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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.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Wellington Mounted Rifles, NZMRB, Outline
Topic: AIF - NZMRB - WMR

WMR Regiment

Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment

Outline

 

Wellington Mounted Rifles marching at Awapuni Camp, Palmerston North, September 1914.

[From: Auckland Weely News, 1 October 1914, p. 45.]

 

Formation



Wellington Mounted Rifles Squadron Recruitment Catchment Areas

The Wellington Mounted Rifles utilised the Volunteer Territorial structure to recruit members into the three squadrons gazetted as establishment in August 1914.  Below is a listing of the three squadrons inclusive of the distinguishing squadron badge.

 

Queen Alexandra's 2nd Wellington West Coast Squadron

Badge for the Queen Alexandra's 2nd Wellington West Coast Regiment

The anticedents for the Queen Alexandra's 2nd Wellington West Coast Regiment stretched further back than 1914. The district surrounding Wellington provided a volunteer force for many decades. Men from these formations served during the Boer War while afterwards, during the reorganisation of 1 October 1900, two new Territorial battalions were formed. In 1906, the name battalion was replaced by Regiment. The Queen Alexandra's 2nd Wellington West Coast Regiment as a Territorial Volunteer formation came into being on 17 March 1911 when the New Zealand compulsory military training program commenced. The Queen Alexandra's 2nd Wellington West Coast Squadron was recruited from the same Territorial region which included the Wellington metropolitan area and the region immediately adjacent to the city.

 

6th Manawatu Squadron

Badge for the 6th Manawatu Regiment

The 6th Manawatu Regiment as a Territorial Volunteer formation came into being on 17 March 1911 when the New Zealand compulsory military training program commenced. After the outbreak of the Great War the 6th Manawatu Squadron was recruited from the same Territorial region region north and west of Wellington.

 

9th Wellington East Coast Squadron


Badge for the 9th Wellington East Coast Regiment

The 9th Wellington East Coast Regiment as a Territorial Volunteer formation came into being on 17 March 1911 when the New Zealand compulsory military training program commenced. After the outbreak of the Great War the 9th Wellington East Coast Squadron was recruited from the same Territorial region which included the region north and east of Wellington.

 

Machine Gun Section

The Machine Gun Section was drawn from recruits over the entirety of the Wellington Mounted Rifles catchment area.

 

Embarkation

The original Wellington Mounted Rifles embarked to Egypt on 16 October 1914.

  • HMNZT 10 Arawa - Headquarters Staff, 2nd Squadron (less one troop), and Machine-gun Section.
  • HMNZT 4 Tahiti - 6th Squadron (less one troop).
  • HMNZT 6 Orari - 9th Squadron (one troop each, 2nd and 6th Squadrons) and all the horses of the Regiment.

In Egypt additional training occurred at Maadi Camp.

 

Gallipoli

As mounted troops, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were considered to be unsuitable for work in Gallipoli. The mounted troops volunteered to operate as infantry and thus were sent to Gallipoli with the Wellington Mounted Rifles landing on 12 May 1915. Only once was this regiment used for offensive activities which occurred during the two attacks on Hill 60 in August 1915. For the balance of the time the Wellington Mounted Rifles remained at Gallipoli, the unit played a defensive role.

 

Defence of Egypt

In March 1916, the Wellington Mounted Rifles was allotted as a Regiment in the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, or more commonly called the Anzac Mounted Division. As part of the Division the Wellington Mounted Rifles moved to join its parent brigade, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, which was taking part in the defence of the Suez Canal. The work was hot and monotonous. they remained here until moved to the Romani region to bolster the defence of that area.

 

Sinai

The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade played an important role in beating back the Turkish invasion of the Suez Canal zone at Romani. Now known as the Battle of Romani which lasted from 4-6 August which was quickly followed by the Battle of Katia and then Bir el Abd on 9 August. All the actions in which the Wellington Mounted Rifles finally led to the defeat of the Ottoman Canal Expeditionary force and its retreat to Bir el Mazar.


Over the next few months, the Wellington Mounted Rifles took part in the Allied advance over the Sinai leading to the fall of Bir el Mazar, then El Arish followed by Bir el Magdhaba and finally Rafa in January 1917. The Ottoman forces were expelled from the Sinai and were poised to be tackled in Palestine.

 

Palestine

On 27 March 1917, the Wellington Mounted Rifles took an adventurous role during the First Battle of Gaza. While involved in the encirclement of the city as a prelude to its capture, the Wellington Mounted Rifles received the order to withdraw and return to the starting line. Grudgingly they did so but realised the Turks had snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat.

The Wellington Mounted Rifles took part in the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917 and suffered the heaviest casualties since Gallipoli.

The Wellington Mounted Rifles took part in the Battle of Beersheba and then the follow up actions that lasted until early January 1918. This included such actions as the Battle of Ayun Kara and the advance to Jaffa.

After the fall of Jerusalem the Wellington Mounted Rifles moved to the Jordan Valley and took parts in operations in this region. This included the taking of Jericho, the attack on Amman during 27 March - 2 April 1918 and Es Salt Raid of 30 April – 4 May 1918. It's last major action prior to the breakout was to repel the German Asien Corps attack on Abu Telllul, 14 July 1918.

 

Amman

At the opening of the final Allied offensive on 19 September 1918, the Wellington Mounted Rifles took part in the invasion of the Moab hills for the third time. This time Amman was captured and finally, the Ottomans called for an Armistice on 30 October 1918.

 

Commanders
Lieutenant Colonel W. Meldrum, from 8 August 1914 to 23 April 1917.
Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Whyte, from 12 June 1917 to 31 December 1918.
Major A. F. Batchelor, from 1 January 1919 to 30 June 1919      

 

Attachments

Formed August 1914.

Attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division from December 1914 to April 1915. Attachment ceased on the Division's deployment to Gallipoli.

Attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division at Gallipoli from May 1915 to February 1916.

Attached to the Anzac Mounted Division March 1916 until March 1919.

  

Campaigns

Gallipoli:
  • Anzac
  • Defence at Anzac
  • Suvla
  • Sari Bair
  • Gallipoli 1915-1916

Egypt:

  • Defence of Egypt.

Sinai:

Palestine:

  • First Battle of Gaza;
  • Second Battle of Gaza;
  • Third Battle of Gaza;
  • Beersheba;
  • Ayun Kara;
  • Jerusalem;
  • Jericho;
  • First Amman;
  • Es Salt;
  • Megiddo; and,
  • Second Amman.

 

Casualties suffered by the Wellington Mounted Rifles

  • 328 killed
  • 496 wounded


Disbandment

The Wellington Mounted Rifles returned to New Zealand with the main body of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. With much ceremony at Chevalier Island, the Wellington Mounted Rifles along with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade was disbanded on 30 June 1919. On the same day, Wellington Mounted Rifles returned to New Zealand on the SS Ulimaroa.

 

Acknowledgement: Thanks are extended to Steve Butler and Greg Bradley for the excellent site New Zealand Mounted Rifles Association and their consent to use information and images from that particular site. Steve Butler has kinldy provided the artwork for this entry.

 

Further Reading:

Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment

New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Wellington Mounted Rifles, NZMRB, Outline

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 11 September 2009 3:03 PM EADT
Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment, Roll of Honour
Topic: AIF - NZMRB - AMR

AMR Regiment

Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment

Roll of Honour


Poppies on the Auckland Cenotaph plinth

 

The Roll of Honour contains the names of all the men known to have served at one time with the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment and gave their lives in service of New Zealand as part of that unit.

 

Roll of Honour

 

Edward ALKER, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Walter Patrick ARMSTRONG, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Sidney Charles ASHTON, Killed in Action, 31 October 1917.

