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"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

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

Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Hotchkiss Machine Gun Pack for Cavalry - Page 4
Topic: Wp - Hotchkiss PMG

The following weeks will see the various pages of the Hotchkiss Machine Gun Pack for Cavalry. The Hotchkiss Gun was introduced in the Light Horse formations during the early months of 1917. The introduction of this robust and portable gun gave the Light Horse Regiments additional mobile fire power which considereably added to their ability to sustain light combat situations and defend against vastly numerically superior forces. Apart from being an excellent weapon, it was in much demand by the Turkish forces who considered the capture of a Hotchkiss Gun well worth any risks involved in the process. This is a manual produced in 1917 and illustrates the method by which the Hotchkiss Gun was packed and moved throughout the Palestine campaign.



Hotchkiss Machine Gun Pack for Cavalry - Page 4

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Citation: Hotchkiss Machine Gun Pack for Cavalry - Page 4

Posted by Project Leader at 10:42 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 29 July 2008 11:00 PM EADT
Colonel Husnu, Yildirim, Page 22
Topic: Tk - Bks - Yildirim

Another entry from the book written by Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, called Yildirim. Every day, one page of the book will be posted. This is Page 22.



Colonel Hüsnü, Yildirim, Page 22.

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Citation: Colonel Hüsnü, Yildirim, Page 22

Posted by Project Leader at 10:35 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 29 July 2008 10:59 PM EADT
The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Massey account of El Buqqar Ridge
Topic: BatzP - El Buggar

The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917

Massey account of El Buqqar Ridge

 

Below is an extract from the book written by W.T. Massey, How Jerusalem was Won from which he describes the action at El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917.

 

The principal work carried out by the XXth Corps during the period of concentration consisted in laying the standard gauge line to Imara and opening the station at that place on October 28; prolonging the railway line to a point three-quarters of a mile north-north-east of Karm, where the station was opened on November 3; completing by October 30 the light railway from the east bank of the wadi Ghuzze at Gamli _via_ Karm to Khasif; and developing water at Esani, Malaga, and Abu Ghalyun for the use first by cavalry detachments and then by the 60th Division. Cisterns in the Khasif and Imsiri area were stocked with 60,000 gallons of water to be used by the 53rd and 74th Divisions, and this supply was to be supplemented by camel convoys. Apparently the enemy knew very little about the concentration until about October 26, and even then he could have had only slight knowledge of the extent of our movements, and probably knew nothing at all of where the first blow was to fall. In the early hours of October 27 he did make an attempt to interfere with our concentration, and there was a spirited little action on our outpost line which had been pushed out beyond the plain to a line of low hills near the wadi Hanafish. The Turks in overwhelming force met a most stubborn defence by the Middlesex Yeomanry, and if the enemy took these London yeomen as an average sample of General Allenby's troops, this engagement must have given them a foretaste of what was in store for them.

