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Sunday, 15 March 2009
Steam Tug at the Dead Sea
Topic: AIF - Cars

 1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF

The Dead Sea

Steam Tug at the Dead Sea

 

Twin Screw Steel Steamer at Rujm el Bahr, Dead Sea

[Click on picture for larger version.]

 

Reference

The manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol" lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209, Chapter 6: THE DEAD SEA.

 

1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 2 

 

The following details were given regarding the capture of a steam tug at the Dead Sea.

Amongst the stuff left behind at the Dead Sea Post when captured, were all the parts of a large steam tug which had been taken to pieces at Haifa and transported overland in sections by the Germans and Turks. It must have taken a large amount of labour and time to do this as every piece had to be brought by road over the steep hills for something like 100 miles. All the parts were there except the engines and these could not be found. These had either not been brought or had been sunk in the water. Divers were sent down to search but no trace could be discovered. The British authorities decided to assemble the boat as all the parts were so conveniently left for them, and internal combustion engines from some of the Tractors were to be installed. Some shipwrights were brought down and the frames and plates of the boat were all riveted up. When we left the Jordan Valley some months afterwards the hull seemed to be all ready for launching but we never heard whether this had ever been done.

 

 

Previous section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 2

Next section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 3

 

Further Reading:

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF, Contents 

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle - Outline 

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Steam Tug at the Dead Sea

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 11:20 PM EADT
Saturday, 14 March 2009
1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 3
Topic: AIF - Cars

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF

THE DEAD SEA

Part 3

This is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 3.

 

THE DEAD SEA - Part 3

A few evenings later a big concert was held up in Jerusalem by Lena Ashwell's Players and permission was granted for a car load to go to Jerusalem for the night. Needless to say the car was well filled. On the morning of the 25th July during our morning patrol, we discovered a home made boat and some ogre hidden in the reeds skirting a lagoon along to the mouth Of the river. We had not noticed this boat previously so concluded it must have been brought across the river during the night probably by an enemy agent.

We were anxious to see how the boat was brought into the lagoon,- so a couple of us embarked and pushed off when the boat promptly sank with us both, and we just had time to throw our watches and revolvers ashore as we disappeared below the Surface to the amusement of the rest of the patrol. The boat had only sufficient buoyancy for one parson, so evidently only one had come across in it. We discovered that there was a narrow but deep entrance through the reeds into the sea through which the boat had been brought. We replaced the boat whore We had found it after making it leaky enough to prevent it crossing the river again and reported particulars to the nearest intelligence officer who arranged for a watch to be kept beside the boat for the return of the navigator, but he must have received news of the boat's discovery for he never turned up again. When we returned from the morning patrol, the water had dried on our clothes after the immersion and the white salt had dried and left us white like a couple of ghosts to the great enjoyment of the troops in the vicinity who thought it was some new game for their amusement.

Things seemed to be settling down about this time and no events of importance took place mush in the valley. The enemy made a small demonstration on the 6th September and the whole patrol received orders to cross the river at Hajla Bridge which we did first thing in the morning.

We travelled full speed to the north east where we joined the Central India Horse with whom we crossed the Wady Rame. The enemy however changed their minds and retreated at full speed to the hills again. We received orders to return and were back at our post again in plenty of time for lunch. Nothing more of importance happened until the 13th September when orders were received to leave the Valley. We packed up after having been there for six months to a day. They were the six hottest months of the year and we were not sorry to leave. We were not to see the Jordan Valley any more.

Events were shortly going to happen on the other flank near the Mediterranean Coast and we were to be there in time for the kick off. Orders were received for the cars to proceed singly at half hour intervals so as not to excite any particular interest and we were to take two days over the move. We arrived at Ramleh on the evening of the 15th September and proceeded to Sarona a couple of days later. All movements were now done at night time, so as not to arouse the enemy's suspicions of the concentration on this flank. We now joined the 4th Cavalry Division and on the 18th September the officers were called to a conference where the Commander in Chief (General Allenby) explained that the big smash through the enemy's lines was to be attempted at dawn the next morning.

He explained that speed was to be the essence of the whole operation.

