Through Palestine with the 20th Machine Gun Squadron
Author: Unknown
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[Transcriber's note:

1. Some of the biblical references in the original seem to be mistaken. All the references were left as in the original. The following is a list of uncertain references, usually together with a possible alternate reference.

Footnote Original Suggestion

[7] III Kings i II Kings i Zech. iv, 5 Zech. ix, 5

[10] Judges l, 18 Judges i, 18 Jeph. ii, 4 Zeph. ii, 4

[13] Matt. xii, 40 ? Acts x, 9 Several times in Acts x, but not verse 9

[15] II Kings ii, 11 II Kings ii, 15

[20] Judges iv, 3 Judges vi, 33 v, 21 Mentions the Kishon which borders Esdraelon vi, 1 Judges vii, 1

[21] Psalms xxxix, 12 Psalms lxxxix, 12

[25] Deut. xiv, 5 ? I Kings iv, 23 I Kings iv, 11 mentions Dor, a village in the vicinity xviii, 13 xviii, 19 Isa. lv, 12 ?

[29] II Kings vi II Kings v vii ? xiii ? xv ?

[30] John i, 47 ?

[34] Josh. xiii, 2 Josh. xiii, 5 Judges iii, 1 Judges iii, 3 II Chron. ii, 2 II Chron. ii, 8 or 16 Isa. xxxv, 17 Isa. xxxv, 2

[40] I Kings xviii, 34 II Kings xviii, 34 xix, 13 II Kings xix, 13

2. As there is no one way to transcribe Arabic and Hebrew place names, I left all the names as they appear in the original. Nevertheless, I tried to keep consistency and used a single spelling when a place was mentioned using two possible spellings.

3. The inconsistency of capitalization (e.g., Sub-section/sub-section, Sergeant/sergeant) and punctuation (mostly inside/outside quotation marks) are thus in the original book.]

Through Palestine

with the




Printed and Published for private circulation


J.M. BAXTER & CO., 20 Appold Street, London—E.C.2.


This Booklet has been compiled with the object of enabling the members of the 20th Machine-Gun Squadron to recall the principal incidents in its history, as well as to allow their friends and relations to obtain some idea of their experiences whilst they were serving with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

Although no pains have been spared to obtain accuracy, the statements made must, necessarily, not be regarded as absolutely authoritative.

Beyond doubt, many brave deeds, fully deserving of mention in these pages, must have been unavoidably overlooked, in which case the leniency of readers is requested.

In view of the probability that the incidents described herein may be read by many persons who have not been to the East, explanations have frequently been included, which might appear to some as unnecessary.

The writer is indebted to several members of the Squadron for their valuable assistance, without which, obviously, it would have been very difficult to have given an adequate account of any particular incident at which he was not present in person.


1st July 1920.


The following are a few descriptive terms which occur in the following pages, with place-names, and the abbreviations used:—

ABU Father. AIN Spring. BEIT House. BIRKETT Pool. BIR Well. DEIR Monastery. ED, EL, ER, ES, EZ The definite article THE JEBEL Mountain. JISR Bridge. KEFR Village. KAHN Inn. KHURBET (abbrev. KH.) Ruin. MAKHADET Ford. NAHR River. NEBY A Prophet. RAS Head, cape, top. SHEIKH (abbrev. SH.) Chief, elder, saint. TEL Mound (especially one covering ruins). WADI A watercourse (normally dry).


The following table shows the military method of stating the time which is used throughout this book:—

1 a.m. 01.00 2 " 02.00 3.15 " 03.15 6.45 " 06.45 12 midday 12.00 1 p.m. 13.00 2.35 " 14.35 3.50 " 15.50 8 " 20.00 10 " 22.00 12 midnight 24.00 12.15 a.m. 00.15




It was on the 4th July 1917 that authority was given to the 7th Mounted Brigade (then at Ferry-Post, Ismailia), for the formation of a MACHINE-GUN SQUADRON to be known as the "20th." It was to consist of "Headquarters" and only three sub-sections, there being but two regiments (instead of the usual three) in the 7th Brigade.

On July 4th, Lieut. E.P. Cazalet and Lieut. E.B. Hibbert, machine gun officers of the Notts (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry and South Notts Hussars respectively, brought their sub-sections to the new camp. Lieut. C.D. Macmillan also arrived from the "S.N.H." From these two regiments there came, in all, 3 officers, 121 men and 98 animals (horses and mules). The "A" Sub-section was formed of "S.R.Y." men; the "B" Sub-section of "S.N.H." men, "C" Sub-section being composed of both "S.R.Y." and "S.N.H." men.

From the commencement, the Squadron "carried on" under very difficult conditions, as, out of its total strength of 121, only 30 men were qualified gunners, and 63 had never previously been attached to a Machine Gun Section. Then there were fresh animals to draw from "Remounts" besides new saddlery and equipment from "Ordnance". The health of the Squadron, also, was at first none too good; a large number of men had contracted malaria whilst with the Brigade in Salonica, and many others were liable to septic sores, after two years' sojourn in Egypt, Suvla and Salonica. From time to time, seven days' leave was granted to small parties to the Rest Camp, Port Said, and lucky were those men whose turn it was to go!

In due course, on July 30th 1917, Lieut. D. Marshall (Fife & Forfar Yeomanry), arrived from the 4th "M.G." Company. He had been "posted" as Commanding Officer, and "took over" from Lieut. Cazalet; shortly afterwards he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

The first reinforcements to reach the Squadron from the training centre at Maresfield Park, England, were Ptes. Ramsay and Wick on August 4th 1917. Pte. Ramsay at once took up the duties of orderly-room clerk, and was subsequently promoted sergeant. The work of equipping, organising and training were hurried on, the new guns tested on the range, and at length, on August 6th, the Squadron was inspected with the Brigade by General Bailloud.

On August 8th, Capt. E. Davies (previously with the 7th Brigade in Egypt) arrived from "leave" in the United Kingdom, and was posted to the Squadron as "second in command". Orders were received on August 10th that the Brigade would move to the Palestine front on the 12th—within a month of the M.G. Squadron being formed!


The forthcoming continuous trek (which lasted 18 days) through the desert at the hottest time of the year was no light task for a new unit to contemplate, and the two days in which to make all the preparations were none too many; yet, everything was ready by the time ordered for parade, and from that moment the "20TH M.G. SQUADRON" became a fighting force! There was, however, a lot of training still to be done, before it could hope to play its proper part in active operations.

The organisation of the transport for the unit was one of the greatest difficulties to be overcome. No one, unless he has actually seen it, would believe the energy required to pull even a lightly loaded wheeled vehicle through the desert sand, which, in places, is of the soft "silver" variety found at many English seaside resorts.

Each "G.S." (general service) limbered wagon is designed to carry about a ton, and is drawn by 4 mules. On this occasion, however, 4 cwts. was the maximum load, and for this 6 mules were required in every case. In spite of such a team, the going was hard enough, in very truth, and sore shoulders were not uncommon, owing to the mules being so "soft," and the new breast-collars so hard!

It was not long before the advantage a "M.G." Squadron possesses, in being able to change "pack" mules to "draught" and vice versa, was seen, this method relieving sore shoulders and sore backs by one simple operation. Although an early start was made every day, many miles had to be traversed with the sun right overhead; the afternoon was usually well advanced before the horses had been watered, lines put down, and shelters erected, blankets, rifles, bayonets and bits of string being used for this purpose.

The following were the days' marches:—


August 12th to El Ferdan. " 13th " Kantara (Hill 70). Long day in great heat. " 14th at Kantara drawing ordnance stores. " 15th to Pelusium 13 miles. " 16th " Romani 7 miles. Heavy going. " 17th " Khirba 14 miles. " 18th " Bir el Abd 7 miles. Heavy going. " 19th " Tilul, watering at Salmana. " 20th " Bir el Masar 8 miles. " 21st " Maadan 15 miles. Very heavy going and particularly hot. " 22nd " Bardawil 8 miles. Good going. " 23rd " El Arish 8 miles. Heavy going. " 24th Rested. " 25th to El Burd 11 miles. " 26th " Sheikh Zowaid, by the shore. Very heavy. " 27th " Rafa. " 28th at Rafa obtaining stores which were sent forward by rail. " 29th to Amr into camp, 1 mile south of railway.

It may here be mentioned that, at this time, the Kantara Military Railway had been completed as far as Shellal, and whilst on the march, rations and forage were drawn from "dumps" which had been placed at intervals along the line. As regards drinking water, this was brought up every day on camels. The supply of water was not too plentiful by any means, and it required a certain amount of care and self-restraint to make it last the appointed time, in fact, strict water-discipline was very necessary among all ranks. It was a tired but wiser Squadron that arrived at Amr! Many were the difficulties that had been overcome, and many the hardships that had been silently endured!


Having arrived at Amr, further progress was made in the training of the unit. Each day one man was "told off" to three animals, the remainder thus being free for work on the gun. The "horse-men" did one hour on the gun, remainder of day on animals. "Gun-numbers" worked one hour at stables and the remainder of the day on the gun. The daily routine was as follows:—Reveille 04.30; Parades, 06.30 to 10.00 and 15.00 to 17.30. Horses were watered twice (from troughs at the railway), and fed four times a day.

As early as September 8th, there was a test "turn-out" of the Squadron in full marching order, with guns on packs. The new regulations regarding rations and forage included "Iron" and two days' emergency-rations (in wallets) for the man, and one day's emergency-forage (9 lbs. of grain), in a "sandbag" rolled in a ground-sheet and carried on the front arch of the saddle, for the horse, in addition to the two days' forage carried in the nosebags; furthermore one day's rations and forage were carried on the wagons. The time taken for the turn-out was actually 2 hours 10 minutes. No doubt many members who read this will smile at the recollection of the incident—and well they might! Three days later the Squadron paraded in exactly half that time, and when, on September 13th, there was a test Divisional "turn-out," all that was needed was 44 minutes—not a bad achievement for marching-order with nothing ready!

