Suakin Expedition

The Suakin Expedition refers to two military expeditions led by Major-General Sir Gerald Graham V.C. to Suakin in Sudan with the intention of destroying the power of Osman Digna, the first in February 1884 and the second in March 1885.

First expedition

The first expedition, in February 1884, led to several notable British victories (the Second Battle of El Teb and the Battle of Tamai).[1][2]

Second expedition

Following the fall of Khartoum, Graham led a second expedition in March 1885. This expedition is sometimes referred to as the Suakin Field Force.[3] Its purpose was to clear Mahdist forces under Osman Digna from the region, and to supervise and protect the construction of the Suakin-Berber Railway. A week after its arrival in Suakin, the expedition fought in two actions: the Battle of Hashin or Hasheen[4] on 20 March and the Battle of Tofrek on 22 March. The force was later joined by the New South Wales Contingent, which arrived at Suakin on 29 March.[5] However, within two months the Gladstone government decided to abandon both the railway and its military campaign in Sudan.[6] General Graham and his Suakin Field Force were evacuated from the port city on 17 May 1885.[7] Nevertheless, Britain maintained an ongoing presence in Suakin where between 1886 and 1888 the then brevet Lt. Col. Herbert Kitchener acted out the role of Governor General of Eastern Sudan.[8]


  1. "Savage and Soldier Online". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  2. "Lot Archive – Dix Noonan Webb". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  3. Hill, R.; Hill, R.H. (1937). Sudan Notes and Records. 20. University of Khartoum. p. 110. JSTOR 41716376.
  4. Battle near Hasheen West Coast Times, 23 March 1885
  5. Grant 1992, p. 355.
  6. Hill, R.; Hill, R.H. (1937). Sudan Notes and Records. 20. University of Khartoum. p. 119. JSTOR 41716376.
  7. Hill, R.; Hill, R.H. (1937). Sudan Notes and Records. 20. University of Khartoum. p. 123. JSTOR 41716376.
  8. Green, D., "Armies of God – Islam and Empire on the Nile 1869–1899", pub. Century, 2007, p.278.


  • Grant, Ian (1992). A Dictionary of Australian Military History: From Colonial Times to the Gulf War. Milsons Point, New South Wales: Random House. ISBN 9780091825928.
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