The artillery and infantry were to make a break on the enemy's western flank when the mounted troops and motor units ware to pour through at full spend and take the enemy in the rear.

 

Note:

 

Lena Ashwell

 

Lena Ashwell, actress, musician and theatrical manager, organised quality entertainments for the forces on active service, and fundraising events at home. Her major production occurred when her show opened at the Kingsway Theatre, on 29 December 1915. It was a fantasy called 'The Starlight Express' based on Algernon Blackwood’s 'A Prisoner in Fairyland'. Other luminaries involved in this show included Elgar who composed incidental music including songs for soprano and baritone soloists.

 

Previous section: Steam Tug at the Dead Sea

Next section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 1

 

Further Reading:

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF, Contents 

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle - Outline 

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 3

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 11:21 PM EADT
Friday, 13 March 2009
1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 1
Topic: AIF - Cars

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF

THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO

Part 1

 

This is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 1.

 

THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO - Part 1.

It was the morning of the 19th September, 1918. Our orders were to stand to at 3.30 a.m. and have everything ready to move off at a moments notice. We were attached to the 11th Cavalry Division for these operations and we were to protect and convoy the whole of the divisional motor oars and transport. Our starting point was to be one mile east of El Jeliel. The bombardment on the enemy's front line began at 4.30 a.m. and it was the best thing in the way of a bombardment that any of us and ever seen.

Every gun, howitzer and mortar in existence seemed to be going off at once and all the batteries from the 13 pounders up to the big sixtys seemed to be working overtime. For about an hour or so the air appeared to be filled with fire and shrieking shells, after that there was a lull and in a little while the sound of cheering could be heard in the distance as the infantry did their part of the job and cleared a gap through the trenches.

At 8 o'clock the road was clear mid we got the word to go. Every horse in the division went forward at the trot with the motors alongside them. The barbed wire entanglements were trampled down by hundreds of hoofs and wheels, the trenches filled in and crossed; and away went the whole division complete into the North via Tabsor never slowing down once until after midday when a brief stop for half an hour for lunch and a spell for the horses was made.

Then on again till 6 p.m. when Kakon was reached where another brief stop for tea was made. The division then pushed on with all speed throughout the night as it was very important to get through the Mus Mus pass before the enemy had time to collect reinforcements and hold us up there. This we were able to do and the dawn breaking found us through the hills with the plains of Esdraelon at our feet.

At 7 a.m., 20th Sept. we entered Leggun, where the division rested for a couple of hours. The night travelling had been more trying for the motor drivers than for the horsemen. The only light we had was what we got from the moon and it was impossible to see the ground owing to the clouds of dust from the horses hoofs. The motor drivers had to just drive blindly on and trust to luck which generally was with us. Both our motor cyclists came to grief early the first evening and smashed their machines on rough ground and they had to drop out of the chase. Shortly afterwards one of our gun cars crashed on to a huge boulder in the dark which went through the sump of the engine making a complete stop. We hastily transferred the gun and ammunition off this car on to one of our transport vehicles and left our corporal mechanic with the driver and his assistant to make the best repair possible while we pushed on with the division. The cyclists and this car overtook us a day or two later, so they must have made good use of their time in repairing their machines which were all working again. After a couple of hours at Leggun we pushed on towards El Afule an important Railway town and Junction, also signal station and German Aerodrome. Here we met our first serious opposition.

The enemy had hastily rushed some troops forward with machine guns but they had not received enough notice of our coming to entrench properly.

The division halted momentarily while the 11th Light Armoured Motor battery was rushed forward. This battery was equipped with Rolls Royce Armour plated cars and Light Vickers Machine Guns. The battery drove down the main road and simply mowed down all the machine gun sections sent up to oppose the advance. A detachment of Indian Lancers then went forward at the gallop to mop up what was left. That ended the opposition and the enemy machine guns were all abandoned in the fields. Shortly afterwards we drove into Afule where everything was in a state of chaos.

Much war material was captured including a number of German motor lorries which we put out of action by dismantling the magnetos etc. We promptly pushed forward to the Aerodrome as petrol was a very important item for us. Our tanks were getting low and we did not wish to wait for the supply train which was following. Fortunately we managed to get enough to fill all the tanks of the Patrol and Armoured Cars.