On September 13th the formation of a fourth Sub-section was approved. It was just about this time that the "Khamseen" became very troublesome. This is a strong wind that blows at this season of the year, particularly in the afternoon. The soil at Amr being a mixture of fine sand and dust, the result can be better imagined than described; it was so bad that on two days training was entirely suspended!

"Mounted" training was started on September 22nd, and in the absence, at that time, of any "set" official-drill (one actually did exist, but was known only to those who had passed through the Machine-Gun Cavalry training centre in England of whom there were not half-a-dozen in the Squadron), the O.C. (Capt. D. Marshall) thought out, and perfected, a drill that was easy to pick up, and was one which, in all respects, fulfilled requirements. Everything was proceeding most satisfactorily, the men were keen, and, towards the end of September, firing practice was started on a 25-yard range. Everybody fired the course.

In a Machine-Gun Squadron every man is mounted on a horse (some Squadrons, however, had mules for draught as did the "20th"), except the cooks, who are allowed bicycles. As the speed of bicycles in the middle of a desert proved to be quite out of proportion to the labour expended, 13 donkeys were finally issued in lieu thereof. These splendid little animals were found to be very useful, besides providing a source of amusement for a long time to come. In camp they would play about just like dogs, standing up on their hind legs and romping about with each other. The natives' usual method of riding a donkey in the East is rather comical. They sit well to the rear, in fact right over the hind-quarters, and with their feet forward, these they wave in and out between the animal's legs, and thereby make him increase his pace. A turn to either flank is accomplished by their hitting him on the neck with a stick, or putting their toe in his eye!

On October 1st-3rd "A" Sub-section went on a reconnaissance with the Brigade, which, however, was "in support" at Reshid Beck, and not called upon for active work. Meanwhile the training continued—Squadron drill, section schemes and N.C.O.'s rides. The completion of the Squadron to the full establishment of six Sub-sections (12 guns) was sanctioned on October 9th, although the supply of horses was stated to be doubtful. On that date the Squadron was inspected by the G.O.C. the Brigade, Brig.-Gen. J.T. Wigan, C.M.G., D.S.O.


Lieut. Raynor arrived with 47 "O.R.'s" on Oct. 9th. These were part of a draft of 15 officers and 250 men under Capt. R.O. Hutchinson, who had left England on September 13th. Before starting on their journey the draft had been complimented upon their appearance by the C.O. of the Training Centre, and told that "they should consider themselves lucky to be going to a country where real cavalry tactics could be employed". And so it proved to be! This draft arrived at Alexandria on September 27th, and proceeded to the M.G.C. Base Depot, Helmieh, Cairo, after a very pleasant but uneventful journey, via Southampton, Havre, Marseilles and Malta. The journey through France was by a route not previously used for troops, and the French people were very friendly and enthusiastic, cheering frequently. Apparently the population here were not accustomed to the sight of British troops. At Marseilles they embarked on H.M.T. "Minetonka" (a splendid ship, but very crowded), which, being built for the North-Atlantic traffic, was rather hot for the Mediterranean. Two very efficient Japanese destroyers escorted her throughout the whole journey.

At first, it was thought that the "draft" was intended to form an entirely new unit, but they had not long been in Egypt before officers and men were posted to various existing Squadrons. The importance of this draft is indicated, to some extent, by the fact that within a short time every Machine Gun Squadron in the E.E.F. (except one), was commanded by an officer who had come out with it.


Early in October 1917, the C.O.'s of units were informed of the approaching operations against the enemy, and given a general idea of the plan of campaign. On the 17th of the month, Headquarters and three Sub-sections marched, with the Brigade, across the desert to Bir el Esani. The country, up to this point, was patrolled by the Imperial Camel Corps (I.C.C.), and it might be termed the limit of the country so far in British occupation, as, at Esani, patrols of British and Turks were frequently in the habit of watering their horses in the wadi when the other was not about! The next day (October 18th), a reconnaissance was made across the Wadi Mirtaba and towards Goz-el-Naam. "B" and "C" Sub-sections were attached to the "S.R.Y." and "S.N.H." but saw no "targets" to justify the opening of machine-gun fire. "A" Sub-section was in reserve. The following day (the 19th), the Brigade returned to Amr. The experience gained by the Machine Gun Squadron during these operations proved to be most valuable; the animals were fit, but certainly rather fagged; the transport was found to be too heavily loaded, and the pack-animals were also tired.

Orders were now received that when operations started the Squadron would move out five Sub-sections strong. This would mean a severe test for "D" and "E" Sub-sections. "D" Sub-section under Lieut. Raynor, was well in hand, although only formed a few weeks previously, but the equipment for "E" (and "F") had only just been drawn!


On October 20th, Lieut. Price, M.C., Lieut. Millman and Sec.-Lieut. Kindell (all from the recent draft from Maresfield) arrived at the Camp. Lieut. Price at once took over the organization of "E"; Lieut. Millman was nominally posted to "F" and Sec.-Lieut. Kindell supernumerary, for the time being. It could hardly be said that the formation of "E" Sub-section had been "rushed"! The term is hardly suitable—"Cyclonic" would be nearer the mark! It literally had horses and equipment issued to it one day, and was fighting the next. At length, on October 25th, definite orders were received for the first phase of the projected operations against Beersheba to be undertaken, and, the next day, Sec.-Lieut. Kindell and three O.R.'s (Ptes. Carr, Ineson and Marshall), with representatives from other units of the Brigade, proceeded with the Staff Captain and Brigade Intelligence Officer, to Esani, in order to "take-over" the camping area and reconnoitre the outpost-line there.

Lieut. Macmillan and five O.R.'s (Ptes. J. Howlett, A. Jacques, S. Morris, A. Tivey and E.A. Riley), who were chosen as stout-hearted men, reported to Col. Newcombe, R.E., D.S.O., at Gamli, for special duty. Bad luck attended them, however! The whole party was captured a few days later.[1]

The following is the official account of this adventure:—

"To assist in completing the rout of the Turkish troops retiring from Beersheba, a small mobile force on camels, consisting of Lewis gunners, machine gunners, and a few Sudanese Arab scouts, under Lieut.-Col. S.F. Newcombe, R.E., D.S.O., left Asluj on October 30. It had a number of machine guns and Lewis guns, a large quantity of small-arms ammunition, and carried three days' rations. Moving rapidly, it established its headquarters at Yutta, and on October 31 occupied some high ground west of, and commanding the road between Dhaheriyeh and Hebron. It was hoped that the Turks, retiring by night from Beersheba, would encounter this force, which, taking them by surprise, would, by its large fire-power put them to rout, and cause a general debacle on the Turkish left-wing. However, as the Anzac Mounted Division had cut the road further south, the Turkish forces from Beersheba retired north to Tel esh Sheria. The force, nevertheless, succeeded in intercepting and capturing the motor transport with supplies, which was endeavouring to reach Beersheba from Jerusalem.

"The Turks were surprised by the appearance of this force, and having no idea of its numbers, despatched the 12th Depot Regiment from Hebron, and the 143rd Regiment from Tel esh Sheria—six battalions in all—to dislodge it. It held out resolutely, but, after sustaining heavy casualties and having exhausted all its ammunition, was obliged to surrender on November 2 or 3."

The personnel (32 O.R.'s) and equipment of "F" Sub-sections, were sent to "Brigade Details" at Gamli under Lieut. Millman, no horses being then available.


[1] Note: (Lieut. Macmillan returned to Alexandria on 21st November 1918 from Smyrna, as a repatriated prisoner of war.)


The Beersheba Campaign.


On the morning of October 28th 1917, the Squadron marched from Amr, across the 16 miles of desert to Esani. It consisted of—

Seven officers, 182 men, 10 guns, 156 riding horses, 70 draught and 31 pack animals, 13 donkeys; with transport of ("A" Echelon), water cart, 12 limbered G.S. wagons; ("B.1" Echelon) three L.G.S. wagons, carrying reserve day's forage and rations; ("B.2" Echelon) one G.S. wagon.

So far as can be ascertained now, the following were the W.O. and N.C.O.'s of the Squadron at this time:—

Headquarters: S.S.M. Larwood, S.Q.M.S. Harrison, Far.-Sergt. Robertson, Transport-Sergt. Conuel, Sig.-Corpl. Billam, S.S.-Corpl. Holmes, Saddler-Corpl. Mellett.

"A" Sub-section: Sergt. Fisher, Lance-Corpl. Rouse, Lance-Corpl. Keetley.

"B" Sub-section: Sergt. Potts, Corpl. Hazlehurst, Lance-Corpl. Hughes, Lance-Corpl. Peadon.

"C" Sub-section: Sergt. Wright, Corpl. Gill, Nos. 1. Pte. S. Kidd, Pte. P. Lee.

"D" Sub-section: Sergt. Fleet, Corpl. Barrett, Lance-Corpl. Green, Lance-Corpl. Marriott.

"E" Sub-section: Sergt. O'Neill, Corpl. Franklin, Lance-Corpl. Grice, Lance-Corpl. Thompson.

Upon arrival at their destination, everyone who had previously been there, on reconnaissance, was struck by the great changes that had taken place within such a short time; the locality had, in fact, become one huge camp. There were armoured cars, R.E.s, motor-tractors, besides thousands of camels—indeed, every branch of the service was represented. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that these preparations were not hidden from the Turks, whose aeroplanes came over every day and dropped bombs, without, however, doing much damage.

