Topic: AIF - 3B - 3 LHFA
The Jifjafa Raid
Sinai, 10 - 14 April 1916
3rd LHFA, AIF, Unit History Account
Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Eugene Macdonald Stuart produced a unit history of the 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance, AIF, in which included a section specifically related to the Jifjafa Raid and extracted below.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Eugene Macdonald Stuart, 3rd Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance from Formation to March 1919, pp. 21 - 22:
JIFF JAFFA STUNT.
On the 8th. April 1916, Capt. G.E.M. STUART came to RAILHEAD, SERAPEUM and ordered four horses to be harnessed and hooked in a sand cart, the team to be driven from the box. This was the first time we had driven four horses with the long rein in a sand cart and proved quite a success. This and other doings caused some excitement and quite a lot of rumours to get afloat.
Everybody had a good idea what was going to happen (but, owing to the usual military secrecy), nothing had been officially announced. At this time there was only a small detachment of the ambulance at RAILHEAD.
Two days later we received orders to prepare for a five days' stunt and MAJOR E.R. WHITE with some bearers and another sand cart came out to RAILHEAD. On the morning of the 11th. we moved out of camp at 0955. Our party consisted of one officer, two corporals, three bearers, three drivers and two sand carts. Our first stop was at ROADHEAD which was about three miles from RAILHEAD. This also was the concentration point of the JIFF JAFFA reconnaissance force and consisted of one squadron of the 9th. A.L.H. Regt., a detachment of machine gunners, some Engineers, an Imperial Wireless Section and the Ambulance party. A section of the Camel Transport, escorted by a few BIKINEERS, left the previous day with rations and water. Accompanying the Wireless Section were 6 camels carrying cacolets of both the lying down (stretcher) and sitting up type. Before we left ROADHEAD we were inspected by BRIGADIER GENERAL J.M. ANTILL who was in charge of the 3rd. A.L.H. Bde. at the time. The column then moved off, it being about 1400 and very hot. We travelled until 1800, when we stopped, fed our horses and had something to eat ourselves. I believe we travelled till 2345 when we came up with the ration and water convoy. After watering and feeding our horses we camped until 0700 on the 12th. when we were on the move again. We were now travelling along the bed of a wadi, the name being WADI UMM MUKSHEIB, it was very good going and we made good pace. We arrived at the MOIYA HARAB WELLS about 1130 and camped. The wells were full of good water and the surrounding country was very rough and stony. This was as far as the Transport went, it being impossible to take it any further.
Soon after sunset the column (Light Horse, Wireless Section, and cacolet camels) was on the move again from the wells leaving a small guard behind with the wheeled transport and baggage. After travelling all night it rested for a short time in the morning when one of our aeroplanes reported the position and approximate strength of the enemy who were sinking a water bore some little distance ahead. About 1000 on the 13th. the Light Horse attacked the enemy, killing four, wounding four and capturing about 30. Only one got away and he escaped on a camel. The wounded were brought in as far as the WELLS on the camel cacolets. After destroying the bore and plant it was necessary to return as our plane had observed a large enemy force not a great distance away.
On the night of the 12th. some excitement was caused at the transport camp by an enemy (probably Bedouins) firing on the camp. As it was a "rough" night it was impossible to ascertain their numbers. The camp guard, under Lt. NELSON, held them back while the ambulance drivers dug trenches and by daylight we were in a fairly strong position. The enemy, evidently not knowing our strength, retired before morning. The 13th. was a very busy day for everyone in the MOIYA HARAB camp, digging trenches, clearing scrub and consolidating the camp as another visit from the enemy was fully expected that night. Fortunately this did not occur.
The column arrived back at the well about 2200 on the 13th. after a strenuous and victorious stunt. We only lost one man and he, unfortunately, was shot through the head.
At 0900 the following morning we commenced our return journey. About halfway back to RAILHEAD a rather wonderful sight was witnessed. A volume of water about three feet hight in front overtook the column. This was caused by some heavy thunder storms back in the hills. When it overtook us it was running through the desert where one would believe water had never been. One of the Bedouin guides with the column said such a sight was very rarely seen. The main body of the column camped soon after this but the ambulance had to keep moving on account of having wounded Turks in the carts. We arrived at RAILHEAD about 0500, the remainder of the column arriving there later the same day.
Thus ended one of the most successful and finest organized small stunts on the desert, one of the main features being the arrangements of supplies and water.
Three days later the whole force was inspected by GENERAL GODLEY and MAJOR SCOTT, who was in charge of the operation, received a D.S.O.
Further Reading:Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: The Jifjafa Raid, Sinai, April 10 to 14, 1916, 3rd LHFA, AIF, Unit History Account