Finsbury Rifles War Diary: Egypt, Palestine and Syria

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front: 15th January to 21st January

Date: 15/1/16

Staff Ride for mounted Officers. Battalion on duty. Routine as usual.

Date: 16/1/16

Church parade. Routine as usual. 1 man to hospital.

Date: 17/1/16

Normal Camp Routine. Battalion on duty.

Date: 18/1/16

Orders received that battn would return to SIDI BISHR following day. Advance party sent over to DAMAN HOUR

Location: SIDI BISHR

Date: 19/1/16

Battalion entrained at 10 am and proceeded to SIDI GABER marching from there to SIDI BISHR camp. Lt. Moreton returned from hospital.

Date: 20/1/16

Normal camp routine. Lt. Sandercock and 14 other Ranks rejoined from Base Detail Camp together with 2nd Lieutenants Barry and Selby from 3rd Battalion. 2nd Lieut. Radloff  to hospital.

Date: 21/1/16

Normal camp routines.

Explore the Glossary to discover any unfamiliar terms.

Finsbury Rifles War Diary: Egypt, Palestine and Syria

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front: 8th January to 14th January 1916

This portion of the diary illuminates the routine and repetition which defined much of the soldiers’ experience.

The 1/11th London Regiment was not operating in isolation but belonged to the 162nd Brigade, itself part of the larger 54th (East Anglian) Division. Many of the military exercises and duties mentioned in the battalion diary such as route marches,  working parties and guard duties were carried out alongside or taking turns with the other battalions in the brigade; the 1/10 (Hackney) London Regiment, the 1/4 Northamptonshire Regiment and the 1/5 Bedfordshire. All were Territorial units.


Date: 8/1/16

Brigade Route March. Battalion on duty.

Date: 9/1/16

Church parade at 11am under Brigade arrangements. Lieutenant Monckton and 3 men to hospital.

Date: 10/1/16

Brigade Route March.

Date: 11/1/16

Battalion on duty.

Date: 12 to 13/1/16

Normal Camp Routine. 2 men to hospital.

Date: 14/1/16

Brigade Route March. Routine as usual.

Explore the Glossary to learn more about some of the terms used, including Route March.

Finsbury Rifles War Diary: Egypt, Palestine and Syria

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front: 1st January to 7th January 1916

In this passage we learn about how the Battalion established their camp at Sidi Bishr, including building trenches in the sand.

Although taken at a later point in the year, when the Regiment was located at Ashton Post along the Suez Canal, the image below illustrates some of the challenges facing soldiers building trenches in desert conditions, including shifting sands. We also learn about the diverse weather conditions facing the men and how these impacted daily life at camp.

image of trench reparing.jpg
© IWM (Q 57749)  Image shows a Fatigue Party from the 1/11th London Regiment repairing a trench which had given way.


Date: 1/1/16

Routine parades and inspection in camp. Surroundings inspected by Brigade Commander and Commanding Officers and defence scheme settled.

Date: 2/1/16

Church parade at 11 am and Brigade arrangements. Battalion duty and provided all guards and duties. Nil report from patrol.

Date: 3/1/16

Violent rainstorm all day, all parades cancelled and start on defence works postponed. Nil to hospital.

Date: 4/1/16

Weather still bad parades under standing orders. In afternoon work commenced on trenches around camp. 5 officers from 3/11th London reported for duty.

Date: 5/1/16

Battalion route march routine as usual. Battalion on Brigade duty. 2 officers temporarily attached 1/10 London returned to duty. 2 men to hospital.

Date: 6 to 7/1/16

Normal camp routine.

Remember to explore our Glossary to find out what any unfamiliar terms mean!

Finsbury Rifles War Diary: Egypt, Palestine and Syria

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front: 19th December to 31st December 1915

Having arrived in Egypt, from the Gallipoli campaign, the Rifles pitched camp in Sidi Bishr, a large camp near to Alexandria.

While the Diary does not log a delousing and cleaning session on arrival in Egypt, Joe Guthrie, Machine Gun Sargent for the Finsbury Rifles, recalls his experiences on arrival in his Oral History recording at the Imperial War Museum:

‘Yes went to the Suez. We gave up Gallipoli and the boat landed at Alexandria where we went into Egypt. We was deloused and we needed it! Very funny, the chap when we got to Alexandria…the RMC Corporal, he was like ‘Come on boys come and have a nice hot bath!’ and we had to take all our clothes off, chuck ‘em down, get rid of them, and then with no clothes on at all then we went up to this bloke and he’d shove a bucket cold carbolic over us and into the next tent you’d put clean clothes on new clothes on that’s the way they did it. Cor blimey it was yes…And that was when we started our Egyptian career. Mena camp, that’s where we went from there.’ 


Location: SIDI BISHR

Date: 19/12/15

Day spent in re-pitching camp.

Date: 20/12/15

From the 20th of this date Battalion on duty responsible for Brigade fatigues and policing of camp. Parade during morning. Commanding Officer inspection of tents.

Date: 21/12/15 to 27/12/15

From week 20th to this date Battalion engaged on routine parades, fatigues etc. Lt. H. G. Sandercock to hospital with jaundice. 23.12.15 two officers and 79 other ranks rejoined unit from 54th Division Base Details Camp.

Date: 28/12/15

Received detailed orders from BHQ for moving to HOSH ISA on 30th. Camp routine parade as usual.

Date: 29/12/15

Battalion baggage. 17 Bell Tents and one EP Tent dispatched to HOSH ISA with exception of Officers’ valises. 1 N.C.O. (Sergeant) and 12 men rejoined Battalion from 54th Division Base Detail Camp. Routine as before.

Date: 30/12/15

Battalion entrained at SIDI GABER station from HOSA ISA. A, B and C Corps* entrained at 0920 and arrived HOSA ISA at midday. D Corp entrained at 12-20 and arrived at HOSA ISA at 1700. Battalion on duty responsible for protection of Camp during night. Numerous guard piquets provided.

Location: HOSH ISA

Date: 31/12/15

Day spent in re-pitching camp. Day and night uneventful. News received that 5 officers from 3/11th Battalion stationed at Ismalia would join Battalion at once.


* for a comprehensive description of Battalions and Companies, please explore excellent resource The Long Long Trail, and remember you  can use our glossary to demystify any new terms!