"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.
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The following is a contemporaneous account of the battle at Merivale Street taken from the pages of the Brisbane Courier. The text from the scan is of poor quality and thus cannot be readily transcribed into text but it is legible enough to allow the contents to be satisfactorily read.
The ongoing Battle of Merivale Street, Queensland, from the account published in the Brisbane Courier, 29 March 1919.
[From: Brisbane Courier, 29 March 1919, p. 7, Bolshivism must go.]
Bert Schramm's Diary, 11 March 1919 Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, 2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, a farmer from White's River, near Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular, kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September 1918 breakout by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.
Bert Schramm's Diary, 11 March 1919
Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 11 - 14 March 1919
[Click on page for a larger print version.]
Tuesday, March 11, 1919
Bert Schramm's Location - Moascar, Egypt.
Bert Schramm's Diary - No one was asked to go on any parades today and things have been quiet. There has been a bit of a rising amongst the Egyptians in Cairo and all the troops in that vicinity have been called out to restore order. I don't think it is anything serious but will probably be held as an excuse for being kept here for a few months longer.
Suez Canal Attack, Egypt, Official British History Account, Pt 2 Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915
Suez Canal Attack
Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915
Official British History Account, Pt 2
The following is an extract from:
MacMunn, G., and Falls, C., Military Operations Egypt & Palestine - From the Outbreak of War with Germany to June 1917, London, 1928, pp. 22 - 25.
THE CANAL DEFENCES.
By December the defence of the Suez Canal had been organized. The force to which it was entrusted consisted of the 10th and 11th Indian Divisions and the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade. Owing to the demand for British Regular troops in Europe the normal allotment of one British battalion to each brigade had been abandoned and the two divisions were entirely composed of Indian troops. The artillery with these troops-which, it will be recalled, had not been sent from India as divisions-consisted of three mountain batteries only. Two field artillery brigades of the East Lancashire Division and a pack-gun battery of the Egyptian Army were added to the Canal Defences, but it was upon the presence of warships in the Canal, prepared to act as floating batteries, that chief reliance for its artillery defence was placed.
The Canal was divided into three sectors for defence: Suez to the Bitter Lakes; Deversoir, north of the Great Sketch B. Bitter Lake, to El Ferdan; El Ferdan to Port Said. Force headquarters and the general reserve were at Ismailia. Small detachments were employed in guarding the Sweet Water Canal and garrisoning the important supply depot at Zagazig, on the main line between Cairo and Ismailia.
With the exception of its artillery, the troops of the East Lancashire Division were not employed, as Sir J. Maxwell was averse to taking them from their training. That division, however, as well as the Australian and New Zealand contingents, formed a reserve, which could be swiftly railed from Cairo to Ismailia and thence in either direction along the Canal.
The troops in the Canal Defences were equipped with first-line transport only. In January it was decided to form a small Camel Transport Corps to act as second-line transport. Five hundred camels were assembled at Abu Sueir, close to Ismailia. They were divided into eight sections, the native drivers being commanded by British officers, civilians given temporary commissions for this duty. Such was the beginning of a corps of which the numbers were to rise in the next three years to upwards of 25,000 drivers and over 30,000 camels.
The Suez Canal was an obstacle which would have been serious to any army, but was particularly so to one which had to march to its attack dragging artillery and bridging train across a wide sandy desert. Though the distance, as the crow flies, from Port Said to Suez was upwards of one hundred miles, 22 miles were taken up by the great sheet of water known as the Great and Little Bitter Lakes and 7 by Lake Timsah. These lakes formed the natural boundaries of the defensive sectors which have been described, and considerably diminished the frontage against which an attack was practicable. The position was admirably served by a lateral railway; it had water behind it, while for the sustenance of an attacker from the desert in front were only a few brackish wells.
There had therefore never been any question but that a Turkish attack from Palestine should be met and fought upon the line of the Canal. The pre-war scheme of defence, while suggesting that a force of camelry should occupy Nekhl, to harass the enemy and keep touch with Ismailia, had definitely laid it down that "the obvious line of actual defence of the eastern frontier of Egypt is the Suez Canal." That argument was now all the stronger because when it was framed it had not been contemplated that warships would be sent into the Canal or that the Navy would do more than render Egypt immune from a hostile landing at Suez or Port Said and, in the event of aggression from the east, patrol the Canal and the lakes with armed pinnaces. After the decision that, in the event of attack from Sinai, warships should enter the Canal and assist in its defence by gun-fire, the potential strength of the position was greater than ever.
