Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 26th April to 2nd May 1916.

Kubri mess
© IWM (Q 57729) Officers of the 1/11th London Regiment outside their mess hut. El-Kubri, Suez Canal.

This passage charts the busy life at camp, while the troops were stationed at Kubri, along the Suez Canal. We see much coming and going of Captains and Lieutenants, as they lead Advance Parties, return from hospital or even head to England. In the photo above we can see the proximity of the mess hut to the Canal and can get a sense of the structures the soldiers were building and living in.

Date 26/4/16

Normal routine. Work during morning as previously. Captains Newton and Comber left the Battalion enroute for port of embarkation for England.

Date 27/4/16

Normal routine work on defences. Battalion on duty and provided numerous guards etc. Lieutenants A Rodgers returned from hospital. Lieutenant Doyle (RAMC) left Battn to report to the ADMS Shallufa for duty. 2nd Lieutenant BS Minty to hospital.

Date 29/4/16

Work on defences as usual: Lieutenant WS Leigh returned from hospital.

Date 30/4/16

Church parade under brigade arrangement. Battalion on duty and providing various guards etc. Lieutenant V Wigg returned from hospital. Order received that the Battalion would shortly remove to EL Sha. Lieutenant GM Willis returned to 54th Divisional Base. Details Depot as per instruction from 3rd echelon.

Date 1/5/16

Normal routine. Orders received for the Battalion to move to El Shatt for attachment to the 29th Indian Infantry Bde on 3rd inst.

Date 2/5/16

Striking camp and packing up generally. Advance party of 50 men under 2nd Lieutenant Windsor proceeded by Canal Launch with the heavy luggage. 5 men arrived from Base Detail Camp.

Explore the Glossary for an explanation of any unfamiliar terms.

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 19th April to 25th April 1916.

In this post, the Diary records a visit from HRH Edward Prince of Wales on Easter Sunday, which was marked with concerts and sports.

Concert Dec 1916 Ashton Post
© IWM (Q 57742) Finsbury Rifles dressed for a Christmas Concert, at Ashton Post along the Suez Canal, in 1916.  
HRH P of Wales at Spinx
HRH Edward Prince of Wales at Sphinx Post, Egypt. Powles family: Photographs. Ref: PA1-q-604-32-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22475405

The Prince of Wales was unable to serve on the front line, due to his position as the heir to the throne. However, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, and played an important role in terms of morale and ceremonial visits.

Date 19/4/16

Digging commenced on new sentry posts. Remainder of battalion less specialist on work as previous day.

Date 20/4/16

Normal routine. Work continued on defence.

Date 21/4/16

Good Friday. Church parade.

Date 22/4/16

Normal routine. Work during morning as previously.

Date 23/4/16

Easter Sunday. Church parade. Lieutenant A Rodgers to hospital. Lieutenant J A Stanbrook reported from 54 Division Details Camp.

Date 24/4/16

Easter Monday. Battalion Sports and Concert. HRH Prince of Wales passed through lines on return from Outer Defences.

Date 25/4/16

Normal routine. Work continued on defences.

Explore our Glossary to learn more about any unfamiliar terms.

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 12th April to 18th April 1916.

In this passage, the Finsbury Rifles move to Kubri, further along the Suez Canal. We see how the Canal is used to transport supplies while the Battalion marches at 5.30 am, following the procedure practised on their Route Marches. 

Classes are held, once the new camp is sufficiently established, and work begins on new inter-canal defences and sentry posts

Joe Guthrie’s oral history, held at the Imperial War Museum, provides a personal interpretation of this period of the Finsbury Rifles’ journey, and reminds us of how much time was spent in preparing, training and waiting. He tells us that they ‘crossed the canal and dug in’ at ‘several places along the canal‘. The interviewer asks about the Canal, compared to Guthrie’s experiences at Gallipoli, stating that it would have been much quieter. Guthrie agrees saying: 

‘Oh yes, the Turks hadn’t got down to that. They never got to the canal. We didn’t meet them until further up….We had nothing to do with them until we got to Gaza you see…’

Date 12 to 13/4/16

Normal camp routines. 2nd Lieut Leigh to hospital

Date 14/4/16

Camp struck after reveille and bulk of tents and stores sent by boat to Kubri under escort of 2 officers and 38 other ranks. 5 men arrive from Base Details Camp. 2nd Lieutenant LJ Selby to hospital.

Location KUBRI

Date 15/4/16

Battalion paraded at 5.30am and proceeded by route march to KUBRI arriving at 9am. Balance of tents and stores sent by boat under guard of RGM Sgt and 20 men. Day spent in preparing and pitching new camp.

Date 16/4/16

Church parade under brigade arrangements. Battalion on duty and provided numerous guards and fatigues. New camp completed and 2nd Lieutenant V Wigg to Hospital.

Date 17/4/16

Normal camp routine. Parades and specialist classes as usual.

Date 18/4/16

Normal camp routine. Work commenced on inter-canal defences. 100 men employed on Brigade bombing ground. Sites chosen for new outlying sentry posts. I officer (RAMC) and 4 other ranks arrive from Base Details Camp.

