Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917
8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account
War Diary of the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF
The War Diary provides an excellent reference to the day to day activities of note that occurred within a particular unit. They were never designed to be histories in themselves but aids to future historians who wish to write about their deeds. The War Diary was often written up at the end of the day when most men were weary and seen as just another useless activity demanded by "the Heads" in far off places. It was only years later when unit histories were produced that the value of the War Diaries became to be realised by the men. The result is that the War Diary is usually light on detail. These details can be supplemented by Routine Orders and signals where these may exist.
The entry for Saturday, 1 December 1917 is transcribed below.
War Diary Entry
Saturday, 1 December 1917
8th Light Horse Regiment Location -
8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -
Line was all quiet until 0030 on 1 December 1917 when Captain Walker, MC, "B" Squadron, reported enemy concentration on his immediate front. Brigade Headquarters were wired immediately, priority, for reinforcements.
The enemy attacked about 250 strong with many bombs at 0045 and after half an hour's heavy fighting at very close quarters, "B" Squadron were compelled to fall back to (Major Crawford's) "C" Squadron's position. Here a fresh line was made, every available man being in the firing line.
48 men of the Gloucester Yeomanry, under Lieutenant Colonel Palmer, arrived at 0200 and the enemy just then made a fresh assault. One company of the 4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers under Captain Henry arrived at 0230 and all were immediately sent into the line.
The enemy made two distinct rushes with about 500 men, and were each time held off with a very heavy close range fire.
The fighting gradually diminished and the enemy position was rendered absolutely safe by the arrival at 0430 of another Royal Scottish Fusiliers company who were kept in supports. "B" Squadron took possession of their original position and touch was again made with 4th Light Horse Brigade on right flank.
8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, Saturday, 1 December 1917, page 2.
Throughout the hours of fighting there was much heavy bombing, especially on the part of the enemy who were evidently well supplied. Our Mills Grenades were very superior and effective. The 9th Light Horse Regiment had managed to get a rearguard machine gun fire and this partly had the effect of cutting the enemy off from Shilta Village.
At daybreak the survivors surrendered amounting approximately to:-
6 Officers (including the Battalion Commander), and 112 Other Ranks, and about 20 wounded.
The enemy dead amounted to approximately 100. (20 on "B" Squadron's ridge and 80 on "C" Squadron's ridge.)
The Royal Scottish Fusiliers and Yeomanry did splendid work and had it not been for their very quick arrival after the alarm, the Regiment would have received a very severe handling.
Our casualties were (approximately) 2 Officers - Captain Fay and Lieutenant SK Moore killed and 5 Other Ranks and 2 Officers and 35 Other Ranks wounded (one of them since died). All ranks displayed great intrepidity and dash throughout.
Major General Hodgson visited the Regiment next morning and personally expressed his pleasure and congratulations. The two attached telegrams are copies of those received from Desert Corps and 20th Army Corps.
During the morning the Royal Scottish Fusiliers were withdrawn and the Regiment continued to hold the line with the Gloucester Yeomanry in supports. Much booty was collected throughout the day included in which were 8 new type automatic rifles.
The 6th Nottinghamshire Battalion (2 Companies) reported to Regimental Headquarters as reserves at 2030 and retired at 0500 on 2 December 1917.
During the day a wire was received containing the following awards:
405 Lance Corporal J Kerr, Military Medal1176 Trooper ES Ackland, Military Medal3103 Trooper L Taylor, Military Medal
Regiment held firing line as taken over on night of 30 November / 1 December, with Gloucester Yeomanry in supports. At 0230, 1 Company South Nottinghamshires reported at Reserve Troops and remained in vicinity of Regimental Headquarters until 0500, 2 December 1917.
Roll of Honour
Lest we forget
The War Diary of the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF is held by the Australian War Memorial and available online at no cost.
Citation: El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917, 8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account