"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.
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Thursday, 1 October 2009
Second Gaza, Palestine, April 19, 1917, Outline Topic: BatzP - 2nd Gaza
Palestine, 19 April 1917
Tank Redoubt where tanks and infantry attacked the Ottoman lines.
[Photograph by Gal Shaine.]
Second Gaza, fought on 19 April 1917. this action occurred as a result of a renewed British attempt to capture the Turkish coastal strong point situated on the edge of sand dunes three kilometres inland. The British commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Sir Archibald :Murray, determined on a direct frontal assault by three British infantry divisions, the Imperial Mounted Division (which was half Australian) and the Imperial Camel Corps (also half Australian) both fighting in a dismounted role. Intended to help the attack were six tanks and a supply of gas-shells, which had been recently received and not previously employed in this theatre of war. Supporting the main thrust was the Anzac Mounted Division (half Australian, under Major-General Harry Chauvel.
The Allied attack at the Second Battle of Gaza
This attack was even less successful than the first assault three weeks earlier, as the Turks were both better prepared and numerically stronger than before. 'The infantry fought hard to reach the ridge southeast of the town, where a few of them-in conjunction with a larger party of Australians from the Camel Corps and a tank-managed to capture one redoubt. Another was seized by other Australian camel troops and light horsemen of the Imperial Mounted Division, but with heavy losses. Chauvel's division, given the task of keeping away any enemy reinforcements attempting to intervene from the east, went into action against the Turkish 3rd Cavalry Division and easily drove it off.
The whole effort was a dismal failure which cost the attacking force over 6,000 casualties-5,000 among the infantry, 547 in the Imperial Mounted Division, 345 in the Camel Corps and 105 in the Anzac Mounted Division. The attack never seriously threatened the Turkish defence of the town, and, far from helping British aims in the area, gave a significant boost to enemy morale and convinced them that they could continue to hold southern Palestine.
"Victory is sweet." Generals [l to r] Issed, Kress, and Djamal, toast their success under a destroyed tank after the battle.
[The name of the tank above the three generals was HMLS Nutty.]
HMLS = His Majesty's Land Ship
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 126-127.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
H.S. Gullett, (1944), The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
A.J. Hill, (1978), Chauvel of the Light Horse, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press.
One Light Horse Regiment that clearly never wore the emu plume was the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, which chose to wear the wallaby fur puggaree to distinguish this regiment from others.
Major Donald Gordon Cross wearing the wallaby fur puggaree
[From: Berrie, Under Furred Hats, plate facing p. 168.]
The photograph of Major Donald Gordon Cross demonstrates clearly the correct use of the wallaby fur puggaree upon the felt hat.
The "Mascot" held by a trooper wearing the wallaby fur puggaree
[From: Berrie, Under Furred Hats, plate facing p. 162.]
The 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, never wore the emu plume but remained attached to the wallaby fur puggaree from conception till the unit was disbanded in 1919.
A good book to read on the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF was written by Lieutenant George Lachlan Berrie called, Under Furred Hats (6th ALH Regt), and published in Sydney, 1919. Copies are rather limited and fetch a high price in the second hand market but there are those still available at the metropolitan public libraries.
11th Light Horse Regiment Colour Patch after February 1917
The 11th Light Horse Regiment was formed as part of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, 1915 , 4th Contingent and attached to the Australian Division. The 11th Light Horse Regiment was a composite regiment with two squadrons made up by recruits from the 1st Military District which incorporated all of Queensland, Darwin and Northern New South Wales while the last squadron, "C" Squadron was composed of men from the 4th Military District [South Australia and the Broken Hill region of New South Wales].
One of the best sources of information available for understanding the immediate challenges facing a regiment is to be found in the Routine Orders. They are a wealth of detail. The Routine Orders provide an unvarnished history of the Regiment.
11th Light Horsemen parading through Brisbane, Queensland, June 1915.
[From: The Queenslander, 6 June 1915, p. 21.]
The 11th Light Horse Regiment was formed as part of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, 1915 , 4th Contingent and attached to the Australian Division. The 11th Light Horse Regiment was a composite regiment with two squadrons made up by recruits from the 1st Military District which incorporated all of Queensland, Darwin and Northern New South Wales while the last squadron, "C" Squadron was composed of men from the 4th Military District [South Australia and the Broken Hill region of New South Wales]. The 11th Light Horse Regiment was established at Enoggera Training Camp to the west of Brisbane, Queensland, at the end of March 1915. The South Australian members trained at Morphettville Race Track Training Camp to the west of Adelaide, South Australia.
"A" Squadron recruited from Queensland.
"B" Squadron recruited from Queensland.
"C" Squadron recruited from South Australia.
11th Light Horse Regiment Routine Order No 1, 24 March 1915
[Click on page for larger version.]
The 11th Light Horse Regiment commenced training at Enoggera Training Camp to the west of Brisbane, Queensland, at the end of March 1915. The South Australian members trained at Morphettville Race Track Training Camp and later moving to the Mitcham Training Camp to the south of Adelaide, South Australia. On 2 May 1915, the 11th Light Horse Regiment came together at Fraser’s Paddock Camp, outside Brisbane, and trained as a single Regiment as opposed to previous composite regiments when training occurred at different locations.
Embarkation of the 11th Light Horse Regiment was accomplished in two groups using both the HMAT A7 Medicand HMAT A30 Bordafrom Brisbane, Queensland.
White Star Liner Medicleaving Port Melbourne, 28 October 1899
11th Light Horse Regiment "B" Squadron embarked on the HMAT A30 Bordafrom Brisbane, Queensland, 16 June 1915.
