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Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916, 10th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Topic: AIF - 3B - 10 LHR

Battle of Romani

Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916

10th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

 

The 10th LHR at Hod Nagid in preparation for the attack on Hamisah

[From: Olden, Westralian Cavalry In The War, p. 102.]

 

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Charles Niquet Olden produced the unit history for the 10th LHR in 1921 called the Westralian cavalry in the war: the story of the Tenth Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F., in the Great War, 1914-1918, which included a section specifically related to the battle of Romani and is extracted below.

Olden, A.C.N., Westralian cavalry in the war: the story of the Tenth Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F., in the Great War, 1914-1918, (Melbourne 1921), pp.   96 - 99:

 

WESTRALIAN CAVALRY IN THE WAR

CHAPTER XV - ROMAN TO BIR EL ABD.

[96] Whilst at Ballybunion, the 10th Regiment had carried out reconnaissances in an easterly direction, as it appeared that the role of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, in case of an enemy attack, would be to attempt a wide outflanking movement, jumping off from its present position.

For some six months past the principal sphere of Turkish activity had been the northern, or coastal, sector of Sinai Peninsula. Here the desert was much less hungry and inhospitable than elsewhere. For a distance of roughly twelve miles inland from the Mediterranean the wide expanse of loose, shifting sand was relieved at numerous intervals by the presence of 'hods,' ?I' oases, dotted over its surface. These hod were invariably alike in character, being merely very marked depressions in the sand and full of growing date palms. In most of them water of a kind could be found not far from the surface, and the tail palm trees afforded grateful shelter, in addition to carrying, in the season, heavy crops of luscious dates.

 As far back as March the enemy were known to have a large force, estimated at 10,000, in the vicinity of Bir-el-Abd, whilst many smaller bodies of Turks were scattered amongst the hod, and energetically redeveloping the water supply in the more important ones. Patrol encounters were of almost daily occurrence during the whole period, and several daring enemy raids had taken place. But it was not till the beginning of August, 1 9 1 6, that the Turko-German attack was launched.

 At the time, the British line in this sector was based on Kantara, on the Canal, and ran from Mahamdiya - the ancient camp of Chabrias, on the Mediterranean -south covering Romani to Katib Gannit, thence bearing back in a kind of half circle in a series of strong posts to protect the light railway from Kantara to Romani.

 On August 4th the Turks attacked this line frontally, and on the right flank, in a determined effort to seize the Railhead at Romani. At the outset they made fair progress, so fierce was their onslaught. But it was not for long. The records of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and the 1 St and 2' Light Horse Brigades will show how gallantly and how skilfully the Turks were met. By nightfall their attack was broken, and they had retired and were attempting to reorganise.

 On this first day our Brigade had taken no active part. It had left Serapeum Railhead on July 77th marched via Ismailia, El Ferdan and Ballah, and taken up a Exploding a charge at Khabrit El Habbal But whether or not it was intended, this movement was not carried out. Hurried orders arrived on the morning of August 4 that the Regiment would move with the Brigade to Hill 70, about six miles east north east from Kantara.

Saddling up with all speed and travelling very light, the Regiment marched out.

Hill 70 was reached by midday, and here rations and forage were issued and horses watered. The sound of heavy gunfire grew louder and nearer, and told of the desperate efforts the Turks were making. Towards, evening the Brigade marched to Dueidar, where it bivouacked for the night.

Shortly after daylight on the 5th, a situation report showed that the enemy was retiring, and the Brigade moved forward - the 9th Light Horse Regiment in advance - in a due easterly direction.

[98] Bir-en-Nuss, which the Turks were reported to be holding, was reached without opposition, and found unoccupied. The advance was pushed on with speed, and on approaching Bir Hamisah the advance guard was engaged by the enemy, who were holding a series of low, entrenched sand hills covering the hod. The 8th Regiment took up a frontal position, and vigorously replied to the heavy enemy machine-gun and rifle fire, delivered at a range of 500 yards. But although casualties were inflicted on the Turks, they were not to be easily dislodged.

"A" Squadron of the 10th Regiment was sent forward to reinforce the 9th, and shortly afterwards the remainder of the 10th Regiment moved up, dismounted, and occupied a position on the right flank. The 8th Regiment was held in reserve. A brisk fire fight was maintained, supported by two guns of the Inverness Battery.

Gradually it became evident that we were gaining the upper hand, and on the appearance of a troop of scouts under Captain Wearne and a troop of "A" Squadron under Lieut. J.K. Lyall, threatening their left flank, the Turks surrendered, hoisting numerous white flags on their rifles.

This was our first crossing of swords with the Turk since the Gallipoli days, and all ranks were elated with their success. Over 300 prisoners - including several Austrian machine-gunners - seven camels, four machine-guns and much ammunition was taken, besides which the enemy lost many killed. Our casualties in the Regiment were small in number, though some good men were lost to us.

For some unknown reason - probably obscurity as to the position elsewhere - the Brigade did not immediately exploit this success by continuing the advance.

Instead, the unit was withdrawn to Bir Nagid - a distance of about two miles west from the scene of the fight - and held in that vicinity until next day (August 6th). The prisoners were sent back under escort, and the 10th Regiment as advanced guard moved on Hod es Sagia, the rest of the Brigade following.

Aeroplane reports showed that the Turks were retiring as rapidly as possible, and we now had our first experience of their wonderful mobility on foot. They marched through the heavy sand at a surprising pace, and their rearguards were always well placed and fought determinedly.

As the leading troops of the Regiment approached Hod Sagia at dusk they were met with a burst of shrapnel, machine gun and rifle fire. The failing light made it impossible to locate the enemy position or discover his strength, so an outpost line was taken up for the night.

Our Brigade was now on the right flank of a general advance by the Anzac [99] Mounted Division - of which we formed a unit - under Major-General Chauvel.

Communication had been established with the unit on our left, and was maintained throughout. 

 

Further Reading:

10th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

10th 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: Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916, 10th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 27 October 2009 9:58 PM EADT

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