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Egypt and Sinai from Cram's 1896 Railway Map of the Turkish Empire.

Egypt and Sinai from Cram's 1896 Railway Map of the Turkish Empire.

Image text

Egypt, Penisula of Sinai, Red [Sea], Nubia, Nubain Es Soudan, Gulf of Suez, Suez Canal, Suez

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Saturday, March 3, 1917

"Having spent two days watching the line, and having decided that demolitions further south had clearly been ineffective, since trains were running in both directions more or less daily Newcombe opted for a three-pronged attack on the station. His guide, the young and well-respected Sharif Nasir, hoped that the attack would help persuade the numerous Arabs the Ottomans employed on the railway to desert. The Turks repelled the Arabs' direct assault on the station on 3 March, but demolitions on both sides of the station destroyed at least a mile of track and isolated one of the working parties. Reports that the Turks did not trust their mostly Arab railway workmen proved correct. The captives from this raid, reported Newcombe, were '8 most delighted prisoners.'"

Quotation Context

On February 20, 1917, British Officer Herbert Garland and his guide Abdel Kerim conducted the first successful raid on the Turkish railway in Hejaz on the Red Sea coast of Arabia, derailing and destroying the irreplaceable locomotive. The railway line was well-constructed, well-guarded, and had few bridges. The raids focused on destroying the locomotives, which were irreplaceable during the war. The raid by Stewart Newcombe and Sharif Nasir showed the Turkish railway was vulnerable on multiple fronts.


Setting the Desert on Fire by James Barr, pp. 115–116, copyright © 2008, 2006 by James Barr, publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., publication date: 2009


1917-03-03, 1917, March, Arab, Arabia, railway, railway demolition, Red Sea