Imperial Camel Corps


Imperial Camel Corps

The Imperial Camel Corps was a brigade-sized military formation which fought for the Allies in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I. Its personnel were infantry mounted on camels for movement across desert.

The Corps was founded in January, 1916. It attained its full strength in December that year. In May, 1918 it was reduced in strength to a single battalion. The Corps was formally disbanded in May, 1919.

346 of its personnel were killed in action.

Formation

After the failure of the Gallipoli Campaign, the Allied troops were evacuated to Egypt. This was then under British occupation, and was threatened by Ottoman armies in Sinai to the east, and a rebellion among the Senussi confederation of tribes in its western deserts.

To help suppress the Senussi, four companies of camel mounted infantry were formed from volunteers from the Australian infantry returned from Gallipoli. Camels had been imported into Australia during the nineteenth century for transport purposes in some desert regions, and some of the volunteers (especially from Western Australia) were already experienced camel jockeys and handlers.

The Senussi were eventually forced into submission late in 1916 by starvation, and by being denied the use of wells by camel corps units and light car patrols.

The camel companies were so successful against the Senussi, that a further fourteen companies were eventually formed. The extra Australian personnel for six companies were drawn from Australian Light Horse units, although reinforcements drafted to the Camel Corps were all from New South Wales. Volunteers for six British companies were drawn from Yeomanry mounted units (in many cases from units which were about to be converted to infantry). New Zealand personnel formed two companies.

Reorganisation

Although the company was ideal for patrolling against tribesmen, at this time the Egyptian Expeditionary Force was preparing to advance against the Turks in Sinai. Larger, more cohesive, units were required. The companies were reorganised into four battalions, each of four companies. The 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion were Australian. The 2nd Battalion was British. The 4th Battalion was formed of Australians and New Zealanders. The Corps was also augmented by a mountain artillery unit raised in Hong Kong and Singapore. It also had its own machine gunners, and veterinary personnel.

The Corps had a badge (which usually existed in unofficial forms) of a camel against a sunburst, with a scroll bearing the unit title underneath.

The camels used by the Corps were exclusively male. (These were less docile and hardy than female camels, and therefore cheaper and easier to acquire. However, several hundred male camels gathered together made a roaring noise which could be heard for miles.) The saddles were mass-produced in Manchester, and although clumsy and despised by Arabs, were durable and tough.

Compared with horsed cavalry units, camels had twice the radius of operation in waterless terrain. (A horse unit could operate for two days without water, and therefore had a radius of one day's march, about 25 miles allowing for action. A camel unit could operate for up to five days without water, and therefore had a radius of 60 miles). Camels were also better at crossing areas of loose sand or gravel. On the other hand, they required more forage than horses.

From its earliest days, the Corps gained a reputation for disrespect for authority and "bull", particularly among the Australian contingent, but all its personnel shared this trait. (Its camels too were noted for fractiousness.)

Battles in Sinai

During 1917, the Corps or detachments from it, took part in the battles of Magdhaba, Rafa and the various battles of Gaza. They suffered particularly heavy casualties at the Second Battle of Gaza through mismanagement by the senior commanders.

After the Turkish defences were broken at the Third Battle of Gaza, the Corps took part in the pursuit, and the attack on Jerusalem. This part of the campaign was the hardest on both the soldiers and camels of the Corps. They were no longer operating in desert but in the bare Judaean Hills, the weather was cold and wet, and Turkish rearguards fought desperately. Many camels (and some soldiers) were weakened by sarcoptic mange. After Jerusalem was captured, the Corps was withdrawn for rest.

Reduction

Early in 1918, the army in Palestine, under General Edmund Allenby, was reorganised. As the army was now operating in more settled regions, there was less need for camel-mounted units. The Australian contingent was remounted on horses to form the bulk of the Australian 5th Mounted Brigade. The New Zealanders were used to bring the New Zealand Mounted Brigade up to strength. The camels made available by these reductions were donated to the Arab forces under the Emir Feisal and T. E. Lawrence.

