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Eran Tearosh

Action of Balin - Nov. 12th 1917

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Hi all,

 

I'm preparing a battlefield tour to the relatively less known 'Action of Balin' area, (Palestine Campaign, November 12th, 1917). This action accrued during Erich von Falkenhayn's counterattack on the EEF's right flank, while Allenby was concentrating his forces on the right flank. Although this counterattack was anticipated, its strength was quite surprising and the Australian Mounted Division, occupying that sector, was pressed severely and drew back a few miles. The 5th Mounted Brigade took the brunt of the attack (Important to mention – this takes place only a few days after 'The charge of Huj'), although the 3rd & 4th ALH Brigades were heavily engaged as well.

 

This action is mentioned in many sources, including Falls, Gullett, Preston & Grainger. A very important description is in:

Oskar Teichman, The Diary of a Yeomanry M.O., (T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., London, 1921), p 187-92

 

I have the relevant quotes from:

Yeomanry Cavalry of Worcestershire, 140-3

History of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry, 178-81

 

Can anyone help me these sources:

Adderley, Warwickshire Yeomanry in the Great War, 144

Walker, Honuorable Artillery Company in the Great War, 226-30

Hammond, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, 95-6

T.M. Darley, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War (Adelaide, 1924), 106-7

Nutting, History of the Fourth Light Horse Brigade, 33

 

Or any other source and or photos?

 

Eran

Edited by Eran Tearosh

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

From the 11th LHR unit history

At 2pm (12 Nov) the enemy was seen moving in force on the village of Balin and a strong counterattack was threatened.

C Sqn/11 LHR rejoined the Regt and selected a good position on high ground NE of Jeleyde, we prepared to dig in and resist the Turkish attack.

Our horses were sent to the rear in good cover in a net work of small wadi's.

At 3 pm the forward patrols reported that strong force of the enemy was bearing on the centre of our position, patrols were called in and the Regt being reinforced by 2 sections of MG's (4th LH MG Sqn (my brackets) and a Sqn of the 12th LHR, and ordered to hold the line at all costs, and if necessary we would be reinforced by Infantry on our Left flank.

If preasured on the right flank the whole line would pivot on Berkusie Ridge.

At 5pm this movement was carried out in the face of a determined attack by about 4000 infantry with some MG's and field batteries one of which was 5.9 calibre.

The enemy attempted to work around our left flank which was held by three Troops and as the Infantry had not arrived our line became very thin. The 233rd Bde was some distance away, and we had to extend that flank which was down.

Meanwhile sensing the weakness of the line the enemy pressed us and for a time it became critical, A Bty HAC was late in arriving due to the horses being exhausted, but eventually they arrived and gave valuable support.

Fighting swayed back and forth for a few moments when Lt Robertson MC (4th LH Bde MG Sqn) came into action with his guns when sorely needed.

At 8pm the enemy began to withdrawal and the firing line became to outpost line for the night.

Our loses were 11 wounded.

In the morning (13 Nov) our patrols found the enemy at Tel el Turmus running from the high ground to the rail station, and orders received to push forward.

Mate is that what you are after?

I'll check the other Light Horse sources later for you.

Cheers

S.B

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Thanks Steve!

Yes, this is exactly the event I'm after.

Eran

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michaeldr   
michaeldr

Walker, Honuorable Artillery Company in the Great War, 226-30

Eran,

I've sent you scans of the above by e-mail

Hope everything arrives OK

Good luck

Michael

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Many thanks Michael!

It arrived perfect - Just what I was looking for. I received a few hours ago a few shells found lately in the fields South from Tel el Turmus.

Eran

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Gareth Davies   
Gareth Davies

Eran

I just added Balin to the list of places I want to visit on my BF tour recce in 2016. I will be in touch.

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Hi Gareth!

Looking forward to that!

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

Sorry can't copy them, other wise it would save me writing them out.

9 LHR

at 5am on the 12 (Nov) A Sqn moved east and occupied the high ground between Berkusie and Tel el Salfa, the last named place being the site of ancient "Gath".

Information had come through to the effect the enemy had withdrawn from Berkusie and were occupying Safi in force. At 8am the Regt concentrated half mile NE of Faluje and awaited developments. at 230pm an urgent message was received that the enemy were attacking Berkusie in force and the Regt was to reinforce the 5th Mounted Bde there.

B Sqn under Capt B Ragless was sent into the line north of Berkusie village, A Sqn having already occupied that place. One Troop from A Sqn had seen sent to Tel el Safi and reported a large force of the enemy had arrived rail and detrained at El Tine, and moved on Burkusie.

About 3pm the enemy concentrated his guns fire on Burkusie with the intentions of covering the advance of about 4000 infantry, who were moving south on each side of the line. At 330pm the enemy foce on the western side of the line were seen to take up position, while the force on the eastern side continue to advance.

The enemy now pushed forward with great determination causing out artillery to withdrawal. The 5th Mounted Bde also withdrew to a position 1500 yards NE of Summeil, the regt covered the withdrawal. By 4pm the enemy had advanced to with in 100 yards of the position held by B Sqn, which hung on gamely to allow the MG gunners of the 5th Mounted Bde time to withdrawal their guns.

A soon as the 5th MB had gained its new position the Regt withdrew and occupied a ridge slightly in advance of the 5th MB, where they were joined by two Sqn's 8 LHR. The enemy continued to advance occupying the village and the ridge in its vicinity. Their efforts to continue from this point was met by heavy rifle and MG fire from our position. As darkness fell both side threw out protective lines and settle down for the night.

