Going for the jugular


As the Ottomans pushed on the vital Suez Canal for the third time, British and Dominion forces sprang a trap. However, disaster still threatened, writes Stuart Hadaway

In July 1916, German Colonel Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein set out across the Sinai. His objective was the Suez Canal, described by Kaiser Wilhelm II as “the jugular vein of the British Empire”. Following hard on the heels of victories at Gallipoli in December 1915 and Kut Al Amara in April 1916, severing this vital link would be a severe blow to British morale and prestige, and throw the Allied war machine into chaos.

Night and day, fresh Dominion troops flowed through the canal from the east, as did materials to feed the factories of Britain, France and Italy.

Kress von Kressenstein had already attempted to sever the canal the previous April, but, acting under intense pressure from High Command, that attack lacked preparation and numbers, grinding to a halt around the wells at Oghratina and Katia. The British suffered heavy casualties, but the blooded Ottomans withdrew.

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