Cameliers at the Battle of Magdhaba 1916

Cameliers at the Battle of Magdhaba 1916

Camel Corps at Magdhaba by H. Septimus Power (1926). 

This painting by Australian official war artist H. Septimus Power depicts the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade at the Battle of Magdhaba on 23 December 1916. The cameliers have reached their final assembly point and are about to dismount and go into action on foot. In the background explosions of British artillery fire fall on the five Turkish redoubts surrounding Magdhaba. The redoubts are being bombarded in support of the imminent ground assaults by the troopers of the Anzac Mounted Division and the cameliers of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade. 

This was the Brigade's baptism of fire as a complete unit, having only been formed four days earlier from a hodge-podge group of ad hoc camel battalions and independent camel companies. The cameliers succeeded in being the first of the attackers to capture one of the Turkish redoubts, taking 95 Turkish prisoners and suffering only light casualties in return, including 10 wounded - but no deaths - in No 15 (New Zealand) Company.

Harold Septimus Power was one of a number of official war artists appointed to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during the First World War. Born in Dunedin in 1877, his family emigrated to Australia when he was still a child. Power worked as an artist in Melbourne and Adelaide before moving to Paris in 1905 to attend the prestigious Académie Julian. He then moved to London, winning much renown (and patronage) for his work, until his appointment to the AIF in 1917. After the war Power returned to Melbourne where he continued to enjoy significant commercial success, and professional acclaim, for the rest of his career. He died in 1951.

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