"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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Tuesday, 30 June 2009
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917, 8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917
8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account
8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, Saturday, 1 December 1917, page 1.
War Diary of the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF
The War Diary provides an excellent reference to the day to day activities of note that occurred within a particular unit. They were never designed to be histories in themselves but aids to future historians who wish to write about their deeds. The War Diary was often written up at the end of the day when most men were weary and seen as just another useless activity demanded by "the Heads" in far off places. It was only years later when unit histories were produced that the value of the War Diaries became to be realised by the men. The result is that the War Diary is usually light on detail. These details can be supplemented by Routine Orders and signals where these may exist.
The entry for Saturday, 1 December 1917 is transcribed below.
War Diary Entry
Saturday, 1 December 1917
8th Light Horse Regiment Location -
8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -
Line was all quiet until 0030 on 1 December 1917 when Captain Walker, MC, "B" Squadron, reported enemy concentration on his immediate front. Brigade Headquarters were wired immediately, priority, for reinforcements.
The enemy attacked about 250 strong with many bombs at 0045 and after half an hour's heavy fighting at very close quarters, "B" Squadron were compelled to fall back to (Major Crawford's) "C" Squadron's position. Here a fresh line was made, every available man being in the firing line.
48 men of the Gloucester Yeomanry, under Lieutenant Colonel Palmer, arrived at 0200 and the enemy just then made a fresh assault. One company of the 4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers under Captain Henry arrived at 0230 and all were immediately sent into the line.
The enemy made two distinct rushes with about 500 men, and were each time held off with a very heavy close range fire.
The fighting gradually diminished and the enemy position was rendered absolutely safe by the arrival at 0430 of another Royal Scottish Fusiliers company who were kept in supports. "B" Squadron took possession of their original position and touch was again made with 4th Light Horse Brigade on right flank.
8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, Saturday, 1 December 1917, page 2.
Throughout the hours of fighting there was much heavy bombing, especially on the part of the enemy who were evidently well supplied. Our Mills Grenades were very superior and effective. The 9th Light Horse Regiment had managed to get a rearguard machine gun fire and this partly had the effect of cutting the enemy off from Shilta Village.
At daybreak the survivors surrendered amounting approximately to:-
6 Officers (including the Battalion Commander), and 112 Other Ranks, and about 20 wounded.
The enemy dead amounted to approximately 100. (20 on "B" Squadron's ridge and 80 on "C" Squadron's ridge.)
The Royal Scottish Fusiliers and Yeomanry did splendid work and had it not been for their very quick arrival after the alarm, the Regiment would have received a very severe handling.
Our casualties were (approximately) 2 Officers - Captain Fay and Lieutenant SK Moore killed and 5 Other Ranks and 2 Officers and 35 Other Ranks wounded (one of them since died). All ranks displayed great intrepidity and dash throughout.
Major General Hodgson visited the Regiment next morning and personally expressed his pleasure and congratulations. The two attached telegrams are copies of those received from Desert Corps and 20th Army Corps.
During the morning the Royal Scottish Fusiliers were withdrawn and the Regiment continued to hold the line with the Gloucester Yeomanry in supports. Much booty was collected throughout the day included in which were 8 new type automatic rifles.
The 6th Nottinghamshire Battalion (2 Companies) reported to Regimental Headquarters as reserves at 2030 and retired at 0500 on 2 December 1917.
During the day a wire was received containing the following awards:
405 Lance Corporal J Kerr, Military Medal
1176 Trooper ES Ackland, Military Medal
3103 Trooper L Taylor, Military Medal
Regiment held firing line as taken over on night of 30 November / 1 December, with Gloucester Yeomanry in supports. At 0230, 1 Company South Nottinghamshires reported at Reserve Troops and remained in vicinity of Regimental Headquarters until 0500, 2 December 1917.
The following article by Philip Redding called George Redding, WW1 Veteran recaptures lost information about an iconic pose of a Light Horseman during the Great War. Philip Redding details his journey in discovering his uncle.
George Redding, WW1 Veteran
by Philip Redding
In 1918 Frank Hurley took a photo of a veteran Light Horseman picking anemone flowers in Belah, Egypt after heavy rain. Kathryn WHITE, one of the readers of this magazine, saw a likeness to my father's brother, George Redding, who was the subject of an article published in 2000. The photo of him with his cousin, George BURKE, had been taken in Egypt in 1918. George Redding was 18 years over the limit for enlisting and his cousin was under the limit but went to the Queensland Premier and got his permission to enlist. The "two Georges" was a good case of under age and over the limit in enlisting policy. Kathryn thought there had to be a connection between the two photos as "the un-named veteran" and George seemed to have so many things in common that there must be a match.
