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GATES OF EGYPT., Issue 15702, 16 January 1915
GATES OF EGYPT.
FEATURES OF THE SINAI PENINSULA. DOUBLE DESERT ROUTE. THE ARRAY OF COLONIAL FORCES, AND 'WHY. ['By A. Spence.]
Horn palm?, miles on miles of sand, a chance well bore, and there, two main caravan routes, the canal to defend, and onr own X’ew Zealand boys there to achieve part, of tho defence—something like that is the picture which one, draws of tho gales of Egypt. Tho Sinai Peninsula. where Moses brought the Tables of the Law to man, is holy. reverend ground, and it seems like sacrilege to endeavor to reduce it. to terms of war. But, it is the, day of war, and we have to look. The frontier running from Bafa to the head of the Gulf of Akaba is sketched. It is more than 100 miles from the canal, and between it and the border thee stretches what is known as the Desert of the 'Wandering. Unheard-of spots such as Kalaa.t-en-X’a.kl mav become—-indeed, will become --important, for Xakl is what may he called the, capital of the, Sinai region. It is the- central point on the southern caravan route leading in from Fort Akaha to Rue/,. This route does not lead in so much ae it leads out. It is the first halting point for the swarm,s of pilgrims who assemble in Cairo at times for (he devotional ambition of seeing Mecca. Tho Moslem direction has evidently seen to it that, these, pilgrims shall not want for water, for the place has .immense reservoirs, always full when the pilgrim caravans approach, and thousands can gel their water at one tune. According to a recent description of the place given by the, London ' Times.' the lan.d round Xakl is sown with barley and maize in winter—it is winter non in ! Egypt—and these crops, though less. Ilian - the poorer classes of land in Xt-w Zealand I would produce, serve to feed a «umber of
unspeci tied commands of Basili-Baz.ouk.-. Bedouiiui. and ilunr wives am! families. It nmv haw been no mo oi these who crossed the frontier on November 8. or it rnav have, been none of them, but there was a calm' wiuvh sea! they did ohiss. it so, these nondescripts may presently hr,vo an opportunity of looking into the rule, barrel of the. New Zen lander, who, with many defects in many wavs, is certainly not without Ido clement of grandeur.
Wo must, 1 think, take it that both Nakl ami .Fort Akaba ate first cousins to tho reality of tins war .in Sinai. This, is evidenced by the rapidity with which Gaptain P. 11. Warkdgh, of the .Minerva-, proceeded to shell. Port Akaba as .-.non as it was known what cards Turkey was prepared to play. Captain Waiieigh blew out. a, good deal of wireless, and also knocked down barracks, forts, and stores. Akaba was undoubtedly to he the springheard otf which the, enemy would jump, in a flanking way, on the great Red Pea trade. Gan tain Warleigh, taking kite •usual mine risk, interposed a word that counted. Distinct from tho Aka.ha-Nakl route, and fur notth of it, is the track which travels from Palestine along thy ehoics <n the .Mediterranean Sea towards the gates of Egypt. It runs from Jerusalem through Hebron (where the last Turkish concentration was reported) to the Biblical spot Beersheba. Here forces can bo split north or eolith —towards Akaba or towards the .Mediterranean—-as the commanders may wish, but there has been a hint iu the cables that tho Tnrco-Gormau control does not like the northern route along the coast. This runs past Ga.za, Rafa, ami the old mud forts of Eli Arish, and then to Ron Said or FI Kanbara, on the canal. It has been said that they fear that an advance this way will be caught on tho Hank from the sea, Recently we heard that a railway offshoot from" tho Daiuaccus-Meeca line was being begun at Maun, two days’ walk south of the Dead Sea- There may he .much in this. The possibilities of light lines arc endless, and German insight ami thoroughness will not discard that idea, if there is. anything in it. It is, however, wonderful what ivc have heard, ami perhaps it would he more wonderful slid if we could glimpse, what wc have not heard. Wo have, certainly been told of a good many commanders — Zakki Pasha, J/.zet Pasha, Djemal Pasha, a German, and some others. The name of Zakki Pasha, is not to be found in any Army List that I know of, but the reference mar he to Zeki Pasha, formerly commanding tho Ist Corps of the Turkish Army. Djemal Pasha has, a« we know, been" found dead in a lodging-house in Jerusalem, but, like someone iu one of Gilbert’s operas, ho may bob up serenely by and hy. His demise will probably turn out to belike the- rejjorted German evacuation of Lille, which was one of the tion of the fortress of Lille, wliich was one of the absurdcst of stories, and something like the paltry noise of the French reverse at Soissons, of which we have heard so much tn-day. Flanking movements on the Turks from the sea. constitute one of those things which look easy on paper. Very different, however, when you come to do it. The London ‘ Times ’ has lately sot out some of the difficulties under the headline “ The Sirbonian Bog.” The section of the Mediterranean coast which flanks tho road from El Arish to Port Said (recently inundated), El Kanbara, and other points on the canal is low and dangerous, offering few facilities for a disembarkation. In many places the five-fathom line is nearly seven miles off the coast. Sandbanks are, . numerous, and the shores are almost dead
Iho fhealre on which New Zealanders may engage. The principal cables so far have read as follows October 29.-- First oven arts of war bv Turkey. November 1. -The A rah General Zakki Paslia. commands in Palestine. November 1.-—Germany advances a war loan of £10,(100.000 to tile. Turks. November 9. -Turkish Moslems are being taught to shout ‘'Long live. Hadji M.o]ia mined Wilhelm.” November 10.--The garrison of Cain; parade in force.
