City of Tall al Kebir, Egypt
The city of Tall al Kebir is situated at a distance of 75 km to the south from Port Said. It is at an altitude of 29 m and is located on the edge of the desert. It is also not far from Cairo, just a distance of 110 km which provides it easy accessibility. This place is also known as Tel-el-Kebir (great mound) by many locals. Tall al Kebir lies in the Ismailiya governate of Egypt. The modern city of Matariyah which was known as City of On in ancient times located to the south west of the mound is believed to be the very first place where cotton plant was cultivated in Egypt. The ruins of this ancient city were also used as camp by the Egyptian troops. The city of Tall al Kebir is most famous for the battle which is known as the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.
The Cairo international airport is just 60 km from the city of Tall al Kebir and besides that local airport of Ramadan and Shark Elowainat are also few kilometers away. By road the city is just 4 km away from Isamiliya- Zagazig road. There are few hotels or one can also just stop by the town on planned excursion to other places starting from one of the major cities of Egypt. A taxi can be arranged through many of the travel agents who conduct such tours.
Importance of the city
The city of Tall al Kebir has been very important during both the world wars but the most important event that has fetched name for the city is undoubtedly the Battle of Tel-el Kebir. The Tel el Soughayar which is known as the small mound has pharaonic remains and storehouse buildings and also some coins belonging to the Greco-Roman period. In 1832, when the Egyptian troops captured the city of Jaffa in Palestine, Egyptian Muslims settled around the town and founded many villages. One of the villages was named Abu kabir in fond memory of their hometown Tall al Kebir and this gives the city its relation with this village in Palestine.
The historic battle
In 1882 the British army under General Wolseley was fighting the Egyptians under the leadership of Ahmed Urabi. The Egyptians were preventing British army from reaching Cairo. At the city of Tall al Kebir owing to the flat ground and desert, the British army decided to attack their enemies at dawn and marched through the desert in the night aided by the stars and took their position. What followed was an intense fight but the sudden attack proved disastrous for the Egyptian army and they had to flee. The 1882 Egyptian campaign was also the last campaign where the British soldiers wore their infamous red coats.
The importance of the city during world wars
Though Tall al Kebir may have been described as a dirty place by some soldiers during First World War but it was a training centre for many soldiers of First Australian Imperial Force. The city also served as prisoner of war camp as well as an Australian stationery hospital. During the Second World War the place held a very large ordinance depot and also a base vehicle depot which was in use several years after.
War Memorial cemetery
The War Memorial cemetery is situated on east of the railway station and Ismailia canal. The cemetery was used from 1915 to 1920 and was later enlarged to hold many other graves which were transferred from other sites. It now has 526 graves from Second World War and 65 of First World War. There are few graves of British soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of Tel-el Kebir.
The Tall al Kebir medals
These medals are collector’s items and are available for purchase on many internet sites. The tall el Kebir medals are also called the Egyptian medal. These medals were awarded for military actions during the 1882 battle. The ones issued in 1882 have “1882” engraved just below the sphinx. The second version did not have “1882” Engraving. The Recipient’s name, rank, number and regiment were engraved on the edge. The medals can also be found in many museums.
The Battle at Tall al Kebir has printed the name of the place in history books. This small place may not offer much to the avid tourists but the graves of all the brave ones who lost their lives in the wars surely adds the feeling of pride and sorrow to the place.