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Thursday, 6 August 2009
Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 127th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account
Topic: AIF - DMC - British

 Battle of Romani

Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916

127th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account


War Diary account of the 127th Infantry Brigade.


The transcription:

127th Infantry Brigade, 42nd Infantry Division.

3 August

1/6th Manchesters move by train to Pelusium at 1530 distance 14 kilos, and go into camp there. Positions selected by General Officer Commanding for a defensive line covering railway between kilos 2b and 31 facing south and south east. Brigade ordered to be prepared to move forward at short notice tomorrow.

4 August

0600 Orders received for 127th Brigade. Group to move to Pelusium Station as soon as possible.

0830 - 400 all Ranks 1/5 Manchesters despatched by train to Pelusium.

0930 - Information received that the Turkish attack was developing on line Mount Royston B.4.3.6 to Meredith Hill B.4.9.5. The Brigade Group ordered to be ready to take part in active operations in conjunction with 125th Brigade by 0300 on 5th.

1030 - Brigade Headquarters, Brigade Signal Section, Brigade Machine Gun Company, less part of its Pack Animals, 3rd East Lancashire Royal Engineers Company, 1/5th Manchesters less 400, and 170 1/7th Manchesters move by train to Pelusium, arriving there at 1100. Owing to inadequate ramps at Gilban Siding and to the impossibility of entraining a number of partly trained Pack Animals issued the day previously to the Brigade Machine Gun Company half the animals of that unit were sent by route march arriving at Pelusium at 1700.

1100 - An Outpost Line it selected and units at Pelusium begin digging a defensive line in conjunction with Canterbury Post.

1140 - 1/7th Manchester arrive and detrain at once.

1300 - Information received by telephone from 52nd Division that Turkish attack was developing on line from the western works Katib Gannit to Hod el Enna B.4.7.4. It appeared to be nearly exhausted.

1410 - Orders received for 127th Brigade to be ready to advance to direction of Mount Royston B.4.3.7, in support of Anzac Mounted Troops as soon as possible Brigade not yet complete, one Battalion being en route as well as A/212 Battery Royal Field Artillery, ½ Brigade Machine Gun Company, Pack animals and Ambulance Mobile Section.

1430 - Verbal orders received from Major General Douglas for 2 battalions to move on Mount Royston and support the mounted troops.

1510 - 1/8th Manchesters arrive at Pelusium by train and prepare to move forward immediately.

1530 - Brigade Headquarters, Brigade Signal Section less 8 Other Ranks remaining to carry out Divisional Communication. Two Sections Brigade Machine Gun Company, 1/5th and 1/7th Manchesters move forward in direction of Mount Royston. No Camel train having arrived. Units move without any water or ammunition except that carried by the men.

1616 - 1/8th Manchesters leave and follow the column.

1645 - The General Officer Commanding, having ridden forward to reconnoitre reaches Anzac Mounted Division Headquarters above Bir abu Diyuk and after obtaining all information from General Chaytor makes dispositions to attack the enemy holding the high sand dunes running north west from Mount Royston above Abu Diyuk at 1700 and issue verbal orders.

1710 - 1/5th Manchesters Lieutenant Colonel Darlington, move forward to attack, their right moving on Anzac Mounted Division left on lower northern slopes of Mount Royston.

1725 - 1/7th Manchesters Major Cronshaw, move forward to attack, extending the line to the north their left being directed on high sand dunes ¾ mile north west of Abu Diyuk which appeared to be the most forward position held by the Turks.

1745 - 1/8th Manchesters report their arrival and are put in reserve. 2 Sections Brigade Machine Gun Company are sent forward in support of the 1/5th Manchesters, on right. The attacking lines move forward under very little rifle fire and only a few rounds of shrapnel. On arriving within 500 yards

yards of Turkish positions some white flags are shown. On moving up slope and getting within 250 yards of enemy position more white flags are shown and many Turks leave their trenches and come out to surrender. Others are seen to be retiring in a south easterly direction.

1800 - 1/5th and 1/7th Manchesters are in possession of sand ridge previously held by the enemy. About 250 prisoners are taken casualties 5 men wounded. One Company 1/5th Manchesters are sent to occupy Mount Royston and relieve Anzac Mounted Division troops holding it.

1830 - The advance is continued and connection is made with 5th and 7th Light Horse Regiments on left who were advancing on Mount Wellington from the north.

1900 - The line swings more south on to line Mount Royston to Wellington Ridge B.4.8.8. No opposition is encountered.

1920 - Owing to darkness and having received information from Australian Mounted Division that enemy's formed bodies were at least 3 miles away, any further advance was stopped. The firing line digs in and covering troops are put out. One Company 1/8th Manchesters and one Section Brigade Machine Gun Company are sent to reinforce troops holding Mount Royston. The Brigade occupies the line Mount Royston to a point B.4.5.8. on the Qantara track, where it connected with the 5th Light Horse Regiment, three Companies 1/8th Manchesters, one Company 1/5th Manchesters and one Section Brigade Machine Gun Company for the Brigade Reserve. Brigade Headquarters are established at point B.4.4.8. on the sand ridge south south east of Bir abu Diyuk. A few Turkish dead and over a dozen wounded are found in the immediate vicinity on the position lately occupied by the enemy. Communication to 42nd Infantry Divisional Headquarters at Pelusium very slow owing to press of work on the single signalling station there, messages being received many hours late. During the night a few more prisoners are brought in. There is no firing and all remains quiet.

