy, well supported by
artillery, fought stubbornly. He made three
counter-attacks, all of which were driven back
with heavy loss by our rifle and machine-gun fire,
and in the evening what appeared to be a general
advance by fresh forces was made against our
troops. This was also driven back with heavy loss,
but the enemy was able to maintain his covering
position. During the next two days our cavalry was
unable to do more than maintain continuous
pressure, but the Mobile Column, which had
occupied Bayud on the 9th, continued to menace the
enemy wide on his left flank. On the 10th a strong
reconnaissance was made against the enemy, who was
in strength at Hod El Mushalfat, south-east of Bir
El Abd. On the 11th an enemy force with two
mountain guns approached Bayud. A sharp action,
which commenced at 5.30 a.m., was fought, and in
the course of it all the baggage camels and
ammunition mules of the enemy detachment were
destroyed. Towards the afternoon the enemy
evacuated this position and retired on the main
body of his rearguard. On the following day
patrols from the neighbourhood of Bayud found the
country to the east and north all clear.
Early on the morning of the 12th it was found that the enemy had
retired from Bir El Abd, and, though there was a
small encounter with his rear troops about
Salmana, the general pursuit stopped at this
point, the enemy retiring through Bir El Mazar to
El Arish. The General Officer Commanding was
ordered to hold the line Bir El Abd-Homossia with
two brigades of cavalry, keeping touch with the
Mobile Column, which remained at Mageibra. The
infantry returned to the Mahemdia-Romani line.
6. The complete result of the operations in the Qatia district
was the decisive defeat of an enemy force
amounting in all to some 18,000, including 15,000
rifles. Some 4,000 prisoners, including 50
officers, were captured, and, from the number of
enemy dead actually buried, it is estimated that
the total number of enemy casualties amounted to
about 9,000. In addition, there were captured 1
Krupp 75 mm. mountain battery of four guns
complete with all accessories and 400 rounds of
ammunition, 9 German machine guns and mountings
with specially constructed pack saddles for camel
transport, 2,300 rifles, 1,000,000 rounds small
arms ammunition, 100 horses and mules, 500 camels,
and a large amount of miscellaneous stores and
equipment. Two field hospitals, with most of their
equipment, were also abandoned by the enemy in his
retreat, and large quantities of stores were burnt
by him at Bir El Abd to prevent their capture.
Lieutenant-General the Hon. H. A. Lawrence directed the
operations throughout, and the warmest praise is
due to him and the commanders, staffs and troops
concerned in the operations. General Lawrence's
staff deserve great credit for their efforts in
working out the allotment of camel transport
enabling our troops to conduct a vigorous pursuit.
Throughout the whole month which elapsed between
the enemy's first approach and his final
disappearance Major-General H. G. Chauvel, C.B.,
C.M.G., proved himself a resolute and resourceful
cavalry leader. The brunt of the fighting fell
upon the Australian and New Zealand mounted
troops, to which were attached batteries of R.H.A.
I cannot speak too highly of the gallantry,
steadfastness and untiring energy shown by these
fine troops throughout the operations. The S. Mid.
Mounted Brigade came into action successfully on
4th August, and subsequently took part in the
cavalry pursuit. The Scottish troops, commanded by
Major-General W. E. B. Smith, C.M.G., not only
showed great steadiness under heavy artillery
fire, but were responsible for the assault which
recaptured Wellington Ridge on 4th August, and for
clearing Abu Hamra on the 5th. Of the E. Lancs,
troops, commanded by Major-General Sir W. Douglas,
K.C.M.G., C.B., only two battalions were in action
on the 4th, but the force carried out a march
under very trying conditions on the subsequent
days. Detachments of the Bikanir Camel Corps were
invaluable in reconnaissances and as escorts to
small parties, besides bringing in much of the
Most excellent work was done by Lieutenant-Colonel C. L. Smith,
V.C., Officer Commanding Camel Corps, and by all
ranks composing the Mobile Column under his
command. He executed the role ascribed to him with
great energy, and carried out his instructions
with the highest intelligence. The arrangements
made for mobilising and maintaining his column
reflect the greatest credit on Major-General A. G.
Dallas, C.B., and his staff.
