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Friday, 23 October 2009
El Buggar Ridge, Palestine, 27 October 1917, El Buqqar Casualty Discrepancies
Topic: BatzP - El Buggar

El Buggar Ridge

Palestine, 27 October 1917

Casualty Discrepancies

 

The discrepencies in the various accounts of the casualties that occurred as a consequence of the action around El Buqqar is intriguing.  The source books on this subject are:

Falls, Cyril, Palestine, Official British War History, (London 1929).

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

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

Major General Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir (Erkilet), Yildirim, (Ankara 1922).

 

The following is a comparative summary of each book dealing with casualties from the Battle of El Buggar.

 

Falls:

Turks - at least 15 dead;
Allied 79 KIA and WIA

 

Hatton:

Turks - 208 KIA;
Allied ?

 

Massey:

Turks ?;
Allied 24 KIA 53 WIA 10 MIA = 87 casualties

 

Hüsnü:

Turks 10 KIA 40 WIA;

Allied 200+ KIA

 

Falls, Hatton and Hüsnü were all writing their accounts subsequent to the war when all details of casualties should have been available and yet their accounts are wildly seperate and yet very similar. Hüsnü describes the Allied dead as being in excess of 200 while Hatton makes a similar description about the Turkish dead.

Until there is a quality accounting of this action, the numbers actually killed and wounded in this action will remain unknown.

 

Further Reading:

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

The Battle of Beersheba, 31 October 1917

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: El Buggar Ridge, Palestine, 27 October 1917, El Buqqar Casualty Discrepancies

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 11 February 2010 7:33 AM EAST
Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, Part 1, Preface and Introduction
Topic: AIF - DMC - Scouts

Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, Part 1

Preface and Introduction

Frederick Allan Dove

 

3rd Light Horse Brigade Scouts in the hills at Tripoli, December 1918

 

In 1910, Major Frederick Allan Dove, DSO, wrote a book on a subject he was very familiar with through practical experience called Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance. This book set the intellectual framework for the formation of the Brigade Scouts during the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns as part of the Great War.

Dove, FA, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, 1910.

 

PREFACE.


The Field Service Regulations (Part I. Operations) lay down the principles on which to train our troops in the subject of Reconnaissance. But there is no detail or explanation of the methods to be employed. Having made a special study of this branch of the military art, I venture to put forward in the following pages some conclusions I have formed as to methods of training, which may serve as a guide to instructors and officers.

Reconnaissance is without doubt one of the most important services in war. Its study and practice should be taken up in Australia seriously and without delay. It should not be concluded that it is entirely the duty of Mounted Troops. There is much broken and bush-covered country in the vicinity of our chief cities and coastal towns where only good Infantry could scout effectually.

Although every squadron of Light Horse and every company of Infantry should be capable of carrying out Protective Reconnaissance, there is very urgent necessity for the training of (selected) Squadron and Company Scouts.

But more than that is required. A Corps of Scouts should be organised, receive higher training, and be at the disposal of each O.C. Field Force for Intelligence purposes.

The value of good Scouts is never truly appreciated until the lack of them has led to disaster. They are '(specialists," and, as such, their organisation and training should not be left till the outbreak of war.

I am indebted for the Introduction to a distinguished soldier, Colonel H. De B. De Lisle, C.B., D.S.O., P.S.C., now holding a high Staff appointment at Aldershot, after having completed a very successful term of command with the First Royal Dragoons in India.

THE AUTHOR.

 
Introduction

From the earliest times, Military History clearly demonstrates that the success of great leaders has depended on their ability to pierce the fog of war. In other words, to obtain reliable information regarding the plans, position, and strength of the hostile forces, is more important to a General than numerical strength. Such information may be obtained in various ways, by a well-organised system of local intelligence agents, usually called Spies, by a reconnaissance by a large force or by selected Scouts. In recent times, any small group of men detached from a force consider themselves entitled to be called Scouts, and the term has been even used as a title for a hastily-raised untrained irregular unit of mounted men. Originally a Scout was a man with special training, added to a natural aptitude, keen sight and quick hearing. The word itself proves that such work was usually performed at night, for our word Scout comes from the French word ecouter, formerly written escouter, to listen.

Many instances are recorded in history of important results due to the work of individual Scouts, and even in our own time instances occur to us which must demonstrate the importance of this branch of Military training. The training of Scouts is no easy matter, and though every man should receive instruction in detached duties, only a proportion have the natural aptitude to become a trained Scout in its proper sense of the word.

