Egyptian Expeditionary Force

Last updated
Egyptian Expeditionary Force
Active1916–19
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  British Empire
Flag of France (1794-1958).svg  French Republic
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg  Kingdom of Italy
Engagements First World War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Archibald Murray (1916–17)
Edmund Allenby (1917–19)
A mint stamp of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force available at EEF post offices in Lebanon. Stamp Palestine 1918 20pi.jpg
A mint stamp of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force available at EEF post offices in Lebanon.

The Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) was a British Empire military formation, formed on 10 March 1916 under the command of General Archibald Murray from the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and the Force in Egypt (1914–15), at the beginning of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War.

Contents

1920 EEF laissez passer, travel document, issued at Jerusalem, British Mandate. 1920 Palestine - EEF - laissez passer.jpg
1920 EEF laissez passer, travel document, issued at Jerusalem, British Mandate.

History

Formed in the British protectorate of the Sultanate of Egypt, the initially small force was raised to guard the Suez Canal and Egypt. After the withdrawal from the Gallipoli Campaign the force grew into a large reserve force designed to provide reinforcements for the Western Front, while the Western Frontier Force fought in the Senussi Campaign from 1915 to 1917, and the Eastern Frontier Force defended the canal at the Battle of Romani in August 1916. [1] [2] [3] [4] Following the victory at Romani, part of Eastern Force pursued the Ottoman Empire invading force back to Palestine after the victories at the Battle of Magdhaba in December 1916 and the Battle of Rafa in January 1917, by which time Desert Column had been formed within Eastern Force. These victories which resulted in the recapture of substantial Egyptian territory were followed in March and April, by two EEF defeats on Ottoman Turkish Empire territory, at the First and Second Battles of Gaza in southern Palestine. [5]

During the Stalemate in Southern Palestine from April to October 1917, Murray consolidated the EEF's position and in June General Edmund Allenby took command and began preparations to take the offensive, employing manoeuvre warfare He reorganised the force into the XX Corps, XXI Corps and Desert Mounted Corps formerly Desert Column. [6] On 31 October two corps captured Beersheba defended by the Turkish III Corps (which had fought at Gallipoli), which weakened their defences stretching almost continually from Gaza to Beersheba. Subsequently the Battle of Tel el Khuweilfe, the Third Battle of Gaza and the Battle of Hareira and Sheria forced the withdrawal from Gaza on the night of 6/7 November at the beginning of the pursuit to Jerusalem. During the subsequent operations, about fifty miles (80 km) of formerly Turkish territory, was captured as a result of the EEF victories at the Battle of Mughar Ridge, fought between 10 and 14 November, and the Battle of Jerusalem fought between 17 November and 30 December. Serious losses on the Western Front in March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, forced the British Empire to send reinforcements from the EEF. During this time, two unsuccessful attacks were made to capture Amman and to capture Es Salt in March and April 1918, before Allenby's force resumed the offensive, again employing manoeuvre warfare at the Battle of Megiddo. The successful infantry battles at the Battle of Tulkarm and the Battle of Tabsor, created gaps in the Ottoman front line, enabling the pursuit by the Desert Mounted Corps to encircle the infantry fighting in the Judean Hills when fighting occurred during the Battle of Nazareth, the Afulah, Beisan, the Jenin, the Battle of Samakh, and the capture of Tiberias. In the process the EEF destroyed three Turkish Armies during the Battle of Sharon, the Battle of Nablus and the Third Transjordan attack, capturing thousands of prisoners and large quantities of equipment. Subsequently the EEF pursued the surviving German and Turkish forces to Damascus, and Aleppo, before the Ottoman Turkish Empire agreed to the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918, ending the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. The British Mandate of Palestine, and the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon were created to administer the captured territories. [7]

Structure

See also

Related Research Articles

Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba took place on 23 December 1916 during the Defence of Egypt section of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in the First World War. The attack by the Anzac Mounted Division took place against an entrenched Ottoman Army garrison to the south and east of Bir Lahfan in the Sinai desert, some 18–25 miles (29–40 km) inland from the Mediterranean coast. This Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) victory against the Ottoman Empire garrison also secured the town of El Arish after the Ottoman garrison withdrew.

Battle of Rafa 1917 battle during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I

The Battle of Rafa, also known as the Action of Rafah, fought on 9 January 1917, was the third and final battle to complete the recapture of the Sinai Peninsula by British forces during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. The Desert Column of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) attacked an entrenched Ottoman Army garrison at El Magruntein to the south of Rafah, close to the frontier between the Sultanate of Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, to the north and east of Sheikh Zowaiid. The attack marked the beginning of fighting in the Ottoman territory of Palestine.

