"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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Tuesday, 4 August 2009
1st Australian Field Squadron Engineers, Roll of Honour Topic: AIF - DMC - Eng 1FSE
1st FSE, AIF
1st Australian Field Squadron Engineers
Roll of Honour
Poppies on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra
The Roll of Honour contains the names of all the men known to have served at one time with the 1st Field Squadron Engineers and gave their lives in service of Australia, whether as part of the 1st Field Squadron Engineers or another unit.
Roll of Honour
Leonard Haigh BRIGG, Died of Disease, 20 October 1918.
John CLAYTON, Died of Disease, 23 October 1918.
William George HALLETT, Died of Disease, 18 October 1918.
George Henry SMITH, Died of Disease, 19 November 1918.
Lest We Forget
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Steve Becker who provided much of the raw material that appears in this item.
Battle of Romani, Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1st LH Bde, AIF, War Diary Account Topic: AIF - 1B - 1 LHB
Battle of Romani
Sinai, August 4 to 5, 1916
1st LH Bde, AIF, War Diary Account
War Diary account of the 1st LH Bde, AIF.
Observation Posts of on Section each were posted on Mount Meredith and Mount Royston. At 1100 orders were received that for night 3/4th August an Outpost Line was to be established by this Brigade from Infantry Post No. 1 exclusive on the left to Hod el Enna inclusive on the right connecting up by patrols with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. Advanced Posts at Bir abu Raml and Bir en Nuss.
The Outpost Line was in position just after dusk, 3rd Light Horse Regiment holding left sector from Infantry Post No. 1 exclusive to Mount Meredith inclusive. 2nd Light Horse Regiment holding Bir abu Raml and Bir en Nuss. 2nd Light Horse Brigade who were in touch with the enemy during the day passed through the Outpost Line at 2030 returning to camp.
At 2100 our Advanced Post reported be3ing in touch with a small party of the enemy towards our right flank.
At 2330 there seemed to be a general "feeling" movement of the enemy along our line from right flank towards Mount Meredith.
At 0100 enemy began to push in numbers on the right flank and kept increasing in strength along the line up to and including Mount Meredith, at which point they made an attack with the bayonet and attempted to climb that position. This point was then reinforced by one Squadron of the 1st Light Horse Regiment. Up to 0400 the whole of the attack was pushed home in the area Hod el Enna to and including Mount Meredith, attacking force estimated at about 2,000.
Owing to enemy activity on our right flank our troops were compelled to fall back in a northerly direction to a line running dure west through Mount Meredith. This line was reinforced on the right by the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, but a flanking movement by overwhelming numbers forced our troops back to Wellington Ridge - the enemy apparently operating in two bodies, one on our right flank and the other moving due north by Mount Royston towards the railway line.
This latter movement was operated against by Colonel Royston with the 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Regiments of this Brigade in addition to his own Brigade.
From 0730 to 1700 1st Light Horse Brigade less 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Regiments rested at Bir Et Maler.
At 1600, with the cooperation New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, the enemy was forced of the position which he occupied on Mount Royston and driven south.
On night August 4/5th the line held by the enemy was Mount Royston to Wellington Ridge.
On the night 4/5th the Outpost Line held by the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Brigades was divided into two Sectors, Colonel Meredith commanding the right sector, with his right resting on a point about 1 mile north east of Mount Royston, the troops under his command being 1st, 3rd and 6th Light Horse Regiments and the 2nd Light Horse Regiment being with the 2nd Light Horse Brigade.
On the right of this sector the Outpost Line was held by the 5th Manchester Battalion.
At 0400 a forward driving movement was commenced with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade on the right, 1st Light Horse Brigade in the centre and 2nd Light Horse Brigade on the left, the right of the 1st Light Horse Brigade working on a line Mount Royston to and including Hod el Enna.
The captures of this Brigade were 400 prisoners, which included a complete Field Ambulance with personnel, 65 laden camels, 5 machine guns, 300 boxes small arms ammunition, many rifles and other stores.
From Hod el Enna the forward movement was carried on with our right through Bir abu Raml (where we captured a Field Ambulance) to Bir abu Gulud. As many horses as the small well could supply were watered at Bir abu Gulud.
At 1515 the Brigade concentrated at a point half a mile northwards of Bir abu Gulud for the purposes of attacking Qatia, where the enemy appeared to be concentrated, in conjunction with the 2nd Light Horse Brigade on the right and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade on the left. The three Brigades in perfect line galloped into action, not one horse of this Brigade being hit, although the Machine Gun and rifle fire was very heavy. The line occupied on this advance was maintained until dusk, when the Brigade was ordered to withdraw. The horses were in a bad state from want of water and quite unfit for action for the time being.
