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Remembered Today:

No 1 Camel Battery RGA

More camel artillery - this time in Aden. No 1 Camel Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

 

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Aden, located near the entrance to the Red Sea, was vital for the security of the route through the Suez Canal. The port came under British control in 1838 as a base on the route to India. In gained increased prominence with the opening of the  Suez Canal in 1869. The Ottoman Empire seized control of Yemen to the north, whilst Britain established protectorates with local rulers in the Aden hinterland.

Stationed in Aden in 1914 were 61, 76, 77 Company RGA each quipped with 4 x 6 inch guns.

 

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When war broke out in August 1914, the Ottoman Empire remained outside the conflict till November when it attacked Britain's ally Russia. This led to Britain declaring war on the Turks, who then launched at attack on Aden. The Turks were driven off by the Aden Brigade, which was then strengthened by the 29th Infantry Brigade who was en route to the Suez Canal.

 

No 1 Camel Battery was equipped with 15 pounder BLC gun, a 76mm (3 inch ) weapon. It had a range of 5,260 metres (5,750 yards) firing shrapnel shells. A box trailed gun which  together with it's ammunition limber was towed by 4 camels. 

 

In July 1915, the Turks once again launched at attack on Lahej , the British response being to send a mobile force, which included the No 1 Camel Battery and Malay States Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. The British move to Lahej was conducted in blistering heat, some Arab camel drivers from the logistics train deserted, and the Camel Battery became stuck in sand. As a consequence only part of the force reached  Lahej and without effective artillery support they were beaten back by the numerically superior Turks.

 

The mobile force withdrew back to Aden, where the port it's self was protected by guns from 4 naval ships. This move alarmed the Viceroy of India (Aden was under his jurisdiction), as it placed Aden's water supply at Sheikh ‘Uthman at risk when the Turks occupied the town. Major General D.L.B. Shaw, Aden commander, was relieved of his command The 28th Indian Brigade (together with  1/B Battery, HAC, 1/1st Berkshire Battery, RHA) was despatched from Egypt to strengthen the Aden force, under a new commander of Aden, Maj. Gen. Sir George Younghusband. The first priority was to launch an action to regain control of the water supply, as a result  Sheikh ‘Uthman was secured.

 

In June 1916, the Arab Revolt in Hejaz  against Ottoman Rule, which was incited by the British (including the actions of TE Lawrence), forced the Turks to turn their attention away from Aden.  The British continued to harass the Turks, with operations by mobile columns, supported by aircraft (including sea planes) making some gains, notably the capture of Hatum, an action supported by the No 1 Camel Battery.

 

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Aden Field Force. 15pdr. Camel Battery R. F. A, returning to Sheikh Othman after the action of January 5th, 1918 (attack and capture of Hatum)

Imperial War Museum © Q 13063

 

 

 

 

 



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