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Battle Name : Maghdaba

Date(s) : 23 December 1916

Part of : First World War , The Palestine & Sinai Front ,

Outcome : A victory for Egyptian Expeditionary Force over Turkish Army

Type of battle : Land


After the Battle for Rumani and the minor action at Katieh the Egyption Expeditionary Force pushed the Turkish Army back to the Palestinian frontier taking El Arish en route. A Turkish Force was however left at Maghdaba some twenty miles inland in Sinai and the Turks were busy building a defensive position at Maghruntein a mile or so west of Rafah. As a threat to their right flank was not appreciated by General Chetwode the Desert Column Commander who instructed the ANZAC Mounted Division less the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade but reinforced by the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade (less two companies) to take Maghdaba. This they did after a strenuous night march and a brisk battle, mainly dismounted on Saturday 23rd December 1916.

More details

The Anzac Mounted Division left El Arish shortly after midnight on 23rd Dec for the 22 mile ride to Maghdaba arriving close by soon after daybreak. The Turks were well dug in and their redoubts were only identified after an early air recce. They covered both sides of the Wadi running SW –NE. Chauvels plan for the attack was for the Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) Bde and the NZ Mounted Rifle Brigade (NZMR) to attack along the North bank of the Wadi covered by the ICC’s Hong Kong and Singapore Battery. The 1st Australian Horse Bde (1ALH) originally held in reserve were later committed to an assault on the redoubts on the south bank of the Wadi. The 3rd Australian Light Horse Bde (3ALH) were to make a wide left hand sweep around the town with 10 Regt 3ALH attacking from the village of Aulad Ali to the SW and the remainder of the Bde extended beyond the left of the NZMR. The Divisional artillery the Somerset and Inverness Batteries were to be in general support.
Progress for the ICC and NZMR was slow over open ground and a robust defence. Aircraft were used in support and bombed the Turks positions. Late in the day when it seemed that the fight might have to be called off for lack of water two troops of NZMR, and 8 Regt 3 ALH found openings and charged in. The ALH having fixed bayonets and used their rifles as lances charged in mounted and quickly brought about the surrender of the Turks by their Commander Khadir Bey and their 4 mountain guns.

After the battle the Division returned overnight to El Arish and prepared to resume the advance to Rafah.

See : Australian First World War Official Histories, Vol VII Australian and Imperial Forces in Sinai and Palestine 19140-1918 Chapter XIV Maghdaba.

Casualty figures

Egyptian Expeditionary Force

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Turkish Army

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