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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:

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

Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Turkish Army, Hucum Mufrezesi - Storm Troopers
Topic: Tk - Army

Turkish Army

Hücüm Müfrezesi - Storm Troopers 

 

 Kress inspecting Ottoman Storm Troopers, late 1917.

 

The following account of the Storm Troopers in the Ottoman Army is extracted from the book written by Ed Erickson called Ottoman Army effectiveness in World War I: a comparative study, Oxford, 2007, and taken from pp. 103-5:

 

Tactical innovations from the western front were also introduced on a routine basis in Palestine. On 25 October 1917, German Colonel Hergote, fresh from the western front, delivered a presentation to the 21st Infantry Regiment on the principles of assault and battle training, and also on reconnaissance training.

The 7th Infantry Division was simultaneously engaged in a major restructuring of its tactical organisational architecture. After its arrival in Beersheba, the division inactivated the 4th Company of each infantry battalion on 28 June. On 10 August reflecting the most current tactical thinking, the division activated a machine-gun company, armed with light machine guns, in every infantry battalion.' This reorganisation was repeated in every Ottoman infantry division in Palestine. Thus as the 7th Infantry Division lost a quarter of its rifle strength it gained offensive and defensive capability by the addition of light machine guns within infantry battalions.`"

On 17 July 1917, the division activated an assault detachment (hücüm müfrezesi) of fifty men. (This was the Turkish version of German Stosstruppen.) This was a local initiative implemented by von Kressenstein, who wanted to introduce the most current western front tactical innovations into his army. He assigned Major Kiehl to supervise the training of the Ottoman assault troops 'with good results' . Kress inspected the companies in September 1917 and mentioned, `it is evident that proper training and grooming would bring out the best in these brave, obedient, and humble Anatolian soldiers' . In the absence of written doctrinal information, an unofficial manual on assault troop tactics was written and distributed by the 19th Infantry Division commander, which was based on the experiences of that division in Galicia.

The fact that the Ottoman Army raised, trained, equipped, and employed stone troops has escaped general notice in the English language historiography of World War 1. However, in 1994, Dr. David Nicolle published a clear photograph of a platoon of Ottoman Army storm troops in Palestine in the summer of 1918. The men are outfitted in well fitting uniforms, German-style steel helmets, have under-arm grenade bags with stick grenades, German Mauser rifles, and puttee leggings. This unique photograph is important because the men look confident and fit, well fed, and arc thoroughly equipped - indeed, a picture that is at odds with our historical perception of the Ottoman Army in Palestine. Although it is dangerous to draw a generalised conclusion from Nicolle's photograph, it is obvious that the Turks, at least in one locality, gave a high priority to the selection of men for, and to the maintenance of, its assault troop formations.

On I September 1917, Enver Pasha ordered the general activation of assault troops within the Ottoman Army. Enver directed the XV Corps, the First Army, and the Fourth Army to activate the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Assault Battalions respectively. Additionally, he ordered each infantry division in the Yildirim Army Group and in the Fourth Army to activate assault detachments. Enver was very specific that only the best officers, NCOs, and men (`from the best units in the division, who were intelligent, healthy and hardy, and not more than twentyseven years of age') were selected for these elite units. Additionally, the assault units received better rations, a distinctive badge (an embroidered hand grenade), and conducted a one-month assault course. Later the divisional assault detachments matured into assault battalions. Initially, the Ottoman armies in Mesopotamia, western Anatolia, and Caucasia were excluded from the requirement to activate assault troops.

In the creation of assault battalions the Ottoman Army returned to an organisational architecture that it had abandoned in 1913. One of the Ottoman General Staff's organisational changes in 1914 was the abolition of the organic rifle regiment at army corps level and the organic rifle battalion at infantry division level. These highly specialised regiments and battalions were the Ottoman Army's equivalent of German Jäger or French chusseurs. The reason for this action was the inability of the army during the Balkan Wars to utilise effectively the rifle regiments and battalions in their proper doctrinal role. In fact, during the First Balkan War, Ottoman commanders tended to misuse their rifle battalions as immediate reserves or as a nucleus for ad hoc provisional formations. They were almost never used properly in reconnaissance, screening, or flank guard missions. Consequently, the Ottoman General Staff deactivated the rifle units in the spring of 1914 because the misuse of concentrations of hand-picked men degraded the overall quality of the regular infantry regiments. It should be noted that after World War 2 the US Army deactivated its Ranger battalions for the same reason - the concentration of elite soldiers in specialised units weakened the army's regular infantry establishment and there did not seem to be an appropriate tactical return on such an investment.

