Route Report, Wejh to Mathar via the Wadi Hamdh.

Thomas Henderson produced a detailed map of the whole route and a photograph to accompany this report.


DATES : 6th May 1917 TILL 10th May 1917.
AUTHORITY : Lieut. T. Henderson R.E. & R.F.C.
By Motor car and checked by aerial reconnaissance.


First day

Left EL WEJH at 6 a.m. followed road (DERB EL HAJJ) through low hills leading a South Easterly direction.
After 2 hours fairly good going we left hills and turned down a rather steep path, over red sand-stone rocks into plain, where gazelle were observed feeding.  Here we changed our course about 10 degrees more Eastward, passing over first of all scrub and then stony undulations of a dark red colour.  It was this latter sort of ground which was found most suitable for the “Ford” car and good progress was made.
At 10 o’clock a.m. we halted about 3 miles N.W. of JEBEL TIBGILA, a low dark coloured hill, hardly a jebel. 2 miles to the South of us a small flat topped hill called “JEBEL AJWI” was observed, making an excellent landmark.
At 2 p.m. we started off towards JEBEL RAAL, its bearing from here being 110 degrees.  Going was easy and very good.
At 4 p.m. course was changed about 30 degs. to South, we now being about 8 miles W. of J. RAAL.  See sketch No. 1.  From here the road to KHAUTILA (DERB EL HAJJ) branches off and passes through pass in J> RAAL.  The plain is very flat here and has good surface, both cars going well, our direction now being 140 degs.  Right ahead we made for the 3 conical peaks of J. ASLAN.
On approaching the WADI HAMDH, harrar undulations with soft sand between were encountered, making progress difficult and slower than previously.
At 6 p.m. we reached the W. HAMDH and halted at the foot of J. ASLAN.
At 8 p.m. we started off once more taking advantage of a full moon and the cool of the evening, but were retarded by the soft sand and brushwood in the Wadi.  (The “Ford” being practically towed the whole way).
At 10 p.m. we had only progressed 1 mile in 2 hours so we halted and camped there for the night.

Total mileage for the day :  62 miles.
Total mileage 62 miles.

Second day

Started up Wadi at 5 a.m. after having previously ‘Cached’ 12 galls. water and some petrol and oil.
It was here we decided to abandon “Ford” car until our return.
Our bearing onwards from here now was 60 degs., which is North of East by 30 degs. and we kept to the South bank of the Wadi, it being better going than the Northern bank on this stretch.
A fairly high conical hill to the N.E. is conspicuous and is a good landmark.  See sketch No. 2.
The wadi here runs between hills above 1200 feet high and is in itself about 1000 yards broad, brush wood and hamdh trees growing very thickly.
About 2 miles up the wadi, the Wadi EL DARAJJ enters from the South.
One hour from starting this morning we passed SWEIGA about one mile to the N. of us, where water may be obtained but it is not recommended owing to its slightly brackish nature.
It is at this junction the WADI KHAUTILA enters the W. HAMDH and the conical hill previously mentioned overlooks the junction from the N.E.
The course now changes to 100 degs. (which is just S. of E.) and the center of the wadi was found to be the best going.
(See sketch No. 3. – made looking down the Wadi.)
At 7 a.m. we crossed over to the Northern bank and kept close to red coloured foothills, as brushwood and hamdh trees growing thickly were encountered.
The general direction of the Wadi for about 10 miles now lies about 120 degs. and to this bearing we kept whenever possible, until we arrived at a rather sharp bend where the Wadi turns off S.S.E. for about 2 miles, wher there is another slight deviation.
The Wadi here is very wide and the WADI HAMDH flows into it from the South.  Very soft sand was met with near this bend and the car stuck twice.

Second day

Continuing the direction of 120 degs. along the Northern bank for one mile a third bend is rounded and in the centre of the wadi is an island rock.  From here onwards the Wadi “zig-zags” quite a lot, each stretch being about a mile in length.  There is thick brushwood here and dry sandy water courses were followed.
At 8 a.m. we arrived at 3 large salty pools which we used for washing in as the water being impossible for consumption.
See sketch No. 4.
One thousand yards East of here, near another bend, we had previously prepared a temporary Landing Ground for aeroplanes.  Here we halted and a machine flew over and landed near us.
At 10 a.m. we moved off again, keeping as usual to the Northern bank for about 3 miles, then crossed over to the Southern bank for about 2 miles, till we came to the junction of WADI MATHAR with the WADI HAMDH which was our destination.
Total mileage from WEJH about 87 miles.
These last 5 miles – the going was more difficult and took 2 hours.  We returned that day to our halting place of this morning, 5 miles down Wadi, and spent night there.

Total mileage for the day :  about 30 miles.

Third day.

Started off noon down Wadi towing damaged aeroplane.
Saw 3 Arabs grazing camels in Wadi.
At 6 p.m. we arrived at our old camping place of the 6th.  Where we had left “Ford” car, and spent the night there.

Total mileage for the day :  about 25 miles.

Fourth day.

We started off at noon and left WADI HAMDH shortly afterwards picking a new and better route nearer the hills.
When on the plain (ABU ZEREIBIT) good stretches were met with and in several instances a speed of 15 to 20 m.p.h. was maintained.
That night we camped in the SEIL ABU AJAJ, North West of TIBGILA.

Fifth day.

Started off at 6 a.m. and picked up our outward route which we adhered to, arriving back in EL WEJH just before noon.


The fitting of double tyres on all four wheels of a “Crossley” was an excellent scheme and facilitated the crossing of soft sand which would otherwise have been impassible for cars.
On the return journey the “Ford” car went much better after we deflated the tyres.
Eight boards (2") 5 feet x 9" broad were carried, and with the aid of a spade, pick and axe the car was helped out of some difficult patches; the boards being placed longitudinally under the wheels as the car proceeded over the very soft ground.
Water and petrol for the whole journey was taken and ‘cached’ at various stages and picked up on the return journey.
All bearings were taken with a pocket liquid compass.
The object of the journey was to salve damaged aeroplane.


Signed Thomas Henderson R.F.C.
EL WEJH Lieut. R.E. & R.F.C.
“C” Flight No. 14 Squadron,
Royal Flying Corps,
(Arabian Detachment).