Topic: AIF - 1B - 3 LHR
The Battle of Rafa
Sinai, 9 January 1917
3rd Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account
3rd Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account
The following is a transcription of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account detailing their role at the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917.
Al Risa, 8 January 1917
The Regiment formed up with the Brigade at 1525 and moved off at 1600 with the Division en route to Sheikh Zowaiid, arriving there at 2200. A halt was made here and the horses fed at 2215.
Rafa, 9 January 1917
The Brigade moved off and marched via 210, 250 to Karm ibn Musleh arriving at 0500. At 1030 the Regiment recieved orders to advance to the attack on the left of 1st Light Horse Regiment and support them in an attack on C3, 2, and 1 (Tracing Map. See: Map of Turkish Trench Works) trenches opposit tree 255. On receiving the order the Regiment moved to the attack mounted in line of Squadron Column extended down a long slope to within 1760 yards of the enemy's trenches. They dismounted behind a low bank and the horses were sent back out of range with only a loss of two wounded. The Regiment was then formed up in line of half Squadron Column and the Squadron Leaders were called up and each alloted a sector and the objective and situation explained to each. An advance was then made in line of half Squadron Column with 150 yards distance between lines to a low ridge within 700 yards of the enemy's trench. The advance was down a gradual slope with no cover and in full view. The enemy's fire was scattered (but heavy) and no check was made, and only 4 men hit during the advance.
On reaching the position the second line immediately joined the firs, and the Machine Guns and Lewis Guns which had been covering the advance immediately came up into this posiiton.
The fire here was very heavy, and it was some time before superiority of fire was gained.
At telephone wire was immediately run out the length of the firing line, and each Squadron was in touch with Regimental Headquarters the whole action. The Regimentatl Headquarters in to the Brigade line and perfect communication was kept throughout the action. Only 3 breakages of the wire occurred to the Brigade through high explosives, and a helio was used to forward messages to the Brigad, in every case the wire was cut and mended in time to receive the reply messages by phone. The Squadron lines were cut more frequently but were soon repaired. The loss in Signallers were one killed and two wounded. The enemy had designed more trenches on this ridge and they were made use of ; although only 12 inches deep and unfinished. They could not accommodate men but were used as Machine Gun and Lewis Gun positions. The 1st Light Horse Regiment was on my extreme right and the 2nd Light Horse Regiment beyond both in view and in touch by phone. There was no one on my left. The ground between our positino and the enemy's trenches was as lefel as a tennis court, and afforded on protection. As it was impossible to advance across this until further developments took place, heavy fire was kep continually on the enemy's position to afford cover to the Right Flank who were steadily pushing forward. At 1300 the 10th Light Horse Regiment came up as Reinforcements to my line and as we had gained superiority of fire and the Right Flank of the Brigade were doing well, it was decided to push forward with the frontal attack. This was done in Troop rushes and ground made to within 400 yards of the enemy's position.
Ammunition had been brought up and distributed before this advance was made. This was done by pack horses made under heavy shell fire, but the losses were slight, owing to the rapidity with which the movements were carried out. Heavy enfilade fire was experienced on this position, the left Squadron receiving the heaviest casualties.
At 1515 a message was received from "A" Squadron asking permission to withdraw back to their original position, and at the same time orders were received that a general attack was ordered at 1530. This was communicated to the firing line with instructions to hold on. At 1530 ??? movement was visible on the left, except at a very long range, and at 1545 permission was granted to the Squadron to withdraw to their original position. Orders were then received to work to the right and support the 2nd Light Horse Regiment. One Squadrons and Machine Gun were left on the position and two Squadrons were moved to the Right, but before a proper junction could be made, the Redoubt at 255 fell and I ordered another frontal advance, which was carried out and all the ground made good to the trenches. Our led horses were brought up to their positions and I received orders to concentrate at once on the Mud Hut as enemy's movements were expected. This was done at once, and the wounded immediately collected. The Regiment lost 10 Killed and 49 Wounded.
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:3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour
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, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account