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ARMY DESPATCHES with NAVAL OPERATIONS and MENTIONS, Part 2 of 3

London Gazette editions 29623-30447 (June 1916-December 1917)

Cdr Edward Unwin RN, awarded one of five Naval VC's  following landing of Army units on V Beach, Gallipoli  25/26 April 1915 (Digger, click to enlarge)

on to Army Despatches 1918-20
or back to Despatches Main Index

 

 

Army Despatches, Part 2 of 3

(London Gazette edition in brackets - Naval sections in bold - n/a = listed only)

 

 

Aden

(Indian Empire (29652)) - Royal Navy

(Indian Empire  (30360)) - Royal Navy

 

Bushire

Bushire, Persian Gulf, including RN landings (29685)

 

Darfur

Darfur (29800) (n/a)

Darfur (30102) (n/a)

 

East Africa

East Africa (29630)

East Africa - Naval mentions (29648)

East Africa (29906) - Occupation of coastal ports

East Africa - Naval mentions (29927)

East Africa - Naval mentions (29933)

East Africa (30026)

East Africa including Lake Tanganyika (30182)

East Africa (30447)

 

Egypt

Egypt (29632) - Naval seaplanes

Egypt (29763) - Royal Naval Air Service

Egypt - Sinai (29845) - monitor gunfire support - Royal Naval Air Service

Egypt - Sinai (30169) - Royal Navy

Egypt - Sinai (30391) - monitor gunfire support

 

Gallipoli

Gallipoli - Naval mentions (29664)

 


Indian Empire

Indian Empire - Red Sea, Madras etc. (29652) - German cruiser Emden

Indian Empire - Aden and Indian coasts etc. (30360) - Protection of coasts

 


Ireland

Irish Easter Rising (29676) - RN cooperation

 


Lake Nyasa

Lake Nyasa, East Africa (29692) - Royal Navy

 


Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika (30182) - Lake Tanganyika Naval Expedition, "Mimi" and "Toutou"

 


Lake Victoria

(East Africa (29906)) - Lake Victoria, Royal Navy

 

Mesopotamian Campaign

Mesopotamia - Naval mentions (29665)

Mesopotamia (29782) - RN attempt to relieve Kut - RNAS support to besieged Kut - Royal Indian Marine

Mesopotamia - Naval mentions (29789)

Mesopotamia (29823) - Royal Indian Marine

Mesopotamia (30176) - river gunboat operations

Mesopotamia - Naval mentions (30233)

 

Military Operations

Military Operations - Naval mentions (29919)

Military Operations - Naval mentions (30289)


Nyasaland

Nyasaland, including Lake Nyasa (29692)

Nyasaland (30305)

 

Persian Gulf

Persian Gulf, Bushire, including RN Landings (29685)

 

Salonika

Salonika (29851) - Royal Navy

Salonika - Naval mentions (30196)

Salonika (30380) - Royal Naval Air Service

Salonika - Naval mentions (30404)

 

Somaliland

Somaliland Protectorate (29690) (n/a)

 

Sudan

Sudan (29800) (n/a)

Sudan (30102) (n/a)

 

Suez Canal

Suez Canal, Defence of (29632) - Royal Navy

 

Tanganyika

(East Africa (30182)) - Tanganyika Naval Expedition, "Mimi" and "Toutou"

 

United Kingdom

United Kingdom Home Defence (29914)

 

Western Desert (Egypt)

(Egypt (29632)) - Western Desert (Egypt) - Royal Navy Submarines, attack on - HMS Tara, sinking - RNAS Armoured Car Squadron - RN gunfire support - HMS Tara, rescue of crew

 

Western Front

Western Front - Naval mentions (29623)

Western Front (29716) (n/a)

Western Front (29884) (n/a)

Western Front - Naval mentions (29890)

Western Front - Naval mentions (30072)

Western Front (30140) (n/a)

Western Front - Naval mentions (30421)

 

 

Return to Main Index for all Naval Despatches, and Army Despatches that relate to Naval Operations and Mentions

 
 

 
 

 

29623 - 13 JUNE 1916

 

WESTERN FRONT - NAVAL MENTIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 30 April 1916

 

War Office, 15th June, 1916.

 

The 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 Forces in France:

 

General Headquarters, 30th April, 1916.

 

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 field.

 

 I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant,.

D. HAIG, General, Commander-in-Chief The British Forces in France.

 

Royal Navy.

 

Dundas of Dundas, Vice-Admiral C.

MacGregor of MacGregor, Capt. Sir M., Bart.

Hamilton, Capt. D. M.

Marescaux, Cdr. (Acting Capt.) A. E. H.

Alton, Paymaster-in-Chief F. C., C.B.

De Montmorency, Capt. J. P.

Levitt, O.N.M.B.G. Chief Motor Boatman H. W.

Axtell, O.N. 206939 (R.F.R. Po./B.6723) A.B., E.

Wymer, O.N.J. 17246 A.B., E. A.

Brett, O.N. 195033 (R.F.R., Chat./B. 7702), A.B., W. J.

 

Royal Marine Artillery.

 

Lumsden, Maj. F. W., R.M.A.

Williams, Capt. M., R.M.A.

Brownrigg, Temp. Lt. A. H., R.M.

Lamb, Temp. 2nd Lt. F. R., R.M.A.

Handford, No. R.M.A./11901 Bombr. J.

Robins, No. R.M.A./10149 Bombr. W. T.

Orman, No. R.M.A./6809 Gunner A. E. E.

Guilford, No. R.M.A./14142 Gunner J. R.

 

Royal Marine Light Infantry.

 

Farrell, No. 24814 Acting Regtl. Serjt.- Maj. J. (lent to Service Bn., Durham Light Infantry).

 

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

 

Smith, Lt. C. A., D.S.O.

Stout, Lt. P. W.

 

(followed by Army lists)

 

 

 


 

 

29630 - 20 JUNE 1916

 

EAST AFRICAN CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCH dated 30 April 1916

(excerpt)

 

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. .....

 

 

 


 

 

 

29632 - 20 JUNE 1916

 

EGYPTIAN CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCHES dated 16 February 1915 to 9 April 1916

including Defence of the Suez Canal and Western Desert Operations

 

War Office, 21st June, 1916.

 

The following 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 Command:

 

DESPATCH No. I.

 

From Lieut.- General Sir J. G. Maxwell, K.C.B., C.V.O., C.M.G., D.S.O., Commanding the Force in Egypt.

Army Headquarters, Cairo, 16th February, 1915

 

Sir:

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, C.I.E.

 

I fully endorse what General Wilson says of the conduct of the regimental officers and men, both British and Indian.

 

The French 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 Egyptian State 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 to them. 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 Canal Defences.

 

It is needless for me to add that from Admiral Peirse and the ships of His Majesty's Navy, as well as those of France under his command, most important and valuable assistance was received.