The 11th Light Horse Regiment sailed to Egypt and disembarked on 23 July 1915.
Initially, the only colour separation of the various Australian mounted troops was by use of the pennant. The marker pennants were carried on poles to mark lines troop lines in camps in Egypt. They were not lance pennants as the Australian lancers had red over white pennants on their lances.
Pennant of the 11th Light Horse Regiment
While this pennant was useful in distinguishing horse and troop lines, it failed to identify the individual with a unit. The AIF 1st Australian Division Standing Orders issued in December 1914 ordered the Australian Light Horse Regiments to wear a 4 inch wide [10.2cm] blue armband with the regiment name marked on the band in black lettering.
The earlier systems proved to be ineffective so to assist with identification of the men in the various units within the AIF, Divisional Order No 81 (A) Administration was issued at Mena on 8 March 1915 detailing the Colour Patch for the 11th Light Horse Regiment as others received their colours. The colour patch was made of cloth 1¼ inches wide and 2¾ inches long and worn on the sleeve one inch below the shoulder seam.
First 11th Light Horse Regiment Colour Patch
The first colour patch for the 11th Light Horse Regiment was a circle with white over red. This was worn by the men from the renamed 11th Light Horse Regiment became the 1st Camel Regiment.
Second 11th Light Horse Regiment Colour Patch
The reformed 11th Light Horse Regiment as part of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, Australian Mounted Division, carried the blue Brigade colour as the lower triangle part of the colour patch, while the green unit colour was on the top. This is illustrated with the above presentation.
During the voyage to Egypt, the part of the 11th Light Horse Regiment travelling on the HMAT A7 Medicwas diverted to Aden and landed on 12 July 1916 to bolster the defences of the British garrison which was under pressure from Yemeni tribesmen who were threatening an attack. By 18 July no attack had occurred and the threat diminished allowing the Regiment re-embarked to Egypt.
As mounted troops, the Light Horse was considered to be unsuitable for work in Gallipoli. The mounted troops volunteered to operate as infantry. Because of the level of casualties at Gallipoli, the 11th Light Horse Regiment was broken up on 26 August 1915 with squadrons being allotted to other Regiments as reinforcements.
The various squadrons of the Regiment were deployed on primarily defensive activities throughout the stay at Gallipoli. The various squadrons of the 11th Light Horse Regiment left the peninsula during December 1915.
Defence of Egypt
After the return to Egypt, on 19 February 1916, the 11th Light Horse Regiment reformed and re-equipped. On 28 February 1916, the 11th Light Horse Regiment moved to the Suez Canal taking part in its defence. The work was hot and monotonous.
After many months service in the Sinai, during September 1916 the 11th Light Horse Regiment was redesignated as the 1st Camel Regiment. The Regiment continued to see further service in the Sinai.
On 7 November 1917, while charging at Tel el Sheria, a troop became separated from the squadron and was totally destroyed.
The 11th Light Horse Regiment and then took part in the follow up actions that lasted until early January 1918.
From this time onwards, for the next two months, the 11th Light Horse Regiment remained in continuous combat action until relieved for three months refit and training at Deir el Belah from early January 1918.
In early April 1918, the 11th Light Horse Regiment moved into the Jordan Valley and took part in the invasion of Moab and took Es Salt during the action of 30 April – 4 May 1918. Unfortunately, due to a Turkish attack on the lines of communication which was being defended by 4th Light Horse Brigade, this raid nearly turned into a disaster where the Turkish forces almost cut off the Australian Mounted Division in the hills.
In a move that converted the Light Horse into full cavalry, the Australian Mounted Division was issued with swords during August and early September 1917. The Australian Mounted Division went to work training with swords and undertaking cavalry work.
On 19 September 1918 the Battle of Megiddo began. The infantry over ran the Turkish defensive trenches allowing the cavalry to debouch into the Turkish hinterland. The 11th Light Horse Regiment participated in the breakthrough which moved rapidly through the north of Palestine. At the end of the first week, it was obvious that the way to Damascus was open and so a second push occurred on the heels of the first assault. On 1 October 1918, Damascus was taken.
After a rest in Damascus, the 11th Light Horse Regiment moved towards Homs when the Turks surrendered on 30 October 1918.
Return to Australia
After the conclusion of hostilities, the 11th Light Horse Regiment was marked to return to Australia. Prior to that action, one of the saddest actions occurred for the Australian Lighthorsemen, they had to farewell their best friends, the horses. All the Light Horse unit horses' health was ascertained with the fit horses being transferred to the Indian Cavalry while those in poor condition were destroyed by the Veterinary units.
On 13 March 1919 the 11th Light Horse Regiment was deployed to assist in suppressing the Egyptian Uprising. When the revolt collapsed, the 11th Light Horse Regiment embarked on the 17 July 1919 for the long voyage to Australia where the unit was disbanded.
Lieutenant Colonel William Grant Lieutenant Colonel John William Parsons Lieutenant Colonel Percival John Bailey
Decorations earned by the 11th Light Horse Regiment
4 DSO - Distinguished Service Orders
9 MC & 1 Bar - Military Crosses
6 DCM - Distinguished Conduct Medals
13 MM- Military Medals
27 MID - Mentioned in Despatches
2 foreign awards
Defence of Egypt
Second Battle of Gaza
Third Battle of Gaza
Casualties suffered by the 11th Light Horse Regiment
The Australian War Memorial has put these on line and may be accessed here:
The following list details all the embarkations in support of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, during the Great War. Each entry details to formation and the ships on which the units embarked with the date and place of embarkation. The detail of the formation is linked to a list of men who embarked upon that ship on the specific date.
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