El Tahag Camp

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by BrayDunes, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. BrayDunes

    BrayDunes Junior Member

    So I know El Tahag Camp was passed through by numerous units in the MEF. Does anyone know where in Egypt it was located exactly? I can not find 'El Tahag' on a modern atlas and can not find a map online that has the camp situated. I believe it was about 40 miles from Cairo. Can anyone shed some light on this? My grandfather was there in August 1943.
     
  2. BrayDunes

    BrayDunes Junior Member

    Just found some more information that it could have been at Ismailia?
     
  3. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Bray,

    From various sources - El Tahag is 20 miles west of Ismailia and about 5 miles east of Tel-el-Kebir. So it must be somewhere along that road? Perhaps not too far from El Qassasin (or El Kasasin)

    See this thread and extensive discussion on El Qassasin's location:

    help with ww2 service record - WW2Talk

    A quote:

    "The troops detrained about dusk at El Qassasin, a village on the Sweetwater Canal, and reached the tented transit camp at El Tahag in transport vehicles about half an hour later"

    Regards ...
     
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  4. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Have Tahag camp as this, it may be of help : "............ from Port Tewfik by train to El Quassassin and thence onto Tahag camp, a huge tented area 40 miles from Cairo. At Tahag the battalion was visited by the Prime minister Winston Churchill.........."
     
  5. BrayDunes

    BrayDunes Junior Member

    Cheers guys, through this thread and elsewhere i've got a pretty good idea of where it would have been now.
     
  6. jravincent

    jravincent New Member

    I have a photograph of my father, shirtless with shorts, with another man, similarly dressed, on the back of which is written in pencil: "El Tahag, Apl 41." My father was a sergeant and anti-tank gunner in the Royal Artillery and Norfolk Yeomanry in the desert in Egypt (after being evacuated from Dunkirk). He was later captured by the Germans, handed over to the Italians, and ended up in a POW camp, first in Italy and later at Stalag 4b in eastern Germany until the end of the war.
     
  7. Philip Gordon

    Philip Gordon New Member

    My uncle, Alfred George Symonds was in the Tank Transporter Company (143 Co. RASC) and I have inherited a book entitled "The Long Trailers" which is an account of the work of that company during WW2. It contains a description of their time at El Tahag from June 1941 until they transported some Indian troops to Iraq. They then returned to El Tahag. I have uploaded the relevant 2 pages here.
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    The website of New Zealand’s 28th Māori Battalion has an extract from the War Diary for August 1941:

    19 Aug: 0900 hrs Battalion embussed and moved to new location called Tahag. Battalion occupied Camp 35, Tahag map ref. 012739 sheet S4/60 Zagazig.​

    Here is an extract from Egypt 1:100,000 GSGS 4085 Sheet 84/66 Zagazig (1941) (University of Texas) showing the grid reference. Seems to be in the middle of nowhere and reading recollections of the place, not a pleasant location to be in.

    Tahag.JPG
     
  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    The move of the 5th Indian Division began 23 August 1941.

    See here:

    But on August 22 the digging of fortifications was interrupted quite suddenly. The Division was to move next morning. Rumour spread, as it always spreads, from mouth to mouth. Where? Why? The Division was hurried from the Desert to Iraq to reinforce the Eighth and Tenth Indian Divisions for operations against Persia, and to take its share in maintaining the internal security of Iraq, where the uprising of Rashid Ali and his followers was being quelled in Baghdad.

    So once more the Division set off on its travels, this time towards the East and into Asia. A glimpse of Cairo, a night spent beside the Suez Canal at Ismailia, a long drive across the grim and picture-book Sinai Desert to Gaza. Many of the vehicles were new. So were their drivers. The engines needed running in and were prone to frequent overheating. Each day the men woke at half past four and drank their mug of tea by the light of cookers. As they motored across Sinai the sun sometimes shone down through a reddish mist, which suddenly melted away till the road ahead showed clear. And the drivers could not brake their trucks too harshly for fear of piercing the tarmac surface of that road. Palestine was green, hilly and inhabited, which were virtues in the eyes of the Division, and a man must have been pagan indeed who had not heard or read of this Holy Land. Over Jordan and high on the plateau of Transjordan came disillusion, at Mafrak, dreary; desolate, dusty and lashed by swirling, blinding, coating sandstorms. Even the interest of a nearby Roman amphitheatre, villa, and pillared temples could not make weight against the fury of the storm, and two days of Mafrak sufficed. Only the uniforms of the Frontier Force of Transjordan gave colour to the scene of flat desert, black Bedouin tents, a ramshackle village and the local mud-coloured fort.