 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,

J. G. MAXWELL, Lieut.- General, Commanding the Force in Egypt.

________

 

 

 

Headquarters, Canal Defences, to the General Staff, Headquarters, Cairo.

Ismailia, 11th February, 1915.

 

Sir:

I have the honour to submit the following report on the recent attack on the Suez Canal. 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 Defences.

 

2. I landed at Suez on the 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 at Ismailia, with the advanced base at Zagazig and base general hospital at Cairo.

 

These arrangements were completed by the 5th December, 1914, when the last units of the force arrived from India.

 

4. Preparations 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 Said 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 Conduct Medal.

 

7. General 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 the next 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 3.30 p.m.. 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 and Canterbury battalions detrained; at Ismailia. H.M.S. "Swiftsure," “Clio," "Ocean," and "Minerva" entered the canal, taking station near Kantara, Ballah, El Shatt, and Shalouf respectively.

 

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 the Baluchistan and El Kubri posts in No. 1 Section were made at about 3 a.m. 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 Section.

 

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 of life.

 

16. Circumstances 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.

 

Reinforcements, 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 moving eastwards.

 

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 follows:

The 19th 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, R.A.

1st Field Company, East Lancashire Royal Engineers, T.F. (two sections), under Captain J. G. Riddick.

Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Infantry (two platoons), under Major C. B. Brereton.

2nd Queen Victoria's Own Rajputs, under Lieut.- Colonel F. P. S. Dunsford.

62nd Punjabis, under Lieut.-Colonel E. W. Grimshaw.

92nd Punjabis, under Major T. R. Maclachlan.

2/10th Gurkha Rifles, under Lieut.- Colonel F. G. H. Sutton.

128th Pioneers (two platoons, acting as escort to 5th Battery, Egyptian Artillery), under Lieutenant R. A. Fitzgibbon.

137th Field 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, respectively.

 

(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 2nd Rajputs.

 

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 soon disappeared.

 

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 killed.

 

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. "Swiftsure."

 

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 wounded.

 

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:

 

(Army list)

 

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.

 

I have, &c.,

ALEX. WILSON, Major-General.

________

 

DESPATCH No. II.

 

Army Headquarters, Cairo, 19th August, 1915.

 

Sir:

I have the honour to forward the accompanying despatch of Major-General A. Wilson, C.B., Commanding the Suez Canal Defences.

 

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 Canal.

 

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 night.

 

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.

 

A considerable 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 in Egypt.

 

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.

 

I have, &c.,

J. G. MAXWELL, Lieut.- General, Commanding the Force in Egypt.

 

From the General Officer Commanding, Canal Defences, to The General Staff, Army .Headquarters, Cairo.

 

Headquarters, Canal Defences, Ismailia, 1st August, 1915.

 

Sir:

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 of mention.

 

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.

 

Several reconnaissances, principally to Abu Zenima (by sea), El Haitan, Wadi Muksheib; Moiya Harab and Katia, were pushed out, but no enemy encountered.

 

From information 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 the north.

 

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 50.

 

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 being detected.

 

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 carried further.

 

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 (Territorial Force).

 

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 attempt.

 

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 prisoner.

 

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 respectively.

 

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 Nekhl.

 

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 repair.

 

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 Zone.

 

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 mounted troops.

 

I have, &c.,

ALEX. WILSON, Major-General, Commanding Canal Defences.

 

(included in Army lists)

 

Headquarters Staff.

 

Kitson, Comdr. H. K., R.N.

Macdonald, Comdr. W. B., R.N.

________

 

DESPATCH No. III.

 

Army Headquarters, Cairo. 1st March, 1916.

 

MY LORD:

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 Dardanelles.

 

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 expedition.

 

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. The 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 Lakes.

 

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 out.

 

I now submit my report as follows:

 

 

OPERATIONS ON THE WESTERN FRONT TO 31ST JANUARY, 1916.

 

Outbreak 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 deferred.

 

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 resulted.

 

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 attack failed.

 

In view of these circumstances there was clearly no alternative but to recognise a state of war and to take action accordingly.

 

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 120,000.

 

The religious influence of the Senussi is great amongst these people, and their natural sympathies are inclined towards their brethren in the Western Desert.

 

The above 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 reverse.

 

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:

(a) 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 front.

 

(b) The enemy would be met on ground generally practicable to all arms and comparatively well supplied with water.

 

(c) The Egyptian Bedouin of the coastal belt east of Matruh would be protected if loyal, and coerced if disaffected.

 

(d) Native opinion in the Delta would be affected favourably by an offensive policy.

 

(e) As 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 a time.

 

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.

 

Meanwhile Sollum 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 November 24th.

 

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 towards Unjeila:

Commander, Lieut.-Colonel J. L. R. Gordon, 15th Sikhs (350 men).

2nd Composite Yeomanry Regiment, (three squadrons with three machine-guns).

One section Nottinghamshire Battery;. Royal Horse Artillery (Territorial Force).

Detachment Royal 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 loss.

 

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.

 

Meanwhile air 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 following day.

 

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 Alexandria.

 

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.

(Army forces follow)

 

Against this 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.

H.M.S. "Clematis" to assist as occasion offered with gunfire from the sea.

 

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 Gebel Medwa.

 

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 suffering casualties.

 

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 cleared.

 

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 engaged.

 

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.

 

Unfortunately the remnants of the enemy had already made good their escape westwards along the sea shore, and the approach of darkness precluded the possibility of further pursuit.

 

After nightfall the Cavalry returned to Matruh, the Infantry bivouacking for the night at Gebel Medwa and returning to Matruh the following morning.

 

Our casualties 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.

 

The energy, 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 Major Austen.

 

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 impossible.

 

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 restored.

 

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:

 

(included in Army forces)

Royal Naval Armoured Car Division (Detachment)

 

At 6 a.m. on January 23rd the force moved off, disposed as under:

Right Column.

Commander.- Lt.- Colonel J. L. K. Gordon, 15th Sikhs.

1 Squadron, Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry.

Notts. Battery, Royal Horse Artillery.

15th Sikhs.

2nd South African Regiment.

1st Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

(Right Column on compass bearing to reported position of Senussi Camp.)

 

Left Column.

Commander.- Brigadier-General J. D. T. Tyndale Biscoe.

1 Squadron, Australian Light Horse.

3 Squadrons, Royal Bucks. Hussars.

1 Squadron, Dorset Yeomanry.

1 Squadron, Herts. Yeomanry.

Mounted Brigade Machine Gun Section.

"A'' Battery, H.A.C. (less one Section).

(Left Column echeloned to the left front of the right moving parallel to and in close touch with it.)

 

Reserve.- 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 semi-circle.

 

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:

 

 

Killed.

Wounded.

British Officers

1

10

British other ranks

11

164

Indian Officers

-

3

Indian other ranks

19

114

Total

31

291

 

Nevertheless those 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 the cause.

 

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 day.

 

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 beyond his 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 quite common.

 

I desire to place on record my high appreciation of the invaluable co-operation of all Departments of the Egyptian Government.

