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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