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Saturday, 21 November 2009
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Contents
Topic: BatzS - Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba

Sinai, 23 December 1916

Contents

 

Items

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Outline 

 

Roll of Honour

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Australia and New Zealand

Brigade

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade  

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade 

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Imperial Camel Corps

 

Maps

Comparison of Maps, Australia, Britain and Turkey 

Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba 

Mapping the Magdhaba Redoubts 

 

Official War History Accounts

British

Falls Account

Australian

Gullett Account

Cutlack Account

New Zealand

Powles Account

Turkish

Sinai Campaign Account

German

Kress Account

 

War Diary Accounts

Australia

General Staff Headquarters, Anzac Mounted Division, AIF, War Diary Account

Anzac Mounted Division Artillery, AIF, War Diary Account

1st Light Horse Brigade Account

1st Light Horse Field Ambulance Account

1st Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron Account  

1st ALHR, AIF, War Diary, account

2nd ALHR, AIF, War Diary, account

3rd ALHR, AIF, War Diary, account

3rd Light Horse Brigade Account

3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance Account

3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron Account 

8th ALHR, AIF, War Diary, account

9th ALHR, AIF, War Diary, account

10th ALHR, AIF, War Diary, account

ICC, AIF, War Diary, account 

 

New Zealand War Diaries

New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade Account

Auckland Mounted Rifles Account

Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment Account

Wellington Mounted Rifles Account
British
52nd (Lowland) Division
156th Brigade

 

Unit Histories

Australia

1st ALHR AIF account

2nd ALHR AIF account

3rd ALHR AIF account

3rd LHFA, AIF, Unit History Account

8th LHR, AIF account

9th LHR, AIF account

10th LHR, AIF account

ICC, AIF, account 

 

New Zealand

AMR, NZMRB account

CMR, NZMRB account

WMR, NZMRB account

 

Commentary

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, 23 December 1916, El Arish and El Magdhaba, 9th LHR, AIF, Commentary by Bill Woerlee

Magdhaba and Kress by Bill Woerlee

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, ICC, AIF, Commentary by Steve Becker    

 

Personal Diaries

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, 8th LHR, AIF, Auchterlonie Diary Account 

 

Newspaper Accounts

New York Times Account

Times Account

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Australia and New Zealand

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Contents

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Monday, 30 November 2009 8:56 AM EAST
Monday, 9 November 2009
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Outline
Topic: BatzS - Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba

Sinai, 23 December 1916

Outline

 

Magdhaba, 1916.

 

Magdhaba, was fought on 23 December 1916 in the northern Sinai Desert, 35 kilometres south-east of the Mediterranean coastal town of El Arish and about 30 kilometres west of the border with Palestine. Following their defeat at Romani (q.v.) Turkish forces were thrown onto the defensive and retreated to Bir el Abd and subsequently Mazar, in each case abandoning their positions once attacked by British mounted troops - principally Australians and New Zealanders of the Anzac Mounted Division led by Major-General Harry Chauvel. After El Arish was vacated by the enemy and duly occupied by British forces on 21 December, the way into Palestine was barred by two principal Turkish blocking forces: at Magdhaba and Rafa.

The position of Magdhaba at dusk.

[Extracted from Gullett, Chapter XIV – Magdhaba]

 
On the night of 22 December Chauvel was ordered to move against the inland base at Magdhaba. Available to him was his mounted division, less one brigade but with the newly formed Imperial Camel Corps (and attached battery of mountain guns) taking its place. Marching in the early hours of 23 December, by daybreak Chauvel's troops had closed on the enemy-held village. As soon as the Turks' dispositions were clearly established by low-flying aircraft from No. I Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, Chauvel gave his orders. The Imperial Camel Corps was sent from the north-west directly at the nearest redoubt lying east of the Wadi el Arish, while the other brigades detoured around the northern flank, where the firm ground best suited horses, to attack from the north and north-east; one regiment was sent on a wide circling movement to the east then south to cross the wadi and take up position in rear of the enemy position.

A hard fight followed in which the attackers made slow progress crossing open ground under heavy fire. Soon after 1 p.m., upon learning that sources of water apart from the wells at Magdhaba were denied to him, Chauvel decided to call off the attack. The recall reached the commander of the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, Brigadier-General Charles Cox, just as his troops were preparing to assault the main enemy redoubt with the bayonet. He temporarily misplaced the message until the attack was underway, and his men's success a few minutes later showed Chauvel that victory was actually at hand.

By 4.30 p.m. the Turkish garrison surrendered; few escaped. The number of enemy killed has been put at about 300 - certainly nearly 100 were collected on the field for burial and just short of 1,300 were captured. The 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment, providing the blocking force south of the wadi, alone accounted for 722 of the prisoners. Chauvel's losses were trifling: only 146 casualties, of whom 22 were killed. After setting fire to the village and leaving two regiments to clear the battlefield of dead and wounded, the remainder of the column returned to El Arish.
 

Preparing the dead for burial, Australians and Ottoman soldiers lay together in peace.

 

Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 122.



Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

H.S. Gullett, (1944), The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

A.J. Hill, (1978), Chauvel of the Light Horse, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press.

