Topic: AIF - DMC - British
Battle of Romani
Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916
125th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account
125th Infantry Brigade, 42nd Infantry Division.
0800 - Orders to be ready to move at a moment's notice received. Camels and fanatis arrived at dawn. They are distributed to units, loaded and leave for Pelusium at 1400. Units being unaccustomed to these animals baggage train proceeds much later than should have been the case.
1730 - Brigade entrains on 3 trains arriving Pelusium between 1800 and 2200.
Pelusium occupied by one Battalion of 127th Brigade on outposts. This Battalion is immediately relieved by the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers to enable Battalion of 127th Brigade to rejoin rest of Brigade at Mount Royston. 125th Brigade Group Order No. 4 issued. Some 800 Turkish prisoners are brought in after dark in parties by New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and Yeomanry. 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers mount guard over them and about 2,700 they are despatched by train to Kantara. 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters arrives about 2330. The Brigade bivouacs each Battery in separate areas in low ground round the siding in order to diminish possibility of being shelled at dawn. After dark the mounted troops who had been engaged during the day returned here to water and bivouacs. The night being dark, the watering arrangements inadequate and no arrangements having been made to allot areas to larger formations beforehand, there was a good deal of confusion, particularly after the camel trains of the 127th and 125th Brigades begun to arrive about midnight.
0215 - Orders from 42nd Infantry Division received for 125th Infantry Brigade Group to move at 0400 to Bir el Enna via Mount Royston in support of the right flank of Anzac Mounted Division. The advance had been ordered to begin at 0400. Owing to the late hour at which orders were issued, the difficulty of watering animals and filling men's water bottles (the camel train and fantasses not having arrived before midnight) and to a great deal of lack of system in units due to their lack of training in field operations and inexperience of the majority of the officers, the column did not move till 0515. The 1st Line transport which should have accompanied it did not start till considerably later. As the camels were only issued to units the previous day and they had had no previous experience of them this is not remarkable, considering the darkness of the night and the congestion of the bivouac area. The transport might however have got under way quicker than it did. The Brigade advanced in Artillery formation to Mount Royston - 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers as advanced guard, 1/7th Lancashire Fusiliers on right and 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers on left each with a company on flank guard, 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers, which had to be collected from outposts followed on as rear guard a considerable distance behind. "C" Battery, 125 Machine Gun Company and 1st Field Company, marched in the centre. The Field Ambulance was late and was to follow when ready.
0800 - Brigade arrived Mount Royston and halted on west side of hill.
0900 - Moved forward in same formation toward Hod es Sefaniya arriving there about 1115. The 127th Infantry Brigade was in front on high ground about 1 mile to the east. The men much exhausted by heat and lack of food and water and some 300 had fallen out. "C" Battery, unable to move beyond Mount Royston owing to heavy sand and no water was received of the Field Ambulance till some days later.
The camel train came up about 1300 and the men had a meal. This being the 3rd day the camels had been without water the fact was represented to the division and orders received to send them to Pelusim in the evening, to return early next day. The 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers halted at Bir umm Ziyad till evening with C. Battery.
1630 - Brigade moved forward and took up a position south west of Katib Gannit in touch with 156th Infantry Brigade of 52nd Infantry Division on the left and with 127th Infantry Brigade on right. 1/7th Lancashire Fusiliers and 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers in front line. 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers and 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers in support.
1900 - All camels except those for reserve small arms ammunition sent back to Pelusium for forage and water and ordered to return at once with next day's returns and water for units. Enough water only remains for tonight and one full water bottle per man to start with tomorrow. The supply train which was supposed to arrive daily at refilling points for Brigades with rest days rations and water has not materialized and consequently 1st Line camels have to go back for this purpose, dumping their loads in the desert, whilst the Brigade will forward tomorrow with one water bottle full per man and 1 day's iron rations.
Telegram G. 58 received. Brigade to be ready to move by 0400 tomorrow.
0320 - Telegram G. 58 received. Brigade to be ready to move by 0400 to support mounted troops and occupy line Bir Mamluk to ruins of Qatir exclusive.
0330 - 125th Infantry Brigade Group Order No. 5 issued.
0660 - Brigade does not move off till close on 0500. At first the advance is in two lines of Battalions until the hilly ground is cleared.
0530 - 125th Infantry Brigade Group Order No. 6 issued. 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers move on as Advance Guard, followed by 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers and 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers with 1/7th Lancashire Fusiliers in reserve. All move on a bearing of 90 degrees. As the day gets hotter many men fall out from heat and exhaustion. In order to start with full water bottles it was not possible to arrange for meal before starting.
1000 - Brigade arrived Qatia; the cavalry following up the enemy a short distance to the east. Four platoons are put out on observation posts 1,000 yards to east whilst remainder are seated in the palm groves.
1500 - 125th Infantry Brigade Group Order No. 8 issued. 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers and 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers go out on Outposts. The Brigade (four Battalions and Machine Gun Company) had left hill 70 on the 4th inst. with a strength of 129 Officers and 2,673 Other Ranks. 39 Officers and 953 Other Ranks had been left there, either surplus or those who were not considered fit enough for desert operations; being fresh drafts or not sufficiently robust. The Brigade marched into Qatia with 98 Officers and 1,914 Other Ranks. Except for about 150 of them on escort duty, the balance had not been able to complete the march.
Place/Item Officers Other Ranks Hill 70, 4 August 168 3,626 Marching out from Hill 70 129 2,673 Remaining at Hill 70 39 953 Escort Duty 150 Unable to complete march 31 609 Qatia, 6 August 98 1,914
Roll of Honour
Lest We Forget
Citation: Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 125th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account