Away from the Western Front: 1st – 31st July 1918

  Return to the Suez Canal

IWM ART 1699 Kantara Camp James McBey
Army Camp at Kantara. James McBey© IWM (Art.IWM.ART 1699)  

EEF divisions followed the standard Army pattern of being rotated through periods of front-line duty, rest -which could include the much resented road building -and training.   When the 1/11 London Finsbury Rifles moved out of the front line at the end of June they were relieved by the 93 Burma Rifles, an Indian Army unit. This was how the newly trained battalions were able to gain experience of combat conditions and consolidate their skills.

The journey from Kantara back to Surafend took less than a day by train – a far cry from  18 months before when the journey had  taken over a week,  marching across the desert.

 

Location KANTARA

Date: 1 to 2/7/18

Company and specialist training. Bathing parades in Suez Canal.

Date: 3/7/18

Bn Route march along West Bank of Canal 0600-0930.

Return by C.O to all officers and 2 Cos at 1000. Bathing parades 1330-1600. The company shooting range 1600-1900.

Date: 4/7/18

Company and specialist training during morning. C Coy on range 1630-1000. And 1600-1900.

Date: 5 to 6/7/18

Ditto. Range practice B Coy.

Date: 7/7/18

Parade service in garrison church. KANTARA. 0800. Orders received return of Bn to rejoin 162 Brigade at  Surafand.

Date: 8/7/18

Bn engaged moving baggages to KANTARA EAST station for entrainment. Bn less 2 companies paraded 10.30 and marched to station and entrained on first train (G) Dept: 12.10

Location SURAFEND Date: 9/7/18

Arrd railhead LUDD 0610, remainder of Bn on 2nd train ref 1500 arrived railhead 1100 of first. Bn proceeded into Bivouac 1 mile north of Suprafend on side of JAFFA RAMLEH Road. Lt BA Hooper returned from Duty with 54  Divt. A/Capt HGS and DECOCK proceed to report to RAF HELIOPOLIS for duty.

Date: 10 to 11/7/18

Company and specialist training.

Date: 12/7/18

Company and specialist training. Orders received and brigade conference all move to rge house area 0.35A (1/6000 7EJJA MAP) draft of 50 of Ranks rejoining from hospital reported.

Date: 13/7/18

Bn moving to new area. Move commenced 0900 completed by 1300.

Location RED HOUSE AREA ) 35A Date: 14/7/18

Sunday. Parade service in conjunction with 1/5 Bedfords under orders of Lt Col A H Windsor CM G 0730. Official day. Turks shelling our back areas with RoryRange gun at intervals.

Date: 15/7/18

Bn commenced 14 days intensive training as per programme attached.

Date: 16/7/18

Bn training independently by companies in accordance with programme. Small English mail received.

Date: 17/7/18

Inspection of Bn by Divisional General. Maj-Gen SW Hare at 0700. The GO also inspected Bivouac area and companies under training.

Date: 18/20.7.18

Company specialist training. Range practices by companies. Draft of 50 of Ranks reported from Base Depot.

Location KANTARA.Red House Area Date: 21/7/18

Church parade service at 0730. Capt Rev’d DIXON Spain rejoined from English leave.

Date: 22 to 26/7/18

Companies training. Signalling and specialist classes being held.

Date: 27/7/18

Draft of 13 OR rejoining from Hospital. Capt HG Brown also reported for duty from BDE DEPOT.

Date: 28/7/18

Orders received re: move of Bn to MEZEIRAH on night 29/30 July. C.O at By the conference at 1000. Divine Service. Parade service for Bn at 0730. Orders for move on relief by 1/5, Suffolk attached and marked B.

Date: 29/7/18

Bn preparing to move. Specialist classes as usual. Advance parties proceeded to H Q 47th Sikhs to take over duties in respective company areas for when Bn moves into the line from MEZERIEH. Bn relieved 1/5 Suffolks at MEZERIAH. Move 2000 completed 2215.

Location MEZGEIRAH Date: 30.7.18

Bn finding working party of 350 men for road construction under direction of RE (0600-1100). Specialists training during morning. Remainder of day spent in squaring up Bivouac area.

Date: 31/7/18

Bn specialists training. Company training. Preparation for move into line on relief of 47th Sikhs in right inspection. Right section central sector. Move commenced at 1930 relief completed 0015, 1.8.17 orders in connection attached marked C

Away from the Western Front 1st – 30th June 1918

Q57829 Column HQ at El Arish
Column Headquarters at El Arish. February 1917 Copyright: © IWM (Q 57829) 

The EEF’s strong training system had been a key part of its success under General Allenby. The Imperial School of Instruction at Zeitoun in Cairo  ran  two types of courses: technical courses for battalion specialists such as Lewis gunners  and leadership & battlefield skills for junior officers & NCOs.