5 August

0400 - "All Clear" reported at dawn, A few more prisoners are found in Hods. Search parties for collecting Turkish prisoners and wounded are sent out and Companies despatched to gather up all arms and equipment left lying in the enemy's position.

0540 - Owing to extreme congestion of messages at Divisional Signalling Station orders to move forward at 0400 in support of mounted troops are not received til 0540 when a verbal message to that effect is given by a Divisional Staff Officer. The Signalling Message to move is also received at the same time. The 1st line Transport Camels with a portion of the water for the Brigade arrives and Units are closed and proceed to fill their water bottles,

0730 - The Brigade less 1/6th Manchesters and A Battery 212th Brigade moves forward in direction of  Hod el Enna B.4.8.4. in two columns preceded by Scouts, 1/6th and 1/7th Manchesters leading, 1/8th Manchesters, Brigade Machine Gun Company and Ambulance Mobile Section following. Distance to Hod el Enna 2¾ miles.

0830 - Marching very slow over heavy sand and being the hottest hours of the day the heat is very trying; and men begin to fall out. No opposition at all to the advance is met with, the Mounted Troops having swept the country thoroughly. Pass a member of Turkish wounded lying in the various Hods and also a good number of prisoners and camels taken by the Mounted Troops.

0935 - Head of the Column arrives at point B.4.7.4. ¾ mile north of Hod el Enna. Headquarters are established there and observation posts put out. 1/5th Manchesters on right with right flank resting an Hod el Enna and 1/7th Manchesters on left with left flank resting on Mount Meredith take up positions for covering the front.  Many men very exhausted and all find lying out in the sun without shelter very trying. Remain in this position all day. The want of water towards evening becomes acute, the men having had less than ¾ gallon each since leaving Pelusium.

1800 - Night Outposts are put out, the 1/8th Manchesters on right covering Hod el Enna with their right flank about point B.4.7.3. 1/5th Manchesters on left to connect with 125th Infantry Brigade at Mount Meredith B.4.9.5. 1/6th Manchesters less one Company escorting A Battery, 212th Brigade arrive and are placed in the reserve with 1/7th Manchesters and Brigade Machine Gun Company.

1830 - Ration and water convoy arrives. Orders are received for the Brigade to be ready for a move forward early next morning. Owing to their exhaustion all available Camels are sent back to Pelusium to feed and water. Part of the baggage and 1st line equipment is dumped and a portion of reserve ammunition only put ready for further advance with the remainder of the Camels available.

2230 - 125th Infantry Brigade report they have their outposts in position connecting with the 1/5th Manchesters on their right and 156th Infantry Brigade on their left everything remains quiet during the night and no firing takes place. Communication with Divisional Headquarters still difficult owing to congestion of messages at Divisional Signalling Station.

6 August

0215 - Receive orders to be ready to move towards Qatia 5¼ miles about dawn. The enemy are reported to have retired in the direction of Bir el Abd.

0330 - Orders, received for 42nd Infantry Division to move at 0400 in support of the Mounted Troops and occupy a line from Bir el Mamluk to the ruins of Qatia inclusive. 127th Infantry Brigade to follow 125th Infantry Brigade and the right and left flank guards of ½ Battalion and one Company respectively,

0400 - The Brigade moves off, 1/7th Manchesters on left providing the left flank Guard, 1/5th Manchesters on right followed by Brigade machine Gun Company, one Company 1/6th Manchesters, 3rd East Lancashire Royal Engineers and Ambulance Mobile Section, 2 Companies 1/6th Manchesters right flank guard.

1/8th Manchesters from the right of the Outpost line were ordered to close in an 1/5th Manchesters on the line of march. Owing to difficulty in transmission of orders, the telephone 1ine having broken, this Battalion was delayed in doing so and following an hour or so in rear of the baggage animals. The marching is heavy but good progress in made while the day remains cool.

0800 - On reaching the crest of the rise 2½ miles west of Qatia further advance was stopped by Divisional Orders for the situation to be cleared up.

0840 - Orders to attack Qatia received from Division with directions for a right flanking movement to be made in conjunction with Mounted Troops.

0900 - Attack orders issued and verb instructions given to Commanding Officers.

0920 - The Brigade advances to attack, 1/6th Manchesters less one Company on right with their right flank directed on Mamluk B.4.10.4; 1/7th Manchesters on the left with their left flank directed on gap in palm grove about point B.4.10.5. south west at "Q" in Qatia, to connect with 125th Infantry Brigade. 1/5th Manchesters and Brigade Machine Gun Company form the Reserve following 1/6th Manchesters. The advance is carried out without any opposition. After a short time the heat becomes excessive and many men fall out marching over this heavy sand.

