Away from the Western Front : 25th January 1918 – 25th February 1918

Visiting Jerusalem 

 

Allenby entering J'lem 1918 Mc Bey
The Entry of the Allies into Jerusalem on 11th December 1917. James McBey © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2929)
After fierce fighting  over the previous weeks, Jerusalem had been captured by the Allied Forces on 9th December 1917 . This  tremendous boost for Allied morale and public opinion   was a massive blow for the Ottoman Empire which had now  lost control of three holy sites in spite of German military support.
The painting above shows General Allenby’s formal entry to the city on foot two days later. This ceremony was carefully planned to be the opposite of a triumphant victory parade.  The message to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Palestine and the world was that the Allies were not coming as Christian conquerors but to take over stewardship of the all holy sites  and to administer justice impartially.

Leave in the EEF was limited but there were a few opportunities to visit Jerusalem after it passed into British control. Soldiers toured the holy sites of the city but were often disillusioned with what they saw. A small city with a highly inadequate sanitation system, surrounded by modern buildings, and highly decorated churches maintained according to Eastern Christianity,  did not match up to their mental vision of Jerusalem, built up by  largely Protestant church and Sunday School education.

Leave to Jerusalem was stopped later on in the campaign. The city could not cope with crowds of rowdy Anzac troops seeking  ‘rest and relaxation’.

Date: 25/1/18

Companies engaged in defence works. Specialist training. 2nd Lt FLAVELL and 86 O/Rs reinforcements from England and details from hospital in Egypt reported. Draft isolated for 14 dys under orders from Divd.

Date: 26/1/18

Companies engaged in defence works. Specialist training. LT HEAVER 1/4 London Regt attached 1/11 London Regt reported for duty.

Date: 27/1/18

Holy Communion at the Bn HQ 0800. Lt Pearse and a party from RE with 30 other ranks this Bn proceeded to front to blow up enemy shells and salvage 3 wagons. Enemy shells … (60 4:2)..1 stuck in mud and 1 broken sword brought in. CAPT GOSLING and 11 other ranks proceeded to Jerusalem on special leave.

Date: 28/1/18

Companies engaged in defence works. A coy from reserve relieved and B coy in the line.

Date: 29/1/18

Companies engaged in defence works. Specialist training. Lieut DISNY HERBERT 9th London Regt attached 1/11 London reported for duty with 38 other ranks from BASE DEPOT

Date: 30/1/18

Defence works. Specialist training. Slight reciprocal shelling during afternoon.

Date: 31/1/18

Defence works. Specialist training. Drafts training during morning. CAPT HEILGER and 10 other ranks reported to Bn for duty. Slight reciprocal shelling during day and our artillery active during night.

Date: 1/2/18

Defence works and specialist training. CAPT SANDERCOCK rejoined from hospital.

Date: 2/2/18

Defence works and specialist training. Slight reciprocal shelling.

Date: 3/2/18

Holy Communion at Bn HQ at 0800. Draft of 28 other ranks returned wounded cured from hospital rejoined for duty.

Date: 4/.2/18

Defence works and specialist training.

Date: 5 to 6/2/18

No work. Weather very wet and stormy. LT READ appointed Transport Officer. LT ROBERTSON in hospital.

Date: 7/2/18

No work. Weather very wet and stormy. LT ROBERTSON returned from hospital and returned to company duty.

Date: 8/2/18

Very little work performed. Very wet.

Date: 9/2/18

2nd LT ICKE EAST LANCS reported for duty with 11 other ranks from hospital.

Date: 10/2/18

Communion service Bn HQ 0800 Quiet day. Weather improved.

Date: 11/2/18

Work on defences and specialist classes. 2nd LT WELLS attending Bde HQ. Course on signalling.

Date: 12-13/2/18

Work on defences and specialist classes.

Date: 14/2/18

Orders received for relief of 1/5  NORFOLK

Date: 15/2/18

Work on defences and  Specialist training. Advanced Parties 1/5 NORFOLK arrived to take over. Bivouac area allotted for this Bn at F28D2.2 (Selinsh 1/20000).

Date: 16/2/18

Bn relieved by 1/5 NORFOLK Regt – relief completed by 12.30. Bn moved into allotted Bivouac area. MAJOR F.S. HAMMOND left Bn on 12 day Egyptian leave, proceeding to Luxor. 162nd INF Brigade in reserve

Date: 17/2/18

Holy Communion at Bn HQ 0800. Brigade Church Parade 1000.

