Battle Honours 'EGYPT 1882,1884'

Saturday, 29 March, 1884

EGYPTThe distinction EGYPT 1882 was a Theatre Honour awarded for actions in Egypt during 1882 that did not include the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, for which The Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) was awarded the separate Battle Honour TEL-EL-KEBIR. The distinction EGYPT 1884 was a separate Theatre Honour awarded to the same Regiment to commemorate the short campaign which included fighting in actions near Suakin in early 1884. These two distinctions are combined into EGYPT 1882,1884 and emblazoned on the Regimental Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment.

Following the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and the occupation of Cairo in 1882, the nationalist revolt was supressed. However, unrest continued in Upper Egypt where the Mahdi was at the height of his powers. In 1881, Muhammad Ahmad, the self-proclaimed Mahdi (the Guided One), had proclaimed a Jihad and led an uprising in the Sudan against the Khedivate. It was known as the Mahdi Revolt. Forces led by British officers, now on loan to the Khedive's army, were despatched in 1883 to relieve besieged Egyptian army garrisons and restore the Khedive's authority. A force sent from Khartoum towards the Equatorial provinces was annihilated on 3-4 November and a second force despatched to Suakin (between the Nile and the Red Sea) suffered a crushing defeat by the Mahdi's ally Osman Digna on 4 February 1884.

Now it was the 2nd Battalion The Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) turn to enter the Egyptian theatre. The Battalion, having completed 14 years of foreign service, had been sailing home from Vingorla, India aboard the troopship Jumma. However, when it reached Aden, the Battalion was ordered to make for Suakin to disembark families and invalids. The Battalion then sailed 40 miles south where it disembarked at Trinkitat and marched to the mud constructed Fort Baker, remaining there until 29 February. It was formed into a brigade commanded by Sir Redvers Buller and departed to march to Tokar as part of General Grahams 4,500-strong force. Graham advanced as a large hollow square and four miles from the fort was engaged by the enemy at El Teb. After four hours of fighting, the Sudanese suffered very heavy losses and withdrew. The Battalion suffered only eight casualties in this engagement. The force moved on to relieve the beleaguered garrison at Tokar without opposition.

Returning to Trinkitat the Battalion prepared to sail to Suakin. Osman Digna had moved north too and was threatening Suakin. General Graham moved his force on 11 March to attack him at the wells of Tamai. The following day the force advanced in two hollow squares and halted some two miles short of the wells and established a laager in the brightly moonlight night. After overnight sniping from the enemy, the force advanced in echelon of squares with the Battalion in Buller's brigade to the right rear. The Sudanese attacked the forward brigade out of a wadi and for a while the situation was critical. Buller moved forward to recapture lost guns and enabled the forward square to reform. Following three hours of fighting the Sudanese retreated before noon having lost some 2,000 killed; the 2nd Battalion suffered only six wounded. The operation was concluded by General Graham on 28 March and the 2nd Battalion was ordered to continue with its homeward journey. The Battalion embarked aboard the troopship Jumma and sailed on 29 March 1884 for its new station in Portsmouth, England.