First Battle of Gaza

The First Battle of Gaza was fought in and around the town of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast in the southern region of Ottoman Palestine on 26 March 1917, during World War I. This British Empire defeat marked the beginning of the Palestine section of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign which would eventually see the British capture the whole region.

In August 1916 the victory at Romani, by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, ended the possibility of land based attacks on the Suez Canal. In December of the same year, the newly created Desert Mounted Corps' victory at Magdhaba, secured the Mediterranean port of El Arish and the supply route, water pipeline, and railway stretching across the Sinai Peninsula from the Suez Canal. In January 1917 the Desert Mounted Corps' victory at Rafa, completed the capture of the Sinai Peninsula.

Gaza was attacked two months later by infantry from the 52nd (Lowland) Division reinforced by an infantry brigade from Eastern Force. This attack was protected from the threat of attack by Ottoman reinforcements by two mounted divisions, which were also to support the infantry attack, as necessary. They launched their attack on the Ottoman garrison in and around Gaza, but strong defences made it difficult to advance. While the Imperial Mounted Division held off the Ottoman reinforcements, the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division (Anzac Mounted Division) reinforced the infantry attack and together, they succeeded in entering Gaza from the north and capturing Ali Muntar. However the determination of the Ottoman defenders, and the threat from large Ottoman reinforcements approaching from the north and north east, which may not have been held off indefinitely by the depleted mounted screen, were probably responsible for the decision to withdraw. It has been suggested the withdrawal snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Read more about First Battle Of Gaza:  Background, Prelude, Battle, Aftermath

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