The activation of the assault battalion (hücüm tahur) essentially returned the Ottoman Army to the elitist organisational architecture of 1910-14. Each infantry division had three infantry regiments (of three infantry battalions) and one assault battalion, within which there was a high concentration of aggressive and fit officers and men. Unlike the German Army, the Turks formed no specialised assault or storm troop divisions.

By the end of 1917 the strategic and operational initiative in Palestine had passed to the British. Consequently, both the practical and technical need of the Ottoman Army to possess assault troops also passed. Nevertheless, the assault troop battalions of the Ottoman Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth Armies were retained, possibly with a view to future offensive operations of the Yildirim Army Group. It should be remembered that until the failure of the Ludendorff offensives in the spring of 1918, the strategic posture of the Central Powers appeared favourable.

 

Turkish Storm Trooper casualties at Tel el Ful, 27 December 1917

 

With the falling moral of the Ottoman Army during the first half of 1918, the elite units also suffered a decline. A secret memo detailing the state of the Yildirim Army Group in July 1918 states the following:

 

Attack Units

VIIth Army Attack Battalion.

This battalion is camped about two miles south of Narblus. All men are equipped with steel helmets and gas masks. At present it is used in arresting deserters, but in case of the British advance it is to be used to counter attack.

XX Army Corps Attack Battalion.

This battalion is in reserve in the XXth Army Corps area. Its strength and equipment are similar to those of the VIIth Army Battalion.

20th Division Attack Company

This company is camped near Jalud (C.5/O.2.a.) and is 130 strong. It formerly numbered 180, but three weeks ago, 50 men deserted, taking with them two machine guns stolen from a Regimental Machine Gun Company. (Officer deserter, 4/78th Regiment, 10-9).

Comment -
The above strengths are greater than in the case of other formations and are probably exaggerated.

 

Further Reading

The Battle of El Burj, 1 December 1917

Turkish Army

 


Citation: Turkish Army, Hücüm Müfrezesi - Storm Troopers


Posted by Project Leader at 1:06 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 July 2009 1:13 PM EADT
Report by Major Tunbridge about Elands River, 15 September 1900, page 7
Topic: BatzB - Elands

The Battle of Elands River, 4 August 1900

Report by Major Tunbridge, 15 September 1900, Page 7

 

 Report by Major Tunbridge about Elands River, 15 September 1900, page 7.

 

 

On 15 September 1900, Major Tunbridge wrote a report of the action at Elands River for the NSW General Staff of which page 7 is transcribed below.

 

(7)

The casualties were very heavy on the first day (among whom were 5 deaths) and nearly all being from fragments of shells were very bad wounds. Several men were hit a second time in hospital.

Surgeon Captain Duka and his staff - one of them, Trooper W Hunt - of your Colony - were untiring in their work, which was all done under shell fire, Captain Duka did splendid work the whole time and had his hands very full.

I have taken the liberty of cabling and reporting to you as the whole of the Australian details at Elands River were placed under my command.

I have the honor

Sir

Your Obedient Servant
W. Howard Tunbridge Major
O.C.
2nd Regiment R.F.F.

 

Previous: Report page 6 

Next: Report on Casualties, page 8

 

Further Reading:

Elands River

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Report by Major Tunbridge about Elands River, 15 September 1900, page 7

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 26 July 2009 11:39 PM EADT
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, 1st Infantry Regiment
Topic: Militia - LHW - WA

Western Australian Militia

1st Infantry Regiment

 

The following is an extract from the book written in 1962 by George F. Wieck called The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia 1861-1903, p. 56:

 
1st Infantry Regiment
For the purpose of providing facilities for higher forms of training in operations and administration the Perth, Fremantle, and Guildford Infantry corps were, on 10 June 1874, grouped to form the 1st Battalion W.A. Volunteers. No new troops were raised, the arrangement being in the nature of an expedient. The corps concerned retained their administrative independence. Perth provided two Companies, Fremantle and Guildford one each, with the Military Commandant as Battalion Commander.

This organization continued until 1899 when, on more troops becoming available, the three component corps were permanently incorporated in what was gazetted on 1 July 1899 as the 1st Infantry Regiment, under the Command of Lieutenant Colonel S Gardiner.

The Regiment was organized as follows:

Perth:

Headquarters, Band, "A" Company, "B" Company, and later "G" Company.

