1917 - Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment timeline

During 1917 the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment (AMR) and the rest of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR) take part in three battles for Gaza. After two setbacks, the third battle is won. The way is now clear for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force to advance along the coast of Palestine as far as modern-day Tel Aviv, and into the Judean Hills towards Jerusalem.

January

  • 1st – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR move west to the railhead at Kilo 139 (markers give the distance from Kantara), mainly because of the difficulty of transporting supplies across 15 km of desert to El Arish.
  • 4th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR move further west to Wilder Hod because of the poor watering arrangements for the horses at Kilo 139.
  • 7th – The AMR receives 30 reinforcements from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment and 30 remount horses.
  • 8th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR cross the flooded Wadi el Arish. They join the Australian units of the Anzac Mounted Division, which moves off as a divisional column at 4 p.m. to ride 45 km to Rafah overnight and attack the isolated Ottoman garrison there.
  • 9th – The AMR is ordered to cordon off the village of Shokh es Sufi, 7 km south of Rafah, detain all males and send them to the Anzac Mounted Division Police. This task is completed quickly, but not without incident. 24861 Trooper William Harris is killed and Trooper Albert Watson is knocked unconscious and has his rifle stolen.
    The Anzac Mounted Division crosses the frontier into Palestine and surrounds Rafah. After a 30-minute bombardment, the attack begins at 10 a.m. The AMR and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles are ordered to take the key defensive position, the redoubt at Point 255.
    The initial advance is steady but slow. By 12.15 the attackers are within 500 m of the redoubt. No further progress is made against heavy Ottoman fire, and at 1 p.m. the Wellington Mounted Rifles moves into the line to assist the attack. By late afternoon the situation is becoming desperate, with Ottoman reinforcements approaching. At 4.30 p.m. Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode, in charge of the operation, orders a withdrawal. However the NZMR has launched an attack on the redoubt shortly after 4 p.m. Fire from Lewis guns and the New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron allows the New Zealanders to take the redoubt at bayonet point. With the redoubt and the high ground taken, resistance in the other position is quickly overcome by the Australian Light Horsemen and the Imperial Camel Corps.
    As Ottoman reinforcements continue to approach, the AMR withdraws at 6.30 p.m. and goes into bivouac at Sheikh Zowaiid, 15 km south-west of Rafah, at 12.30 a.m.
    The AMR has had four men killed in action; three die of wounds and 41 are wounded.
  • 10th – The AMR and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles move back to Masaid, near El Arish.
  • 16th – The AMR receives 31 reinforcements from the Training Regiment at Moascar, and 12 remount horses.
  • 30th – Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mackesy is once again appointed temporary commanding officer of the NZMR. Major McCarroll reassumes command of the AMR.

February

  • 4th – The AMR receives 37 reinforcements from the Training Regiment.
  • 8th – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy resumes command of the regiment.
  • 22nd – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR join the Anzac Mounted Division column and move forward to Sheikh Zowaiid.
  • 23rd – The AMR, the rest of the NZMR and the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade leave Sheikh Zowaiid at 1 a.m. for Khan Yunis, 30 km to the north-east, which is reported to have been abandoned by the Ottoman forces. It is hoped to capture Sheikh Ali el Hirsch, a suspected Ottoman spy.
    Reports of Ottoman forces abandoning Khan Yunis prove to be premature. The Anzac operation is broken off after some skirmishing because of the Ottoman strength. The AMR is in reserve and does not become involved in the fighting.
    The AMR and the rest of the Anzac column return to bivouacs north-west of Sheikh Zowaiid.
  • 26th – The AMR provides the advance and right flank guard for the NZMR as it conducts a day-long reconnaissance around Shokh es Sufi, 8 km south-east of Rafah. Elements of the advance guard make intermittent contact with Ottoman patrols but suffer no casualties. The column returns to bivouacs at Sheikh Zowaiid that evening.
  • 28th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR conduct a day-long reconnaissance around Rafah. The column again returns to bivouacs in Sheikh Zowaiid.
    Khan Yunis is abandoned by the Ottoman Turks and occupied by elements of the Desert Column.

March

As part of a reorganisation of the British forces operating against the Ottoman Turks, the 22nd (Yeomanry) Mounted Brigade is incorporated into the Anzac Mounted Division. The Desert Column now comprises the Anzac Mounted Division, the Imperial Mounted Division and the 53rd (Welsh) Division.

