Finsbury Rifles

Away from the Western Front : 15th – 27th July, 1917.

 Umbrella Hill

Umbrella Hill Mcbey
Umbrella Hill: the most advanced of the redoubts guarding Gaza.James McBey © IWM (Art.IWM ART 1520)“…British infantrymen advance at night across No Man’s Land towards Turkish positions on Umbrella Hill, which rises up gently in the right background. The British soldiers, carrying rifles, move out of their advanced trenches in the left of the composition, with the dry ground in front of them dotted with shell holes and clusters of barbed wire. The dark sky is illuminated by a halo of light over the distant hill, caused by British artillery fire on Turkish positions…”

The  gruelling daily round of training , enemy shelling and working on the defences carried on throughout July.  The opening of the rest camp at El Arish was especially welcome. Soldiers could now have a break from the hardships in the front line without travelling as far as Cairo and its temptations. El Arish was now easily reached from the front by the railway built by the Royal Engineers and the Egyptian Labour Corps.

Location MARINA VIEW Date: 15/7/17

Holy Communion at 08.00 by Chaplain. Battn finding a working party of 3 Off and 150 other ranks for defence works under orders of 163 Bde. (07.30-12.00) Slight enemy shelling of our front line trenches during morning. Further working party firing found 2 officers and 100 other ranks for night work on defences under orders of the Bde (19.30-00.30).

Date: 16/7/17

Battn doing training. Gas helmet drill, bombing, Lewis gun, range finding, signalling classes being held throughout morning. Night working party of 5 officers and 300 other ranks defences works under orders of 161 BDE (19.45-00.45). Capt GR MELLOR PG MELLOR P.G BN KINGS att 1/11 London proceeded to Kantara for Temp: Duty as 54th Divs base details vice Capt. St. J.Brown 1/4 Northants to Battalion duty as 2nd in command. EL ARISH rest camp opened for men of force – 22 other ranks proceeded from this battalion – weekly leave into Egypt …and to 2 officers and 14 other ranks.

Date: 17/7/17

Battn training specialist classes (06.00-12.00) 17 other ranks reported from hospital. Commanding officer and Capt. Tattersall. DSO visited OC 1/5 Devons in front line trenches (Samsons Ride E) during afternoon. Reciprocal shelling.

Date: 18/7/17

Working party of 1 officer and 55 other ranks for work under orders of 495th Coy RE (07.30-12.30) remainder of Bn training. Night working parties of 5 officers 255 other ranks for (work on defences under orders of Ryde (8th Hants) and Westham (1/6 Essex) HQs (19.30-00.45).

Date: 19/7/17

Heavy reciprocal shelling first thing in morning. Battn rearmed all long rifles exchanged for short ones. Medical inspection by M.O of 2 companies during day reinforcement of 11 officers and 8 other ranks arrived.

Date: 20/7/17

Bn finding working parties of 4 officers and 200 other ranks for work on defences under the orders of 495 CORE (Kents) also 1 off and 50 other ranks for work on defences under the orders of 495, also 1 off and 50 other ranks for work with 270 BDE RFA (0700-12.30) Remainder of Bn training at 21.00 raid by 1/5 Bedford Rgt on the Turkish Position of Umbrella Hill. They encountered little opposition..being thoroughly demoralised by our fire. Raiders much hampered by dual smoke. Raid entirely successful the whole work raided except North corner. 1 Turkish officer and 101 other ranks, definitely counted dead, 17 prisoners including 7 wounded, captured 1 since died – 1 machine gun, 1 trench mortar, a number of rifles and other booty brought back.. 1 Winnewerfer destroyed. Up to time of withdrawal our casualties only 10 but from onset Turks directed severe fire from 5.9 on our reserves, Battle HQ and communication trench in rear maintaining fire with violence till 23.00 and after with less intensity till 02.00. Our casualties thro’ this, and fire on our front line trenches total 80-100.

Date: 21/7/17

Gas inspection of all ranks of the battn by the Divs Gas Officer (7-11.00)

Specialist training – right working parties found of 3 officers 150 of ranks under orders of 495 Co RE (KENT) a19.30, 1 off and 60 other ranks to SHEIKH AIJLIN under orders of 1/8 HANTS – 2 officers and 100 other ranks to Westham (1/6 Essex HQ) at 20.30. English letter and parcel mail received.

Date: 22/7/17

Holy Communion at 08.30 by Chaplain. Working party found of 1 off and 50 other rannks for work under orders of 270 BDE RFA. Heavy reciprocal shelling.

Date: 23/7/17

Battn training. Specialist classes being held.

Date: 24/7/17

Working parties being found 3 officers and 150 other ranks for defence works under orders of 163 BDE (07.00-12.00) Also 2 officers and 100 other ranks for work on defences under 163 Bed at SHEIKH AJLIN (19.30-23.30) Bivouac areas shelled by Turkish guns during morning and again at 16.15. Slight damage. 11 other ranks rejoined from hospital.

Date: 25/7/17

Small working party engaged under orders of 62 BDE burying cable. Remainder of Bn at work improving dugouts. Specialist training separately as usual. Night working party of 2 officers and 100 of ranks for work under orders of 162 Bde.

Date: 26/7/17

Battn on company and specialist training. Reciprocal shelling during day.

Date: 27/7/17

Second raid by 1/5 Bedford on Umbrella Hill. Zero hour 21.00. Heavy barring fire by her artillery. Turks counter attached our troops after they had entered enemy work. Sharp fight ensued with bombs and bayonets. Estimated number of Turks killed 15-20 and 20 prisoners taken. Our casualties 5 killed and 2 officers and 12 of ranks wounded, 1 machine gun captured and brought away from work but dropped off on way back. Heavy Turkish battery (?) and fire of shrapnel and HE on our front line trenches avoided by raiding re…….by going round flank. 2/LT DEVERELL and 2LT Morgan (the latter returning for duty from 54 Division HQ depot KANTARA 2 /LT ALDEN having relieved him) and a draft of 109 other ranks arrived from Egyptian Base Depot – MUSTAPHA.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s