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Mustapha Camp in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Mustapha Camp



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Those known to have trained at

Mustapha Camp

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Gent Albert Edward. Pte.

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Mar 2017

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219713

Pte. Albert Edward Gent 1/1st Sqd. Warwickshire Yeomanry

With an unnamed friend - A E Gent on the right

Albert Edward Gent, only son of Thomas and Rosa from the hamlet of Hill, near Broadwell in Warwickshire, enlisted in the Warwickshire Yeomanry in April 1915, aged 17 years and 11 months. He gave his year of birth as 2 years before it actually was (1895 rather than 1897). His mother watched him walk away across the fields heading for Warwick, and she didn't speak a word for the next two weeks. Despite being a country boy, he had never ridden a horse before but by this time this was not an impediment to joining a mounted regiment. He trained initially in Warwick before being sent to Tidworth Camp.

In February 1917 he was posted to Egypt, arriving there at the end of the month, having travelled across France by train, then onwards by ship. By the middle of March 1917 he was in the thick of the action, along with his horse, Jess. One night when on picquet duty and very, very tired, he fell asleep and was caught by the Major. As he was told, he was lucky it hadn't been the Serjeant-Major or he might well have been shot, but the Major was a more tolerant man!

In November 1917 he had reached within 20 miles of Jerusalem before being struck down with appendicitis, and was operated on in a field hospital before being sent to the Red Cross Hospital at Giza, having developed peritonitis. Somehow he managed to survive and after being in hospital for about 2 months was sent to convalesce in a corner of the big army camp in Alexandria called Mustapha Camp. He was reclassified B3, unfit for frontline service and transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Port Tewfik, where soldiers who had become unfit were often sent to take on guard duties on the Suez Canal. In May 1918, he was again admitted to hospital, this time in Alexandria, with a UTI, and stayed there for 10 days. He was discharged on the day his former Yeomanry friends gathered at the docks to board the ship 'Leasowe Castle', heading for the Western Front, and appears to have visited them in their camp shortly before they set off. He was still in Alexandria when the news came that their ship had been torpedoed and sunk.

He was now transferred again to the 644th (MT) ASC in Alexandria where he remained for the rest of the war. Here, he was involved in putting together the Model T Ford kits which came from the US. They tested the made-up kits for road-worthiness by driving them to a sand dune with a shallow slope on one side and a steep one on the other. They drove, foot to the boards, as fast as possible up the shallow slope, taking off at the top and landing with a 'bang' at the bottom. If the Model T still worked after this, it was classed as road-worthy. He also qualified as an electrician, 1st class during this time. At some point, after September 1918, he was based in Nazareth for a while. He remained in Egypt until June 1919, when he was sent home to be discharged. He was classed as 25% disabled and received a Silver War Badge.

His discharge medical may indicate early signs of a heart problem, possibly caused by his service. In the Second World War he joined the Home Guard, initially carrying his recently retired ex-Scotland Yard cousin's truncheon. According to him, 'Dad's Army' was remarkably accurate! He was forced to retire in 1954 due to his on-going heart problems He lived until 1972, finally succumbing to his 5th heart attack. His ashes were interred, as per his wishes, at the fairly new Oakley Woods Cemetery - where he had once exercised the Warwickshire Yeomanry horses.

Lilias Odell




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