  • 3rd – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR conduct a day-long reconnaissance east and south-east of Karm Ibn Musleh, which is 6 km south of Rafah. Rifle fire is exchanged with Ottoman patrols but there are no casualties. The AMR returns to bivouacs at Sheikh Zowaiid at 6.30 p.m.
  • 7th – The AMR provides the advance guard for the NZMR on a reconnaissance around Khan Yunis. The regiment returns to its bivouac at Sheikh Zowaiid at 6.45 p.m.
  • 10th – The AMR, along with the NZMR, rides to Bir el Malalha, on the coast north of Rafah, and sets up a new bivouac.
  • 11th – The AMR and the rest of the NZMR undertake a reconnaissance towards Gaza. The AMR returns to its bivouac at Bir el Malalha at 5.30 p.m.
  • 14th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron leaves bivouac at 7 a.m. and rides to Khan Yunis to protect a party of Royal Engineers working on the wells. The squadron returns to bivouac at Bir el Malalha at 8.45 p.m.
  • 18th – The AMR leaves its bivouac at 1 a.m. and rides to Deir el Belah (15 km from Gaza). Finding no enemy forces, it returns to Bir el Malalha.
  • 23rd – After receiving orders from Brigade Headquarters, the AMR begins preparations for an operation on the 25th which will result in the Battle of Gaza.
  • 24th – The AMR has a strength of 19 officers, 424 other ranks and 484 horses. Lack of horses means 20 men are left behind.
  • 25th – The NZMR moves out of Bir el Malalha at 2.30 a.m. for Deir el Belah. The NZMR and the 22nd Mounted Brigade are to provide a screen for the Desert Column while it moves up to and crosses Wadi Ghazze.
  • 26thFirst Battle of Gaza: The NZMR leaves its bivouacs at 2.30 a.m. to take part in the Anzac Mounted Division’s operations against Gaza. The division is to block the roads north of Gaza to prevent an Ottoman withdrawal or the arrival of reinforcements. The Imperial Mounted Division will play a similar role east of Gaza. The 53rd (Welsh) Division and a brigade of the 54th (East Anglian) Division are to attack the town from the south at 8 a.m.
    The AMR arrives at its blocking position at Tellul el Humra at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. 4th (Waikato) Squadron is detached from the regiment and sent to Huj, 10 km east of Gaza, to watch for nearby Ottoman forces attempting to come to the beleaguered garrison's aid. At midday 11th (North Auckland) Squadron and a troop of 3rd (Auckland) Squadron are sent further north towards Tor Dimre with the same task. The other three troops of 3rd (Auckland) are retained as a reserve force and not committed to the battle.
    While the NZMR carries out its initial role, the infantry attack from the south faces more difficulties. Fog obscures the routes across Wadi Ghazze. The infantry is in position to begin the assault at 9 a.m., but there is further confusion about the location of some of the assault force, and the artillery is slow to come into action. By the time the attack is launched at 11.45 a.m. the Gaza garrison is well prepared and much precious time has been wasted, allowing Ottoman relief columns from further up the coast to be alerted and to begin their march south to Gaza’s aid
  • With the infantry attackin disarray and behind schedule, the Anzac Mounted Division launches an attack from the north-east at 4 p.m. to assist. The Wellington Mounted Rifles advances on the left, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in the centre and the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade on the right. With most of the Ottoman garrison battling the British infantry attack to the south, the mounted regiments make good progress and quickly break into the town. But the town and its defences are not fully secured and the opportunity presented by this break through is allowed to pass: with Ottoman relief columns fast approaching and nightfall imminent, Lieutenant-General Chetwode, in charge of the operation, judges the risk of trying to finish the job of clearing the town to be too high and so makes the controversial decision to order his mounted troops to pull out of Gaza and withdraw back across Wadi Ghazze.
    In preparation for the withdrawal, 11th (North Auckland) Squadron rejoins the AMR at its position north-east of Gaza at 8 p.m. The 4th (Waikato) Squadron and the troop from 3rd (Auckland) Squadron are ordered to remain at Huj to delay any approaching Ottoman relief. The rest of the AMR begins to withdraw at 11 p.m.
  • 27th – The 4th (Waikato) Squadron and the troop of 3rd (Auckland) Squadron withdraw from Huj at 3 a.m., initially at ‘a smart pace’ because of the approach of Ottoman reinforcements for Gaza.
    The bulk of the AMR arrives back at Deir el Belah at 6 a.m. and leaves for El Demeita at 6.45 a.m. to rest for the day. The 4th (Waikato) Squadron and the 3rd (Auckland) troop rejoin the regiment at 8 a.m.
    At 5.30 p.m. the AMR rides to an outpost line between Inseirat and El Iaire which is being manned by the other NZMR regiments.
  • 28th – The AMR moves to a bivouac north of Deir el Belah.
  • 29th – The AMR occupies the outpost line at One Tree Hill.
  • 30th – The AMR rides to Tel el Jemmi, 10 km south of Gaza on Wadi Ghazze, to protect a road-making party. The regiment returns to Deir el Belah at the end of the day.

