Make your own free website on Tripod.com
« April 2002 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
You are not logged in. Log in


Search the site:


powered by FreeFind
Volunteer with us.

Entries by Topic All topics  
A Latest Site News
A - Using the Site
AAA Volunteers
AAB-Education Centre
AAC-Film Clips
AAC-Photo Albums
AIF & MEF & EEF
AIF - Lighthorse
AIF - ALH - A to Z
AIF - DMC
AIF - DMC - Or Bat
AIF - DMC - Anzac MD
AIF - DMC - Aus MD
AIF - DMC - British
AIF - DMC - BWI
AIF - DMC - French
AIF - DMC - Indian
AIF - DMC - Italian
AIF - DMC - Medical
AIF - DMC - Remounts
AIF - DMC - Scouts
AIF - DMC - Sigs
AIF - DMC - Sigs AirlnS
AIF - DMC - 1 Sig Sqn
AIF - DMC - 2 Sig Sqn
AIF - DMC - Eng
AIF - DMC - Eng 1FSE
AIF - DMC - Eng 2FSE
AIF - DMC - GSR
AIF - 1B - 1 LHB
AIF - 1B - 6 MVS
AIF - 1B - 1 LHMGS
AIF - 1B - 1 Sig Trp
AIF - 1B - 1 LHFA
AIF - 1B - 1 LHR
AIF - 1B - 2 LHR
AIF - 1B - 3 LHR
AIF - 2B - 2 LHB
AIF - 2B - 7 MVS
AIF - 2B - 2 LHFA
AIF - 2B - 2 LHMGS
AIF - 2B - 2 Sig Trp
AIF - 2B - 5 LHR
AIF - 2B - 6 LHR
AIF - 2B - 7 LHR
AIF - 3B - 3 LHB
AIF - 3B - 8 MVS
AIF - 3B - 3 LHB Sigs
AIF - 3B - 3 LHFA
AIF - 3B - 3 LHMGS
AIF - 3B - 3 Sig Trp
AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
AIF - 3B - 9 LHR
AIF - 3B - 10 LHR
AIF - 4B - 4 LHB
AIF - 4B - 4 Sig Trp
AIF - 4B - 9 MVS
AIF - 4B - 4 LHFA
AIF - 4B - 4 LHMGS
AIF - 4B - 4 LHR
AIF - 4B - 11 LHR
AIF - 4B - 12 LHR
AIF - 5B - 5 LHB
AIF - 5B - 10 MVS
AIF - 5B - 5 LHFA
AIF - 5B - 5 Sig Trp
AIF - 5B - ICC
AIF - 5B - 14 LHR
AIF - 5B - 15 LHR
AIF - 5B - 1er Regt
AIF - 5B - 2 NZMGS
AIF - AASC
AIF - Aboriginal LH
AIF - Badges
AIF - Cars
AIF - Chinese LH
AIF - Double Sqns
AIF - Engineers
AIF - Fr - 22 Corps
AIF - Fr - 13 LHR
AIF - Honour Roll
AIF - HQ - 3rd Echelon
AIF - Marching Songs
AIF - Misc Topics
AIF - NZMRB
AIF - NZMRB - AMR
AIF - NZMRB - CMR
AIF - NZMRB - EFT
AIF - NZMRB - NZMFA
AIF - NZMRB - NZMGS
AIF - NZMRB - OMR
AIF - NZMRB - Sig-Trp
AIF - NZMRB - WMR
AIF - Ships
AIF - Ships - Encountr
AIF - Ships - Una
AIF - WFF
AIF - Wireless Sqn
Battles
BatzA - Australia
BatzA - Broken Hill
BatzA - Liverpool
BatzA - Merivale
BatzB - Boer War
BatzB - Bakenlaagte
BatzB - Belmont
BatzB - Bothaville
BatzB - Buffels Hoek
BatzB - Coetzees Drift
BatzB - Diamond Hill
BatzB - Driefontein
BatzB - Elands
BatzB - Graspan
BatzB - Grobelaar
BatzB - Grootvallier
BatzB - Hartebestfontn
BatzB - Houtnek
BatzB - Karee Siding
BatzB - Kimberley
BatzB - Koster River
BatzB - Leeuw Kop
BatzB - Mafeking
BatzB - Magersfontein
BatzB - Modder River
BatzB - Onverwacht
BatzB - Paardeberg
BatzB - Palmietfontein
BatzB - Pink Hill
BatzB - Poplar Grove
BatzB - Rhenoster
BatzB - Sannahs Post
BatzB - Slingersfontn
BatzB - Stinkhoutbm
BatzB - Sunnyside
BatzB - Wilmansrust
BatzB - Wolvekuil
BatzB - Zand River
BatzG - Gallipoli
BatzG - Anzac
BatzG - Aug 1915
BatzG - Baby 700
BatzG - Evacuation
BatzG - Hill 60
BatzG - Hill 971
BatzG - Krithia
BatzG - Lone Pine
BatzG - Nek
BatzJ - Jordan Valley
BatzJ - 1st Amman
BatzJ - 2nd Amman
BatzJ - Abu Tellul
BatzJ - Es Salt
BatzJ - JV Maps
BatzJ - Ziza
BatzM - Mespot
BatzM - Baghdad
BatzM - Ctesiphon
BatzM - Daur
BatzM - Kurna
BatzM - Kut el Amara
BatzM - Ramadi
BatzN - Naval
BatzN - AE1
BatzN - Cocos Is
BatzN - Heligoland
BatzN - Marmara
BatzN - Zeebrugge
BatzN - Zeppelin L43
BatzNG - Bitapaka
BatzO - Other
BatzO - Baku
BatzO - Egypt 1919
BatzO - Emptsa
BatzO - Karawaran
BatzO - Peitang
BatzO - Wassa
BatzP - Palestine
BatzP - 1st Gaza
BatzP - 2nd Gaza
BatzP - 3rd Gaza
BatzP - Aleppo
BatzP - Amwas
BatzP - Ayun Kara
BatzP - Bald Hill
BatzP - Balin
BatzP - Beersheba
BatzP - Berkusieh
BatzP - Damascus
BatzP - El Auja
BatzP - El Buggar
BatzP - El Burj
BatzP - Haifa
BatzP - Huj
BatzP - JB Yakub
BatzP - Kaukab
BatzP - Khan Kusseir
BatzP - Khuweilfe
BatzP - Kuneitra
BatzP - Megiddo
BatzP - Nablus
BatzP - Rafa
BatzP - Sasa
BatzP - Semakh
BatzP - Sheria
BatzP - Surafend
BatzP - Wadi Fara
BatzS - Sinai
BatzS - Bir el Abd
BatzS - El Arish
BatzS - El Mazar
BatzS - El Qatiya
BatzS - Jifjafa
BatzS - Magdhaba
BatzS - Maghara
BatzS - Romani
BatzS - Suez 1915
BatzSe - Senussi
BatzWF - Westn Front
BW - Boer War
BW - NSW
BW - NSW - 1ACH
BW - NSW - 1NSWMR
BW - NSW - 2NSWMR
BW - NSW - 3ACH
BW - NSW - 3NSWIB
BW - NSW - 3NSWMR
BW - NSW - 5ACH
BW - NSW - A Bty RAA
BW - NSW - AAMC
BW - NSW - Aust H
BW - NSW - Lancers
BW - NSW - NSW Inf
BW - NSW - NSWCBC
BW - NSW - NSWIB
BW - NSW - NSWMR_A
BW - NZ
BW - Qld
BW - Qld - 1ACH
BW - Qld - 1QMI
BW - Qld - 2QMI
BW - Qld - 3ACH
BW - Qld - 3QMI
BW - Qld - 4QIB
BW - Qld - 5QIB
BW - Qld - 6QIB
BW - Qld - 7ACH
BW - QLD - AAMC
BW - SA
BW - SA - 1SAMR
BW - SA - 2ACH
BW - SA - 2SAMR
BW - SA - 3SACB
BW - SA - 4ACH
BW - SA - 4SAIB
BW - SA - 5SAIB
BW - SA - 6SAIB
BW - SA - 8ACH
BW - SA - AAMC
BW - Tas
BW - Tas - 1ACH
BW - Tas - 1TIB
BW - Tas - 1TMI
BW - Tas - 2TB
BW - Tas - 2TIB
BW - Tas - 3ACH
BW - Tas - 8ACH
BW - Vic
BW - Vic - 1VMI
BW - Vic - 2ACH
BW - Vic - 2VMR
BW - Vic - 3VB
BW - Vic - 4ACH
BW - Vic - 4VIB
BW - Vic - 5VMR
BW - Vic - 6ACH
BW - Vic - AAMC
BW - Vic - Scot H
BW - WA
BW - WA - 1WAMI
BW - WA - 2ACH
BW - WA - 2WAMI
BW - WA - 3WAB
BW - WA - 4ACH
BW - WA - 4WAMI
BW - WA - 5WAMI
BW - WA - 6WAMI
BW - WA - 8ACH
BW Gen - Campaign
BW Gen - Soldiers
BW General
Cavalry - General
Diary - Schramm
Egypt - Heliopolis
Egypt - Mena
Gen - Ataturk Pk, CNB
Gen - Australia
Gen - Legends
Gen - Query Club
Gen - St - NSW
Gen - St - Qld
Gen - St - SA
Gen - St - Tas
Gen - St - Vic
Gen - St - WA
Gm - German Items
Gm - Bk - 605 MGC
GW - 11 Nov 1918
GW - Atrocities
GW - August 1914
GW - Biographies
GW - Propaganda
GW - Spies
GW - We forgot
Militia 1899-1920
Militia - Area Officers
Militia - Inf - Infantry
Militia - Inf - 1IB
Militia - Inf - 2IB
Militia - Inf - 3IB
Militia - Inf - NSW
Militia - Inf - Qld
Militia - Inf - SA
Militia - Inf - Tas
Militia - Inf - Vic
Militia - Inf - WA
Militia - K.E.Horse
Militia - LH
Militia - LH - Regts
Militia - LH - 1LHB
Militia - LH - 2LHB
Militia - LH - 3LHB
Militia - LH - 4LHB
Militia - LH - 5LHB
Militia - LH - 6LHB
Militia - LHN - NSW
Militia - LHN - 1/7/1
Militia - LHN - 2/9/6
Militia - LHN - 3/11/7
Militia - LHN - 4/6/16
Militia - LHN - 5/4/15
Militia - LHN - 6/5/12
Militia - LHN - 28
Militia - LHQ - Qld
Militia - LHQ - 13/2
Militia - LHQ - 14/3/11
Militia - LHQ - 15/1/5
Militia - LHQ - 27/14
Militia - LHS - SA
Militia - LHS - 16/22/3
Militia - LHS - 17/23/18
Militia - LHS - 24/9
Militia - LHT - Tas
Militia - LHT - 12/26
Militia - LHV - Vic
Militia - LHV - 7/15/20
Militia - LHV - 8/16/8
Militia - LHV - 9/19
Militia - LHV - 10/13
Militia - LHV - 11/20/4
Militia - LHV - 19/17
Militia - LHV - 29
Militia - LHW - WA
Militia - LHW-18/25/10
Militia - Military Orders
Militia - Misc
MilitiaRC - Rifle Clubs
MilitiaRC - NSW
MilitiaRC - NT
MilitiaRC - Qld
MilitiaRC - SA
MilitiaRC - Tas
MilitiaRC - Vic
MilitiaRC - WA
Militiaz - New Zealand
Tk - Turkish Items
Tk - Army
Tk - Bks - Books
Tk - Bks - 1/33IR
Tk - Bks - 27th IR
Tk - Bks - Air Force
Tk - Bks - Yildirim
Tk - POWs
Wp - Weapons
Wp - Hotchkiss Cav
Wp - Hotchkiss PMG
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
Open Community
Post to this Blog
Site Index
Education Centre
LH Militia
Boer War
Transport Ships
LH Battles
ALH - Units
ALH - General
Aboriginal Light H
Weapons
Ottoman Sources

"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.

Contact: Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Forum called:

Desert Column Forum

WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.

Sunday, 28 April 2002
New South Wales Lancers, Roll of Honour, Rowland Edward Harkus
Topic: BW - NSW - Lancers

New South Wales Lancers

Roll of Honour

Rowland Edward Harkus

 

Rowland Edward Harkus's name on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial

 

Rowland Edward Harkus

Service number: 67

Rank: Corporal [Cpl]

Unit: NSW Lancers

Service: Colonial Military Forces

Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902

Date of death: 4 April 1900

Place of death: Bloemfontein, South Africa

Cause of death: Illness

Source: AWM142 Roll of Honour cards, War in South Africa, 1899-1902

 

Rowland Edward Harkus

 

A brief military biography of Rowland Edward Harkus:

Regimental number67
Date of birth12 June 1870
Place of birthMoruya, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationPostman
Address116 Flinders Street, Moore Park, NSW
Marital statusMarried
Previous ServiceParramatta High School
Jubilee 1897
Aldershot 1899
Age at embarkation29
Next of kinWife, Amanda Harkus, 116 Flinders Street, Moore Park, NSW
Enlistment date
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit nameNSW Lancers
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from London, UK, on board Nineveh on 10 October 1899
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal RollNSW Lancers
FateDied of Disease, 4 April 1900
Place of burialPresident Brand cemetery, Bloemfontein
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
1

Lest we forget

 

Further Reading:

The NSW Lancers, South African War

New South Wales Lancers

 


Citation: New South Wales Lancers, Roll of Honour, Rowland Edward Harkus


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 8 May 2010 8:26 PM EADT
Tuesday, 5 February 2002
Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 1
Topic: AIF - DMC

DC

Desert Column

General Murray's Despatches, Part 1

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO.

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO (23 April 1860 - 21 January 1945) was a British Army officer during the Great War, known as commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from 1916 to 1917.

 

SUPPLEMENT TO

The London Gazette

Of

MONDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER, 1916.

War Office,

25th September, 1916. The following Despatch has been received by the Secretary of State for War from General Sir Archibald Murray, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force:—

General Headquarters, Egyptian Expeditionary Force,

1st June, 1916. Sir,—I have the honour to submit a report on the operations of the Force under my command from the date on which I assumed command to the 31st May, 1916.

1. On 9th January, 1916, I arrived in Cairo, and, on the following day, took over the command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from General Sir C. C. Monro, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., who had himself arrived from Mudros but a few days before. At that date the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was in a state of transition as regards its larger component, the Dardanelles Army. On the night of the 8th/9th January this Army had completed its successful evacuation of Cape Helles; its units were still concentrated at Mudros and Imbros awaiting transport to Egypt, where all the Force, excluding the Salonica Army, had been ordered to concentrate. Meanwhile, a portion of the Force, which had been set free by the earlier evacuation of the Suvla Bay and Anzac positions, had already arrived in Egypt, where it had come under the command of General Sir John Maxwell, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. The concentration of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, for instance, was practically complete, and the 53rd Division was occupied in operations on the Western Frontier of Egypt. General Headquarters of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force were temporarily established in Cairo.

The instructions which I had received from the Secretary of State for War placed under my command all organized formations then in. Egypt, or on their way to Egypt, with the exception of such troops as might be considered necessary for the defence of Egypt and the Nile Valley against attack from the west, or for maintaining order in the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta. The function .assigned to me was that of protecting Egypt against attack from the east, and the westward limit of my command was roughly fixed by a line running north and south approximately five miles west of the Suez Canal. The British Force at Salonica was also placed under my general supervision.

2. During the period under review, in addition to the extensive .military preparations required for the defence of the eastern front, the amount of purely administrative work thrown, on all sections of my Staff has been extremely heavy. The exigencies of the Gallipoli campaign had placed the Force under my command in a state of serious disorganisation. Some units were in Egypt, others on the sea, others in Aegean ports. It was not until the end of February that the last units of the Dardanelles Army reached Egypt. Every day for over six weeks ship loads of troops, guns, animals and transport were arriving at Alexandria and Port Said. The components of this mass had to be disentangled and forwarded to their proper destinations; old units had to be reorganised, new units to be created, brigades, divisions, Army Corps to be reformed. The British troops from Gallipoli were incomplete in personnel and material. It was urgently necessary to bring them up to strength, reequip them, and provide them with train and mechanical transport on a modified scale. The Australasian troops also needed re-equipment, and, in their case, there was the additional problem of dealing with a mass of unabsorbed reinforcements. Further training of officers and men was an urgent necessity. Moreover, the embarkation of troops for service elsewhere began in February and continued without intermission till the end of April. To this work must be added not only the maintenance of my Force, both in Egypt and Salonica, with animals, supplies, ordnance stores, works material, and medical and veterinary stores, but also the provision and despatch of ordnance stores, works material, and supplies specially demanded for Basrah and East Africa.

The bulk of the work of disembarkation and embarkation, including the very heavy work of railway transport, fell upon the staffs of my Deputy Quartermaster-General and Inspector General of Communications, to whom great credit is due. This work, together with the task of supplying and maintaining the troops operating on the eastern, and subsequently also on the western, front, was efficiently carried out by the Ordnance, Supply and Transport, Remount, and Works departments.

As regards instruction, a training centre for Australasian reinforcements was started at Tel el Kebir and continued until it was decided that the Australasian training depots should be transferred to England. Further, a machine gun school was formed at Ismailia which, after producing excellent results, was merged in the Imperial School of Instruction at Zeitoun. The latter institution, which came under my control after 19th March, has since been increased in size so as to train officers in all branches of warfare. Under its commandant, Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. E. M. Colston, M.V.O., its work has been most valuable. Besides the ordinary courses, for officers and non-commissioned officers, it holds machine gun, Lewis gun, signal and telephone, artillery, Stokes gun, and grenadier classes. Between 7th January and 31st May, 1,166 officers and 5,512 other ranks attended and passed in the various classes. A machine gun school was also started at Salonica.

Excellent work has been done by the signal service during this period. In the first place, it has efficiently carried out the work of refitting the signal units from the Peninsula, reorganising them to suit the conditions peculiar to Egypt, and training locally officers and men to fill the gaps and meet the increased demand for signallers and telegraphists. Ninety-four officers and 1,305 other ranks have been trained in these duties at Zeitoun and Alexandria this year. Secondly, it has had to provide intercommunication for troops engaged upon over 1,000 miles of front, which has involved the development of an unusually extensive network of military telegraphs. All the resource and ingenuity of the service has been taxed to cope with the conditions peculiar to this field of operations—abnormal distances, unusual means of transport, desert, sand storms and mirage. Lastly, it has substituted a military telegraph and telephone service for the civil system which, until this year, had been the only available means of communication throughout Egypt and was worked mainly by native personnel.

I would also specially mention the survey work that has been carried out since the arrival of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Egypt. In addition to the standardisation, printing and issue of tactical maps of Sinai to the whole of the army on the eastern front, a new survey on a large scale of the Canal zone and certain areas east of our lines and advanced posts has been continuously carried on by the Topographical Section of the Intelligence Branch, working in close co-operation with the Royal Flying Corps. This survey, which has now been in process for nearly six months, is now approaching Qatia. I believe that the map based on this survey is the first map entirely constructed on this principle. The work was initiated by Mr. E. M. Dowson, Director-General, Survey of Egypt, who placed his resources at the disposal of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. The actual direction of the work has been in the hands of the Intelligence Branch of my General Staff, and is based on experience, gained in Gallipoli, of the production of trench maps from aeroplane photographs, controlled by ordinary field survey methods. Co-operation in this survey has been part of the routine of the Royal Flying Corps. These labours, most of which demanded the utmost despatch in their completion, were carried out concurrently with the conduct of more strictly military operations, to my report on which I will now proceed.

3. When I arrived in Egypt the intentions of the enemy as regards an attack on the Suez Canal were by no means certain. Though his new means of communication in southern Syria and Sinai, commenced with this end in view, were still in a backward state, he undoubtedly had at his disposal the troops, amounting to 250,000 men or more, necessary for such an attack. The adequate defence of the Canal was, therefore, a matter of serious importance. The outline of a scheme of defence had already been prepared; certain works were being constructed, railways and pipelines and roads commenced, and troops were being concentrated in the three sections of the Canal defences, which were based on Suez, Ismailia and Port Said respectively. A satisfactory agreement was arrived at between Sir John Maxwell and myself regarding the delimitations of our respective spheres of command and the troops to be allotted to him. On 22nd January General Headquarters opened at Ismailia.

My chief concern was now the defence of the Canal. The work on the stationary defences was backward. Difficulties of water supply on the east bank were increased by shortage of piping; labour troubles had delayed the progress of roads and railways. Guns had) still to be emplaced, and no part of the front defence line was actually occupied by troops. Nevertheless, as there were no signs of an imminent advance on the part of the enemy, the question of the stationary defences caused me no serious anxiety, though everything possible was done to hasten on their completion. The organisation of the offensive defence, which time has proved to be paramount, was, however, a pressing matter hitherto untouched. Practically nothing had been done towards the organisation of mobile forces. The collection of a large number of riding and transport camels had to be undertaken at once .and a plan of campaign to be devised. Moreover, time was short, for it was plain that any offensive on a large scale by the enemy must be commenced before the middle of March. For the force under my command the only possible line of advance was along the northern line from Qantara towards Qatia and El Arish, and the task was at once taken up of examining the possibilities of an offensive on this line and solving the problem of maintaining a considerable force at Qatia during the summer months. The result of these investigations is to be seen in my memorandum of 15th February addressed to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, in which I stated that the first step towards securing the true base for the defence of Egypt was an advance to a suitable position east of Qatia and the construction of a railway to that place.

Up to the middle of February aeroplane reconnaissance was the only active military operation possible, owing to the need for reorganising the units of the Force and for pushing on the work of laying roads, pipelines and railways to enable an adequate force to be maintained on, and beyond, the front lines. The magnitude of the latter task may be judged from the fact that, during the period covered by this despatch, 114 miles of road, 154 miles of pipelines, and 252 miles of railway were laid. The work of the Royal Flying Corps, most actively and gallantly pursued, enabled me to keep the enemy's posts at Hassana, Nekhl and El Arish under close observation, and neither their reports nor those of the equally gallant and efficient Naval Air Service, which observed by seaplane the garrisons of southern Syria, showed any concentration of enemy troops for a big attack on the Canal. On February 16th the Russian Army entered Erzerum, inflicting a heavy defeat on the Turkish Army opposed to it. It seemed likely then that all the enemy's schemes for attacking the Canal in force must, for the present, fall to the ground, and such has proved to be the case. The garrisons in Syria were gradually reduced, until it was estimated that not more than 60,000 men were available for an attack on Egypt. During the latter half of February the work of reconnaissance beyond the front line began in earnest, especially in the northern section, where the 15th Corps patrolled as far as Bir El Nuss and Hod Um Ugba, establishing the fact that the country was all clear and practically deserted. At this period, too, a reconnaissance was undertaken from Tor. This post, and that of Abu Zeneima, both on the Sinaitic coast south of Suez, were then garrisoned by a battalion of the Egyptian Army— subsequently by the 14th Sikhs—and had, by arrangement with General Maxwell, come under my direction. The reconnaissance from Tor was undertaken against a concentration of a small body of the enemy at Wadi Ginneh, some miles distant from the coast. This minor operation was in every way successful, though the enemy had fled before their camp was reached, leaving behind their baggage, which was destroyed. The troops then returned without further incident.