I cannot speak too highly of the work of the Royal Flying Corps
during the whole period. Their work was extremely
arduous and exhausting. The average total daily
reconnaissances during the period amounted to 23
1/4 hours, and during the first five days of
August to as much as 31 ½ hours. Many pilots
and observers were out two or three times a day
for several consecutive days under very accurate
anti-aircraft fire, and were frequently engaged in
air combats with enemy machines of superior power.
Special commendation is due to Lieutenant-Colonel
P. B. Joubert, Officer Commanding Royal Flying
Corps, and to Major H. Blackburn, Royal Flying
Corps, who commanded the detachment at Kantara.
I wish also to bring to notice the good work done by H.M.
Monitors, under the command of
Lieutenant-Commander A. O. St. John, R.N., and
Commander E. Robinson, V.C., R.N., respectively.
The shooting of these ships was consistently good,
and they were very successful in reducing the fire
of the enemy's heavy howitzers on the 4th August.
7. With the exception of the operations described in the
preceding paragraph, there is little to record
beyond reconnaissances and patrols for the
remainder of the period under review.
On 16th and 17th September a mounted force of Australian Light
Horse, Imperial Camel Corps, R.H.A. Batteries and
a Mountain Battery, under the command of
Major-General Chauvel, carried out a successful
reconnaissance in force against the enemy's camp
at Bir El Mazar. At dawn, on the 17th, the camp
was attacked from the west and from the south and
south-east. On the west our troops occupied a
ridge about 800 yards from the enemy's second line
trenches; several small posts were rushed and
taken. Our batteries came into action in a
favourable position, partially enfilading some
enemy trenches, which were seen to be occupied in
strength, and inflicted considerable loss. The
enemy replied actively with shell fire and heavy
rifle fire. On the south and south-east our troops
drew the enemy's fire on a front of two miles, and
in many instances occupied the enemy's original
first line trenches. My instructions were that a
general action against the enemy in entrenched
positions was to be avoided, and the column,
having successfully carried out its mission,
withdrew without any attempt on the part of the
enemy to molest it. The Royal Flying Corps
co-operated effectively throughout the operation,
and the gallant action of the seaplanes of the Royal
Naval Air Service off El Arish diverted the
attention of the enemy's aircraft from our troops
at Bir El Mazar. Our casualties were slight, and
our captures included one officer and thirteen men
of the enemy's camel corps, besides a number of
The success of this operation, apart from the casualties
inflicted, which were heavy, lay in the fact that
it gave the enemy a new and unexpected proof of
our extended radius of action, and induced him, in
the course of the next few days, to evacuate his
camp at Bir El Mazar and withdraw the troops to
camps near El Arish.
During the month of September various small reconnaissances were
made. The most important of these was carried out
against Bir El Tawal (about 30 miles west of El
Kubri) by a column under Brigadier-General A.
Mudge, between the 14th and 21st September. The
approach march was excellently carried out over
very broken and intricate country. The enemy's
position was reached on the 17th, and, after a
preliminary reconnaissance on that day, an attack
was made early the next morning. The infantry
advanced with great dash, and almost immediately
the enemy took to flight, but pursuit was
impossible, owing to the nature of the ground. An
inspection of the enemy's camp showed that he had
been completely taken by surprise, and had left
behind all his stores and personal effects, which
were captured. After the wells had been emptied,
and such stores as could not be brought away had
been destroyed, our troops withdrew, reaching
Kubri railhead on 21st September. Our total
casualties were three other ranks killed and two
other ranks wounded.
On the western front during the months of August and
September there has been little of note to report.
The railway towards the Baharia Oasis has been
pushed on, and the railhead of the Kharga railway
is now ten miles beyond Kharga Station. Patrolling
has been most active in all sections of the line.
On 31st August a patrol of eight motor-cars
captured an enemy camel convoy twenty miles
north-west of Jaghbub. The escort of thirty armed
men surrendered without resistance, the loads and
saddles of the camels were burnt, and most of the
camels destroyed. In the Baharia Section a patrol
of two officers and three men, Imperial Camel
Corps, came in contact with a small body of
between fifteen and twenty enemy near the point
where the "Rubi" road from Samalut descends the
escarpment of the Baharia Oasis. The two officers
became detached from the men, who made their way
back to the post covering the railhead, but I
much, regret that subsequent search has failed to
discover the missing officers. In the Wadi Natrun
Section a motor-car patrol on 21st September
arrested a small convoy under a Tripolitan officer
of the Senussi Force, which was bringing mails and
a quantity of bombs, gelignite and automatic
pistols from Baharia to Amria (12 miles west of
Alexandria on the coast).
