"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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The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 2nd LHR, AIF, War Diary Account Topic: AIF - 1B - 2 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
2nd LHR, AIF, War Diary Account
War Diary account of the 2nd LHR, AIF.
23 December 1916
0600 - The Anzac Mounted Division from El Arish arrived and engaged the enemy in a strong entrenched position at Magdhaba. After a hot engagement the last redoubt was taken at 1630 and the enemy surrendered. Our casualties in the Regiment were one killed and eight wounded. List attached. List of prisoners taken and killed and guns and stores attached. At 2200 the Regiment marched back to El Arish. Captain Stodart escorting prisoners.
List of Enemy Killed and Wounded, and Stores captured at Magdhaba on23 December 1916.
97 Turks killed and buried by us; 1290 Prisoners taken including 40 wounded and 45 Officers; We also captured about 40 horses and 60 camels; 4 Mountain Guns and personnel; About 1,000 rifles; 100,000 rounds small arms ammunition; and, A quantity of military stores and equipment.
Casualties, 23 December 1916.
399 Corporal Waddell, GM, Killed in Action.
2891 Private Tapnell, HC, Wounded in Action.
1077 Private McBride, JC, Wounded in Action.
753 Sergeant Allen, F, Wounded in Action.
806 Lance Corporal Young, T, Wounded in Action.
2885 Private Pollock, R, Wounded in Action.
968vPrivate Shader, AE, Wounded in Action.
2833 Private Sutton, GW, Wounded in Action.
1449 Private Munro, HC, Wounded in Action.
24 December 1916
0600 - Regiment, less "C" Squadron and two Troops escorting prisoners arrived at El Arish. Captain Stodart and two Troops "B" Squadron with prisoners arrived at 1400.
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 2nd LHR, AIF, Unit History Account Topic: AIF - 1B - 2 LHR
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
2nd LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Lieutenant Colonel George Herbert Bourne's unit history of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, AIF, included a section specifically related to the Battle of Magdhaba which is extracted below.
Bourne, Lieut-Colonel GH, "NULLI SECUNDUS" - The History - of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment Australian Imperial Force - August 1914 - April 1919, (Tamworth 1926), pp. 37-39:
Information having reached the Turks that these two patrols had penetrated their lines, however, they became nervous as to the safety of Mazar. They therefore evacuated that place and concentrated their force at El Arish. The instant this became known to General Chetwode, he ordered the advance on El Arish. This was accomplished by the Anzac Division (less 2nd Brigade) and Camel Corps marching round it during the night - the infantry of the Column moving on the place by direct road. By daylight it was surrounded; but the birds had flown. Having found that our horses were equal to such performances as that of Captain Brown's patrol, the Turks knew they were not safe at El Arish, and consequently sought the security of Magdhaba, evacuating the former place just before our arrival. Magdhaba was distant, 27 miles, along a practically unknown and waterless track, but in spite of that, and the fact that the Column had just had one night march General Chetwode decided to surprise the Turks there at dawn on December 23 with the mounted troops of his command, viz: - 1st, 3rd and NZMR Brigades, and Imperial Camel Corps, 18th Brigade, RHA and Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery.
After a long and tiresome wait for rations to come up we accordingly started on the night of December 22 for Magdhaba - "C" Squadron, 2nd Regiment being Advance Guard. The enemy position was very difficult to locate; his trenches were beautifully sited. The attack was opened by the Camel Brigade. The 1st Brigade went in on their right - the 3rd Brigade and NZMR Brigade on their left, practically enveloping the position. The situation was that the Turks were sitting on the only water within miles; and the position had either to be taken or we would go thirsty for at least 24 hours.
The Turk ever proved himself a splendid and stubborn fighter from behind cover. So, in this case we found the job much more difficult than had been anticipated. This Regiment was not engaged as a unit; having been detailed as Brigade Reserve and split up in different jobs. The final result however, was largely contributed to by the energy of Major Markwell, who gathered up some details of 3rd Regiment in addition to three troops of "B" Squadron, 2nd Regiment under Major Chambers, and successfully led them against the chief remaining enemy redoubt. Major Birkbeck skilfully led two troops right round the position and threatened a mounted attack from the enemy's only line of retreat. This manoeuvre decided the Turkish Commander to hoist the white flag; the entire force surrendering.
Lieutenant Guiren, of this Regiment, and his troop, just beat the 3rd Brigade into Magdhaba itself.
The enemy force of about 2,500 was captured or killed. We also got a battery of mountain guns, about 2,000 rifles; machine guns, s.a.a. etc., a many horses and mules.
