"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
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Friday, 3 April 2009
Bert Schramm's Diary, 3 April 1919 Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, 2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, a farmer from White's River, near Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular, kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September 1918 breakout by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.
Bert Schramm's Diary, 3 April 1919
Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 31 March - 3 April 1919
[Click on page for a larger print version.]
Thursday, April 3, 1919
Bert Schramm's Location - Zagazig, Egypt.
Bert Schramm's Diary - Have been out all day today. Went out on a patrol to a village called Saft but things are quiet. The natives are being forced to repair the damages done to the railway lines.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0530, One troop patrolled streets of Zagazig 0530 - 0630.
Luxmoore, Captain EM, MC, two troops Mounted Squadron proceeded on 5 days reconnaissance along Simbillawein Light Railway to enforce Proclamation issued a few days previous, ordering all material removed from railway to be returned and placed in position. Two members of this patrol lost their rifles, one was subsequently recovered.
Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.
1st Australian Signal Troop, Page 4 Topic: AIF - 1B - 1 Sig Trp
1st Australian Signal Troop, AIF
Below is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by by Major R. Smith called 1st Australian Signal Troop. This is Page 4.
History of the Wireless Sections after being detached from 1st Signal Troop.
It did not take the Detachment long to become proficient and on the 8th both sections went on board the H.M.T. Andania and every morning landing practice was carried out by means of rowing ashore and erecting stations, making it more interesting through being competitive tests between No.’s 1 and 2 Detachments, on one occasion both "Dets" tied at erecting from the rowing boats in 4 min 20 secs., easily a record.
On the evening of the 24th both "Dets", were attached to the 29th Inf. Divn. (English) and everyone was exited for we learned the landing was to take place the following day.
That night we steamed out everybody cheering, bands playing, dozens of Transports and Warships were slowly moving out, making in all truly a soul stirring sight. We were advised to take advantage of a full nights rest as we would be at it early in the morning.
The sound of a terrific bombardment awakened everybody, who dressed hurriedly and went on deck, it was still dark and. one could see the Men-O-War by the light of their own salvoes.
Dawn revealed to us a most fantastic sight, there stood Achi Baba wreathed in mist and smoke, every few seconds it seemingly caught alight, while the foreshores were defined by the sea ending in smoke, dust and flame, it seemed impossible that human beings could live in such an inferno.
Rowing boats were being towed shorewards by naval pinnaces and would discharge their human cargo and return for more.
At 0500 the Andania anchored off "X" Beach and we saw one Batt. of Royal Fusiliers land and make good the cliffs.
Our Wireless Detachments then followed next with the G.O.C. of 87 Inf. Bde and Staff.
Landed O.K. but was exposed to a bit of sniping.
At 0645 the No.2 Detachment had erected and was carrying on directing the fire of H.M.S. Implacable who was very and doing splendid work.
Rest was impossible during the day also far into the night and we were feeling the strain, when the Turks counter heavily. Every available man was ordered to line the ridge above and we took up our position on top minus two men i.e. Operator on duty and the Engine Driver.
The Andania lowered her boats in readiness to take us on board if necessary.
There seemed to be no likelihood of our party having to hold the Cliff so it was decided to carry up ammunition to the support line, this was made very hard by the drizzling rain making the steep cliffs very slippery and two boxes of ammunition did not allow one the freedom of ones hands to take advantage of the bushes growing there and which were stout enough for one to pull up by.
The attack was repulsed by 01.30 and at dawn all was fairly quiet, during the day our Troops gained ground.
Our main job was directing the fire of various men-o-war receiving the corrections from the aeroplanes and transmitting them on to the Fleet, this kept the Dets, very busy indeed however, we were rewarded for our work by seeing the effect of the redirected fire and the Troops gaining ground and lastly through being complimented on our work by the G.O.C. and the Naval Wireless Officer.
Emptsa, North Russia, The Times, 24 October 1919 Topic: BatzO - Emptsa
North Russia, 29 August 1919
The Times, 24 October 1919
The Times, 24 October 1919, p. 9.
The account is transcribed below.
The Times, 24 October 1919, p. 9.
A NORTH RUSSIA V.C.
SINGLE-HANDED ATTACK ON A BLOCKHOUSE.
War Office, Oct: 23, 1919.
The King has beep pleased to :approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the following non-commissioned officer:
The late 133002 Sergeant Samuel George Pearce, M.M., 45th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Mildura, Australia).
For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty, and self-sacrifice during the operation against the enemy battery position north of Emptsa (North Russia) on August 29, 1919.