While we were engaged on this a German aeroplane unsuspectingly landed in the aerodrome and the pilot was promptly made a prisoner to his surprise and anger. Shortly afterwards another plane was seen to be landing but just as he reached the ground something aroused his suspicions and he rose again. One of our Armoured Cars promptly opened fire on him then and the pilot was killed. The observer was wounded in the head and taken prisoner. He told us afterwards that it was the felt hats of the Australians in the Aerodrome that made them suspicious that something was wrong.

As soon as we had got enough petrol, oil and water for our cars, we had a hurried lunch at the German Officers mess where the late occupants had very obligingly set the table for us before they left for other parts. After lunch a couple of us wandered down the road for a few hundred yards to stretch our legs when we noticed a number of motor lorries coming along and we remarked that our supply column must have made wonderfully good time in following up so soon. Just then the vehicles drew up alongside us when we found that they were filled with armed Germans who immediately jumped out of their vehicles and held up their hands as a token of surrender. We did not know what to do with such a large number of prisoners so we jumped up into the leading vehicle and directed the driver to drive into the town where we had plenty of men to disarm them.

We signalled the remaining vehicles to follow which they did. On arriving in the town we handed over the convoy to the APM who was responsible for collecting the prisoners of war. I don't suppose any haul of prisoners was so easily made before. The prisoners seemed to be quite contented with their lot and were apparently not looking for any fight.

 

Previous section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 3

Next section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 2

 

Further Reading:

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF, Contents 

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle - Outline 

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 1

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 11:22 PM EADT
Thursday, 12 March 2009
1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 2
Topic: AIF - Cars

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF

THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO

Part 2

 

This is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 2.

 

THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO - Part 2

The division next pushed on to Beisan about 16 miles east of El Afule where we were promised some sleep. This was sorely needed by the drivers who had been at the wheel for 40 hours without any rest whatever. We discovered that the horseman has a decided advantage over the motor driver in the matter of sleep. The former can nod off and still keep in the saddle as the old horse jogs along and follows the track, but if the motor driver closes his eyes for an instant he will probably crash into a rook or over a cliff. On the way to Beisan we noticed a motor car about half a mile off the road in difficulties. On examining this through the glasses we noticed some man making frantic efforts to get a touring car (that was bogged) out of the mud. We sent a car across and the occupants promptly bolted into the scrub. The car had the German coat of arms painted on the door and it was apparently one of their staff cars. So we hitched a rope on to it and hauled it out with one of our own cars. We found that car very useful and kept it for nearly six months. We used it for carrying extra petrol and baggage about with us on our peregrinations.

The late occupants who took to the hills would probably have had their throats cut by the Arabs who are always ready to murder and rob the under dog. On arriving at Beisan we discovered that there was not to be too much sleep after all. The road from Beisan to Shutta had to be patrolled through the night with cars to take prisoners who were expected to be coming back from the fight that was still going on at part of the enemy's front lines. Our division now had a line about 40 miles long and it was about 30 miles behind the enemy's front lines. The Turks were now in a thorough trap and could not escape any way. Although the road had to be patrolled, we found that a couple of cars could manage it all right and the drivers took one hour shifts so the majority managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep after all. We bivouacked for the night at Beisan but next morning all the cars were required to patrol the roads and collect numerous enemy fugitives who wore more or less demoralised and pouring in from all quarters.

The divisional commander asked us to send a car up to Jesi Mejame, a railways crossing where there is a bridge across the river a few miles south of Lake Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee. A party of engineers was there to mine the Railway bridge and one of the officers had his hand injured with explosives. A car was required to bring him back to Beisan the nearest field ambulance.