The Brigade returned to camp at Romani, arriving at 2230.
Romani and Bir el Abd, Falls Account, Turkish and German Forces Engaged Topic: BatzS - Bir el Abd
Romani and Bir el Abd
Sinai, 4 - 9 August 1916
Falls Account, Turkish and German Forces Engaged
The Battle of Romani, 4-6 August and Bir el Abd, 9 August 1916
[Click on map for larger version]
[From: Military operations: Egypt and Palestine, Sketch 10 facing p. 178.]
As part of the Official British War History of the Great War, Captain Cyril Falls and Lieutenant General George MacMunn were commissioned to produce a commentary on the Sinai, Palestine and Syrian operations that took place. In 1928, their finished work, Military Operations, Egypt and Palestine - From the outbreak of war with Germany to June 1917, was published in London. Their book included a section specifically related to the battle of Romani and is extracted below.
MacMunn, G. & Falls, C., Military operations: Egypt and Palestine, (London 1930), pp. 202 - 203:
Part 7. Turkish and German Forces Engaged.
Germany was now able to assist her Turkish ally with more than the few staff officers who had represented her first contribution in Palestine. For the attack on Egypt she had organized a contingent of all arms and auxiliary services. This force received the code name of "Pasha," and later, when preparations were made to despatch a second and stronger contingent, was known as "Pasha 1." Its constitution was as follows
A machine-gun battalion of 8 companies [Five companies according to Steuber, the official German historian, 8 according to others, Kress speaks of "personnel and materiel for 8 "companies," and it seems certain that 8 of 4 guns each were formed, with the addition of Turkish personnel as drivers, etc.];
5 anti-aircraft groups;
60th Battalion Heavy Artillery [The personnel of the batteries was apparently German as to officers, N.C.O.s and leading numbers, the remainder Turkish.]:-
1 battery 100-mm. guns .
1 battery 150-mm. bows. .
2 batteries 210-mm. bows. [2 each].
2 trench-mortar companies;
300th Flight Detachment;
3 railway companies;
2 field hospitals;
A number of mechanical transport companies for work in the Taurus.
Austria provided two mountain howitzer batteries of six guns each.
All the above units, with the exception of two 210-mm. howitzers, the trench mortars, (and, of course, the railway and mechanical transport companies) took part in the expedition to Romani. The remainder of the force consisted of the 3rd Division (of twelve battalions), a Turkish regiment of camelry, the 3rd Regiment of Mountain Artillery (three 4-gun batteries), and auxiliary services. The ration strength was about 16,000. In addition to the above there is some evidence that the 81st Regiment of the 27th Division advanced as far as Bir el Abd and took part in the defence of the position there. Nearly 5,000 camels and 1,750 horses accompanied the columns.
The object of the expedition was not to cross the Canal, but to capture the Romani position and then establish strong entrenchments opposite Qantara and bring the Canal under the fire of the heavy artillery. Liman von Sanders as detailed in his book Five years in Turkey (1927) at p. 183, describes the objective as
"not whole and not half; it makes one think of a man trying to wash his hands without wetting his fingers."
But it appears that further troops were to have been brought across Sinai had the first attack succeeded.
The advance was made in three successive columns on account of the scanty water supply, the troops marching by night. The transport of the heavy guns was an extraordinary feat. According to prisoners' reports, boards were laid down over the smaller islands of soft sand and picked up again when the wheels had passed over them. Over large areas of this nature tracks for the wheels of the gun-carriages were dug and packed tight with brushwood. Considerable quantities of ammunition, both artillery and small arm, must have been carried, for it was used without stint at Romani. It is believed, however, that the supply ran short after the 4th August.
The Nek, Gallipoli, 7 August 1915, The Plan of Attack Orders Topic: BatzG - Nek
Gallipoli, 7 August 1915
The Plan of Attack Orders
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary, August 1915
The actual orders were:-
8th L H. 1st Line.
First line will consist of troops already in fire-trenches and saps. On a given signal, silently and without rifle-fire, it will rush The Nek (A1) and with bayonet and bomb engage the enemy, taking possession of the flank, communicating and advanced trenches (A9, A5. A8, A11), paying special attention to the machine-guns which must be sought for and rushed and to the trenches overlooking the cliff north of The Nek and to those on the southern flank of same, so as to prevent flank interposition by the enemy - mine fuses and 'phone wires to be sought for and cut.
8th L.H. 2nd Line
Second line (already on banquette) will immediately follow. Jumping advanced trenches (already engaged by first line) it will sweep on and attack supporting and subsidiary trenches (A12, C1, C4). Its action will be forward, ignoring trenches behind, but accounting for those to right and left (C6A, B1, B2. B3). Bayonet and bomb without fire.
