Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
27 September 1918
2823 Private Herbert Leslie SCHRAMM, a 22 year old Farmer from Whites River, South Australia. He enlisted on 17 February 1916; and at the conclusion of the war Returned to Australia, 10 July 1919.
During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, Bert Schramm kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September Offensive by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.
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Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 23 - 27 September 1918
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Friday, September 27, 1918
Bert Schramm's Location - El Mejdel; Jisr Benat Yakub
Bert Schramm's Diary - Left Tiberias at 7.30 this morning and struck some pretty sharp fighting along the banks of the Jordan. Enemy defended the bridge head stubbornly but we secured a crossing at 8 pm and we are now on the eastern bank astride of the Damascus road.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - El Mejdel; Jisr Benat Yakub
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0745 Moved from El Mejdel arriving Rosh Pina at 1130 where Brigade halted and 9th Light Horse Regiment pushed forward with orders to force the Jordan.
1215 joined A Squadron who were in position about 123B4. Early in the morning this Squadron had received orders from 3rd Light Horse Brigade to push forward and reconnoitre for fords across Jordan. This was accomplished. Bleechmore, Major C, subsequently reporting that the enemy were holding an entrenched position on eastern banks commanding the river from where it flowed out of the Lake Huleh to just south of the bridge. Strength of enemy estimated at 1,000 with one or two small guns. Strong patrols had been despatched by Bleechmore, Major C, north and south which has been destroyed and into Mishmar Hayarden. Hannaford, Lieutenant E, later reported a crossing not held by the enemy about two miles south of the bridge.
1230 The Regiment received orders not to become involved with the enemy as Division intended altering their plans. By this time a battery of our artillery opened fire on enemy positions personally indicated to forward observation officer by Bleechmore, Major C. This battery did some remarkably good shooting knocking the enemy gun out of action with the second shot.
1430 Orders received that a combined effort would be made to force the crossing. 5th Light Horse Brigade to force a crossing south of the bridge. 9th Light Horse Regiment to make a demonstration attack with right on bridge and left on clump of trees at ford in Sq 123 P19o. 10th Light Horse Regiment to rush forward mounted supported by covering fire from 8th and 9th Light Horse Regiments and 3rd Machine Gun Squadron.
1500, C Squadron advanced mounted to a favourable position than dismounted with right on left of village near bridge and left on white house near ford. A Squadron followed C Squadron subsequently taking up a position n the left of C Squadron.
1530 A and C Squadrons were in position overlooking the River Jordan ready to support the 10th Light Horse Regiment in their crossing the ford.
1600 5th Light Horse Brigade observed crossing unopposed at El Min. The ford in front of 3rd Light Horse Brigade Sector was still strongly held by the enemy.
1730 The 10th Light Horse Regiment crossed the ford followed by the 8th Light Horse Regiment.
1915 A Squadron was withdrawn to Brigade Headquarters in Sq 123 O35c and rationed. The regiment together with 3rd Machine Gun Squadron concentrated at Regimental Headquarters then moved by main road to Mishmar Hayarden thence followed up western bank of river and crossed at the ford Jisr Benat Yakub and joined Brigade Headquarters about 2045. Our casualties for the day: Wounded: Wastell, Lieutenant MF; and, four Other Ranks.
After crossing the ford a halt was made for ½ an hour. B and C Squadrons furnishing the advanced and flank guards Brigade Headquarters followed by remainder of Regiment moved in easterly direction across country with the intention of surrounding Deir es Sarass before dawn. The going here was particularly bad country being very stony, hilly and trackless. Horses were led up steep rocky hills for a distance of about 1½ miles until a table land was reached where moving became much better.
