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"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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Saturday, 12 July 2008
The Belah Bombing Raid, 4 May 1917
Topic: AIF - 3B - 3 LHFA


3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance

The Belah Bombing Raid, 4 May 1917


Below is an extract from the 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance history written by Captain Gerald Stuart. This particular extract is called "The Belah Bombing Raid" which occurred on 4 May 1917. Deir el Belah, a small town midway between Gaza and Khan Yunis was a major centre for Allied activity during 1917.


The Belah Bombing Raid.

During the operations, which culminated in the Second Battle of GAZA, 19 April 17, the tent subdivision of the 3rd L.H.F. Ambulance was situated at railhead at Belah surrounded by dumps of all sorts. The tent subdivision of the 5th Yeomanry Ambulance and the Desert Column Motor Ambulance Convoy were also in this area adjoining the 3rd L.H.F.A. Capt. G. Morris Beale was in command of this section of the 3rd L.H.F.A., at the time and during the attack on Gaza, when the rail head dump was heavily shelled, his experiences could not have been as delightful as they were exciting. However when the 3rd L.H. Brigade returned from Atawineh, and camped at a point 2 miles from Beni Sela, Capt Leahy was sent to relieve Capt Beale, who rejoined the Brigade. Capt Leahy after consulting the D.D.M.S, Desert Column, Colonel McDonald, decided to move the tent Section of the 3rd L.H.F.A, to a point about 400 yards south of the Casualty Clearing Station on the bank of a small wadi on which were already stationed the tents section of the 2nd L.H.F.A, the N.Z. Field Ambulance and the E.L.C. On the advice of the D.D.M.S., Desert Corps the 5th Yeomanry Tents Section and the Motor Ambulances also moved to the same locality on the north bank of the Wadi. The positions of these units after the move are indicated on the attached diagram, which is not drawn to scale.

The number of patients in the 3rd L.H.F.A., at this period did not exceed 20. The new camp site was apparently ideal. The grass was green and plentiful and rations excellent. After the strenuous days of Atawineh, this camp was like a paradise, the days were neither hot nor cold, the nights were perfect, and a lovely moon completed the picture. Little did we know how we were later on, to curse that moon! No one for one minute doubted the security of the camp, for being situated at the rear of the C.C.S's, far from any legitimate target for shell or bomb, the possibility of danger occurred to none. Meanwhile patients were pouring in (mostly diarrhoea and septic sores) and possibly the number had risen to 60, when one beautiful evening at about 10 O'clock the sky seemed to be suddenly full of enemy planes, which bombed and machine gunned the C.C.Ss particularly, but one plane came across the C.C.S. almost due south and dropped bombs as it came. One bomb fell immediately between our lines and the C.C.S, the second on the immediate outskirts of the 3RD L.H.F.A., the third in the centre of the 3RD L.H.F.A. between the Officers and the Sergeants' Messes, which were only 8 feet apart and a dud bomb fell in the horse lines in the Wadi.

Lieut Everett, a Dental Officer who had joined the Unit two days previously, after his first voyage from home, was standing at the door of his tent when the uproar started. He was quite interested in the fireworks around the C.C.S, as he knew nothing of bomb raids, and when the bomb fell on the outskirts of the camp he received two jagged lumps of iron in the left leg, one into the thigh, which opened into the knee joint, and the other through his Achilles tendon.

A second after the first explosion, a bomb fell almost on the Sergeants' Mess instantly killing Sgt Wallace, who was in the Mess at the time and Sgt Dyer, who was a patient; but sleeping in the Dispensary, S/Sgt McKinley received a large lacerated wound of the buttock, Cpl Campbell was severely injured in the leg. S/Sgt Joyner had a miraculous escape, for he was nearer the exploding bomb than anyone else, and received no scratch. S/Sgt Walker was also uninjured. Either this particular bomb or the bomb in the outskirts of the camp or both were responsible for the awful injuries and deaths. The bombs used were evidently what are known as "stick bombs" where the bursting charge is well above the percussion cap, with the result that the bomb really explodes above the ground. The aerial bombs previously used by the enemy were of a pattern, which entered the ground before exploding; the effect of this was that most of the force of the explosion was expended in the ground, whilst the remainder went up in the air. This species of bomb had a very local effect, but the "stick bombs" used by the enemy during the moonlight raid at Belah, had an enormous field of effectiveness. On the day following the raid the tents were found to be riddled with holes, made by flying bomb fragments from the ground upwards, and this not only at close quarters, but as far away as 50 or even a hundred yards from the nearest bomb. The Ford Ambulances were at least 200 yards from any bomb hole, and yet radiators and tyres were hulled by fragments. The amount of damage done and great loss of life was therefore explicable, for the patients killed and seriously injured were all sleeping on the ground. The Officers of most of the smaller units in the area had formed a joint mess and because of its central position and the reputation of Cpl Jack Bell as a cook, the 3rd L.H.F.A. was agreed upon as the proper place in which to establish the mess. The scarcity of building material was responsible for the mess being dug into the ground, but luckily for the officers concerned this proved their salvation. There was not anticipation of an air raid, or the staff could have been advised to adopt some protection, as it was there was no protection available and those who escaped some injury were extremely fortunate.

