Tuesday 28 November 2017

A Turkish Attack

Wednesday 28th November 1917

More news has reached us today from the 1st/5th Battalion in Palestine. Yesterday morning, about 2.30 a.m. an Arab gave himself up to C Company. He had useful news as to the disposition of the Turks.

An exciting day then developed as the Turks chose to attack the 54th Division of which the Bedfords form a part. About 8.15 around 150 Turks were seen by the Bedfords on Zeify Hill near Beit Nabala to advance down a wadi between that hill and a village called Deir Tuweif(1), held by 10th Battalion, London Regiment. The Bedfords duly opened fire at just under a mile range and scattered them with some loss. The Turks then went to ground and, as the adjutant described it, a sniping contest then took place.

At 10.30 the Bedfords pushed a strong patrol forward to a water cistern on a hill where an advanced post was established consisting to two Lewis guns and a section(2) of riflemen. At 3 o’clock last afternoon the Turks were once more on the move - estimated as about a battalion in strength, with transport. They moved east and about fifteen minutes later encountered the Bedfords’ advanced post at what they called Cistern Hill. Again fire was opened at just under a mile range by the section of men and two parties of Lewis gunners at the post. A good number of casualties were inflicted, especially on the transport and clearly the enemy had no idea that our men were there. The odds were about forty to one in the Turks’ favour, however, and once they recovered their composure they advanced in open order on the advanced post, which was evacuated when the Turks were about three hundred yards away. The Turks duly occupied the post and the hill, but the day has seen many casualties inflicted on them for the loss of two of the Bedfords’ officers, Captain Franklin MC and Lieutenant Pinchin, who have died of wounds. Attacks on the rest of the division have also been repulsed.

Here at Cambrai the offensive has ended after nine days. The units involved in the frustrating fight for Bourlon Wood have been ordered to dig in and prepare for any German counter-attack.

Source: X550/6/8

(1) These two villages were destroyed in the fighting between Arabs and Israelis in 1948. Beit Nabala is now occupied by the Israeli village of Beit Nehemia near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

(2) A section would have consisted of about 8 to 10 men

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