Fremantle:

"C" Company, "D" Company, and later "F" Company.

Guildford:

"E" Company.

It was a big step in the right direction. It now became possible for senior officers to practise higher forms of leadership, and for junior officers to study co-operation and mutual support in a practical way.

The 1st Infantry Regiment was automatically dissolved when the W.A. Infantry Brigade came into being on 8 October 1900. See: W.A. Infantry Brigade; 1st Battalion, W.A. Infantry Brigade; 2nd Battalion, W.A. Infantry Brigade; and, 3rd Battalion, W.A. Infantry Brigade.

 

 

Previous:  York Infantry

Next: Metropolitan Civil Service Battalion 

 

Further Reading:

Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

Western Australian Militia, Infantry

 


Citation: The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, 1st Infantry Regiment

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 4 September 2009 9:09 PM EADT
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
General Victorian Society Items, Contents
Topic: Gen - St - Vic

General Victorian Society Items

Contents

 

Items

The Family

The Fay Family of Creighton's Creek, Elizabeth Fay

 

Regional Responses

Richmond Goes to War: 1914-1918 

March Past, Melbourne, 24 September 1914

 

Broadmeadows

Broadmeadows 1909  

Broadmeadows Camp, Inducting Recruits, September 1914 

 

Entertainment

The Beast of Berlin

 

Further Reading:

General Victorian Society Items

 


Citation: General Victorian Society Items, Contents

Posted by Project Leader at 11:35 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 July 2009 11:36 PM EADT
The Fay Family of Creighton's Creek, Elizabeth Fay
Topic: Gen - St - Vic

The Fay Family of Creighton's Creek

Elizabeth Fay

 

Elizabeth Fay wearing a silk shirt, the material for which was sent from Egypt.

 

The Fays Early Selectors at Creighton's Creek

George Fay, senr., and his wife Frances (nee Wakeford) took up land near the Creighton's Creek in the very early days of selection activities. The couple died when their children were young.

They had three children - George, Frances and John (Jack).

George married Elizabeth Sharp, of Longwood, and they reared six children, namely Reginald, Bernard, Harold, Laura, Edward and George. They built a home and lived on the Creighton's Creek property.

George was a member of the Rifle Club, the range being in one of his paddocks. He was a member of the Light Horse and served in World War 1. He attained the rank of captain and was killed in action. (I have seen a pair of cuff links sent from. Cairo to Joe Fay by his uncle, Captain George Fay).

Jack Fay married Edith Sharp, of Longwood, in 1908. They also built a house on their property at Creighton's Creek. They had four children - Martha, Veronica, Joseph and Frances. He was also a member of the Light Horse (known earlier as the Mounted Rifles) and enlisted with the forces which went to the South African War. (1 have been shown a South African war medal bearing the following words: South Africa - Transvaal, Orange Free State, Cape Colony and also a likeness of Queen Victoria; also a South African War medal presented to Jack Fay in appreciation of his war services by the residents of Longwood).

Jack was a keen rifle shot and won many prizes and trophies. He was a good runner and high jumper and won numerous events at district picnics. He was a member of the school committee for several years and he and his wife helped in all district organisations. Edith helped with knitting, etc., during two World Wars.

Jack and Edith carried on the farming activities until advancing age made it necessary for them to retire to Euroa.

Frances Fay married Robert Gray, of Rochester. They farmed a property on the Campaspe River which is still being run by their son and daughter. They had the following children - Edith, Betty, Francis and Robert.

 

Captain George Fay, Second Lieutenant, 16th (Indi) Australian Light Horse.




The senior Fay couple, George and Frances, died when Jack was eight years of age. The property was then put into the hands of trustees until Jack was 21 years of age.

George and Jack then farmed the property as partners. In the early days there was a lot of clearing to be done. The partnership continued until George was killed in action. The partnership was then dissolved and George's wife, Elizabeth, sold her share to Lawrence and Nellie Barns. She then lived in Euroa in order to obtain employment for her children.

This property was later bought by Joe Fay who also acquired Jack's share. It is all still retained by Joe's widow, Thelma and son Gary who live on the properties at Creighton's Creek. Other members of Joe and Thelma's family are Joseph and Denyce.
 

Captain George Fay (left) and Tom Sharp in Egypt.

 

The above article was extracted from the Euroa Gazette, p. 62.

 

Creighton's Creek Tennis Club, 1906

 

Reminiscences about Elizabeth Fay

 

Elizabeth Jane Fay (neé Sharpe)

Born at Longwood, Victoria, in 16/9/1881

Eldest of thirteen children. 

