Robert William Friend 6458484 1/7 Royal Fusilers

1 Battalion 7th Foot (City of London Regiment) Royal Fusiliers
Army Record of Service for 25 Yrs 289 days before colours

War Diaries Jan - Dec 1940



Location - Event


Beni Yusuf Camp#
The first large exercise around the Pyramids shows up huge problems in Bge. A queue of 300 trucks forms!

Leap Year

Beni Yusuf Camp
Good scheme run which rectified some errors that surfaced last month. Night driving an issue. Lost 40 experienced men to UK and got 60 raw in return.


Beni Yusuf Camp
Planning for mid month scheme.Visited by Marquees & Marchioness' of Willingdon  (former Viceroy of India). Bn did well in scheme.


Beni Yusuf Camp
Training apace & getting it all together - rifles supported by air & tank


Beni Yusuf Camp/Seagull Camp
Air defence of Egypt scheme starts. Some huts are going up to replace tents they've lived in for last 6 months. Then moved to - Seagull Camp -7 mls west of Alex at aerodrome called El Dekheila. Base of Fleet Air Arm


Seagull Camp
All prep for war with Italy must complete by 3rd June, seven days before Italy enters war. Spirit of men is very high despite capitulation of France. Bombing of Alexandria starts.


Seagull Camp
Aerodrome bombed and planes from it attack Italian navy at Tobruk. End of month Bn leaves for Mena


Mena Camp
MT training then moved to Garawla Camp near Marsa Matruh at end of month. Italian invasion of Egypt imminent. Large bomb raid on Matruh 29th


Garawla/Ma`atin Baqqush
Mutrah is bombed regularly. Brigades function is to guard Western Desert Force HQ & aerodrome. 14/08 Bn move to Ma`atin Baqqush. The aerodrome is heavily used by Fleet Air Arm & RAF bombers. New draft of 2 Ofcrs & 120 OR's arrive not much experiance.


Ma`atin Baqqush
Mutrah is bombed regularly (important allied port). Bn all out on schemes and recces and returning to base find Kiwi & Egyptian troops pinching there stores!
Moved back to Garawla
Mutrah is bombed almost daily


Training, training with tank units & without. Molotov cocktails are made. At end of month Bn moved to Bir Abu Shahba a large dump area the Bn are to guard and supply labour to. 60 ml west of Mutrah.


After 3 days at dump back to Garawla
More training then told  the Bn first action will be 9th Dec. They performed extremely well and capture 3,000 Italians for the loss of many good men. In the absence of there cooking lorries troops ate and drank captured food & wine (as you would). The Bn escorted a total of 10,000 prisoners to Matruh. During the action each man only had half a water bottle per day with bully beef, biscuits and tea. 22/12 left for MENA and on 29/12 left there for SHELLAL (Aswan) a trip up the Nile. They are being rushed to Agordat, Sudan to fight on Northern Front, Eritrea


Maps Re Operation Compass


"Always a Fusilier"
  • 4th Indian Infantry Div

    • 5th Indian Infantry Brigade

      • 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers

      • 3rd Bn 1st Punjab Regiment

      • 4th Bn(Outram's) 6th Rajputana Rifles

#Beni Yusuf ( now called Beni Sweif in Beni Suef Governorate) has large airfield which 1 RF was responsible for defending. Training with new men and equipment shows up defects which are corrected and issues with Whitehall get resolved.
24/05/1940 Empire Day - King George VI says "The decisive struggle is now upon us ... Let no one be mistaken; it is not mere territorial conquest that our enemies are seeking. It is the overthrow, complete and final, of this Empire and of everything for which it stands, and after that the conquest of the world. And if their will prevails they will bring to its accomplishment all the hatred and cruelty which they have already displayed."

MAY Germany Invades France & 19/05 BEF starts retreat to Dunkirk and evacuations
4th June
 Dunkirk ends
10th June Italy enters war
14th June Paris occupied by German troops
AUG Battle of Britain starts
SEP Italy begines invasion of Egypt from Libya and the Blitz starts
DEC Operation Compass (Battle of Marmarica/Battle of the Camps see Dec above)
St Pauls Cathedral survives blitz raid

# See
Middle East Command established June 1939.
The whole area was quite until Italy's declaration of war June 1940 when, in spite of his inferiority in troop numbers, Gen. Wavell was able to not only defend against the Italian attacks but by May 1941, he was able to defeat the Italians and occupy their east African colonies of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland.
Up until Dec '40 Brigade is used in defensive role. Then its offensive capacity get used with full effect at Sidi Barrani to route the Iti's!!