Date: 18 to 20/2/18

Bn carrying out training. Company Training. Route Marches and 3 O/Ranks reported from Hospital 20.2.18

Date: 21/2/18

Bn Training. 33 of Ranks reported for duty for Base Depot. Also Capt PERKINS 12th LONDON, 2nd Lt Jones Lancs Fusiliers reported for duty on attachment.

Date: 22 to 25/2/18

Bn and Company Training.

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.

Away from the Western Front : 25th – 26th December 1917.

Merry Christmas ?

Army Biscuits ww1 IWM
British Army issue ration biscuit, ‘Huntley & Palmers Army No 4’, made under government contract by the famous biscuit manufacturers Huntley and Palmers. This thick specimen (10cm square) is typical of the robust mass-produced comestibles that challenged the dental health of British Army personnel in both world wars. A typical way of rendering the product more edible was to grind or crumble the biscuit and add water to make a paste or ‘duff’ which could be added to mixed vegetables or stew. 

 

The battalion’s arrangements for Christmas 1917 were a far cry from the warmth and hilarity of the seasonal celebrations of the year before.

Not only was it the rainy season when temperatures could be more like those back in London but festive meals were impossible to organise. As Ottoman forces had occupied the area so recently and requisitioned whatever extra food was available from the nearby villages, there was little apart from oranges to supplement basic field rations.

 

 

Xmas day. Weather conditions very bad. Wet and cold. Bns Xmas fare. Bully beef, biscuits and oranges. Small mail received.

Location BIVOUAC AREA Date 26.12.17

Boxing Day. Weather wet and unsettled.

 

Away from the Western Front : 18th – 24th December 1917.

The battle of Jaffa – Bald Hill

 

Q12297 Battle of Jaffa Auja River and Mullebis near where JC won VC
The Battle of Jaffa. The village of Sheikh Muannis (Al-Shaykh Muwannis) with the Auja River in the foreground on 20/12/17 © IWM (Q 12297)

 

The key port of Jaffa, some 40 miles north of Gaza, had been captured by the Allied forces in November. However, Ottoman & German forces still controlled the River Auja which reached the Mediterranean Sea near the port. From their system of defensive trenches in the higher ground to the north of the river, they were able to fire on Allied troops and harrass shipping.

After the failure of a preliminary raid across the river in late November, military tactics changed. The river was crossed in a night assault on 20/21 December. Without the advance warning of an artillery barrage, the enemy was caught by surprise.

The Finsbury Rifles were among the units detailed to take and hold   Bald Hill beyond the river. Ottoman forces were known to be in the area north of this well defended  ridge near the village of Mulebbis (today Petach Tivka). It was for his bravery during this attack that  L/Cpl Jock Christie was later awarded the Victoria Cross much to the pride of his regiment.

Sketch map of the Nahr el-Auja

 

Date 18/12/17

Relieved by 8th HANTS Rgt and moved into reserve area at KEFR-ANA. Very wet.

Location KEFR-ANA Date 19/12./17

Squaring up bivouac area. CO and 2nd in command reconnoitred BALD HILL from our front line. Very wet. Wadi in flood.

Date 20/12/17

Brigade conference at Bde HQ. Weather very wet and unsettled. Orders received for battalion to attack BALD HILL night of 21/22nd.

Date 21/12/17

Preparing to move forward to point of assembly. One company proceeded at dusk to dig reserve trenches for Bn Hill. Bn less one company moved off at 2355 to attack Turkish positions at BALDHILL. Night fine and clear, bright moon.

Location BALDHILL Date 22/12/17

Barrage by our artillery on BALDHILL from 0010 -15 which brought down Turkish barrage on west side of hill. Our attack developing from SOUTH EAST side. Turkish positions carried and held in spite of three very determined enemy counter attacks to retake the Hill. All forces were repulsed with severe enemy losses. Australian bombing parties throughout the night defeated attempts being made to burn away the communication trenches and also all failed and the Hill remained in our hands. Enemy artillery were also very active throughout night, BALD HILL being heavily shelled also the area occupied by the reserve company and Bn HQ. Bn Signal officer being blown in and men buried and all wires cut. Men survived unhurt. At 0430 2 companies withdrawn from positions won and brought into reserve area, leaving one company under CAPT GM HOOPER to garrison the HILL. At 0530 Bn less one company marched by circuitous route to allotted part of assembly due west of BALD HILL and breakfasted.

At 0830 Bn advanced to attack Turkish positions at FEJJA, this comprising the 2nd phase of the operations. Bn deployed on a 500 yard front with 1/14 NORTHANTS on the right and 161 Bde on the left. FEJJA taken with slight opposition and new line reconnoitred and consolidation commenced by 1045.

