"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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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
The August Offensive, Gallipoli, August 1915, Naval Support Topic: BatzG - Aug 1915
The August Offensive
Gallipoli, August 1915
Arrangements for support of Operations.
Afternoon of August 5th.
Ref. Trench Diagrams, and Map of area occupied by Aust. & N.Z. Army Corp.
Shell valleys South and South East of JOHNSTONE’S JOLLY, and LONE PINE, dug- outs No. 7 (East of JOHNSTONE’S JOLLY) GERMAN OFFICER'S TRENCH H.5 to South East. Reserve Camp to South of SCRUFFY KNOLL and gullies each side.
Slow fire at 1700 to 1730:
Quick rate at 1730 to 1900:
Fire again at 2125 till 2200.
Shells, east slopes of BABY 700: Gullies to South and East Battleship Hill.
Slow fire 1900 till 2000 unless ordered otherwise.
No fire at night after 2200 unless specially asked for.
Shells, all three Batteries at OLIVE GROVE, and any Batteries shelling BACCHANTE.
(Monitor - with balloon ship) Shells, straights, and any ship there, and 600 contour.
M33 & another Monitor.
Shell shore Batteries South of GABA TEPE, and trenches as far South as KUM TEPE
Special Mission: Shells, BALKAN GUN PITS & TWIN TRENCHES: 2030 till 2115 on August 6th, and then take up station further north.
Every clock hour R.F.O, will send to BACCHANTE.
(1) Changes in our line; or
(2) No change in our line.
night of 6/7th August, and morning of 7th August.
HMS “ENDYNION” and Monitor.
Shell NEK and CHESSBOARD: 0400 to 0430, on 7th. August. Shell East side of CHESSBOARD and BATTLESHIP HILL: 0430 to 0530 on 7th August.
LFO will send every clock hour to ENDYNION.
(1) Change in our line, or (2) No change in our line.
COLNE & CHELMER- Special mission.
From 2030 till 2115 on August 6th, shells BALKAN GUN PITS and TWIN TRENCHES, and them come up north.
At 2100 put searchlight on OLD No. 3 POST, front trenches, shell till 2110: keeps light on, and from 2120 to 2130, shells, rear and front trenches, last five minutes, heavily: then switches light off.
At 2130, Howitzers open on TABLE TOP - quick rate - till 2200
At 2140,COLNE switches light on to TABLE TOP, shells till 2200, quick rate, then throws light up in air, and switches onto RHODODENDRON SPUR trenches, shelling these quick rate, till 2230.
At 2200, has come up from the right flank, and fires on SNIPBR'S NEST communication trench lower, end, till 2230. - quick rate.
For the rest of the night till 0400, both destroyers fire slowly:
COLNE on SNIPER’S NEST communication trench upper portion, and on trenches from the NEK North Eastwards avoiding RHODODENDRON RIDGE.
CHELMER on NEK - with or without light.
From 0400 to 0430, both shell NEK, quick rate, and stop at 0430.
The August Offensive, Gallipoli, August 1915, Artillery Support Memorandum Topic: BatzG - Aug 1915
The August Offensive
Gallipoli, August 1915
Artillery Support Memorandum
AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND ARMY CORPS
From General Staff, A. & N.Z. Army Corps, to N.Z. & A. Div.
Please refer to Appendix "A" Action of Artillery, in Support of forthcoming operations, Naval portion. For programme of "COLNE" first portions substitutes:
At 2100 puts searchlight on Old No. 3. Post front trenches, shells till 2100; keeps light on, and from 2120 to 2130, shells rear and front trenches, last five minutes heavily, then switches light off.
Not to be republished in orders which reach lower than Bde Staffs.
Instructions for Major-General Sir Alex. Godley, K.C.M.G, C.B. Commanding N.Z. and Aust. Div.
Ref. Map of Gallipoli 1/20,000: Map of area occupied by Aust. and New Zealand Army Corps; and Anzac Trench Diagram No. lll.
