Two Previously-Unrecorded, Manuscript Maps from the British Campaign in Sinai and Palestine, 1917 - 1919.

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SKU: 1615

Two Previously-Unrecorded, Manuscript Maps from the British Campaign in Sinai and Palestine, 1917 - 1919.

From the estate of Captain William R. Gibson, Royal Engineer, two manuscript maps, a letter of thanks from the Sultan of Egypt, and supporting personal documents.

The Water Companies, Royal Engineers, Work in Egypt & Palestine, 1917 - 1919. [Manuscript map] n.d. [c. mid-1919]

Drawn by “S. Souster 1919” Signed by Captain Gibson.

Ink on prepared [Egyptian?] cotton with wash and color highlights.

42 x 42” Several folds.

Large map of Egypt and Palestine chronicling the work of the 360th, 359th, and 357th Water Companies, Royal Engineers, as the British advanced across the northern Sinai and into Palestine.

Initial British attempts to knock Ottoman Turkey out of the war met with little success. The disastrous Gallipoli Campaign and the Surrender at Kut left the Allies with few options. In 1917 the early success of the Arab Revolt in the Hijaz and repeated spoiling attacks against the Suez Canal prompted a British advance into the Sinai.

The 360th Company, under the command of Capt. Gibson, was tasked with maintaining the water pipeline that supplied the advance. The six-inch pipeline carried water from the Suez Canal at Kantara (Qantara), to Romani Station and, eventually, to El Arish. Following the Third Battle of Gaza (Nov. 1/2, 1917), the 357th and 359th Coys. advanced with the line, repairing wells and pumps, boring new wells, and building new pump stations. This ‘campaign map’ summarizes the work of the Water Coys. in support of the advance into Sinai and Palestine.

Sarona Divisional Headquarters? [Manuscript map] n.d. [c. 1919]

Pencil on canvas, b/w.

Scale: 1/10,000. 20 x 40” Several folds.

Sketch map of the Sarona Colony, c. 1919.


At this early stage, the Division and units referred to on the map are unknown.


The colony of Sarona was founded by German Templers, a millenarian, Lutheran sect, in August, 1871. Initially, the colonists struggled on their 60 hectares of swampy, malarial ground and met with high mortality. They planted 1300 eucalyptus trees to drain the land and by 1889 there were 269 colonists and 41 homes. The Sarona Colony is recognized as the first group to market their produce under the name, “Jaffa Oranges.”


In November 1917 British forces occupied the Sarona Colony. The 850 colonists were interned in Egypt until after the war. About 270 of them were repatriated to Germany and in July 1920 the remainder were allowed to return. The colony was rebuilt and expanded between the wars.


During the Second World War, Sarona was again occupied by the British. About 1000 Germans were interned there and another 188 were deported to Australia. The colony became a fortified camp. In November, 1947, Templer lands were declared “enemy property” by the British High Commissioner and 4,236 dunams of Sarona land were sold to the city of Tel Aviv (Jaffa). Three weeks prior to their withdrawal from Palestine, the British deported the remaining Templers. On independence, Israel moved their military and intelligence headquarters into the Sarona camp where they remained until the 1980s.


Legal battles persisted into 2011 over the ownership of former Templer property even though a reparations settlement had been reached between Israel and Germany in 1962.


Letter of Comendation from the Sultan of Egypt to Captain William Gibson, R.E.

Ink on paper. 12 x 10”, framed.

Ornate Arabic calligraphy on beautiful handmade paper with a very large watermark and embossed with the royal seal.

“Certificate endowing Capt. Gibson with the 4th Degree Nile Award for Bravery and Loyalty in appreciation of his work in the Sinai Campaign. Issued from Ras [el-Tin] Palace, Alexandria, on August 15, 1919, and signed by the Head of the Secretaries of the Sultanate on behalf of the Sultan, Faud I of Egypt.”


Various personal documents from the life of Cpt. William Gibson, R.E.

Letter of recommendation for employment.

Letter of recommendation for employment.

Certificate of United States citizenship.

Seattle-area newspaper clipping. n.d.

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