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source: Col. İsmet Görgülü "On Yıllık Harbin Kadrosu"(Personal of the 10 year long War) p.143
commander of the 4th Army: Major Gen. Ahmet Cemal Pasha ( His family got the surname "Cemal" after the new reforms of the new Turkish Republic)
Chief of Staff: Col Ali Fuat (Gen. Erden) Army Serial Number: Top/artillary 1316(1900)- 1. Major Gen.:1916, Lt. Gen.:1940, General of the Army:1947. Retired:June 14th 1948
Artillary inspector: Brigadier Nicolai Pasha
3rd Army Corps: Col. Ismet Bey (Gen. Inonu. 2nd President of the Turkish Republic) Army serial number: Top/Artillary 1319(1903)-1 Brigadier 1920, Major Gen.. 1921, Lt. Gen.:1922, Ge.: 1926. Retired June 30 1927.
- 41th Inf. Div: Lt. Col. Cemil Bey (Major Gen. Conk)
Chief of Staff: Capt.Hasan
131th Inf. Regiment: Lt.Col. Nusret
132nd Inf. Regiment: Lt. Col. Galip
133rd : Major Şerif
41st Artillary Regiment: Lt. Col. Asim
8th Army Corps: Brigadier Mersinli Cemal Pasha
-Chief of Staff : Lt. Col. Sadullah Bey (Col. Güney)
27th Inf. Div: Col. Ibrahim Bey
43rd : Col. Kazim Bey ( Major Gen. Dirik) Army serial number: P/Inf.1315(1899)-87. Major Gen.: 1923, Retired:Sep. 24,1928
Artillary Regiment, 2nd Company, team commander: Lt.Cemal (Gen. Gürsel. 4th President of the Turkish Republic. Armr serial number: Top. 1330(1914)-N-70
12th Army Corps: Brigadier Remzi Pasha
- 23rd Inf. Div: Col Bahattin Bey
- 44th : Lt. Col. Sukru Bey later Lt. Col. Mehmet Hayri Bey (June 9th/Aug.22 1917)
Expedition Forces at Hicaz: Major Gen. Fahrettin Pasha ( Lt. Gen. Türkkan) The Forces was send to Medine on Jan 1917 to resist the Arap Revolt. And stayed there till the end of the war.
- Chief of Staff : Lt. Col. Keramettin Bey ( Lt. Gen. Kocaman)
58th Inf. Div. : Col. Ali Necip
Chief Of Staff: Capt. Yusuf Ziya
- 42nd Inf. Regiment: Major Ali Saip Bey
- 55th : Major Tevfik Bey
- 130th : Major Emin Bey
Guard of Medine: Brigadier Basri Pasha (Noyan)
1nci Kuvvei Seferiye (1st Expeditionary Forces) : German Col. von Kress (Kress Pasha) The forces fought in 1st gazze war in March 1917. 53th Infantry Div. joined the forces during the 2nd War in April 1917
- Chief of Staff: German Major Mühlmann
- officer at the HQ : Capt. Ekrem ( Lt. Gen. Baydar)
- 3rd Inf. Div. : Lt. Col. Edip Servet Bey ( Col. Tör) He was dismissed after 1st gazze War because his bad administration during the battle. Lt. Col. N. Nurettin Bey (Major Gen. Özsü) was made commander.
-3rd Cavalry Division: Col. Esat (later Pasha. He was made the first governer of Istanbul of the new Turkish Republic.)
-16th Inf. Div: Col. Rüştü (Major Gen. Sakarya)
Gazze Group Commander: German Major Tiller
First mixed forces. Brigadier Cemal Pasha (Üçüncü) ( There were 3 Cemals in the Army. The other one was "Kücük" Junior Cemal. Therefore he was called as "Üçüncü" (3rd Cemal)
-53th Inf. Div.: Lt. Col. Şerif (He was taken POW by the British during 1st Gazze War in March 16th 1917) Col. Refet Bey (Brigadier Refet Bele Pasha) was made commander.
2oth Army Corps. Brigadier Abdülkerim Pasha (Öpelimi) The HQ came to Damascus from Macedonia on April 10th.
54th Inf. Div.: GermanLt. Col. von Kisling
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- Location: Flanders coastal area, Jabbeke, at the home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I - Belgium
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Yes thanks for the details of the commanders at 2nd Gaza.
Do you have the Regimental appointments of the 53rd Turkish Div at Gaza,
53rd Div HQ - Col Refat Bey
161st Regt -
163rd Regt -
165nd Regt -
Also I am been after any records of the fight by the 20th Turkish Div between the 25th Nov 1917 and 5th Dec 1917 near Mulebiss
Also its commanders;
20th Div HQ - Col Veysel Bey
61st regt -
62nd Regt -
63rd Regt -
Thanks for any help you can give me.
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The 20th Turkish Div. of the 15th Army Corps.
15th Army Corps served in Galicia Front between July 23rd 1916- August 1917. The 15th had ca. 33000 men of which 15000 were killed in action (officers: 100) or wounded (officers:120).
-Commander: Col. Yakup Sevki was mede Pasha Oct 8th 1916. (Yakup Sevki Pasha (Subasi) He left the 15th to Brigadir Cevat Pasha (Cobanli) on Nov. 10th 1916.
