OLDEN, Lieut.Col. Arthur Charles Niquet, DSO, MID – 10th Light Horse Regiment.
“ Famously known as the Dental Surgeon from Narrogin who accepted the enemy surrender on 1 October, 1918, inside the Serai Building ( Hall of Government ), in the city of Damascus from Emir SAID, the newly elected Governor, appointed by the Turks, prior to their retreat from the city “.
OLDEN was also the author of the critically acclaimed works “ Westralian Cavalry in the War- The Story of the 10th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, in the Great War 1914-1918 ) “.
Arthur Charles Niquet OLDEN was born on 3 July, 1881 at Ballarat, Victoria to Swedish – born father Olaf Samuel and mother, Queensland born Sophia Louisa ( nee Niquet ). Arthur was educated at Ballarat College and completed further studies in Dentistry, before setting up a Dental Practice at Narrogin, WA, in 1904.
In January, 1913, Arthur joined the West Australian Mounted Infantry, Australian Military Forces, with the rank of Second Lieutenant. He was one of 249 men who attended the 25th Light Horse Annual Training Camp held at Crooked Brook, Dardanup , WA , from 4-11 April, 1913 inclusive, under the command of Major Noel Murray BRAZIER.
Arthur OLDEN enlisted in the Australian Infantry Force on 21 October, 1914, being appointed a Second Lieutenant with the 10th Light Horse Regiment. On 28th October, all men from the ” B “ and “ C “ Squadrons marched from Claremont to Guildford, where initial training regimens were undertaken. Second Lieutenant OLDEN, mounted and fully equipped, moved from Guildford on 18 December, 1914, with the Regiment, to be billeted at the Agricultural Society Ground at Claremont. On 6 January, 1915, the 10th LHR moved out of the Claremont Showgrounds to board the Transport Ship “ Zephyr “ at the local jetty, before sailing to Rockingham. OLDEN was rewarded with promotion to the rank of Lieutenant on 11 January, 1915.
During the first week of February, 1915, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade ( comprising the 8th, 9th and 10th Regiments ) were subjected to intensive training at the dusty and dirty Rockingham Camp. This period also involved a number of trips to the Claremont Rifle Range for Musketry Practice. On 8 February, 1915 , the 3rd Light Horse Brigade marched from Claremont to Fremantle Wharf, in preparation for Overseas deployment.
Lieut. OLDEN was part of the Light Horse contingent that disembarked from Fremantle on 17 February, 1915 aboard the transport ship “ Surada “, bound for Alexandria, Egypt. On route, troops were allowed two days of leisure, to take part in sight seeing, when in port at Colombo, Ceylon. On 9 March, 1915 their ship docked at Alexandria, where the men were directed to board a train for transfer to Cairo, subsequently alighting at Abu-el-Ela. The 10th LHR then marched to Mena, whilst leading their horses, arriving at 2.00 A.M. The men immediately set out to form a Camp, with the assistance of the First Infantry Division, who had also recently arrived. All troops then spent the next seven weeks, until late April, 1915, in regular intensive training in the desert, nearby to Mena.
On 27April, 1915, Lieut. OLDEN and the 3rd Light Horse Brigade received orders to move to Heliopolis. The men left Mena Camp early in the morning of 29 April, 1915 and marched into camp at the Heliopolis Racecourse. Further training commenced immediately, with tactical exercises being performed in the surrounding countryside. Although there was news filtering back to the men of the troop losses in battles at Gallipoli, when the men of the 3rd LHB were asked to undertake dismounted service in support, they volunteered unanimously. Their bandoliers, leggings and spurs were discarded, replaced packs, equipment and puttees of the Military men. Twenty -five per. Cent of all Lighthorsemen were instructed to remain behind to attend the horses, whilst the majority of the men were prepared for battle on the front at Gallipoli.
On 15 May, 1915, at 10.00 P.M., the Regiment marched out of Heliopolis Camp to Helmieh, then caught a train to Alexandria, arriving at 5.00 A.M. At 12.00 Noon on 16 May, 1915, LIEUT. OLDEN and the 10th LHR embarked from Alexandria, aboard the “ Lutzow “ as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces. The ship dropped anchor at 8.45 P.M on 18 May, 1915, approximately one mile offshore from Cape Helles, Gallipoli. Additional orders directed the ship to proceed to Anzac Cove, where it anchored offshore at 8.00 P.M. on 19 May, 1915. All men remained onboard during 19 and 20 May, 1915, having arrived during the great Turkish counter-attack at Gallipoli.
At 5.00 P.M on 21 May, 1915, all troops climbed into barges for transfer to the beach. The Regiment then formed up on the beach, before marching to a broken piece of land near Plugge’s Plateau, and dug in. At this time, there were up to seven thousand enemy dead in front of the Anzac trenches. Within two days, the men had marched to Monash Gully, via Shrapnel Gully, digging in along both sides. Following an armistice on 24 May, from 732 A.M until 4.30 P.M, violent, heavy shrapnel bombardments pounded both Gullies. On the 25 and 26 May, OLDEN’S men were occupying the Garrison at POPE’S HILL. On 27 May, one hundred men were posted to front line duty at QUINN’S POST, known at the time as “ The hottest corner of Gallipoli “.
In early June, the Regiment marched to a reserve position at WALKER’S RIDGE, before occupying the front line under continuous enemy shell fire and sniping. There had also been an alarming increase in numbers of men suffering from Diarrhoea and Dysentry.
In late July, the regiment was re-located to RUSSELL’S TOP, the most advanced position at WALKER’S RIDGE, known as The NEK, where front line Turkish trenches were only 40 yards distant. On 7 August, 1915, there were one hundred and thirty-six casualties ( half of the effective strength of the Regiment ) during the notorious waves of bayonet/bomb charges at this location. The 10th LHR suffered eighty-four men killed or missing and fifty-two wounded. The balance of the 10th LHR were moved to HILL 60, where they faced heavy enemy sniping and daily shelling from a Turkish Battery.
In late August, 1915, the Regiment re-located to Wellington Ridge, where Commanding Officer BRAZIER was severely wounded by enemy shrapnel. By this time , the men were weak and exhausted, almost reaching the limit of human endurance. Fifty-eight fresh reinforcements arrived in early October , 1915, however new works to improve trenches were subjected to heavy daily shelling and sniping, with intermittent nightly Machine Gun and Rifle fire.
Blizzards came to Gallipoli during November, 1915 and men who had been at Gallipoli since the initial landing, were relieved from duty and sent to Lemnos Island, to rest. On 14 December, 1915, one hundred and fifty men of the 10th LHR were instructed to leave their trenches at RHODODENDRON SPUR , for evacuation. At 11.15 P.M , they boarded a lighter bound for Mudros, where they arrived at anchor in the Harbour, before daybreak on 15 December, 1915.
On 21 December, 1915, the 10th LHR disembarked at Alexandria, entrained to Helmieh, before marching into their old campsite at the Heliopolis Racecourse. All mounted units then undertook eight weeks of training near to Heliopolis, prior to all men and their horses gathering at Serapeum on 1 March, 1916. Shortly after, they accessed the pontoon bridge to cross the Suez Canal to form the front line at Serapeum Railhead, in relief for the 11th Infantry Battalion ( WA ). Stables were hastily constructed to protect the horses from the harsh Egyptian summer weather.
The involvement of the 10th LHR in the subsequent Desert actions are summarized below :-
9-12 June 1916 – Joined with fighting troops and Royal Engineers to drain the major Turkish water supply, being partly responsible for 400,000 gallons of beautiful ice-cold water running to waste,
14 June 1916 – Arrived back at camp from the above operation to confront destruction caused by enemy aircraft bombings,
4 August 1916 – 10 LHR re-located to HILL 70 ( East North East of KANTARA ) to be sent forward to engage the Turks at BIR HAMISAH. Despite vigorous enemy machine gun and rifle fire, the Turks surrendered ( 300 Prisoners were captured ). 10 LHR casualties were light, although some good men were lost.
8 August 1916 – Moved forward to attack SAGIA RIDGE, however the Turks had retreated earlier,
9 August 1916 – Joined with 9th LHR to attack MUSHALFAT, where the Turks had constructed a formidable Trench system. Enemy was driven into retreat, suffering heavy casualties,
10-11 August 1916 – The Anzac Division, led by General CHAUVEL, completed the first phase of the SINAI CAMPAIGN, by capturing the great waterway and up to 3500 prisoners. The men of the 10th LHR then rested at HOD FATIR for three weeks,
3 September 1916– Moved out from HOD FATIR to control nearby outposts, experiencing occasional visits from hostile aeroplanes. The Regiment then vacated the front line to transfer to a rest camp at HOD AMARA. After a further period of front line duty, the men marched back to ROMANI, where they remained for the following month. Their next move was to a base at BIR ETMALER, near ZEITOUN, where Training Schools were set up for Officers and Lewis Gun Operations,
23 November 1916 – Mounted Units marched from ROMANI to HOD MALHA base, where they remained for a month,
20 December 1916 – Commenced offensive operations to clear the Turks who had been occupying WADI-EL-ARISH,
23 December 1916 – Attacked and captured MAGHDABA, before marching back to a large oasis, nearby at HOD MASAID,
9 January 1917 – At 1.00 A.M, began marching towards RAFA. Passed a number of small Bedouin settlements, to within seven hundred yards of enemy trenches. Together with New Zealand Mounted Rifles, with support of machine gun and Lewis gunners, the Regiment over-ran enemy trenches, leading to the capture of RAFA. The Garrison, many prisoners and guns were taken in this operation,
10 January 1917– 28 February 1917 – A fairly quiet period, with only occasional enemy aircraft bombing raids to spoil the peace,
Early March 1917 – The Turks had evacuated EL SHELLAL to establish a straight line offense/defence between GAZA and BEERSHEBA.
26 March 1917 – FIRST BATTLE OF GAZA –
Our Mounted Divisions had been gathering at TEL-EL-MARAKEB since 21 March.
At dawn on 26 March, attacks began on the enemy rear positions at GAZA. By 10.00 A.M, news confirmed that the Anzac Division had completely isolated GAZA. The 10th LHR were deployed, dismounted, to occupy a chain of low hills East of ANZAC RIDGE, unknowingly in the direct path of six thousand on-coming Turkish troops. The units were ordered to retire to BELAH, after dark,
April 1917 – The first two weeks were concentrated on digging operations and ramp construction for passage of guns and wheeled transport. Reservoirs were excavated and filled with fresh drinking water. Twelve new HOTCHKISS automatic machine guns were issued to the Regiment.
After the First Battle of Gaza, the Turks had made immense extensions to their trench system, rifle pits, gun emplacements and wire entanglements. The number of enemy troops in the vicinity was estimated to be twenty-three thousand.
17 April 1917 – SECOND BATTLE OF GAZA-
Our Artillery attacks began at 5.10A.M to support advances by the Infantry. The initial target of SHEIKH ABBASS was won within two hours.
19 April 1917 – Attacks began on the GAZA-BEERSHEBA line. The 10th LHR crossed the WADI SHERIA at approximately 10.00 P.M.
20 April 1917 – At 3.15 A.M the 10th LHR moved forward, on foot, over very rough ground. At dawn, the Turks observed our approach, opening fire from a range of six hundred yards. They had set a trap that unleashed shrapnel, high explosives, machine gun and rifle bullets that swept the ridges. ( British casualties during the Second Battle of Gaza were estimated at fifteen thousand ). The Regiment was successful in crossing the WADI GHUZZE to reach ABASAN-EL-KEBIR.
6 July 1917 – 10th LHR released from front line duty to undertake further intensive training, before spending a few weeks based at MARAKEB Beach.
September 1917 – Moved from MARAKEB to ABASAN area.
2 October 1917– Crossed the metal road that linked KHALASA to BEERSHEBA. Turks continually sniped at the approaching horsemen and the Australian posts had been intermittently shelled during the day.
27 October 1917 – 10th LHR ordered to move out and support the 8th Mounted ( Yeomanry ) Brigade, who were being heavily attacked by the Turks,
28 October 1917 – Moved out from bivouac at SHELLAL to join the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, marching to the rendezvous near BIR-EL-ESANI,
29 October 1917 – Moved to KHALASA, arriving at 9.30 P.M,
30 October 1917 – Rode out of KHALASA at 5.00 P.M , acting as advanced guard for the Australian Mounted Division, reaching ASLUJ at 8.00 P.M. From nearby high ground, the men were able to enjoy their first views of BEERSHEBA,
31 October 1917 – At 12.00 Noon, the Anzac Mounted Division, supported by thundering artillery, moved to attack TEL-EL-SABA ( subsequently captured by the New Zealanders, including the Garrison ). When the 10th LHR reached open ground, they encountered intense enemy shelling, however, casualties were light.
At 4.30 P.M , the Regiment were ordered to seize two important positions, to cut off the enemy retreat. They overcame the threat of two Batteries of enemy guns, firing salvoes of shrapnel from high explosive shells, to achieve their objective of seizing the line at dusk, taking many prisoners.
The Regiment entered BEERSHEBA from the HEBRON road.
2 November 1917 – Working parties strongly contributed to the development of an efficient BEERSHEBA water supply.
5 November 1917 – Marched to IMARA ( the railhead of the heavy main line from RAFA ) to resist any Turkish counter-attack and protect the railhead.
6 November 1917 – Heavy infantry bombardment of GAZA continued throughout the day.
7 November 1917 – At 5.00 A.M. the 10th LHR joined the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to cross the main GAZA-BEERSHEBA road, to eventually stop near the Railway Station at SHERIA.
Following news that the enemy had vacated GAZA, orders were received to clear any enemy rearguards from the ridges North of SHERIA.
8 November 1917 – Enemy were reported to be in full retreat. The 9th LHR and 10th LHR rode up to the ridges under heavy shell fire, then advanced on foot towards the WADI JEMMAMEH. Despite heavy fire from the Turkish Batteries, machine guns and concealed snipers, the Light Horsemen advanced over the rough ground , clearing the enemy to within four hundred yards of their redoubts. At 4.00 P.M. the Squadrons mounted and rode forward over the broken ground, causing the Turks to flee from their positions. British aeroplanes then flew overhead to bomb and machine gun the retreating enemy columns. Australian losses were very light.
9 November 1917 – At 10.30 A.M. the 10th LHR moved on HUJ, where intervening ridges were held by strong enemy rearguards. By Noon, the forward Headquarters of the Turkish Army in the Northern Sector at HUJ was taken into Australian hands.
10 November 1917 – At daylight, the 10th LHR traversed LOWER PALESTINE between the JUDEAN hills and the railway line. At dusk, the Regiment concentrated at FALUJEH.
11 November 1917 – The 10th LHR moved from FALUJEH at 5.00 A.M to successfully occupy SUMMEIL at 6.00 A.M. Turkish cavalry were retiring as our Regiment advanced. At 5.00 P.M, the 10th LHR were ordered to take up a night outpost line from ARAK EL MENSHIYEH to SUMMEIL.
12 November 1917 – Moved out to resist a Turkish counter-attack threatening the line at BERKUSIEH. The Regiment put down an attack from six thousand fresh enemy troops, who had been recently detrained and were marching South.
With admirable support from rifle, Hotchkiss, machine gun and Artillery Batteries, the 10th LHR caused the Turkish attack to die away at 5.00 P.M.
13 November 1917 – Turks were observed holding the BERKUSIEH ridges, in strength. The 10th LHR were ordered to take up the line from SUMMEIL to TEL TURMUS overnight.
14 November 1917 – At dawn, our patrols pushed forward to BERKUSIEH and TEL-ES-SAFI, where they remained for the next forty-eight hours.
16- 17 November 1917 – Marched in route to SHAHMEH.
18 November 1917 – At 8.00 A.M marched from SHAHMEH towards EL KUBAB, over steep, stony terraces. Troops came under very heavy shell fire. The horses had become distressed , due to lack of water and travelling over the terribly rough nature of the ground. In the late afternoon, the 10th LHR moved with the Light Horse Brigade to JUNCTION STATION.
20 November 1917 – Received advice from Lieut. Col. TODD that the 10th LHR had been selected to represent the Australians in the final operation against JERUSALEM.
21 November 1917 – The weather had turned extremely cold as the early march began towards KHURYETENAB.
24 November 1917– Marched to position near BITTIR Railway Station, to cut railway line and prevent enemy from removing rolling stock and materials. The Regiment then climbed steep, rocky slopes to SOBA, where enemy had been observed, nearby. The enemy had already blown up the centre arch of a three span bridge and demolished most of the railway buildings.
27 November 1917 – Marched through a Pass to the JEWISH village of ARTUF, where a primitive Flour Mill provided wheatmeal for the men. There was also a plentiful supply of water, which aws pumped for the horses. The Regiment remained based here for ten days.
7 December 1917 – Despite heavy rifle and machine gun fire from the Turks, the 10th LHR caused capitulation of JERUSALEM by late afternoon.
9 December 1917 – The Regiment were the first Mounted Unit to enter the HOLY CITY and concentrated in the North West portion of the City.
10 December 1917 – Two Squdrons of the 10th LHR came under extremely heavy shelling and rifle fire as they reconnoitred enemy positions to the North and North East of JERUSALEM.
11 December 1917 – The 10th LHR ( Captain H.V.H. THROSSELL VC and thirty men ) supplied the Guard of Honour when Commander-In-Chief, General ALLENBY officially entered the HOLY CITY.
14 December 1917 – Marched to KEFR RUT to prevent the Turks from leaving the Zone, to re-inforce a further counter-attack.
31 December 1917 – the 10th LHR were relieved from Duty and marched back to KEFR RUT.
1 January 1918 – The Regiment began an eight day march to return to BELAH.
14 March 1918– The Regiment were subjected to an Inspection Parade for the DUKE of CONNAUGHT, General ALLENBY and General CHAUVEL, with Royal Salute, inspection and presentation of Medals and Decorations.
Training was then vigorously renewed in use of Mounted shock tactics with Bayonet.
1 April 1918 – The 10th LHR moved out from BELAH on a five day march, before camping at SELMEH, three miles inland from JAFFA. The men enjoyed the luxury of being able to regukarly visit the Hot Baths located in JAFFA.
19 April 1918 – The Regiment began an eight day march towards JERICHO. They led the Brigade through the Outer City of JERUSALEM, passing by the JAFFA, DAMASCUS and ST. STEPHEN’S Gates along the road around the walled City. From atop a very high hill, the men observed the JORDAN VALLEY, JERICHO and the Northern end of the DEAD SEA.
20 April 1918 – Marched down a steep, winding grade onto the JORDAN PLAIN. The 10th LHR bivouacked by the River ( with a permanent stream of good water ), near the foot of the remarkable HILL of TEMPTATION. The major town in the Region was ES SALT ( eighteen to twenty thousand people ), where a strong Turkish Garrison was based.
ES SALT lies at the head of the Valley, crowned by a Mediaeval Castle, protected on the Western and Southern sides by a system of steep, terraced hills. The intervening plain was regularly patrolled by Turkish cavalry, who were supported by strong reinforcements based in nearby Towns, ready to move across the plain at short notice. Two Divisions of Mounted Troops and a whole Division of Infantry were required to take control of ES SALT.
29 April 1918– At 9.15 P.M moved out to join other Units of Brigade to march in column to cross the Jordan River at 12.30 A.M. Shortly after daybreak the men were subjected to enemy shelling from JISR-ED-DAMIEH.
30 April 1918 – At 7.00 A.M. movement in the foothills became painfully slow. Hoses were led in single file by the men on foot, up a most difficult steep and dangerous track for most of the ascent. At 1.00P.M Our advanced guard was held up near Point 2900, whilst the balance of troops enjoyed a short spell about one mile North West of ES SALT.
The Turks held two positions, approximately five hundred yards to the North East, which barred the way to ES SALT. Our Batteries opened fire on the Turks, who responded vigorously with machine gun and rifle fire. The 10th LHR advanced, under barrage, up the stony, terraced slope, then charged at the Turkish trenches with a raucous cheer. Many enemy surrendered , including German Officers and men. A number had fought to the end and were bayoneted.
The troops then dashed straight for the Town, down slippery, narrow streets. The 10th LHR suffered light casualties, considering the nature of their attack. The way was now open to ES SALT.
2 May 1918 – About one thousand enemy troops were observed advancing within rifle range. At 3.30P.M. the enemy commenced shelling our Regiment positions and by dusk, had advanced to within one hundred yards of our line. Every available man was placed in the firing line. Machine gun and Hotchkiss Gun emplacements were rapidly constructed from available stone. At 10.00P.M the Turks charged a position held by “ A “ Squadron, only to be driven back, leaving many dead. A subsequent charge, urged on by German Officers, suffered a similar fate.
3 May 1918 – At 2.30 A.M , the Turks made a further desperate unsuccessful attack, being stopped before our line. At daybreak, our bomb sortie forced the Turks to retire to a pass, about one thousand yards to the West of our line. Immediately in front of the 10th LHR line, lay one hundred and fifty deceased enemy troops.
5 May 1918 – At 12.00 Noon the troops returned to ES SALT from JEBEL KURUNTUL. They then saddled up to move to the JORDAN RIVER where a bridgehead was established at the Junction with the WADI AUJA. The 10th LHR crossed the River on a pontoon bridge, to dig trenches and erect barbed wire in preparation for the expected enemy counter-attack.
The 10th LHR was to spend four long months in the JORDAN VALLEY ( one thousand two hundred feet below sea level ). They experienced searing heat, snakes, scorpions, spiders lice, sandflies and millions of Malarial mosquitoes. Added to these concerns were the daily shelling from enemy Batteries.
2 June 1918 – Between 3.30A.M and 5.10 A.M., up to ten enemy planes attacked our lines with bombs and machine guns. Only one of our men was wounded, however six horses were killed and most of the other sixteen horses that were wounded, were later destroyed. The troops continued to work hard to destroy stagnant pools to limit the spread of mosquitoes, who were responsible for the scourge of Malaria prevalent in the JORDON VALLEY.
5 June 1918 – Marched from AUJA BRIDGEHEAD to AIN-ED-DUK, a small village , with a beautiful fresh water spring.
17 June 1918 – The 10th LHR re-joined the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at TALAT-ED-DUMM, the famous “ Half-Way House “, between JERICHO and JERUSALEM.
21 June 1918 – The Brigade marched out in Column from TALAT-ED-DUMM , along the JERUSALEM road, passing through the City in the early hours of 22 June 1918. Troops then moved along the JERUSALEM – BEERSHEBA road, before camping opposite SOLOMON’S POOLS, a few miles South of BETHLEHEM. The men enjoyed a gloriously cool and clear atmosphere, a sharp contrast to the unforgiving desert they had left behind.
Leave parties were approved for daily visits to JERUSALEM and BETHLEHEM, where evening concerts were performed. During the men’s sojourn at SOLOMON’S POOLS, all ranks were inoculated against Cholera and Typhoid.
9 July 1918 – The Brigade moved out along the JORDAN road on a thirteen hour ride towards TALAT-ED-DUMM, where they remained for four days.
14 July 1918 – At 10.30A.M the Regiment reached JERICHO, after marching out at dawn, in response to enemy attacks against MUSSALABEH and ABU TELLUL positions. The enemy consisted of one thousand four hundred German ( Jaegar ) Battalion troops and two Divisions of Turkish Infantry. On arrival, the 10th LHR were informed that the 1st Light Horse Brigade had the situation under control. The men subsequently stayed in bivouac near TEL-ES-SULTAN for the following two days.
16 July 1918 – In the evening, 10th LHR relieved the 1st LHR in the front line near WADI AUJA. The men worked on improving defences by digging and wiring, as the area had been very heavily shelled. The weather was extremely hot and troops were battling rampant Malaria.
The balance of July and early August involved constant defence and patrol work.
12 August 1918 – At 1.30 A.M. the Regiment was relieved at WADI AUJA, before marching out to WADI ABEID.
22 August 1918 – Marched out from WADI-ABEID en route to LUDD, via TALAT-ED-DUMM, reaching the “ Half-Way House “ at midnight. The Regiment had rested by day and marched at night.
They passed through JERUSALEM, KURYET ENAB and DEIR EYUB before arriving at olive groves in LUDD, early in the morning of 26 August, 1918. The men were then involved in three weeks of the most strenuous and intensive training experienced in their history. During this training regime, all men were finally issued with a Cavalry Thrusting Sword.
14 September 1918 – The 10th LHR took part in a full dress rehearsal of a cavalry attack.
The 3rd Light Horse Brigade were appointed as the leading Brigade of the Division, with the 10th Light Horse Regiment selected to lead the Brigade as advanced guard ( The Post of Honour ).
18 September 1918 – Abandoned standing post at LUDD.
6.00P.M- The mounted Regiment marched out from beneath the olive trees to a place of assembly on the LUDD-JAFFA Road.
9.45 P.M. – Reached SARONA for bivouac.
19 September 1918 – 4.30 A.M – Woken by sound of furious bombardment , which indicated the great offensive had begun. 10th LHR moved to point of assembly two miles East of JELIL, before being ordered to advance to SHEIK MOHAMMED on the NAHR ISKANDERUN. When the men reached the wire of the Turkish defences at TABSOR, the Infantry and Engineers had already captured Prisoners and were clearing away debris caused by our bombardment.
The 10th LHR jumped across abandoned enemy trenches to take up position behind Turkish lines. The men led the Brigade through TABSOR, KHURBET-ES-ZERKIE and EL MUGHAIR to NAHR ISKANDERUN, crossing at 7.30 P.M.
All men halted for a few hours rest near SHEIK MOHAMMED.
20 September 1918 – At 1.00A.M the march resumed to ZELEFEH, before leading across country through SUMRA, cutting the light Railway line at BEIDUS, shortly after daylight, near the Western entry to the Pass.
Entry into the historical Pass was by a very good road which passed through villages of KHURBET ARAH and MUSMUS.
At 9.30 P.M, the men caught their first glimpses of the beautiful Plain of ESDRAELON. NAZARETH could be viewed across the plain, nestling in the opposite hills.
The Indian Lancers had captured two thousand Turks and Germans who had been sent to stop the Australian advance through the Pass. The 10th LHR had also been advised that large bodies of enemy troops were retiring on JENIN.
Orders were issued for the 10th LHR to attack and occupy JENIN – they advanced down the ESDRAELON PLAIN at a trot, in troop columns. Over one thousand enemy had been observed in an olive grove adjoining the village, about one mile North East of KEFR ADAV.
Troops were immediately deployed , drew their swords and charged right into the Turks. Several enemy were wounded and the remainder taken as Prisoners. The 10th LHR also cut nominated roads and tracks which linked to the Town.
Shortly thereafter an attack was launched on the Town, when troops charged with swords drawn into masses of German and Turkish troops. Simultaneous machine gun fire was also directed on the Town. The enemy Commandant formally surrendered the Town and almost three thousand Prisoners were taken ( a further five thousand Prisoners were taken before daylight ).
21 September 1918 – At daylight, the C.O 10th LHR ( OLDEN ) was placed in command of JENIN, by the Brigadier.
During the afternoon, DIV. COMM. MAJOR GEN. HODGSON visited the 10th LHR outpost line and said:- “ Well done the 10th, I suppose never before in the history of the world has such a number of prisoners ( 8107 ), been taken by so small a force, as one Regiment )”.
22 September 1918 – Marched out to EL AFULE, arriving at 7.30 P.M.
At 10.30 P.M. Received orders to march at midnight and take over a six mile outpost line , extending from SHUTTA to ZERIN, based near a wonderful spring of clear, ice cold water.
23 September 1918 – Four thousand Prisoners were taken over from Indian Cavalry, who had captured them at BEISAN.
24 September 1918 – A further four thousand Prisoners who had been taken by Yeomanry and Indians, were escorted to EL AFULE.
25 September 1918– at 5.00 P.M. the Regiment moved out at head of the Brigade under orders to advance to TIBERIAS. Initially , negotiated steep, winding road to NAZARETH, marching through the old town in darkness. The column reached KEFR KENNA, continued through the night, arriving at MIXPAH, two miles from TIBERIAS at dawn on 26 September ( MIXPAH was captured the prvious afternoon by the 8th LHR and the 4th Light Horse Brigade ).
26 September 1918 – Late in the morning, the Brigade moved on to MEJDEL ( MAGDALA ) on the Western shore of the SEA of GALILEE.
27 September 1918 – At 6.00 A.M left MEJDEL, setting out for ROSH PINA, arriving at Noon.
The enemy had blown up the Bridge over the JORDAN ( JISR BENAT YAKUB – the Bridge of Jacob’s Daughter ) to prevent the Australian Mounted Division from crossing.
The role of the 10th LHR was to find a ford North of YAKUB BRIDGE, to rush and attack the enemy, on location. A troop sent to reconnoitre, sustained several casualties, when the enemy delivered very heavy rifle and machine gun fire.
The whole of the 10th LHR were then moved forward , to near the river bank, whilst a Battery continued shelling the enemy positions.
The ford, situated about half a mile South of LAKE HULEH, had an average depth of one metre, was rushed by the Regiment at dusk.
At 7.00 P.M, the troops had successfully crossed to the Eastern bank of the JORDAN, pushing on to reach the DAMASCUS Road. They could only find a goat track to travel upon, until level ground was gained.
The Turks had a strong enemy post remaining, armed with rifles and machine guns.
The Regiment reached DEIR-ES-SARAS shortly after midnight.
28 September 1918 – Marched on KUNEITRA, where one thousand two hundred enemy were known to be holding the high ground, covering the Town. The 10th LHR captured the Town shortly after midday. The troops then moved to be near JEBA, to bivouac for the night.
29 September 1918 – The Turkish Army were retiring Northward towards DAMASCUS. At 3.00 P.M. moved out from near JEBA, safely arriving at NAHR MUGHANIYE at 6.10 P.M, then watering their horses.
At 9.55 P.M the Regiment was sent forward to attack the right flank of the Turkish line. Their line was situated along a chain of low hills of solid rock, having a frontage of approximately one mile.
“ C “ Squadron came under very heavy machine gun fire. The whole Regiment then moved up the road. They also came under heavy fire, so dismounted and formed up to attack the enemy with the Bayonet. The men continued to attack under the Turkish machine gun barrage. When they reached the crestline, the enemy began hastily retiring in motor lorries.
The 10th LHR quickly remounted and took over the advanced guard. This advance was further held up about one and a half miles South of SASA, until “ C “ Squadron rode straight at the enemy. The Turks inflicted some casualties on our men, before again mounting motor lorries to retreat to SASA.
“ C “ Squadron pushed on through the village and reported “ All Clear “, just before daybreak.
The defeated enemy force comprised three hundred Germans, one thousand two hundred Turkish Infantry and four field guns.
30 September 1918 – At dawn , from the high ground at SASA, several hundred enemy fugitives were sighted on open ground headed towards DAMASCUS. The 10th LHR set out, overtook and captured the whole party. The troops then set out into country of beautiful, wide tableland, dotted here and there with villages. When they arrived at KHAN ESH SHINA, orders were received to approach and march on DAMASCUS.
Each unit moved out towards its objective, at the trot. On ascending a rising slope of open country, green with cultivation, the first distant glimpse of the olive groves and gardens of the oldest city in the world, appeared in view.
The Batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery were shelling KAUKAB heavily, before the 4th Light Horse Brigade cleared the position, by charging with the sword. Brigades were held up at EL MEZZE by German machine gunners, set in high-walled gardens surrounding the village. The 4th LHB had also been held up near DARAYA.
At 3.30 P.M the 5th Light Horse Brigade turned West into the hills, to cut the DAMASCUS-BEIRUT Road and railway. At the same time, the 3rd Light Horse Brigade moved to seize the DAMASCUS-ALEPPO Road, to block the enemy retreat.
The 9th Light Horse Regiment with six machine guns were advance guard over terribly rough, steep hills, before setting up a sunset bivouac, one mile South West of DUMAR. Troops took up positions for the night, overlooking BEIRUT. Reconnaisance was showing that enemy columns were attempting to escape along this road. Our men then engaged these troops at effective range, from excellent cover afforded by the hills. Our machine guns and rifles caused very heavy losses ( up to seven hundred enemy casualties ). The enemy put up feeble resistance as they were attempting to escape through the ADANA GORGE to retire to DAMASCUS.
1 October 1918 – At 5.00 A.M. the 10th LHR were at the head of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, as advanced guard, as they commenced riding towards ALEPPO Road. The Column descended from the bare, steep hills to the BARADA River, where horses were watered. The Regiment then moved at a trot to DUMAR. They then crossed the BARADA River over a rickety wooden bridge and headed for the Railway Station. Whilst they were galloping with drawn swords, the 10th LHR rounded a bend to find eight hundred Turks formed up opposite the Station, where the train was waiting ( they immediately surrendered ). The Horsemen continued to advance until they found the road blocked for about a mile, by dead and dying men, animals and disabled transport. The Regiment proceeded to clear a wide enough track through the shambles , to allow passage for their horses in single file.
The outskirts of the City were approached along the main road, the only possible route of advance , then the City appeared in full view.
Across the River, to the right, were the Military Barracks, with an immense body of Turks on the open Parade Ground ( Twelve thousand men were taken Prisoner ). They were in a state of confusion and indecision. Occasional bursts of rifle fire were directed at our men as well as sniping from the high-walled gardens. “ C “ Squadron drew their swords, then charged down the road at a gallop. The Turks in the Barracks provided no further opposition.
When the Column neared the centre of the City, dense masses of people filled the Streets and Squares. Opposite the spacious HOTEL VICTORIA, the Column turned and crossed the bridge over the BARADA River, forcing a passage through the crowded streets. The Regiment then headed straight towards the imposing looking SERAI or HALL of GOVERNMENT. The steps of the building were already lined with Officials and Notables.
The Column halted and the Second-in-Command called for an interpreter.
“ Where is the Governor?”
“ He awaits you in the Hall above “
OLDEN, Major TIMPERLEY and Lieut. McGREGOR dismounted, carrying their revolvers, then were conducted up the marble stairway to the Governor’s presence. They entered a splendid room, where a large gathering of Eastern Officialdom clad in glittering garb, were formed up, standing in rows. This group were quiet and dignified.
Behind a table, in a high-backed gold plush chair , sat a small man of distinguished appearance, wearing European clothes and a tarboosh. This man was EMIR SAID, Grandson of ABD-EL-KADER, the SULTAN of ALGIERS, who had successfully held the FRENCH at bay for fifteen years, before finally being overthrown, captured and exiled to DAMASCUS.
EMIR SAID had been installed as GOVERNOR, the previous afternoon by DJEMAL PASHA, Commander of the 4th Turkish Army, prior to his departure from the City.
Our Officers advanced, halted in the centre of the room, and through the Interpreter, called for the GOVERNOR to approach. EMIR SAID rose and came forward with outstretched hands, saying in Arabic :-
“ In the name of the City of DAMASCUS, I welcome the first of the British Army “.
“ Does the City surrender ?”, he was asked.
“ Yes, there will be no further opposition in the City “ he replied.
“ What then, is all the firing in the Streets ?
“ It is the Civil Population welcoming you “.
“ Who are all the Uniformed men with arms?”
