Topic: AIF - DMC
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
Desert Column, War Diary Account
Desert Column, War Diary Account.
The following is a transcription of the Account from the War Diary of the Desert Column detailing its role at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
25 March 1917
Desert Column Battle Headquarters closed at Rafa and opened at Deir el Belah.
Anzac Mounted Division carried out a reconnaissance from the sea along the Wadi el Ghuzze to Abu Bakra.
Anzac Mounted Division and Imperial Mounted Division moved from Rafa to Deir el Belah - In Seirat area. 53rd Division moved from Khan Yunis to Deir el Belah - In Seirat area.
The 1st Imperial Camel Corps Brigade moved to Abadan el Kebir and came under the orders of General Officer Commanding Desert Column for the forthcoming operation against Gaza. Nos. 11 and 12 Light Armoured Motor Batteries and No. 7 Light Car Patrol moved to Abadan el Kebir coming under protection of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade.
The 54th Division under the orders of Eastforce moved from Beni Sela to in Seirat this eveniong. The outpost line of resistance for teh night 25th/26th March was held be the 53rd Division from the sea north east of Deir el Belah to the main Gaza Road inclusive and by the 54th Division from that point through Point 310 north of In Serrat running from south west along the Goz el Taire. The two Mounted Divisions remained concentrated behind this line ready to saddle up at a moment's notice. Desert Column Order No.25 orders for the attack on Gaza and after order, was issued.
26 March 1917
The attack on Gaza was carried out by the Desert Column today. A dense fog prevailed until about 0800.
0520 53rd Divisional Headquarters opened at El Breij and 158th and 160th Infantry Brigade were crossing the Wadi Ghuzze with 159th Brigade in reserve.
0637 Column Headquarters were established on Hill 310 north of In Seirat.
0652 160th Brigade moved to Shaluf and 158th Brigade to Mansura - ordered to go slowly owing to difficulty of giving artillery support in case the fog should suddenly lift. All the guns were by this time across the Wadi Ghuzze.
0827 The 160th Brigade were about 2,400 yards south west of Ali Muntar and 158th Brigade reached Mansura. Enemy were now showing up near Ali Muntar.
0930 53rd Divisional Headquarters situated on Mansura with advanced troops about 3/4 mile north of this point.
1045 Anzac Mounted Division reached Beit Durdis and 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade were moving north east into position.
1114 Anzac Mounted Division reported having Gaza surrounded but did not close in on Gaza yet owing to heavy rifle fire having broken out south east of Beit Durdis.
1118 54th Division reported 161st Brigade had reached Sheikh Nebhan. This brigade was placed at disposal of General Officer Commanding 53rd Division, if required.
1310 General Officer Commanding Anzac Mounted Division ordered to attack Gaza from the north east and the Imperial Mounted Division put under his orders to carry out all observations and free Anzac Mounted Division for the attack.
53rd Division report 159th Brigade coming into action on right of 158th Brigade and advanced troops of 160th Brigade closing on south west end of Ali Muntar, General Officer Commanding 53rd Division sent for 161st Brigade to come up to his support.
1345 53rd Division report that advanced battalion of 160th Brigade were in posession of Yellow Clay Hill within 600 yards of Ali Muntar position.
1510 53rd Division report the capture of the Lbyrinth.
1730 Anzac Mounted Division report that New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade captured 2 guns and about 170 prisoners in Gaza.
1810 Mounted Divisions under orders of General Officer Commanding Anzac Mounted Division told to break off action as soon as dark and retire across Wdi to Deir el Belah plain.
53rd Division report that 159th Brigade had taken redoubt north and east of Ali Muntar - enemy retiring north east stubbornly.
2112 53rd Division report that owing to withdrawal on the right, the Ali Muntar position would have to be evacuated, the Division taking up a line from a point north of Shalluf through Mansura to join up with 54th Division on western slopes of Sheikh Abbas.
2345 Instructions issued to 53rd Divisoin that they would come under direct orders of Eastforce as soon as communication could be arranged by Eastforce. A copy of the messages received and despatched on this date attached as appendix.
27 March 1917
0510 53rd Division to feel forward with patrols to Ali Muntar and to re-occupy it at once if the enemy were not holding it.
0750 Imperial Camel Brigade took up position on the right of 54th Division at Um Jerrar.
0800 53rd Division told they would come under direct orders of Eastforce on receipt of this message. On night 27th/28th Mounted troops of Desert Column held an outpost line from Point 310 along Goz el Taire to Abasan el Kebir.
A copy of the messages received and dispatchedc on 27th attached as appendix.
18 Officers and 627 Other Ranks were captured during yesterday's operations round Gaza.
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