Topic: AIF - 2B - 5 LHR
Bir el Mazar
Sinai, 17 September 1916
Brigadier General Lachlan Chisholm Wilson and Captain Henry Wetherell, collaborated to produce a unit history published in 1926 called History Of The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914 - 1919 which included a section specifically related to the Battle of Bir el Mazar and is extracted below. A copy of this book is available on the Lost Leaders of Anzacs website.
Wilson, L.C. and Wetherell, H., History Of The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914 - 1919, Motor Press, Sydney, 1926:
CHAPTER 20. MAZAR (September, 1916).
On the 16th September orders were received to operate against the Turkish advance garrison at Mazar. These operations were to be undertaken by the Anzac Mounted Division (Major-General Chauvel). Accordingly, on the 16th September, the Regiment, less one squadron then on outpost, left Fatir at 2.50 a.m. The outpost squadron joined the Regiment at Bada. The Brigade arrived at Ge’eila at dawn. It remained there during the day under cover of the palms. Our aeroplanes were active with a view of preventing Turkish reconnaissance, but overdid their work, as the unusual aerial activity on our part, we heard afterwards, caused the Turks to come to the conclusion that an offensive was in hand. The Brigade left Ge’eila at 4.45 p.m. This Regiment formed the advance-guard. At a point on the southern road, north of Hill 157, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade (Royston) moved south-east, with a view of attacking Mazar from the east. The 2nd Brigade moved on east, this Regiment forming the advance-guard as before. When within about two miles of Mazar instructions were received for this Regiment to reconnoitre the enemy. Arriving at a line running north and south through Hill 30, our advance scouts located two enemy outposts, one on the road and one half a mile to the north. Two troops then advanced dismounted on the south post and three troops were sent to outflank it on the right, the machine guns taking up position to cover the advance. One troop was sent north to Point 50. Before the attacking troops could reach the enemy outposts, the enemy retired on camels. It was now dawn. The Regiment then advanced to a ridge overlooking Mazar. Three troops of “A” Squadron advanced on the right and two troops of “C” Squadron to the front, 1000 yards further on. The left flank of the advance line was within 200 yards of the enemy trenches and the right flank was within 800 yards. Rifle fire and machine gun fire was opened on the enemy. A message was then received from the Brigade that Mazar was said to be to the south and for he Regiment not to advance any further east. It appears that this information was obtained from a native Egyptian guide, who alleged he knew the country. As a matter of fact, he was wrong. Mazar, which was a locality, not a village, was really in our immediate front. The instructions given to the 3rd Brigade was that their objective was to be reached at 6 a.m. The Camel Brigade was supposed to cooperate with the Division, but for some reason it did not put in an appearance until after the 3rd Brigade had withdrawn.
At 6. 10 a.m. the C.O. intercepted a message from the 3rd Brigade that it had decided to withdraw. Shortly afterwards, we received a message to keep the 3rd Brigade in view and conform. The C.O. then intercepted a message from the 7th Regiment to the Brigade that the 3rd Brigade was retiring and that the 7th Regiment was withdrawing. Our advance squadrons were accordingly withdrawn to conform. General Chauvel and General Ryrie then arrived at R.H.Q., and gave instructions that we were not to retire beyond our then position until satisfied that the 3rd Brigade and the 7th Regiment had retired. On ascertaining that those two units had retired and that the batteries had done so also, the Regiment escorted the guns to the rendezvous. During the latter part of our stay at Mazar, the enemy anti-aircraft guns were converted into field pieces and shelled us.
The Regiment marched to a point north of Moseifig, where it halted for water. Water, as a matter of fact, had been brought out by a large number of camels for the column but owing to defective arrangements, the first units to the watering supply drank all the water and there was none left for the second half. One squadron only of this Unit watered and the remainder being unable to obtain any moved on to Salmana, arriving at 7 p.m. Here we got water. We camped until 3.30 a.m. the following morning, and then moved on to Hassaniya with the Brigade. Our casualties during these operations were one man killed and three wounded.
On the 24th September a census of the Regiment was taken, which showed that 160 of the original members of the Regiment were then with the Unit in the field.