The Middlesex Yeomanry (the 1st County of London Yeomanry, to give the regiment the name by which it is officially known, though the men almost invariably use the much older Territorial title) and the 21st Machine Gun Squadron, held the long ridge from El Buggar to hill 630. There was a squadron dismounted on hill 630, three troops on hill 720, the next and highest point on the ridge, and a post at El Buggar. At four o'clock in the morning the latter post was fired on by a Turkish cavalry patrol, and an hour later it was evident that the enemy intended to try to drive us off the ridge, his occupation of which would have given him the power to harass railway construction parties by shell-fire, even if it did not entirely stop the work. Some 3000 Turkish infantry, 1200 cavalry, and twelve guns had advanced from the Kauwukah system of defences to attack our outpost line on the ridge. They heavily engaged hill 630, working round both flanks, and brought heavy machine-gun and artillery fire to bear on the squadron holding it. The Royal Flying Corps estimated that a force of 2000 men attacked the garrison, which was completely cut off.
A squadron of the City of London Yeomanry sent to reinforce was held up by a machine-gun barrage and had to withdraw. The garrison held out magnificently all day in a support trench close behind the crest against odds of twenty to one, and repeatedly beat off rushes, although the bodies of dead Turks showed that they got as close as forty yards from the defenders. Two officers were wounded, and four other ranks killed and twelve wounded.
The attack on hill 720 was made by 1200 cavalry supported by a heavy volume of shell and machine-gun fire. During the early morning two desperate charges were beaten off, but in a third charge the enemy gained possession of the hill after the detachment had held out for six hours. All our officers were killed or wounded and all the men were casualties except three. At six o'clock in the evening the Turks were holding this position in strength against the 3rd Australian Light Horse, but two infantry brigades of the 53rd Division were moving towards the ridge, and during the evening the enemy retired and we held the ridge from this time on quite securely. The strong defence of the Middlesex Yeomanry undoubtedly prevented the Turks establishing themselves on the ridge, and saved the infantry from having to make a night attack which might have been costly. Thereafter the enemy made no attempt to interfere with the concentration. The yeomanry losses in this encounter were 1 officer and 23 other ranks killed, 5 officers and 48 other ranks wounded, 2 officers and 8 other ranks missing.

 

Massey, W.T., How Jerusalem was Won, (London 1918).

 

Further Reading:

Beersheba

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

The Battle of El Buqqar (Buggar) Ridge, 27 October 1917

 


Citation: The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Massey account of El Buqqar Ridge

Posted by Project Leader at 3:48 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 11 July 2009 10:29 PM EADT
9th LHR description of the operations at El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917
Topic: BatzP - El Buggar

El Buggar Ridge, Palestine, 27 October 1917

9th LHR account of El Buqqar Ridge

 

The following is extracted from an Intelligence Summary submitted by the Adjutant of the 9th Light Horse Regiment after the action.

 

Intelligence Summary - 9th Light Horse Regiment - Operations of 27th/28th October 1917 - Reference - Beersheba.

Left bivouac 0900 and arrived at a point on Fara Beersheba Road one and half miles due south of U in Beit Abu Taha. At 1200 two squadrons advanced to the high ground one and half miles west and south west of Point 720. The enemy were located holding 720 and the high ground on both flanks. Extent of enemy front on this sector approximately one mile.

At 1320 the line advanced to within one mile of 720. At this point - Yeomanry sergeant major informed the squadron that the squadron of Yeomanry had been captured. Touched up with 10th Light Horse Regiment on right but could not get in touch with any of our troops on the left.

At 1400 the enemy were observed to be working round our left but after an hour they withdrew to their original position half mile north west of 720.

At 1425 the line advanced to within 1600 yards of 720. About 5 enemy machine guns were located on high ground 1,500 yards south west of 720. These machine guns commanded the front of 720. Still unable to gain touch with any troops on left flank.

At 1500 74th Division moving up on right.

1600 situation unchanged.

At 1700 an officer's patrol was dispatched to 720. This patrol gained 720 at about 1800 and found the enemy had withdrawn but owing to darkness their disposition could not be located. The bodies of 14 dead Yeomanry were on 720. They had been stripped of all clothing and equipment with the exception of shirts. A new trench had been dug by enemy on north west slopes of 720 capable of holding 100.

At 1815 the patrol withdrew from 720 at which no infantry was in the vicinity of 720 although infantry were observed moving up from Karm about two miles west of 720. It is presumed that the first infantry to occupy 720 was in position there at about 2045.

At 2200 Major HM Parsons gained touch with 53rd Division Reserves quarter mile west of 720. This Division had not as yet joined up with 74th Division. Major HM Parsons proceeded to get in touch with 74th Division with orders to them to push forward on to El Buggar Ridge. This was effected at about 2300.

The Regiment withdrew at 0030 and arrived at bivouac at 0345 on morning of 28th inst.

Our Casualties - one officer one other Rank wounded. Animals, one riding horse killed, one wounded.