1130 - The firing line reaches the palm groves north of Maraiah B.4.7.4. no enemy are to be seen anywhere. Many men very exhausted and badly in want of water.

1200 - The Brigade closes and rests in the shade till 1400.

1415 - A move forward is made to the eastern groves of Qatia to the north west of Mamluk to get into line with 125th Infantry Brigade. Mutual arrangements are made with that Brigade for the immediate protection of the front.

1800 - An Outpost line for the night is selected and held by 1/6th Manchesters on right and 1/7th Manchesters on the left, connecting with 125th Infantry Brigade and six Maxim Guns. The remainder of the Brigade goes into bivouac in the palm groves immediately south west of Qatia Cemetery. Nothing to report during night.


Roll of Honour

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916, Roll of Honour, British Forces

Lest We Forget


Further Reading:

The British Army 

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916, Roll of Honour, British Forces

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916 

Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 127th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 26 October 2009 8:54 AM EADT
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Perth Company of W.A. Rifle Volunteers
Topic: Militia - LHW - WA

Western Australian Militia

Perth Company of W.A. Rifle Volunteers


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. 32 – 36:

Perth Company of W.A. Rifle Volunteers

An upsurge of international tension in 1872 revived interest in the Volunteer Movement in Western Australia. There was alarm in official circles and steps were taken to raise new corps. Naturally, Perth was to the fore and phoenix-like a new body arose from the ashes of the defunct Perth Volunteer Rifles. The "firebrands", after adequate apologies and promises of better behaviour, rallied around themselves most of personnel of the disbanded corps. Progress was rapid. The Gazette of 17 June 1872 authorized the formation of a corps to be designated the "Perth Company of W.A. Rifle Volunteers" with a strength of 100 all ranks, and to be commanded by Captain E. Birch. The title of Metropolitan Rifle Volunteers had been asked for but was not granted then. However, the approved designation must have proved cumbersome for from 1874 onwards the latter was used, even in official documents. The new corps inherited the accumulated knowledge and experience, as well as the weapons, of its predecessor and was reasonably efficient from the outset.

On 17 June 1872 there were 71 names on the roll. A detachment was formed at Guildford in 1873. By 1875 the strength had increased to 126, plus 12 honorary members and 30 cadets. Strength reached a maximum of 143 in 1881 which led to approval being given to form a second Company. Later for some unknown reason strength declined steadily and by 1895 had fallen to 75.

Plans were completed in 1883 to rearm the corps with new Snider breech-loading rifles of .56 calibre, the old Enfields being handed down to other corps who presumably were armed with still more obsolete weapons.

Corps activities were varied. Combined parades, field days, rifle matches, and guards of honour were numerous. In 1874 the corps became grouped with the Fremantle and Guildford corps for purposes of field and battalion training as the 1st Battalion Volunteers under the direct orders of the Military Commandant, but this in no way affected the former administrative independence of each corps; on parade the Perth corps provided two Companies, Fremantle and Guildford one each. In 1884 the corps attended the 4-day camp of training (the first held in the Colony) at Bullen's Grounds, Albion.

The Band appears to have had an exalted idea of its own importance, for although a component of the corps it claimed the right to absent itself from corps parades when such action suited its own convenience. After a blatant act of defiance in 1877, the Military Commandant suspended the Bandmaster and as a punishment for insubordination reverted all bandsmen to the ranks. Special rules were then issued for the control of all Volunteer Bands. Later, a request by the Band that it be allowed to give a recital in the Supreme Court Gardens, and charge admission thereto, was refused.

The only other recorded act of insubordinate concerned a senior officer who some years after the Band episode was found guilty by a Court-Martial of an offence connected with the wearing of a uniform. Apart from an occasional display of high spirits the corps was sound and reliable, being w trained and the centre of most forms of military activity in the Colony. A Queen's Colour, provide at Government expense, was presented to the corps early in 1895 and consecrated on 24th May. This was the first Queen's Colour to be borne by W.A. Volunteers.

On 1 July 1899 the corps became a component of the 1st Infantry Regiment.

Officers of the Perth Company W.A. Rifle Volunteers

Captain E Birch – 17 June 1872

Lieutenant WH Knight - 17 June 1872

Major AJ Hillman - 1 October 1872

Captain RA Sholl - 24 May 1875

Major T Sherwood - 24 May 1875

Lieutenant CL Clifton - 24 May 1875

Captain CY Dean - 18 September 1882

Sub Lieutenant E Sholl - 27 September 1882

Major J Rose - 6 April 1885

Major JC Strickland - 6 April 1885

Lieutenant JF Shaw - 20 June 1888

Captain HV de Satge - 27 March 1896

Second Lieutenant R Strelitz - 27 March 1896

Lieutenant WG Abbott - 13 January 1899

Lieutenant HB Collett - 17 February 1899

Captain Townsend - 28 March 1899

Lieutenant S Inglis - 12 May 1899

Second Lieutenant JP Doyle - 22 June 1899

Second Lieutenant JS Denton - 22 November 1899

Second Lieutenant WB Good - 22 November 1899

Second Lieutenant JEF Stewart - 15 December 1899

Second Lieutenant CR Davis - 5 March 1900

Second Lieutenant CW Randle - 5 March 1900

Second Lieutenant AO McClaughan - 5 April 1900

Second Lieutenant ALB Lefroy - 1 May 1900

Second Lieutenant AM Cook - 21 May 1900

Second Lieutenant JS Scott - 21 May 1900

Second Lieutenant WT Bryan - 21 May 1900


Previous: Union Troop of W.A. Mounted Volunteers

Next: W.A. Troop Volunteer Horse Artillery


Further Reading:

Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

Western Australian Militia, Infantry


Citation: The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Perth Company of W.A. Rifle Volunteers

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 23 January 2010 3:50 PM EAST
Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 157th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account, Appendix
Topic: AIF - DMC - British

 Battle of Romani

Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916

157th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account, Appendix


War Diary, Appendix account of the 157th Infantry Brigade.


The transcription:


Appendix 1

(See: 157th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account )

In connection with these operations I think it well to bring to notice the following points:

A large number of men fell out from exhaustion. The minimum distance measured as the crow flies marched frost Chabrias Camp on the 5th inst, was 5½ miles, while the troops from Posts 10, 10a and 11 had much further to march, especially the latter. Owing to the absence of two battalions on Divisional Reserve the outpost work on the troops remaining in camp was arduous. A very large proportion of the men stood to arms at 0300 on the 5th, and from that hour until the evening of the 6th they may be said to have had no real rest. The march was carried out, and all preliminary work done in the heat of the day, and though the men were frequently sitting down during the advance, they never for a moment got any shelter from the heat of the sun. The outposts were in position about 2100, but not fully organised until much later; the men then had to dig in for a considerable time, and a large proportion were on sentry duty. At about 0345 to 0400 battalion commanders received orders to be ready to move at 0415, and the two leading battalions moved into preliminary formation shortly after this hour, as also did the 5th Highland Light Infantry in reserve. The 5th Argyle and Sunderland Highlanders, on outpost duty north of the railway line were much further away consequently orders took some time to reach these, and they had much further to go before they could take up their position: finally at about 0535 the whole force moved off from the advanced position where they had already assembled. Owing to the short notice received, it was quite impossible to give the men their tea and breakfast and all things considered I an fully satisfied that they did have an exceedingly trying experience; it must be remembered that they were carrying 32 lbs, dead weight over very heavy sand, and that this weight was on them for a long period. Many of them collapsed from want of water and exhaustion consequent on the heat.

As regards water, the men ought to have received, and naturally expected to receive 2 gallons for the 2 days; they received the 1 gallon for the first day, but none on the second day, and again naturally the larger portion of the first day's gallon was consumed on the first day, leaving for the second day only what was saved. Had it been possible to give the men hot tea and breakfast in even reasonable comfort before starting on the 6th I am quite certain that the casualties due to faintness and exhaustion would have been enormously reduced. I have personally interviewed the Medical Officer of the Field Ambulance through whose hands these casualties passed and he is emphatic that in nearly every case the men were ready done up, and physically unable to carry on; when pressed by me he admitted that there were a very few who might have gone a bit further, but only a very few; no less than 73 men were admitted to hospital.

By 0800 on 7th inst. the rations and water for the 7th were received, full rations less sugar, and only ½ gallon of water; but no rations or water for the 6th were over received (so the men had to eat their iron rations for this day).

The men were given their breakfast comfortably and all Commanding Officers and many Company Officers reported to me on the morning of the 7th that they were quite ready to move on again after the midday meal, and that they expected to do so.

I spoke to many men of each unit myself, and found them all very cheery and quite ready for further efforts; there was a most gratifying absence of any suspicion of complaint, or of the slightest tendency to grouse.

I have many exceptionally strong and athletic officers but it was quite obvious to me that many of then had nearly reached the end of their tether; if officers are really done, then it may be accepted as a fact that men must have had a very trying experience, and in this instance, much more trying than I was at first inclined to think.

I am of opinion that this practically experience though it has probably taken a bit out of the men towards the end of a hot season will in other respects have done them all a great deal of good.


Appendix 2

The following table gives details of casualties.

Strength Started2,579 
Fell out in the two days37414.5%
Admitted to Hospital732.75%
Not yet rejoined but mostly accounted for2027.75%



Further Reading:

The British Army 

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916, Roll of Honour, British Forces

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916 

Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 157th Infantry Brigade War Diary Account, Appendix

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 24 October 2009 7:05 PM EADT
Surafend, the massacre, Palestine, 10 December 1918, Milnes Account
Topic: BatzP - Surafend

Surafend, the massacre

Palestine, 10 December 1918

Milnes Account

Section on Surafend, taken from Imperial Soldiers by DJ Milnes, an MA thesis from the University of Otago submitted in 1999.