Married George Fay, at Longwood, Victoria, 13 May 1903

Elizabeth (Babs) had 6 children, five sons and one daughter and subsequently 20 grandchildren.

Widowed, 1 December 1917

Moved to Euroa, 1918

Died aged 86 years, Melbourne, 22 November 1967.

Elizabeth was a tall, slim woman, with a carriage described as stately. She never wore make-up, her hair was worn simply, in a tidy bun, her clothes were always clean and neat.  A quite and unassuming woman who had a profound effect on all who met her; a remarkable woman.

Elizabeth was an industrious woman as one would need to have been, being the eldest of 13 children growing up on a farm.  Her early responsibilities and training throughout those years of caring for her mother and siblings, carried her steadfastly through the lives of so many people, until she died at the age of 86 years.

A warm, caring woman, with a great inner strength, not to be a leader, but to be there by someone’s side; to see what needed to be done; what problem needed to be resolved.  Capable always, she created order out of chaos, briskly yet quietly; her pace never seemed to falter.

As a young woman she had a strong ambition to train as a nurse, but her family would not allow her to do so; their reasons are now unknown.  Perhaps, the loss of such a capable young woman to the growing family would have been too great.  Her cleaning, nursing and cooking skills would have been a great loss to her mother.  At the age of eleven she was cooking not only for the expanding family but also the harvesters or whoever else came to the farm. Whatever the reason for their denial of her aspirations, she carried the disappointment throughout her life, although this was rarely mentioned.

She was 22 years of age when she married George Fay at Longwood, Victoria.

 

George Fay and Elizabeth Sharp on their wedding day, 13 May 1903.

 

Her husband was the son of a soldier of the same name, who had been returning to Ireland from army duty in India.  George Snr., and his friend (who’s sister he later married) visited Australia on their way home and had decided to stay.  Later, he and his wife (Frances Wakeford) took up land at Creighton’s Creek in the early days of Soldier’s selection land, coming available.

When Elizabeth and George married they built a home on his family’s property ‘Cluny Farm’  Creighton’s Creek, 10 miles out of Euroa, which is situated 160 kilometres from Melbourne via the Hume Highway.

Elizabeth, with a husband and eventually, six children to wash and iron for, had a lean-to down near the creek from which she carried water to boil for washing.  She had to build a fire to boil the clothes.  All washing was rubbed on a board to clean it, then rinsed and in those days blued and starched. She used to throw a fishing line into the creek while she was there and keep watch on the younger children.  Getting so much wet washing back to the farm would have been quite a feat. (How would she have managed that?  Perhaps she took a horse and cart.)

 

Cluny Farm’ Cookhouse, Creighton's Creek


Her cooking skills were renowned, her flaky pastry to dream of, and her scones always took first place in shows. She was an excellent needle woman, a good horse woman and excellent driver. (Horse and Jig)  In other words:  A capable country woman.

The local rifle range was situated on their property, where her husband and others trained. When World War 1 started he went to Melbourne to train the young men signing up.  Perhaps it was, sending 16 & 17 year olds off to war with little experience, which eventually saw him make the difficult decision to leave, with his horse, for Egypt to join the 8th Australian Light horse.

 

(Left to right) Elizabeth ("Bab"),  Bernard, Harold, George Jnr (seated), and Edward between George Snr's legs.

 

Navigating by the stars, he led his men through the inhospitable deserts of Africa, beneath which he was destined to remain, forever, with other fallen sons and fathers.

Elizabeth, with six children, the youngest newly born, had taken over the running of the farm, from which she also operated the local post office.

She received constant flow of letters from a loving husband, a man with whom she always claimed, she had never had a cross word.

 

Elizabeth ("Bab") with five children, (left to right) Bernard, Harold, Laura, Edward, and George.

 

Her husband was with the Light horse at El Burj Hills in Egypt, when she knew without any doubt, that he had died.  She waited some time before the knock on the door came with conformation, and the day of his death, was as she knew it, 1 December 1917.

Over time, so many of his men wrote to her, and others travelled great distances to see her and to talk of what he meant to them.  It was well established that he was wounded, but refused to leave his men while he could still sit a horse, for which he paid the ultimate price. 

Did knowing this comfort her?  We never thought to asked her, but knowing her, we do know, she would never have asked him to do otherwise.

