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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

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.

Saturday, 14 March 2009
Karawaran, Persia, August 6 to 7, 1918
Topic: BatzO - Karawaran

Karawaran

Persia, 6-7 August 1918

 

Karawaran, a village in northern Persia (now Iran) about 50 kilometres south of Lake Urmia, was the scene of a desperate rearguard action against Turkish troops and marauding Kurds and Persians fought on 67 August 1918 by members of a special British group known as 'Dunsterforce'. The unit-named after its commander, Major General Lionel Dunsterville - included some 47 officers and non-commissioned officers recruited from the AIF in France and Palestine in its eventual strength of 450, and had been raised for the task of guarding against German penetration of Asia by mobilising and organising resistance by the peoples of the Caucasus region.

Attempts to render support to Christian Assyrians and Armenians who were fighting the Turkish 5th and 6th divisions at Urmia, a city on the western side of the lake, were forestalled when the Turks gained entry to that place on 30 July and put 80,000 of its population to flight. A twenty-strong party of Dunsterforce (half of whom were Australians or New Zealanders) and a squadron of British cavalry, which had been detached to escort a convoy carrying money, machine-guns and ammunition from Bijar, met the mass of refugees on the road on 4 August. The commander of the Dunsterforce party, Captain Stanley Savige (an Australian), rode forward the next day to the rear of the column, which he found under attack from local tribesmen but protected by a small rearguard organised by an American missionary, Dr W.A. Shedd. Obtaining permission from his superiors in the British mission, Savige again rode out on 6 August with a party of eight (two of whom were also Australian) to give what assistance was possible against the raiders.

Finding Shedd with 24 armed refugees at the tail of the withdrawing column, Savige relieved him (but took over his men) before riding further on to find better ground on which to fight. At a village apparently named Karawaran, lying south of the town of Miandoab, the rearguard discovered a force of 'Turkish cavalry engaged in looting. These they drove out, and were also forced to fight off about 100 tribesmen who were riding about the valley in search of plunder, before falling back ten kilometres to spend the night in another village.

The fight began again the next morning, this time against a party of 1 50 mounted Kurds who approached directly while others rode around hilly country on both flanks. Savige's men, with no more than twelve of Shetld's original party, mounted a hasty defence from a hill behind the village which checked the enemy horsemen. Then followed a sustained withdrawal which barely succeeded in keeping the pressing enemy away from the rear of the refugee column. The strength of the defence was slowly reduced by the death of one of the Dunsterforce men, and the desertion of all but two of the volunteers, and after seven hours of relentless fighting the remainder were close to exhaustion.

The rearguard was saved from being overrun by the timely arrival of a dozen British cavalrymen who had been policing the road when they intercepted a message from Savige appealing for reinforcement. A short time later a party of 70 Christian tribesmen also arrived to lend support, at which the Turks and others made off. Although the pursuit of the fleeing refugees was continued until the column's tail-end reached Bijar on 17 August, at no stage did the task of defence again result in such fierce combat. The loss of some 30,000 people in the retreat from Urmia made it perhaps one of the most dreadful episodes of the war.



Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 149-150.

 

Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

H.S. Gullett (1944) The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

S.G. Savige (1919), Stalky's Forlorn Hope, Melbourne: Alexander McCubbin.

 

Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Karawaran, Persia, August 6 to 7, 1918

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2009 12:09 PM EADT
Leeuw Kop, South Africa, July 3, 1900
Topic: BatzB - Leeuw Kop

Leeuw Kop

South Africa, 3 July 1900

 

Leeuw Kop (also known as 'Bakenkop'), was an action fought during the Second South African War on 3 July 1900 in the northern Orange Free State, during a British advance from the north-west against the town of Bethlehem. During fighting the previous day a British column under Major-General A.H. Paget had succeeded in pushing back the right wing of an opposing Boer force under General Piet de Wet, and occupied the ridge line known as Plesierfontein thirteen kilometres east of the town of Lindley. Among the 1,000 mounted troops included in Paget's column was a battalion of 400 Imperial Bushmen from South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania commanded by Major Rose (a West Australian).

Following Paget's success de Wet retired to Leeuw Kop, about ten kilometres to the south-east, and established a new defensive line along a ridge line running north-east which had Bakenkop as its most prominent feature. On 3 July Paget moved his infantry and two guns into the intervening valley towards Leeuw Kop, while sending 800 of his mounted troops with six guns against Bakenkop on the left. The commander of the latter detachment, Colonel A.M. Brookfield, took his men onto a ridge 4,000 metres from his objective and returned the fire of five Boer guns which had begun to engage him. The British guns were distributed in pairs along the ridge line, and although not spaced widely the undulations of the ground meant that no section could actually see any of the others. The mounted troops covering the artillery were also positioned at intervals along the ridge, mostly in rear of the guns.