4. From March onwards, the rapid embarkation of troops for France depleted my forces considerably. During this month the military operations on the eastern front, if not momentous, were satisfactory. On 6th March a very gallant and successful attack on Hassana was made by the Royal Flying Corps, which resulted in the destruction of the pumping station. Bomb attacks were made on Nekhl and other places in Sinai, and on 24th March Hassana was again attacked in force with bombs. In the northern sector, the preliminary steps were being taken for the advance to Qatia. Week by week permanent posts were pushed further ahead, special reconnaissances were made with a view to testing the water supply, and the broad gauge railway from Qantara to Qatia was being carried forward as fast as possible.

5. On 11th March I received instructions from the late Secretary of State for War that the command of the troops in Egypt was to be reorganised, and that I was appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief all the Imperial forces in this country, which added to my original command the command held by General Sir John Maxwell. The preliminary details for carrying this change into operation were fixed at a Conference with General Maxwell held on 13th March, and on 19th March I formally took over the whole command in Egypt, thus ending a system of dual control which had of necessity been unsatisfactory, especially from the point of view of economy. By this change I not only became responsible for the .administration of martial law in Egypt and the maintenance of order throughout the Nile Valley and Delta, but I also succeeded to the direction of the operations against the Senoussi on the Western Frontier, which had very appropriately been brought to a triumphant period by General Maxwell by his victories which led to the .occupation of Sollum on 14th March, the capture of Gaafer, the dispersal, with the loss of all his guns, of Nuri's force, and the recapture from the enemy of 90 British prisoners taken by hostile submarines. The unification of the command in Egypt made large economies in staff possible, and these were carried out at once. The Levant Base also ceased to exist, General Sir Edward Altham, K.C.B., remaining as Inspector-General of Communications. The work of reorganising the forces and staffs for the Delta and Western Frontier Force was pushed on as fast as possible. I decided to keep General Headquarters at Ismailia, and to establish at Cairo a General Officer Commanding the Delta District, who would also act as Commander of L. of C. Defences. For operations on the west I formed a Western Frontier Force, divided into two sections, a north-western and a south-western, divided by a line drawn east and west through Deirut. These staffs and forces were definitely established and at work by 1st April. The whole force under my command now took the name of Egyptian Expeditionary Force. Towards the end of March, at the request of the Sirdar, I undertook the responsibility for the defence of the reach of the Nile between Assouan and Wadi Haifa. Captain F. H. Mitchell, R.N., D.S.O., was sent for this purpose to make all arrangements for an armed naval patrol of this reach.

On 18th March, Captain H. R. H. the Prince of Wales took up his duties as Staff Captain on my Staff, remaining till his departure from Egypt on 1st May.

6. As soon as the conduct of operations on the Western Frontier devolved upon me, I took steps, in consultation with the various officers who were then best acquainted with the situation, to estimate the size of the hostile forces with which I should have to deal, and to determine the policy along this front of over 800 miles by which the Nile Valley could best be protected. It appeared from the information placed at my disposal that the Senoussi forces, spread over the whole Western desert, did not exceed 3,000, and it was certain that the enemy's moral had been severely shaken by Sir John Maxwell's recent successful operations. The chief dangers, therefore, against which I had to guard were enemy raids upon the Nile Valley, the stirring up of native tribes that were inclined to be well-disposed towards the Senoussi, and the creation of unrest in the Nile Valley .and Delta among disaffected or nervous elements of the population. The chief end to be held in view was to prevent any local success on the part of the Senoussi.

On 15th April the Kharga Oasis, which had previously been reported by aerial reconnaissance and resident agents to be clear of the enemy, was occupied without incident. The movement of troops was effected by the existing light railway, and by the 18th April a force numbering 1,660 of all ranks was concentrated in the Oasis.

On the 27th April the small oasis of Maghara was occupied. A strongly entrenched post has been constructed. The occupation of this post has materially assisted in preventing the passage of foodstuffs from the Nile Valley to the west, and denies the water to any enemy force attempting to move in the contrary direction.

During April frequent raids and reconnaissances, chiefly with a view to capturing concealed depots of ammunition, were undertaken on the Western Front; in these enterprises our armoured and light motor cars have been of inestimable value. On 7th April a detachment of four armoured cars, accompanied by the machine-gun section of the 2/7th Middlesex Regiment, conducted a raid from Sollum upon an ammunition depot at Moraisa, eighteen miles north-west of Sollum. After a very slight resistance from the guard of thirty Muhafzia, twenty-one boxes of 8.9 centimetre Mantelli gun ammunition and 120,000 rounds of small arms ammunition were taken and destroyed. On 11th April a motor car reconnaissance found and removed eleven rifles and

7,000 rounds of small arms ammunition some twenty miles west of Sollum. On 23rd April an armoured car reconnaissance from Sollum discovered and brought in 140,000 rounds of small arms ammunition from a concealed depot. On the 30th April a further 20,000 rounds were discovered and brought in to Sollum. During this month, also, four prisoners, including a Turkish officer, were captured sixty miles west of Minia, and two small camel convoys were captured near El Alamein. The light car patrols were responsible for all these captures.

7. During the month of April reconnaissance was active all along the Eastern Front, with the result that by the middle of the month all water supplies of any importance within thirty miles of the Canal were patrolled by our troops, and mobile columns were ready to go out and deal with enemy parties approaching them, or, in the event of serious threat, td demolish the rock cisterns. In No. 1 Section, on 20th April, a patrol from Bir Mabeiuk came in contact with an enemy patrol, fifty strong, on the sand hills near the mouth of the Wadi Hamatha, some eighteen miles W.S.W. of Suez. A squadron and fifty rifles endeavoured to cut the enemy off, but he at once retired and scattered among the hills. Our casualties were two men killed. On 23rd April and the following days four columns, each composed of mounted troops and infantry, carried out reconnaissances of the approaches from the west to Ain Sudr and Sudr El Heitan. The columns returned to their respective posts on 26th April.

In No. 2 Section, on 27th March, the 2nd Australian and New Zealand Army Corps came into existence on the departure of the 1st Australian and New Zealand Army Corps to France. The Corps was commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander Godley, K.C.M.G., C.B., and consisted of the 4th Australian Division, commanded by Major-General Sir H. V. Cox, K.C.M.G., C.B., C.S.I., the 5th Australian Division, commanded by Major-General Hon. J. MacCay, V.D., and the Anzac Mounted Division, commanded by Major-General H. G. Chauvel, C.B., C.M.G. (attached). In this section, the wells at Moiya Harab and Wadi Um Muksheib having been brought into the regular patrolling area, a very successful reconnaissance to Jif-jaffa was carried out between 11th and 15th April. The troops for this enterprise were a squadron of the 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, accompanied by a detachment of Bikanir Camel Corps, and commanded by Major Scott, D.S.O., 9th Australian Light Horse. The objective was fifty-two miles from the starting point, and a jumping-off place for the attack, eight miles south-west of the objective, was reached at 2.30 a.m. on 13th April. From here an attack was launched by three troops upon the enemy's position at 9 a.m. The enemy, cut off in their attempted retreat by the right flanking party of the attack, stood at bay on one of the hills above the village, and lost six men killed and five wounded before surrendering. One Austrian lieutenant of engineers and thirty-three other prisoners were captured, our own casualties being one man and one horse killed. The destruction of the enemy's camp was thoroughly carried out, a quantity of correspondence was taken, and the elaborate well-boring plant, which had been at work for five months, was completely demolished. The manner in which this operation was carried out was most creditable, both to the commander of the column and to all ranks composing it.

In conjunction with this reconnaissance, a mounted column was sent out in No. 1 Section to reconnoitre Bir el Giddi and the roads leading east from it. This force satisfactorily accomplished its mission, and, after an encounter with a hostile patrol, captured unwounded three armed Arabs. In the Qatia District, where alone there is sufficient water supply to maintain a large body of troops, preliminaries to the accomplishment of our ultimate aim—the permanent occupation of the well-watered zone radiating 15 miles east and south-east of Qatia—were steadily pushed on. On 2nd April, a squadron of the Gloucestershire Hussars under Lieut.-Colonel Yorke, with a detachment of Bikanir Camel Corps, reconnoitred Bir el Abd, some 15 miles east of Qatia, met with no resistance, and burnt some tents and stores belonging to the enemy. On the following day, Bir Mageibra,

10 miles south-east of Qatia, was reconnoitred by the Worcestershire Yeomanry. On the 6th April Brigadier-General E. A. Wiggin, commanding the 5th Mounted Brigade, took command of the Qatia District, and was made responsible direct to the headquarters of No. 3 Section.

On 9th April, a further reconnaissance of Bir el Abd was undertaken by a squadron of Worcestershire Yeomanry. This time a strong party of enemy were found in possession of a ridge north-east of Bir el Abd. A sharp skirmish ensued when the Yeomanry attacked, and the enemy was driven eastwards from his position, but, owing to the heaviness of the sand, it was impossible for our cavalry to keep up the attack, and, after easily fending off an attempt at a flank attack, they withdrew unmolested. On 12th April, on orders being received for General Home to proceed to France, Major-General The Hon. H. A. Lawrence took over the command of No. 3 Section.

By the 21st April, the railway towards Qatia had reached a point upon which a serious advance to hold the whole district could be based, as soon as the necessary dispositions could be made. On the 23rd, however, the enemy attempted to forestall any such advance by making a sudden raid in force upon Qatia. This operation, though comparatively small forces were engaged, produced the severest fighting yet experienced by the force under my command.

8. On 21st April, the 5th Mounted Brigade were disposed as follows: —The Worcestershire Yeomanry at Qatia, the Warwickshire Yeomanry, less one squadron, at Hamisah, 3 miles S.S.W. of Qatia, and Brigade Headquarters and the Gloucestershire Yeomanry at Romani, 6 miles N.W. of Qatia. General Wiggin, commanding the Brigade, had received orders to dispose his Brigade in the Qatia District in such a manner as to protect all railway, topographical and water survey parties, with special attention to the exploitation of the water supply; also to observe the route eastwards towards Bir el Abd, but not to take any serious offensive measures without further orders. It had also been impressed on General Wiggin by the General Officer Commanding No. 3 Section that, since it would take two days to reinforce him with infantry, he was, in the event of a heavy attack, to manoeuvre back upon Dueidar, 13 miles from Qantara on the Qatia road, or upon the railhead near El Arais some 7 miles N.W. of Qatia. On the evening of the 21st one squadron of Worcestershire Yeomanry moved into bivouac at Oghratina, 7 miles E.N.E. of Qatia, to cover an R.E. party detailed to prepare wells. On the 22nd another squadron of Worcestershire Yeomanry proceeded to Oghratina, being replaced in Qatia by a squadron of Gloucestershire Yeomanry, pending the arrival of one regiment of the Anzac Mounted Division, which had been ordered up from Salhia so as to reach Qatia on the 24th. The remainder of the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade was marching) to arrive at Qantara on the 23rd.

In Qatia the squadron of Gloucestershire Yeomanry was covered by good trenches for some 50 or 60 men, and a number of smaller shelters afforded good covers. Their horses were picketed close to their camp.

The Officer Commanding the two squadrons of Worcestershire Yeomanry at Oghratina had been told to push on entrenchment as far as possible, and it was General Wiggin's intention that these squadrons, if attacked in force, should retire on Qatia and thence, if necessary, on Romani, with their left flank covered by the Gloucestershire Yeomanry and their right by the Warwickshire Yeomanry from Hamisah. On the morning of the 23rd, both posts stood to arms at 4 a.m., and I have ascertained that patrols had gone out by that hour, though those at Oghratina were probably much hampered by a thick fog.

On the 22nd April the Royal Flying Corps reported to No. 3 Section that new bodies of enemy troops were at Bir el Bayud, 15 miles E.S.E. of Qatia, and Bir el Mageibra, 10 miles S.E. of Qatia. Upon receipt of this information, General Wiggin obtained leave from General Officer Commanding No. 3 Section, to attack the enemy at Mageibra that night, reporting that he intended to use two squadrons of Warwickshire, and the one remaining squadron of Worcestershire Yeomanry. General Wiggin, with Lieut.-Colonel Coventry, commanding the Worcestershire Yeomanry, accompanied the raid to Mageibra. Finding very few enemy, they destroyed the camp and returned to Hamisah about 9 a.m. on the 23rd with six Turkish prisoners. In the meantime the post at Oghratina was attacked at 5.30 a.m. This attack was repulsed. No further information was received from the Officer Commanding at Oghratina until 7 a.m., when he reported that he was again heavily attacked on all sides. This attack carried the post, all the garrison of which were either killed, wounded, or captured. No details of tie fighting have, therefore, been obtainable. Qatia itself was attacked about 9.30 a.m. Lieutenant-Colonel Coventry was detached with one squadron of Worcestershire Yeomanry from General Wiggin's Force to operate towards Qatia. Unfortunately, this squadron became involved in the unsuccessful resistance of the Qatia garrison, and, with the exception of some 60 men and one officer who were able to disengage themselves, fell with it into the hands of the enemy. I have therefore been able to gather no detailed information of the actual fighting at Qatia.

General Wiggin and Colonel Yorke, commanding the Gloucestershire Yeomanry at Romani, both showed great judgment in dealing with the situation, and did all that was possible with their small forces against the enemy force of about 2,500, with four guns of small calibre. General Wiggin pushed forward from Hamisah north-east against the enemy's left, south of Um Ugba, and drove him back for about a mile; the advance was slow owing to the nature of the ground and the determined resistance encountered. Colonel Yorke. after hearing that Dueidar was safe, moved his whole force at 10 a.m. to attack the enemy's right advancing on Qatia. He skilfully drove the Turkish right back to El Rabah, and caused their guns to shift their position further east. The enemy gave ground slowly, and, since by 3.30 p.m. it was evident that Qatia had fallen, General Wiggin determined to fall back: he himself retired on Dueidar by way of Hamisah, Colonel Yorke on Romani; neither were followed. Meanwhile, at 5.30 a.m. a Turkish force, 1,000 strong, with one gun, advancing from the south, attacked Dueidar, the most advanced defensible post, which was held by 100 men of the 5th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, under the command of Captain Roberts, 5th Battalion, Royal Soots Fusiliers. This officer, who throughout showed conspicuous skill and ability, succeeded in repelling two determined attacks on the position at 6.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. respectively. Both attempts cost the enemy dear. At 9.30 a.m. reinforcements of two companies 4th Royal Scots Fusiliers, under the command of Major Thompson, 4th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, who had been despatched from Hill 70, seven miles away, on. the first news of the attack, arrived at Dueidar. The various posts were strengthened, and a counter-attack, delivered at 12.30 p.m. with great spirit, forced the enemy to retire, leaving 30 prisoners in our hands and 70 dead. The Turks were pursued in their retreat by the 5th Australian Light Horse, who had only arrived at Qantara at 1 p.m., and by aeroplanes, thereby suffering further loss. Besides the three and a half squadrons of Yeomanry and details lost at Qatia and Oghratina, our casualties on the 23rd were two officers and 18 men killed, four officers and 21 men wounded. Aeroplane reconnaissance on the evening of the 23rd established the fact that the enemy force, which included a large body of picked Turkish regular troops, was already retiring. At dawn on the 24tihi eight machines of the 5th Wing, Royal Flying Corps, made a bomb and machine gun attack from a low altitude on the enemy troops left in Qatia, causing very heavy casualties and completely destroying the camp.

One machine also located and attacked a large body of enemy at Bir el Abd, and located another party retiring on Bir el Bayud. On the morning of the 25th further bomb and machine gun attacks were made by the Royal Flying Corps on enemy forces at Bir el Abd and Bir el Bayud. Both attacks were extremely successful, working great havoc among men and animals. I cannot speak too highly of the admirable work done by the 5th Wing, Royal Flying Corps, during these few days. The strain thrown on pilots and machines was very heavy, and the former displayed the utmost gallantry and resource on all occasions. Chiefly through their efforts the enemy was made to pay a very heavy price for his partially successful raid. The general situation in front of No. 3 Section was not affected by these operations. Our Cavalry continued to patrol the Qatia district, which was now practically clear of the enemy, while our infantry posts at Dueidar and Romani were strengthened, and the railway towards Romani was pushed on with all speed.

9. After 16th January, when General Sarrail assumed supreme control of the operations of the Allied Forces at Salonica, the British Force there commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir B. T. Mahon, K.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., only remained under my control for administrative purposes. From the beginning of January to the end of April no active operations of importance took place. The general line of defences remained practically unaltered. Some 200 miles of deep trenches, including communioatdon trenches, 710 emplacements for guns, 230 reduits or strong posts, 160 miles of obstacles (barbed wire), and 1,300 miles of telegraph cable have been completed; and thedefences as a whole are now quite ready for occupation should the situation demand it.

As in Egypt, so in Salonica, the administrative work has been extremely heavy. At the, outset tne state of the communications was very unsatisfactory. There were only two metalled roads leading to our lines, both in a shocking state of repair; the few existing tracks soon became impassable in wet weather for everything except pack animals. The construction and repair of roads had, therefore, to proceed simultaneously with the preparation of the defences. Roads in the forward area were all begun by the troops themselves, and all ranks worked admirably, the men thoroughly recognising the importance of the matter. Later, it was found possible to organise local civilian, labour companies, who have largely been employed to complete and maintain the road work begun by the troops. Altogether about 90 miles of new metalled cart roads have been constructed, and 105 miles of mule tracks, besides some 60 miles of repairs to previously existing roads and tracks. Railway extensions leading to the various depots on the Monastir road, with the necessary sidings, have been constructed, and Decauville lines laid within the depots themselves. Preparations have been made for further extensions. Another great difficulty, that of insufficient wharfage accommodation, has been met by the construction of new piers in the bay itself and at Skala Stavros. These have reduced the congestion to an appreciable extent and fully justified the labour and expense involved.

The supply system, though hindered at first by the state of the communications and by the fact that the equipment of the force with a special scale of transport was only in process of gradual completion, has worked with uninterrupted success. The health of the troops has been excellent, all ranks having benefited by hard physical work in good climatic conditions. In view of the approach of summer, when malaria is likely to prevail in certain districts through which our line passes, special precautions have been taken for the protection of the troops and, where possible, alternative positions prepared.

Throughout the period the importance of training the troops has been insisted upon. At first one day weekly was devoted to training, as opposed to road-making or work on the defences. This proportion has gradually risen to four days weekly, excluding one day of rest. On 9th May, under orders from the War Office, Lieut.-General G. F. Milne, C.B., D.S.O., succeeded Lieut.-General Sir Bevan Mahon, K.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., in command of the Salonica Army. General Mahor sailed at the same date to take up command of the Western Frontier Force in Egypt.

10. In Egypt during the month of May there was no major operation to record. Intelligence received early in the month showed that the Turks had materially increased their numbers in Sinai, doubtless with the view of detaining troops in Egypt. The enemy's main concentrations were too far away for me to strike at them, and I was in hopes that he might be induced to cross the barrier of hills which extends from north to south some sixty miles from the Canal: he would then have been exposed to attack with the denies behind him. However, he made no such advance, and, during the hot weather in the middle of May, there were indications that he was drawing in his advanced posts. On the 8th and 21st May enemy aircraft attacked Port Said with bombs, doing no material damage. On the first occasion three civilians were wounded; on the second two civilians were killed, five soldiers and thirteen civilians were wounded. In each case the attack was answered by prompt and successful retaliation by the Royal Flying Corps. In all sections of the Eastern front reconnaissances were frequent, particularly in No. 3 Section, to which were now allotted three brigades of the Anzac Mounted Division. During the month the Mahemdia-Romani district has been occupied in some force, and at a conference, held on 17th May, at which General Lawrence, commanding No. 3 Section, was present, further decisions regarding the occupation of the Qatia district were arrived at. During the month several successful reconnaissances to the east were made by the Anzac Mounted Division, which proved itself a unit upon which I could absolutely depend to display energy, resource and endurance. On the 8th May, starting early from Oghratina, the 2nd Light Horse Brigade reconnoitred to Bir el Abd with patrols pushed out to Hod Salmana. On the 16th May, a day of intense heat, the same brigade, starting from Hod el Sagia, five miles E.S.E. of Qatia, reached Hod el Bayud, 15 miles on in the same direction, at 7 a.m. Camels and dismounted men were seen making off in a north-easterly direction. The enemy's camp was destroyed, and one prisoner, 36 camels, and a quantity of ammunition were brought in. The reconnaissance returned to Qatia, having covered 60 miles in 30 hours. During this time the Canterbury Mounted Rifles went out to Bir Abu Afein, covering 40 miles in 30 hours.

On the 18th May a very successful bombardment of El Arish from the sea and the air was carried out. A sloop and two monitors of His Majesty's Navy bombarded the town, reducing the fort S.W. of the town to ruins and damaging the aerodrome. The seaplanes of the Royal Naval Air Service then attacked with bombs, being followed later by 6 machines of the Royal Flying Corps, who had orders to attack any enemy aircraft that appeared and to bomb the enemy's camp and troops. The camps were effectively bombed, and three bombs exploded in the middle of a body of a thousand men who were on the march south of the town. A close reconnaissance of El Arish from the air was made, and many valuable photographs taken at the same time. All ships and aircraft returned safely. On 22nd May the Royal Flying Corps carried out a highly effective bombardment of all enemy camps on a 45 mile front roughly parallel to the Canal, during which severe damage was done to the waterworks at Rodh Salem and to buildings at El Hamma and Bir Mazar. On 23rd May the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade reconnoitred Hod el Gedaidia, 15 miles east of Qatia, where shots were exchanged with a patrol of 40 men on camels, who retired. Finally, on 31st May, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, one regiment of Australian Light Horse, and a sub-section of the Ayrshire Battery R.H.A., attacked the enemy's post at Bir Salmana, 20 miles E.N.E. of Qatia. The post was surrounded before dawn, and an enemy post on the Ganadil road was rushed, while a camel detachment was seen making off to the south-east. The enemy lost 15 men killed and 2 men captured. Our cavalry pursued till 8 a.m. when the pursuit was taken up by aeroplanes which bombed scattered parties with effect, killing 20 camels and 8 more men. The force returned, having covered 60 miles in 36 hours besides fighting an engagement. The only casualties were two men slightly wounded.