At day break the enemy held Burkusie ridge with small forces moving their way towards the low hills NE of Summeil. at 5am the Regt pushed out an OP line supported by the 10th LHR, Lt Bridger lane (C Sqn 9 LHR) was sent with a patrol to Zeita.

That's basicley from pages 106 107.

4 LH Bde tomorrow

Cheers

S.B

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Steve,

Again - many thanks!

By the way - Did the 8th LHR publish a history? If so, did they mention this action?

Eran

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

One was puiblished in the last 10 years by Max Emery;

8th LHR

The following day saw the 8th LHR move to Bde HQ to draw rations at Faluje, following which they relieved the 10th LHR on out post duty between Summeil and Menshiye.

Intermittent shelling occurred and at 120pm A Sqn advanced with the 5th MBde on Balin, Summeil having already been cleared.

At 230pm C Sqn were called to the 9 LHR at Burkusie and all were soon heavily engaged.

The Turks were still brining up trinforcements which forcedthe front line to adjust to a new position. During this withdrawal Sgt William Bowman brought two wounded in and recommended for the VC but down graded to a DCM, he was helped by Pte Les Taylor who was wounded and Recom for the DCM was awarded a MM.

After the new line had been started A and C Sqns rejoined the 8 LHR and went back to the line between Summeil and Menshiye.

On the 13 Nov the 8 LHR again went to Bde HQ at Faluje to ration, then moved up through Sherkiyeh.

That's all the 8 LHR has.

Cheers

S.B

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

Just incase

10th LHR

on the morning of the 12 Nov the 52nd Div advanced to the north of Esdud and seized Burka on the right flank of the 1st LH Bde's bridgehead over the Nahr Sukereir.

Dur to reports that the Turks had withdrawn to Tel el Sufi (N of Summeil) at first light on the 12 Nov the 9 LHR recee Berkusie, whist the 5 MB advanced on Balin, on the left of the rail line. the 8 LHR remained ensconced in its outpost, whist the 10 LHR was deployed into reserve.

Reports from an aircraft estimated 6000 Turks advancing from El Tineh and trains were unloading Troops to the north of Balin.

5 MB was ordered to defend Balin whist the 10 LHR moved up in support. According to orders 10 LHR rode to positions near Ijseir to the west of Summeil, at 11am enemy batteries shelled the sector and advanced in force.

As the Turks advanced 13 pdr batteries shelled them inflicting many losses. This advance threatened the right flank of the Aust MD was ordered to hold at all costs.

The Turks advanced on Balin and due to overwhelming numbers forced the 5 MB and the left flank of the 9 LHR back slightly by 3pm, while the 4 LH Bde stood fast on the far Left flank, the 8 LHR was rushed forward in support of the 9 LHR while the 10 LHRmoved to Burkusie and into action on the R flank of the 9 LHR at 4pm.

The 5 MB was forced to withdraw from Balin to Burkusie ridge to the west of the 3 LH Bde's line, the 9 LHR swung its left flank back in a defence arc.

The Turks advanced along the rail line and came under rifle MG and artillery fire extracting a heavy toll towards Burkusie and attacked the 3 LH Bde 's left flank, and the Bde withdrew from the ridge to prevent outflanking and moved to a line north of Berkusie after the 5 MB completed there withdrawal.

The Turkish attack was halted by 5pm after which they dug in for the night.

That's it for the fighting on the 12 Nov.

Cheers

S.B

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

To continue

4 LH Bde History (page 33)

On the morning of the 12 Nov an advance Sqn of the 11 LHR to Termus, reported the ridge in front of that place strongly held by the enemy.

The advance Sqn was withdrawn and the enemy then reoccupied Kustine. The Bde was ordered to occupy the line from the NW of Summeil to pinot 248 connecting with 5 MB on the right and with 233 Bde on the left.

The 4 LHR occupied Summeil to connect on the left with the 12 LHR, which in turn connected with the 11 LHR whose left rested on point 248.

As the enemy seemed to be developing a strong attack on the right flank the Bde was ordered to withdraw slowly pivoting on Pt 248, but owing to the open nature of the country this order could not be complied with and the Bde accordingly held fast to their line.

The main enemy attack developed against out left on Pt 248, the left of our line was rapidly entrenched and arrangements with the 233 Bde that they would bring their line back to Pt 248 should our line be forced back.

The Turks attacked in force with fresh well trained disciplined troops estimated to be around 2500 men getting 100 yards of our line in places where they were stopped by rifle MG and guns with heavy losses.

At 1845 the patrols reported no sign of the enemy 500 yards in front of our line captures that day 4 prisoners, 4 guns and ammo limbers. It was found the Turks had withdrawn to a ridge running NW of PT 280 (KH Istas to Mesmiye)

Mate, do you need any other of the LH Regts, there as I had all of them.

Cheers

S.B

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate

PS you mite like this one;

3 LH Bde History (pages 14 and 15)

Nov 12

At stand to arms at 430am the situation along the Div front was still quiet and at 6am one Sqn 9 LHR under Maj Parsons (A Sqn) moved from Felujeh to recon Berkusie from the SW. The 8 LHR maintained a line of OP posts and watch for any enemy movements on the roads leading from Arrak el Manshiyeh - Beit Jibrin road. Dust had been seen rising from the direction of Jibrin since daylight.

At 840am the recon Sqn 9 LHR occupied Berkusie without encountering the enemy information was here gained from the locals that the enemy estimated at 5000 in strength with MG and field guns had withdrawn to Tel el Safiat 10pm last night.

Watering as many horses of the Bde as possible as the supply at Ijseir and Hatte was limited. When at 130pm orders to prepare for action very few men and horses had a drink.

