Saturday 29 July 2017

The Second Raid on Umbrella Hill

Map of Umbrella Hill from The History of the 5th Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (TA)

Sunday 29th July 1917

1st/5th Battalion carried out a second raid on Umbrella Hill, south of Gaza on the night of 27th. We have today received their report of the action. The Zero hour was fixed for 21.00 (9 p.m.) as before. At dawn it was found that the gaps which had been cut by our guns in the enemy's wire had been mended in the night. During the afternoon their wire was again cut by the guns.

At 21.00 in accordance with the programme the artillery bombardment started then and the raiders and their support moved through the gap in our wire. Again our barrage seemed perfect but it did not have the same demoralizing effect as before on the Turks, who opened fire at 21.03 and kept it up till our men dashed into the work at 21.06. A machine-gun was on the Turkish parapet firing but it was rushed, captured and passed back to the supports, where the two men detailed to carry it lost it!

A stubborn resistance was met with everywhere, but the raiding parties were of a more handy size than before and there was no crowding or confusion but each dashed for its objective and, after a number of hard bombing duels, the Turks began to give way and everything appeared to be going in the raiders’ favour when a whistle was blown, it is thought by the Turks, and as this was taken for the evacuation signal, the raiders and supports withdrew.

There had been no time to collect prisoners or booty, but in all some fifty Turks had been killed. The raiders’ casualties were three killed, seven missing and twenty-three wounded including four who remain at duty. Second Lieutenants Coate and W H E Smith were also wounded.

As before the enemy put down a heavy barrage of high explosive on the Bedfords’ lines. Owing however to the more flexible arrangements for the return of the raiding party few, if any, casualties occurred and the enemy barrage was successfully negotiated.

At 11 p.m. a patrol went out to look for the lost machine-gun and returned about half-an-hour later.  The machine-gun was not found, but two Turks who fired on the patrol were killed.

Source: X550/6/8

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