"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
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Friday, 10 July 2009
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917, Huseyin Husnu Emir Account Topic: BatzP - El Burj
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917
Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir Account
Map 28 from Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim, p. 432.
[Click on map for larger version.]
One of the most important and authoritative books that was written by Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Turkish General Staff, a Turkish officer at the centre of major historical events in Palestine from 1917 to 1917. The book he wrote was called Yilderim which translates into English as either "lightning" or "thunderbolt". This was the name given to the Army formed under the command of General Falkenheyn in 1917. It fought in Palestine until the cessation of hostilities.
The book was 1st published in 1922 in Ottoman Script by the Turkish General Staff War History Department in Ankara. At that time, Turkey was in a state of internal chaos. Mustafa Kemal Pasha was still fighting against the Greeks and British. Hüsnü completed his book on 1 May 1921 in occupied Istanbul and joined the National forces of Mustafa Kemal Pasha in Anatolia with the manuscript. The 2nd edition was published in 2002. The translation presented here comes from the 1st edition.
Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim, p. 245.
On both enemy fronts the artillery fire was less than usual and nothing important occurred. The front was stabilised (Map 28). In the zone of the 19th Division the front was advanced from south of Nalin to the Beit aur el Fuqa road. The enemy remained in El Tahta. Later the storm battalion of the 19th Division with the detachment of the 54th Division attacked El Burj. They captured some machine guns but the enemy attacked their rear and threw them back to the hills north of the road with heavy loss.
Bodies of Turkish storm troopers litter the landscape after the failed attack.
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, W.A. Infantry Brigade Topic: Militia - LHW - WA
Western Australian Militia
W.A. Infantry Brigade
The following is an extract from the book written in 1962 by George F. Wieck called The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia 1861-1903, pp. 62 - 63:
W.A. Infantry Brigade
The impact of the war in South Africa and the raising of Contingents for service therein gave a tremendous fillip to the Volunteer Movement in Western Australia. Two new Battalions of Infantry were raised and by regrouping and expanding some of the older corps other Battalions could be formed. General Orders issued on 8 October 1900 gave formal approval for the formation of the West Australian Infantry Brigade existing of five Battalions (to include all the existing Infantry corps), organised on the following lines:
Commandant and Staff.
Officer Commanding Major J. C. Strickland.
Officer Commanding Captain J. A. E. Humble.
Officer Commanding Captain W. D. Cowan.
4th Battalion, (Metropolitan Civil Service Battalion)
Officer Commanding Major H. J. Hunt.
5th Battalion, (Goldfields Battalion of Infantry)
Officer Commanding Major H. A. Judd.
After the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901 the Brigade continued to flourish until 1 July 1903 when it was liquidated by the issue of the new Federal Defence Scheme. Federal troops were divided into two bodies known as Field Force and Garrison Troops, each having a distinctive role. All the corps of the former Brigade (except York) became components, under changed designations, of either of these two bodies, as shown in 1st to 5th Battalions, W.A. Infantry Brigade.
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917, Falls Account Topic: BatzP - El Burj
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917
The situation in Southern Palestine at 6p.m., 30 November 1917
As part of the Official British War History of the Great War, Captain Cyril Falls was commissioned to produce a commentary on the Sinai, Palestine and Syrian operations that took place. In 1930, his finished work, Military Operations Egypt and Palestine from June 1917 to the end of the war, produced in two parts, was published in London. This is Falls account of El Burj.
Falls, C, Military Operations Egypt and Palestine from June 1917 to the end of the war, Part I, London, 1930, pp. 234 - 236:
On the night of the 30th November the 4th L.H. Brigade, having been relieved by the 74th Division at Tahta and in the Wadi Zeit, had relieved the left of the 156th Brigade east of El Burj. The 3rd and 4th L.H. Brigades were now in line side by side, with the 7th Mounted Brigade in support, awaiting relief by the 5th Mounted Brigade, which had now reached Qaryet el 'Inab. Major-General Hodgson took over command of the front from north of Beit Sira to south-west of Shilta.
About 1 a.m. on the 1st December the Turks renewed their attacks, both at Tahta against the 157th Brigade and north-east of El Burj against the 3rd L.H. Brigade. At Tahta they succeeded after two fruitless attempts in driving the right company of the 5/H.L.I., which had lost half its strength, off two hundred yards of the ridge in front of the village. Br.-General Hamilton Moore forbade an immediate counter-attack and ordered the rocky ground to be first thoroughly searched by Stokes mortars. At 4.30 a.m. a company of the 5/Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and the company of the H.L.I. reoccupied the position with little difficulty.