About 6000 enemy infantry were now reported to be advancing from El Tine Troop trains were seen unloading infantry and cavalry were moving to the west of Balin. Orders received from Div HQ, was to send one Regt to move to a point one mile SW of Summeil and support the 5 MB, which was to meet the enemy advance at Balin. The enemy appeared in strength all along the front and threatened a determined attack. The Notts Bty coop with all batteries of the Div in maintaining fire against the enemy, who's advance was covered by his own guns.

The role of the Div was to hold firmly the right flank of the general advance so that the centre and left could push forward without anxiety for there right. From enemy documents captured after, the advance of the Turks just mentioned was an organised attack on our right flank. They hoped that it would be successful.

A 2pm the enemy attack was developing and the 5 MB was being heavily pressed. The 9 LHR was now holding Berkusie Ridge and although attacked time and time continued to check the determined advance of the Turks. One Sqn 8 LHR was sent to help the 5 MB and the remaining two Sqns to the 9 LHR. where was now heaving engaged and suffering many casualties.

At 4pm the 10 LHR, who have been sent to Felujey to water, was now brought up at he gallop. and C Sqn there od was put on the right of the 9 LHR. Owing to the Enemy pressure on the left of the 5 MB was forced to retire and the 8 LHR, 9 LHR with the 10 LHR supporting on the right were now compelled to confirm and fall back on the next ridge (ie the one between Summeil and Berkusie Ridge).

As soon as the ridge from which the enemy advance was checked by the 8 LHR and 9 LHR was retired from, the enemy with boldness occupied it.

It was discovered that some wounded had been left behind after the retirement from Berkusie Ridge, Sgt Jim Bowman 11 LHR and Lt Rickby 3 LH Bde Scout officer returned to rescue them, the former gaining a DCM after the battle.

At 5pm the Turkish attack died away, The night outpost line 9 LHR on the left and the 8 LHR on the right from Arrak el Menshiych to Summeil was taken up. The Bde had taken part in a day of heavy fighting and all ranks and horses were in much need of rest and sleep, little od which had been gained for the past several days and nights. The question of water for the horses was becoming acute. The night 12/13 Nov passed quietly.

Cheers

S.B

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

We discussed some of this on another site many years ago, here are some coments;

Mates

In examining the Battle of Berkusieh Ridge which took place 12 November 1917 various Turkish units were deployed including about 4-6,000 fresh troops from Et Tine.

To clarify the situation, I have included a map from the OBWH detailing the action.

There are two questions that arise from the battle:

1. What was the Turkish plan for the battle?

2. What was the nature of the units deployed? We can see that there was the 3rd Cav Div, 19th, 26th, 53rd & 54th Divs involved but essentially we don't know who they were - origins, commanders, strength etc. and what role they were to play in the attack.

When I look at the unfolding operation, I can only see a frontal assault with no real objective in mind except maybe the airfield and rail station at Arak el Menshiyeh. This would open up alternative communications with Jerusalem via Bethlehem through Beit Jibrin - a decent strategic objective. But to achieve this would have placed their troops in a potential sack. This would leave the Turkish forces exposed to being surrounded as a consequence of an attack against Junction Station which occurred a few days later. Junction Station was taken by the Gurkhas in fierce fighting - a battle that would have been much easier for the Gurkhas while the Turks remained in occupation of Berkusieh Ridge. Perhaps the thinking was that the Turks might have been able to retreat to Bethlehem if Junction Station fell but this would have been an escape route available to very few. The route was winding through the hills and thus movement would be slow, just the right sort of thing for air interdiction. Straffing and bombing of the retreating forces would have inflicted heavy losses as they would have had no where to hide. thus movement could only have been effected at night time. By attacking Berkusieh Ridge, the Turks exposed themselves to the loss of all the formations within their whole southern flank which very nearly happened.

Perhaps the idea was a bit more grandiose with the objective to pivot at El Faluja and Arak el Menshiyeh, and then carve a path through the rear areas of XXI Corps to the sea with the thought of bagging 20,000 or so Allied forces. But that would be an excessively ambitious plan for the numbers deployed.

That is what confuses me about this action. It was a frontal assault which had no potential to upset the control of the southern coastal plains by the British. Even had they achieved their objective, the Turks would have lost big time once Junction Station was taken. So if there was no military objective, perhaps there was a political objective by Djamal Pasha which was forced on Kress. I still cannot fathom why Kress would order such an attack.

Cheers

Bill

reply

Bill.

There are a number of reasons for this attack by units of the 7th Turkish Army.

The first was Von Falkenhayn was concern that the two Turkish Armies (7th and 8th) were being broken apart and could be destroyed singlely. IF you notice the Div's of the 7th Army were withdrawaling threw the mountains while the 8th Army had the open plains and the 8th Army was falling back to fast exposing the units of the 7th Army.

Secondly he needed time for the 8th Army to form a line on the Wadi Sarar to stablize the retreat. Part to this was to form the line but also to slow the British down for the 7th Army to either catch up.

To help this units of the 7th and 8th Army were to counterattack to check the advance of the British and allow time to form some line and hold the retreat.

These are the basic reasons for the counterattack but the effect soon became known when the coastal British forces broke threw the 8th Army lines forcing the Armies to again continue the withdrawnal.

Cheers

S.B

Basicly the Turkish forces were units of three Turkish Divs, the 54th Div struck the 4 LH Bde line, the 53rd Div struck the 5 MB and 3 LH Bde lines, the 26th Div outflanked the allied line on their right or Turkish left. This attack was supported by the 16th Div all being in the 20th Corps. While the 3rd Cav Div is shown on Turkish maps around Kudna and the 19th Div around Beit Jibrin, well SE of the Allied line.

