Topic: AIF - DMC - British
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
Commander Royal Artillery, 54th Division Artillery War Diary Account
Commander Royal Artillery, 54th Division Artillery War Diary Account.
The following is a transcription of the Account from the War Diary of the Commander Royal Artillery, 54th Division Artillery detailing its role at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
Ref: 1/125,000, Rafa Sheet
(See: Map segment of Gaza 1:125,000 )
On night of 25/26th March 54th Division was concentrated near In Seirat the Divisional Artillery being at Point 150 South East of Deir el Belah.
At 0530 26th March the Divisional Artillery moved up to Point 310.
About this time the 161st Infantry Brigade Group including 271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery was detached to act under orders of 53rd Division. The action of 271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery during 26th and 27th is given later.
The 54th Division was then ordered to advance to a position extending North and East of Sheikh Abbas.
The 163rd Infantry Brigade having occupied this ground the 270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery moved up and at 1415 was 300yards east of Beersheba - Gaza Road and west of Sheikh Abbas, Divisional Artillery Headquarters being at First "S" of Sheikh Abbas.
Positions were reconnoitred but there being no hostile advance against 54th Division on 26th the 270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery did not come into action. Orders were received from Eastern Force for 54th Division Ammunition Column to move to Sheikh Abbas and there dump 3/4 of its ammunition. The 54th Divisional Ammunition Column arrived Sheikh Abbas late in the afternoon and commenced to dump ammunition.
On evening of 26th orders were received for 54th Division to move north and occupy an outpost line along the ridge running north east to Mansura and thence to junction with 53rd Division.
The 54th Divisional Ammunition Column then reloaded ammunition and moved west of Wadi Ghuzze.
During night 26/27th March 54th Division moved into outpost line as ordered, the 270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery being in a position of readiness about 1/2 mile west of Mansura at 0220 27th Divisional Artillery Headquarters arrived at "M" of Mansura about 0300 27th.
About 0700 27th 270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery was put into action about Mansura, two batteries facing east and one north east.
During the day various hostile infantry advances and hostile batteries were engaged, some of the chief targets being as under:-
Time Target Battery Engaging Result 0185 Hostile Battery in action south east of Sheikh Abbas A/270 Hostile battery stopped firing. 0900 Hostile infantry advancing to Sheikh Abbas A & B/270 - 1000 Infantry advancing west on north and south of Mosque A & C/270 This infantry continually attempted to advance throughout the day but were stopped by shell fire from 270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. 0830 Infantry advancing and cavalry near Sheikh Abbas B/270 - 1200 Cactus hedges stopping our infantry A/270 - 1415 Flashes of Battery firing on road used by camels etc. with rations etc from Nebhan B/270 Battery indicated by Royal Flying Corps fired on by B/270th and wagon line reported by Royal Flying Corps as effectively shelled. 1430 Hostile by advancing to Mosque A/270 - 1500 Hostile Heavy Battery south of Mosque C/270 Hostile battery silenced temporarily. 1800 Hostile Battery firing from Cactus Garden on Observation Posts and 53rd Divisional Artillery A/270 Hostile battery ceased fire. 1900 Infantry attack A/270 A/270 opened fire on night lines in front of and on Cactus garden during hostile Infantry attack.
Orders were received for general withdrawal Royal Field Artillery Brigades to commence the withdrawal at 1900. At 1900 270th and 271st Brigades Royal Field Artillery withdrew to west of Wadi Ghuzze at Sheikh Nebhan remaining there until 0100, 28th in order that Artillery might be available at dawn should the Infantry 54th Division get delayed and experience any difficulty in crossing Wadi Ghuzze.
Withdrawal was effected satisfactorily and 270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery with 161st Infantry Brigade Group on 26th and 27th March was as under.
271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery were not employed before afternoon of 26th.
About 1400 Brigade General Commander 161st Infantry Brigade sent Brigade Commander 271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery to report to 53rd Division. On orders received 271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery went into action at 1500 south east of El Namus having been placed under orders Brigade General Commander 159th Infantry Brigade.
During remainder of any 271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery engaged various targets, some of which are given below:-
Time Target Battery Engaging Result 1515 Hill north east of Ali el Muntar to support attack of 159th Infantry Brigade A, B, C/271 Hill successfully shelled Turks being seen to evacuate the hill which was then stormed and occupied by infantry. 1515 Cactus Hedges south west slopes of Ali el Muntar A, B, C/271 Fire stopped by Brigade Group, Royal Artillery, 53rd Division, owing to advance of our Infantry. 1515 Green Mound south west slopes of Ali el Muntar A, B, C/271 Brigade Group, Royal Artillery, 53rd Division, subsequently ordered Brigade to occupy fresh position.Owing to length of advance and approach of darkness which caused the action to be broken off this position was not occupied.
271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery moved to well at El Burjabiya watered horses and stood by during night 26/27th March.
On receipt of orders detaching Brigade from 159th Infantry Brigade, Brigade Commander reported to Brigade General Field Artillery, 53rd Division who ordered 18 pounder Battery (B/271) to go forward and come into action south east of Ali el Muntar. Remaining two Batteries (A & C) were not in action before 1100. C/271 was in action at 1100 at El Burjabiya facing east and supported 1st Camel Corps operating about Sheikh Abbas.
"A" Battery (which had supplied ammunition to "B" Battery) having refilled was available for action at 1200 but was held in reserve.
At 1400 the whole Brigade was in action facing north (west of El Burjabiya) with orders to support 159th, 160th and 161st Infantry Brigades holding El Sire Ridge. No hostile advance was observed by Batteries engaged hostile Batteries and Artillery Observation Posts.
Officers Killed Officers Wounded Other Ranks Killed Other Ranks Wounded Natives Killed Natives Wounded Horses Killed Camels Killed Headquarters Royal Field Artillery - - - - - - - - 270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery - 1 - 3 - - 3 - 271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery - - - 1 - - 1 - 54th Divisional Ammunition Column - - - 1 - 2 - 3
Ammunition Expended270th Brigade Royal Field Artillery - 877 all natures
271st Brigade Royal Field Artillery - 759 all natures
Signed HG Sandilands, Brigadier General
Commander Royal Artillery 54th Divisional Artillery
23 March 1917
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Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy
British Forces, EEF, 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, Commander Royal Artillery, 54th Division Artillery War Diary Account