April

  • 1st – The AMR receives nine remount horses.
  • 2nd – The AMR moves to an outpost line in the Deir el Belah area.
  • 3rd – The AMR is relieved from the outpost line by a unit of the Imperial Mounted Division and moves into bivouac in the Deir el Belah area.
    The AMR’s Lewis guns are replaced with Hotchkiss automatic rifles.
  • 6th – The AMR moves into the outpost line.
  • 9th – The AMR is relieved and moves into bivouac.
  • 10th – Gas masks are issued to all men in the regiment.
  • 11th – The strength of the AMR is 24 officers, 509 other ranks and 536 horses.
  • 13th – The AMR receives six men from the TR.
  • 16th – The AMR receives orders to move inland to Shellal (15 km south of Gaza) to take part in the second attempt to take Gaza. The regiment leaves Deir el Belah at 6.30 p.m. as the rearguard of the NZMR column.
  • 17thSecond Battle of Gaza: The situation facing the Allied forces has become more difficult since the First Battle of Gaza. The 18,000 Ottoman troops now holding the line between Gaza and Tel el Sheria occupy more elaborate and extensive defences – more akin to the Western Front than anything ever seen before in this theatre of the war. A frontal assault from the south is now deemed the only practical option by the commander of the EEF, Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Murray. This is undertaken in stages. On the 17th the British infantry move up close to Gaza. The artillery batteries who will support the infantry move their field guns and howitzers up behind them into the new fire positions on the 18th, with the final assault to be made the next day. Eight Mark I tanks have been rushed out from England especially for this battle, to support the infantry attack – it will be the first time tanks will be used in war in the Middle East. Accompanying the tanks are 4000 phosgene gas shells intended for the British artillery to use in their opening barrage, making this battle the first (and only) instance of gas warfare to occur in the Middle East theatre during the First World War.
    The Desert Column has two subsidiary roles in the assault: to protect the right flank of the infantry; and to keep the redoubts at Atawineh and Hareira (10 to 12 km from Gaza) busy, preventing the Ottoman commanders there moving men to the main battlefield at Gaza.
    The AMR makes sure it is observed around Point 550, which overlooks Hareira. At dusk the regiment moves back to Shellal and bivouacs for the night.
  • 18thSecond Battle of Gaza: The AMR moves up to the Ottoman lines in the morning and continues its role in the demonstration. The regiment returns to El Shellal at 9.30 p.m.
  • 19thSecond Battle of Gaza: It is decided that the Imperial Mounted Division will attack the Atawineh redoubt to assist the infantry assaults. The NZMR is placed in reserve with a view to exploiting any breach in the Ottoman line.
    The day does not go well for the Allied assault force. The assaults by both the infantry and the mounted horsemen are unsuccessful, the tanks ineffective and the gas shells insufficient and by days’ end, after horrific casualties amongst the attacking British infantry in front of Gaza for very little gain, General Murray orders a halt to the offensive.
    Only 3rd (Auckland) Squadron has been committed to the fighting, supporting the right flank of the Wellington Mounted Rifles. By the time it withdraws at 8 p.m., the squadron has lost one man killed and 17 wounded.
    The AMR moves back to a bivouac 4 km south-east of El Izraain.
  • 20th – During the night it is decided not to renew the assault on Gaza because of the strength of the defences. The Allied units are redeployed to defensive positions.
    The AMR moves to Sheikh Nuran and occupies an outpost line.
  • 21st – The AMR is relieved by the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and moves to a bivouac at Abasan el Kebir, east of Khan Yunis.
    L ieutenant-Colonel Mackesy is appointed temporary commander of the NZMR. Major McCarroll assumes temporary command of the AMR.
  • 22nd – The AMR occupies an outpost line at Karim Abu el Hiseia, on Wadi Ghazze.
  • 23rd – Lieutenant-Colonel Mackesy relinquishes command of the NZMR after being appointed Administrator of the Khan Yunis – Deir El Belah area. Major McCarroll is promoted to temporary lieutenant-colonel and retains temporary command of the AMR.
  • 26th – The AMR is relieved from the outpost line and bivouacs 3 km west of Point 310.
  • 27th – The AMR starts developing the defences at Nos 6 and 7 Ruins’ Posts at Point 330.
  • 29th – The AMR is relieved by two companies of the 74th (Yeomanry) Infantry Division and moves to a bivouac 2½ km south-west of Tel el Fara (south of Shellal and about halfway between Rafah and Beersheba) for a short period of rest.