It was explained that an armed car was not necessary as the road had been cleared. All our patrol cars were busy on the road in the other direction gathering up prisoners, but we dug up a ration car and one of the drivers who had been having a well earned sleep. A couple of us pushed off as quickly as possible. We found that the road was littered with abandoned transport and broken down vehicles of all descriptions and we frequently were compelled to drive off the road altogether in order to get past these obstructions. We had proceeded several miles on our journey when a loud report seemed to come from under the car. Thinking that one of the tyres had blown out we were slowing down when another report occurred from behind. We discovered that the tyres were all right but the reports were gun shots and as we were the target we decided the best thing was to get a move on. There were growing crops alongside the road and in there were concealed the marksmen. It was impossible to see them so it was no use trying to shoot book at them. Fortunately, they were atrocious shots and they did no damage beyond making us break the speed record.

 

Previous section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 1

Next section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 3

 

Further Reading:

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF, Contents 

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle - Outline 

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 2


Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 11:23 PM EADT
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 3
Topic: AIF - Cars

 

 

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF

THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO

Part 3

 

This is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 3.

 

THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO - Part 3

We ran the gauntlet for about five miles like this (it seemed like ten) when we came to a spot on the road that was completely blocked by a train of German motor lorries that had been abandoned. Hundreds of natives from an adjoining village were busy looting these vehicles and at first they were too busy to take any notice of us. We got busy clearing a track for our car and had nearly got it through when the natives who were all armed with rifles and knives began to congregate around us. Several of them began to snatch things out of our car such as our haversacks, field glasses etc. By this time we were practically clear and we covered them with our revolvers.

The natives then began to get their rifles ready and to flourish their knives and the prospects looked ugly. Meantime, the driver got his engine going and we grabbed a native boy who was hanging around the car, pulled him in and held him between us and the tribesmen while we did the next mile in record time and not a shot was fired at us. When we were out of range we kicked the boy out. After another two or three miles we arrived at our destination and we were not sorry to see a detachment of Indian Lancers.

We explained to the officer in charge that we had had a fairly eventful drive up and that we did not relish the idea of the trip back again, it was bad enough with two of us coming up with our hands free but to go back encumbered with a wounded man who would be in pain and not able to stand the jolting and bumping if the car was driven at speed was certainly looking for trouble. The officer in charge agreed and arranged to send a few of his lancers along with us until we were past the village that gave us the chief trouble.

We got away as quickly as possible with our charge and the mounted escort who must have been seen coming for when we arrived back at the scene of trouble there was not a man to be seen anywhere and the village was absolutely deserted. We said goodbye to our Indian friends then and did the twelve miles back to Beisan without a shot being fired at us. We arrived just as it was getting dark and handed our charge over to the doctor. We then explained to Headquarters how "clear" the road was on our outward journey. The divisional commander sent messages next morning to all villages along the road that if any more sniping occurred along the route that he would burn all the crops on both sides. This had the desired effect as no more shooting took place by the tribesmen along that route.

Next day the unit received instructions to join the 11th Light Armoured Car Battery and proceed bank to Lejjun where the Desert Mounted corps Headquarters was stationed. We arrived there in the dark end bivouacked for the night. Next day we were to join the 5th Cavalry Division who were making a dash on the town of Haifa which was still in the hands of the enemy. The town was attacked during the afternoon and fell about four o'clock. Shortly afterwards we drove in and took possession. We slept in an olive grove that night and next morning our orders were to proceed south (around Mount Carmal) along the coast and search the villages for enemy and rifles etc. We went through the villages of Athlit and Tantura and although we found none of the enemy left we got large supplies of rifles, 30 cases of ammunition and a bag of bombs which we handed in. We returned to Haifa and slept in our old quarters again.

On the 27th September the Corps pushed on through Nazareth to Tiberias where we stayed for the night, we had considerable difficulty in getting through the mountains near Nazareth. Our aeroplanes the day before had severely bombed an enemy mechanical transport column as it was in the pass and had played havoc with them. The result was that in places the road was blocked by disabled vehicles which we had to push over the side into the valley below in order to get past.

We arrived at Tiberias on the shores of the lake in time for tea and stayed there for the night. The blue waters of the Sea of Galilee looked very refreshing after the dry and dusty journey and most of the men indulged in a bathe at the first opportunity. We also had fresh meat that day which was a welcome change after weeks of Bully.

 

Previous section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 2

Next section: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 4

 

Further Reading:

1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF, Contents 

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle - Outline 

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - Megiddo - Part 3

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 11:23 PM EADT

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