Topic: AIF - DMC - 1 Sig Sqn
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
1st Light Horse Signal Squadron, War Diary Account
1st Light Horse Signal Squadron, War Diary Account.
The following is a transcription of the Account from the War Diary of the 51st Light Horse Signal Squadron detailing its role at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
25 March 1917, Bir abu Shunnar
All horses and mules shod in readiness for travelling over hard ground. Squadron with Divisional Headquarters and three Brigades marched out at 0230 - arriving at bivouac, Deir el Belah at 1015. Brigades established their headquarters close to Divisional Headquarters and were connected for the night be telephone. Orders received at 2200 to move out with Divisional Headquarters and Column at 0230 and all preparations made.
26 March 1917, Gaza
Marched out in accordance with orders, intention being to circumvent Gaza and prevent escape of prisoners. Instructions issued for all enemy telegraph lines to be out. Cable detachment laying line from Desert Column marched in rear of column to minimise danger of damage to cable by artillery and transport. Motor cyclists joined column at 0730. Heavy mist prevented all attempts at visual communication until 0815 when a station was detached from column at El Howadi, ½ mile west of Gaza - Beersheba Road. This station gained touch with Imperial Mounted Division, Imperial Camel Corps Brigade and 158th Brigade. The latter subsequently moved on behind high ground and lost touch.
Divisional Headquarters established at Beit Durdis at 1015. Station moved on to a suitable position and acted as transmitting station between Imperial Mounted Division and Divisional Headquarters. The former subsequently moved to a position enabling direct communication to be established. Line laid by cable detachment to 2nd Light Horse Brigade on right flank and detachment remained with Brigade to extend line when they moved forward. Line was also laid to Imperial Mounted Division. Visual communication was opened and maintained all day with Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, 22nd Mounted Brigade and the outpost line to east and south east. At 1430 Divisional Headquarters moved to new position two miles near Gaza lines extended or diverted to new position and visual communications re-opened. Telephone and visual stations kept touch with all stations from old position until new posts were established. Wireless station erected at Divisional Headquarters worked all day jamming enemy signals from station in Gaza and from aeroplanes. New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and 22 Mounted Brigade moved forward to attack Gaza and were kept in visual communication continuously a line was laid giving telephone communication as soon as their Brigade Headquarters took up position.
Lines were laid from Commander Royal Artillery to the supporting batteries. Orders for withdrawal received at dusk and helios were replaced by lamps and communications maintained until troops moved back to point of assembly for march home.
27 March 1917, Deir el Belah
Telephone and visual communication closed at 0100 on 27th and coolumn marched back to Belah. Divisional Headquarters and Signal Squadron established temporary bivouac on position occupied previous day. Two subsequent moves were made during afternoon and Headquarters finally settled on hill about 2 miles south of Belah. Two Brigade took over outpost line and communication by visual and cable was established between Divisional Headquarters and outpost commanders.
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