Topic: AIF - 2B - 5 LHR
Battle of Romani
Sinai, 4 - 5 August 1916
5th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account
War Diary account of the 5th LHR, AIF.
Thursday, August 3, 1916 –
From information received early in the morning from the Officers Patrols watching the enemy at Mageibra it was evident that a large hostile force was advancing from the latter place towards Bir el Hamisah and Bir Nagid. Estimated force in the vicinity towards evening holding an outpost line on high ridge two thousand yards east of Nagid extending south east toward Bir Waset.
Instructions were received that the 5th Regiment should reconnoitre Nagid at dawn, the object being to locate the enemy’s left flank and to find out if possible his strength. Any serious engagement with the enemy to be avoided.
Friday, August 4, 1916 –
The Regiment marched out of Dueidar at 1230 on the night of the 3rd/4th a halt was made at Nuss to consult Major Whitehorn in command of a squadron of the Auckland Mounted Rifles which was supplying the Officer’s Patrols watching Mageibra. Major Whitehorn informed us that at dusk there was apparently no change in the situation and that the enemy had not advanced during the day.
At Nuss the Regiment left at 0245 the road along the old telegraph line moving in a South East Direction in order to arrive at Nagid from the South. This was accomplished and at dawn the advance guard reported Nagid all clear. The advance guard moved on the high ridges 2,000 yards south of Nagid. Upon reaching this position the advance scouts detected a large body of the enemy, apparently two battalions, approximate strength 1,500, marching in a north westerly direction.
The enemy force had as protection small flank and advance guards of Camel men. The enemy on seeing our advance scouts ald left flanking patrols immediately took up a position along a high ridge between our position and the valley up which they were marching towards hod el Enna. They opened fire at comparatively short range with machine guns and mountain guns. Our casualties were two – one officer – Lieutenant Hicks and one Other Rank wounded. Having attained our object and located the left flank of the enemy force and found their strength, the Regiment returned to Nuss and reported by telephone to General Chauvel.
After leaving Nuss when proceeding to Nagid, the rifle fire was heard in the direction of Romani, which increased considerably towards dawn, it afterwards appeared that this was the main Turkish attack upon the outpost line held that night by the 1st Light Horse Brigade, extending from the entrenched Romani position towards Hod el Enna and linking up with the outposts of the squadron of Auckland Mounted Rifles camped at Nuss. The outpost supplied by the New Zealand Squadron on the road near Dhaba was practically surrounded by the advancing enemy, Lieutenant Alsop the officer in charge being captured.
Upon arrival of the Regiment at Nuss instructions were received from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade to proceed three miles back on the road towards Dueidar and await instructions from the Brigade. This was done. Touch was got with various signalling stations but no instructions could be obtained or information as to the whereabouts of the Brigade. After waiting there a couple of hours the Regiment moved to the North West of the sand hills – similar efforts were made there.
Not withstanding efforts throu8ght the day to get communication and orders from the Brigade, towards sundown we were absolutely in the dark as to where the Brigade was, we had had no orders since leaving Nuss and although one message to the Brigade asking for orders had been taken by the Hill 383 Station, no reply was received. At sundown the Commanding Officer decided to return to Dueidar. The Squadron of the Auckland Regiment had accompanied the Regiment from Nuss.
The presence of this Regiment at Nagid on this morning had undoubtedly a substantial effect on the Turkish reserves. It now appears that they were stationed that night at Maraieh. The two battalions seen by us were no doubt part of that reserve marching to reinforce the attack on Et Maler. We have since been informed that upon the firing opening at Nagid there was a cessation for two hour of reinforcements to the Turkish firing line.
General Antill arrived at Dueidar with the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at 1930. The Regiment was attached to this Brigade for the time being.
Saturday, August 5, 1916 –
The 3rd Light Horse Brigade plus this Regiment marched from Dueidar to Nuss. Upon arrival at Nuss we met the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade and this Regiment rejoined the latter Brigade.
The New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade marched towards Qatia along the telegraph line. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade marched towards Hamisah. The 1st and 2nd Brigades and the Yeomanry Brigade were marching towards Qatia from Romani.
The Turkish attacks upon Romani had been repulsed, many prisoners and guns had been captured and General Chauvel with the Anzac Mounted Division was moving out in pursuit. At Midday, orders were received that a charge would be made upon Qatia oasis. From information received the Turks still had their batteries of large guns there but no large force of men. The New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade were to advance from the South, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade moving in on the right of this Brigade. The 1st and 2nd Brigades under Colonel Royston were to advance on the oasis from the west of their position being on the left flank of the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade, the 5th Mounted Brigade advancing on the oasis from the North. It was ordered that the attacking Brigades rush the Qatia position, it being believed that a resolute advance would cause the Turks to surrender. The 5th Light Horse Regiment and the Auckland Mounted Rifles were ordered to rush that part of Qatia consisting of the strips of timber separated from the main oasis by the swamp and about half a mile to the south of the road. Their guns were reported to be in this timber. The Regiment with fixed bayonets was formed in two lines – “A” and “B” Squadrons in front line, “C” Squadron and Machine Gun Section in second at a distance of 50 yards, squadrons in line of troop columns. After galloping half a mile the squadron formed line. The Regiment covered a front of about 500 yards. In this formation we galloped another half mile and charged into the oasis – no guns were there, two prisoners were taken. The Regiment was then reformed while this was being done artillery and machine guns opening on us. Men were dismounted and worked towards the right and went into action.
It was found that the main Qatia oasis was strongly held with machine guns. The ridges immediately east were also strongly held. The 5th Regiment was able to advance nearly a mile on the south eastern edge of the oasis. The 3rd Light Horsed Brigade being held up at Hamisah by a strong force of the enemy were unable to come into position. At dusk the order was received to retire. The Brigade accordingly retired to Romani to bivouac for the night.
The casualties in the Regiment during this engagement amounted to 28 including the following officers – Major Wright and Bolingbroke, Captains Chatham, McNeill and Plant, and Lieutenant Waite.
Sunday, August 6, 1916 –
The Brigade moved out to Qatia. The enemy had evacuated this oasis. The Brigade moved to Umm Ugla. On reaching this position it was found that the enemy had taken up the Oghratina position. The Brigade was under heavy shell fire during the day. This Regiment suffering one casualty. The Brigade bivouacked at El Rabah on the night of the 6th – 7th.
Roll of Honour
Lest We Forget
Citation: Romani, Sinai, 4-5 August 1916, 5th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account