1. Under instruction from General Headquarters, an attack in as great strength as possible, is to be delivered by night against the CHUNUK BAIR RIDGE, which is to be followed by a covering attack from that ridge and from No. 4. Section against BABY 700.
2. This task is allotted to you. The force at your disposal is.
N.Z. & A. Div.
13th Division, less:
69th Brigade (Howr) R.F.A.
1 Coy, Divisional Engineers.
38th Brigade, less 1 battalion.
1 Field Ambulance.
29th (Indian) Infantry Brigade.
I.M.A. Brigade less 1 section.
Additional artillery support will be given as detailed in Appendix "A", which is being distributed to the Divisional Artillery Commanders, to all Battery Commanders, and to the Naval Commanders concerned.
The Army Corps Commander wishes you to detail the 1st L.H. Brigade with a portion of your Ambulance units, under Brig-General Chauvel, to hold No. 3. Section, and to add to the force at his disposal, 2 companies of the 40th Brigade, and a proportion of Ambulance requirements. With this force he is:
(a) To secure the front usually held in No. 3 Section, less COURTNEY'S POST, which is to be taken over by the Australian Division.
(b) to assist the assault to be delivered against the NEK and the trenches east of it.
This entails an attack on the "I" trenches in front of QUINN’S POST, to secure these as a means of preventing reinforcements reaching the enemy opposing the assault on BABY 700, and of assisting a later advance on MORTAR RIDGE.
The officer entrusted with this operation should be restricted to the "I" trenches, and such trenches North and South of them as are necessary to secure his position there. The timing of this assault will naturally depend on that from No. 4. Section viz, at 4.30 a.m. on August the 7th unless orders are received to the contrary. It is for the consideration of Brig-General Chauvel, whether in view of the assistance, the garrison of POPE'S HILL can give in covering fire for the assaults from No. 4. Section and QUINN'S POST, the action of that garrison should be confined to fire support or include offensive action, which, if undertaken, trust be vigorous. A copy of the instructions given to GOC Australian Division, is attached for the Information of Brig-General Chauvel as to the action being taken with regard to GERMAN OFFICER’S TRENCH, and a copy of Appendix "A" is also attached.
4. The Army Corps Commander wishes you to detail the 3rd L.H. Brigade under Brig-General Hughes, to No.4.section and to add the following to his command:
2 guns, 26th Mountain Battery.
Details of the N.Z. Field Troop ensuring that Brig-General Hughes has with him, sufficient men acquainted with the mining situation, to make full tactical use of the mines, and galleries on RUSSELL'S TOP.
One Field Coy., 13th Division.
Two Battalions 40th Brigade, less 2 companies.
A proportion of Ambulance requirements from the units at your disposal.
A copy of Appendix "A" is attached for his information. With this force he is to:
(a) Occupy and hold No. 4. Section down to the sea.
(b) Assault and secure the trenches on the NEK (Group “A” on Trench Diagram); and those of the BABY 700 and CHESSBOARD positions - as far South as is necessary to secure his right flank and as far to the East as the trenches of D group, which are all to be taken.
(c) If, and when the situation admits, advance to meet your forces approaching from the direction of the CHUNUK BAIR and assist in their operations outlined in Para Ill, below. The attack will be delivered at 4.30 a.m. on August 7th, unless orders are given to the contrary. Troops will be resting during the night as much as possible. If the assault is postponed, the troops should remain in readiness to attack at half-an-hour's notice. A copy of the instructions given to G.O.C. Australian Division is attached for the information of Brig-General Hughes as to the action being taken in regard to GERMAN OFFICER'S TRENCH.
5. With the remainder of your force you will:
(a) Clear the line Destroyer HILL (exclusive) - TABLE TOP - to BAUCHOP’S, commencing at 9.p.m.on August 6th, with the destroyer action detailed in Appendix "A".
