Author(s): Saul Kelly
At an auction in Edinburgh in 2010, the sale of an old walking stick belonging to a British officer, Captain Gill, shed new light on one of the mysterious crimes of the Victorian era. Captain William Gill and his companions, the noted Arabist Professor Edward Palmer of Cambridge University and a young naval lieutenant, Harold Charrington, were killed in an ambush by Bedouin in the Sinai Desert in 1883. The trio had been tasked with informal diplomacy in the region, specifically to prevent the Arab sheikhs from joining the Egyptian rebels and to secure their non-interference with the Suez Canal. The gruesome murders shocked late-Victorian Britain, and led to pressure from the Queen, Parliament and the Press for the British government to launch a manhunt for the killers in a vast desert area with mountainous terrain.
This book traces the story behind the murder of the three men, uncovering the reason for their journey to the desert, the story of the murder itself and the backlash home in England. It shines light on a fascinating, forgotten crime, as well as on early intelligence operations in the Middle East.