"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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Monday, 16 March 2009
Bert Schramm's Diary, 16 March 1919 Topic: Diary - Schramm
Diaries of AIF Servicemen
During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, 2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, a farmer from White's River, near Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular, 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 1918 breakout 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.
Bert Schramm's Diary, 16 March 1919
Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 12 - 16 March 1919
[Click on page for a larger print version.]
Sunday, March 16, 1919
Bert Schramm's Location - Moascar, Egypt.
Bert Schramm's Diary - More troops have been called out today and there has been small scraps in a few different places. We are all in readiness to move anywhere at a moments notice. All trains have been delayed today. Things are generally messed up. Seems as if we are in for another war.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Voluntary church services.
At 2145 information received that civil disturbances had commenced in Ismailia. Inlying piquet turned out mounted and proceeded to Ismailia. Two Officers and 50 Other Ranks, B Squadron standing to, ready to move dismounted at short notice.
Disturbance ended at 2250 at which time the mounted piquet returned to camp.
Information received that serious disturbances were taking place in Zagazig area. Detachment of 10th Light Horse Regiment forced to fire on a large crowd before they would disperse. Railway lines torn up in many places between Cairo and Moascar.
1500, three Non Commissioned Officers twelve Other Ranks proceeded by Motor Lorry to Quassassin to guard the lock there. One Squadron, 8th Light Horse Regiment ordered to fit out mounted and proceed to Zagazig 17th March 1919. One mounted squadron 9th Light Horse Regiment to proceed following day.
Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 3 to 8 May 1916 Topic: Gm - Bk - 605 MGC
German 605th Machine Gun Company (MGC)
War Diary, 3 May to 8 May 1916
605th Machine Gun Company War Diary - 3 to 8 May 1916
The company furnished details to unload the trucks whilst the remainder pitched tents. There was coffee at 6.30.
6.30 a.m. morning coffee issued. 12 noon dinner. Early to-day 9 horses per company were received. In Constantinople we received 5 Turkish grooms for the company. We got coffee at 6 p.m.
At 3 a.m. we got coffee and every man got a water bottle for the march. At 4 a.m. the mounted men and those marching moved off. After marching five hours we covered 19 kilometers and reached the first German camping ground at Kadirhan. Here we halted till 3.30 p.m. and then on to Tschamalam which we reached at 6.30 p.m. At 8.30 p.m. we got dinner and evening coffee. We spent the night in the barracks built by the local mechanical transport for the German troops. Private Maier was left at Posanti on guard duty.
To-day we got coffee at 3 a.m. and at 4.30 marched to the huts at Kawalki Han. Here we remained the whole day and the night. Dinners were at 2 p.m. and we got cocoa at 6 p.m.
To-day we got coffee at 6 a.m. The mechanical transport arrived at 6.30 and took our baggage, and all of us were allowed to ride distributed among all the lorries. The lorries were unloaded during the course of the morning and our kit loaded on to the railway trucks. The day's rations were received from the field kitchen in Kulek-Boghaz.
To-day we got coffee early. From 5 to 9 a.m. our gear was shifted from the lorries as they arrived to the railway trucks. For dinner our company had to furnish 15 packets of preserved vegetables and 4 tins of preserves meat, as the rest of our supplies had already been loaded. By 2 p.m. the balance was loaded and at 4.45 the train moved off from Kulek Boghaz to Adana. At 6.30 p.m. we were given tea at the main railway station by the German Colony at Adana. After that we went on to Mamoure. We arrived at 10.30 p.m. and had to spend the night at the railway.
1st Australian Armoured Car Section - The Dead Sea - Part 2 Topic: AIF - Cars
1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF
THE DEAD SEA
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 224MSS 209. This is Part 2.
THE DEAD SEA - Part 2
In spite of his wound however, he managed to get away to hide in the scrub during the day and crawled down to the beach at night lima, where he slept and rested for about twenty four hours. He put his foot into the water and left it there. The next evening he managed to crawl to a spot where he could light a fire and there he was found by the boat's crew. The doctor told us afterwards that they managed to save the foot after all.
They were afraid that gangrene had set in but it appeared that the wound was filled with almost solid salt from the Dead Sea, the healing properties of which had saved the foot.
