Somaliland Camel Corps


Going down memory lane to the early 20th Century

English camel troopers in 1913 between Berbera and Odweyne in British Somaliland.

Somalilandsun – The Somaliland Camel Corps (SCC) also referred to as the Somali Camel Corps, was a unit of the British Army based in British Somaliland. It lasted from the early 20th century until 1944.

Active Early 20th century – disbanded in 1944 and succeeded by the Somaliland Scouts.

  • Country British Somaliland
  • Allegiance British Empire
  • Branch Cavalry
  • Type Camel Cavalry
  • Headquarters Laferug

Engagements Somaliland Campaign

  • Second Somaliland expedition
  • Third Somaliland expedition
  • Fifth Somaliland expedition
  • Italian conquest of British Somaliland
  • East African Campaign


Notable commanders

  • Hastings Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay
  • Eric Charles Twelves Wilson

The Somaliland Camel Corps (SCC) also referred to as the Somali Camel Corps, was a unit of the British Army based in British Somaliland. It lasted from the early 20th century until 1944.

Beginnings and the Dervish State

Main article: Dervish State

In 1888, after signing successive treaties with the then ruling Somali Sultans, the British established a protectorate in northern present-day Somalia referred to as British Somaliland.1 The British immediately recognized the affinity between the Somali people and their camel charges. The “Somaliland Camel Constabulary” was an early attempt to harness this natural affinity militarily.

By 1899, the religious and nationalist leader Mohammed Abdullah Hassan’s (“Mad Mullah”) Dervish resistance had begun. The period was to last until 1920.

Somaliland Campaign

On 9 August 1913, the “Somaliland Camel Constabulary” suffered a serious defeat at the Battle of Dul Madoba at the hands of the “Mad Mullah.” Hassan roamed British Somaliland and had already evaded several attempts to capture him. At Dul Madoba, 57 members of the 110-man unit were killed or wounded. The dead included the British commander, Colonel Richard Corfield.

On 12 March 1914, the British set out to create what was to become the “Somaliland Camel Corps” the better to maintain order in the protectorate, much of which was coextensive with the Warsangali Sultanate’s and Dervish State’s respective domains. The corps served against the “Mad Mullah”, but after a total of four major expeditions to capture him, Hassan remained on the loose. During the same period, the corps set an impressive standard by covering one hundred and fifty miles in seventy-two hours. The camel corps grew to include some 700 mounted riders.

In November 1919, the British launched the fifth and final expedition. In 1920, a combined land and air offensive — which included the Somaliland Camel Corps, the 12 aircraft of the Royal Air Force’s Z Force, Somaliland Police, elements from the 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalion and 6th (British Somaliland) Battalion of the King’s African Rifles (KAR), and an Indian battalion — defeated Hassan’s Dervish army and occupied the capital.

During the period between World War I and World War II, the Somaliland Camel Corps was re-configured better to defend the protectorate in the event of a future war. In 1930, Colonel Arthur Reginald Chater of the Royal Marines was placed in command of a slightly smaller corps of five hundred troopers. Like many other colonial units the Somaliland Camel Corps had British officers. In the late 1930s, the corps was given 900 British pounds to build pillboxes and reserve water tanks. After the financial crisis of 1931, the Somaliland Camel Corps numbered 14 British officers, 400 Somali Askaris, and 150 African Reservists.

Read more about the British Somaliland Camel Corps