Capture of Yanbu

The Capture of Yanbu (Arabic: الاستيلاء على ينبع, Turkish: Yanbu'nun yakalanması; 1 December 1916 - 18 January 1917) was an Ottoman attempt to recapture the city of Yanbu.

Battle of Yanbu
Part of Arab Revolt of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I
DateDecember 1, 1916 – January 18, 1917

Arab victory

  • The Ottomans fail to capture the city.
Arab Revolt Kingdom of Hejaz
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Arab Revolt Faisal bin Hussein
Arab Revolt Abdullah bin Hussein
Arab Revolt Ali bin Hussein
United Kingdom T. E. Lawrence
United Kingdom Edmund Allenby
Ottoman Empire Ahmed Pasha
Ottoman Empire Fakhri Pasha
~4,000 2 brigades
Casualties and losses
Minimal Heavy

The Capture of Yanbu commenced on December 1, 1916, when Fakhri Pasha and two brigades invaded the outskirts of the city. The Ottomans initially had repelled the Arabs from strategic points in the city. Within a couple of days Pasha controlled all routes in and out of the city. The Arab soldiers in the city began constructing a makeshift airstrip for use by British aircraft. More Arab and British reinforcements arrived and strengthened defenses in the city.

Five British Navy ships also arrived to help in the defense of the city, including Dufferin, HMS M31 and HMS Suva. T.E. Lawrence stated, "Afterwards, old Dakhil Allah told me he had guided the Turks down to rush Yenbo in the dark that they might stamp out Faisal's army once for all; but their hearts had failed them at the silence and the blaze of lighted ships from end to end of the harbour, with the eerie beams of the searchlights revealing the bleakness of the glacis they would have to cross. So they turned back: and that night, I believe, the Turks lost their war."[1]

By December 9, Arab counter-attacks opened up the routes to the city, and flights from HMS Raven II severely attacked the Ottoman columns. Because of the Navy's presence in the ocean off of Yanbu, Pasha called off all advances on the night of December 11/12. Due to logistical errors, and counterattacks from the Arabs, the Ottomans started the retreat to Medina on January 18, 1917, thus ending the recapture of Yanbu.


  1. ^ Lawrence, T.E. (1935). Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. pp. 129-130.