Topic: AIF - DMC - Anzac MD
The Battle of Magdhaba
Sinai, 23 December 1916
RHA HQ, Anzac MD, AIF, War Diary Account
Reporton the Royal Horse Artillery, Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division.
23 December 1916
Reference 1:125,000, El Arish and Kossaima Sheet.
0100 - The Inverness Shire Battery with three first line wagons from Division Ammunition Column and Somerset Battery with four first line wagons found by Leicestershire Battery, marching in rear of the leading Brigade, left the rendezvous south of El Arish.
The complete section of the Divisional Ammunition Column left camp and marched to Bir Lahfan with an escort formed by Leicestershire Battery.
0600 - The Column halted. Commander, Royal Artillery accompanied General Officer Commanding (Major General Chauvel) in his reconnaissance.
0830 - Operation orders received. These were slightly modified by General Chaytor's force pushing on to intercept the enemy, reported by aeroplane to be retiring. The batteries then cooperated.
0950 - Inverness Shire Battery came into action behind a ridge about three miles due north of El Magdhaba, against positions of two enemy guns indicated by the dust of discharge, about six hundred yards due east of "White houses".
1000 - Somerset Battery came into action in a position further east with a view to being more favourably placed should reported enemy retreat materialise. They opened fire on parties seen moving north of the White Houses, they also engaged the guns above mentioned. At this time they were silenced, but all through the action they fired spasmodically, having as reported by aeroplane, changed their position, confirming our observation.
The Inverness Shire Battery now fired on a ridge about half a mile west of the White Houses, from which fire appeared to be directed on Imperial Camel Corps. Meanwhile the Somerset Battery fired on parties south of White Houses as asked for by Brigadier General Royston.
1230 - Inverness Battery fired on ridges where enemy movement had been noticed, east of White Houses. Targets were very indistinct, partly owing to mirage effect as at four o'clock in the afternoon a much clearer idea of the position was possible that there was during the heat of the day. Also the enemy position was particularly well suited to concealment of their works. It apparently comprises several indefinite partial ridges. A Forward Observation Officer was sent out but owing the fact that the ground in front of the position was dead flat, got no better view than that from the original observation station. He was able, however, from information gathered from officers commanding the attack to give useful help. Owing to the nature of the battle which was essentially a quickly carried out cavalry attack, it was impossible to have close cooperation between the attacking parties and the Batteries. Valuable assistance was however rendered by the Royal Flying Corps, especially by one officer who rode up to the Commander, Royal Artillery's position and drew a sketch of the enemy position. To emphasise the difficulty of observation, he was unable to recognise position of the ground that he had seen clearly from the air. He ascended quickly and dropped a smoke ball over their main redoubt.
1400 - At this time, as the Somerset Battery was not in a better position to observe they were brought up on the right of the Inverness Shire Battery with a view to closer cooperation.
1500 - A team was seen coming up about a half mile east of the White Houses and the gun came into view, fire was brought to bear and a direct hit obtained.
1520 - Both Batteries stopped firing.
1700 - Both Batteries started back for El Arish under escort one Squadron, 1st Australian Light Hors Regiment an reached there about 2400
I consider the fact that these batteries, after a long and trying march mostly by night, returned with their teams undistressed and with only one mule slightly galled, reflects the greatest credit on the previous training and consistent trouble taken by all ranks in these batteries.
Casualties - Nil
Inverness Shire Battery - 490
Somerset Battery - 108
Total - 606
Citation: The Battle of Magdhaba, Sinai, December 23, 1916, RHA HQ, Anzac MD, AIF, War Diary Account