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Wednesday, 9 January 2008
The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Anzac Mounted Division Signals Chronology
Topic: AIF - DMC - Anzac MD

The Battle of Rafa

Sinai, 9 January 1917

Anzac Mounted Division Signals Chronology


Anzac Mounted Division Signals Chronology, 8 - 10 January 1917.


The following item is a full transcription of all messages logged with the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division relating to the Battle of Rafa. The items have been transcribed on an as is basis. The only alteration has been the positioning of the messages. Each message was given a specific number in the War Diary log. The messages were collated as they came in at the time so they were not necessarily in a chronological order. These are now in a chronological order to allow the reader the ability to see the battle unfold as seen by the commanders. This is most invaluable in understanding the actions that arose from these messages. Since they are unvarnished, they become the truest reflection of the battle’s progression.

For the explanation of the contractions and capitalisations, the reader is directed to the following page:

B103, Index to Common Terms 

This series of messages should be read in conjunction with the written report compiled after the battle. See:

Anzac Mounted Division Battle Chronology, 8 - 11 January 1917


Anzac Mounted Division Signals Chronology, 8 - 10 January 1917. 

Message No. Time Signaller Address
8th January
96 2250 G 462 From AM Divn
Following message from Des Colm begins When operations are over formation to which cable wagons of Column Sig Coy have been detached will be responsible that protection is afforded to the wagons when reeling up wires end.
9th January
1a   BMI NZ Bde
About 30 natives at Karm ibn Musleh no arms except swords + 1 revolver, Natives state the Turks are in position S of El Magruntein estimates 1500. This is a good place for the Division to assemble giving cover from north.
1 0714   To Des Column
Thirty natives captured by NZMRBde, Natives arrived with swords and one with revolver. One Arab camelman and seven other natives also captured. DHQ at present at Karm ibn Musleh, Divn less NZMRBde assembled on south side of Karm ibn Musleh, NZMRBde are 1½ miles east of Karm ibn Musleh and report that they can see Turkish position and men walking about there, Camel Bde halted 1½ miles west of Karm ibn Musleh.
93 0730 - From RFC
Roads 5 miles round Rafa clear of enemy troops except one or two patrols. Rafa about 500 men seen. Machine received with heavy rifle fire + MG fire (1 MGun) from nearly every redoubt.
3 0745 DE3 From Des Colm
I estimate enemy strength as 500 to 800, As ground is very open conduct deliberate artillery preparations while your troops get into position to attack. Inform me which works you attack first + I will endeavour cross fire them with Hack Battery. You must wait on batteries supporting attack at effective rand and concentrating on object after another, acknowledge.
2 0750 - To Col Browne
Verbal message received that GOC Des Colm wishes telegraph lines to east cut as soon as possible. Prisoner has pointed out positions of enemy positions and parties can be observed. Cable now through to Des Colm. Aeroplane message which has been repeated to Bdes herewith.
5 0805 GK75 To Capt Urquhart
Send Arab camel men captured this morning to Major Barlow for examination at Hill 350.
4 0812 GK75 To Des Colm
Reference your verbal message officer + party sent to cut wire about 0700. No report yet. Many Turks seen in trenches + one party of about 200 in the open moving in the direction of Karm ibn Musleh from trench A. Many Bedouins moving about on flat in front of DHQ.
6 0820 - RFC
There are now 9 gun positions at Magruntein in position as marked on Sketch plans. I believe 4 of these are occupied . guns not fired at machine.
7 0832 GK76 1st-3rd Camel, NZ Bde, CRA, Des Column
There is no further information, GOC Anzac Mounted Division intends to attack enemy's position, NZMR Bde will attack C4 +C5. the GOC Bde will make provision for the protection of his own right flank + rear, 1st LHBde will attack C3 C2 + C1. When these works are carried Bdes will rally + attack the Reduit. The Imperial Camel Corps will attack B Group of works commencing with B4. The CRA will select positions from which to support the assault concentrating his fire on C4 in the first place + following on to C5 C3 C2 + C1 + the Reduit. If enemy opens artillery fire one battery will be detached as Counter Battery, artillery preparation will commence at 0930. Attack will commence a 1000. 3rd LH Bde in reserve DHQ will be at Karm ibn Muzleh.
