Page 101 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
Rumani " in which the Turkish force fell into a skilfully laid trap,
suffered severe losses and was driven headlong eastward. The
scenes of the heaviest fighting were at Romani itself and at "Mount
Royston, " four and a half miles south-west of it. The Lancashire
Fusiliers were not involved in the fighting, though they could hear
its sounds; but they qualified for the battle honour "Rumani" by
being in divisional reserve during it. On 4th August they moved by
train from Kantara to Pelusium, one company of the 1st/8th
Battalion being sent back on arrival as escort to part of the 2,000
Turkish prisoners taken by mounted troops that day.
The success of the day's fighting put an end to all possible threats
to the Suez Canal and it was now the turn of the British to threaten
the Turkish positions in the Levant. Early on 5th August the 12Sth
Brigade began to march forward, the 1st/7th Battalion without any
breakfast. The heat was stifling and many men of the brigade fell
out on the 'march, After a halt at "Mount Royston," the brigade
moved on to "Mount Meredith," five miles to the east of it, where it
took up an outpost position. The night was chilly and very little
food or
drink
reached the exhausted troops. Between 3 a ,m, and
4 a,m. next morning the brigade began another and even more
trying march, to Qatia, the 1st/7th once more missing its breakfast.
The heat was again intense and again many men fell out: Captain
C. C. Fitzgerald, M.C., medical officer of the 1st/7th, was most
energetic in looking after these casualties, for whom search parties
were later sent out, their task being none too easy as the missing men
had crawled under scrub for shade wherever they could. The sand
was very loose and came over boot tops. Some hills were so steep
and difficult that men had to crawl up them on their hands and
knees. But as they advanced over the rolling desert , the leading
troops could see the Turks retiring beyond Qatia and were encour–
aged to stagger on, Arrived at the Qatia oasis, the brigade put out
an outpost line. The transport men of units had a particularly hard
time at this stage, bringing up much-needed water-for the local
supplies were mostly brackish ; and Second-Lieutenant F. H.
Mainprice, of the 1st /7th, who was in command of the brigade camel
convoy, was later mentioned in despatches for
his
tireless work to
relieve the sufferings of the units.
For the next week the brigade remained on outpost duty at
Qatia, which was bombed daily. On 14th August it moved back to
Romani. For the next three months the four Territorial battalions
took turns at training and work on defences or manning defences at
Romani and near Kantara and at resting by the seaside at
Mahamdiya. In the meanwhile a railway was being built across the
Sinai Desert from Kantara towards the frontier between Egypt and
Palestine, at the rate of a Inile a day. During November the 1St/5th
Battalion formed part of the outpost troops protecting the advancing
railhead. At the end of November the whole brigade marched some
forty-eight miles in six days from Pelusium to El Mazar, eighty
miles east of the Suez Canal and twenty-five miles from El Arish,