Ashore for a Route March

Grantully Castle

Reveille at 6a.m. Orders were received for the R.F.A and East Surrey’s with exception of mess orderlies , to be ready to go ashore for a route march for exercise, by 8.30.

Punctual to the time the 6 coal lighters came along side 3 attached to each side of a small tug.  After we had all boarded the lighters we were conveyed to the shore at Port Tewfik.

We marched from the Port, through Tewfik to Suez 2 1/2 miles away in company with the infantry and their band.

The road to Suez was between the sea shore one side and the railroad the other ‘Egyptian State Railway’.

Along the road we accosted all sorts of natives who were plying along this road mostly native hawkers, greengrocers, fish hawkers and postcard sellers and beggars. These hawkers convey their produce in all sorts of rough conveyance, broken down 2 wheel carts, small victorias, and on the backs of mules and donkeys.

A native policeman accompanied each Battery into Suez acting as a kind of guide and interpreter.  They were smart men of good physique, dressed in white coat, trousers, brown belt and red fez hat, with bayonet hanging from belt.  The one with us had the Egyptian war medal on his breast and was very proud of it, telling us it was for fighting for the English.

A five minute halt along the road many fellows manage to get some very pretty shells from the sea shore to take home as mementos of the place.

On marching into Suez the natives stood at the corners of the street to watch the troops coming in, many wondered what we were really there for, as there were about 7,000 troops marched into Suez that day, all from the convoy of ours.

The troops marched in with the band playing ‘Its a long way to Tipperary’ for Tipperary was substituted the words ‘good old England’.

The Sergts broke off in the town for about 1/2 an hour to have a look around at the buildings and the natives which was very interesting, there seem to be a good mixture of different tribes.  There were traders of all sorts, we made our way to the Post Office to send a card or two home.

The money was rather curious to us, and to get a little Egyptian money we bought some for our own coinage, for 1d in one case I received 5 copper coins and as the post official did not want to do me, he gave me a stamp to make up the value, as he did not have enough change.

The natives were anxious to sell their produce to us, but if decided not to buy they would worry us to change our silver for the English pennies they had taken off some of our fellows, they told us they lost on our bronze coins but got full value for our gold or silver, hence them being anxious to exchange.

The traders have to be smart as to regards the counting of money, they have all sorts of nationalities coinage to deal with.  If a native has a handful of coins French, English and Egyptian and Greek he will soon tell you which is the best value to him, he always points to English silver, and gold if he has them.

A Scotchman I met here told me the natives were abominable cowards, when the war broke with Turkey he said they were to get up to all sorts of tricks, but they had altered their tune since our troops had marched in, in large numbers, they seemed quite frightened of us, and at that we were quite harmless as we carried no weapons of any description with us.

A small garrison of a Scottish regiment here were quite pleased to see us British troops again in numbers.

The houses were of no uniform pattern, a very few houses in Suez that we saw were smart at all, mostly tumbled down old shanties.

There were some smart houses in the European quarter of Tewfik, here there were lovely avenues of trees and wide roads all about this part, and along the Quay side.

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