Topic: AIF - DMC - British
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division War Diary Account
54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division War Diary Account.
The following is a transcription of Report on the attack from the War Diary of the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division detailing their role at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division War Diary Account.
25 March 1917
0400 54th Division marches Order No. 14 to In Seirat, halting at Beni Selah concealed from aircraft (hostile) between 0800 and 1600. On arrival Brigades go into bivouac covered by Outposts found by 163rd Infantry Brigade on the line Pt. 320 (Sq J.3.7.7. ) through point 310 (Sq.J.3.9.8) to the foot contour south of the first "E" in El Breij. This line is continued north to the sea by 53rd Division.
2000 Division Order No. 15 for operations on 26th inst. issued.
26 March 1917
0530 Division moved as follows - 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry following the Imperial and Anzac Mounted Divisions eastwards over the Wadi Ghuzze secure Sheikh Abbas by 0955.
163rd Infantry Brigade following the 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry march direct to Sheikh Abbas which they reach at 1055 on arrival they prepare a position there, against attack from east and south east.
162nd Infantry Brigade following the Mounted Divisions crosses the Wadi Ghuzze and establishes itself in a position of readiness one mile north of Wadi Ghuzze which was reached at 1030. This Brigade remained here throughout the day covered by day outposts. 161st Infantry Brigade with 486th Field Company Royal Engineers and 1st/3rd East Anglian Field Ambulance move into a reserve position in the Wadi Ghuzze at Sheikh Nebhan, which was reached by 0800. The Divisional Artillery (270th and 271st Brigades Royal Field Artillery) moved behind 163rd Infantry Brigade to a position in the vicinity of Um Jerrar. At 1100 271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery joins 161st Infantry Brigade Group and proceeds with it.
484th and 495th Field Companies Royal Engineers follow Divisional Artillery to the Wadi Ghuzze and develops the water supply at Tel el Jemmi, el Adar and Um Jerrar.
Battle Headquarters of the Division on a Hill 1 mile north of Point 310 (J.3.7.7.)
0845 161st Infantry Brigade Group moved into a reserve position near the road at El Burjaliye.
1240 161st Infantry Brigade Group moved into reserve to 53rd Division at Mansura coming under the orders of Desert Column there.
1500 Battle Headquarters of Division moved to "S" of Sheikh Abbas on Gaza - Beersheba Road. Outposts put out for the night facing east on a line in front of the Sheikh Abbas position from cross road ½ mile north of a point 325.
1758 Orders received from Eastforce to move the Division and put out Outposts connecting with 161st Infantry Brigade on left and Imperial Camel Brigade on right on the line El Burjaliye Ridge one mile north east of Sheikh Nebhan through El Burjaliye and Mansura to point 1 mile north of Mansura. Considerable enemy reinforcements reported and all transport camels ordered to be west of Wadi Ghuzze before dawn.
2345 162nd a 163rd Infantry Brigade on the line ordered, 162nd Infantry Brigade holding the outposts and 163rd Infantry Brigade in reserve at north of Mansura which was also the position of Battle Headquarters. Night passes quietly.
27 March 1917
0500 At dawn Mounted Divisions are seen to be withdrawing in the direction of Wadi Ghuzze followed by Turks coming from east and south east.
0630 Brigades occupy line taken up by the Outposts last night. 162nd Infantry Brigade on right in connection with Imperial Camel Corps Brigade and 163rd Infantry Brigade on the left connecting with 161st Infantry Brigade at Mansura and dig themselves in. 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry Squadron, located at Sheikh Nebhan.
0720 Patrols of 160 and 161st Infantry Brigade reported to be in occupation of green hill immediately south of Ali Muntar, which was being shelled by enemy.
0845 Right flank of position reported to be 100 yards south of "L" in El Adar. The line being subjected to heavy occasional bursts of shrapnel and at the same time about 300 enemy appear on crest line north and south of Sheikh Abbas. Owing to cramped position enemy's shelling causes damage among transport and teams of wagons. Heavy firing about Ali Muntar.
0900 Close present Report Centre and reopen again with 53rd Division.
0930 Situation remains quiet on front held by 162nd and 163rd Infantry Brigades. A strong counter attack by Turks launched from Gaza and Ali Muntar.
1021 54th Division put under the command of Major General Dallas CB Commanding 53rd Division. 161st Infantry Brigade forced back from Ali Muntar. Line of resistance selected from left of 163rd Infantry Brigade to be the western edge of Mansura to a point on the main El Sire - Ali Muntar Ridge.
Turks reported to be retiring from Crest Line on front of 162nd Infantry Brigade. Brigades improve their trenches.
1010 52nd Division on right reported to be in position to launch a counter attack eastwards.
1130 - 1300 Turkish attack forces back 53rd Division. Brigade on left of line along the sand dunes, 163rdInfantry Brigade conforming to the movement. 54th Division line not under fire otherwise. Troops dig themselves in and situation remains unchanged during the afternoon. Desultory Artillery and Musketry firing continues.
1340 Battle Headquarters moved to "A" in Burjaliye.
1420 Turks estimated at 2000 make an attack on section to left of the position held by 53rd Division. No movement takes place on section occupied by 54th Division. Attack soon dies down.
1715 Orders issued for the withdrawal of 53rd and 54th Division from the position held under cover of darkness to former positions covering In Seirat. Field Artillery Brigades, 60 pounders and Field Troops 54th Division to retire via Sheikh Nebhan as soon as dark. 158th and 163rd Infantry Brigades to cover the retirement which would begin for Infantry at 2200, as follows 162nd Infantry Brigade to cross the Wadi Ghuzze at Sheikh Nebhan 161st Infantry Brigade by crossing at El Breij at reserve position due north of first "I" in Seirat. 163rd Infantry Brigade for covering the crossing of the Wadi took up a position from El Sire to El Rafa. The withdrawal throughout was carried out without any interference from the enemy.
2030 Artillery Brigades completed the crossing of the Wadi.
2345 162nd Infantry Brigade and Camel Transport completed crossing without incident.
28 March 1917
0315 163rd Infantry Brigade crosses Wadi Ghuzze and proceeds to bivouac at In Seirat.
Artillery Brigades march to bivouac at Deir el Belah. 162nd Infantry Brigade marches to take up an Outpost line covering El Seirat from Point 320 through Point 310 to 200 foot contour south of first "E" in El Breij. 161st Infantry Brigade after crossing the Wadi Ghuzze at El Breij moved into reserve due north of first "I" of In Seirat. By 0600 all Units had arrived on their bivouac areas.
Casualties sustained during the Operations were as follows.
On 26th - Officers killed 12, Other Ranks killed 95; Wounded - Officers 28, Other Ranks 647; Missing - Officers 3 Other Ranks 130.
On 27th - Officers killed 4, Other Ranks killed 45; Wounded - Officers 24, Other Ranks 361; Missing - Officers 3 Other Ranks 168.
Total killed, wounded and missing, Officers 74, Other Ranks 1,446.
During the day the Outpost line was strengthened. A few small Turkish patrols were observed approaching the Wadi Ghuzze but none attempted to cross.
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