After an inconclusive duel, it was found that the guns of Brookfield's detachment were beginning to run short of ammunition. The artillery commander accordingly gave the order to cease fire and the crews were ordered to lie down beside their guns. At this point the Boer guns suddenly renewed their fire with increased intensity, causing the British mounted troops not already sheltering behind the ridge to fall back for cover. The heightened barrage was, however, also the prelude to an assault by two Boer parties-each 100-200 strong-who had crept up through fields of Indian maize flanking the British position on both sides. When delivered, this attack caught the guns effectively without any protection. The left flank guns saw the danger of the approaching Boers and opened fire on them, but on the right the enemy approach was not observed until too late and the position was quickly taken. The centre section immediately limbered up and made to join the left section: one crew mistakenly went towards the right section, however, and both men and horses were promptly shot down so that a third gun was added to the Boer booty.

Amidst this confusion, an artillery officer managed to mount a horse and gallop to the rear. I lore he came upon a detachment of South Australians under captain A.E.M. Norton who had been ordered to retire, and these he led hack to the ridge line in time to prevent the Boers from carrying away the captured guns. When confronted with the Australians' fire, the burghers promptly retreated taking some of the captured gunners with them as prisoners. The enemy party attacking the left gun section also now broke contact and withdrew. Meanwhile Paget had seized Leeuw Kop and from here was able to direct flanking fire from his guns against the Boers' artillery, whereupon de Wet abandoned Bakenkop and made off towards Bethlehem.

During the short but sharp battle, Major Rose and about a dozen South Australians were wounded. The Tasmanian squadron, having been kept on other duty near Lindley, did not join in the fighting until the action was in its final stages with the Boers already being driven off.
 

Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 81-82.

 

Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

L.S. Amery, (ed.) The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Vol. 4 (1906), London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co.

John Stirling (1907) The Colonials in South Africa, 1899-1902, Edinburgh: W. Blackwood & Sons

R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.

 

Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Leeuw Kop, South Africa, July 3, 1900

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2009 4:28 PM EADT
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 17 to 19 May 1916
Topic: Gm - Bk - 605 MGC

German 605th Machine Gun Company (MGC)

War Diary, 17 May to 19 May 1916 

 

605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 17 to 19 May 1916

 

The entries

 

17.V.16:   

Today we received orders that everything was to be packed up as us are to move off early tomorrow. Today two men were sent on guard duty to Ensili. The field kitchen issued evening dinner early at 4 p.m. Pte. Maier, who remained on guard at Posanti, reported sick on the 10th inst. and was taken from Posanti to the Taurus ambulance-hospital Tschamlahan.


18.V.16:   

By 11 this morning the remainder of our things with tents and peaks were loaded on the main line trucks. The men travelled by train at 11.30 a.m. to Ingerli. During the course of the afternoon our boxes were loaded on to the field railway (narrow gauge). We draw cash in lieu of rations for to-day as our field kitchen, drawn by oxen, left one day ahead of us. Acting Serjt. Major Schriever fell sick early to-day and went by rail Kulek-Boghaz to the Taurus hospital at Tschamlahan.


19.V.16:   

Early this morning 5 a.m. our first troop trains, 9 men, consisting of 3 trains of 8 to 10 trucks, were despatched. On every track there was one N.C.O. or man as guard. At 9 am. we arrived at Bagsche and halted there for about an hour. We arrived at Arian at 10.30 a.m. and stopped till 1.30 p.m.. Here we changed engines, the steam engines being replaced by petrol engines. The latter took our train through the tunnel which begins at Arian. In the middle of the tunnel we stopped for 2½ hours and arrived at Entili at the other end at 6.15 p.m. At 7 p.m. 10 trucks of our train proceeded from Entili to Kulek Bagsche which we reached at 8.20. Here we spent the night in the temporary station buildings. At 6 p.m. the mounted men under the company commander rode from Mamure to Kassan Bey which they reached at midnight. The remainder of the company travelled at noon by the field railway (narrow gauge) to Airan, which they reached at 5.30 p.m. and spent the night at the entrance to the tunnel.

 

Previous Page: 605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 8 to 17 May 1916

Next Page: 605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 19 to 26 May 1916

 

Further Reading:

German 605th Machine Gun Company (MGC) , Contents 

The Battle of Romani

Light Horse Battles

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 17 to 19 May 1916 


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 April 2009 6:48 PM EADT
1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 3
Topic: AIF - Cars

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF

THE DEAD SEA

Part 3

This is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 3.

 

THE DEAD SEA - Part 3

A few evenings later a big concert was held up in Jerusalem by Lena Ashwell's Players and permission was granted for a car load to go to Jerusalem for the night. Needless to say the car was well filled. On the morning of the 25th July during our morning patrol, we discovered a home made boat and some ogre hidden in the reeds skirting a lagoon along to the mouth Of the river. We had not noticed this boat previously so concluded it must have been brought across the river during the night probably by an enemy agent.

