Topic: AIF - 1B - 1 LHB
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
3rd LH Bde, AIF, War Diary Account
3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade
Operations of 23rd December 1916.
Upon receiving orders from Brigadier General Chaytor, the Brigade moved to a commanding ridge north and a little east of the Stone Huts of Magdhaba and about 4 miles distant.
From this point at 0930 the 10th Light Horse Regiment and two Sections of the Machine Gun Squadron were despatched to operate on the extreme left flank, keeping in touch with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade on their right with the object of encircling the enemy right and getting behind them if possible. This was done on my own initiative. This was done and no doubt their position of the Regiment by 1600 materially added to the success of the operation by 1630. Two Squadrons had worked into the nullas south of the huts.
At this point they were opposed by an enemy redoubt but having made touch with the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade this position was captured; a certain part of the ridge being galloped with fixed bayonets which apparently demoralised the enemy.
Some three to four hundred prisoners were captured on this side of the position which included some senior officers the chief ???? of the Turkish Desert Force, ???? of them. Sixty (60) camels with supplies and ammunition were also captured and sent in.
The remainder of the Brigade was held in reserve on the high ground previously gained until 1300 when orders were received to push the remainder of the Brigade into the attack. The 8th and 9th Light Horse Regiments went forward with two Sections of the Machine Gun Squadron with the former. The right of the right Regiment (the 9th Light Horse Regiment) was directed on the guts of Magdhaba. The 8th Light Horse Regiment extending to the left and being in touch with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade.
Two Sections of the Machine Gun Squadron under Major Nicholas supported the attack on the right flank but the ground worked over gave little assistance for overhead covering fire; the guns at all time being pushed well forward into the firing line, which necessitated their being manhandled for a distance of 1,000 yards as horses could not be brought up owing to the nature of the ground.
As soon as launched this attack pushed steadily forward to the final stage when bayonets were fixed, but by this time the enemy were surrendering on all sides. In one case the bayonet got home and one man of the 9th Light Horse Regiment received a bayonet wound. As soon as the general surrender was evident steps were take to collect the killed and wounded and prisoners; the Turkish Hospital being made the collecting point. At this point between 700 and 750 prisoners were sent to the rendezvous, having been collected by the Brigade together with the number sent in by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the 1st Australian Light Horse. The casualties in the Brigade were as follows:
Killed in Action - 3 Officers; 8 Other Ranks
Wounded in Action - 2 Officers; 30 Other Ranks
During the operations the bearing of all ranks was excellent.
In conclusion I wish to state that from the time the two Regiments were put into the attack on the trenches, no time was lost and I cannot do otherwise than compliment the three Commanding Officers for the prompt way they got their Regiments into action.
Mention must be made of the excellent work done generally by the Lewis Gun Detachments. They proved splendid weapons for covering the bounds.
John R Royston
Commanding 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade
Masa'id, 25th December 1916.
Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, 23 December 1916, 3rd LH Bde, AIF, War Diary Account