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Magdhaba

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Outline

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Wednesday, 11 November 2009 5:51 PM EAST
Saturday, 7 November 2009
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Comparison of Maps, Australia, Britain and Turkey
Topic: BatzS - Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba

Sinai, 23 December 1916

Magdhaba Maps Comparisons, Australia, Britain and Turkey

 

When reading the official history accounts of Magdhaba, one thing that come quite clear - the redoubts have different numbes on the British map as opposed to the Australian map.

The first map is extracted from Gullett's work, The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914–1918

 

The position of Magdhaba at dusk.

[Gullett, Chapter XIV – Magdhaba]

 

The issue to observe is the numbering allocated to the redoubts which is in a clockwise direction. In contrast,  the work by Cyril Falls called Military operations: Egypt and Palestine contains this map called Sketch 12 which faces p. 253.

 

 

Sketch 12, Magdhaba 

 

This particular map uses the anticlockwise notation for the redoubts, a methodology similar to that of the 3rd ALHR in the hand drawn map at Post Citation: Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba - 23 December 1916. Because of these two different methodoologies in constructing maps, much confusion has crept into the commentaries when the fall of Magdhaba is described. While all accounts agree on No. 1 Redoubt, No. 2 Redoubt in the Falls account is to the south east on the same side of the wadi while in the Gullett account is directly to the east over the other side of the wadi. Hence the fall of No. 2 Redoubt, the second to fall in the 3rd LHR and Falls account is in actuality Redoubt No. 5 in the Gullett account of the same incident.

This layout of Falls is also employed in the Turkish account of Magdhaba. The following map was published in Turkish General Staff, Birinci Dünya Harbi'nde Turk harbi. Sina - Filistin cephesi, Harbin Bai??Ÿlangicindan A?kinci Gazze Muharebeleri Sonuna Kadar, IVncu Cilt 1nci Kisim, Ankara 1979. (Sinai-Palestine Front from the beginning of the war to the end of the 2nd Gaza Battle, Volume 4, 1st Part.) Here is their map accompanying the account.

 

Turkish account from the Turkish General Staff

 

In giving an account of the Magdhaba story, the circumstances raised in this note indicates the absolute necessity to provide a map which clearly details the methodology employed in the text. It is the only way a reader can reasonably follow the account without the confusion that could possibly occur without these indications of redoubt numbering. As a note, most Australian accounts utilise the numerical methology employed by Gullett.

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Australia and New Zealand

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Comparison of Maps, Australia, Britain and Turkey

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2009 9:37 PM EAST
Friday, 6 November 2009
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba
Topic: BatzS - Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba

Sinai, 23 December 1916

Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba

 

3rd LHR line of attack at Magdhaba, 23 December 1916

[AWM4, 10/8/25]

 

In order to present the real difficulties of attacking the Magdhaba Garrison, below is a hand drawn map from the 3rd LHR War Diary. It gets right down into describing individual features and problems faced by the attacking force.

This demonstrates the skill and tenacity of the men from that regiment in overcoming what would appear insummmountable obstacles in attacking the first redoubt. It is a strong testimony to the new found confidence of these men in their ability as soldiers.

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Australia and New Zealand

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the 3rd LHR attack at Magdhaba

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2009 10:22 PM EAST
Thursday, 5 November 2009
The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the Magdhaba Redoubts
Topic: BatzS - Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba

Sinai, 23 December 1916

Mapping the Magdhaba Redoubts

 

Map describing the action at Magdhaba from the Anzac Mounted Division War Diary, January 1917.

[AWM4, 1/60/11]

 

Until the ready availability of the Australian Light Horse War Diaries and the advent of Google Earth, the ability to gain a bird's eye view of the Magdhaba redoubt system built by the Ottoman Forces has been difficult indeed. Through the use of the technological tools available, it is possible to take the data from the hand drawn maps of the Magdhaba redoubts and place them upon a terrain profile provided by Google Earth. The results speak for themselves.

By courtesy of a fellow contributor, Dominic, the data regarding the  redoubts was extracted and placed upon an actual satellite picture of the landscape provided by Gooogle Earth. The result allows the observer to visualise the physical terrain facing the Anzac Mounted Division as the Commanders planned their attack.

 

Magdhaba Garrison Redoubts as at 22 December 1916.

[Graphics by courtesy of Dominic]

 

One view of this terrain leads the observer to the conclusion that the Ottoman forces chose their site well. Over a flat surface which provided no cover whatsoever for an attacking force, they dug their trenches in such a way as to produce mutually supporting fire bases. These interlocking defenses meant that any attacking force was always at a vast disadvantage.

While interlocking fire support was its strength, paradoxically, this system of defence was also its weakness. By breaching one redoubt, the others would be exposed to enfilading fire and rendering their continued resistance untenable. This proved to be the downfall of the garrison. 

One should never conclude that the taking of the Magdhaba garrison by Chauvel was a lay down mazere. It was not. Chauvel had already issued orders to call off the attack by 3 p.m.. Had his generals obeyed this order at that time, there would have been no victory to record. But one general refused to read the order and the rest was, as they say, history.

 

Further Reading:

The Battle of Magdhaba

The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Roll of Honour, Australia and New Zealand

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, Mapping the Magdhaba Redoubts

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2009 10:23 PM EAST

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