 

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 Staff.

 

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 rendered.

 

I have the honour to be, Your Lordship's obedient Servant,

J. G. MAXWELL, General, Commanding the Force in Egypt.

________

 

DESPATCH No. IV.

 

Army Headquarters, Force in Egypt. Cairo, 16th March, 1916.

 

MY LORD:

In 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 your notice:

Part 1.- In connection with operations on the Western Front.

 

Part II.- In connection with Administration in Egypt.

I have the honour to be, My Lord, Your most obedient Servant,

J. G. MAXWELL, General, Commanding the Force in Egypt.

 

PART 1.

 

Operations on Western Front. Commanders and Staff.

 

(included in Army lists)

Royal Naval Armoured Car Division.

 

Lt.- Comdr. C. Lister, R.N.V.R.

Lt. F. A. Yeo, R.N.V.R.

 

PART II.

 

Administration in Egypt. Commands and Staff.

 

(included in Army lists)

Vice-Adml. Sir R. H. Peirse, K.C.B., M.V.O., Commander-in-Chief, East Indies.

Rear-Adml. H. R. Robinson, P.N.T.O.

_____

 

DESPATCH No. V.

 

Army Headquarters, Cairo. London, 9th April, 1916.

 

My Lord,

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 Force.

 

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.

 

I have the honour to be Your Lordship's obedient servant,

J. 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.

 

General Peyton's 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.

 

Information from 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 me:

(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.

The Navy were, as always, prepared to give me every assistance in whichever course I might decide to adopt.

 

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 great.

 

After visiting 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 previous Despatch.

 

Such was the situation when I handed over my command on the 19th March.

 

Meanwhile 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 enemy.

 

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 daylight operations.

 

A Yeomanry 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 of safety.

 

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 reward.

 

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 again.

 

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 them.

 

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 March.

 

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 plateau.

 

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.

 

Nevertheless, one 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 spiritual head.

 

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 and control.

 

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.

 

(included in Army lists)

 

General Headquarters Staff.

 

Burmester, Capt. R. M., C.M.G., R.N.

Eyres-Monsell, Lt.- Comdr. (Acting Comdr.) B. M., R.N., M.P.

Hardy, Comdr. (Resident Naval Officer) G. C., R.N.

Koe, Lt.- Comdr. W. P., R.N., ret.

 

 


 

 

29648 - 30 JUNE 1916

 

EAST AFRICAN CAMPAIGN - NAVAL MENTIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 8 May 1916

 

War Office, 30th June 1916.

 

The following Despatch has been received by  the Secretary of State for War from Lieutenant-General The Hon. J. C. Smuts, Commander- in-Chief , East African Force:

 

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.

 

I have the honour to be, Your Lordship's obedient servant,

J. C. SMUTS, Lieutenant-General, Commander-in-Chief,  East African Force

 

Royal Navy.

 

Lang, Comdr. G. H., R.N.

Thornley, Comdr. G. S., R.N.

 

Royal Naval Reserve.

 

Blencowe, Lt. C. B., R.N.R.

 

Royal Naval Armoured Cars.

 

Nalder, Lt.- Comdr. H. G., R.N., Comdg. No. 10 R.N. Armrd. Car Bty (Lt., R.N.V.R.).

Marshall, Sub-Lt. R., R.N.V.R.

Beacham, No. F. 512  C.P.O. Mechanic, 3rd Grade, A., R.N.A.S.

Rose, No. F. 804  P.O. Mechanic T., R.N.A.S.

Daniel, No. F. 1084 P.O. Mechanic J. L., R.N.A.S.

 

(followed by Army lists)

 

 


 

 

29652 - 4 JULY 1916

 

INDIAN EMPIRE OPERATIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 9 March 1916

including Red Sea and Madras

(excerpts)

 

War Office, 4th July, 1916.

 

The 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.

 

From the Commander-in-Chief, India,

To the Secretary to the Government of India, Army Department.

 

SIR,

I 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:

Aden.

Gulf of Oman.

Sistan.

Baluchistan.

North-West Frontier-

(a) The Tochi Valley and Derajat,

(b) Mohmands, Swat and Buner,

(c) Black Mountain,

Burma.

Madras.

Preventive measures.

 

OPERATIONS IN THE VICINITY OF ADEN.

 

2. 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” cooperated.

 

On 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.

 

Covered 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, re-embarked.

 

In 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.

 

For 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 Aden.

 

Shaikh 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.

 

3. 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.

 

Early 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.

 

But 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.

 

In 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.

 

4. 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.

 

On 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.

 

On 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.

 

Again on August 28th a similar successful reconnaissance was made towards Waht.

 

In 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 occupied Waht.

 

Major-General 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.’’

 

5. 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 ‘Imad.

 

Owing 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.

 

6. 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.

 

Colonel Edwardes brings to notice the very valuable assistance rendered by Lieutenant-Colonel R. A. E. Benn, Political Agent, Masqat.

 

7. 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.

 

8. 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.

 

SISTAN.

 

9. 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.

 

The 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.

NORTH-WEST FRONTIER.

BURMA.

 

 

MADRAS.

 

22. The German cruiser “Emden” appeared in the Bay of Bengal in September, 1914, and on the 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.

 

In 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.

 

He also comments on the good work of Commander W. B. Huddlestone, R.I.M.

 

PREVENTIVE MEASURES.

 

23. 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.

 

24. 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.

 

To 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.

 

……. (concludes)

 

I have the honour to be, SIR, Your obedient servant,

(Sd.) BEAUCHAMP DUFF, General, Commander-in-Chief, India.

 

 

 


 

 

29664 - 11 JULY 1916

 

GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN - NAVAL MENTIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 12 July 1916

 

War Office, 12th July, 1916.

 

With 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 Expeditionary Force:

 

General Headquarters Staff, Etc

 

(included in Army list)

Armstrong, Lt-Col. St. G. B., R.M.L.I.

Lee, Lt. E. M., Anson Bn., R.N.V.R.

Mercer, Col. (temp. Brig.- Gen.) D., C.B., R.M.

Smyth, Col. (temp. Brig.- Gen.) N. M., V.C., C.B., R.M.L.I.

Stroud, Lt.- Col. E. J., R.M.L.I. 

 

(included in Army lists)

 

Royal Navy and Marines.

 

Teale, Temp. Maj. J. W., D.S.O., R.M. (R.N. Divl. Engineers.)

Grattan, Lt.- Comdr. E. L. C., D.S.O., R.N.

Swabey, Comdr. G. T. C. P., D.S.O., R.N.

Staveley, Capt. C. M., C.M.G., R.N.

Dent, Capt. D. L., C.M.G., R.N.

King, Comdr. H. D., D.S.O., V.D., R.N.V.R. (Drake Bn.).

Freyberg, Comdr. B. C., D.S.O., R.N.V.R. (Hood Bn.).

Laws, Temp. Maj. H. W., D.S.O., R.E.