Throughout the period under review the command of the Delta
District and the Lines of Communication Defences
has been held by Major-General W. A. Watson, C.B.,
C.I.E., and the duties of that command, though
happily involving no active operations, have been
carried out to my satisfaction. Great activity and
thoroughness has been shown in carrying out my
instructions to establish a line of posts along
the western edge of the canal zone to prevent the
entrance of undesirable persons. The patrolling
duties involved have been entrusted to two
Australian squadrons, who have displayed the
greatest zeal, tact and resource in bringing the
new orders and restrictions into force. The
results of this measure have been excellent, and
the Western Canal Zone can now be said to be free
from the presence of all unauthorised persons.
8. It gives me the greatest pleasure to bring to notice the
services rendered by General Sir F. R. Wingate,
G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., and the
Egyptian Army, since the beginning of the war, to
the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and the
Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and to express my
gratefulness for the assistance which has at all
times been so willingly given. Fifty-eight
officers and twelve Sudan Government officials
served - most of them for short periods equivalent
to the amount of leave to which in normal
circumstances they would have been entitled - with
the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force; of these,
six officers were either killed or died of wounds,
and eleven were wounded. Sixty officers and
twenty-seven Sudan Government officials were lent
at various times for service with the Egyptian
Personnel of the Egyptian Army has been employed at different
times as guards for railway bridges and to
garrison various important points in the interior.
The Egyptian Army also supplied guns and gunners
for two armoured trains for use with the defences
of Egypt. A Camel Maxim Section and an armed
detachment of the Military Works Department were
attached to the Bikanir Camel Corps, and took part
in the operations against the Senussi (in which
operations No. 1 Squadron Egyptian Cavalry was
also employed) and in the attack on the Suez Canal
in April, 1915. Two companies of the 2nd
(Egyptian) Battalion garrisoned Tor in January,
1915, and took part in the subsequent operations
in that district. The garrison of Abu Zeneima was
also supplied for some months by troops of the
Egyptian Army. In the course of 1915, 2,230
Egyptian reservists, who had been called up, were
employed on works connected with the Canal
defences; a number of Egyptian officers from
pension and unemployed lists volunteered for
service with these reservists and gave valuable
assistance. A works battalion of six companies was
formed in May, 1915, for service at the
Dardanelles, the battalion and the companies being
commanded by British officers in the employ of the
Egyptian Army. This unit did excellent work, under
perpetual shell-fire, on the Peninsula during the
four months of its employment.
Besides this assistance in the matter of personnel the Egyptian
Army has most liberally placed at the disposal of
the Mediterranean and and Egyptian Expeditionary
Forces accommodation, war material and transport
I would especially mention the loan of the Egyptian Army Hospital
at Cairo, complete with equipment, to the New
Zealand Division; the purchase in the Sudan of
over 14,000 riding and baggage camels, the
collection, veterinary examination, and dispatch
of which threw a large amount of additional work
upon the province staffs; the supply of 174,000
grenades for the Mediterranean Expeditionary
Force; the loan of tugs and steel plates for the
Canal defences; and the manufacture and repair, in
the Stores Department, of a large number of
articles of equipment and clothing. For these, and
all other services rendered in addition to their
normal duties, the Egyptian Army and the Sudan
Administration deserve the most cordial thanks.
I also wish to express my extreme gratefulness to Field Marshal
Rt. Hon. Lord Methuen, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., C.M.G.,
Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Malta, and to all
his staff, for the labours which they have
undertaken in connection with hospital work for
the benefit of the Mediterranean and Egyptian
The expansion, reduction and re-expansion of accommodation has
necessitated very hard work on the part of the
Engineer, Barracks, Ordnance, Transport and Supply
Services, as well as on the part of the Medical
Department. I wish to call attention to the
admirable work that has been performed by the
Nursing Services in the hospitals in Egypt. Not
only have they had to deal with a very large
number of wounded and sick from Gallipoli,
Salonica and Egypt itself, but also from other
theatres of war. The devotion to duty, zeal and
skill of the Nursing Services, both British,
Australian and New Zealand, and of the voluntary
helpers has been beyond praise, and I have great
pleasure in bringing to your notice in a
subsequent despatch the names of a number of those
ladies for specially distinguished service.
