1917 - Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment timeline

During 1917 the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment (WMR) 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 WMR 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 by camel across 15 km of desert to El Arish.
  • 4th – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR move further west to Wilder Hod because of the poor watering arrangements for the horses at Kilo 139.
  • 8th – The WMR 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 Turkish garrison there.
  • 9th – 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 WMR, less two troops, is placed in support of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles. The two detached troops are to act as a flank guard and warn of the approach of Ottoman reinforcements from Khan Yunis, 10 km to the north-east.
    The initial advance is slow but steady. 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 WMR 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 WMR withdraws at 6.30 p.m. and goes into bivouac at Sheikh Zowaiid, 15 km south-west of Rafah, at 9.30 p.m.
    The WMR has lost eight men killed in action; four die of wounds and 18 are wounded.
  • 10th – While the rest of the NZMR moves back to Masaid, near El Arish, the WMR remains at Sheikh Zowaiid to protect the Field Ambulance and then escort it back to El Arish.
  • 11th – The WMR leaves Sheikh Zowaiid with the Field Ambulance at midday. After reaching El Arish at 7.45 p.m., the WMR bivouacs at Wilder Hod.
  • 17th – 5% of officers and men depart for Cairo after being granted leave.
  • 22nd – Four officers and four other ranks arrive from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Training Regiment as reinforcements for the WMR.
    A further 10% of officers and men are granted leave in Cairo.
  • 31st – The strength of the WMR is 27 officers, 496 men and 499 riding horses.

February

  • 4th – Lieutenant-Colonel William Meldrum departs on leave and Major Charles Dick assumes temporary command of the WMR.
  • 12th – The WMR receives nine other ranks from the Training Regiment as reinforcements.
  • 22nd – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR join the Anzac Mounted Division column and move forward to Sheikh Zowaiid.
  • 23rd – The WMR, 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 Ottoman forces. It is hoped to capture Sheikh Ali el Hirsch, a suspected Ottoman spy.
    Reports that the Ottomans have left Khan Yunis prove to be premature when the WMR, which has formed the advance guard, comes under fire at 5.30 a.m. Despite making progress, the WMR receives orders for a general withdrawal at 7.50 a.m. and the operation is abandoned. The WMR has lost one man killed and seven wounded during the attack.
    The WMR returns to bivouac near Sheikh Zowaiid.
  • 26th – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR conduct 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.
  • 27th – The WMR receives four other ranks from the Training Regiment.
  • 28th – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR conduct a day-long reconnaissance around Rafah. They again returns to bivouacs in Sheikh Zowaiid.
  • Khan Yunis is abandoned by the Turks and occupied by elements of the Desert Column.
    The strength of the WMR is 22 officers, 490 men and 510 riding horses.