Norman William ASTRIDGE, Killed in Action, 12 August 1916.

Bertie Edwin ATKINSON, Died of Wounds, 8 November 1917.

 

Albert Henry BAILEY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Robert Porteous BAILLIE, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

John BARNES, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Ludlow Maynard La Costa Fox BARTROP, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Alfred Thomas BATES, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Wilbourne Harold BATES, Died of Disease, 2 August 1917.

Robert Edward BAYLIFFE, Died of Wounds, 29 August 1915.

Norman James BEATTIE, Killed in Action, 30 August 1915.

Oswald BEAUMONT, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Valentine Cowell Stepney BEER, Died of Disease, 8 September 1915.

Albert George BENNER, Died of Wounds, 16 August 1915.

Frank Te Kauru BEST, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

George Reeve BETTELHEIM, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 26 April 1918.

Joseph Hohepa BIRD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

William John BIRDSALL, Died of Wounds, 22 June 1915.

Arthur BIRNIE, Died of Wounds, 14 November 1917.

Colin BLACK, Died of Wounds, 18 November 1917.

Lincoln BLACK, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Stanley BLACKBURN, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Henry Edmonds BLACKWOOD, Died of Disease, 25 November 1918.

Ernest William BLAZA, Died of Wounds, 23 August 1916.

Cecil BLONG, Killed in Action, 31 October 1917.

Alfred Charles BLUCK, Killed in Action, 22 May 1915.

Keith BOLES, Died of Wounds, 16 October 1918.

John Shannon BOWDEN, Died of Disease, 31 October 1918.

Christopher Courtenay BOWEN, Unknown, 6 January 1917.

Alexander Henry BOWIE, Died of Wounds, 8 September 1915.

Alexander Colin BOYD, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Thomas BRADLEY, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Ernest Victor BRAKE, Died of Disease, 2 October 1918.

Joseph Jerome BREEZE, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 25 January 1920.

James Douglas BRIGHT, Died of Disease, 26 October 1918.

Wastel BRISCO, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

George Leonard Purchas BROOKFIELD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Hewett Barnard BROWN, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

James BROWNE, Killed in Action, 19 April 1917.

William BROWN-ROSS, Died of Disease, 24 October 1918.

Charles Daniel BRUCE, Died of Disease, 14 October 1918.

Robert Alexander BRUCE, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Clifford BRYAN, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Clarence Frederick BULL, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Harry David BURRAGE, Killed in Action, 27 July 1915.

John BURRELL, Died of Disease, 7 October 1918.

Reginald Hadderton BURROW, Died of Wounds, 31 October 1917.

Edwin Fitzherbert BURROWES, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

 

John Stewart CAMERON, Died of Wounds, 17 August 1915.

James Bannatyne CAMPBELL, Died of Disease, 21 October 1918.

William Alexander CAMPBELL, Died of Wounds, 1 April 1918.

Albert John CARTER, Died of Disease, 21 October 1918.

Alfred Chilton CARTER, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Thomas Eric CATCHPOLE, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Charles Samuel CHAMBERLIN, Died of Disease, 21 April 1915.

Frank CHAPMAN, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Frank CLARK, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Stanley Maris CLARK, Killed in Action, 6 August 1915.

Thomas Lander CLARK, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Henry Wilfred CLARKE, Died by Drowning, 19 December 1918.

James CLARKE, Died of Disease, 2 November 1918.

William Henry COATES, Killed in Action, 22 July 1917.

Edwin Tennyson CONNOLLY (CONOLLY), Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Austin Dwyer COOK, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

William Archibald CORLEISON, Killed in Action, 11 June 1915.

Herbert Edwin CORNER, Died of Wounds, 7 September 1915.

Donald Henry CORY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Richard John COTTINGHAM, Died of Wounds, 2 July 1915.

Edward COUTTS, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Maurice James CRANSTON, Killed in Action, 25 November 1917.

William CRICKETT, Died of Wounds, 19 May 1915.

George Wickham CROSLEY, Killed in Action, 6 August 1915.

Albert John CROSS, Killed in Action, 9 January 1917.

John CUNNINGHAM, Died of Wounds, 9 January 1917.

 

Thomas DALE-TAYLOR, Died of Wounds, 15 August 1916.

William James DAVIDSON, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 10 December 1918.

Charles Lynleigh DAWES, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Arthur Campbell DAY, Died of Wounds, 29 September 1916.

Francis DEACON, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 14 October 1920.

James DEENEY, Died of Disease, 2 January 1916.

Arthur DELANEY, Died of Wounds, 17 August 1916.

Frederick DENNIS, Killed in Action, 31 October 1917.

Frank Morris DIMICK, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Charles Rube DOBSON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

George Alexander DOUGLAS, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

John James DOUGLAS, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Arthur Owen DOWNES, Killed in Action, 27 August 1915.

Albert DUFFEY, Died of Disease, 12 October 1918.

George DUNCAN, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Donald DURHAM, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

 

Hans Christian ERICKSEN, Died of Wounds, 22 November 1917.

 

Cecil Sydney FAIRS, Died of Disease, 5 October 1915.

Victor Andrew FALKNER, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Arthur John FARR, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Laurence FARRELLY, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Oliver Lawrence FARRELLY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Christopher FARRER, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Charles Randal (Chas Randal) FITTON, Died of Wounds, 2 April 1918.

Sam FLETCHER, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Thomas Henry FLETCHER, Killed in Action, 25 September 1918.

William FLETCHER, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

William Henry FOOTE, Died of Wounds, 11 April 1918.

Lionel Gordon FORREST, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Arthur Isaac FOSTER, Died of Wounds, 12 August 1918.

James FOTHERINGHAM, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Charles Walter FRANCIS, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Gerald FRANCIS, Killed in Action, 22 September 1918.

Roderick FRASER, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

William FRECKINGHAM, Died of Disease, 25 November 1918.

Anthony Thomas FRYER, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

 

John Harold GALE, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Douglas Hepburn GAMBLE, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Charles GARDNER, Killed in Action, 22 September 1918.

George Wallace GIBSON, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Noel Pairman GIBSON, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

William Butson GIBSON, Killed in Action, 30 March 1918.

William Edward GIBSON, Killed in Action, 27 July 1915.

William Wright GIBSON, Died of Wounds, 2 December 1917.

Frederick GILLARD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Robert GILLESPIE, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 29 October 1920.

William GILLOTT, Died of Wounds, 22 November 1917.

Robert Louis GLEESON, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Henry Albert GODFREY, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Arthur George William GODKIN, Died of Disease, 12 March 1916.

David Pearson GOODWIN, Killed in Action, 29 August 1915.

Kenneth GOULD, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Ronald GOWLAND, Died of Disease, 25 August 1915.

Ernest GRANT, Killed in Action, 1 April 1918.

Gascoyne Cecil GREENWOOD, Died of Wounds, 2 December 1915.

Carl William GULBRANSEN, Died of Disease, 22 January 1917.

 

Arthur HACKER, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

William HADDOCK, Killed in Action, 17 June 1915.

James Hulbert HAMILTON, Died of Disease, 19 October 1918.

Arthur HANNAH, Killed in Action, 1 July 1915.

Walter John HARMER, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Jeffrey Arthur HARNEY, Died of Disease, 19 November 1916.

Ernest Jonathan HARRIS, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

William Thomas HARRIS, Killed in Action, 9 January 1917.

Charles Benjamin HARRISON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Henry Hayward HARRISON, Killed in Action, 12 July 1915.

Roland HARRISON, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Hugh Gordon HASWELL, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

William Henry HAWKINS, Killed in Action, 31 October 1917.

