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Official War History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment 1914-1919

[introduction]

The defeat of the Turks at Romani had far-reaching effects, and the advantages gained there reflected subsequently throughout the campaign: it maintained British prestige in the Middle East and extinguished the smouldering flame of rebellion which had ever been prevalent in Egypt; it prevented wavering neutrals from joining up with Germany, and it released General Murray's Force to undertake more ambitious operations than the defence of the Suez Canal—first, to take the offensive and capture El Arish and, when that had been accomplished, to attack and conquer Palestine.

The distance from Bir El Abd to El Arish is about fifty miles across a barren desert, and many difficulties, principally of bringing forward water and supplies, had to be overcome before a force of all arms could undertake the advance. To surmount these difficulties it was necessary to continue the construction of the rail and water-pipe line across the desert. The Napoleonic axiom that "an army crawls on its stomach" is as sound to-day as in that great soldier's time, and the speed of the advance of the Mediterranean Force was contingent on the speed of the advance of these lines, except in the case of the mounted troops, which, supplied with rations, water, and forage brought by camels from the nearest base, were always well out in front of the railhead to clear the country and allow the construction parties to continue their work.