Sergeant Pearse cut his way through the enemy barbed wire under very heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and cleared a way for the troops to enter the battery position.
Seeing that a blockhouse was harassing our advance and causing us casualties, he charged the blockhouse single-handed; killing the occupants with bombs.
This gallant non-commissioned officer met his death a minute later, and it was due to him that the position was carried with so few casualties. His magnificent bravery and utter disregard for personal danger won for him the admiration of all troops.
Um Rakhum, Egypt, December 13, 1915 Topic: BatzSe - Senussi
Egypt, 13 December 1915
A British armoured car column passing an Egyptian Camel Corps column
Um Rakhum, an action fought in Egypt's western desert adjoining Cyrenaica on 13 December 1915, between pro-Turkish Arabs of a primitive Islamic sect called the Senussi and troops of an improvised British force specially raised to defend the western approaches to the Nile Valley from the Senussi threat. Known as 'Western Frontier Force' and under command of an Indian Army officer, Major-General Alexander Wallace, the British column comprised a brigade of infantry and a cavalry brigade. The latter was drawn from the rear details of units fighting on Gallipoli in a dismounted role, and among its four composite regiments s one comprising Australian light horse squadrons commanded by a British regular officer, Major Hon. Dudley Pelham. Artillery support was provided by the Notts Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, equipped with 13 pounder guns.
After bringing his troops up to the small fishing village of Mersa Matruh on 9 December, Wallace decided to strike an immediate blow against the enemy. On 11 December a half - battalion was sent out on a fighting reconnaissance towards Duwair Hussein, 26 kilometres to the west, where aerial reconnaissance reports indicated about 1,000 Senussi were assembled. Providing support for this move was a British yeomanry regiment, two guns and four armoured cars.
Map illustrating the zone of Senussi activity in relation to Egypt.
While the infantry marched along the coastal track, the cavalry and guns followed a route further inland grandly called the Khedival Motor Road, initially heading in a South-westerly direction from Mersa Matruh. The latter force had covered about fourteen kilometres when a heavy rifle-fire was suddenly opened at close range from the column's right flank by Arabs occupying a position known as Wadi Senab.
One squadron of the cavalry attempted a charge, with disastrous results, and a flanking movement tried by the armoured cars was stopped when the heavy vehicles became bugged in soft ground. When word of the situation reached the camp at Mersa Matruh, a squadron of Australian light horse was sent to the scene. Supported by the 13-pounders, the augmented force cleared the wadi of opposition at a cost to the enemy of 80 dead and seven prisoners; losses on the British side amounted to one officer and fifteen other ranks killed.
The infantry, meanwhile, pressed on to a point near the coast called Um Rakhum, where camp was made. They were joined here by the exhausted yeomanry, and the next day by additional troops. The latter included No.4 Company of the Australian Service Corps, from the 1st Australian Divisional Train (forming Western Frontier Force's supply component). On 13 December the cavalry and infantry again set off towards the objective, the transport elements remaining in the bivouac camp. Only a short distance had been covered when the column was again ambushed by a force of Senussi, 1,500 strong, which lay concealed in another wadi to the left of the axis of advance. The enemy troops were ably directed and supported by two medium field pieces and three machine-guns. As the action developed one of the leading British companies was in peril of being encircled, and attempts to relieve the pressure quickly encountered severe difficulties.
The column commander sent an urgent message by heliograph back to Rakhum calling for all reinforcements which could be spared to be sent forward. Among those despatched were 75 Australian Service Corps (ASC) personnel armed with rifles. On arrival, the ASC men performed good service in driving off Arabs who were occupying several gullies, although they were generally untrained for infantry work. During this fighting the Australians lost one man killed, and an officer and five other ranks wounded; the officer subsequently died. Two squadrons of the light horse also arrived on the scene of the action as escort to the Notts Battery crews, the appearance of which on the enemy flank again proved critical to the outcome of the contest. Although forced to come into action at extreme range, one of the 13-pounders succeeded in landing a shell at a point where the Senussi were at their thickest. At this the enemy decided to bring to an end the fight, which had lasted six hours, and withdrew.
While the British were left in possession of the field, and had lost only half as many men as the 125 dead suffered by the Senussi, they were in no condition to press on with the original mission. The next day the column returned to Mersa Matruh, thereby allowing the enemy to re-occupy the high ground.
Australian troops at Mersa Matruh
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 112-113.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
C.E.W. Bean, (1929), The Australian Imperial Force in France 1916, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
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