Cheers

S.B

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Hi all,

We (The Society for the Heritage of World War I in Israel) had the planned tour of the 'Action of Balin' area last Friday.

The nature of the area required the usage of a 'Safari' truck. We visited et Tine, Tell es Safi, Balin, Berkusiah & Summeil.

post-49854-0-96970700-1451322846_thumb.j

General view of the area (Taken from Tell es Safi)

Eran

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Steve,

 

I read your correspondence with Bill (How is he?) regarding the attempt to understand the Ottoman movements, and I totally agree that there are quite a few puzzling questions that remain open on this matter.

 

I would like to point a few things:

 

Most sources refer to some 4-6,000 fresh troops from Et Tine (And later in the day even South of Et Tine, at Balin siding). I seriously doubt the usage of the word 'fresh'. Where could fresh troops arrive from? Almost all the Ottoman forces were after almost two weeks of fierce fight and retreat. The description of the fighting, from both sides (Falls & Husni), refers to the fatigue of the Ottoman troops and mention that this fatigue is one of the reasons why this attack didn't achieve more.

 

There are several serious questions about how this attack was executed: Why start around noon and not earlier (Not leaving enough day-time to push forward)? There are definitely some major errors of the Ottoman command: The hour of the attack and not using the 3rd Cavalry & 19th Divisions, that were at Beit-Jubrin (East of the right flank of the Australian Mounted Division) at that time, simultaneously with the attack at Balin & Berkusiah (And also further West, near el-Kustineh, Tell et-Turmus etc.). Such a simultaneous attack would have created a pressure beyond the capability of the A.M.Div that was spread thinly over a very wide sector.

 

No doubt, there was a serious problem with the EEF's intelligence at this stage of the campaign, not knowing the whereabouts of the four Ottoman divisions (54, 53,26 & 16), and misreading the movements that were seen as a retreat, instead of buildup. Facing this force, effectively supported by superior artillery – The A.M.Div's fighting was quite heroic that day. I will argue that the problem with the EEF's intelligence continued at least till late November, as can be understood from 'reading between the lines' of the details of the 'Battle of Nebi Samuel', starting a few days after the events we are dealing with.

 

As to the intention of this attack – I guess it has to do with the nature of Erich Von Falkenhayn. According to Kress, Falkenhayn ordered (Probably on the 8th) that the counterattack should be launched on the 10th. It was postponed due to the events at et Tine on the 9th. It should be noted that Kress claims that the order for the counterattack was against the opinion of the commanders in the field (Maybe one of the reasons for the poor level of command that these commanders demonstrated?). Anyway, if the counterattack was launched at the 10th, the Ottoman forces would have met a much stronger EEF force a bit south.

 

Back to Falkenhayn – Heres a quote from Falls, a part of a statement given by an Ottoman officer: "The policy of Falkenhayn was defense by maneuver… Falkenhayn never fully realized how difficult was to troops short of transport on bad roads…". I think he never fully understood that Ottoman soldiers were not Germens… Anyway, if Falkenhayn would have succeeded in breaking through, he defiantly would have created an immediate danger to Allenby's force's rear. In turn, that would have forced Allenby to change his moves and deal with the threat to his lines of supply. That would be considered quite an achievement. Realistically, it wouldn't change a thing in the 'Big picture' – Allenby enjoyed at that time an overwhelming superiority in all aspects – but it would definitely be quite embarrassing. As said – "Defense by maneuver".

 

Eran

Edited by Eran Tearosh

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

I would not disagree with that also.

Just a quick look at the main Turkish forces that attacked here;

the strengths are as given in British intell reports before Beersheba and before 2nd Es Salt as comparison;

26th Div

shown Oct 1917 Allied reports (4115 men) 54xMG's 18 per Regt)

shown May 1918 Allied reports - (1500 men 100 cav 53 MG's)

53rd Div

shown Oct 1917 Allied reports - 53rd Div (4018 men) + 54 MG's

shown Mar-Apr 1918 1600 men and 50 Cav + 45 MG's

54th Div

shown Oct 1917 54th Div (3541 men) had 54 MG's

no other records to see there losses as disbanded early 1918

So seeing 4 to 6000 men must be at lest the two full Divisions of the 53rd and 54th Divs following there losses at 3rd Gaza and the retreat.

Or at lest say 53rd and 26th Divs against 5 MB and 3 LH Bde.

There would have been at lest close to that number in the Allied Mounted Bdes to meet them, of say 2000 men in each Mounted Bde.

I agree the 3rd Cav and 19th Div never made it to the battle area

19th Div

shown Oct 1917 Allied reports (6500 men 18 Mg's + Div MG Co 230 men, Div Cav Sqn 350 men, Div transport 350 men, Div Arty 1500 men, 4x100mm 4x150mm 2x240mm (KUK) 32x 75mm guns) T/att 136th Regt (43rd Div) (1650 men)

shown May 1918 Allied reports - (2600 men 100 cav 45 MG's)

3rd Cav Div

shown Oct 1917 Allied reports - 6th Cav Regt (500 men 8xMG's) 8th Cav Regt (500 men 8xMG's)

shown May 1918 Allied reports - (700 men 19 MG's)

As can be seen the Turkish units suffered heavy losses between Beersheba and Es Salt which they never made better, as the continued drain of man power effected all levels.

the 16th Div possibly ever got into action, but I show these

shown Oct 1917 Allied reports - 16th Div (5043 men) + 72 MG's

shown May 1918 Allied reports - 47th Regt 48th Regt (1700 men 150 Cav 54 MG's) less 125th Regt (900 men 28 MG's)

But your right exhaustion appears to be the main cause of failure, but we should not forget the coastal victories by 75th Div around Suarfir which made the whole battle redundant.

