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Friday, 23 October 2009
El Buggar Ridge, Palestine, 27 October 1917, El Buqqar Casualty Discrepancies Topic: BatzP - El Buggar
El Buggar Ridge
Palestine, 27 October 1917
The discrepencies in the various accounts of the casualties that occurred as a consequence of the action around El Buqqar is intriguing. The source books on this subject are:
Falls, Cyril, Palestine, Official British War History, (London 1929).
S. F. Hatton, The Yarn of a Yeoman, Hutchinson, 1930.
Massey, W.T., How Jerusalem was Won, (London 1918).
Major General Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir (Erkilet), Yildirim, (Ankara 1922).
The following is a comparative summary of each book dealing with casualties from the Battle of El Buggar.
Turks - at least 15 dead;
Allied 79 KIA and WIA
Turks - 208 KIA;
Allied 24 KIA 53 WIA 10 MIA = 87 casualties
Turks 10 KIA 40 WIA;
Allied 200+ KIA
Falls, Hatton and Hüsnü were all writing their accounts subsequent to the war when all details of casualties should have been available and yet their accounts are wildly seperate and yet very similar. Hüsnü describes the Allied dead as being in excess of 200 while Hatton makes a similar description about the Turkish dead.
Until there is a quality accounting of this action, the numbers actually killed and wounded in this action will remain unknown.
The Battle of El Buggar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Turkish account of El Buqqar Ridge Topic: BatzP - El Buggar
The Battle of El Buggar Ridge
27 October 1917
Turkish account of El Buggar Ridge
Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim, pp. 105-6.
Another entry below about the action at El Buqqar Ridge, this time from the Turkish perspective extracted out of the book written by Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, called Yildirim. The following is a translation from pp. 105 - 106:
To clear up the situation east of Tel el Fara, Falkenhayen ordered a reconnaissance in force to be carried out on 27th October. A move was made early in the morning, and the 125th Regiment (of the 16th division) with reinforcements threw the enemy back from the Ruz el Basel. According to the report of the 8th Army, the enemy made two counter attacks and five cavalry regiments and a number of infantry and suffered severe casualties. Reports which came in after the event stated that there were 200 dead in front of the 20th Corps. At dusk our troops returned to their original positions. On the same day the 3rd Turkish Cavalry Division and a regiment of the 27th Division occupied Hill 230 and Toweil el Kabari respectively. The British protective forces on the 27th October were on the lines – Western slopes of the Kuz el Basel – Um Asad – Abu Siban Gharabi – Um Ajawa – Hill 310 nor on Aslouj. Aerial reconnaissances showed that there had been no important changes in the position of the enemy camps behind the enemy’s lines. Our casualties were ten killed including a Major and forty wounded.
On the Gaza Front during the night of the 26th/27th fighting between patrols took place and on the 27th artillery fire increased.
It is interesting to note that the Turkish action is described as a Reconnaissance in Force. The Turks were testing out the Allied defence and resolve to sustain the new positions taken up by them. The commentary indicates that the Turks had no intention of retaining the captured positions. The ultimate result of this attack was to alert the Turks that an attack on Beersheba was imminent.
Another point of statistical interest is the disparity in casualty figures. Colonel Hüsnü is claiming in excess of 200 Allied killed in action while the Turkish casualties were 10 killed in action and a further 50 wounded in action. The comparison to the Allied statement of casualties inflicted upon the Turks as to the actual casualties suffered by each side indicates a common belief amongst various armies that their attack inflicted heavier casualties than actually occurred. Similar to those armies on the defence. It is only after the conflict that some precision can be placed upon the casualties.
The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917, 91st Anniversary Topic: BatzP - El Buggar
The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917
The scene from El Buqqar Ridge, Hill 720, facing north west
[Photo by courtesy Gal Shaine]
27 October 1917 was the opening battle in the Third Battle of Gaza. While a comparatively small action when compared to Beersheba which followed, it was hard fought and necessary to ensure the next phase of the battle could occur with the movement of the Allied forces remaining screened and thus undetected.
The action itself produced the first VC in this battle, that given to Major "Laffy" Lafone.
The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917, Massey account of El Buqqar Ridge Topic: BatzP - El Buggar
The Battle of El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917
Massey account of El Buqqar Ridge
Below is an extract from the book written by W.T. Massey, How Jerusalem was Won from which he describes the action at El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917.
The principal work carried out by the XXth Corps during the period of concentration consisted in laying the standard gauge line to Imara and opening the station at that place on October 28; prolonging the railway line to a point three-quarters of a mile north-north-east of Karm, where the station was opened on November 3; completing by October 30 the light railway from the east bank of the wadi Ghuzze at Gamli _via_ Karm to Khasif; and developing water at Esani, Malaga, and Abu Ghalyun for the use first by cavalry detachments and then by the 60th Division. Cisterns in the Khasif and Imsiri area were stocked with 60,000 gallons of water to be used by the 53rd and 74th Divisions, and this supply was to be supplemented by camel convoys. Apparently the enemy knew very little about the concentration until about October 26, and even then he could have had only slight knowledge of the extent of our movements, and probably knew nothing at all of where the first blow was to fall. In the early hours of October 27 he did make an attempt to interfere with our concentration, and there was a spirited little action on our outpost line which had been pushed out beyond the plain to a line of low hills near the wadi Hanafish. The Turks in overwhelming force met a most stubborn defence by the Middlesex Yeomanry, and if the enemy took these London yeomen as an average sample of General Allenby's troops, this engagement must have given them a foretaste of what was in store for them.
