Desert Column

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Desert Column
The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial at Mount Clarence, Albany, Western Australia. The memorial originally stood in Port Said, Egypt, until it was damaged in anti-British riots, during the Suez Crisis of 1956. Albany is also linked with the corps by the fact that among the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were the Light Horsemen, mounted infantry units which left Australia from there in November 1914.
The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial at Mount Clarence, Albany, Western Australia.
Active 1916–1917
Country  Australia
 British Empire
 New Zealand
Type Light horse, mounted rifle, infantry
Role Mounted infantry, infantry
Part of Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Eastern Force
Engagements

World War I

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Philip W. Chetwode

The Desert Column was a First World War British Empire army corps which operated in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign from 22 December 1916[Note 1] The Column was commanded by Lieutenant General Philip W. Chetwode and formed part of Eastern Force. When Chetwode took command of Eastern Force after the Second Battle of Gaza, Harry Chauvel took command and oversaw the expansion of the column to three divisions.[1]

Chetwode was appointed on 7 December 1916 to command the Column which was composed of the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, the 52nd (Lowland) Division, the Anzac Mounted Division and the Imperial Camel Brigade's eighteen companies, six of which were yeomen.[2] These divisions had been involved in the Battle of Romani in August 1916 and had advanced across the Sinai Peninsula.[3] Chetwode arrived El Arish to take up his appointment on 22 December 1916.[4][5] The Battle of Magdhaba was won the next day, and on 9 January 1917 the Battle of Rafa was also won by the Desert Column, before two defeats were suffered during the First and Second battles for Gaza in March and April 1917.[6]

In mid 1917 when General Edmund Allenby took command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Desert Column was renamed to become the Desert Mounted Corps commanded by Lieutenant General Chauvel.[7]

December 1916[edit]

Desert Column Headquarters El Arish (Lieutenant General Sir Philip Chetwode)

42nd (East Lancashire) Division
125th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Brigade
126th (East Lancashire) Brigade
127th (Manchester) Brigade
52nd (Lowland) Division (Major General W.E.B. Smith)
155th (South Scottish) Brigade
156th (Scottish Rifles) Brigade
157th (Highland Light Infantry) Brigade
Anzac Mounted Division (Major General Harry Chauvel)
1st Light Horse Brigade
2nd Light Horse Brigade
3rd Light Horse Brigade
New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade
Imperial Camel Corps Brigade

[8] [9][10][11][12]

Royal Flying Corps 5th Wing stationed at Mustabig (Lieutenant Colonel W.G.H Salmond)
No. 14 (British) Squadron
(No. 17 Squadron)
No. 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps / No. 67 (Australian) Squadron [13]

Order of Battle 9 January 1917[edit]

Main article: Battle of Rafa

Desert Column (Lieutenant General Chetwode)

Anzac Mounted Division (Major General Chauvel)
1st Light Horse Brigade (Brigadier General C. F. Cox)
3rd Light Horse Brigade (Brigadier General Royston)
New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (Brigadier General E. W. C. Chaytor)
Inverness, Leicestershire and Somerset Territorial Royal Horse Artillery batteries
Imperial Camel Corps Brigade
1st (Australian) Battalion
2nd (British) Battalion
3rd (Australian) Battalion
4th (Australian and New Zealand) Battalion
Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery
5th Mounted Yeomanry Brigade
Honourable Artillery Company (18–pounder)Battery
No. 7 Light Car Patrol (six Ford cars equipped with machine guns)
No. 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps
No. 14 Squadron Royal Flying Corps [14][15][16][17][18][19]

Order of Battle March 1917[edit]

Main article: First Battle of Gaza
Desert Column (Lieutenant General P. Chetwode)
53rd (Welsh) Division (Major General A.G. Dallas)
158th (North Wales) Brigade (Brigadier General H. A. Vernon)
1/5th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
1/6th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
1/7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
1/1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment
158th Brigade Machine Gun Company
159th (Cheshire) Brigade (Brigadier General N. Money)
1/4th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
1/4th Battalion, Welch Regiment
1/5th Battalion Welch Regiment
159th Brigade Machine Gun Company
160th (Welsh Border) Brigade (Brigadier General V. L. N. Pearson)
2/4th Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
1/4th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
2/4th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment
2/10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
160th Brigade Machine Gun Company[20][21]
Anzac Mounted Division (Major General H. G. Chauvel)
2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade (Brigadier General G. de L. Ryrie)
5th, 6th, 7th Australian Light Horse Regiments
New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade (Brigadier General E. W. C. Chaytor)
Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington Mounted Rifle Regiments
22nd Mounted Brigade (Brigadier General F. A. B. Fryer)
Stafford, 1/1st Lincolnshire Yeomanry, Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry/East Riding Yeomanry
Imperial Mounted Division (Major General H.W. Hodgson)
3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade (Brigadier General L. C. Wilson)
8th, 9th, 10th Australian Light Horse Regiments
5th Mounted Brigade (Brigadier General Percy Desmond FitzGerald)
6th Mounted Brigade (Brigadier General C A C. Godwin)
Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry, Buckinghamshire Yeomanry and Berkshire Yeomanry

