NZEF in Egypt 1914-16 map

NZEF in Egypt 1914-16 map

You can also download a hi-res copy as a pdf (3 mbs).

In December 1914, the convoy carrying the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) steamed north through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. Men and horses disembarked at Alexandria and travelled by train to Cairo. Based at nearby Zeitoun Camp, they trained in the surrounding desert for operations against the Ottoman Empire that were expected to be fought in similar terrain.

The Ottoman attack on the Suez Canal that was launched across the Sinai Desert in February 1915 briefly reinforced this expectation. New Zealand soldiers saw their first combat of the war when they helped defend the Canal during this attack, the site of which is marked on the map with an orange cross. Private William Ham was severely wounded and became the NZEF’s first combat fatality.

The failure of the Ottoman Empire to succumb to the Anglo-French naval assault on the Dardanelles in February–March 1915 saw the New Zealanders join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, which was hastily cobbled together on the ill-conceived assumption that the Ottoman Army would fail to resolutely defend the Turkish homeland.

A number of hospitals and a convalescent home in Alexandra and Cairo served the needs of New Zealand soldiers evacuated from Gallipoli. These hospitals were disbanded in early 1916 once most of the NZEF left Egypt for the Western Front. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, however, moved to Moascar Camp, near the Suez Canal, to prepare for what was to be a tortuous advance north-east across the Sinai Desert during the Sinai Campaign.

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