Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Memorial day - 8

Without doubt my favourite memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens, London, is for the Imperial Camel Corps. It consists of an exquisite two foot high statue of a camel and rider. The bronze statue stands on a six foot high stone base. Carved on the base is:

To The Glorious And Immortal Memory Of The Officers NCOs And Men Of The Imperial Camel Corps.
British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian Who Fell In Action or Died Of Wounds And Disease In Egypt, Sinai And Palestine.
1916 - 1917 -1918

A bronze plaque lists the names of the fallen.

The Allied forces were evacuated to Egypt after the failure of the Gallipoli Campaign. Egypt which was then under British rule, was threatened by the Ottoman armies in Sinai and the Senussi confederation of tribes in its Western deserts.

In an attempt to suppress the tribes in January 1916, four companies of camel mounted infantry were formed from volunteers from Australia. The campaign was a success with the Senussi forced into submission towards the end of 1916. Indeed the camel companies had been so successful that a further fourteen companies were formed. Six companies were drawn from Australian Light Horse units, six British companies from Yeomanry mounted units and New Zealand personnel formed two companies. The companies were eventually organised into four battalions.

Because they were cheaper to purchase only male camels were used!

In 1917 the Corps took part in several battles for Gaza, suffering heavy casualties After Gaza, it took part in the attack on Jerusalem. After the capture of Jerusalem the corps was withdrawn for rest.

In May 1918, under General Edmund Allenby, the army in Palestine was reorganised. As a result both the Australian and New Zealand companies were remounted on horses. Their camels were given to the Arab forces under the command of Emir Feisal and T.E. Lawrence “Lawrence of Arabia”

(In 1921 Britain ensured that Feisal was selected King of the newly created country Iraq, which he ruled until his death in September 1933)

Part of the Corps 2nd Battalion took part in action in Jordan in August 1918.

The Imperial Camel Corps was formally disbanded in May, 1919.

Click her to see YesBut’s Image of the day.

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