Skip Navigation • Access Keys • Frequently Asked Questions •

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

Transcript of The Bugle, 19 November 1896, pp.1394-1395

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


"Personal Reminiscences of the 1885 Egyptian Campaign

The Battle of Guiness

The following is Captain DeLisle's account of the Battle of Guiness as given at the Liquor Bar on the evening of Tuesday 10th November.

'I will now describe briefly how we fought the Battle of Guiness.

To most of the large audience I see before me, the Battle of Guiness is only a name, and I hope to show in a few words, by means of the sketch which I have drawn on the black-board the positions occupied by the various units.

The part I myself played in this fight was that of an interested onlooker, for being attached to the mounted troops, which were concentrated on the left flank to prevent a turning movement, I had an excellent view of the first part of the fight. You see, (referring to the map) how the Nile runs from S. to N. and Kosheh is placed on the bank about a mile N. of Guiness. Long before daylight, the troops marched up in line of quarter columns, with the cavalry and mounted infantry echeloned on the exposed flank, till a long rocky spur was reached overlooking the camp of the enemy.

Before daylight they became aware of the impending attack, and began to collect in the cold dusk of this December morning.

Forced to fall back by our rifle fire, they retreated to a deep nullah between two hills; and the line advanced taking up a second position in the same order, and then we saw something of the undaunted courage of the followers of the Mahdi as a few hundred, in spite of the steady fire of a brigade in front, as well as flanking fire from the men of the mounted infantry, charged up to the very bayonets of a steady British Line.

It was their last rush, and directly afterwards they retreated as rapidly as possible towards the South.

The following day a pursuing party under Major Smith-Dorrien who is now A.A.G. at Umballa was sent to follow them. After a march of 40 miles - we were all mounted - we came to a village at the bend of the river. There, on interviewing one of the villagers he informed me that one of the enemy's cargo boats was a few miles further on. After some difficulty, I obtained permission to push on with ten men, after assuring the Officer Commanding that my men were as fresh as paint. We pushed on rapidly for some five miles and then in the dusk we saw the outlines of the masts of the barge; and soon after, we came on the party of about 30, pulling her up stream.

Not knowing how many might have been there, we decided to creep up on foot, discharge two volleys and charge with as much noise as possible.

These tactics were highly successful for as soon as we set up a yell, the Dervishes fled dismayed, we ran up to the boat and seized the towline; and there standing on the bank of the stream alone, was a small curly headed child dressed in the full war paint of a Soudanese warrior.

As he held up his arms for me to take him up, I did so and throwing him to Sergt. Stuart, to look after with the ship, the remainder of us pressed on in pursuit for a few hundred yards.

Of course none of you will have any difficulty in recognising the small curly headed dervish child in this young chap Jimmy Durham, who now sits in front of you.

I find I have been so engrossed in these reminiscences that the past half hour has gone like 10 minutes, and by my watch I perceive that in three minutes they will again begin to get busy behind the bar so I will stop where I am, and again resume my seat."