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Wednesday, 9 January 2008
9th LHR AIF War Diary, 9 January
Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR

9th LHR, AIF

9th Light Horse Regiment

War Diary, 9 January

Pro Gloria et Honore - For Glory and Honour

Regimental March -  Marching Through Georgia



The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.


The Diary



Friday, January 9, 1914

See 4th Military District, South Australia for militia activities.



Saturday, January 9, 1915

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Broadmeadows, Victoria

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Organising, training and equipping of troops.



Sunday, January 9, 1916

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Heliopolis, Egypt

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Brigade Parade today past the Grand Stand and after Church Parade.



Tuesday, January 9, 1917

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Sheikh Zowaiid, Sinai

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Moved off again at 0100. A Squadron fielding one troop under Luxmoore, Lieutenant EM, left flank guard - one troop under Sharp, Lieutenant RC, right flank guard to the Brigade and one troop under Blackman, Captain as rearguard to the column.

At about 0600 the column arrived about two miles south east of the Divisional position at El Magruntein and here the left flank guard was fired on by a Turkish outpost. The outpost fired two green lights and was captured. The Brigade moved toward east of the "border" and remained in reserve until 1100 when orders were received to make a joint attack on redoubt C2, C3 and C4 at 1130. The 9th Light Horse Regiment was detailed to make good trenches known as C2 and C3 to keep touch with the 10th Light Horse Regiment on the right and Imperial Camel Corps on the left.

The Regiment [less A Squadron, and less Lewis Gun] then formed one column of C Squadron on left and three troops of B Squadron on right with one troop from each squadron in support and A Squadron, Lewis Gun on the extreme left. Trench was gained on the right with 20 Other Ranks and at 1400 the line moved forward mounted to maintain about 2,000 yards of the Turkish position. The Regiment here dismounted and maintained the advance on foot to within about 1,400 yards when the left guard joined up with the Imperial Camel Corps. From here onwards the enemy's rifle fire was becoming heavy the advance was continued short pushes by the troops from the left of Squadrons then advance being covered and supported by the fire of the remaining troops.

The Lewis Guns advanced with the leading troop and covered the advance of the remainder - doing excellent work and again proving their adaptability for this kind of warfare. From the results of El Magdhaba and Rafa engagement it is evident that the automatic rifles are invaluable and that the efficiency of the troops would be greatly increased if the establishment of these or similar automatic rifles was increased.

At about 1,000 yards the line was straightened up only a slight fold in the ground. The left of the Regiment in trench known as Z4 - the general direction of the line being 75 degrees - and a constant fire opened up on the enemy trenches known as C group. The intervening ground was a slight concave and bare and offered absolutely no cover making further advance impossible for the time.

At 1430 the situation remained unchanged on the Regiment's front but the 1st Light Horse Brigade on the right flank could be seen to be advancing and a number of Turks were observed to give themselves up. The Imperial Camel Corps on our left were also unable to make headway. During the intense bombardment of the enemy trenches by our guns [from 1430 to 1600] a continued fire was kept up by rifles and Lewis Guns on assault offering in the C Group. And the enemy's fire was greatly subdued.

About 1330 Brown, Lieutenant AR, took up a position on our left flank in a vacated enemy trench with two machine guns and opened up fire with excellent effect. At 1530, a message was received from Fulton, Lieutenant Colonel G, 3rd Light Horse Regiment asking if the 9th Light Horse Regiment would advance. The message with a footnote asking if they could wait, was sent to Commanding Officer 10th Light Horse Regiment but no answer was received.

At 1540 a message was received from 3rd Light Horse Brigade ordering an advance to take place at 1530. At 1540 Royston, Brigadier General JR, came up and gave verbal order for the 9th Light Horse Regiment's advance to be timed by 10th Light Horse Regiment's advance on our right. Up to this time our casualties had been comparatively slight considering the heaviness of the fire on both sides - and the absolute lack of cover. About this time McDonald, Lieutenant JH was wounded in the knee.