On the Western Front during May preliminary measures for the occupation of the Baharia Oasis have been in progress. A line of blockhouses has been established along the Darb el Rubi which runs due west from Samalut on the Nile. Four blockhouses were completed and occupied by 23rd May. Work on the two> remaining blockhouses has been postponed till the railway has reached a point where it can materially assist in the supply of stores: this should be about the end of June. From the most advanced blockhouse it is now possible to reconnoitre as far as the Mohariq sand dunes, some 80 miles west of Samalut. The difficulty of maintaining such a line in a waterless desert subject to frequent and severe sand storms has not been small, but all ranks have worked well and with great keenness.

The enemy has a small body of troops, under the command of Nuri, collected on the Libyan side of the frontier west of Sollum, but as yet he has not openly displayed his intentions. Two battalions of Italian troops landed at Moraisa during the month and have occupied Bardia. The relations between the Italian and British commanders on the frontier are excellent. The area between Sollum and Barrani has been cleared of the Bedouin population, and, though it has been impossible entirely to prevent communication between the Bedouins and Siwa, the energy of our patrols, according to numerous reports, is successfully restricting the entry of food supplies into Siwa.

By means of patrols of Imperial Camel Corps and motor cars, communication between the oases occupied by the enemy and the Nile Valley and Delta has been rendered almost impossible. In particular, the camel patrolling from Kharga towards Dakhla and Beris has been carried out most efficiently by No. 1 Imperial Camel Company under especially trying conditions. The Farafra, Baharia, Mognara and Wadi Natrun fronts have also been controlled with great vigilance.

The Aulad Ali tribes in Egyptian territory are now all west of Barrani, except for a receiving camp at Sollum. Markets have been established for the sale of food at Sollum, Mersa Matruh, Dabaa, El Hamman and Wadi Natrun, where they are allowed to purchase what is necessary for their daily needs. This restricts indiscriminate movement to the west or to the Delta.

In spite of the occupation, during very hot weather, of so many advanced posts in the desert or on its edge, I am glad to report that the health of the troops has been remarkably good. I much regret, however, that General Sir Bryan Mahon, shortly after his arrival in this country to take up the command of the Western Frontier Force, had to be invalided home owing to sever sunstroke. In the meantime, Major-General A. G. Dallas, C.B., has continued, with great ability, in temporary command of that force.

11. I beg to acknowledge with great respect the valuable assistance I have received from His Highness the Sultan of Egypt. He has with great kindness placed at my disposal his unrivalled knowledge of affairs affecting his country.

To His Excellency the High Commissioner, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir A. H. McMahon, G.C.V.O., K.C.I.E., C.S.I., and to the Government of Egypt, I owe a deep debt of gratitude for whole-hearted co-operation and help.

I am very greatly indebted to Vice-Admiral Sir R. E. Wemyss, K.C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O., and the naval forces under his command for constant assistance and active co-operation.

The construction of Roads, Waterworks, and kindred tasks in connection with the Canal Defences, which I have described to you, owe their accomplishment in a very large measure to the admirable services of Colonel Sir Murdoch Macdonald, K.C.M.G., of the Public Works Department of Egypt. His wide experience and capacity have been an indispensable asset to me in dealing with these important problems.

I am particularly indebted to the Railway Department, under Colonel Sir George Macauley, K.C.M.G., R. of O., Royal Engineers, for the highly successful manner in which Railway communication has been carried on under great difficulties. The movement of a large number of troops and impedimenta of an Army has severely taxed the capacity of the railway, and has put a great strain on its staff. That it never failed to accomplish what was desired is due to the high efficiency this Department has attained, and to the personal exertions of Colonel Sir George Macauley.

I wish to bring to your notice the very responsible and important duties that have fallen to my Director of Army Signals, Brigadier-General M. G. E. Bowman-Manifold, D.S.O., R.E., and to the admirable way in which he has discharged them.

Military operations on the two fronts have been spread over a very wide front, amounting to close on 1,000 miles in the west and 90 miles in the east. Prompt and reliable inter-communication has been a matter of vital importance.

In the successful achievement of this I beg also to bring to your notice the services of the Egyptian Telegraph Department under Lieutenant-Colonel J. S. Liddell, D.S.O., Royal Engineers, and to express my thanks to the Eastern Telegraph Company and the Telephone Company of Egypt, who have given my Director of Army Signals unceasing valuable help.

I beg to bring to notice the valuable services rendered to the Canal Defences by the representative and principal officer of the Suez Canal Company, Charles Comte de Serionne, Agent Superieur de la Compagnie du Canal de Suez, .and by the staff of that company.

The arduous and important work of the care of the sick and wounded in the Hospitals has been considerably lightened by a large amount of voluntary aid. I wish specially to mention the work of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St. John of Jerusalem under Sir Courtauld Thomson, C.B.

The Nursing services, both English and Australian, have done admirable work, and the voluntary aid of the Sisters of Notre Dame de la Delivrance, working at the Austrian Hospital at Alexandria, have been specially Drought to my notice.

Finally, and in conclusion, I wish to bring to notice the admirable services of my Chief of the General Staff, Major-General A. L. Lynden-Bell, C.B., C.M.G., my Deputy Quartermaster-General, Major-General W. Campbell, C.B., D.S.O., and my Deputy Adjutant-General, Major-General J. Adye, C.B. No Commander-in-Chief has ever been more loyally served, and no staff has ever worked with less friction.

I have other names to bring to notice for distinguished and gallant service during the operations under review, and these will form the subject of a separate communication.

 

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief,

Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

 

Previous: Desert Mounted Corps

Next: General Murray's Despatches, Part 2

 

Further Reading:

Desert Mounted Corps

The Desert Mounted Corps, Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 1

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 21 January 2011 7:13 AM EAST
Monday, 4 February 2002
Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 2
Topic: AIF - DMC

DC

Desert Column

General Murray's Despatches, Part 2

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO.

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO (23 April 1860 - 21 January 1945) was a British Army officer during the Great War, known as commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from 1916 to 1917.

 

SUPPLEMENT TO

The London Gazette

Of

FRIDAY, the 1st of DECEMBER, 1916.

War Office,

1st December, 1916. The Secretary of State for War has received the following despatches from General Sir Archibald Murray, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

General Headquarters,

Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

1st October, 1916.

SIR,

I have the honour to submit a report on the operations of the Force under my command from the 1st June to 30th September, 1916.

1. On the eastern front, during the month of June, vigorous counter-measures, culminating in the successful attack on the enemy's aerodrome at El Arish, were undertaken to check the much increased activity of hostile aircraft. This operation was brilliantly carried out on the morning of the 18th June. The first British, machine to arrive descended to 100 feet and attacked, blowing to pieces an aeroplane on the ground and its attendant personnel. A second machine on the ground was also put out of action by bombs. Heavy fire from rifles and anti-aircraft guns was now opened on the attackers, but the British pilots carried out their orders most gallantly. Altogether six out of the ten hangars were hit, and two, if not three, were burnt to the ground. A party of soldiers on the aerodrome was also successfully bombed, and at the close one of the observing machines attacked the hangars with its machine gun from a height of 1,200 feet. During the action three of our machines were, forced to descend; two were destroyed and one sank in the sea. Two of the pilots were rescued, and the third was taken prisoner.

On the eastern front there was comparatively little activity during the month of June, beyond the usual patrols and reconnaissances, which were actively carried out. A column of Australian Light Horse, with detachments of engineers and of Bikanir Camel Corps, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel T. J. Todd, D.S.O., successfully executed the task of draining the rock cisterns and pools in the Wadi Um Muksheib, some 40 miles S.E. of Ismailia, between 10th and 14th June. Some 5,000,000 gallons of water were disposed of in four days and nights of continuous effort, and the fact that every man and animal that left railhead on 10th June returned safely testifies to the efficiency of the staff arrangements. A column of Yeomanry co-operated with this force, and did very good work.

2. On 10th and 11th June, Bir Bayud, Bir El Mageibra and Bir El Jefeir were reconnoitred. Enemy stores and huts were destroyed at Hod El Bayud, and at Hod El Dababis a hostile patrol was successfully disposed of. On 15th June Bir El Abd was reconnoitred, and between 21st and 23rd June a reconnaissance of the Hod El Ge'eila,Hod Urn El Dhaunnin and Hod El Mushalfat area was carried out by an Australian Light Horse Brigade. During the latter operation one of our aeroplanes was reported missing, and the reconnoitring troops were ordered to find it. This they successfully accomplished, after considerable prolonged exertion in trying weather conditions, and the damaged engine and the machine gun were brought in on the 23rd. Bir El Abd and Mageibra were reconnoitred on 30th June and found to be clear of the enemy.

At the beginning of July a small reconnaissance was carried out from Abu Zeneima by detachments of the Sikh Pioneers and the Bikanir Camel Corps, under the command of Major W. J. Ottley. The column left Abu Zeneima on 11th July and returned on 14th July, having captured an Arab Sheikh and some other prisoners.

3. As regards the western front, during the month no important enemy movements took place. In the coastal section reconnaissances by aeroplane, motor and camel corps, to assure the safety of the Sollum post, were carried out, irrespective of frontier, and with the agreement of the Italian local military authorities, with whom a complete accord has been established by the interchange of visits between the respective commanders. Progress on the Baharia railway continued, though slower than was anticipated, and the defences of posts in the Kharga Oasis were completed. Aeroplane reconnaissance established the continued presence of an enemy force of some 1,800 rifles in the Dakhla Oasis. On 25th and 26th July a raid from Sollum was carried out by a detachment of light armoured cars, under the command of Captain C. G. Mangles, Hussars, in conjunction with some motor cars and personnel furnished by the Italian garrison of Bardia, supported by half a company Imperial Camel Corps, and by the Italian armed yacht "Misurata," ably commanded by Captain Como, Italian Navy. The objective was a party of some 100 Muhafzia, located near the mouth of the Wadi Sanal, in Italian territory, 40 miles west of Has El Melh, whence they had been robbing the Bedouin under pretence of collecting taxes for the Senussi. A complete surprise was effected, but only about twenty-five Muhafzia were found in camp. These fled towards the sea, after a slight .resistance, leaving six killed and three prisoners. Scattered groups on the seashore came under the gun fire of the "Misurata." The importance of this well-conducted operation lies in the proof which it gave to the Arabs of the close co-operation and good fellowship that existed between our Italian neighbours and ourselves.

4. More than half the month of July passed without any important occurrence on the eastern front. In the northern section mounted troops carried out frequent reconnaissances to the east, penetrating on 9th July as far as Salmana, but found the country clear of all but a few Bedouin. On 17th July, however, enemy aircraft were active over the Romani-Dueidar area, and on the 15th a patrol came in contact with a camel patrol of fifteen Turks, with whom shots were exchanged. The Turks retired rapidly eastwards. Up till this date there was no considerable body of Turkish troops further west than Bir El Mazar, some 18 miles east of Oghratina, where for some time there had been a camp of between 1,500 and 2,000.

The situation suddenly changed on 19th July, when an evening reconnaissance by the Royal Flying Corps revealed the fact that a. large force of the enemy had moved westwards from El Arish and established itself on the line Bir El Abd-Bir Jameil-Bir Bayud. Their numbers were estimated to be between 8,000 and 9,000, of which from 3,000 to 4,000 were at Bir El Abd, and the remainder divided between the other two places. It was not immediately clear whether the enemy's intention was to repeat the raid of 23rd April on the Qatia district on a larger scale, or to make a more deliberate advance, but I at once decided, on receipt of this information, to reinforce the troops in this area.

Early on the morning of the 20th the cavalry reported that Oghratina was .held by strong forces of the enemy, who were entrenching. This was confirmed by the Royal Flying Corps, who further reported that the pile of stores at Bir el Abd had increased in size, and that the troops reported on the previous evening at Bir Jameil and Bir El Bayud had moved. A further air reconnaissance, in the afternoon, revealed that this force had moved to Mageibra, where there were between 2,000 and 3,000 men,, with bodies of between 500 and 600 moving on a line between that place and Oghratina. Instructions were issued that the enemy was to be allowed to become involved in an attack on our defences, if he would, and that any such intention was not to be hindered by a premature counter-attack. The cavalry were in touch with the enemy all day, capturing a few prisoners, from whose information it appeared that the force in front of us was the 3rd Turkish Division, consisting of the 31st, 32nd, and 39th Regiments, with mountain guns, heavy artillery, and special machine gun companies; the artillery was manned by Turks, Germans and Austrians, and .there were Germans with all the machine gun companies. Prisoners also stated that there were other echelons following behind these advanced troops at a distance of one day's march. This information was confirmed in all essentials by the complete knowledge subsequently obtained of the attacking force, except that prisoners all exaggerated the number of troops that was following behind them. The whole force consisted of the Turkish 3rd Division, with eight machine gun companies, officered and partly manned by Germans, mountain artillery, and some batteries of 4-inch and 6-inch howitzers and anti-aircraft guns, manned chiefly by Austrians, with a body of Arab Camelry. It was commanded by Colonel Kress Von Kressenstein, a German officer in Turkish employ, and the German personnel of the machine gun units, heavy artillery, wireless sections, field hospital and supply section had been organised in Germany as a. special formation for operations with the Turkish forces. The force was in fine physical condition and admirably equipped.

On the evening of the 20th a demonstration with artillery against Oghratina disclosed the fact that the enemy were entrenching on a general line running south-east from Oghratina, with their left flank thrown forward to Mageibra, which was strongly held. Bir El Abd was used by the enemy as an advanced base throughout the operations.

During the next few days .there was no appreciable change in the situation. The enemy confined himself to closing up his troops and strengthening the position already occupied, pushing forward in one or two places and entrenching wherever he established himself. There were constant encounters between our cavalry patrols and the enemy's, but the latter handled his covering troops well and extended his right flank far enough northwards to prevent anything less than a very strong attack from interfering with his communications along the Bir El Abd-Oghratina road.

By the 24th the enemy had established a force, estimated at 5,000 men, in a series of entrenched positions extending from Hod En Negiliat through Oghratina to Hod El Masia, with supporting bodies of about 1,000 each at Bir Abu Afein and Bir El Abd behind his right flank. On his left Mageibra was entrenched with a series of strong redoubts and held by some 3,000 troops, with small connecting posts northward to Hod El Masia.

By 22nd July it was evident that the enemy had no intention of making an immediate raid upon the Qatia district, .but was either contemplating a serious attack upon the canal defences further west or preparing to establish himself firmly in the Um Alsha district, so as to block our further advance towards El Arish, to protect his own communications between Syria and the Hedjaz, and to prevent us from denying to him the whole of the Qatia area— the only district within which he could collect and maintain any considerable, force within striking distance of the Suez Canal. In either case, whether, on the first alternative, he was waiting for further echelons to arrive before attacking, or, on the second, he was preparing to establish himself permanently, there was only one course of action that commended itself to me—namely, to attack the enemy and inflict a decisive defeat upon him as soon as possible. To do this forthwith was impracticable, since 15 miles of desert separated my main position from that of the enemy, and it would be absolutely necessary that any force destined to advance across this tract to an attack on a strong enemy position should be equipped with camel transport on a very complete scale. While I was compelled, therefore, to remain for the moment on the tactical defensive, I took immediate steps to put everything in train for the adoption of a vigorous offensive at the earliest possible moment. The General Officer in command in the locality was instructed to formulate his plan for the earliest possible assumption of the offensive, and to proceed with all speed with the mobilisation of his striking force on a pack basis with camel transport. I calculated that all arrangements would be completed during the first days of August, and this calculation was borne out by events. By 3rd August all the formations were ready to take the field. My intention was to attack the enemy in force about 13th August, the date of full moon, unless myself attacked earlier. Major-General Hon. H. H. Lawrence was placed in local command of the operations.

During this period of energetic preparation the Mounted Troops kept in constant touch with the enemy, harassing him in every possible way and making valuable reconnaissances; and the Royal Flying Corps, having concentrated all available machines and pilots in Egypt on the Eastern Front, was able to make valuable report upon the enemy's movements in rear of his advanced line.

On the night of the 27/28th the enemy pushed forward all along his front and occupied a line in advance of his former entrenched position, running from the eastern end of Sabkhet El Amy a on the north, south-eastwards to Abu Darem on the south. On his right the advance was-small, for his .advanced troops, which at one time advanced to Hod Um Ugba, were driven back after a sharp skirmish by the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, the enemy sustaining heavy losses. The chief advance was made by his left flank, which swung up in a north-westerly direction from Mageibra to Abu Darem. It now seemed likely that the enemy meant to attack, but for the next few days be continued strengthening his new positions, while continual reinforcements were observed to be reaching him along the northern road. This movement of reinforcements ceased on 31st July, by which date the enemy appeared to have completed the concentration of troops in his front line. From 29th July onwards the Royal Flying Corps, whose role had hitherto been only one of observation, passed to the offensive, and constantly harassed the enemy with bomb attacks. From the 30th onwards H.M. Monitors lying off Mahemdia rendered most valuable assistance in shelling the enemy's camps and works, in which the Royal Flying Corps successfully co-operated. On 28th July I gave instructions for the formation of a mobile column, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel C. L. Smith, V.C., Imperial Camel Corps, to operate against the enemy's left flank and left rear in the neighbourhood of Mageibra and Bayud respectively. This mobile column proved itself invaluable in subsequent operations.

The Mahemdia-Romani position consisted of a series of strong poste extending southwards from the sea to a point on the east of the Katib Gannit hill, and thence curving backwards round the southern slope of that hill north-westwards towards Etmaler.

On 2nd August there were indications of a forward move on the part of the enemy, who made a strong reconnaissance towards Er Rabah-Qatia and Bir El Hamisah, but his advanced troops were driven in, except on the north, by the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Troops after some sharp encounters. By the evening of the 2nd August his general position was but little altered. Even up to this time it was still uncertain whether the ultimate assumption of the offensive would come from our side or the enemy's, but on the following day the enemy disclosed his intention of taking the initiative by making a general move forward and occupying a semi-circular line running from the immediate west of Hill 110, past the high ground north-west of Rabah, over the high ground east and south-east of Qatia to the high ground north-west of Bir Hamisah. It then appeared certain that he would attack the Romani-Mahemdia position, and it appeared to me extremely probable that, while holding us east of that position, he would throw his main attack against the Katib Gannit-Bir El Nuss line in a north-westerly direction, with the object of forcing back our entrenched line before we could interfere from the west and north-west. I warned General Lawrence of this possibility, which was confirmed by events.

5. On the night of the 3rd/4th August, owing to the proximity of the enemy at Qatia, the cavalry, in addition to leaving out the usual officers' patrols, put out a strong outpost line which extended from just south of Katib Gannit along the entrance to the gullies between the sand dunes up to and including Hod El Enna, thus preventing the enemy from penetrating unobserved into the waterless area of sand dunes south-west of Romani, into which I anticipated he would attempt to move. This outpost line, formed by two regiments, was attacked by the enemy in increasing strength from midnight onwards. Several attempts to force the line were repulsed, a bayonet charge on Mount Meredith, a high sand dune midway between Katib Gannit and Hod El Enna, being beaten off between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. The continuous pressure of the enemy gradually forced back the outpost line, which by 4.20 a.m. was facing generally south along the dune called Wellington Ridge, between Mount Meredith and Katib Gannit. Before long the enemy's threat to outflank our right made it necessary to retire slowly northwards towards the railway. It was evident by daylight that the enemy had committed his troops to a decisive attack, as he was pressing the line of fortified works from the east under cover of artillery fire from field guns and heavy howitzers at the same time as he was moving round the southern flank of the position with strong forces, before which our cavalry, while stubbornly resisting, were slowly retiring.

The situation had developed in accordance with my anticipations, and it was certain that, once the force of the enemy's attack from the south was spent, a decisive and rapid counter-attack would place him in a position of great difficulty. General Lawrence issued orders for all available troops to be ready to operate against the enemy's southern flank in the direction of Mount Royston, a high sand dune about two miles south of Pelusium Station: a Mounted Brigade was directed to act vigorously from Dueidar towards Hod El Enna; another Mounted Brigade was ordered to send one regiment to Hod El Aras, and to be prepared to follow it up with the whole Brigade, so as to co-operate with the first-mentioned Mounted Brigade. Finally, I issued orders to the Mobile Column, under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, V.C., to commence operations against the enemy's left rear towards Mageibra and Bir Aweidiya, working wide of the flank of the last-named Mounted Brigade. This Column at once started for Hod El Bada, which it reached by the evening of the 4th.

During the forenoon the enemy made several attacks against the Romani-Mehemdia defences from the east, south and south-west. These were repulsed by the garrisons, composed of Scottish and Welsh Infantry, with considerable loss, and in spite of heavy artillery fire from the enemy's heavy howitzers, which in one or two cases inflicted severe casualties on our troops, who behaved with admirable steadiness. The fire of these howitzers, however, was very effectively kept down by the guns of the monitors, with the co-operation of the Royal Flying Corps.

There was, unfortunately, more delay than had been anticipated in moving up the infantry reinforcements to Pelusium Station, so that during the morning of the 4th no infantry was available for an attack on the enemy's flank at Mount Royston. This caused the whole brunt of the fighting in this area to fall upon the cavalry, whose casualties had not been light, and whose right flank was unprotected. A squadron of cavalry from 7.45 a.m. onwards held off attacks from the south-east for three hours till a yeomanry regiment, which had come into action at 9.45, gained touch with it. The result of the somewhat rapid, advance of the Turks from the south was that General Lawrence was obliged to divert the cavalry originally destined to operate against the enemy's rear to strengthen the line of resistance on the north. By 12.30 p.m. the enemy on our southern flank reached the furthest point of his advance—a line running from Bir Abu Diyuk, north of Mount Royston, along the southern slopes of Wellington Ridge, and thence bending round to the east and north facing the southernmost infantry post. Shortly after 1 p.m. New Zealand mounted troops, with some Yeomanry, began to attack Mount Royston from the west. This attack was pressed slowly forward, and was accompanied, in spite of heavy fire from the enemy, by a general move forward of the cavalry. By 3.30 p.m. two battalions of the E. Lancashire Regiment, closely followed by a third, were on the march southwards from Pelusium Station, and by 4 p.m. all the troops were ordered to press forward for the counter-attack and gain and hold the line Mount Royston-Wellington Ridge. By 6.30 p.m. Mount Royston, with about 500 prisoners, some machine guns, and a battery of mountain artillery were in our hands. At 6 p.m. an attack was made on Wellington Ridge by infantry, supported by the fire of our artillery. The ridge was strongly held, and, owing to darkness, the enemy remained in possession of part of it during the night. The result of the day's fighting was that we had repulsed a vigorous attack, capturing between 500 and 1,000 prisoners, retaken Mount Royston and part of Wellington Ridge, and were pressing back on the south a now exhausted enemy. The outpost line for the night was taken up by the leading battalions, with some of the cavalry in the centre. Some Australian cavalry which had reached Hill 70, was ordered on to Dueidar to be ready to take up the right flank of the pursuit.

