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ALH at Umm el Rakam

13 DEC 1915: World War I and the Australian Light Horse fights at Umm el Rakam. The Light Horse was deployed against the Senussi, in Egypt’s western desert. In response to the growing threat from a pro-Turkish Islamic Arab sect known as the Senussi, a composite British force — the “Western Frontier Force” — under the command of the British Indian Army officer Major General Alexander Wallace, was sent into the Libyan Desert to Mersa Matruh in late-November 1915.

This force included a composite regiment of Australian light horse and the horse transport of the 1st Division.

A series of sharp battles against the Arabs ensued at Um Rakhum, Gebel Medwa and Halazin during December and January. British casualties were comparatively light, although many were killed or wounded, including Australians.

Arab losses were much higher however, with hundreds killed during the fighting. Meanwhile a number of the Australian Light Horse units returning from Gallipoli were sent further south to guard the edge of the Nile Valley against the Senussi.

The 1st Armoured Car Section was also involved in guarding the Western Desert until it was sent to Palestine as the 1st Light Car Patrol at the end of 1916.

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