- Chief of staff : Lt. Col. Hayri (Tarhan) later Lt. Col. Sefik (Col. Aker) and between Oct.9th-Aug. 24th 1917 S. Avni
- Chief Operations officer: Major Vecihi
- Chiefinfornmation officer: Maj. Ali Nuri (Okday)
- aid to commander : 2nd Lt. Ali Riza (Guney)
20th Division: : Lt. Col. Yasin Hilmi
- Chief of Staff : Capt. Ismail Hakki
63 th Inf. Regiment : Maj. Ahmet Muhtar
62th : Maj. Nazmi
61st : Lt. Col. Bahattin
Artillary regiment: Maj. Suleyman Avni
The 15th and 19th Div. left Galizia July 15th 1917.
The 2oth Div. left on Aug 16th and arrived to Istanbul September 26th. At the end of September 1917 the 15th with 19th and 20th divisions sattled in at the order of Yildirim Army Group which was established in July 15th 1917 to get Bagdat from the British. Yildirim konsisted two armies:
6th Army in Irag commanded by Halil Pasha (Lt. Gen. Kut)
7th Army in Syria under Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Ataturk) The 15th was attached to the order of 7th Army. Its commande was made Ali Riza Pasha (Sedes). Lt. Col. Yasin Hilmi was still the commander of 20th Div.
20th fought all the battles at the Palastina and Syria Front between Oct.-Dec.1917.
- Gazze-Birussebi battles: Oct. 30th- Nov. 3th 1917
- Jerusalem- Jafa Battles: Nov. 1th -Dec. 9th 1917
Yasin Hilmi still commander.
During the Seria Battles the 20th fought attached to 22nd Army Corps under the command of Col. Refet (Maj. Gen.Bele)
Lt. Col. Veysel (Col. Ozgur)(Trabzon 1877- Istanbul Oc. 15 1931) was made commander of the div. on July 23rd 1918.
His army serial number:1311(1895)-B.P.83
After graduating the War school he served with 61, 63, 64th Regiments of 4th Army. He attanded to an Austrian military course. During the Gallipoli War Maj. Veysel Bey commanded the 15th Regiment after the fall of Lt. Col. Ibrahim Sukru on August 6/7 at the battles Ariburnu ( August 6/10), Conkbayiri and 1st Anafartalar ( Aug.9th) He was promoted to Lt. Col.
Col. Yasin Hilmi was made commander of 8th Army Corps. Yasin Hilmi was an Arap origine officer. After the fall of Damascus he colleborated with the British.
At the Nablus Battlefeld at Sept. 19-21 1918 the 2oth was perished and taken prisoner.
Just before the Armistrace he was made 1st Div. commander. He joined the national Forces and commanded Mixed Inf. Div. at the 1st Inonu Battles. He commanded the 7th div. at Kutahya-Nasuhcal-Eskisehir Battles ( July 8-21 1921) He promoted Colonels rank.
Retired Mach 26th 1924
picture of him: Slayt 51 http://www.msb.gov.tr/Birimler/PerD/per ... /frame.htm
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Again thankyou for clearing up who commanded the 20th Div during the battles in Palestine in Nov - Dec 1917.
Are you aware of any histories that mention the fighting by the 20th Div on the Jaffa Front between Nov - Dec 1917.
And is it possible to give me an out line of the fighting there particluarly the actions of the 61st 62nd and 63rd Turkish Infantry Regts.
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On Nov. 17th 1917 the 20th came to Cemain from Nablus and stayed there. It was ordered that 19th and 20th were to stay at the reserve of the 8th Army. The 19th moved from Jerusalem and came to el Bir on Nov. 18th then to Lubban, Cemain and Nablus on 20th Nov. 1917.
63th Inf. Regiment which was defending both sides of der Eyup-Saris road withdrawed to El Ineb under haavy enemy pressure. The fights on both sides of the road was very heavy. Just before midday enemy took Saris. The Turks got Saris back by a charge of 63th.(p.331)
On Nov. 20th it was ordered that 20th will be at the reserve of Yildirim Army Group in Mesudiye. (p.232)
The 22th Army Corps wanted to change the 16th Inf. Div.which was very tired with 20th . But the 8th Army Command refused with a remark "The 20th came to the front new" (Nov. 27th)
On Dec. 21st 1917 the 20th come to Jerusalem with a light obus battalion, 73th heavy Artillary Battalion to the order of 20th Army Corps. The 20th trenched between Mulebbis- Faca on Dec.3rd.
On Dec. 3rd the front under the command of 22nd Army Corps was divided into to parts. Right wing group was defended by 7th Div. Left wing group was under the responsibility of 2oth Div.
At the night of 3/4 December 1917 the enemy began heavy bombanrdament of artillary and MG to the trenches o f 63th Regiment at 20.30 o'clock.With some forces The enemy made an umbush attack to Kirmizi Tepe the Red Hil and Bademli Tepe. The Enemy bombardament and MG fire and umbush was stopped by a counter attack.
The night of 4th was still.
On 6th Dec. the enemy fired the trenches of 2oth Div.
It was also still on the night of 7th Dec. All day long it rained. There was heavy fog. It was impossible to watch the enemy. On that day the 61rst Regiment moved to the order of 7th Army at Kalkilya by train.
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Your the man.
Thanks for the details on the 20th Div as I can now finish my chapter of this battle.