At 1545 the extreme right of the line [1st Light Horse Brigade] was observed to be falling back and the enemy's fire at once greatly increased. Numerous enemy stood up to fire and afforded good targets to our Lewis Guns and rifles. At 1610 a second message was received from Fulton, Lieutenant Colonel G, 3rd Light Horse Regiment asking for covering fire as he was being very hard pressed, and our fire was at once increased. A verbal message was received from Robertson, Major, 10th Light Horse Regiment via Siekmann, Major TA, [Officer Commanding B Squadron 9th Light Horse Regiment] that the two troops 10th Light Horse Regiment on the right of the line were retiring and would we if necessary cover the retirement of the 10th Light Horse Regiment - which was agreed to.

Soon after this a number of troops [New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade] were seen to come over the skyline to the west of large tree and the Turks appeared to be surrendering. The signal "Cease Fire" was given and the Imperial Camel Corps on our left and the 9th Light Horse Regiment at once advanced directly on the trenches C2 and C3 - the enemy all surrendering before the trenches were reached. Chanter, Captain JC, pushed forward and C Squadron with some Imperial Camel Corps found four [4] Mountain Guns and a number of the enemy. He placed a guard over same and reported the matter to Brigade. The led horses having been brought up to regiment was rallied and took up a line of outposts in accordance with orders received from the General Officer in Command Brigade.

During the engagement 15,000 rounds of SAA [small arms ammunition] were expended the supply being replenished from the horse bandoliers and pack ammunition.

At about 2100 the Regiment [less A Squadron and one troop C Squadron] left Rafa with the Brigade and returned to Sheikh Zowaiid arriving there at about 0200. Horses were watered [having been without water for 36 hours] and rations drawn.

During the bombardment the artillery fire was most effective.

Our total casualties for the engagement were wounded: one Officer, McDonald, Lieutenant JH; and, 14 Other Ranks.

Wounded in Action:

645 Private Alfred  Currie

921 Private Arthur Christopher Down

2573 Private Desmond Landseer Fitzgerald

1105 Private Ernest John Godwin

1106 Private William  Hains

275 Private Austin James Heithersay

1108 Private Ronald George Hogg

802 Private Frank  Mayfield

309 Corporal James Purnell Muir

449 Corporal James  Murray

596 AMC Corporal Hubert Hamilton Nickels

1273 Private Ernest Daniel Pearman

473 Private William Ernest Quirk

1045 Private John  Seeley

2831 Private John Bradbury Young

Horses: two killed and nine wounded.



Wednesday, January 9, 1918

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Deir el Belah, Palestine

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Settling down in new camp situated about half a mile from the beach sand and fine weather very welcome after the rain and mud of the preceding days.



Thursday, January 9, 1919

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Tripoli, Lebanon

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Wagg, Lieutenant BSW, Lieutenant BSW; and, twelve Other Ranks proceeded to Besherri. Aikman, Lieutenant GE; and, his party returned.

1000 - 1100 - Dismounted training. Guards and picquets organised.

Whiz Bang Concert Party.


Previous: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 8 January

Next: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 10 January



See: 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Contents


Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF

Bert Schramm Diary

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 9 January

Posted by Project Leader at 1:01 AM EAST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 July 2010 7:44 AM EADT
The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Powles, CMR Unit History, Account
Topic: AIF - NZMRB - CMR

The Battle of Rafa

Sinai, 9 January 1917

Powles, CMR Unit History, Account


A portion of the CMR Firing Line at Rafa early in the afternoon, Rafa, January 1917

[Powles, p. 133.]


In 1920, C. G. Powles published a history of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment during the Great War called: The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles 1914-1919. The book included a chapter on the work performed by the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment during the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917 which are extracted below.


