Churchill and the Mad Mullah of Somaliland
In the late nineteenth century, the British Empire commanded the seas and possessed a vast Indian Empire, as well as other extensive dominions in South East Asia, Australasia, America and Africa. To secure the trade route to the glittering riches of the orient, the port of Berbera in Somaliland was taken from the feeble grasp of an Egyptian monarch, and to secure that port, treaties were concluded with the fierce and warlike nomad tribes who roamed the inhospitable wastes of the hinterland, unequivocally granting them 'the gracious favour and protection of the Queen'. But there arose in that wilderness a man of deep and unalterable convictions; the Sayyid, the 'Mad Mullah', who utilised his great poetic and oratorical gifts with merciless and unrelenting fury to convince his fellow nomads to follow him in an anti- Christian and anti-colonial crusade. At great expense, four Imperial expeditions were sent to crush him and to support his terrified opponents; four times the military genius of the Sayyid eluded them. It was at this point that the rising voice of Winston Churchill convinced his Liberal colleagues to abandon the expensive contest and retreat to the coast. By this betrayal, one third of the British 'protected' population perished. It wasn't until after the Great War that Churchill, now Minister for both War and Air, as well as a major influence in the rise of Air Power, was able to redeem this betrayal. The part he played in the destruction of the Sayyid's temporal power at this point was substantial, and the preservation of the Royal Air Force was also secured. By unleashing Sir Hugh Trenchard and giving his blessing to a lightning campaign, his original betrayal was considered to be redeemed in part and his honour belatedly and inexpensively restored. In this enthralling volume, Roy Irons brings to life this period of dynamic unrest, drawing together a number of historical accounts of the time as well as an evocative selection of illustrative materials, including maps and portraits of the main players at the forefront of the action. Personalities such as Carton de Wiart, Lord Ismay, and the much decorated Sir John 'Johnny' Gough, VC, KCB, CHG feature, as do the vaunted Camel Corps, in this eminently well-researched narrative account of this eventful and controversial episode of world history. As featured in Essence Magazine.
mighty industry of the air would be involved here – just a few aeroplanes, sudden and unforeseen, and their resolution would be broken. And cheaply! So the twelve aeroplanes of ‘Z’ Force – one flight, with six spares! – carried in their fuselages the hopes of the RAF. With the useful aid of partial report writing, they succeeded admirably. All states and all armed forces are organizations, whose only concrete reality exists in the individuals from whom they are formed. Panic those individuals,
necessary that the intentions of the Government as to policy and the opinion of the C in C as to the military proposals should be made clear to General Egerton… The reply to Egerton on behalf of Brodrick was drafted by the great public servant Sir Guy Fleetwood Wilson, who in the next year would become Director-General of Army Finance. Referring to Egerton’s dispatch, it suggested that: …the intentions of His Majesty’s Government regarding their policy in Somaliland, and the nature of the
intended to retire on Berbera but to fall back on the forts at Burao and Shaikh which were purposely designed of sufficient perimeter to hold them [italics added]. The safety of Berbera could be amply secured by the presence of a ship – of – war, and if necessary by a detachment of troops from the Aden garrison. The mounted troops issuing from the forts would keep open communications between Berbera, Burao and Sheikh, and though unable to exclude raiders, would prevent a hostile army planting
The Balloon Factory had become the Army Aircraft Factory. The Navy had got its �35,000 airship, but as soon as it was completed it was caught by a high wind while moored, and destroyed. An inquiry was conducted under Admiral Sturdee, the future victor of the Battle of the Falkland Islands. He had never seen an airship before. He offered his opinion of the airship. ‘It is the work of a lunatic!’ he declared. In May 1911 a delegation to the then First Lord, Reginald McKenna, reported that the
accomplished, and of this I in turn succeeded in persuading the Prime Minister. Once the case was clearly put before him, he decided it with his usual promptness, and the expedition was sent… Well, Milner was basically correct. However, it was he, as we have seen, who had invited Trenchard to discuss Somaliland, and Trenchard had advised him to confirm with Churchill the RAF’s capability of dealing with the Mullah. Soon after, Churchill chaired a meeting at the War Office with Milner’s Deputy,