Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
20 September 1918
2823 Private Herbert Leslie SCHRAMM, a 22 year old Farmer from Whites River, South Australia. He enlisted on 17 February 1916; and at the conclusion of the war Returned to Australia, 10 July 1919.
During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, Bert Schramm 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 Offensive 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.
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Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 18 - 22 September 1918
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Friday, September 20, 1918
Bert Schramm's Location - Khirbit Shumrah
Bert Schramm's Diary - Travelled nearly all last night. Hundreds more prisoners taken. One objective now is a place called Jenin and we will probably get there some time tonight enemy main railway communications have already been cut in several places.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Khirbit Shumrah
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - At 0100, the Brigade moved north east via Zelefeh es Sumra and at 0500 arrived at Khirbit Shumrah. 5th Cavalry Division had continued their advance forwards along the coastal sand hills and the 4th Cavalry Division preceding the 3rd Light Horse Brigade by about twelve hours had advanced via Zelefeh es Sumra, Khirbit Shumrah [Liktera] to El Lejjun with orders to push on and occupy El Affule and Nazareth. At Khirbit Shumrah railway station about 100 prisoners were observed in charge of Indian escort. Many enemy transport vehicles and animals were abandoned along the road.
From Khirbit Shumrah the 3rd Light Horse Brigade followed the metalled road leading up the valley of the Wadi Ara and past Musmus. Shortly after passing this latter place the road passed over a steep col from the top of which a magnificent panorama of the Plain of Esdraelon with Mount Tabor [Jebel et Tur] and mountains around Nazareth in the background was obtained. Over this same route in 1479 BC King Thotmes III with an army from Egypt forced this same pass. The army opposing him held the line from Tel el Mutesellim [Megiddo] to Tel Ta'annakh.
The Brigade arrived at El Lejjun at 1100, watered fed and off-saddled. Water was very plentiful here and after the hard and fast marching all ranks enjoyed a cool bath and a well earned rest of a few hours. 1,000 prisoners were here, taken by the 4th Cavalry Division.
At 1540 orders received to saddle up and be ready in ½ hour to move at six miles an hour and seize all northern exits of Jenin.
At 1630 the Brigade less 8th Light Horse Regiment advanced on Jenin. 10th Light Horse Regiment supplied advanced guard, 9th Light Horse Regiment a troop as nth flank guard. Divisional troops followed in rear. In SqO97M22 a small enemy outpost was captured. From here many burning dumps in Jenin were observed. In Sq O97V13 small parties of enemy were observed on the right flank. These were charged and captured by Cruddas, Lieutenant GF, DCM with troop. These two troops located a large enemy force camped amongst olive groves immediately north east of Kefr Adan. The enemy were so astounded at the sudden appearance of our cavalry in their midst that they were all captured without a shot being fired. The drawn swords undoubtedly completed their demoralisation. Our troops had a busy ¼ hour rounding up the stragglers which included many Turkish Cavalry. Prisoners when counted amounted to 1800 including many Germans. Over 200 horses and 200 mules and several donkeys.
This did not delay the advance of the Brigade the objective being the northern exits of Jenin. The railway line was crossed at about 1800 and by 1830 the 9th and 10th Light Horse Regiments and 3rd Machine Gun Squadron were astride and holding all the roadways leading northwards from Jenin.
A Squadron took up a position in SQ O97V24 a and b. B Squadron in Sq O97V23 a and b with Brigade Headquarters in W23a3.6. 10th Light Horse Regiment was on the east of A Squadron. A Squadron sent out strong patrols north to vicinity of Mukeibeleh. A few prisoners were captured and 29 motor lorries and ambulances were located abandoned on main El Affule - Jenin road. Two motor ambulances, one fitted with a combination dynamo and motor sat also located near B Squadron position astride Jenin to El Affule Road.
At 2200 the 9th Light Horse Regiment concentrated at Brigade Headquarters. Masson, Lieutenant GG, with troop remained in position in SQ O97V23. Prisoners were surrendering in large numbers. Earlier in the evening Charley, Major WT, with C Squadron had been detailed to take charge of prisoners. These were being held at a point near where the Jenin - El Lejjun Road crosses the railway.