Scouting has two objects, namely-protection and information.. The former duty consists in guarding a force when halted or on the march from surprise, denying hostile spies or Scouts any approach. This is the elementary work of a Scout, and these duties should be learnt by every mounted man, ass well as by selected men of other branches of the Army.

Scouting for information, is far more difficult to learn as well as to teach, and calls for great personal bravery, a quick, active brain, physical endurance, ability to find the way by night as well as by day, the aptitude to form a correct estimate, and to report in clear language without exaggeration. To find so many qualifications in one man constitutes the scarcity of efficient Scouts, but there can be no doubt that with proper training a fair proportion of Scouts will be found in every unit. In Australia there is less difficulty in obtaining good material than at Home. There, the free country life tends towards observation, and the distances between stations to endurance ; moreover, the sport which is attainable by all, instead of being closed to a few, trains the boyhood of that great country to be adept in those very qualifications which are essentials to the good Scout. The pursuit of game demands the same qualities of self-denial, powers of vision, hearing, and concealment as searching for an enemy, and those who have as boys been keen sportsmen have already laid the solid foundation, for becoming good Scouts. Many who have had no such opportunities can nevertheless acquire this art by studying the methods of other famous Scouts, or, better still, by receiving personal instruction from a Scout himself. It is therefore a great pleasure to recommend this work to all Military readers and students, because the author not only had exceptional opportunities of putting his theories in practice on active service, but proved himself a Scout of a very high order, who not only distinguished himself in reconnaissance work, but trained his subordinates to be excellent individual Scouts.

In future campaigns the importance of reliable information will be even more important than in the past, and yet more difficult to obtain. The training in this branch of Military education will thus serve to increase enormously the value of the individual and to facilitate the success of the Forces of the Empire.

H. DE B. DE LISLE,

Lieutenant-Colonel,

The Royal Dragoons.

Lucknow.

 

Previous: Brigade Scouts

Next: Part 2, Protective Scouting 

 

Further Reading:

Obituary, Frederick Allan Dove

Brigade Scouts

The Light Horse

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, Part 1, Preface and Introduction

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 26 December 2009 3:27 PM EAST
Thursday, 22 October 2009
The Battle of El Buggar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Turkish account of El Buqqar Ridge
Topic: BatzP - El Buggar

The Battle of El Buggar Ridge

27 October 1917

Turkish account of El Buggar Ridge

 

Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim, pp. 105-6. 

 

Another entry below about the action at El Buqqar Ridge, this time from the Turkish perspective extracted out of the book written by Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, called Yildirim. The following is a translation from pp. 105 - 106: 

To clear up the situation east of Tel el Fara, Falkenhayen ordered a reconnaissance in force to be carried out on 27th October. A move was made early in the morning, and the 125th Regiment (of the 16th division) with reinforcements threw the enemy back from the Ruz el Basel. According to the report of the 8th Army, the enemy made two counter attacks and five cavalry regiments and a number of infantry and suffered severe casualties. Reports which came in after the event stated that there were 200 dead in front of the 20th Corps. At dusk our troops returned to their original positions. On the same day the 3rd Turkish Cavalry Division and a regiment of the 27th Division occupied Hill 230 and Toweil el Kabari respectively. The British protective forces on the 27th October were on the lines – Western slopes of the Kuz el Basel – Um Asad – Abu Siban Gharabi – Um Ajawa – Hill 310 nor on Aslouj. Aerial reconnaissances showed that there had been no important changes in the position of the enemy camps behind the enemy’s lines. Our casualties were ten killed including a Major and forty wounded.

On the Gaza Front during the night of the 26th/27th fighting between patrols took place and on the 27th artillery fire increased.

 

It is interesting to note that the Turkish action is described as a Reconnaissance in Force. The Turks were testing out the Allied defence and resolve to sustain the new positions taken up by them. The commentary indicates that the Turks had no intention of retaining the captured positions. The ultimate result of this attack was to alert the Turks that an attack on Beersheba was imminent.

Another point of statistical interest is the disparity in casualty figures.  Colonel Hüsnü is claiming in excess of 200 Allied killed in action while the Turkish casualties were 10 killed in action and a further 50 wounded in action. The comparison to the Allied statement of casualties inflicted upon the Turks as to the actual casualties suffered by each side indicates a common belief amongst various armies that their attack inflicted heavier casualties than actually occurred. Similar to those armies on the defence. It is only after the conflict that some precision can be placed upon the casualties.