The Dead Sea Post was quite an Interesting place from many points of view and we had numbers of episodes of various types to keep us from becoming dreary.
One morning the enemy dragged an old camel gun down the hills opposite to us and began to bombard the post at extreme range for an hour or two until pursuit was arranged and he was chased back over the hills again. The shelling did not do any harm as all the missiles exploded either in the water or in the mud behind. Another morning several of us who were standing on the water's edge wore surprised to see a large column of water shoot up into the air stout half a mile out to sea.
Some of the members of the unit (who had at one time been members of the Submarine miners Corps) immediately came to the conclusion that a mine had gone off under the water and were marvelling where it could have come from, when a few minutes afterwards another explosion was heard from behind and a column of mud from the land side shot up into the air about a quarter ff a mile behind us.
We then discovered that an enemy aeroplane was dropping bombs from a great height. He was flying so high that he could not be heard and barely seen even with the glasses. As his nearest shot was over a quarter of a mile from its target, he did not cause much anxiety to anybody.
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.
On the 14th July (a few days after our move to the Dead Sea post) our two cars on morning patrol work at about 5 a.m. noticed movements of enemy troops some miles east of the Jordan. This information was immediately sent back to Headquarters and in the meantime parties of the enemy could be heard being engaged by our outposts. Apparently there was to be another attack on the river front. Sergeant J. T. Langley (a Bendigo boy) was In charge of the morning patrol that day and after sending back full particulars of enemy movements, he reported to the officer in charge of the lower Bridge-head asking permission to cross and engage the enemy in front. This was granted to him and he immediately took his two cars across the bridge proceeding to some hills about a mile to the east where he dismounted his Lewis guns and carried them to a spot commanding the approaches in his direction. He left his two cars below headed for the bridge ready to move off in a hurry if necessary.
Meanwhile he entrenched and waited. Shortly afterwards a column of pack horses came along and a Machine Gun Section. These were allowed to get well into range when both Lewis Guns opened on to them with deadly effect. The horses were stampeded and some of them killed.
Meantime one of the enemy machine guns managed to get into action and a duel began in which the Turkish machine guns came off worst. Some time afterwards the rest of the Patrol came up to relieve the morning men but when they arrived the ground in front was strewn with enemy debris. The remaining men of the Turkish section in front of us fled abandoning their machine guns and equipment which were captured. In that engagement we fired 5000 rounds out of our Lewis gone and two of the barrels were so damaged is the rifling owing to the continuous fire that the had to be renewed. Beyond this the only damage suffered by the patrol was some slight injury to the casing on one of the Lewis guns by an enemy bullet. The Turks retired from this attack along the line leaving large numbers of dead and prisoners.
Sergeant J. Langley was awarded the D.C.M. for his conduct during this attack and that was the end of the second big attack on the Jordan Valley. The enemy now seemed to lose all interest in us for a couple of weeks and we arranged a big cricket match between the Australia Light Cars and the Garrison of the post who consisted of English units. This was looked on as a test match and created a lot of interest for miles around. The weather of course was intensely hot us usual, out the fielders were able to have a swim in between each batsman's hand. I'm pleased to say that Australia won this test by 110 to 36 runs.
Peitang, China, September 25, 1900 Topic: BatzO - Peitang
China, 25September 1900
Peitang, the only combat operation involving Australian troops sent to northern China at the time of the Boxer Rebellion, was fought on the shores of the Gulf of Chihli (now called the Bohai Wan) 40 kilometres east of Tientsin on 25 September 1900. The Australians were members of a naval brigade offered to Britain in June, at the time that a multi-national force was being assembled to lift the siege of foreign embassies in Peking (now Beijing) by a Chinese cult of extreme nationalists nicknamed `Boxers'. The brigade, comprising 200 men from the naval forces of Victoria and another 260 from those of New South Wales, arrived on 8 September and was absorbed within the British contingent of the international field force, with their quarters at Tientsin.