8 0840 GK77 To all Bde CRA
Aeroplane report trenches B1, B2, B3. B4 and C5 have more men in them than the others AAA A1 + A2 have only a few men AAA enemy's most west trench is 300 yds S of R of Darb um Amad AAA it is about 30 yds long and has about 30 men in it AAA about 600 men seen in trenches altogether AAA all road east of Rafa + Karm ibn Musleh all clear for 5 miles of enemy troops AAA Bedouin are moving their stock towards Khan Yunis AAA ¾ mile S of Rafa House all 30 camels going towards trenches not loaded.
9 - -
 Aeroplane report trenches C4 C1 B1 + B2 appeared to be strongly held AAA can see nothing in gun emplacement.
10 0900 DF4 From Des Col
Turks showing signs of unrest GOC considers it of great importance you should push detachments towards Rafa at once in case they retire ack.
11 0900 - -
Aeroplane report small parties of loaded camels going towards Rafa. Trenches at Rafa (100o SW of town) unoccupied. Roads E + SE of Rafa clear for a distance of 2 miles.
12 0915 GK78 To Des Col
NZMR Bde moving into position NE of Hill 350 close to I of Shokh el Sufi to attack C Group of trenches AAA 1 LH Bde just moving up to position AAA 3 LH Bde now moving to position S of Hill 350 close to I of Shokh el Sufi to be in reserve, Exact position DHQ at point 350 close to I of Shokh el Sufi and 1½ miles a little N of E of trees at Karm ibn Musleh.
13 0920 GK79 To NZ DColm
Now detachments that have been pushed out towards Rafa that enemy may retire by sand dunes on beach road AAA you must have warning at once if this takes place + prevent it reptd Des Col.
14 0925 GK80 To Des Col
DF4 Ack.
12A 1015 DE5 From Des Colm
Rate of artillery fire seems rather rapid. would it not be better to fire slower until your attack is much nearer?
15 1030 BM6 From NZ Bde
Enemy retiring AAA am pushing forward to cut him off north of Big Tree.
16 1035 GK81 To NZ Bde
Please give position on your front.
17 1054 GK82 To LHbdes CRA DC
Enemy said to be retiring East AAA 5 Mtd Bde is attacking from the West AAA 3rd Bde will leave on Regt in Reserve to report to GOC Anzac Mtd Dvn + Gen Royston will move with the remainder to attack C4 + C3 on left of 1 LH Bde will reinforce his line and press home the attack in C4 + C5 keeping touch with NZMR Bde AAA the Camel Bde will press on their attack against their original objective keeping touch with Gen Royston on their right AAA Gen Royston will make his attack at 1130 when all attacks will be pressed home ack.
20 1055 BM4 NZ Bde
The dead ground between CMR + sea am endeavouring to secure command.
18 1100 BM87 Camel Bde
C Bde HQ situated on wooded hill S of Gun position.
22 1120 BM873 1 Bde
I am sending 2 LH Regt in between NZ Bde + 1 LH Regt + 3rd Regt is on left of 1 Regt AAA BHQ is moving up to position now occupied by Hd Qtr of 1 LH Regt.
19 1125 BM8 From NZ Bde
Rafa 1 mile East my position high hill between W and sea AAA CMR captured between 40 + 50 men + some camels + donkeys AAA very few escaped.
21 1135 BM89 I Co
G82 ack
23 1140 BM87 1 LH Bde
CO 1 LH Regt reports line advancing up towards Large Tree and rifle fire opened apparently little opposition. Your G82 ack.
14 1200 G83 To 3rd NZ + Camels
Wire present situation + thereafter send half hourly reports.
26 1200 - RFC
No sign of troops moving towards Rafa. Some troops seen moving toward Khan Yunis at 1030 this morning. Activity outside trenches at Rafa. Small groups of men seen standing outside trenches, about a total of 200 men counted in the various small groups.
27 1220 BM2 3rd LH Bde
Am in touch on the right + left. Whole line advancing.
29 1220 G84 To 1st - 3rd LH Camel Bde + CRA
Message from aeroplane begins trench C4 appears to be held strongly. Central redoubt not held in strength. Can see no enemy ports in front of redoubt.
30 1220 G85 NZ Bde
GOC wishes to know if regiment is still watching your right + rear in direction of Khan Yunis. Have you now a continuous line down to beach. What have you in reserve.
31 1220 SC5 For 3rd Bde
Have ammunition limbers arrived. Required for M. Guns.
32 1225 BM4 3rd Bde
Our advance line almost level with that of Camels N 1st LH Bde, left of latter appear to be 600 yds from 10th.
