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Friday, 28 January 2011
The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915, Contents
Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915

The Battle of the Suez Canal

Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915

Contents

 

 

Items

Outline

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915 

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, The launching of the boats

 

Australian Official History 

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, THE TURKISH EXPEDITION AGAINST EGYPT

 

British Official History

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 1914, Official British History Account, Pt 1

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, THE CANAL DEFENCES, Official British History Account, Pt 2

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, SYRIA AND SINAI, Official British History Account, Pt 3

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, ADVANCE OF THE TURKS, Official British History Account, Pt 4

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, DISPOSITION OF TROOPS IN THE CANAL DEFENCES, Official British History Account, Pt 5

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, ENGINEER WORK ON THE CANAL DEFENCES, Official British History Account, Pt 6

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, THE EXPEDITION AGAINST THE CANAL, FROM GERMAN AND TURKISH SOURCES, Official British History Account, Pt 6b

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, THE ATTACK, Official British History Account, Pt 7

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, THE DAYS SUCCEEDING THE ATTACK, Official British History Account, Pt 8

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, THE ATTACK, FROM GERMAN AND TURKISH SOURCES, Official British History Account, Pt 9

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, THE SINAI FRONT IN FEBRUARY, Official British History Account, Pt 10

 

New Zealand History

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Brereton, THE BATTLE OF THE SUEZ CANAL

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt,  Ferguson, REPORT OF FIGHTING ON CANAL

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt,  12/774 Private William David Kemp's Diary

 

Newspaper Accounts

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Brief outline of the first attacks, The Times, 4 February 1915

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Tourism Implications, The Times, 4 February 1915, pt 2

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Outline of the pontoon attack, The Times, 5 February 1915

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Summary of the follow up Ottoman attcks, The Times, 6 February 1915

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Full details of the attack from the Ottoman perspective, The Times, 8 February 1915

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, The German Officer's white flag, The Times Account, 8 February 1915

 

German Sources

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Hauptmann Wilhelm von dem Hagen

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915

The Sinai Campaign, 1915 - 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915, Contents


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 28 January 2011 7:46 AM EAST
Thursday, 28 January 2010
The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915, Outline
Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915

The Battle of the Suez Canal

Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915

Outline

 

Outline of the Suez Canal attack, 28 January - 3 February 1915

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

Following Egypt's entry into the war in support of the British, considerations had to be made regarding two threats; the anti-British sentiment felt by many Arab citizens of Egypt and the possibility of attack from the Ottoman Army. The former threat was aggravated when the Ottoman empire declared hostility against the United Kingdom and the West, with the intention of stirring up Arab anger in Egypt and causing a revolt. The British countered this by removing the (anti-British) head of state Abbas Il Helmi and replacing him with Sultan Hussein Kamel.

As it happened there was a real military threat - the Fourth Turkish Army was preparing a force of 20,000 men under the command of the Ottoman Minister of the Marine Djemal Pasha to take or destroy the Suez Canal. Djemal Pasha was one of the Three Pashas who effectively controlled the Ottoman government. The attack on the Suez was suggested by Enver Pasha, the main leader of the Ottoman government.

To protect this strategic interest the British had by January 1915 assembled some 70,000 troops in Egypt. Major-General Sir John Maxwell, a veteran of Egypt and Sudan, was commander-in-chief and led mostly Indian divisions, as well as the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, local formations and the I Anzac Corps. 30,000 of the troops stationed in Egypt manned defences along the Suez Canal. The Turks had only three available routes to reach the Suez Canal through the roadless and waterless Sinai Peninsula:

  • a coastal advance that would have water supplies and usable tracks, but would be within range of Royal Navy warships
  • a central course from Beersheba to Ismailia
  • a southern track between El Kossaima and the Suez Canal


The central route was chosen as it would provide the Turkish soldiers with proper tracks to follow once they crossed the canal.

 

The Ottoman forces marching towards the Canal.

