Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
2 October 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, 2 - 4 October 1918
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Wednesday, October 2, 1918
Bert Schramm's Location - Khan Kusseir
Bert Schramm's Diary - Encountered enemy's rear guard this morning and captured thirteen hundred prisoners. I think we will have a few days spell here now. We are camped at present about ten miles north east of Damascus along the Aleppo road. The official entry into Damascus takes place today.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Khan Kusseir
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0515 Hogan, Lieutenant LR, reported a large column of infantry moving north one mile east of Regimental bivouac. Doubt existed as to whether they were enemy or part of Sherifian Army.
A mounted patrol from A Squadron was immediately dispatched to investigate and report and message signalled to Brigade headquarters reporting presence of column about 2000 strong and asking for information. B and C Squadrons were ordered to turn out in light fighting order mounted.
0530 A few shots were heard from direction of column and shortly after a galloper from 8th Light Horse Regiment standing patrol came in hurriedly along the road and reported that the column was enemy infantry. Remainder of Regiment less heavy packs was now ordered out. Reconnoitring patrol had now returned and confirmed 8th Light Horse Regiment galloper's report.
0545 The Regiment less heavy packs moved out to attack. Just after moving following messages received from Brigade Headquarters: - Believed to be Germans and move out at once and investigate 8th Light Horse Regiment and machine guns will be ready for support you if required." With B Squadron in advance and Sharp, Lieutenant RC; and, his troop from A Squadron as right flank guard the Regiment moved at 0545 at a fast trot north east along main road for about half a mile then swung towards the left through the vineyards. The rear of enemy column was now observed about one mile ahead on main road. The Regiment by increasing the pace and moving towards the foothills rapidly gained on the enemy who had by now mounted several machine guns and pushed out several small parties to his left flank to endeavour to hold up our advance. Although the Regiment came under machine gun and rifle fire the enemy failed to check the speed of our advance the Regiment soon reaching a favourable position about one mile from left flank and opposite centre of enemy column.
0700 Orders were now issued for A Squadron to move rapidly whilst B Squadron took up a position dismounted and brought fire to bear on to centre of enemy column. Regimental Headquarters was established about in Water Channel and touch gained by heliograph with Brigade.
0735 Regimental Headquarters moved to B Squadron position leaving a signal station to maintain touch with Brigade. A and C Squadron were now observed to be ahead of enemy cavalry advanced guard and to be swinging in towards main road to seize Khan Ayash and Khurbet i Asafur thus completely cutting off all chances of enemy retreat. About this time the head of main column of enemy seemed to be in a state of uncertainty and their leaders appeared to be conferring. Simultaneous with the final movement of A and C Squadron remainder of Regiment under orders from Daly, Major TJ mounted, drew swords and charged the main column detaching a small party from B Squadron to gallop around the rear of enemy. The combined movement was entirely successful. The main column surrendered before our troops reached them. A and C Squadron with drawn swords quickly charged the enemy advanced troops composed mostly of cavalry. A Squadron seized the pass and captured two 745mm guns near Khurbet i Asafur. The whole enemy force amounting to 91 officers, 515 cavalry, 1064 infantry, six Germans, 26 machine guns, one mounted gun [No. F7524], two 7.5 cm M15 GKM guns, twelve automatic rifles, 254 rifles, 285 animals was captured within one hour of the Regiment moving from bivouac at Khan Kusseir, approximately seven miles. Amongst the officers captured was the Divisional Commander who defended Shunet Nimrin against our attacks in May 1918. The Regimental Standard of the 46th Regiment was captured. Personnel captured belonged mostly to 45th Regiment.
The rapidity of movement contributed largely to the success of the operation but much credit is due to both Charley, Major WT; and, Bleechmore, Major C, for the skilful manner in which they manoeuvred their Squadrons in so quickly seizing Khan Ayash and the main road entering the pass at Khurbet i Asafur. Also Daly, Major TJ, for ordering charge and Shaw, Lieutenant OJ, for quick issue of orders.
0800 Freebairn, Lieutenant DT, with troop escorted the prisoners to Brigade Headquarters. After the past strenuous fortnight the horses responded to this additional test with wonderful vigour. Ground over which the Regiment advanced was fairly rough and covered with small loose stones. Except for a few small dry wadis the line of advance was devoid of cover. When main column surrendered Smyth, 902 Signaller RN; and, Halliday, 1258 Signaller NC, were moving back to Regimental Headquarters signal station when they encountered a party of the enemy composed of three Germans and 35 Turks taking up a position within a few hundred yards of the signal station. A German officer was mounting an automatic rifle when Smyth and Halliday with great gallantry under bomb fire rushed the German officer taking his pistol and fired into the enemy and seized the automatic rifle. The enemy were so surprised that they surrendered in a body. This promptness of action prevented the enemy obtaining reverse fire on to the portion of the Regiment guarding the main column of prisoners.