I enclose a copy for all to check out and to make coment on, if you can find fault in the Turkish Armies postions or can add any more please let me know.
The book I am writing is on the Imperial Camel Brigade and the battles they fought so this looks at that unit more then the others at that time.
BATTLE OF BALD HILL
By the closing days of November 1917 the Camel Brigade had been in constant movement and action since the 29th October having advanced from Beersheba to Jaffa in about four weeks fighting a major battle and a number of skirmishes along the way and both animals and men were worn out. The camels unused to the hard rocky ground in Palestine then to the soft sands of the Sinai were tormented from sore feet which had crippled them by the hundreds and camel itch (a type of septic sore) had broken out and the good old mange dressing was all that was keeping most alive but numerous animals had to be destroyed. All companies in the Brigade were suffering and they were now so reduced in both men and camels by disease and casualties that they were a shadow of their former selves.
The Brigade at this time consisted of the following Troops;
Camel Bde HQ Gen Smith VC
2nd British Battalion LtCol Buxton
7th Co Capt Gregory
8th Co Capt Paterson
9th Co Capt Newsam
10th Co Capt Wilkinson
3rd Anzac battalion LtCol DeLancey-Forth
11th Co Lt Dixon
12th Co Capt Norris
13th Co Capt Nobes
14th Co Capt Ranclaud
4th Anzac Battalion LtCol Lee
15th NZ Co Maj Davis
16th NZ Co Capt Yerex
17th Co Capt Hampton
18th Co Capt Howard
26th MG Sqn Maj Millar
Camel FA LtCol Arnold
On the 22nd November the Camel Brigade was attached to the Anzac Mounted Division under General Chaytor and ordered to move to Bald Hill to cover the right flank of the Desert Mounted Corps under General Chauvel. This feature was 8 miles northeast of Jafa and the 2nd Battalion relieved the 7th Light Horse Regiment at 10 am and occupied a line from Yehudiyeh in the south tying in with the 1/4th Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment of the 54th Division at Wilhelma and the 5th Light Horse Regiment of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade in the north around Mulebbis who supplied and maintained mounted patrols covering the area around Bald Hill to the north and east.
The 2nd Battalion started to dig positions along the Bald Hill feature which lay between Mulebbis and Yehudiyeh. The ground needed to be covered was extensive and only the Brigade Machine Gun Squadron arrived as support for the remainder of the Camel Brigade were still on the move up from the Plains of Sharon. The battalion occupied the following positions, the 8th Company under Captain Robert Paterson on the right over looking Yehudiyeh, the 7th company under Captain Fleming Gregory in the centre, and one section of the 10th company was on Bald Hill, the 9th company under Captain Arthur Newsam with three sections of the 10th company under Captain AG Wilkinson were held in reserve. The 5th Australian Light Horse regiment continued the line from the north of Bald Hill towards Mulebbis.
On the 25th November the 4th Anzac Battalion arrived, taking over the Bald Hill defences at 8 am and relieved the 2nd Battalion which moved to Selmeh into reserve and was placed under orders to support the Anzac Mounted Division, while the balance of the Brigade bivouacked between Ibn Ibrak and Salmeh. The Camel Brigade was still without the support of artillery as the Hong Kong and Singapore Battery had been attached to the Yeomanry Division on the 17th November and was now making their way to Jerusalem.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Lee Commanding the 4th Anzac Battalion deployed one section of the 17th Company on a commanding position to the extreme right in post 1 on Point 249 overlooking Yehudiyeh, the 15th NZ Company under Major John Davis was placed on the left flank around Bald Hill with two section each in posts 5 & 6 with post 5 on Bald Hill also called Point 265, the 16th NZ Company under Captain George Yerex provided three posts 2, 3 & 4 between these flanks taking in Yafa Hill and Point 266 and Point 286. The 18th Company under Captain Stan Howard with three sections of 17th company under Captain John Hampton and Battalion HQ were held in close reserve and dug in to the rear and south of Point 288 also called Lone Tree Hill or One Tree Hill and Point 265, about 400 yards southwest of Bald Hill. No patrols were placed by the 4th Anzac Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Lee instead relying on the 2nd Light Horse brigade to inform him of any enemy movement to his front by their standing patrols.
Bald Hill was a large open whale-backed feature which dominated the surrounding area, it was exposed to all sides and little cover was available but for a strip of cactus on the northern side, there were also a number of large Almond tree orchards around the area in front of Bald Hill which units of the Light horse were garrisoning. The main feature was broken by a re-entrant between Lone Tree Hill and Yafa Hill while a number of small wadis cut the surface between Bald Hill and Lone Tree Hill which was to its rear. Bald Hill was an important position in the defence of Jaffa as its loss and an enemy breakthrough there would expose the Allied defences along the Nahr El Auja and force General Chauvel to retire south of Jaffa, and so it was vital that Bald Hill had to be held.
By the end of November the Allied offensive around Jaffa was now wearing down as the threat moved towards Jerusalem. The German Commander General Von Falkenhayn was committed to relieving this pressure on his Seventh Army under Fevzi Pasha in its defence of Jerusalem and the Eighth Turkish Army under Kress Von Kressenstein was ordered to counterattack the exposed Allied line along the Northern flank. As new Turkish Divisions began to appear these enabled him to plan a number of attacks all along the Northern front particularly the area of Nahr El Auja where the 22nd Turkish Corps of the 20th and 16th Turkish Division’s were given the objective of Bald Hill and the surrounding area to cut off allied troops in the Nahr El Auja.