May

  • 1st – The AMR acts as the advanced guard for the NZMR on a reconnaissance to Goz el Basal. Ottoman patrols are fired upon but there are no casualties. The AMR returns to its bivouac at 5 p.m.
    The AMR receives two officers and 46 other ranks from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment at Moascar.
  • 6th – The NZMR and 6th Mounted Brigade concentrate at a point west of Goz el Basal at 9.15 p.m.
  • 7th – At 1 a.m. the AMR rides towards Kh Khasif to try to capture Ottoman patrols that have been reported in the area. No Turks are found and the AMR heads back towards Tel el Fara at 6.45 a.m.
  • 11th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 3 a.m. and rides towards El Buggar, 15 km to the east, to look for 2000 Ottoman Turks who are reported to be in the area. Only small Ottoman patrols are contacted. The AMR returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara at 4 p.m.
  • 12th – The NZMR holds a sports day to mark the anniversary of its landing at Gallipoli.
  • 16th – The AMR rides out to Point 550 to support operations by the 6th Mounted Regiment. The AMR returns to Tel el Fara at 2.30 p.m.
  • 17th – The AMR relieves the 6th Mounted Regiment at El Shauth.
  • 18th – The AMR is relieved by the 2nd Light Horse Brigade and moves back into bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 22nd – The NZMR moves out of bivouac. The New Zealanders hold a defensive position in the desert to provide a link between the Imperial Mounted Division, which is conducting a demonstration against Beersheba, and the Australian Light Horse, which is demolishing as much of the Asluj–Auja railway (south of Beersheba) as it can. The raid is a success, destroying 11 km of track and five bridges. The AMR returns to Tel el Fara next day without making contact with Ottoman forces.
  • 28th – The AMR moves to Abasan el Kebir, 5 km inland from Khan Yunis, and bivouacs for the night.
  • 29th – The AMR moves 10 km north-east to Fukhari and sets up a bivouac.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 26 officers and 499 other ranks. Three officers and 50 other ranks have been taken on strength during the month; 28 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital.

June

  • 1st – The men of the AMR exchange their .303 Lee-Enfield Mark III rifles for new .303 Lee-Enfield Mark III* rifles.
  • 2nd – Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel McCarroll is promoted to lieutenant-colonel and given command of the regiment.
  • 8th – The NZMR moves to Marakeb, just north of Khan Yunis, for a period of rest and training.
  • 18th – The NZMR moves to Kazar.
    The AMR receives one officer and 31 other ranks from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 30th – The AMR has a strength of 22 officers and 472 other ranks. During the month two officers and 40 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital; seven have been sent to rest camp, and another seven to Moascar (10 km west of Ismailia) for dental treatment.

