Built Out of Necessity

The Australian Camel Corps, also known as the Imperial Camel Corps, was quite a unique unit formed out of necessity during World War I. It consisted mainly of troops from the British Empire, including Australians, New Zealanders, British, and some Indians, who were mounted on camels instead of horses. The Corps was formed to operate in the Middle East, where conventional cavalry units struggled to cope with desert conditions.

Camels were chosen for their ability to travel long distances without water, making them suited for the Middle East’s harsh desert environment. The Camel Corps played a significant role in several key campaigns, including the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. They were involved in reconnaissance, raiding, communication, and direct combat operations.

Ode to a Camel

The camels’ versatility and endurance, combined with their riders’ skill and resilience, made the Camel Corps an effective force in desert warfare. Their contributions were significant in the British Empire‘s efforts to secure control over the region, particularly in the context of the war’s broader strategic objectives. They even wrote poems about them.

To My Camel

You’re an ugly smellful creature;
You’re a blot upon the plain;
I have seen Mohamed beat you,
And it gave me little pain.
You’re spiteful and you’re lazy,
You’d send a white man crazy,
But I reckon you’re a daisy
When the Turks come out again.

Your head is most unsightly,
And so is your humpy back;
I hear you roaring nightly,
When you’re loading for the track.
You’re bow-legged and you’re bandy,
But in this desert sandy
It’s as well to have you handy:
You’re a mighty useful hack.