While visiting the Australian War Memorial Research Room to research an article about my father who had been a prisoner of war in Germany, I saw the photo of the veteran Light Horseman in the Memorial's Captured in Colour exhibition. I immediately went to the Archives Section again and asked whether I could make a claim on the "veteran Light Horseman". The head of the photo section then went to town and checked George's war service. "Yes, he was definitely in the right place." He then looked at Frank Hurley'S diary to see if he was there at the time George was at Belah. By the time the photo was taken, George was all of 60, so a veteran indeed!
I was asked to put together all I knew of George's movements and his war history and send it to the archivist. Fortunately, there are many photos of George at that time. He did not die until 1935. He was managing the soldier settlements in the Victorian Mallee. The family had him at the Boer War but I could not find any records of this in Australia and will have to go to South Africa for these.
The upshot of all this was a letter saying that the Australian War Memorial is now happy to have a name for the Veteran soldier picking anemone flowers after the rain and it is George Redding. So, thanks to Kathryn White, our reader with very sharp eyes, and to the Archives section of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra who accepted all my arguments that such an epic photo deserved someone like my Uncle George.
From Philip Redding, George Redding, WW1 Veteran, Australian Family Tree Connections, April 2007, p.15.
Photo of George Redding and George Burke taken in Syria, 1919
8th Light Horsemen prepare Captain George Fay's body for burial.
[This was Picture 2 referred to in Redding's letter to Mrs Fay.]
After the death of Captain George Fay at the battle of El Burj [See: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 1 December for full details.] Trooper George Redding wrote a poignant letter to Mrs Elizabeth J Fay, the wife of the late Captain George Fay. The six children of George and Elizabeth Fay were: Reginald, Bernard George, Harold, Laura, Edward, and George.
The letter sent by George Redding to Mrs Elizabeth J Fay about the death of Captain George Fay.
[Click on letter for larger version.]
Port Said, 20/3/1918
Dear Mrs Fay
I am able to give you some particulars of Capt Fay's end that I haven't when I last wrote - it goes without saying he done his duty he met his death doing more as he volunteered to take his comrade's place who wasn't feeling well. I am enclosing some snapshots. The first is of his grave; the second is when the stretcher bearers are moving his body, the Dr is standing alongside; the third is where he is taking his squadron into action the afternoon of the night he was killed. You can see the shells bursting in front of them. I hope Mrs Fay you are bearing up under your very great loss. We of the eighth realise what your loss is for however we lost him ourselves, the saddest day we have had in Egypt. We mourned our poor old Colonel and as better soldier ever led men but he haven't. George was of endearing himself to all alike. Personally I miss him very much as he was one of the few I could talk of home to. I always felt I was welcome at his tent and many a happy hour I spent with him talking of the past camps where there was no shell bursting. They say in the army the eighth are unlucky. We are not because we had men like Col. Maygar, Major Shannon and Capt Fay leaving them that we got all the horse tasks to perform.
And now I will say good bye. Trusting that you and the family are well.
I am yours truly G. Redding.
Captain Fay leading his squadron into action at El Burj, 1 December 1917.
[This was Picture 3 referred to in Redding's letter to Mrs Fay.]
George Redding's Death, 6 August 1935
Extract from ***Newspaper*** detailing the circumstances relating to the death of George Redding.
George Redding, respected elder of Beulah.
Mr G Redding dies suddenly. (Thursday 8th August)
Residents of the town were shocked on Tuesday night (6th August 1935), when news was circulated of the sudden death, after a collapse at the Catholic ball of Mr George Redding, at the Beulah Memorial Hall. The late Mr Redding had appeared to be in his usual good health during the day, and as was his practice for many years, attended the annual Catholic ball at night. In his usual jovial manner he joked with several friends when buying his ticket and when the waltz cotillions was announced during the early part of the programme he secured a partner and completed the dance.
On resuming his chair the fatal seizure took place and Mr R Birch, who was sitting with him at the time, noticing his condition, called for medical assistance. Mr Bedding was quickly removed from the main hall to the Soldiers' Lounge, by friends, but although Dr Rabl of Murton, who was present at the ball, attended him, and a few minutes later Dr Hendry, nothing could be done and he died without gaining consciousness. It was fitting that at the moment of his death, this fine old ex-soldier was surrounded by his ex-servicemen friends. Although the nature of his death was a great shock to his relatives and numerous friends, it was probably the type of demise he himself would have chosen.
The late Mr Redding came to Beulah over 14 years ago as an officer of the Closer Settlement Board, and in that capacity became loved and respected by the army soldier settlers of the district to whom he proved a true friend, and it was from the young returned men that he obtained the non-de-plume of "Dad" by which he was so affectionately know.