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 WMR 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. Ottoman patrols are seen but the WMR suffers no casualties. The regiment returns to bivouacs at Sheikh Zowaiid at 6.30 p.m.
  • 7th – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR undertake a reconnaissance around Khan Yunis. The WMR returns to Sheikh Zowaiid at 4.30 p.m.
  • 9th – The WMR receives 16 reinforcements from the Training Regiment.
  • 10th – The WMR moves to Bir el Esha, on the coast near Rafah, and sets up a new bivouac and outpost line.
  • 11th – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR undertake a reconnaissance towards Gaza. The WMR returns to its bivouac at Bir el Esha at 6.30 p.m.
  • 18th – The WMR and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles leave their bivouacs at 3.15 a.m. and patrol around Um el Kelab with the intention of capturing any Ottoman patrols in the area. No Ottoman Turks are found, and by 9.15 a.m. the two regiments withdraw to Khan Yunis to protect a party of Royal Engineers working on the wells. The WMR returns to bivouac at Bir el Esha at 4 p.m.
  • 23rd – After receiving orders from Brigade Headquarters, the WMR begins preparations for an operation on the 25th which will result in the Battle of Gaza.
  • 25th – The WMR forms the advance guard for an NZMR column which leaves Bir el Malalha at 2 a.m. for Deir el Belah (15 km from Gaza). 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 WMR leaves its bivouacs at 2.30 a.m. to join the rest of the NZMR 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 WMR arrives at its blocking position at Tellul el Humra at 10 a.m.
    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 preparation 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 precious time before Ottoman reinforcements can arrive has been lost.
  • With the infantry attack in disarray and behind schedule, the Anzac Mounted Division launches an attack from the north-east at 4 p.m. to assist. The WMR 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 defenders facing the infantry attack from the south, the mounted regiments make good progress and quickly break into the town. The WMR captures a field hospital, two field guns and a strongpoint near a cemetery. As darkness approaches, they also come under fire from Australian Light Horsemen to their rear.
  • As Ottoman reinforcements approach Gaza from the north, Lieutenant-General Chetwode, in charge of the operation, makes a controversial decision to withdraw across Wadi Ghazze.
    The WMR receives the orders to withdraw at 6.45 p.m. It takes until 9.15 p.m. for the regiment to fully extract itself, its wounded and its prisoners from Gaza. The WMR rejoins the Anzac Mounted Division at Tellul el Humra at 9.40 p.m. The divisional column rides through the night.
    The WMR has lost one man killed (64 year old Arthur Fitzherbert) and 19 wounded.
  • 27th – The WMR arrives back at Deir el Belah at 8.30 a.m. After resting for the day, it joins the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in forming an outpost line between Inseirat and El Iaire.
  • 28th – The WMR is relieved by a regiment of Australian Light Horse and moves to a new bivouac by the beach at Deir el Belah.
  • 29th – The WMR moves back to the outpost line at Inseirat for a period of duty.
  • 30th – The WMR is relieved by a regiment of Imperial Mounted Horse and moves back to bivouac in Deir el Belah.
  • 31st – The strength of the WMR is 21 officers, 470 other ranks and 566 horses.

April

  • 2nd – The WMR moves to an outpost line near Deir el Belah.
  • 3rd – The WMR is relieved from the outpost line and moves back to bivouac at Deir el Belah.
  • 4th – The WMR’s Lewis guns are replaced by Hotchkiss automatic rifles.
  • 8th – The WMR moves to an outpost line near Deir el Belah.
  • 9th – The WMR is relieved from the outpost line and moves back to bivouac at Deir el Belah.
  • 10th – The WMR spends the day helping the Royal Engineers improve roads.
  • 11th – The WMR receives 23 other ranks from the Training Regiment.
  • 16th – The WMR receives orders to move inland to Shellal (15 km south of Gaza) to take part in the second attempt to take Gaza. The regiment moves out of Deir el Belah as part of the NZMR column at 6.30 p.m.
  • 17thSecond Battle of Gaza: The WMR reaches Shellal at 6 a.m.
    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. A frontal assault from the south is now the only practical option. This is undertaken in stages. On the 17th the infantry move up close to Gaza. The artillery move into place on the 18th, with the final assault to be made next day.
    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 (10–12 km from Gaza) busy, preventing the Turkish commanders there moving men to the main battlefield at Gaza.
    The WMR moves out of Shellal at 8.30 a.m. and advances along the Rafa–Beersheba road as part of the NZMR’s ‘demonstration’. The WMR briefly clashes with Ottoman Arab cavalry, then moves onto Point 550, which overlooks the Ottoman defences. The rest of the day passes quietly and the regiment moves back to Shellal to bivouac for the night.
  • 18thSecond Battle of GazaThe WMR moves up to Point 550 in the morning and continues its role in the demonstration. The regiment returns to Shellal at 9.30 p.m.
  • 19thSecond Battle of Gaza: The Imperial Mounted Division is to 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.
    At 9.30 a.m. the WMR receives orders to assist the 5th Mounted Regiment by clearing ‘Sausage Ridge’. This attack starts at 11.30 a.m. An hour later the WMR has advanced halfway along the ridge against heavy Ottoman resistance, but with Ottoman reinforcements arriving the attack starts to bog down. By 3 p.m. the Ottoman defenders have launched counter-attacks against the WMR.
    The Ottoman attacks are repelled, but the day has not gone well for the Allied forces. The assaults by the infantry and the mounted horsemen have both been unsuccessful and it is decided to abandon the attack.
    The WMR receives orders to withdraw at 6 p.m. and begins doing so at 7.45. By 8.20 p.m. the WMR has extracted itself and begun riding back towards Tel el Jemmi, just across Wadi Ghazze 10 km south of Gaza.
    The WMR’s casualties are one killed and 23 wounded.
  • 20th – The WMR arrives at Tel el Jemmi at 1 a.m. and sets up a bivouac.
    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.
    At 10 a.m. the WMR rejoins the rest of the NZMR and occupies the redoubt at Point 360.
  • 21st – The WMR is relieved by the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and moves to a bivouac at Abasan el Kebir, 5 km east of Khan Yunis.
  • 22nd – The WMR moves to Point 310 and forms the reserve for the NZMR’s outpost line.
  • 23rd – Lieutenant-Colonel Meldrum is appointed to temporary command of the NZMR. Major Charles Dick assumes temporary command of the WMR.
  • 29th – The AMR is relieved and moves to a bivouac at Tel el Fara, south of Shellal and about halfway between Rafah and Beersheba.
  • 30th – The strength of the WMR is 20 officers, 462 men and 566 horses.