For the full version of this page, see:

Colonel Hüsnü, Yildirim, Page 102 

 

 

 

Further Reading:

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

The Battle of Beersheba, 31 October 1917

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of El Buggar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Turkish account of El Buggar Ridge

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 11 February 2010 7:35 AM EAST
Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance Part 2 Protective Scouting
Topic: AIF - DMC - Scouts

Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, Part 2

Protective Scouting

Frederick Allan Dove

 

3rd Light Horse Brigade Scouts in the hills at Tripoli, December 1918

 

In 1910, Major Frederick Allan Dove, DSO, wrote a book on a subject he was very familiar with through practical experience called Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance. This book set the intellectual framework for the formation of the Brigade Scouts during the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns as part of the Great War.

Dove, FA, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, 1910.

 
Method Of Study.

SCOUTING should be studied under two heads:

I. - Protective Scouting.

II. - Scouting for Information by detached Patrols.

In the text-book I. is called Protective, and II. Tactical Reconnaissance.

I will deal first with


I. - Protective Scouting.

Protective Scouting is of a precautionary nature. Upon its proper performance depends the protection of our Columns from annoyance, surprise, and ambush.

Troops within striking distance of the- enemy must throw out Advanced, Flank and Rear Guards. Each of these again pushes out smaller groups, or even individuals, to feel for the enemy. Thus the column is surrounded by a human "Screen," behind which it may march, rest, or manoeuvre, securely hidden from the prying eyes of the foe. The work of this “Screen" will be described in its relation to

(A.) The Advanced Guard.

(B.) The Flank Guard.

(C.) The Rear Guard.

(A.) The Advanced Guard Screen Of Scouts.

The distribution of the Advanced Guard into Mainguard and Vanguard is prescribed in F.S. Regs., Section 66, 3, 4. Nothing is said as to the formation of the Vanguard.

It would appear, however, that the essential subdivision should' be into a line of Observation and a line of Resistance; that is to say, into

(a) A Screen of Scouts.
(b) Supporting Troops.

When the Vanguard consists of both mounted troops and infantry, the former would naturally form the Screen of Scouts and the latter the Supports, which would still provide for their own protection by a few Scouts, who would assist to keep up connection with the cavalry patrols in their front.

1. Formation of the Screen.

It is not at all necessary that the Screen should be a complete unit, such as a troop* or squadron*. [Infantry please read "section" or "company'."] But it is essential that it should be organised into patrols, that each patrol has a leader, and that unity of action is maintained by reference to a directing patrol.

Mounted troops work best in patrols of four men, infantry in either files (two men) or fours. A line of single Scouts is weak in all those points which go to make up good screening work, viz., keeping touch, observation and communication.

There must be a leader in each patrol. By him the other Scouts are controlled, disposed, and moved as his intelligence and training suggests.

There must be a Directing Patrol. With this patrol will march an officer or N.C.O. specially detailed to maintain the correct direction. From the directing patrol all other parts of the Screen maintain touch and direction; it also regulates the average pace of the Screen in conformity with the movements of the Mainguard.

2. - What every man in the Screen must be told.

Before the Vanguard moves off or extends to cover the front, every man in it should be told

(a) The Direction of the Advance.

This should be done in reference to landmarks if possible; the compass direction given; and attention drawn to the position of the sun, and the direction of the wind, if steady. Landmarks should be pointed out. Important topographical features known to the officer and not immediately visible to the men should be mentioned.

(b) The Frontage to be Searched.

In this matter, again, landmarks are the best guide, if available. Scouts to be efficient must have a good eye for the tactical importance of localities. All their movements should be preceded by a brief study of the features of the Country to be traversed. Frontage should never be defined in hundreds of yards, nor should the intervals between patrols or mere be fixed by any other consideration than the nature of, the country.
The Scouts must be taught that the Vanguard will always cover as wide a frontage as can be effectively searched by the numbers of men in the Screen.

Put another way, this means that the patrols will keep as far away from one another as they can, without losing touch, and without neglecting the observation of ground where even small bodies of the enemy might lie in ambush.

(c) The Directing Patrol.

The Directing Patrol should be named - e.g., "Corporal Smith's patrol will direct." The other leaders will then note their own relative position in the line. This is necessary in order to secure the first essential of Screening work,

Keeping Touch.

This term requires some explanation. The Vanguard is “in touch “with the Mainguard when it can and does maintain ready communication therewith, and is in position to fulfil its duty of reconnaissance. Should the Vanguard get so far in advance that communication is difficult, or should it diverge from its proper direction, and thus uncover the Mainguard, it may be said to have “lost touch." Similarly, a number of patrols are in touch when intercommunication is easy, there is no unsearched ground between them and they do not overlap. In the Scouting Screen touch is kept from the directing patrol. In each patrol the duties can be so allotted as to secure this. For instance, here are three patrols:
 

 
Number (3) patrol is directing; in each case he is the leader, b right flanker, c left flanker, and d rear man.

