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A Link with Tel el Kebir.
A Link with Tel el Kebir. 

Western Mail, Thursday 6 April 1933, page 2

A Link with Tel-el-Kebir.

The death was recently announced on this page of an old veteran in Private Michael McMahon. Some of his papers have been loaned to me, and I have no doubt that the information contained therein, particularly in his diary of the Soudan campaign, will be read by the youngsters of the Great War with interest.

First of all, however, let me comment on the pay-book. It is longer and wider than those issued in the Great War, and contains 100 thick parchment-like pages, enclosed, in a stout canvas cover. In it are full particulars of Mr. McMahon's service of 17 years in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry; his clothing issues, decorations, and medals, financial statements, extracts from the Articles of War, and other information. He served in Bermuda in 1876, Gibraltar 1880,. Malta 1882, and Egypt 1882. He was 83 years old. when he passed on. I commend all diggers to compare this diary of the days when war was just a war with the serious business of 1914-18, when there was no rest on Sundays, and even the cooks were killed.

It runs as follows:

July 14,1882. - Embarked at Gibraltar on board the troopship Malabar.

July 18. - Arrived at and landed at Malta.

July 19. - Embarked again on board the same ship for Alexandria.

July 23. - Landed in Alexandria and marched to Rosetta Gate barracks, which had been previously occupied by Araby's troops and was in a filthy condition.

July 27. - Marched to Ramleh and encamped near Lizinia's House (the French Consul). There we remained for three Weeks, watching Araby at his entrenchments and having an occasional brush with him.

August 5. - Reconaissance in force against the enemy at Kafr Dowar. After a few hours' hard fighting we drove them back with loss, capturing two guns and a rocket.

August 20. - Marched to Alexandria and embarked on board, the troopship Euphrates for Ismailia.

August 22. - Landed at Ismailia and bivouacked in the Canal gardens.

August 23. - Marched to Nefiche, and employed filling sandbags to dam the canal. After a few hours' hard work we found our labour in vain, as the sandbags were not required.

August 24. - Shifted our camp to Nefiche station. As we were about to have breakfast a galloper came in for reinforcements at once. Off we went without breakfast, made a forced march, and came on to the scene of action about 1 p.m. When the enemy saw us they directed their whole fire on us. Our colonel, seeing this, formed the regiment into two lines. We lay there all day watching the artillery duel. At sunset the firing ceased, and the column advanced about a mile. We then settled down for the night, and the order was given not to retire under any circumstances, but to hold our ground to the last man.

August 25. - Advanced in extended order on the enemy's position, and it greatly surprised us to find that they had retired during the night. We advanced to Tel el Mahuta and bivouacked there for the night.

August 26. - Started at 5.30 a.m. and arrived at Mahsameh about 8 a.m. After a couple of hours' rest the enemy were reported by our vedettes to be advancing in force. The assembly sounded, and the troops stood to arms, placing two guns on the railway to oppose the advancing foe. The enemy, seeing it was no use trying to take us by surprise, retired. The Column started again in the evening and marched to Kassassin Lock.

August 27. - Sunday - Rest.

August 28. - Battle of Kassassin. Araby's cavalry first appeared on the brow of the hill. Our troops were at once formed up to repel the attack. We lay here waiting for them to come within range until the order was given to retire to dinner. As we were about to have dinner the enemy came down in great force, so off we had to go again and leave our dinners untouched. We fought hard, and at sunset the enemy were forced to retire. We followed them for about a mile, then we heard a loud "hurrah" on our right, which was from our cavalry charging them. We gained a complete victory against great odds. We then had breakfast, dinner, tea, and rum all at once.

September 8. - Reconnoitering party against Araby on sandhills, where a view of Tel el Kebir could be obtained. After taking the necessary sketches, we retired to camp.

September 9. - Second battle of Kassassin. The enemy came down, as usual, at breakfast time, so we had to fight them again without breaking our fast. We opened fire from the armoured train, fought for a few hours, and beat them again, with great Joss, capturing five guns, one officer, and twenty prisoners.

September 13. - Storming of Tel el Kebir. We struck our camp at sunset yesterday, marched a mile from camp, and lay down for a few hours. We then advanced within a thousand yards of Tel el Kebir and lay down and slept awhile. The army then advanced, but did not go far before the enemy discovered us and opened fire; We responded with a loud cheer, and charged in amongst them, beat them from the first line and into the next. Then we put them to flight at the bayonet's point. The cavalry finished the rout, following them up and spreading death far and wide among the rebels.

September 14. - We heard that the war was over. We remained here for four days burying the dead and Araby's ammunition, which waa very hard work.

September 17. - Left Tel el Kebir for Cairo, where we arrived at 2 p.m.. and were quartered in Nile barracks.

September 21. - Removed to Ghezereh camp.

October 6. - Our regiment went on an excursion to the Pyramids.

October 7. - Returned to Ghezereh.

October 15. - Went by train to Alexandria and were stationed in Ras el Tin Palace.

November 13. - Marched into barracks at Ramleh, the scene of our first troubles. This is just a rough sketch of my travels in Egypt.

(Signed) M. McMahon,