Eyres, Capt. C. J., R.N.R. (retired Rear- Admiral).

Mulock, Acting Comdr. G. F. A., D.S.O., R.N.

Langton-Jones, Lt. R., D.S.O., R.N.

Stroud, Lt.- Col. E. J., R.M.L.I., 2nd Bde., H.Q.

Pollock, Lt.- Comdr. H. B., R.N.V.R. (Drake Bn.).

Ramsay-Fairfax, Acting Comdr. W. G. A., R.N. (Hawke Bn.).

Hancock, Sub-Lt. S. P., R.N.V.R. (Hawke Bn.).

Bradbury, Surg. W., M.B., R.N. (Hawke Bn.).

Evans, Capt. A. K., R.M.L.I. (No. 1 Bn., R.M.L.I.).

Hutchison, Lt.- Col. A. R. H., R.M.L.I. (No. 2 Bn., R.M.L.I.).

Edwards, Lt.- Comdr. P. H., R.N.V.R. (Howe Bn.).

de la Motte, Lt. C. D. F., R.N.V.R. (Howe Bn.).

Marriott, Comdr. J. P. R., R.N. (attached A. & N.Z. Corps Staff).

McDowall, Po./855 (S) Acting Corpl. R., R.M.L.I. (Divl. Cy. Co. R.N.D.).

Coles, London, 8/2922 P.O. C. L., R.N.V.R. (Drake Bn.).

Johnson, London, Z. 385 C.P.O. W. C., R.N.V.R. (Drake Bn.).

Mason, Mersey 7/5 C.P.O. W. J., R.N.V.R. (Nelson Bn.).

Dewar, Clyde, Z. 232 Leading Seaman J., R.N.V.R (Drake Bn.).

Quinn, Tyneside, Z. 1299 Leading Seaman G. F., R.N.V.R. (Hawke Bn.).

Melton, Tyneside, Z. 960 Leading Seaman H. E., R.N.V.R. (Hawke Bn.) (died of wounds).

Webster, K.W. 747 A.B., G., R.N.V.R. (Hood Bn.).

Walker, Clyde, 2/61 C.P.O., E., R.N.V.R. (Hood Bn.).

Hopper, Ch./276773 P.O. A. E. (Hood Bn.).

Smith, No. Ply./191(S) Pte. G., R.M.L.I.

Hunting, Po./16280 Serjt. A. H. (No. 1 Bn., R.M.L.I.).

Bell, Ply./1881 Acting Serjt.- Maj. E., W.O., Cl.1., R.M.L.I. (now Qrmr. and Hon. Lt.).

Grindey, Po./15585 Acting Corpl. E. A. (No. 2 Bn., R.M.L.I.).

Turner, Po./343 (S.) Pte. M. (No. 2 Bn., R.M.L.I.).

Arnold, Ch./SS/105803 E.F.E./B/ . C.P.O., T. (Howe Bn.).

Matthews, Sussex, 1/218 Leading Seaman G. W., R.N.V.R. (Howe Bn.).

Graham, Clyde, Z. 1646 Leading Seaman D., R.N.V.R. (Howe Bn.).

Pilgrim, Po./.846 (S.) R.M.L.I. Corpl. F. (No. 2 Bn., R.M.L.I.).

Hoskins, Ch.R.F.R. B/1952 Pte. T. H., R.M.L.I., Chatham Bn.

 

Royal Naval Armoured Car Division.

 

Borton, Lt.- Comdr. A. D., R.N.V.R. (since transferred to Army).

Bird, F.856 P.O. Mechanic F. B.

Chappell, F.1391 P.O. M. A.

Hurst, F.1255 P.O. J. V.

Kerr, F.1172 P.O. J. H.

 

Royal Naval Air Service.

 

Samson, Comdr. C. B., D.S.O., R.N., Wing Comdr., R.N.A.S.

Gerrard, Lt.- Col. E. L., R.M.L.I., Wing Comdr., R.N.A.S.

Davies, Lt. E. B., V.C., D.S.O., R.N., Wing Comdr., R.N.A.S.

Fawcett, Capt. H., R.M.L.I., Acting Wing Comdr., R.N.A.S.

Thomson, Flight Lt. G. L., D.S.C., R.N.A.S.

Stanley-Adams, Flight Comdr. H.,.R.N.A.S.

St. Aubyn, Midshipman E. K. H., D.S.C., R.N.

Jones, 2nd Lt. W. B. E. M.

Auldjo-Jamieson, Flight Lt. E. A. O., R.N.A.S.

Brownridge, Carpenter J. J., R.N., Wt. Off., 1st Grade, R.N.A.S.

 

Royal Naval Division.

 

Staff

Divisional Headquarters.

 

Buller, Maj. J. D., A.S.C.

Sketchley, Maj. E. F. P., D.S.O., R.M.

Paris, Capt. A. C. M., Oxf. & Bucks. L.I.

Walmesley, Capt. C. T. J. G., R.M.

Lockett, Paymr. H. A., R.N.V.R.

Darlow, Serjt. (acting Serjt.- Maj.) W. J.

Skinner, Clyde, Z407 Petty Off, L. P., R.N.V.R.

Owen, Tyneside, Z.3812 Writer 1st Class W. M., R.N.V.R.

Bryan, London, Z.395 C.P.O., W. H., R.N.V.R.

Loweth, Mersey 3/184 Writer 1st Class A. J., R.N.V.R.

 

1st Brigade.

 

Galloway, Acting Lt. J. D., R.N.V.R. (Acting Staff Capt.).

Nicolson, Lt. B. H., R.N.V.R.

 

Drake Battalion.

 

Ballantine, Lt. W. H. D. C. B., R.N.V.R.

Henley, Lt. The Honourable F. E., R.N.V.R.

Sterndale-Bennett, Lt. W., R.N.V.R.

Sparks, Sub-Lt. H. E. A., R.N.V.R.

Ross, Clyde, Z.231 Leading Seaman A., R.N.V.R.

Fry, Z.176 Petty Off. J. W.

Horan, K.W.463 Petty Off. T., R.N.V.R.

West, Po/SS/109042 Petty Off. H., R.N.

 

Nelson Battalion.

 

Gates, Lt. J. A., R.M.

Sowerby, Lt. F. W., R.N.V.R.

Davies, Lt. R. E. L., R.N.V.R.

Lamont-Fisher, Lt. H. D., R.N.V.R.

Barrett, 5/21 Petty Off. E. B., R.N.V.R.

Jones, Dev/SS/107315 Petty Off. T. O., R.N.

Corrigan, Mersey, 3/163 Petty Off. J., R.N.V.R.

Thomson, Clyde, 2/1801 C.P.O., J. C., R.N.V.R.

 

Hawke Battalion.

 

Cotter, Lt. A. V. W., R.N.V.R.

Jerrold,. Lt. D. F., R.N.V.R.

Price, Lt. G. U., R.N.V.R.

Stevenson, Lt. A. F., R.N.V.R.