    Then the convoy struck eastwards across mile after mile of seemingly endless, featureless desert, a waste of brown and black boulders, of soft sand in which many a vehicle became bogged, even if it escaped the ravages of engine trouble. The rear trucks of each column were obliged to race and jolt along in order to keep up with those in the lead, and the workshops fitter who brought up the rear was a busy man during that prolonged and arduous crossing into Iraq beside the oil pipeline. Later the Division passed through towns once more, and drove along the black strip of road---Ramadi, Falluja, Habbaniya with its Royal Air Force station and the lake whose shores glitter with flakes of mica.

    It was here that the news was brought that the disturbances of the Rashid Ali revolt had already been quelled by the Household Cavalry and other troops who had hurried to Baghdad. General Mayne, having seen his troops start from Egypt, had flown over to Baghdad to get himself in the picture of recent events. He was met by General Quinan, commanding the Tenth Army, with the news that the war with Persia was over suddenly and unexpectedly, and that, although he would put in a plea to retain Mayne's Division, it would probably have to return to the Desert at once.

    But having travelled so far, the Division was sent further north to the oilfields of Kirkuk, in case of renewed trouble. No one was allowed to stop in Baghdad, for the Iraqis were still hostile. Our troops had been warned to sit smartly in the backs of their three-ton lorries, with their rifles across their knees, and not to react to acts of open hostility, such as the throwing of bricks or rotten eggs. But there were no acts of any consequence; only an occasional spit, and the throwing of a harmless grape or two by way of a gesture of defiance and disapproval.

    The heat of Kirkuk had the touch of hell in its power, and was reflected from the steel structures and the oil drums. It mingled with the all-pervading smell of oil and the melting, sticky roads made of crude oil. Three weeks the Division remained in this place, sweltering in the heat, training, marching as though dazed to the river, and there bathing with a sense of sudden ecstasy in deep pools of gin-clear water that was far cooler than the air above. And a few fished, shot sand-grouse, and enjoyed the club of the local oil people, with its bathing pool that was better far than lying in sweat on your bed and longing for the dusk of evening.

    But this vexatious episode ended just as suddenly as it had begun. And at the beginning of October, but a few days after the tail units reached Kirkuk, the Division was heading towards Egypt once again by the same route. It gained valuable experience of travel over immense and wearisome distances, and learned the mysteries of convoy discipline, 'vehicles to the mile,' and 'miles in the hour.' While Ten Brigade and Divisional Headquarters and troops drove to Mena outside Cairo in order to train in Desert warfare with tanks in support, Fletcher's Nine Brigade settled down at Kabrit on the shores of one of the Bitter Lakes, there to train for combined operations. Here for several weeks the men ran up hills, stumbled in the sand, climbed rope ladders, learned to row whalers and cutters, talked the jargon of bollards and bulkheads and other naval matters. For a short time the Divisional staff were engaged in planning a landing in Sicily, to take place in conjunction with the success of Operation 'Crusader' in the Desert, but this project was abandoned at an early stage. It was nearly two years before its time.


    Archived Source:
    Anthony Brett-James. Ball of Fire. Fifth Indian Division in the Second World War. 1951. Chapters 9-11.
     
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  10. sjw8

    sjw8 Well-Known Member

    The following is transcribed from the War Diary of 274 Field Coy R.E. -
    8/8/42 to 12/8/42 – At Sea / Port Teufik
    Voyage continued – weather now very hot.
    12.30 - Arrived PORT TEUFIK.
    15.00 - Disembarked 1500 hrs. Entrained at quay 07.30 hrs and proceeded to QUASSASIN Camp no. 35, arriving 23.00 hrs.

    13/8/42 – Quassasin
    In camp, vehicles arrived approx. midnight 13/14.

    14/8/42
    11.00 - Ordered to move to TAHAG camp 48. Arrived there at 12.30 hrs. Concentration of Divisional R.E. companies.

    22/8/42 – Tahag
    06.00 - Left TAHAG 48 proceeded by convoy to KHATATBA via CAIRO arriving 16.00 hrs.

    From the above extract, both (El) Quassasin and Tahag camps must have been very widespread, containing quite a few sub camp areas within each camp area.

    Steve W
     
  11. Gazz

    Gazz Active Member

    This thread is fantastic it has just cleared up an issue with me, I have a photograph of my Dad and his comrades in the 4th Royal Tank Regiment with a note on the which read as El Temag March 1941, no wonder I could not find any info as it is most likely El Tahag.
    Thanks
    Gary
     

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