William (Daniel) HAWKINS (GRANT), Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Frank Raymond HAYDON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

John Henry HAYWARD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Harold Francis HENDERSON, Died of Disease, 20 October 1918.

James HENDERSON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

William Carlton HEPWORTH, Died of Disease, 21 September 1918.

Edward HEWITT, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Thomas Haughton Trevor HICKMAN, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

George Allen HILL, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Harry Lionel George HILL, Died of Disease, 17 October 1918.

Reginald Michael HILL, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Charles HOLLIS, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

William John HOLMES, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Frederick John HOOPER, Died of Wounds, 24 August 1915.

Royden Clifford HUBAND, Killed in Action, 20 February 1918.

John Robert HUESTON, Killed in Action, 9 January 1917.

Roland HUNTER, Killed in Action, 27 August 1915.

 

George Covell JACKSON, Died of Wounds, 5 June 1915.

William Henwood JOHNS, Killed in Action, 31 October 1917.

Charles Benjamin JOHNSON, Died of Wounds, 27 January 1916.

Olaf Percival JOHNSON, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Gilbert John JOHNSTON, Died of Disease, 30 August 1915.

Harry Compton JONES, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

John JONES, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Owen Sinclair JONES, Died of Wounds, 30 June 1915.

Richard Roland JONES, Killed in Action, 27 August 1915.

Stewart Thomas JONES, Died of Disease, 17 February 1918.

Ernest Albert JURD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

 

John Archibald KAY, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

William Craig KEARNEY, Died of Wounds, 9 August 1915.

John Alfred KEMP, Died of Wounds, 17 September 1915.

Thomas KENDALL, Killed in Action, 25 November 1917.

Alfred William KENT, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Desmond Fosbery KETTLE, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Gilbert Lennox KING, Died of Wounds, 15 November 1917.

James KING, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

 

Edward Thomas LAMB, Killed in Action, 27 August 1915.

Johnny LINWOOD, Died of Wounds, 23 May 1915.

George LLOYD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Preston LOGAN, Died of Wounds, 22 May 1915.

Joseph Clifford LOW, Died of Wounds, 30 August 1915.

Louis Henry LOWE, Died of Wounds, 15 November 1917.

Frederick William LUCAS, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

William James LUNNON, Died of Wounds, 16 November 1917.

Harry Campbell LYES, Killed in Action, 19 April 1917.

Bertie LYON, Died of Wounds, 31 May 1915.

 

James (James Trotter Gilzean) MACKESSACK, Killed in Action, 6 August 1915.

Henry Frederick Ernest MACKESY, Killed in Action, 7 August 1915.

James Werner MAGNUSSON, Died by Drowning, 4 May 1917.

Edmund Lancelot George MAHONEY, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Patrick MANNIX, Killed in Action, 5 November 1917.

Herbert Pengelly MANSEL, Died of Disease, 23 October 1918.

Joseph MARR, Killed in Action, 18 May 1915.

Frederick George MARSH, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Joseph MARSHALL, Died of Wounds, 25 May 1915.

Alexander Morrison MARTIN, Died of Wounds, 10 September 1916.

Eric McCARTHY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Francis John McCARTHY, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Douglas Victor McCAW, Died of Disease, 18 October 1918.

James McFADDEN, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 12 May 1920.

Archibald N. MCFARLANE, Death attributed to war service under Section 3, 16 June 1915.

John Andrew McGEE, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 17 November 1918.

Norman Cecil McINDOE, Died of Wounds, 28 March 1918.

Alexander Duncan McKAY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Alexander Peter McKAY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

George Grey McKENZIE, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

John McKINNON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Francis William McLARIN, Died of Disease, 21 October 1918.

Alexander Donald McLEOD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Colin Donald McLEOD, Died of Disease, 4 January 1917.

Neil Kenneth McLEOD, Killed in Action, 12 June 1915.

Neil McMILLAN, Killed in Action, 6 August 1915.

Henry Cecil McNAMARA, Died of Wounds, 9 January 1917.

James McNAUGHTEN (McNAUGHTON), Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Robert McNAUL, Died of Wounds, 1 September 1915.

George Francis McNEISH, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Malcolm Innes McRAE, Killed in Action, 30 March 1918.

James Highton METCALFE, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Robert Thompson MILLER, Died of Wounds, 31 October 1917.

Morris James MILLIKEN, Died of Wounds, 8 August 1915.

Charles Cyril MILLING, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

James Edward MOLONEY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

William MOODY, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Kenneth Aubrey MOON, Died of Disease, 13 October 1918.

Lindley Middleton MORGAN, Died of Disease, 24 October 1918.

Malcolm MORGAN, Died of Wounds, 1 June 1915.

James Dilworth MOSSMAN, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

William Henry MULDROCK, Died of Wounds, 29 August 1915.

Charles John Victor MUNN, Died of Wounds, 10 June 1915.

Lewis George MUNRO, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Robert William MUNRO, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Victor Oswald MURRAY, Died of Wounds, 28 May 1918.

Gordon Cyril MUSK, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

 

James Cornelius NICHOLAS, Killed in Action, 22 May 1915.

Stanley William NICHOLAS, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Dermot Lister NOLAN, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Harry Cuthbert NORTHCROFT, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Jonathan Thomas NOTLEY, Died by Drowning, 4 May 1917.

William NOWLAND, Died of Wounds, 22 September 1918.

 

Oscar OBERHUBER, Died of Accident, 15 November 1918.

Frank O'CARROLL, Died of Disease, 11 October 1918.

Victor Albert OLEN, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Norman OLSEN, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

John Dominic O'SULLIVAN, Died of Wounds, 2 September 1915.

George William Whyte OTTER, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Frederick George OXENHAM, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

 

George Arthur PAGE, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

David Hunter PALMER, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 13 May 1920.

Percy George PALMER, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

William Norman Glyn PARRY, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

John Sutherland PATON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Robert Stephen PATTIE, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Samuel Forbes PATTON, Not in book, 24 July 1918.

Harry Wilfred PAULSEN, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Claude Duncan PAYNE, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Edgar John PENMAN, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Eric Howard PERRY, Killed in Action, 9 January 1917.

Thomas Wallace PHILLIPS, Died of Disease, 18 October 1915.

Claude PICARD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Mostyn POOLE, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

James Percival PRICE, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Walter Victor PULMAN, Died of Wounds, 17 November 1917.

 

Charles QUINNEY, Died of Wounds, 11 August 1916.

David Landers QUINTAL, Died of Disease, 20 December 1916.

 

Frederick Sturge REDFERN, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Joseph William RICHARDSON, Killed in Action, 22 September 1918.

William Robert RICHARDSON, Killed in Action, 5 December 1915.

Robert Alfred RICHMOND, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

John RIDDELL, Died of Wounds, 5 August 1915.

William Caleb ROBERTS, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Arthur ROBINS, Not in book, 29 November 1919.

Raymond Reynolds Carr (Raymond Reynolds) ROLLETT (CARR-ROLLETT), Died of Wounds, 29 August 1915.

Charles Manfred ROPE, Died of Wounds, 9 January 1917.

John Habberfield ROSE, Killed in Action, 27 August 1915.

James Alexander ROSS, Killed in Action, 28 November 1915.

Rowan RYAN, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

 

William Benjamin SAMPSON, Killed in Action, 20 July 1915.

James Henry SAUNDERS, Died of Disease, 26 February 1917.

Alfred Edward Lionel SCOTT, Killed in Action, 27 March 1918.

John Edward SCOTT, Died of Wounds, 4 September 1915.

Robert SHANAHAN, Died of Disease, 20 October 1918.