By this stage, however, most of the fighting was already over. Troops of the eight participating powers had landed on the China coast in mid-June, captured Tientsin a month later, and relieved the besieged diplomatic missions in the capital a month after that-whereupon military resistance from the Boxers quickly dissipated. Not until a fortnight after their arrival did the Australians have any prospect of seeing action. On 24 September, 300 men of the brigade (150 from each colony) formed part of a four-nation force of $,000 men-1,700 provided by Britain-which was ordered to move against the Chinese fort at Peitang.
Moving initially by lighter down the waterways towards the coast, the next day the Australians were obliged to travel the last 30 kilometres by foot. Urged on by the sounds of battle• ahead and the sight of rising pillars of' smoke, they covered the remaining distance in a gruelling forced march. All this effort proved wasted when, coming across a Russian field hospital at E, p.m., they learnt that the Russians had gone ahead and stormed the fort on their own an hour earlier. The only consolation to be had was that the Chinese had chosen not to hold the position in strength, but left a single four-man gun crew to delay the attackers; this they had achieved, at the cost of their lives, while the Russians suffered seven men killed and 30 wounded.
During the following month the Victorians took part in a similar expedition to capture par,-zing fu (now Baoding), the capital of Chihli Province situated about 115 kilometres south-west of Beijing. This also did not see any Australians come under fire, as on the forces approach Chinese officials surrendered the city without offering any resistance. Thereafter the Australians filled only garrison duties at Beijing and Tientsin until their return home.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 86-87.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
Bob Nicholls (1986) Bluejackets and Boxers, Sydney: Allen & Unwin
The Egyptian Rebellion, Egypt, 13 March to 10 April 1919 Topic: BatzO - Egypt 1919
The Egyptian Rebellion
Egypt, 13 March -10 April 1919.
Most of the light horse regiments before their campaigning was over were employed in the unhappy work of suppressing the rebellion in Egypt, which broke out early in 1919.
The story of that rising does not come within the scope of this volume. It had been carefully fostered by the malcontents, and demonstrations by Cairo students early in March were the signal for widespread rioting. Native civil servants at once contributed to the trouble by declaring a general strike; and the position of the British was made difficult by the suspension of most of the railway and telegraph services. Within a few days the outbreak had spread through all the lower provinces and extended to Upper Egypt.
At that time the Anzac Mounted Division (less the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Regiments) was still at Rafa, but the Australian Mounted Division had been moved by sea from Tripoli to Moascar. All units had handed in their equipment, and were awaiting embarkation to Australia. No. 1 Australian Flying Squadron and the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Regiments had already sailed. There were no large forces of British troops in Egypt. As the efficient organisation and the ugly temper of the revolt were disclosed further embarkations for Australia were arrested; horses and equipment were rapidly assembled, and within twenty-four hours the 3rd Light Horse Brigade under Wilson was on the march across the desert for Zagazig. The whole-hearted response of the troopers was impressive; they abandoned without a murmur their dreams of Australia, and went out gaily on a new enterprise the probable duration and seriousness of which were uncertain. All the regiments of the two Dominions, with the exception of the 1st and 2nd, were soon in the saddle, and their zone of activity extended from Upper Egypt to the Delta. So urgent at the outset was the call for the mounted men that even the convalescents from the hospitals were enlisted. There was no actual organised fighting, but a few sharp decisive brushes with the rioters cost the Australians about twenty casualties. Seven of the twelve regiments, under the capable command of Wilson, were based on Zagazig, three on Damanhur, one at Cairo, and one in Upper Egypt (Minia), and other small columns were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel W. J. Foster and Lieutenant-Colonel Olden.
The Egyptians lost their nerve at the sight of the horsemen, and soon most of the leading spirits were in prison, while others at the firm bidding of the soldiers were strenuously mending the broken railways, and generally were as emphatic in their expression of loyalty as a few days before they had been turbulent in revolt. The Australians and New Zealanders formed the great part of the British force employed, and owing to their mobility, their reputation, and their decisiveness, they were undoubtedly the dominant factor in temporarily restoring tranquillity to Egypt.
Within a month all present danger had passed, but before embarkation the mounted troops, engaged in patrolling and other light work, comfortably billeted and with an abundance of fresh rations, passed several pleasant weeks beside the Nile.
H.S. Gullett (1944) The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, Appendix 1.
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