Battle of Beersheba (1917) Battle between EEF and Turkish forces, notable for successful cavalry charge

The Battle of Beersheba was fought on 31 October 1917, when the British Empire's Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) attacked and captured the Yildirim Army Group garrison at Beersheba, beginning the Southern Palestine Offensive of the Sinai and Palestine campaign of World War I. Infantry from the 60th (London) and the 74th (Yeomanry) Divisions of the XX Corps from the southwest conducted limited attacks in the morning, then the Anzac Mounted Division launched a series of attacks against the strong defences which dominated the eastern side of Beersheba, resulting in their capture during the late afternoon. Shortly afterwards, the Australian Mounted Division's 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments conducted a mounted infantry charge with bayonets in their hands, their only weapon for mounted attack, as their rifles were slung across their backs. Part of the two regiments dismounted to attack entrenchments on Tel es Saba defending Beersheba while the remainder of the light horsemen continued their charge into the town, capturing the place and part of the garrison as it was withdrawing.

Third Battle of Gaza battle

The Third Battle of Gaza was fought on the night of 1/2 November 1917 between British and Ottoman forces during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I, and came after the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) victory at the Battle of Beersheba had ended the Stalemate in Southern Palestine. The fighting occurred at the beginning of the Southern Palestine Offensive, and together with attacks on Hareira and Sheria on 6–7 November and the continuing Battle of Tel el Khuweilfe which had been launched by General Edmund Allenby on 1 November, it eventually broke the Gaza to Beersheba line defended by the Yildirim Army Group. Despite having held this line since March 1917, the Ottoman Army was forced to evacuate Gaza and Tel el Khuweilfe during the night of 6/7 November. Only Sheria held out for most of the 7 November before it too was captured.

Battle of Megiddo (1918) Battle of the First World War which was fought in Ottoman Palestine

The Battle of Megiddo also known in Turkish as the Nablus Hezimeti, or the Nablus Yarması was fought between 19 and 25 September 1918, on the Plain of Sharon, in front of Tulkarm, Tabsor and Arara in the Judean Hills as well as on the Esdralon Plain at Nazareth, Afulah, Beisan, Jenin and Samakh. Its name, which has been described as "perhaps misleading" since very limited fighting took place near Tel Megiddo, was chosen by Allenby for its biblical and symbolic resonance.

Sinai and Palestine campaign Campaign of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I

The Sinai and Palestine campaign of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I was fought by the Arab Revolt and the British Empire, against the Ottoman Empire and its Imperial German allies. It started with an Ottoman attempt at raiding the Suez Canal in 1915, and ended with the Armistice of Mudros in 1918, leading to the cession of Ottoman Syria.

Imperial Camel Corps British Imperial camel-mounted infantry brigade of WWI

The Imperial Camel Corps Brigade (ICCB) was a camel-mounted infantry brigade that the British Empire raised in December 1916 during the First World War for service in the Middle East.

The Capture of Jericho occurred between 19 and 21 February 1918 to the east of Jerusalem beginning the Occupation of the Jordan Valley during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. Fighting took place in an area bordered by the Bethlehem–Nablus road in the west, the Jordan River in the east, and north of a line from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Here a British Empire force attacked Ottoman positions, forcing them back to Jericho and eventually across the Jordan River.

Battle of Sharon First World War battle

The Battle of Sharon fought between 19 and 25 September 1918, began the set piece Battle of Megiddo half a day before the Battle of Nablus, in which large formations engaged and responded to movements by the opposition, according to pre-existing plans, in the last months of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I. The fighting took place over a wide area from the Mediterranean Sea east to the Rafat salient in the Judean Hills. Here the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) XXI Corps with the French brigade sized Détachment Français de Palestine et de Syrie attacked the Yildirim Army Group Eighth Army's XXII Corps and German Asia Corps. The Battle of Sharon extended well behind the Ottoman front lines when the Desert Mounted Corps rode through a gap in the front line across the Plain of Sharon to occupy the Esdraelon Plain. Meanwhile, during the Battle of Nablus the XX Corps attacked Nablus while Chaytor's Force held the right flank in the Jordan Valley before advancing to secure bridges and fords across the Jordan River, to continue the encirclement the defenders in the Judean Hills. Subsequently, Chaytor's Force advanced against the Fourth Army to capture Es Salt and Amman after the Second Battle of Amman.

Battle of Samakh

The Battle of Samakh was fought on 25 September 1918, during the Battle of Sharon which together with the Battle of Nablus formed the set piece Battle of Megiddo fought from 19 to 25 September 1918, in the last months of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. During the cavalry phase of the Battle of Sharon the Desert Mounted Corps commanded by the Australian Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel, captured the Esdraelon Plain 40–50 miles (64–80 km) behind the front line in the Judean Hills on 20 September, when the 3rd Light Horse Brigade captured Jenin. The 4th Light Horse Brigade, Australian Mounted Division was deployed guarding supply columns, and prisoners, before being ordered to attack and capture Samakh on the shore of the Sea of Gallilee. Here the Ottoman and German garrison had been ordered by the commander of the Yildirim Army Group to fight to the last man.

Capture of Jenin

The Capture of Jenin occurred on 20 September 1918, during the Battle of Sharon which together with the Battle of Nablus formed the set piece Battle of Megiddo fought between 19 and 25 September during the last months of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. During the cavalry phase of the Battle of Sharon carried out by the Desert Mounted Corps, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, Australian Mounted Division attacked and captured the town of Jenin located on the southern edge of the Esdraelon Plain 40–50 miles (64–80 km) behind the front line in the Judean Hills. The Australian light horse captured about 2,000 prisoners, the main supply base and the ordnance depot of the Seventh and the Eighth Armies in and near the town. They also cut the main road from Nablus and a further 6,000 Ottoman Empire and German Empire prisoners, were subsequently captured as they attempted to retreat away from the Judean Hills.

