100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Ottoman Forces Attack The Suez Canal

Egypt is officially part of the Ottoman Empire but has been under British rule since 1882 when Britain took over the control of the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal was a lifeline to British dominions in the east. Since the start of the European War, the British commander in Egypt has had 70,000 troops at his disposal and spread out 30,000 along the length of the canal as well as a number of French and British airplanes and a small naval squadron. The main British defenses are on the western bank, with a few fortified posts on the eastern bank.

Last month, the Ottoman Army decided to launch an expedition towards the Suez Canal. Marching with only 20,000, the Ottoman force had to cross the Sinai desert. Their plans were unclear as what they would do when the reached the canal and they were essentially out-numbered by more than three to one. 15,000 took the central route across the desert. The remaining 5,000 troops were sent along the northern and southern coastal routes. By February 1 the main force of 15,000 men was close to the canal but by then any hope of surprise was gone. British and French aircraft had then located the main force. The attack was to be made towards Ismailia in the middle of the canal.

On February 3, 1915 the Ottoman forces attacked and came under heavy fire as they attempted to cross over the canal. Only a handful of men made it across and they were quickly killed or captured. A series of attacks followed, but were no more successful.



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