 

The 9th LHR Casualties

  1. Major Thomas Anglesey Siekmann, Officer Commanding B Squadron, GSW to the hand.
  2. 210 Corporal Raymond Meredith Welfare, Trumpeter Corporal, A Squadron, GSW to thigh. 
 

Further Reading:

Beersheba

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

The Battle of El Buqqar (Buggar) Ridge, 27 October 1917

 


Citation: 9th LHR description of the operations at El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917

Posted by Project Leader at 3:09 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 11 July 2009 10:33 PM EADT
The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Hatton account of El Buqqar Ridge
Topic: BatzP - El Buggar

The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917

Hatton account of El Buqqar Ridge

 

Below is an extract from S. F. Hatton, The Yarn of a Yeoman, Hutchinson, 1930 detailing the action at El Buqqar Ridge leading to the death of Major Lafone and the aftermath.

 

THE ADVANCE TO GAZA p. 149

I can only tell you how it all appeared to me.

The railway had now been pushed forward well beyond the wire to Karm, in preparation, as we afterwards understood, for an attack on Beersheba.

Our regiment, with the Sharpshooters supporting our left flank, and the Roughriders on our right, were to take up a line of cavalry outposts covering this railhead. This outpost duty, was, of course, nothing to us. We had done this scores of times, and when they read out in orders the usual gaff about green flares being sent up for danger and red flares for artillery, we just yawned heavily and prepared to move off.

In the dusk we rode out some five miles from Goz el Gelieb, a post well in advance of the wire, to take up a position of outpost covering the railway along the El Buggar Ridge. This high ridge of loose sand and sandstone overlooked the enemy positions by day, and we had held this as observation post many times before. The key positions on the ridge were two rising hills known as Points 630 and 720. These two posts were allotted to C and B Squadrons, my own Squadron "A" was to patrol the ground between during the night. The regimental Headquarters were three miles behind at Karm, and the reserves at least six miles back. But we had so often done "this turn" and seen not a vestige of the enemy, that no one worried very much about that, or the fact that the only means of communication with Headquarters was by signalling, lamp by night or helio by day.

Point 630 on the left was in command of Captain McDougall, a very fine soldier, known to many of us as one eye quaiss one eye mush quaiss." You see, he always wore a monocle and an Arab syce in trying to describe him to me had used that phrase meaning "one eye good, one eye not good."

p. 150 THE YARN 0F A YEOMAN

He found some sort of cover for his led horses, and occupied two shallow cruciform trenches just on the reverse slope of the hill with three of his troops; sent out picquets over the crest. With his remaining troop he occupied a small post on his right flank The garrison on the hill itself with Hotchkiss Gunners, signallers, etc., numbered about fifty.

Point 720, on the right, allotted to B Squadron, was in command of Major Lafone; "dear old Laffy" as he was affectionately known by all his men. This was a cone-shaped hill having a small ruined stone house on the summit. There were two shallow rifle pits on the right of the house, a small trench on the left flank and a slightly deeper cruciform trench, some hundred yards in the rear. About three hundred yards to the right flank was another small hill across a hollow which would give flank protection. Major Lafone occupied the trenches on the hill with two troops with a strong picquet on the smaller hill to the flank and placed one troop as a standing patrol about one mile to the rear.

In the centre, our Squadron, "A," under Captain Bullivant; "absent-minded Bully", formed a series of patrols and standing patrol. Mick and Nic's troops did the actual mounted patrolling, whilst " Bart's " and my own took up standing patrol positions to the rear.

One incident during this night will ever remain clear in my memory. We were rather short of water and a ''packal" , a goatskin filled with water - had been placed upon the sand, and I had given strict orders that it was not to be touched on any account. I was half asleep during the night when I distinctly saw one of my troop coming away from this packal with a water-bottle. I woke up and challenged several, but I never found out who it was - the incident annoyed me very considerably at the time as I placed such implicit trust in the lads under my command.

p. 151 ADVANCE TO GAZA

We "stood to" about 3 a.m., and shortly afterwards from the direction of 630 I saw green and white flares going up into the graying dawn, and heard a muffled rattle of rifle fire. This went on for some time, and still we were under the impression that it was just a desultory engagement with a passing Turkish patrol.