25 1228 BM91 From Camel Brigade
Infantry advanced to within 700 yds of position unarrested AAA battery going up to support AAA 3rd ALH in touch my right AAA am putting reserve into left + centre AAA Bde Hq advancing 500 yds.
33 1240 G87 3rd Bde
Ammunition expected any time now + will be forwardsed as soon as possible.
28 1245 BM14 NZBde
Message from aeroplane begins trench C4 appears to be held strongly. Central redoubt not held in strength. Can see no enemy ports in front of redoubt.
34 1300 BM10 From NZ Bde
Aeroplane report as follows begins country all clear as far as Khan Yunis trenches empty no troops seen town end.
37 1300 BM19 From NZBde
CMR took Rafa buildings + about 70 prisoners. they are now advancing along bottom of valley + along sand hills to the east. Please request artillery not to fire into valley AAA Post towards Khan Yunis reports all clear excpt for small sniping AAA ammunition is urgently reqd.
35 1305 G90 To 3rd Bde
Rptg above.
36 1310 G91 4 Bdes
Any prisoners taken will be sent to DHQ at Hill 305 where they will be taken over by an escort from 8LHR.
38 1330 G89 To 3 Bdes CRA
Reptg above.
39 1330 BM21 From NZ Bde
Our right linked up with 5 Mtd Bde + pressing attack on rear of redoubt on green knoll.
40 1340 G90 To Bdes CRA Camel
Rptg above.
46 1310 BM879 1st LH Bde
2nd Regt pushing attack in vicinity of conspicuous tree.
43 1350 BM92 From ICC
Present situation AAA left of my line has been reinforced + is advancing satisfactorily against enemy left positions but enemy still holds this in force am covering with Hong Kong Battery AAA Direction of attack of ALH appears to have turned quarter right will he send me his objectives please AAA will report every half hour.
47 1350 BM6 3rd LH Bde
Enemy trenches on flat in front of large tree extreme westward about 500 yds strongly held. These are first line trenches. am asking for assistance from right flank. Suggest range of artillery shorten on to these trenches.
48 1355 BM880 1st LH Bde
CO 2nd LH Regt reports having taken two small trenches and about 20 prisoners. Can fire be brought to bear at once on highest point of Hill 255. This will enable him to take another trench at present holding him up.
49 1355 BM 23 NZ Bde
Yes, In reserve two squadrons 70 or 80 prisoners taken. A Long row of trenches one half mile S of Police Barracks Rafa captured. A steady combined pressure would soon finish the enemy. Last 3 questions in answer to BM 876 + 877 from 1st LH Bde (G85)
41 1408 BM24 From NZ Bde
CMR WMR + 5 Mtd Bde pushing up the spur on the seaward side of the redoubt.
42 1408   To 3 Bde
NZMR Bde on ridge behind trees.
44 1425 G92  
Objective work C4, BM92
45 1430 BM884 From 1 Bde
CO 1 LH Regt advises having taken 24 prisoners.
51 See 45.    
52 1433 BM 883 1st Bde
CO 1st Regt reports have pushed forward my right to ridge above Fig Tree. Am in touch with 2nd Regt on my right who are in touch with NZMR Bde.
53 1433 GK77 to 1st-3rd NZ Camel Bde CRA Des Colm
The GOC desires a concentrated effort to be made against the Reduit and C Group of works at 1530. Artillery will keep up an intense fire on these works before that operation until 1530 at direction of CRA 5th Mtd Bde have been asked to cooperate acknowledge.
54 1445 GK 93 To Des Colm
1st LH Regt advise having taken 24 prisoners. From statements of prisoners who all belong to 31st Reg garrison consists of 2 taburs each about 1000 strong + 4 mountain guns.
50 1450 BM 8 3rd Bde
10th Signal attack held up heavy rifle + MGun fire 1st Bde on right unable to advance. Bombardment seems have no effect advance means heavy casualties.
56 1500 BM 94 ICC Bde
Extreme left of my line is still held up by enfilade fire have sent in another Coy to clear this up. Right of line is developing fire to help 1st Bde to whom Turks appear to be firing in. Could 5th Mtd Bde be asked to cooperate with my left.
57 1500 BM 8 3rd LH Bde
Position of 9th unchanged. The right of 10th swinging. Both regiments replenished with ammunition.
58 1500 BM 26 NZ Bde
Right attack making steady progress though slow. Australian attack on my left seems held up. When will ammunition arrive.
62 1500 BM 27 NZ Bde
Message from OC WMR at Rafa Barracks begins captured Turkish MG Officer + 4 Germans on coast dunes NE of Rafa Police Barracks. Turkish Officer says one Regt Turks left El Slallali when the attack commenced this morning to relieve Rafa. He also states Rafa held by 3 Battns + 2 Coys 6 MGuns + 4 cannons. Am sending prisoners in under escort.