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary
About 0130 on 20th September the Brigade moved on for Lejjun the remainder of the Division following. A well defined track was followed as far as Zelefeh es Sumra after which the direction was changed to the north east across country. 10th Light Horse Regiment formed the advance guard. Beidus was reached at 0700, prisoners and material captured by the 4th Cavalry Division being passed on the way. The Brigade pressed on through the hills and through Musmus pass along the good road to El Lejjun, following the same track as that taken by Thotmes III of Egypt when he in 1479 BC moved to attack the King of Kedesh at Megiddo. [Tel el Mutesellim] El Lejjun was reached by the vanguard at 0945. Brigade watered and fed and sent out observation on the high ground about Salim, Brigade had thus marched 51 miles in less than 25 hours. A halt of several hours now took place pending receipt by Desert Mounted Corps of information as to the situation with regard to the 4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions, particularly as to the situation towards Haifa. The necessary information having come to hand being eminently satisfactory, orders were issued to this Brigade [less on regiment] to move on Jenin and capture the hostile fugitives reported to be retreating east and north - east from that place. By 1630 the Brigade [less the 8th Light Horse Regiment left for local protection at El Lejjun] with Notts Battery, Royal Horse Artillery attached was on the move. 10th Light Horse Regiment [Olden, Lieutenant Colonel ACN] with six machine guns were advanced guard, a troop of the 9th Light Horse Regiment as right flank guard. A pace of ten miles per hour was maintained. Near Tarnuk, half way to Jenin a small enemy outpost was captured by the flank guard. As the advance guard approached Jenin, a large enemy force was observed camped amongst the olive groves, immediately north - east of Kefr Adan, The right flank troop of the vanguard under Doig, Lieutenant PWK, immediately charged them with drawn swords. The enemy promptly surrendered. A few minutes afterwards the right flank guard to the main column, [Cruddas, Lieutenant GF, of the 9th Light Horse Regiment] arrived on the scene in support of Doig, Lieutenant PWK, followed shortly afterwards by two more troops of the 9th Light Horse Regiment [McDonald, Lieutenant JM,] sent out from the main body. These additional troops helped to round up the enemy scattered through the olive groves. The enemy was apparently astounded at the sudden appearance of our men. The captures here amounted to 1,800 including many Germans. There was also 400 horses and mules captured. This episode however did not delay the general advance of the column. The Brigade pressed on. The advance guard pushed rapidly on leaving the railway station about half a mile on their right so as to get astride the main road leading north and the route leading east to Beisan. The remainder of the Brigade followed at a fast trot in close support. By 1740 the vanguard had reached Jenin, the remainder of the column with guns was close in rear, thus having marched eleven miles in 70 minutes. By 1800 all northern and eastern exits had been closed. Once astride the roads and railways the 10th Light Horse Regiment turned south and drove back in towards the village and station. By this energetic action the enemy were driven into confusion and our men riding in amongst them with drawn swords made prisoners of about 3,000. It now became dark and pressing on to clear the town our troops were held up by rifle and machine gun fire from a party of Germans concealed in houses and gardens. Later this party tried to break away and there was some confused fighting in the darkness. The Germans were caught by a section of our machine guns [under Bryant, Captain GH] as they tried to break for the road and a number were killed; they then surrendered without further opposition. Prisoners were collected, troops assembled and dispositions made for the night. The left flank troop at the advance guard [Thompson, Lieutenant AWM, MC] captured 27 motor lorries near Burkina. A strong patrol of the 9th Light Horse Regiment was sent north to the vicinity of Mukeibeleh, near where they located an abandoned motor convoy of 29 vehicles. The 10th Light Horse Regiment moved through the town took up a position across the main road from Nablus, where it comes through the pass about one mile south of Jenin. Patterson, Lieutenant RRW, with his sub section of 3rd Machine Gun Squadron was sent to support them but in the poor light, got ahead of the squadron that they were to join. Some little distance down the Nablus road at about 2100 they saw a large body of enemy approaching in the moonlight - 2,800 in fact with four guns. The Officer thought it rather a big order for his troop of 23 to take on, but his Corporal, [George, Lance Corporal B], preferred the advice that it was safer to bluff it out than retire. The Officer agreed. He put a burst of machine gun fire over the heads of the leading troops and called upon them to surrender. At first they demurred. It was their first suspicion that there were any hostile troops in front of them. In fact the Germans afterwards railed against the Turks for the latter's failure to keep them posted as to the situation. But the Turks themselves were equally ignorant. This column now found itself in a narrow gorge, wide enough for the road only, with steep hills on either side, over which single men could climb with difficulty. They were aware that they were being followed from the south. Their advance was blocked by a party of enemy whose, strength they could not gauge in the moonlight. Machine gun bullets were whistling over their heads to expedite their decision. There was at the head of the column a German nurse who spoke English fluently. Patterson, Lieutenant RRW, told her that there was an overwhelming force just to his rear. She passed his information on and after a short conference between the enemy leaders, the whole party surrendered.
The night passed without further incident, but every available man was employed collecting prisoners and material and in holding the approaches. Over 8,000 prisoners, including many officers of high rank, five guns, numerous machine guns, two aeroplane and a vast amount of material and booty of all descriptions had been captured, including a war chest wagon loaded with gold and silver coin. Much material was burned by the enemy, his dumps and aerodrome with 24 aeroplanes burning fiercely all night.
Many of the Turkish and German Officer prisoners admitted being taken completely by surprise at our unexpected appearance at the northern exits of Jenin, stating that they thought we must have landed at - Haifa, never believing it possible that we could have made such rapid progress up the coast.
9th LHR AIF War Diary, 20 September
Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.No Entry
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Bert Schramm's Diary
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Citation: Diaries of AIF Servicemen, Bert Schramm, 20 September 1918