The Elite Veteran 20th Division under Lieutenant Colonel Yasin Hilmi and its Regiments the 61st under Lieutenant Colonel Bahattin 62nd under Major Nazmi and 63rd Turkish Infantry under Major Ahmet Muhtar with the 20th Artillery Regiment under Major Suleyman Avni had just arrived at the Palestine front fresh from its victories in Galicia where a special Storm Battalion of trained storm troops including flamethrowers and grenadiers were grouped from the 19th and 20th Turkish Infantry Divisions for the 15th Turkish Corps, it is not known if some of these troops were with the 20th Division, as most of the Storm Battalion were attached to the 19th Division during there attack against the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at El Burj but about a company of these trained assault troops appear to have been. The 16th Division was by this time exhausted by the weeks of fighting but carried out its part in the following battle, attached to the 22nd Corps was the Orbus 73rd Heavy Artillery Battalion.
The 20th Division completed their assembly into the area of Ras el Ain and Mejdel Yaba by the 25th November, and then began to filter into the area around Mulebbis. The 2nd Light Horse Brigade had quickly detected them and engaged small groups of Turks on the 26th and a force of four thousand Turks were observed moving in the area north the old Jewish colony of Mulebbis but the ground was cut by orchards and the main force was skilful enough to build up undisturbed for the attack.
When the 4th Anzac Battalion had taken over its new area they commenced to dig their defences but tools were short and all but the superficial of trenches had been dug in the stony ground but since the battalion was in support of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade and would probity move not enough of the defences had been completed. The departing British 2nd Camel Battalion had informed them that the Mulebbis village to there northern front was full of eggs, milk and oranges but patrols from the NZ companies failed to locate any, little knowing that the enemy had filtered into the town. For the last few days indications were seen that the enemy was planning something big as columns of transport could be seen in the distance but no Turks were seen in front of Bald Hill and escaped detection by the Light Horse.
At 6.15 am on the 27th a violent concentrated barrage of Turkish artillery fell on Mulebbis, Bald Hill and on the 54th Division in the area of Wihelmia, the 4.2’s and 5.9’s of the 20th Turkish Artillery Regiment and the 73rd Heavy Artillery Battalion forced the troops to their trenches allowing a large force of around four thousand Turks to overrun and capture the town of Mulebbis from a thin skirmish line of the 6th Light Horse Regiment who retired in front of them inflicting casualties on the Turks as they left an Almond orchard around the village. The Turkish artillery could be seen firing from the plain below while the movement of the enemy could be followed but without any attached guns we could do little to break them up. By 8.30 am a strong force of about 400 men mostly from the 61st Turkish Infantry Regiment using this orchard as a forming up point attacked the exposed left flank of the 15th company on Bald Hill around Post 5, the New Zealanders held their posts with difficulty as the Turks worked their way along both flanks as an intense cross fire and bomb fight developed but in the end the section posts 5 and 6 were overrun or in the words of one kiwi “were compelled to retire” some time before 9 am.
At Post 5 during this fight Lieutenant Clifford Gorringe 15th Company soon found he was driven out by this sudden attack but at once counterattacked with the survivors, he directed fire on the exposed enemy and inspired his men with his bravery as this contest lasted for some time till he was shot in the head and wounded. The fighting was fierce around these posts and Sergeant William Trott was shot in the thigh and Private Tom Boyd in the back while others were hit by shell fire of whom Sergeant George Parsons was hit by a splinter in the arm and Private Victor Wright in the leg while Private Charles McArthur was seriously wounded and died later in the day. The garrison was slowly reduced by casualties then fearing encirclement the company was forced to give ground. Mean while at another post Sergeant Leslie Purves soon found him self cut off by both shell and machine gun fire and carried the seriously wounded Lieutenant Sam Gooding to the rear when the company was ordered to retire. This retirement happen abruptly and the company abandoned much equipment which could not be recovered as the men quickly moved to the reserve positions around Lone Tree Hill carrying their wounded and fighting as they moved.
The sudden withdrawal by the 15th company put the entire Brigade defences in danger as the Turks were energetic to take advantage of the collapse around Bald Hill and the abandonment of the 15th company which quickly exposed the 16th company who now had to fight the enemy attacking on their rear and flanks, no request for reinforcement or to retire was sent by Major John Davis to Lieutenant Colonel Lee and their collapse happen within half an hour of the first assault.
With the left flank of the 16th Company now exposed they continued to struggle during which Sergeant James Adams of 16th company was prominent in the action holding post 4 against heavy odds suffering 50% casualties, among the casualties was Private Ash Giles who was shot in the arm and leg and Corporal Percy Coxhead shot in the arm but they continued to fight as the long morning dragged on.
Around 12.30 pm Lieutenant Colonel Lee became aware of the serious trouble with his command and realized that the 16th company was about to be surrounded and captured regardless of holding on all morning, he now ordered posts 2, 3 and 4 held by the 16th company and a number of survivors of the 15th company to be abandoned before they were cut off. Despite the valiant defence by the New Zealanders its withdrawal resulted in a running fight in trenches and along a cactus hedge as the troops struggled to retire to the 18th Company positions in rear of Bald Hill near Lone Tree Hill.