 

Two Turkish divisions plus one more in reserve, with camel and horse units, were ready to depart in mid-January. The advance across the Sinai took ten days, tracked all the way by British aircraft, even though German aircraft stationed in Palestine in turn aided the Ottomans and later flew some bombing missions in support of the main attack. The British observers had sighted the large column of troops on January 28 and British and French naval vessels took up positions in the canal and opened fire on the advancing Ottomans. Patrolling troops from each side clashed sporadically on February 2 but major action was prevented by a sandstorm.

The early hours of the following morning saw the main Turkish attack - with inflatable pontoons and rafts, the Turkish made their way to the eastern bank of the canal and into the water, to be met by Anglo-Indian machine gun fire which cut the advancing ranks of boats to ribbons and tore through the massing Turkish troops on the water's edge. Panic soon ensued and many Turkish troops surrendered, dashing any hopes of the attack succeeding.

At 6a.m. a second attack was launched, this time with diversions being carried out north of the crossing point. The attack was checked by the defending British troops and the gunnery of the British and French ships in the canal. By 3a.m. the Turks attack had petered out and failed and a full withdrawal was effected. The thirsty Turkish troops retreated to Beersheba, free from molestation by British forces.

The attack on the Suez Canal was a failure, taking 1,500 Turkish lives with it and showing that there was apparently little interest in Egypt for an Arab revolt against the British. A larger force with more sufficient supplies would be required for any further Turkish attacks on Egypt (see the Battle of Romani for the details of that attack). The British, although successful, came to the realization that it was too risky to rely on the Canal itself as a defence line.

The German General Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein (Djemal Pasha's Chief of Staff) led a small Turkish force over the rest of the year, conducting raids against the Canal defenders. The idea was to keep British attention on the Ottoman army and try to increase the standing forces in Egypt (and thus decrease available manpower for offensives such as Gallipoli). In this, the Ottoman army achieved its objective because the British did keep far more forces here than they expected at the start of the war.

 

Australian troops burying the Ottoman dead after the battle.

[From: The Australasian, 13 March 1915, Picture Supplement p. 8.]

 

 

Further Reading:

Where Australians Fought, Sinai, 1916-1917

Light Horse Battles

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915, Outline


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 28 January 2011 8:34 AM EAST
The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915, The launching of the boats
Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915

The Battle of the Suez Canal

Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915

The launching of the boats

 

Launching of the pontoon boat attack, 2 - 3 February 1915

[Click on map for larger version.]


The following is extracted from Chapter 1 of the book With the British Army in the Holy Land by Henry Osmond Lock
 
The Turkish rank and file were certainly led to believe that a serious invasion of Egypt was intended. But it is much more likely that the object of the Germans was to detain as large a British force as possible in Egypt and thus prevent their taking part in the fighting in France. A secondary object may have been to render the Suez Canal temporarily impassable. Whatever may have been the chestnuts that Germany hoped to get out of the fire, it was clear that Turkey was willing to act as catspaw, and attempt a foolhardy invasion of Egypt.

Consequently, the construction of a new military railway in Syria was put in hand, and by January, 1915, the Turks had formed advanced posts at Auja, on the frontier, and also at Kosseima, El Arish, and Khan Epenus in the desert. The problem of water supply has always presented a difficulty to armies crossing this waterless desert. There are a certain number of reservoirs and cisterns which hold up water during the rains.

In the winter time these would be full. The Turk is less particular about the water which he drinks than the white man, and doubtless he could, to some extent, be supplied from some of the brackish pools in the desert, with water that no one would think of offering to a British soldier.

The light pontoons that the Turks dragged across the desert for crossing the Canal are said to have been used for carrying water during certain stages of the advance. Suffice it to say that the Turks did succeed in solving the water problem, and in crossing the desert with a force of some considerable strength.
 

A captured pontoon boat on display.
 
[From: Sydney Mail, 5 May 1915, p. 14.]

 

On the 3rd February, 1915, the threatened attack materialized. Before dawn, some of the light pontoons which the Turks had brought with them, were launched on the Canal. These were manned, while other Turks deployed along the eastern bank and opened fire to cover the crossing.

