Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915
Suez Canal Attack
Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915
Ferguson, REPORT OF FIGHTING ON CANAL
The following is an extract from:
Ferguson, D., The History Of The Canterbury Regiment New Zealand Expeditionary Force 1914 - 1919, Auckland, Whitcombe & Tombs, 1921. pp. 14 - 16.
REPORT OF FIGHTING ON CANAL
February 2nd to 4th, 1915.
Early on the morning of the 3rd an attack was made on our outposts which was repulsed, the enemy retreating leaving 15 killed and wounded and 40 unwounded. Later in the day a partial attack was made from the S.E., but the enemy were stopped 200 yards from the position.
At El Ferdan. where the 13th Regiment Company and two platoons of the 1st Regiment Company were stationed, the enemy made an attack. At 7 a.m. a Turkish Battery of four small guns opened fire on the Signal Station, finding the range immediately; they hit the buildings several times. At this juncture H.M.S. Clio came up and silenced the batteries, though she was hit three times in so doing. The action was ended at 1 p.m.
North of Ismailia, at the Battery Post, there were two platoons of the 12th Nelson Regiment Company. These men were not actually fired on. But the battery on their left was shelled. Later in the day this post was relieved by two platoons of the 3rd Auckland Regiment Company. These platoons were shelled on their way out to the post but suffered no casualties.
By Ismailia Ferry Post, where the 2nd South Canterbury Company were stationed under Major Grant as general reserve, the enemy were found to be entrenching about half a mile to the east at daylight. Two battalions (sic) opened fire, and the enemy's guns engaged the Hardinge, Requin, and our Mountain Artillery. Though no regular attack was made, intermittent shelling continued throughout the day. The New Zealand platoons actually saw no fighting, but they were exposed to shell fire throughout the day. Some of the shells fired at this point fell within half a mile of the ground where the Auckland and Canterbury Battalions were encamped.
The shipping on Lake Timsah was subjected to shell fire during the day. and also the outskirts of Ismailia at various points.
During the night of the 3rd a half-hearted attack was made, after which the enemy withdrew the bulk of their forces to Kataib El Kheil.
TOUSSUM AND SERAPEUM.
At daylight on the 3rd the enemy were found to be close to Toussum and Serapeum, and their guns opened fire on both posts. At the latter post where our ships and artillery engaged the enemy, there were two platoons of the 12th Nelson Regiment Company under Major Brereton, who took up outposts at 5 p.m.on the night of the 2nd on the west bank of the Canal. On his right was a battery of the Lancashire Artillery, and on his left the 62nd Punjabis Infantry. All was quiet until 3.20 a.m., when heavy machine-gun fire from the enemy commenced to our north.
At this time there was no fire to the New Zealanders' front. The Punjabis were reinforced with 30 of our men, who on arrival at once commenced opening fire at a party of Turks attempting cross the Canal in boats, which movement they effectively stopped. At this the enemy retreated and entrenched on the eastern bank under our fire. Many of the enemy tried to retreat but were stopped by our fire. We were helped by enfilading fire from the rest of the two platoons on our right, who had the command of the enemy's trenches for a distance of 1,200 yards.
There were three distinct attempts made to cross the Canal at this point, all of which failed. A counter-attack by the 62nd Punjabis about mid-day produced considerable results. Early in the afternoon orders were received to close on the 22nd Brigade Headquarters. During this move Private Ham was severely wounded and afterwards succumbed to his wounds. The only other New Zealand casualty was that of Sergeant Williams, who was slightly wounded by shrapnel. Outpost duty was resumed at 5 p.m. No more fighting took place except for persistent sniping, the enemy having retired leaving many dead and nearly 300 prisoners.
On the morning of the 4th, troops from Serapeum captured 150 of the enemy, who were still entrenched on the Canal bank some one and a half miles south of Toussum, after having been treacherously fired on, the white flag having been raised and signs of surrender made.
During the day H.M.S. Swiftsure, Clio, and Hardinge, the French ships Requin, D'Entreastreaux, as well as torpedo boats and launches engaged the enemy and rendered valuable assistance. The Hardinge was struck by two 6 in. shells and had ten men wounded. The Swiftsure had one man killed. Military casualties were:- British officers killed, 1; wounded, 4. British, Indian, and Egyptian rank and file killed, 17; wounded, 79. The enemy along the Canal 'at all points attacked, appear to muster in all some 12,000 men, and at least six batteries. One 6 in. gun was also located, which is. thought to have been silenced by the Requin.
Throughout the fighting two companies were always kept ready to leave camp at a moment's notice to reinforce any position where they might be required.
Over 500 of the enemy were buried by our troops, and upwards of 500 are prisoners in our hands. It is calculated that on a basis of three wounded to one killed, the enemy must have suffered a loss of at least 1,500 wounded, making total casualties of between 2,500 and 3,000. The enemy is now in retreat all along the line: whether they will make another attack cannot yet be determined. It has been ascertained that General Dyemal Pasha was present during the action with a number of German officers, one or whom has been killed.
On February 3rd a message of congratulation on the three days' fighting was received from the General Officer Commanding in Chief and Lord Kitchener.
A. C. TEMPERLEY,
New Zealand Infantry Brigade.
February 12th, 1915.