The other Turkish attack penetrated the line of the 8th A.L.H. north-east of El Burj, but four separate onslaughts with stick bombs were driven back by a squadron under Major A. Crawford on a rocky hill. A squadron of the Gloucester Hussars, still attached to the 3rd L.H. Brigade, was rushed up to fill gaps in the line, and the Hong Kong Battery came into action. Next a company of the 4/Royal Scots Fusiliers from Beit Sira, led by Lieut.-Colonel N. G. Stewart-Richardson with a small party of bombers, arrived on the scene just as the Turks were launching a new assault. A bombing party under 2nd Lieutenant S. H. P. Boughey attacked the enemy bombers engaging Major Crawford' squadron and after a fierce struggle forced them back. The Turks continued to attack with desperate bravery, but another company of the 4/Scots Fusiliers came up and the enemy, galled by the steady fire of the 3rd L.H. Brigade and assailed by a shower of bombs from the Fusiliers fell back to cover. The Scotsmen, infuriated at losing their hard earned rest, vented their rage upon the enemy, pursuing him without respite. Boughey outran his men and forced twenty-five Turks to surrender. A moment later he was shot dead. He received the posthumous reward of the Victoria Cross.
Australians, Scotsmen, and Yeomen held their position till dawn, when it was found that the attacking force was at their mercy, since its retreat was barred by a barrage laid down by the machine guns of the 3rd L.H. Brigade. Six officers and 106 other ranks surrendered, while over one hundred dead were found upon the ground. The prisoners belonged to the Storm Battalion of the 19th Division. They had proved themselves troops of high quality, and were far better equipped than most Turkish troops at this period, wearing shrapnel helmets and carrying 1917 Mausers. It appears from Turkish of the 54th Division also took part in the attack. The battalion, 600 strong, was almost annihilated.
On the morning of the 3rd December a last attempt 3 Dec. was made by the 74th Division to recover Beit 'Ur el Foqa. This attack was carried out by the 16/Devonshire, 229th Brigade, and launched from the head of the Wadi Zeit at 1 a.m. At 3.30 the village was captured with 17 prisoners and three machine guns. But heavy counter-attacks were launched before consolidation could be carried out, and the battalion was galled by machine-gun fire from the neighbouring ridges. Bombing and hand-to-hand fighting continued all the morning. The 74th Division was, in fact, learning over again the lesson which had been impressed upon Major General Barrow when he had had time to study the ground, that Foqa was untenable while the Zeitun Ridge, Jonquil Hill, and the hills to the north were in the enemy's hands. Soon afternoon Lieut.-Colonel A. C. Mardon obtained permission to withdraw through Tahta. The losses were heavy, numbering 286, and included three company commanders.
It was obvious that local attacks of this nature were not worth their cost, and General Chetwode, who had now had time to reconnoitre the front, ordered them to stop. The Turks had been defeated and fought to a standstill; he had now all the fresh troops of his own corps up - the 10th Division having relieved the 52nd - and could afford to mature his preparations for the capture of Jerusalem.
THE BATTLE FROM THE TURKISH SIDE.
Falkenhayn's aim was now to take pressure off the Seventh Army and delay an attack on Jerusalem until the reinforcements which he was expecting had arrived. These consisted of the 20th Division, which was to join the Eighth Army; the 1st Division, the Caucasus Cavalry Brigade, the Asia Corps, and from east of Jordan the 7th Cavalry Regiment and 150th Regiment, destined to support the Seventh Army. The 20th Division, as we have seen, was in action on the 27th November. The leading battalion of the Asia Corps was expected at Nablus on the 12th December, and the 70th Regiment of the 1st Division at Jenin about the same date. The troops from over Jordan began to arrive in Jerusalem on the 1st December.
The 19th Division was placed under the orders of the Eighth Army for good reason, though its attack was intended to assist the Seventh. The Marshal feared that if he handed it over to Fevzi Pasha the latter would draw it closer to his own front, whereas he wished to make a divergent attack against the British left and the gap at Suffa. The plan was brilliantly conceived, but it failed to take into account the fatigue of this very fine division after its long marches. "On the 1st December," writes Colonel Hussein Husni, "our attack gave out and was stopped before positions which Falkenhayn could not penetrate."'