Bm withdrawn into reserve during the afternoon at a point about 800 yards south of BALDHILL after handing the line over to ¼ NORTHANTS. Bn casualties during the 2 operations. 1 officer wounded CAPT L H NEWTON 9 O/R killed and 26 wounded.

Location Bivouac on BALDHILL Date 23/12/17

Squaring up Bivouac. Bn engaged scouting enemy and our trenches for salvage during the afternoon. Large quantities of enemy material brought in, including about 2000 pounds of SAA. Enemy dead buried on BALDHILL. 2 officers and 40 other ranks.

Date 24/12/17

Continuation of salvage operations in and around BALD HILL very wet and cold.

Away from the Western Front : 27th November – 17th December 1917

Wilhelma

Templers
Children of Wilhelmia outside the community  centre.

 

The Ottoman forces had retreated further north to the area around Wilhelma. This was  a successful agricultural colony founded in 1902 by the German Templar movement and named for the Emperor of Germany,  Wilhelm II.  For the Finsbury Rifles a return to trench warfare and artillery bombardment seemed likely. They were fortunate not to suffer any casualties during this engagement unlike their sister battalion, the 1/5 BEDS (5th Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment).

While the Ottoman forces had simply requisitioned whatever foodstuffs they needed, the policy of the EEF was to buy additional supplies on the open market while on campaign. Prices were consequently often high but meant that there was no lingering resentment towards the army.

The loyalty of the German residents of Wilhelma towards the EEF was not taken for granted.  The following year they were interned in Egypt and not released till 1921.

 

Date 27/11/17

Orders received for battn to move into a more forward position. Heavy Turkish artillery fire on our front line and German colony of WILHEMIA. Bn moved forward 1130 and occupied WADI KEREIKAK. Bn ordered to dig a forward line to the wadi and to hold at all costs.

Date 28/1/17

Location WADI KEREIKAK

Reciprocal shelling at intervals. Bn at work on new line. Lt Robertson and 16 other ranks rejoined from 75th Divisional training.

Date 29/11/17

Reciprocal shelling at intervals. Bn at work on new line. Enemy aircraft very active and flying low and gunning front line and bivouac areas. Work on new line proceeding. Heavy reciprocal shelling at night.

Date 30/11/17

Bn still engaged in digging new line. Reciprocal shelling at intervals. Orders received for Bn to relieve ¼ NORTHANTS reg in front line. Lts SANDERCOCK and HEILGERS to hospital.

Date 1/12/17

Preparing to move forward into WILHEMINA line and relieve 1/14 NORTHANTS. Bn moved 1730. Relief completed and line taken over by 2000. Night quiet.

Location WILHELMA Date 2/12/17

Slight enemy shelling of WILHELMA and front line. Work on trench line during night. Patrols to TE twice nightly from left and right patrolling Bn front.

Date 3 to 7/12/17

Reciprocal shelling during each day. Work on trench line continued with assistance of strong working parties from 2nd ALH and 1/14th NORTHANTS. Work only possible at night. Reserve company in town digging in and engaged in fatigues. Movement restricted in town during daylight owing to enemy having observation from 3 sides. Weather unsettled and much rain. Mail begins to arrive from England. Rations improved by issue of fresh meat and bread,  butter eggs and milk being purchasable in the town from the German inhabitants who have displayed a more or less friendly attitude.

Date 8/12/17

Weather very bad- heavy rain all day making transport work very difficult. Work on trenches still continued with our own and outside working parties. Lieut D ROBERTSON entered hospital. Enemy and our patrols active during the night, slight reciprocal shelling.

Date 9/12/17

Celebration of Holy Communion by Regt chaplain in village schoolroom at 0645. Weather wet and unsettled. Bn order no 5 in moves for 9/10 attached.

Date 10 to 14/12/17

Usual working parties by night on front line trenches. Reciprocal shelling by day, night patrols carried out by companies in line. CAPT AT LEWTHWAITE returned from English leave (14.12.17) WILHELMA defence scheme attached and marked.

Date 15/12/17

Usual reciprocal shelling during the day. Work at night on front line trenches assisted by working parties from NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES. Night patrols as usual. 2nd LT LS LEE 7th MIDDLESEX Rgt reported for duty with the Bn.

Date 16/12/17

Celebration of Holy Communion in village school room at 0700. Quiet day. Preliminary orders to move into reserve received.

Date 17/12/17

Preparations for move from WILHELMA.

