From daylight on the morning of the 4th, parties cleared up the battlefield, burying hundreds of Turks. Captured orders showed that the attempt was to have been made on a grand scale, but something must have sadly miscarried. The following extracts dealing with the main attack reveal Turkish Orders at their best: “By the grace of Allah we shall attack the enemy on the night of February 2/3, and seize the Canal. Simultaneously with us the right column will attack Kantara
; the 68th Regiment will attack El Ferdan and Ismailia
; the left column will attack Suez
; and one company from the 10th Division will attack Shallufa. The champions of Islam, from Tripoli
, from the left wing will
[Photo by the Author
Captured Pontoons at Ismailia.
advance to Serapeum and the south of Serapeum…. As soon as it is dark the heavy artillery battery will take up its position. Its task is to destroy the enemy's warships in Lake Timsah
. If it gets the opportunity, it is to sink a ship at the entrance to
[Lent by Capt. Boxer, N.Z.M.C.
A Turkish Prisoner.
the Canal.…. Three regiments will proceed to the Camp of the Bridgemakers; the detachments will take pontoon and engineer soldiers from the companies selected as attack column … The advances from the ‘place of preparation’ is to be made simultaneously in eight columns at a place to be fixed, and in a straight line; a pontoon is to be given to each squad; each squad is to send forward a party to reconnoitre.….
The march to the Canal is about four or five kilometres, and is to be accomplished without halt. The pontoons are to be launched in the Canal and the passage across is to begin immediately…. The first duty of the detachments which cross is to occupy the slope of the western bank. The two companies collected on the western bank are to advance 500 or 1000 metres from the Canal and take up a favourable position facing west. After all the battalions in the first line have been mustered they are to continue the march. The 2/75th Regiment is to seize Toussoum and occupy the hill with small force. The 74th Regiment is to
[Photo by the Author
Bows of Turkish Pontoons.
The pontoons are of German make, as the spelling of “the home port” indicates.
take the direction towards Timsah and the west, and is to advance as far as the railway line….If the regiments meet with opposition from the enemy while occupying these positions, they are at once to execute a fierce bayonet charge…. At first I will be at the little hill on which are two sandhills; later on I shall go towards Toussoum.” All of which showing that even early in the War the best laid plans of Turk and Hun went very much astray. Instead of executing fierce bayonet charges and taking up favourable positions facing west, the broken remnants of the champions of Islam had in large measure fled a considerable distance east—going so far
and so quickly that an aeroplane reconnaisance of sixty miles showed great clouds of dust still hastening towards the desert sanctuary.
The enemy's total casualties were about 3000 in killed, wounded and prisoners. The British loss was 18 killed and 83 wounded. The naval casualties were also infinitesimal—
Turkish Prisoners captured on the Canal.
This picture, which shows the physique of the Turk, was taken by Lieut. A. E. Forsythe, (12th Nelsons) who was killed on Gallipoli.
one man killed on the “Swiftsure” and ten wounded on the “Hardinge.” Thus was the enemy's much-heralded attack brought to confusion. From that day the Suez Canal
, thanks to the efforts of the British and Indian troops and the Allied navies, has been open day and night to the ships of friendly nations.
Three weeks of waiting ensued. There was certainly work to be done, but the Canal is just the Canal, and men get very sick of it. Any change is welcome to the soldier. It was a relief to climb into the troop trains on February 26 and eventually arrive in the old encampment near Zeitoun.