Thomas SIMPKINS, Died of Wounds, 1 September 1915.

Archibald Cranley SIMPSON, Died of Wounds, 22 May 1915.

Arthur John Stevens SLATER, Died of Disease, 24 October 1918.

William McLean SMELLIE, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 10 November 1918.

Charles James (Charles James William) SPURR, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Harry STANBURY, Died of Wounds, 14 November 1917.

George STEEL, Died of Wounds, 20 February 1918.

Ralph Benjamin STEVENS, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 16 October 1918.

James Douglas STEWART, Killed in Action, 14 November 1917.

Frederick Henry STOCKLEY, Killed in Action, 22 July 1915.

Rossland Cecil STRATFORD, Died of Wounds, 30 March 1918.

Edwin Henry STRONG, Died of Disease, 25 September 1915.

Frank Arnold SULLIVAN, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Hugh Charles SUTHERLAND, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Murdoch John SUTHERLAND, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 20 November 1918.

William Joseph SUTHERLAND, Killed in Action, 30 March 1918.

John Henry SWINTON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

 

Kenneth James TAIT, Killed in Action, 23 March 1918.

George Arthur TEASDALE, Died of Disease, 22 February 1919.

Arthur TEBBUTT, Killed in Action, 27 August 1915.

Frank William TERRY, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Alexander Frederick THOMAS, Killed in Action, 6 August 1915.

William Evans THOMAS, Death attributed to war service under Section 2, 24 May 1916.

Charles THOMPSON, Died of Disease, 11 October 1915.

George Tinsley THOMPSON, Killed in Action, 7 August 1915.

James THOMPSON, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Walter Weber THOMPSON, Killed in Action, 25 November 1917.

William TRIMBLE, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Thomas TURNBULL, Died of Wounds, 9 January 1917.

Lewis Cuthbert TURTON, Died of Wounds, 25 August 1915.

Francis Morphet TWISLETON, Died of Wounds, 15 November 1917.

 

Arthur VERNER, Killed in Action, 26 June 1915.

Mark VIPOND, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

 

George WALKER, Died of Wounds, 15 November 1917.

Leslie WALLACE, Died of Wounds, 7 August 1916.

Mervyn Leigh WATERS, Killed in Action, 4 August 1916.

Hugh Hilliard WATTS, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Frederick James WEIR, Died of Wounds, 2 June 1915.

Thomas Haehae WELLINGTON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Frederick Daniel WELSH, Died of Wounds, 30 March 1918.

John WEST, Died of Wounds, 24 September 1918.

Michael Lawrence WHEATLEY, Killed in Action, 7 August 1915.

Percy WHEATLEY, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Gerald Aubrey WHITCOMBE, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Arthur Herbert WHITE, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Peter George WHITE, Killed in Action, 31 October 1917.

John WILD, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Albert Edward WILKINSON, Died of Wounds, 28 August 1915.

Hubert Leslie WILLIAMS, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Phillip Ashley WILLIS, Died of Wounds, 10 August 1915.

Harold WILLOUGHBY, Died of Wounds, 18 June 1915.

Leslie WILSON, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Robert Douglas WILSON, Died of Wounds, 9 August 1915.

Holloway Elliott WINDER, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Ashton Owen WOOD, Killed in Action, 9 August 1916.

Charles WOOD, Died of Disease, 19 August 1916.

Guy Fosbrooke WOODWARD, Killed in Action, 19 May 1915.

Arthur Francis WRIGHT, Killed in Action, 28 August 1915.

Cecil William WRIGHT, Died of Disease, 29 October 1918.

William John WRIGHT, Killed in Action, 24 August 1915.

Roy Cecil WYNTER, Killed in Action, 8 August 1915.

Lest We Forget

 

 

Further Reading:

Auckland Mounted Rifles

New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade

New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment, Roll of Honour

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 25 January 2010 7:16 PM EAST
el Qatiya, Sinai, 23 April 1916, Gullett Account
Topic: BatzS - El Qatiya

el Qatiya

Sinai, 23 April 1916

Gullett Account

 

Left to right: Lt Murray, Surveyor; Mr Gullett, Official War Correspondent; Lt O'Connor, Photographer.


Gullett, HS,  The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914–1918 (10th edition, 1941) Official Histories – First World War
Volume VII

 

Chapter VII

The Advance to Romani


Like so many British campaigns, the advance into Sinai was to he marked by an unfortunate preliminary tragedy. The 5th Mounted (Yeomanry) Brigade, under Brigadier General E. A. Wiggin which advanced to Romani on April 7th, was ill-suited for its mission. Its raw material in officers and men was of the best; but it was indifferently trained for actual warfare, and possessed few of the essentials for isolated work in the desert. Its men were recruited almost entirely from the farmers of the English shires, and its officers, with the exception of a few regulars, were drawn from the landed gentry.

The wealthy young men of England, when they respond whole-heartedly, as they always do, to the nation's call to arms, tend to treat their newly acquired military responsibilities in a very sporting manner. They do not in the least mind dying for England, but they like to go to war casually and, if possible, in comfort. They ask that the wretched business shall not, except as a last resort, too seriously alter their regular habits of life, So it was with the ill-fated yeomanry brigade under General Wiggin's command. They rode gaily out into the desert to " have a crack '' at an enemy whom they respected as a man but despised as a soldier. They moved in great comfort. The officers included a number of young men of noble families and more who were heirs to great riches, and their messes were laden with good things. They established brigade headquarters at Romani and standing outpost camps at Katia, five miles away, Oghratina, six miles still further east, and Hamisah, four miles south of Katia. With slight exception among the officers, all ranks were utter strangers to the desert, and a sharper contrast than that between the desert of northern Sinai and the soft and gracious English countryside is scarcely to be discovered in the world. But the strangeness of their surroundings only heightened the zest of the yeomanry for campaigning. The sun was not yet excessively hot; the men were well and fit, the horses in good condition; the enemy, except in harmless numbers, was apparently far away in southern Palestine; and the brigade, conscious that it was the venturesome vanguard of Murray's army, was very well pleased with itself and its prospect.

The enemy made no secret of his knowledge of the yeomanry camps. German airmen patrolled the area almost daily and bombed the Katia camp on April 20th and both Katia and Romani on the 21st. The Bedouins had the full run of the British lines, and were always prowling through them; but, when questioned about the enemy, they said there were no Turks within a distance of many miles. The situation was as familiar to Major-General the Hon. H. A. Lawrence,' who was in command of the No. 3 Section, or northern sector, of the Canal Defences, as it was to Wiggin, inasmuch as Lawrence visited Romani on the 19th and Oghratina on the 20th. On April 22nd Wiggin learned from the natives that there was an enemy force 200 strong at Mageibra, about fourteen miles from Romani across the desert to the south-east; and he asked Lawrence by telegraph for permission to attack. Lawrence agreed, and Wiggin at once moved out in the early afternoon for Hamisah, where he picked up the garrison of the Warwickshires. On the night of the 22nd Wiggin, with two squadrons of Warwickshires and one squadron of the Worcesters, made a reconnaissance to Mageibra. The British commander's information was misleading, and probably had been purposely supplied to him by Bedouins acting as agents for the Turks. On the early morning of the 23rd, therefore, Wiggin's brigade was split up as follows; - Three squadrons with brigade headquarters at Mageibra, two squadrons of the Worcesters at Ogliratina, one squadron of the Gloucesters at Katia, and the rest of the brigade in camp at Romani. Already at that time the whole oasis area from Oghratina to Romani, and as far west as Dueidar, was overrun with a force of Turks numerically stronger than the British brigade, and supported by a number of light guns. Yet until after the Turks opened fire at Oghratina, Katia, and Dueidar, Wiggin was not aware of an enemy's presence. The Turk is a fine infantry raider; and that night, with the Germans to plan for him, as they probably did on this occasion, he showed his quality. Dawn found him in strength at Oghratina, at Katia six miles further west, and fourteen miles still nearer the Canal at Dueidar. Marching in that country is exhausting and slow, but the Turks when they reached their objective were still fresh enough to attack with resolution.

