Today the land where the British troops were active in the First World War lies in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria, all land previously part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
The war in this area was initially focused along the banks of the Egyptian Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It was a vitally important supply route for the British Empire, as well as being crucial to the movement of Australian, New Zealand and Indian forces en route to the Western Front. Egypt had long been occupied by British troops, while Germany had been cultivating Turkey as an ally for many years, because it wanted new lands and markets in the East. At first, Britain set out only to defend the Canal from the Turks that were massed in Palestine; but, it was were soon drawn into action against the Senussi Arabs, who attacked Egypt from the west. The British saw many important victories that pushed the Turks further from the Canal, along with the support of Arabs in the Hejaz (a region west of present day Saudi Arabia), and began to contemplate a push into Palestine. This became additionally important following the disaster at Gallipoli and the need for success in Mesopotamia.