Major Whitford, who was at the time second in command of the Ambulance, was on a visit to the tent Subdivision, and was playing Bridge with Captain Joyce of 2nd L.H.F.A., Capt. Leahy of 3RD L.H.F.A., & Capt. Maguire of 5th Yeomanry F.A., when the raid occurred. The bomb which fell almost of the Sergeants’ Mess missed the Officers’ Mess by four feet. There was once a theory that the bomb that would fall near a man could not be heard by him, but this particular bomb, fell with a noise almost loud enough to deafen one.

As soon as the explosion was over everybody rushed out to see who was hurt but in spite of the bright moonlight the fames of the bomb had so darkened the camp that it was difficult to see at all. Patients were crawling out of the tents with ghastly wounds, while some were killed outright. No lights could be lit for the enemy planes were still flying overhead at what appeared to be roughly 300 feet; they had evidently dropped all their bombs but were machine gunning the tents. The difficulties of dressing the dreadful wounds under the circumstances can be imagined. However something had to be done and Major Whitford decided to operate where necessary. Accordingly an operating theatre was improvised in the E.P. tent used as a mess by the men and all cases were dealt with. Bomb fragments were removed when they could be located & all patients were dressed. Capt Maguire & Capt Joyce acted as anaesthetists whilst Capt Leahy assisted Major Whitford. During all this time enemy planes were about, and were machine gunning the tents of the C.C.S's & the Ambulance, so that all lights had to be out until the immediate danger passed over, when they were lighted once more. To add to the confusion our own planes went up and as friend and foe were unable to be distinguished by us, we were inconvenienced almost as much by one as by the other.

Eventually, after many exciting spells of waiting in the darkness whilst the anaesthetist continued his task under the greatest difficulties, all cases were dealt with. The antiseptics used were carbolic and Hydrarg Perchlor. Abdominal wounds and chest wounds were not explored but lacerated & penetrating wounds of limbs and joints were explored and fragments removed. It is worthy of note that the fragment which entered the knee joint of Lt. Everett was removed by Major Whitford, the knee joint was drained with a rubber tube and the joint immobilised with a back splint. Lieut Everett was sent to Australia, where he made an uneventful and complete recovery. During these exciting hours when Major Whitford was operating, with the planes overhead and the bullets flying about. S/Sgt Johnny Walker rendered the greatest assistance as also did Corporal Bell, who worked the sterilizer and the primus stove. How the latter was able to do the wonders he did with a defective primus and attend at the same time to the provision of beef tea, cocoa and hot water bottles for our sundry, nobody can tell.

It was 3.30 a.m. next morning before all duties were completed and the Officers and their assistants adjourned to the wrecked Officers’ Mess to investigate the well-deserved contents of a bottle of "Johnny Walker", which was in the process of being opened when the raid commenced. However the presence of somebody unknown enabled him to forestall us, for the bottle had disappeared and we retired to a more or less restless slumber with cocoa alone to help us to forget the dreadful experiences of the previous eventful hours. At 6 a.m., the patients were sent to the C.C.S. No patients died with the exception of those killed outright. The D.D.M.S. Desert Column & the A.D.M.S., Imperial Mounted Division visited the scene of the outrage later in the day and it was decided to move the Imperial Mounted Division Units to Beni Sela, lest another raid should occur, that this was a wise move, later days proved for other raids occurred and we remained undisturbed at Beni Sela while the units remaining at Belah at least three times again endured the horrible ordeal of a moonlight aeroplane raid.



