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The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 8th LHR, AIF, Auchterlonie Diary Account Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
Auchterlonie Diary Account
Auchterlonie, G. (ed.), Dad's War Stuff - The Diaries, Morwell, 2001, pp. 28-29.
Friday 22 December:
Moved early to join the Brigade. Went along shore. Lots of trenches along beach & several war boats out at sea. Camped for the day, plenty of good water in dozens of wells, & the natives grow a bit of oats & vegetables by irrigation. Got word to pack up with no blankets or led horses (our troop has about two per man) for a two days stunt. Left at 6 p.m. Only went a couple of miles then pulled up to get feed & rations, waited about & froze till 2 a.m.”
Saturday 23 December:
Set out, went SE along a good wide road, level & firm. Are after a camp of Turks about 26 miles from El Arish & have 1st & 3rd Brigades, NZ’s, Camel Corp & artillery. Kept going till sunrise, had a short spell & fed, but a plane came along & bombed the Turks, we moved on at once some 3 or 4 miles. NZ’s, 10th & CC have been having a fly & the guns are doing good work.
Waited behind a ridge till midday when all hands mounted & went over the ridge half a mile & dismounted for action. Kept on advancing with good cover in the shape of little hillocks, a few Turks at first, but we drove them in capturing a few, then following up got into the fire from their redoubts which was pretty solid & a few were getting knocked, kept sneaking on & must have come a mile when we got fix bayonets. When we got closer in Jacko began to chuck it in batches. A few took charge of them & the rest came on & took the two redoubts, one after the other. There were a great many killed & wounded Turks in them & was no means a nice sight. No time was lost however before prisoners were collected & led horse brought up. The regiment took a bit of getting together for at the last it was NZ, 8th, 9th, & 10th all mixed up. Moved at dusk down to the Turks headqtrs to water. But it was too dark & dusty to see much. A good water scheme & several big stone buildings & tents – evidently their HQs for this part. Brigade massed after watering & moved off four or five miles, same as coming out, very powdery. Got water issued there, then on again at 10.30 till 4 a.m.
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 9th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
9th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account
War Diary account of the 9th LHR, AIF.
Regiment left point mentioned in 22 December 1916 with remainder of Division at 0130 and moved south along the wadi arriving at Es Ria at daybreak. Shortly after, the Regiment moved on and took up a position to the north of El Magdhaba where it remained in reserve for the time being. At 1300 the whole line commenced to advance on El Magdhaba the 9th Light Horse Regiment less 6 troops [one Divisional escort, two Camel escorts, three escorts to machine guns] being between the 8th Light Horse Regiment on the left and a regiment of New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade on the right. The horses were taken up under cover to within 11/2 miles of the enemy's positions where the whole Regiment less horse handlers dismounted to advance on foot. C Squadron on left, A in centre and B on right. When the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade were picked up on our right, two troops of B Squadron were placed to support. The line advanced in troops by troops from the left. A Lewis Gun and a troop were giving forward cover to the advance of the remainder. These guns did very fine work and were instrumental in giving us superiority of fire. At 1430 we were within 500 yards of the enemy's trench where the regiment paused in its advance. The line was straightened up and reserve ammunition brought up for Lewis Guns. At 1515 the Regiment again began to move in bounds of 25 yards. At about 1545, bayonets were fixed and the enemy's position rushed. The enemy then started to surrender.
In one or two cases the bayonet got home and one of our men was wounded by an enemy bayonet. At one of the redoubts to the north east of the buildings there was one machine gun that was placed out of action by taking out the lock. After that we moved on and took the surrender of the next series of trenches. Just after this word was received from Wearne, Captain A, 8th Light Horse Regiment, [Author's Note: Wearne was the officer in charge of the 8th Light Horse Regiment Scout group, a very capable officer who led the first reconnaissance out to the Wadi um Mukhsheib on the 21st March 1916, and acted as guide for the Raid at Jifjafa, 11-14 April 1916. Scott, Major WH, made this comment about him after the raid to Jifjafa: "This officer made a previous reconnaissance of portion of the country and his knowledge and experience were of great value to me from first to last. He is the finest Scout Officer I have ever seen and was untiring in his energy, giving me particular help in his topographical knowledge." [Scott, Major WH, Reconnaissance Report 15 April 1916, p. 4.]] that the 10th Light Horse Regiment was in trouble near the buildings and McKenzie, Major KA, with 50 dismounted men, was sent. Just then the horses came up and Royston, Brigadier General JR, asked for two mounted troops and these were sent under Chanter, Captain JC. These were not required as the enemy surrendered. The Regiment had not much time to collect prisoners using one Officer and a few men, and we handed over four officers and 154 Other Ranks to the Division and these were credited to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade. Shortly after 1800 the Regiment watered and marched back to the rendezvous. The Regiment casualties were one killed [179 Lance Corporal RHA Fix] and 17 Other Ranks wounded. Also two horses killed and one destroyed. This was the first time the Lewis Gun team were in action. I cannot speak too highly of their dash, initiative and skill. They are instrumental in keeping down the enemy's fire to a great extent thus keeping down our own casualties. We fed at the rendezvous and left there at 2300 for return to El Arish.
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 8th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
8th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account
War Diary account of the 8th LHR, AIF.
Halted about 2 miles N W of Turkish position, later moved on a high ground N of Magdhaba.
1230 hrs, 3rd L. H. Brigade attacked from the N. The I.C.C. operating on our right & the N.Z.M.R. on left.
Disposition of 3rd Bgde units were as follows – LEFT FLANK – 10th L.H. CENTRE – 8TH L.H. R FLANK – 9TH L.H.
1 Troop “B” Sqdn 8 L.H. under Lieut WATT formed the advance guard, supported by 1 Troop also “B” Sqdn under Capt WEARNE.
1240 hrs, the advance guard came under enemy rifle fire from S & SE, dismounted under cover, from this point the advance was continued on foot.
1345 hrs, After driving in enemy outposts and snipers, the E Redoubt was stormed by “B” Sqdn 8th L.H. & small party of 9th L.H. the latter’s Regt LEWIS GUN rendered very valuable assistance during the advance. The whole of the enemy in this position were either killed or captured. In the meantime “C” Sqdn. 8th L.H. under MAJOR CRAWFORD had manoeuvred on the left of “B” Sqdn & had overrun the enemies gun position, capturing 4 – 9 pounder Mountain Guns. These guns had been out of action for some time owing to a lack of ammunition.
After the capture of this position “B” Sqdn & “C” Sqdn 8th L.H. (less 2 troops) & a portion of 9th L.H. reformed & attacked the Western Redoubt, which surrendered after a feeble resistance. The prisoners taken were placed under a guard 7 handed over to Major DANCAR at the Turkish Hospital. The number of prisoners (approx), guns, etc captured are as follows – PRISONERS – 250. MOUNTAIN GUNS – 4. MACHINE GUNS – 1. PACK ANIMALS carrying S.A.A. – 44.
The attack was well carried out 7 reflects great credit on all ranks concerned. Ammunition Supply was kept up by means of extra bandoliers carried on horses necks, this was the first occasion which this Regiment had used the extra bandolier 7 it was found most satisfactory. The Lewis gun of this Regt was very active during the advance & rendered excellent service in driving out nests of snipers & afterwards against the enemies Western redoubt.
The casualties of the 8th L.H. were as follows – Capt & Adjt M. A. HIGGINS, LIEUT’S E. Mack & E.G. DOWN – KILLED. 2nd LIEUT J. T. CURRIE – WOUNDED & 10 other ranks killed & wounded.
1800 hrs, After watering horses left MAGDHABA, marched to a point on telegraph line 2 miles N.W. of MAGDHABA, where horses were fed & water drawn for men.
2100 hrs, Marched to LA FAIN arrived 0200, halted for 2 hours, drew rations & continued our march to MASAID arriving at 1000.
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 3rd LHR, AIF, War Diary Account Topic: AIF - 1B - 3 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
3rd LHR, AIF, War Diary Account
War Diary account of the 3rd LHR, AIF.
23 December 1916
The Regt moved at the trot on the southern side of the Bde, and continued in this position under the fire of the enemy’s mountain battery. One troops was sent out at the gallop to act as ground scouts, and discovered impassable ground in front. Sections left was ordered and the Regt followed in rear of the Bde until the bad ground was passed and then resumed its position on the right of the line. The bde then came under machine gun fire from the enemies trenches and orders were received to move to the right into the bed of the wadi. This was done over very broken ground. This Regt was then ordered to move down the wadi dismounted and was distributed as follows: C Sqdn on the north side of the wadi, B Sqdn in bed of wadi, A Sqdn on south side of wadi, with two machine guns on either flank. I reported all in position and moving at 11.20. Instructions were received that the ICC were on the left of this Regt at 11.35. The advance was continued very slowly on account of the difficult nature of the ground and the difficulty of men handling the machine guns. Cross fire from the enemy trenches down the wadi was difficult to locate and progress was difficult until these were definitely located. Word was sent back to the Mountain Battery giving the exact position of the enemy’s redoubts and after these were shelled a more rapid advance was made to the fork of the wadi. At this point A Sqdn on the right were in a position to bring cross fire onto No 1 Redoubt. At 12.44 word was received that on Sqdn of 2nd Regt was coming up on my right and they moved a considerable distance round and joined up with the 3rd Bde. At 1300 this Regt was in first position. Two more machine guns joined up at this point and when all were in position to afford cover fire an advance across the fork of the wadi was made. At 1330 C and B Sqdns were half way across and the ICC covering their advance with the machine guns. The first white flag was hoisted at this time but they still continued firing. Bayonets were then fixed and a rush made and No 1 Redoubt taken at 1340. Their trenches were then occupied and the machine guns hurried up to this position and fire brought to bear on No 2 Redoubt. The ICC [two Coys or part of 2 Coys no 1 & 2] reinforced on the left of C Sqdn. A Sqdn on the south of the wadi then gained considerable ground and C & B Sqdns with the ICC then pushed straight at No 2 Redoubt and took it with the bayonet and were joined by A Sqdn and one troop of 2nd Regt on the left of A. This redoubt fell about 1600 and No 3 about 1620. There was no further determined resistance and the wounded were gathered into groups and small fires lit at dusk to show their position in order to aid collecting.
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