Yet the Marshal did not despair. He was quite convinced that the British would never reach the Nablus road at Bire. He " fixed his attention on the daily change of the enemy's dispositions," confident that Jerusalem could not be taken until the British shifted their attack further south and drove the XX Corps from its position south of Nabi Samweil. Sir Philip Chetwode, we shall see, was of the same opinion. It was the Marshal's misfortune that, while his III Corps, not thought worthy of defending Jerusalem, had defended the Nablus road with courage and devotion, his XX Corps, selected for the greater task, was to fail abjectly when put to the test.
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, 1st Battalion, W.A. Infantry Brigade Topic: Militia - LHW - WA
Western Australian Militia
1st Battalion, W.A. Infantry Brigade
The following is an extract from the book written in 1962 by George F. Wieck called The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia 1861-1903, pp. 63 - 64:
1st Battalion, W.A. Infantry Brigade
The 1st Battalion was formed with the Perth personnel of the former 1st Infantry Regiment, that is, Headquarters, Band "A" "B", and "G" Companies. A fourth Company was added later. "G" Company became "C" Company and the new one "D". It was a purely metropolitan corps.
On the dissolution of the W.A. Infantry Brigade on 1 July 1903 its 1st and Second Battalions, together with the Guildford portion of the 3rd Battalion, became the 11th Infantry Regiment, with Headquarters at Perth. The new Regiment was allotted to the Field Force as one of the Battalions of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, Queensland.
Hill 971, Turkey, August 8, 1915, Outline Topic: BatzG - Hill 971
Turkey, 8 August 1915
The summit of Hill 971 from Chunuk Bair looking north.
[From the CEW Bean Collection.]
Hill 971, known to the Turks as Koja Chemen Tepe, was the chief objective of a British offensive launched at Gallipoli in August 1915 in conjunction with a second landing of troops at Suvla Bay, six kilometres north of Anzac (q.v.). The aim of the offensive was to seize the three main heights of the ridgeline (wrongly called 'Sari Bair' by the British) running north-east from the hill known as Baby 700 (q.v.), which formed the apex of Anzac itself-these being Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Hill 971. Once these dominating peaks of the main range of the Gallipoli Peninsula had been captured, the British expected to be able to march directly to the Narrows of the Dardanelles waterway and achieve a decisive breakthrough in the campaign.
The plan devised required that two columns of troops sally from the northern end of the Anzac beach-head on the night of 6 August and seize foothills which commanded routes to the summit of the range. Another two forces would then move through these and take the summits, before co-operating with attacks to be made from the old Anzac perimeter against Baby 700. A feint was ordered for 6 August at the southern end of the Anzac perimeter (see Lone Pine), to tie up Turkish reserves and keep them away from both the northern movements and the landing at Suvla. The British troops involved in the latter operation, undertaken primarily to secure a base at which stores could he laid down to provide for the Anzac positions needs during the coming winter, were also ordered to aid the main attack in any way possible.
Despite the high hopes held for this plan, its execution came apart in the incredibly rugged country to be traversed, due to inadequate maps and the confusion involved in moving at night through such terrain. While the covering force succeeded in clearing the foothills, delays put the march of the attacking columns behind schedule. The leading elements of the Australian 4th Brigade under Brigadier-General John Monash, which had furthest to go before getting into position to form the left attacking force to take Hill 971, were harried by constant contacts with small groups of the enemy. The arrival of dawn found Monash unsure of his position in a valley called Arghyl Dere, his men exhausted and the brigade still nowhere near its objective.
Hand drawn plan for the attack on Hill 971
The right column, comprising the 29th Indian Brigade and the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, had more luck and got almost to the top of Chunuk Bair. After both columns rested up on 7 August, a renewed push was made the next day. This saw the New Zealanders actually attain their objective, but Monash's troops-ordered to seize a northern spur line known as Adbel Rahman Bair then move south along it to Hill 971 - were caught in the open by well-sited Turkish machine-guns and driven back with great slaughter. On 9 August Ghurkhas from the 29th Brigade had seized Hill Q as well.
This was, however, as close as the plan came to success. The Ghurkhas were shelled off their position by British warships which accidentally dropped a salvo short, and soon after the New Zealanders were relieved by British troops on 10 August a massive Turkish counter-attack wrested back control of Chunuk Bair. This was, effectively, the climax of the Gallipoli campaign, since once this vital ground was retaken by the Turks the Allies' last and best chance of winning at Gallipoli was gone.
Ghurkha stretcher bearers during the action near Hill 971.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 109-110.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
C.E.W. Bean, (1924), The Story of Anzac, Vol. 2 , Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
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