Topic: AIF - 5B - ICC
Bir el Mazar
Sinai, 17 September 1916
In 1976, George F and Edmee M Langley produced a unit history about the Imperial Camel Corps called: Sand, Sweat and Camels - The Story of the Australian Camel Corps, in which included a section specifically related to the battle of Bir el Mazar and extracted below.
Langley, GF & EM, Sand, Sweat and Camels - The Story of the Australian Camel Corps, (Melbourne 1976), p. 68:
The Battalion was to follow the Pilgrim Road, well marked by a telegraph line which was to be cut to clear the enemy posts leading to Mazar. An Arab guide had been promised to lead the column to Malha. There was no time for a distant reconnaissance and troops were confined to the hod area, so as to give enemy planes as little indication as possible of any movements. An hour before the time to move Major-General Chauvel visited the Camel Corps area and explained that it was impossible to provide a guide as the original one was now wanted for the main body of Light Horse. The column would now have to move on a compass bearing and was accompanied by one officer, Lieutenant Lyall, and six Light Horsemen. They were to report to the main body when Kasseiba, an enemy outpost, was cleared. Difficulties were encountered from the very start and Kasseiba was never located and Lieutenant Lyall was despatched with a message to this effect and that we would continue on our way. The Battalion of the Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery who were accompanying us were on their first trek with camels, instead of mules, and were in continuous trouble all night with their equipment; so also were the ambulances. Frequent halts were necessary to prevent straggling. The camels suffered, too; backs were so bad that the veterinary officers looked for a cause in the saddlery and a slightly different pattern was provided from that date onwards.
Two men of No. 7 Company, overcome with exhaustion by the strenuous night's march and having to pull their camels up sand dunes, fell asleep during one of the halts and consequently had not joined up with the column when it moved on. Their bodies were found later in the campaign; they had died of thirst.
At dawn on 17 September, 1916, having reached a point south of Mazar, the action against Mazar was called off and we marched back to Salmana. Nevertheless the Turks did evacuate Mazar two days later. Soon after the return of the Battalion to Bayud and Mageibra, No. 12 Company (Captain G. Smith) joined up, thus making five companies in the Battalion.