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'Sheikh Said. Memorandum in Continuation of Departmental Memorandum of 7th March 1893. (With Sketch Map.)' [‎6v] (2/10)

The record is made up of 1 item (5 folios). It was created in 9 Apr 1897. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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“I consider the position of Sheikh Sneed to be practically
useless to the French (as it is now) except for the purposes of
dominating Perim and the narrow straits. The broad straits
could not" be commanded, even with the best modern weapons,
especially at night.
“ But an idea has been started that the object of occupation was
to dredge or dig out the lagoon, and connect it with the Gulf of
Aden by a canal, as marked by the double dotted line in the
“ Thus a basin would be formed in which vessels of war could
lie, having two entrances, one from the Red Sea and the other
from the Gulf of Aden.
“If this could be done, the position would be a very formidable
one indeed, for the two lines of hills would shelter the basin
on the north and south, and they have each extremities admirably
adapted for placing batteries upon, to guard either entrance. I
have marked these 1, 2, 3, 4.
“ The broad valley in which the lagoon lies, extends from sea
to sea, and is almost perfectly level, raised in places but a few
feet above the sea. It has evidently been all under water, being
now covered with the debris of sea shells.
“ But, if the idea of making the lagoon were ever entertained
really, the work would seem to me to be one from which even the
powerful and wealthy French nation might well shrink, for,
though the valley appears at first sight to be sand, 1 think there
can be no doubt that a very short distance below the surface solid
rock will be met with throughout the valley.
« This was apparent from the occasional cropping up of sheets
of conglomerate sandstone in places, and in other places, especially
in the lagoon, of very ancient coral. Thus to cut canals on the
uorth and south, and a basin in the centre, sufficiently deep to
float men-of-war and to allow them to turn, &c., would be a work
of immense magnitude. ,
“ Of course it is possible, and if it were done, the position
would be as represented below
2. Range of hills. 3.
Forts 1, 2, 3, 4, defending the canals, and protecting the basin id
both flanks of the system. , c .u
“ This at the south entrance of the Red oea, upon the gfefii
eastern trade route, would be a most formidable position.
2. Lieutenant-Colonel Staee added that the ex
cavation of the canal to connect the lagoon with
the Gulf of Aden had not commenced, as had been
stated. He heard that a French agent from Obokh
had lately been to Sheikh Said to make arrange
ments for hoisting the French flag, but that the
Turks had warned him off.
1 .
Range of hills.
Narrow straits.
u pjasin in centre, connected with sea at both ends by canals,
Lines of hills (easily held by small batteries on peaks) oil

About this item


A memorandum written by Edmund] Neel, Political and Secret Department, India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. , in continuation of a previous memorandum [IOR/L/PS/18/B60], in which the Resident at Aden is urged to ascertain the present situation at Sheikh Said [Ra’s Shaykh Sa‘īd] following fears that the French Government planned to occupy the place.

The memorandum reproduces a report written by Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Vincent Stace, First Assistant to the Resident at Aden, which provides a sketch map (f 7) and a description of the geographical setting and principal buildings at Sheikh Said, and also raises the possibility that the French intend to dredge the lagoon there in order to create a basin for vessels of war.

The memorandum goes on to reproduce correspondence in which the opinions of the Resident at Aden, the Director of Military Intelligence, and the Secretary of State for India are given; the memorandum further notes that assurances have been received from the Turkish Porte that the French Government will not be allowed to take over any part of the Arabian coast.

However, as the French Government did not recognise Sheikh Said as Turkish, and since a Russian gunboat was known to have landed on the African shore of the Red Sea, the memorandum concludes that the British authorities should keep a close eye on French and Russian movements in the area.

The sketch map at folio 7 shows a region around Ras Shekh Said and Perim Island at the south-western tip of the Arabian Peninsula, indicating hydrology, settlements, principal buildings and the routes of a telegraph line, a submarine cable and a suggested canal. Hachures are used to show relief, and a brief note explains the map's sources. The map was published in June 1893 by the Intelligence Division, War Office, sheet no. 985.

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1 item (5 folios)

This item consists of 14 sections, with a map (f 7).

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English in Latin script
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'Sheikh Said. Memorandum in Continuation of Departmental Memorandum of 7th March 1893. (With Sketch Map.)' [‎6v] (2/10), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B110/1, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 29 March 2020]

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