0900 After collecting the captured war material into one dump the Regiment returned to bivouac at Khan Kusseir.
1400 A Squadron moved out to reconnoitre country for stragglers six miles east of bivouac. They returned at 1700 reporting country clear of enemy. Our casualties for the day - one man accidentally injured [crushed by his horse which was shot under him] Animals - one ride killed, four rides wounded.
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary
Shortly alter 0600 a local inhabitant reported to Brigade Headquarters that there was a party of two hundred Turks asleep five kilos to the east of our camp. Instructions were at once sent to the 8th Light Horse Regiment [with four machine guns] to go and collect them. Before the 8th Light Horse Regiment had left it's lines however, [it was bivouacked about a mile towards Damascus] the night outpost of the 10th Light Horse Regiment [the forward Regiment] observed at 0615 a column of infantry moving north, one mile east of Regimental bivouac. The Regiment at once saddled up. Brigade was asked if it were known who they were, Brigade replied that believed to be enemy and to move out at once and investigate, and that the 8th Light Horse Regiment and four machine guns would support. It will be remembered that the 8th Light Horse Regiment and four machine guns had been warned some time previously to move out. The 9th Light Horse Regiment moved at 0645. It was apparent that the enemy column was making for the pass, where the Aleppo road enters the hills at Khurbet i Asafur. The 9th Light Horse Regiment had tried to intercept the enemy there tin' previous afternoon, so knew exactly what to do and the country over which they would be required to pass. The remainder of the Brigade was ordered to saddle up and follow. The Brigadier and Staff went by motor car along the Aleppo Road. The 9th Light Horse Regiment moved out at a gallop. It was imperative that they should get to the pass before the enemy could occupy it with machine guns and hold us off. The Regiment then pushed along the road for half a mile then left it wand swung to the left under the foothills. At this time the rear of the enemy column was about one mile ahead on the main road, The Regiment soon gained on the column which had now mounted several machine guns and pushed out small left flank guards. Although the Regiment came under rifle and machine gun fire its pace was not checked and it soon reached a favourable position about one mile from left flank and opposite the centre of the enemy column. A Squadron then raced for Khan Ayash and C Squadron for Khurbet i Asafur. The remaining squadron, B, dismounted and opened fire on the centre of the column with a view to throwing it into disorder. By 0735 the two leading squadrons had got level with the cavalry advanced guard of the column and was swinging on to the main road. The head of the enemy column now appeared to be in a state of uncertainty and their leaders appeared to be conferring. Simultaneous with the final movement of the two advanced squadrons the remainder of the Regiment drew swords and charged at the main column. The combined movement was entirely successful. The main column surrendered before our troops reached them and the Hotchkiss Rifles which were covering this advance were ordered to cease fire. A and C Squadrons, with drawn swords, quickly charged the enemy advanced troops composed mostly of cavalry. A Squadron at Khan Ayash rushed a machine gun just as it was mounted and ready to fire. C Squadron seized the pass and captured two 75mm guns near Khurbet i Asafur. The whole enemy force amounting to 91 officers, 318 cavalry, 1064 infantry, eight Germans, 26 machine guns, one mountain gun two - 75mm - GKN guns, twelve automatic rifles, and 285 animals were captured within one hour of Regiment moving from bivouac at Khan Kusseir, approximately seven miles.
Amongst the officers captured was the Divisional Commander who defended Shunet Nimrin against our attacks in May 1918. The Regimental Standard of the 46th Regiment was captured. Personnel captured belonged mostly to the 46th Regiment.
When main column surrendered Smyth, 902 Signaller RN; and, Halliday, 1258 Signaller NC, were moving back to Regimental Headquarters Signal Station when they encountered a party of the enemy composed of three Germans and 85 Turks, taking up a position within a few hundred yards of the signal station. A German officer was mounting an automatic rifle, when Smyth, 902 Signaller RN; and, Halliday, 1258 Signaller NC, with great gallantry rushed the German officer, taking his pistol, fired into the enemy and seized the automatic rifle. The enemy were so surprised that they surrendered in a body. Both these signallers were awarded the DCM.
Our force suffered one casualty in this engagement.
Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924, pp 158 - 162.
The Fall of Damascus
At 6.15 a.m. on the 2nd October 1918, Hogan, Lieutenant LR, Officer in Command outpost, reported that a large force of enemy infantry were moving north, one mile east of his post. Doubt existed as to whether the advancing troops were actually enemy or Sherifian troops, and a mounted patrol of B Squadron was rushed out to investigate and report. A message was despatched to Brigade Headquarters reporting the presence of approximately 2,000 infantry, and asking for information.
The Regiment was at breakfast when the report from Hogan, Lieutenant LR, was received, but within ten minutes horses had been saddled and the Regiment paraded ready to move. At 6.30 a.m. a few shots were heard from the direction of the column, and shortly afterwards a galloper from the outpost reported that the column was composed of Turkish infantry.
Orders were at once issued, and the Regiment moved out to the attack, and as the head of the Regiment cleared the olive grove the following message was received from Brigade Headquarters; "Party believed to be Germans; move and investigate at once; 8th Light Horse Regiment with four machine guns will be ready to support, if required."
