Page 100 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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February at Shallufah, a few miles north of Suez, gradually pushing
[ST / 5 TH ,
posts out to a final distance of seven miles east of the canal at the
end of two months. The posts were given names which make clear
their origins-such as "Bury Post," "Salford Post" and "Wigan
1ST/ 8TH
Post." The work was carried out under difficult conditions, for the
B :-.s .
fine sand was not easy to hold in position and the weather was often
oppressively hot . In March the first issue of a few Lewis guns was
received; they were tried out at the end of the month and found
"very satisfactory." In that month and in April the brigade was in
camp in the desert two miles north-west of Suez and carried out
training. During a signal scheme in April, three men of the 1st/5th
died of exhaustion and heat; another signal and scouts scheme had
to be abandoned in May as the men were suffering from heat and
lack of water in the Ataka Hills. The 1st/7th and 1st/8th Battalions
were sent to El Kubri and Shallufah at the end of May to help a new
division speed up its share of the defences: in spite of great heat, the
Lancashire men did more work than the new arrivals from East
Anglia and London. At the end of June all four battalions moved
north to the central sector of the canal. The date chosen coincided
with a
(dust storm) which made striking camp and,
indeed, the whole operation very difficult. The 1st/5th and 1st/6th
took over defences at "Ballybunion," a post in the desert about six
miles east of the canal, while the 1st/7th and 1st/8th became
responsible for the defence of the Kantara bridgehead.
The 9th Battalion moved to Minden Camp, six miles east-by-
south of El Ferdan, towards the end of February, 1916, and did its
share of training and of work on the defences of the railhead at that
place. In June it moved to the Kantara sector; and at the begin-
ning of July it sailed for France.
1st/5th, 1st/6th, 1st/7th and 1st/8th Battalions
At the end of July, 1916, a large Turkish force, led by German
officers, was reported to be advancing, with astonishing speed in
view of the difficulties of the Sinai Desert, from El Arish westwards
with the intention of invading Egypt. A mobile column was there–
upon formed for operations east of the line of fortified posts covering
the Suez Canal so as to deal with this threat before it approached
any vital point. Camels were collected for stores, ammunition,
water, and the like. Kits were reduced to a minimum. The 125th
IST ' 5 TH ,
(Lancashire Fusiliers) Infantry Brigade formed part of this column
and moved hurriedly to the north of Kantara in the last week in
July. Unfit men were withdrawn from it
from one battalion)
I s~/8TH
and formed temporarily into a composite unit for canal defence.
On 4th and 5th August, 1916, there was fought the "Battle of