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary
Shortly after midnight orders were received that Division would move at 0600 with the object of relieving Damascus on the 29th September 1918. At 0730, 3rd Light Horse Brigade moved off, following 5th Light Horse Brigade as far as Rosh Pina, after which the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, with 9th Light Horse Regiment - Regiment and six machine guns as advance guard, took the lead. It had been reported that the Jordan River bridge at Jisr Benat Yakub had been blown up. Orders had therefore been given for the squadron 9th Light Horse Regiment at Rosa Pina to push forward at dawn and reconnoitre the fords as far as Lake Huleh. The 3rd Field Troop were pushed on ahead to collect material and repair the bridges. Our orders were to reach the high ground overlooking Kuneitra before dark. At 0030 while on the march a message was received from advanced squadron, 9th Light Horse Regiment that the enemy were holding Jisr Benat Yakub and the Jordan River crossings with machine guns and at least one field gun and were entrenching. Aeroplane reconnaissance confirmed this - the total enemy force facing was estimated at 600 - 800. The Division halted at Rosh Pina, the balance of the 9th Light Horse Regiment with Notts Battery, Royal Horse Artillery being sent on to clear up the situation. It soon became apparent that the enemy were determined to vigorously dispute the crossing of the river. Hannaford, Lieutenant E, reported a crossing not held by the enemy about two miles south of the bridge, at El Min. The enemy no doubt recognised that every hour he could hold the Division it was of vital importance. His 4th Army was now in full retreat from Deraa towards Damascus. He no doubt hoped that if those 20,000 fugitive's could get a little rest at Damascus, he could organise a defence of that place against our purely cavalry force. It was imperative that they should not get that rest and chance to reorganise. The Divisional Commander therefore decided on an immediate general attack. The 5th Light Horse Brigade were to cross the river to the south of Jisr Benat Yakub bridge at El Min and work round the enemy's flank while the 3rd Light Horse Brigade were to engage the enemy in front, and if possible gain round his right flank by crossing immediately south of Lake Huleh. The 9th Light Horse Regiment moved and engaged the enemy between the lake and the bridge, pinning him to his ground and forcing him to disclose his dispositions and strength. The Notts Battery early in the fight silenced the enemy guns, obtaining a direct hit upon one of them, and effectively kept down the fire of enemy machine guns which had been located by the 9th Light Horse Regiment. The 3rd Machine Gun Squadron took up positions along the western bank from which effective covering fire could be given to troops crossing the river. Vigorous reconnaissances under heavy rifle and machine gun fire for a crossing of the river was carried out by the 10th Light Horse Regiment, and a ford was located half a mile south of the southern end of the lake. 8th Light Horse Regiment were sent to join the 9th Light Horse Regiment, the plan being for the 8th and 9th Light Horse Regiments 3rd Machine Gun Squadron and Notts Battery, Royal Horse Artillery to give covering fire while 10th Light Horse Regiment crossed. After this Regiment had established itself on the eastern bank, the remainder of the Brigade would cross. It was expected that the operation would be facilitated by the fact that the 5th Light Horse Brigade at 1630 were reported to be crossing the river at El Min without opposition and would therefore soon make themselves felt on the enemy's flank. It turned out, however, that the country to the east of the 5th Light Horse Brigade crossing place was so rough that they were unable to get on to the main road until after daylight next morning. Up to 1700 the enemy hung on to his positions with determination, at times developing considerable rifle and machine gun fire, causing us a few casualties. By 1730 all covering troops were in position and the 10th Light Horse Regiment moved forward to cross at the ford previously located under heavy covering fire from the remainder of the Brigade. The water was about 2'6" in depth. The 10th Light Horse Regiment were all across by 1915 and were followed at once by the 8th Light Horse Regiment. These two Regiments were directed to make for Deir es Sarass, the 10th Light Horse Regiment detaching B squadron to move south along the river to clear up any enemy still in position. This squadron encountered a party of enemy in the dark who opened fire at a few yards range causing casualties. Without hesitation the leading troop under Macnee, Lieutenant MH, flung themselves off their horses - it was too rough to charge mounted - and with fixed bayonets rushed the flashes. A sharp fight took place and for a time the enemy fought with great determination inflicting several casualties on us. The balance of the squadron soon supported the leading troop and the enemy surrendered. The post included twelve Germans, 41 Turks, one field gun and one machine gun, and one motor lorry. During these operations it was apparent that the enemy were extensively using motor lorries as a means of withdrawing the troops, comprising their rear guard on this sector. In the morning a large, number of these had been seen .moving down to the river positions. Similar tactics were two days later adopted by them at Sasa.
Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.No Entry
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Bert Schramm's Diary
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