Colin F. Jones

THE BATTLE OF MAGHDABA: DECEMBER 1916

~ 1 ~

The 10th light horse marched on to Masaid,
Then on to Bir-Abu-Zehari,
To bivouac for a freezing night,
Like adventurers on safari.

~ 2 ~

The morning led them to the camp,
A half mile from El Arish,
Where the Anzac Mounted Div would form,
Which was every bodies wish.

~ 3 ~

Three days rations per horse and man,
Were handed out to all,
Blankets and overcoats for it was cold;
Medical-kits lest some do fall.

~ 4 ~

On the banks of the Wadi-El-Arish,
As the crow flies, twenty miles,
From the surf of the great blue ocean,
Where sand in beach dunes pile

~ 5 ~

Stood the El Maghdaba stronghold,
Occupying a commanding site,
Housing a garrison of Turkish soldiers,
Who ‘twas said could put up a fight.

~ 6 ~

With the 3rd Light Horse Brigade in the centre,
Moving along the wadi bed,
The Kiwis on the right hand flank,
The Imperial Camel Corps left ahead

~ 7 ~

They moved up towards El Maghdaba,
With the 1st Light Horse Brigade in reserve,
Through desert of the sand dune type,
That their horses’ hooves weren’t heard

~ 8 ~

But the wadi was a chalky texture
Covering the 3rd Brigade in dusty white,
A column of phantom riders;
They must have been a scary sight.

~ 9 ~

But the Turks had not yet seen them,
As they neared the El Maghdaba fort,
Though the approach was swiftly managed,
For they moved as they’d been taught

~ 10 ~

The Turks had strong defences,
Of redoubts and trenches deep.
And wash-aways forming cover,
From where their guards could carefully peep

~ 11 ~

South west of the Turkish position,
Were high rough hills, and there,
The Turks could overlook the wadi,
Where more of their defences were.

~ 12 ~

The Turkish strength was about four thousand,
And some light field guns were in their hands,
As the 3rd Light Horse Brigade pushed eastwards,
Around the right flank in several bands

~ 13 ~

The Camel Corps advanced straight forward,
From the south western sand dune fills,
While the New Zealand horsemen gathered,
Along a chain of high sand hills.

~ 14 ~

The Inverness and Leicester Batteries,
Of the Royal Horse Artillery fired,
Upon the occupied enemy redoubts,
But did not inflict the damage required.

~ 15 ~

But troops moving towards their targets,
Were gradually making ground,
But had come under heavy machine gun fire,
And the light field guns had begun to pound.

~ 16 ~

Many men were killed and wounded,
As the air force joined the fray,
Bombing and strafing the enemy,
Screaming low through the burning day.

~ 17 ~

Being nearly north of the Turks position,
The 3rd Light Horse (dismounted) moved south east,
Lewis Guns rattling out a fury,
In support of their advancing feet,

~ 18 ~

They took over the vital ridges,
Approaching the Turk redoubts,
Where the Turk soldiers in their numbers,
Expect soldiers on their mounts.

~ 19 ~

Turk troops advanced from their cover,
Intent on enfilading the advance,
But they were driven from the battle,
They did not have a chance.

~ 20 ~

The whole left flank was cleared,
And the ridge line was overrun,
And the Aussie troops poured through,
But as yet they had not won.

~ 21 ~

The Camel Corps and New Zealanders,
Against a tough and determined foe,
Had fought their way forward,
Further south with a vital blow.

~ 22 ~

In reserve the 1st Light Horse Brigade,
Dismounted from their mounts,
And the Turks were now retreating,
From some of the redoubts.

~ 23 ~

General Royston of the 3rd Light Brigade,
Called up the 10th Regiment to fight,
To attack the occupied wadi arm,
With all their horse bourn might.

~ 24 ~

They galloped across the open plain,
In extended order, under fire,
Bayonets fixed to loaded Enfield’s
Held like lances, firm and dire.

~ 25 ~

Simultaneously the 8th/9th Regiments
Dismounted from their steeds,
And attacked the northern redoubt,
Hoping the valiant charge would succeed.

~ 26 ~

The Turks fell down in numbers,
And they soon threw up their arms,
Shocked by this unknown way of fighting,
That had taken them by storm.

~ 27 ~

Soon the battle was all over,
And the Turks surrendered to defeat,
Humiliated by the ANZACs,
Who were a dread warrior force to meet.

~ 28 ~

For to juxtapose their effort,
they called it ANZAC pride,
Because they shared a special courage
when they fought side by side.