Topic: AIF - Cars
1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF
THE BATTLE WITH THE KURDISH BANDITS
Below is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 1.
THE BATTLE WITH THE KURDISH BANDITS - Part 1
The 12th January, 1919, was our last scrap. We claimed that we fired the last shot in connection with the Great War. This is how it happened. The town of Ain Tab where we were stationed was an inland town in the mountains. Although well inside the Turkish line at the signing of the Armistice, the town now had both a British and Turkish Commandant residing there. Any person who had a grievance or a complaint to make went to both and if he was up to the usual standard of Eastern artfulness he would try and work one against the other. Well to get on with the story, a party of Armenians looking very sorrowful and woebegone an the day in question, arrived at the house of the Turkish Commandant and explained to him with tears in their eyes that they had been waylaid and stripped of their clothes and robbed of all their possessions by brigands on the main road between Killis and Ain Tab. The Turkish official said that he was very sorry to hear the sad news, but explained that the matter had nothing to do with him and they had better run across and tell the British Commandant. Perhaps he might be able to get their clothes and possessions back again for them.
They took his advice and went across to Major Hills, the British official, who questioned them and managed to get the story out of them and the position of their caravan when robbed. He then sent across for the officer in charge of the Light Car Patrol who immediately got a couple of his cars ready with instructions to chase the brigands. We were told these gentlemen were about four miles down the main road so we took one of the Armenians who could speak some English, as a guide to the position and although expecting the usual wild goose chase, we set off at full speed in the direction of the trouble, everyone being very sarcastic on the subject of Bandits in general, but sure enough, when we had gone about four miles down the road we saw a long camel caravan halted in the middle of the road and a squad of armed horsemen holding them up with rifles in the true highwayman fashion. Joy beat in the hearts of the motor patrol. At last, they were doing to get even with somebody for all the miserable expeditions at midnight in the cold and wet that they had endured for the last few weeks.
No questions were asked by either side. The bandits knew they had been caught red-handed and could expect no quarter. They all started firing wildly with their rifles and revolvers from horseback as they galloped down the road which had stone walls along each side at this particular spot. The horses apparently were not much in the steeple chasing line so their riders rode straight on hoping to get gape in the walls. The two cars tore on (one on either side of the caravan) holding their fire until up to the horses then they let go at the riders who fired from the hips as they ran along side by side. However, owing to the speed and the bumping of the cars and the elusiveness of the target the shooting on both sides was very bad. The writer who at one time rather fancied himself as a bit of a revolver shot, still remembers his disgust at emptying every shot in his Webley at point blank range at a Kurdish horseman without the slightest affect. We then concentrated on the horses which were much more difficult to miss with the result that the animals were soon all on the ground except one which galloped away without the rider who was wounded. The riders however, jumped aver the wall and began shooting from behind cover at us so we divided, (each car's crew going to opposite ends of the wall) and we opened up on them from both flanks with rifles and a Lewis Gun. This soon fetched them up and they tried to bolt away through some ploughed ground. However, our shooting was better now and we picked them off as they ran up the hill. We accounted for the whole band who were all either killed or wounded. We found that some of them had three or four bullets through before they dropped.
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Further Reading:The Australian Light Horse - Structure
Citation: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - THE BATTLE WITH THE KURDISH BANDITS - Part 1