Topic: AIF - 2B - 2 LHB
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
5th Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account
5th Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account.
The following is a transcription of the Account from the War Diary of the 5th Light Horse Regiment detailing its role at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
Shunnar 25 March 1917
Left with Brigade at 0230 for Deir El Belah.
Deir El Belah 26 March 1917
Left Deir El Belah at 0230 with Brigade to take part in action against Gaza. Moved with Australian and New Zealand Division to Beit Durdis 2nd Light Horse Brigade in advance, 8 troops "A" Squadron, left flank guard. When near Beit Durdis "B." detached to outflank snipers firing on advance guard. This Squadron moved out 2 miles and captured 7 waggons and 13 prisoners. Divisional Headquarters remained at Beit Durdis, "C" Squadron escort for 2 hours and then rejoined Regiment at 1230. Remainder of Brigade moved west to Jebalie, about 3 miles north east of Gaza. 7th Light Horse Regiment with 2 troops of "A" Sqn. (the Bde. left flank guard covered the beach. This Regt took up position on ridge overlooking main Jaffa - Gaza road at tomb 5000 yards, in rear of left flank of Turkish position south east of Gaza. One troop "A" Squadron sent forward 300 yards towards Gaza as observation post, 2 troops of Machine Gun Squadron, subsequently sent to same position. Body of Turkish infantry estimated one Battalion was seen from this post marching along road in cactus plantation 800 yards distant. The troop and Machine Guns opened on them and inflicted numerous casualties. Infantry dispersed amongst hedges. Far some time afterwards small parties of these Turks were fired on as seen moving among hedges. During this time Infantry attack on south and south east of Gaza was developing. About 1430 the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade arrived from Beit Durdis and moved on to ridge running from 2nd Light Horse Brigade Headquarters to Ali Muntar. The Brigadier General this Brigade gave me instructions this Regt, to co-operate with the New Zealanders in attack in rear of Gaza. The country to the north east of Gaza is as follows: - A ridge runs from Jebalie to Turkish position at Ali Muntar, open sand ridges run close to and parallel with beach and parallel with last mentioned ridge. Between the sand ridge and the ridge Jebalie to Ali Muntar there is a valley running to the rear of the main GAZA town, The south east side of this valley consists of a olive grove, the north west side consists of small allotments fenced with cactus hedges and in which there are numerous villages. Instructions to this Regt. were to advance through the olive grove as far as possible in co-operation with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. At 1430 "C" Squadron - Major Chatham - galloped down the Jaffa - Gaza road which runs through the olive grove with their bayonets fixed, closely followed by "B." Squadron - Major Newton - in support and one troop of "A" Squadron in reserve, before they could reach and the olive grove heavy fire was opened on them from the cactus hedges and Native villages on their right. The Regt then dismounted and with the assistance of the 2nd Australian Machine Gun Squadron quickly overcame the fire, killing or capturing numerous Turks. This work was done at very short range, openings had to be cut through the cactus hedges to get at the enemy, as soon as our men got to close quarters the Turks surrendered. Lieutenant Waites troop kept to their horses, jumped the hedges and got amongst them still mounted, Lieutenant Waites using his revolves until shot in three places, and some of the troopers firing from their horses. While this work was being done - Major Bollingbroke took the 2 troops of "A" Squadron which had originally gone to the beach and with them raided the Turkish Artillery observation post at Sheikh Redwan to the north west of Gaza, here he captured the observing party 4 in number, together with their range finding instruments and telephones. Fire was then opened on the raiding party by several Machine Guns, the raiding Party accordingly rejoined the Regiment with their captures.
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