As soon as first line has moved from our trenches, second line will take the position vacated in order to make room for third line. In passing over intervening space officers will take post in the ranks so as not to make themselves a conspicuous target.
The 10th L.H. 3rd Line.
Having moved up communicating trenches, third line will in like manner be prepared and follow on at once. Its objective will be the next line of trenches (C2, C3, C5, C7, C8) and, if possible. Z. Y, C10, C11, to C12-13. With bomb and bayonet only, the enemy will be driven back and out without turning back, and avenues blocked. Once in the trenches, the enemy will not be able to make effective use of his machine-guns. When the extreme limit of advance has been reached the gain must be made good and safe against machine-gun fire and against counter-attack. Here fourth line plays its part.
10th L.H. 4th Line.
Fourth line will in like manner follow and act in concert with 2 and 3. It must endeavour to join up with the latter. Every second man will carry digging tools in the proportion of one pick to two shovels. It is impossible to define precisely what this line may be called upon to do. This must of necessity depend upon the progress of its predecessors. It may have to down tools and assist but it must make every effort to join up with third line and block the approaches. This is its role."
(The capital letters and figures refer to Turkish trenches which were thus marked on the British maps. "Y" and “Z" were centres or junctions of several trenches )
Surafend, the massacre, Palestine, 10 December 1918, Ted Andrews Account Topic: BatzP - Surafend
Surafend, the massacre
Palestine, 10 December 1918
Ted Andrews Account
The following account of Surafend was put together by Ted Andrews from various sources, although the chief source being an anonymous diarist known by the nom de plume of "Kiwi Trooper". The commentary on Surafend appears in his book "Kiwi Trooper" The story of Queen Alexandra's Own, published in Wellington, 1967. This extract is from pp. 187 – 191.
The murder was promptly reported through the normal chain of command in the Anzac Mounted Division, and to the higher authorities but, for some reason, never explained, nothing was done. The immediate arrest of the murderer before he could escape further afield was hoped for, but lack of action next day worked up the feelings of the Anzac and U.K, troops in the vicinity to fighting pitch.
The troops had suffered casualties throughout the Sinai and Palestine campaigns by treachery of the Arabs, who were seldom, if ever, punished. All stores had to be guarded against looting, sentries were murdered, the dead at Rafa were dug up and stripped of their clothes while the treacherous ambush of Ain Sir was still fresh in the minds of the New Zealand troops. Also, not long previously, an Australian military policeman had been murdered in the vicinity, but no official action had been taken. Tpr. Lowry's murder was the last straw. A trooper states:
"After dark, at 7 p.m, that evening (10th December), a meeting, representative of all units in the area, was held in a gully in the sandhills. It was addressed by an A.L.H, trooper, a small dark chap, an orator and organiser of no mean ability. He called a roll of units, then outlined the plan. Two hundred (of all units) armed with pick handles and waddies were to quietly surround the village within the hour. The head man was to be called upon to deliver up the murderer. If he did not, then all inhabitants would be extracted, women and children let loose and all men soundly thrashed. This duly began but, in the event, the men resisted fiercely with a variety of weapons and a general melee ensued in which 40 were killed and the village fired."
The "History of the W.M.R." says:
"A party of some 200 men demanded the production of the murderer. No satisfactory reply being forthcoming, the old men, women and children were taken to a place of safety, whilst the able-bodied men were dealt with and the village burned.
"At a Court of Enquiry on the incident, held subsequently, no evidence was available to attach the blame to any particular persons or regiment, such had been the secrecy with which the plans had been prepared. The Arabs gave no further trouble."
Just what the words "dealt with" mean is not stated in the above, but it was said that for years after, the young women of the Surafend district wore a most dissatisfied look, while, in choral circles, Surafend was famed for its male sopranos!
An immediate sequel to the raid was that next day, a deputation under a white flag came in from a neighbouring village forcibly escorting the murderer of the Australian M.P!: "Kiwi Trooper's" account reads:
"Our 2nd Sqn. "Q.A.O," lines ran east-west, with the M.G. Sqn. lines at right angles, running south towards the village, being the nearest to it. We knew nothing of the projected raid until less than one hour before it started. Five of us from No. 1 Troop went out to buy(?) oranges from a nearby grove and returned with a chaff-sack each which, strangely, cost us not a single piastre! Then some Scottish troops, in twos and threes, were going through our lines towards Surafend. I asked them where they were going:
“To the wee dustup the noo, doon in yon village,” they replied.
"Our much respected troop leader, Lieut. Bob Sutherland, told us to keep well out of it, which we did. We saw the flames go up shortly after. Surafend, or its ruins, were placed out of bounds later - it smouldered for days.