The camping site for the Squadron proved to be in a wide gully, leading up from the Wadi Ghuzze, between two hills. After watering in the wadi (to reach which a rather steep slope had to be negotiated), "lines" were put up and the new bivouac sheets recently issued, erected, after which, having had something to eat, the Squadron was able to enjoy a well-earned rest. In the very early hours of the following morning "C" Sub-section, under Sec.-Lieut. Kindell (who now took command in the absence of Lieut. Macmillan), proceeded with the "S.R.Y." to take up the day outpost-line some few miles north-east of Reshid Beck. It soon became evident that the Turk had intended to occupy this line, as he contested it with rifle fire; he was, however, just a little too late and had to withdraw! The position we now occupied afforded splendid observation of all the surrounding country. In fact, the ground dropped abruptly to a plain several miles wide, cut by wadis and studded with low mounds; on the right the Wadi Ghuzze with a narrow stream of water on one side, wended its way across the plain, almost to our lines.

On the other side of the plain, on the banks of the wadi, the tents of a Turkish camp could plainly be seen, and (by the aid of a pair of field glasses), the Turks themselves, going about their work. During the day various officers from an infantry division came up to the post in order to view the ground, over which, they stated, they were going to attack, in two days' time. At dusk our troops withdrew through the night-outpost line; "C" Sub-section, with the one limber that accompanied it, returned to camp, independently. On this day the Squadron watering-party was bombed by hostile aircraft, but no casualties occurred. October 30th was spent in "resting," and in the afternoon every man was directed to lie down in his "bivvy" from 13.00 to 17.00 hrs. (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.)! Upon being asked by the Orderly Officer why he was not complying with this order, one man remarked to his pal: "Well, that's the first time I've been stopped doing work in the Army"! It was, however, very necessary, as, that night at 20.30 (8.30 p.m.), the Brigade, commanded by Brig.-Gen. J.T. Wigan, C.M.G., D.S.O., started on its approach-march after watering.


The "going" was, most of the way, through thick sand with a lot of green scrub. Doubtless, everybody who took part in that march will ever remember the incidents and details of the operations—and the indescribable dust. Temperature very cold; "loads off"; "loads on"; at frequent intervals. So—on, through the night; generally at the walk, occasionally trotting; hearing, at one point, intermittent rifle-fire (on the left flank), and, with now and then, "VERY LIGHTS" being put up. Later on, a white stone building was passed (apparently unoccupied) called "Ibn Said".

After several hours' marching, a road and a narrow gauge Turkish railway were crossed, both of which were understood to lead to Beersheba. At length, the position was reached on Itwail El Semin, 7 miles south of Beersheba, just before daybreak, where the transport ("A" Echelon) soon found us. "A" and "B" Sub-sections were immediately attached to the "S.R.Y." and "S.N.H." respectively, and took up positions in front of Ras-Hablein and Goz-el-Naam.

It was not long before it became evident that there was "something doing". Yes, the great event for which the Squadron had been preparing since its formation was about to take place! The 7th Mounted Brigade found itself "up against" a series of strongly-held trenches on Ras-Hablein to Ras-Ghannam. The 60th Infantry Division was on its left and the Australians on its right. The plan of attack, as given in the official publication: "A Brief Record of the Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force" was as follows:—

"... for the 60th and 74th Divisions to seize the enemy works between the Khalasa Road and the Wadi Saba, while the defences north of the Wadi were masked by the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade and two battalions of the 53rd Division. The Anzac Mounted Division, Australian Mounted Division and 7th Mounted Brigade were to attack the defences of the town from the north-east, east and south-east".

The progress of the attack all along the line could be seen from the top of Itwail. The Turk, everywhere, clung tenaciously to his main positions. During the whole morning and afternoon, rifle and shell-fire were continued on both sides. "B" Sub-section covered the advance of the "S.N.H." The Essex Battery R.H.A., in action at this time, came in for a bad quarter of an hour, but fortunately escaped with slight casualties, when, at 16.00 (4 p.m.) orders were issued to attack Beersheba!

The Brigade at once formed up in a cloud of dust, and, led by its General as if on a ceremonial parade at home, started off at the trot to the attack. Soon, the dust became so dense (especially in the centre of the Brigade), that it was impossible to see two yards in front. After going a mile or two, a halt was made under cover of a hill for a few minutes, then on again. To the surprise of everyone, little opposition was now offered, and it soon became apparent that the Turk had fled, although reinforced during the day, the sight of an English Cavalry Brigade advancing, proving too much for him! Another halt, another trot, then the position was taken!


Until quite recently, the Turk had been content merely to patrol the country south and east of Beersheba, but our concentration at Esani had made him uneasy about his left flank, and he had hastily dug a line of trenches and manned them, hoping to put up a strong opposition to our advance. These were the trenches we had now taken; and they constituted a strong position too, the hills being particularly steep in front of them.

Having captured the position and enjoyed a short rest, the Brigade pushed on again after dark—this time in column of route, but "at the walk," as it was "pitch-black" and the ground rough and rocky. Well on in the evening, a welcome change in the going occurred, as we came out upon a road (the same one crossed in the morning); a proper road, a real road like one at home in England! It seemed strange, indeed, after the miles of desert; the horses appreciated it too! Later, the moon having risen, a long halt was made, after which the road towards Beersheba was resumed. Every mile or so, by the wayside were now passed remains of Turkish camps, dead animals, overturned wagons, abandoned ammunition, etc., etc. The enemy had evidently left in "some" haste. But there were still isolated parties of the enemy in the hills, from which direction shots could be heard from time to time.


After a long and gruelling journey, during which everyone was dead tired and the horses badly in need of water, the outskirts of the "town" of Beersheba were at last reached. Here the Squadron halted, whilst the units in front "watered". It then became known to us that Beersheba had already been occupied by the Australians, who, no doubt, had come in from the flank. As regards the "water," this was contained in a long stone trough, and, although it was thick with mud, it was all that could be had. Yet, of this filth the animals drank deeply, not having tasted a drop of liquid for 24 hours!

After "watering," a camping-area for the night was allotted to the Squadron near by. The animals having been off-saddled and fed, everyone was glad to be able to lie down in his clothes and snatch some sleep during the few remaining hours, until it was time to "stand to" in the morning. Before daybreak the Squadron saddled-up and moved off into the plain outside the town. Here it halted in "Line of Sub-section Column" and dismounted. No sooner had the sun risen, however, when machine-gun fire broke out from all directions. At once the order was given to extend for rifle fire. Everyone expected to see the dust thrown up all round by the thousands of bullets which were being fired, and prepared for a great melee, but—nothing happened! A perfect tornado of fire and nothing whatever could be seen! After a few minutes, to the surprise of all, everything was quiet again! The explanation was obtained afterwards: all that had happened was that a Boche plane had appeared over our outpost line. He must, certainly, have had a hot reception!

Then "lines" were put down, animals off-saddled again and a much needed wash-up and shave indulged in—after watering and stables. To feel clean once more and to be able to have a sleep in the heat of the day, which at this time was intense (in spite of the cold nights), was a treat enjoyed by all.

Beersheba was very disappointing. Instead of being a town, as Europeans understand that term, a place where one can buy such things as cigarettes and something to eat, nothing at all was obtainable, and the only buildings in it, that were not mud huts, were empty.[2]

During our stay at Beersheba, enemy planes, often flying quite low, paid us several visits, for whose benefit one Sub-section always had its guns mounted for anti-aircraft work. On one of these raids two men and several animals, in an Australian Field Ambulance a couple of hundred yards from the Squadron Camp, were killed. One man had a "narrow shave". He was standing beside his horse when the plane appeared, and, for safety, he jumped into a trench that happened to be at hand still holding the reins. The animal was killed, but he himself escaped without a scratch!


[2] Beersheba—"Well of the oath": See Genesis, chaps. xxi and xxvi, v. 23 and 32.


To the 21st Infantry Corps in front of Gaza, had been given the task of attracting enemy reserves to that neighbourhood, thus to lighten the task of the troops on the right of the line, in the capture of Beersheba. On October 27th, a bombardment of the elaborate Gaza defences had been commenced, assisted by the Navy, and on the night of November 1st-2nd, "Umbrella Hill" was captured, followed in the early morning by the whole of the front-line system of trenches.


After a day's rest, the 7th Mounted Brigade started off again (on November 2nd) at 08.30. "C" Sub-section reported to the "S.N.H."; "D" Sub-section to the "S.R.Y." The Transport ("B.1" Echelon) just arrived as the Squadron was timed to move off, and rations had to be issued out on parade. [It may here be mentioned that the transport had had a "rough time," and without having accurate knowledge of what was happening to the Brigade, owing to the many difficulties of communication en route, did splendidly in arriving even when it did.]

The railway being crossed, the Brigade "carried on," along a sort of old track north of Beersheba for about 10 miles, where a halt was called. A short description of the country hereabouts would not, perhaps, be out of place. Doubtless other people will read this record besides the members of the Squadron who have seen the "beauties" of that remote part of the world; a brief reference to the characteristics of the locality may, therefore, be appreciated by those who would like to spend a short holiday there!

Now, the ground itself, baked hard by the tropical sun and total absence of water, is covered with stones, it has practically no vegetation whatever, any scrub, at all resembling a tree, being something to remark upon. Parts of the country, however, are cultivated by the natives during the winter and spring, but at the time of our campaign everything was quite bare. Then, there are no roads; the tracks made by the natives are inches deep in dust, which, when used by troops, rises in dense clouds, choking one's nose and eyes, besides "caking" on the face, so that in a very short time every man more resembles a performer in a minstrel troupe rather than a soldier in His Majesty's Army. Everywhere hills are to be seen, upon which there are outcrops of rock. Upon these hills, also, a small bushy plant manages to grow (a kind of thyme), which has a very pungent smell.