Cheers

S.B

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Notts Gunner   
Notts Gunner

Mates,

The following extracts from 1/1 Notts Battery RHA may be of interest -

04-11-17 A.M.D. moved at 0500 to KARM arriving there 0200 (on 5 Nov)

05-11-17 Moved at 0500 to EL IMARA took over 18 pdr equipment from Bucks Battery

06-11-17 Battery marched with 3rd A.L.H.Brigade to point 510 and bivouaced for night

07-11-17 Marched to TEL EL SHARIA via ABU ARGEIG (indecipherable)…horses arriving 1200 (?) moved forward at 1645 onto s… (?) RIDGE went into action at dusk and fired a few rounds at extreme range

Unofficial Battery Diary has "07/11/1917 DD1499/48 Battle of SHARIA. Very short of water and weather very hot"

08-11-17 (Official War Diary) Moved at 0400 with 3rd A.L.H. Brigade, heavily fired on by Turks at short range with rifles, machine guns and guns before dawn, retired a short distance and came into action and drove Turks out of their position. Our fire causing Turks considerable casualties. This action took place at TEL ABU DILAKH enemy retired in a N Westerly direction. Brigade advanced fighting all day and occupied HUJ about 1600. No water horses very bad (Unofficial Diary has "08/11/1917 In action at HUJ. Not able to proceed as at this time the horses had been 50 hours without water")

09-11-17 Left camp to water at WADI JEMMAMEH at 0800 watering took all day did not get back to camp until 2000 found 3rd brigade had marched to TEL IBDIS we were ordered to march all night to join them at dawn

10-11-17 At 0200 watered at the WADI HESI at 0400 joined 3rd Bde they were moving off at 0530 marched to ARAK EL MENSHEVI where Bde came under heavy shell fire the Bde moved westward a short distance out of range. Battery came into action at FALUJE at 1600 and shelled the village of SUMMEIL which was occupied that night by the 3rd A.L.H. Bde (Unofficial Diary "Moved to ARAK EL MENSHIYE. Several prisoners and guns captured")

12-11-17 Turks counter attacked SUMMEIL BERKHUSIE line battery went into action NW of SUMMEIL and shelled enemy infantry with effect. Battery and OP heavily shelled by enemy at times. Liut Hodgson FOO on BERKHUSIE RIDGE

13-11-17 Lieut Hodgson went forward to SUMMEIL as FOO. Left section in action E. of IJSEIR shelling BERKHUSIE RIDGE. Direct hits were obtained on enemy sangars (?) and enemy machine guns silenced.

May be of interest

Best Wishes

Malc Fox

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Mate,

Some of the questions posed by Bill include " we don't know who they were - origins, commanders, strength etc. and what role they were to play in the attack"

The origins, strength and roles have been discussed, who were the Turkish commanders?

Turkish records are not positive on there leaders here, with who commanded what and when?

20th Corps

Ali Fuat Pasa (Cebesoy) taken command in Oct 1917

53rd Div

Col Selahattin Bey (Kiper) commanded this Division between March 1917 to Aug 1918.

79th Regt - LtCol Etem (possibly)

161st Regt - Tahir Bey shown Oct 1917

163rd Regt - Renzi Bey Oct 1917

54th Div

Col von Kisling (German officer) commanded during 1917

19th Regt - LtCol Osman Nuri Bey (Koptagel) (possibly)

164th Regt (unknown)

165th Regt (unknown)

26th Div

Col Fahrettin Bey (Altay) (possibly)

73th Regt - Maj Mehmet Resit or Reshid Bey? (possibly)

76th Regt - Maj M. Nuri Bey

78th Regt - Maj Ömer Lütfi/Lütfü (Argeso)

Sorry not much

S.B

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Hi Steve,

What do you mean - "not much"? That's a lot!!

Thank you and happy new year!!

Eran

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Philip Wilson   
Philip Wilson

Page 144 ADDERLEY The Warwickshire Yeomanry in the Great War

On November 12th, the 5th Mounted Brigade was ordered to push on from Berkusie through Balin, and carry out a reconnaissance to the Wadi Dhar in a northward direction. About mid-day the enemy suddenly launched a counter-attack on the Brigade in Balin with a force of 5,000 men, personally directed (it is supposed) by Von Falkenhayn himself. The Brigade narrowly escaped being surrounded, but with the able assistance of the M.G. Squadron were finally extricated from Balin. In the meantime the 3rd Brigade came up with Artillery from Summeil in support, and the whole Division became engaged. With fresh batch of reinforcements brought by train the enemy attacked the 5th Brigade west of Balin, but in their advance over the plain were driven back by the M.G. Batteries in position on a hill N.W.of Summeil, and a retirement was made on that village. Here the Division was able to make a stand and the enemys attack was finally broken up.

In the first part of the action the Worcesters and Gloucesters were most heavily engaged, and they and the Machine Gun Squadron suffered severely in officers and men, while the Warwicks were in support and escaped without a casualty.

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Eran Tearosh   
Eran Tearosh

Philip & Malc,

Thanks for what you sent. It definitely fills a few gaps.

Almost every source is praising the excellent work of the M.G. Squadron, yet I found no evidence of awards granted to them, and especially to their C.O.,

Captain Elidyr Herbert, Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry, who lost his life during the action of Balin (I'll put together a bit more about him and enclose it).

Happy New Year everyone!

Eran

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stevebecker   
stevebecker

Eran,

 

I brought this back because I wasn't sure you were aware of German Doctrine, that our two German commanders would have known and acted on?

 

That Doctrine allowed during a fighting withdrawal that units continue to counter attack to slow the enemy forces so they could not exploit that with drawal.

