Camel Corps


The Camel-mounted troops travelled up the Nile by boat as far as Korti. They were given their camels there and had to learn how to handle them. A contemporary account gives advice: 'Mounting a frisky camel is exciting work for the beginner, and nearly always ends in a cropper. The mode of procedure should be thus: having made your camel to kneel by clearing your throat loudly at him and tugging at his rope, shorten your rein till you bring his head round to your shoulder, put your foot in the stirrup, and throw your leg over. With his head jammed like that he cannot rise, and must wait till you give him his head. Unless you do as directed, he will get up before your leg is over, and you will infallibly meet with a hideous catastrophe... A camel's hind legs will reach anywhere, round his chest, and onto his hump; even when lying down an evil-disposed animal will shoot out his legs. His neck is of the same pliancy. He also bellows and roars at you whatever you are doing, saddling him, feeding him, mounting him, unsaddling him. To the uninitiated a camel with his mouth open and gurgling horribly is a terrifying spectacle; but do not mind him, it is only his way. He hardly ever bites, but when he does you feel it for some time!'


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by Stephen Luscombe