Position of 5th Yeomanry Brigade, and attack by Turks at about 5.30 a.m. on 23rd April, 1916.

The morning of the 23rd favoured the Turkish plans. A heavy mist enfolded the sand-dunes, making observations beyond a short distance impossible. The soft sand muffled all sound of movement. The two squadrons of Worcesters under Major Williams-Thomas at Oghratina stood to arms before daylight, and then, despite the fog, withdrew their patrols. The Turks crept up through the fog at dawn, and opened a very heavy fire from light guns, machine-guns, and rifles at point-blank range. Thanks, doubtless, to the Bedouins, they appeared to know, even in the fog, the exact location of the camp. They advanced confidently and boldly. The British were completely surprised. First assailed when the fog lifted at 5.30, the force resisted in a confused struggle for about two hours; then, when most of the firing parties had exhausted their ammunition, the Turks overwhelmed the positions in a rush from all sides. The yeomanry casualties in killed, wounded, and prisoners were fifteen officers and 187 of other ranks.

Having secured their prisoners, the Turks pressed on immediately to Katia. At Katia the Gloucesters, under Captain M. G. Lloyd-Baker, to the number of five officers and ninety other ranks, stood to arms half-an-hour before dawn. Horses were saddled and a patrol of eight men was sent out, which returned at about 5 o'clock, having seen no sign of the enemy in the mist. A few' minutes later an enemy patrol about twenty strong came into contact with the yeomanry outpost line; a few shots were exchanged, and the Turks withdrew. At about 5.30 heavy fire was heard in the direction of Oghratina. The posts were connected by telephone at 6 o'clock Oghratina reported that the enemy had been beaten off, but an hour later telephoned again that they were heavily attacked from all sides. The wire was then cut, but firing continued until 7.30, when it suddenly ceased. Oghratina had been overwhelmed. A few minutes later a strong enemy patrol approached the Katia camp, but on challenge retired; the mist then became so dense that the Gloucesters, straining their eyes in expectation of attack, could see nothing beyond a distance of a hundred yards.

The fog lifted at about 8 o'clock, and before 9 Corporal Tippett, who had been out with a patrol towards Oghratina, reported two long lines of men, about 300 in each, and also troops on camels, about a mile and a half away, marching towards Katia. Wiggin had orders to avoid serious engagement with a superior force, but this instruction was either not communicated to the outlying posts or was not acted upon. Lloyd-Baker was indifferently placed on a little flat piece of ground in a palm hod surrounded by sand dunes. He was menaced by an infantry force greatly outnumbering his squadron; but he had his horses saddled. The way was clear towards Romani, or towards Wiggin's force at Hamisah, with which he was in touch by telephone; or he could have led his men mounted out of camp, and fought the advancing enemy with safety as opportunity offered in the open. But he decided to stay where he was and fight in his camp, relying upon the fire-strength of his ninety men, and, as he was justified in believing, on the certainty of support from the camp at Romani or Wiggin's three squadrons at Hamisah. Perhaps, too, he thought he could ride out on his horses at any time, if the enemy proved too strong for him.

The Turks, however, speedily demolished any chance of mounted escape. Shortly before 9 o'clock three or four light guns opened fire on the camp from a knob to the east. The first twenty bursts went over; but the gunners, getting correction from good observation, then shortened their range and poured round after round into the yeomanry horses. In less than ten minutes most of the animals were killed. Then came a German aeroplane, whose observer turned the gun-fire on to the hastily formed British line. Simultaneously the Turkish riflemen opened heavy fire on the camp at from 800 to 1,000 yards.

In the tragic engagement which followed, the folly which first sent the brigade alone into the desert, and which afterwards divided it into isolated camps, ignorant of the enemy's movements, was redeemed by the magnificent fight to the death carried on by the slender force of yeomanry officers and men. Scooping out little shelter-holes in the sand, the Gloucesters maintained rapid fire against the rapidly increasing Turks, who, appearing first from the east, spread swiftly round the camp. For a time the British were confident they would receive reinforcements. Shortly before 11 o'clock the two other squadrons of Gloucesters were seen to be advancing on the left of the camp from the direction of Romani; about the same time a squadron of Worcesters from Hamisah, under Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. C. J. Coventry, advanced towards Katia on foot, having dismounted about three-quarters of a mile away on the west. Coventry and his men succeeded in joining up with Lloyd-Baker's force.

The Turks continued to receive reinforcements. At about I 1 o’clock a body of enemy horsemen from I 50 to 250 strong appeared about three miles away on the right flank of the Katia post; these men were apparently riding yeomanry horses captured at Oghratina. After dismounting in a hod they joined the Turkish firing line. The enemy guns had ceased fire at 10.30 a.m., but at 12.30 p.m. they re-opened at about 2,000 yards, and the riflemen, constantly creeping forward in small parties under good cover, came within 300 yards. At 2 o'clock the camp was under concentrated punishment from guns, machine-guns, and rifles. The hospital tent was set on fire; casualties rapidly diminished the gallant yeomen's resistance, and ammunition was running very low. The dislike of the Turk to bayonet work in the open was never more clearly demonstrated. He advanced to within fifty yards of the British, determined if possible to use his rifles in disabling every man before risking a charge with the steel. The remnants of the yeomanry now had a good target, and they punished the Turks heavily as long as ammunition lasted. Shortly before 3 o’clock, when the Turkish cordon was complete, the guns ceased fire. The British fire had diminished to an occasional splutter from the few rifles still in action. The Turks then rushed swarming into the camp, as the yeomanry got the order to retire, but not before the single machine-gun possessed by the squadron had been buried. Three of the five officers under Captain Lloyd-Baker, including Lord Elcho, were wounded and made prisoners. Captain Lloyd-Baker and 2nd Lieutenant W. A. Smith fought to the end and were killed. Of the men, seventeen were definitely known to have been killed and many wounded, while fifty-six men were posted as missing. Colonel Coventry's squadron shared fully in the gallant fight, and the inevitable fate, of Lloyd-Baker's men. One officer was killed, Coventry and three others were taken prisoners, and fifty men reported missing. About twenty unwounded men of the garrison attempted to escape, but only nine evaded the enemy. Lloyd-Baker's decision to stand upon his ground was influenced by the fact that he had in the camp between thirty and forty dismounted men without horses, and a quantity of stores which he was loath to abandon. Moreover he received by telephone the definite promise of support from both Hamisah and Romani. Wiggin with two squadrons had followed Colonel Coventry from Hamisah. His force attacked the Turks' left flank and drove it back a few hundred yards, but without giving any relief to the garrison.

Lieutenant-Colonel Yorke, advancing with two squadrons from Romani, had a sharp little engagement with the enemy to the north of Katia, but was driven off. But at no time after Coventry came up was the counter-attack pushed with that resolution which alone would have saved the men at Katia Had the relief fought with anything like the splendid spirit of the men in the camp, Lloyd-Baker's party would probably have been saved.

