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 They were fortunate that the Ottoman forces on Belah Ridge were withdrawn to pre-arranged positions further north.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 ¼ Essex withdrawn from GUN HILL and position taken over by 1 company 1/11 London Rgt ,other companies of this Bn withdrawn to beach for breakfast after which Bn to move to 300 yards NE of SHEIKH HASSAN. 1030 Bn move into Reserve of 162 Bde outward line received – Bn moved on to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.
Orders by Major F.S.Hammond commanding 1/11 London Regt. Order No 3. 6/11/17
Reference Gaza 1: 20000. A
- Enemy dispositions have not materially changed.
- The 54th Divn is attacking the line RAFA BELAH RIDGE – TURTLE HILL. 161 Bde on the night. 162 Bde on the left. The dividing line will be the wire running from RICHARD to BELAH.
- The 11th London Regt (les 1 Coy) will attack BELAH works from P8d88 to Pqa 2.4.
- On relief tonight at 1900 by ¼ Essex Regt this Battn will bivouac over the beach for the night just below present Battn HQ.
- At zero – 60 the Battn will move forward to a position at about P8 6 1.8. At zero – 15 it will move forward to take up a position immediately in front of our own trenches. At zero it will advance to the attack.
- When the positions have been won, they will be immediately consolidated a strong work being established in each objective: at the same time a second line will be consolidated on the reverse slopes. The front line will only be held lightly during the day.
- The Battn will be dressed and equipped in only those articles actually required for fighting purposes plus one day’s water and rations.
- Each officer will carry a Very Pistol sights. Bombers and rifles Grenadiers will each carry 10 bombs. Lewis gun teams will carry 20 magazines per team. The balance of bombs L/G. Magazines will be carried by carriers detailed from ¼ Northants Regt and will move in near of the Battn during the attack dumping their loads with the last Coy who will be digging in on the reverse slope of BELAH RIDGE. The O.C of this Coy will at once take steps to push forward the bombs and magazines brought up. Ground flares will be carried by the leading Coys.
- Each Coy will detail runner to report to Battn signal office before Coys leave the beach.
- Watches will be synchronised at Battn H.Q at 1815 and 2115 tonight.
- Battn H.Q will remain at P7 6 7.5 to-morrow with an advanced station established by P8 and 2.5 (near B Boys’s present HQ) to which place all messages and runners must be sent.
- Barrages. The positions to be assaulted will be heavily bombarded the final 18 pds protective barrage lighting from all objectives except FRED at zero and 15 when the infantry will assault in accordance with details already arranged. At zero and 20 the barrage will lift from FRED enabling the first wave to complete their work on WALTER. A protective barrage will remain in front of the position till zero and 120. MG barrage from RICHARD and CRICKET WELL will give overhead covering fire during the assault and will lift to form a protective barrage at zero and 10.
- Collecting points for wounded are being formed at SEA POST and SHEIKH HASSAN to either of which wounded will be evacuated. The Battn and post will remain into present position.
- Two stokes guns will follow in near of the third wall and dig in on reverse slope as arranged.
Issued at 1800
Copies to 3 Coys
¼ Essex Regt
1/6 “ “
¼ Northants Regt
1/5 Bedfords Regt
1/10 London Regt
162 MG Coy
162 LJ M.B
1 – office
Capt Adjutant 1/11 London Rgt.