Roll of Honor

355 Trooper Frederick Wallace COX, 8th Light Horse Regiment.


722 Trooper David DORAN, 10th Light Horse Regiment.

829 Trooper Percival William DYER, 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance


3073 Trooper Henry John STOW, 10th Light Horse Regiment.


862 Sergeant William WALLACE, 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance

Lest we forget


Further Reading:

The Belah Bombing Raid, 4 May 1917, Map 

The 3rd LHFA Tent after the Belah Air Raid, 4 May 1917 

3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance

3rd Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Belah Bombing Raid, 4 May 1917

Posted by Project Leader at 11:59 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 23 July 2010 11:48 AM EADT
Colonel Husnu, Yilderim, Page 5
Topic: Tk - Bks - Yildirim

Another entry from the book written by Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, called Yilderim. Every day, one page of the book will be posted. This is Page 5.

Colonel Hüsnü, Yilderim, Page 5.

[Click on page for a larger print version.]

Citation: Colonel Hüsnü, Yilderim, Page 5

Posted by Project Leader at 8:12 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 12 July 2008 11:19 PM EADT
7th LHR RO 18, 29 October 1914, p. 1
Topic: AIF - 2B - 7 LHR

Apart from the War Diary which presents a reflected view of Regimental history, one of the best sources of understanding the immediate challenges facing a regiment is to be found in the Routine Orders. They are a wealth of detail.

7th LHR Routine Order 18, 29 October 1914, p. 1

Citation: 7th LHR RO 18, 29 October 1914, p. 1

Posted by Project Leader at 2:53 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 12 July 2008 7:21 PM EADT
Helena Valley Camp, August 1914
Topic: Gen - St - WA

The following pictures were taken in late August 1914 and give a reasonable impression as to the training conditions experience by the raw recruits. Even by the standards of the time, these facilities are what could only be described as primative.

1. Tucker Time

Western Mail, 28 August 1914, p. 24.

[Click on picture for larger version.]

The lads from a section are lining up for some delicious tucker in an al fresco setting. The fellow getting served looks like he is wearing a prison skivvy. The young fellow hanging back appears to look quite disgusted at the food, possibly wondering what actually he had let himself in for by enlisting.

2. Right wheel!

Western Mail, 28 August 1914, p. 24.

[Click on picture for larger version.]

The new recruits are now capable of marching in synch and even executing a basic piece of parade ground drill.

3. Artillery heavy hauling

Western Mail, 28 August 1914, p. 24.

[Click on picture for larger version.]

To build up the stamina of their young charges coupled with a concept of team work, this rather exquisite form of torture was devised - manhandling complete artillery pieces including the gun and caisson. I suspect the caisson is fully loaded to be more realistic. Just one look at these fellows struggling with the task gives a clear indication that there was nothing easy about the exercise.

Citation: Helena Valley Camp, August 1914

Posted by Project Leader at 12:09 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 12 July 2008 2:20 PM EADT
Diaries of AIF Servicemen, Bert Schramm, 12 July 1918
Topic: Diary - Schramm

Diaries of AIF Servicemen

Bert Schramm

12 July 1918


Bert Schramm


2823 Private Herbert Leslie SCHRAMM, a 22 year old Farmer from Whites River, South Australia. He enlisted on 17 February 1916; and at the conclusion of the war Returned to Australia, 10 July 1919.

During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, Bert Schramm 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 Offensive 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.


The Diaries

The complete diary is now available on the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Site at:

Bert Schramm Diary

Finding more about a service person. See:

Navigating the National Archives Service File 


Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 7 - 12 July 1918

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Bert Schramm

Friday, July 12, 1918

Bert Schramm's Location - Cairo, Egypt.

Bert Schramm's Diary - Nothing worth recording. It has been too hot to get about much so have had a pretty quiet day.


9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Talaat ed Dumm, Jordan Valley, Palestine.

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Completing roads and improving bivouac site, horse lines etc.

9th LHR AIF War Diary, 12 July



Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.

No Entry



Previous: Bert Schramm's Diary, 11 July 1918

Next: Bert Schramm's Diary, 13 July 1918

Sources Used:

Bert Schramm's Diary

National Archives Service File.

Embarkation Roll, AWM8.

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour

Nominal Roll, AWM133, Nominal Roll of Australian Imperial Force who left Australia for service abroad, 1914-1918 War.


War Diaries and Letters

All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy 


Further Reading:

Bert Schramm Diary

Bert Schramm Diary, Album

Bert Schramm's Photo Album

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, War Diary, Day by Day Account

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Diaries of AIF Servicemen, Bert Schramm, 12 July 1918

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 2 June 2011 9:05 AM EADT

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