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  • Thursday ,14 May 2020

Thomas Russell: chief of Cairo police

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Thursday ,14 May 2020

Thomas Russell: chief of Cairo police

 Thomas Russell, became chief of Cairo police and he really loved Egypt and enjoyed his stay in it. On weekends, the prestigious Englishman used to go down from his home downtown heading to Al-Jazirah Sports Club riding a camel in unusual sight. The camel was called Abu Rasas and knew the way back home without any guidance. His camel was also used to chase criminals. Russell spent 44 years in Egypt, and in 1949 he published his book On Egyptian Service in London which was translated by novelist Mustafa Obaid entitled The Memoirs of Thomas Russell, chief of Cairo Police, which describes the Social life in Egypt. 

Russell was a good writer like his uncle who was a novelist. He also loved hunting starting with birds and reaching women. He described many places in Egypt staring with the palaces and ending with the gangs and thieves. He also mentioned Labban area in Alexandria where the finest women worked in prostitution and the price reached one dollar per hour. He also recommended the place for his friends visiting the area.  
There was a huge number of English officers in Egypt, but it was rare to find an officer who had an appetite for life in various forms such as Thomas Russell, who refers in his memoirs to the Hamamel neighborhood in Alexandria, saying that most of its inhabitants are European prostitutes and their Greek managers. 
He says: I went through every district in Egypt with my tours as an inspector. I worked in all police stations from Aswan to Alexandria. His ability to observe and describe enabled Russell to record a unique testimony about the traditions that were prevalent in Egypt, the types of animals and birds, crimes, gypsies, tribal conflicts and even on the Rafa’i hunters who attracted him with their characters, especially Hajj Ahmed whose picture holding a  five-foot-tall cobra in a Giza was published in 1919 a book called: The Egyptian Snakes and Their Hawa! 
He mentions the story of Hall, the unusual dog who joined the force in 1936, and became famous for being able to distinguish between real and false reports. Once he attacked a man who made a false report instead of attacking the defendants. 
Russell also describes the misery of peasants who earned very little money and worked very hard. He stated that the Egyptina government only follows what is said by the British one. He describes the demonstrations started on March 17, 1919, after Saad Zaghloul was exiled as the worst days of his life as the police couldn’t contain the polar demonstrations.
It was not strange for Russell to praise the English occupation and the progress it brought for Egypt, but his testimony in general is very valuable with the accurate observations of a man who knew Egypt from the bottom to the top.