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Royal Marines Camel Corps - Battle of Abu Klea

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines Location: Sudan Period/ Conflict: Sudanese War Year: 1885 Date/s: 17th January 1885

Two of the Camel Corps’ regiments were formed from the cavalry: The Heavy Regiment from the Household Cavalry, the Dragoon Guards, the Dragoons and Lancers: The Light Regiment from the Hussars.

Camel Corps and 19th Hussars crossing the desert: Battle of Abu Klea fought on 17th January 1885 in the Sudanese War: picture by Orlando Norie

The Guards Regiment of the Camel Corps was formed from the Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Guards, with Royal Marine Light Infantry and the Mounted Infantry Regiment from line infantry regiments already in Egypt.

The Battle of Abu Klea, or the Battle of Abu Tulayh took place between the dates of 16 and 18 January 1885, at Abu Klea, Sudan, between the British Desert Column and Mahdist forces encamped near Abu Klea.

The Desert Column, a force of approximately 1,400 soldiers, started from Korti, Sudan on 30 December 1884; the Desert Column's mission, in a joint effort titled "The Gordon Relief Expedition", was to march across the Bayuda Desert to the aid of General Charles George Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan, who was besieged there by Mahdist forces.

…. ‘the sand of the desert is sodden red, red with the wreck of the square that broke; the Gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead and the regiment blind with dust and smoke…….’Play up! Play up! And play the game!’
Sir Henry Newbolt’s poem ‘Vitai Lampada’;

9 Royal Marines were killed on the 17th January.

Private Arnold - 25th Company, Royal Marines:

Private Burney - Naval Brigade

Corporal Carey 37th Company, Royal Marines;

Private Holland - 21st Coy. Royal Marines:

Private Meade - 41st Coy, Royal Marines Light Infantry:

Private Mitchell - 24th Coy. Royal Marines Light Infantry:

Private Nye - Naval Brigade

Private Walter - Guards Camel Regiment (Marines) Service number 4:

Private Lucking. - RMLI probably Guards Camel Regiment (Marines) Service number 16.

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