Topic: AIF - 1B - 1 LHR
The Battle of Rafa
Sinai, 9 January 1917
Vernon, 1st LHR Unit History, Account
1st LHR undertaking a sham attack on the trenches at Rafa, February 1919
In 1985, P. V. Vernon edited a history of the 1st Light Horse Regiment which included service during the Great War called: The Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885-1985. The book included a chapter on the work performed by the 1st Light Horse Regiment during the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917 which are extracted below.
Vernon, P. V., editor, The Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885-1985, (Sydney 1986), p. 117:
On January 7 tents arrived from railhead. These had their disadvantages as they were hard to conceal from the air; an enemy ‘plane bombed the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, and at 9.30 p.m., it being a bright moonlit night, the enemy machine gunned the camp generally. Next day the brigade moved out to Sheikh Zowaiid en route to Rafa where the Turks were reported to be strongly entrenched. The regiment, the advanced guard for the brigade, started at 1.30 a.m. On all-night marches it was difficult to keep touch, and the guides, mostly local friendly natives, were often unreliable. At dawn the brigade deployed and helped form a cordon which completely enveloped the enemy's earthworks, the New Zealand Brigade being closest to the sea, on the north. To their left and on the east of the enemy position was the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment on the right of the 1st Light Horse Regiment. The enemy reserved his fire until the regiment got within 1,100 yards; then a sunken road was made use of and good progress was made under cover of the Ayrshire Battery's fire until 11.45 a.m., when the line was held up.
At 1 p.m. the regiment pushed on to the ridge known as C3 where Major Irwin, in making a forward reconnaissance, was successful in surprising a party of Turks in a concealed trench. Though severely wounded himself, he, with the assistance of Sergeant Menzies, Corporal O'Connor, Troopers Pearce, Manning, Erickson, Ferris and Harvey of "A" Troop, "A" Squadron, secured 30 prisoners.
At 2 p.m. the advanced troops of the regiment were shelled by guns on the right. Casualties by now were 22, with another officer, Lieutenant Hordern, wounded. By this time the New Zealand Mounted Rifles had got well into the enemy's rear at Hill 255, while the 1st Light Horse Regiment had advanced beyond the available telephone cable length, and communication was kept up by helio until a mile of wire was obtained from the brigade signal officer. More small arms ammunition was brought up at 4 p.m., rapid fire was ordered, and the regiment charged the Turks, who surrendered trench by trench, but kept up fire on the left until dark. As reinforcements were reported on the march from Shellal and Gaza, the Turkish prisoners were hurriedly formed up and marched off. Little war material could be collected, and as soon as the dead were buried the regiment marched back to Sheikh Zowaiid. Casualties numbered 34.