We were anxious to see how the boat was brought into the lagoon,- so a couple of us embarked and pushed off when the boat promptly sank with us both, and we just had time to throw our watches and revolvers ashore as we disappeared below the Surface to the amusement of the rest of the patrol. The boat had only sufficient buoyancy for one parson, so evidently only one had come across in it. We discovered that there was a narrow but deep entrance through the reeds into the sea through which the boat had been brought. We replaced the boat whore We had found it after making it leaky enough to prevent it crossing the river again and reported particulars to the nearest intelligence officer who arranged for a watch to be kept beside the boat for the return of the navigator, but he must have received news of the boat's discovery for he never turned up again. When we returned from the morning patrol, the water had dried on our clothes after the immersion and the white salt had dried and left us white like a couple of ghosts to the great enjoyment of the troops in the vicinity who thought it was some new game for their amusement.

Things seemed to be settling down about this time and no events of importance took place mush in the valley. The enemy made a small demonstration on the 6th September and the whole patrol received orders to cross the river at Hajla Bridge which we did first thing in the morning.

We travelled full speed to the north east where we joined the Central India Horse with whom we crossed the Wady Rame. The enemy however changed their minds and retreated at full speed to the hills again. We received orders to return and were back at our post again in plenty of time for lunch. Nothing more of importance happened until the 13th September when orders were received to leave the Valley. We packed up after having been there for six months to a day. They were the six hottest months of the year and we were not sorry to leave. We were not to see the Jordan Valley any more.

Events were shortly going to happen on the other flank near the Mediterranean Coast and we were to be there in time for the kick off. Orders were received for the cars to proceed singly at half hour intervals so as not to excite any particular interest and we were to take two days over the move. We arrived at Ramleh on the evening of the 15th September and proceeded to Sarona a couple of days later. All movements were now done at night time, so as not to arouse the enemy's suspicions of the concentration on this flank. We now joined the 4th Cavalry Division and on the 18th September the officers were called to a conference where the Commander in Chief (General Allenby) explained that the big smash through the enemy's lines was to be attempted at dawn the next morning.

He explained that speed was to be the essence of the whole operation.

The artillery and infantry were to make a break on the enemy's western flank when the mounted troops and motor units ware to pour through at full spend and take the enemy in the rear.

 

Note:

 

Lena Ashwell

 

Lena Ashwell, actress, musician and theatrical manager, organised quality entertainments for the forces on active service, and fundraising events at home. Her major production occurred when her show opened at the Kingsway Theatre, on 29 December 1915. It was a fantasy called 'The Starlight Express' based on Algernon Blackwood’s 'A Prisoner in Fairyland'. Other luminaries involved in this show included Elgar who composed incidental music including songs for soprano and baritone soloists.

 

Previous section: Steam Tug at the Dead Sea

Next section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 1

 

Further Reading:

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF, Contents 

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle - Outline 

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 3

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 11:21 PM EADT
Query Club, 23 June 1915
Topic: Gen - Query Club

The Query Club

23 June 1915

 


 

The large scale of the Great War often gave people a sense of alienation from the activities of the government and the army. To overcome this, newspapers of the day commenced columns called Query Club or similar names, where ordinary people could clarify their understanding of the complex processes. They also provide us, the historians, an insight into witnessing first hand, the responses of the various bodies to public concerns. The end product is a window into a society now almost out of living memory.

This is the Query Club from the Sydney Mail, 23 June 1915, p. 41.

 

 

DEFERRED PAY

"Widow"

You are entitled to draw deferred pay up to the time of your husband's death, notwithstanding that he died of sickness, not of wounds.

 

CQMS

"Goulburn"

The duties of a company quartermaster sergeant are principally to look after the food and equipment of the men in his company. His pay is 11s 6d per day, including 2s deferred.



FIT FOR SERVICE

"Wayback"

The fact of a man having been operated on for appendicitis some months ago would not in itself be a bar to his acceptance as a volunteer; the doctors could tell quickly enough if the operation had left any permanent weakness.



THE SWORD

"Student"

The sword is very little used in modern warfare. It is stated that our officers at Gallipoli were not permitted to wear it, because of the fact that it singled them out from the rank and file. Two edged swords have not been used for generations. Any military bookseller will supply you with a book of the regulation sword exercises.



THE WOUNDED

"Tyro"

When our wounded men are invalided home they will be taken in charge by the military authorities, who will have the assistance of local medical men, nurses, etc. Some of them will be looked after privately. The Army Medical Corps and the Red Cross will assist, but their principle sphere of work is on the field of battle and in the base and field hospitals. You cannot join the AMC and hope to remain home. If you are prepared to go abroad, however, there are still vacancies in the medical corps. you should apply at the Barracks.



MEN WANTED

"Old Buffer"

The defence authorities time and again have emphasised the fact that they are prepared to accept every suitable recruit who offers himself. There is no limit: as more men come forward, new battalions will be formed. At present we are little more than maintaining the number necessary for reinforcing those at present at the front - replacing the killed, injured, and missing. It is not true that Australia has done more than her share compared to Britain; we much treble our efforts to approach the British proportion. The statement that, per head of population, we have already spent more on the war than the mother country is ridiculous.

 

Further Reading:

The Query Club

 


Citation: Query Club, 23 June 1915

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 12 April 2009 9:12 AM EADT

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