On arrival Trooper Robert Maxwell of the 16th company found his mate missing during the withdrawal and returned the 500 yards threw the Turkish positions found his mate and rescued him under the eyes of the Turkish troops and regaining the 18th company trenches to the cheers of his comrades.
Part of the reason for the disaster that day was due to the lack of any artillery attached to the Camel Brigade, this had tragic consequences as the companies had been unable to break up the exposed enemy concentrations before they reached our lines and when they reached our posts the overused New Zealand companies had little to stop the heavy flanking attacks on their exposed positions. Another reason for the collapse were the use of these new Storm Troops by the Turks who outflanked the posts and showered them with hand grenades while the defenders were kept to their posts by Machine Gun fire and Artillery, this was helped by five enemy Taubes who were constantly over head observing for their guns which pounded our trenches continuously, by 12.30 pm all posts had been abandoned but for the one section of the 17th company in post 1, casualties thought were not heavy with only one man killed and two officers and 27 men wounded in the action.
As our troops reorganized the Turks quickly occupied the vacant posts and turned Bald Hill into a fortress contending themselves with this valuable position instead of advancing towards Jaffa to complete their victory.
At Corps headquarters the loss of Bald Hill caused considerable alarm and much finger pointing at the Camel Brigade and forced General Chaytor to order its immediate recapture, this was in part due to the problems on the right flank with the 1/4th Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment at Wilhelma and Yehudiyeh who were under heavy pressure from the 48th and 125th Turkish regiments 16th Turkish Division due to the withdrawal of the Camel Brigade on their left and were in danger of being overrun. General Smith was insistent that as a matter of honour an attack is put in before dark by Lieutenant Colonel Lee and the 4th Battalion was ordered to recover the ground abandoned during the day.
Lieutenant Colonel Lee quickly began to organize this counterattack, but to carry out his plan he had only the well-used 16th company but it was familiar with the objective and was more then willing to regain its former posts, also the attacking force would have two sections each from the 17th and 18th company and a section from the newly arrived 7th company to carry out the attack while the remainder of the battalion was needed to occupy the defences. The 2nd Battalion had been released from the Anzac Mounted Division reserve at 10 am and ordered to move from Selmeh to the Camel Brigade’s exposed right flank to cover the area south from Yafa Hill and Wilhelma this allowed the 4th Battalion to concentrate for their counterattack. The 10th company relieved the lone section of the 17th company at post 1 on Point 249 at 3 pm while the 7th company moved to support the 4th Battalion as the remainder of the 2nd Battalion dug support and reserve lines, the brigade machine gun squadron was committed to support the battalion and Private William Gordon was killed by shell fire. By 7.30 pm patrols had reported the Turkish positions around the objective and the attack went in at 8 pm in darkness.
The 16th NZ Company was after blood since it was one of there own companies who had lost the Hill but what followed during the night was confused and bloody fighting. Both 16th and 18th company advanced in line on section fronts of two lines supported by the 17th company and quickly overran the first line of enemy posts which were held by only a thin skirmish line but the higher the troops advanced the more exposed they became, the 16th company regained posts 4 and 3 below and to the right of Bald Hill at the point of the bayonet and much butchery. Sergeant James Adams was conspicuous in this work leading a bayonet charge but was stabbed in a fight with a Turk and despite his wound consolidated the positions won and a prisoner and machine gun were taken, he died later from his wounds, Private Carroll Sandford was also seriously wounded during the melee and also died as did Private Bob McSkimmer, the 17th company then moved through the 16th company and recovered post 2 with Lieutenant James Archibald who led the section of the 7th company in the assault and helped the 17th company regain post 2 from the enemy on Yafa Hill during which Private John Dunlop 17th Company was mortally wounded.
As the men gained their 1st objective having retaken most of the posts abandoned earlier in the day it left only post 5 and 6 around Bald Hill to be recovered, but any advance by the two sections of the 18th company towards the top of the hill was meet with an overwhelming fusillade from hidden machine guns and riflemen.
The cameleers found that the enemy’s position was to well defended, and they were exposed to the enemies cross fire, but the men struggled for over an hour supported by Lieutenant Ronald Mackenzie 16th company to gain this last post and to regain their honour but it was for naught until about 9.15 pm when the troops were ordered back to the positions already won. By 9.30 most of the lower trenches were cleared having recaptured most of our posts but the main positions on Bald Hill held out against all efforts by the 4th Anzac Battalion and with casualties mounting Lieutenant Colonel Lee ordered all companies to hold what had been gained and to await the dawn. The Turks counterattacked during the night but never in overwhelming numbers and with the help of their captured machine gun keep them at a distance.
Once the warming rays of the mornings sun came out, patrols soon discovered that Bald hill was now occupied by more than 500 Turks entrenched with Machine guns and was now too strong for the 4th Anzac Battalion to capture alone. Casualties in the 17th and 18th company numbered around 30 wounded while the losses in the 16th company were not recorded.
General Smith realized that the hill and the enemy penetration could just as well be contained and controlled by fire from three sides and rather then risk more lives in a direct assault against the salient in our line he instead proposed to hold his present positions provided that he was given some artillery support, this was agreed to by both General Chauvel and Chaytor and the Camel Brigade took measures to hold what had been regained with artillery batteries from the 54th Division and the 2nd Light Horse Brigade now directed to support the Camel Brigade.
