Sinai and Palestine Campaign - Gaza Campaign - Hiatus


We have moved camp from a hill above the village of Deir Beulah to a lonely spot in the grove by the shores of a sweet water lake and close to the sea. The trees and tangles of most luxuriant creepers and bushes conceal also some field batteries and hundreds of tons of shells and high explosives. Behind us are our heavies and cavalry and very near in front our entrenched infantry with whom we are in touch. Absurdly near to these are the Turkish positions, trenches and redoubts. As we crossed the plain and a little ridge of hills to my new position on Palm Sunday, Turkish HE shells were falling pretty freely, but in a seemingly rather aimless way and the same desultory fire kept up all Monday. Aircraft and anti–aircraft guns were busy nearly all the time keeping up a constant hubbub. The next day, Tuesday 3 April, the Turks attacked and I was lucky enough to have a sort of front seat for the whole show, including the repulse of their infantry onslaught. —Joseph W. McPherson Egyptian Camel Transport Corps

Surrounded by palms and olive groves, Deir el Belah is 5 miles (8.0 km) north east of Khan Yunis and 8 miles (13 km) south west of Gaza. From Deir el Belah active patrolling towards Sharia and Beersheba continued. Here the 1st Light Horse Brigade rejoined the Anzac Mounted Division, three Hotchkiss light machine guns were issued to every squadron, substantially increasing the firepower of the mounted infantry and training in their use and gas helmets was carried out. Deir el Belah became the headquarters of Eastern Force after railhead reached there on 5 April and the arrival of the 74th Division increased the force to four infantry divisions.

General Murray had created the impression that the First Battle of Gaza had ended better than it had and the defenders had suffered more, with the Chief of the imperial General Staff William Robertson in London. Continuing inconclusive fighting in France resulted in Murray being encouraged on 2 April to begin a major offensive; to aim for Jerusalem, in the hope of raising morale. By 18 April it was clear Nivelle's offensive had not succeeded, the newly democratic Russia could no longer be relied on to attack the German or Ottoman empires freeing them to reinforce Palestine and Mesopotamia, and the resumption of unrestricted German U-boat warfare was sinking 13 British ships a day when the average during 1916 had been only three. This misunderstanding of the actual position in southern Palestine "rest squarely on General Murray for, whether he intended it or not, the wording of the reports fully justifies the interpretation placed upon them."

Read more about this topic:  Sinai And Palestine Campaign, Gaza Campaign

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