The Great War Part 187, March 16th 1918

A llenbys Victorious Advance into Palestine 3 cavalry held off the columns the enemy was up.bringing The 54th Division held the Sheikh Abbas Ridge but there was a gap of two and a half miles between its left and the right of the 53rd. The Imperial Mounted Division and the Camel Corps overstretched avery wide front were trying to beat back ever-growing enemy forces which were ad­vancing in strong bodies sup­ported b y artillery to the relief o f the town from the north, north-east and south-east. The 52nd Division remained in reserve south of the Wad y Ghuzzeh and was not thrown into the battle. A t nightfall it seemed as if the Turks in their augmented strength might in their turn rIB itis h official photo graph .TROOPS i n reserve .Men of Indianan Rifle battalion in their dug-outs in reserve on the Palestine front. U rltish official photograph .INDIAN OFFICERS IN PALESTINE. Some of the officers of Indianan Rifle battalion on the well-sandbagged slope of their dug-outs in reserve on the Palestine front. Indian troops greatly distinguished themselves in the course of General Allenby’s campaign that led to the capture of Jerusalem. envelop the Anzacs. To obviate this contingency General Chauvel who was leading the Anzacs was directed to withdraw them during the tonight the west of the Wad y Ghuzzeh the Imperial Camel Corps being ordered to assist him. This movement made the position of the 53rd Division untenable and the 54th was already retiring westwards from Sheikh Abbas. The 53rd, therefore was withdrawn from Ali Muntar and the two divisions got into touch in the night. The Turks were thus able to reinforce the garrison of Gaza with considerable bodies of troops. Next morning the British were hard at work again and patrols actually seized and occupied the positions up to and including Ali Muntar which had been captured on the preceding day. But the Turks at once counter-attacked before the patrols were reinforced and MAli untar was lost again though the other positions were held. These however forming a salient were subjected to heavy artillery fire from three directions and it was found impossible to keep them permanently. In fact a general retirement had become inevitable and the whole British force was withdrawn to the western side of the Wad y G huzzeh where a defensive line was taken up b they infantry to cover the further progress of the railway which then was ap­proaching Khan Yun us. The cost to the British of the First Battle of Gaza was about four thousand casualties on the other hand the Turks lost twice as many men according to General M urrays estimate and they did not try to advance on the 28th but contented them­selves with occupying and strengthening the Gaza defences. In General M urrays despatch there were two special features. One was the large number of the British casualties —seven thousand— and the other was the removal of General Dobell from local command at the front. Another thing that attracted attention was that the 53rd Division was commanded b y M ajor-General S.F. Mott whereas in the first battle it had been bled y M ajor-General A.G. Dallas C.B. C.M.G. General Murray stated that he had M urrays plan instructed General Dobell that upon no of action consideration was a premature attack to be made. There were good grounds for this order. It was not until April 17th that the attack began and in the meantime the Turks had been greatly reinforced, while the defences of Gaza had been rendered most formidable. The strength of the enemy had grown to five divisions of infantry and one of cavalry and he had constructed works all along his front which putout of the question any enveloping move b y cavalry until after his line had been pierced or broken sufficiently. The attack had to abe frontal one and it seemingly was carefully prepared. The railway b y April 5th had its rail-head at D eir el Belah and a station had been opened there a little south of the Wad y Ghuzzeh. Arrangements had been completed for ensuring a water supply b y placing in the
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