The Middlesex Yeomanry (the 1st County of London Yeomanry, to give the regiment the name by which it is officially known, though the men almost invariably use the much older Territorial title) and the 21st Machine Gun Squadron, held the long ridge from El Buggar to hill 630. There was a squadron dismounted on hill 630, three troops on hill 720, the next and highest point on the ridge, and a post at El Buggar. At four o'clock in the morning the latter post was fired on by a Turkish cavalry patrol, and an hour later it was evident that the enemy intended to try to drive us off the ridge, his occupation of which would have given him the power to harass railway construction parties by shell-fire, even if it did not entirely stop the work. Some 3000 Turkish infantry, 1200 cavalry, and twelve guns had advanced from the Kauwukah system of defences to attack our outpost line on the ridge. They heavily engaged hill 630, working round both flanks, and brought heavy machine-gun and artillery fire to bear on the squadron holding it. The Royal Flying Corps estimated that a force of 2000 men attacked the garrison, which was completely cut off. A squadron of the City of London Yeomanry sent to reinforce was held up by a machine-gun barrage and had to withdraw. The garrison held out magnificently all day in a support trench close behind the crest against odds of twenty to one, and repeatedly beat off rushes, although the bodies of dead Turks showed that they got as close as forty yards from the defenders. Two officers were wounded, and four other ranks killed and twelve wounded.
The attack on hill 720 was made by 1200 cavalry supported by a heavy volume of shell and machine-gun fire. During the early morning two desperate charges were beaten off, but in a third charge the enemy gained possession of the hill after the detachment had held out for six hours. All our officers were killed or wounded and all the men were casualties except three. At six o'clock in the evening the Turks were holding this position in strength against the 3rd Australian Light Horse, but two infantry brigades of the 53rd Division were moving towards the ridge, and during the evening the enemy retired and we held the ridge from this time on quite securely. The strong defence of the Middlesex Yeomanry undoubtedly prevented the Turks establishing themselves on the ridge, and saved the infantry from having to make a night attack which might have been costly. Thereafter the enemy made no attempt to interfere with the concentration. The yeomanry losses in this encounter were 1 officer and 23 other ranks killed, 5 officers and 48 other ranks wounded, 2 officers and 8 other ranks missing.
Massey, W.T., How Jerusalem was Won, (London 1918).
9th LHR description of the operations at El Buqqar Ridge, 27 October 1917 Topic: BatzP - El Buggar
El Buggar Ridge, Palestine, 27 October 1917
9th LHR account of El Buqqar Ridge
The following is extracted from an Intelligence Summary submitted by the Adjutant of the 9th Light Horse Regiment after the action.
Intelligence Summary - 9th Light Horse Regiment - Operations of 27th/28th October 1917 - Reference - Beersheba.
Left bivouac 0900 and arrived at a point on Fara Beersheba Road one and half miles due south of U in Beit Abu Taha. At 1200 two squadrons advanced to the high ground one and half miles west and south west of Point 720. The enemy were located holding 720 and the high ground on both flanks. Extent of enemy front on this sector approximately one mile.
At 1320 the line advanced to within one mile of 720. At this point - Yeomanry sergeant major informed the squadron that the squadron of Yeomanry had been captured. Touched up with 10th Light Horse Regiment on right but could not get in touch with any of our troops on the left.
At 1400 the enemy were observed to be working round our left but after an hour they withdrew to their original position half mile north west of 720.
At 1425 the line advanced to within 1600 yards of 720. About 5 enemy machine guns were located on high ground 1,500 yards south west of 720. These machine guns commanded the front of 720. Still unable to gain touch with any troops on left flank.
At 1500 74th Division moving up on right.
1600 situation unchanged.
At 1700 an officer's patrol was dispatched to 720. This patrol gained 720 at about 1800 and found the enemy had withdrawn but owing to darkness their disposition could not be located. The bodies of 14 dead Yeomanry were on 720. They had been stripped of all clothing and equipment with the exception of shirts. A new trench had been dug by enemy on north west slopes of 720 capable of holding 100.
At 1815 the patrol withdrew from 720 at which no infantry was in the vicinity of 720 although infantry were observed moving up from Karm about two miles west of 720. It is presumed that the first infantry to occupy 720 was in position there at about 2045.
At 2200 Major HM Parsons gained touch with 53rd Division Reserves quarter mile west of 720. This Division had not as yet joined up with 74th Division. Major HM Parsons proceeded to get in touch with 74th Division with orders to them to push forward on to El Buggar Ridge. This was effected at about 2300.
The Regiment withdrew at 0030 and arrived at bivouac at 0345 on morning of 28th inst.
Our Casualties - one officer one other Rank wounded. Animals, one riding horse killed, one wounded.
The 9th LHR Casualties
Major Thomas Anglesey Siekmann, Officer Commanding B Squadron, GSW to the hand.
210 Corporal Raymond Meredith Welfare, Trumpeter Corporal, A Squadron, GSW to thigh.
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