November 10. -Slated that forces crossed the Egyptian frontier on Sunday, .November 8. November 18. The ‘Berliner Tagchlatt’ fears that, an attack on the Suez Canal will be difficult. November 19.—The Shcik-ul-Islam proda inis a holy war. November 22.—.More Bedouins cross the f rentier. November 23.—Captain (.'hope's camel corps suffers. .November 26. I Bernal Pasha designal ed for the chief command in Palestine and Sinai. The porte in forms Italy that, there will be no interference, with the canal. November 28.—Izzet Pasha reported as marching towards the canal with 76,000 troops. December 4.—Survey of Sinia, Peninsula begun hy British aeroplanes. First new;; of a. railway from Ahum south of the Dead Sea. December 4.—Australians in London much amused by the “.secrecy” of movement, of Australasian troops to the canal. Deccniher 7.—The arrival of the .Australasian troops creates a “ profound sensation “ in Cairo. December 11 First news of the. removal of the Khedive Abbas liclmi, December 14. Germans ted, a bridging appr.ra.tu-. on Lake Tiberias.
December 15. -Report of heavy conceit tint ion ai Damascus.
December 16.—Tho Cairo correspondent of the London ‘Times’ is convinced that tho Turks are no match for the situation. How they will crofs, the desert is not dear.
December 21. “The Turks have evacuated the Sinai peninsula.” January 1. —A missionary at Jerusalem says that the concentration there is active. There are 30,000 rank and file and 3,000 German officers.
January 1. —Djemal Pasha alleged to have Been found dead in his room at Jerusalem. January 1. —Tho ‘Trihuna’ (Romo) thinks that a Turkish attack on the Suez Canal is beyond the hounds of possibility. January 9.—General Von Falkenborg is to command. January 10.—The Turkish army in ■Syria, has been equipped with 15,000 camels. January 10.—Germane have considerably stiffened the Turkish forces. Them are 12,000 Germans in one corps.
From thifi confusion it is evident that the news agencies have not fathomed what v.ill or will not 'happen in the Sinai Peninsula.
i flat, presenting no points on which art'!- ; levy may fasten. j Lagoons abound also. Off one point of I importance, not far from E! Arish, a long ; strip of reef-like sand separates tin- waste | of Lake Sirbon from the sea. and const i- ; lutes the Sirbonian Bog. This lagoon is | from two to six miles broad. It cuds 17 ; miles west of FJ Arish. ‘The Times’ i puts the military position thus;--Lake Sirhon and the shallowness of ' the bay of Peleisimn partially cover the ■ sea flank of an army traversing (he ! desert, and only in the vicinity of El Arish, where the water is deeper, can a naval force effect anything serious until the canal is reached, and in the I canal only by siiips with guns mounted : on sufficient heights to lire over the hanks, i -It >s all very complex. Fathers, mothers, i and sisters of onr Xcw Zealand boys will I perhaps realise that these fine boys have j not gone to (he front for nothing. We [ have, indeed, a cable to-day stating that ; British military authorities consider that j tin attack on Egypt, if made at all, cannot ! now he long deferred ; the Germans are ; likely to hi ing a large force against Egypt, : Mini more to that effect. Well, F suppose I the hoys will look at them on this trouble- ! j some , terrain very cheerfully when they i : come, and burn some straight powder too. i Mention of these, capital hoys, now I tinder General (todloy— -as excellent a, (ac-! t.ician ,rs anyone could desire—reminds me j ; that letters arc now beginning to come j j along from some of them. They write, ] , breezily. Here is one which I have oh- i : taiiied authorisation to publish. The i young Xcw Zealand .soldier writes to his! i mother in Dunedin in something like the j ; Milan- style, with hj (.'War was fond of:— j j Dear Mater. —With reference to inv- J ’ self, the squadron, and the, horses: I,
ton well, we are well, thev are w dl. God bless the (iensor! There is nobility behind this breezy expression of good cheer in a situation which may he trying enough in the Sinai Peninsula. before everything is over. Broadly surveyed the Sinai Peninsula is a. triangular tableland measuring 2CC) miles troni its Mediterranean base to its Red S’ca, base at Ibis .Mohammed, and 150 miles across from Suez to Akaba. The ultimate altitude near the Desert of the Wandering js about 8.500 ft. This. then, is
GATES OF EGYPT., Issue 15702, 16 January 1915
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