May

  • 11th – The NZMR leaves Tel el Fara at 3.30 a.m. and rides towards El Buggar, 15 km to the east, to look for 2000 Turks who are reported to be in the area. Only Ottoman patrols are contacted and the WMR returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara at 2 p.m.
  • 12th – The NZMR holds a sports day to mark the anniversary of its landing at Gallipoli.
  • 17th – The WMR relieves the 6th Mounted Brigade in the El Shauth defences.
  • 18th – The WMR is relieved and moves back to 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 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, 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 WMR returns to Tel el Fara without making contact with Ottoman forces.
  • 28th – The WMR moves to Abasan el Kebir and bivouacs for the night.
  • 29th – The WMR moves 10 km north-east to Fukhari and sets up a new bivouac.
  • 31st – The strength of the WMR is 24 officers, 485 other ranks and 506 horses.

June

  • 2nd – The men of the WMR exchange their Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) Mark III rifles for new SMLE Mark III* rifles.
  • 3rd – The WMR moves to Khan Yunis to have their clothes and blankets fumigated, then return to their bivouac at Fukhari in the afternoon.
  • 8th – The NZMR moves to the beach by Marakeb, just north of Khan Yunis, for a period of rest and training.
  • 12th – Major James Whyte is promoted to lieutenant-colonel and assumes command of the WMR.
  • 18th – The NZMR moves to Kazar.
  • 20th – The WMR receives 23 men from the Trainin Regiment.
  • 30th – The strength of the WMR is 23 officers, 479 other ranks and 588 horses.

July

  • 3rd – At 11.45 p.m. the WMR and the rest of the NZMR ride to Taweil el Habari to support a reconnaissance towards Beersheba by the Australian Mounted Division.
  • 4th – The WMR returns to its bivouac at Kazar at 6 p.m.
  • 6th – The NZMR moves to Tel el Fara.
  • 8th – The WMR takes part in a day-long reconnaissance east of Issiri by the Anzac Mounted Division. The WMR overruns a Ottoman outpost and is the target of artillery fire, but suffers no casualties.
  • 10th – In the early hours of the morning the WMR takes part in an NZMR operation to capture Ottoman patrols in the Khasif–El Buggar area, 15 km west of Beersheba. None are found and the WMR spends the morning supporting Somerset Battery (18th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery), which is harassing Ottoman positions. When the artillery withdraw, the WMR returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 12th – The WMR again assists Somerset Battery while it harasses Ottoman positions at Point 630. The WMR then returns to bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 18th – The WMR moves to Khalasa, about 20 km south-west of Beersheba. It clears an Ottoman post on Hill 860 and conducts reconnaissance in the area before returning to Tel el Fara.
  • 20th – The WMR conducts a reconnaissance around Bir Ifties. The regiment comes under shellfire at around 11 a.m.; one man is killed and two wounded. At 2 p.m. the WMR arrives back at bivouac at Tel el Fara.
  • 23rd – The NZMR makes a reconnaissance to Beersheba to investigate false reports that the Ottoman Turks have abandoned the village.
  • 24th – The WMR makes a reconnaissance along the Abu Ehawish road, south-east of Beersheba.
  • 27th – The WMR makes a reconnaissance through Wadi Imleih and Wadi Sheria, north-west of Beersheba.
  • 29th – The WMR makes a reconnaissance across Wadi Ghazze.
  • 31st – The strength of the WMR is 26 officers, 459 other ranks and 582 horses.

