Topic: BatzP - Surafend
Surafend, the massacre
Palestine, 10 December 1918
Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal Account
The following is a transcription of an account about the death of Leslie Lowry and the subsequent investigation of the murder. The report is extracted from Appendix 2, Assistant Provost Marshal, ANZAC Mounted Division War Diary, December 1918.
Appendix II to the War Diary
Anzac Mounted Division
11 December 1918
The burning of the Village at Surafend and the Bedouin Camp south of Richon de Zion.
At about 2030 on the 10th December 1918, I received a telephonic message from Major Walker DAQMG to the effect that the Village of Surafend was ablaze. I immediately organised a group of my Police, comprising in all 13 men, together with a portion of the Town Picquet and Duty Troop with their respective Officers, and the whole of us, in company with Captain Stevenson GSO3 of the Division, Lieutenant Fyfe A/D APM and I proceeded to the Village of Surafend. On arrival there I found the Village in flames.
The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Troops were patrolling the outskirts. I then went across to the Bedouin camp south of Richon and found that the place was also in flames. Quite a number of New Zealand and Imperial Troops as well as a few Australians were in and around the Camp. I saw no soldier committing an offence to warrant his arrest.
I entered with my Police and ordered all Troops out, which they did, but the lot assembled at the South end of the Camp. At this spot I addressed the men in a few words and advised them to return to their respective units and they immediately complied with the order.
I noticed that several of the men were armed, some with revolvers, some with rifles, while others had sticks in their possession. After seeing that everything was clear I surveyed the Camp and discovered the whole place was in a total wreck. There were three (3) Bedouins (Males) killed and two (2) Bedouins (Males) wounded. I communicated the result of these to the New Zealand Field Ambulance and two (2) Medical Officers were soon on the scene of action. I pointed out to them the dead and wounded. Then I left the Duty Troop Officer, Lieutenant Tremaine, 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment and his men together with a couple of my police to guard the Camp and to give whatever assistance that was required of them.
After this I proceeded back to Surafend Village in company with Captain Stevenson and my Police, and on my return to the Village, I saw no visible sign of any soldiers in or about the place.
As far as practicable I searched the Village throughout and it was still in flames. I found here the dead bodies of five (5) Bedouins (Males), and five Bedouin Males wounded. During the interval I sent a message to the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade Headquarters requesting for the attendance of a Medical Officer at Surafend. It was not long before he arrived. I pointed out to him the dead and wounded and he took charge forthwith. I left a couple of my Police to render whatever help they might be called upon for. I also sent a message to the Duty Troop Officer to return with his men to Division Headquarters Camp, just leaving two (2) of my Police to look after the Camp.
As far as my observation went I could not trace any signs of cruelty, or an act of brutality done to women or children at either of the places burned down, but I noticed many of them huddled up together in places.
Lieutenant Fyfe ADAPM and four (4) others of my Police were sent away early this morning to make further enquiries, with the result that on arriving at the Bedouin Camp, found the place was picquetted by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. Lieutenant Fyfe made search through the Camp and found the bodies of four (4) male Bedouins. He then proceeded to the Village of Surafend, and found that place was also picquetted by Lieutenant Trelow (3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment) Officer in charge, in company with the latter officer Lieutenant Fyfe immediately communicated with the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade Field Ambulances. Major Montifiore APM PL of C and Captain McKay, Deputy Military Governor of Ramleh then arrived. Lieutenant Fyfe pointed out the wounded to the Military Governor and returned to Divisional Headquarters with Major Montifiore, leaving the Police there to assist awaiting further instructions.
In company with Major Montifiore I visited both the camp and Village. The Muktah there informed me that no children or women were interfered with.
The Picquet were still doing duty as per instructions.Captain AM
DAPM Anzac Mtd Division. [Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal, Anzac Mounted Division.]
Citation: Surafend, the massacre, Palestine, 10 December 1918, Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal Account