General Wiggin, when the fate of Katia and Oghratina became clear, decided to retire at once towards the Canal. He ordered Colonel Yorke to join him without returning to the camp at Romani, and the brigade, having abandoned much of its equipment, rode that night as far as Bir el Nuss. The Turks, after destroying the two posts, at once withdrew east with their prisoners, leaving the British wounded to the customary brutality of the Bedouins, who at once stripped them naked, refused them water, and taunted them with the cries " Finish British! Turks Kantara! Turks Port Said!" Simultaneously with the attack on Oghratina, another Turkish column appeared before the little British infantry post at Dueidar, twenty miles further west, and only twelve miles from the Canal. At Dueidar, a small British redoubt, protected by a few strands of barbed wire at a distance of zoo yards, was held by about 100 Royal Scots Fusiliers of the 52nd (Lowland) Division and a troop of yeomanry. A few hundred yards away, at a little oasis, was a further small body of Royal Scots in reserve. The garrison at the redoubt stood to arms before dawn, and the troop of yeomanry went out, reported all clear, and returned to the lines. Apparently the Turks intended to rush the post with bombs and bayonet, for just on dawn, when the British camp had settled down again, they appeared at the barbed wire. As they picked their way in strength through it, still unseen, a fox-terrier belonging to a man in the fusiliers began to bark excitedly and rushed towards the wire. The alarm was instantly given, the garrison turned out and poured rapid rifle fire into the advancing enemy. Reinforcements were rushed up from the oasis, and further aid summoned from Hill 40 in the neighbourhood; and after a sharp brief engagement, in which the Turks and some Arabs who accompanied them suffered heavily, the enemy was driven off, leaving seventy dead and thirty wounded on the ground. The British had two officers and eighteen men killed. This enemy column, about 300 rifles strong, had traversed the desert on camels, which they had left a few hundred yards from the position.

The merit of the Turks' achievement was that they crossed nearly the whole of the desert of northern Sinai, and broke and routed a mounted brigade. They certainly had a marked superiority in numbers, but the British had the mobility of their horses and a clear line of communication. That the brigade was so faultily and dangerously disposed before the attack. and so indifferently handled during the fighting, does not detract from a singularly fine piece of work done by the enemy. The Turks had no thought of remaining in the oasis. Their movement was a true raid; having succeeded beyond their expectations, they proceeded at once to advertise and exaggerate in Palestine and Syria the importance of their victory. The British prisoners were hurried back into Judea and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem as evidence to the Arabs, and the many other races and religions of the Holy City, of the invincibility of Turkish arms. Coming so soon after Gallipoli, and with the Turkish star ascendant at the time in Mesopotamia, the success upon Sinai was of great political and moral value to the enemy.

The Turks were either particularly well advised as to Murray's plans, or especially lucky in their attack on the yeomanry. When the blow fell, the 2nd Light Horse Brigade under Ryrie was already moving eastwards to support the British force in the oasis district. On April 10th, General Murray had cabled a highly cheerful dispatch to the War Office. He reported that the broad-gauge railway was already laid for twenty-six kilometres east of the Canal, and that it was expected to reach a point three miles west of Romani by April 26th. " I shall then have," the dispatch continued, "two mounted brigades and part of the 52nd Division in occupation of the whole district, and hope to be able to give the quietus to small enemy forces in the neighbourhood." The dispatch also informed the War Office that all water-supplies within thirty miles of the Canal were now patrolled by the British, and that a mobile force was ready to go out and deal with enemy forces approaching them, or to demolish the wells if that should appear necessary. In brief, Murray by the middle of April believed he had finally denied the enemy all approach towards the Canal except by the northern or Katia route, and he was satisfied that the blocking of that route was well in hand. "Katia," he added, " is already occupied, and should be finally secured against every attempt on the part of the enemy by the end of this month."

The 2nd Light Horse Brigade had arrived at Salhia on April 8th, and was followed two days later by the New Zealand Brigade and the headquarters of Anzac Mounted Division. Every effort was made to hasten the complete equipment of the two brigades, and there seems to have been a general feeling that the yeomanry were dangerously “in the air," and should be reinforced as speedily as possible. On April 22nd the 5th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland), under Lieutenant-Colonel L. C. Wilson reached Kantara under orders from the 52nd Division, while the rest of the

2nd Brigade was ordered to leave Salhia on April 23rd, reach Kantara that evening, and march immediately towards the Katia area. Early on the morning of the 23rd Wilson received news of the attack upon Dueidar, and was ordered to scour the post without delay. Major D. C. Cameron, advancing at a smart pace with the leading squadron, reached Dueidar after the Turks had been driven off, and immediately took up the pursuit. The enemy, however, had a good start on his camels, and Cameron's horses, handicapped by the deep sand, were unable to come up with the main body, which retreated to the southeast. Cameron, after picking up a few enemy stragglers, returned to Dueidar at dusk.

Meanwhile the remainder of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade had reached Kantara at 6.30 on the evening of the 23rd, after a six and a half hours' march from Salhia. Ryrie was at once informed of the enemy successes, and was ordered to make all speed to Hill 70, to cover the retreat of the yeomanry. The brigade clattered across the pontoon bridge over the Canal in the bright moonlight of Easter Sunday (St. George's Day), and rode eastwards into the desert by the famous Royal road of the ancients. "The only entry into Egypt is by this desert," says Herodotus, and that entry was now to be denied to the Turks by the Australian light horsemen. The brigade was in fine trim for operations. The men were fresh and touched with excitement, the horses were in perfect condition. As the column hurried through the magical moonlight across the desert, all ranks felt the influence, as they so often did in the long campaign which followed, of the teeming associations of the route which since the birth of time had been trodden by mighty armies and great personages. Here the desert air had resounded with the huge marching hosts of the Pharaohs, the Persians, the Macedonians under Alexander, the legions of Rome, and the matchless revolutionaries of France under Napoleon. With the crossing of the Canal in strength was launched the amazing enterprise of the men of one of the world's youngest Christian peoples for the conquest of patriarchal Palestine. The idea seemed so unreal and ludicrous that many officers and men laughed aloud in the night as they pondered it.

Although the brigade was in sound campaigning condition and high spirits, it rode out indifferently equipped for a severe campaign. When Ryrie reached Kantara, he was without transport for his ambulance. All that offered for the purpose was a batch of seventy camels; and scarcely a man in the ambulance had ever handled camels. Moreover, the gear supplied with the camels was old and defective. But the ambulance men, with the cheerfulness and adaptability which always distinguished them, struggled bravely with the strange animals, and after a wild scramble marched gaily out to time with the brigade. All ranks were entirely without tents, and were limited to one blanket each. The brigade had no sanitary supplies, and was faced, at least for a few days, with short rations. Riding in their khaki and large slouch hats, without a single splash of colour, on their long-tailed horses, these young men from the new continent were perhaps the least pretentious force that ever appeared on the old Sultani road. They paced along in the night, silent except for an occasional order passed up and down the column to regulate the speed, and for the jangle of clashing stirrup-irons, in marked contrast to the richly-clad, many-coloured army pageants which had ridden the track so often all down the ages.

As the brigade advanced into the desert, it was met in the night by scattered yeomanry parties who had missed Wiggin's camp at Bir el Nuss and were hastening back towards the Canal. Ryrie thus realised for the first time the full extent of the Turks' dramatic success. The yeomanry were badly shaken. They could give no account of the situation ahead beyond declaring that the Turks were advancing in great strength.

Half-an-hour before midnight, after nearly twelve hours in the saddle, Ryrie reached Hill 70, seven miles east of Kantara, and remained there awaiting orders. Next morning, the 24tI1, he pushed on to railhead, and Chauvel, with Anzac Mounted Division Headquarters and the New Zealand Mounted Brigade, arrived at Hill 70. At railhead Ryrie found a British officer in charge of some hundreds of natives of the Egyptian Labour Corps, who had not been advised of the disasters at Katia and Oghratina.