After the front moved north into Palestine at the end of 1917, the training system expanded to include divisional schools of instruction such as the one at El Arish. The divisional schools were easier to reach than distant Cairo and could provide training tailored to local requirements.

As the Indian Army units were trained up and absorbed into the EEF, the instruction at Zeitoun was criticized for being too inflexible and not attuned to the needs of some inexperienced soldiers . Perhaps this  lay behind the week long inspection of the training schools by experienced battalion commanding officers such as Lt-Col Windsor and Lt-Col Brighten of the 1/5 Bedfordshire Regimen

 

 

Date: 1/6/18

Specialist and Gas training. Work on defences. Bn furnishing covering parties to 1/6th ESSEX to work on WADI RABAH. Capt and Adjutant AW GARRAWAY left to attend hospital.

Date: 2/6/18

Holy Communion Brigade HQ 0900. Voluntary service 1730. Quiet day.

Date: 3/6/18

Specialist training . Work on defences. Bn furnishing covering parties to 1/6th ESSEX to work on WADI RABAH.

Date: 4/6/18

Specialist training . Work on defences. Bn furnishing covering parties to 1/6th ESSEX to work on WADI RABAH.

Date: 5/6/18

Specialist training . Work on defences. Bn furnishing covering parties to 1/6th ESSEX to work on WADI RABAH. Orders received for relief of 1/6 ESSEX REGT

Date: 6/6/18

Engaged on defence work during morning . ——- bivouac area Bn relieved by 1/6 ESSEX by 2000. Bn moved to area usually occupied by ESSEX REGT in P14c central and bivouac formed.

Location P14c Central Date 7/6/18

Arranging bivouac area.

Date: 7/6/18

Arranging Bivouac area.

Date: 8/6/18

Training, specialist gas training, Bayonet training, training of draft. 2/LT E.T. Pickett appointed a/adjt during the absence of Capt adjt A.L Garraway in hospital.

Date: 9/6/18

Divine services. Holy Communion 0630. Voluntary Service 1700.

Date: 10/6/18

Specialists and draft training. D Coy using in range 0.23 and 0.5. Working parties on 2nd line.

Date: 11/6/18

Specialists. Draft training. C Coy firing on range 023 and 0.5. Working parties on 3rd line.  Lt Col AH Windsor CMG and 6 other officers attended a lecture by Col Hutchinson. Comdr of XVI at Corp Heavy Artillery.

Date: 12/6/18

Specialists draft training. B Coy opening on range 0.23 and 0.5. Working parties on 2nd line posts, Major F.S Hammond DSO takes over command of the Battln during the absence of Lt Col AH Windsor CMG on duty inspecting the schools of instruction at El Arish and Zeitoun.

Date: 13/6/18

Specialists draft training. A Coy firing on range 023 and 0.5. Working parties on 2nd line, posts, Capt H.O Perkins takes over command of the battln. Major F.S Hammond DSO to England on leave.

Date: 14/6/18

Specialists, gas and draft training. Working parties on 2nd line posts.

Date: 15/6/18

.D Coy firing on range 023 and 0.5.

Date: 16/6/18

Divine services. Holy Communion 06.30. Parade service 08.00. Lt A Rodgers to hospital.

Date: 17/6/18

Specialists and gas training under Coy. arrangements. Working parties on 2nd line posts Capt A. T. Lewthwaite returned from home to Jerusalem taking over command of the Battn from Capt H.O Perkins.

Date: 18/6/18

Capt Lewthwaite, a/adjt and OC Coys visited HQ and Coys of 1/5 Suffolks in the line.

Date: 19/6/18

Training under Coy. Arrangements. Specialists/gas training. Working parties on 2nd line posts.

Date: 20/6/18

A Coy relieved right Coy of 1/5 Suffolks in right section right subsection. Relief complete 0030. Training under Coy arrangements. Specialists. Capt A T Lewthwaite used to command the Battn on the return of Lt Col A H Windsor CMG. Battln relieved 1/5 Suffolks in right subsection. Right section. Relief section. Relief complete by 0010. 1 officer rejoined and 1 officer reinforcement 2nd Lieut  GW Reddick.

Date: 21/6/18

Quiet on Battn front. Patrol of 1 officer and 4  ORs proceeded from C at 21.00 to KH Ummel.

Date: 22/6/18

IKBA returned at 2300 to C1.. No enemy seen.

Quiet on battn front.

Date: 23/6/18

Holy Communion.06.30 and 0900. Battn relieved by 93 Burma Rifles, and moved by companies to 0.35c where the Battn bivouacked for the night.

Date: 24/6/18

Battn moved with the Bde leaving 035 c 1910 and marched to SURAFEND where the Battn bivouacked for the night.

