Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 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 Magdhaba and is extracted below.
Austin, TS, The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F., unpublished manuscript.
For Some reasons the enemy did not make a stand at El Arish, evacuating a strong system of trenches and redoubts they had built on the south side of the town. Our columns entered the place on the 21st and rested there a day. The inhabitants were very nervous but seemed pleased to be free from the Turks. The latter seemed to have taken everything useful to themselves, but though food stuffs were scarce, we managed to obtain eggs at a high price, which were very acceptable.
At 1800 on the 22nd. we moved out in the main column to Bir Lahfan arriving there at 2200, and waiting for the ration camels to come up to draw rations before proceeding to Magdhaba. The night was bitterly cold. By 0100 on 23rd. all rations had been allotted and the column got moving once more down the wadi bed. At 0600 we could see the buildings at Magdhaba redoubts, and a halt was made in the wadi bed about 3 miles north west. Later on we moved over to high ground north of the enemy trenches and from here commenced our attack on foot. The Brigade dispositions were, he 8th and 9th in the firing line, the 8th linking with the CMR on the left and the 9th with the ICC on the right. The Regimental dispositions were, "C" Squadron on the left, "B" Squadron on the right, "A" Squadron being kept in reserve. The advance proceeded quickly, though much trouble was caused by advanced enemy snipers who could obtain good cover on the hummocky ground. Both the Squadrons advanced on redoubts simultaneously, "C" Squadron and a portion of the CMR taking the left one and obtaining 64 prisoners, whilst Lieutenant Walker taking through a reserve troop captured four 9 pounders at the rear. "B" Squadron with very able assistance from a Lewis Gun of the 9th Light Hose quickly accounted for their redoubt and consolidated, and being reinforced by the remainder of "C" charged and took the main redoubt, securing approximately 250 prisoners. Others captured by the Regiment were the four 9 pounder guns already mentioned, 1 machine gun, 44 pack animals loaded with SAA and many rifles.
Meanwhile other redoubts began to surrender rapidly and the whole position was in our hands before 1800. The attack had been delivered with great dash and determination and the number of casualties incurred on our side is proportion to the magnitude of the operation was remarkably light. The Regiment was most unfortunate in the loss of 3 officers, those including the Adjutant, Captain EB Higgins, Lieutenant EH Mack and EG Down, whilst Lieutenant JT Currie was so severely wounded as to necessitate his early return to Australia. 10 Other Ranks were killed or wounded. By 1900 all horses had been watered at troughs in the wadi so the Regiment was ordered to concentrate at Brigade Headquarters about 2 miles back towards El Arish. Here after rations were drawn and horses rested and fed a move was made to return to El Arish, excepting "A" Squadron, which was detailed to remain behind and assist in collecting material and captured gear from the field next day.
Bir Lahfan was reached at 0200 and rations were again issued here, and the march back to El Arish resumed. All through the long night we kept on the move and arriving at El Arish in the early morning. We marched round the outskirts of the town, proudly flying the captured enemy flag, and eventually camped at Masaid, a huge date grove on the beach, approximately 4 miles to the south west.
Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account