Number (2) patrol keeps touch with number (3) and number (1) patrol keeps touch with number (2). In patrols (2) and (1), the man c has the duty of looking to the touch and letting his leader know how the patrol on his left is moving, or whether it has halted, and to answer and pass on signals or messages. Should number (1) patrol get so far out as to lose touch, it is not the duty of number (2) to follow it but the leader of (2) should at once inform the commander of the Screen. He may then detach one or two of his men to take the" place of number (1) patrol and at the same time to look out for it, and if found bring it back by signal. The Commander of the Screen on his part may send out a fresh patrol if men are at hand, and if not, inform his next senior of what has happened. The fresh patrol would move in between numbers (3) and (2), and the latter would then incline out to take up the duty of the Missing number (1).

(d) To Whom and Where to Report.

Rapid passing of information to the O.C. Mainguard is of vital importance. It must be decided on the spot, having due regard to the nature of the country, whether urgent reports can be most quickly transmitted along the line of patrols to the Centre, thence down to the Support, &e., or whether patrols may save time by communicating direct to the Support. In any case the patrol will pass on to neighbouring patrols and to the commander of the Screen any information they obtain.
 
3. - Extending the Screen.

When the patrols to form the Screen have been told off and the necessary instructions issued, the screen may be extended:-

(1) To its full frontage from the halt, and under cover, if available; or

(2) Gradually as it advances, the patrols inclining outwards; or

(3) It may be sufficient at first to have a directing patrol and one or two flanking patrols, the remainder being held back. Later one or more patrols may be sent to either flank, the original flankers being pushed further out.
 
4. - Movements of the Screen.

The movements of the screen are regulated from and by the directing patrol. But everything favouring of rigidity or drill must be suppressed. The patrol leaders must have considerable latitude and be encouraged to cultivate an eye for country. The duty of all is to co-operate so as to ensure the safe and uninterrupted march of the Mainguard. The directing patrol of course is usually limited in its choice of a line of advance, because its primary function is to maintain the correct direction. The other patrols should under stand that it is their business to protect and assist the directing patrol.. But each leader chooses his own methods of so doing. The movements of a patrol should consist of a series of progressions from one point of observation to another. The intermediate advances should be quick and by the most concealed route. If thought necessary - and it may often he so-one or two men should be left at the last point until the next one is secured.

The average pace of the movement of the Screen is set from the Main Body. This must be constantly borne in mind. But, if the commander of the Screen seas that his patrols have- got into difficult country and that they cannot do their work at the pace required, he will inform his next superior, but make every endeavour to keep going until he receives further orders.

5. - The Directing Patrol.

The Directing Patrol is accompanied by an officer or N.C.O. who is charged with the duty of maintaining the correct direction. Touch is kept between this patrol and the supports by means of Connecting Files (two men). These men are in a position to pass orders up from the Mainguard or reports down from the Screen of Scouts. Their duty is very important, requiring constant vigilance. In each file, one man must particularly watch to the front and the other to the rear.

When the Screen covers a wide front, additional connecting files may be placed in rear of the right Centre and of the left Centre.

6. - Observation.

As before remarked, patrol leaders are particularly charged with the duty of Observation. But they have much to do besides. It is a good plan, therefore, to have one or two special officers or N.C.O.'s told off as "Observers." Theirs is a roving commission. They will proceed to that part of the frontage, being covered which affords the best points for observation. There they remain as long as they think fit, searching the landscape with their eyes, and using the field-glasses to examine doubtful localities or objects. When satisfied they move on to the next good outlook. They must be men of keen sight and with a sound appreciation of the tactical importance of the ground presented to their view. They will be of greatest value if they are cool and alert when the Scouts eventually draw fire vide Contact with the Enemy.

 

 

Previous: Part 1, Preface & Introduction

Next: Part 3, Communication 

 

Further Reading:

Obituary, Frederick Allan Dove

Brigade Scouts

The Light Horse

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance Part 2 Protective Scouting

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 26 December 2009 3:28 PM EAST
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance Part 3 Communication
Topic: AIF - DMC - Scouts

Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, Part 3

Communication

Frederick Allan Dove

 

3rd Light Horse Brigade Scouts in the hills at Tripoli, December 1918

 

In 1910, Major Frederick Allan Dove, DSO, wrote a book on a subject he was very familiar with through practical experience called Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance. This book set the intellectual framework for the formation of the Brigade Scouts during the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns as part of the Great War.

