Topic: AIF & MEF & EEF
Egyptian Expeditionary Force
The following is extracted from the seminal work of Major A. F. Becke, R.F.A. (Retired), Hon. M.A. (Oxon.) which now is the Great War British standard reference called: History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence: Order Of Battle, Part 4, the Army Council, G.H.Q.s, Armies, and Corps, 1914-1918, published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1945, from pp. 33 - 34.
This entry is presented "as is". A table of abbreviations employed is found at the commencement of this section. Additionally, where necessary regarding Becke's understanding of Australian units is inaccurate, an explanatory note is added.
EGYPTIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
In August, 1914, Turkey was still regarded by Egypt as the suzerain power, although for some years there had been a British occupation of the country. When war broke out between England and Germany on the 4th August [Two days previously Germany and Turkey signed an offensive and defensive treaty.] the British Force in Egypt was 1 Cavalry Regiment, 1 R.H.A. Battery, 1 Mountain Battery, R.G.A., 1 Field Company R.E., 4 Infantry Battalions, and detachments of A.S.C., R.A.M.C., A.V.C., A.O.C., and Military Mounted Police. [The units were: 3/Dragoon Gds., "T" Battery (XI Bde. R.H.A.), No. 7 Mtn. Bty. R.G.A., No. 2 Fd. Coy. R.E., 2/Devon., 1/Worc., 2/North'n., and 2/Gordon H. Since 30 October 1912 the Force in Egypt had been commanded by Major-General Hon. J. H. G. Byng. On 8 September 1914 Lieut.-General Sir John G. Maxwell took over command of the Force in Egypt and Maj.-Gen. Byng then returned to England, and proceeded to raise the 3rd Cavalry Division at Ludgershall; this Cavalry Division disembarked at Ostend on 8 October 1914.] In addition, one Battalion [1/Suffolk Regt.] and detachments of R.G.A., A.S.C., and R.A.M.C. were stationed at Khartoum, under the command of General Sir F. R. Wingate, Governor-General of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. This Battalion furnished half-a-company to garrison Cyprus.
Relations with Turkey soon became strained, and on the 30th October the Allies presented an ultimatum to her, and at the same time severed diplomatic relations. On the 5th November a formal declaration of war followed.
The Khedive of Egypt was openly pro-Turk, and he had been in Turkey since August, 1914. In order to secure Egypt and retain control over the all-important Suez Canal, the British Government deposed the Khedive on the 18th December, declared a protectorate over Egypt, and raised the Khedive's Uncle to the throne, with the title of Sultan of Egypt. At the same time the title of the British Representative was changed from Consul-General to High Commissioner.
Briefly, this was the sequence of events which led, as troops became available, to the gradual building-up of a considerable expeditionary force in this near-eastern theatre of war, and led in turn to Egypt, Sinai, and eventually Palestine and Syria becoming battle-grounds in the Great War.
At the end of August the Egyptian Camel Corps was moved to the eastern boundary to cover the Suez Canal. When early in September the Lahore Division passed through the Canal on its way from India to France it dropped the III Mountain Artillery Brigade and the Sirhind Infantry Brigade to reinforce the garrison of the Canal Zone. It became possible, therefore, to release the seasoned regular units which had formed the peacetime garrison, and they all returned to England and joined new divisions, which were assembling there, prior to reinforcing the B.E.F. on the Western Front. [3/Dgn. Gds. joined 3rd Cavalry Division; "T" R.H.A. and 2/Gordon H. the 7th Division; 2nd Fd. Coy. R.E., 2/Devon., 1/Worc., and 2/North'n. the 8th Division; and the 1/Suffolk the 28th Division.] On the 25th September, 42nd (East Lancashire) T.F. Division [Received the number 42nd on 26 May 1915.] reached Alexandria. The division was sent to Egypt for two reasons: to strengthen the garrison and to complete its war-training. Some six weeks later the Indian troops allocated for the defence of Egypt began to disembark at Suez : Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade, Bikanir Camel Corps Lucknow Infantry Brigade (from Lucknow Division), and the Imperial Service Infantry Brigade. This released the Sirhind Infantry Brigade, which left to rejoin the Lahore Division in France. The Indian garrison in Egypt was now organized in two divisions (10th & 11th Indian), and the defence of the Canal was entrusted to them and the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade, together with 3 mountain batteries from India, two field artillery brigades of the 42nd Division, a pack-gun battery from the Egyptian Army, and the guns of those English and French warships which were anchored in the canal to serve as floating batteries. Early in December a partly trained Australian and New Zealand contingent also reached Egypt and reinforced the hurriedly assembled garrison.
Meanwhile, during November, 1914, the Turks occupied el 'Arish (in Sinai), and the immediate threat to the Canal line was only too clear ; whilst in Southern Arabia the opposing forces had already clashed. From this time onwards the British forces which were assembled in Egypt were continuously engaged: at first in localized operations to cover that country and the Canal Zone; then, in 1917, in delivering those blows which, by the end of the following year, resulted in Turkey suing for peace.
Citation: Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Formation