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Maritime Logistics Community News : April 2014
33 MARITIME LOGISTICS COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 2014 Supply and Transport In recognition of the need to coordinate the supply functions it was found necessary to appoint a senior officer who could take responsibility for that role. General Egerton decided to put supply and transport under one head. Supply (was) so greatly depended on transport. Lieutenant-Colonel W.R. Yeilding contended that the supply situation would appear to be impossible in Somaliland, unless administered by one officer with the interests of supply and transport equally at heart.17 Somaliland had a primitive and undeveloped infrastructure. Camels provided the transport, but though some of the (Royal) Hampshire had experienced them and their ways on the Frontier, they found the Aden camel, and even more its driver, far more intractable than those they had already met.18 Conversely, the local camels were more amenable to the terrain and conditions. Beadon argued that the Somali baggage camel is a small and wiry animal, capable of prolonged exertion on scanty food and water.19 Post offices, medical services and sanitation units also augmented logistics. Logistical Arrangements on Landing The beachhead is a key determinant in landing men and equipment at an opposed site. Why Illig? There were few options available, as Gordon indicated. Illig was little more than a bay partially protected by nearby headlands of which Ras Illig to the south was much the larger, where the beach extended back to a semi-amphitheatre and fishing boats could be hauled up behind the surf.20 Hauling ships' boats with men and equipment was fraught with danger. But with ingenuity, the sailors, soldiers and marines took their equipment ashore. Illig proved to be perilous for its small rocky beach strip. Several small boats were either swamped by waves or dashed on rocky outcrops. Some camels drowned or died of exhaustion on beaching. Another writer provided a concise operational order. Hamilton gave the results faint praise as the intended capture of the Mullah was not achieved. He did, though, agree that Somaliland was an unmapped and waterless wilderness. The need for water was paramount. The order stipulated that all boats will carry a plentiful supply of water, as in all probability the force, after the work is done, will be exhausted.21 To summarize, the British were reasonably well prepared to campaign against the Dervishes. Callwell has enunciated a general principle. If no supplies can be obtained from the theatre of war, as is often the case in these operations, everything in the way of food for man or beast has to be carried.22 Callwell also restated an imperative for desert warfare. Camel corps are in fact of use only under given conditions.23 The British often relied on camels to move logistics. They could not have succeeded without them as they needed more and not less. Hiring was tentative. To conclude, the logistics of supply and transport are decisively enmeshed in all military operations. They are symbiotic dynamics and that was well demonstrated in the Horn of Africa in 1904. This paper stresses that the naval logistical contribution at Illig, and elsewhere, resourced the qualified success of the campaign, despite the escape of the Mullah. Lessons learned informed future doctrine. Somaliland is a compelling case of the need for thorough logistical planning in warfare. References Admiralty, Intelligence Department, Papers on Naval Subjects, Capture of Illig, Somaliland, 1904, No. 747, published London, February, 1905 C.T. Atkinson, Regimental History, The Royal Hampshire Regiment, Volume I to 1914, Robert Maclehose, The University Press,, Glasgow, 1950. R.H. Beadon, The Royal Army Service Corps, A history of transport and supply in the British army, Volume II, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1930. T.A. Brassey, editor, The Naval Annual, 1905, "The Navy and the Somaliland Expedition", Chapter IV, J. Griffin and Co., Portsmouth, 1905. C.E. Callwell, Small Wars, Their Principles and Practice, third edition, General Staff War Office publication, HMSO, London, 1906. Andrew Gordon, "Time after time in the Horn of Africa", Journal of Military History, The Society for Military History, Lexington, Virginia, Volume 74, No. 1, January, 2010. General Staff, War Office, Official History of the Operations in Somaliland, Volumes I and II, H.M.S.O., London, 1907. Angus Hamilton, Somaliland, Hutchinson and Co., London, 1911. Douglas Jardine, The Mad Mullah of Somaliland, Herbert Jenkins, London, 1923. G. C. Shaw, Supply in Modern War, Faber and Faber, London, 1939. Martin van Creveld, Supplying War, Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990. About the Author Mike Fogarty is an ex LEUT Supplementary List, Supply Officer who served in the RAN from Feb 1966 to May 1972. During this time he served in HMA Ships Duchess, Melbourne, Cerberus, Kuttabul, Harman and FHQ. He is currently studying a Masters of Philosophy at ADFA. 17 General Staff, War Office, Volume II, as above, p. 489. 18 C.T. Atkinson, Regimental History, The Royal Hampshire Regiment, Volume I to 1914, Robert Maclehose, The University Press,, Glasgow, 1950, pp 413-415. These troops formed a punitive expedition to suppress the "Mad Mullah", Mullah Mohammed (sic) Abdullah. Ponies were also used for raiding attacks by the local Dervishes. Too few were available for the British forces. Horses were also used in the campaign. Some animal transport could sometimes be hired from local sources. This was often resisted by sheiks and tribes. Stock represented a capital investment they were loath to shed. 19 R.H. Beadon, The Royal Army Service Corps, A history of transport and supply in the British army, Volume II, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1930, p. 22. 20 Andrew Gordon, "Time after time in the Horn of Africa", Journal of Military History, The Society for Military History, Lexington, Virginia, Volume 74, No. 1, January, 2010, p. 112. This is an authoritative source drawing much from the standard histories. The landing is vividly described. The difficulty of landing animal transport in the breaking surf can only be imagined. Logistical support also demands of commanders and their staff a capacity for innovation and endurance in difficult conditions. The troops carried a few Maxim machine guns. They also carried heavy boxes of its ammunition. Gordon also summarizes the evacuation and departure phase. The surf had worsened and a small ship's boat was also destroyed on the rocks. The author highlighted the significance of Illig. The British gained valuable experience in amphibious operations at Illig. An army needs to draw from its combat experiences. Logistical support has to be fine-tuned. Illig educated British war-fighting doctrine. 21 Angus Hamilton, Somaliland, Hutchinson and Co., London, 1911, pp. 337 and 343. 22 C.E. Callwell, Small Wars, Their Principles and Practice, third edition, General Staff War Office publication, HMSO, London,1906, p. 59. 23 Callwell, p. 428.