• Si Biggs

Attack on Gebail Castle

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Byblos

Period/ Conflict: Egyptian–Ottoman War

Year: 1840

Date/s: 12th September 1840

he Oriental Crisis of 1840 was an episode in the Egyptian–Ottoman War in the eastern Mediterranean, triggered by the self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan Muhammad Ali Pasha's aims to establish a personal empire in the Ottoman province of Egypt.

HMS Dido and Carysfort were sent to Gebail to open communication with the Mountaineers of Mount Lebanon, but as the Albanian garrison was still holding the old Castle they did not meet with a very friendly reception.

The Commodore therefore reinforced them with HMS Cyclops on the 12th September, which brought four Companies of Marines (220) under Captain Robinson and 150 Mountaineers. Captain Robinson selected a beach to the South of the Castle as a landing place; under cover of the fire of the ships on the Castle and town, the troops were landed, but the fortifications could have defied the whole of the Mediterranean Fleet.

They however advanced up the slope, which was intersected by stone walls and dotted with trees, covered by the fire of the boats carronades. The Royal Marines in extended order took every advantage of cover and there was no serious opposition until they arrived within 30 yards of the Castle.

Byblos Castle is a Crusader castle in Byblos, Lebanon. In Crusader times it was known as the castle of Gibelet or Giblet, this may well be the old castle mentioned in the text

On crossing the last wall a fierce musketry fire broke out, particularly from some loopholes On the ground level; the Marines returned the fire, though Captain Robinson saw there was nothing to be done, but to retire to the cover of the walls, as there were no openings, gates or embrasures by which they could get in.

He therefore retired to the beach and by sunset they were on board their ships.

The RM lost 5 men killed, Lieutenant C W Adair and 16 men wounded. Lieutenant Gifford RN, who had accompanied them, was also wounded.

The Admiral approved of Captain Robinson's action, especially as during the night the Egyptian troops evacuated the Castle, which was occupied and became a very important post as it commanded the main road by which the enemy might advance from the north and was a convenient depot to convey arms to the Mountaineers.


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