The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH,
r, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.
Thursday, November 8, 1917
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Tel el Sheria.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0400 Moved forward at 0400. A Squadron supplied the advanced guard and B Squadron with Regimental Headquarters supplied main guard for 3rd Light Horse Brigade C Squadron who were on outpost were ordered to concentrate and follow on behind Regiment.
Orders received from Brigade Headquarters were to move and occupy the line 10th Light Horse Regiment to occupy the line Wadi Jemmameh - Wadi Burber and 9th Light Horse Regiment on left to occupy line Wadi Burber to Khirbit el Kofkhah. 5th Mounted Brigade on left of 3rd Brigade. At 0450 A Squadron captured outpost of two cavalry and three infantry. At 0500 the Regiment had crossed Wadi el Zaideh closely followed by remainder of the Brigade. Dawn was just breaking when the right flank of advanced guard came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Owing to the bad light ten minutes elapsed before enemy were located in a strong position in vicinity of Tel Abu Dilakh. A and B Squadrons were brought quickly into action, A on the right 600 to 800 yards from enemy position B on the left 800 to 1000 yards from enemy. The remainder of the Brigade were under severe shrapnel fire and withdrew one mile south west to cover. A and B Squadrons with two subsections of Machine Guns [4 guns] attached brought heavy rifle, Hotchkiss and machine gun fire to bear right along enemy position. A number of the enemy were thus cut off who later on surrendered to a troop of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A and B Squadrons taking 12 prisoners here.
At 0730 the enemy was observed withdrawing his light guns when A Squadron moved forward 200 yards and by adopting an aggressive attitude the enemy were forced to retire.
At 0900 with A Squadron in advance B and C Squadrons in support the Regiment moved forward on a bearing of 305 degrees towards Huj.
At 1000 gained close touch with 5th Mounted Brigade on left and halted advance guard to allow 10th Light Horse Regiment to come up on right.
At 1030 the enemy were observed retiring from Huj in large numbers but the ridges between A Squadron and Huj were held by rear guards.
The 5th Mounted Brigade on left now commenced to push vigorously towards the west of Huj. The Notts Battery was in action harassing the enemy's retirement. 5th Mounted Brigade on left of Regiment was observed to most gallantly charge mounted a strong enemy position containing many big guns and machine guns in Sq O73 A8a.
A and B Squadrons did magnificently pushing the enemy back from position to position. Right flank patrol of A Squadron in charge of Bennet, 705 Lance Corporal KC, gained Neby Huj at which place after shooting one of the escort and capturing the remainder 5.9 inch mountain Krupp guns were captured by same patrol. By 1200 the whole of Huj was in our hands with much war material including over 100,000 rounds of big gun ammunition. Before retiring from Huj the enemy succeeded in blowing up one ammunition dump mostly SAA [small arms ammunition] but the vigorous action of Parsons, Major HM, with A squadron and two subsections of 3rd Machine Gun Squadron attached prevented the enemy from destroying others.
At about 1300 a request was received from Williams, Colonel; and, Cheap, Colonel, to reinforce to allow 5th Mounted Brigade to reorganise as enemy was contemplating a counter attack. B and C Squadrons were used for this purpose whilst A Squadron and Machine Gun sub section pushed on to Sq O72S23.
B Squadron was shortly after pushed on to Sq O72 S13 & 14. In Sq S26A Mueller, Lieutenant GLH, with his patrol, shot down the teams of one four inch gun and forced the escort to retire leaving a second four inch gun 400 yards to the right.
A team of eight bullocks was also abandoned. As these were already yoked a party from B Squadron hitched them to the first gun but all the efforts to shift it failed due no doubt to the Turkish bullocks failing to appreciate the Australian bullocky's language which was lavished upon them.
These two guns and also the two captured at Neby Huj were left in position where captured and 3rd Light Horse Brigade Headquarters notified of the locality.
