Action of Qatia, 23 April 1916

The action of Qatia was a minor Turkish victory against the British during the First World War. In the aftermath of the first Turkish attack on the Suez Canal, in February 1915, it had been decided to move the British defensive line east into the Sinai. The new position would be based around Qatia (or Katia), and would be connected to the Suez Canal by a new railway. This would allow the British to reduce the number of troops needed to defend the Egypt by allowing one force to block the three main routes across the Sinai.

In April 1916 the new position was still being constructed. The 5th Mounted Brigade, with eight squadrons of cavalry (from the Warwickshire Yeomanry, Gloucestershire Hussars and Worcestershire Yeomanry), was in the Qatia area, preparing to attack a Turkish force that had been reported to be to their south east, at Bir el Mageibra. The eight squadrons were split into several groups. One was at Qatia, two at Romani (to the west), two at Oghratina (to the east) and three were preparing for the attack.

The Turkish force at Bir el Mageibra was actually a detachment from a force 3,500 strong, led by the German Kress von Kressenstein. At 4.30 am on 23 April they attacked the two squadrons of the Worcesters at Oghratina, and overwhelmed them in a three hour battle. They then moved on to Qatia, where they attacked and defeated the squadron of the Gloucesters already there and a squadron of Worcesters who came to their aid. The remaining four British squadrons made an attempt to break through to Qatia, but were unable to break through in time. Once Qatia had fallen, the rest of the British force pulled back to the Suez Canal.

The Turks pressed on to Dueidar, twelve miles east of the canal, where they were repulsed by force of infantry. After that Kress took his men back out of the Sinai, to await the arrival of a number of German units and to prepare for his next offensive (battle of Romani, 4-5 August 1916).

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 September 2007), Action of Qatia, 23 April 1916 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/action_qatia.html

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