Date: 25/6/18

Battn left bivouac area 1900 and marched to LUDD STATION, where it entrained 2 offers joined Battn from Base  2/Lt FARQUAHARSON & SUTHERLAND.

Date: 26/6/18

Arrived Kantara 1330, proceeded to Kilo 3. Band of 1/10 London Regt met Battn at 2/24 London Regt met the Battn and played the Battn to camp at Kilo 3.

Date: 27/6/18

Bathing Parades in Suez Canal Kantara Capt A.L Garraway resumed his duties as adjutant on returning from hospital.

Date: 28/6/18

Bathing parades on Suez Canal.

Date: 29 to 30/6/18

Sunday. Parade service 0730. Holy Communion 0800.

 

Away from the Western Front: 1st -31st May 1918

Q2469 Ras El -Ain James McBey
Ras-el-Ain: Jiljulie in the distance on the left (Art.IWM ART 2469) image: a view across a British rear battle area before an old stone fort on a mound at Ras-el-Ain. There are two field gun positions, both guns covered with camouflage netting, immediately before the mound. Small clouds of black smoke in the sky show anti-aircraft fire. Copyright: © IWM.

The EEF spent much of the summer of 1918 training the troops who had arrived from India to replace those sent to the Western Front. Although  the 54th (East Anglian) Division stayed in Palestine,there were skills to be maintained and new techniques to be learned.

The battalion padre, Captain the Rev Wilson had joined the Finsbury Rifles after his predecessor, Captain the Rev Dixon-Spain, returned to England. Retreats for military chaplains were held regularly in Jerusalem during 1918. One of the speakers was  Lieutenant -General Chetwode, the commander of XX Corps who  addressed the chaplains on their role and what soldiers expected of them.

Although there were skirmishes between the Ottoman troops and the 54th Division during May, there was no major action. The enemy had lost too many troops and materiel.

Date: 1/5/18

Training under Coy arrangements. Bayonet fighting, Gas training musketry. Specialist classes. MAJOR HAMMOND and Coy commanders visited posts of 1/4th NORFOLKs.

Location F 24 G 6 8 Date: 2/5/18

Training. Coy arrangements Gas and specialist training. LT W E GOSLING appointed Gen Intelligence Officer.Bn took over posts of 1/4th NORFOLKS at RASELAIN ELMIRA (WEST) MAJOR HAMMOND commanding post at RAS EL AIN and Lt H G SANDERCOCK commanding EL MIRA WEST. Move carried out at four Bn Orders attached of which copies were issued to all concerned. Relief was complete by 2300.

Date: 3/5/18

Training and Post improvements under Post Commanders. Gas training. 2 officers 15 ORs returned from short leave in Egypt. CAPT AT LEWTHWAITE took over command of EL MIRA WEST POST. Situation quiet on Bns front.

Date: 4/5/18

Training and post improvements under Post Comders. Gas training 6.77 mm shells fired on RAS EL AIN POST. No damage or casualties.

Date: 5/5/18

Holy Communion 0930 Bn HQ Evening service 1700 RAS EL AIN

Date: 6/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. Post improvements under Post Comders. Platoon of 3 coy in reserve working on securing the EL MIRR road. 7.4.2 Fixed on RAS EL AIN

Date: 7/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. Post improvements under Post Comders.Patrol of 1 officer and 20 OR went out from RAS EL AIN 0100 Object to get a prisoner, returned at 0335 unsuccessful.

Date: 8/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. Post improvements under Post Commanders. 2 platoons of B Coy in reserve working on securing the EL MIRR road. Party of 40 working on Battn HQ of 162 Bde to 2230. 2100 Enemy over two parties approx. 25 men each party attacked no 1 Post G 29 with bombs until they were driven off. Our casualties. 1 OR wounded. Enemy casualties unknown. Party of 40 working on Bde HQ 1830 to 2230.

Date: 9/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. Post improvements under Post Comders. 1705 6 fired on RAS EL AIN POST no damage or casualties. 1/10th LONDON REGT relieved RAS EL AIN POST. Relief complete by 0200 10.5.18. Relief carried out as per Bn Orders attached. 430481 (CPL) GH  KAPPS awarded medallion militaire for gallantry on the field at GAZA. 40 ORs on Bde Battle HQ.

Date: 10/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. Post improvements under Post Comders.1 coy working on defences at EL MIRR POST 1900 to 2300. Party of 40 ORs on Bde Battle HQ.

Date: 11/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 1 Coy working on defences EL MIRR POST. Party of 40 ORs on Bde Battle HQ.

