29 January 1918 – “Dunsterforce” Sets Sail

“A British officer of the ‘Dunsterforce’ leading a drill for Jelu recruits.”
© IWM (Q 25024)

On this day in 1918, a secretly formed force of 350 hand-picked Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and British soldiers set sail for the Middle East. Known as “Dunsterforce”, they were sent to fill the void after the collapse of the Imperial Russian Army, by organizing, training and leading local resistance against the Ottoman forces. A total of forty-one men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force would join Dunsterforce (Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force – 1914-1919, p. 494). To maintain secrecy prior to embarking, the men of the “Hush Hush Party” (a name stemming from the rumours during its recruitment) were kept within the vicinity of the London Tower. Some sources claim they were locked in the Tower, others say that they only had to report to the Tower daily – (See CEW Bean, “Appendix No. 5 – Australians In Mesopotamia”, in Volume V – The Australian Imperial Force in France during the Main German Offensive, 1918).