July

  • 2nd – The AMR receives one officer and 22 other ranks from the Training Regiment.
  • 3rd – At 11.45 p.m. the NZMR leaves for Taweil el Habari to support a reconnaissance towards Beersheba by the Australian Mounted Division.
  • 4th – The AMR returns to its bivouac at Kazar just before midnight.
  • 6th – The NZMR moves to Tel el Fara.
  • 8th – The AMR takes part in a day-long reconnaissance east of Issiri by the Anzac Mounted Division. Ottoman artillery fire wounds one man and three horses.
  • 10th – In the early hours of the morning the AMR, less 4th (Waikato) Squadron, takes part in an NZMR operation to capture Ottoman patrols in the Khasif–El Buggar area, 15 km west of Beersheba. No enemy patrols are found and the AMR returns to bivouac at 6.30 a.m.
  • 12th – The AMR leaves bivouac at 5 a.m. and patrols the area between Khasif and Wadi Imleih. There are minor encounters with Ottoman patrols and two horses are wounded by shelling. The regiment returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara at 9 p.m.
  • 14th – The AMR moves to Ghabi to relieve the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment and occupy the redoubts there.
    A leave party of three officers and 37 other ranks departs for Cairo.
  • 21st – The 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment relieves the AMR in the Ghabi defences. The AMR moves to bivouacs at Tel el Fara.
  • 22nd – The AMR patrols to Wadi Imleih and Bir Ifteis.
  • 23rd – The NZMR makes a reconnaissance to Beersheba to investigate false reports that the Ottoman Turks have abandoned the village.
  • 25th – The AMR patrols to Wadi Imleih and then returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 28th – The AMR again patrols to Wadi Imleih and returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 23 officers and 439 other ranks. During the month four officers and 89 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements; three officers and 122 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. The summer heat and the extended period of campaigning are beginning to affect the health of the regiment.

August

  • 3rd – The AMR, without 3rd (Auckland) Squadron but with a section of artillery from Somerset Battery and a section of machine guns under command, undertakes a patrol to Wadi Sheria and Wadi Imleih, north-west of Beersheba. Two enemy posts are found and cleared in Wadi Imleih. The AMR and the attached men then return to Tel el Fara.
  • 5th – The AMR undertakes a patrol towards Khalasa, 20 km south-west of Beersheba, before returning to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 7th – The AMR, less four troops, undertakes a patrol to Darb el Zol and Abu Ghalyun before returning to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
    The AMR receives 14 other ranks as reinforcements.
  • 11th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 8 p.m. to support a raid by the Imperial Camel Corps on the Sana redoubt at Beersheba.
  • 13th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 7 p.m. to support a 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade operation. The AMR returns to Tel el Fara at 8.20 a.m next day.
  • 14th – The AMR receives six reinforcement from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 16th – The AMR assists an Anzac Mounted Division operation in support of a reconnaissance by the Desert Mounted Corps to the south of Beersheba.
  • 18th – The Berkshire Mounted Rifles relieves the AMR. The NZMR moves to the beach at Marakeb for a period of rest.
  • 19th – The AMR sets up a 12-man surf life saving squad.  
  • 27th – The AMR receives 27 reinforcements from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 31st – The strength of the AMR is 19 officers and 472 other ranks. During the month two officers and 113 other ranks have arrived as reinforcements. Two officers and 53 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital.

September

  • 1st – The AMR holds a sports day.
  • 11th – The AMR sends 12 horses to Moascar for rehabilitation.
  • 12th – The AMR receives 12 remount horses.
  • 14th – The NZMR’s commanding officer acknowledges the bravery of three AMR men who have rescued comrades who got into difficulty in the sea: Signal Sergeant Dunning, Farrier Corporal Lee and Trooper McRae.
  • 16th – The AMR receives 16 reinforcements from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 18th – The NZMR moves inland to Fukhari for a month of training.
  • 21st – Second Lieutenant Bisley joins the AMR from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment.
  • 25th – The AMR receives gift parcels from the Women’s Branch of the Wairarapa Patriotic Society.
  • 30th – The strength of the AMR is 22 officer and 478 other ranks. Six officers and 85 other ranks have been taken on strength, while one officer and 30 other ranks have been evacuated to hospital. Two officers and 49 other ranks have been sent to the School of Instruction at Zeitoun Camp, Cairo.