(b) Move strong columns across the AGHYL DERE to:
(1) Clear off enemy from the DEMANGELIK DERE thus assisting directly the operations of out troops further north, who will be using the beach as close to us, as the mouth of the ASMAK DERE. (sq.91)
(2) Attack the line, HILL 305 - CHUNUK BAIR RIDGE moving in the area bounded approximately by the line KAIAJIK AGHALA - DAGH CHESHME and by the Northern limit you set on the movement of (c).These operations are to be timed so as to reach the lower slopes of the DEMANGELIK DERE at 10.30 p.m. on August 6th.
(c) Move a force up all available approaches to the CHUNUK BAIR RIDGE - objective CHUNUK BAIR RIDGE about 161 - SU YATAGAH - main ridge North of CHUNUK BAIR.
These moves are to follow on each other without delay, and you should impress on the Commanders entrusted with each, that the objective to be reached, is to be aimed, at whatever the progress of columns in other parts, as the success of one move will go far to ensure the success of the whole. A system of flares is to be arranged to show the Navy the position reached by your advanced troops at dawn on August 7th.This is to consist of a Naval green light burned at 3.25 a.m., and again at 3.32 a.m. by each battalion in the front line along the position occupied by its most advanced troops. Care is to be taken to place the flare where it will be shaded from the direction of the enemy. If the CHUNUK BAIR RIDGE has been reached the flares will be burned a little down our side of the slope. The greatest care is t o be taken to conceal unusual movement, by day, and lights noise and smoking at night during the operation are to be rigorously forbidden. Absolute silence to be observed, while troops are moving into positions.
6. You will be guided in your action after the success of the above operations, by, the following considerations:-
(1) The continued occupation of Hill 305, and the CHUNUK BAIR RIDGE, is essential to the success of the main operation. The ground taken is therefore to be consolidated without delay, and made impregnable against counter-attack.
(2) Preparations are to be made immediately for an advance from the direction of CHUNUK BAIR, to cooperate with the attack on BABY 700, which is to be delivered by No. 4 Section. As soon as it is known that the force detailed for this will be ready to advance intimation of the approximate hour will be sent to Army Corps H.Q.
(3) The operation in (2) involves an advance down the spurs to the east of BATTLESHIP HILL, and the consequent and necessary clearing of the ground, East of our present position, and this advance, if your strength admits, is to be pressed down to the line QUINN’S POST - Cross roads near SCRUBBY KNOLL. (sq.80.Z.4.).
7. Casualty clearing stations are being established:
(a) In ANZAC COVE, to deal with evacuations down MONASH GULLY and South thereof.
(b) At the barrier on the beach just North of MULE GULLY.
(c) Near No. 2. Post.
Cases brought down to these will be dealt with before removal to the Casualty Clearing Stations at dressing stations arranged by you in:
(a) MONASH GULLY.
(b) N.Z. Field Ambulance Dressing Station (MULE GULLY).
(c) A station to be opened by you near No.2. Post early on the 7th.
8. Arrangements for replenishment of ammunition and water, are detailed in attached Appendix "Z”, of which copies are also attached for the information of O.C.’s, Nos.3 and 4 Sections.
9. From 8 p.m. on August 6th till 4 a.m, on August 7th the Beach Road from RESERVE GULLY Northwards, is to be reserved for forward movement of troops and animals. The covered way to No. 2 Post, is to be reserved for all rearward movement, after the hour by which you cease to require it for forward movement of troops. This hour should be intimated by you to all concerned. The provisions of this paragraph are to be made widely known in your command, and your arrangements for traffic control on the night of August 6th/7th, and on the 7th, should include steps to ensure their not being infringed.
10. The Army Corps Centre will be at it's present site till further orders.
The Battle of Wilmansrust, South Africa, 12 June 1901, Outline Topic: BatzB - Wilmansrust
South African (Second Boer) War
The Battle of Wilmansrust, 12 June 1901
Location of Wilmansrust from Google Maps.
Wilmansrust, a humiliating disaster suffered by a portion of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles (5 VMR) on 12 June 1901 in the eastern Transvaal, during the Second South African (or Boer) War. Since arriving the previous March, the Victorian regiment had been divided into two battalions and British officers placed over the unit's own commanders. While containing a leavening of officers and men with military training, including some veterans of' earlier contingents who were on a second tour, the great majority of its members were civilian recruits. In just two months the regiment's strength had also been heavily reduced by sickness, from over 1,000 to little more than 700 - a proportionately far higher rate than experienced in other Australian contingents.