The 1st Regiment was detailed to clear up the battlefield, and bivouacked for the night; and 2nd Regiment was detailed to escort the prisoners to El Arish - another night march thus being necessary. During the previous 84 hours we had practically no sleep, so that the journey back was by no means a pleasant one; men went fast asleep on their horses or camels, some falling off. Most of us experienced optical delusions, induced by want of sleep. We halted to rations at Lafan, half-way to El Arish. Our bivouacs at El Arish were reached at dawn on Christmas Eve. The weather was wet and of course there were no tents owing to want of transport - indeed it was proving a difficult matter to even feed us as we had got so far beyond Railhead the trackless sand rendering wheeled vehicles of little use. Much heavy work was therefore thrown on the excellent Camel Transport Corps.
The prisoners were handed over y Major Stodart before noon on 24th. In order to ration them, our friends of the 52nd Division had to go short for a day or two. The "Scotties" were amusingly indignant, and repeatedly told our fellows that they had taken too ___ many prisoners, and should have used the ___ bayonet more.
The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 2nd ALHR, AIF, War Diary Account Topic: AIF - 1B - 2 LHR
The Battle of Beersheba
Palestine, 31 October 1917
2nd LHR, AIF, War Diary Account
War Diary account of the 2nd LHR, AIF.
31 October 1917
Bir el Hamman
1200 Regiment got orders to be prepared to meet Cavalry advancing in the left flank of the 1st Regiment.
At 1400 orders came for the remainder of the Regiment to go up on left flank at the trot and help the assault on Tel el Saba. As we advanced Major William Ernest Markwell DSO was killed by shrapnel. We occupied some mud huts but our own Artillery shelled us out of them. After having some casualties, amongst whom was Lieutenant John Wasson.
The assault on Tel el Saba was successful and at dark the Regiment bivouacked on banks of Wadi Sabe near Hill 960.
Our total casualties for the day 1 Officer and 1 Other Rank killed and 2 Officers and eleven Other Ranks wounded.
[From: Bourne, "NULLI SECUNDUS", plate facing p. 38]
Lieut-Colonel GH Bourne's unit history of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, AIF, included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba which is extracted below.
Bourne, Lieut-Colonel GH, "NULLI SECUNDUS" - The History - of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment Australian Imperial Force - August 1914 - April 1919, (Tamworth 1926), p. 47:
The big scrap started before daylight on 31st, Tel el Saba, one of a range of hills about 1,000 feet high, and three miles east of Beersheba, was found to be held in strength. This was a foregone conclusion, as a glance at the map will show. Time being all important, the natural thing to do seemed to envelop the position and march around it to the east and get astride get astride the Beersheba -Jerusalem road. However, the 3rd Regiment and a regiment of NZMR Brigade were sent straight at it to make a frontal attack. Out C.O. was detached to command Brigade Advance Headquarters, and Major Markwell assumed command of the Regiment. 1st and 2nd Regiments were ordered down on to the plain to support 3rd Regiment if necessary and also to guard their left flank which was threatened.
Tel el Saba was so well defended by machine guns (which our batteries could make no impression on) that the frontal attack could make no headway. About 1400 2nd Regiment was ordered to come into action on the left of the 3rd, and to cooperate in the attack on Tel el Saba We went in at the gallop and reached some mud huts about 800 yards from our objective. Here we dismounted and sent led horses back. Out 13 pounder guns, though well served, were making not the slightest impression on the Turkish redoubts; and additional guns were sent up to assist. That old veteran Lieut. Wassun was wounded, and while being carried away a shell again seriously wounded him, and killed one of the stretcher-bearers.
Our coming in on the left of the 3rd Regiment drew the bulk of the defenders' garrison that way, thus, though we could not advance our selves, enabling the NZMR Brigade on the right to push up to the Turkish position; but not before we had sustained our heaviest casualty. About 1630, an enemy shrapnel bursting low, had killed Major Markwell. The loss of that most gallant Officer was irreparable. The following is an extract from Routine Order which expressed the opinion of all "The C.O. desires to place on record the severe loss to the Regiment, in the death of Major WE Markwell, DSO. His loyal and devoted services to the Regiment since its formation were exemplary. His courage and energy in the field, his ability and conscientiousness as an administrator, his frank and generous nature, as a comrade, combined to mark him as one of the finest soldiers in the AIF, and his untimely death before reaching his prime, while in temporary command of the Regiment, is a heavy blow to this unit in particular, and to the AIF as a whole."
Tel-el-Saba having fallen, two troops, under Lieuts. Weller and Anderson were attached to 1st Regiment which was now advancing dismounted against the town of Beersheba itself. It was now nearly dusk, and though we had not yet gained the ancient city, the Turks realising they were surrounded, were preparing to fly. Most of their guns had already been pulled out. The outer works to south, and west of the city had fallen to the 20th Corps. The 1st Regiment had almost reached Beersheba when the 4th Brigade was sent in at the gallop, they and the 1st Regiment almost dead heating into different quarters of the town. The Brigade, less one regiment, assembled in Wadi Saba that night. Our casualties for this engagement were as follows:-
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