"The following Monday, 16th December, the whole Anzac Mounted Division was paraded on foot and formed in a hollow square just west of our squadron lines, under Maj-Gen. Chaytor. General Allenby, with his aide and standard bearer, rode into the square and, in a furious outburst of anger, addressed the parade:
"There was a time when I was proud of you men of the Anzac Mounted Division. Today I think you are nothing but a lot of cowards and murderers.'
"There was a slowly swelling murmur from the troops and then the count began: 'One-two-three, etc.' General Chaytor sensed the feeling of the men and told Allenby he would soon be unable to hold his troops. Without answering Chaytor's salute, Allenby wheeled his horse and galloped off to the strain of “Eight-Nine-OUT!!! We Anzacs were not men to be sat on!"
There were further repercussions of the "Surafend Affair." In his account of the last victorious campaign, General Allenby omitted all mention of the gallant part played by the Anzac Mounted Division and also blocked their final list of recommendations for decorations. He steadfastly refused to make amends or forgive their reprisal act on the village, but later relented enough to pass a supplementary honours list. Nor did the Anzacs forgive him. The incident was included in that excellent book, "Armageddon, 191.8" by Capt. Cyril Falls, published 46 years later (1964), in which he stated:
"Both sides had been in the wrong, but the (Anzac) troops more so than the Commander-in-Chief." This statement led to a furious outburst in the Press throughout New Zealand.
Many letters were written to the papers by men who were there at the time, and whose opinion of the Arabs, and Allenby for defending them, was low, to say the least.
In fairness to Maj-Gen. Sir Edmund Chaytor, it must here be recorded that he was away on leave when the murder and reprisal took place, the Division being temporarily commanded by Brig-General Granville de Ryrie, of the Australian Light Horse.
There was a brighter side to the "Surafend Affair." It was put to verse by one of the troopers who took part in it. Here it is, per courtesy of the N.Z.R.S.A. "Review," from their August, 1939, issue.
Sir General Edmund Allenby A proclamation sent, To all his troops in Egypt That wheresoe'er they went; The Gippo was protected The dirty thieving crew, And if this law was broken A penalty was due.
This law like soldiers we obeyed Right throughout the piece, Then cannons stopped their shelling The world wide war did cease; We left new scenes of battle And travelled back to old, There fought was Edmund's knighthood And lives were dearly sold.
A restcamp was erected Near Richon's sunny green Close by that now ill-fated spot Where then stood Sura Feen; Here Bedui lived as farmers An honest game tis true, But through the hours of darkness They prowled the restcamp through.
One moonless night it came to pass (A night when robbers shine) A Bedouin came prowling down The 1st Machine Gun line; With stealthy step and wily glance Up to a tent he crept, And there he spied a kitbag Near where a gunner slept.
The bag was moved the lad awoke And saw the Bedouin's face, The coward fled-the lad arose And straight away did give chase; They ran a hundred yards or more The trooper gaining fast, A shot rang out-the soldier fell For he had run his last.
The Heads were asked to take a part To find the murdering cur, But though they knew 'twas urgent They didn't seem to stir; The troops allowed them ample time Then called a general meeting, At 7 p.m. that very night As time so fast was fleeting; And there decided on a raid That 'ere the day should end, An honest life would be revenged That was a soldier friend.
T'was a never-to-be-forgotten night, The village was soon in flames, The wallads knocked when sighted But protected were the dames; Although we are fighting Anzacs, Our honour we uphold, And treat the women fairly As did our ancestors of old.
As morning dawned we stood and watched, That devastated scene, Where but a single yesterday Had flourished Sura Feen; We turned away in silence But feeling justified, That for our murdered comrade We would have gladly died.
A week passed by in silence Then we were ordered to parade, Before Sir Edmund Allenby We knew 'twas about the raid; They formed us up in squadrons On a bright December day, And Chaytor prayed for silence While Edmund had his say.
He galloped up towards us With his staff in tabs of red, And in the square still mounted These very words he said; "Cowards, cold-blooded murderers "Barbarians by the score, "I was proud of you at one time "I am proud of you no more." As soon as he was finished The Anzacs laughed aloud But Edmund turned without farewell And galloped from that crowd.
From the diary of "Kiwi Trooper":
"We left Richon-le-Zion and the ruins of Surafend on Wednesday, 18th December, 1918, and trekked down the coast to Rafa in easy stages, about ten miles a day, arriving there on 23rd December. It was said, with good reason I understand, that the Aussies had planned to raid the wine cellars (believed to be the largest in the world) at Richon and Sarona at Christmas! The Heads had got wind of it - they were rather jumpy after the Surafend Affair - and, being in a Biblical land, rightly decided to remove us from temptation and deliver us from evil.
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