Artillery

Anzac Mounted Division 4 Batteries RHA of 4 18–pdrs = 16 guns
Imperial Mounted Division 4 Batteries RHA of 4 18–pdrs = 16 guns
Imperial Camel Brigade 1 Camel Pack Battery of 6 2.75-inch = 6 guns
53rd (Welsh) Division (3 Brigades RFA 12 18–pdrs=24 guns) 4 of each battery only = 16 guns; 4 4.5-inch howitzers = 8 howitzer
54th (East Anglian) Division (3 Brigades RFA 12 18–pdrs=24 guns) 4 of each battery only = 16 guns; 4 4.5-inch howitzers = 8 howitzer
Army Troops (3 Batteries of 4 60–pdrs=12 guns) one section only = 6 guns [22][23][24][Note 2]

Order of Battle April 1917[edit]

General Headquarters Commander in Chief Lieutenant General (temp. General) A. J. Murray Eastern Force GOC Major General (temp. Lieutenant General C. M. Dobell Brigadier General General Staff Brevet Lieutenant Colonel (temp. Brigadier General G. P. Dawnay

Desert Column GOC Major General (temp. Lieutenant General P. W. Chetwode

Anzac Mounted Division GOC Colonel (temp. Major General) H. G. Chauvel
1st Australian Light Horse Brigade [Anzac Mounted Division] GOC Lieutenant Colonel C. F. Cox
1st Light Horse Regiment
2nd Light Horse Regiment
3rd Light Horse Regiment
1st Australian Light Horse Signal Troop
1st Australian Machine Gun Squadron
2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade GOC Colonel (temp. Brigadier General G. de L. Ryrie
5th Light Horse Regiment
6th Light Horse Regiment
7th Light Horse Regiment
2nd Australian Light Horse Signal Troop
2nd Australian Machine Gun Squadron
New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade GOC Brigadier General E. W. C. Chaytor)
Auckland Mounted Rifle Regiment
Canterbury Mounted Rifle Regiment
Wellington Mounted Rifle Regiment
New Zealand Mounted Rifles Signal Troop
New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron
22nd Mounted Brigade GOC Colonel (temp. Brigadier General) F. A. B. Fryer
1/1st Lincolnshire Yeomanry
1/1st Staffordshire Yeomanry
1/1st East Riding Yeomanry
22nd Mounted Brigade Signal Troop
18th Machine Gun Squadron
Divisional Troops same as April 1916 oob except
batteries not brigaded
Mounted Divisional Ammunition Column added
Nos 26 and 27 Australian Units of Supply substituted for Light Horse Supply Column
1/1st North Midland Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance substituted for 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance
Imperial Mounted Division GOC Colonel (temp. Major General) H. W. Hodgson
3rd Light Horse Brigade GOC Colonel (temp. Brigadier General) J. R. Royston
8th Light Horse Regiment
9th Light Horse Regiment
10th Light Horse Regiment
3rd Australian Light Horse Signal Troop
3rd Australian Machine Gun Squadron
4th Light Horse Brigade GOC Lieutenant Colonel (temp. Brigadier General J. B. Meredith
4th Light Horse Regiment
11th Light Horse Regiment
12th Light Horse Regiment
4th Australian Light Horse Signal Troop
4th Australian Machine Gun Squadron
5th Mounted Brigade GOC Colonel (temp. Brigadier General) E. A. Wiggin
1/1st Warwick Yeomanry
1/1st Gloucester Yeomanry
1/1st Worcester Yeomanry
5th Mounted Signal Brigade Troop
16th Machine Gun Squadron
6th Mounted Brigade GOC Lieutnant Colonel (temp. Brigadier General) T. M. S. Pitt
1/1st Buckinghamshire Yeomanry
1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry
1/1st Dorsetshire Yeomanry
6th Brigade Signal Troop
17th Machine Gun Squadron
Divisional Troops
Artillery
1/1st Nottinghamshire and 1/1st Berkshire Batteries RHA
"A" and "B" Batteries, H.A.C.
Mounted Divisional Ammunition Column
Engineers
Imperial Mounted Division Field Squadron
Signal Service
Imperial Mounted Division Signal Squadron
ASC (unidentified)
Medical Units
3rd and 4th Light Horse, 1/1st and 1/2nd South Midland Mounted Brigades Field Ambulances.[25]

