Back in the desert this week and the further trials and tribulations of Imperial forces. A varied group of replacements for units at the front have gathered at base camp and are being sent south to join their regiments. The officer in charge one Captain Wilberforce Malplaquet Thackeray, is on his way back to join his regiment, the Royal Barsetshires. Just as he is about to leave he is summoned to the brigadier's office. "While you are going forward I want you to take a look at this hill" said the brigadier. "The cartography department believe it will be ideal for an observation post; only a mile from the telegraph office at El Abdab Halt. The area's been quiet for a couple of months, should give the new chaps a chance to experience the desert". As Thackeray was leaving the brigadier added "Oh, Latimer will be going with you. Wants to give his chaps some scouting training. Good luck. Have your report back to me within the week."
Two days later Thackeray gathered his troops together as they waited for Captain Latimer and his troopers to get their horses out of the trucks. There were three small companies, one from the Highlanders, one from the Borsetshires and a detachment of Blue Jackets who were to join the steamers at Wadi Halfa. The previous evening he had agreed with Latimer that the cavalry would scout ahead and the infantry would follow. Broken ground and scrub would be avoided to ensure good progress. Once the infantry had secured the hill and an assessment made, the Imperial troops would return to the train and continue south.
|The battlefield, the hill in question is the large one to left of centre. The Imperials enter on the right hand table edge|
The cavalry were soon ready and headed west towards the hill. Behind them came the infantry, they made good progress other than coming across a few areas of soft sand. Ahead, the cavalry spotted some movement in an area of scrub north of the hill and moved south westerly after informing Thackeray of the sighting. Later, an inquiry established that this was most likely due to a desire to have a good field of fire should enemy troops break cover and attack. Whatever the reason, Latimer's men did not lengthen the range enough, as they were came under very effective fire as they neared the hill. The unexpected casualties caused some hesitation, which resulted in yet more casualties, before Latimer gathered the survivors together and they continued south west to a position from which they could see the hill and it's reverse slope. What they saw was not encouraging. Three units of warriors were waiting for the Imperial infantry. Thackeray was informed and his response was to place the Highlanders on the right to subdue the Dervish riflemen, the Borsetshire's in the centre to face the Dervish and the Blue Jackets on the left to fire into the flank of any Dervish attack.
|The Dervish spearmen readying for the attack|
|The Borsetshires advance onto the hill in close order|
|The Blue Jackets cover the Highlanders as they attempt to rally|
|The remnants of the Blue Jackets fall back behind the sole survivor of the Borsetshires|
The writing was on the wall for the remaining British infantry. The Dervish warriors now advanced and hit first the Blue Jackets driving them back with over 50% casualties. Next it was the turn of the Highlanders who were cut down to a man. Following up the Dervish ensured the Blue Jackets now suffered the same fate.
|The Blue Jackets are eliminated the Highlanders have already suffered the same fate|