Over the last few weeks we have been joining Eid festivals across the UK to share the story of the Egyptian Labour Corps for The Unremembered project with creative activities and photo tributes. The Unremembered project is a nationwide community programme to remember World War One’s army of workers – the Labour Corps. Many died, yet today their contribution and sacrifice is rarely acknowledged.
The Egyptian Labour Corps was formed to provide labourers for Gallipoli in 1915. During the war, the number of Egyptians employed grew from 3,000 men to hundreds of thousands – somewhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million men. Accepted figures vary widely with British estimates lower than Egyptian. Records are poor and there are only 273 names recorded despite the fact that more than 10,000 people are known to have died, though the true figure must be far greater. Their story really is Unremembered.
To commemorate the Egyptian Labour Corps, we held live commemoration at Eid festivals in Bradford, London, Leicester and Glasgow. Visitors to the festivals were invited to participate in our photo tributes – where they could hold up high the names that we have. The signs they held also included the job the person held in the Labour Corps and where they are buried. The signs doubled up as certificates of participation and those who took part were able to take them away to share the story with others.
We also worked with talented calligraphers who ‘live’ wrote the names of the Egyptian Labour Corps in Arabic calligraphy on the certificates. Thank you to our calligraphers Israa, Sadiq, Rashida and Jawdat.
Thank you to all those who took part in commemorating the Egyptian Labour Corps: