Third Attack on Gaza

“Main camp before Gaza & advanced stations. Taken after we left the Sheikh Nebhan position after the 2nd attack on Gaza & moved over to the coastal sector.”

The Brief Record of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force places 162 Brigade at Umbrella Hill in late July 1917. The following month the Brigade was included in XXI Corps. This set of photographs were all taken by Harry Belson, or with his camera, and record the period in the lead up to third and final attack on Gaza. Captions, where present, are as noted by Harry Belson.

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Small Section encampment at Deir El Belah Rail Head – Our old camp at Belah where we spent such a good time last summer. My bivvy is on the right of my chum who can be seen drying himself with his shirt off. Sept 1917 HB

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No 1 The Grove

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British military cemetery near Umbrella Hill on the Gaza front

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“At home” – Gaza front

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Our Mutual Friend – who also had some hard work under difficult conditions

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“A friend in need” – How we wash our backs – Gaza front

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One of our recent Dressing Stations – Tel al Ajul – Q11 – in front of Gaza

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Rail Head Camp – Deir el Belah – “Gamel” – we have tried friendly overtures such as stroking their noses & necks – hence the respectable distance observed by us after such experiments. HDB Palestine 1917

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Neddy just off for rations – A typical Syrian lad & his moke. Sept 1917 HB

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Our “St James Gardens”. The figures in the foreground are hunting for grapes. Nice black ones.

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St James Gardens in the Gaza area

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Taken from Gardens – showing irrigation channels

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Ruins of farm house showing wooden gear apparatus for winding endless chain fixed with buckets running down into well 100 feet deep. The stonework in front of photo is remains of reservoir. Gaza front.

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Wadi Ghuzzele

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A distant view over Wadi Ghuzzeli – Looking across the Wadi Ghuzzeli towards Turkish positions at Gaza

The Brief Record goes on to map the movements of the three Brigades of 54 Division from a position 4 miles south of Gaza at the end of October 2017, advancing to take Gaza in mid-November and to positions at Ludd and NE of Jaffa at the end of November. Positions, dates and movements are also marked up in some detail on Harry Belson’s large scale map of Gaza (Sheet XIX of the British military series), pictured below.

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162 Brigade withstood a Turkish attack on Wilhelma on 27 November and 161, 162 & 163 Brigades were positioned along a line 8 miles NE of Jaffa-Ludd by 22 December 2017. This progress is shown in some detail on the series of Plates numbered 3-29 in the Brief Record.

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On Harry Belson’s smaller scale map of Palestine (above) he has noted: “El Muzeira, where a Roman temple in orange and pink marble aroused interest”; and also, reminding us that this was no picnic: “Station Junction to Ramleh, Christmas Day…. Very wet. Quartered in a large stone building, slept on stone floor. No blankets.” 

© Paul Barham, March 2018

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