Powles, C. G., The History of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles 1914-1919, (Auckland 1920), Chapter X - Of the Battle of Rafa and the First Crossing of the Boundary into Palestine:


The Division received orders to move on the evening of the 8th January, 1917, to attack the enemy at Rafa at dawn next day. This time the Division was to be accompanied by the Camel Brigade (with its Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery) and by the 5th Brigade (Yeomanry) with a battery of the Honourable Artillery Company (18-pounders). The whole force was to be under the command of Sir P. Chetwode.

It is necessary to lay some stress upon the difficulties of the undertaking, because the famous cavalry raids of history offer no real standard of comparison.

In the European wars of 1866 and of 1870, cavalry actions did not take place at any great distance from their base, and even then there was food and water in plenty in the country. Again in America the great raids of Jeb Stuart and of Morgan were undertaken through country upon which the raiders could live. Our mounted troops (the cavalry of the Great War), on the other hand, made their raids in the desert, where all supplies even so far as water for the horses had to be carried with the column. If a man fell out of the column and wandered alone, he perished miserably; and where, if a water bottle by mischance were overturned or leaked, there was no water for the owner for perhaps another twenty-four hours; all this under a burning sun by day and in bitter cold by night, in which he became soaked to the skin with dew; and man cannot march and fight for more than a very limited time without food and drink.

Then, again, the task set our 'mounted troops in these raids must be considered. To attack and overcome a stubborn enemy strongly entrenched with both field and machine guns is at all times a difficult task. How much more so is it when the attacking force has a few paltry 18-pounders behind it, however well served these be. Yet these difficulties were gloriously overcome again and again by these young soldiers from the Southern Seas. Dash and determination, combined with an infinity of painstaking forethought, were the qualities demanded by such tasks. The last round of ammunition, the last pound of "bully" and biscuits, and the last pint of water had to be worked out.

When supplies could not be carried by the men, they had to be carried to them, and delivered at the very moment when wanted.

Yet all this was done. Men who had hunted and farmed fought as veteran soldiers, full of dash and determination and cunning; and he who had carried on a business or wielded a pen took his place and supplied and fed men and horses as never had been done before, or could have been done, even by the justly famed A.S.C. in the British Army.

75 Aeroplanes had reported the Turks to be holding a strong position at Rafa, about a mile south-east of the police station on a low hill called El Magruntein.

Leaving Masaid at midday on January 8th, the Desert Mounted Column concentrated in the Wadi el Arish. Mounted men and camel corps were the only troops participating. Moving out at dusk they followed the old telegraph line to Sheik Zowaiid, which was reached about 10.30 p.m. Leaving here again at 1 a.m. on the morning of the 9th. daylight found the horsemen on the borders of Turkey and Egypt at a small Bedouin camp named Shokh el Sufi.

These Bedouins were supposed to be hostile, and were quickly rounded up.

The noise they made must have notified any Turks within miles that there was something unusual happening. Such a Bedouin camp had not been seen before, and was examined with much curiosity. Their tents are low shelters, like a veranda, about four feet high, open to the east; men, women and children and animals living in them indiscriminately. In the chill of the early morning the women huddled over their tiny fires set up their weird shrill lament. This lament has the strangest sound, a shrill high pitched tremolo. It was answered from all directions. Later, as the Regiment rode into action it still continued, and one could almost fancy it came from some evil spirit of the air.

The country had completely changed during our night ride; much of it here was in crop, and everywhere the grass grew luxuriantly. What a relief the green was from the glare of the sand, and how greedily the horses cropped the sweet grass and young corn.

The battle of Rafa followed the same course as that of Magdhaba, the long night approach, the contact at dawn, the closing in during the forenoon, the determined attack in the afternoon, and the surrender at dusk.

But here the task was greater. At Magdhaba the Turk's strength lay in his invisibility, the well sited trenches in the level ground took hours to find. Here his strength lay not in the flatness of the position, but in the rising ground with its tiers of fire and splendid observation. The centre redoubt crowned a conical hill some two hundred feet above the surrounding plain, which was bare of cover and as smooth as a lawn. Spread out fanwise from the central redoubt were cleverly sited series of trenches, invisible in the grass.