While the battle was going on around Bald Hill on the 27th the Turks had attacked in other areas along the front constantly probing for a weak spot along the Allied lines but all positions held and only Bald Hill was reported lost that day. The position of the 1/4th Northamptonshire at Wihelmia was controlled late in the day by a counterattack by its Brigades reserves and with the help of all batteries of the 54th Divisions artillery.
In the morning of the 28th the battle had quieted down until 10.20 am when post 1 was heavily shelled till 11.30 am while the rest of the posts continued to be shelled through the day mortally wounding Private Vic Coleman 18th company who was shot in the head, but the Turks did not attack contending themselves on working on their defences and resting after a bitter night. At 8.50 pm that night the 4th Anzac Battalion was relieved by the 3rd Battalion which had been waiting in reserve, its companies had been hard hit in the fighting at Tel el Khuweilfeh but despite the reduced strength of its companies occupied all posts and extended the old trenches as well as exchanging fire with the ever observant Turks.
The Camel Brigades position now had the 2nd Battalion south of Yafa Hill holding the right flank while over looking Willimina, next in line was the 3rd Battalion holding the old defences of the 16th company along the south-eastern part of Bald hill, then the 4th Battalion now concentrated around One Tree Hill. All battalions had dug both reserve and support trenches in depth and barbed wire were delivered and over the next few days the position was developed and extended. The 2nd Light Horse Brigade continued the line from One Tree Hill towards the Auja River and Tel Abu Zeitun.
On the 29th November while the Turks again remained inactive during the day but for their artillery which again shelled our posts searching with his guns along our trenches, at the Camel Brigade HQ General Smith and Lieutenant Colonel Lee planned a raid for that night to bomb Turkish work parties which were active on the defences of Bald Hill, this in cooperation with a raid by the 6th Light Horse Regiment who were to assist with two troops (A and B Troops) from A Squadron under Captain Stuart Tooth and would advance from the north while the cameleers attacked from the south. The 2nd Battalion was asked to assist and Captain Fleming Gregory Commanding the 7th Company was ordered to send 2 sections to support the 4th Anzac Battalion by occupying the vacant posts, Captain Gregory instead decided to bring his whole company to help and was relieved by the 9th company that morning. During the afternoon the 7th company was hit by shell fire with one shell falling on a section of trench occupied by Fleming Gregory a well liked British officer killing him and wounding Lieutenant James Archibald and forcing Lieutenant John Bell-Irving to assume command of the company.
The reduced 15th company (about 60 men) was chosen to carry out the raid as it had held Bald Hill and knew the ground, and using the cover of the darkness moved up to the 3rd Battalion trench near post 4, which were the closest to the enemy works on Bald Hill. At 10 pm an artillery barrage from B Battery HAC and the Inverness Battery fell on Bald Hill and under cover of this fire the New Zealanders of the 15th company moved forward at the rush with the bayonet and were met by the Turks with bomb and bayonet as a desperate fight developed when the New Zealand troops drove the Turks up the hill where stores lost on the 27th by their company were recovered but once near the top of Bald Hill they found Turkish resistance growing.
It appears at the same time the cameleers and Light Horse had attacked Bald Hill a Turkish force of 300 men were about to commence their own attack and the 6th Light Horse ran into them forcing both forces to go to ground as they became strongly engaged firing at each other in the dark, two other ranks (Ray Bloodworth and Henry Christie A Troop) were killed and Lieutenant Robert Ronald A Troop with a number men were wounded as the 6th Light Horse was forced back on their supports exposing the 15th company which despite its success had been ordered to retire at the completion of its task, the company retired back to their trenches as fighting went on during the night as the Turks shelled the 2nd Light Horse brigade and our own defences and the night sky was lit by the flashes of exploding shells and flares till around midnight when the firing died down. All of the 15th company where safely back in the 3rd Battalion trench by 2.20 am having suffered few casualties during the night.
In morning of the 30th the troops stood to arms but the enemy made no attempt to attack but artillery fire on both sides increased and any movement attracted the keen eye of Turkish spotters on top of Bald Hill. To the north the night battle between the 6th Light Horse and the Turkish forces continued and the Turks who had gained a number of posts from the 6th Light Horse during the night now found themselves exposed and with help from C Squadron 7th Light Horse under Major Nat Barton counterattacked capturing two officers and 146Turks and four new Bergman type 15 Light machine guns and winning Lieutenant Gilbert Finlay DCM the Military Cross.
The afternoon pasted with little fire as the enemy appeared demoralized by the night and morning battles this respite allowed our men to continue working on the defences and permitted the companies to be relieved as the terrain around Bald Hill took on the appearance of the Battlefields of France with large areas of trenches and wire began to appear as our companies pushed forward constructing new lines and tying in all posts held. The night of the 30th November pasted without any major fighting instead both sides contending to improve their positions as snipers ruled the dark. It was during this time that the 63rd Turkish Regiment relieved the fatigued 61st Regiment in the firing line taking over the line from Bald Hill to the Auja River while the 62nd Regiment continued the line to the area of the 16th Division around Wihelmia.
The 1st December was also quite but for Turkish snipers and between 4.30 and 6 am the men stood to before commencing the day’s activities. The odd burst of artillery fire which all to offend betrayed that intrepid person trying to move around the battlefield was all to be heard as the work continued on the defences which around Lone Tree Hill was turned into a redoubt and new works were commenced during the day and those men not working tried to rest in the shade of their trenches from the burning sun.
