Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
Bir el Abd
Sinai, 9 August 1916
8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Captain Thomas Sidney Austin produced a unit history called The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F. which included a section specifically related to the battle of Bir el Abdand is extracted below.
Austin, TS, The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F., unpublished manuscript.
The enemy was making a wonderful retirement and proved his knowledge of the country. At each hod, we would come upon a certain amount of ammunition and heavy gear abandoned in haste but throughout this day there was only skirmishing among the most advanced of our troops and the enemy rear-guard. Hammam was reached at sundown and bivouac made for the night, but at 4 a.m. on the 9th we were on the move again and heading for Bada. The Regiment was vanguard to the column on this date and. by half past 7 a.m. the screen (“C” Squadron.) was in touch with the enemy, 3000 strong, who were entrenched in a strong position 150 yards South of Bada Hod. Away up on the left was Bir el Abd and heavy fighting was heard going on there. The New Zealanders on the right of this line soon gained touch with us and then the Regiment attacked Bada. "A" Squadron took the centre, with B" on the right and "C" on the left. Our line charged in to within 400 yards of the redoubt, dismounted and settled down, the horses getting right back out of artillery range but not without first suffering heavy Casualties. There was little cover, what there was being made by scooping up the sand in front of one’s head.
“A" Squadron, under Major McAllister, was having a particularly bad time, also 2 Troops of "C" Squadron, under Lieut. McGrath, the latter being in a very exposed sector. The engagement kept up very fiercely throughout the day and the men especially the wounded suffered agonies of thirst and heat. The enemy artillery and machine gun fire was very accurate and our casualties were 2/Lieut. Buckland and 6 Other ranks killed, and 33 wounded. 5 of these died during the next few days. At dusk the enemy fiercely counter-attacked, and "A" Squadron was compelled to retire some distance, where the 9th. Light Horse came up and checked their advance. The two troops of “C" Squadron not receiving any orders were left in a very precarious position, being now almost in to Bada hod. On seeing the situation, however, they came out in to darkness along a small defile and ultimately joined up the rest of the Regiment.
The 9th Regiment taking over the line, we moved back to Millali and bivouacked, the next morning at 6 a.m. moving to Hassaniya, and thence in the afternoon back to the line to relieve the 9th again, where they had relieved us the day previous. At mid-night 4 patrols were sent out and these returned with reports that the enemy had evacuated their redoubts. Long before dawn we were all moving on rapidly and throughout that day advanced without opposition. Afternoon found us near Bir el Abd where an artillery duel took place against the enemy at Salmana. Horses and men were now showing signs of extreme distress from the arduous work, and as the troops were already too far removed from the supply bases, the chase was here given up. The Brigade was given a sector in the general scheme to protect, and the Regiment was sent back to Hillali where it spelled for a for hours, moving next morning to Hassaniya mere the whole Brigade camped for some time.
At Hassaniya we re-organised, blankets and clothing was got from Balagh Bunyon, [sic. Bally Bunyan] and all enjoyed a fair spell.
Citation: Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916, 8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account