Explore our Glossary to learn more about any unfamiliar terms.

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 5th April to 11th April 1916.

The Battalion moves to Shallufa on the Southern side of the Suez Canal. This is the beginning of a period in which the Rifles will work on inter-canal defences in various camps around the Canal. 

The Suez Canal was part of a vital supply route between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and thus considered strategically critical for the British Empire and the Allied armies. 

Turkish forces were expected to attack from the East, and a key inter-canal defence duty involved sweeping the sand bordering the canal smooth and inspecting it daily to see if advance raiders had left footprints in the night. 

tents 1916 along suez canal.jpg
© IWM (Q 57727) An example of the 1/11th’s Suez Canal Defences camp lines at Ashton Post, 1916.

Date 5/4/16

Morning spent in cleaning up camp. At 5pm balance of battalion paraded and proceeded by route march to ABU EL ELA station where entrained for SHALLUFA.


Date 6/4/16

Arrived SHALLUFA 6am and crossed SUEZ CANAL to camp at SHALLUFA EAST. Day spent in pitching camp and settling down generally.

Date 7 to 8/4/16

Normal camp routine

Date 9/4/16

Normal camp routine. Battalion working on inter-canal defences.

Date 10/4/16

Normal camp routine.

Date 11/4/16

Normal camp routine. Orders received that  Battalion would shortly move to Kubri. Lieut H Radleff and 17 other ranks arrive from Base Details Camp.

Explore the Glossary to learn more about unfamiliar terms. 

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 29th March to the 4th April.

The Battalion prepares to move to Shallufa. 

Date 29/3/16

Normal camp routine. Order received that battalion would shortly proceed to SHALLUFA and an advance party under 2nd Lieut HL WINDSOR sent ahead.

Date 30 to 31/3/16

Normal camp routines.

Date 1/4/16

Normal camp routine.

Date 2 to 3/4/16

Normal camp routine.

Date 4/4/16

Normal camp routine. 5 officers and 200 other ranks proceed to SHALLUFA.

Explore our Glossary to find out about unfamiliar terms. 

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 28th February to 28th March.

This post takes us from the end of February into March. This passage covers more than our usual week in the War Diary, as the diary itself lumps numerous days together. This reminds us of the often repetitious nature of  camp routine, when a Regiment was not facing battle.

Within this period we see lots of arrivals being drafted in from the 3rd line unit. The 3/11 London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles) was formed after the outbreak of war and supplied trained soldiers to the first line Battalion and second line Battalions  to replace losses.

WW1 Finsbury Rifles NCOs (1915)
© Darren O’Brien. The 3/11th London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles)

Date 28 to 29/2/16

Normal camp routine. 17 men arrive from Base Details Camp.

Date 1 to 15/3/16

Normal camp routine. Parades inspections etc

Date 16/3/16

Normal camp routine. Arrival of 2nd Lieutenant A RODGERS and 271 other ranks being draft from 3rd line unit.

Date 19 to 28/3/16

Normal camp routine.

Please explore the Glossary for an explanation of any unfamiliar terms.

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 17th February to 22nd February 1916.

Still stationed at Mena, we see that the Regiment have opened a Miniature Range for firing practice, at the camp. We also see more evidence of the ebb and flow of different Ranks leaving and returning to duty.

Date 17 to 19/2/16

Normal Camp Routine. Lt. and T.A. Tutin returns to duty. Miniature range opened.

Date 20 to 21/2/16

Normal camp duty

Date 22/2/16

Normal camp duty. Capt FW Clark and Lieut Leigh return to duty. Firing continued on miniature range (also 11 other ranks arrive from Base Details Camp).

For more information on various terms, please explore the Glossary.

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 10th February to 16th February 1916.

While stationed at Mena, soldiers underwent training. In this passage we can see that various ranks were sent to develop different skills, including an Officer’s Riding School.

Officers rode alongside their men on route marches (although Lieutenant Harding mentioned that he sometimes marched on foot) and so needed to know how to ride a horse competently. While many would be skilled due to their lives pre-war, horse riding being a common mode of transport, some required training.

Q57855 officers of 1 .11 on horseback
 © IWM (Q 57855). Officers of 162 Brigade, 54 (East Anglian Division) on horseback, Feb 1917. Lt Harding, 1/11 London Regiment 3rd from the left.

Date 10/2/16

Brigade Route March. Battalion on duty.

Date 11/2/16

Brigade Field day. Lieut Leigh to hospital.

Date 12/2/16

Normal Camp Routine. 1 Officer and 2 N.C.O.s to ZEITOUN for Bombing Course.

Date 13/2/16

Church Parade. 4 Signalling N.C.O.s detailed to attend Course with RE.

Date 14/2/16

Brigade Route March. Battalion on duty. Lecture to Officers by G.O.C. 54th division during afternoon.

Date 15/2/16

Normal Routine. 2 Officers and 20 other ranks detailed to attend course of instruction in transport work with Divisional Artillery.

Date 16/2/16

Normal Camp Routine. 6 Officers attend riding school with Divisional Artillery.

Please explore the Glossary to learn more about unfamiliar terms.



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