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‘HMS Tara’ was torpedoed on 5 November 1915 near Sollum, a harbour east of the Libyan border. 12 lives were lost at sea. The survivors were handed over to Senussi rebels, who marched them for 11 days to Bir Hakkim, the site of an Ottoman fort built around an old and defunct Roman well.
In total, the survivors would spend 135 days in the Libyan desert. They were rationed small portions of rice and often foraged for snails to supplement this meagre diet. What little water they had was dirty and brackish, and 5 further lives were eventually lost from dysentery and malnutrition.
Nights in the desert were also bitterly cold. This blanket was donated from the estate of Sub-Lieutenant Leslie T Dudgeon, an officer who survived the ordeal. Dudgeon set off before the rescue to find provisions for the camp, but he was captured by Ottoman military forces. The blanket kept him warm through the cold desert nights.

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