Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915
Suez Canal Attack
Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915
The Times, 5 February 1915
The account is transcribed below.
TWO ATTACKS ON THE CANAL
FUTILE ATTEMPT TO CROSS ON RAFTS.
BRITISH WARSHIPS ENGAGED.
(FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.)
CAIRO, FEB. 4
An official communiqué summarizes the events from Tuesday night until midnight last night as follows:Toussoum post was attacked at 3 a.m. by the enemy's infantry; and at the same time a determined attempt was made under cover of heavy maxim fire to cross the Canal by means of pontoons and rafts. At day break the enemy were seen advancing. Their artillery fired on Toussoum and Serapeum, and was answered by our artillery and the fire from our ships. After a certain amount of fighting, including an advance from Serapeum; the enemy retired at 3.30 p.m.
During the action eight officers and 282 men were made prisoners, and a large number of dead were left lying in front of our position.
H.M.S. Hardinge * was twice hit by shells, and 10 men were wounded. Our other losses were two officers and 13 men killed and 53 wounded, of which one officer and two men killed and one wounded belonged to the Egyptian Field Artillery, which gave valuable assistance.
At the Ismailia ferry at daylight the enemy were found entrenching 700 or 800 yards from our posts. Two battalions fired on us with rifles. During the day there was intermittent fire, but no infantry attack, and no casualties on our side.
At El Kantara our outposts were attacked between 5 and 6 a.m. The enemy were driven off, leaving 21 killed and 25 wounded, and 36 unwounded prisoners were left on our hands.
Later them was a partial attack from the south, but the enemy were checked 1,200 yards from our position, and eight more of their dead were found.
Our casualties were one officer slightly wounded, four Indians killed, and 24 wounded.
The total strength of the enemy's forces engaged seems to have numbered at least 12,000 men, with six batteries, but the invasion of Egypt has merely taken the form of Turkish prisoners being brought to Cairo.
The conduct of the troops, British, Indian, and Egyptian, was excellent.
* H.M.S. Hardinge is one of the troopships of the Royal Indian Marine, which on the out break of the war were equipped with armament. She is a vessel of 6,520 tons, and carries six 4.7in. guns, six 3-pounders, and 4 machine guns.
Toussoum is near the centre of the Suez Canal and Serapeum is about five miles to the southward. A map illustrating the Canal line will be found on the preceding page.
LATE WAR NEWS
FOUR TURKS CROSS CANAL.
During the fighting near Toussoum four Turkish soldiers reached the west bank of the Canal and escaped into the interior. An active search for them is being made.
TURKISH PRISONERS IN CAIRO.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)
CAIRO, FEB. 4.
Two hundred and fifty Turkish prisoners, including several officers, arrived from the Canal this morning. They were a miserable looking lot, poorly clad in the thinnest khaki or white uniform, and they visibly shivered as they marched through the town. Several were wounded.
The prisoners taken in Tuesday night's fight arrived in Cairo yesterday, closely roped together. The majority are wild-looking men, wearing tattered old Redif greatcoats, and presented a most unmilitary spectacle, resembling convicts more than anything else as they shuffled along between a guard with fixed bayonets.
An official communiqué states:-The Canal was open for trance all day, and ships and trains passed without hindrance.
During the last few days deserters from the Turkish Army have been coming in. All state that they were forced to take up arms against their will, and they were most pleased to get away. Several belonged to an irregular body forcibly impressed from the Beduin and fellahin of Southern Palestine by Mumtaz Bey, who was formerly an aide-de-camp of Enver Pasha, and is now with the Turkish advanced guard. The deserters, who were in civilian clothes, complained of the want of supplies and the harsh treatment suffered at the hands of their officers, particularly of Mumtaz Bey himself.
They assert that large numbers are anxious to desert, and are only awaiting an opportunity.
A DISORDERLY RETREAT.
The attack on the Canal at Toussoum south of Ismailia, is believed to have been made by an Arab regiment which seems to have been heavily punished, one battalion commander being reported a prisoner. The enemy appear to have been misled by our silence into believing that there was a gap in our line of defence, and their retreat, when vigorously attacked, it is said, by a Sikh regiment, was proportionately disorderly.
During the subsequent fighting the enemy are reported to have brought a heavy gun into action, which was responsible for two hits, but our losses were very slight considering how much ammunition the enemy expended, totalling at all points from midnight on January 2 to midnight last night two officer and 17 men killed and an officer and 92 men wounded.
In well informed quarters it is thought that the enemy were probably advancing on the Canal in three columns, of which we engaged the advanced guards. One column would seem to have advanced along the EI Arish road towards El Kantara by way of Katieh, another by way of Bir Saba - el Auga, and thence straight across the desert till it encountered our defences in the Ismailia region, while the third column believed to be near Suez and to have sent small band to make useless demonstrations in the Tor region. The last column probably followed this Akaba - Nakhl route, which is quite passable for a small force and quite impassable for a real army.
Meanwhile the beginning of real fighting a even a modest scale has aroused the utmost enthusiasm and self animation among the British Colonial, and Indian troops, some of whom till three days ago took a pessimistic view of the chance of ever seeing service in Egypt.
Vice Admiral Sir Frederick Doveton Sturdee arrived at his home at Droxford last night, and was received with great enthusiasm.