October

  • 24th – The AMR spends the day preparing to move. At 5.50 p.m. it leaves with the NZMR for Esani, 20 km west of Beersheba. This move is part of a concentration of forces for a third assault on the Gaza line.
  • 25th – The AMR arrives at its bivouac on the north side of Point 750 at 12.15 a.m.
  • 28th – The AMR leaves its bivouac at 5 p.m. and rides 10 km south-east to a new bivouac north of Khalasa.
  • 29th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 5 p.m. for Asluj, 15 km further south-east.
  • 30thThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR moves out with the Anzac Mounted Division to ride through the night to take part in the third assault on the Gaza line. In the Second Battle of Gaza the emphasis was on a frontal assault. This time 21 Infantry Corps will threaten Gaza at the western end of the Ottoman line, but the main attack will come from 20 Infantry Corps and the Desert Mounted Corps (including the NZMR) around Beersheba at the eastern end of the line. Once the Desert Mounted Corps captures Beersheba 20 Corps will roll up the Ottoman line from the east and ultimately take Gaza. Beersheba must be captured quickly before the Ottoman Turks can blow up the wells there. The Desert Mounted Corps and 20 Corps are operating away from the coastal railway that supplies the Allied forces. Without Beersheba’s water, implementing the plan will be difficult, if not impossible.
  • 31stThird Battle of Gaza: At 9 a.m. the AMR receives orders to take Tel el Saba, a 300-m high hill 5 km east of Beersheba. Its occupation will greatly aid the Australian assault on the town.
    The AMR approaches its objective along watercourses that provide good cover from enemy observation and fire. The 3rd (Auckland) and 4th (Waikato) squadrons get to within 700 m before dismounting, but 11th (North Auckland) has to cover 1600 m on foot.
    With assistance from the artillery of the Somerset Battery, RHA, machine guns, and covering fire from the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, the men of the AMR advance slowly under heavy fire. A general assault is ordered for 2.05 p.m. By 2.40 p.m. the AMR has captured the first Ottoman position. Reinforced by the 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Squadron and a squadron of Australian Light Horse, they charge the summit. By 3 p.m. Tel el Saba is in their hands. The 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, supported by 5th and 7th Mounted Brigades, now makes a wild mounted charge with drawn bayonets into Beersheba directly against and through the Ottoman trenches, an action which breaks the back of the Ottoman resistance. By 6.30 p.m. the town and most of its vital water supplies are in Allied hands. The infantry can now outflank the main Ottoman defences and proceed to isolate and encircle Gaza from the east.
    The AMR spends the night in bivouac on Tel el Saba. During the day the regiment has lost six men killed, one died of wounds and 21 wounded.

