Extract from Manning Volunteers in the Great War by Margaret Clark:
The Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) was formed in January 1916 in order to deal with the revolt of pro-Turkish Senussi tribesmen in Egypt's Western Desert.
Four battalions were formed. The 1st and 3rd were entirely Australian, the 2nd was British, and the 4th was a mix of Australians and New Zealanders. The ICC also had its own machine gun unit, a battery of light artillery and a field ambulance.
At least four Manning Valley lads were part of the ICC. They were John Walter Keegan (from Krambach), Arthur Pitt Wood Levick (Taree), and brothers Allan William and George John Norrie (Dyers Crossing).
The operations of the ICC in the Western Desert in 1916 were characterised by long patrols and brief skirmishes with the Senussi. Later that year the Camel Corps was transferred to the Sinai Desert to take part in operations against the Turkish army. Here the ICC battalions fought alongside Australian Light Horse units at Romani, Magdhaba and Rafa.
In 1917 and 1918 they advanced north through Palestine and the Jordan Valley as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF).
The ICC suffered heavy casualties during the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917, and in the operations conducted in November to destroy the Turkish defensive line between Gaza and Beersheba.
While defending a hill called Musallageh in April 1918, some Australians of the ICC ran out of hand grenades. They resorted to heaving boulders down upon the attacking Turks and eventually fought them off. The hill became known as the 'Camel's Hump'.
As they moved into more fertile country, the EEF found that horses could move much faster than camels which fared better in desert conditions. The bulk of the ICC was disbanded in June 1918 and the Australians were used to form the 14th and 15th Light Horse Regiments.
Arthur Levick enlisted in November 1915, was posted to the 6th Light Horse in February 1916, but transferred to the 4th Camel Regiment a year later. Levick was not impressed with the camels, saying that he would rather have one horse than 50 camels. He also complained, "I wish I could only go to France to help Frank [brother] against the Germans. It is no good here for there is nothing to do". Following a bout of broncho-pneumonia, he was transferred to the 14th Light Horse in July 1918.
John Keegan enlisted in September 1917 and appointed to the Imperial Camel Corps as a trooper the following month. On arriving at Suez, he was transferred to the 1st Battalion Camel Regiment in February 1918. By May that year, he was admitted to hospital with a fever. After recovering from a bout of malaria, he was transferred to the 1st Light Horse and remained with them until he returned to Australia in March 1919.
Allan Norrie enlisted in August 1915, and his brother, George, a month later. Both were posted to the Imperial Camel Corps at Sherika, Middle East, as they had been taught how to ride a camel at the Menangle Camp in NSW. Allan spent some time in hospital with diarrhoea and on his recovery was sent to the Desert Mounted Corps Rest Camp for several weeks.
George did a stint with the 2nd Light Horse at Tel-el-Kebir before transferring to the ICC towards the end of 1916. He was wounded in the elbow at Rafa in January 1917. In writing to his mother, George wrote ... "do not think if we do not write at times that we do not get your mail, for we are shifting about so much we do not get a chance to post letters". When the ICC was disbanded in June 1918, the brothers were transferred to 14th Light Horse Regiment.