Peckham, Lt.- Comdr. G. E., R.N.V.R.

Herbert, Lt. A. P., R.N.V.R.

Davidson, Clyde, Z..827 Petty Off. D., R.N.V.R.

Cook, Tyneside, Z.909 A.B. N., R.N.V.R.

Codner, London, Z.1230 Petty Off. C. S., R.N.V.R.

Balls, Tyneside, Z.1278 Petty Off. W. R.N.V.R.

Wilson, Tyneside, Z.998 Able Seaman W., R.N.V.R.

 

Hood Battalion.

 

Heald, Lt. I., R.N.V.R.

Edmondson, Sub-Lt. C. A., R.N.V.R.

Hill, Sub-Lt. F. C., R.N.V.R.

Hilton, Lt. J. C.. R.N.V.R.

Nobbs, Lt. and Qrmr. E., R.M.L.I. (now temp. Lt. R.N.V.R.).

Leith, C.Z.2635 Petty Off. D.

Tobin, Mersey, 7/134 Petty Off. E. H., R.N.V.R.

Vamplew, K.W.666 A.B., J. W., R.N.V.R.

Shuttleworth, Tyneside Z.616 A.B., J., R.N.V.R. (killed).

Radcliffe, Mersey 3/193 Signalman S. V., R.N.V.R. (deceased).

 

2nd Brigade.

 

Saunders, Maj. F. J., D.S.O., R.M.L.I., Bde. Maj.

White, Ch. 10171 Qrmr.- Serjt. W.

Whelan, R.F.R., Ch.B.1826 Pte. J. J., R.M.L.I.

 

Howe Battalion.

 

Collins, Lt.-Col. C. G., R.M.

Campbell, Lt. A., R.N.V.R.

Larrabee, Lt. S. L., R.N.V.R.

Ellis, Lt. E. V., R.N.V.R.

Cassidy, 2/19M. P.O., H. A.

Damerall, Dev.176156 C.P.O. E. W. J., R.N.

Paling, Sussex Z.64 Able Seaman W. E., R.N.V.R.

Scott, Sussex, 1/352 Leading Seaman G., R.N.V.R.

 

Anson Battalion.

 

Kane, Lt. and Qrmr. R., R.M.

Jay, Bristol, 2/1221 Able Seaman G. H., R.N.V.R.

Walker, London, Z.2088 Able Seaman J. W., R.N.V.R.

Murray, Clyde, Z.3018 Able Seaman J., R.N.V.R.

Crone, London, Z. 1216 Able Seaman A. G., R.N.V.R.

Holmes, Clyde, Z.971 Leading Seaman C. M., R.N.V.R.

 

1st Royal Marine Battalion.

 

Mullins, Lt.- Col. G. J. H., R.M.

Burton, Capt. T. H., R.M.

Farmer, Capt. J. C., R.M.L.I.

Goldring, Lt. T. A., R.M.

Fiennes, Lt. C. W., R.M.

Dewhurst, Lt. F. W., R.M.

Pearson, Temp. 2nd Lt. J., R.M.

Gwynne, Ch/11201 Acting Serjt.- Maj. W., R.M.L.I.

Pickering, Ply.12001, Serjt, J. L.

Masters, Ch.9244 Clr.- Serjt. F., R.M.L.I.

Downey, Ch.328 (S) Pte. S., R.M.L.I.

 

2nd Royal Marine Battalion.

 

Roe, Acting Lt. E. G. M., R.M.

Brooks, Acting Lt. R. A. D., R.M.

Room, Temp. Lt. L. C. T., R.M.

Rutherford, Lt. G., R.M.

Farquharson, Capt. C. G., R.M.

Loxley, Capt. V. D., R.M.L.I.

Hutchings, Ply. 14106 Acting Serjt. S. J., R.M.L.I.

Paull, Ply. 16706 Pte. F. S., R.M.L.I.

Staite, Po1. R.F.R., B.1027 Acting Corpl. R. J., R.M.L.I.

Rimmer, Ply. 12302 Acting Serjt. W., R.M.L.I.

 

(Divisional Units)

 

Divisional Cyclist Company.

 

Jameson, Acting Lt. T. H., R.M.

Gardner, Ch. R.F.R., B.1609 Serjt. B., R.M.L.I.

McLeish, 6889 Serjt. P. R., R.M.A.

 

Divisional Engineers.

 

Marshall, Capt: J. S., R.M.

Oakden, Lt. A. M., R.M. (died of wounds).

Revell, Capt. J. W., R.M.

Edwin, Lt. C. F., R.M.

Grierson, Capt. R., R.M.

Ainsworth, Depot/S/421 Serjt. S., R.M.

Burn, 587 Serjt. G. A.

Thomson, Depot/S/234 Serjt. R. O. C., R.M.

Dutton, Depot/S/314 Serjt. A. B. L., R.M.

Widdington, 26 Serjt. F. P.

 

Divisional Signal Company.

 

Bollam, Lt. C., R.M.

Branch, 466 Serjt. A. C.

Jayne, Depot/S/642 Serjt. W. H., R.M.

Turner, Depot/S/11 Serjt. J. H., R.M.

Smith, 1215 Corpl. W. J.

Burchett, Depot/S/51 Sapper J. H. P., R.M.

Curtis, Depot/S/335 Sapper W. E., R.M.

Summers, Depot/S/1008 Sapper L. F., R.M.

Norie, Depot/S/5022 Sapper R. S., R.M.

 

Divisional Train.

 

Burrell, Lt. E. L., R.M.

Murdoch, Capt. L. M., R.M.

Smith, Ch. R.F.R., B.1968 Qrmr.- Serjt. E., R.M.L.I.

Brown, Ch. 16907 Pte. W. J., R.M.L.I.

Doherty, Depot/S/1744 Pte. P., R.M.

 

Medical Units.

 

Burdett, Surg. J. H., R.N.

Kenny, Staff Surg. E. B., M.B., R.N.

Mayne, Temp. Surg. C. F., R.N.

Taylor, Temp. Surg. C. H. S., M.D., R.N.

Onslow-Ford, Temp. Surg. M., R.N.

Hamilton, Temp. Surg. G., R.N.

Fortescue, Depot/S/3278 Serjt. M., R.M.

Oates, Depot/S/3265 Pte. G., R.M.

Stead, Depot/S/3200 Pte. G. E., R.M.

Holmes, Depot/S/3058 Serjt. R., R.M.

Crabtree, Depot/S/3105 Corpl. J. H., R.M.

 

Chaplains.

 

Close, Rev. R. B. M., M.A., Chaplain, R.N.

Failes, Rev. B. J., B.A., Chaplain, R.N. (attached R.N.D.).

Foster, Rev. H. C., B.A., Chaplain, R.N. (attached R.N.D.).

Moore, Rev.. C. W. G., M. A., R.N.

 

Ordnance Company (Royal Naval Division).

 

West; DV/143447 C.P.O., J., R.N.