Away from the Western Front : 17th – 26th November 1917

Marching North

 

Q12813 Village of Ludd c1918
The village of Ludd near which was the British railhead from February 1918. This is the ancient “Lydda”. Ludd was entered by the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 15th November 1917.© IWM (Q 12813)

 

While other divisions of the EEF advanced east into the Judean Hills, the 54th (East Anglian) Division now marched north along the coastal plain.  It was now the rainy season which at least gave the Finsbury Rifles a chance to catch up with some long overdue laundry.

However, the retreating Ottoman army was not a spent force. They had engaged the New Zealand Mounted Rifles near Ayun Kara only a few days before 162 Brigade arrived.

 

War_memorial_for_New_Zealanders_at_Ayun_Kara
A memorial erected by the people of Richon Le Zion to the memory of the New Zealanders who fell at Ayun Kara on November 14, 1917.

 

Date: 17/11/17
Bn (here 2 companies) left MEJDEL 0830 for ESDUD arriving 1245 Bivouac formed and rations for meal issued. Bn preceded again 1500 for JEBNAH.
Location IN THE FIELD Date 18/11/17
Bn arrived JEBNAHIGOO and bivouac formed for the night. Men and animals much fatigued after long march but all ranks extraordinary cheerful. Weather fine but overcast. Brigade group overtaken.
Date 18/11/17
Brigade packed up and proceeded with Bde Column for AJUN KARA further 9 miles northwards. Left bivouac at 13.30 reached destination 17.30 and bivouac formed for the night. AJUN KARA a French Jewish settlement (ZIONIST) of modern and European appearance. Good rye bread obtained for all ranks from the inhabitants who welcomed the appearance of a BRITISH force. Turks reported as having commenced retiring through township fourteen days previously.
Date 19/11/17
Bn proceeded with brigade group eastwards to LUDD leaving Bivouac at 0845 reaching LUDD 1230 and bivouacking in olive groves NORTH of the town. Men much fatigued. Remainder of day spent in squaring bivouacs and washing.Very wet night.
Location LUDD Date 20/11/17
Bn resting. Kit inspection and washing during morning. Weather dull and overcast much rain about at intervals. 2 companies from BEIT HANUN caught up with the Bn and reported (1200) Bde on an advanced outpost here. 1/11 London in reserve.
Date 21/11/17
Bn in reserve. Day spent in bathing and washing and kit inspections.
Date 22/11/17
Bn in reserve. Day spent in bathing and washing and kit inspections. Company training for 1 hour during morning. Quiet day. Weather fine but cold. 2nd Lieut Tierce and 20 of other ranks rejoined the Bn from BEIT HANUM.
Date 23 to 24/11/17
Company and specialist training
Date 25/11/17
Holy Communion at Bn HQ at 0800 Quiet day in bivouac. Voluntary camp fire service in evening at 17.30
Date 26/11/17
Company and specialist training

Away from the Western Front : 9th – 16th November 1917

After the 3rd Battle of Gaza

 

Q12897 carts and limbers captured after 3 Gaza George Westmoreland
Turkish guns and limbers captured in the Third Battle of Gaza, November 1917. George Westmoreland © IWM (Q 12897).

 

After the fighting and an all too brief time to recuperate the Finsbury Rifles were  directed to support the Royal Engineers  –  providing labour for the construction of prisoner of war camps. While this work was often resented by the men of the EEF it was a welcome change from the horrendous noise of the artillery barrage that had preceded the third battle for Gaza.

Date: 9/11/17

Portion of Bn left behind at 54 Div, details rejoined.

Date: 10/11/17

Bn bathing and resting – quiet day.

Date: 11/11/17

Holy Communion at Bn HQ 0800. Quiet day. Bn Bathing and resting.

Date: 12/11/17

Orders received for Bn to move to Beit Hanun for construction work under RE. Bathing parades and preparing to move.

Date: 13/11/17

Bn moved to Beit  Hanun 1300. A&B Coys sent onto DEIR SINEID for work under RE. D&C Coys employed constructing P of W compound at BEIT HANUN.

Date: 14/11/17

½ Bn employed on building P of W compound. 40 prisoners arrived during afternoon from front line.

Date: 15/11/17

Work on P of W compound continued. No further prisoners, previous 40 sent onto A.P.M GAZA. Orders received to move forward.

Date: 16/11/17

Bn HQs moved 1230 and proceeded to DEIR SINEID leaving 2 companies to received and guard further P of W. Remaining 2 companies being picked up at SINEID the whole proceeding to MEJDEL where Bivouac for the night was formed

 

 

Away from the Western Front : 6th – 8th November 1917

  The Third Battle of Gaza (2)

 

GAza Minaret McBey
Gaza: 9th November 1917. A view across a heavily bomb-damaged part … the foreground is littered with rubble and a single British soldier on horseback stands in the middle ground. In the background a shard of a wall is all that remains of a minaret. An observation balloon is visible in the sky above.James McBey© IWM (Art.IWM ART 16

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.