At 1330 one Squadron under Timperley, Major LC, 10th Light Horse Regiment joined up on right. At about 1400 Hargrave, Lieutenant LMS, with troop pushed forward with great boldness on to high ground west of junction in wadis in Sq O72S9c and shot down team and part of the escort of a 15 cm gun and by keeping up a heavy rifle and Hotchkiss fire prevented a strong enemy force from removing the gun until Smith, Lieutenant PT, with troop 9th Light Horse Regiment and McGregor, Lieutenant FJ, with troop 10th Light Horse Regiment charged mounted the remainder of the escort capturing the gun and ten prisoners. About the same time Lilly, Lieutenant, 3rd Machine Gun Squadron pushed his subsection which was attached to A Squadron well forward to wadi in Sq O72S17a and shot down team and escort of a long 10 cm gun which had to be abandoned by the enemy.
1500 The flat country in vicinity of Bureir and Simsim now presented a wonderful sight with thousands of disorganised enemy retiring north and north eastwards but our limit of advance was reached as the horses were tiring having had ten hours hard fighting and no water for 33 hours. Two troops of C Squadron were withdrawn from 5th Mounted Brigade position and brought to support A Squadron. The other troops had been taken by the 5th Mounted Brigade as a burial party and rejoined Regiment at 1700.
From 1500 until dark, the Regiment continued to harass the enemy with rifle, Hotchkiss and machine gun fire suffering heavy casualties.
1800 A and B Squadrons with C Squadron in support took up night outpost line Sq O72S18 - 17 - 14 - 13 A on right B on left and joining up with infantry on left and 10th Light Horse Regiment on right. Our casualties were 7 Other Ranks wounded, 6 horses killed 12 wounded. Prisoners captured by Regiment about 130 including the official photographer to the Turkish Army and a medical officer and his wife who had sheltered during heavy shelling in wadi Sq O72S9a. After the very successful days fighting the spirits of the men were excellent but the horses were very tired and badly in need of off-saddling. Country advanced over during the day was open undulating and hilly in places broken here and there by wadis easy to cross. It was splendid country for mounted operations affording good cover. Ration convoy arrived at 2400.
The wounded during the Battle of Huj from the 9th Light Horse Regiment:
2nd Lt Harold James Cattle, wounded but remained on duty.
1535 Pte Garnet Delanty
1029 Private George Wilfred Dibben
1405 L/Cpl Clement Harold Humphris
558 T/SSM William George Miller
3271 Private Albert Edwin Smith
770 Private Angus Thomas
916 T/SSM Roland Arthur Virgo
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary -
At 0400 10th Light Horse Regiment on the right and 9th Light Horse Regiment on the left moved from night outpost line to occupy position ordered by Divisional Headquarters.
At 0450 a small enemy outpost was captured by the 9th Light Horse Regiment and by one post just as dawn was breaking the 9th Light Horse Regiment came under very heavy enemy rifle and machine gun fire. The enemy at the same time opened up a battery of four field guns and the remainder of the Brigade, which had moved forward immediately in rear of the two advanced regiments were subjected to very heavy shelling. Notts Battery moved back to the right flank very rapidly, and brought their guns into action immediately with good effect. 8th Light Horse Regiment and remainder of the 3rd Machine Gun Squadron and Brigade Headquarters group extended and moved back to a slightly covered position sustaining very few casualties. The 10th and 9th Light Horse Regiments had dismounted for action on the opening up of enemy fire at 0510 and with the support of the Notts Battery were pushing the Turks back, although the 9th Light Horse Regiment met with strong opposition and were suffering many casualties.
The 9th Light Horse Regiment under Scott, Lieutenant Colonel WH, DSO, and the 10th Light Horse Regiment under Todd, Lieutenant Colonel TJ, DSO, made a determined advance against the strong enemy position and shortly afterwards the enemy were observed to be withdrawing from his redoubt. This redoubt was now occupied by us. The Notts Battery came up and gave enfilading fire against the enemy in front of the Anzac Mounted Division. During the last mentioned, fighting instructions had been received from Division to move on Huj. These were now acted on, the right of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade moving by Khirbit el Kofkhah. At 0900 with the 9th Light Horse Regiment in advance and Brigade moved on a bearing of 305 degrees towards Huj. At 1000 touch was gained with the 5th Mounted Brigade on our left. At 1030 the enemy were observed retiring from Huj in large numbers, but the ridges between our advanced guard and that place were held by strong rear guards. The 5th Mounted Brigade on our left now began to push vigorously towards the west of Huj. Our advanced guard conformed and with the aid of Notts Battery pushed in the opposing rear guard. The 5th Mounted Brigade were now observed to make a most gallant, charge at a strong enemy position containing four guns and many machine guns. The charge was successful, although with heavy casualties to the Yeomanry. The right flank path of the 9th Light Horse Regiment in charge of Bennett, 705 Lance Corporal KC, passed through Neby Huj at which place, after shooting one of the gun teams and capturing the remainder, two 5.9 inch modern Krupp guns were captured by that patrol.