 

I see some of that in the Turkish fighting during that time, but without fresh units this could not be done to any degree of success.

 

I discus some of this in some thing I wrote about a battle in France by the Light Horse;

 

The XXII Corps Mounted Regiment and the 2nd Battle of the Marne

By Steve Becker

 

 

On the afternoon of the 27 July 1918 Corporal Jack Taggart lead a four man mounted patrol from 1 Troop “D” Squadron XXII Corps Mounted Regiment out into the shattered debris of the Ardre River valley to locate the German front line. He followed the course of the Ardre River until encountering a force of more then 100 Germans, which forced them to retire; nonetheless Jack dismounted with a Hotchkiss gun and engaged the Germans allowing his three mates with the horses to move to cover, then returned on foot to continue the fight. Corporal Taggart and Private Vic Grist then moved to reconnaissance the German position and under heavy fire were forced to jump into the river Ardre to escape the German machine guns. Jack must have wondered at this time, up to his ears in water and mud how he came to be there in the middle of France and why he wasn’t in sunny Egypt and Palestine with the rest of the 4th Light Horse Regiment?

 

Near the end of June 1918 the Great German offensives had at last slowed down, however numerous German Divisions remained unemployed. Knowing this General Foch, the newly created Generalissimo of the Allied Armies in France, gathered a number of allied Divisions to form a reserve for his own offensive.

 

Still Foch didn’t want to wait for the next German onslaught; instead he launched a series of assaults aimed at the large bulge between Soissons and Rheims along the Marne River, which pointed like a knife point at the heart of France and at Paris.

 

These attacks started around the middle of July 1918 with strikes by the Tenth French Army on the western side of the salient and the Ninth French Army, including American divisions at Chateau Thierry to the south, then the Fifth French Army south west of Rheims on the 18 July 1918.

 

The attacks by the Fifth French Army soon bogged down and the British XXII Corps entered the battle near Marfaux on the 20 July 1918.

 

By the 27 July the XXII Corps had advanced along the line of the Ardre River and at last reported that German units were retiring, General Godley the commander of the XXII Corps now ordered his Cavalry to take over the advance and the XXII Corps Mounted Regiment, composed of Australian Light Horseman and New Zealand Mounted Rifleman found themselves in the front line of the Allied Armies.

 

The XXII Corps Mounted Regiment was a new name of an old unit, formed from the 2nd Anzac Light Horse Regiment when the II Anzac Corps was disbanded in December 1917, who along with the 1st Anzac Light Horse Regiment (13th Light Horse Regiment) of the I Anzac Corps which were used to form the Cavalry for the newly formed Australian Corps, General Birdwood the new Corps Commander didn’t need two Light Horse Regiments for his Corps and Lieutenant General Sir Alexander Godley asked that the 2nd Anzac Light Horse Regiment be retained by the II Anzac Corps when it changed its name to the XXII British Corps forcing the change of name from the 2nd Anzac Light Horse Regiment to the XXII Corps Mounted Regiment, this change from a Light Horse Regiment to a Mounted Regiment may have came about due to the commander of the XXII Corps being a New Zealand Officer. The Regiment still contained the former Regimental Head Quarters with “B” and “D” Squadrons of the old 4th Light Horse Regiment and with the attached Squadron of the New Zealand Otago Mounted Rifles. The strength of the Regiment at the start of the battle was 25 officers and 412 men.

 

Since the 27 March 1918, the XXII Corps was near Ypres, where in April a Composite Battalion of the Regiment was formed with the New Zealand Cyclist battalion and used to fight the Germans at Kemmel, near Ypres. When an order from General Foch sent General Godley’s Corps to be loaded on trains and moved to an area on the Somme. The XXII Corps Mounted Regiment moved on the 5 June to Blendecques and Coupelle on the 6 June, to Wavans on the 7 June, and to Bourdon on the 8 June arriving on the 9 June at Ossie (Oissy) in Picardy Somme. There the Regiment waited for over a month as the great German offensive on the Aisne died away. The XXII Corps Mounted Regiment boarded a Train on the 14 July at Pont Remy and moved to Pont Sur Seine on the 15 July, on the 16 July they were at Suzanne and finally stopping on the 17 July at Bergeres Les Vertus and moved to Ay near Epernay on the 20 July and the Bois de Talma near St Imoges on the 22 July. The XXII Corps was concentred around Revigny east of Rheims in the Forth French Armies area, with the units arriving around the 16 July 1918.

 

On the 18 July the Fifth French Army comprising the I French Colonial Corps, the V French Corps, the I French Cavalry Corps and the II Italian Corps carried out its part in the battle plan and attacked south west of Rheims from Ormes to Festigny, only all too soon the Italians were in trouble and the corps needed to be replaced. The only allied reserves close on hand was the XXII British Corps near Chalons and rapidly moved replacing the Italians on the night 19/20 July 1918 fitting in between the 2nd Colonial Division (I Colonial Corps) and 14th French Division (V French Corps).

 

The XXII Corps near Pourcy, used as a centre line the river Ardre valley with the 62nd Division on the right bank alone the Bois de Reims and the 51st Highland Division on the left bank of the river valley with the Bois de Courton Ridge. Heavy fighting continued for a week as the British fought there way up the valley along both ridges against the strong German defences of the 123rd German Division with its 178th, 351st Infantry and 106th Reserve Infantry Regiments and the newly arrived 240th German Division.

 

Marfax had fallen on the 23 July in an attack by the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion supported by the 2/4 Hampshire Battalion losing two officers and 19 men killed and three officers and 70 men wounded. While Chaumuzy fell on the 26 July.

