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Battle of Abu Tellul
Part of Sinai and Palestine Campaign
Date 14 July 1918
Location Palestine
Result Allied victory
Belligerents
Australia Australia
New Zealand New Zealand
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
German Empire German Empire
Commanders
Australia Charles Cox
Strength
1st Light Horse Brigade[1]
Honourable Artillery Company[2]
Turkish 24th Division (supported by two German battalions)[3]
Casualties and losses
23 killed, 46 wounded (Australian Light Horse) [4] 105 killed, 45 wounded, 425 captured[4]

The Battle of Abu Tellul (14 July 1918) occurred during World War I between British and Ottoman forces fighting for the village of Abu Tellul near the Auja river in Palestine. Three Ottoman regiments, spearheaded by two battalions of the German Asia Corps, advanced north and east of Jericho, capturing the village of Abu Tellul, but were then halted by British advanced posts. A counterattack by the Australian Light Horse trapped the Ottomans and the village was retaken.

The battle is notable for being the last Ottoman offensive against British forces during the campaign. It is further notable for being the only time during the campaign in which German infantry were used as stormtroops.[4]

Contents

Background

Abu Tellul was a strategically important ridge located near the west bank of the Jordan river. Together with another ridge to the north called Musallabeh, it formed a salient in the British defensive line in the Jordan valley. A number of defensive posts were constructed by Australian Light Horsemen. These posts, which were often between 400 yards (370 m) and 1,000 yards (910 m) apart, were either dug or built up with stone sangars, while the ravines in between were covered with barbed wire. The British batteries were concealed just south of the ridge, so close to the Auja with its vital water that the position must be held.

Prelude

In early June, the Australian 1st Light Horse Brigade, commanded by General Charles Cox, relieved the 4th Brigade. Cox's brigade was substantially below strength due to a shortage of reinforcements. Two regiments of the brigade held the posts along the line, while the third was held in reserve to the south. The 4th Brigade was held in general reserve a few miles south of the front. Throughout June the light horsemen worked to complete the unfinished defences, while Turkish and German artillery fired increased on the front line in preparation for the attack.

The battle

The Ottoman force, spearheaded by the two German battalions began their attack at around 3.30am, following a heavy artillery barrage.

The British artillery in the sector between the river and the villages of Abu Tellul and Musallabe were the 11th Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery and Hong Kong-Singapore Mountain Battery of the 10th Irish Division. These and other British artillery stationed south of the river also took part in supporting the Australian Light Horse counterattack, which regained all that had initially been lost before the day's end. Hard close quarter fighting earned battle distinctions for Captain Boyd, Lieutenant Macansh and 2nd Lieutenant Byrnes.

Notes

  1. ^ Gullett, p.662
  2. ^ Gullett, p.673
  3. ^ Gullett, p. 672
  4. ^ a b c Gullett, p. 669

References

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