Topic: AIF - 3B - 3 LHB
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
3rd Light Horse Brigade, War Diary Account
3rd Light Horse Brigade, War Diary Account.
The following is a transcription of the Account from the War Diary of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade detailing its role at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
Deir el Belah, 25 March 1917
Move to Deir el Belah leaving camp at 1500 - whole of the Division concentrating at point named being part of the force destined for the attack on Gaza. Watered at the lake. Received Operation Order at 2000.
Gaza, 26 March 1917
Moved at 0300 and being the rear Regiment of the Division which followed the Australian and New Zealand Division, Mounted Troops made little progress for the first 4 hours, due mainly to heavy fog and what appeared to be a bad leading. Roughness of country passed over in vicinity of Wadi Ghuzze hindered the march. Infantry appeared to be well up and should have had good cover to within striking distance of Gaza. Brigade acting reserve to the Division which by noon was well round and to the north east of Gaza. Two Brigades of the Australian and New Zealand Division put into the attack on Gaza from the north. At about 1530 a large force of the enemy reported marching to the relief of Gaza from the east and south east. The Division took up a position to delay advance. 10th Light Horse Regiment detached. 8th, 9th and Machine Guns all in the line. Notts (Nottinghamshire) Royal Horse Artillery (1st time in action with us) made excellent shooting and together with the force mentioned delayed the enemy advance until nightfall, when the whole line remained as an outpost - a ticklish situation. This move of the enemy was apparently the cause of a general retirement being ordered. The 3rd Brigade together with the 6th Mounted Brigade being responsible for covering the retirement of the Australian and New Zealand Division which pulled out at 2400, no notification having been received by the Brigade - orders went clearly astray.
Deir el Belah 27 March 1917
Our retirement order being received at 0230. Delay in moving off caused by difficulty in collecting units of the Brigade and getting in touch with the 6th - eventually withdrew at 0400 on a march which might have proved disastrous if it had been delayed a further half hour. As it was, when about east by south of Gaza the enemy infantry supported by guns came down like a whirlwind on our left flank which necessitated fighting a delaying rear guard action which was greatly assisted by the Light Car Patrol, not having our Battery, a chance of a lifetime was missed. The Brigade considers it was left very much in the air. The same can be said for the 6th Brigade. The Australian and New Zealand Division in its turn should have covered our retirement. We had no communication with our Divisional Headquarters from 0200. Communications were not good.
On arrival at concentration point we bivouacked for the day, eventually moving up on to the northern slopes of Goz el Taire for the night. The 10th Light Horse Regiment later forming the Outpost Line from Abasan el Kheir to Point 320. 6th Brigade continuing our line to our left. All quiet during the night. Stampede of two Troops of 10th Light Horse Regiment luckily stopped from spreading.
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 Light Horse Brigade, Roll of Honour
The First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
The First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917, Allied Forces, Roll of Honour
The Palestine Campaign, 1917 - 1918
Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: The First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917, 3rd Light Horse Brigade, War Diary Account