 

On the morning of the 27 July the assaults continued lead by the 51st Highland Division with the 62nd Division in reserve, the advance began at different times due to the terrain with the left flank 153rd Brigade at 6.10 am then the 187th Brigade (62nd Division) in the centre at 6.56 am and the 152nd Brigade on the right flank at 7.30 am.

 

The creeping barrage moved at 100 metres each eight minutes with three 20 minutes stops. French Light Renault tanks of a Tank Battalion, used in the earlier attacks, were left behind as they were unable to move due the sodden ground from the torrential rains and limited fuel supply.

 

The first objective was taken by the 51st Division 8.45 am and the second objective at 10 am, along the whole line only one prisoner was taken and it became apparent to the Corps Commander that the Germans were in retreat.

 

General Godley during the change over of divisions ordered a new advance to begin at 1 pm and the Corps Cavalry moved forward to Nanteuil where Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Hindhaugh received his orders from General Braithwaite, commander of the 62nd Division to “push forward rapidly and seize the line Bligny to Montagne de Bligny, and as soon as this line was in there possession, the (62nd) division would move up to relieve them”.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Hindhaugh was given command of a Composite force comprising the XXII Corps Mounted Regiment, the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion and the French Tank Battalion, and moved to Marfaux to set up his Head Quarters while command of the Mounted Regiment reverted to Major Roy McLeish.

 

Both Major Thomas Williams “B” Squadron and Captain Bertram Burnie “D” Squadron (less two Troops retained as Head Quarters protection), moved from Nanteuil at 2.45 pm while the Otago Squadron under Major Gordon Mitchell remained in reserve, Major McLeish moved his “RHQ” to north east of Chaumuzy.

 

“B” Squadron covered the Left front of the 185th Brigade as it advanced from Chaumuzy while “D” Squadron covered the Right front of the 186th Brigade near the Bois de Rouvroy during the advance to Bligny and Montagne de Bligny they pushed throw the infantry who’s patrols followed on behind the cavalry screen.

 

At the start Light Horse patrols of four men sections were dispatched to uncover German strong points and establish the German line of resistance. These would then be cleared by the light horse patrols or could be reinforced with a larger light horse force or posted and left for the Infantry to destroy.

 

No sooner then patrols from Lieutenant Claude Apps 1 Troop “D” Squadron left the British front line, when heavy machine gun fire was directed onto them from their right near the Bois des Dix Hommes, Bois de Hyermont and from a number of posts along the German front line, this slowed the advance as the light horse patrols manoeuvred around them or destroyed them.

 

One Patrol under Corporal Jack Taggart ran into a German force of 100 men on the northern side of the Ardre River and after engaging them discovered there strength and location then returned with the details to Lieutenant Apps.

 

Corporal Walter Scott was at work against another position when he was wounded while the Squadron Commander, Captain Burnie and Squadron Sergeant Major, Harry Ayres brought out the Hotchkiss machine gun sections to engage the enemy posts forcing the Germans to retire.

 

A patrol with Private William Bell avoided the German defences and entered the town of Bligny and found the Germans in some strength, then returned with the intelligence.

 

Mean while on “B” Squadron’s front the Germans were found north of the Nardi Farm and in the Bois de Eclisse by patrols of Lieutenant George Gordon’s 2 Troop, who went out after the enemy defences to scout and secure useful positions until the Infantry patrols came up. As one of these enemy positions were found the Hotchkiss machine gun sections, under men like Private Hugh Newth, were dispatched and after an engagement that wounded all his crew Newth captured the German position allowing the infantry patrols to advance.

 

When another patrol ran into the German defences, Private Frank Elliott was sent to see where the enemy machine gun positions were sited, when completed Elliott returned with the vial information allowing the position to be taken.

 

During this time, the French had not come up on the British left flank and a patrol under Corporal Christopher Christofferson was sent to establish the left flank and find the French, this he succeeded in doing allowing the British 153rd Brigade (51st Division) to come up and who cleared the woods of the Bois de Eclisse and by the end of the day gaining touch with the 14th French Division.

 

In the late afternoon most of the German covering positions had been destroyed or they had retired to their main defence line based around Bligny and the Montagne de Bligny, this now allowed a number of deep Light Horse patrols in force to move towards our objectives.

 

The first, 2 Troop under Lieutenant Joseph Nott “D” Squadron, moved forward with his Troop to Bligny through the Bois de Rouvroy, where they found the Germans strongly entrenched and the Troop were forced to retire. 1 Troop under Lieutenant Apps moved out to support Lieutenant Nott along the river Ardre only to be held up by strong German defences and Sergeant Bill Smith’s 4 Troop “B” Squadron came to his support.

 

Lieutenant Arthur Lord’s 3 Troop “B” Squadron was sent to find a crossing place of the Ardre River to enable the cavalry to move from the south side of the river to the north along the Bligny to Montagne de Bligny line.

 

Sergeant James Stevenson’s 1 Troop “B” Sqn was ordered to secure the left flank of the Corps on the Montagne de Bligny. There he gained a lose hold on the hill under very heavy German pressure which force him to retire to a less exposed position, there the Troop held on until the Infantry came up during the night.

 

Lieutenant Gordon’s 2 Troop “B” Squadron advanced to support Sergeant Stevenson and captured a German 77mm gun, only the Germans attacked in force and Gordon could make little progress against a stiffening resistance.

