Camp and Combat on the Sinai and Palestine Front: The by Edward C. Woodfin (auth.)

By Edward C. Woodfin (auth.)

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Extra resources for Camp and Combat on the Sinai and Palestine Front: The Experience of the British Empire Soldier, 1916–18

Example text

They were one of the dominant memories of British NCO Edwin Bowyer. ”128 Virtually every aspect of army life seemed to encourage the flies, which found irresistible the refuse and latrines of camps, as well as the carnage of battles and raids. After the bloody fights at Katia and 34 Camp and Combat on the Sinai and Palestine Front Oghratina, for, example, one soldier commented on the half buried bodies of men and camels, noting that the stench could be smelled miles away. 131 Lice also swarmed over the ranks, burrowing into clothing and packs.

The canal defenders, for example, before they moved their defenses into the desert, had used the sand to warn them of saboteurs and spies. Each night they dragged sledges behind horses or camels along the eastern side of the canal. 113 If there was any disturbance in the sand, they knew the Turks were near and active. One of the most disturbing challenges that the desert sand gave the British soldiers was the difficulty in burying their fallen comrades. When they were placed into their shifting graves, many did not remain buried, as the Worcester Yeomanry in the story at the beginning of this chapter discovered.

11 This, then, became the key decision from London to start the invasion of Sinai—an invasion dominated by a defensive rather than an offensive strategy. In early 1916, the politicians and generals who directed the grand strategy of the war ordered the defensive line of the Suez Canal pushed out into the Sinai Desert. This meant a shift from a passive to an active defense of the canal, changing the soldiers’ lives dramatically, forcing them into extreme conditions and into direct contact with the enemy.

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