Finsbury Rifles

Away from the Western Front : 27th December 1917 – 24th January 1918

Football, Salvage and Training


Army football Q32613 balkan front 1918
A football match on Christmas Day  on the Balkan Front. IWM Q32613

Football was a popular form of recreation in the army and was often used as a morale booster.. The battalion diary mentions several organised games like the one between the officers and sergeants on New Year’s Eve. Of course, leather footballs would have been low on the list of essential supplies for units on the move and in action…hence the unexpectedly early end to the game.

After the unpleasant conditions during the Battle of Jaffa the hope of leaving muddy and damp bivouacs for more comfortable billets was dashed. The agricultural settlement of Petach Tikva (marked on the map as Mulleibis) was not large enough to house the entire battalion.

Meanwhile there was no rest and little recuperation after the battle. As the Ottoman forces withdrew to regroup further north,  plans for the next phase of the campaign were put in action.Work parties were sent out to recover equipment and materiel from the abandoned trenches, new roads were constructed to allow motorised transport to  supply the EEF and pursue the enemy.


Location BALDHILL Date 27/12/17

Platoon specialist training during morning.

Date 28/12/17

Company training during morning. Orders received for Bn to move into BILLETS in Jewish colony of MULLEIBIS.

Location MULLEIBIS Date 29/12/17

Bn moved into MULLEBIS. Only sufficient billets for 2 companies, remaining 2 companies under Bivouac (1030). Remainder of day spent in squaring up and settling down. Weather fine and dry.

Date 30/12/17

Celebration of Holy Communion at Bn HQ at 0830. Voluntary service at local town hall at 1730. Small English mail received. 2nd Lt PARRY and other ranks rejoined from hospital.

Date 31/12/17

Bn furnishing a working party of 2 officers and 100 men on road improvement work. LT WINDSOR proceeded to NEBY KUNDA with Bn surplus transport. LT WINDSOR having been appointed to take charge of all Bde Transport detailed submitted there. Football match officers v serjeants played. Result game not finished owing to ball bursting.

Location MULLEBIS Date 1 to 5/1/18

Bn furnishing working parties of 50 men daily at 0800 and 1400 to RE for road improvements. Work on their rifle range commenced. Remainder of Bn training. Specialist classes held on bombing.

Date: 6/.1/18

Bn furnishing working parties of 50 men daily at 0800 and 1400 to RE for road improvements. CAPT JONES returned from hospital.

Date: 7 to 9/1/18

Bn furnishing working parties of 50 men daily at 0800 and 1400 to RE for road improvement. Also salvage work on battlefield of BALDHILL.

Date: 10 to 12/1/18

Bn furnishing working parties of 50 men daily at 0800 and 1400 to RE for road improvement. Also RE work on MULLEBIS roads.

Date: 13/1/18

Divine service in town hall. Orders received to relieve ¼ ESSEX in the line. Wet day

Date: 14/1/18

Bn moved to relieve ¼ ESSEX. Relief completed by 1200. 3 coys in line and 1 in reserve.

Location IN THE FIELD FMD9.9 (Ref map JILJULEIN 1/2000 Date 15/1/18

Bn in the line. Companies in communications. Village of MULLEBIS heavily shelled by Turkish artillery with 4.2. Some damage to buildings and about 14 casualties inflicted on the inhabitants.

Date: 16 to 19/1/18

Bn in the line. Companies engaged in defence. Specialist training (Lewis gun).

Date: 20/1/18

Holy Communion at Bn HQ 0800. Quiet day. Left defence scheme received by CO and attached herewith.

Date: 21 to 24/1/18

Companies in the line engaged in defence work. Specialist and scouts training. Slight reciprocal shelling at intervals daily.

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