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2015

Issue . 63/64
P. 54
Features
Photographic Memories: The Field Hospital of Hafir-el-Auja and US- Ottoman Relations
ABSTRACT

At the outset of World War I, an American Red Cross mission set up a field hospital in Hafir-el-Auja, an oasis just on the Palestinian side of the border with Egypt. Its purpose was to care for casualties suffered by the Turkish military during their first assault on British troops entrenched across the Suez Canal. Initial planning and preparations for the hospital originated in Beirut, but as the medical team travelled south towards the Sinai, Jerusalem, and in particular the American Colony, served as the staging ground for the hospital. In this paper I describe the background and activities of this rather unique American “wartime expedition” and clarify its motivation. I demonstrate that this isolated historical episode presents a complex view of US-Ottoman relations in the early twentieth century. In particular, I draw attention to the central role that American missionaries and the American Red Cross played in this relationship.