Blake, Tyneside, Z. 1109 Serjt. L. A.

 

 


 

 

29665 - 1 JULY 1916

 

MESOPOTAMIAN CAMPAIGN - NAVAL MENTIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 13 July 1916

 

War Office, 13th July, 1916.

 

With 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:

 

Royal Navy.

 

Eddis, Lieut.- Comdr. C. J. F.

Harden, Lieut. G. E.

Tudway, Sub-Lieut. L. C. P., D.S.C.

Wood, Sub.- Lieut. J. G., R.N.R.

 

Royal Naval Air Service.

 

Blackburn, Flight-Lieut. V. G., D.S.C.

Robertson, Flight-Lieut. A. K.

Nelson, Mr G. D., Warrant Officer, 2nd grade.

 

(followed by Army lists)

 

(included in other units)

 

Royal Indian Marine.

 

Goad, Lt.- Comdr. C. R.

Kerr, Engineer, Lt. T.

 

River Transport Service.

 

Cowley, Lt.- Comdr. C., R.N.V.R., Comdr. of "Mejidieh".

Moorey, Mr., Comdr. of "T-2."

Hussain, Comdr. of "Salimi."

Basa Meah, Syrang.

Amzat Ali, Subhanni.

 

 


 

 

29676 - 21 JULY 1916

 

IRISH EASTER RISING

ARMY DESPATCH dated 29 May 1916

 

War Office, 21st July, 1916.

 

The 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, 1916.

 

MY LORD,

 

I 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.

 

2. 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.

 

3. 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.

 

4. 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.

 

5. 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.

 

I have the honour to be, Your Lordship's most obedient Servant,

FRENCH, Field-Marshal, 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.

 

My Lord,

I have the honour to report the operations of the Forces now under my command from Monday, 24th April, when the rising in Dublin began.

 

(1) 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 Street.

 

The 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.

Of 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 shortly afterwards.

 

At 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 Kingsbridge.

 

This column, under the command of Colonel Portal, consisted of 1,600 officers and other ranks from the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Brigade.

 

Almost 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.

 

As 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.

 

(2) 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.

 

The 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 material.

 

Between 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 entrance.

 

At 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.

 

(3) During the day the following troops were ordered to Dublin:

(a) A battery of four 18-pounders R.F.A., from the Reserve Artillery Brigade at Athlone.

 

(b) The 4th Dublin Fusiliers from Templemore.

 

(c) A composite battalion from Belfast.

 

(d) An additional 1,000 men from the Curragh. This message being sent by one of the troop trains returning to the Curragh.

During the afternoon and evening small parties of troops were engaged with the rebels.

 

The 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.

 

The 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.

 

At 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.

 

The 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.

 

The occupation of the Customs House, which dominated Liberty Hall, was carried out at night, and was of great assistance in later operations against Liberty Hall.

 

(4) 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 at Pigeon 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 Bush.

 

(5) 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 interference.

 

The 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.

 

Further, the Dublin police, being unarmed and powerless to deal with these armed rebels, were withdrawn from the areas occupied by them.

 

(6) 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.

 

He 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.

 

(7) 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 Brigade.

 

(8) 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.

 

The only means of communication previous to this had been by telephone, which was unquestionably being tapped.

 

The 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 buildings.

 

(9) 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.

 

As 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 buildings.

 

The 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.

 

The 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.

 

(10) 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.

 

The 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 opposition.

 

The 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.

 

This 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 back.

 

At 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.

 

At 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.

 

Four officers were killed, 14 wounded, and of other ranks 216 were killed and wounded.

 

The steadiness shown by these two battalions is deserving of special mention, as I understand the majority of the men have less than three months' service.

 

In 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 Ballsbridge.

 

In 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 rebels.

 

(11) 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.

 

During 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.

 

(12) On 27th April the:

5th Leinsters,

2/6th Sherwood Foresters,

3rd Royal Irish Regiment, The Ulster composite battalion,

under 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.

 

About 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 destroyed.

 

By night-fall the 177th Infantry Brigade had arrived at Kingstown, where it remained for the night.

 

(13) 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.

 

Accompanied by several Staff Officers who had come with me, I proceeded to the Royal Hospital.

 

After 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 gained.

 

I 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 Dublin.

 

During 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.

 

During 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. Guinness.

 

Throughout 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.

 

In 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.

 

(14) 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.

 

Throughout 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 surrender unconditionally.

 

During the evening the greater part of the rebels in the Sackville Street and Four Courts area surrendered.

 

(15) Early on the 30th April two Franciscan monks informed me that the Rebel leader Macdonagh, declining to accept Pearse's orders, wished to negotiate.

 

He 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 unconditionally.

 

In 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.

 

(16) 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.

 

(17) 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.

 

(18) 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.

 

On 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 Shannon.

 

(19) 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.

 

(20) 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.

 

I 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.

 

It 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.

 

It 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.

 

In 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.

 

Each 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 seized.

 

I 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.

 

(22) 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.

 

(23) I am glad to report that the conduct of the troops was admirable; their cheerfulness, courage and good discipline, under the most trying conditions, was excellent.

 

Although 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.

 

(24) 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 remained available.

 

I 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.

 

(25) I deplore the serious losses which the troops and the civilian volunteers have suffered during these very disagreeable operations.

 

I have the honour to be, Your most obedient servant,

J. 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.

 

My Lord,

In 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.

 

(1) 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.

 

(2) 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.

 

(3) 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.

 

(4) 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 cordons.

 

(5) The number of such incidents that has been brought to notice is very insignificant.

 

(6) 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 such elements.

 

(7) 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.

 

(8) 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 round each.

 

(9) 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 constructed barricades.

 

(10) Artillery fire was only used to reduce the barricades, or against a particular house known to be strongly held.

 

(11) 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.

 

(12) To give an idea of the opposition offered to His Majesty's troops in the execution of their duty, the following losses occurred:

 

 

Killed.

Wounded.

Officers

17

46

Other ranks

89

288

 

(13) 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.

 

(14) 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.

 

(15) The surrenders, which began on April 30th, were continued until late on May 1st, during which time there was a considerable amount of isolated sniping.

 

(16) 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.

 

(17) 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.

 

(18) 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 information:

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.

All these were unarmed, as was Captain Scovell. In the last case, the car was not challenged or asked to stop.

 

(19) 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.

 

I have the honour to be, My Lord, Your obedient Servant,

(Sgd.) J. G. MAXWELL, General

 

 


 

 

29685 - 27 JULY 1916

 

BUSHIRE OPERATIONS, PERSIAN GULF

ARMY DESPATCH dated 15 January 1916

 

 

Bushire and Tangistani Raid - from "The Navy Everywhere" by Conrad Gato,
click maps to enlarge

Click the title for some of the story - Chapter 13

 

 

War Office, 27th July, 1916.

 

The 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 publication:

 

15th January, 1916.

 

From General Sir John Nixon, K.C.B., A.D.C. General, Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D."

