Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR
9th LHR, AIF
War Diary, 27 March
Pro Gloria et Honore - For Glory and Honour
Regimental March - Marching Through Georgia
Friday, March 27, 1914
See 4th Military District, South Australia for militia activities.
Saturday, March 27, 1915
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Mena Camp, Egypt.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - No entry.
Carew Reynell Diary - No entry.
Monday, March 27, 1916
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Serapeum, Egypt.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - No entry.
Tuesday, March 27, 1917
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - NE of Gaza.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - At 0200 word was received from Brigade Headquarters to withdraw after the 8th Light Horse Regiment.
At 0230 the 8th Light Horse Regiment had completed withdrawing and about 0300 the Regiment withdrew and acted as rearguard to the column which moved off at 0330 without hindrance from the enemy. Moved east of Gaza to Wadi Ghuzze.
At dawn the Turks who had moved their flank around during the night attacked the rear guard and flank but were held off by Yeomanry on the flank and C Squadron working in association with the Armoured Car Detachment. The rear of the column was also shelled from a high ridge over to the east. But with the exception of two horses wounded no casualties were sustained. During the rearguard action C Squadron had two Other Ranks wounded.
The Wadi Ghuzze was crossed at 1700 and horses were watered at the large water hole north of Deir el Belah where the Brigade bivouacked.
At 1600 the Division moved to the vicinity of point 320 near the east of Goz el Taire and bivouacked for the night.
Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924, pp 78 - 80.
First Battle of Gaza
Two Divisions of British Infantry had been brought forward to assist in the big task, viz., the 52nd and 53rd British Divisions, together with their Artillery. Some heavy batteries had also been brought forward and made a welcome addition to our force which now numbered close on 70,000 of all arms.
As far as could be gathered from the available information it was intended to capture Gaza by a frontal attack to be delivered by the Infantry, whilst the mounted troops and Imperial Camel Corps swung round to the left and attacked in the rear, thus cutting the enemy communications.
At dawn on the 26th March 1917, the whole country was enveloped in a thick fog, the first experienced, which made it impossible to see for any distance, and the recognition of landmarks became impossible. In spite of this, the mounted troops moved off at the allotted time, crossing the Wadi Ghuzze at Sheikh Nebhan and moving through Sheikh Abbas to the vicinity of Khirbit Sihan.
A position was taken up at this point to prevent enemy reinforcements moving up from Hareira, which lies about ten miles south east of Gaza, on the Beersheba road. The fog, which might have been turned to our advantage, as the attacking Infantry could, under its cover, have advanced right up to the outskirts of Gaza and Ali Muntar, proved the reverse, as when it lifted the Infantry were found to be far in rear of their positions. An enemy aeroplane could be heard buzzing overhead waiting for the fog to lift. When this happened it flew over the surrounding country, the pilot firing smoke signals over each body of troops, thus giving the range to their gunners.
About 9 a.m. the sun was shining brilliantly, and some distance ahead the Anzac Mounted Division could be seen moving in a north-easterly direction, disappearing a little later behind the Mansura ridge. The Anzacs were to hold the line from Huj to the sea, and the Imperial Camel Corps from our left to the Wadi Ghuzze. Clouds of light dust could be seen in the direction of Beersheba, and it was evident that enemy cavalry were moving to the assistance of their comrades at Gaza.
The Brigade halted on the Mansura Ridge, near Tel el Ahmar at 10 a.m. and awaited orders. News was received that the Anzacs had succeeded in completely isolating Gaza, and that they had captured the commander of the 53rd Turkish Division, together with his staff officers and escort, as he was entering the town to direct operations.
The booming of heavy guns was heard and high explosive shells began to fall on a ridge half a mile south of the Brigade. These were evidently fired from Abu Hareira, and although the fire was kept up for some hours it is doubtful whether they caused a single casualty. As there were a number of wells in the vicinity the opportunity was taken to water the horses after which they were given a small feed, and the men snatched a hasty meal.
At about 3.30 p.m. the Brigade received orders to move rapidly to a position near Australia Hill. As the Brigade up to this time had taken no part in the fight everyone was delighted at the prospect of doing his share. Moving at a fast trot the Brigade reached Anzac Ridge, now the Headquarters of the Anzac Mounted Division, and here orders were given to the Brigadier that the 3rd Light Horse Brigade was to intercept and hold off the large enemy reinforcements, consisting of about 4,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry, which had been reported as advancing from the direction of Huj.
The 10th Light Horse Regiment were detached to act as a reserve, and the remainder of the Brigade galloped out and occupied a chain of small hills about two miles east of Gaza, completely blocking the path of the enemy reinforcements which were advancing in various columns at a distance of about two miles. The Regiment took the right of the Brigade line, and gained touch with the Berkshire Yeomanry who was on our right.
This new force of the enemy which had to be dealt with had evidently been marching for some hours as their rate of march was below normal and they appeared tired. As soon as they came within 2,000 yards the Brigade opened fire, and the Notts Battery, which had pushed well forward, opened a heavy shrapnel fire, which appeared to be well on the target.
At 5 p.m. the Yeomanry on our right were heavily engaged and our line was pushed well forward and strengthened by some armoured cars and a portion of the 8th Light Horse Regiment. As this new move threatened the enemy's flank they were obliged to fall back slightly. As darkness approached our line was shortened and an outpost line taken up.
During these movements the Infantry had delivered their assault against the formidable Ali Muntar, and in spite of heavy casualties had succeeded in taking a number of the outer works, but could not drive the stubborn Turks from the main position. The British Infantry made a splendid show as they advanced by waves in the face of a withering rifle and machine gun fire, their movements being as orderly as if on a peace parade.
Much to the surprise and disgust of all ranks, orders were received to the effect that the whole force would retire during the night to the Wadi Ghuzze. It was the first time our force had received such orders, and everyone wondered at the cause, some doubting the genuineness, but as they were verified shortly afterwards it was realized by all that there must be some good and sufficient reason for them.
The 3rd Light Horse Brigade was to cover the retirement, and remained in position until 2 a.m., at which time the 8th Light Horse Regiment were ordered to withdraw. At 3 a.m. the Regiment withdrew, acting as rearguard to the whole force, and moving round to the east and south of the defences made for the Wadi Ghuzze.
The Turks during the night had sent large reinforcements from Tel el Sheria, and when in the vicinity of Khirbit Sihan our flank guards got into touch with them. C Squadron, in conjunction with the armoured cars, formed the rear and flank guards, and from this point to the Wadi fought a continuous rearguard action, doing splendid work in checking the enemy's advance, and allowing the whole column to pass in safety over the Wadi.
The enemy now opened a continuous shell fire from the south, and the Regiment altered its formation to columns of sections, moving in echelon, and by continually altering the pace and direction succeeded in completing the retirement with only two casualties, two horses being wounded. The Wadi was crossed at 7 a.m. and the Regiment proceeded to Deir el Belah, a distance of four miles, where the horses were watered, the Regiment then moving to Goz el Taire, where it bivouacked.
It was now learned that the Infantry had been severely mauled during the attack, their casualties against Ali Muntar alone being, roughly, 3,000. The fact that Gaza had not fallen was not due to any lack of vigour or fighting efficiency on the part of any of the troops, but was considered to be due to the heavy fog which delayed the assault for so many hours.
Wednesday, March 27, 1918
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Deir el Belah
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Elementary signalling classes, Hotchkiss Rifle practice and salvaging carried out.
Thursday, March 27, 1919
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Zagazig
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Usual routine.
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See: 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Contents
Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy
9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour
Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 27 March