Topic: AIF - 3B - 3 LHB
The Battle of Rafa
Sinai, 9 January 1917
3rd Light Horse Brigade, Report
The following is a transcription of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, Report from the War Diary of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, about their role at the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917.
Third Australian Light Horse Brigade
The Rafa Raid January 9th 1917
According to instructions contained in Anzac Mounted Division Order No. 69 the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, as part of the Mounted Troops of the Desert Column, moved on Rafa, arriving in the vicinity by dawn on January 9th.
It was at this time that the left flank guard of the Brigade captured and enemy outpost of Four Turks, who fired two flares before being taken.
According to attack orders issued under GK 78 (0832 See: Signal 0832) the Brigade (less 1 Squadron 8th Light Horse Regiment Escort to Guns and Ammunition Column and Four Troops 9th Light Horse Regiment rear and flank guard) was to be held in reserve. On receipt of this the Brigade moved into position of readiness south east of Divisional Headquarters.
At 1100 the Brigade received orders Anzac Mounted Division G 69 to attack Trenches C4 and C3, keeping in touch with 1st Light Horse Brigade on right and the Imperial Camel Corps on left; one Regiment (8th Light Horse Regiment) to be in reserve under the hand of the General Officer Commanding Anzac Mounted Division, thus the Brigade went into action with five (5) Squadrons only and a complete Machine Gun Squadron.
At 1130 the above force moved from the position of readiness and without difficulty got into immediate touch on the right and left, the 10th Light Horse Regiment on the right, C4 being their objective and 9th Light Horse Regiment on left with C3 theirs. The advance went steadily forward under heavy rifle and machine gun fire to within 900 yards of the enemy forward trenches, later in the day the 10th Light Horse Regiment in conformity with 3rd Light Horse Regiment were able to push their right up, their line by 1530 being between 300 and 500 yards from C4; during the last half hour of the enemy defence they were under very heavy shrapnel and High Explosive Gunfire. The 9th Light Horse Regiment were unable to approach nearer than 800 yards to C4 and C3 being confronted by a long gentle slope, rising towards the enemy trenches and absolutely devoid of cover, this was also the case in from of the 10th Light Horse Regiment from their final position.
The Machine Guns at the commencement of the action gave supporting covering fire from the centre of the line but were eventually split up into the position sited on the attached sketch. The Machine Guns did excellent work and are, together with the Lewis Guns, which again proved their worth, responsible for keeping the Brigade casualties down.
At 1430 GR 77 was received but it was not until 1530 that the 9th and 10th Light Horse Regiments received it, The General Officer Commanding 3rd Light Horse Brigade at this time was on the left of the line and instructed the Officer Commanding 9th Light Horse Regiment, taking into consideration the ground in front of him, not to push forward until the right had got well on the move; for at that time there was no movement and from enquiries the front line of the Imperial Camel Corps had not received orders. The Officer Commanding Imperial Camel Corps on the Brigade's left was instructed to get into touch with his Brigadier as a move forward had been ordered to start at 1530.
It was about this time, 1546 that a retirement was taking place on the right of the 10th Light Horse Regiment but this Regiment remained on the ground won. It, together with the 9th Light Horse Regiment and 1st Light Horse Brigade on the right advanced on the trenches on the New Zealanders appearing from the rear of the Redoubt which was about 1600. On this occurring the whole line advanced, the enemy surrendering. About this time G 103 was received and the Brigade rallied and took up the duties of Rear Guard to the Division which necessitated it staying on the field until 2230 on account of the number of wounded having to be collected belonging to other Brigades. At this time the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade had left the field. No knowing that any provision had been made to bring in the enemy guns the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade was overtaken and their limbers secured, with these and two Battery Limbers which were overtaken on the way to the guns the four captured pieces were brought out.
During the operations the 8th Light Horse Regiment in reserve were called upon to find patrols to gain touch with the enemy approaching from the east and on the Brigade withdrawing this Regiment remained on the field all night as protection for the Field Ambulance and wounded still on the field.
At 1000 on 10th inst. a dismounted patrol of 9 Turks was captured being one of the forward posts of the Eastern enemy force. It was reported that armed Arabs supported by Mounted Turks were attempting to envelop the right flank of the Regiment. One Squadron was detached and out manoeuvred the enemy who retired under a heavy fire. Five armed Bedouin of this force were captured.
The work of the Field Ambulance throughout the operations and afterwards was excellent. The collecting of the wounded being most expeditiously carried out; the sand carts of the units being used continuously to collect the wounded of other Brigades.
The following numbers left Masaid for the Raid.Officers - 88
Other Ranks - 1,575
Horses - 1935
CasualtiesOfficers - Killed 0; Wounded 1; Missing 0
Other Ranks - Killed 5; Wounded 44; Missing 0
Horses - Killed 6; Wounded 30; Missing 5
General Officer Commanding 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade
Australian Imperial Force
12 January 1917
[Click on map for larger version.]
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:
Further Reading:3rd Light Horse Brigade, Roll of Honour