To the Chief of the General Staff, Army Headquarters, India.

 

Sir,

I have the honour to furnish a report on operations conducted at Bushire and in its vicinity between July and September, 1915.

 

2. On July 12th, 1915, a force of Tangistani tribesmen, at the instigation of enemy agents in Persia, made an unprovoked attack on the British detachment at Bushire.

 

3. 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 wounded.

 

4. 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.

 

5. 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.

 

6. 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.

 

7. On August 8th, Bushire was occupied by a British force without opposition.

 

8. 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.

 

The operation was assisted by the naval guns which made excellent practice and drove the enemy inland.

 

9. 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.

 

10. 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.

 

11. 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.

 

12. 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 ground.

 

13. 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.

 

14. 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 force.

 

15. 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 previous occasion.

 

16. 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 of retreat.

 

17. 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.

 

18. 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 serious attack.

 

19. In this action, the bravery and endurance of the troops in most trying heat, which claimed several victims, was most commendable.

 

A landing party of the Royal Navy afforded valuable assistance.

 

The 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 affair.

 

20. I append a list of names (all Army) of those specially brought to notice in connection with the operations at Bushire and Dilwar.

 

I have the honour to be, SIR, Your most obedient servant,

JOHN NIXON, General, Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D."

 

 


 

 

29690 - 1 AUGUST 1916

 

SOMALILAND PROTECTORATE CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCH dated 20 February 1916

(4 pages)

 

 

 


 

 

29692 - 1 AUGUST 1916

 

NYASALAND PROTECTORATE CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCH dated 1 November 1915

including Lake Nyasa operations

 

War Office, 3rd August, 1916

 

The Colonial Office has forwarded for publication the following Despatch on military operations in the Nyasaland Protectorate:

 

From the Governor of Nyasaland

To the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

 

Government House, Zomba, Nyasaland, 1st November, 1915.

 

Sir,

With 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 Nyasaland.

 

All 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 ranks.

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Hawthorn 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.

 

I 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 has rendered in many directions, and of his cheerfulness and indefatigability at all times.

 

With 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 appreciation.

 

Associated 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.

 

I 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 Lieutenant-Colonel Hawthorn.

 

For 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.

 

It 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.

 

I have, etc.,

G. SMITH, Governor.

 

ENCLOSURE DESPATCH RELATING TO FIELD OPERATIONS.

 

From Lieut.-Colonel G. M. P. Hawthorn, 1st K.A.R., Commanding Troops, Nyasaland.

To His Excellency the Governor and Commander- in-Chief, Nyasaland Protectorate.

 

Zombo, 11th October, 1915.

 

Your Excellency,

In 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 hitherto constituted.

 

At 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., Northamptonshire Regiment.

 

Immediately 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.

 

On 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.

 

Commander 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 crew.

 

The 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.

 

On August 20th an enemy patrol crossed the Songwe River, which forms the Anglo-German boundary, and fired on a police patrol of ours.

 

Between 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.

 

At 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.

 

In the beginning of September a reinforcement of 2 officers and 54 British Volunteers of the Nyasaland Volunteer Reserve arrived at Karonga.

 

On 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.

 

The 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 guns (1.4”).

 

Captain Griffiths arrived on the scene at about 11 a.m., completely surprising the enemy, whom he put to flight, capturing two maxim guns.

 

In 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.

 

Our total casualties on this day were:

Killed.- 3 officers, 2 British Volunteers, N.V.R., 8 K.A.R. rank and file.

Wounded.- 3 officers, 4 British Volunteers, N.V.R., 42 K.A.R. rank and file.

The enemy left on the field:

Killed.- 7 Europeans, 51 native rank and file.

Wounded and prisoners.- 2 officers.

Unwounded prisoner.- 1 officer.

Wounded and unwounded prisoners.- 69 natives.

Reliable reports confirm that at least two other Europeans were severely wounded, and 30 or 40 natives.

 

In 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.

 

Captain Barton was himself wounded, and Captain H. W. Stevens assumed command of the Field Force.

 

After 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 ordinary duties.

 

I arrived in Nyasaland in December 1914, and assumed command of the Field Force on December 29th.

 

On 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.

 

During March a naval detachment under the command of Lieutenant-Commander G. H. Dennistoun, R.N., with naval guns, arrived in the Protectorate.

 

Reports 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.

 

Captain Collins' force rejoined at Karonga on June 1st.

 

Early 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 troops.

 

Enemy 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.

 

During 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.

 

On 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 13th.

 

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.

 

During 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 these enterprises.

 

The 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.

 

The 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 maintained.

 

The 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.

 

It 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.

 

I 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 dealt with.

 

A 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.

 

The 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 soldiers.

 

I 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)

 

Mr. 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.

 

I 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 difficulties.

 

I have, etc.,

G. M. P. HAWTHORN, Lieut.- Colonel, 1st K.A.R., Officer Commanding the Troops, Nyasaland.

 

 


 

 

29716 - 18 AUGUST 1916

 

WESTERN FRONT

ARMY DESPATCH dated 31 July 1916

(2 pages)

 

 

 


 

 

29763 - 22 SEPTEMBER 1916

 

EGYPTIAN CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCH dated 1 June 1916

Also Salonika

 

War Office, 25th September, 1916.

 

The following Despatch has been received by the Secretary of State for War from General Sir Archibald Murray, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force:

 

General Headquarters, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1st June, 1916.

 

Sir,

I 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, 1916.

 

1. 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 in Cairo.

 

The 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 supervision.

 

2. 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.

 

The 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.

 

As 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.

 

Excellent 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 the gaps 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.

 

I 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.

 

These 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 now proceed.

 

3. 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 Ismailia.

 

My 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.

 

Up 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.

 

4. 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 as possible.

 

5. 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 by hostile 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.

 

On 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 May.

 

6. 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 Senoussi.

 

On 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.

 

On 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.

 

During 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 captures.

 

7. 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.

 

In 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 it.

 

In 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 armed Arabs.

 

In 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.

 

On 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.

 

By 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 command.

 

8. 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.

 

In 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 camp.

 

The 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.

 

On 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.

 

On 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.

 

General 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 speed.

 

9. 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.

 

As 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 involved.

 

The 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.

 

Throughout 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 Egypt.

 

10. 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.

 

During 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.

 

On 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.

 

On 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.

 

The 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.

 

By 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 vigilance.

 

The 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.

 

In 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.

 

11. 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.

 

To 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.

 

I 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.

 

The 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 problems.

 

I 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 Macauley.

 

I 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.

 

Military 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.

 

In 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 help.

 

I 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.

 

The 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.

 

The 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.

 

Finally, 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 less friction.

 

I 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.

 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient Servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

________

 

War Office, London, S.W. 25th September, 1916.

 

The following despatches have been received by the Secretary of State for War from the Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force:

 

General Headquarters, 1st July, 1916.

 

Sir,

In 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.

 

I 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.

 

I have the honour to be, Your most obedient Servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief. Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

ROYAL NAVY.