The raid made by members of the Anzac Mounted Division on the village of Surafend is an excellent case study for many of the ideas raised above. In the short term, this attack was in retaliation for the murder of a New Zealand soldier by an Arab, thought to be from Surafend. There are other reasons which helped to motivate this raid including the hatred of the Arabs felt by the soldiers, the common frustration felt by the soldiers towards the military authorities, and the concept of the "White Man's Burden", including how a British soldier should act and how he should be treated while in the Middle East. Overarching these reasons were the British Government's contradictory declarations with regards to the fate of the Middle East after the Great War, and its policies towards the Jews and the Arabs in the immediate post-war period. The raid has also been used as an example of emerging nationalism in Dominion units. This explanation is both false and incorrect.

 On the night of 10 December 1918, the A.M.D. was in camp on the plain of Richon le Zion, between the Jewish village of the same name and the Arab village of Surafend. That night a thief stole the kitbag of Trooper L. Lowry of the 1st N.Z.M.G.S. Lowry awoke while the theft was taking place, rose, shouted, and gave chase to the thief. 1 Drawing a gun, the thief fired one shot at Lowry, fatally hitting him in the chest. The thief then ran from the camp. Lowry's shout, and the subsequent gunshot, roused the camp, and his body was soon discovered by Corporal C.H. Carr, who called for a doctor. The doctor arrived too late to save Lowry, pronouncing him dead around 1:40am. 2 At the Court of Inquiry that morning, officers gathered evidence in an attempt to discover the location of the murderer. The evidence presented implicated an Arab culprit, and suggested that the thief had run off to the village of Surafend. Lieutenant E.E. Lord said
"from where the struggle took place, bare footprints led down towards the Native Village of Surafend". 3 Lord's suggestion of Surafend as the residence of the murderer was supported by Sergeant G.S. Bruce, who stated that the Arabs of Surafend were leaving the village, heading west, away from the soldier's camp and further into the desert. 4

Because the Arabs did not usually travel in this direction it is possible to surmise that they knew that trouble would be caused by Lowry's murder and were attempting to escape retaliation.

 A picket from the division was sent out and the village surrounded to prevent more people leaving. British Military Policemen arrived later that morning to conduct the investigation. They entered the village, but by nightfall had found no evidence to link the murder to Surafend. 5 The Military Policemen retired for the night, leaving the guarding of the village to men from the division. That night, the soldiers, frustrated by what they believed to be a lack of will on the part of the Military Police to find the murderer, resolved to take matters into their own hands. 6 The division elected a "deputation" which went to the village seeking "justice". It is unlikely that only New Zealanders were part of this deputation. The sources all suggest that members from many different units in the Anzac Mounted Division participated in the raid. Trooper W. Daubin wrote in his diary "Last night a united force from various units raided and burnt a village and Bedouin camp", while in his interview, W.H. Owers specifically referred to seeing men from the Ayrshire Battery making their way towards Surafend. 7 In their interviews Ben Gainfort remarked that the soldiers of an English infantry division nearby refused to parade and apprehend those taking part, and H. Porter specifically mentioned the Australians taking part in the raid. 8 The number of men involved in the raid is contentious. W.H. Owers believed that about fifty men took part, while in their books, A.H. Wilkie and T. Andrews gave a figure of around two hundred. 9 There is no evidence specifically noting how big Surafend was to act as a guide as to how many men would be needed in the raid. However, C.L. Malore recorded in his diary that the "normal size of [a] village [was] 400-500". 10 If this were the case with Surafend, it is likely that Owers could be the more accurate, and almost certain that the estimated totals in Wilkie's and Andrews' books were too high. The soldiers surrounded the village to prevent the Arabs from leaving. The raiders then entered and demanded the headman. When he appeared, the soldiers ordered him to hand over the murderer. This he refused to do. 11 Surafend's inhabitants were divided according to age and gender, all women, children, and old men being placed outside the village under guard. The soldiers within the village then began to beat the Arab men with clubs and gun traces in punishment for Lowry's death, killing some and wounding many more. 12 No shots were heard, suggesting that firearms were not used. 13

In Behind the Lines, Nicholas Boyack alleges that the Arabs were mutilated by the soldiers, some of them being castrated before they were murdered. 14 This allegation is only supported by one source, Ted Andrews in his book Kiwi Trooper. 15 It is a surprising allegation given that all of the men interviewed by Boyack denied that the Arabs were castrated. When asked by Boyack if any of the Arabs were castrated, Ben Gainfort replied "no, they were not that callous. I would not think that was right". 16 The lack of evidence suggests that the Arabs were not castrated. Once the soldiers had completed their physical punishment of the Arabs, the soldiers set the village alight before returning to their camp.

 A Court of Inquiry was convened the next day in order to investigate the sacking of the village and murder of its inhabitants. It ascertained almost nothing. A number of men appeared before it, but they were either unable or unwilling to give evidence as to who had, and had not, taken part in the raid. The entire division was placed under arrest, with those who broke bounds liable to be shot. All leave was stopped, all awards yet to be presented were postponed indefinitely, and Arabs were forbidden to enter the camp. 17 On 16 December the division was ordered to parade on the plain of Richon le Zion. Field Marshall Allenby, General Chaytor, and their respective Aides de Camps, rode through the Division and into the bare ground in the middle. Allenby then proceeded to address the Division, calling its members cowards and murderers. He concluded by saying:

"Officers, Non Commissioned Officers, and men of the Anzac Mounted Division I was proud of you once. I am proud of you no longer!" 18 Allenby and Chaytor then turned their horses and rode out of the parade ground, followed by their Aide de Camps.