I mounted my troop and rode in to join "Bart's," the other standing patrol.

Shortly afterwards Captain Bullivant rode up and said:

" I don't know what's happened as I can't get into touch with either "C" or "B" Squadrons, but there seems a devil of a lot of Jackos out there. Bartlett, you take your troop up to support 2 and 3 troops, and Hatton, you make a detour and see if you can reach Captain McDougall, I rather fear he's surrounded."

In the growing light I led my troop rapidly under cover of a ridge, and galloped away to the south intending to wheel again straight for the rear of 630. In extended order we wheeled out into the open plain and galloped with heads "remarkable close to the horse's neck," towards the hill. We were met with a murderous rifle and machine-gun fire. They had got the range, the bullets spattering amongst the horses' hooves like hailstones. Several saddles were quickly emptied, hut it was mainly the horses that had been hit. I wheeled them again to the right under cover and then out into the open about half a mile further round. The light was now good and, although I could see nothing of the enemy, they had us" severely "taped." We again rode clean into a rain of bullets, and realizing it was useless to go on, as I shouldn't have had a man left, I wheeled again into cover, and brought my men into action dismounted.

Luckily I found myself in some sort of formation with the rest of the squadron and some Roughriders, who came up and did gallant work in reinforcing us; but many became casualties. It was difficult indeed to get any cover and we seemed to be under

p. 152 THE YARN OF A YEOMAN

an enfilading fire from all quarters. There being no proper communication we had no idea what was happening to either; "B" or "C" Squadrons; all we knew was that there was nobody behind and a devil of a lot in front. Unfortunately the Hotchkiss gun in my troop jammed with the sand - rather a failing of these guns, I'm afraid — and we were dependent on rifle fire; but we could not get a target and could really only let off rounds vaguely in the direction we judged the bullets to be coining from. We were absolutely at a loss as to affairs even in our own
squadron.

No. 1 Troop somewhere on my right had the whole of their Hotchkiss team wiped out, all six being killed or wounded; as one man was hit, immediately another had taken his place; in fact, of this troop only three came out unscathed.

The action went on all through the day and, without a bite or any further water, we fought on till late in the afternoon. We had managed to get our wounded back except one, a new lad named Puncher, and I was rather worried about him. He had been shot down during the first attempt to reach 630 in the early morning, and his exact whereabouts from where we were was difficult to calculate. Towards the end of the afternoon the firing seemed to have lifted a little, and I discussed the possibility of getting to him. His pal, Jim Carroll, and Hazelton, a Lancashire lad, volunteered to go out and find him.

Just before Puncher was hit he called out to me under a shower of shrapnel: ''Is this a scheme, sergeant, or the real thing?" and as he fell, Jim Carroll had shouted in his rich Irish brogue: "Jack, I'll have four or five of they bastards for you." I think he did, too.

Carroll and Hazelton went to the rear and, making a circuitous route, found him, and got him back so that he could receive medical attention, and he was taken down the line to hospital.

About 5 p.m., after continuous engagement since

THE ADVANCE TO GAZA p. 153

3am, we saw infantry reinforcements marching gross the plain. The Turk apparently saw them too, and withdrew his forces.

It was only on a reassembly of the Regiment that could get any idea of what had actually taken place. It appeared that our outpost of little over two hundred effective rifles had been attacked by a Turkish force of nearly 5000 troops; several battalions of infantry, two regiments of cavalry and guns. This was a powerful raiding expedition, whose object had been to destroy the railhead, and so delay any projected advance of Allenby's troops. We had held them successfully throughout the day, and whilst our losses had been heavy indeed, theirs had been very much greater. Most important thing of all - they had failed in their objective, and General Allenby's plans were not delayed a single day.