The N.Z.M.R. were to attack from the north-east, the Australians and Camel Brigade from the south; and the 5th Yeomanry Brigade was held in reserve.

By half-past nine each regiment was off, riding swiftly round to its appointed position. The 8th Squadron, under Major Bruce, formed the advanced guard to the Canterbury Regiment. As it rode to the north of Rafa to cut the Turks' communications it came into full view of the enemy, who opened on the squadrons with shrapnel and rifle fire, but, riding in open order, the Regiment escaped with only two or three casualties. Here it was that Lieutenant Mathias, in charge of the advanced troop, did good work by capturing the Police station, taking fifty prisoners, then galloping on and cutting off the retreating Turks, many of whom were endeavouring to escape over the sandhills near the coast.

76 This gallop, in which the whole Regiment participated, gave the Canterburys possession of a line of half completed works running from Rafa to the east, yielded the surrender of six Germans and two Turkish officers with one hundred and sixty-three other ranks, and gave the Regiment complete command of the enemy's line of retreat.

From the small rise at the Police station a good view of the enemy position was obtained. Two thousand yards to the south-west lay a low round hill, with a well grassed plain sloping gently up towards it from the edge of the sandhills which fringed the beach. This plain was devoid of anything that would give cover. The Turkish trenches could be seen on the forward slope of the hill, and rifle pits were to be distinguished in front of them. The 8th Squadron were already working quietly out over the plain. At 11.30 a.m. the 10th Squadron, under Major Murchison, went into action on the right of the 8th, and half an hour later the 1st Squadron, under Major Hurst, took up a position on the right of the 10th. The 8th Squadron had, in the meantime, linked up with the Auckland Mounted Rifles on the left. Enemy machine gun and rifle fire was at first very heavy, but our troops slowly gained the ascendancy. The Lewis guns were doing excellent work, and the machine guns, from a low ridge in our rear, supported the firing line. The advance was slow but steady, the men advancing on foot as though they were carrying out manoeuvres. Everything worked like clockwork. A troop would rise from the ground and, covered by the fire of their comrades on either flank, dash forward a few yards, the men throwing themselves down, and bringing fire to bear on the trench in front of them till the remaining troops had come into line. During a lull in the advance occurred one of those incidents that help one to bear the strain. A wounded man was being carried to the rear. A few enemy shells were landing just in rear, of the firing line, so the stretcher bearers decided to wait a few minutes for the fire to slacken. Putting the stretcher down, they flattened themselves out on the ground beside it. Evidently this did not agree with the views of their patient. Getting off the stretcher, he proceeded to leg it at a pace the stretcher bearers had no chance of improving on, in the direction of the nearest dressing station. The look of disgust on the faces of the two men with the stretcher can be better imagined than described. The Padre also caused some amusement. He was with the Colonel, whose headquarters were about 2,000 yards behind the firing line, and clear of the rifle and machine gun swept zone. Suddenly the enemy's shells began bursting round about, and the order was passed round for everyone to dig in for cover, and the Padre was observed furiously attempting to dig himself in with a spoon.

By 11 a.m. all brigades were closely engaged, and the Yeomanry Brigade was sent in to the west of the enemy position between the Camels and the right of the Canterburys, who formed the right of the New Zealand attack.

A steady rifle and machine gun fire, backed up by the Territorial batteries, was pouring on to the Turks. The attack was a determined one but conducted cautiously; rashness would have availed nothing and perhaps led to disaster, for the force was fighting some twenty-five miles from the source of supply (Railhead), and the Turk was known to possess large reinforcements but a few hours march away, at Gaza, and also on the Beersheba railway. For more 77 than three hours the regiments held their positions, the clear grassy plain preventing any movement. During one of its short rushes the leading company of the Camels, the 15th (New Zealand), led by McCallum of the Canterbury Regiment, came under a withering enfilade fire, and the company's gallant leader was mortally wounded.