In front of the halting place, mentioned above, was a plain about a mile wide; on each side of this was a range of hills. The "S.R.Y." and "D" Sub-section made towards Khuweilfeh on their left front, and the "S.N.H." and "C" Sub-section set off half-right towards the hills. The "S.N.H." met but slight opposition from the enemy, which they easily overcame. Pushing forward and taking, on the way, two field-guns and two ambulances abandoned by the Turks, they, at length, gained the highest point (Ras en Nukb); from here could be seen the Turkish position on the other side of the plain, being attacked by the "S.R.Y."


It was clear that no further advance could be made until the Turks on the left were dislodged. This seemed to be a difficult proposition, as enemy reinforcements could be seen coming up in great numbers. Towards evening an attempt was made to attack them on the other side, but the ground being found to be very rocky, and after being shelled considerably and night setting in, orders were received to withdraw. Then the "S.N.H." came right back to the point where they had left the Brigade, and "C" Sub-section remained with them for that night. After several attempts had been made to bring in the captured guns, it was decided it was impossible to retain them, so they were turned over a precipice.

The next morning (November 3rd) before daylight, the "S.N.H." and "C" Sub-section set out again, and occupied the same position which they had evacuated the previous night, being relieved about 10.00 by the Australians. They had, however, to stand-by for a time, as the Turks showed signs of attacking. On the way back to the Brigade they passed British infantry on the way up to the attack, moving under artillery fire, which on both sides was very lively just then.

In the meantime "D" Sub-section had been having an adventure; the following incident being related by one who was present:—


"Shortly after leaving the Brigade," he writes, "we came into action on a ridge and gave overhead fire, while the S.R.Y. attacked the enemy position which was on another ridge about 1,800 yards off. After a short time, in order to get closer to the enemy, we advanced to an intervening ridge about 900 yards, bringing us this distance from the enemy. During this advance, which was carried out at the gallop, we were subjected to very heavy machine-gun fire, through which we were lucky to come with the loss of only one pack mule. The second position was a good one, and we were able to bring very effective fire on to the enemy who were in a similar position to ourselves, only rather higher up. Observation was very bad owing to the hard ground.

"After being in action for a considerable time and having fired a large quantity of ammunition, we suddenly became aware that we were entirely "on our own," not one S.R.Y. or a man of any other unit to be seen. Mr. Raynor went back to try to re-establish communication, and just as it was rapidly getting dark he sent up an orderly to tell us to come out of action, and to lead us down into a gulley below the position we held, where he was. When we arrived at what the guide thought was the spot, however, it was quite dark, indeed "pitch black". He was nowhere to be found, and after sending out scouts in all directions, and still being unable to find him in the darkness, we took the opportunity to feed the horses. After a short rest and being under the impression that the Brigade had advanced (from information previously obtained) we advanced too! After passing our former position, and descending the steep slope beyond, we at last sighted a light, and sent out a man (Pte. Chantry) to reconnoitre. Our surprise can be imagined, when he got to within a hundred yards of it he was fired at. It was a party of Turks! They immediately 'stood to' and let us have it 'hot'. We at once galloped to cover on the left flank, but unfortunately before we reached it Francis was hit, and we never saw the poor chap again! The pack animal he was leading, however, came along with the rest of the horses.

"Just after this incident a gun 'pack' (the Bint), got loose (she was always difficult to lead), and galloped off. But she came in by herself the next morning, followed shortly afterwards by the horse poor Francis had been riding when he met his end. After we reached cover, we found the 'S.R.Y.' Headquarters close by, so we reported there, when we were told that orders had been issued for us to re-join the Squadron. The 'O.C.' and Mr. Raynor were there also, who told us to remain for the night, off-saddling half at a time. The following morning we again came into action near our original position of the previous day, but did not fire. During the morning we were relieved by some machine guns from the Camel Corps, and then rejoined the Brigade".


"B" Sub-section was early attached to the Australians and advanced, on the right of the "S.R.Y.," on the edge of the plain. They had tough fighting and fired a considerable quantity of ammunition. It is regretted that information is not available, to allow of a detailed description of the adventures of this Sub-section at Khuweilfeh, being given. It is certain, however, that the Sub-section rendered the Australians valuable assistance, which was greatly appreciated.

The Brigade, having been relieved by the 53rd Division[3], now commenced the long march back to Beersheba, a distance of at least 10 miles, through the country we have just described. This journey, and that which followed, were the most tiring of these operations. It must be remembered that the horses had not been watered nor the men's water-bottles filled, since the previous morning. When the intense heat of the day is considered, not to mention the dust, the hardships suffered can, perhaps, be imagined! The G.O.C. (Brig.-Gen. J.T. Wigan, C.M.G., D.S.O.) went along the whole column and handed his brandy-flask to those who seemed the most exhausted. Upon arriving at Beersheba, the town was found to be swarming with more troops, and it was with the greatest difficulty that any water was obtained at all. Everyone had gone without just as long as we had done—at least, so they said!

The next day (November 4th), was spent in watering and cleaning up. Towards evening, "Saddle-up" was ordered; the Brigade moved at 16.00 and marched to Karm, a distance of 15 miles—a journey which seemed interminable. The air was so thick with dust that it was necessary to keep right on to the tail of the horse in front, or you would have been lost in a second. "'Ware hole on the right!" "Mind the wire!" and such like orders were passed down the column from time to time. You had just to do what you were told, as it was quite impossible to see even a yard ahead!

Arrived at Karm, at about 22.00, the Brigade watered their horses from the troughs beside the railway line, which were supplied with water brought up in trucks by train from the pipe line at Shellal or El Arish! After a short sleep, the Brigade moved on a few miles to Goz el Geleib, and took over a camping area from the 8th Mounted Brigade.

Our Squadron took over the identical ground just occupied by the 21st Squadron, and the small party we sent on in advance learnt of the action they had been in, when strongly attacked, and the praise they had earned from the Commander-in-Chief. During this action, one of their officers (Lieut. Stuart) who was known to some of the members of the "20th," was captured. He was at first reported killed.

The Brigade stayed here for the day in reserve. Glad enough everyone was of this little rest, which at any time is indeed "very little" for a cavalry unit, even when halted. That afternoon an officer of the Squadron was ordered to proceed to a point overlooking the Wadi Imleh and establish signalling communication with the Australian Headquarters, and to keep watch for any enemy movement across it. The line, in this part, was held by small posts, in some places over a mile apart. It would seem to be an easy matter for the Turk to creep up during the night and at daybreak pour through the gaps. It was, indeed, at this point that the 21st Squadron had been so hard pressed.

Nothing unusual happened on this occasion, however, and the next morning (November 6th), the Brigade moved at 08.30 to a point north-east of Karm, near Abu Irgeig, just behind the line. Two sub-sections were at once sent to a line of observation overlooking Wadi Imleh. Persistent rumours of an enemy attack from this quarter which, as has been seen, was very lightly held, kept everyone on the alert.

"C" Sub-section watered at Karm during the day and before night the positions were carried by the infantry and the Brigade camped near by. But it was on the move again the next morning (November 7th) long before daylight (at 04.30). No person in the Squadron knew what was the destination, and when, at length, day broke, there were many speculations even as to the locality they were then actually in.

Eventually a railway was crossed, and the country appeared just like that north of Beersheba. It transpired, in fact, that they were only a few miles from that town, but on a different road from that leading to Khuweilfeh. After having covered about 8 miles since the morning, the Brigade approached Tel-el-Sheria, where it came in sight of the railway station, and under enemy shell-fire, which was pretty hot at times. At the station itself the shelling was hotter still, as 5.9's were falling thick just there. At night, however, all shelling ceased and the troops were able to water their horses at 23.00 in the wadi, close to the station.

Meanwhile at Gaza, on the coast, the intense bombardment of the Turkish lines that had been going on, was more than the enemy could stand, and he began to withdraw his troops. To such an extent had the withdrawal been carried out, that a British attack on the night of November 6th-7th met with but slight opposition, and Outpost Hill, Middlesex Hill and Ali-Munter were captured without much trouble. The Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade passed right through the ruins of Gaza.


[3] The enemy by this time probably thought that a wide out-flanking movement was to be undertaken at Khuweilfeh, and accordingly hastily brought up still more reserves. After fighting day and night against superior numbers, the 53rd Division was, finally, able to capture the position on November 6th. The drawing of the Turkish reserves to this part of the line contributed to the success elsewhere.


The following day (November 8th), at 05.00, a further advance was made by our Brigade along the railway about 9 miles, and the enemy was sighted in the neighbourhood of Tel Hudeiwe, whom the "S.N.H." and "C" Sub-section were sent to dislodge. This task they accomplished at once, but a sudden counter-attack forced back our advanced points with a rush, who sustained some casualties. The position then held was a good one, and there were little doubts about our being able to hold it, even if outnumbered. The ground was so steep in the rear, that led-horses could be brought up to within 20 yards, or less, of the guns. In front, too, the ground sloped away sharply, and on the other side of the valley was a ridge, similar to our own, to which the Turks had withdrawn, and where they could be seen in large numbers. They kept up a very heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, which, however, we heartily returned. Their artillery, evidently, was being employed elsewhere, as will be shown shortly. During the afternoon the Turks were seen to be reinforced, and showed every sign of attempting an attack. "B" Sub-section came up and was in action alongside "C"; "E" Sub-section also was attached, but was held in reserve for eventualities. It was soon seen, however, that the Turk had come to the conclusion that "discretion was the better part of valour," for nothing further happened.