On 10 June a column led by Major General Stuart Beatson, an Indian Army regular, arrived at Olifant's River 40 kilometres south-west of Middelberg. Here Beatson sent off a flying column, comprising 270 men of the 2nd Battalion, 5 VMR, with two Vickers-Maxim quick-firing guns (popularly known as pom-poms) mounted in Cape carts, to look for a small Boer force reportedly at Boschmansfontein, 40 kilometres to the east. While Major William McKnight was the senior Victorian officer present, the detachment - totalling about 350 men - was under the command of Major Morris, a British artillery officer who had arrived from India with Beatson.
After finding that the Boers had already evacuated their camp, Morris began making his way back to rejoin the main body. At about 5 p.m. on 12 June, while still some eighteen kilometres east of Beatson, Morris established a night bivouac on the Middelburg - Ermelo road close to a farm named Wilmansrust. The camp was sited on a slight rise about 100 metres square, with a steep-sided gully all round, and overlooked by higher hills at a distance. The guns were sited in the centre, most of the horses tethered down one side, and the mule wagons secured in the farm's cattle-kraal nearby which had strong stone walls 1.5 metres high.
Outlying picket posts were established by Morris' adjutant, another British artillery officer. The largest post - comprising an officer and 30 men - occupied a small hill about 1,500 metres to the south-east of the camp. In all, including a party of a dozen men posted within the kraal, some 70 of the camp's personnel were nominally on guard duty at any one time. (The Times History of the War in South Africa gives a figure of 120, but other accounts contradict this.) The posts, however, were too few in number and spaced too widely apart to effectively provide advance warning. Moreover, they had been positioned during daylight hours when their location was easily noted - both by local Boers and a group of General Ben Viljoen's commando who had been shadowing the column throughout the day at a distance of about two kilometres and frequently engaging in sniping.
Having observed the camp's disposition and security arrangements, the trailing force of Boers-numbering about 170 men under Vecht-General C.H. Müller - decided to attack. Leaving 30 men with their horses, the Boers were guided through the darkness by the farm's owner along a slight depression between the hills and reached the foot of the camp without being detected. Their approach was also apparently aided by coinciding with the replacement of the personnel manning the daytime observation posts with the night pickets at about 7 p.m., the noises of this changeover having cloaked the enemy movement.
By 7.30 p.m, the camp was at rest, the troopers having settled down to sleep or read mail just received from Australia. Despite the known proximity of an enemy force, the VMR's weapons were neatly stacked in piles near where they slept, rather than right alongside them. This was allegedly at Morris' order, in compliance with drill regulations which were rarely observed during operations on the veldt. The 120 Boers, advancing in extended line, got to within 40 metres of the front of the camp before a whistle blast at 7.45 p.m. signalled the attack.
The first Boer volley, fired from the hip as the attackers ran forward, turned the surprised camp into a shambles. Many horses were killed or wounded in this opening fusillade, but the rest stampeded and knocked down men and tents. Some of the VMR reached their rifles but were shot down before they could use them. The fight was over in less than ten minutes, leaving at least fourteen Australians killed and 42 wounded (some accounts refer to eighteen dead and 60 wounded. About 50 men as many a evaded capture by fleeing into the darkness, but the remainder of the camps occupants were taken prisoner.
Taking up lanterns, the Boers collected their own casualties (claimed by McKnight to number ten dead and 30 wounded) then began looting the camp of its two prized guns, plus the Victorians' rifles, ammunition and stores. Since they did not have the facilities to hold prisoners, the Boers marched their captives nearly two kilometres out onto the veldt and simply released them before themselves making off. They took with them, too, over 100 of the column's horses, all that had not been killed or broken loose and bolted. Throughout this, the outlying pickets made no attempt at intervention, although their combined numbers nearly matched the remaining Boer strength.