On the 24th Chauvel was ordered to take over the command of all troops east of Hill 70, including the infantry at Dueidar, and during the day he shifted his headquarters to Hill 40. His first step was to order a complete change in the arrangements for the defence of the oasis. A month before he had pointed out to the High Command the folly of establishing small isolated posts at places like Hamisah, Oghratina, and Katia, and now, with the full concurrence of General Lawrence, he proceeded to form one strong camp at Romani, and to control the oasis area to the east and south by a system of daily reconnaissances in strength. Chauvel showed in this decision that sound sense of a position which always marked him, and a particular appreciation of the difficulties and possibilities of the Katia district.

Ryrie's 2nd Brigade moved forward on the 25th, occupied Romani and Bir Etmaler, and found at once that these camps, although abandoned by the yeomanry after the fighting at Katia, had not been entered by the enemy. The Turks had withdrawn eastwards to Bir El Abd, sixteen miles from Katia, while the yeomanry were retiring westwards towards the Canal. And now were sown the seeds of the unfortunate and prolonged misunderstanding between the British yeomanry and the Australian light horsemen, which for upwards of a year did much to affect the happiness of the mounted troops in the campaign. The Australians were not favourably impressed by the spectacle of the fugitive parties of yeomanry whom they passed in their advance from the Canal to Hill 70. Nor was their respect for the British brigade increased when they reached its headquarters camp at Romani, and found that it had been abandoned, although not approached by the enemy. Moreover, the light horsemen discovered in the officers' messes of that camp evidences of good living which they deemed inconsistent with serious campaigning. This led them to a foolish, although a natural action. They had ridden out hurriedly at very short notice without full equipment, and on scanty rations. They had come to succour the yeomanry, finding the yeomanry fled, they helped themselves to any foodstuffs and military equipment which they could find in their camps.

Having established his headquarters at Romani, Ryrie pushed his regiments out upon reconnaissance to Katia, Oghratina, and Hamisah. Nowhere did he encounter the enemy. At Hamisah he found tents and other material abandoned in haste by the yeomanry, but inspection of the positions at Katia and Oghratina disclosed the resolution with which the British had sustained the unequal struggle against the Turks. At Oghratina the bodies of seventy British and twenty-five Turks were located, and at Katia the Australians buried thirty-three British dead and counted seventy bodies of horses and forty-eight of camels. In neither camp was there any evidence of early surrender. Both garrisons had fought valiantly as long as their ammunition lasted, and until the Turks had overwhelmed the survivors with bomb and bayonet.

The sudden smashing of the yeomanry brigade naturally caused excitement and anxiety at Murray's headquarters. There was no fear of a general Turkish attack upon the Canal; but it was only too evident that the yeomanry brigade had been pushed forward without a proper appreciation of the danger of its position, and that its disposition had been extremely hazardous. Steps were at once taken to complete the Anzac Mounted Division, and the movement of the 1st Light Horse Brigade from Upper Egypt was hastened. At the same time the advance of the 52nd Division to Romani was vigorously pushed. Murray's despatches to the War Office clearly indicate his concern, and also his consciousness that his confident forecast of April 14th had been badly at fault. Cabling the news of the reverse, he first mentioned the successful resistance at Dueidar, and then stated that the Katia garrison had been attacked by 3,000 Turks and after severe fighting had been withdrawn to Dueidar and Romani. In his first dispatch he did not mention Oghratina.

When that dispatch was forwarded, Murray may not have possessed all the facts of the yeomanry disaster; even if he did, he was to be forgiven perhaps for not at once sending the evil tidings to the War Office. At that moment the British Cabinet was hourly expecting news of the fall of Kut el Amara, with the loss of the garrison under the intrepid Townshend. On April 25th Lord Kitchener, ignorant of the confusion in Sinai, cabled to Murray, saying that there was "little or no prospect of saving Kut," and therefore "any success you can achieve during the next few days will be most valuable" as an offset to the failure in Mesopotamia. But the yeomanry misfortune, bitter as it was, served a very useful purpose. It was a grim lesson, but it was well learned. Never again in the whole campaign was a British force surprised and enveloped, a remarkable fact in a war of extended fronts and widely scattered units.
 

 

Further Reading:

el Qatiya, Sinai, 23 April 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: el Qatiya, Sinai, 23 April 1916, Gullett  Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 13 September 2009 10:33 PM EADT
Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916, 8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR

Bir el Abd

Sinai, 9 August 1916

8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

 

Captain Thomas Sidney Austin produced a unit history called The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F. which included a section specifically related to the battle of Bir el Abdand is extracted below.


Austin, TS, The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F., unpublished manuscript.

 

The enemy was making a wonderful retirement and proved his knowledge of the country. At each hod, we would come upon a certain amount of ammunition and heavy gear abandoned in haste but throughout this day there was only skirmishing among the most advanced of our troops and the enemy rear-guard. Hammam was reached at sundown and bivouac made for the night, but at 4 a.m. on the 9th we were on the move again and heading for Bada. The Regiment was vanguard to the column on this date and. by half past 7 a.m. the screen (“C” Squadron.) was in touch with the enemy, 3000 strong, who were entrenched in a strong position 150 yards South of Bada Hod. Away up on the left was Bir el Abd and heavy fighting was heard going on there. The New Zealanders on the right of this line soon gained touch with us and then the Regiment attacked Bada. "A" Squadron took the centre, with B" on the right and "C" on the left. Our line charged in to within 400 yards of the redoubt, dismounted and settled down, the horses getting right back out of artillery range but not without first suffering heavy Casualties. There was little cover, what there was being made by scooping up the sand in front of one’s head.

“A" Squadron, under Major McAllister, was having a particularly bad time, also 2 Troops of "C" Squadron, under Lieut. McGrath, the latter being in a very exposed sector. The engagement kept up very fiercely throughout the day and the men especially the wounded suffered agonies of thirst and heat. The enemy artillery and machine gun fire was very accurate and our casualties were 2/Lieut. Buckland and 6 Other ranks killed, and 33 wounded. 5 of these died during the next few days. At dusk the enemy fiercely counter-attacked, and "A" Squadron was compelled to retire some distance, where the 9th. Light Horse came up and checked their advance. The two troops of “C" Squadron not receiving any orders were left in a very precarious position, being now almost in to Bada hod. On seeing the situation, however, they came out in to darkness along a small defile and ultimately joined up the rest of the Regiment.

The 9th Regiment taking over the line, we moved back to Millali and bivouacked, the next morning at 6 a.m. moving to Hassaniya, and thence in the afternoon back to the line to relieve the 9th again, where they had relieved us the day previous. At mid-night 4 patrols were sent out and these returned with reports that the enemy had evacuated their redoubts. Long before dawn we were all moving on rapidly and throughout that day advanced without opposition. Afternoon found us near Bir el Abd where an artillery duel took place against the enemy at Salmana. Horses and men were now showing signs of extreme distress from the arduous work, and as the troops were already too far removed from the supply bases, the chase was here given up. The Brigade was given a sector in the general scheme to protect, and the Regiment was sent back to Hillali where it spelled for a for hours, moving next morning to Hassaniya mere the whole Brigade camped for some time.

At Hassaniya we re-organised, blankets and clothing was got from Balagh Bunyon, [
sic. Bally Bunyan] and all enjoyed a fair spell.

 

Further Reading:

8th Light Horse Regiment, AIF

8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916 

Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916, 8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 September 2009 8:05 AM EADT
Australian Light Horse, Tactical Training of the AIF at Zeitoun, Advanced Guard by Day
Topic: AIF - Lighthorse

Australian Light Horse

Tactical Training of the AIF at Zeitoun

Advanced Guard by Day

 

The following entries dealing with the emerging tactics taught to officers and NCO's at the Imperial School of Instruction, Zeitoun and are extracted from a very informative handbook called Lectures by Commandant, School of Instruction, Zeitoun, 1916. At one time or another, all officers and NCO's within the Light Horse were inculcated with the tenets expounded by the lectures.