As my own squadron collected it was pitiful to notice the number of led horses. Mick, who had had charge of one of the patrolling troops, had been dreadfully wounded in the stomach and his life despaired of - our squadron had lost a third of its men, but what of "C" and "B"?

The story of the resistance put up by these two posts is an epic, and I will endeavour to give you a brief outline of the doings at Points 630 and 720.

As the dawn broke over 630, Captain McDougall saw large numbers of enemy troops marching to his front, attempting to establish themselves on the crest of the hill. A heavy fire was opened by the little garrison of fifty. The Turks retired and attempted to work round the flank. Here the machine-guns played havoc with them, and the Hotchkiss from the outlying picquet also took terrible toll of the enemy. Corporal H Jeacocke, now well known as the famous Surrey cricketer, did devastating work with his Hotchkiss team, lying in an exposed position himself on the parapet, to get a better view of his objectives.

Soon, however, the gun teams were put out of

p. 154 THE YARN OF A YEOMAN

action, all six at one gun being dead or wounded, and at another the gun jammed as the last man of the team began to work it.

Captain McDougall with his dead and wounded was faced with the extreme difficulty of setting a message through, and also of getting ammunition up from the rear. I have it on good authority, that about this time a Turk approached near enough to shout "Ablooka! Ablooka!" - Surrender - to which McDougall in the Yeoman language replied: "Ablooka be b--d," and with a dead man's rifle fulfilled the Mosaic law with the body of the challenger.

Trooper Finlay, a bluff jovial cove, jumped from the trench and, under heavy fire, dashed to the rear commandeered a horse, and still under heavy shell and machine-gun fire galloped back to Headquarters. Captain Carus Wilson, in charge of the led horses' dashed through heavy fire, loaded with the horse holders' bandoliers of ammunition, up to the firing trench. His perilous journey accomplished, he ran back and again attempted to reach Captain McDougall with two heavy boxes of Hotchkiss ammunition. He dropped one into the part of the trench held by Lieutenant Matthews, and as he went to reach his squadron leader, fell into the trench at Captain McDougall's feet, badly wounded through the thigh at point-blank range.

Had the Turks found sufficient resolution to rush the trench nothing could have saved the post, but Captain McDougall with his handful of men, surrounded by dead and wounded, managed to bluff the Turk off, and so hang on. Towards noon Sergeant Randall attempted the dangerous task of getting a message back to Headquarters, and jumped from the trench with bullets spattering all around him. He ran like an Olympic champion and, safely reaching Headquarters, he was able to give such accurate information, that our artillery began to shell the Turk and kept him down throughout the terrible afternoon.

THE ADVANCE TO GAZA p. 155

At the end of the day Captain McDougall brought the remnant of his gallant little garrison out as the reinforcements arrived; there were less than a dozen survivors; but in front of their trench were over two hundred Turkish dead. For the heroic defence of 630 Captain McDougall gained the D.S.O., and, mark you he richly deserved it; Captain Carus Wilson, Mr Matthews and Mr Abrahams the MC, whilst amongst the decorations for the rankers were a DCM for Sergeant Randall and an M.M. for cheery Trooper Finlay.

And now to 720 - the post held by "B" Squadron under Major Lafone; but a word first of the Major " Laffy" always had that peculiar mannerism, possessed, I believe, in common with the Prince of Wales of fidgeting with his tie. He was exceptionally fond of his men and withal possessed a rather dry sense of humour. I remember on one occasion a new officer rather fancying " his weight'' had gone into "B" Squadron mess-hut at Geneffa and in a high-falutin modern-mannered voice had called, "Any complaey-ents." The tone of his voice struck the troopers as so affected, that they promptly gave him the "bird," "blew him out one," "cut him off a slice of cake," or "gave him a raspberry" - whichever expression you prefer. "Laffy" had ordered two or three offending ones before him and, after remonstrating fairly mildly, had finished up by saying : "You know, I really can't have my junior officers presented with the Order of the Royal Richard."

