The Third Battle of Gaza (2)
It was no secret that casualties in fighting were highest in the rifle companies of the army . The 54th (East Anglian) Division had had to rebuild itself twice – after the Gallipoli Campaign and more recently after the disasters of the first two battles for Gaza.
The changes brought in under General Allenby also aimed to avoid this happening again. Units were required to keep a nucleus of officers and men in the rear so that a battalion could be rebuilt if necessary. Reinforcements would take too long to train and in any case, the Western Front was swallowing up much of the available manpower.
Although the Finsbury Rifles suffered some casualties during the Third Battle of Gaza, they were not as high as before. They were fortunate that the Ottoman forces on Belah Ridge were withdrawn to pre-arranged positions further north. This undoubtedly saved many lives – on both sides.
Location GUN HILL AREA Date: 6/11/17
Consolidation work still proceeding. MAJOR HAMMOND visited Bde Battle HQ and received orders to attacks and take BELAH Ridge with this Bn at all costs 161 Bde co-operating on our right the 1/5 BEDFORDs on our left. Enemy heavily shelled our positions during the day up to about 1500. Rumours received of Turkish retreat – arrangements for attaching BELAH completed and the Bn relieved in the trenches by the ¼ ESSEX and brought down on the beach to rest by 2100.
Attack on Belah Ridge by the 54 Divs at 0100. 1/11 London attacked the Northern position as for orders attached to appendix.A.X
Attack carried out with great dash. Enemy trenches reached and enemy found to have fired leaving only a few snipers. Consolidation at once proceeded with.0430. Consolidation work stopped. General Turkish retreat. ¼ Essex withdrawn from GUN HILL and position taken over by 1 company 1/11 London Rgt ,other companies of this Bn withdrawn to beach for breakfast after which Bn to move to 300 yards NE of SHEIKH HASSAN. 1030 Bn move into Reserve of 162 Bde outward line received – Bn moved on to beach at G22 A Nuzzle 1/20000. And bivouac formed. Lt Col A.H WINDSOR CMG
Location SEASHORE G22.A.NUZZLE 1/20000. Date: 8/11/17
Bn resting and squaring up Bivouac. Moving baggage re: from various dumps formed after the equipment. Quiet day bathing parades only.