Meanwhile "D" Sub-section had been having a rough time. They had taken up a position close to Brigade Headquarters with the Essex Battery, to protect it from a flank attack. The Essex and Turkish artillery had a lively duel, during which shells fell thick, around this quarter. Lance-Corpl. Marriott was, unfortunately, killed, while Lieut. Raynor, Ptes. Taylor and Crane, and, later, Lance-Corpl. Green, were wounded, in this action. It may be mentioned here, that Lieut. Raynor was hit in the arm, and after undergoing several operations in Nasrieh Hospital, Cairo, he was sent home and finally retired from the Army. The manner in which he had organised "D" Sub-section, and in a few weeks made it a fighting unit of exceptional quality, had earned him great praise. Sergt. Fleet, who assumed command after Lieut. Raynor was hit, did splendid work and was afterwards awarded the Military Medal.

All was quiet during the night, and at daybreak the patrols sent out, reported "all clear"; the Turks had "Imshied" (i.e., cleared out). After watering, under a certain amount of shell fire, the Sub-sections that had been in the line re-joined the Squadron; the remainder had watered late the previous night, and were not allowed the time to water again. Then commenced an exciting race across country towards the coast, in an endeavour to cut off the Turkish garrison at Gaza, which was stated at this time to be in full retreat. The Brigade advanced 16 miles that day—"Point 375," Simsin-Bureir, Huliekht, Julis—right through the ancient land of the Philistines.

A different kind of country was being met with now, much of it being, evidently, cultivated during certain times of the year. Many villages were also passed, some of which looked quite pretty from a distance, clustering among their cactus hedges and a few trees. But anything green would have looked pleasant at that moment to the men who, for so long, had seen nothing but the arid desert. It was a case, however, of "distance lending enchantment to the view", as a close inspection proved disappointing. The filth in which these people live must be seen to be realised. Language fails in this case! Their houses are simply mud huts consisting, generally, of only one room, in which the whole family live! During the day strong healthy men sit about outside, while the women do all the work, even to the toilsome labour of tilling the ground! A search for water in such places is not a very hopeful matter; at the most there might be two wells, from which water could be got up, a bucketful at a time—a hopeless look out, when there are thousands of thirsty men and horses! Nothing was seen of the enemy that day, and when the sea came in view (what a splendid sight!), it was evident the Gaza forces had escaped.

What an enormous amount of ammunition and stores they had left behind! It has been stated, unofficially, it would have been enough to last them 12 months! Evidently, the enemy did not expect to leave in such a hurry.

That night the Brigade bivouacked at Julis, and the next morning (November 10th), in attempting to water "B" Sub-section was shelled out of Es Suafir el Gharbiye. The Squadron then returned to Julis, and was ordered to off-saddle and look for water at one of the villages near the coast. Eventually they found a moderate supply at Hamame, 3-1/2 miles away, together with—quite unexpectedly—oranges. To say that these were appreciated is hardly adequate, it can well be imagined that they were a luxury just then!

Having returned to camp, Capt. Davies and Lieut. Price excited the envy of the other officers. They had been to El-Mejdel, a few miles south of Hamame, which turned out to be quite civilised compared with the surrounding villages, and they had bought some tobacco and, actually, had had a cup of coffee!


An hour or two afterwards we had great news! The Brigade was to go to Hamame for a rest and clean up, and perhaps a swim in the sea! After our experiences it would certainly be difficult to think of anything that could be more appreciated, unless it were a square meal; but then, there were oranges to be had, to make up for shortcomings in that respect.

Only 11 days since leaving Esani, yet how much had been crowded into that short period! As much work had been done every day as was usually done in a week. It was not the fatigue of the trekking and fighting that "told" so much, but the lack of adequate rest; generally "turning-in" very late at night, and often having to sleep in boots ready to move before daylight the following morning, with nothing but "bully beef," biscuits, and (a very little) jam to eat. Sometimes tea was available, but frequently without sugar or milk. As regards "bully beef," this may be very sustaining, but it is a fact difficult to believe when having nothing else to eat for weeks on end. The look of it was enough to make one sick! Of course, in the circumstances, no other rations were possible, and the Supply Department certainly did wonders to keep units supplied with any kind of food, when they did not know, from one hour to another, where they would be located next, without taking into consideration the distances that had to be covered over roads hardly worthy to be called tracks.

Two days were spent at Hamame, and how glorious they were! The Squadron rode down "bare-back" to the beach each day (two miles away) and bathed, the horses going into the sea as well. They were watered from wells just dug by the Field Troop (R.E.). It is a curious fact that all along this coast one has only to dig down in the sand a few feet, and there an inexhaustible supply of fresh water is to be found. It only remains to put up canvas troughs and hand pumps, and any number of horses can be watered, as easily as if they were in the best watered country in the world. It is unfortunate that this is not possible away from the coast.


At 04.30 on the morning of November 13th, the Brigade moved from its comfortable quarters at Hamame, nearly due east to Beit Affe, and then beyond Summeil, where a line was taken over which had been previously held by another Brigade. On the way the Turks shelled us heavily. It is surprising how difficult it is to hit a Brigade on the move, in "Line of Troop Column"; shells often fell right in the centre of a Regiment, yet not actually hitting a troop or doing any damage whatever! At night we withdrew from the line, marched on to Tel-et-Turmus, north-west, and slept there in a deep wadi. The next day at 05.30 we were "on the move" again and pushed on to El Tine crossing the railway. It was evident, from the amount of kit, dead animals, etc., on the road, that "Johnny Turk" had not been dawdling by the way!

From El Tine we went to Kezaze and thence to Junction Station where our eyes were gladdened by the sight of a BRICK BUILDING. On reaching the crest of the ridge the railway leading to Jerusalem suddenly came into view, and, parallel with it, was seen the main road to that town. Visible for several miles until lost to sight in the distant hills, it was crowded with retreating Turks who had been thoroughly surprised at our sudden appearance. The station appeared to be in flames, but the Turk was still "showing fight," and in a short time "C" Sub-section attached to the "S.R.Y." was in action on the ridge south of the railway against the enemy, who had a position on a hill the other side of it. In about a quarter of an hour, however, the Turk was seen retiring, and the Sub-section came out of action and advanced across the railway line to "let him have it" again, in his new position in front of the village of Khulde. Evening was drawing near, when orders were received to withdraw to the original position for the night, and close by there, the Squadron settled down. Before that, however, they had gone to the station to water, but the supply quickly gave out and they had to return. Towards midnight, a fresh source having been tapped, they turned out to water again, none having been had the day before: they had been 57 hours without water!

The next day no serious advance was made, but the day following, after being shelled before starting, the Brigade crossed the railway and went through Khulde, which had been evacuated. They were heavily shelled and unable to proceed, as they found the enemy firmly entrenched in the hills. "D" Sub-section got some targets at Latron.[4] They returned to their old camp; water by this time had been developed and was no difficulty. The infantry too had arrived.

Nothing was done the next day, and everyone was glad of the rest. Sec.-Lieut. Kindell having contracted dysentery, was sent to hospital. It was now November 17th, and the Squadron had become seriously reduced in strength. More men had been lost than horses, and men leading three animals each accompanied the transport. Two officers and 50 men had been killed, wounded, or evacuated sick (more than a quarter of the whole Squadron), whereas only 15 animals had been lost. This left 35 riding horses surplus, men to lead which had to be found. It should be remembered that losses in a machine gun unit are much more serious than in a regiment. The teams for the guns have to be maintained, and when these are reduced in strength an enormous amount of extra work falls on those who remain.

At 05.30 on November 18th the Brigade went to Khurbet Deiran, 6 miles north-west, arriving the same morning.


[4] At Latron was a castle of the Knights of St. John. It was destroyed by Saladin in A.D. 1191.


The first sight of really civilised country was obtained at this period. On the way, the cultivated areas round Ramleh[5] were visible as far as the eye could reach. This was indeed a very pleasant change from the barren and uncultivated tracts—the interminable stretches of rocky and boulder-strewn ground, intersected by apparently unbounded areas of flat, dust-covered wastes:—

"Dust in heaps and dust in piles, dust in shifting ridges; Dust and dust for miles and miles, and what 'aint dust is midges".

So quoth the cynic; and the peculiar part about it is that, wherever are large stretches of dusty ground, so also there is the wind! and nothing need be said of the result of a combat between these two forces.

All thoughts of the country left behind, however, were immediately banished from the mind at the sight of that which lay before us, and anticipation ran high in the belief that these were the wonderful orange-groves which, one had heard, were supposed to be situated in this part of Palestine. Expectations were realised, and on nearing Deiran, orchard upon orchard were passed with trees bending under the weight of hundreds of large and delicious Jaffa oranges! Everyone purchased as many as it was possible to carry, and those who had no available cash, managed to satisfy their wants by means of barter—incidentally, be it whispered, many an odd tin of "bully" found its way into the local inhabitants' larders.