 

Lectures by Commandant, School of Instruction, Zeitoun, 1916:

Advanced Guard by Day

General Principals

An Advanced Guard is to a force on the march, much what Outposts are to it when halted.

1. The Advanced Guard must protect the main body from the moment the march of the latter begins.

The Advanced Guard Commander will therefore decide the hour at which the advanced guard will clear the starting point and the distance at which it will precede the main body.

No distance can be laid down, it varies with the nature of the country and the tactical situation.

If a force is retiring, or if it is advancing but out of reach of the enemy, the duties of an advanced guard are principally those of policing and improving the route to' be followed.

When however a force is advancing, and there is a possibility of meeting the enemy, the work of the advanced guard becomes extremely difficult.

Its commander and his subordinates must display a mixture of dash and discretion, which it is not easy to attain.

Dash is needed, because it is the first duty of an advanced guard to enable the main body to march undisturbed and unchecked.

Small parties of the enemy must therefore be brushed aside without hesitation.

This can only be effected by extremely rapid attacks delivered without any delay.

Discretion is however necessary, as a too impetuous advance guard, may find itself involved in an action with a superior force. The Officer Commanding the main body may then have to fight on ground, not advantageous in order to rescue his advanced guard.

The enemy will try and bring this about, on ground chosen by himself, which has probably been fully reconnoitred beforehand, with the idea of forcing a fight.



Chief duties of an Advanced Guard.

1. It is responsible for the local reconnaissance of the country, through which it passes.

2. It must prevent the march of the main body from being checked.

3. It must not involve itself too heavily in an action.

Although reconnaissance is one of its duties, it is essentially a Fighting Force.



Component parts and Composition of an Infantry Advanced Guard of one Coy.

The Fighting portion of an Advanced Guard is called the Main Guard. It is preceded by a smaller body called a Vanguard, whose chief duty is to drive away hostile scouts and patrols.

In front of the Vanguard marches the point and flankers, whose object is to discover ambushes and to prevent the enemy scouts from observing the line of march.

In open country points and flankers will be replaced by a fan shaped screen of the company scouts.

The various parts of an Advanced Guard are connected together by chains of men, who are called connecting files.



Connecting Files.
This is a most important duty, and men must be well trained, in order to carry it out.

1. Connecting files are always dropped from a body in front and never sent up from the one in rear.

2. To prevent losing touch at the bends of a twisting road each connecting file drops back, so that he never Loses Sight of the Connecting File behind him.

3. If the road is very twisting, the forward body of troops will have to drop more connecting files, or else it will lose sight of the connecting file behind it.

4. If the road straightens out, connecting files will adjust their distance to the normal, about 40 yds. between each.

5. There should be a N.C.O. in rear of each forward party who will be responsible for dropping and picking up connecting files when required .

6. Connecting files will constantly look both forwards and backwards.

7. They will also run to meet a message if one is passed along the files.



We will now deal with the setting out of one Company as an Advanced Guard.

In Battn. Orders of the previous night it should be stated at what hour the Battn. will march. We will say that the order is for the Battn. "to pass the starting point, Church S. of the village, at 6 a.m." This refers to the head of the Battn.

Officer Commanding the Advanced Guard, at once orders the tulle of parade for the Advanced Guard, the point has to be about 1100 yds. ahead of the main body by 6 a.m.

If the company parades at 5.20 a.m. it should give sufficient time.

Now the Outposts of the previous night are still out, therefore it is safe for the Advanced Guard to be set out, under their cover.

The Advanced Guard Coy, marches off in fours, and passes the church, 40 yds. beyond it, the first connecting file is dropped and with him a N.C.O., who is responsible for the correct linking up of this rear connecting file, with the head of the main body when it comes along.

Every forty yds. a connecting file is dropped.

When the Coy. has marched about 400 yds., the three rear platoons are halted. They form the Main Guard.

The remaining platoon marches on still dropping connecting files. At a distance of roughly 400 yds. from the mainguard this platoon halts and forms the Vanguard.

The Company scouts and probably eight more picked men (24 all told) are now sent on, about a further 300 yds. to form the screen of scouts, which is a preferable method to points and flankers.

Scouts work in pairs, with a single man following in rear of each pair to connect them up to the head of the Vanguard.

The number of pairs of scouts required acid the distance between each pair must depend entirely upon the locality and nature of the ground. In thick scrubby or wooded country more scouts would be required and closer together, than in open country.

As each part of the advanced guard reaches its position, it clears the road and falls out.

All the above details must be complete and in their places ready to move forward by 6 a.m.

The Battn. now marches up and passes the church at the named hour, just before reaching the church, the N.C.O. in charge of the rear connecting file gives the advance signal this is passed right away up the Advance Guard and the whole of it moves forward.

The pace is regulated by the main body.

Messages. The Scouts should send in all information, these messages will be collated by the Officer , in charge of the Vanguard, who will write them down and then send them on to the Officer Commanding the Advanced Guard who will probably be riding at the head of the Mainguard. The quickest method of sending messages up and down a Advanced Guard marching along a road is by means of cyclists, if these are not available, written messages will be passed down the line, each connecting file running either forwards or backwards 40 yds. to receive it, and hand it on.

Some messages received by the officer with the Vanguard may require immediate action, in which case lie will carry out whatever he thinks necessary, send the message on and also state what measures he has taken.

The Advanced Guard Commander deals with all Messages, sending them on when necessary, and stating any action taken to the Officer Commanding the Main Body.



Halts.
Halts will come from the main body, but because they halt they is no heed for the Advanced Guard necessarily to do ills same. There, may be a hill or some small- position ½ or ¾ mile to his front which he certainly ought to secure therefore he will march on, dropping the necessary number of connecting files to connect with the halted Main Body. When the Main Body again advances, the Advanced Guard will remain halted, until the normal marching distance has been regained and then move on.



Attack.
It must be clearly understood, that if a small party of the enemy are met with, the Vanguard at once extends and if required the Mainguard also, and hurl the enemy out of the way or capture them. The enemy hope to make the Advanced Guard halt, this roust on no account be permitted, otherwise the march of the Main Body is held up.

Go straight ahead extended and allow no halt until the Advanced Guard. meets with such superior number of enemy that you are obliged to halt and take up a fire position, while awaiting orders from the Officer Commanding the Main Body.

The Advanced Guard may be told to hold on, while the Main Body moves off to a flank, and tries to film one of the enemy flanks, or the Advanced Guard may be supported by one or More Companies from the main body, and ordered to push on again.

This will have occasioned delay, which is `what the enemy meant it to do, they may now clear off having accomplished their object, but in any case, the normal march formation will be resumed as soon as possible.

The proportion of Vanguard to Mainguard is about 1 to 3. If any mounted troops are available they will precede the Vanguard, and move some distance in advance of the Infantry scouts, taking most of the reconnoitring work off them.

A Battn. acting as Advanced Guard will be paraded and set out in the same manner as a Coy. The officers commanding the rear platoons of both Vanguard and Mainguard, being responsible for connecting files, being dropped.

 

 

Previous: Australian Light Horse

Next: Rearguards

 

Further Reading:

Australian Light Horse

Militia 1899 - 1920

 


Citation: Australian Light Horse, Tactical Training of the AIF at Zeitoun, Advanced Guard by Day

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 11 October 2009 5:19 PM EADT

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