By 1200 the whole of Huj was in our hands with much war material, together with large dumps of field and big gun ammunition. Before retiring the enemy blew up one ammunition dump, mostly SAA [small arms ammunition] but the vigorous action of A Squadron of the 9th Light Horse Regiment under Parsons, Major HM, with 4 machine guns attached, prevented them from destroying others.
The whole of the enemy forces were now in full retreat. Our infantry were on our left, pursuing the Gaza garrison. The Anzac Mounted Division was on our right. The enemy on our front were making towards Simsim and Bureir, in somewhat disorganised bodies. All available squadrons of the Brigade were ordered forward, with instructions to harass the enemy and to make what captures they could. The Notts Battery was not however, able to move past Huj, as their horses were completely exhausted, their last drink had been at Karm early the previous morning.
The three Regiments and the 3rd Machine Gun Squadron accordingly pushed forward and attacked the rear guards, inflicting heavy casualties, at short range, and seizing many prisoners and guns.
From my subsequent experience of the use of the sword, I consider it would have been invaluable here. If we had had swords, I am sure we could have ridden on and captured thousands, as it was, we stood off and shot hundreds only. At dusk the pursuit stopped. The horses were very exhausted they had been without water since we had left Karm 33 hours previously. It was necessary to look after them, otherwise, they would knock up, and the Brigade becomes immobile.
During the day 15 guns were captured by the Brigade, the following are same of the incidents of their capture: -
In square S26A Mueller, Lieutenant GLH, 9th Light Horse Regiment with patrol, shot down the team of a four inch gun, and forced the escort to retire, leaving a second four inch gun to the right. A team of eight bullocks was also abandoned. As these were yoked they were hitched on to the first gun but all efforts to shift it failed. The Turkish bullocks refused to assist. The gun was left and collected later on.
About the same time as the last episode, Lilly, Lieutenant, of the machine gun squadron, pushed his sub - section, which was attached to the 9th Light Horse Regiment, well forward to the Wadi in square 072 - S - 17A and shot down the team and escort of a long 10 cm gun, which was accordingly abandoned by the enemy.
Turks with guns were seen retreating north west from Wadi Jemmameh. Borbidge, Lieutenant RH, of the 8th Light Horse Regiment galloped his troop into action, dismounting at close quarters and opening fire at the enemy with rifles and his Hotchkiss gun. The horses harnessed to one gun were shot and in the confusion the second gun fell into the Wadi. Both guns, [77 mm], together with the limbers full of ammunition and 16 prisoners were captured.
Our position was being shelled by large guns which could be seen on the Bureir track and in the Wadi [Wadi um Lakis] where the track crosses. Fire was brought to bear on and around where the guns were firing from, at about 1500 to 1700 yards range. About 1500 in the afternoon the enemy brought up bullock teams from the Wadi with the intention of moving his gun. McGregor, Lieutenant FJ, 10th Light Horse Regiment went back to try and get touch with the 3rd Machine Gun Squadron and finding Lilly, Lieutenant, with his section with the 9th Light Horse Regiment asked him to bring a Vickers gun forward to play on the enemy's teams, which he did with great effect, thus preventing guns from being moved. McGregor, Lieutenant FJ, then went out with his troop to try and capture the guns, but encountered such heavy machine gun and shrapnel fire on the flat that he thought it advisable to put his troop under cover whilst he went forward with a section to reconnoitre the gun position. This he did and found the gun crews and escort had broken and were retreating up the Wadi towards Simsim. He then sent back for his troop and with the remaining three men galloped up the Wadi and captured a German Officer and crew of the 6 inch Howitzer, two hundred yards from the gun. Under very heavy fire he marked the gun "10th Light Horse Regiment'' and killed the animals, which had not already been killed by fire from our positions. They left eight wounded Turks near the gun and brought the others in, ten in after dark. They held the position of the day all night, and at dawn McGregor, Lieutenant FJ, went out with a section of men and an Australian Army Medical Corps detail, who dressed the wounded Turks whilst they, rounded up three Turks who were making towards Bureir. McGregor, Lieutenant FJ, then took stock of all the gear and transport, and a description of the guns, six in all, which the different Units of the Brigade had prevented enemy getting away. For his action in this matter McGregor, Lieutenant FJ, was awarded the MC; and, Newton, 3427 Trooper IW, was awarded the M.M.
