Topic: AIF - 1B - 1 LHR
Bir el Abd
Sinai, 9 August 1916
1st LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
[From: Vernon, The Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885-1985, p. 105.]
[Click on map for larger version.]
PV Vernon's 1985 centenary celebration of the Royal New South Wales Lancers included a section on the work performed by the 1st Light Horse Regiment during the Great War. The pages specifically related to the battle of Romani are extracted below.
Vernon, PV, editor, The Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885-1985, (Sydney 1986), pp. 112 - 113:
At 2.15 p.m. on August 8 the regiment, now 236 strong, with "A" Squadron of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, left Romani for Katia as advanced guard to the 1st and 2nd Brigades which were both under Brigadier-General J. R. Royston, C.M.G., D.S.O., the object being to cut off the Turks at Bir el Abd. The force moved along the caravan route to Hod el Khibba, thence in a night march, swinging off at a bearing of 22 degrees as far as the recently swollen marsh, thence on a bearing of 80 degrees to Hod Hamada and from there on a bearing of 129 degrees in order to reach a point north-east of Bir el Abd. On reaching the edge of the sand dunes north-east of Bir el Abd, the unit came under heavy fire, and was forced to deploy on a line running eastward into the dunes from the edge of a marsh, el Huag, lying north-east of Hod el Hisha. At 11 a.m. an attempt was made to straighten out the line - the Wellington Mounted Rifles, attached to the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, moved forward and occupied a hill south-west of Hod el Asal. The 1st Light Horse Regiment moved forward supporting this attack, one troop reaching the hill. As the enemy appeared to be making some advance across the flat to the east, two troops of the regiment were moved up to Hod el Hisha, and were heavily fired on, at which time the Wellingtons were being heavily shelled on the hill occupied by them south-west of Hod el Asal. The enemy made a general advance, and orders were received at 3.30 p.m. to withdraw to the north-west towards Hod Hamada, thence via Hod el Khibba to Oghratina, where the regiment bivouacked for the night. Lieutenant R. A. L. McDonald and two men had been killed, and Major D. W. A. Smith and 13 men wounded.
At Romani, on August 4 1916, the British had routed the Turks and destroyed half their force. It was a decisive battle in the campaign. After the actions at Katia on August 5, and at Bir el Abd on August 9 to 12, the main enemy force was withdrawn across the 50 miles of practically waterless country to el Arish, but with a strong outpost left at Mazar, 24 miles east of Abd. The Romani operations had stressed the need for the railway line and pipeline which were gradually being constructed in the wake of the army, and the G.O.C. now made a determined effort to get these completed. (By December 21, the British were in el Arish.)
Citation: Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916, 1st LHR, AIF, Unit History Account