Suez Canal | 03 Feb 1915

This is the critical day in this first fight over the Suez Canal. On a brightly moonlit night, the Ottomans are coming in force.

Tussum

First sight of them is near Tussum, a couple of hours before sunrise, toting rafts and pontoon bridges. They quickly come under heavy fire, and although three companies manage to land on the far side of the canal, they’re without support. After an hour’s sharp fighting, they’re all either dead or captured.

The Tussum post itself is faced with a heavy attack at dawn, supported by light artillery. It’s answered mostly by the ships in the canal. With the British Empire defensive positions almost entirely intact after the earlier failures, the Ottomans are on something of a hiding to nothing. By mid-afternoon, they’re being counter-attacked, and soon after they’re advancing quickly to the rear.

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Ismailia

Meanwhile, to the south, Ottoman infantry has stopped well short of the canal. They’ve taken up defensive positions to protect a large helping of field artillery and a heavy howitzer battery. They spend the early morning making life extremely uncomfortable for the British craft on the canal. However, after three hours of fighting, the howitzers have been located, and they’re soon silenced by counter-battery fire.

As this is going on, another Ottoman detachment attempts to cross the canal, but is headed off by the Bikaner Camel Corps. Again, by mid-afternoon, the fighting is beginning to tail off. By the evening it’s obvious that the fighting at Tussum has also ended unfavourably for the attackers, and the Ottomans make a voluntary withdrawal back to their camp.

Kenneth Best

Best spends the day shuttling himself between Ismailia and an advance post at El Ferdan. He doesn’t see too much, and El Ferdan is quiet enough at lunchtime for him to hold a service.

After lunch I held Holy Communion in the Sergeants’ tent. 10 present. The service was very reverent, though tent was lowered so that I could not stand upright, and the men knelt throughout. Outside a regular gale was blowing. I then got onto Brown’s horse and rode back, blinded by sand. I almost fell off, clutching to bag in one hand and reins in the other.

Chilembwe Uprising

About 30 of John Chilembwe’s followers will escape Nyasaland across the border into Mozambique. Chilembwe himself is not one of them. He’s made it to within 20 miles of the border, but a police patrol spots him near Mulanje. He refuses to come quietly and is shot dead in the ensuing chase, putting a full stop to his uprising.

Actions in Progress

Siege of Przemysl
Chilembwe Uprising
Attack on the Suez Canal

Further Reading

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

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