At 2 o'clock the Yeomanry effected a junction with the Canterbury Regiment on the edge of the sandhills and the Magruntein position was encricled. About an hour later a shortage of ammunition was felt, the reserves having been left at Sheikh Zowaiid, and the Inverness Battery, covering the attack of the New Zealand Brigade, went out of action.

Shortly before 4 p.m. detachments of the 8th Light Horse and of the Wellingtons, who had been thrown out to the north and east to watch for enemy reinforcements, reported much movement. This information was endorsed by the British airmen, who estimated the Turkish reinforcements at two thousand five hundred. General Chetwode, therefore, after discussing the situation with General Chauvel, decided to break off the fight and withdraw, and the 5th Yeomanry Brigade was pulled out.

But elsewhere his instructions fell on deaf ears, for General Chaytor had just issued an order for the final charge, and the line surged forward in a great rush carrying the centre keep. As the men went forward every available rifle and machine gun was firing, particularly fine work being done by four guns attached to the Canterbury Regiment, and the hill "smoked like a furnace." The Turks would not meet the bayonet and surrendered. This success was the beginning of the end. The Australians and Camels, seeing the New Zealanders on the hilltop, quickly rushed the series of trenches they were attacking.

It was still a race against time, no one knowing what the Turkish reinforcements were doing, so prisoners were mustered and hustled off towards Sheikh Zowaiid, and orders were issued for the whole Division to withdraw.

The Ambulance carts, of which there were sufficient, were still busy, and the work of collecting and attending to the wounded was carried on far into the night, and a regiment of Light Horse was left until morning to cover this work.

At Sheikh Zowaiid the Wellington Regiment remained until the morning of the 11th to ensure that no man had been overlooked, and to give Christian burial to those of the British Forces who had lost their lives.

Altogether Rafa was a notable victory, and one of which the Regiment had every reason to be proud. Further, it destroyed the last Turkish force in Egypt, the Sinai desert being a province of Egypt. The Regiment arrived at Sheikh Zowaiid shortly after 10 p.m., but the day's work was not yet finished. Horses had to be watered, and though the Field Troop of Engineers had done very well, it takes a long time to water two thousand animals at three small troughs.

Horses once watered, the allotted camp sites were found, where rations and fodder had been dumped. After a few hours very welcome sleep the Regiment 78 saddled up and rode quietly back to camp at Masaid, watering the horses en route at the 52nd Division troughs in the Wadi el Arish.

The infantry gave the Division a splendid reception, each camp turning out and cheering as it rode past. Also, what was appreciated very much, they volunteered to man the pumps till all horses had been watered.

The Column arrived in camp about 2.30 p.m., tired but proud. In just forty-eight hours it had covered over seventy miles, taken 1,450 prisoners, a battery of mountain guns and much other booty. On the 12th there was a ceremonial parade of the Brigade, when it was thanked by the General Officer commanding the Division for the brilliant work at Rafa.

Three or four days after Rafa another member of the old Main Body, Lieutenant G. L, Stedman, left to join the Royal Flying Corps.

The weather still continued cold and wet, but there was little to do, apart from ordinary camp duties, and more tents having been brought up during our absence at Rafa everybody was much more comfortable. Football was again started, and hard matches were played against the other regiments, Auckland and Wellington, also the Infantry and Australians. The Infantry, 52nd Lowland Division, were fine fellows who played a great game of football. Their boast was that they and the Anzac Division were the only divisions who had not used the railway or wire road since crossing the Suez Canal. The Regiment saw much of this Division till they finally went to France, and the more we saw of them the more we liked them. They suffered heavy casualties at the second battle of Gaza, because they preferred death to surrendering as prisoners.