A very different version of this parade claimed that Allenby and Chaytor were "counted out" and forced to flee for their own safety. 19 This story is presented by both Boyack and Andrews in their books, and by Porter and Owers in their interviews. 20 It is an appealing story as it demonstrates the "typical" Colonial disregard for discipline, their commanders, and the British, indicating the New Zealanders' and the Australians' emerging nationalism and their independence. 21 However, it is unlikely to have happened. There is a decided lack of evidence to support Boyack's claims. Only two out of the nine interviews conducted by Boyack support Allenby being "counted out". The remaining seven deny the event ever occurred. Only two books examined mention the event taking place, Boyack's seemingly being based upon Andrews'. The only diary entry discovered that records the parade does not mention Allenby being "counted out". Instead, Daubin wrote "11am parade and got a big lecture from General Allenby about village". 22 Such an event as counting out Allenby would almost certainly have been recorded. The characters of Allenby and Chaytor must also be considered. Allenby was known as "The Bull" and Chaytor as "Fiery Ted". Neither were the type to back down from a confrontation, especially an event as serious as wholesale murder and mass indiscipline. 23 It is unlikely that they would have during the parade. It is also unlikely that the officers of the Division would have sanctioned and supported Allenby and Chaytor being "counted out" by the men. Chris Pugsley made the point that such support by the officers would have destroyed discipline and respect within the brigade and the division. 24 It is certain that the soldiers of the A.M.D. resented Allenby's words, but it seems equally certain that the "counting out" event did not take place. Because it is unlikely that this event ever took place, it would be irresponsible to try and use it to indicate any form of nationalism and independence within the Dominion units.

 From the evidence contained within the sources it is possible to discern several of the motivating factors for the raid. Dislike of the Arabs was almost certainly one of these factors. This dislike must be examined in conjunction with Said's theories and the common frustration experienced by the soldiers at the antipathy of the Military authorities. The Imperial soldiers maintained a vehement dislike towards all Arabs in the Middle East, and believed themselves to be superior to the Arabs. They took every opportunity to express this belief. Arabs had been portrayed in literature as fit only to be ruled, and this literature had circulated throughout the British Empire. Because of the official British policy towards the Arabs, many soldiers believed that crimes suspected to have been committed by Arabs were often not investigated, or that the culprits were not punished sufficiently. 25 Indeed, Moore goes so far as blame the raid on Surafend on the British Authorities for not installing enough respect for the Briton into the Arabs. 26 These crimes included such actions as the desecrating of soldiers' graves, shooting at soldiers, looting of battlefields, and the theft of soldiers' equipment. Most soldiers took the perceived lack of attention paid to these "crimes" by the authorities as an affront to their superiority, and by 1918 many of the soldiers had become intensely disgruntled. This disgruntlement, remarked upon in so many of the sources, contributed a major factor to the raid. 27 Through violence, the soldiers could vent their anger at the Arabs, avenge Lowry's death, revenge themselves upon the Arabs for their past "crimes", and reaffirm the soldiers' superiority and position in society.

 As well as these local factors, the raid on Surafend was partly caused by Imperial policies towards the Arab and Jewish inhabitants of the Middle East. During the war, the Allied Powers, and Britain in particular, had made several contradictory declarations with regards to the future of the Middle East after the war. In some of the declarations, such as the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917, the British Government under D. Lloyd George seemingly gave its support to an independent Jewish state. 28 In others, such as the Hogarth Message of 4 January 1918, and the Anglo-French Declaration of November 1918, the British Government seemed to favour the establishment of an independent Arab state. 29 The publication of the secret treaties by the Bolshevik Government in Moscow in late 1917 further confused the situation. By these treaties, Anatolia and the Middle East were to be partitioned into spheres of influence, controlled and governed by Great Britain, France, Imperial Russia, and Italy once the war had ended. These treaties had been made in 1916, and were known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. 30 By 1918 the Arabs knew of these proposals, counter proposals, and declarations. At the conclusion of the Great War, a delegation of Arabs travelled to Paris to take part in the Peace Conference with the aim of securing an independent Arab state. They were to be largely disappointed, as Great Britain and France partitioned the Middle East under the League of Nation's Mandate system, indicating that Britain had not abandoned its attempts to gain control of the area. 31

 While these diplomatic manoeuvring's were taking place, Arab nationalism grew throughout the Middle East. Faysal, the son of the King of the Hejaz, led the movement in Syria, Mustapha Kemel in Turkey, Reza Khan in Persia, and Saad Zaghul Pasha in Egypt. 32 Britain, as the principal contributor to the Army of Occupation in the Middle East, was given the task of keeping order in the region, and preventing this nationalism from bubbling over into open rebellion. 33