Practically the whole of this part of Palestine, reaching from Deiran to several miles north of Jaffa, is split up into a number of Jewish Colonies, settlers under the Zionist movement, and they form the nucleus of the renascent Jewish nation. Deiran was found to be a well-laid-out village composed of substantially-built houses of white stone, with red-tiled roofs, "up-to-date" furniture, and with nice white lace curtains at the windows. One could almost delude himself into the belief that he was home again. And the delusion almost became a reality as one caught sight of pretty young girls dressed in quite smart European frocks, standing in the doorways with welcoming smiles, and motherly old ladies beaming with pleasure, who handed large bunches of luscious grapes to the men as they rode by. It must be remembered that it was only two days since that the Turks had been somewhat hurriedly ejected from this place. The great pleasure that these hard-working people experienced could be quite understood when some of the barbarous acts of the Turks are brought to mind, they being too well known to be dwelt upon here. Afterwards it was learned from the inhabitants, that many and great were the impositions placed upon them; the Turk simply took what he wanted, and should he happen to take a dislike to anyone, the latter was in danger of having all his property confiscated, without any explanation whatever being given.

The day after the Brigade arrived at Deiran they moved via Naane[6] and Annabe to between Harmash and Nalin, 14 miles north-east. Here they stayed three days, watering twice daily, at Hadithe, about 3 miles east-north-east of Ludd. About this time the weather broke and heavy rain set in. This downpour, accompanied as it was by a considerable fall in the temperature, was a severe trial for troops attired in summer clothing who, until a few hours previously, had been suffering from excessive heat!

At 09.00 on November 23rd they went through Ludd about 16 miles south-east to Zernuka. The 24th was spent there, and on the 25th they moved in the afternoon to Rishon-le-Zion (Ayun Kara), 6 miles due north, in reserve to the Anzacs, as the enemy was becoming active in this quarter. They stayed here the following day, and men were allowed to go into the town. Rishon-le-Zion is a pretty little place, and another example of the Zionist movement. Here are large wine distilleries, and very good wine they make too! Before the War large quantities were regularly sent to England.

The next morning (November 27th), the Brigade returned to Zernuka (close to Akir[7]). They arrived about midday and watered. Late in the afternoon Lieut. Oakley arrived, bringing 40 remounts and reinforcements for the Brigade (none for this Squadron unfortunately); he had ridden the 70 miles from Belah in 30 hours, and had, in fact, only left Cairo at 18.15 on the 24th.


[5] Ramleh was a city of the Crusaders, and suffered in the wars between the Franks and Saladin. During the French invasion Napoleon made this town his headquarters.

[6] Naane; Naamah, see Joshua xv, 41.

[7] Akir = Ekron, see Joshua xv, 11, 45, xix, 43; I Sam. vi; III Kings i; Jer. xxv, 20; Amos i, 8; Zeph. ii, 4; Zech. iv, 5.


The British line had been advanced and now extended from the River Auja north of Jaffa on the coast, south-east to a few miles north-east of Jerusalem and thence due south. The Turk at this time, although greatly demoralised, was making some desperate counter-attacks.

At 17.00 on November 27th, orders were received for a move that night at 21.00. The Brigade was required, in a great hurry, to fill a gap in the line that the Turks had discovered, and of which they appeared to intend to take advantage.

Of the Machine-Gun Squadron, only Headquarters and three sub-sections ("A" "D" and "E") were to go, but were made up to working strength by men from "B" and "C" Sub-sections. The Officer Commanding, Capt. Marshall, was there, and the "second in command," Capt. Davies. Lieut. Price, M.C., still commanded "E," but Lieut. Cazalet being sick, Lieut. Hibbert took his place in command of "A". "D" Sub-section was under Sergt. Fleet, who had just been notified that he had been awarded the Military Medal for his splendid work at Hudeiwe and elsewhere.

The forced march to Tahta (a distance of 22 miles), all through the night, after the previous operations, was "killing". The horses, however, stood the fast going over rocky ground remarkably well, and a part of the distance was even covered at the canter! A faint glimmer of dawn was just visible over the tops of the surrounding hills when the Brigade, on the morning of the 28th November, arrived, tired, dusty and dishevelled, in the vicinity of Beit ur et Tahta, a desolate native village, about 12 miles north-west of Jerusalem and situated at the end of a wadi along the centre of which ran the road leading from Jimzu.[8]


[8] Jimzu = Gimzo, see II Chron. xxviii, 18.


Immediately upon arrival the horses were off-saddled and fed, the "dixies" were unearthed from off the pack-saddles and everything pointed to an early mug of tea and a much-needed rest. Unfortunately, the fates decreed otherwise, for just as the water was "on the boil" a terrific fusillade of rifle-fire broke out, seemingly from all sides. Previously to this, there had been intermittent shelling just to the north of the village, and on the commencement of the rifle-fire this increased in intensity until things began to look extremely awkward. A quick glance up at the hills surrounding the wadi gave no indication as to the source from which the firing emanated, until, a few minutes later, when several men were seen "doubling back" down the slope of the hill on the western side of the wadi. These men were afterwards found to be those holding the outposts in that particular point of the line. They came with the ominous news that the outposts were driven in and the Turks were upon us! Almost at once this was seen to be the case, as the enemy reached the top of the ridge and his fire began to take its toll of men and animals.

To gain a proper appreciation of the serious predicament in which the Brigade was placed at this moment, it will be necessary to understand the nature of the ground thereabouts. On both sides of the wadi were high banks, or hills, 60 to 80 feet high, the surface of these being strewn with large rocks and boulders. The wadi itself was about 20 yards wide with the road winding its tortuous way down the centre between rocks and boulders worn smooth by the passage of water which, ages ago, had run its course from the hills. Packed in this wadi was the Brigade, absolutely at the mercy of the withering fire of the enemy, almost from overhead.

Immediately everything became an orderly bustle and excitement. Squadrons of the two Yeomanry regiments were dispatched to take up defensive positions. The Officer Commanding ordered "E" Sub-section to come into action on the side of the hill, about 400 yards away to the left, against a Mosque which was strongly held, and whence most of the fire appeared to be coming. They "man-handled" their guns and took up good positions, the rocks affording them a certain amount of cover. The gun-teams at that time consisted of four men each, who were naturally rather exhausted after the "trek" and rush-into-action, carrying the guns.

These teams were composed as follows:—

Lance-Corpl. Grice Lance-Corpl. Thompson. Pte. Willmore Pte. Duncan " Crossman " Joiner " Goldie " Roberts.

They opened fire upon the Mosque at a range of 700 yards with good effect, silencing two enemy machine-guns.

After being in action about half-an-hour the "S.R.Y." sent to Lieut. Price to deal with a party of Turks who were bringing fire to bear on their rear. The Turks were found to be in a trench with a machine-gun. Fire was opened on them, and all were killed except one man who escaped, mounted. Attention was then directed to the Mosque, where the Turks were still causing some trouble. "Covering-fire" was given to the "S.R.Y." who attacked, but without entire success and had to withdraw. In the end the Turk was ejected, however, and he was not able again to occupy it.

During the day's fighting Pte. Crossman had been wounded.


At night both guns were placed about 50 yards apart, facing up the hill. Working hard during the night, the enemy built a breastwork on the top of the hill, and the flash of their machine-gun fire could be seen directed from that position across the front of the Mosque, apparently to prevent it being occupied. About midnight Lieut. Price was walking along the line having a look-out and had just passed his right-hand gun when he was unfortunately hit by a bullet in the groin. Lance-Corpl. Grice at once had him bandaged up and carried down to the dressing station by Ptes. Baker and Roberts. To the sorrow of all his comrades, however, he died in the Field Ambulance. He was taken to Ramleh, where he was buried.

Just after Lieut. Price was hit, Sergt. Hawkins, who had only arrived a few days previously, but rendered splendid service on this his first day's fighting, was wounded (he was afterwards awarded the Military Medal) and Corpl. Franklin then came up to take charge. He reported the casualties to Squadron Headquarters when S.S.M. Larwood came up and "took over," sending him to resume charge of the led horses.

In the morning, before daylight, the guns were moved further up the hill in line with the infantry (Scottish Rifles), who had arrived the previous evening and advanced after dark. It was during this morning's operations that Pte. Cowley was unfortunately wounded. The Turkish defenders of the breastwork, after being submitted to heavy fire, came in under a German N.C.O. and surrendered, upon which the infantry went up and occupied their late position. The infantry soon had to fall back again, however, owing to heavy shell fire, when the Turks re-occupied it. During the day there was a certain amount of bombing and sniping on both sides, during which Pte. Joiner was killed. He had been trying to account for the sniper himself, and upon being ordered to go down the hill to see about the rations for his sub-section he was hit as soon as he moved.

After dark our infantry once more attacked the position, but were again unsuccessful. At about 01.00 infantry machine-gunners came up to relieve, being shown the way by Corpl. Franklin. The guns had to be carried down to the led horses, as firing was still pretty hot; the ground, besides, was so rough that it was impossible even to lead the pack animals over it. Just before coming out of action S.S.M. Larwood and Pte. Goldie were both unfortunately wounded, the latter so seriously that he passed away six days later and was buried at Junction Station.


In the meantime the other Sub-sections had been "doing things" too. For example, as soon as the enemy opened fire, "A" Sub-section was detailed to join the "S.N.H." and moved over to the western side of the wadi, under cover of the hill, where this regiment was situated; orders were received to mount the guns on the top of this hill. After a difficult passage, under a heavy fire, to the position indicated, the guns were brought into action and opened fire immediately.

It was not even necessary to adjust sights, as the enemy were within "point-blank" range. Enfilading the enemy these guns were raking his flank with fire, whilst he was preparing to make a final rush down into the wadi. Had not this move been circumvented in the "nick of time," it is impossible to estimate the disastrous consequences which would have ensued. Almost at once, the deadly fire of the two machine-guns began to tell their tale, and odd Turks here and there suddenly remembered "a very urgent appointment". Within an hour the top of this hill was cleared, and the enemy were seen to be concentrating on the further ridge. From this vantage-point he kept up a brisk fire, both with machine-guns and rifles, and it was an extremely risky undertaking to show one's head above the particular rock behind which one was taking cover. Their fire, however, was returned with interest, and it helped to make "Johnny" arrive at the decision that it would be a very unwise thing to attack again that day, although he did once make a half-hearted attempt to regain his former position, which was promptly frustrated.