Date: 12/5/18

Voluntary service 0915 Holy Communion 0945 Battle HQ 1000 Holy Mass 2 Officers and 16 ORs proceeded on short leave in Egypt. I Coy working on defence of EL MIRR POST 1900 to 2300 1 platoon B Coy moved to A Coy to be in reserve.

Date: 13/5/18

1 Officer and and 68 ORs cleaning.1 Coy working on defences EL MIRR POST 1900 to 2300.

Date: 14/5/18

Specialist and Coy training.

Date: 15/5/18

1 Officer and and 68 ORs cleaning. 1 Coy working on defences at EL MIRR POST 1900 to 2300

Date: 16/5/18

Specialist and gas training. 2 Coys less 2 platoons working on Defences on Battle Front. 1 Platoon demolishing GREY HOUSE 12699.

Date: 17/5/18

Specialist and gas training. 2 Coys less 2 platoons working on Defences on Battle Front. 1 platoon demolishing GREY HOUSE  xxx of 1 officer and 3 ORs from EL MIRR POST left 2100 proceeded to Tomdge D34 d, thence to JILTOLIEH object to locate enemy picquets. No enemy picquets located and returned 0100.

Date: 18/5/18

Specialist and Gas training.

Date: 19/5/18

Voluntary service at Battn HQ followed at 0945 by Holy Communion. 1115 GANIM for transport dump. 3 platoons working on defences on Battle Front 1900 to 2200. 1 platoon demolishing GREY HOUSE 1900 t 2200. Armenian attached to Battn for Intelligence work.

Date: 20/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 2 Coys less 2 platoons working on defences on Battle Front . 1 platoon demolishing GREY HOUSE. 16 ORs rejoined from PANOS. 12 ORs proceeded to Rest Camp EL ARISH Capt JM Wilson Chaplain, left to attend conference at JERUSALEM.

Date: 21/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 2 Coys less 2 platoons working on defences on Battle Front. C Coy relieved D Coy at EL MIRR POST Relief complete by 2000. Capt WG COMBER taking over at CC POST. 2 Officers and 40 OR proceeded to short leave in Egypt.

Date: 22/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 2 Coys less 2 platoons working on defences on Battle Front. 2 deserters came in at EL MIRR POST.

Date: 23/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 1 Coys working on defences on Battle Front. B Coy relieved A Coy, Relief complete by 2200. 2nd Lt Walter returned from course at EL ARISH. Capt J M WILSON returned from conference of chaplains at JERUSALEM.

Date: 24/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 1 Coys working on defences on Battle Front. Patrol of 1 officer and 60 ORs left EL MIRR POST 2000, proceeded to Bridge D34 d thence along W side of railway to D24 d 10.10Object to watch JILJULIEH and picquets No enemy seen 0800 MAJOR GENERAL S W HARE CB GOC 54th DIV presented  ribands of decorations to 162 Bde. Cpl KAPPS receiving the “medaille militaire” ribbon. 2 officers and 14 ORs returned from leave in Egypt. 59 ORs reinforcements from Base. 14 ORs rejoined from Base.

Date: 25/5/18

Specialists and Gas Training. 2 Coys less 1 platoon working on Defences in Battle Front. 3 Officers returned from courses.

Date: 26/5/18

Holy Communion 0415 and 0945 at Battn HQ. Voluntary Service 0915 at HQ. . 1 Coy less 1 platoon working on Defences in Battle Front. Battn supplied parties for 1/6th ESSEX working in WADI RABAH.

Date: 27/5/18

1 Coy less 1 platoon working on Defences in Battle Front. Patrol1 officer 6 OR left 5y POST 2100 and discovered 2 groups of enemy on railway. Lt E W PEARSE and 2nd LT O>W PAGE to hospital.

Date: 28/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 2 Coys working on defences on Battle Front and digging cable trenches. Patrol of 1 officer and 6 ORs left EL MIRR POST 2100 located sentries D36 C 55. Battn supplied covering parties to 1/6 Essex working on WADI RABAH.

Date: 29/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 2 Coys working on defences on Battle Front and digging cable trenches. Patrol 1 officer and 6 ORs left D POST 2100 located group of enemy on railway approach D34d, also 2 other groups approx. KB1c returned after daybreak. Battn supplied covering parties to 1/6th ESSEX working on WADI RABAH.

Date: 30/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 2 Coys working on defences on Battle Front and digging cable trenches. Patrol of 1 officer and 6 ORs left EL MIRR POST 2100 located enemy groups K31c and D306 returned after daybreak.

Date: 31/5/18

Specialist and Gas training. 2 Coys working on defences on Battle Front and digging cable trenches. Patrol of 1 officer and 6 ORs left Dy POST 2100 double sentries seen K21 and 5.5 enemy movement at K21 and 5 5 returned after daybreak. 2 Officers and 14 ORs left Battn for short leave in EGYPT.

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