59 1509 DE 14 Des Col
5th Mtd Bde will cooperate with NZ Bde on attack on Reduit with 5½ squadrons B/HAC Battery has been ordered to cease fire on Reduit at 1525. You should cooperate with all available guns.
55 1510 BM 885 From 1st Bde
GK 77 ack
63 1530 BM 95 ICC Bde
Our left now joined up with 5th Mtd Bde and attack being pushed forward. Final assault on left position should take place shortly.
64 1530 BM 28 NZ Bde
Our men cannot advance owing to our own shrapnel fire.
60 1540 BM 19 NZ Bde
GK 77 received.
61 1540 BM 19 3rd Bde
GK 77 received.
65 1548 G 94 3rd NZ + ICC
Pvide situation in your front at once AAA At what hour could you make a final effort with all Reserves.
68 1515 GK 77 1st - 3rd NZ ICC CRA
5th Mtd Bde will cooperate with NZ Bde on attack on Reduit with 5½ squadrons B/HAC Battery has been ordered to cease fire on Reduit at 1525. You should cooperat with all available guns.
69 1530 C 53 From CM Regt
Our own shells are landing in front of my men. 1 man has just been wounded by our own shells + if this continues I will have to go back 200 yds. I have now 45 men of 8th Sqn + 10th Sqn. Position is now unchanged.
70 1530 BM 96 ICC Bde
Left of my line reinforced by Warwicks is progressing. Centre held up by trench facing their mountain battery. Gone forward to deal with this. Medical Officer reports 20 wounded ICC.
71 1550 BM 33 NZ Bde
Ref report in my BM 27. By Turkish Officer there are men in scattered formation this side of ridge near Shellal. Estimates two Battalions.
66 1610 BM 32 From NZ Bde
GK 77 Ack.
72 1610 BM 34 NZ Bde
My right pressing on but repeatedly held up by our own artillery fire. All my Bde in except one troop + 1 troop on observation Khan Yunis road. We are now doing all we can to press the attack.
73 1610 BM 859 From 1st Bde
CO 2nd LH Regt reports left retiring. No men of 3rd Bde as arranged by Gen Royston unable to advance here awaiting orders message ends. Further from 2nd LH Regt enemy MGuns at least 3 in number still unsilenced impossible to advance further here. casualties heavy.
74 1615 - OC Khan Yunis Flank guard
A force of approximately 2000 strong marching in direction of El Magruntein from the direction of Khan Yunis are now about 4 miles distant from redoubts. While writing more troops are coming over the hill about 5 miles away. Too far to estimate numbers.
75 1620 BM 99 From ICC Bde
Position in centre held up extreme right of Bde our right apparently still retiring. Have only one half Company available to throw into that part of line without withdrawing Company from attack on MG Position in B Works attack on the position is supported by Worcesters and would take time to withdraw from. Doubt if this can be carried on in daylight.
76 1620 DE From Des Colm
Attack will be abandoned at 1700 owing to strong enemy reinforcements arriving. 5th Mtd Bde will escort HAC Batty to Sheikh Zowaiid, AM Div + ICC Bde will return under orders of Gen Chauvel to same place. Acknowledge.
77 1625 BM 35 NZ Bde
OC Post near 270 2½ miles NE from Rafa reports body 500 enemy advancing from the east on his position + further bodies on ridge near Sheilal. The 1st LH have been driven driven back. Please say what is to be done. if necessary to retire I must do so SE coast if possible.
67 1630 BM 97 From ICC Bde
GK 77 Ack.
78 1635 BM 37 NZ Bde
Have captured the redoubt on Green Hill.
79 1640 - ICC Bde
Turks are making counter attack from redoubt.
80 1645 BM 38 NZ Bde
Am moving to rear of Green Knoll to endeavour to finish off action.
81 1645 S 1 3rd Bde
Redoubts Captured.
82 1645 G 182 4 Bdes CRA
Force of enemy 2000 strong marching on El Magruntein from direction of Khan Yunis. Others seen in scattered formations of ridge in direction of Shellal distance from redoubts about 4 miles at 1615. Force will withdraw + assemble at point 250 on the Karm Ibn Musleh - Sheikh Zowaiid Road. Bdes will find their own rearguard, CRA will arange for batteries to take up position to cover withdrawal of Bdes. OC 8th LH Regt will form a rearguard to cover withdrawal of all parties + camels.
92 - GEK 2 From Des Col
