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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Transcript of The Bugle, 11 July 1895, pp.701-702

Please remember that all transcripts show what is written on the page; spelling and grammatical mistakes are not corrected.


"After the total rout of the Arab Army at Ginniss, it was considered advisable to capture as far as possible the enemy's River Transport. The ordinary craft used by the Arabs at this part of the Nile are Nuggars. The Nuggar has one mast, almost in the centre of the boat, and carries a large lateen sail, having a yard above and a boom below. The Dougolese are very expert in the management of the Nuggar, the ordinary cargo of which is about 20 tons.

A troop of the 20th Hussars, 25 men of the Mounted Infantry, the Egyptian Cavalry and Camel Corps were sent in conjunction with the Gun-boat "Water Lily" to capture the enemy's River Transport. The whole force was under the command of Major Wodehouse R.A. The last day of 1885 was spent at Abri, and on the 1st of January 1886 the force was pushed on to Said-Effendi. The force arrived at the latter place just before dusk, officers and men tired out with their long day in the saddle. Preparations were being made for the evening meal, and encamping for the night, when a native arrived to report that a large nuggar, with a considerable number of the enemy on board, lay some three miles up the river. Lieutenant De Lisle volunteered to capture this boat, and with a dozen men of the Mounted Infantry, and a few picked men from the Egyptian Camel Corps, he proceeded to carry out the task. The native led the way, and every caution was observed, as the party was in an enemy's country. On nearing the boat the whole party dismounted, and leaving the horses in charge of a few men, the remainder advanced with swords fixed and rifles loaded. When within fifty or sixty yards of the boat white figures could be seen flitting backward and forward, and the command was given to open fire. After three volleys had been fired, a charge was made, and the nuggar seized. The Arabs escaped in the darkness, and but little was found on board, save garments saturated in blood, and a few old muskets. One poor Arab lay upon the deck, too severely wounded to move. This man had been hit in the leg, and from his condition it appeared that a shell must have exploded quite close to him, as the limb was badly smashed, and the bones protruding. An attempt was made to get the sufferer into as easy a position as possible, and splints and bandages were applied. The man seemed grateful for the attention paid him, and some time later the leg was amputated. The Arab had at first a great horror of losing his limb, stating that he would never reach Paradise unless his limbs were whole. When the doctor explained that he might live to fight another day, if he was willing to part with the disabled leg, the man's face brightened, and he became quite agreeable to having the operation performed. In addition to the wounded Arab, two more captures were made alongside the Nuggar - a donkey - and an infant of about two years of age. This infant was no other than 'Jimmy Durham', who was found standing alongside poor Neddy. Jimmy's story has been already told in the columns of the 'Bugle' and the circumstances of his capture, and the details of his after career will no doubt be fresh in the minds of most of our readers. A few facts relative to 'Jimmy' were gleaned from the wounded Arab, from which it appeared that his father was a Shiek from Berber. The father was killed at the battle of Ginniss, and his widow, with Jim and a baby in arms, intended making back to Berber. Master Jim was to have been mounted on the donkey, but owing to the unexpected attack of our people, he fell a prisoner to Sergeant Stuart, who at once christened him Jimmy Dervish. The boy's real name was Mustapha. Jimmy was afterwards presented to General Butler, also to Baker Pasha, and in more recent times to H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. The night attack on the Nuggar has certainly altered the whole current of the lads life.

After the capture of the Nuggar the greater part of Lieutenant De Lisle's force, wended their way back to the main body under command of Major Wodehouse. Lieutenant De Lisle with a few men remained on the Nuggar with a view to bringing it down stream, to the vicinity of the camp. This proved no easy task as the navigation of the Nile is anything but a simple matter. After making some way down stream, the vessel gradually drifted to the bank of the river furthest from camp. A large village was close at hand and two men of the Egyptian Camel Corps were despatched to try and secure the services of a rais or pilot. These men quickly returned stating that from a sheltered position they had observed a large party of armed men pass. From a conversation taking place between the leaders of this party, our men gathered that they were part of the Arab Army routed at Ginniss. Their numbers appeared to be about 2,000, and they were loud in their denunciation of the infidels. After very considerable exertions the captured Nuggar was brought safely to the vicinity of Major Wodehouse's camp, and on the following day, the force started in pursuit of the retreating Arabs. Sergeant Stuart, and some ten men were left on board the Nuggar, which was to form a sort of base to which any captures might be sent. This party was left pretty much to its own devices as regards supplies, as there was very little provender of any sort to be had. A foraging party had therefore to be sent out, and as a result two fat sheep, were soon on board. One of the party acted as butcher, and an appetising repast was speedily prepared. Some doura, also dried dates were found in the recesses of the nuggar, so that a second course appeared on the table in the shape of date-pudding.

After scouring the country for a considerable distance Major Wodehouse's party returned, ..."