Topic: AIF - DMC - British
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division Order No. 15
54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division Order No. 15.
The following is a transcription of Order No. 15 from the War Diary of the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division detailing their attack plan at the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
54th Division Order No. 15
25th March 1917
Reference Rafa Map 1/125,000
1. The enemy's main body is in Tel en Nejile - Huj area south of the Wadi el Hesi covered by detachments about Gaza, Tel esh Sheria - Abu Hareira and Beersheba. He appears to dispose of two weak divisions and fragments of two other divisions - the equivalent in all between 2½ and 3 divisions. One of these divisions appears not to number more than 6,000 rifles.
2. The General Officer Commanding Eastern Force intends to drive the enemy out of Gaza and hopes to destroy his advanced detachment at that place.
3. The Mounted Troops will move through the outpost position soon after dawn on the 26th March.
The Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division will cross the Wadi el Ghuzze west of Im Jerrar. The Imperial Mounted Division will cross the Wadi el Ghuzze at Sheikh Nebhan.
4. The 54th Division will move at 0530 as follows:-(a) The 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry (less one troop) will follow Imperial Mounted Division and secure Sheikh Abbas, remaining there till relieved by the 161st Infantry Brigade. They will repeat all reports sent to Divisional Headquarters to 163rd Brigade.
When the Sheikh Abbas position has been occupied by the 163rd Brigade and 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry will move to the crossing of the Wadi el Ghuzze at Tel el Jemmi.
(b) The 163rd Infantry Brigade will follow the 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry and will march direct to Sheikh Abbas (The bearing of this hill from Point 310 (J.3 9.8) is 68 degrees and the distance is 5½ miles) where they will take up a position of readiness covered by day outposts.
The Brigade General Commander 163rd Brigade will in addition on arrival at Sheikh Abbas make arrangements to occupy and rapidly strengthen the position in the event of an attack from east and south east. Every effort must be made to conceal the presence of the Brigades in the vicinity of Sheikh Abbas as it is very important that the enemy should not know that this position is occupied.
(c) The 161st Infantry Brigade will follow the 163rd Infantry Brigade across the Wadi el Ghuzze and remain under cover near Sheikh Nebhan. They will be in General Reserve to the 54th Division and may be placed at the disposal of the General Officer Commanding 53rd Division later on receipt of orders from the General Officer Commanding 54th Division.
(d) The 162nd Infantry Brigade will follow the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division across the Wadi el Ghuzze. The Brigade General Commander 162nd Infantry Brigade will leave on Battalion in the Wadi to act as escort to the Artillery of the 54th Division. The Brigade General Commander 162nd Infantry Brigade will ten take up a position of readiness in the vicinity of L.2 4.2 one mile north of Sharta covered by day outposts. On arrival at position touch must be gained with 163rd Infantry Brigade.
(e) The Artillery of the 54th Division will follow the 163rd Brigade and will remain in the vicinity of Um Jerrar while the Sheikh Abbas position is being reconnoitred.
(f) The 486th Field Company Royal Engineers will be under the orders of the Brigade General Commander 161st Infantry Brigade.
The 484th Field Company Royal Engineers and 495th Field Company Royal Engineers will follow the Artillery of the 54th Division across the Wadi el Ghuzze and will remain at Um Jerrar. These two field companies Royal Engineers will be available for developing the water supply from the Wadi el Ghuzze, and from the cisterns and wells from El Adar to Tel el Jemmi both inclusive under the Commander Royal Engineers 54th Division who will start to reconnoitre for water as soon as the Mounted Divisions have crossed the Wadi el Ghuzze. One troop of the 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry will acting as escort to the Royal Engineers during this work. Further orders with reference to water will be issued on receipt of reports from Commander Royal Engineers 54th Division.
5. As soon as Sheikh Abbas is occupied and the outposts are in position the General Officer Commanding 54th Division will make a personal reconnaissance.
6. Casualty Clearing Station will be established at Khan Yunis to which patients will be evacuated from the front. The Casualty Clearing Station will be laid out on the 25th March. The 54th Division will form a Dressing Station as required near In Seirat on the Gaza Rafa Road as near as possible to Deir el Belah.
7. First Line Transport
First Line Transport camels will remain in their present position. On receipt of orders those carrying ammunition, tools and full fanatis will rejoin their units. Those carrying empty fanatis will assemble at Division Headquarters at 0200 and will be sent to refill.
8. Divisional Battle Headquarters will be on Hill one mile south of Point 310 (J.3 7.7) until Sheikh Abbas is occupied when the Battle Headquarters will be moved to that place.
Signed A Kearsey, Lieutenant Colonel
General Staff, 54th Division
Issued at 2000
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