Following the British invasion of Egypt in 1882 the Egyptian army was disbanded and reformed along British lines with British officers. As might be expected it took a long time to complete this process, and in these first few years the Egyptians, or rather their British masters, had to face the problem of the separatist forces in the Sudan and the forces of the Mahdist state. Lacking an effective and sizeable army it was the British troops that shouldered much of the fighting, but as time passed the Egyptians became an effective force, defending their country against invasion from the south with little or no British support. By the 1890s they were very strong, and in the campaign that ended with Omdurman they formed the majority of the Anglo-Egyptian army.
Given the terrain over which they were expected to fight it was obvious that there would be a Camel Corps. Camels made ideal mounts for the harsh desert environment, but were difficult creatures to control and so the men usually fought on foot, acting as mounted infantry. The figures in this box are mostly riding their camels. They have a relaxed appearance that fits perfectly with their likely role of either patrolling or being on the march. When called upon to fight they would dismount and force the camel to kneel, as depicted by the last human and camel figures here. All the poses are very good, but we would have liked to have seen more dismounted poses as only one pose is a severe restriction on the usefulness of this set.
The uniform was a simple tunic over trousers with puttees and boots, all of which is properly done here. On the head is the ubiquitous tarbush, and over the left shoulder is a leather bandoleer. A haversack and bayonet complete the equipment, and everything is present and correct on these figures, except for the dismounted man, who seems to have lost his bayonet scabbard.
The camel poses are good, with the second in our picture being the best. However this animal has its right front leg crossed over to the left, which is hard to detect from the side but looks very strange from the front. All the saddlery and attached equipment looks authentic and reasonable, although there is no sign of the stirrups on the resting animal’s saddle.
Sculpting is fairly good, although these are not particularly complicated or detailed uniforms. The head of the second figure looks odd (partly due to the half-turned position perhaps) but proportions are otherwise OK. The rifles are the Remington rolling block carbine and have been correctly done, but the camels have some rather unnatural angles and flat areas at the rear. Flash is minimal however, and the men fit their mounts very well.
Figures for this period in Egyptian history have only appeared very slowly, and this is the first set to depict the Camel Corps. These are very nicely designed figures, but a few more dismounted fighting poses would have made a much more useful set.