Vigorous action, to the utmost limits .of endurance, was ordered for the next day, and the troops, in spite of the heat, responded nobly. At daybreak the Scottish Territorial Infantry, assisted by Australian and New Zealand mounted troops, took the remainder of Wellington Ridge by assault, capturing about 1,500 prisoners. Elsewhere the mounted troops pressed forward, meeting with some opposition, but prisoners continued to come in steadily, and it was soon obvious that the enemy's offensive was completely broken. An advance was ordered all along the line, and all mounted troops were put under the command of General Chauvel, with orders to push on as far and as vigorously as the resources at Ibis disposal would permit.

The mounted troops pressed steadily forward, and found the enemy holding the ridges Katib Gannit-Bir El Nuss line in a north-westerly direction, with the object of forcing back our entrenched line before we could interfere from the west and north-west. I warned General Lawrence of this possibility, which was confirmed by events.

5. On the night of the 3rd/4th August, owing to the proximity of the enemy at Qatia, the cavalry, in addition to leaving out the usual officers' patrols, put out a strong outpost line which extended from just south of Katib Gannit along the entrance to the gullies between the sand dunes up to and including Hod El Enna, thus preventing the enemy from penetrating unobserved into the waterless area of sand dunes south-west of Romani, into which I anticipated he would attempt to move. This outpost line, formed by two regiments, was attacked by the enemy in increasing strength from midnight onwards. Several attempts to force the line were repulsed, a bayonet charge on Mount Meredith, a high sand dune midway between Katib Gannit and Hod El Enna, being beaten off between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. The continuous pressure of the enemy gradually forced back the outpost line, which by 4.20 a.m. was facing generally south along the dune called Wellington Ridge, between Mount Meredith and Katib Gannit. Before long the enemy's threat to outflank our right made it necessary to retire slowly northwards towards the railway. It was evident by daylight that the enemy had committed his troops to a decisive attack, as he was pressing the line of fortified works from the east under cover of artillery fire from field guns and heavy howitzers at the same time as he was moving round the southern flank of the position with strong forces, before which our cavalry, while stubbornly resisting, were slowly retiring.

The situation had developed in accordance with my anticipations, and it was certain that, once the force of the enemy's attack from the south was spent, a decisive and rapid counter-attack would place him in a position of great difficulty. General Lawrence issued orders for all available troops to be ready to operate against the enemy's southern flank in the direction of Mount Royston, a high sand dune about two miles south of Pelusium Station: a Mounted Brigade was directed to act vigorously from Dueidar towards Hod El Enna; another Mounted Brigade was ordered to send one regiment to Hod El Aras, and to be prepared to follow it up with the whole Brigade, so as to co-operate with the first-mentioned Mounted Brigade. Finally, I issued orders to the Mobile Column, under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, V.C., to commence operations against the enemy's left rear towards Mageibra and Bir Aweidiya, working wide of the flank of the last-named Mounted Brigade. This Column at once started for Hod El Bada, which it reached by the evening of the 4th.

During the forenoon the enemy made several attacks against the Romani-Mehemdia defences from the east, south and south-west. These were repulsed by the garrisons, composed of Scottish and Welsh Infantry, with considerable loss, and in spite of heavy artillery fire from the enemy's heavy howitzers, which in one or two cases inflicted severe casualties on our troops, who behaved with admirable steadiness. The fire of these howitzers, however, was very effectively kept down by the guns of the monitors, with the co-operation of the Royal Flying Corps.

There was, unfortunately, more delay than had been anticipated in moving up the infantry reinforcements to Pelusium Station, so that during the morning of the 4th no infantry was available for an attack on the enemy's flank at Mount Royston. This caused the whole brunt of the fighting in this area to fall upon the cavalry, whose casualties had not been light, and whose right flank was unprotected. A squadron of cavalry from 7.45 a.m. onwards held off attacks from the south-east for three hours till a yeomanry regiment, which had come into action at 9.45, gained touch with it. The result of the somewhat rapid, advance of the Turks from the south was that General Lawrence was obliged to divert the cavalry originally destined to operate against the enemy's rear to strengthen the line of resistance on the north. By 12.30 p.m. the enemy on our southern flank reached the furthest point of his advance—a line running from Bir Abu Diyuk, north of Mount Royston, along the southern slopes of Wellington Ridge, and thence bending round to the east and north facing the southernmost infantry post. Shortly after 1 p.m. New Zealand mounted troops, with some Yeomanry, began to attack Mount Royston from the west. This attack was pressed slowly forward, and was accompanied, in spite of heavy fire from the enemy, by a general move forward of the cavalry. By 3.30 p.m. two battalions of the E. Lancashire Regiment, closely followed by a third, were on the march southwards from Pelusium Station, and by 4 p.m. all the troops were ordered to press forward for the counter-attack and gain and hold the line Mount Royston-Wellington Ridge. By 6.30 p.m. Mount Royston, with about 500 prisoners, some machine guns, and a battery of mountain artillery were in our hands. At 6 p.m. an attack was made on Wellington Ridge by infantry, supported by the fire of our artillery. The ridge was strongly held, and, owing to darkness, the enemy remained in possession of part of it during the night. The result of the day's fighting was that we had repulsed a vigorous attack, capturing between 500 and 1,000 prisoners, retaken Mount Royston and part of Wellington Ridge, and were pressing back on the south a now exhausted enemy. The outpost line for the night was taken up by the leading battalions, with some of the cavalry in the centre. Some Australian cavalry which had reached Hill 70, was ordered on to Dueidar to be ready to take up the right flank of the pursuit.

Vigorous action, to the utmost limits .of endurance, was ordered for the next day, and the troops, in spite of the heat, responded nobly. At daybreak the Scottish Territorial Infantry, assisted by Australian and New Zealand mounted troops, took the remainder of Wellington Ridge by assault, capturing about 1,500 prisoners. Elsewhere the mounted troops pressed forward, meeting with some opposition, but prisoners continued to come in steadily, and it was soon obvious that the enemy's offensive was completely broken. An advance was ordered all along the line, and all mounted troops were put under the command of General Chauvel, with orders to push on as far and as vigorously as the resources at Ibis disposal would permit.

The mounted troops pressed steadily forward, and found the enemy holding the ridges west of Quatia, supported by artillery. The Australian Light Horse, which had moved forward from Dueidar by Bir El Nuss, came into contact with the enemy near Bir El Hamisah and captured some 450 prisoners, with machine guns and other materiel. The further advance of these troops, however, was met with heavy fire from field guns and howitzers, and no further progress was made. Further northwards, as soon as the infantry had cleared Abu Hamra, the advance was continued towards Qatia, where the enemy's rearguard was found firmly established east of the palm trees, with both flanks well protected. A strong attempt was made to eject him by dismounted action, but the attack failed to make progress, and darkness found our troops and the enemy's facing each other roughly on parallel lines. During the day the Royal Flying Corps reported that the retreat of the Turks was general throughout their depth, and our aeroplanes most effectively harassed his movements and threw his columns into confusion by well-directed bomb attacks.

On the morning of the 6th the enemy was found to have retired from Qatia, and, while the cavalry pressed on in pursuit, the infantry moved forward and occupied the line Er Rabah-Qatia-Bir El Mamluk. These Australian Light Horse regiments, which had borne the brunt of observing and harassing the enemy's advance, were given a day's rest in camp, while the remainder of the cavalry continued the advance. The enemy's rearguard was found to be occupying his previously prepared position extending across the road and telegraph line between Hod El Reshafat and Hod El Dhaba. Our attempts to turn his flanks by Hod En Negiliat on the north and Hod El Sagia on the south were frustrated by heavy artillery fire.

On the same morning the Camel Corps detachment of Smith's Mobile Column occupied Bir El Mageibra without opposition. Another body of mounted troops also moved to Mageibra in support at Bir El Jafeir. In the afternoon Major J. J. de Knoop, commanding the Camel Corps detachment of this column, reconnoitred towards Hod El Bayud, and reported that a force of the enemy was in occupation of Hod El Muhammam, five miles north-east of Mageibra. Orders for an attack next morning were issued by Colonel Smith.

On the 7th August the cavalry maintained their action with the enemy's rearguard, which had fallen back to the line of his first entrenched position running from Oghratina to Hod El Masia, with flanks thrown well out to the north and south. There was continuous fighting throughout the day, but the enemy were too strongly supported by artillery for the cavalry to drive him from his position. Meanwhile the Mobile Column, operating from Bir El Aweidiya, had fought a very successful action with the enemy force—consisting of 1,000 rifles, three machine guns and two 12-pounder guns—in the neighbourhood of Hod El Muhammam. The camel detachnfent and cavalry, the whole under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Grant, drove the enemy out of several successive positions, capturing 53 prisoners, and successfully withdrew at nightfall. This threat to his flanks was probably an important factor in determining the enemy to continue his retreat. I regret to say that Major de Knoop, who had handled the camel detachment throughout with great skill and judgment, was killed while directing operations.

On the 8th August the enemy was found to have abandoned Oghratina and, by the evening, to have taken up a position covering Bir el Abd, his advanced base. It was here that the enemy made his final stand to cover the evacuation of his camp and stores. Touch was now gained between the cavalry and Smith's Mobile Column, and was maintained from this time onwards.

On the 9th August the cavalry which had hitherto carried out the pursuit was reinforced. A strong effort was made to encircle both flanks of the enemy at Bir El Abd and cut off his further retreat. Strong opposition was, however, encountered on both flanks, and it was decided to deliver a dismounted attack with the object of driving out the enemy. Our field batteries got close enough to shell effectively .the convoys removing stores from the pile at Bir El Abd, but our artillery fire drew a heavy reply from the enemy's howitzers, which caused some casualties. The enemy, well supported by artillery, fought stubbornly. He made three counter-attacks, all of which were driven back with heavy loss by our rifle and machine-gun fire, and in the evening what appeared to be a general advance by fresh forces was made against our troops. This was also driven back with heavy loss, but the enemy was able to maintain his covering position. During the next two days our cavalry was unable to .do more than maintain continuous pressure, but the Mobile Column, which had occupied Bayud on the 9th, continued to menace the enemy wide on his left flank. On the 10th a strong reconnaissance was made against the enemy, who was in strength at Hod El Mushalfat, south-east of Bir El Abd. On the 11th an enemy force with two mountain guns approached Bayud. A sharp action, which commenced at 5.30 a.m., was fought, and in the course of it all the baggage camels and ammunition mules of the enemy detachment were destroyed. Towards the afternoon the enemy evacuated this position and retired on the main body of his rearguard. On the following day patrols from the neighbourhood of Bayud found the country to the east and north all clear.

Early on the morning of the 12th it was found that the enemy had retired from Bir El Abd, and, though there was a small encounter with his rear troops about Salmana, the general pursuit stopped at this point, the enemy retiring through Bir El Mazar to El Arish. The General Officer Commanding was ordered to hold the line Bir El Abd-Homossia with two brigades of cavalry, keeping touch with the Mobile Column, which remained at Mageibra. The infantry returned to the Mahemdia— Romani line.

6. The complete result of the operations in the Qatia district was the decisive defeat of an enemy force amounting in all to some 18,000, including 15,000 rifles. Some 4,000 prisoners, including 50 officers, were captured, and, from the number of enemy dead actually buried, it. is estimated that the total number of enemy casualties amounted to about 9,000. In addition, there were captured 1 Krupp 75 mm. mountain battery of four guns complete with all accessories and 400 rounds of ammunition.

9 German machine guns and mountings with specially constructed pack saddles for camel transport, 2,300 rifles, 1,000,000 rounds small arms ammunition, 100 horses and mules, 500 camels, and a large amount of miscellaneous stores and equipment. Two field hospitals, with most of their equipment, were also abandoned by the enemy in his retreat, and large quantities of stores were burnt by him at Bir El Abd to prevent their capture.

Lieutenant-General the Hon. H. A. Lawrence directed the operations throughout, and the warmest praise is due to him and the commanders, staffs and troops concerned in the operations. General Lawrence's staff deserve great credit for their efforts in working out the allotment of camel transport enabling our troops to conduct a vigorous pursuit. Throughout the whole month which elapsed between the enemy's first approach and his final disappearance Major-General H. G. Chauvel, C.B., C.M.G., proved himself a resolute and resourceful cavalry leader. The brunt of the fighting fell upon the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops, to which were attached batteries of R.H.A. I cannot speak too highly of the gallantry, steadfastness and untiring energy shown by these fine troops throughout the operations. The S. Mid. Mounted Brigade came into action successfully on 4th August, and subsequently took part in the cavalry pursuit. The Scottish troops, commanded by Major-General W. E. B. Smith, C.M.Q., not only showed great steadiness under heavy artillery fire, but were responsible for the assault which recaptured Wellington Ridge on 4th August, and for clearing Abu Hamra on the 5th. Of the E. Lanes, troops, commanded by Major-General Sir W. Douglas, K.C.M.G., C.B., only two battalions were in action on the 4th, but the force carried out a march under very trying conditions on the subsequent days. Detachments of the Bikanir Camel Corps were invaluable in reconnaissances and as escorts to small parties, besides bringing in much of the material captured.

Most excellent work was done by Lieutenant-Colonel C. L. Smith, V.C., Officer Commanding Camel Corps, and by all ranks composing the Mobile Column under his command. He executed the role ascribed to him with great energy, and carried out his instructions with the highest intelligence. The arrangements made for mobilising and maintaining his column reflect the greatest credit on Major-General A. G. Dallas, C.B., and his staff.

I cannot speak too highly of the work of the Royal Flying Corps during the whole period. Their work was extremely arduous and exhausting. The average total daily reconnaissances during the period amounted to 23 hours, and during the first five days of August to as much as 31 hours. Many pilots and observers were out two or three times a day for several consecutive days under very accurate anti-aircraft fire, and were frequently engaged in air combats with enemy machines of superior power. Special commendation is due to Lieutenant-Colonel P. B. Joubert, Officer Commanding Royal Flying Corps, and to Major H. Blackburn, Royal Flying Corps, who commanded the detachment at Kantara.

I wish also to bring to notice the good work done by H.M. Monitors, under the command of Lieutenant-Commander A. O. St. John, R.N., and Commander E. Robinson, V.C., R.N., respectively. The shooting of these ships was consistently good, and they were very successful in reducing the fire of the enemy's heavy howitzers on the 4th August.

7. With the exception of the operations described in the preceding paragraph, there is little to record beyond reconnaissances and patrols for the remainder of the period under review.

On 16th and 17th September a mounted force of Australian Light Horse, Imperial Camel Corps, R.H.A. Batteries and a Mountain Battery, under the command of Major-General Chauvel, carried out a successful reconnaissance in force against the enemy's camp at Bir El Mazar. At dawn, on the 17th, the camp was attacked from the west and from the south and south-east. On the west our troops occupied a ridge about 800 yards from the enemy's second Bine trenches; several small posts were rushed and taken. Our batteries came into action in a favourable position, partially enfilading some enemy trenches, which were seen to be occupied in strength, and inflicted considerable loss. The enemy replied actively with shell fire and heavy rifle fire. On the south and south-east our troops drew the enemy's fire on a front of two miles, and in many instances occupied the enemy's original first line trenches. My instructions were that a general action against the enemy in entrenched positions was to be avoided, and the column, having successfully carried out its mission, withdrew without any attempt on the part of the enemy to molest it. The Royal Flying Corps co-operated effectively throughout the operation, and the gallant action of the seaplanes of the Royal Naval Air Service off El Arish diverted the attention of the enemy's aircraft from our troops at Bir El Mazar. Our casualties were slight, and our captures included one officer and thirteen men of the enemy's camel corps, besides a number of camels.

The success of this operation, apart from the casualties inflicted, which were heavy, lay in the fact that it gave the enemy a new and unexpected proof of our extended radius of action, and induced him, in the course of the next few days, to evacuate his camp at Bir El Mazar and withdraw the troops to camps near El Arish.

During the month of September various small reconnaissances were made. The most important of these was carried out against Bir El Tawal (about 30 miles west of El Kubri) by a column under Brigadier-General A. Mudge, between the 14th and 21st September. The approach march was excellently carried out over very broken and intricate country. The enemy's position was reached on the 17th, and, after a preliminary reconnaissance on that day, an attack was made early the next morning. The infantry advanced with great dash, and almost immediately the enemy took to flight, but pursuit was impossible, owing to the nature of the ground. An inspection of the enemy's camp showed that he had been completely taken by surprise, and had left behind all his stores and personal effects, which were captured. After the wells had been emptied, and such stores as could not be brought away had been destroyed, our troops withdrew, reaching Kubri railhead on 21st September. Our total casualties were three other ranks killed and two other ranks wounded.

On the western front during the months of August and September there has been little of note, to report. The railway towards the Baharia Oasis has been pushed on, and the railhead of the Kharga railway is now ten miles beyond Kharga Station. Patrolling has been most active in all sections of the line. On 31st August a patrol of eight motor-cars captured an enemy camel convoy twenty miles north-west of Jaghbub. The escort of thirty Armed men surrendered without resistance, the loads and saddles of the camels were burnt, and most of the camels destroyed. In the Saharia Section a patrol of two officers and three men, Imperial Camel Corps, came in contact with a small body of between fifteen and twenty enemy near the point where the "Rubi" road from Samalut descends the escarpment of the Baharia Oasis. The two officers became detached from the men, who made their way back to the post covering the railhead, but I much, regret that subsequent search has failed to discover the missing officers. In the Wadi Natrun Section “A” motor-car patrol on 21st September arrested a small convoy under a Tripolitan officer of the Senussi Force, which was bringing mails and a quantity of bombs, gelignite and automatic pistols from Baharia to Amria (12 miles west of Alexandria on the coast).

Throughout the period under review the command of the Delta District and the Lines of Communication Defences has been held by Major-General W. A. Watson, C.B., C.I.E., and the duties of that command, though happily involving no active operations, have been carried out to my satisfaction. Great activity and thoroughness has been shown in carrying out my instructions to establish a line of posts along the western edge of the canal zone to prevent the entrance of undesirable persons. The patrolling duties involved have been entrusted to two Australian squadrons, who have displayed the greatest zeal, tact and resource in bringing the new orders and restrictions into force. The results of this measure have been excellent, and the Western Canal Zone can now be said to be free from the presence of all unauthorised persons.

8. It gives me the greatest pleasure to bring to notice the services rendered by General Sir F. R. Wingate, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., and the Egyptian Army, since the beginning of the war, to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and to express my gratefulness for the assistance which has at all times been so willingly given. Fifty-eight officers and twelve Sudan Government officials served—most of them for short periods equivalent to the amount of leave to which in normal circumstances they would have been entitled—with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force; of these, six officers were either killed or died of wounds, and eleven were wounded. Sixty officers and twenty-seven Sudan Government officials were lent at various times for service with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

Personnel of the Egyptian Army has been employed at different times as guards for railway bridges and to garrison various important points in the interior. The Egyptian Army also supplied guns and gunners for two armoured trains for use with the defences of Egypt. A Camel Maxim Section and an armed detachment of the Military Works Department were attached to the Bikanir Camel Corps, and took part in the operations against the Senussi (in which operations No. 1 Squadron Egyptian Cavalry was also employed) and in the attack on the Suez Canal in April, 1915. Two companies of the 2nd (Egyptian) Battalion garrisoned there in January, 1915, and took part in the subsequent operations in that district. The garrison of Abu Zeneima was also supplied for some months by troops of the Egyptian Army. In the course of 1915, 2,230 Egyptian reservists, who had been called up, were employed on works connected with the Canal defences; a number of Egyptian officers from pension and unemployed lists volunteered for service with these reservists and gave valuable assistance. A works battalion of six companies was formed in May, 1915, for service at the Dardanelles, the battalion and the companies being, commanded by British officers in the employ of the Egyptian Army. This unit did excellent work, under perpetual shell-fire, on the Peninsula during the four months of its employment.

Besides this assistance in the matter of personnel the Egyptian Army has most liberally placed at the disposal of the Mediterranean and Egyptian Expeditionary Forces accommodation, war material and transport camels.

I would especially mention the loan of the Egyptian Army Hospital at Cairo, complete with equipment, to the New Zealand Division; the purchase in the Sudan of over 14,000 riding and baggage camels, the collection, veterinary examination, and dispatch of which threw a large amount of additional work upon the province staffs; the supply of 174,000 grenades for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force; the loan of tugs and steel plates for the Canal defences; and the manufacture and repair, in the Stores Department, of a large number of articles of equipment and clothing. For these, and all other services rendered in addition to their normal duties, the Egyptian Army and the Sudan Administration deserve the most cordial thanks.

I also wish to express my extreme gratefulness to Field Marshal Rt. Hon. Lord Methuen, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., C.M.G., Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Malta, and to all his staff, for the labours which they have undertaken in connection with hospital work for the benefit of the Mediterranean and Egyptian Expeditionary Forces.

The expansion, reduction and re-expansion of accommodation has necessitated very hard work on the part of the Engineer, Barracks, Ordnance, Transport and Supply Services, as well as oh the part of the Medical Department. I wish to call attention to the admirable work that has been performed by the Nursing Services in the hospitals in Egypt. Not only have they had to deal with a very large number of wounded and sick from Gallipoli, Salonica and Egypt itself, but also from other theatres of war. The devotion to duty, zeal .and skill of the Nursing Services, both British, Australian and New Zealand, and of the voluntary helpers has been beyond praise, and I have great pleasure in bringing to your notice in a subsequent despatch the names of a number of those ladies for specially distinguished service.

The distribution by the Army Postal Service of letters and parcels over the extended desert fronts has been fraught with difficulties. The successful manner in which these have been overcome has greatly contributed to the comfort and health of the troops under my command. In this connection I wish to acknowledge the assistance I have received from the Egyptian Postal Service, under the able direction of N. T. Borton Pasha, Postmaster-General.

The complete failure of the enemy's operations in August was largely due to the manner in which the plans for defence were prepared and the distribution of the troops arranged, in the accomplishment of this the Chief of my General Staff, Major-General A. L. Lynden-Bell, C.B., C.M.G., rendered me able and devoted service. His work has been of an onerous nature and he has discharged it with energy, skill and determination.

My thanks are also due to Lieutenant-General E. A. Altham, K.C.B., C.M.G., for the manner in which he has discharged his responsible duties as Inspector-General of Communications.

I will submit in a separate Despatch the names of those officers and men who have rendered distinguished service during the period under review and whose services I desire to commend.

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient Servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

 

Previous: General Murray's Despatches, Part 1

Next: General Murray's Despatches, Part 3

 

Further Reading:

Desert Mounted Corps

The Desert Mounted Corps, Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 2

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 21 January 2011 7:11 AM EAST
Sunday, 3 February 2002
Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 3
Topic: AIF - DMC

DC

Desert Column

General Murray's Despatches, Part 3

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO.

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO (23 April 1860 - 21 January 1945) was a British Army officer during the Great War, known as commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from 1916 to 1917.

