Topic: AIF - DMC - British
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division Operation Order No. 27
The following is a transcription of Operation Order No. 27 from the War Diary of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division detailing their role at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
Operation Order No 27 Dated 26th March 1917
The following memorandum by the General Officer Commanding the Division is forwarded for information with reference to Operation Order No. 27 Dated 26th March 1917.
Map Reference 1/125,000, 1/168,960 and 1/250,000
1. On the night of 25th/26th the position of the Desert Column and 54th Division will be as follows:53rd Division east of Deir el Belah and north of the Rafa - Gaza Road.54th Division South of the 53rd Division holding the El Taihe Range of hills.
The A. & N.Z. Mounted Division and Imperial Mounted Division west of Deir el Belah.
2. On the morning of the 26th instant as soon as it is light enough to see clearly, the two Cavalry Divisions will cross of the Wadi Ghuzze South of El Breij and will press forward rapidly and take up a position east of Gaza an fol1ows, vigorously brushing aside all resistance:A. & N.Z. Mounted Division from the sea near Wadi Hesi through Deir Sineid, Negile to Huj.
Imperial Mounted Division from Huj through Khareet el Resum to the Gaza - Beersheba Road.
They will establish their Headquarters - A & NZ Mounted Division at Beit Durdis and Imperial Mounted Division at Kheir Resum.
3. The 53rd Division will push over the Wadi Ghuzze between the Rafa Gaza main road and EL Breij for which purpose it will cease the necessary Bridgehead.
4. The 54th Division will follow the Cavalry Divisions across the Wadi South of El Breij and go forward and occupy the Sheikh Abbas position.
5. The Imperial Camel Corps will cross the Wadi near Tel el Jemmi and clear the right front of the 54th Division.
6. The Mounted Divisions will mask the attack an Gaza which will be carried by the 53rd Divisions They will prevent the enemy from attacking the 53rd Division whilst operating against its objective and should the enemy move out from his positions from Huj, Negile or from the Sharia - Hareira region, they will attack and hold them in front, at the same time vigorously counter attacking him on his flanks.
7. It is intended to carry out the objective assigned to 53rd Division as follows:(a) to hold the enemy to his works which extend from Gaza to the sea by a small force of one battalion, one Cavalry Regiment, and a Section of Artillery.
(b) With the remainder of the Division to operate against the Ali Muntar position and the enemy's left.
The bulk of the Division will therefore cross the Wadi Ghuzze between El Sire and El Breij having first seized the South West end of the El Sire Ridge as a Bridgehead.
8. As soon as the Bridgehead has been secured and the crossing of the Division can be pushed forward, it will be necessary to secure the Ali Muntar, El Sire Ridge as far as El Sheluf on the north, and Tel el Ahmar - Mansura on the south.
9. The Division having reached the El Shaluf - Mansura, visual reconnaissance will be made of the enemy's position about ALI Muntar and arrangements made for the attack of that position.
10. The detachment already mentioned as operating in the sandhills west of the Rafa - Gaza main road will consist of 1 Cavalry Regiment, 1 Battalion of Infantry and a 60 pounder Section of Artillery. The Cavalry and Infantry of this detachment will mainly demonstrate against the enemy's right from Gaza to the sea with the object of preventing him reinforcing his left in the Ali Muntar region. Great vigilance will be exercised by the Commander of this force who will, if attacked, give stout resistance to enable the 60 pounder section to withdraw south of the Wadi Ghuzze. Should the enemy compel him to retreat he will take up delaying positions and fight his way slowly back reporting his action direct to Divisional Headquarters, repeating to his own Brigade Commander. He will be supported by fire, it necessary from the Brigade operating an the Ali Muntar - El Sire Spur,
11. The mass of the Artillery will be employed in enfilading the enemy's works which face south east and east of Ali Muntar which it is intended to attack.
12. It is believed that Gaza is not strongly held and it is therefore intended to push the attack with great vigour. The amount of ammunition available does not admit of any prolonged bombardment and the intention therefore is to the "labyrinth" well under fire and to attack that portion of the works on the east and south east after a short bombardment.
A Sinclair Thomson
Lieutenant Colonel, General Staff 53rd (Welsh) Division
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