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Turkish Prisoners in Egypt A Report by the Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross   By:

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A Report By The Delegates Of The International Committee Of The Red Cross

Extracted and translated from the Official Reports of the Red Cross Society

(Documents publiés à l'occasion de la Guerre Européenne, 1914 1917)

Published in 1917

A Report on a visit made in December, 1916, and January, 1917, to the Camps for Turkish Prisoners of War in Egypt, by the Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Turkish Prisoners in Egypt


Being deputed by the Red Cross International Committee to visit Turkish prisoners of war in Egypt, we presented ourselves on December 3, 1916, to the officer for Naval Transport in the British office at Marseilles. By order of the War Office he obtained berths for us on the liner Morea , of the P. and O. Line. We embarked at Marseilles on December 19, 1916, and after an uneventful journey reached Port Said on December 27.

At Cairo General Murray, Commander in Chief of the British forces in Egypt, was good enough to put us in touch with Brig. General II. G. Casson, C.M.G., Director in Chief of the Prisoners of War Department. With the help of Colonel Simpson we drew up a programme of visits. A motor car was placed at our disposal, and permission given us to take photographs in the camps, distribute gifts among the prisoners, and talk freely with them.

We have to express our warmest thanks to General Murray and to the officers who allowed us to make our enquiries everywhere, without restriction. We should also like to offer our deepest gratitude to Sir Reginald Wingate, British High Commissioner in Egypt, for the kindly care accorded us throughout our stay.

~1. Heliopolis Camp.~

(Visited on January 2, 1917.)

This camp is laid out quite close to the new city of hotels and villas founded in 1905 under the name of The Oasis of Heliopolis. The camp site is 134 feet above the level of Cairo.

Strength. 3,906 Turkish non commissioned officers and men.

3 Turkish soldiers of the Sanitary Corps.

2 Armenian doctors (officers in the Turkish Army).

The camp is arranged to hold a total population of 15,000 men. A barbed wire fencing separates it from adjoining property.

Accommodation. The barracks for the prisoners are arranged in groups, in parallel lines separated by passages 65 feet wide. These barracks, built under the supervision of the Egyptian Engineering Department, are of uniform construction, and about 42 feet long by 30 feet wide. They are solid frames of wood with the spaces between filled in with reeds arranged vertically and held in place by crossbars. The roof is of reed thatch edged with tarred felt. Thanks to the design, the ventilation is perfect. The sandy soil shows hardly a sign of dampness. The passage between the rows of beds is made of hard beaten earth which is very dry and easily kept clean. All along this corridor, as in all the camp roads, buckets full of water are arranged in readiness to meet an outbreak of fire. The water in these buckets is not meant for drinking, and therefore contains a little cresol to prevent prisoners drinking it. The danger of fire is further reduced to a minimum by the fact that the men smoke only out of doors and that the mildness of the climate does away with the use of stoves. Each barrack accommodates 50 men.

Bedding. Each prisoner lies on a mat of plaited rush, and has four blankets. Every morning the mats are brushed and rolled up and the blankets folded, so that during the day there is a large clear space inside the building. The detention cells have the same sleeping accommodation.

Exercise. The space left between the barracks of the separate sections is amply sufficient for exercise, which is quite unrestricted during the regulation hours.

Food. Provisions are purchased by the commissariat and brought every morning into a special barrack, whence each section draws its daily rations... Continue reading book >>

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