Topic: AIF - 3B - 3 LHB
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary Account
War Diary of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, AIF
The War Diary provides an excellent reference to the day to day activities of note that occurred within a particular unit. They were never designed to be histories in themselves but aids to future historians who wish to write about their deeds. The War Diary was often written up at the end of the day when most men were weary and seen as just another useless activity demanded by "the Heads" in far off places. It was only years later when unit histories were produced that the value of the War Diaries became to be realised by the men. The result is that the War Diary is usually light on detail. These details can be supplemented by Routine Orders and signals where these may exist.
The entry for Saturday, 1 December 1917 is transcribed below.
War Diary Entry
Saturday, 1 December 1917
3rd Light Horse Brigade -
3rd Light Horse Brigade -
0100 - The post on the right of the Brigade Sector at approximately Sq J.26.2.o.7 heard movement in the immediate front.
0110 - Enemy estimated strength 500 attacked the above mentioned post with bombs and rifle grenades.
0115 - Part of Gloucester Yeomanry, 48 all ranks in strength under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Palmer, DSO, moved from position of support at El Burj to assist the 8th Light Horse Regiment.
0150 - The above mentioned party reinforced the 8th Light Horse Regiment on the right and was forced to withdraw 200 - 300 yards towards the main line of defence.
0200 - Enemy pressed on towards main line of defence delivering a strong attack using bombs of both Cricket Ball and Stick type, Rifle Grenades and Automatic Rifles. Whilst making this advance the enemy came under the enfilade fire of one Squadron 9th Light Horse Regiment and two machine guns from Sq. J.19.a.8.4.
0250 - One Company 1st/4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers, strength about 130 all ranks reinforced the 8th Light Horse Regiment and went into the firing line at once, arriving just prior to the full development of the enemy attack. This company at once operated with Mills Grenades with great effect and assisted materially in holding up the enemy attack.
0300 - Enemy held up within 30 yards of our main position.
0315 - 2nd Company 1st/4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers moved from El Burj to position of support immediately in rear of 8th Light Horse Regiment. Bombers of this company were sent into the firing line.
0400 - Enemy fire and bombing had considerably decreased with the exception of one trench mortar which was firing from the neighbourhood of Shilta.
0520 - The effect of the enfilade fire of the 9th Light Horse Regiment and the two machine guns in position Sq.J.19.a.8.4 prevented the retirement of the enemy.
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary, Saturday, 1 December 1917, page 2.
0520 - The effect of the enfilade fire of the 9th Light Horse Regiment and the two machine guns in position Sq.J.19.a.8.4 prevented the retirement of the enemy. On movements towards both flanks of the enemy, one by 1st/4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers and one by 8th Light Horse Regiment and assisted by fire from 8th Light Horse Regiment, the two flanking parties succeeded in securing 105 unwounded prisoners.
0545 - Detachments from 8th Light Horse Regiment and the Company 1st/4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers in support pushed forward and occupied the position located on the right flank in the early stage of the attack.
On the 8th Light Horse Regiment calling for Artillery support by means of flares, as the enemy attack commenced, 268th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and the Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery opened fire on enemy approaching from Shilta. As the enemy attack developed the battery searched all the wadis leading towards Shilta . At dawn a barrage was put down in rear of the attacking enemy so as to prevent any attempt at withdrawal.
Machine Guns -
With the 9th Light Horse Regiment at Sq.J.19.a.8.4 also put down a barrage rear of enemy and prevented several attempts at withdrawal.
Our Casualties -8th Light Horse Regiment -Killed: 1 Officer; 5 Other Ranks.Wounded: 3 Officers; 31 Other Ranks.
9th Light Horse Regiment -Wounded: 0 Officers; 2 Other Ranks.
3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron -Wounded: 0 Officers; 3 Other Ranks.Missing: 0 Officers; 1 Other Ranks.
Gloucester Yeomanry -Killed: 1 Officer; 1 Other Ranks.Wounded: 0 Officers; 4 Other Ranks.
1st/4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers -Killed: 0 Officers; 1 Other Ranks.Wounded: 1 Officer; 2 Other Ranks.
Total Casualties -Killed: 2 Officers; 7 Other Ranks.Wounded: 4 Officers; 42 Other Ranks.Missing: 0 Officers; 1 Other Ranks.
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary, Saturday, 1 December 1917, page 3.
Total Turkish Casualties -Killed: 120 All Ranks.Wounded Prisoners: 0 Officers; 20 Other Ranks.Unwounded Prisoners: 6 Officers; 98 Other Ranks.Total Prisoners: 6 Officers; 118 Other Ranks.
Enemy dead on the right of the 8th Light Horse Regiment Sector 20 and opposite the left of the same sector 100.
Included in the captured material were 8 Automatic Rifles similar to Hotchkiss Guns, 72 Rifles, 38 Bayonets, 8 tripods, one box spare parts, 2 spare barrels.
1000 - Enemy shelling El Burj intermittently, otherwise situation quiet.
1200 - 9th Light Horse Regiment reported enemy consolidating position Sq.J.1.D.0.0. 16 enemy in vicinity of the position.
1400 - Following message received from 20th Corps. "Corps Commander much admires the staunchness of your troops who with small forces beat off strong attack of the enemy last night, and captured so many prisoners."
1415 - Following message received from Desert Mounted Corps. "Please convey Corps Commander's congratulations to Lieutenant Colonel McLaurin and all ranks 8th Light Horse Regiment on their brilliant fight last night."
1700 - 1st/4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers moved from El Burj to join 156th Brigade en route to Latron.
1730 - Dispositions for night as follows:-8th Light Horse Regiment holding right sector;9th Light Horse Regiment holding left sector;Gloucester Yeomanry in support 400 yards north of El Burj.
1930 - 7th Mounted Brigade moved from position of Divisional Reserve and was placed at the disposal of the General Officer Commanding 3rd Light Horse Brigade who disposed as follows:El Burj - One regiment and 4 machine guns in reserve to Brigade;One Regiment and 2 machine guns in support of Brigade at Sq.D85.J.26.a.5.10.
2215 - Two Companies, 6th Dublin Fusiliers arrived at El Burj -
7th Mounted Brigade took up these positions at 2030.One Company to be employed by 3rd Light Horse Brigade in case of attack.Second Company Divisional Reserve and not to be employed without reference to Headquarters, Australian Mounted Division.
Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
The Battle of El Burj, 1 December 1917
The War Diary of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, AIF is held by the Australian War Memorial and available online at no cost.
Citation: El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917, 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary Account