Turkish aircraft were active helping their long range artillery by spotting and one salvo scored hits on the camel lines near Brigade HQ at Ibn Ibrak and Sakia killing Lieutenant Horace Hallam R.A.S.C the Brigade Admin Officer and a large number of animals which were barracked in close formation near the watering point. The 3rd Battalion still working on the new works was shelled heavily late in the day wounding a number of men and damaging the posts, but only Private Harold Cummin 11th Company, who was evacuated to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, to die from his wounds the night. Once darkness came the enemy was heard working on their defences as snipers came out to snipe at our men of whom Private John Currie of the Brigade machine gun squadron was killed by this fire.
The 2nd December was again quite but for the irregular shelling of all posts as most of the troops tried to rest after a night of work parties which had kept most busy doing what labour could not be done during the day, and Lieutenant Leslie White 11th company was wounded during this exchange. Turkish long range artillery was still used to keep our supply columns under fire disrupting the resupply of the forward companies. The Camel Corps Field Ambulance was kept busy over the week administering and recovering the wounded while doing this valiant work under fire, two of its doctor’s Captain’s Henry Dolman and Sam Seccombe along with Private Edward McMahon a stretcher bearer were themselves wounded on the 27th November when an enemy plane came over machine gunning the wounded around the Field Ambulance where because of over crowding a number of our wounded were recovered to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance who had set up a clearing station for both Brigades. The night was quite as the work continued on the defences repairing damage extending and improving the posts.
On the 3rd December after stand to, another raid was ordered to take place that night, Lieutenant Colonel Lee alerted the 17th company as it was the strongest company left in the Battalion to move up to post 9, in the 3rd Battalion trenches that afternoon and the 18th company was alerted to support if needed. The plan was for the company to discover how strongly the enemies position were held and three officers were attached to inspect the defences and report on them as the force was only to be in the enemies trenches for 10 minutes before returning. The attached officers were Lieutenant Richard Camm sent to see how many men could be held in the enemy trenches, Lieutenant Vic Adolph to see at what stage the enemy were at in their construction and Lieutenant Edward O’Keefe 18th Company to check their observation posts.
The attacking company could muster only six officers and 100 other ranks (with the three attached officers) to carry out the raid, the foray was to attack from the south, the same direction used on the 29th Nov, and a similar raid was once more planned by the 6th Light Horse to support, this force was composed from C Squadron under Captain Doug Close with five officers and 100 men. Lieutenant Adolph the 4th Anzac Battalion intelligence officer carried out a reconnaissance of the Turkish position in the afternoon and at 7.40 pm the17th company left its trench moving up a small nullah from post 9 to a form up point within 300 yards of the Turkish line allowing the troops to line the nullah till the artillery fell at H Hour.
At 7.55 pm after a 10 minute bombardment, Captain John Hampton signalled to attack allowing the men time to reach the trenches before the guns would be switched to cut off the enemy’s escape to the rear while the Brigades machine guns would support the main attack. The 17th company started to advance in line on a section front in three waves, the Battalion Padre Captain Ignatius Bossence joined with the attacking force setting a fine example to the men, but again things began to go wrong from the start.
The Turks quickly recognized that an attack was coming and moved out of their trenches into no mans land to escape the worst of the shell fire which allowed them time to prepare for our attack. The attacking company ran straight into a prepared Turkish defence and a bayonet fight ensued as a line of spider holes were found 50 metres from their front line containing a skirmish line of Turks, they showered our men with bombs inflicting a large number of casualties before they were all killed but not before disorganizing and delaying the assault. Meanwhile on the left flank the 6th Light Horse found they had been blasted out of their positions by what they believed to be a defective gun which was short shooting, they lost 23 men wounded before the barrage lifted disorganizing their attack.
The main Turkish line was then attacked but the enemy opened with shell fire onto their own position and the cameleers could make no head way against a stiffening Turkish line which by chance we had missed the intended point of entry and so lost the full benefit of supporting artillery and machine gun fire. The cameleers tried moving along the line to find a weak spot to break in and capture the Turkish posts but no where could we gain a foot hold.
Adding to their problems that night were that two of the three officers attached to look at the Turkish defences, now found themselves wounded during the wild fight along the outer trenches and two sections of the 18th company were committed until we at last gained an entry into our objective which allowed only a brief inspection before the whistle was blown to order our retirement. With the raid now completed Captain Hampton ordered all troops back to the start point with the 10 minutes allowed for the raid long passed, and as the troops retired machine guns from the 3rd Battalion opened on the enemies defences which prevented the recovery of all our wounded. Captain Hampton stayed to help with these wounded and his direction of the withdrawal enabled all of the wounded to be recovered with the help of Sergeant Lionel Towner who rescued a number of men in front of the Turkish trenches, they were the last men to return with the Padre who went among the troops and wounded keeping their spirits up and by 9.40 pm all had returned but for Lieutenant Adolph who stayed to complete a final check on the enemies works before arriving back carrying a wounded man, only one man was believed left in the enemy’s trenches and he had been killed and could not be recovered. The Turks still alarmed by the raid continued to shell the area till 10 pm when all fell silent. The 6th Light Horse to the north had still advanced at H hour plus 10 and reached their objective bayoneting 20 Turks where they stayed long enough in the enemy’s trenches to capture four prisoners and some rifles before returning with the required information with the loss of one officer (Owen Tooth) and one other rank (Brian Barton) killed and one officer and 22 men wounded.
