Page 334 - A-History-of-The-Black-Watch-Royal-Highlanders-in-the-Great-War-1914-1918-Volume-III

Basic HTML Version

CHAPTER I
JANUARY, 1917-APRIL, 1918
Palestine
O
N January 2nd the 14th 'moved to El Fedran, where
for two months it carried out infantry training and
brigade exercises, during which period reinforcements,
amounting to 12 officers and 393 other ranks arrived,
and by the end of February the Battalion was reorganized.
On March 4th it moved to Kantara, entrained for El Arish,
and arrived there the following day. Here it formed part of the
229th Infantry Brigade-Brigadier-General R. Hoare-the other
battalions being the 12th Royal Scots (late Ayr and Lanark Yeo–
manry), the 12th Somerset
L.1.
(late West Somerset Yeomanry),
and the 16th Devonshire Regiment (late
N.
Devon Yeomanry),
74th Division, under Major-General
E.
S. Girdwood, C. B.,
C.M.G.
At Kantara further drafts were received, the following officers
commanding -
Lieut.-Colonel J. Gilmour (Commanding Officer).
Major J. Younger (Second-in-Command).
Lieut. A. C. Smith (Adjutant).
Captain G.
E.
B. Osborne CA company).
Captain R. W. Stewart (B company).
Captain
1.
C. Nairn (C company).
Captain H. S. Sharp (D company).
Moving up from El Arish on March 22nd, the Battalion took
part in the first battle of Gaza, forming part of the Reserve of
the XX Corps and occupying a position at Rafa. The following
ten to twelve weeks were spent in front of Gaza digging trenches
and holding the line, rendered especially unpleasant owing to the
dry and fiercely hot wind from the desert and the scarcity of water.
In July General Allenby took over command of the Mediter–
ranean Expeditionary Force, and a general reorganization took
place, the 74th Division being withdrawn from the line for train–
ing purposes. The training was severe, and after a fortnight
the Battalion was sent to dig trenches in the hills facing Gaza,
an extremely difficult work.
At the end of August the 14th moved to Wadi Selke, where it
took part in Divisional training, for an attack on Beersheba,
designed to take place about the end of October, and spent the
whole of September and most of October so employed.
On October 25th the Battalion moved to Abu Sitta, the con–
centrating point of the attacking force.
Beersheba itself occupied a commanding position, well
3
1
7