Date: 7/11/17

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

  1. Enemy dispositions have not materially changed.
  2. 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.
  3. The 11th London Regt (les 1 Coy) will attack BELAH works from P8d88 to Pqa 2.4.
  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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The Battn will be dressed and equipped in only those articles actually required for fighting purposes plus one day’s water and rations.
  8. 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.
  9. Each Coy will detail runner to report to Battn signal office before Coys leave the beach.
  10. Watches will be synchronised at Battn H.Q at 1815 and 2115 tonight.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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

162 Bde

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.

 

 

 

Away from the Western Front : 31st October – 5th November 1917

           The Third Battle of Gaza (1)

3rd Gaza Gun Hill 1-2 Nov

 

The 3rd battle for Gaza lasted for over a week. This time the bombardment  from the Royal Navy and the Royal Artillery was calculated correctly and began ahead of the actual attack. As the 54th Division moved up along the coastal strip to the west, they came under heavy fire from the Ottoman defences.  In spite of the disorientating effects of the artillery barrage and thanks  to the effective supply lines,  food & the all important water rations were able to  reach the Finsbury Rifles & the other  units in 162 Brigade. Lessons had been learned from previous failures….

 

 

Location REGENTS PARK AREA Date: 31/10/17

Bn: Squaring up bivouac, drawing clothing for forthcoming operations. Enemy lines heavily bombarded from land and sea batteries. Bn order no II in connection with forthcoming attack on Gaza attacked.

Location REGENTS PARK AREA and Gun Hill area ref Gaza 1/20000 P.Y.B-57.Date: 1/11/17

Bn preparing for move forward on enemy’s left. Objective of this Bn – the Turkish position of Gun Hill. Bn moved forward 0245 to the attack. Bn under the command of MAJOR FS HAMMOND.

Date: 2/11/17

0245 Bn moving to the attack along the Beach, came under heavy shrapnel fire at about 0330, 200 yards NE of SHEIKH AJLIN. Several casualties sustained, 2/LT BRIMFIELD signalling officer being killed. Bn halted under cliff ……pack animals, all animals were then sent back to starting point. Bn proceeded along the Beach under heavy shrapnel, rifle G fire. Very little cover was attainable and in some place none at all. Seaport in front of which the Bn had to deploy was reached at about 0400 and found to be in our hands. Bn HQ formed and Bn drawn up in readiness for the advance. 0430 Bn deployed D company leading and advanced on objectives,…..objectives taken 0500 2nd objective taken 0505 final objective occupied by D Company at 5.10 (GUN HILL). Slight opposition, enemy retired to usage our artillery tarry to SHEIKH HASSAN and there fell into the hands of 1/5 BEDFORD who had advanced along the Beach and the left of our positions. Our casualties slight – all companies engaged on consolidation work, enemy heavily shelling the captured positions all day. Rations and water reached the Bn about 2030 in spite of the beach being in enemy view and constantly sniped in consequence. Everyone very cheerful and satisfied 1/5 Bedfords at HASSAN. Casualties for the day about 55 NCOs and men and 5 officers killed and wounded.

Date: 3/11/17

Consolidation work proceeded with all day under heavy shell and rifle fire.

Date: 3/11/17 (contd)

Several casualties incurred. Attack at dawn on Turkish position of BELAH Trench Line by ¼ Essex. This work the final objective of the 1/10 London was strongly resisted by TURKS, and was not taken during the initial attack or by a subsequent attack during yesterday afternoon by ¼ NORTHANTS. The Essex attack at dawn failed with heavy loss and the position remained in the hands of the Turk who sniped and MG  [ machine gunned] GUN HILL positions and the beach from it all day. Enemy heavily shelled by both land and sea batteries day and night. Rations and water reached us in excellent time. Also large quantities of REM admiral for consolidation work.

Date: 4/11/17

Bn engaged on consolidation work, several casualties incurred from enemy shell fire. GOC 162 Brigade visited and inspected the GUN HILL area – our ships busily engaged shelling enemy works and positions in rear of GAZA.

Date: 5/11/17

GUN HILL and area heavily shelled by enemy 5.9 batteries from an easterly and north easterly direction. Several direct hits attained on our trenches, no casualties or damage done. Consolidation still proceeding and 4 guns from LTMB attached for ……CRICKET VALLEY.

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