Finsbury Rifles

Away from the Western Front: 4th – 9th March 1917.

From El Arish to El Burj

Q57887 no 9 post right flank of El Arish.
No 9 post on the right flank of El Arish. It was here that the C R E* expected the troops to dig trenches in the shifting sands at an angle of 30 degrees.  © IWM(Q 57887)


The Ottoman garrison at El Arish had been based in the old Napoleonic fort by the town but this had been severely damaged by shelling from the Royal Navy anchored off the Mediterranean coast. The new military camp was outside the town and would grow to include a supply base, an infantry garrison and  a general hospital. A new defence system was being constructed around this camp at the time that the 54th (East Anglian) Division were there. Of course, the usual challenges of digging in the desert sand still applied.  Lt -Col Byrne’s comment on this picture hints at some disagreement with the orders of the Royal Engineers who were in charge of such infrastructure projects. The war diary, however, gives no information as to whether the Finsbury Rifles or any other unit did manage to dig trenches successfully at this position.

Date: 4/3/17

Work on defences for ½ Batt. Remainders Backing.

Date: 5.3.17

Work on defences for ½ Batt.2 Companies Training.

Date: 6/3/17

Work on defences for ½ Batt. 2 Companies Orders received for move to El Burj. Work on defences stopped.

Date 7/3/17

Batt. Engaged Striking Camp + preparing for Move forward.

Date 8/3/17

Batt. Parade 7.45 + proceeded by Route March to El Burj arrived

Location: EL BURJ

Date: 9/3/17

Batt. Engaged digging dugouts + generally settling down.

Q57750 Lt-Cl John brown and Capt WS Hammond in ruined fort destroyed by British gunboats
Lt. Col. John Brown (1/4 Northants)  and Captain W.S. Hammond, in a ruined fort which had been destroyed by British gunboats at El Arish.© IWM (Q57750)






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