Battle of Suakin
Part of Mahdist War, 1881–1899

Battle of Suakin
Date20 December 1888
Suakin, Eastern Sudan
Result Anglo-Egyptian victory
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom
Egypt Egypt
Mahdist Sudan
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Francis Grenfell Osman Digna (WIA)
Casualties and losses
12 killed 1,000 killed

The Battle of Suakin (also known as the Battle of Gemaizah), part of the Mahdist War, occurred on 20 December 1888 when General Francis Grenfell defeated a Mahdist, or Dervish, force near Suakin, a chief port of Sudan.

The Mahdist force, under Osman Digna, had advanced on Suakin with an intention to invest it. From Suakin, General Grenfell launched a sortie against the Mahdists,[1] who were attempting to capture the Water Forts.[2] After one and a half hours of fighting, the casualties were 12 on the Anglo- Egyptian side and 1,000 on the side of the Mahdists. After this, the Mahdists withdrew, removing any threat to Suakin.[3]

General Kitchener was present, commanding an Egyptian Army brigade comprising Sudanese troops, this being the first battle where units of the Egyptian Army played a significant part since its reform by the British. They performed well in battle, enhancing the reputation of both the reformed Egyptian Army and of General Kitchener.[4]

In the battle, three of the swords of the 20th Hussars broke short, an incident which later caused debate in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.[5]

Egyptian and British forces present received both the Egypt Medal with clasp 'Gemaizah 1888' and the Bronze Khedive's Star.[1]


The British forces involved in the battle were:[6]


  1. ^ a b Joslin, E. C.; Litherland, A. R.; Simpkin, B. T., eds. (1988). British Battles and Medals. London: Spink. p. 164. ISBN 9780907605256.
  2. ^ "Egypt Medal 1882–1889, 1 Clasp Gemaizah". Constantius. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012.
  3. ^ Steward, W. Augustus (2008). War Medals and Their History. Read Books. ISBN 1-4086-9712-2.
  4. ^ Barthorp., Michael (1984). War on the Nile. Dorset: Blandford Press. p. 134. ISBN 9780713718584.
  5. ^ "Army—The Battle at Suakin—The Broken Swords of the 20th Hussars". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 332. House of Commons. 21 December 1888. col. 974.
  6. ^ "Sudan Wars, 1884-1889". 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2020-08-22.