The action at Wilmansrust was the most serious reverse to befall any overseas colonial force sent to the conflict in South Africa, and unfortunately was taken as an indictment of the courage and soldierly qualities of Australian contingents generally. There was no denying that a deplorable lack of vigilance and attention to security had been displayed-although the responsibility for this rested squarely on an Imperial and not an Australian officer. Moreover, when the Boer attack began, the camp was overtaken by a mass panic which defied commanders' efforts to rally the men.
Compounding the serious embarrassment engendered by the affair back in Australia was news which became public late in September that three members of 5 VMR had been tried at court martial for inciting mutiny, found guilty, and sentenced to death; these sentences had been subsequently commuted to gaol terms, however, and the men were already in military prisons back in England. Outrage at the secrecy surrounding these proceedings - of which the new federal government was initially ignorant - was fuelled by further press reports that the mutineers had actually been provoked by the 'hostile. and offensive attitude' shown by General Beatson, who had referred to the defenders of Wilmansrust as 'a lot of white livered curs' and uttered other grossly disparaging remarks. These revelations caused debate to refocus on the competence of Imperial officers to command irregular corps, and raised concerns over the situation where Australian soldiers were subject to British military justice - an issue which was a foretaste of the controversy soon engendered by the executions of two other Australians, Lieutenants P.J. Handcock and H.H. Morant, in February 1902.
In the case of the Wilmansrust mutineers, there was a happier outcome. A review of the court martial discovered flaws in the trial proceedings (the charges having been laid under the wrong sections of the Army Act) and the War Office consequently quashed the convictions on 26 October. The men were immediately released from prison and returned to Australia by the end of the year, albeit still under a cloud of ignominy.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 90-92.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
L.M. Field (1979) The Forgotten War, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press.
Gavin Souter (1976) Lion and Kangaroo, Sydney: William Collins.
R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.
The Battle of Diamond Hill, South Africa, 11 - 12 June 1900, Contents Topic: BatzB - Diamond Hill
The Battle of Diamond Hill
South Africa, 11 - 12 June 1900
Map detailing the Battle of Diamond Hill
Diamond Hill, an action fought on 11 - 12 June 1900, during the Second South African War, between British forces under the direct command of Field Marshal Lord Roberts and the main Boer army of the Transvaal republic under General Louis Botha. The latter, comprising 6.000 men and 23 guns was menacing the Transvaal capital, Pretoria, which the British had entered with 25,000 men on 5 June, by occupying a 50-kilometre front east of the town. To deal with this threat Roberts moved out on 11 June with 14,000 men and 70 guns - all he could spare from the protection of his lines of communication. His plan called for attacks by Lieut.-General John French's cavalry and mounted infantry in the north and Lieut.-General Sir Ian Hamilton's infantry and mounted infantry in the south, which were intended to tie up both enemy flanks before a main attack was attempted against the centre.
Botha had accurately anticipated Roberts' tactics, and was ready to deal with both flanking movements. French's force comprised only 1,400 horsemen (including ten members of the 1st Australian Horse and 35 of the New South Wales Lancers) and, although supported by a dozen field guns, was easily stopped by General J.H. De la Rey and forced to remain in defensive positions for the night. In the opening moments on this flank, a troop of the New South Wales Lancers which was sent forward on scouting duty was mistaken for Boers and shelled by the British guns, fortunately without any of the Australians being hit. Not so lucky was the New South Wales Ambulance, which was later struck by an enemy shell and damaged while moving about in the front-line.
Diamond Hill overlooking the War Cemetery
On the right flank, meanwhile, Hamilton found himself strongly opposed by Boers under General Piet Fourie who occupied a long rocky ridge line dominated by Diamond Hill. In attempting to press ahead in the face of fierce resistance, part of the British force was almost surrounded when night ended the first day's operations. In the face of the situation which now confronted him, Roberts was reluctantly forced to contemplate a costly frontal attack in the centre against enemy positions which had been barely touched. Reports during the night, however, persuaded him to lend his support for a main thrust to be mounted by Hamilton against the Boer strong point at Diamond Hill.