 It is against this back drop that the murder of Lowry took place. The apprehension of Lowry's murderer, or even an over-zealous investigation of the case, could have been used by the Arabs as a pretext for rebellion against British authority. Certainly, the potential for rebellion increased exponentially because of the raid on Surafend and the murder of its inhabitants, helping to explain Allenby's harsh words on 16 December 1918. This helps to explain the British policy. It may well be true that the authorities were lethargic in their investigation of Lowry's death. Placed in the broader context, the murder of one man was small compared to the acquisition of Iraq, Palestine, and Trans Jordan by Great Britain, the continued occupation of its pre-1914 Middle Eastern territory, and preventing a widespread rebellion. Britain was in no position, financially, militarily, or psychologically, to fight another war for the purpose of gaining control of the Middle East. The larger diplomatic context helps to explain both Allenby's reaction to the raid and his treatment of the Division. Allenby's task was to keep the peace in the Middle East when faced with simmering resentment and possible widespread rebellion. A massacre of those he was attempting to rule by those he was using to keep the peace meant that he was unlikely to let the matter pass by.


1 Court of Inquiry into Tpr Lowry's Death, 10/12/1918, NA WA Series 1/3 Box 6 File 1069.

2 Court of Inquiry into Tpr Lowry's Death, 10/12/1918, NA WA Series 1/3 Box 6 File 1069.

3 Court of Inquiry into Tpr Lowry's Death, 10/12/1918, NA WA Series 1/3 Box 6 File 1069.

4 Court of Inquiry into Tpr Lowry's Death, 10/12/1918, NA WA Series 1/3 Box 6 File 1069.

5 Pugsley, On the Fringe of Hell, p 287.

6 A.H. Wilkie, Official War History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles, Auckland, 1924, p 236.

7 W. Daubin, diary, 11/12/1918, Micro MS 4, ATL and W.H. Owers, OH AB 506, ATL.

8 B. Gainfort, OH AB 470, ATL and H. Porter, OH AB 504, ATL.

9 W.H. Owers, OH AB 506, ATL; Wilkie, p 236; Andrews, p 187.

10 C.L. Malore, Diary, "Discussion on Palestine", WAM .

11 C.G. Powles, The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine, Auckland, 1922, p 266-267.

12 A gun trace was a leather clad chain used to haul and secure the guns "if anybody got one of those and swung it round and hit you, it would kill you". Owers OH AB 506, ATL.

13 Lt E.E. Lord categorically denied hearing shots being fired at the December 11 Court of Inquiry. Court of Inquiry into Surafend Disturbances, NA WA 40/4 Box 5 Item 29/30

14 Boyack, p 164

15 Andrews, p 188

16 Gainfort OH AB 470, ATL. See also Owers OH AB 506, ATL; B Algar OH AB 443, ATL

17 NA WA Series 196 Item 3b.

18 Porter OH AB 504, ATL.

19 The process of being "counted out" begins when at least one member of a group begins counting from one. When the number ten is reached, all involved begin shouting "out, out, out!" If the object of the abuse does not then leave, they are liable to be forcibly removed.

20 Boyack, p 165; Andrews, p 188; Porter OH AB 504, ATL; and Owers OH AB 506, ATL.

21 Pugsley, On the fringe of hell, p 288.

22 W Daubin, diary, 16/12/1918, Micro MS 4, ATL.

23 Pugsley, On the fringe of hell, p 288.

24 Pugsley, On the fringe of hell, p 288

25 Wilkie, p 235; Powles, The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine, p 266; Andrews, p 187; and Moore,
The Mounted Riflemen of Sinai and Palestine, p 171.

26 Moore, The Mounted Riflemen of Sinai and Palestine, p 171.

27 Wilkie, p 236; Moore, The Mounted Riflemen of Sinai and Palestine, p 171; Powles, New Zealanders in

Sinai and Palestine, p 266.

28 "His majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object" "Balfour Declaration", 2/11/1917. S.N. Fisher and W. Ochsenwald, The Middle East: A history, 4th edition, New York, 1990, p 385.

29 "The Entente Powers are determined that the Arab race shall be given full opportunity of once again forming a nation in the world".
"Hogarth Message", 4/1/1918, Documents on Palestine, HIST 206.
" The object aimed at by France and Great Britain in prosecuting in the East the war ... is the complete and definite emancipation of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks".
"Anglo-French Declaration, November 1918, Documents on Palestine, HIST 206.

30 By these agreements, Britain was to gain control over Mesopotamia, Jordan, and the ports of Haifa and Acre. France was to gain control over Syria and South Eastern Anatolia. Russia was to gain Constantinople, control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles, and Armenia. Italy was to gain South Western Anatolia. Palestine was to left under international control. By this plan, Turkey would end up truncated to only the North Western part of Anatolia. Fisher and Ochsenwald, p 385.

