Topic: AIF - DMC - British
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
Egyptian Expeditionary Force Murray Letter 16 March 1917
Murray Letter 16 March 1917.
The following is a transcription of the Murray Letter of 13 March 1917 from the War Diary of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force detailing the discussion formulating the battle plan for the First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917.
Egyptian Expeditionary Force
16 March 1917
Since writing to you this morning I have received your interesting letter dated the 15th. I am Very interested to hear that the transport you will have at your disposal will give the entire force of 2 Mounted Divisions and 3 Divisions a radius of action of 20 miles. This will enable you to carry out your plans as you have outlined. My more ambitious plan of passing Cavalry to the north whilst holding or attacking, on the line Huj - Abu Hareira will necessarily have to wait until your radius of action ahead of railhead is extended to cover such operation. Whether the enemy will wait after our occupation of Gaza for such an encircling movement would appear very doubtful. If he goes it will naturally entail his evacuation of Beersheba, and I think for many reasons, especially political, I shall have to occupy the line Gaza - Beersheba, not necessarily holding Beersheba is any great force.
It may be that the Navy by landing stores at Gaza would help to solve the problem for you and avoid the delay necessarily caused to the construction of the railway east of Gaza. It the enemy is confiding enough to stay where he is and so enable you to make your deliberate preparations. I presume when railhead reaches Deir el Belah you will be in position to strike hard.
I am sorry to hear your defence works have suffered so badly. Until the end of May we are never safe and it is heartbreaking work preparing defences, but it must be faced.
Don't trouble to answer - for I know you are Very busy - either my letter of this evening or this one.
Signed AJ Murray
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
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, Egyptian Expeditionary Force Murray Letter 16 March 1917