If you decide to remain in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Zowaiid tonight the Col Cmdr desires that you will assume the responsibility for protection with strong outposts during the night and also for the provisions of a strong rearguard to be pushed out before daylight on the 10th Jan AAA Please report time of starting AAA The Col Cmdr leaves it to you to decide whether you stay or push on tonight + desires you to inform him as to your decision as Col HQ will remain. Kindly inform GOC ICC Bde that the Col Cmdr has given up all idea of retaining 1 Bttn ICC at Burj + that the ICC Bde complete will return to El Arish under your orders.
83 1650 G 110 To NZ Bde
Ref your BM35 if unable to withdraw so as to assemble at point 250 make your own way back to Sheikh Zowaiid. Send representative to say when you are clear.
84 1705 DE 15 From Des Colm
GOC considers it desirable to water + feed at Sheikh Zowaiid only + to march for El Burj about midnight. Orders have been given to remove all impediments from Sheikh Zowaiid at once leaving only necessaries for watering + feeding + Ambulance convoys.
85 1715 - Genls Chaytor + Royston
Gen Royston will form the rearguard to the Division. Gen Chaytor will clear all wounded from the battle field.
94 2210 TO 20 To 5th Mtd Bde from Des Colm
All fresh troops not engaged in today's action will be employed under A+NZ Mtd Divn to clear battlefield tomorrow. OC your two troops, convoy escorts etc will get into communication with A+NZ Mtd Divn Hq at once + receive orders. Acknowledge.
95 2310 DE 73 From Des Colm
Your Divn under divisional arrangements will retire to El Arish leaving Sheikh Zowaiid about 0700 on 10th inst; You will be responsible for your own safety. A regiment will be left to cover Field Ambulance at Sheikh Zowaiid until such wounded as can be moved have started for El Arish. A telephone will be laid on to Hospital which can communicate with Arish + to Column during its return.
86 2359 G 102 To Mjr Parsons
You will take your squadron + limbers which will report to you to Rafa tomorrow. You will bring away all arms, ammunition, mountain or MGuns etc as may be found. If the enemy is found in occupation you will not engage in action with him but will withdraw. If you are attacked when examining positions you will withdraw + will not engage enemy in a fight. Report on what you find will be sent by wire as soon as possible to DHQ.
87 - G 150 To Bdes CRA + Des Col
At 0400 tomorrow Jan 10th one sqdn 3rd LH Bde under Maj Parsons will leave here under special instructions for Rafa. All limbers which have not been out today will parade at the same hour on main road along telegraph line immediately east of town AAA Anzac Mtd Div will leave Sheikh Zowaiid for El Arish at 0700 tomorrow Jan 10th starting point cross roads at E of Darb el Sultani AAA Order of March Adv Guard 1 Sqdn NZ Bde. DHQ. Remainder NZ Bde, 3rd Bde, Divl Artillery, 1st Bde, 1st Camel Bde, 1st Line Transport of units in rear in same order of march. WMR will leave camp at 0600 + move to a point one mile East of Sheikh Zowaiid where it will put out a line of observation posts AAA They will remain in this position to cover Fld Amb at Sheikh Zowaiid until such wounded as can be removed have started.
10th January
87A 0610 - ADMS
Some sandcarts have just arrived + left the Turkish Redoubt at 2.30 this morning. They saw no sign of any enemy. The rations convoy has just arrived 5.30 am.
88 0733 GK 79 To 52 Div
Could you help us as you did going out by letting our horses water at your troughs from 1230 onwards AAA Bdes have had to leave troughs for use here + will be much delayed in watering AAA If so please allot troughs to Bdes.
89 - - RFC
El Zahriat + El Khudri apparently all clear AAA freshly dug system of trenches, redoubts in course of construction between Weli Sheikh Nuran + Um Atuh observed nothing on roads adjacent.
90 0900 - RFC
Have reconnoitred the country SW S SE of Rafa AAA did not observe any bodies of men. a few men on camels on pairs were seen here + theyre mostly moving in a S + SE direction.
91 1114 GK 80 From AMD El Arish
52 Divn place all troughs near wadi at your disposal from 1230 onwards under same arrangements as going out.


War Diaries

All War Diaries cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy 



Further Reading:

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Roll of Honour

The Palestine Campaign, 1917 - 1918

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Anzac Mounted Division Signals Chronology

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 25 January 2011 3:56 PM EAST

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