 

SUPPLEMENT TO

The London Gazette

Of

FRIDAY, 6 JULY, 1917.

War Office,

 

The Secretary of State for War has received the following despatches from General Sir Archibald Murray, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force: —

General Headquarters,

Egyptian Expeditionary Force,

 

1st March 1917. MY LORD,—

I have the honour to submit a report on the operations of the Force under my command from 1st October, 1916, to 28th February, 1917.

1. During the months of October and November and the first half of December there were no important operations upon my Eastern front, though a successful reconnaissance against the enemy positions at Gebel El Rakwa and Maghara, 65 miles east of Ismailia, was carried out between the 13th and 17th October by a small force of Australian Light Horse, Yeomanry and Camel Corps. This operation not only needed careful preparation, but entailed two night marches over exceedingly difficult sand dune country, the difficulties being increased on the second night by the presence of a thick fog. On the early morning of the 15th the enemy was located holding a strong position on the high precipitous hills of Maghara. The force, attacking in two columns, dislodged the enemy from his advanced position, capturing a few prisoners. At the same time the enemy's camp was repeatedly bombed by our aeroplanes, which furnished invaluable assistance throughout the operation. After an engagement lasting two hours the force withdrew unmolested, and reached Bayud on the 17th without the loss of a single camel. The operation was well carried out, and valuable information was obtained regarding the enemy's dispositions and the nature of the country.

With this exception all was quiet on the Eastern front. The unexpected evidence of our mobility given to the enemy by the successful reconnaissance against Mazar, which I recorded in my last despatch, and the losses suffered by the Turks during this affair, had given the enemy sufficient uneasiness to induce him to withdraw altogether from Mazar, and towards the end of October his nearest troops were in the neighbourhood of Ujret El Zol and Masaid, about seven and four miles west of El Arish respectively. The enemy also maintained various small posts in the neighbourhood of Maghara, with small garrisons further south at Hassana and Nekhl. About the same time the railway towards El Arish, which had been making steady and uninterrupted progress, was in the neighbourhood of Bir Salmana, some four miles east of Bir el Abd. The Australian and New Zealand mounted troops, with a force of Yeomanry attached, had advanced from Romani, and were covering the advance and the railway construction east of Salmana with brigades thrown out to their flanks and rear.

2. On the 23rd October, in order to be in closer touch with the civil authority, I moved my General Headquarters from Ismailia to Cairo, and at the same time the new Headquarters of the Eastern Force came into existence at Ismailia under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Dobell, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. At the same time the headquarters of the Inspector-General of Communications, which had always been in Cairo, were merged in General Headquarters, and on the lapse of his appointment Lieu tenant-General Sir E. A. Altham, K.C.B., C.M.G., to my great personal regret, returned to England.

3 The first half of November was mainly occupied in making the necessary arrangements for pressing forward our advance towards El Arish. In the south a small column under Brigadier-General P. C. Palin, C.B., marched on Sinn Bisher and Bir um Gurf, 30 miles south-east of Suez, on the 15th and 16th November, and attacked and drove off some enemy posted in the hills.

During the latter part of the month the cavalry gradually pushed forward in advance of the railway, which by November 26th reached Mazar. Reconnaissances by mounted troops were pushed forward to within 8 miles of El Arish by 17th November, when the enemy's outposts were located at Jjret el Zol; on November 28th a mounted patrol was pushed through to Bir el Masmi, little more than 3 miles south-west of El Arish; and from this time our patrols were constantly in touch with the enemy's position at El Arish-Masaid. Throughout the month the enemy's aircraft showed considerable activity, attacking the railhead and the bivouacs of our advanced troops with bombs. Little damage, however, was done, and our own aircraft retained complete superiority in the air. The Royal Flying Corps in this month visited Magdhaba, Sheikh Zowaid and Khan Yunis for reconnaissance purposes, and on the 11th November made very successful bomb attacks on Bir Saba and Magdhaba. At Bir Saba special attention was paid to the aerodrome and the railway station, both of which were damaged. Presumably in retaliation for the air raid at Bir Saba one hostile aeroplane dropped bombs on Cairo on the 13th, causing some casualties among the civil population and killing one private; no other damage of a military nature was done. The Royal Flying Corps promptly replied by heavily bombing the enemy's camp at Magdhaba by moonlight on the same night. On the 17th November the enemy's camps at Masaid were heavily bombed by four machines in reply to' the appearance of a hostile machine at Suez the same morning.

By the 1st December the railway was east of Mazar. During the first week of December constant patrols were sent out by the cavalry, and the country was thoroughly reconnoitred in the area Mazar-Risan Aneiza—Bir Lahfan— Bir el Masmi. In the meantime the enemy maintained his position of El Arish and Masaid, and in order to afford him no inducement to withdraw until such time as I should be ready to strike, mounted patrols were ordered to be as unostentatious as possible.

4. On the 7th December Lieutenant-General Sir P. W. Chetwode, Bt., C.B., D.S.O., assumed command of the Desert Column, shortly afterwards moving his Headquarters from Bir el Abd to Mazar. Since January the force had gradually pushed right across the Sinai desert, fighting when necessary, organising and constructing incessantly in the heavy sand and hot sun. The pressure on the enemy in other theatres and our success at Roman! were undoubtedly contributing factors to this advance, but the main factor—without which all liberty of action and any tactical victory would have been nugatory—was work, intense and unremitting. To regain this peninsula, the true frontier of Egypt, hundreds of miles of road and railway had been built, hundreds of miles of water piping had been laid, filters capable of supplying 1,500,000 gallons of water a day, and reservoirs had been installed, and tons of stone transported from distant quarries. Kantara had been transformed from a small canal village into an important railway and water terminus, with wharves and cranes and a railway ferry; and the desert, till then almost destitute of human habitation, showed the successive marks of our advance in the shape of strong positions firmly entrenched and protected by hundreds of miles of barbed wire, of standing camps where troops could shelter in comfortable huts, of tanks and reservoirs, of railway stations and sidings, of aerodromes and of signal stations and wireless installations, by all of which the desert was subdued and made habitable, and adequate lines of communication established between the advancing troops and their ever receding base. Moreover, not only had British troops laboured incessantly through the summer and autumn, but the body of organised native labour had grown. The necessity of combining the protection and maintenance, including the important work of sanitation, of this large force of workers, British and native, with that steady progress on the railway, roads and pipes which was vital to the success of my operations, put the severest strain upon all energies and resources. But the problem of feeding the workers without starving the work was solved by the goodwill and energy of all concerned.

Moreover, organisation kept pace with construction. The equipment of the fighting units with camel transport, which had reached its first stage of completion at the time of the Romani battle, had been perfected by the middle of December, the allotment of camels to units having been worked out with the minutest precision. A large number of additional camels were provided for convoying supplies and water from the railhead to the front. The striking force was now completely mobile, and the troops had grown skilful in meeting the special problems of desert campaigning.

5. But no organisation could entirely overcome the chief difficulty which

The Turkish garrison at El Arish consisted of some 1,600 infantry in all, in a strong entrenched position. Between the 9th and 14th December increased activity was shown by the Turks, and our aircraft and mounted patrols reported the construction of new works, while the enemy camps at Magdhaba and Abu Aweigila were reported to have increased m size. On these indications of a probable reinforcement to the enemy, the final preparations were pushed on with most strenuous determination. Had rain only fallen, an earlier move could have been made, but as it was, the water supply for the striking force was not adequately secured till 20th December.

6. The swiftness of our final preparations was rewarded, but not immediately, by a successful engagement. We had been too quick for the enemy, but he had recognised it, and, knowing that reinforcements would arrive too late, had hurriedly withdrawn his troops from Masaid and El Arish. This retirement was reported by the Royal Flying Corps on the 20th December, and the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops and Imperial Camel Corps were ordered to move on El Arish the same night. Scottish troops were to move in support of the mounted troops. Accordingly, after a skilfully conducted march of twenty miles in the moonless night, the Australian Light Horse and the Imperial Camel Corps surrounded the enemy's position. Light Horse patrols reached El Arish about sunrise, and found it unoccupied. By 7.20 a.m. the Light Horse were east of El Arish, the Imperial Camel Corps south of the town, another party of Light Horse was about Masaid, and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were at Masmi. During the day our aircraft reported about 1,600 of the enemy on the march in two columns in the neighbourhood of Magdhaba and Abu Aweigila. Sheikh Zowaid and Rafa appeared to be clear of the enemy. Maghara had been evacuated, and the enemy was apparently in process of withdrawing from the neighbouring posts. By the night of the 21st December, therefore, the re-occupation of El Arish had been effected, and the enemy was evacuating, or had evacuated, his positions west of a north and south line through that place, except those at Nekhl and Hassana. The aircraft, moreover, reported that the garrison of the latter place seemed also to be reduced.

On the 22nd December the Scottish troops were about El Arish and Bittia. Mine-sweeping operations were at once commenced in the roadstead under the direction of Captain A. H. Williamson, M.V.O., R.N., while the erection of a pier was taken in hand. In forty-eight hours the roadstead was cleared of mines, and the supply ships from Port Said began unloading stores and supplies on the 24th. Supplies were also hastened to El Arish by camel convoy, since it was of the utmost importance to accumulate at once a sufficient amount to give our mounted troops a further radius of action. Our aircraft were exceedingly active during the day A successful attack was made on the railway bridge at Tel-el Sharia, north of El Arish, El Auja and Bir Saba were effectively bombed, and two battalions of Turkish, troops located by the Royal Flying Corps at Magdhaba, some 20 miles south of El Arish, were attacked with bombs by thirteen of our aeroplanes and suffered many casualties.

In order to emphasise the capture of El Arish, in the Southern Canal area a column assembled near Bir Mabeiuk on the 22nd December, and on the following days advanced through the Mitla Pass and by the Darb el Haj as far as Sudr El Heitan, more than half-way to Nekhl. This column destroyed various enemy posts and entrenchments, but, finding no enemy, returned on the 25th.

7. The enemy having temporarily succeeded in eluding us, it was of the utmost importance to strike any of his forces that remained within our reach. I had always anticipated that, should the enemy choose to abandon El Arish, his line of retreat would be through Magdhaba and Abu Aweigila towards El Auja. These anticipations were confirmed by the report of the Royal Flying Corps that an enemy force of about two regiments was at Magdhaba. It appeared likely that this force consisted of the 1,600 infantry which had composed the garrison of El Arish, and that it was preparing to hold Magdhaba as a rearguard. Orders were given that a mounted force should push forward with all haste against the enemy, and arrangements were made accordingly by General Sir Charles Dobell for the move of most of the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops, with the Imperial Camel Corps, against Magdhaba and Abu Aweigila on the night of the 22nd-23rd. Major-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, K.C.M.G., C.B., was in command of the column.

8. Starting at 12.45 a.m. on December 23rd, the flying column halted at 4.50 a.m. in an open plain about four miles from Magdhaba, whence the enemy's bivouac fires could plainly be seen. General Chauvel, with his staff and subordinate commanders, immediately undertook a personal reconnaissance of the enemy's position, and soon after 8 a.m., by which time the first aeroplane reports had been received, the attack was set in motion.

The enemy had taken up a position on both banks of the Wadi el Arish, and was very strongly posted in a rough circle of from 3,000 to 3,500 yards diameter. Five large closed works, exceedingly well sited, formed the principal defences, and between these works was a system of well-constructed and concealed trenches and rifle pits.

General Chauvel's plan of attack was as follows: —

The New Zealand Mounted Rifles and Australian Light Horse, both under the command of Brigadier-General E. W. C. Chaytor, C.B., were to move to the east of Magdhaba and to swing round to attack the enemy's right and rear. The Imperial Camel Corps were to move direct against Magdhaba to attack the enemy in front—that is, from the north-west. Other Australian mounted troops were at the outset in reserve. Between 8.45 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. the attack developed, and at the latter hour General Chaytor moved a Light Horse Regiment and part of a Machine Gun Squadron on a wide turning movement round the rear of the enemy's position with orders to come in from the south. A little later two regiments of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were despatched in more or less the same direction, though making a less wide detour, with orders to move on 'Magdhaba from the east. In the meantime the Imperial Camel Corps wore making progress, though somewhat slowly.

At 10 a.m., the aircraft reports indicated the possibility that the enemy might try to escape. Thereupon General Chauvel ordered the mounted troops in reserve, less one regiment, to push in from the north-west. The troops moved forward at a trot, and, coming under shrapnel fire, increased the pace to a gallop. The enemy then opened a very heavy rifle and machine gun fire, whereupon the force swung to its right and gained cover in the Wadi where, dismounting, it began an attack against the left of the enemy position.

Between noon and 1.30 p.m., the enemy's position was practically surrounded, but for some little time it had been found increasingly difficult to make progress. The horse artillery batteries had been greatly hindered by the' mirage and the difficulty of getting forward observation, the ground round the enemy's position being absolutely flat and devoid of cover.

In the meantime reports were received from the Field Squadron that no' water could be found. Unless Magdhaba could be taken during the day, therefore, it was probable that our troops would have to withdraw, as none of the horses had been watered since the evening of the 22nd, and the nearest water, except that in the enemy's position, was at El Arish.

General Chauvel reported the situation to the Desert Column accordingly, and received orders to maintain the attack.

But before this communication arrived the situation had begun to improve. Some Australian mounted troops, pressing on against the enemy's left, captured a work on the west of the Wadi, taking about 100 prisoners. At 2 p.m. two regiments of the Australian Light Horse coming in from the north-east, were within 200 yards of the position, in close touch with the Imperial Camel Corps advancing from the north-west. A quarter of an hour later the attack of a third regiment of this force was pressing heavily on the enemy from the south. By three o'clock the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were within 600 yards of the enemy's trenches on the east.

From this time forward the pressure on the enemy increased from all sides. Before half-past three the force from the Wadi and the Imperial Camel Corps attacked the second line of the enemy's trenches, and at four o'clock the former carried one of the main redoubts, taking 130 prisoners, including the Turkish Commander. Immediately after this, part of a Light Horse Regiment charged in from the south, mounted and with fixed bayonets, and by half-past four all organised resistance was over, and the enemy was surrendering everywhere.

The total number of prisoners taken in this-, fine action was 1,282, including some 50 wounded. A large number of the enemy were buried by our troops on the position. Four mountain guns, one machine gun and 1,052 rifles were captured, and 200 more rifles were destroyed.

Our own casualties were 12 officers and 134 other ranks killed and wounded. It was possible to give every attention to our wounded before moving them back to El Arish, owing to the fact that the enemy had a permanent and well equipped hospital at Magdhaba, to which they were taken as soon as the action was over.

The troops marched back to El Arish during the night of December 23rd-24th.

9. On 27th December the Royal Flying Corps reported that an entrenched position was being prepared by the enemy at Magruntein, near Rafa. Work on this position was continued during the following day, and it was occupied by a garrison equivalent to about two battalions with mountain guns. It was not at the moment possible for me, owing to difficulties of supply, to push on and occupy Rafa permanently. Since, however, the enemy had again placed a small detached garrison within striking distance of my mounted troops, I determined, if possible, to repeat the success at Magdhaba by surrounding and capturing the Magruntein position also. On 7th January I communicated this decision to General Dobell, who entrusted the operation to Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode, Bt., C.B., D.S.O., commanding the Desert Column, who set out from El Arish on the evening of the 8th-9th with a force consisting of Yeomanry, Australian and New Zealand mounted troops, and the Imperial Camel Corps, with a battery of artillery attached.

So efficiently and swiftly was the approach march carried out that the enemy was completely surprised, and by dawn on 9th January his position was almost entirely surrounded before he became aware of the presence of any large forces in his vicinity. The position, however, was a formidable one. It consisted of three strong series of works connected by trenches, one series facing west, one facing south-west, and one facing south and southeast. The whole was dominated by a central keep or redoubt, some 2,000 yards southwest of Rafa. Moreover, the ground in front of these works was entirely open and devoid of cover, and in their immediate neighbourhood was almost a glacis.

The guns, with which aeroplanes were cooperating, started to register at 7.20 a.m. The main attack, to be carried out by Major-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, K.C.M.G., C.B., General Officer Commanding Australian and New Zealand Mounted Troops, was timed for 10 a.m., with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles on the right, attacking from the east, some Australian Light Horse on their left, attacking from the east and south-east, while the Imperial Camel Corps attacked the works in their front from the south-east. A body of Australian Light Horse were in reserve and the Yeomanry in column reserve. Shortly after 10 a.m., parties of Turks, who were attempting to leave Rafa by the Khan Yunus road, were met and captured by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, who galloped the Police barracks and Machine Gun post, capturing six Germans (including one officer), two Turkish officers, and 163 other ranks.

Before 11 a.m., Rafa was occupied, and two regiments of the troops in reserve were advanced against the works on the left of the troops attacking from the east and south-east. Some Australian Light Horse and the Camel Corps were ordered to press their attack on the works facing south-west, and about the same time the remainder of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, with a body of Light Horse, galloped an open space south of the Police post, and established themselves 300 yards east of the nearest enemy work. The Yeomanry were also ordered to deploy against the western works and to attack in conjunction with the Camel Corps. The encircling movement was now practically complete, save for a gap in the north-west between the New Zealand Brigade and the Yeomanry.

At 12.20 p.m. one of the Horse Artillery batteries moved forward some 1,500 yards to support the attack of the Yeomanry. By 1 o'clock our troops were within 600 yards of the southern and western trenches, which were being shelled with good effect by our artillery. By 2 p.m. the right of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles had linked up with the left of the Yeomanry, and was pressing its attack on the rear of one of the enemy's works. General Chetwode now issued orders for a concerted attack on the "Redoubt," or central keep, by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, and all other available troops of the Australian and New Zealand mounted force, to commence at 3.30 p.m. The Yeomanry was ordered to co-operate against the rear of the work. By 3.15 p.m. two of the enemy's works had been captured and further prisoners had been taken.

While the attack on the central redoubt was developing, information was received, both from patrols and from the Royal Flying Corps, that an enemy relieving force was marching from Shellal on Rafa. This force was attacked frequently with bombs, and machine gun fire by our aeroplanes with success. General Chetwode did not allow this threat, which complicated his situation, to affect the execution of his purpose. He at once gave orders for the attack to be pressed with vigour. The troops, admirably supported by the artillery, advanced with great gallantry, and at 4.45 p.m. the New Zealand Mounted Rifles captured the redoubt with brilliant dash, covering the last 800 yards in two rushes, supported by machine gun fire. By this achievement they were able to take the lower lying works in reverse, and these soon fell to the Camel Corps, the Yeomanry, and the Australian Light Horse. By 5.30 p.m. all organised resistance was over, and the enemy's position with all its garrison was captured, while a detachment of the Australian Light Horse, which had come in contact with the force marching from Shellal, drove off the enemy without difficulty. Our troops now withdrew, taking with them all prisoners, animals and material captured; one regiment and a light car patrol, which were left to clear the battlefield, withdrew unmolested on the following day.

In this fine action, which lasted for ten hours, the entire enemy force, with its commander, was accounted for. More than 1,600 unwounded prisoners were taken, including one German officer and five German non-commissioned officers. In addition, six machine guns, four mountain guns, and a number of camels and mules were captured. Our casualties were comparatively light, amounting to 487 in all, of which 71 were killed, 415 wounded, and one was missing.

10. The result of these successful operations was that the province of Sinai, which for two years had been partially occupied by the Turks, was freed of all formed bodies of Turkish troops. The destruction of his rearguard at Magdhaba compelled the enemy to withdraw from Maghara, Hassana and Nekhl, all of which were clear by" the 31st December, and the victory at Magruntein had driven him over the frontier at Rafa, which he did not attempt to reoccupy. For this achievement I am greatly indebted to Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Dobell, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., and his Staff for their unremitting efforts during the whole period to make our advance, as it was, rapid and decisive. To them are mainly due the excellent organisation and dispositions which ensured success without delay, and, above all, the perfection of arrangements for maintaining the troops in a waterless district far ahead of the railway, without which the dash and endurance of our troops would have been of no avail. The foresight, rapid decision and excellent arrangements of General Sir P. Chetwode and the Staff of the Desert Column, the skilful leadership of General Chauvel, the cheerful endurance by the troops concerned of the fatigue and hardships entailed by the Magdhaba operations, and their gallantry and dash at Magruntein, are also worthy of the highest praise. During the actions the work of the Royal Flying Carps in co-operation with the mounted troops was admirable. Not only were the enemy harassed with bombs and machine gun fire throughout, but the aircraft reconnaissance was as reliable as it was untiring. General Chauvel and General Chetwode were kept constantly and accurately informed both of the enemy's movements and of the progress of their own widely dispersed troops, and the co-operation of the aircraft with the artillery was excellent. During the engagement at Magruntein the Royal Flying Corps, besides attacking the entrenched enemy and his relieving column, made a very successful raid on Bir Saba.

11. As a result of the action near Rafa the enemy immediately began to concentrate his forces near Shellal, west of which place he began rapidly to prepare a strong defensive position near Weli Sheikh Nuran, with the object of covering his lines of communication and supply along the railway running into Bir Saba from the north, and along the Jerusalem—Hebron—Bir Saba road. The preparation of this position has continued up to the present date. During the earlier portion of January considerable activity was shown by the enemy's aircraft, both in reconnaissances and small bombing raids. On the other hand, the effect of our recent success on his moral was proved by the very marked increase in the number of deserters who came into our lines.

In the meantime arrangements had been progressing with a view to the concentration of additional troops towards El Arish.

In general, the period following the action at; Magruntein was, on my eastern front, devoted to preparations for a further advance. Invaluable work was done during this period by the Royal Navy in transporting and landing supplies from the sea at El Arish. The coast is exceptionally unfavourable for operations of this kind, owing to strong currents, a shelving and shifting beach and heavy surf. Nevertheless, owing to the whole-hearted co-operation of Vice-Admiral Sir R. E. Wemyss, K.C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O., and those under him, a large amount of stores and supplies was landed. Before the end of the month the railway station at El Arish was completed.

12. During the month of February, on the eastern front, the railway, in spite of many difficulties, owing to the heavy sand, was gradually pushed out along the coast. The period generally was devoted to the perfection of the El Arish position, and to energetic training of the troops. Our cavalry patrols kept the country up to and beyond Rafa continuously under observation, and steps were taken to bring in the local Bedouins.

On 23rd February, information having been received that Khan Yunus had been evacuated, a reconnaissance was carried out against that place by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. The column, arriving at dawn, found the position strongly held, and, after manoeuvring the enemy out of his front line of defence and capturing prisoners, withdrew without difficulty. Continuous pressure maintained by our troops in this neighbourhood, however, induced the enemy to withdraw the garrison of Khan Yunus, which was entered by our cavalry without opposition on 28th February.