Part of the remaining 2nd Battalion was used in one diversionary raid east of the River Jordan in August, 1918. Because British infantry reinforcements were scarce, it was stipulated that they should suffer no casualties, so the raid involved much marching but little action. Cooperation with the Arab forces was difficult, and Arabs shot one British officer in a trifling quarrel.

Monument

Although only a minority of the Corps was British, a monument to the Corps exists on Victoria Embankment, in London.

Notes

An auxiliary unit of the Indian Army, the Bikaner Camel Corps (a unit raised in a princely state in Rajastan) also operated against the Senussi, and took part in the earlier actions in Sinai. It was not part of the Imperial Camel Corps, and was withdrawn in 1917.

The Camel Transport Corps was a logistical unit, with British officers, and Egyptian drivers and handlers. It aided the British advance in Sinai until the end of 1917, and then transported supplies from Aqaba to Arab forces operating against the Hejaz Railway.

ee also

*Camel cavalry

External links

* [http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-conflicts-periods/ww1/lt-horse/camel_regiments.htm Australian Camel Corps history]
* [http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_13624.asp Australian government site]
* [http://www.1914-1918.net/camel.htm Imperial War Museum information]
* [http://www.chakoten.dk/imperial_camel_corps.html Danish Military History Society article (in Danish)]

ources

* "Imperial Camel Corps", Geoffrey Inchbald, Johnson, London, 1970, ISBN 0-85307-094-6
* "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", T. E. Lawrence, Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-14-001696-1


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Imperial Camel Corps — noun a camel mounted division which served in the Middle East campaigns of World War I; formed in 1916; included several Australian battalions. Abbrev.: ICC The Imperial Camel Corps was formed to deal with an uprising of pro Turkish Senussi… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Camel Corps — Several military units bore the name of Camel Corps:*The U.S. Camel Corps, a mid nineteenth century experimental unit that used camels for transport*The Imperial Camel Corps, an Allied unit that fought in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during… …   Wikipedia

  • Camel cavalry — Camel cavalry, or camelry, is a generic designation for armed forces using camels as a means of transportation. Sometimes warriors or soldiers of this type also fought from camel back with spears, bows or rifles.Camel cavalry were a common… …   Wikipedia

  • Desert Mounted Corps — The Desert Mounted Corps was a World War I Allied army corps that operated in the Middle East (Sinai and Palestine) during 1917 and 1918. Originally formed on 15 March 1916 as the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division under the command of… …   Wikipedia

  • Australian feral camel — Refimprove|date=April 2008The ancestors of Australian feral camels were dromedary camels imported to provide transport through inland Australia, which their feral descendants have since made their domain. While they do not appear to be as… …   Wikipedia

  • Sopwith Camel — This article describes the fighter plane. For the 1960s psychedelic rock music band, see Sopwith Camel (band). infobox Aircraft name = Sopwith 2F.1 Camel type = Biplane fighter manufacturer = Sopwith Aviation Company caption = A Sopwith Camel at… …   Wikipedia

  • Royal Flying Corps — For the computer game, see Flying Corps. Royal Flying Corps …   Wikipedia

  • Sopwith Camel — У этого термина существуют и другие значения, см. Sopwith. Sopwith 2F.1 Camel …   Википедия

  • First Australian Imperial Force dental units — The First Australian Imperial Force was one of the first military forces to care for soldiers teeth. 118 Dental Units were raised through World War I.Dental UnitsThe dental units were the smallest units in the AIF, consisting of only four men: a… …   Wikipedia

  • Kamele in Australien — Dromedar in New South Wales in Australien Die Kamele in Australien wurden im 19. Jahrhundert von Europäern auf dem Kontinent eingeführt und später in die Freiheit entlassen. Die Kamelpopulation beläuft sich nach offiziellen Schätzungen auf circa… …   Deutsch Wikipedia


We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.