Topic: AIF - DMC - British
The First Battle of Gaza
Palestine, 26 to 27 March 1917
Egyptian Expeditionary Force Dobell Letter 5 March 1917
Dobell Letter 5 March 1917.
The following is a transcription of the Dobell Letter of 5 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.
5th March 1917
My dear General
I have been trying to ascertain definitely how we stand as regards Decauville and pipe line and then let you know what I propose doing. The confirmation of the enemy's evacuation of his position, however, has just come in and it entirely changed the situation. It is disappointing to lose the opportunity we had hoped for and also that he should have got away without being interfered with in any way. Waterless countries, however, favour such operations as it is impossible to picquet your enemy as one would wish. Except for the delay this withdrawal may be to our advantage as it is possible that the difficulties may be rather decreased than otherwise. If he tries to hold the line Gaza - Beersheba there would appear to be no special task involved in rolling him up from his right, but he would then be able to withdraw to Jerusalem which will probably be what he wanted to do.
In any case we shall have a more fertile country to operate in and consequently mush more favourable for employment of our Mounted Troops, as they will no longer be so entirely dependent on food brought up from the base. I do not see that any really useful, purpose would be served at the moment by cutting the railway line. There are four bridges within raiding distance of Khan Yunis and north of Beersheba but even if we were so fortunate as to find those only lightly held and manage to destroy one of them we should not be able to throw and maintain any troops across the line within the next two or three weeks and by then any damage we could do would be repaired. I an afraid, therefore, that we shall not manage to capture any rolling stock.
Butler's notes on feeding which you sent me will probably prove of the greatest value and most opportune,
Very many thanks for all the advice and assistance you gave me when up here, the new problems are all different but none the less interesting and will require careful study, I shall in due course receive your instructions, and, I hope help in respect to these too.
I have issued instructions about grazing in vicinity of Sheikh Zowaiid in accordance wife your instructions, Chetwode now tells me that there is a vast amount of country under cultivation and suggests that we harvest it. Possibly we may now be able to let the inhabitants back but it is too early yet to make any suggestion.
Signed CM Dobell
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