With B Squadron in advance and Sharp, Lieutenant RC; and, his troop of A Squadron as right flank guard, the Regiment moved at a rapid pace north-east along the main road for about half a mile, then swung to the left among the vineyards. The rear of the enemy column was now observed about one mile along the road.
By increasing the pace and moving towards the foothills the Regiment rapidly gained on the enemy, who had now mounted several machine guns, and pushed out several small parties to their left flank, in an endeavour to hold up our advance. In spite of the heavy machine gun fire the Regiment pushed forward and reached a favourable position about one mile to the left, and opposite the centre of the enemy column.
Orders were given to A Squadron to move rapidly and seize Khan Ayash, and to C Squadron to seize the main road in the vicinity of Kubbet i Asafur. C Squadron immediately galloped forward, followed by A Squadron, under heavy fire, whilst B Squadron dismounted and opened a heavy fire on the centre of the enemy column. Regimental Headquarters established themselves near the water channel and gained touch with Brigade Headquarters by heliograph.
The two squadrons who had been sent forward were now seen to be well ahead of the enemy advance guard, and to be swinging in towards the main road to seize the villages, thus cutting off all chances of escape for the enemy. The head of the main body of the enemy seemed to hesitate as if doubtful of its next move, and their leaders appeared to be holding a conference.
As the two squadrons swung round the remainder of the Regiment under orders from Daly, Major TJ, mounted, and with drawn swords, charged the main enemy column, detaching a small party of B Squadron to move round the flank. This move had the desired effect; the main body of the enemy promptly hoisting the white flag before the charging troops reached them.
In conjunction with this move, A and C Squadrons drew swords and charged the enemy cavalry advance guard. This was the first time the Light Horse, armed as cavalry, had the chance to try conclusions with the Turkish cavalry who were armed with sword and lance, and it was expected that they would put up a fight. The determined front shown by our men must have taken all the heart out of the enemy cavalry, as they surrendered without the slightest show of resistance.
A Squadron, moving forward, rushed a machine gun just as it was mounted and ready to open fire, whilst C seized the pass into the hills, and captured two 75 cm. guns near Kubbet i Asafur.
The Regiment collected together the various portions of the enemy force and proceeded to take stock of the bag, which gave the following totals: 91 officers, 318 cavalry, 1,064 infantry, eight German machine gunners, 26 machine guns, one mountain gun [No. F 7524], two 75 cm. [M 15, G.K.N.] guns, twelve automatic rifles, 264 rifles, and 285 animals. This force was captured within one hour of leaving the bivouac at Khan Kusseir, seven miles distant.
Amongst the officers captured was the General who commanded the Turkish Division defending Shunet Nimrin in the Jordan Valley, against our attack in May, 1918. The standard of the 46th Regiment was also captured, and is believed to be the only enemy standard captured during the war. That such a force could be taken in open country in such a short time and with so few casualties, appears astounding, but the fact must not be lost sight of that they had been driven from pillar to post for the past three weeks, with no rest and little food, facts which had, no doubt, taken the heart out of them.
The rapidity of our movements contributed largely to the success of the operations, but great credit is due to both, Charley, Major WT; and, Bleechmore, Major C, for the manner in which they manoeuvred their squadrons, in seizing the pass and main road ahead of the enemy columns. Daly, Major TJ, who conducted the operations, deserves special mention for his quick decisions and plan of operations, in which he was ably seconded by Shaw, Lieutenant OJ, the Adjutant,
In spite of the hard work of the past three weeks, the horses responded bravely to this additional call, and covered the ground in fine style. The ground passed over was devoid of cover and fairly rough, being covered with stones and broken by numerous small wadis.
When the main column surrendered Smyth, 902 Signaller JM; and, Halliday, 1458 Signaller NC, who were moving to the Regimental signalling station, in galloping over a rise were suddenly confronted by a party of the enemy composed of three Germans and 85 Turks, who were taking up a position within a few hundred yards of the signal station. A German officer was mounting a machine gun when Smyth, 902 Signaller JM; and, Halliday, 1458 Signaller NC, with great gallantry, and under a shower of bombs, rushed at the officer and snatched his revolver, which he had hastily drawn, from his hand. With this revolver they fired into the enemy and seized the machine gun, the prompt action so surprising the enemy that they surrendered.
Smyth, 902 Signaller JM; and, Halliday, 1458 Signaller NC, were both awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for this gallant act, which prevented the enemy establishing a post from which a destructive fire could have been turned on the rear of the Regiment.
Freebairn, Lieutenant DT, with one troop, escorted the prisoners to Brigade Headquarters, where they were handed over. After collecting the captured war material into one dump, which was placed under a guard, the Regiment returned to bivouac to finish its breakfast, which had been so rudely interrupted. At 2 p.m. A Squadron was sent out to reconnoitre the country six miles east of the bivouac for stragglers, returning at 5 p.m. and reporting "all clear."
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Citation: Diaries of AIF Servicemen, Bert Schramm, 2 October 1918