The distribution by the Army Postal Service of letters and
parcels over the extended desert fronts has been
fraught with difficulties. The successful manner
in which these have been overcome has greatly
contributed to the comfort and health of the
troops under my command. In this connection I wish
to acknowledge the assistance I have received from
the EgyptianPostal Service, under the
able direction of N. T. Borton Pasha,
The complete failure of the enemy's operations in August was
largely due to the manner in which the plans for
defence were prepared and the distribution of the
troops arranged, in the accomplishment of this the
Chief of my General Staff, Major-General A. L.
Lynden-Bell, C.B., C.M.G., rendered me able and
devoted service. His work has been of an onerous
nature and he has discharged it with energy, skill
My thanks are also due to Lieutenant-General E. A. Altham,
K.C.B., C.M.G., for the manner in which he has
discharged his responsible duties as
Inspector-General of Communications.
I will submit in a separate Despatch the names of those officers
and men who have rendered distinguished service
during the period under review and whose services
I desire to commend.
have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient
J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian
Headquarters, 13th, October, 1916.
In accordance with the final paragraph of my Despatch dated 1st
October, 1916, I have the honour to submit
herewith the list of Officers and others whose
services I desire to bring particularly to your
have the honour to be, Your most obedient
J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian
in Army lists)
Corbett, Capt. C. F., C.B., M.V.O.
Macdonald, Comdr (acting Capt.) W. B.
Robinson, Comdr. E. G., V.C.
Snagge, Comdr. A. L.
Hardy, Comdr. G. C.
Crocker, Comdr. C. J.
Betts, Comdr. E. E. A.
Leslie, Lt. Comdr. M. B.
Tucker, Lt. C. R. St. G.
- 5 DECEMBER 1916
dated 8 October 1916
War Office, 6th
The Secretary of State for War has received the following
despatch from Lieutenant-General G. F. Milne,
C.B., D.S.O., Commanding British Salonika Army:
British Salonika Army, 8th October, 1916.
I have the honour to submit the following report on the
operations carried out by the British Salonika
Army since I assumed command on 9th May, in
accordance with instructions received from the
General Officer Commanding- in-Chief, Egyptian
2. On that date the greater part of the army was concentrated
within the fortified lines of Salonika, extending
from Stavros on the east to near the Galiko River
on the west .....
24. FinallyI should like to express my warm appreciation
of the close co-operation afforded me by
Vice-Admirals Sir John de Robeck, K.C.B., and Sir
Cecil Thursby, K.C.M.G., and by the officers and
men of the Royal Navy under their orders,
in all matters connected with both active
operations at the mouth of the Struma and in the
well-being of the Army. The harmonious
relationship that has existed between the two
services has greatly assisted combined action. The
naval transport officers on the lines of
communication have worked untiringly, efficiently,
and cordially with their Army colleagues. The Royal
Naval Air Service has also afforded me
25. I submit a list of the names of those officers,
non-commissioned officers and men whose services I
consider deserving of special mention.
have the honour to Be, Sir, Your most obedient
F. MILNE, Lieutenant-General, Commanding British
Fitzmaurice, Capt. M. S., C.M.G.
Grace, Capt. H. E.
Tweedie, Capt. H. J.
Chance, Lt.- Comdr. (acting Comdr.) G. H. de P., D.S.O.
Royal Naval Air
Kilner, Capt. (temp. Maj.) C. F., D.S.O., R.M.
by Army lists)
- 29 DECEMBER 1916
dated 23 December 1916
FRONT - NAVAL MENTIONS
DESPATCH dated 13
following despatch has been received by the
Secretary of State for War from General Sir
Douglas Haig, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the
British Armies in France:
have the honour to submit a list of names of those
officers, ladies, non-commissioned officers and
men, serving, or who have served, under my
command, whose distinguished and gallant services
and devotion to duty I consider deserving of
have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
General. Commander-in-Chief, The British Armies