August

  • 1st – The WMR makes another reconnaissance through Wadi Imleih and Wadi Sheria.
  • 6th – The WMR makes a reconnaissance around Wadi Imalaga.
  • 8th – The WMR makes a reconnaissance around Khalasa.
  • 11th – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR leave bivouac at 7 p.m. to support a raid by the Imperial Camel Corps on the Sana redoubt at Beersheba.
  • 13th – The WMR and the rest of the NZMR leave bivouac at 6.20 p.m. to support a 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade operation. The regiment returns to the Tel el Fara bivouac at 8.15 a.m next day.
  • 16th – The WMR takes part in an Anzac Mounted Division operation in support of a reconnaissance by the Desert Mounted Corps to the south of Beersheba.
  • 18th – The NZMR moves to the beach at Marakeb for a period of rest.
  • 31st – The strength of the WMR is 26 officers, 493 men and 576 horses.

September

  • 18th – The NZMR moves from Marakeb to Fukhari for a month of training.
  • 30th – The strength of the WMR is 24 officers, 483 men and 502 riding horses.

October

  • 24th – The WMR spends the day preparing to move. At 5 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 WMR arrives at its bivouac in Esani at 1 a.m. and is issued with gas masks.
  • 26th – The WMR patrols to the north of Esani.
  • 28th – The WMR leaves its bivouac at 5.55 p.m. and rides 10 km south-east to a bivouac at Khalasa.
  • 29th – The NZMR leaves bivouac at 5 p.m. for Asluj, 15 km to the south-east.
  • 30th – Third Battle of Gaza: The WMR 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 garrison 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 GazaThe WMR initially provides the advance guard for the NZMR. As the brigade nears Beersheba, the WMR moves to the rear of the column.
    During the morning the WMR is in reserve. The Auckland and Canterbury Mounted Rifles are ordered to take 300-m high Tel el Saba, 5 km east of Beersheba. Its occupation will greatly aid the Australian assault on the town. At 2 p.m. the WMR is ordered to send forward the 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Squadron to assist the Auckland Mounted Rifles in the final assault on Tel el Saba. By 3 p.m. these units have overrun the Ottoman positions after some fierce close-quarters fighting.
    The 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, supported by 5th and 7th Mounted Brigades, now makes a wild mounted charge with withdrawn 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 the vital water supplies are in Allied hands. The infantry can now outflank the main Ottoman defences and advance on Gaza.
    The WMR spends the night in bivouac on Tel el Saba. Its casualties for the day have been one man killed and five wounded, with three horses killed and 32 wounded.
    The strength of the WMR is 26 officers, 488 other ranks and 566 horses.