It will have been gathered from the preceding pages that the Sinai desert was no place for a man on foot. At the battle of Romani, when ordered to attack Katia on the second day of the battle, the 42nd Division marched six miles and lost about 400 men per battalion, who were evacuated to hospital with heat stroke, of which many died. On the advance being resumed towards El Arish it was impossible for the railway to bring forward all infantry units, so where the hardened surface of the Darb el Sultani was not available, many miles of wire netting was laid down to take infantry in lours. Three three-foot strips of ordinary wire netting were laid on the sand side by side and pegged down, not only making a good road for infantry, but capable of bearing light motor traffic.

In between football days the staff tried to work in some field work so that the reinforcements lately arrived should have the benefit of a little desert training; daily classes were also held for officers and men in signalling, map reading and compass work. During this period the Turk's planes were over daily, and often at night, bombing the various camps.

The infantry had established a strong camp east of the Wadi el Arish, and the railway was pushing forward. El Arish, during the last six weeks, had altered considerably. The town itself remained the same, but between it and the sea, a new town of tents, wooden buildings, railway yards and shore dumps had 79 sprung up, showing a remarkable change for a few short weeks. Later El Arish was to become one of the main depots and station for our advance into Palestine. Hospitals and rest camps were then scattered along the beach, and even a school of instruction was established. 


A copy of this book is available on the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Association website.


Further Reading:

Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment

Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment, Roll of Honour

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Roll of Honour

The Palestine Campaign, 1917 - 1918

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Powles, CMR Unit History, Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2011 8:06 AM EAST
The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account
Topic: AIF - 1B - 3 LHR

The Battle of Rafa

Sinai, 9 January 1917

3rd Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account


3rd Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account


The following is a transcription of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account detailing their role at the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917.


Al Risa, 8 January 1917

The Regiment formed up with the Brigade at 1525 and moved off at 1600 with the Division en route to Sheikh Zowaiid, arriving there at 2200. A halt was made here and the horses fed at 2215.

Rafa, 9 January 1917

The Brigade moved off and marched via 210, 250 to Karm ibn Musleh arriving at 0500. At 1030 the Regiment recieved orders to advance to the attack on the left of 1st Light Horse Regiment and support them in an attack on C3, 2, and 1 (Tracing Map.
See: Map of Turkish Trench Works) trenches opposit tree 255. On receiving the order the Regiment moved to the attack mounted in line of Squadron Column extended down a long slope to within 1760 yards of the enemy's trenches. They dismounted behind a low bank and the horses were sent back out of range with only a loss of two wounded. The Regiment was then formed up in line of half Squadron Column and the Squadron Leaders were called up and each alloted a sector and the objective and situation explained to each. An advance was then made in line of half Squadron Column with 150 yards distance between lines to a low ridge within 700 yards of the enemy's trench. The advance was down a gradual slope with no cover and in full view. The enemy's fire was scattered (but heavy) and no check was made, and only 4 men hit during the advance.

On reaching the position the second line immediately joined the firs, and the Machine Guns and Lewis Guns which had been covering the advance immediately came up into this posiiton.

The fire here was very heavy, and it was some time before superiority of fire was gained.

At telephone wire was immediately run out the length of the firing line, and each Squadron was in touch with Regimental Headquarters the whole action. The Regimentatl Headquarters in to the Brigade line and perfect communication was kept throughout the action. Only 3 breakages of the wire occurred to the Brigade through high explosives, and a helio was used to forward messages to the Brigad, in every case the wire was cut and mended in time to receive the reply messages by phone. The Squadron lines were cut more frequently but were soon repaired. The loss in Signallers were one killed and two wounded. The enemy had designed more trenches on this ridge and they were made use of ; although only 12 inches deep and unfinished. They could not accommodate men but were used as Machine Gun and Lewis Gun positions. The 1st Light Horse Regiment was on my extreme right and the 2nd Light Horse Regiment beyond both in view and in touch by phone. There was no one on my left. The ground between our positino and the enemy's trenches was as lefel as a tennis court, and afforded on protection. As it was impossible to advance across this until further developments took place, heavy fire was kep continually on the enemy's position to afford cover to the Right Flank who were steadily pushing forward. At 1300 the 10th Light Horse Regiment came up as Reinforcements to my line and as we had gained superiority of fire and the Right Flank of the Brigade were doing well, it was decided to push forward with the frontal attack. This was done in Troop  rushes and ground made to within 400 yards of the enemy's position.