During the month also a successful minor operation was carried out in the interior of the Sinai Peninsula. Information having been received that the enemy had re-established small posts at Hassana and Nekhl, with the object of regaining his prestige in the eyes, of the Bedouins, I ordered a combined operation, against those two places to be undertaken by three mobile columns of cavalry and camelry one column starting from El Arish against Hassana and two starting from Serapeum and Suez respectively, against Nekhl. The advance was so timed that all the columns should arrive at their destinations at dawn on 18th February. The column from El Arish surrounded Hassana by daybreak on, the 18th. The garrison of three officers and nineteen other ranks at once surrendered without resistance. The town was searched, and a few camels, twenty-one rifles and 2,400 rounds of small arms ammunition were found.

The northernmost of the Nekhl columns, leaving Zogha (some twenty-three miles east of the Great Bitter Lake), which was its point of concentration, marched through the Baha Pass to Themada, twenty-five miles north-west of Nekhl, where it arrived on the 16th. On the following day a patrol sent forward towards the Nekhl-Hassana road was fired on from the hills, and in the afternoon it was further reported that the road was clear and that men could be seen leaving Nekhl in an easterly direction. The advanced patrol captured four of the enemy and ten camels, but was prevented from crossing the plain east of Nekhl by rifle fire from about fifty of the enemy who had temporarily halted in the foothills on the Nekhl-Akaba road. Nekhl was entered that evening by a squadron of the Australian Light Horse, who captured two Bedouins and one Turk, the town being otherwise empty. Further pursuit of the enemy was impossible owing to darkness, and the remnants of the garrison were able to make good their escape eastwards along the waterless road towards Akaba. The main body entered Nekhl at dawn on the 18th, and the Southern Column from Suez reached the town at 9 a.m. The latter column, which included detachments of Indian infantry, had marched from Abu T'if (20 miles south-east of Suez) through the difficult Bir Abu Garad Pass to Ain Sudr, and thence to Nekhl. The total captures at Nekhl were eleven prisoners, one field gun, a number of rifles, 16,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 250 rounds of gun ammunition, and a quantity of stores and explosives. These well-executed and carefully organised operations gave one more proof to the enemy of the mobility of our mounted troops, .and of their power to strike over considerable stretches of waterless desert. The excellent arrangements for the Nekhl operation reflect great credit on Brigadier-General P. C. Palin, C.B., and his staff.

13. During most of the period under review the Western Front has been quiet. My advance to the Baharia and Dakhla Oases was accomplished without opposition, and the subsequent task on that front was that of policing its large area and guarding against the possibility of further raids on the part of the Senussi.

On 4th October Major-General W. A. Watson, C.B., C.I.E., took over the command of the Western Force. By this date a column had already been concentrated at Shusha, three miles west of Samalut, for the purpose of conducting operations in the Baharia Oasis. A few days later, however, reliable intelligence was received to the effect that Sayed Ahmed, who had already left the Dakhla Oasis for Baharia, had left Baharia for Siwa on 9th October, the majority of his force preceding him, the rearguard following on the next day. It is probable that the news of my impending advance and the sickness and lack of food in the oasis, which impaired the moral of his troops, were deciding factors in determining his retreat. An immediate endeavour to intercept the enemy's rearguard was made by concentrating all available light armed cars wrest of Baharia, but the distance to be covered and the sandy nature of the country prevented the success of the attempt. Small mobile columns were at once pushed into the oases of Baharia (110 miles west of Samalut) and Dahkla (75 miles west of Kharga), and all the enemy who had not accompanied the retreat, some 300 in number, were captured with little resistance. The Harra wells on the edge of the Baharia Oasis were captured by a detachment of the Imperial Camel Corps on the 17th, and on the 19th a detachment of the same corps entered the oasis and took possession of the villages of Harra, Mendisha, Bawitti, and Kasr. This oasis was soon completely in our possession, and the Baharia railway commenced receiving traffic. A Light Car Patrol and a detachment of Imperial Camel Corps, starting from Kharga, covered 70 miles of desert .and occupied Tenida, in the Dakhla oasis, by the 17th. The light cars pushed on to Budkulu, capturing a tabur of 45 men and ten camels, and on the 19th the Camel Corps detachment reached Bir Sheikh Mohammed, five miles west of Kasr Dahkla, and captured 40 more prisoners. From the 20th to the 22nd a thorough "drive" was made of the oasis, with a systematic search of the villages, which resulted in the capture of 50 more of the enemy, besides many political prisoners. By the end of the month the oasis was entirely clear of the enemy. During the following month permanent garrisons were established in these two oases. The Baharia garrison marched out on 6th November and encamped on the escarpment at Legalit Gate, where a very healthy site has been found. The inhabitants, who were undoubtedly glad to be rid of the Senussi, all turned out to welcome the troops, and so far throughout the oasis the latter have always been well received. General Watson himself visited the oasis on 16th November and held a durbar on the 17th at Bawitti, which was attended by the Omdas, Sheikhs and principal inhabitants. The Union Jack was hoisted in the presence of a guard of honour. On 15th November a patrol left Legalit to reconnoitre the Farafra Oasis. The town of Farafra was entered on the 19th. All Senussi followers were separated from the inhabitants, and a search made for arms, with the result that 18 Senoussi prisoners and 12 rifles were taken. The patrol left Farafra on the 20th.

During December General Watson visited Dakhla and held a durbar on the 19th. The task of re-instituting civil administration in both the Baharia and Dakhla Oases has now been taken over by the civil authorities, to the gratification of the inhabitants, and trade is being encouraged as much as possible.

In the other sections of the western front the work done by the light and armoured cars, owing to the dash and enterprise of their officers, has been uniformly excellent. They are the terror of all the ill-disposed in the Western Desert, and to them, as much as to any, is due the satisfactory state of things which exists throughout from the coast down to the Fayum. The geographical information obtained by these patrols is also invaluable.

14. During October, under the direction of the Italian authorities, a combined British and Italian naval reconnaissance was carried out at Ageila, thirty-two miles west of Tobruk, where a large camp of followers of Idris and Nuri, with guns and a quantity of ammunition, was reported. The camp was shelled, serious casualties being inflicted. On 27th October a light armoured car patrol, accompanied by Lieutenant T'escione, of the Italian Army, reconnoitred an enemy camp at Zowia Jansur, the Muhafzia holding the camp being driven off into the sand dunes by machine gun fire. During, November and December much valuable information of the desert routes in the Coastal Section was obtained by patrols. In the Moghara Section several attempts were made by the light car patrols to find a practicable route to the El Qara Oasis, but the boggy ground and high sand dunes on each occasion defeated the attempt. Towards the end of November an interesting and useful reconnaissance was made from Aswan through the Kurkur Oasis to Beris, on the southernmost end of the Kharga Oasis. The total distance covered was 336 miles.

15. During the month of January I received intelligence that Sayed Ahmed, the Grand Senussi, with his Commander-in-Chief, Mohammed Saleh, whose force amounted to some 1,200 men, were making preparations to depart from the .Siwa Oasis and to retire to Jaghbub. With the intention of capturing Sayed Ahmed if possible, and of inflicting as much loss as possible on his followers, I gave orders on the 21st January that operations were to be undertaken against the Siwa and Girba Oases at the earliest possible moment by a mixed force, to consist of Imperial Camel Companies and armoured cars. Preparations for the march of such a force, however, over the 200 miles of waterless desert between Mersa Matruh and Siwa would have taken at least one month, and the expenditure of so much time was put out of the question by a reliable report received towards the end of the month that Sayed Ahmed and his followers were on the point of leaving Siwa. I therefore ordered an immediate reconnaissance of the Siwa and Girba Oases to be undertaken by a column consisting entirely of armoured motor cars, and supplied by motor transport based on Mersa Matruh, with the object of verifying the above report, and of inflicting as much loss as possible on such part of the enemy forces as might be met with. Command of this column was entrusted to Brigadier-General H. W. Hodgson, C.V.O., C.B., whose plan was to attack the enemy camp at Girba with his main body, and to detach two armoured motor batteries to block the pass at Garet-el-Munasib — the only pass between Siwa and Jaghbub practicable for camels—so that should Sayed Ahmed, as was probable, take to flight, casualties might be inflicted on his retreating column by the detached batteries, and his march be deflected into the waterless sand-dunes.

16. The fighting force of three light armoured batteries and three light car patrols was concentrated at Mersa Matruh by the evening of the 29th January. Owing, however, to a severe sandstorm, some of the heavy lorries of the heavy supply column did not arrive there from Dabaa till the 31st. The light supply column moved out from Mersa Matruh on the same day, and the fighting force moved out early the following morning. The column, having halted for the night on the road, moved to the point of concentration half-way between Gebel Lamlaz and Neqb el Shegga Pass, 185 miles from Matruh. This long march over the desert track was carried out in good time, and all units reached the point of concentration on 2nd February. After a reconnaissance towards the Siwa Oasis, orders were given for an advance on Girba—at the western end of the Siwa Oasis— on the following day, and for the move of the detachment allotted to block the Munasib Pass.

By 9 a.m. on 3rd February all units had successfully descended the pass north-east of Girba and moved off to the attack, the advanced guard being divided into three parties of two armoured cars each, one of which was to attack each of the three enemy camps already located. The enemy was located in rough ground close under the rocky escarpment; he was completely surprised by the arrival of the armoured cars, and thrown into considerable confusion. Brisk fire was opened on the enemy, who at once took to the cliffs and rocks beyond the camps and returned our fire. The advanced guard was now reinforced, but, owing to the very rough nature of the country, it was impossible for the cars to approach nearer than a distance of 800 yards from the enemy without serious risk of getting stuck. As the action progressed, it became evident that the enemy, who was engaging the armoured cars with two guns and two machine guns, was in considerable force and did not intend to retire without a fight. Information obtained from deserters showed that the strength of the enemy at Girba was 850, while Sayed Ahmed, Mohammed Saleh, and some 400 or 500 men were at Siwa. As afterwards appeared, Mohammed Saleh left to take command at Girba at the beginning of the engagement, while Sayed Ahmed and his force made off to the westward. General Hodgson, who made skilful arrangements for extricating his force, in case of a threat directed by the Siwa party on his left flank and rear, continued the action all day. The light armoured cars, though unable to get closer than 400 yards from the enemy's position, kept the enemy under an accurate fire, inflicting some casualties. Towards evening the enemy's fire died down, though occasional bursts were fired from his machine guns during the night.

At 5 a.m. on the 4th February the enemy fired four final rounds from his guns and several bursts of machine gun fire. Fires were seen beyond his camp, movements of men and animals could be distinguished, and the sounds of small arms ammunition being burnt were heard. By dawn he had completely evacuated his position. The rest of the day was spent in destroying the enemy's camp, reconnoitring towards Siwa and resting the troops, and on the following morning, 5th February, the column entered Siwa without opposition. A parade, at which the local sheikhs were assembled, was held before the court-house, and a salute of nine-guns fired with a Krupp gun that had been brought from Matruh in a motor lorry. Arrangements were then made for the collection of all rifles and for the repair of the passes leading down to the escarpment. The reception given to our troops by the inhabitants of the oasis was friendly, and reports from them confirmed the fact that the enemy had incurred considerable casualties. The column left the town on the same afternoon, and reached the point of concentration on the following day.

Meanwhile, the Munassib detachment, consisting of armoured cars and a light car patrol, had reached its position on the evening of the 3rd February. It was found impossible to get the armoured cars down the steep escarpment, and they were forced to remain at a point 18 miles north of Munassib during the operations. The light car patrol and one car managed to get down the escarpment and take up a position at Munassib. On the 4th this detachment captured a small convoy of mailbags proceeding east to Siwa, and on the 5th it was able to intercept and cut up the leading parties of the enemy retreating from Girba. Subsequently, the enemy established a post out of reach of the cars, and warned all subsequent parties of the enemy to turn into the sand-dunes before reaching the pass. The detachment was therefore ordered to return to the point of concentration, as there was no chance of further successful action. The whole column returned to Matruh on the 8th February, having sustained no casualties to personnel beyond three officers slightly wounded, or to material besides the loss of one tender with broken springs. The enemy's losses were 40 killed, including two Senussi officers, and 200 wounded, including five Turkish officers; 70 rifles were brought in and 150 destroyed; 3,000 rounds of small arms ammunition were brought in and 2,000 destroyed, besides what was burnt by the enemy; 40 of the enemy's camels were killed, and a large number of shelters and tents were burnt.

17. Though the capture of Sayed Ahmed and Mohammed Saleh was wanting to the complete success of the operations, the fighting troops—supported most admirably by the supply column working under extremely arduous conditions—accomplished all that was possible under the circumstances, and great credit is due to General Hodgson and his staff. The expedition which, at my request, was accompanied by Captain Caccia, the Italian Military Attaché, dealt a rude blow to the moral of the Senussi, left the Grand Senussi himself painfully making his way to Jaghbub through the rugged and waterless dunes, and freed my western front from the menace of his forces.

On 14th February No. 2 Light Armoured Car Battery left Sollum to reconnoitre the road to Melfa. During this reconnaissance two enemy caravans were met and destroyed.

18. The outstanding features of the period covered by this despatch have been, on the eastern front the rapid progress of the railways, and on the western front the work of the armoured cars. For the speed at which the railway has been pushed out along the desert to El Arish and beyond, the greatest credit is due to Colonel Sir G. Macauley, K.C.M.G., C.B., Director of Railways, the officers of his staff, and the officers and men of the railway companies. In spite of endless difficulties owing to heavy sand and lack of water, they maintained by their strenuous efforts a rate of advance which was not far behind that of the fighting troops, and were largely instrumental in enabling the latter to keep the enemy under a continual pressure.

I have already referred to the excellent work of the armoured cars and light car patrols on the western front. Their mobility, and the skill and energy with which they are handled, have made them an ideal arm for the western desert, where the sand is not so heavy as on the east. It is not too much to say that the successful clearance of the western oases and the satisfactory state of affairs which now exists on the western front is due more to the dash and enterprise of the armoured car batteries and the light car patrols than to any other cause, and the enemy has found many times to his cost that their range of action is far beyond that of any troops mounted on horses or camels. The work of the Imperial Camel Corps has been excellent throughout. This corps includes Australian, New Zealand and Imperial units, and the efficiency of the camel companies is largely due to the efforts of the instructional staff at the headquarters of the corps at Abbassia, which has been continuously engaged in their training.

A great deal of the work of supplying the troops on both fronts has been done by the Camel Transport Corps, a unit which has been raised in this country since the commencement of operations, and which has invariably carried out its duties with the utmost efficiency.

The execution of the enormous amount of work necessitated by our advance on the eastern front would have been quite impossible had it not been for the Egyptian Labour Corps, which began to be recruited in this country early in 1916. The officers of this Corps (have been largely found among gentlemen who are resident in this country and are familiar with the language and customs of the population.

My relations with the High Commissioner, General Sir F. E. Wingate, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., have always been most cordial, and I should like to express my gratitude for his ready assistance and valuable advice which have always been at my disposal.

I also wish to express my grateful appreciation of the services of all the officers employed as King's Messengers. The risks involved were not small, as is proved by the fact that one officer was drowned and another, when his ship was torpedoed, was forced to sink his despatches; nevertheless, this duty has always been faithfully and efficiently performed.

I have, in a former despatch, referred to the admirable work of the Red Cross and Order of St. John in this country, under the direction of Sir Courtauld Thomson, C.B. I desire now to express my obligation to those ladies and gentlemen who have given voluntary aid in connection with these institutions, and who lave worked with a devotion deserving of the highest praise, in the interests of the sick and wounded. Not only have they earned the gratitude of the individuals they looked after, but also they deserve the thanks of their country, as they have materially contributed towards the rapid convalescence and, therefore, to the maintenance of the fighting efficiency of the forces under my command.

The operations which I have had the honour to describe in this despatch, and which have resulted in the freeing of Egyptian territory of all formed bodies of the enemy, could not have been successfully carried out by the forces in the field but for the devotion, energy and skill of the Headquarters Staff and Heads of the Administrative Services.

I have on previous occasions expressed my appreciation of the able manner in which Major-General A. L. Lynden Bell, C.B., C.M.G., Chief of the General Staff, has discharged his duties. I wish again to bring this officer prominently to notice for his admirable work during the period under review.

The abolition of the Inspector-Generalship, Lines of Communication, has thrown upon my Deputy Quartermaster-General, Major-General W. Campbell, C.B., D.S.O., and my Deputy Adjutant-General, Major-General J. Adye, C.B., the whole of the work previously performed by the Inspector-General of Communications, and these duties they have had to discharge in addition to the normal work in connection with an Army in the Field. The Eastward advance has also now lengthened the lines of communication to something like 200 miles. I wish, therefore, specially to acknowledge the excellent work done by these two officers', and I shall have the pleasure of bringing before you the names of a number of Officers of the Administrative Services in this connection.

I wish to bring to your notice the excellent manner in which my Assistant Military Secretary, Lieutenant-Colonel S. H. Pollen, C.M.G., has performed the exceptionally heavy work of his department.

A list of those Officers, Non-commissioned officers and men whom I desire to bring to your special notice in connection with these operations will be forwarded at an early date.

 

I have the honour to be,

Your Lordship's most obedient servant, A. J. MURRAY,

General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian

Expeditionary Force.

 

 

Previous: General Murray's Despatches, Part 2

Next: General Murray's Despatches, Part 4

 

Further Reading:

Desert Mounted Corps

The Desert Mounted Corps, Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 3

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 21 January 2011 7:16 AM EAST
Saturday, 2 February 2002
Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 4
Topic: AIF - DMC

DC

Desert Column

General Murray's Despatches, Part 4

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO.

 

General Sir Archibald James Murray GCMG, KCB, CVO, DSO (23 April 1860 - 21 January 1945) was a British Army officer during the Great War, known as commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from 1916 to 1917.

 

SUPPLEMENT TO

The London Gazette

Of

TUESDAY, 20 NOVEMBER, 1917.

War Office

20th November, 1917.

 

The Secretary of State for War has received the following Despatch from General Sir Archibald Murray, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., late General Officer Commanding - in - Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force: —

General Headquarters,

Egyptian Expeditionary Force,

28th June, 1917. My Lord,

I have the honour to submit a report on the operations of the Force under my command from 1st March to 28th June, 1917.

1. At the beginning of March the Eastern Force, under the command of Lieut.-General Sir Charles Dobell, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., was concentrated in the neighbourhood of El Arish. The headquarters of the Desert Column, under the command of Lieut.-General Sir P. Chetwode, Bt., K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., were at Sheikh Zowaiid, in advance of which place the mounted troops of the column were covering the construction of the railway, which was being: rapidly extended along the coast towards Rafa. Our mounted patrols, -as I reported in my last, despatch, had on 28th February entered the village of Khan Yunus, which had been evacuated by the enemy. Every preparation was being made for an attack in force on the strong position at Weli Sheikh Nuran, upon which the Turks had been working incessantly since the beginning of January. On 5th March, however, aeroplane reconnaissance established the fact that the enemy had decided not to face our attack and was evacuating this carefully prepared position. I at once instructed the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, to do all that was possible either to prevent this evacuation or to inflict loss on the enemy during its execution, and the Royal Flying Corps were ordered to carry out bomb attacks with the utmost energy against the enemy's communications. Accordingly on 6th March .and the following days vigorous attacks were made by our aircraft on the railway at Bir Saba, Tel el Sheria and the junction station on the Jerusalem—Ramleh line; but it was found impossible for our infantry or mounted troops to make any effective move against the enemy, owing to the distance between railhead and Weli Sheikh Nuran. The enemy had retired while he was still out of reach, and his troops, which then consisted of about two divisions, were subsequently distributed between Gaza and Tel el Sheria, with a small garrison at Bir Saba.

It thus became necessary to meet an altered situation, which was complicated by complete uncertainty as to the line on which the enemy would ultimately elect to stand, and also to decide on the method and direction of my advance in Palestine. I decided that it would in any case be unwise to make an attempt on Bir Saba, since by so doing I should be drawing my line of communications parallel to the enemy's front, and there was no technical advantage to be gained by linking up the military railway with the Central Palestine Railway, either at Bir Saba or Tel el Sheria. The true line of advance was still along the coast, since the enemy was no less effectually threatened thereby, while my line of communications was more easily protected and railway construction was more rapid, owing to the absence of gradients. The coastal district, too, was better supplied with water. I decided therefore to continue for the present a methodical advance up the coast, moving troops forward as the railway could supply them, together with energetic preparation of the force for an attack in strength as soon as the state of its communications should make that possible. The most important thing was to increase the radius and mobility of the striking force. The Desert Column was therefore reconstituted to consist of the two cavalry divisions each less one brigade)—the concentration of the Imperial Mounted Division, under Major-General H. W. Hodgson, C.V.O., C.B., being completed at Sheikh Zowaiid by 16th March—and the 53rd Division, together with light armoured motor batteries. Local arrangements were also made by which improvised trains, both of horses and camels, should be available for the three infantry and two cavalry divisions in* the Eastern Force.

2. By the middle of the month the railway had reached Rafa, and the work of making a large station there with the requisite sidings was being rapidly pushed on. The Desert Column was between Rafa and Sheikh Zowaiid, the 52nd Division was at Sheikh Zowaiid and the 54th Division between that place and El Arish. There were distinct indications that the enemy intended to withdraw his troops without a fight from the Gaza—Tel el Sheria—Bir Saba line, a move which it was highly important to prevent, while it was necessary to seize the line of the Wadi Ghuzze in order to protect the advance of the railway from Rafa towards Gaza. The chief difficulty lay in deciding, in view of these considerations, the exact moment when it would be wise to abandon the methodical advance and to push out to its full radius of action a considerable force into a 'country bare of all supplies and almost devoid of water. I came to the conclusion that it would be necessary to push forward the Desert Column as soon as it could be supplied from Rafa Station, and the two other infantry divisions could be maintained in support of it between Rafa and the Wadi Ghuzze. It appeared that these conditions would be fulfilled shortly before the end of the month. I therefore instructed the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, to concentrate the Desert Column about Deir el Belah, a small village to the south-west of the Wadi Ghuzze, with one of the supporting divisions on the ridge to the east of Deir el Belah and the other in the neighbourhood of Khan Yunus, with the Imperial Camel Corps to cover the right flank of the force. When these dispositions were completed the Desert Column, with the Imperial Camel Corps attached, was to march on Gaza, thus giving the enemy the alternative of standing his ground and fighting or of submitting to the attacks of our cavalry on his flanks and rear should he attempt to retire. On 20th March, General Dobell moved his headquarters to Rafa, whither, on the same day, headquarters Desert Column moved from Sheikh Zowaiid. The further preliminary moves, covered by the cavalry, who on the 23rd approached very near the outskirts of Gaza, were completed without any hitch by the 25th March. By the evening of that date the whole of the Desert Column were concentrated at Deir el Belah. the 54th Division was at In Seirat under the hills to the east of Deir el Belah, the 52nd Division at Khan Yunus and the Camel Corns and armoured batteries about Abasan el Kebir. All preliminary reconnaissances had been carried out and the orders to the General Officer Commanding. Desert Column, were to advance on Gaza in the early hours of the following morning, the cavalry pushing out to the east and north of the town to block the enemy's lines of retreat, while the 53rd Division attacked Gaza in front. The 54th Division was to .cross the Wadi Ghuzze in rear of the mounted troops of the Desert Column to a position of readiness in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Abbas, a commanding ridge 5 miles S.S.E. of Gaza, where a position was to be selected suitable for defence against an attack from east or south-east. One infantry brigade and one artillery brigade of this division were to assemble at a convenient point to the west of this position, where they would be held in readiness to reinforce the Desert Column at short notice. One brigade group of the 52nd Division was to be brought up to replace the 54th Division at In Seirat. The enemy's main body was in the Tel el Neiile—Huj area, south of the Wadi el Hesi, covered by detachments about Gaza, Sheria—Hereira and Bir Saba. His strength appeared to be between two and three divisions.