Thompson, Lieutenant AWM, 10th Light Horse Regiment received orders from Timperley, Major LC, Officer in Command, C Squadron, 10th Light Horse Regiment to move forward with A Troop, C, Squadron on the right flank together with Kingdon, Lieutenant HR, on his left with ''B" Troop. At this time great masses of the enemy were retreating across the flat towards Bureir, in disorder. Thompson, Lieutenant AWM, moved his troop forward at the trot over very broken ground, skirting round a hill to the right. Kingdon, Lieutenant HR, moving to the left, coming abreast of the Wadi el Hesi in square S - 17.d., he was unable to get a crossing over the Wadi, so moved off to the right, and rode down the flat parallel with the wadi, those men who did not have revolvers drawing their bayonets. They charged down to what appeared to be a pretty substantial enemy transport column, about 600 yards away, the drivers and escort of which started to make off, some cutting horses out of the wagon and getting away on them. By the time shrapnel and machine gun fire were brought to bear on Thompson, Lieutenant AWM, and his party, they then recrossed the wadi, and secured good cover for their horses. Five prisoners were sent back to Brigade Headquarters with two of our wounded men. During this time about half a squadron of Turkish cavalry had come out and were making an attempt to get at the ammunition column. All available rifles and the Hotchkiss rifles got action against this party, who broke and retired. The Hotchkiss rifles did particularly good work under Middleditch, Sergeant RW; and, Barrett, Trooper. One troop of the 8th Light Horse Regiment came into action here and took up a position on the right flank. Thompson, Lieutenant AWM, then decided to attempt to bring the ammunition column in. Gwynne, Sergeant S; Hyde, 1248 Lance Corporal WH; and, Jarrick, Trooper, [Author's note: This name does not appear in the Nominal Roll nor does any variation exist that can be traced.] assisting Middleditch, Sergeant RW, with the Hotchkiss Rifle and the remainder of the troop maintained a covering fire for their protection. There were 21 limbered wagons loaded with big ammunition. Some of the horses had already been shot, and some of them removed. Thompson, Lieutenant AWM, found it impossible to move the wagons without assistance, so to prevent the enemy removing them he shot over 60 horses. The wagons contained all large calibre ammunition. For his action in this matter Thompson, Lieutenant AWM, was awarded the M.C.
Hargrave, Lieutenant LMS, 9th Light Horse Regiment was in charge of B troop A Squadron 9th Light Horse Regiment. He pushed forward and occupied high ground west of junction of wadis in square O72 S9c, and shot down part of a gun team and escort of a 15 cm gun. By keeping up a heavy rifle and Hotchkiss gun fire he prevented a strong enemy party reaching the guns. He later, with part of his troop together with Smith, Lieutenant PT, and his troop - C troop, A squadron, 9th Light Horse Regiment - charged mounted and took the gun. This would not have been possible had not Hargrave, Lieutenant LMS, seized the excellent tactical position he did, and broken up the enemy by fire. For his action in this matter, Hargrave, Lieutenant LMS, was awarded the MC.
The Brigade suffered exceptionally light casualties in both men and horses throughout the day considering the nature of the fighting and the large numbers of guns, prisoners and booty won. The country was excellent for mounted operations - open, undulating, broken in parts, but not to such an extent as to block passage of mounted troops. It afforded excellent cover for mounted approach.
At about 1730, 28 of our aeroplanes flew overhead in bombing formation. The noise of the explosion of bombs dropped on the retreating enemy could be distinctly heard. The Brigade occupied the ridge two miles north east of Huj as a night outpost line. During the night of 8/9th November the horses of the Brigade were sent to Wadi Jemmameh to water; this place had been made good by the Anzac Mounted Division the previous day. The supply would allow for a very slow watering and the horses were not returned to Huj until 1600 on 9th November, some of them have been thus more than 45 hours without water.