 

Mitchell, Capt. F. H., D.S.O., R.N.

 

(followed by Army lists)

________

 

General Headquarters, 13th July, 1916.

 

SIR,-In 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.

 

I have the honour to be, Your most obedient servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

(Army lists)

 

 


 

 

29782 - 10 OCTOBER 1916

 

MESOPOTAMIAN CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCH dated 12 August 1916

 

War Office, 11th October, 1916.

 

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 publication:

 

General 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, Simla.

 

SIR,

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 30th, 1916.

 

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 defile.

 

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. Gorringe.

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, was encamped 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 following factors:

(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 relieving column.

 

(ii.) General Townshend's anxiety about the sufficiency of his ammunition supply and the condition of some of his troops.

 

(iii.) The rapidity with which the Turks might be able to reinforce the troops opposed to General Townshend, and the desirability of forestalling them.

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 Ali Gharbi.

 

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 force.

 

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 the latter.

 

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 offensive.

 

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 position.

 

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 attack.

 

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 uncertain.

 

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 condition.

 

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 was replaced.

 

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 Hai River.

 

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 night.

 

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 action.

 

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 line.

 

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 day.

 

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 the Turks.

 

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 success.

 

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 essential.

 

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 in reserve.

 

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 third line.

 

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 imperative.

 

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 and specie.

 

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 skill.

 

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 Kut surrendered.

 

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 negotiations.

 

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 enemy.

 

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 treachery.

 

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 this report.

 

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 mean order.

 

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 them.

 

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 them Engineer 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 maintained.

 

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 required.

 

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 progress.

 

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 conditions.

 

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.

 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient servant,

P. 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.

 

 


 

  

29789 - 17 OCTOBER 1916

 

MESOPOTAMIAN  CAMPAIGN - NAVAL MENTIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 24 August 1916

 

War Office, 19th October, 1916.

 

The following Despatch from Lieutenant-General Sir Percy Lake, K.C.B., has been forwarded by the Government of India for publication:

 

General Head Quarters, Indian Expeditionary Force "D," Basrah, 24th August, 1916.

 

From the General Officer Commanding, Indian Expeditionary Force "D."

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.

 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient servant,

P. LAKE, Lieutenant-General, Commanding, Indian Expeditionary Force "D."

 

Royal Navy.

 

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., C.M.G., M.V.O..

Wright, Paymaster S. J.

 

Ham, Gunner J. B.

Robertson, Petty Officer J.

Spanner, Gunner J. P.

Wakeling, O.N. 190329 Petty Officer W. H.

 

(followed by Army lists)

 

(included in Army Units and Corps)

 

River Transport Service.

 

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 October, 1916.

 

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 of Kut-al-Amarah:

 

Royal Navy.

 

Tudway, Lt. L. C. P., D.S.C., R.N.

 

(followed by Army lists)

 

(included in Army Units and Corps)

 

River Transport.

 

Merriman, Lt. R. D., R.I.M.

Tait, Corpl. J. R., Calcutta Volunteer Rifles.

Shaikh Abdul, Lascar, Motor Boat 32.

Basamia, Serang.

  

 


 

 

29800 - 24 OCTOBER 1916

 

SUDAN AND DARFUR OPERATIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 8 August 1916

(12 pages)

 

 


 

  

29823 - 14 NOVEMBER 1916

 

MESOPOTAMIAN CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCH dated 27 August 1916

 

War Office, November, 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:

 

General 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, Simla.

 

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 present date.

 

OPERATIONS.

 

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 sickness prevailed.

 

Nevertheless pressure on the enemy was never relaxed, and every opportunity was taken to test his morale by bombardments and minor engagements whenever opportunity offered.

 

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 various salts.

 

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 years.

 

The patrol left Ali Gharbi on their return journey on June 4th, and after skilfully surmounting various difficulties succeeded in reaching their main body in safety.

 

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 Major-General Brooking.

 

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 their leaders.

 

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 of organisation.

 

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 serious.

 

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 severe loss.

 

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 out.

 

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 construction work.

 

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 Department.

 

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 highest admiration.

 

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. Grant, R.E.

 

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 under review.

 

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 satisfactory manner.

 

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 State.

 

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.

 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,

PERCY LAKE, Lieutenant-General, Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D."

________

 

List of Officers brought to notice.

 

(including)

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.

 

P. Lake,

Lieut.- General, Commanding Indian Expeditionary Force "D."

 

 

 


 

 

29845 - 1 DECEMBER 1916

 

EGYPTIAN CAMPAIGN including Sinai

ARMY DESPATCH dated 1 October 1916

 

War Office, 1st December, 1916.

 

The Secretary of State for War has received the following despatches from General Sir Archibald Murray, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

General Headquarters, Egyptian Expeditionary Force. 1st October, 1916.

 

SIR,

I have the honour to submit a report on the operations of the Force under my command from the 1st June to 30th September, 1916.

 

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 testifies to the efficiency of the staff arrangements. A column of Yeomanry co-operated with this force, and did very good work.

 

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 prisoners.

 

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 equipped.

 

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 attacks.

 

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 Colonel Smith.

 

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 material captured.

 

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 camels.

 

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 Expeditionary Force.

 

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 camels.

 

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 Expeditionary Forces.

 

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 Egyptian Postal Service, under the able direction of N. T. Borton Pasha, Postmaster-General.

 

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 and determination.

 

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.

 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient Servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

________

 

General Headquarters, 13th, October, 1916.

 

SIR: 

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 attention.

 

I have the honour to be, Your most obedient Servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

(included in Army lists)

 

Royal Navy.

 

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.

 

 


 

 

29851 - 5 DECEMBER 1916

 

SALONIKA CAMPAIGN

ARMY DESPATCH dated 8 October 1916

(excerpts)

 

War Office, 6th December, 1916.

 

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:

 

Headquarters, British Salonika Army, 8th October, 1916.

 

SIR,

 

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 Expeditionary Force.

 

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 .....

 

(concludes)

 

24. Finally I 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 valuable information.

 

25. I submit a list of the names of those officers, non-commissioned officers and men whose services I consider deserving of special mention.

 

I have the honour to Be, Sir, Your most obedient Servant,

G. F. MILNE, Lieutenant-General, Commanding British Salonika Army.

________

 

Royal Navy.

 

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 Service.

 

Kilner, Capt. (temp. Maj.) C. F., D.S.O., R.M.

 

(followed by Army lists)

 

 


 

  

29884 - 29 DECEMBER 1916

 

WESTERN FRONT

ARMY DESPATCH dated 23 December 1916

(16 pages)

 

 

 

 

1917

 

 

 

 

29890 – 2 JANUARY 1917

 

WESTERN FRONT - NAVAL MENTIONS

ARMY DESPATCH dated 13 November 1916

 

War Office, 2nd January, 1917.

 

The 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:

 

General Headquarters, 13th November, 1916.

 

Sir,