November

  • 1stThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR remains at Tel el Saba.
  • 2ndThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR moves into the Judean Hills and takes over an outpost line at Bir Imshash, 17 km east of Beersheba. Men and horses soon suffer from a shortage of water.
  • 4thThird Battle of Gaza: The NZMR is ordered 20 km north to Khuweilfe to relieve the 5th Mounted Regiment, which is in contact with Ottoman forces.
  • 5thThird Battle of Gaza: The AMR holds its position at Khuweilfe against Ottoman attacks.
    One man is killed and four are wounded during the day
    By now the NZMR’s horses have had no water for 48 hours, and it is decided to lead them back to Beersheba for watering.
  • 6thThird Battle of Gaza: The NZMR is relieved by the Imperial Camel Corps during the morning. The brigade marches 8 km north-east to Khurbet el Ras and occupies an outpost line.
    The brigade’s horses arrive that night after being watered. The brigade remains at Khurbet el Ras until the 9th. The horses are led to Beersheba each day for watering.
  • 7thThird Battle of Gaza: The Ottoman Turks abandon Gaza and are pursued north.
  • 10th – The AMR is attached to the 53rd Infantry Division. The rest of the NZMR moves to Beersheba.
  • 11th – The Westminster Dragoons relieve the AMR, which after a long trek rejoins the NZMR at Nahr Sukereir, 30 km north-east of Gaza, on the 13th.
  • 14thBattle of Ayun Kara: Following the collapse of the Gaza defensive line, the Ottoman defence of Palestine is centred on Jerusalem and Jaffa. The Allied plan is to cut communications between the two towns and then attack each separately. The NZMR is ordered to advance to Kubeibeh (10 km south of Jaffa) and conduct reconnaissance towards Surafend, 6 km further north-east. Kubeibeh is reached at 9.30 a.m. When the Canterbury Mounted Rifles move towards Surafend it comes into contact with Ottoman troops. The NZMR launches an attack at 12.30 p.m. The AMR is on the left, the Wellington Mounted Rifles in the centre and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles on the right. By 2.30 p.m. the attack has come to a halt and Ottoman forces are counter-attacking with increasing vigour, particularly against the Auckland and Wellington regiments. The New Zealanders withstand the pressure, and by 4.15 p.m. the counter-attacks have stopped and the Ottoman infantry pull back.
    The NZMR’s victory has been costly for the AMR, which has lost 14 men killed and 75 wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel McCarroll has been wounded in the neck and the shoulder and is evacuated. 13/656 Major Henry Whitehorn assumes temporary command of the regiment.
    The AMR bivouacs on the battlefield.
  • 15th – During the morning the AMR buries its dead. At 12.30 p.m. the NZMR moves forward and sets up an outpost line near Richon le Zion, a Jewish village 8 km south-east of Jaffa.
  • 16th – The AMR moves north and sets up an outpost line linking Beit Dejan and Safiriyeh, within 6 km of Jaffa.
    Two officers die of their wounds.
    The Ottoman Army withdraws from Jaffa before Allied forces arrive.
  • 17th – The 3rd (Auckland) Squadron moves into Jaffa to assist the Canterbury Mounted Rifles with garrison duties. The rest of the AMR moves back to Ayun Kara and joins up with the Wellington Mounted Rifles.
  • 18th – The AMR moves into Jaffa and bivouacs in nearby Sarona.
  • 20th – The AMR moves north and occupies an outpost line along Nahr el Auja.
  • 22nd – The AMR is relieved from the outpost line and moves back to Jaffa for garrison duties.
  • 24th – The AMR conducts a demonstration at a ford on Nahr el Auja to help the Canterbury and Wellington regiments cross to the north side. The 3rd (Auckland) and 11th (North Auckland) squadrons are sent across the river to help defend the newly won ground.
  • 25th – At 2.45 a.m. the 3rd (Auckland) and 11th (North Auckland) squadrons come under heavy attack. By 5.45 a.m. 3rd (Auckland) has been forced back into a supporting line of British infantry. By 8 a.m. the position has become untenable and the British infantry are ordered to withdraw across a bridge to the south side of the river. They are followed by the two AMR squadrons, and then by the 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Squadron and a squadron from the Canterbury Mounted Rifles that has been sent to support them. This ends the Allied incursion on the north side of the Auja.
    The AMR’s casualties are one man killed, 19 wounded and one missing. Major Whitehorn is wounded and command of the regiment passes to 13/757 Major Duncan Munro.
    That night the AMR holds a line overlooking the south bank of the Auja.
  • 26th – The AMR moves to a new bivouac 2½ km south-east of Sarona.
  • 30th – The AMR’s strength is 16 officers and 375 other ranks. During the month 27 men have been killed or died of wounds, 88 wounded, 61 evacuated to hospital and two posted as missing. The regiment has received five officers and 97 other ranks as reinforcements.

December

  • 4th – The NZMR relieves the Imperial Camel Corps in muddy trenches at Sakia, 7 km south-east of Jaffa.
  • 10th – The AMR is relieved from the trenches at 8.30 p.m. and moves to billets in Jaffa.
  • 16th – Major Whitehorn returns and resumes temporary command of the AMR.
  • 18th – The AMR relieves 52nd (Lowland) Division troops in a position at Summeil, 2 km north of Jaffa overlooking Nahr el Auja.
  • 20th – After the 52nd (Lowland) Division crosses the Auja, the fighting moves away and the AMR is relieved of front-line duties.
  • 21st – The AMR moves back to billets in Jaffa.
  • 22nd – The AMR moves forward to Sheikh Muwannis to act as divisional reserve for the 52nd (Lowland) Division. At midday 11th (North Auckland) Squadron conducts a reconnaissance in front of the front line. That night the regiment bivouacs at Dam Bridge.
  • 23rd – The AMR sets up a number of observation posts during the day, then returns to billets in Jaffa.
  • 24th – The AMR receives orders to meet up with the NZMR at Nahr Sukereir. The regiment leaves Jaffa at 8 a.m and reaches Esdud, where it bivouacs.
  • 25th – The AMR rejoins the NZMR at Nahr Sukereir.

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How to cite this page: '1917 - Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment timeline', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/auckland-mounted-rifles/1917, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012