The object of this advance was threefold: firstly, to seize the line of the Wadi Ghuzze to cover the advance of the railway; secondly, at all costs to prevent the enemy from retiring without a fight; thirdly, if possible, to capture Gaza by a coup de main and to cut off its garrison.

On 25th March I set up my Advanced General Headquarters at El Arish for the period of the operations, and on the following morning battle headquarters of Eastern Force were established just north of In Serait.

3. Early in the morning of 26th March the preliminary movements were begun and successfully accomplished. The Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division left its bivouacs at 2.30 a.m. and crossed the Wadi Ghuzze, closely followed by the Imperial Mounted Division. The leading division headed tor Beit Durdis. 5 miles east of Gaza having completed its crossing of the Wadi, by 6.15 a.m. The Imperial Mounted Division, after crossing the Wadi, headed due east for El Mendur, where it arrived at 9.30. The moves of the mounted divisions, as well as of the infantry, were considerably delayed by a very dense fog, which came on just before dawn and did not entirely clear till 8 a.m. This unavoidable delay had a serious effect upon the subsequent operations. The Imperial Camel Corps crossed the Wadi Ghuzze a little further south and also proceeded to El Mendur, where its role was to assist the Imperial Mounted Division in observing the enemy in the direction of Huj and Hereira, and to withstand any attempts to relieve Gaza from those directions. At 9.30 a. m. the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division reached Beit Durdis, and pushed out detachments to the west, north and east. In the course of these movements the 2nd Australian Light Horse closed the exit from Gaza and rested their right on the sea. A detachment of these troops captured the Commander of the 5Srd Turkish Division, with his staff, while he was driving into Gaza; also a convoy of 30 Turks. Later in the morning the same force destroyed the head of a Turkish column with machine-gun fire as it debouched from Gaza in a north-easterly direction. The Imperial Mounted Division sent out patrols towards Hereira. Tel el Sheria and Huj, while two squadrons of a Yeomanry Brigade were placed astride the Bir Saba—Gaza road, about 5 miles south-east of Gaza, and one squadron was sent north to gain touch with the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division. Later in the morning these squadrons found themselves engaged with enemy mounted troops, supported by bodies of infantry, and remained so throughout the day against continuously increasing numbers. They were also exposed to the fire of heavy guns at Hereira, and suffered some casualties in consequence. Meanwhile, the 53rd Division, under the command of Major-General A. G. Dallas, C.B., C.M.G., having thrown forward strong bridgeheads before dawn, crossed the Wadi Ghuzze at a point some 3 miles from the sea coast, with one brigade on the right directed on the Mansura Ridge, and another brigade on the left directed on El Sheluf, some 2 miles south of Gaza on the ridge running south-west from that place. A brigade was held in reserve and crossed in rear of the first-named brigade. The Gloucestershire Hussars, with a battalion and a section of 60-prs., crossed the Wadi near the sea coast, and for the remainder of the day successfully carried out their role of working up the sandhills to cover the left of the 53rd Division, and to keep the enemy employed between the village of Sheikh Ahmed and Gaza. At the same time the divisional Squadron secured a good gun position and an excellent observation station for another section of 60-prs. on the far side of the Wadi Ghuzze, in the neighbourhood of the main road from Gaza to Khan Yunus. The 54th Division, under the command of Major-General S. W. Hare, C.B., began to cross the Wadi at 7 a.m., and two brigades proceeded to take up a defensive position on the Sheikh Abbas Ridge, south-east of Gaza. These brigades remained in their positions throughout the day without coming into action. One brigade, with a brigade of field artillery, remained in the vicinity of the Wadi, so as to be at the disposal of the General Officer Commanding, 53rd Division, when required. During the morning this brigade was ordered to Mansura, to come under the orders of General Officer Commanding, 53rd Division, and it finally assembled at that point about 3.30 in the afternoon. After the preliminary reconnaissances had been completed, the 53rd Division commenced to deploy from the line El Sheluf—Mansura, to attack the AH Muntar position, with the following objectives:—One brigade astride the El Sheluf—AH Muntar Ridge on the enemy's southwestern defences; one brigade moving north from Mansura on the prominent Ali Muntar Ridge on the southern outskirts of the town; and one brigade, less one battalion in divisional reserve, pivoting on the right of the last-mentioned brigade on the hill 1,200 yards northeast of Ali Muntar, in co-operation with the attack of that brigade. The deployment of the leading brigades commenced at 11.50 a.m., and the brigade in reserve moved forward shortly afterwards to its assigned position. In co-operation with artillery fire and long-range machine-gun fire, the brigade on the left pressed forward along the ridge, and the remaining brigades over the flat, open ground, practically devoid of cover. The final advance, which began just after 1 p.m., was very steady, and all the troops behaved magnificently, though the enemy offered a very stout resistance, both with rifle and machine-gun fire, and our advancing troops, during the approach march, the deployment and attack, were subjected to a heavy shrapnel fire.

About 1 p.m., General Officer Commanding, Desert Column, decided to throw the whole of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division against the north and north-east of Gaza to assist the infantry. Both mounted divisions were placed under the orders of Major-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, K.C.M.G., C.B., General Officer Commanding, Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, with instructions that he should bring the Imperial Mounted Division further north to continue observing the enemy, while the Imperial Came? Corps was ordered to conform to this movement and observe the country from the right of the Imperial Mounted Division. About the same time, considerable enemy activity was observed on the roads leading north and east of Tel el Sheria and also about Hereira. By 3.30 p.m., General Chauvel had collected his division, with the exception of some detachments not yet relieved, and had commenced to move on Gaza, together with the 3rd Australian Light Horse from the Imperial Mounted Division. The attack was made with the 2nd Australian Light Horse on the right, with its right flank on the sea, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in the centre directed on the continuation of the Ali Muntar Ridge and the Yeomanry, less one detachment on the left, east of the town.

4. Meanwhile, the infantry attack was being pressed with great vigour, and by 4.30 p.m. considerable progress had been made. Portions of the enemy positions were already in our hands and shortly afterwards the Ali Muntar Hill, a strong work known as the Labyrinth, and the ground in the immediate neighbourhood, fell into our hands. The Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division was already exerting pressure on the enemy, and by 5 p.m. the enemy was holding out in the trenches, and on the hill south of the Mosque only. The General Officer Commanding, 53rd Division, called on the brigade of the 54th Division

(Brigadier-General W. Marriott-Dodington), which had been placed at his disposal, to take this position. The brigade responded with the greatest gallantry in face of a heavy fire, and after some hard fighting it pushed home its attack with complete success, so that when darkness fell the whole of the Ali Muntar position had been carried and a footing gained on the ridge to a point about 1,200 yards northeast of that position. Meanwhile, during the relief of the observing detachments of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division by the Imperial Mounted Division, the enemy, pressing his advance vigorously from the east, had succeeded in dislodging our troops from a prominent position on the east of Gaza. To restore the situation on this flank, General Chauvel sent back the 3rd Australian Light Horse. Thanks to skilful leadership of Brigadier-General J. R. Royston, C.M.G., General Officer Commanding, and his promptness in taking up his position, the mounted troops, supported by horse artillery and motor batteries, were able to prevent any .further advance by the enemy from this direction. The attack of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division on the north of Gaza was pushed home with the greatest dash and gallantry, in conjunction with the infantry attack. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles was soon in possession of the redoubt of the ridge east of Gaza, while the Yeomanry on their left carried the knoll running west from that ridge. During these operations the Somerset Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, in support of the 2nd Australian Light Horse, silenced two enemy guns, and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles captured and retained, in spite of counterattacks, two 77-mm. guns, which they used with skill on small bodies of the enemy which were still in the occupation of houses in the vicinity. As a result, 20 prisoners were taken, and eventually the guns were safely brought away. The whole division then established itself amongst the cactus hedges on the outskirts of the town, all brigades overcoming serious difficulties in fighting their way through the cactus hedges, in spite of the stubborn resistance of the enemy. The Australian Light Horse, under the command of Brigadier-General G. de L. Ryrie, C.M.G., particularly distinguished itself in this phase of the operations.

5. When darkness fell, the situation was as follows: —Gaza was enveloped, and the enemy, in addition to heavy losses in killed and wounded, had lost 700 prisoners. The 53rd Division was occupying the Ali Muntar position, which it had captured, but its right flank was very much in the air, only a thin line of cavalry holding off the relief columns of continually increasing strength which were approaching from north and east. In support of this division, the 54th Division, less one brigade, was holding Sheikh Abbas, with its left about 2| miles from the flank of the 53rd. The Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division was very much extended round Gaza and was engaged in street fighting. The Imperial Mounted Division and the Imperial Camel Corps, on a very wide front, were endeavouring to hold off enemy forces. The majority of the mounted troops had been unable to water their horses during the day, and it appeared that, unless Gaza was captured during the day, they would have to withdraw west of the Wadi Ghuzze in order to water their animals. Strong columns of the enemy, with guns, were moving to the relief of Gaza from the north, north-east and south-east. It was at this moment that the loss of two hours' daylight made itself particularly felt, since, had two more hours' daylight now been available, there is no doubt that the infantry would have been able to consolidate the positions they had won, and for arrangements to have been made by which the 54th Division could have effected junction with the 53rd. It is perhaps possible that, if General Dobell had at this stage pushed forward his reserve (the 52nd Division) to support the 53rd the result would have been different, but the difficulty of supplying water for men and horses would have been immense and impossible to realise by those who were not on the spot. As it was, after consultation with General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, the General Officer Commanding, Desert Column, in order to prevent the envelopment of his mounted troops, decided to withdraw them during the night; he therefore directed General Chauvel to break off the engagement and retire his divisions west of the Wadi Ghuzze, using the Imperial Camel Corps to assist in his retirement. This movement made the maintenance by the 53rd Division of the very exposed position which it had captured no longer possible, and General Officer Commanding, Desert Column, reluctantly ordered General Officer Commanding, 53rd Division, to draw back his right and gain touch on that flank with the two remaining brigades of the 54tb Division, which had already been ordered by General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, to fall back westwards from Sheikh Abbas and take up a line on the El Burjaliye Ridge, running south-westwards from Mansura, with their left in touch with the brigade of the 54th Division, which was to fall back from its line south of Ali Muntar and establish an outpost line further back, with its right in touch with the remainder of its division. These movements were carried out during the night, the 53rd and 54th Divisions converging so that their inner (or northward) flanks rested one on the other, their lines running along the El Sire and El Burjaliye Ridges respectively, the Imperial Camel Corps closing the gap between the right of the 54th Division and the Wadi Ghuzze. The retirement of the .mounted troops was accomplished without difficulty, though during the movement the 3rd Australian Light Hors» became engaged with the enemy advancing from the direction of Huj, but succeeded in driving them off with the assistance of a light car patrol. At dawn on the 27th, two light armoured motor batteries found themselves in the middle of a large body of the enemy, but brilliantly extricated themselves, causing considerable casualties to the enemy.

6. The withdrawal of the cavalry and the retirement of the 53rd Division on to the El Sire Ridge, enabled the enemy to reinforce the garrison of Gaza with considerable bodies of troops. At daybreak, nevertheless, reconnoitring patrols from two brigades pushed forward, seized the positions up to and including the Ali Muntar Hill which had been captured on the day before. They encountered some resistance, but drove the enemy out and established themselves on this line. At 8 a.m. the 53rd Division and the Imperial Camel Corps passed under the direct command of General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force. As soon as the advanced parties of infantry were established in the recaptured positions, preparations were made by the General Officer Commanding, 53rd Division, to reinforce them, but before the reinforcements could reach their objective a strong counter-attack was made by fresh Turkish troops, which were pouring; in from the north and north-east. This counter-attach drove our patrols out of the position on AH Muntar Hill, though further advance from it on the part of the enemy was prevented by our artillery, and our infantry still held the rest of the positions. Since, however, the junction of the right of the.53rd Division and the left of the 54th made an acute salient exposed to attack on three sides, it was necessary to withdraw the line here so as to eliminate the acute angle. In addition to the Turkish reinforcements coming from the east and north-east against Ali Muntar, another body appeared early in the morning on the Sheikh Abbas Ridge, which they occupied. From this point they directed artillery fire on the rear of OUT positions on the Mansura Ridge, doing a certain amount of damage among the transport animals and making any movement of camel transport during the day impossible. Our position.-1 were also exposed to heavy artillery fire from the north. Nevertheless, though tired and ill-supplied with water, the 53rd and 54th Divisions, now placed under the command of the General Officer Commanding, 53rd Division, remained throughout the day staunch and cheerful and perfectly capable of repulsing with heavy losses to the enemy any Turkish counterattacks. At no point was any enemy attack successful, and the Imperial Camel Corps, on the right of the 54th Division, in repulsing the attack by the 3rd Turkish Cavalry Division, practically annihilated the attackers. The position, however, was an impossible one to hold permanently. It was narrow and exposed to attack and artillery fire from three directions; also, it,was devoid of water, and hostile artillery fire made the approach to it -by day of slow moving camel convoys with water and supplies impossible. If it had now been practicable for the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, to advance with his three infantry divisions and two cavalry divisions, I have no doubt that Gaza could have been taken and the Turks forced to retire; but the reorganization of the force for a deliberate attack would have taken a considerable time, the horses of the cavalry were very fatigued, and the distance of our railhead from the front line put the immediate maintenance of such a force with supplies, water and ammunition entirely out of the question. The only alternative, therefore, was to retire the infantry, and this movement, after a strong counter-attack at 4 p.m. on the northern apex of our position had been shattered by our rifle, machine-gun and artillery fire, was carried out during the night at the order of General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force. By daylight the whole force had reached the western side of the Wadi Ghuzze and taken up a strongdefensive position covering Deir e Belah. The enemy made no attempt to advance on "the 28th, but contented himself with the occupation of the Gaza defences, our cavalry remaining in touch with him throughout the day. Arrangements were made on the 29th for the defensive line on the western side of the Wadi Ghuzze to be divided into sections to be held by the 54th, 52nd.and 53rd Divisions respectively, to cover the further progress of the railway which was just reaching Khan Yunus.

7. The total result of the first battle of Gaza, which gave us. 950 Turkish and German prisoners and two Austrian field guns, caused the enemy losses which I estimate at 8,000 and cost us under 4,000 casualties, of which a large proportion were only slightly wounded, was that my primary and secondary objects were completely attained, but that the failure to attain the third object-—the capture of Gaza—owing to the delay caused by fog on the 26th and the waterless nature of the country round Gaza, prevented a most successful operation from being a complete disaster to the enemy. The troops engaged, both cavalry, camelry and infantry, especially the 53rd Division and the brigade of the 54th, which had not been seriously in action since the evacuation of Suvla Bay at the end of 1915, fought with the utmost gallantry and endurance, and showed to the full the splendid fighting qualities which they possess.

8. Preparations were immediately begun for a second attack in greater force on the Gaza positions as soon as possible, though I instructed the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, that upon no consideration was a premature attack to be made. The station at Deir el Belah, where the headquarters of the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, had been set up on 30th March, was opened on the 5th April, and was rapidly developed into an important railhead. At this period the activity of hostile aircraft in bombing Deir el Belah and other advanced camps considerably increased, but little damage was done and all attacks were followed by vigorous retaliation on the part of the Royal Flying Corps. The troops were all concentrated ready for an advance and reconnaissances for artillery positions east of the Wadi Ghuzze were completed early in April, but the chief factor in fixing the date of the advance was our continual source of anxiety, the water supply. It was necessary for the next advance that two divisions should be able to water in the Wadi Ghuzze, where the prospects of obtaining water by well-sinking were small. Tanks therefore had to be set up in the Wadi, and arrangements made to pump rail-borne water from Deir el Belah over the In Seirat Ridge to fill them.

The general plan of the attack had by this time already been decided. It was that the advance on Gaza with three infantry divisions and two cavalry divisions should .take place in two stages. The first stage would be the occupation of the Sheikh. Abbas—Mansura Ridge, south of Gaza, and its preparation as a strong point from which any flank attack could easily be repelled. A short, period .of development was to follow the first stage, during which water supply and communications would be improved as far as possible, heavy artillery and Tanks brought up and supplies advanced, so that the final stage—an advance on Gaza after a heavy bombardment — should be accomplished rapidly. Meanwhile, the enemy in front of me had been considerably reinforced, and had abandoned all intention of further retirement. It became clear that five divisions and a cavalry division had now appeared on our front with an increase in heavy artillery. . Not only were the Gaza defences being daily strengthened and wired, but a system of enemy trenches and works was being constructed south-east from Gaza to the Atawineh Ridge, some 12,000, yards distant from the town. This put any encircling movement by our cavalry out of the question, unless the enemy's line in front of us could be pierced and a passage made through which the mounted divisions could be pushed. Until that could be done the role of our mounted troops would be to protect the right flank of the infantry, whose attack in the final stage was to be on the same lines as the first attack. While one division advanced from the Wadi Ghuzze between the sea and the Gaza— Deir el Belah road, the two divisions occupying the Sheikh Abbas—Mansura Ridge were to attack the south-western defences up to the Ali Muntar Hill; the right division, after overcoming the enemy on its front, to pivot on its left against the defences north of Ali Muntar. The 17th. April was fixed as the first stage of the advance, and on the 15th April I proceeded to Khan Yunus, where I set up my Advanced General Headquarters.

9. For the first stage of the operations the dispositions of the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, were as follows: —The 52nd ; and 54th Divisions, the latter on the right, to seize and occupy the line Sheikh Abbas— Mansura—Kurd Hill (on the El Sire Ridge). The General Officer Commanding, 52nd Division, Major-General W. E. B. Smith, C.B., C.M.G., to command this attack. The 53rd Division, under the command of Major-General S. F. Mott, to remain in position just north of the Wadi Ghuzze between the sea and the Gaza—Khan Yunus road, but to carry out strong reconnaissances northward along the coast. The 74th Division to remain in general reserve in the vicinity of In Seirat. Of the Desert Column, now constituted of two mounted divisions and the Imperial Camel Corp, one mounted division was to be disposed about Shellal with the object of immobilizing enemy forces at Hereira, while the remainder of the column was to protect the right flank of the 54th Division. The enemy was disposed in a chain of detachments along the 16 miles between Sheria and Gaza, with strong trenches at El Atawineh (about 13,000 yards south-east of Gaza) and very strong defences, known as the Warren, the Labyrinth, Green Hill, Middlesex Hill, Outpost Hill and Lees Hill, running south-westwards along the ridge from Ali Muntar. This position, which commands all approaches to the town from the south-west, south and south-east, had been very strongly fortified and well wired, in addition to the natural obstacles formed by thick cactus hedges, had been made into a nest of machine guns, largely manned by Germans. The right of his line, between Gaza and the sea, ran in the arc of a circle west and south-west of the town. This section consisted of a double line of trenches and redoubts, strongly held by infantry and machine guns well placed and concealed in impenetrable cactus hedges built on high mud banks enclosing orchards and gardens on the outskirts of the town.

The advance began at dawn on 17th April and the Sheikh Abbas—Mansura—Kurd Hill position was taken by 7 a.m. with little opposition and practically no casualties, though one Tank was put out of action by direct hits from artillery. The consolidation of the position was at once begun under intermittent bursts of heavy shelling. The Desert Column fulfilled its task of protection and reconnaissance, during which a strong body of enemy cavalry was dislodged by a brigade of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division from a ridge just east of the Wadi Imleih. The mounted troops of the Desert Column fell back west of the Wadi Ghuzze for the night, leaving an outpost line from the right of the 54th Division southwards. Consolidation of the Sheikh Abbas—Mansura position continued during the night, and all other preparations for the second stage of the advance, which was ordered to take place on the 19th, were pushed on during the 18th. On this day the Desert Column again made strong reconnaissances towards the east. The Imperial Camel Corps

.was detached from the Desert Column and placed under the orders of the General Officer Commanding, 54th Division.

The dispositions for the final stage, in which the guns of the French battleship "Requin," and of H.M. Monitors Nos. 21 and 31 were to co-operate, were as follows: —

The 54th and 52nd Divisions, acting under the command of General Officer Commanding, 52nd Division, were to attack the Ali Muntar group of works, the 54th pivoting on the right of the 52nd and including in its objective the group of trenches at Khirbet Sihan, east or Gaza, the Imperial Camel Corps being attached to it for this purpose. The 53rd Division was to attack the enemy trenches in the sand dunes south-west and west of Gaza. the line Sampson Ridge—Sheikh Ajlin being its first objective.

The 74th Division, in general reserve, was to advance and take up a position of readiness behind the Sheikh Abbas and Mansura Ridges. Of the Desert Column, the Imperial Mounted Division was to make a dismounted attack on the enemy's position at El Atawineh, part of the Australian and New Zealand Mountain Division to seize a spur at Baiket el Sana on the right of the Imperial Mounted Division, and the remainder to be held in re serve to take advantage of any success gained by the Imperial Mounted Division.

