The Leeds Pals
The 15th (Service) Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment


The British realised that the decision in December 1915 to evacuate Gallipoli peninsula would release Turkish troops for operations elsewhere. The Turks had already attempted to take control of the Suez canal in February 1915, hoping to gain support from Egyptian nationalists opposed to British rule. With this in mind, it was decided to stiffen the defences around the canal.

Rumours that the The “Pals” were going to France were soon dispelled when the transport section of 102 men, under the command of Captain Boardall and Lieutenants Smith and Everitt left Devenport on 6th of December on board HMS Shropshire, bound for Egypt. 
The remainder of the battalion, plus their pioneers (12th K.O.Y.L.I.) and Army Service Corps personnel left Liverpool along with the rest of 93 brigade (6,000 troops) on board The Empress of Britain (a converted liner) on the 7th of December for the same destination.

Egypt – Capt Boardall (Right) – 2nd Lieut Everitt (Centre)

Port Said Harbour – Egypt

The Shropshire arrived at Port Said on December 20th after a fairly rough but uneventful crossing.

The rest of the brigade on board the Empress of Britain had a more troublesome crossing. Whilst zig-zagging in an attempt to discourage enemy submarine attacks, she collided with a French mail ship the ‘Dajurjura’ and had to put in to Valleta harbour to enable repairs to be carried out. Leaving Malta 3 days later, she arrived safely at Port Said on Tuesday the 21st after a brush with a submarine that fired at least one torpedo in her direction.

The “Pals” disembarked on the 22nd and marched to No 8 camp, were they stayed aclimatising until the 30th then moved 32 miles up the canal to guard various points in the desert.

By late February 1916, the threat of invasion along the Suez canal had decreased to such an extent that on March 1st, after 3 months of sun, sand, and a few minor skirmishes, the Battalion returned to Port Said, gathered up their equipment and stores and marched on board the troopship HMT Asconia for the journey to France.