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With the Imperial Camel Corps In The Great War

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With the Imperial Camel Corps In The Great War
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Author(s): by Geoffrey Inchbald
Date Published: 10/2005
Page Count: 240
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-007-4
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-012-8

Rebellious arabs, the turkish enemy, the implacable desert an the irascible camel - a unique maunt for these unusual campaigns The Imperial Camel Corps had a short but eventful existence. Operating in the Western Desert against the Senussi in Sinai, in the Palestine Campaign and in Arabia, it played an important part in the actions associated with T.E Lawrence. The deployment of his highly mobile mounted force, drawn from Imperial troops, was extremely successful. Inchbald’s account of his time as an officer with the 2nd Battalion, which was comprised entirely of British Troops, vividly recounts the eventful exploits of this unique corps.

Directly we emerged on to the plain we came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire and began to sustain casualties, which we could not afford if we were going to do anything about that wretched bridge which we had not seen yet, and in fact never did see. I do not know how long we continued to make any progress but as the Turkish fire increased, not only from the front but the flanks as well, supported by shrapnel from their guns, it became obvious that we could not go on much longer. I sent a runner to Huth on my right to tell him to hold his ground as long as he could, and from his position in the broken ground help to cover our withdrawal in the centre, and another runner to my two Lewis gun teams on our left with instructions to do the same. The first runner was killed before he could deliver his message and in the event Huth and his remaining men only got away by the skin of their teeth. The Lewis gunners put up a great performance and continued firing up to the last possible moment. By now we were in a pretty bad way in the centre, and all the men in my leading section had been killed or wounded. I managed to work out some sort of orders for our general withdrawal by stages which, were splendidly carried out. Unfortunately it was at this critical moment that I was knocked head over heels like a rabbit by a bullet which passed through my left forearm fracturing both the bones. It made a bit of a mess but I was helped by two of my men who converged on me from different directions and refused to leave my side until they had brought me safely back to cover. The interesting thing about this is that they were the black sheep of the company, constantly getting into trouble and being punished for one offence or another. I had cursed them many times before but on this occasion they had my fervent blessing. Meanwhile the Turks were scrambling from their trenches in the hope, I suppose, of delivering the coup de grace, but our guns had arrived at last and although they had not been able to help us in our advance they put down a very effective barrage to cover our retreat. So ended an operation which I do not think could ever have succeeded, even if we had managed to get within bombing distance of the Turks, bearing in mind that the bombs we were carrying were nothing more than useless lumps of metal. It was a sad day. A third of the company had been killed or wounded and to make matters worse several of the latter had been taken prisoner.
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