November

  • 1stThird Battle of Gaza: The WMR is ordered to advance and occupy the ridge west of Khurbet el Likiyeh (11 km north of Tel el Saba). The regiment begins to move north at 7 a.m. At 9.15 a.m. it comes under fire from Ottoman cavalry about 1 km from its objective. By 11 a.m. the WMR and a troop of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles have driven off the Ottoman cavalry and taken the ridge.
    At 9.50 p.m. the WMR is relieved by the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade and returns to bivouac at Tel el Saba.
    The WMR has had 15 horses wounded.
  • 2ndThird Battle of Gaza: The WMR moves into the Judean Hills and takes over an outpost line at Bir Imshash, 17 km east of Beersheba. Both 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 Brigade, which is in contact with Ottoman forces.
  • 5thThird Battle of Gaza: The WMR holds a position on Ras el Nagb, 1½ km north-east of Khuweilfe, against Ottoman attacks.
    During the period at Khuweilfe, 19 WMR men are wounded, with six horses killed and 13 wounded.
    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 men march 8 km north-east to Khurbet el Ras and occupy an outpost line.
    The brigade’s horses arrive that night after being watered. The NZMR remains at Khurbet el Ras until the 9th. The horses are led to Beersheba each day for watering.
  • 7thThird Battle of Gaza: Ottoman forces abandon Gaza and are pursued north.
  • 10th – The WMR and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles move to a bivouac at Beersheba.
    The WMR receives 22 reinforcements from the Training Regiment; 12 remount horses also arrive.
  • 11th – The WMR and Canterbury Mounted Rifles begin a two-day ride to Hammame, near the coast 25 km north of Gaza.
  • 13th – The WMR and Canterbury Mounted Rifles move to Yebna, 30 km further north, where the Auckland Mounted Rifles rejoins them.
  • 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 communication 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., but when the Canterbury Mounted Rifles moves towards Surafend it comes into contact with Ottoman troops. The NZMR launches an attack at 12.30 p.m. The Auckland Mounted Rifles are on the left, the WMR 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 WMR, which has lost 11 men killed and 46 wounded.
  • 15th – During the morning the WMR 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 WMR conducts reconnaissance around Jaffa. By 9.30 a.m. it is clear that the Ottoman Army have abandoned the town, which the WMR enters unopposed.
    That night the WMR occupies an outpost south of Jaffa.
  • 17th – The WMR moves back to Ayun Kara and rejoins the brigade.
  • 18th – The WMR moves through Jaffa and occupies an outpost line on the south bank of Nahr el Auja, 4 km north of the town.
  • 19th – The WMR is relieved from the outpost line by the Canterbury Mounted Rifles at 5 p.m. It moves back to Jaffa to undertake garrison duties.
  • 22nd – The WMR returns to the outpost line on Nahr el Auja, relieving the Auckland Mounted Rifles.
  • 24th – The WMR is relieved from the outpost line to prepare for an attack. Along with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles it crosses the river at 1 p.m. and quickly establishes positions on the far bank. By nightfall the WMR has secured Khurbet Hadra, where the 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Squadron sets up a defensive position. The other two squadrons bivouac on the south side of the river.
    The WMR suffers no casualties during this operation.
  • 25th – At 2.45 a.m. two Auckland Mounted Rifles squadrons to the right of the WMR come under heavy attack. So does the 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Squadron at 5.30 a.m. By 5.45 a.m. the Aucklanders have 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 Auckland Mounted Rifles 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.
    During the day the WMR has had two men killed and 12 wounded. Four horses were killed and six wounded.
  • 26th – The WMR moves from Nahr el Auja to a bivouac at Sarona, just outside Jaffa.
  • 30th – The strength of the WMR is 20 officers, 390 other ranks and 552 horses.

December

  • 4th – The NZMR relieves the Imperial Camel Corps in muddy trenches at Sakia, 7 km south-east of Jaffa.
  • 10th – The WMR is relieved by two British battalions and bivouacs near Ayun Kara.
    The WMR receives 44 reinforcements.
  • 11th – Eleven WMR men take part in the formal Allied entry into Jerusalem.
  • 12th – The WMR moves to Beit Dejan, 6 km south-east of Jaffa, where it is attached to the 54th (East Anglia) Division as the divisional reserve.
  • 21st – The WMR receives 16 reinforcements.
  • 22nd – The WMR crosses Nahr el Auja and spends the day conducting reconnaissance towards Ferrekhiyeh, then returns to bivouac at Beit Dejan.
  • 23rd – The WMR moves 11 km south-west to a new bivouac at Wadi Hanein.
  • 25th – The WMR’s attachment to the 54th (East Anglia) Division ends. The regiment moves 20 km south to Nahr Sukereir and rejoins the NZMR.
  • 30th – The WMR goes to nearby Esdud to have its clothes disinfected. At midday the regiment returns to its bivouac at Nahr Sukereir.
  • 31st – The strength of the WMR is 14 officers, 422 other ranks and 534 horses.

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

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