The containing attack by the cavalry began at dawn, and by 10.30 a.m. the Imperial Mounted Division was on the line Gaza—Baiket el Sana Ridge, with its right refused, while the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division had seized the ridge at Baiket el Sana. The Imperial Mounted Division, under shell and machine-gun fire, continued the attack on the Atawineh trenches with the greatest gallantry, but could make little headway. For the main attack, the bombardment opened at 5.30 a.m. The guns of the "Requin" and the monitors bombarded Ali Muntar and the works immediately to the south-west. These guns kept the enemy's defences and dug-outs under an accurate and sustained fire and were instrumental during the day in rendering several enemy counter-attacks abortive. At 7.15 a.m. the 53rd Division advanced on Sampson Ridge and Sheikh Ajlin, and at 7.30 a.m. the Imperial Camel Corps, 54th Division and 52nd Division advanced to the attack. The 53rd Division, though meeting with considerable opposition, gradually worked up to Sampson Ridge, which was carried by a brigade early in the afternoon. This enabled another brigade to carry the high ground between this position and the coast with little opposition, and the first objective of the division was attained. The remainder of the main attack was not so fortunate. The left brigade of the 52nd Division made good Lees Hill, the nearest point to our line of the enemy's defences on the AH Muntar Ridge, by 8.15 a.m., but on advancing beyond Lees Hill this brigade came under very heavy machine-gun fire from Outpost Hill, which checked its progress. This prevented any advance of the brigade, which was echeloned slightly in the right rear of the left brigade. A little later one of the Tanks came astride of the lunette on Outpost Hill, causing considerable loss to the enemy, but the infantry could not capture this lunette till shortly after 10 a.m. The Tank was unfortunately hit by three shells and burnt out. Meanwhile, the 54th Division, with the Imperial Camel Corps, had advanced steadily under fire on the right of the 52nd Division. Its left brigade was in advance of the right of the rear brigade of the 52nd Division, and thus exposed to a heavy enfilade fire from the direction of Ali Muntar. At 9.30 a.m. the left of this brigade was heavily counter-attacked, but the enemy were repulsed by machine-gun fire. On the right of this brigade another brigade fought its way forward against the enemy works between Gaza and Khirbet Sihan. One Tank advanced ahead of the infantry and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy in a redoubt, but was afterwards hit by shell fire and burnt out. The Imperial Camel Corps, in conjunction with the 4th Australian Light Horse on its right, entered the enemy trenches at Khirbet Sihan by 9 a.m., the enemy withdrawing to a position some 800 yards to the north. The Imperial Camel Corps was unable, however, to advance beyond Khirbet Sihan, and the two brigades, 54th Division, in spite of most strenuous and gallant efforts to advance, were repeatedly checked by very heavy fire from this front Towards noon the left of the right brigade was forced back by a determined counter-attack from the north-east, and this left the other brigade in a critical position, but it stood firm until, assisted by a third brigade of this division, the right brigade was able to regain all the ground it had lost. The enemy counterattack against the right brigade was meanwhile continued against the 4th Australian Light Horse, which was forced to give ground, and, with the 3rd Australian Light Horse on its right, suffered heavy casualties. However, the Imperial Camel Corps, though in a critical position, held on till a Yeomanry brigade filled the gap and stopped the enemy's advance. Heavy shelling and machine-gun fire were directed at the line during the remainder of the afternoon. Meanwhile, the left brigade, 52nd Division, was shelled out of its position on Outpost Hill, but the position was most gallantly retaken on his own initiative by Major W. T. Forrest, M.C., King's Own Scottish Borderers (subsequently killed), who collected a few men for the purpose. All further attempts by the brigade to launch an attack from Outpost Hill were shattered by fire at their inception, and the brigade in rear was forced to remain in the open under a heavy fire.

10. The position at 3 p.m. was therefore as follows:—The operations of the Desert Column (in effect a "containing attack ") were meeting with all the success which had been anticipated. A serious enemy counter-attack had been checked and driven back.

The 54th Division, on the right of the main attack, had progressed, in spite of determined opposition and heavy casualties, as far as was possible until a further advance of the 52nd Division should prevent the .exposure of its left flank. Reports received from the 54th Division stated that the situation was satisfactory, and that no help was required in order to enable the ground gained to be held until further progress by the 52nd Division should render practicable a renewal of the advance. I should like to state here my appreciation of the great skill with which General Hare handled his fine division throughout the day. The 52nd Division was unable to advance beyond Outpost Hill. Middlesex Hill, and a large area of extremely broken ground west and north-west of it, had been made by the enemy exceedingly strong. The nests of machine guns in the broken ground could not be located among the narrow .dongas, holes and fissures with which this locality was seamed. Partly owing to this, and partly owing to the extent of the area, the artillery fire concentrated upon it was unable to keep down the enemy's fire when the brigade on Outpost Hill attempted to advance. The Reserve Brigade of the 52nd Division had not been employed, and the remaining brigade was in position ready to attack Green Hill and Ali Muntar as soon as the progress of the brigade on Outpost Hill on its left should enable it to do so. Up to this time, therefore, only, one brigade of the 52nd Division was seriously engaged. The conformation of the ground, however, was such that the attack on Outpost and Middlesex Hills could only be made on an extremely narrow front. It is possible that if the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, had now decided to throw in his reserves, the key of the position might have" been taken with the further loss of between 5,000 and 6,000 men, but this would have left my small force, already reduced, with a difficult line of front to hold against increasing reinforcements of the enemy, who, owing to the conformation of the terrain, could attack from several directions. As it was, the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, in view of information received that our attack had not yet succeeded in drawing in the enemy's reserves, decided that the moment had not yet come for an attempt to force a decision by throwing in the general reserve, though he moved a brigade of the 74th Division up to Mansura, so as to be ready to press home this attack of the 52nd Division whenever required. At 3.30 p.m. an enemy counter-attack against the left of the right brigade, 54th Division, was shattered by our shell fire with heavy loss to the enemy, but otherwise no change occurred in the situation till 6.20 p.m., when the brigade on Outpost Hill was forced to evacuate the hill. Since it was evident that the action could not be brought to a conclusion within the day, at 4 p.m. I issued, personally, instructions to General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, that all ground gained during the day must, without fail, be held during the night with a view to resuming the attack on the Ali Muntar position under cover of a concentrated artillery bombardment at dawn on the 20th.

The position at nightfall was that the 53rd Division held the Sampson Ridge—Sheikh Ajlin line; the 52nd Division on its right was facing north towards Outpost Hill and Ali Muntar; the 54th Division carried the line south-eastwards and southwards round the Sheikh Abbas Ridge to El Meshrefe, whence the mounted troops continued the line southwards to the Wadi Ghuzze. Our total casualties had amounted to some 7,000.

During the night of the 19th—20th I received a message from General Dobell to say that, after careful deliberation and consultation with all divisional commanders, he was strongly of the opinion that the resumption of the attack ordered for the following morning did not offer sufficient prospect of success to justify the very heavy casualties, which such an operation would, in his opinion involve. He therefore urgently requested my sanction to cancel the instructions previously issued and my approval for the substitution of orders for the consolidation of the positions already gained, to be carried out on the 20th, with a view to a further attack on the enemy's line at pome point between Gaza and Hereira as and when an opportunity might offer. In view of the strongly expressed opinion of the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, supported by the General Officer Commanding, Desert Column, and the divisional commanders, I assented to this proposal.

11. The ground gained by the end of the 19th April was consolidated during the 20th. No ground, in fact, gained on that day has since been lost, and the position to which we then advanced has facilitated, and will facilitate, further operations. The enemy, contrary to my expectations, made no general counter-attack on the 20th, and all his local counter-attacks were easily repulsed. One counter-attack was nipped in the bud entirely by our aircraft; a reconnaissance machine having detected about 2,000 infantry and 800 cavalry gathered in the Wadi near Hereira; four machines immediately attacked this force, which they found in massed formation, with bombs, and the entire body was dispersed with heavy casualties.

On 21st April, General Dobell visited me at my Advanced General Headquarters to discuss the situation. He repeated that in his opinion, which was confirmed by that of all his subordinate commanders, in view of the great strength of the positions to which he was opposed, the renewal of a direct attack with the force at his disposal would not be justified by any reasonable prospect of success. He was most strongly of the opinion that deliberate methods must be adopted, and that even the assumption of trench warfare might be necessary, pending the arrival of reinforcements. After full discussion, and not without considerable reluctance, I assented to this change of policy.

In the meantime, it became apparent to me that General Dobell, who had suffered some weeks previously from a severe touch of the sun, was no longer in a fit state of health to bear the strain of further operations in the coming heat of summer. To my great regret, therefore, I felt it my duty to relieve him of his command, and to place the command of Eastern Force in the hands of Lieut. - General Sir Philip Chetwode, Bt., K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O. General Chetwode was succeeded in command of the Desert Column by Major-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, K.C.M.G., C.B.; and Major-General E. W. C. Chaytor, C.B., C.M.G., succeeded to the command of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division.

Accordingly, on the morning of the 21st, I interviewed General Dobell and informed him of my decision, in which he concurred. I then interviewed General Chetwode, and instructed him to relieve General Dobell in the command of Eastern Force.

12. The enemy continued to receive reinforcements for his units and additional troops, so that early in May I estimated that he had nearly six infantry divisions in his front line, while his total force in this theatre might amount to eight divisions. There was no doubt, moreover, that he had lately received considerable reinforcements in artillery and machine-gun units, as well as in mounted troops. Throughout the month he continued to strengthen his positions between Gaza and Hereira, and began to build a military branch line from El Tine, on the Central Palestine Railway, towards El Mejdel, north of Gaza.

As the result of recent operations I was closely in touch with the enemy on a front of some 14,000 yards from Sheikh Ajlin, on the sea, to the north-eastern corner of the Sheikh Abbas Ridge. From that point my line turned back through Sharta towards the Wadi Ghuzze; with the right flank extended to Shellal in order to protect my southern flank and to deny to the enemy the valuable supplies lying in the Wadi at that point. In the meantime, arrangements had been made to construct a branch line of railway as rapidly as possible from Rafa to the neighbourhood of Shellal.

13. From 6th May the defensive line from Sheikfi Ajlin to Tel el Jemmi was reorganised into two sections, to be held on a regular system of reliefs. Cavalry patrolling was actively carried on by the mounted troops, who frequently came into contact with the enemy's mounted patrols to the east and north-east. During the earlier part of May, the enemy aircraft made several attacks with bombs on Deir el Belah and other points near the front line. The Royal Flying Corps made effective retaliation against Ramleh and Sheria, and as the month advanced the enemy's activity diminished in this respect. During May, also, our heavy batteries, with the co-operation of the Royal Flying Corps, made very effective practice on enemy batteries in tire neighbourhood of Gaza. The only event, however, of any note during this month was a cavalry raid carried out on the 23rd and 24th May against the Bir Saba—Auja Railway, with the object of preventing the enemy from recovering and using its material for the construction of his branch line from El Tine to Mejdel.

The plans for this operation necessitated the movement of one mounted brigade and demolition parties to Bir el Esani, 10 miles W.S.W. of Bir Saba on the Wadi Shanag, during the afternoon before the raid took place. Since this movement could not be concealed, it was arranged that an artillery demonstration should take place on the left flank in order to draw the enemy's attention from the movement on Esani, and place him in doubt as to our intentions. For three days previously the artillery carried out wire-cutting on the Gaza defences, and the enemy's repairing parties were kept under artillery and*machine-gun fire. The artillery demonstration was made more intense during the afternoon of 22nd and the early morning of 23rd May. This demonstration was very successful in making the enemy apprehensive on his right, and he appears to have suffered a considerable number of casualties.

On the afternoon of the 22nd, one brigade of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, with demolition parties from the field squadrons of both mounted divisions, moved to Esani. During the night of the 22nd/23rd. this force marched on the railway at Asluj and Hadaj by way of Khalasa. Khalasa was surrounded during the night and no opposition was met with there. The demolition parties reached their positions on the railway line just before 7 a.m. on the 23rd. The Imperial Camel Corps left Rafa early on the 22nd and marched approximately down the Turco-Egyptian frontier on Auja. Owing to the difficulties of the country the Imperial Camel Corps demolition party was unable to begin work on the railway before 11.45 a.m. on the 23rd. The demolition parties had previously been thoroughly trained and their work, once begun, was carried out with great rapidity. Those of the mounted divisions completed the destruction of the railway from Asluj to Hadaj —about 7 miles—by 10 a.m. The destruction of this portion of the line made interference with the work of the Imperial Camel Corps practically impossible. The demolition party of that corps, therefore, had time to complete the destruction of six miles of railway eastward from Auja during the day.

Thus 13 miles of railway line were completely destroyed, each pair of rails being cut in the centre. One 6-span bridge near Hasaniya, one 12-span bridge over the Wadi el Abiad, a viaduct over the Wadi Theigat el Amiria, and (between Thamiliat el Rashid and Asluj) one 18-arched bridge, one 5-arched bridge, one 3-arched bridge, one 2-arched bridge and two culverts were completely destroyed. All the points and switches at Asluj Railway Station were destroyed. A considerable number of telegraph posts were cut down, wires cut and insulators broken. A quantity of decauville material near Hadaj was destroyed. Finally, a large stone building near Wadi Inkharuba was demolished, with quantities of sandbags, timber and matting.

While this work was in progress, the mounted divisions of the Desert Column carried out a demonstration towards Bir Saba and Irgeig. The divisions marched by night on the 22nd/23rd, and during the 23rd carried out a tactical and water reconnaissance of the area immediately west and north-west of Bir Saba. A Heavy Battery, R.G.A., was moved forward behind this force and shelled the viaduct at Irgeig.

The withdrawal of the mounted troops was effected without difficulty, the enemy showing no signs of activity. The Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division met a few Arab snipers. One armed Arab was killed and 13 prisoners were taken. The Imperial Mounted Division encountered only slight opposition from small parties of enemy cavalry. Our casualties were one man wounded. During this operation crops which could not be brought in and which would otherwise fall into the hands of the enemy were destroyed by our troops. It is estimated that 120 tons were burnt during the day. One of our aeroplanes employed for inter-communication between Desert Column Headquarters and the Imperial Camel Corps was damaged in attempting to land near Auja. The Imperial Camel Corps therefore remained at that place for the night 23rd/24th, and personnel of the corps succeeded in repairing the aeroplane, the loss of which was thereby avoided, and which returned safety to the aerodrome on the 24th.

For the month of June there is nothing of special note to record, the period being mainly one of energetic preparation for further operations. For the time being, the infantry in the northern part of the line were confined to trench warfare, to which the troops soon adapted themselves, while to the south and south-east our cavalry patrols were daily in touch with the enemy.

14. During the period covered by this report, the situation on the Western front has been such as to call for little comment. The light armoured motor batteries, light car patrols and Bikanir Camel Corps, have been able to keep the whole front free from disturbance. The route from Sollum to Siwa has now been improved, so that Siwa can be reached by car from Sollum in a single day.

No incident has occurred in the Southern Canal Section. The extent of the Northern Canal Section increased continuously as the Eastern Force advanced, and at the beginning of May this command was reorganised as that of the General Officer Commanding, Palestine Lines of Communication Defences. This command now extends from the northern part of the Suez Canal to Khan Yunus, and includes the responsibility for the defence of almost the whole length of the military railway and pipelines. Except for attacks by hostile aircraft, no enemy attempts have been made against the lines of communication, but between 7th and 11th May a small force from this command, consisting of two companies Imperial Camel Corps and a field troop, made a successful expedition to El Auja, Birein and Kossaima, for the purpose of blowing up the wells and water supply at those places to the utmost possible extent. The force met with no opposition, captured five prisoners and completed successfully the demolitions, including that of the railway bridge north-east of El Auja.

I have great pleasure in recording the addition to the force under my command of a French detachment under M. le Colonel Piepape and of an Italian detachment under Major da Agostino. At the end of May I was most happy to welcome in Egypt M. le General Bailloud, who came as inspector of French troops in Northern Africa to inspect the French detachment.

At the beginning of May it became necessary to reorganise the administrative services on the Eastern Lines of Communication, owing lo the increasing size of the Eastern Force. An inspector, Palestine Lines of Communication, was therefore appointed. His headquarters were established at Kantara on 2nd May and the advantage of this appointment has been proved by the increased efficiency of the lines of communication services east of the Canal.

15. In conclusion, I should like to place on record my appreciation of the magnificent work done by all the fighting troops before Gaza. No praise can be too high for the gallantry and steadfastness of the cavalry, infantry, artillery, Royal Flying Corps and all other units which took part in the two battles. Particular commendation is due to the infantry. The 52nd, 53rd and 54th Divisions, though actively engaged for over a year in the Sinai Peninsula, had not, since their reorganisation after the operations in the Dardanelles, been able to show how they had improved out of all knowledge in training and discipline and in all that goes to make up an excellent fighting organisation. Under severe trial they have now given ample proof of the finest soldierly qualities. It is hardly necessary to reiterate the praises of the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops, who have always come up to their high reputation, and their comrades in the mounted yeomanry have shown themselves to be endowed with the same bravery, vigour and tenacity. The Imperial Camel Corps, manned by Australian, New Zealand .and British personnel, has proved a corps d'elite, possessed with a quite remarkable spirit of gallantry. The distinguished service rendered by the troops from India is deserving of high commendation. Units of the Indian Regular Army, mounted and dismounted Imperial Service troops and the Bikanir Camel Corps have shown soldierly qualities in action, discipline and endurance; and I wish to record the unfailing devotion to duty of the battalions in garrison in Egypt and to the British West Indies Regiment. The Camel Transport Corps and the Egyptian Labour Corps—two units raised in this country —are worthy of the warmest praise for their untiring labours, under the severest conditions, in close conjunction with the fighting troops.

The health of the troops has throughout been singularly good. All branches of the medical services, under Surgeon-General J. Maher, C.B., deserve the highest commendation for their successful work at the front, on the lines of communication and in the base hospitals. The presence in the force of a number of civil medical consultants, who have so patriotically given their services, has been of the very greatest value, and they have worked in successful accord with the regular medical services of the Army. The Australian Army Medical Corps and the New Zealand Medical Corps have also been remarkable for their efficiency and unremitting devotion.

The workings of the supply and transport services have had to take into account quite abnormal conditions, both of supplies available and terrain, involving in some cases complete reorganisation of unite to suit local conditions. In spite of this, the functions of these services have been discharged in a most admirable manner, and great credit is due to the Director, Brigadier-General G. F. Davies, C.M.G., and to all ranks under him.

The same local conditions above referred to have rendered the force more than usually dependent on animal transport, while operations have involved the use of important mounted forces. The remount and veterinary services have consequently held a vital place in the organisation, and they have carried out their respective tasks to my complete satisfaction.

I have, in a previous despatch, brought to notice the admirable work of the Signal services, and I need only now add that this service has continued in its efficient and highly satisfactory condition. The work done by the engineer services and the works directorate deserves high commendation.

There is, perhaps, no department which has a greater influence upon the morale of an Army than that of the Chaplains' Department. The thorough and self-sacrificing manner in which chaplains of all denominations, under the principal chaplain, Brigadier-General A. V. C. Hordern, C.M.G., have carried out their duties, has earned the gratitude of all ranks.

The impossibility of granting leave home on any extended scale has rendered the Army in the Field dependent on rest camps and voluntary institutions for that rest and relaxation so necessary in view of the arduous conditions of campaigning in the desert and in tropical heat.

I wish to take this, my last, opportunity of expressing the thanks of the whole Field Force to those ladies and gentlemen who have done so much to obviate the deprivations imposed on it by those conditions. Especially are they due to the Church Army and the Young Men's Christian Association, whose recreation huts are provided, not only in the rest camps, but also throughout the front. It would be hard to exaggerate the value of these institutions, both in sustaining the morale and the health of the troops.

The dealing with reinforcements and material arriving from England, the transference of such large numbers of troops to other theatres of war, the keeping of records thus affected and the registration of casualties and evacuation of sick and wounded, have thrown very heavy work on the base ports. The staffs responsible for these matters have discharged their arduous duties with marked efficiency, frequently under difficult climatic conditions and abnormal pressure.

In spite of the important operations in progress during this time, military training has been continued with undiminished vigour. The Imperial School of Instruction at Zeitoun has by now passed over 22,000 officers and non-commissioned officers through its hands.

A staff school was started early in the year for the training of junior staff officers. Three courses, each of about six weeks, were held at this school for which accommodation was found just outside Cairo, the number of candidates at the first two courses being shared between this force and the Salonika Force, while the last course was confined to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. The results of these courses have been exceedingly useful, and the instruction has been extremely well carried out.

His Highness the Sultan has, throughout the period of my command, given me valuable encouragement and wise counsel, based on his unrivalled knowledge of Eastern affairs.

I wish once more to thank His Excellency The High Commissioner, General Sir F. R. Wingate, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., for the ready assistance and quick sympathy which he has given me in all my work; all branches of the Civil Government of Egypt have assisted the Forces in the Field with unfailing readiness.

My gratitude is also due to Vice-Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, K.C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O., Commander - in - Chief, East Indies and Egypt, for his part in securing the unfailing co-operation of the Royal Navy at all times; and I wish to make special reference to the admirable and gallant work done by the Naval Air Service, which has been of the greatest assistance to my operations.

My Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Sir Arthur Lynden Lynden-Bell, K.C.M.G, C.B., has given me unvarying and loyal support at all times. He has proved himself an ideal Chief of the General Staff, combining a thorough knowledge of his duties with an activity and an energy that overcomes all difficulties. He has earned the confidence of all ranks.

Major-General John Adye, C.B., has been an excellent Deputy Adjutant-General, having great knowledge of all administrative work and sound judgment. He has been of the greatest assistance to me.

Major-General Sir Walter Campbell, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., my Deputy-Quartermaster-General, is an organizer of great general ability, very sound and hardworking. I owe a great debt of gratitude to this officer.

The General Officer Commanding, Eastern Force, Lieut.-General Sir P. W. Chetwode, Bt., K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., has united the qualities of brilliant leadership and sure judgment, and has invariably inspired confidence in all ranks.

The labours of a Commander-in-Chief in the Field are considerably lightened when the complex and difficult duties which fall to the military secretary are ably discharged. In this respect I have been fortunate. Lieut.-Colonel S. H. Pollen, C.M.G., is an officer of outstanding ability and sound judgment, and the manner in which he has carried out his duties has greatly contributed to the smooth working of the staff, and is beyond praise.

I am submitting, in a further despatch, the names of officers, non-commissioned officers and men and others whom I wish to bring to notice for gallant and distinguished service during the period under review.

 

I have the honour to be,

Your Lordship's most obedient Servant,

A. J. MURRAY, General,

Commanding - in - Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

 

 

Previous: General Murray's Despatches, Part 3

Next: General Allenby's Despatches, Part 1

 

Further Reading:

Desert Mounted Corps

The Desert Mounted Corps, Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Desert Column (DC), General Murray's Despatches, Part 4

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 21 January 2011 7:18 AM EAST

Newer | Latest | Older

Full Site Index


powered by FreeFind
Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our forum.

Desert Column Forum

A note on copyright

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre is a not for profit and non profit group whose sole aim is to write the early history of the Australian Light Horse from 1900 - 1920. It is privately funded and the information is provided by the individuals within the group and while permission for the use of the material has been given for this site for these items by various donors, the residual and actual copyright for these items, should there be any, resides exclusively with the donors. The information on this site is freely available for private research use only and if used as such, should be appropriately acknowledged. To assist in this process, each item has a citation attached at the bottom for referencing purposes.

Please Note: No express or implied permission is given for commercial use of the information contained within this site.

A note to copyright holders

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has made every endeavour to contact copyright holders of material digitised for this blog and website and where appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where the permission is still being sought, the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has decided, in good faith, to proceed with digitisation and publication. Australian Light Horse Studies Centre would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of this item.

Contact

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

eXTReMe Tracker