The troops defending this portion of the Canal, mostly Indians, opened fire upon the pontoons, with the result that many of them were sunk. Two of the pontoons, however, reached the western bank, and their crews, numbering about twenty, surrendered. There was fighting throughout the day, but no further crossing of the Canal. On the next day the east bank was swept, with the result that a considerable party of the enemy were captured. After this, the Turks withdrew, and marched back to Palestine.

This was the only time that a formed body of the enemy succeeded in reaching the Canal. But they had shown that it was possible for them to achieve the almost impossible, and thus they gave the authorities responsible for the defence of Egypt much food for thought.

 

Two remaining pontoon craft used in the attack at the Australian War Memorial.

 

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915

The Sinai Campaign, 1915 - 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 28 January - 4 February 1915, The launching of the boats


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 28 January 2011 8:28 AM EAST
Friday, 24 April 2009
Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Hauptmann Wilhelm von dem Hagen
Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915

Suez Canal Attack

Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915

Hauptmann Wilhelm von dem Hagen


The grave of Hauptmann Wilhelm von dem Hagen in the Canal Zone, 1915.

 

The following is an extract from:

Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein, Mit den Tèurken zum Suezkanal, Berlin, 1938, p. 95.

 

Chapter VI

Ismailija - Die Schlacht am Suezkanal.

Unter den Toten hatten wir leider auch den Hauptmann von dem Hagen zu beklagen, einen jungen, frischen, tüchtigen und hervorragend tapferen Offizier. Ich hatte ihn damit beauftragt, des Übersetzen am linken Flügel zu leiten; er fiel, von einem Kopfschutz getroffen, als er versuchte, die türkischen Infanteristen aus der Deckung in einer Feuerstellung am Kanal verzuführen. Die Engländer haben ihn am Ufer des Kanals begraben.

Translation:

Ismailia - The Attack on the Suez Canal 

One of the dead, much to our sadness, included Captain von dem Hagen, a young, enthusiastic, efficient and an outstandingly courageous officer. I had assigned him to lead a supporting force on the left flank [1.] of the Canal attack; he fell when hit by a bullet to the head while providing covering fire to the Turkish infantry. [2.] The English buried him on the bank of the channel.

 

Notes:

1. – Hagen’s position was south on the Canal bank providing cover to the pontoon force.

2. -  This was the force which launched the pontoons into the Canal.

 

German Officers:

The German officers with the Canal Expeditionary Force were:

Colonel Kress

Colonel Trommer

Major Hunger

Major Laufen

Captain von dem Hagen

Captain Gerlach

Captain Heiben

Rittermeister Welsch. 

 

Further Reading:

Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Contents

Where Australians Fought, Sinai, 1916-1917

Light Horse Battles

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Hauptmann Wilhelm von dem Hagen


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 27 April 2009 10:41 AM EADT
Monday, 20 April 2009
Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, The Times Account, 8 February 1915
Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915

Suez Canal Attack

Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915

The Times Account, 8 February 1915.


The Times, 8 February 1915, p. 8.

 

The account is transcribed below.

 

The Times, 8 February 1915, p. 8.

THE GERMAN OFFICER'S WHITE FLAG.

(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)

CAIRO, FEB. 8.

The Turkish retreat from the vicinity of the Canal is diversely interpreted. It is held in some quarters that the enemy has fallen back to the nearest good water supply owing to inability to maintain himself near the east bank of the Canal, where wells are few. Others believe that the failure of the attempt to break through the Canal defences has so dispirited the troops as to render immediate withdrawal, with or without an intention of returning to the charge, inevitable.

The latter theory is, perhaps, supported by the surrender of Turkish deserters, and still more by the curious discovery, of which the official  communique has already spoken, of a white flag I with rings and halyard complete in a special case on the body of a slain German officer. if the flag was to be used only for its legitimate purpose-that of announcing a surrender - its presence betokens a great lack of confidence, to say the least, among the German officers, who have been credited with the entire direction of the Turkish operations.

 

 

Further Reading:

Where Australians Fought, Sinai, 1916-1917

Light Horse Battles

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, The Times Account, 8 February 1915


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 24 April 2009 12:02 AM EADT

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