These advantages were sufficient to determine the policy of the defence in the circumstances prevailing, but it was not forgotten that there was another side to the picture. The mere interruption of navigation through the Canal, inevitable in case of an attack, would result in loss of time, serious at a period when troops and supplies were wanted hurriedly and when every extra hour that British shipping was employed on any mission meant the loss of a valuable hour which should have been given to another. Such short interruptions were, however, the least of the dangers to be contemplated. A ship sunk in the Canal was a more serious possibility.
This is perhaps an example of extreme “blue-water" naval theory affecting military plans. It was held that warships could not be spared for the defence of the Canal because the Navy would be wholly occupied in seeking out and destroying the enemy's fleet. The Navy's object proved, however, to be the obtainment and preservation of the command of the sea, and in defending the Suez Canal the older ships of Britain and France were fulfilling their part to that end.
A temporary success to the enemy might permit him to do, in a few days, damage to the Canal which it would take many weeks to repair. Great as were the advantages of the policy of defence upon the line of the Suez Canal, that policy represented, in sum, the employment of the Empire's main line of communication as an obstacle in front of a fire trench.
The defensive work carried out along the Canal was simple by comparison with the elaborate system which was to be constructed in 1916. A series of posts was dug, the trenches revetted with sandbags and protected by barbed wire, on the east bank, principally to cover ferries and provide facilities for local counter-attack, while a more extensive bridgehead was prepared at Ismailia Ferry Post. [These posts were prepared, from north to south, at Port Said, Ras el Esh, Tina, El Kab, Qantara, Ballah, El Ferdan, Bench mark, Ismailia, Tussum, Serapeum, Deversoir, Geneffe, Shallufa, Gurkha Post, El Kubri, Baluchistan Post, Esh Shatt.] On the west bank trenches were dug at intervals between the posts. The Suez Canal Company, which put all its resources, including small craft, at the disposal of General Wilson, rendered great assistance in the construction of works and crossings. The ferries under its administration were put at the service of the defence, and a number of new ones added. Three floating bridges were assembled: the heaviest at Ismailia, and lighter ones at, Kubri, half way between Suez and the Little Bitter Lake, and at Qantara.
In order to narrow, by flooding a portion of the desert, the frontage open to attack, a cutting was made in the Canal bank at Port Said on the 25th November. The plain to the east is here very low, in places below the surface of the Mediterranean, and the resultant inundation reached El Kab, north of Qantara, thus barring 20 miles of the Canal to approach. The water subsided somewhat in January, but left the area which had been covered impassable for some time longer. On the 2nd January a further cutting was made in the Asiatic bank north of Qantara, which resulted in good protection being afforded to the flank of that fortified zone. Minor inundations were created between Qantara and Ismailia.
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 30 May to 1 June 1916 Topic: Gm - Bk - 605 MGC
German 605th Machine Gun Company (MGC)
War Diary, 30 May to 1 June 1916
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 30 May to 1 June 1916
Pte. Runge had fallen sick en route and, as referred to above, was sent to hospital on Turkish diagnosis as a case of "spotted typhus".
Our horses and draught oxen arrived here early to-day, whereupon we continued our journey this afternoon to Afoule at 4 p.m. To detached Pte. Krell as ammunition guard.