“ They are the Gendarmerie”.
“ What are they to do?”- They are to retain their arms for the present, prevent looting by the Arabs, and otherwise maintain order. As for the shooting in the streets, issue orders that it must cease immediately, as it may be misunderstood. You will be held responsible for this”.
“ You need not fear “, replied the EMIR. “ I will answer for it , that the City will be quiet. We have expected the English here, and have prepared for them”.
EMIR SAID then commenced a speech in Arabic, accompanied by much applause. He was told the British Commander-in-Chief would probably be along later on, and was the proper person to whom speeches should be made. The EMIR offered refreshments, which were declined. He was advised that the Column must push on to ALEPPO Road, and we needed a Guide. The GOVERNOR turned to an ARMENIAN Colonel who was instructed to act in this capacity. Officers then left the SERTAI, re-joined the Columns who had remained mounted.
The advance troops proceeded through the City, with the rest of the Column following in close order. The march now became a triumphal procession, with dense masses of people rapidly becoming hysterical in their manifestations of joy. People clung to the horses necks and kissed the men’s stirrups. A cry of “ A Hundred Welcomes “ was taken up and carried along the line of the march in one continuous chant. We had averted the Germans threat to burn the City.
Through the bazaars, native storekeepers rushed from their tiny shops offering armfuls of fruit, sweets, cigars and cigarettes to our men with joyous thankfulness.
The Column then moved in single file through AMARA. The advance proceeded without opposition to HARISTA-EL-BASAL. The aerial contact patrol reported there were enemy on the road near KHAN KUSSEIR. As the 10th LHR approached DUMA, they encountered a heavy burst of machine gun fire from one hundred yards. The country on either side of the road was covered with dense olive groves and orchards, making it impractical to respond with a mounted charge. The troops dismounted and formed a single line to strike with bayonet attack. They were closely supported with three sub-sections of the 3rd Machine Gun Squadron. The men succeeded by working round to the leftof the retreat and captured five hundred and thirty-0three Prisoners and thirty-seven machine guns.
Squadrons moved on to KHAN KUSSEIR, where further enemy attempted to halt their advance. A further fifty Prisoners were captured at this point. There were about one thousand five hundred enemy troops being driven towards the Pass at KUBBET ASAFIR. These enemy Columns were climbing along the rugged foothills parallel with our Light Horse advance.
German and Turkish troops had very strongly manned a mediaeval fortress at KHAN AYASH. This fortress commanded the entrance to the Pass. Our men were confronted with heavy fire from twenty machine guns at four hundred yards.
The 10th LHR marched back to KHAN KUSSEIR, arriving at 10.00 P.M. They had practically led the advance of the Australian Mounted Division on the whole two hundred and fifty mile journey from the olive trees of LUDD.
The possession of the sword was largely accountable for achieving very light casualty levels. The Regiment’s last shot in the war against the Turks, was fired at KHAN AYASH. The 10th LHR then took over control of the Prisoner of War Compound at KAUBAB, which was in a deplorable state, with one hundred and seventy inmates dying daily. Within three weeks , the men had reduced the daily death rate to NIL- by issuing proper meals, baking and medical care. The Regiment handed control of the Camp to the Indian Unit ( Jacob’s Horse ), then commenced a one hundred and twenty mile trek Northwards to HOMS.
The Australian Mounted Division had been expecting an enemy move on ALEPPO.
The Regiment passed through DAMASCUS for the final time, then camped overnight at the beautiful springs of KHAN KUSSEIR. The march took place in daily stages, some being particularly long and arduous, due to lack of adequate watering facilities.
1 November 1918 – Reached KUTEIFE, then pushed on twenty-four miles to NEBK, a large, prosperous-looking town, with a good stream of water running through the centre.
The next stop was after a further thirty-one miles to JENDAR, a small Arab village.
4 November 1918 – At 12.00 Noon, arrived at HOMS. Bivouacked one mile North of town, close to the ORONTES RIVER.
5 November 1918 – At HOMS. Had been advised that Turkey had asked for , and been granted Armistice and heard of Austria’s surrender.
6 November 1918 – Regiment began a sixty-three mile march to TRIPOLI.
9 November 1918 – Regiment bivouacked in an old olive grove, a few miles inland from TRIPOLI ( CAMP MEJDELAYA ).
11 November 1918 – The Regiment were buoyed to hear the news of an armistice with GERMANY.
Troops began asking:- “ When are we going home ?”.
Lieut-Col. OLDEN commanded a Composite Expeditionary Force ( Mobilized in Cairo ) for duty in Upper Egypt – Known as “ OLDEN’S FORCE”.
17 November 1918 – At 10.15 A.M this force travelled by rail to ZAGAZIG ( the distribution centre of the main Egyptian line ). The Regiment remained based at ZAGAZIG for the term of the Rebellion.
4 July 1919 – The last of the 10th Light Horse Regiment troops embarked for Australia.
“ Westralian Cavalry in the War- The Story of the 10th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, in the Great War 1914-1918”- Refer to Page No. 305 for OLDEN’s Summary of the men of the 10th Light Horse Regiment.
This Summary completed by Jeff PEIRCE
23 October, 2020.