Notes[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ There is no war diary for Desert Column for December. See [1]
  2. ^ The third brigades of 53rd and 54th Divisions were in the Suez Canal Defences with 1st Light Horse Brigade about Bir el Abd, Mazar and Bardawil patrolling the pipeline until moving to El Arish on 20 March. And only four guns of each 18–pounder battery of the 53rd and 54th Divisions, and one section of each heavy battery were brought across the Sinai Peninsula. The guns left behind formed part of the Suez Canal Defences. [Wavell 1968, p. 94, 1st Light Horse Brigade War Diary March 1917 AWM4-10-1-32}
Citations
  1. ^ Falls 1930 Vol. 1 p. 351
  2. ^ Woodward 2006 p. 53
  3. ^ Falls 1930 Vol. 1 pp. 175–204, 242–251
  4. ^ Bruce 2002, p. 82
  5. ^ Powles 1922, p. 50
  6. ^ Falls 1930 Vol. 1 pp. 251–372
  7. ^ Falls 1930 Vol. 2 p. 16
  8. ^ Woodward 2003, p. 53
  9. ^ Bou 2009, pp. 150–2
  10. ^ Hill 1978, p. 67
  11. ^ Kinloch 2007, pp. 57–8
  12. ^ Powles 1922, p. 12
  13. ^ Cutlack 1941, pp. 45–9
  14. ^ Bruce 2002 p. 85
  15. ^ Cutlack 1941, pp. 45–9, 51
  16. ^ Gullett 1941, pp. 230–1
  17. ^ Keogh 1955, p. 77
  18. ^ Powles 1922, p. 65
  19. ^ Coulthard-Clark 1998, p. 123
  20. ^ "The 53rd (Welsh) Division in 1914–1918". Long Long Trail. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  21. ^ Falls 1930 Vol. 2 pp. 390, 398
  22. ^ Wavell 1968, pp. 92–4
  23. ^ Powles 1922, pp. 278–9
  24. ^ Preston 1921, p. 331-3
  25. ^ Falls 1930 Vol. 1 pp. 400–2

References[edit]

  • Bou, Jean (2009). Light Horse: A History of Australia's Mounted Arm. Australian Army History. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521197083. 
  • Bruce, Anthony (2002). The Last Crusade: The Palestine Campaign in the First World War. London: John Murray. ISBN 978-0-7195-5432-2. 
  • Coulthard-Clark, Chris (1998). Where Australians Fought: The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles. St Leonards: Allen and Unwin. ISBN 1864486112. 
  • Cutlack, Frederic Morley (1941). The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War, 1914–1918. Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918. Volume VIII (11th ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 220900299. 
  • Falls, Cyril; G. MacMunn (1930). Military Operations Egypt & Palestine: From the Outbreak of War with Germany to June 1917. Official History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Volume 1. London: HM Stationery Office. OCLC 610273484. 
  • Falls, Cyril; A. F. Becke (maps) (1930). Military Operations Egypt & Palestine: From June 1917 to the End of the War. Official History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Volume 2 Part I. London: HM Stationery Office. OCLC 644354483. 
  • Gullett, Henry S. (1941). The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914–1918. Official History of Australian in the War of 1914–1918. Volume VII (11th ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 220900153. 
  • Hill, A. J. (1978). Chauvel of the Light Horse: A Biography of General Sir Harry Chauvel, GCMG, KCB. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. OCLC 5003626. 
  • Keogh, E. G.; Joan Graham (1955). Suez to Aleppo. Melbourne: Directorate of Military Training by Wilkie & Co. OCLC 220029983. 
  • Kinloch, Terry (2007). Devils on Horses: In the Words of the Anzacs in the Middle East, 1916–19. Auckland: Exisle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-908988-94-5. 
  • Powles, C. Guy; A. Wilkie (1922). The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine. Official History New Zealand's Effort in the Great War. Volume III. Auckland: Whitcombe & Tombs. OCLC 2959465. 
  • Preston, R. M. P. (1921). The Desert Mounted Corps: An Account of the Cavalry Operations in Palestine and Syria 1917–1918. London: Constable & Co. OCLC 3900439. 
  • Wavell, Field Marshal Earl (1968) [1933]. "The Palestine Campaigns". In Sheppard, Eric William. A Short History of the British Army (4th ed.). London: Constable & Co. OCLC 35621223.