 


 Fay family pension details

 

She continued, through the following 50 years to feel his presence close to her, supporting and loving her. This feeling was very real to her.  She would not consider having another partner.

Elizabeth sold the farm and bought a house in Euroa in 1918 to be close to schooling and work for the older boys.  Here she raised the children and worked with the local doctors, taking into her home women who needed to come into town when a birth was imminent.

These women and their babies, stayed with her to recuperate after birthing, or operations, until they were strong enough to travel back to their homes. For so many of these hard working country women, it was the only rest they ever had.

Elizabeth was a natural nurse and a woman with much common sense.  Perhaps, one secret for her success in nursing her patients, her children and grandchildren, was her lifetime conviction of the necessity for cleanliness. Tables tops and floors were scrubbed, linen boiled and utensils sterilised.

 

George, Edward, and Laura Fay

 

Fresh air, sunlight, clean water, fresh food and scrubbed hands for its preparation, were all considered essential to maintain good health.
As the childre grew up to adulthood, the need to find work for them all saw her shift the family unit to West Coburg on the outskirts of Melbourne. 

Two of her sons became policemen.  During the depression years, because she had two young sons working, she received no pension.  Despite this she saw that no one she knew went hungry, including neighbours deserted by fathers, who left in search of work, or because they couldn’t cope through those dreadful years.

Her home was always full of people, talking, laughing, eating.  No doubt it was her cooking abilities which enabled her to feed so many hungry people.  Certainly, living most of her life without access to shops would have resulted in her becoming quite resourceful.

With the coming of the second World War, two of her sons joined up. Edward joined the RAAF and her youngest the AIF.  George, named for his father, travelled and fought through the same areas of the Middle East as his father had, which appeared to his mother like an omen.  Her fear he would not come back either, was something she had to live with till the end of that war. Return he did, and with photo’s of his fathers grave at Ramleh Grove Military Cemetery, in Palestine. 

 

Elizabeth Fay in the 1960's.

 

Elizabeth was always available to support anyone in need, and one particular case was a young neighbour who was sent home with new born twins, her first children, having been told they could not survive.  Elizabeth nursed these babies, her faith never allowed her to be daunted when faced with the impossible, and survive they did, growing into strong healthy children.

She sewed and mended and turned sheets with an small Singer sewing machine which was worked by hand.  Her fingers flew, as they spun the handle on the side of that machine. She was always available when anyone was ill, work to be done, or when a whole family needed to move in with her.  Christmas Days at her home with the ever increasing numbers of people were just wonderful.  The old wood stove produced miracles and the gas stove needed to be used as well on those occasions.

We seldom saw Grandma without an apron on, as she kept herself busy and always had a smile and warm welcome for anyone who came to her door.

Her grandchildren’s most precious memories, are of the times when the old tan tin trunk was pulled out from under the bed, and one by one the feathers, materials, silk scarfs, presents and mementoes her husband had sent her from Egypt, were lifted out with much reverence. 

We knew the stories surrounding each one but waited, and were filled with awe as images of the mysterious East cast a spell.  As they were placed back into the safety of the old tin trunk it was all over....till next time, but those precious memories of Grandma Fay, sharing her treasures and memories will last with us all forever.

 

George Fay's Medal Trio.

 

Her deeds we learned from others, we wonder what she could have told us had she been so inclined. We found, when people spoke of her it was not only with great respect but coupled with a warmth of feeling.

Her step was firm and measured as she moved with great dignity through her life, and those of others.

A song sent to the family in 1920

 
A mother sat in silent grief
her head bowed in her hands
She thought of soldiers coming home
from far off foreign lands

A friend whose son would soon return
Had told the news with pride
The mother wiped her tear filled eyes
and to her friend replied

My bonny lads will not return
From far across the sea
One died on France’s Battlefield
and one on Gallipoli

The last on of all was blue eyed Jack
That fair haired babe of mine
He sleeps beneath a palm tree
Somewhere in Palestine.

 

Elizabeth Fay

 

 

Acknowledgement:

Nicolette Caggiati-Shortell for generously making available the Fay family records, including letters, photographs and newspaper clippings, and through her kind permission, these are published on this site.

 

Further Reading:

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred - the Trio Medals 

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, George Fay

2601 Trooper George Redding

The Battle of El Burj, 1 December 1917

8th Light Horse Regiment, AIF

General Victorian Society Items 

 


Citation: The Fay Family of Creighton's Creek, Elizabeth Fay

Posted by Project Leader at 10:59 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 16 July 2009 4:22 PM EADT

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