Capture of Tiberias (1918)

The Capture of Tiberias took place on 25 September 1918 during the Battle of Sharon which together with the Battle of Nablus formed the set piece Battle of Megiddo fought between 19 and 25 September in the last months of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. During the cavalry phase of the Battle of Sharon the Desert Mounted Corps occupied the Esdraelon Plain 40–50 miles (64–80 km) behind the front line in the Judean Hills. One squadron from each of the 3rd and 4th Light Horse Brigades Australian Mounted Division attacked and captured Tiberias, along with the Yildirim Army Group's Ottoman and German garrison.

Second Battle of Amman World War I battle

The Second Battle of Amman was fought on 25 September 1918 during the Third Transjordan attack as part of the Battle of Nablus which together with the main Battle of Sharon form the major set piece offensive known as the Battle of Megiddo of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I. After cutting the road from Nablus to Es Salt on 22 September Chaytor's Force captured the bridge over the Jordan River at Jisr ed Damieh while units of the Seventh Army and remnants of the Eighth Army were still in retreating towards the bridge from the Judean Hills. Having cut this line of retreat, Chaytor's Force proceeded eastwards to attack and capture Es Salt, before riding on to attack and capture the Ottoman rearguard of the Fourth Army defending Amman. These British Empire victories of the Third Transjordan attack over Yildirim Army Group forces, followed two unsuccessful EEF attacks across the Jordan River in March and April 1918.

Raid on Nekhl

The Raid on Nekhl was the second of three battles by British forces to recapture the Sinai Peninsula during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I. Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) mounted forces travelled into the centre of the Sinai Peninsula to attack and push the last Ottoman Army garrisons back into Palestine.

Stalemate in Southern Palestine

The Stalemate in Southern Palestine was a six month standoff between the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) and the Ottoman Army in World War I. The two hostile forces faced each other along the Gaza to Beersheba line during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, with neither side able to force its opponent to withdraw. The stalemate began in April 1917 with the defeat of the EEF by the Ottoman Army at the Second Battle of Gaza and lasted until the EEF offensive began with the Battle of Beersheba on 31 October 1917.

The Southern Palestine Offensive, employing manoeuvre warfare, began on 31 October 1917, with the Battle of Beersheba, during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, of World War I. After the capture of Beersheba, by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), the Gaza to Beersheba line became increasingly weakened and, seven days later, the EEF successfully forced the Ottoman Turkish Empire's Seventh and Eighth Armies to withdraw. During the following seven days of pursuit, the Turkish forces were pushed back to Jaffa. There followed three weeks of hard fighting in the Judean Hills before Jerusalem was captured on 9 December 1917. During five and a half weeks of almost continuous offensive operations, the EEF captured 47.5 miles (76.4 km) of territory.

Battle of Tel el Khuweilfe

The Battle of Tel el Khuweilfe, part of the Southern Palestine Offensive, began on 1 November 1917, the day after the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) victory at the Battle of Beersheba during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I. After the Stalemate in Southern Palestine a series of coordinated attacks were launched by British Empire units on the Ottoman Empire's German commanded Yildirim Army Group's front line, which stretched from Gaza inland to Beersheba. During fighting for the town, the road from Beersheba to Jerusalem via Hebron, was cut just north of the town in the southern spur of the Judean Hills. Here Ottoman units strongly defended the road and the Seventh Army headquarters at Hebron.

Charge at Sheria

The Charge at Sheria took place on 7 November 1917 during the Battle of Hareira and Sheria when the 11th and 12th Light Horse Regiments charged a Yildirim Army Group rearguard in support of an attack by the 60th (London) Division during the Southern Palestine Offensive of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I.

The Capture of Wadi el Hesi and the associated Sausage Ridge, began during the evening of 7 November 1917, was fiercely fought for during 8 November and not cleared until the early hours of 9 November, at the beginning of the pursuit phase of the Southern Palestine Offensive in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during World War I. The advancing British Empire units of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) were held by rearguard units of the withdrawing Ottoman Empire units of the Yildirim Army Group, holding a strategically strong position to the north of Gaza.

Raid on Bir el Hassana

The Raid on Bir el Hassana (Hasna) occurred in the Sinai Peninsula in February 1917, during World War I. It was a minor action between an augmented battalion of the Imperial Camel Corps on the one side and a score of Turkish troops plus some armed Bedouin on the other. The raid occasioned the first aeromedical evacuation in the British Army.

References

  1. Bruce 2002, p. 34
  2. Keogh 1955, p. 32
  3. Wavell 1968, p. 41
  4. Falls 1930 Vol. 1 pp. 69–204
  5. Falls 1930 Vol. 1 pp. 242–350
  6. Falls 1930 Vol. 1 pp. 351–372, Vol. 2 pp. 1–43
  7. Falls 1930 Vol. 2 pp. 44–647

Bibliography