This state of things continued throughout the day, but the exposed position of these two guns began to make itself very evident, as the enemy's field guns, firing from the right flank, began to get the "hang of things" there. It was, indeed, only by a miracle that both gun-teams were not entirely wiped out! Night fell with the position of affairs pretty much the same, but, later on, a welcome respite was afforded by the cessation of the shell-fire, although machine-gun and rifle fire still continued, and if anything, with greater intensity.

At about midnight, a tremendous "strafe" commenced a little to the left, bombs and flares were freely used, and although no attempt was made to force the position, everything was in readiness, should the Turk have decided to do so. Our left-hand gun had been moved forward to command the approach to the ridge from which the Turks were driven earlier in the day. At daybreak enemy shells again commenced to fall, and it soon became quite apparent that no rest would be obtained that day. The enemy's artillery left little to be desired from his point of view, as regards accuracy of range, although considering the amount of shells expended our casualties were comparatively slight.

At about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, figures were observed to be moving on the top of a hill about 500 yards away on our left; they seemed to be making towards a mosque, situated at the end of the ridge. Our two machine guns were immediately turned upon them, when the whole of the hill-side suddenly became alive with Turks, who, scared out of their cover, fled to the further side of the ridge. A trench-mortar battery, which had come up during the previous night, and had taken up a position about a quarter of a mile in the rear, opened fire at once; it is feared that "Johnny" then had a very rough and uncomfortable 10 minutes. Chase was given by some troops in the vicinity, with the result that practically the whole of these enemy forces were either killed or taken prisoner. This little contretemps stirred up the wrath of "our friend the enemy" somewhat, and he strafed us continually until nightfall. At 10 o'clock, word was received that the Brigade was to be relieved, the situation now being considered well in hand; accordingly, about an hour later, a Lewis gun detachment of the Scottish Rifles took over our position, and the Sub-section then withdrew.

Meanwhile, "D" Sub-section had been strenuously engaged, and held back the enemy on their part of the line. Full advantage was taken of every target that presented itself, and heavy losses were inflicted upon the Turk.


When we first arrived at Tahta, as soon as fire was opened on us, the led-horses were saddled as quickly as possible and sent back under Sub-section Corporals to cover. They had moved off only 20 yards, when Lance-Corpl. Carr was killed. He was buried by Corpl. Rose and Pte. Wick that day, close to where the Brigade-Major was buried, a cross being, temporarily, put up to mark his grave.

The disposal of the led-horses presented a serious difficulty from the outset; their numbers were being fast reduced by casualties, and something had to be done to save them. It was impossible, obviously, to withdraw them the same way as they had been brought, the Turk having got astride of the road about half a mile below. Ultimately it was decided "to make a dash for it," and to take the horses right over the hill on the eastern side of the wadi, although while this was being done, they would be exposed even more than ever to the enemy's fire. This dangerous undertaking was, however, eventually successfully accomplished. The wadi was now, more or less, clear of men and animals, although the place was littered with killed and wounded. Here and there were to be seen animals with limbs broken, struggling to follow in the wake of their companions.

In their new position the led-horses, although rather more comfortable, were not, by any means, safe. All the "packs" and officers' horses were kept here, but the remainder, including all the horses of the regiments, were taken right back to Zernuka, or rather Akir, to which place the remainder of the Squadron left behind had moved.

At daybreak the next morning, when the enemy's artillery opened fire, the "packs" received a very severe shaking, and during the morning several of the mules were hit by shell splinters. Pte. Heathcote was killed by a shell at 10.30 whilst attending one of the wounded mules here; Pte. Rush was hit in the shoulder, an hour afterwards, and was taken to the Field Ambulance.


Upon the second (and last) night at Tahta, a very pathetic, but stirring, burial-ceremony was held at about 21.00, which those privileged to attend will remember to the end of their days. The ground selected for the burials was a little gully running off the main wadi. Dead animals, horses, mules and camels lay all around; upturned wagons and limbers were to be seen everywhere. During the deep roar and vivid flashes of our guns, just to the rear, and the sharp crack of bullets striking the rocks just above, the solemn and earnest words of our Chaplain could be heard. Above all, the full moon, bathing the gully in a bright light, combined to make a fitting background for the laying-to-rest of those who had been called upon to make the "supreme sacrifice".

On leaving Tahta the Squadron marched on foot to the vicinity of El Burj (guns on packs), arriving before daylight (November 30th). Here they stayed for the day, in reserve, cleaning guns, etc. At 18.00, that night, they moved nearer El Burj in support of the Australians, arriving about 21.00. Nothing happened; but the Squadron stayed all night and the next day. That night they moved into El Burj; next morning (December 2nd) they returned, and found their horses awaiting them. Headquarters, "A," "D" and "E" Sub-sections now re-joined "B" and "C" Sub-sections and transport. It was not likely that the Squadron would be required again in the Tahta district, except in an emergency, as the country was quite unsuitable for cavalry tactics; as it turned out, they were not destined to do any more fighting for a long time to come.

But the British advance had by no means been stopped, in spite of the check in the hills. The absence of roads and shortage of water here, made operations exceedingly difficult, and it was decided to attack the Turkish positions covering Jerusalem, from the south-west and west, instead of from the north-west. The troops were moved into position, and the main attack was launched at dawn on December 8th. This attack was immediately successful and resulted in the surrender of Jerusalem by the Turks to the 60TH DIVISION on the morning of Sunday, December 9th. Thus, after four centuries of conquest, the Turk was ridding the land of his presence in the bitterness of defeat. On this same day, 2082 years before, another race of conquerors, equally detested, were looking their last on the city which they could not hold, and, inasmuch as the liberation of Jerusalem in 1917 will probably ameliorate the lot of the Jews more than that of any other community in Palestine, it was fitting that the flight of the Turks should have coincided with the national festival of the Hanukah, which commemorates the re-capture of the Temple from the heathen Seleucids by Judas Maccabaeus in 165 B.C.



During the last-mentioned operations, the Squadron had lost three officers and 67 men (out of the total of seven officers and 182 men, with which it started from Amr), and had only received one officer and three men as reinforcements. The losses in animals were: 50 riding horses, 15 draught and pack animals and one donkey. Of these animals, 25 had been killed at Tahta alone, and, considering that the Squadron had covered nearly 300 miles in five weeks, the losses due to fatigue, etc., were remarkably small. It was now necessary that the Squadron be re-equipped and re-organised, but reinforcements and remounts had first to be obtained, when training could be re-commenced. At length on December 5th Sergt. Knowles and Sergt. Lewis, with 10 reinforcements, arrived from the base; Sergt. Knowles being posted to "D" Sub-section and Sergt. Lewis to "E". Both these Sergeants did excellent work. Unfortunately, Sergt. Lewis went to hospital shortly after he arrived, and was not able to return for a long time; owing to ill-health and bad luck, neither of them was able to go into action with the sub-sections they did so much towards making efficient. A fortnight was spent at Akir in complete rest, after which the Brigade moved, via El Mughar and Beshshit, to the sand hills north-east of Esdud and about 1-1/2 miles from the coast.


Conditions were not too pleasant here, but they might, perhaps, have been a great deal worse! The weather was very wet and cold and the sudden change from summer to winter was trying, even for the strongest constitutions. Being upon sand, the camp and district was certainly free from mud, but in order to water the horses a great sea of mud had to be gone through twice a day in order to reach the troughs that were erected at the Wadi Sukereir, two miles away. Warm clothing was issued out to all, and when fresh meat came up from the base, the members of the Squadron felt that they were enjoying luxury indeed!

December 21st brought a draft of 18 good fellows; the N.C.O.'s included Lance-Corpls. Gage, Laycock, Peach, Prior and Salter.

December 22nd saw the return of six old members of the Squadron who had gone to hospital during the last days of the "stunt," including Corpl. Franklin; he, however, had only been away a fortnight. Lieut. Millman and the personnel of "F" Section who went to Gamli from Amr, and afterwards to Belah, re-joined the Squadron at Esdud.

The Officer Commanding now grouped the Sub-sections together to form three sections. "No. 1" Section (consisting of "A" and "C" Sub-sections), under Lieut. Cazalet and Lieut. Oakley; "No. 2" Section ("B" and "D" Sub-sections) under Lieut. Hibbert and Sec.-Lieut. Kindell (now returned from hospital); "No. 3" Section ("E" and "F" Sub-sections) under Lieut. Millman ("F" Sub-section was still without horses). Sergt. Fleet, M.M., of "D" Sub-section had been promoted S.S.M., after S.S.M. Larwood had been wounded. Sergt. Knowles took his place in "D" on arrival. Reinforcements, and the Belah party, brought the five Sub-sections up to a reasonable strength: such was the position of affairs when Xmas drew near.


[9] Esdud = Ashdod of the Bible, one of the Philistine cities: See Joshua xiii, 3; I Samuel v; II Chron. xxvi, 6; Isaiah xx, 1; Neh. xiii, 23; Jeremiah xxv, 20; Amos i, 8, iii, 9; Zeph. ii, 4; Zech. ix, 6. In New Testament called Azotus, Acts viii, 40.

A "MERRY" XMAS, 1917.