31 The mandate system was a means by which a country could gain control over a region without outright annexation. The mandatory power, that is the one in control of the region, was required to submit a report each year on the state of the territory it controlled to the League of Nations. Mandates were classified A, B, or C. Category A Mandates were those most likely to gain self-government and independence, while category C were those unlikely to gain independence. The mandated territory of the Middle East comprised the modern states of Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Great Britain received Palestine (Israel), Trans Jordan (Jordan), and Iraq, France gained Syria and Lebanon. All were category A , though only Trans Jordan and Iraq were to gain independence in the inter-war period.

32 The King of the Hejaz, Sherif Husayn, had been instrumental in the Arab Rebellion during the Great War against the Ottoman Empire, and all the Arab irregulars who fought alongside Lawrence were nominally under Husayn. Faysal, his son, was Husayn's deputy, and had travelled with the Arab army. Soon after capturing Damascus, Faysal was elected by the Syrians (comprising people from the modern states of Syria, Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon) as their King. This caused considerable tension with first the British and then the French. The situation was resolved when Faysal's administration went bankrupt and French soldiers dispersed his followers by force.

33 In this, Britain was unsuccessful, for rebellion broke out in Egypt in 1919, and Iraq in 1920. Unrest also prevailed in Palestine, beginning in 1920.



Further Reading:


Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Surafend, the massacre, Palestine, 10 December 1918, Milnes Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 1 November 2009 12:20 PM EAST
Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, War Diary Account
Topic: AIF - NZMRB

 Battle of Romani

Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916

NZMR Bde, War Diary Account


War Diary account of the NZMR Bde.


The transcription:


4 August

0200 - Received information that the enemy was pushing forward their left flank in a north east direction towards high ground west of Bir Et Maler and further that the outposts of Anzac Mounted Division at Hod el Enna had been heavily engaged throughout the night and were withdrawing on Bir Et Maler.

0700 - The Brigade moved out with orders to proceed to Dueidar. When 1¼ miles from Dueidar Brigade was directed to Canterbury Hill with orders to collect the two absent regiments at once and operate against the enemy's left flank reported in vicinity of Canterbury Hill

1100 - Brigade (strength was increased by six Troops, Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment) arrived at high ground 1½ miles south east of Canterbury Hill. Turks seen (about 2,000) busily entrenching on Mount Royston and hills to the north.

1130 -
Touch was gained with Anzac Mounted Division on the left and 5th Mounted Brigade (from Gilgan) on the right.

Enemy's advanced posts were then attacked and driven in supported by Royal Horse Artillery Battery. Further advances however then checked.

1450 - General Officer Commanding 2nd Light Horse Brigade arrived with message from general Officer Commanding Anzac Mounted Division stating that the two Brigades at Bir Et Maler could not move out until Mount Royston had been cleared. General assault arranged with 5th Mounted Brigade and ordered for 1645.

1645 - General Assault, supported by Royal Horse Artillery Battery.

1700 - Mount Royston rushed and 250 Turks surrendered.

1715 - The 127th Infantry Brigade was now approaching from the direction of Pelusium and came in eventually on the left of the Brigade as support.

1745 - Enemy continued to surrender on ridges north of Mount Royston, being heavily enfiladed.

1830 - Hills finally cleared and handed over to Infantry.

1915 - The Brigade moved to Pelusium to bivouac.

5 August

0530 - The Brigade left Pelusium in a south easterly direction to Bir en Nuss the guns and limbers going by a more southerly route (via Dueidar) where one Section of the Battery was left, the other proceeding with double teams.

0830 - Brigade arrived at Bir en Nuss where the 3rd Light Horse Brigade and 5th Light Horse Regiment were found watering also one Squadron Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment. The Brigade having watered proceeded towards Qatia along the telegraph wire, the guns not having as yet rejoined the Brigade.

The 3rd Light Horse Brigade moved forward on our right via Nagid and Hamisah.

1215 - The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade reached the high ground two miles west of Qatia.

A conference of Brigadiers was held and the attack on Qatia oasis ordered, where the enemy was reported in force.

1415 - General attack by 5 Brigades as per plan and the south west and western end of the oasis occupied.

1715 - 3rd Light Horse Brigade withdrew exposing the right flank of New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade.

1730 - Enemy reinforced his left flank and our right was very heavily pressed. (Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment.)

1900 - Brigade withdrew and moved to bivouac at Katib Gannit.

0300 - Arrived Katib Gannit, special guide having lost his way.

Note: On arrival water very scarce.

The Royal Horse Artillery Section joined the Brigade; on arrival at bivouac having been all day coming up owing to the very heavy going between Dueidar and Qatia.

6 August

0400 - Four Officers' Patrols left to reconnoitred for the Infantry Divisions attacking Qatia.

0600 - The brigade, less
Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment who followed after watering, moved forward to Qatia which was found unoccupied.

1030 - The Brigade again moved east to join touch with the enemy who was found entrenched across the telegraph line 1½ miles east of Hod umm Ugba. Heavy artillery fire was opened on us and kept up till dark.


Roll of Honour

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916, Roll of Honour, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade 

Lest We Forget


Further Reading:

New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade

New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, Roll of Honour

Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916 

Bir el Abd, Sinai, 9 August 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, War Diary Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 24 October 2009 5:27 PM EADT

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