Topic: AIF - 2B - 5 LHR
Bir el Abd
Sinai, 9 August 1916
5th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Brigadier General Lachlan Chisholm Wilson and Captain Henry Wetherell, collaborated to produce a unit history published in 1926 called History Of The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914 - 1919 which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and is extracted below. A copy of this book is available on the Lost Leaders of Anzacs website.
Wilson, L.C. and Wetherell, H., History Of The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914 - 1919, Motor Press, Sydney, 1926, pp. 79 - 80:
When the New Zealand Brigade, to which we temporarily belonged, had arrived within a couple of miles of Katia Oasis, the Brigadier (Chaytor) sent for the C.O. and informed him that the five mounted brigades were going to charge Katia Oasis and rush the Turkish position mounted. The General pointed out the fronts to be attacked by the New Zealand Brigade and explained that a battery of heavy Austrian guns were supposed to be amongst certain palm trees to our front. The 5th Regiment was accordingly instructed to gallop the Turkish position and they would be supported by one of the New Zealand regiments, the idea being that the other four mounted brigades were to charge in on our flanks. The Regiment was accordingly formed in two lines. 'A' and 'B' Squadrons in the front line, and 'C' Squadron in the second line, the squadrons being in line of troop columns; the ground to be covered was sand, over which was scattered small brush. Bayonets were drawn and fixed on the rifles, which were to be used as lances. Orders were issued that on approaching the Turkish position the troops would gallop up into line and the Regiment would sweep through the Turkish position. The Regiment accordingly moved off at a fast trot, with bayonets fixed, over a distance of about a mile and a half. Within half a mile of the objective the troops galloped into line, and the Regiment charged the oasis. A splendid line was kept, the Regiment moving with the precision of a peace manoeuvre. As a matter of fact, the guns had been removed from that part of the Oasis which we attacked, and when we arrived there, there were only some dozen Turks who were taken prisoners. As we approached our objective, machine guns, rifle fire, and artillery opened on us from the Turkish position further to the rear. We had now gained our objective, and it was apparent that the other brigades were not charging in (mounted) as anticipated. This being so, it was useless for this Regiment alone to charge across the open country to the main position of the Turks. The Regiment under Major Cameron, was sent to the extreme right of the Brigade line, covering the flank of the Auckland Rifles. Two troops of 'B' Squadron were sent as escort to the guns and one troop as escort to the ammunition, two of these troops being subsequently brought up to the firing.-line, one on the right with 'C' Squadron, and the other on the left with the remainder of the Regiment. The remainder of the Regiment, consisting of 'A' Squadron and portion of 'B' Squadron, were sent up on the left of the brigade line to support the Canterburys and to keep in touch with the 1st and 2nd Brigades, It thus happened that during this day's fighting, part of the Regiment was on the extreme right of the Brigade and the balance on the extreme left. The 3rd Brigade did not come up on the right-flank of the line as anticipated. It appears they met strong opposition and were not able to take up their allotted place. The result of this was that the Turks started to out-flank the New Zealand Brigade line occupied by 'C' Squadron, and some very brisk fighting at very close quarters ensued, there being a distance of yards only between the opposing men. On our left flank touch was obtained with the 2nd Brigade. Fighting continued throughout the day. The enemy's numbers were greatly in excess of ours and their artillery was very active. Late in the afternoon, a determined counter-attack was made by the enemy. They opened an extremely heavy artillery and machine gun fire on the 2nd Brigade, to our left. That brigade was forced back, which resulted in our left flank being open. As a gap was now occurring in the Division's line our left flank was thrown back to prevent the Turks getting in behind our left rear. Shortly after this, instructions were received from General Chaytor that the whole force would retire. The Division accordingly retired to Oghratina. During the day we collected 13 prisoners. Our casualties for the day amounted to 37, including Major Johnstone and Lieutenants Wood and Graham wounded. Sergeant Hector McLean was subsequently awarded the D.C.M. for his gallantry during these operations.
Citation: Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916, 5th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account