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Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Romani, Sinai, 4-5 August 1916, 3rd LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Topic: AIF - 1B - 3 LHR

Battle of Romani

Sinai, 4 - 5 August 1916

3rd LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

 

A poignant moment as a 3rd LHR man pays his respects to a fallen Turk.
 

Frank M Blackwell and DR Douglas produced a unit history in 1950 called The Story of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment. This story has subsequently been reprinted by Lieutenant Colonel Neil C. Smith AM with upgraded information in which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and extracted below.

Blackwell, FM, The Story of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, (Adelaide 1950), pp. 70-2:

 

BATTLE OF ROMANI

[70] The northern flank was protected by a large salt lagoon, the Sabket Bardawil, and the southern flank rested on a high sandhill called Katib Gannit. This line was held by the 52nd Division in a number of strongly built redoubts.

South of Romani a broad ridge ran westward from Katib-Gannit, and outside this was a number of isolated sandhills, the most prominent being Mount Meredith, about four miles south of Romani, and Mount Royston, a similar distance to the south-rest. No defensive works had been prepared on these desert features.

BATTLE OF ROMANI

On the eventful night of 3/4th August the Regiment took up a line at 6 p.m. holding from Mount Meredith to No. 1 Post near .Katib-Gannit. "A" Squadron held the right sector, being in touch with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment. "B" Squadron had the left sector, connecting up with the British Infantry on the left. "C" Squadron was held in reserve behind the centre of our position.

Listening posts, in charge of N.C.Os., were dosed out in front of each squadron, their duty being to report the earliest enemy movements.

At 10.30 p.m. the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, returning from Katia, passed through our lines, and at 11.40 p.m. a listening post reported that the scouts of the advancing Turks had appeared and shots exchanged.

At 12.20 a.m. the enemy infantry made a bayonet charge on the Cossack Post line, situated at the base of Mount Meredith, and the reserve squadron ("C") was brought tip to reinforce the firing line.

[71] ''A" Squadron of the, 1st Light Horse Regiment also reinforced the line south 4 Mount Meredith.

The picquet lines poured a heavy fire on the enemy and held them up for some considerable time, but the 2nd Regiment, on the right, was forced back by vastly superior numbers and had to be reinforced by the remain. two squadrons of the 1st Light Horse.

The 3rd Light Horse Regiment held the ground above Hod Abu Abi until 4 a.m., but the Turks were now swarming up Mount Meredith from the south-west and dominated the position by sheer force of numbers of about 5 to l.

The 1st and 2nd Light Horse Regiments had been forced to withdraw, and the right flank was enfiladed by machine gun and rifle fire, also some shrapnel. The pressure from the enemy, and also the difficulties of obtaining ammunition, caused "A" and "C" Squadrons to fall back at 5.30 a.m.

A withdrawal was made to Wellington Ridge, where they were reinforced by the 2nd Light Horse Brigade and a company of King's Own Scottish Borderers, and here the Regiment re-formed less "B" Squadron. "B" Squadron, on the left, had been only lightly engaged and were able to hold on, but communications with R.H.Q. having been severed, the O.C. reported to Divisional Headquarters and was ordered by General Chauvel to withdraw and act as Divisional Troops.

Moving to the right flank junction was made with the 6th Light Horse Regiment, and in consequence the 3rd (less "B" Squadron) came under command of Col. Royston, of the 2nd Light horse Brigade.

The right flank was all the time being turned by the rapid extension of the enemy infantry, and this movement only stopped when the high ground covering the railway had been occupied by our forces. It was from this high ground, later in the afternoon, we observed our fresh attacking forces advancing from Dueidar in the south-west.

The enemy infantry, which had put up a splendid performance in the heat, were now squeezed between two forces and had to retire, leaving some 600 prisoners behind. Our whole line then swung to the left and advanced to Mount Meredith and Hod el Ana, where a halt was called and an outpost line held for the night.

[72] It had been an exhausting time for the men and horses as the heat was fierce and drinking water was totally absent. The transport services had been completely cut off by an aerial attack on the camp area at railhead.

Next morning a general advance way ordered and the Regiment acted as Brigade reserve. The enemy was retiring on Katia and our advance to Bir Sagid was made without opposition. The area was passed which the Regiment defended on the previous day, and the number of enemy dead lying about supplied ample evidence of the effectiveness of our fire on that occasion. Numbers of prisoners and captured stores were passed through our lines, and there was every indication that the enemy was in a disorganised condition.

At 3 p.m. a general advance by the five mounted Brigades was ordered against Katia. The enemy rearguard was well posted and armed and met the attackers with heavy machine gun and artillery fire.

The 3rd Regiment was in the centre and was unable to cross the samphire swamp between it and the enemy, for it was quite bare of any sort of cover. The flank attacks were no more successful, and at 7 p.m. the Brigades withdrew, arriving back at Romani one hour before midnight.

During these operations the Regiment was absent from camp for 59 hours, and the majority of the horses were without water for the whole period. The men were in little better state, for the small, and only, water bottle had been soon exhausted, and no replenishments had been furnished. Rations also had been in short supply, and it is doubtful if the bully and biscuit could have been consumed without something to wash it down.

Despite many trials and hardships ahead it is doubtful if any ether 59 hours of the campaign packed so much excitement or exhaustion for the men.

The Regiment's casualties for the two days were 14 killed, 36 wounded, 4 missing, and 95 horses killed and missing.

On the 6th and 7th the Regiment enjoyed a well earned rest.

 

Further Reading:

3rd Light Horse Regiment, AIF

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916 

Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Romani, Sinai, 4-5 August 1916, 3rd LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 26 October 2009 4:38 PM EADT

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