Everyone had been hoping to have a real good time this Christmas, to make up for the hardships endured through the "stunt". Puddings, beer and other good things, it was known, were on the way up, but, owing to difficulties with the bridge over the Wadi Ghuzze which interrupted railway traffic, when the day arrived, nothing had reached camp! The "goods" eventually turned up in time for the New Year but, there being a not very large percentage of Scotsmen in the Squadron, this did not make up for the disappointment at Xmas. Further, the weather on the day itself was certainly about the worst of the whole winter; blowing hard and raining incessantly, it was scarcely with a feeling of contentment that the men "turned in" that night—all doubtless thinking of brighter surroundings in the old country!


The first thing to happen in 1918 was a MOVE to Belah; nights being spent at Medjel and Gaza on the way. The animals in the Brigade had not yet recovered from their previous exertions, and many a horse, unable to go further, had unfortunately to be led away and shot. Crossing the railway at Belah and turning to the west towards the fresh-water lake, the Brigade went round the north-end of the latter, right on to the low cliffs at the sea-shore, where the camp was to be located. There seemed to be promise of better times here than had been experienced at Esdud. The water for the horses was fairly close at hand and there was no mud.

The Brigade being now south of the bridge over the Wadi Ghuzze, rations were also likely to be better and the mail more regular; there was, in addition, a CANTEEN at Belah!

Many changes in personnel took place about this time. Before leaving Esdud S.Q.M.S. Harrison, Corpl. Barrett, Lance-Corpl. Blenkin, Ptes. Dransfield, F.W. Harrison, Ellams and Hadden left to become cadets in the R.A.F. Sergt. Fisher was promoted S.Q.M.S. Capt. Spencer, M.C., had arrived, being posted as second in command, but was reposted a few days later, to the same position which he had previously held in the 18th Squadron. Capt. L.F. St. John Davies, M.C., arrived from the 21st Squadron the day Capt. Spencer left, and became second in command. Lieut. G.M. King was posted from the 17th Squadron (January 8th), and Sec.-Lieut. J.K.W. Arden arrived from the base (January 19th); Sec.-Lieut. Kindell was admitted to hospital again, but he returned within a few weeks.

Reinforcements continued to arrive, consisting of both old and new faces: January 6th, Lance.-Corpl. Keatley and six men; January 7th, Lance.-Corpl. G. Neal and 11 men; January 17th, Lance.-Corpl. Smith and 15 men; January 23rd, Saddler Hayward and eight men. Sec.-Lieut. Arden formed "F" Sub-section; remounts being now available. The Squadron thus became complete, having six Sub-sections. The training commenced, mounted drill, elementary gun drill, mechanism, "I.A.", special classes for range-finding, signalling, also lectures. N.C.O.'s were instructed in indirect fire. Lieut. Hibbert left for leave in the United Kingdom on February 10th, and Lieut. King took his place in "B" Sub-section, and O.C. "No. 2" Section.

On February 18th, Capt. D. Marshall, M.C., proceeded on leave to the United Kingdom, and Capt. L.F. St. John Davies, M.C., became O.C., with Lieut. Oakley second in command. On returning to the E.E.F. Capt. Marshall was posted to the 17th Squadron. On February 22nd the Brigade moved north to Gaza,[10] or rather to about 1-1/2 miles south of it. Here there was a fair amount of grazing, and the animals were taken out every day for that purpose. They had been very slow in picking up condition, and it was hoped that this would do the necessary, as indeed it did.

The camp was arranged in the form of a square, a favourite formation with the Squadron, and a safe one during air raids. Water was a mile away in the Wadi Ghuzze, and rations were drawn from Gaza. On February 25th, Lieut. Oakley went to hospital; Lieut. King became second in command. On February 26th, Lieut. R.H. Fairbairns, M.C., arrived, and was posted to "No. 1" Section, taking command of "C" Sub-section. Training continued as at Belah, and on February 28th there was a Divisional Field Day—"crossing the Wadi Ghuzze," in which the 20th and 21st Squadrons were combined under Capt. R.O. Hutchinson, M.C., of the 21st.

On March 4th another Divisional Scheme took place on the hills south-east of the camp, the object being to intercept and defeat an imaginary enemy (represented in skeleton), advancing from Tel el Jemmi. This manoeuvre was satisfactorily performed.

On the 7th a pleasant diversion was made by a race meeting held by our neighbours, the 22nd Mounted Brigade. They had taken great trouble in preparing the course for both steeplechases and flat races, and on the day, a scene was presented very similar to a meeting at home, except for the absence of the ladies. On March 13th, Sec.-Lieut. J.W. Cummer arrived, and was posted to "C" Sub-section, Lieut. R.H. Fairbairns, M.C., being now second in command of the Squadron—a post which he held without interruption until he became Officer Commanding. On March 22nd, Sergt. Wright, who had been with the Squadron since its formation, left for an infantry cadet course at Zeitoun.


[10] Gaza, see Judges xvi and l, 18; Genesis x, 19; Deut. ii, 23; Jer. xxv, 20, xlvii, 1, 5; Josh. xi, 22, xv, 47; I Kings iv, 24 (Azzah); Amos i, 7; Jeph. ii, 4; Zech. ix, 5; Acts viii, 26.


News was at this time received that H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught would shortly inspect our Brigade, which was now commanded by Brig.-Gen. G.V. Clarke, D.S.O. Several preliminary parades were, therefore, held, the inspection ultimately taking place on March 15th. After the march-past the Brigade was formed into a Square and H.R.H. expressed his high satisfaction with its appearance, and congratulated all ranks on their work of the previous year. After this speech he decorated the officers, N.C.O.'s and men, who had won distinction during the operations.

The 7th Brigade races were held on the 21st, and provided a good day's sport, but the engagement was rather spoiled by an almost continuous downpour of rain. Towards the end of March the "O.C." stated that he would shortly hold two test "turn-outs". At last, one morning, sub-sections were suddenly ordered to parade at once, in marching order by the troughs at the Wadi Ghuzze a mile away. "D" Sub-section was the first to arrive there, and the whole Squadron was at the rendezvous within 55 minutes—a most creditable performance!

The next "turn-out" was a practice "Air alarm". Ten guns were mounted outside the camp itself, all men took cover and the line-guards tripled in 1 minute 50 seconds!

A pleasant day's sport was provided by a friendly competition between the Squadron and the Field Ambulance—races, mounted sports, jumping, driving, etc.—and our Squadron proved successful in most of the events.

On April 1st, orders were received that the Brigade would move, the next day, back to the area previously occupied at Belah! They duly arrived, and the Machine-Gun Squadron took over identically the same camp as before, except that the "lines" were 100 yards further south. A few days after arriving here, rumours got around that several units were to be dismounted! Up till this time it was thought that this was the last thing that was likely to happen after their success in the last operations, and the knowledge of the country and open warfare that the troops had thereby gained. Unfortunately, the rumour proved to be only too true, and two regiments in each Brigade were ordered to hand over their horses and proceed to the base. Here they underwent a course of training for the Machine-Gun Corps, after which they embarked for France, formed into Machine-Gun Battalions. The 7th Brigade having only two regiments, lost only one—the South Notts Hussars, that being the junior. At least two "graves" may be seen at Belah, each bearing an inscription headed by "R.I.P." and a broken spur! Also an "IN MEMORIAM" to the lost horses of the South Notts Hussars and the Warwick Yeomanry! The mock-ceremonies, however, were carried out in all sincerity, as, who was there who did not feel that he had lost a true friend, in being parted from his horse?

On April 7th, the 20th Squadron lent its horses to the Warwick Yeomanry to take them to the station, and on the 8th, to the "S.N.H." for the same purpose. Ill-luck, however, attended these regiments. After going through their course of training they embarked at Alexandria, but they were no sooner out at sea than their vessel was torpedoed and sunk! Many lives were lost, including Lieut. Morris, who will be remembered by all for his activities in the theatrical line, as, under his able direction, the "S.N.H. AND THE 20TH COMBINED CONCERT PARTY" provided us with a very excellent performance at Gaza.

Shortly after the departure of the "S.N.H.", the "S.R.Y." were called upon to assist in an attack on the other side of the Jordan. This operation was pushed right into the enemy country, past Es Salt, which is the most difficult ground imaginable for cavalry, but, circumstances developing in an unexpected manner, a withdrawal had to be made. This movement was accomplished in a truly splendid fashion. The affair, however, was not carried out without casualties, unfortunately, and the "S.R.Y." had to mourn the loss of Capt. Layton, one of its most prominent Squadron leaders.


The absence of the "S.R.Y." left the 7th Mounted Brigade with only the B.H.Q. 20th M.G. Squadron, Essex Battery, Cav. F.A. and M.V.S. But it soon became known that Indian Cavalry Regiments had arrived from France, and were to take the place of the regiments that had been dismounted for the M.G.C., and also to increase the number of cavalry in the country. An advance-party at length arrived in the Brigade, consisting of an officer from each regiment that was to join it, and these proved to be the "20th Deccan Horse" and "34th Poona Horse". Soon afterwards the regiments themselves arrived by train, with their horses. How these regiments would settle down in this country after their experience in France was at first a subject of interest to the Squadron. But the surroundings resembled, in some respects, their native India, and they were soon "at home". They only needed to forget the cramped warfare of the trenches in France and to practise real cavalry tactics again, to become a true part of the "E.E.F.". It was also evident, from the brightness of their steelwork, that they would be second to none in any ceremonial parade.

Training continued, and the Squadron was getting very efficient, both in the technical and tactical handling of guns. Barrage-drill (the latest introduction from Grantham), was practised, and an exhibition barrage, fired out to sea, proved very instructive. On April 18th, there was an "Action" competition for sub-sections under their respective Sergeants. They came into action at the gallop on targets at 400 yards range. "B" Sub-section was judged "best" with "A" Sub-section second.

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