The Royal New South Wales Lancers

Battle Honour 1st


At 20:30 on 18 April 1917 the regiment crossed the Wady Ghuzze and joined the rest of the division for the advance on Gaza. The ensuing battle is known as the Second Battle of Gaza. With C Squadron as advanced party, the 1st LH acted as vanguard to the Anzac Mounted Division, which deployed near Erk. The regiment's objective was the enemy position at Baiket el Sana. C Squadron under Major Smith galloped in extended order and got into position, followed by "B" Squadron under Major Weir, B Squadron's frontage reaching to Wady Sheria. Both squadrons were shelled but casualties were light. Lieutenant W. J. M. Edwards with 12 other ranks patrolled to the left but failed to reach his objective, the Gaza-Beersheba road, as they were heavily fired on from Um Adrah. One troop, led by Lieutenant W. F. M. Ross, was detailed to escort the guns. At 15:00 the enemy commenced to move against Baiket el Sana, and their artillery fire increased in intensity and accuracy. The 2nd L.H. relieved B Squadron but could not relieve C Squadron owing to the enemy counter-attack. By 17:00 it seemed that the attack on Gaza by the main force had failed, and it was seen that the enemy all along the line were pushing up their guns and cavalry. At 20:30 the order was given to withdraw to Tel el Jemmi, a tactical landmark on Wady Ghuzze where sufficient water had been obtained for the division.

The regiment marched all night neither man nor horse getting any rest until dawn. A few hours later the order to move off was given and the 1st LH, with the brigade, moved to a point a mile north of Wady Sheikh Nuran where it formed a splendid target for the enemy 'planes which bombed the division heavily. Many horses were lost and Lieutenant J. Egan and 20 men were wounded. At night (20-21 April 1917) the regiment was again on outpost after watering at Abu Hisia, a waterhole in Wady Ghuzze. Men and horses were by now very much fatigued. Next day the regimental observation post reported enemy patrols and Major Irwin was sent to make an appreciation of the situation under cover of Lieutenant James's troop which got into action and drove off a squadron of the enemy. At 17:10 the 1st LH were relieved by the Staffordshire Yeomanry, who carried on the entrenching of the outpost position. The unit moved back to water at Hisia and formed a camp at Abasan el Kebir, supporting the outpost line. Aircraft bombed the brigade again and the 1st LH suffered 20 casualties. Next day the regiment moved to Abu Sitta.

The 2nd Light Horse Brigade was covering Asluj until 06:00 on 30 October1917, when 2nd Lieutenant J.R. Wright and 12 other ranks relieved them on their day observation post. One troop under Lieutenant Frost was detailed as escort to B Echelon transport, and 2nd Lieutenant Parbury and 40 other ranks were detailed as a working party with engineers developing the water supply. The regiment less the two troops left Asluj at 17:30 and, after watering, joined the brigade near Asluj railway station, which was the rendezvous of the Anzac Mounted Division prior to its advance against Beersheba. After a long night march, the high ground east of and overlooking Beersheba was reached at dawn and orders were issued to the 1st Brigade to attack Tel el Saba, the 2nd and 3rd L.H. being detailed to initiate the attack, while the 1st L.H. was held in reserve. At 10.30 on 31 October. the regiment was detailed to take up a position on the left flank of the Inverness Battery, which had come into position two kilometres south-east of Saba near Khurbet el Watan. The advanced troops were heavily shelled, and all led horses had to be taken back some distance to the broken ground. Lieutenant Wright, with two sections, carried out a very daring reconnaissance of the enemy's position in Wady Saba, bringing back much valuable information. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles materially assisted the attack by a flanking movement from the north, and Tel el Saba was occupied at 15:00.

The Charge at Beersheba

At 16:00 the regiment received orders to attack the town of Beersheba on the line Hill 970 to the mosque in the town, both inclusive; this line, which was on the northern side of the town, was made good just after dark. Before the order to attack had been received, however, the position generally had become grave. The enemy, though driven off Saba, was still strong south of the town and stronger north of it. Only a few hours of daylight were left, and the possession of the wells in the town was imperative, for both the infantry and the cavalry. It was neck or nothing and General Chauvel ordered that Brigadier-General Grant's 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade should make a mounted attack on the trenches on the south-east. At 16:30 the 4th and 12th Regiments commenced their famous charge. Within an hour Beersheba had been entered, the lightning attack so disorganising and demoralising the Turks that the opposition to the 1st Light Horse Brigade, on the north, failed.

Beersheba 1600 31 October 1917

The regiment, strengthening the position, sat tight all night. A Squadron under Major White and B under Captain Kater held the outpost line, with two troops of C Squadron, under Captain Mack, in reserve. A few enemy cavalry approached during the night, but retired on being fired on, at least one of their number being killed. The regiment had taken 90 prisoners, including 11 officers, at the small cost in casualties of two killed (including the RSM P. J. Lenehan) and one wounded. The A Echelon transport had had a bad time, two enemy 'planes dropping bombs which killed one other rank and wounded 2nd Lieutenant W.G. Drummond and eight other ranks, while 17 draught horses and five riding horses were killed. Within a few days the infantry had broken the Turkish line at Sheria and, again, between Gaza and the sea. This blow was the opening gambit in the great cavalry drive up the Philistine Plain to Jaffa.

PV Vernon Royal New South Wales Lancers 18851985 Parramatta 1985

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