The assault which was finally launched shortly after noon the next day entailed five battalions moving against the western slopes leading onto the Diamond Hill plateau. Although successful, the effort soon became bogged down when the Boers retreated to covering positions and the attackers were exposed to murderous fire from high ground on both flanks. This pressure was only relieved when the brigade under Colonel H. De Lisle, which contained a battalion of British mounted infantry along with both the New South Wales Mounted Rifles and West Australian Mounted Infantry, made an assault onto the Rhenosterfontein kopje on the British right. This position was effectively the eastern extension of the Diamond Hill ridge line, and the source of much of the fire which pinned down the main assault force.
De Lisle, sent to concentrate his efforts against the Rhenosterfontein position during the morning, had used the two pom-pom guns with his force to cover the men of the 6th Mounted Infantry Battalion as they began steadily working their way forward on foot until they were close under the hill. By 2 p.m. De Lisle ordered the Mounted Infantry to advance. As soon as he saw that the leading troops had gained a foothold, he moved his pom-pours up to within 1,300 metres and in the words of The Times history of the war - 'let go the New South Wales Mounted Rifles'.
The Australian plaque commemorating the Battle of Diamond Hill.
The four squadrons of the New South Wales regiment, commanded by Lieut.-Colonel G. Knight, came under fire as they galloped in long well-spaced lines across the broad grass-covered valley to where the local farmhouse stood among a grove of gum trees. Leaving their horses in dead ground here, they rushed forward still widely spaced-27 metres between men and 45 metres separating the ranks formed by squadrons. According to The Times account:
Extended in this way the 350 men of the corps created the appearance of a much larger force, and as they swarmed over the crest of the hill with fixed bayonets, the Boers without waiting for the attack retired to a second position some 1,200 yards away.
With darkness now beginning to fall across the hill, the Boers opened up a 'furious fusillade' along the whole line of the position. Botha, however, upon hearing of De Lisle's success, realised that that part of the ridge line which his men still held would be untenable as soon as Hamilton brought up heavy artillery onto the plateau. He accordingly gave orders for his commandos to disperse during the night, the retirement commencing at 11 p.m, and being carried out so quietly that it went undetected until the next morning. Roberts was therefore initially unaware of the victory which his force had obtained, at a cost amounting to less than 200 casualties (including two officers killed and six men wounded among the New South Wales men engaged), Boer losses were probably heavier than the 24 killed and wounded that were admitted but were still minor nonetheless.
The only pursuit of the retreating enemy was carried out on 13 June by a detachment of 150 Australians, mainly men of the West Australian Mounted Rifles under Major Hatherly Moor with come members of "C" Squadron of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles. This force followed the Boers for nearly seventeen kilometres, to near Bronkhorst Spruit station, and fought a brief action with an enemy rearguard in a laager (camp). The role of the Australians during the action at Diamond Hill - the last great defensive battle fought by the Boers - was much praised, and during a review at Elands River on 14 June Knight's men were cheered by British troops for the gallantry they had displayed there.
Battle of Diamond Hill War Memorial.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 78-81.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
L.S. Amery, (ed.) The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Vol. 4 (1906), London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.
The Third Battle of Morlancourt, France, 10 June 1918, Outline Topic: BatzWF - Westn Front
The Third Battle of Morlancourt
France, 10 June 1918
Map outlining the attack at Morlancourt.
[Extracted from Bean, Vol. VI, p. 234.]
Third Morlancourt, an attack carried out on 10 June 1918 by 7th Brigade of the 2nd Australian Division against the southern portion of the Morlancourt spur which overlooked the village of Sailly-Laurette on the Somme. Launched at dusk under cover of an accurate barrage, the operation was a complete success and resulted in the taking of 325 German prisoners at a cost of 400 Australian casualties.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 148.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
C.E.W. Bean (1937) The Australian Imperial Force in France during the Main German Offensive, 1918, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
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