(section missing) ....
and aided by the great respect by which he was held by the whole district, he soon built up a prosperous connection. Deceased was an enthusiastic and faithful townsman and at some time or other had been connected with every public movement in the township, but he was probably best known as a digger and served in the War with the 8th Regiment of the Light Horse in Egypt and Palestine, having enlisted at the age of 60 years, and his acceptance was only made possible by the fact that this great old man had deducted 15 years from his age for the occasion, combined with his fine physique even at that age. At the time of his death he was considered the oldest survivor of the Great War in Victoria.
The late Mr Redding was also an ardent churchman, and for many years past had been a member of the vestry of St Peter's Church of England and only on Monday night of last week was re-elected to that position. Deceased was undoubtedly one of the most widely known and best loved residents of the township for many years and his demise will be widely mourned. The late Mr Redding was predeceased by his wife four years and the only child of the union died at an early age. Deceased, however is survived by two sisters, Mrs Burke (Tasmania), and Miss K Redding, who for some time past had been residing with him. The late Mr Redding had also residing with him at the time of his death and for some time past, two nieces, vis (Misses N Mules and Lillian Redding), and to them and Miss Redding is extended the heartfelt sympathy of the whole of the residents of the town and district.
And so departed a legend, "Dad" and "Pops".
George Reddings name appears on the Samaria State School Honour Roll
Lest we forget.
Special thanks are given to Kathryn White who has generously provided much of the material including letters, articles and photographs and through her kind permission, these are published on this site. In addition are many thanks to Brother Philip Redding for his the primary research and work undertaken resulting in his presentation to the Benalla Family History Centre of the history about the Redding Family residing in the Samaria region of Benalla. Both have ensured the results of this page reflect as accurately as possible, their understanding of the George Redding history.
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, 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, 8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 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 Magdhaba and is extracted below.
Austin, TS, The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F., unpublished manuscript.
For Some reasons the enemy did not make a stand at El Arish, evacuating a strong system of trenches and redoubts they had built on the south side of the town. Our columns entered the place on the 21st and rested there a day. The inhabitants were very nervous but seemed pleased to be free from the Turks. The latter seemed to have taken everything useful to themselves, but though food stuffs were scarce, we managed to obtain eggs at a high price, which were very acceptable.
At 1800 on the 22nd. we moved out in the main column to Bir Lahfan arriving there at 2200, and waiting for the ration camels to come up to draw rations before proceeding to Magdhaba. The night was bitterly cold. By 0100 on 23rd. all rations had been allotted and the column got moving once more down the wadi bed. At 0600 we could see the buildings at Magdhaba redoubts, and a halt was made in the wadi bed about 3 miles north west. Later on we moved over to high ground north of the enemy trenches and from here commenced our attack on foot. The Brigade dispositions were, he 8th and 9th in the firing line, the 8th linking with the CMR on the left and the 9th with the ICC on the right. The Regimental dispositions were, "C" Squadron on the left, "B" Squadron on the right, "A" Squadron being kept in reserve. The advance proceeded quickly, though much trouble was caused by advanced enemy snipers who could obtain good cover on the hummocky ground. Both the Squadrons advanced on redoubts simultaneously, "C" Squadron and a portion of the CMR taking the left one and obtaining 64 prisoners, whilst Lieutenant Walker taking through a reserve troop captured four 9 pounders at the rear. "B" Squadron with very able assistance from a Lewis Gun of the 9th Light Hose quickly accounted for their redoubt and consolidated, and being reinforced by the remainder of "C" charged and took the main redoubt, securing approximately 250 prisoners. Others captured by the Regiment were the four 9 pounder guns already mentioned, 1 machine gun, 44 pack animals loaded with SAA and many rifles.
Meanwhile other redoubts began to surrender rapidly and the whole position was in our hands before 1800. The attack had been delivered with great dash and determination and the number of casualties incurred on our side is proportion to the magnitude of the operation was remarkably light. The Regiment was most unfortunate in the loss of 3 officers, those including the Adjutant, Captain EB Higgins, Lieutenant EH Mack and EG Down, whilst Lieutenant JT Currie was so severely wounded as to necessitate his early return to Australia. 10 Other Ranks were killed or wounded. By 1900 all horses had been watered at troughs in the wadi so the Regiment was ordered to concentrate at Brigade Headquarters about 2 miles back towards El Arish. Here after rations were drawn and horses rested and fed a move was made to return to El Arish, excepting "A" Squadron, which was detailed to remain behind and assist in collecting material and captured gear from the field next day.
Bir Lahfan was reached at 0200 and rations were again issued here, and the march back to El Arish resumed. All through the long night we kept on the move and arriving at El Arish in the early morning. We marched round the outskirts of the town, proudly flying the captured enemy flag, and eventually camped at Masaid, a huge date grove on the beach, approximately 4 miles to the south west.
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