 

Some time around 8 pm the Otago Squadron was called forward to support the light horse between Bligny and Montagne de Bligny. They reached the line around 9 pm only to be held up by German fire, a force of two officers and 50 men dismounted and moved to capture Bligny only they couldn’t gain touch with the units on their flanks and took there place between the town of Bligny and the Montagne de Bligny to hold back the German counter attacks. During the struggle Trooper’s Angus MacGibbon, Bill Hornell and Dave Williamson were active in the fighting while Sergeant John Weaver brought up food and ammunition keeping the squadron in the fight, while Farrier Sergeant Bill Hutchings was killed.

 

At 7.40 pm the 185th and 186th Brigades advanced to support the Cavalry only to find the Light Horse and Mounted Rifles were short of their objectives by roughly 500 meters and the town of Bligny and the Montagne de Bligny were still in enemy hands. The infantry were to complete the relief of the cavalry by midnight only this was not completed till about 2.14 am when the 2/4th Hampshire Battalion came up delayed due to the rain and darkness. The Hampshire Battalion along with the 1/5th Devonshire Battalion was fresh from Palestine having recently joined the 62nd Division before this battle.

 

The German defenders during that afternoon were the rear guards of the 240th German Division, who fought a delaying action as they retied onto their main defensive line round Bligny and the Montagne de Bligny. The 240th Division (a third Class (low quality) formation, had arrived from the Argonne front on the 20 July, where it was resting following the fighting around Bethune in April, and where the Division suffered heavy casualties. Elements of the 469th, 470th and 471st Infantry Regiments were manning positions in front Bligny and the Montagne de Bligny during the week and reported Light Horse patrols during the evening and night of the 27 July.

 

On the morning of the 28 July the advance began at 4 am covered again by the XXII Corps Mounted Regiment. Rain had fallen all night as the 186th Brigade steeped off only to be again struck by fire from the Bois des Dix Hommes on the right. This slowed movement on that front until the French 77th Division came up on that flank and cleared the wood.

 

At 4 am Lieutenant Nott’s Troop had moved forward past Bligny with patrols to Ausilly where they found the village strongly held. The Otago Squadron had replaced “B” Squadron during the night and patrols of New Zealanders went out past the Montagne de Bligny to discover the extent of the German defences at Sarcy, while another patrol was sent to the village of Chambrecy. One patrol with Signaller Peter Weaver went on a reconnaissance of the village of Bligny when they came under heavy fire during which one of the men was wounded. The village was found to be strongly held by the Germans and Signaller Weaver despite being himself wounded recovered his mate and brought him back to our lines, he was later awarded a DCM.

 

Bligny was entered during the day by the 2/4th Duke of Wellington’s and 2/4th Hampshire Battalion (186th Brigade) but not captured and fighting went on there all day and was not completed till 4 pm in the afternoon.

 

Mean while the 185th Brigade moved between Bligny and Montagne with the 1/5th Devon Battalion on the right and the 8th West Yorkshire’s on the left with the 2/5th West Yorkshires in support and captured part of the Montagne de Bligny slopes by 7 am capturing 69 prisoners and nine machine guns, but failed to drive the Germans completely from the hill.

 

Around 8.25 am the 51st Highland Division with the 153rd Brigade on the left and 152nd Brigade on the right took up the advance during which the 6th Black Watch took Chambrecy. The 7th Gordon’s joined the 8th West Yorks on Montagne de Bligny that night allowing the 14th French Division to move up and take over Chambrecy.  The 154th Brigade 51st Division replaced the 152nd and 153rd Brigades later that night. The 1/4th Gordon’s relieving the 7th Gordon’s by 3 am on Montagne.

 

Small numbers of Light Horse and Mounted Rifle patrols continued to be sent during the day, only not on the same scale as the day before, and all patrols were withdrawn around 4 pm. German resistance was growing as they fought to allow there formations to retire from other areas of the salient. The Germans had decided to retire from the salient on the night of the 26/27 July and the first stage started at 11 am with a limited withdrawal. The withdrawals would be by stages and would take place over a week. Still German doctrine allowed continued counter attacks to slow the enemy forces so they couldn’t exploit the withdrawal.

 

On the 29 July fighting continued on the Montagne de Bligny by “D” Company 2/5th West Yorks 185th Brigade who attacked at 7.45 pm to clear the remainder of the feature. The hill was taken by two platoons from “D” Company while the two other platoons disappeared when they lost there way in the darkness and where captured, the company lost one officer and six other ranks killed and a further 20 men were gassed, one officer and 45 men were missing believed prisoners. Other Brigades restricted their actions to consolidating their gains due to the poor weather and fatigue.

 

On the morning of the 30 July elements of newly arrived German 50th Division, a first class (high quality) Division, which replaced the 240th Division during the night, counter attacked at the Bois les Houleux against the 186th Brigade, and made some ground in a gap between the 62nd Division and 77th French Division until driven back in the late afternoon. The 62nd Division and most of the British XXII Corps was relieved by both the 14th and 77th French Division’s during the night 30/31 July leaving only the 154th Brigade 51st Division in the line.

 

On the 31 July elements of German 50th Division again counter attacked at 8.00 am at Montagne de Bligny held by the 154th Brigade (51st Division) only to be again driven off.

 

The 154th Brigade with the remainder of the 51st Division left the front later that day with the French now taking over all positions, as the XXII Corps moved for a rest and renew its strength for future operations. The Regiment with the Otago Squadron arrived at St Imoges at 6 pm 31 July to rest and while there Trooper Lewis Grant was gassed near the Bois de Talma.

 

The British Divisions reported the following casualties when in action between the 20 to the 31 July 1918;

 

51st Div – 115 officers and 2950 other ranks

62nd Div- 118 officers and 3865 other ranks

 

The Germans lost 21 officers and 1148 men as prisoners with 135 machine guns and two guns captured. These men were found to be from seven different divisions used in the fighting.

 

Cheers

 

S.B

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