Ammunition had been brought up and distributed before this advance was made. This was done by pack horses made under heavy shell fire, but the losses were slight, owing to the rapidity with which the movements were carried out. Heavy enfilade fire was experienced on this position, the left Squadron receiving the heaviest casualties.

At 1515 a message was received from "A" Squadron asking permission to withdraw back to their original position, and at the same time orders were received that a general attack was ordered at 1530. This was communicated to the firing line with instructions to hold on. At 1530 ??? movement was visible on the left, except at a very long range, and at 1545 permission was granted to the Squadron to withdraw to their original position. Orders were then received to work to the right and support the 2nd Light Horse Regiment. One Squadrons and Machine Gun were left on the position and two Squadrons were moved to the Right, but before a proper junction could be made, the Redoubt at 255 fell and I ordered another frontal advance, which was carried out and all the ground made good to the trenches. Our led horses were brought up to their positions and I received orders to concentrate at once on the Mud Hut as enemy's movements were expected. This was done at once, and the wounded immediately collected. The Regiment lost 10 Killed and 49 Wounded.


War Diaries

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 



Further Reading:

3rd Light Horse Regiment, AIF

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Roll of Honour

The Palestine Campaign, 1917 - 1918

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, War Diary Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Thursday, 27 January 2011 1:44 PM EAST
The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, Battle Account
Topic: AIF - 5B - ICC

The Battle of Rafa

Sinai, 9 January 1917

Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, Battle Account


 Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, Battle Account


The following is a transcription of the Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, War Diary Account detailing their role at the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917.


Imperial Camel Brigade, January 1917

Headquarters, Desert Column through Anzac Mounted Division.

Attached is a report upon the part played by the 1st Imperial Camel Brigade, in the action at Magruntein.


0915 On receiving orders for attack on "B" Group in conjunction with the 1st Light Horse Brigade, on our right, who were attacking "C3", "C2", and "C1", I moved the Brigade up at 0915 to a position west of the Somerset Royal Horse Artillery Battery who were in action.

0925 Dismounted and deployed 1 Company facing south east behind ridge, and in line with Divisional Artillery.

Immediately after this Company had deployed, the camels were shelled, and had to be moved back ½ a mile south east in rear of the garden at Karm ibn Muslet.

1000 I sent in the Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery up to the position selected to support infantry advance and ordered the 1st Battalion (Major Langly) to develop attack on B4 (plan drawn from aeroplane sketch.
See: Map of Turkish Trench Works). This attack was ordered forward on a front of 1 Company, which was to advance at 1130, under further instruction received from General Officer Commanding Anzac Mounted Division, in conjunction with attack on "C" Group by 3rd Light Horse Brigade.

1130 The range was found to be 4,500 which is not an effective range with the Mountain Battery. I therefore asked the Commander Royal Artillery to support infantry advance on "B" Group 1130.

The attack was sent forward with 1 Company firing line, 1 Company support, 1 Company reserve, with the 2nd Battalion (less 1 Company detached as escort to prisoners, and escort to Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery, as general reserve).

1200 The firing line, No. 15 Company (Captain McCallum) advanced to within 800 yards of "B4" Group without opposition, but came under heavy fire from "C" Group, then about 1,400 yards from them 1215. The line was stiffened up by the supports and reserves, and pushed forward slightly when it was found that the works in "B2" were strongly held and was in reality, a formidable Reduit.

1230 2 Companies 2nd Battalion (under Major Bassett) was sent to prolong our left and engage "2" works from south east and this attack was carried out, advancing with our left front slightly forward within 700, when it appeared that a junction could be made with the 5th Mounted Brigade. A company of 2nd Battalion was sent into the left centre to reinforce the line.