The post of 720 had no sooner expressed amazement at the appearance of the flares on 630, than they could discern in the half-light large bodies of horsemen riding towards them. They rapidly opened fire and caused them to turn about whilst further Turkish cavalry, who had somehow ridden round to the rear of the post, were given an equally hot reception until, realizing their mistake, they also retired in disorder.


p. 156 THE YARN OF A YEOMAN

As it grew lighter, the little post saw a large body of Turkish infantry massing for an attack. Heedless of losses, on they came, attempting to carry the hill with the bayonet; they formed an easy target and dropped in dozens. "Laffy" with a rifle was calling his score: " Eight, nine, ten - missed him - eleven." Their assault was held up, so a squadron of Turkish Lancers came through to the attack. They charged, but their saddles were emptied like knocking down nine pins. Corporal Rangecroft - a prominent member of the Catford Bridge Rugger Club - (How are you, Rangy! - I have often scragged you in a tackle since then) with his Hotchkiss swept off a line of about thirty shouting, "That's the stuff to give the b__s." Twice more they came, infantry and cavalry together but still the little post beat them off. Then they brought up their artillery and started heavily shelling the trenches and the stone house. Sergeant Broster who, at great risk, had got back with a message to Headquarters, arrived back at the trench at 7.30, with a verbal message that Major Lafone was to hang on. The right flank was driven in, so that the main garrison was now unprotected on its flank, and as the firing line developed, the whole of that hill was so swept with rifle and machine-gun fire from about two thousand troops, that all the garrison who could not find shelter in the shallow trenches, became casualties.

Lieutenant Van den Bergh, in face of increasingly desperate odds, and with nearly all his men killed or wounded, showed invincible courage and light heartedness in his defence of the stone house, but he was soon mortally wounded, his last words with a wistful wan smile being, "Give my love to my mother." Lieutenant Stuart rushed across to take his place, he was soon wounded also, and Major Lafone on hearing this rushed to the rifle pits by the stone house. "Laffy" now sent his last message: " My casualties are heavy, six stretchers required. I shall hold on to the last, as

p. 157 THE ADVANCE TO GAZA

I cannot get my wounded away." He constantly cheered on his survivors, remarking: "The infantry will soon be up," but a glance behind showed not a vestige of movement on the desert plain. The wounded had drunk all the garrison water, and as the sun rose higher thirst became intense.

A body of enemy cavalry creeping round the flank attacked the waiting led horses; they had come badly under fire earlier in the day and every horse holder had about ten horses apiece. Squadron Sergeant-Major Dixon, in charge, managed to get a Hotchkiss into action and successfully beat them off. Alas! the horses were waiting for riders who would never return; for about eleven o'clock, under cover of machine-gun and artillery fire, the Turks launched a final attempt against the stone house. There were only wounded here, but under "Laffy's" enthusiasm they fought till they were killed. As the enemy came on and on, Major Lafone marched out into the open firing point-blank from the shoulder, and at twenty yard's beat back this last attack, only to fall desperately wounded. His last words to Sergeant Broster were: "I wonder if there is any chance of the infantry getting up in time?"

Thus died a hero and a gentleman.

The little garrison fought on until there were only three survivors, and these, helping as many wounded as possible, made a dash for Karm. Looking back, they saw the Turkish cavalry sweep over the hill, but the post had been held to the bitter end, and long enough to render its capture useless to the enemy.

The following morning two hundred and eight dead Turks were counted in and around the position.

It would be impossible to mention all the heroic deeds that were done that day - October 27th - two after the Feast of Crispian, nor can I append a list of those who received decorations for their services.

 

S. F. Hatton, The Yarn of a Yeoman, Hutchinson, 1930

 

Further Reading:

Beersheba

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

The Battle of El Buqqar (Buggar) Ridge, 27 October 1917

 


Citation: The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Hatton account of El Buqqar Ridge

Posted by Project Leader at 2:38 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 11 July 2009 11:09 PM EADT

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