Tuesday 18 April 2017

The Second Battle of Gaza Begins

Lord Ampthill [X550/1/82]

Wednesday 18th April 1917

Speaking with Lord Ampthill this evening he brought me up to date with the position of the 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment south of Loos. At five o’clock this morning, as soon as it was light, an attack from three points was made by D Company on the strongpoint which had stopped A Company’s attack yesterday and which threatened the battalion’s right flank. During the night B Company had relieved C Company in the front line and D had relieved A Company. Unfortunately, this attack failed “through the devastating fire poured on to them from concrete emplacements by hostile machine guns”.

B Company bombed down to their right to connect with D Company but as the strongpoint was not taken the two companies could not link up. Hostile artillery fire continued all day and at periods it became intense. At least three more prisoners taken during the day.

Of more import is the news from Palestine where British and Imperial forces have been attacking Gaza once again, after the unsuccessful attempt to take the place on 26th March. Yesterday three divisions – 52nd (Lowland), 53rd (Welsh) and 54th (East Anglian) all made attacks. 54th Division, of course, includes 1st/5th Bedfords, part of 162nd Brigade.

52nd and 54th Divisions were given the task of attacking the area south and south-east of Gaza were to take a line from Sheikh Abbas through Mansura to Kurd Hill. The Welsh attacked south-west of Gaza across the Wadi Ghuzzee towards the Samson Ridge. We understand that all attacks were successful and that preparations are now under way to attack the town of Gaza itself. By wire the adjutant of the 1st/5th Battalion informed me that the Bedfords had been successful in taking their objectives on the Mansura Ridge and were then consolidating. It is frustrating to know that this battle has been going on again today but we will not discover the result until tomorrow!

Sources: X550/6/8; X550/9/1

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