1300 I asked Division to request 5th Mounted Brigade to cooperate with my left.

1415 As progress was slow, and the Brigade had not joined up with 5th Mounted Brigade, I ordered 1 Company of 3rd Battalion (Major Huddleston) forward to the left of the position to envelope "B2" if possible, and effect the junction, which seemed necessary before a general advance could be made, but little progress could be made beyond "B2" (which was found to be unoccupied) owing to lack of cover and heavy machine gun fire.

1430 The 5th Mounted Brigade, which at this time had effected a junction with out left, was withdrawn. I therefore sent Major Huddleston forward with remaining Companies of his Battalion, to the left centre, to fill the gap which was becoming greater owing to the movement of sections, which were being closed in to the left.

1530 But before his arrival, he met Major Langly (whose Battalion was not in a position to move until "C" works were so engaged as to cease enfilading him) who advised elongation and strengthening on the left of the line, against "C4" Reduit, and he was moved there accordingly, joining No. 11 Company with his Battalion 1530 which was about 600 yards from the centre C4 and held up by machine gun position with 2 guns in centre of the Reduit.

1600 At this time I sent the Light Machine Gun Section of this Company on escort duty forward to assist the left in carrying out the "B" works. Advance in the meantime continued slowly.

1630 The Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery having kept the Reduit under continual shrapnel fire, at 1630, the advance of 2 Companies, 3rd Battalion with 1 Company 2nd Battalion, supported by machine gun fire, became very rapid, and at 1630 they assaulted the position and carried it, capturing 5 Officers 214 Other Ranks, 2 machine guns.

The Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery advanced with each advance to the firing line, and at the scene of the action, was within 1,500 yards, and kept up a continuos fire throughout the day both on "B4" and  (at the request of Officer Commanding 1st Battalion) "C1", in order to assist his advance, which was enfiladed by these works.

Again, as at Magdhaba, the Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery, supporting Light Machine Gun fire, mad an advance for open ground against well sited trenches possible, with comparatively small casualties.


Communication with Desert Column was opened up at 0814 by helio and wireless telephone, but no messages other than signal service messages were received.

With Anzac Mounted Division, from 0745 until dark by helio and to 1700 by lamp and by occasional despatch riders through the day. Was unable to establish communication with 5th Mounted Brigade, except through Desert Column, until 1400, when 1st Battalion got Worcester Yeomanry by flag.

Telephone communications with firing line was maintained throughout the day, and proved to the greatest of assistance.

CL Smith, Brigadier General
Commanding Imperial Camel Brigade
El Arish, 12 January 1917



War Diaries

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 



Further Reading:

Imperial Camel Corps, AIF

Imperial Camel Corps, Roll of Honour 

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Roll of Honour

The Palestine Campaign, 1917 - 1918

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, Battle Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2011 12:26 PM EAST
The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, War Diary Account
Topic: AIF - 5B - ICC

The Battle of Rafa

Sinai, 9 January 1917

Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, War Diary Account


 Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, War Diary Account


The following is a transcription of the Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, War Diary Account detailing their role at the Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917.


Rafa 8 January 1917

Brigade paraded at 1400 and marched to Rendezvous; joined Anzac Mounted Division; reached Sheikh Zowaiid at 2130; left for Rafa 0100 on 9th.

Rafa 9 January 1917

Division assembled 3 miles south east of El Magruntein at dawn. See account of action attached.
(See: Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, Battle Account.) Brigade returned to Sheikh Zowaiid at 2400

El Arish 10 January 1917

Brigade left Sheikh Zowaiid at 0700 and reached El Arish at 1450.


War Diaries

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 



Further Reading:

Imperial Camel Corps, AIF

Imperial Camel Corps, Roll of Honour 

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917

The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Roll of Honour

The Palestine Campaign, 1917 - 1918

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Rafa, Sinai, 9 January 1917, Headquarters, Imperial Camel Corps, War Diary Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2011 12:46 PM EAST

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