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Wednesday, 9 January 2008
The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, 1st New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, War Diary Account
Topic: AIF - NZMRB - NZMGS

The Battle of Rafa

Sinai, 9 January 1917

1st New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, War Diary Account

 

1st New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, War Diary Account

 

The following is a transcription of the 1st New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, War Diary Account detailing their role at the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917.

 

Masaid 8 January 1917

1200 Brigade left for Rafa took whole squadron and small reserve of Small Arms Ammunition with section on spare pack horses.


Rafa 9 January 1917

Before proceeding to the attack, 1 Section (2 guns) were sent to join the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment and 2 Sections (4 guns) were sent to Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment. The remaining 3 Sections (6 guns) being kept on reserve to use as opportunity offered by the Squadron Commander.

As the brigade moved round to the right flank of the line of attack, a good target of trenches and parties of enemy were noticed and two of the reserve guns were sent onto a small ridge which afforded cover. Very good shooting was done by these guns at 800 yards supported by half a troop, which greatly assisted the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade in advancing and eventually forced the enemy to abandon that portion of his position. A machine gun was afterwards found abandoned in these trenches. The Squadron Commander then took over the four remaining reserve guns and the two which had been previously sent with the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment and these being distributed along the line of attack as far as the sector held by the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment on the right, advanced with the troops giving them mutual support and were able to bring covering fire to bear on the redoubt right up to the time of its capture. The foremost of these guns reached to within 400 yards of the enemy position from where their fire was most effective, they having had superiority of fire throughout the advance. The four guns with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment supported the right flank and gave good covering fire at effective ranges. These guns were placed on a trench and afterwards moved forward into a sunken road from which places they were able to sustain overhead covering fire until the assaulting troops were within a few yards of the trenches. Their position was of such nature that had our troops been compelled to retreat these guns would have been most useful in covering their retirement.

During the day many good targets were found at all ranges from 400 to 1800 yards and of the chief functions of machine guns, that of covering our troops advance by keeping the enemy down in their trenches was carried out most effectually.

The cooperation between our guns and our troops enabled the latter to advance across very exposed ground up to an extremely strong position with comparatively few casualties.

In this way 40,000 rounds Small Arms Ammunition were used, this being more than the amount laid down to be carried by a Machine Gun Squadron but made up by extra bulk Small Arms Ammunition on spare pack horses. More could have been used to advantage had it been available but owing to Regimental reserves not coming up, the amount of fire had to be restricted when the troops were not actually moving across the open.

Owing to the absence of cover for led horses within 3000 yards of the enemy position, all ammunition had to be carried great distances but the supply was maintained owing to the energy of the ammunition carriers.

The system of keeping a larger number of guns as a reserve under the Squadron Commander was found very satisfactory and it would even be of greater advantage to have the whole Squadron so employed except where Regiments are sent off on a separate mission.
The Regimental Lewis Guns enabled the machine guns to be used more to give covering fire from good points and to be sent when and where most needed instead of being attached to Regiments where they may not be required as much as at some other point.

In the long advance across open ground exposed to heavy fire, the Maxim Guns were again found to be very awkward owing to their great weight and consequently the Vickers had to be used often and had to lead the way. Carrying the Maxim Guns told heavily on the men and exposed them to a great deal of fire.

Casualties - 1 Other Rank Killed 7 Other Ranks wounded.

1800 Marched to Sheikh Zowaiid and bivouacked for the night.


Masaid 10 January 1917

0700 Returned to El Arish and to old camp.

 

War Diaries

All War Diaries cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy 

 

 

Further Reading:

1st New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron

1st New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, Roll of Honour

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Roll of Honour

The Palestine Campaign, 1917 - 1918

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, 1st New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron, War Diary Account


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 28 January 2011 10:20 PM EAST

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