Strength of the company - 1 officer, 9 N.C.O's, 17 men. We reached Samach on Lake Tiberias at 4 a.m. to-day, but only had a 15 minutes halt. After 2½ hours we reached Afoule. Here the railway branches due south. From Afoule station one can see Nazareth lying on the ridge to the north. Tabor mountain is visible to the northeast. West of Afoule station Mount Carmel extends in a northerly direction. We got bread here from the Turkish L. of C. We had a halt here of only 1½ hours. From here we travelled in a southerly direction via DJenin, Tul Karem to Ras-El-Ain. Here the Commandant of the local Turkish supply depot received us. We got lentils and mutton cutlets and afterwards tea. To the N.W. there are still the ruins of the old fortress of Anti Patrie. As the end of our 1½ hour halt approached we had to entrain, and proceeded to Rente station. This station is about 3 kilometers from our German Colony of Wilhelma, where we were received in the warmest fashion in accordance with old customs and ways. The colony invited us to visit the settlement, but unfortunately time did not allow this and we had to rest content with the good German Palestine wine given by the colony. On the whole of our travels we saw no fields so well cultivated as they were here with German industry and labour.
Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A29 Suevic on 11 November 1916
Rank from Nominal Roll
Unit from Nominal Roll
Discharged 6 July 1919
Enlisted as 133035 Private Ernest Gaffey, 45th Royal Fusiliers
Wounded at the Battle of Emptsa, 29 August 1919
Transferred to Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, 7 October 1919
War service: Western Front
Date of death
28 January 1940
Age at death
Place of burial
Anglican Cemetery, Inverell, New South Wales
Ernest Gaffey was born in Bundarra, N.S.W., 18 February 1898 to Patrick James Gaffey (b. 1860 - d. 1917) and Jane Helen Gaffey (neé Young (b. 1876 - d. 1952?)), the parents being married at Bundarra in 1897. Ernest was the oldest of eight children, the others being Arnold, Harold (b. 1901), Marjorie, Clifton (b. 1907), Charlie (who had a disability of some kind), Ethel and Reati (who died very young as a result of falling into a fireplace).
Patrick Gaffey (the father of Patrick James Gaffey) took up his selection on Saveall Creek in 1871 in the Parish of Bundarra. Patrick James Gaffey (Patrick Gaffey's son and Ernest's Father) supposedly had cut his own throat on his own selection next to his Fathers.
Ernest had signed up with the AIF when he was underage, then aged 17 on 13 November 1915 and was allotted to the 1st Reinforcements for the 33rd Infantry Battalion. He was discharged at parents request on the 27 March 1916 and taken home by his parents.
With the recruitment drive of 1916, Ernest again enlistedat Armidale on 4 September 1916 stating that his parents were deceased. He was allotted to the 8th Reinforcements with the 53rd Infantry Battallion
The following year, 1917, Ernest's father, Patrick James, died as a consequence of a supposed suicide.
After service on the Western Front in France, at the end of the war, Ernest was discharged at his own request in England. The newly formed Norforce was a British formation and the Australian Government refused to release serving AIF members to participate in the action. So it was agreed that Australian volunteers would be demobilised in England for the express purpose of enlisting with the British Army and more specifically with the 45th Royal Fusiliers.
During the Battle of Emptsa, Ernest Gaffey was wounded although it is unknown what form the wounding took or which part of his body sustained the injury. My Father is Norman Gaffey who served in the merchant navy in WW2. He still has in his posession the bullet that was removed from his Father that he received in northern Russia.
Ernest was refused a pension by the Australian government as well as the British government, each saying the other was responsible for his welfare therefore leaving him responsible for himself.
Ernest did it tough during the depression and lost his wife and 2 daughters to influenza. He was left broken and penniless and was left with no option but to place his son (my father Norman Gaffey) into an orphanage in Eastwood (Dalmar) the day the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened.
Ernest Gaffey died from heart failure at age 42 at "Bookoolo" on Bannockburn Road near Inverell N.S.W on 27 January 1940. A Coroner's Inquest was held at Inverell on 1 February 1940 to establish the circumstances leading up to and causing the death of Ernest Gaffey. It was determined that heart disease, "Mitral Stenosis", was the cause of death. This finding was entered onto his death certificate. Subsequent to the inquest, Ernest Gaffey was buried by the RSL.
My Father had no idea of his fathers history and had thought he had served in the lighthorse at Galipoli. He actualy served in the 53rd battalion AIF in France and then with the 45th Royal Fusiliers.
Information kindly supplied by Mark Gaffey, the Grandson of Ernest Gaffey.
3153 Private Ernest Gaffey at Netley in hospital uniform, October 1919.
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