Topic: AIF - 1B - 1 LHB
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
1st LH Bde, AIF, War Diary Account
First Australian Light Horse Brigade
Headquarters, 24 December 1916.
Headquarters, A & NZ Mounted Division.
Report on operations of 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade at Magdhaba on 23 December 1916, commencing from arrival at position in Wadi el Arish on telegraph line about 3 miles from Magdhaba.
At 1000 this Brigade was ordered to push through the Imperial Camel Corps with left of Brigade resting on telegraph line to the apparent enemy left flank. After proceeding at the trot for about a mile the enemy opened fire on the Brigade with shrapnel. Artillery formation was adopted and the pace increased to the gallop, but after going another half mile, heavy machine gun and rifle fire was opened on my force from enemy positions on ridge north west from hospital at Magdhaba; these positions being on my right front. No cover being available for horses on my front I swung the Brigade to the right and gained cover in a rugged, blind Wadi at a point about 1,900 yards north west of enemy redoubt (No. 1 Redoubt).
At 1045 I ordered the Commanding Officer, 3rd Light Horse Regiment to attack the enemy trenches and redoubt at head of Blind Wadi and detailed 4 machine guns to come under his orders. My orders to Commanding Officer, 3rd Light Horse Regiment were to attack up the Wadi and along the bank round to the right.
At 1115 the Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery opened fire on the redoubts at head of the Wadi from a position about 1,000 yards east of the point where the Brigade entered the Wadi. Better position being available in the Wadi, I had the guns moved and they brought direct fire to bear on the enemy position at a range of 1,950 yards. The firing of this Battery was excellent.
My left got touch with the right of the Imperial Camel Corps and pushed forward along eastern edge of Wadi. The troops in the Wadi came under very heavy fire from redoubt and their advance was enfiladed from the second ridge which overlooked the Wadi from the south west. The cover afforded by the Battery on the redoubt and Machine Guns on the second ridge enabled the troops in the Wadi to advance to within 100 yards of the enemy redoubt, when it surrendered at 1350. Prisoners taken were 3 Officers and 92 Other Ranks.
The troops working along the eastern edge of the Wadi were the first to enter the enemy trenches, and theses in co-operation with the troops working up the Wadi pushed on to the attack to the second ridge. From trenches on second ridge and Redoubt No. 2 the enemy offered strong resistance.
At 1245 I ordered the Commanding Officer, 2nd Light Horse Regiment to despatch one Squadron mounted, to attack enemy's extreme left. This Squadron pushed round and became engaged with enemy position No. 2 Redoubt, which position was south west of Magdhaba and commanded the entrance to the wells. This movement very materially assisted the attack on the second ridge. The position of the troops at this stage was - front left to right; 3rd Light Horse Regiment, one Squadron 2nd Light Horse Regiment.
At 1430 I ordered the Commanding Officer, 2nd Light Horse Regiment to send one Squadron to reinforce the line between the Squadron on the right and the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. At 1530 I sent the remaining Squadron of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment to reinforce the 3rd Light Horse Regiment line on north of Redoubt No. 2.
From the time the first position fell into our hands the attack was pushed with great vigour. At 1515, the first line of trenches on second ridge was taken with the bayonet by "B" and "C" Squadron of 2nd Light Horse Regiment. Prisoners taken, 7 Officers 130 Other Ranks, amongst whom was Kideir Bey, the Commanding Officer of the Garrison. This officer informed my interpreter that the capture of the Garrison was complete.
Right flank was "All clear" at 1615.
Total prisoners taken 10 officers, 292 Other Ranks.
3 Machine Guns were employed in affording covering fire for advance of troops up the Wadi and on extreme right flank. After the surrender of the first Redoubt, an additional three guns were brought into action on the pisition of this redoubt and many good targets were found at ranges from 900 to 1,300. On the second ridge targets were obtained from 500 yards.
During the operation, one gun was put out of action with a bullet hole through the barrel casing.
Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, 23 December 1916, 1st LH Bde, AIF, War Diary Account