Dove, FA, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance, 1910.

 
7. Communication.

No matter how well the Screen keeps touch and observes it is yet failing in its duty unless the results of observation are correctly and quickly conveyed to the O.C. Advanced Guard.

This subject may be divided into –

(a) What to Communicate.

(b) How to Communicate.
 
(a) What To Communicate.

The O.C. Advanced Guard wants information about the enemy or about the country. The former may be Negative, viz., that the enemy is not in a certain locality. Or it may be Positive-that the enemy has been discovered.

He then wants to know

How many of the enemy are there? Where are they?

What are they?

What are they doing?

The mere reporting "Enemy in sight in (small or large) numbers" is almost valueless. A report should run something like this:

"Left flank patrol reports being fired on by (estimated) six enemy from scrubby hill one mile beyond our left flank. Patrol has taken cover. I have sent Lieut. X. with 8 men to reinforce left flank and report later."

Capt.,

O.C. Vanguard.

Further report later:

"Lieut. X. reports-'On my party joining our left flank patrol enemy's fire ceased. A few moments after I saw 4 men galloping away from scrubby hill one mile west in a northerly direction. Have reinforced left flank patrol with 4 men, as country in front looks difficult, and am returning with others."

J. K.,

Capt.,

O.C. Vanguard.

Scouts should always report the bare farts of what they see, and not report inferences. Sound conclusions can seldom be formed from one report only. It is the business of the officer who gets many reports to collate them and form conclusions thereon.

The Scout is quite at liberty to form his own conclusions on what he sees, as a guide to his subsequent movements. I will give an instance.

Soon after sunrise one morning a patrol surprised and captured a single Scout of the enemy at the gate of a farmhouse. There were numerous horse tracks and boot marks about the gate. The farmhouse was on the slope of a low hill, and the tracks led up this hill. The leader sent back exact report of what he saw. In his own mind he concluded that a patrol or party of the enemy had assembled at the farmhouse and had very shortly before ridden off to join their commando. One man had for some reason or other been late, and was caught.

The patrol leader, therefore, ascended the hill and looked over it with much caution, ;and was rewarded by the discovery of a party of about 150 men, some already mounted and some saddling up, round a house about 600 yards away.

By lying in concealment the patrol leader and his men remained undiscovered until they were joined by a half squadron from the Support, which at once opened a lire that demoralised and routed the enemy with loss. The officer who received the first report had also concluded that there was a large party of the enemy near at hand, and had hurried up a reinforcement. It is possible that he had received other reports that confirmed him in his conclusions.

It is very important for the O.C. Advanced Guard to know whether he is opposed by cavalry, infantry or artillery, or more than one arm. Scouts should, therefore, look out for any signs which will enable them to tell definitely to what arm the enemy as seen belongs.

(b) HOW TO COMMUNICATE.

Messages and reports can be sent, verbally or written, by messenger or by signalling. Trained signallers with flags, &c., can seldom be of use u among the scouts because of the difficulty of concealing them while at work. But they should certainly be with the Supports and Mainguard.

A portable disc arrangement for doing the Morse code is now used in India, and should prove very valuable in reconnaissance, because the operator can so easily conceal himself. It is all advantage to have Scouts who can do semaphore with their arms, as there are many occasions when they will be thus able to pass on information. However, it will frequently happen that the only possible means of communication along the line of patrols is by a verbal or written message carried by a man. Therefore, this method should be practised. A verbal message is almost certain to be garbled in transmission by untrained men; but with plenty of practice it becomes reliable, because the sender learns to give it in a few carefully chosen words, and the intermediate receivers pass it on verbatim. Of course, when time permits, always write the messages.

The nature of the ground and the urgency of the case must decide the patrol leader whether to send his report along the line to the officer with the directing patrol, or to try and reach the O.C. Vanguard direct. The messengers should take precautions to conceal themselves while going and returning. Speed may be so important, however, that every other consideration must be neglected.

The signals laid down in our drill books (L.H. Manual, “Silent Drill," Infantry. Training., Sec. 49) are of use only among the Scouts themselves, and should be so used. Scouts accustomed to work together can also devise others as they find them necessary. In patrolling the regulation whistle should seldom or never be heard, and shouting of orders should i.e. prohibited.

 

Previous: Part 2, Protective Scouting 

Next: Part 4, Patrol Formations 

 

Further Reading:

Obituary, Frederick Allan Dove

Brigade Scouts

The Light Horse

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Brigade Scouts, Scouting or Protective and Tactical Reconnaissance Part 3 Communication

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 26 December 2009 3:29 PM EAST

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