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Magruntein (Rafah)

Battle Name : Magruntein (Rafah)

Date(s) : 08 January 1917 - 09 January 1917

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

Outcome : A victory for British Egyptian Expeditionary Force over Turkish Forces

Type of battle : Land


The battle of Magruntein, a victory for the British and Imperial Forces over the Turks resulted in the eviction of Turkish Forces from Egyptian territory. It was also the last independent Divisional battle of the ANZAC Division supported by the Imperial Camel Corps before the conquest of Palestine.


El Magruntein a hill feature 1 mile S of Rafah on the Egyptian Border with Palestine.

More details

General Chetwode Commander of the Eastern Force waited at El Arish for the rail and water pipe line from the Suez canal to catch up with his advance forces, after the battle of Magdhaba and on the 8th January 1917 ordered General Chauvel with the Anzac Division to push forward and take Rafah on the Palestinian border. Aerial observation discerned a well entrenched position of about 2,000 Turks on a hill feature about a mile South of Rafah. The Anzac Division was reinforced with two battalions of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade(ICC), and the 7th Light Car Patrol of (6 Ford cars with mounted MGs) was also placed under command. The British Yeomanry Bde was initially held in Reserve.
After advancing overnight the Turkish positions were sighted soon after dawn on the 8th JanuaryThe New Zealand Bde on the right, outflanked the Turkish position and by 7.00am had cut the Turkish telephone lines to the rear and took up a position in the rear of the Turks. The 1st and 3rd Light Horse Brigades covered the Turks to the east and South East whilst the Camel Corps Battalions dismounted and took up a position covering the forward Turkish positions. As soon as it was light enough the HongKong and Singapore Bty and the two RHA Btys registered targets over open sights as there was little or no cover between the two forces. Heavy and accurate Turkish fire made movement difficult as the British troops inched forward. The 5th Yeomanry Brigade was brought in to cover the west side of the Turkish position which by midday was completely encircled.

As the afternoon wore on with little forward movement reports were received of Turkish reinforcements moving towards Rafah. Generals Chetwode and Chauvel discussed breaking off the action and were about to issue orders when with a brilliant fire and movement action the Wellingtons of the NZ Mounted Bde took the redoubt on Hill 255 with the bayonet capturing 6 Germans 2 Turkish Officers and 163 Ors. At the same time the ICC battalions rushed the Turkish positions to the South and the battle was soon wound up. Because of the reports of Turkish reinforcements the main ANZAC force was withdrawn to Sheikh Zowaiid with 3Light Horse Bde left on the objective as a covering force. Early next morning they drove off a Turkish counter attack with ease.

The victory cleared the way for the occupation of Palestine.