sinai coast

August 5, 1916 - Final Assault on the Suez Canal

Pictured - Soldiers from the Black Watch man a position alongside the Egyptian canal.

A Turkish attack on the Suez Canal failed in 1915, but in August 1916 the Central Powers tried a second time to capture the vital waterway that linked Britain to its far-eastern colonies and Dominions.  Reinforced and strengthened by German officers, elements of the Turkish Fourth and Eighth Armies advanced into the Sinai against the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force, which had been organized to defeat them.

German General der Infanterie Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein lead the attack, commanding 20,000 Ottoman, German, and Austrian troops as well as a squadron of German airplanes, which bombed British positions from Port Said to Cairo.   In early August Kressenstein hit the British at Rumani on the Sinai coast.

The battle developed into a pitched infantry and cavalry battle.  It culminated with the British and Anzac light horse making a number of charges with sabres that swept enemy infantry off a series of ridges.  By nightfall Kressentein’s army was withdrawing, having lost over a thousand men killed or wounded and 4,000 taken prisoner.  The Central Powers force fell back with almost all of its artillery however, with the British in pursuit.