The loss to the 17th company was reported as two other ranks killed (Albert Cox and James Fairbairn) and Corporal Henry Johnson died of wounds on the battlefield and four officers and 32 men were wounded, from the 18th company Sergeant Albert Chard was killed hit in the head by a piece of shell fragment while waiting in support and 16 men wounded. Captain Graham Shipway the Battalion medical officer worked tirelessly throughout the night dispatching the casualties back to the rear, clearing all the wounded by 2 am but a further four men died of their wounds that night and over the next few days (Bill Bryce, Archie Duncan, Elias Pryor and Harry Punshon).
Defending Bald Hill at this time was the 63rd Turkish Infantry Regiment under Major Ahmet Muhtar, these reported coming under heavy artillery and Machine gun fire around 8.30 pm where and ambush attack was conducted on them and they controlled the battle after a counterattack was sent in by the reserves of the Regiment.
The 4th December passed quietly but for the odd shell fire, when at 3 pm three-enemy planes appeared overhead bring a storm of fire on all posts along the line till it eased off at 5.30 pm. One gun continued to fire during the night at post 10 in the 2nd Battalion area with one shell every 10 minutes and Turkish snipers were out in force but at 11 pm all went quiet.
The 2nd Battalion in the meanwhile had spent the last week covering Yafa Hill and but for suffering heavily artillery fire had not been attacked, the Battalion had supported the 54th Division on their right with fire during the emergency late on the 27th but most of the time contending themselves with holding three posts with only half companies and providing fire support for the 3rd Battalion on the left and the 54th Division at Yehudiyeh and Wilhelma.
On the 5th of December the front line was relieved at 11 pm by the Auckland Mounted Rifles as the Brigade exchanged with the New Zealand Mounted Brigade. That night as the led camels were brought up and we prepared to leave the Turks on the alert detected our movement and shelled the positions of whom three men were reported killed but only two can be confirmed as died (Arthur Peace 18th Company and Tom Bedelph Canterbury Mounted Rifles) with a number of animals. While waiting for the relief Private John Romaro was sent from the 3rd Battalion HQ with a camel and Cachalot to pick up two wounded men and during his movement to the front missed our posts and wandered lost into the enemy’s defences and soon found he was captured by a German Staff officer and Staff on a reconnaissance.
The Camel Brigade once relieved moved back passed Jaffa through thick mud as it had now begun to rain in buckets and the men and animals struggled passing the plains of Sharon and Gaza back to Shellal arriving 2 pm on the 11th December of a well errand rest.
One of the sad results of this battle happened two days after the Brigades return to Shellal when a Court of Inquiry was held into the loss of Bald Hill, its loss had caused some concern at GHQ and held Lieutenant Colonel Lee the Commanding Officer of the 4th Anzac Battalion responsible for its capture, Lieutenant Colonel George Langley said its loss had been due to Lee not putting out patrols or forming an outpost line from the main posts on the 27th November to warn of the enemies approach while others said that there was the problem of the tactical position occupied by the battalion in that the posts were not properly dug or wired allowing the enemy to drive the garrisons out by strong artillery fire. But it should be said that Lee and his battalion didn’t expect to stay long in the position they were in having been on the move for a month they believe that they would again be on the move and possibly that was the reason for all companies not digging in appropriately. Whether he was to blame for the loss or not is hard to say but the court of inquiry found Lieutenant Colonel Lee responsible and he was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Mills MC who was promoted and posted from the 1st Battalion and took command on the 14th December 1917 while Lee was returned to Australia.
On the 1st of January the 3rd Battalion now reduced through illness and casualties were sent back to the Canal, the 13th company not having been heavily engaged over the last month was sent to the 4th Battalion on the 30th December replacing the reduced 15th (NZ) company which returned with the 3rd Battalion. The 1st Battalion arrived from the Canal on the 16th January with strength of 23 officers and 660 other ranks.
Total Brigade casualties for the month of November were recorded in the War Diary as five officers and 23 other ranks killed, 12 officers and 109 other ranks wounded and two missing, most of these losses were at Khuweilfe earlier in the month.
The Battle casualties for December at Bald Hill were reported as two officers and five other ranks killed, seven officers and 44 other ranks wounded and three missing.
The brake down of casualties for the Battalions at Bald Hill is harder to uncover for the 2nd Battalion reported only one officer (Captain Gregory) and one man killed and one officer and six men wounded with one other rank dying of wounds but either were they heavy engaged over the two months.
New Zealanders of 15th and 16th company reported only one other rank killed and two officers and 16 men wounded of which one officer (Lieutenant Gooding) and six other ranks died of wounds, this would seem wrong as 27 men were reported casualties on the 27th November and probity many of these remained with their units.
The Australians of the 3rd and 4th Anzac Battalions had lost six other ranks killed while six officers and 67 other ranks were reported wounded of whom 11 other ranks died of wounds, two other ranks were reported missing of which one was known captured.
The 26th Camel MG Company reported two men killed and one officer and three other ranks wounded of which one died of wounds.
From the Camel Brigade HQ one officer was killed (Lieutenant Hallam).