How Was the Third Battle of Gaza Won?

History Hit

2 mins

06 Jun 2019

On the night 0f 1-2 November 1917, commanded by General Sir Edmund Allenby, the British Empire forces compiled of 88,000 men divided between seven infantry divisions and the horse- and camel-mounted Desert Mounted Corps launched the Third Battle of Gaza or Beersheba.

General Allenby c1917.

The strategy

Allenby had decided on a new plan to break through the Turkish-held Gaza-Beersheba line.

Rather than launch frontal attacks against the heavily-entrenched Turks around Gaza on the coast, he opted to use three of his divisions to launch a feint attack against the coastal town.

Meanwhile the bulk of his forces drove inland against Beersheba to secure its vital water supply and turn the Turkish left flank.

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The key element was the rapid capture of Beersheba’s water- without it Allenby’s mounted forces would not progress far in the heat.

Allenby was opposed by some 35,000 Turks, chiefly the Eighth Army and elements of the Seventh Army commanded by German General Kress von Kressenstein.

Kressenstein also had a small number of German machine-gun, artillery and technical detachments under his orders. However, his position was somewhat undermined by his long supply lines.

The Battle

The attack on Beersheba lasted throughout the day, but culminated in a daring and successful charge by a brigade of Australian cavalry at dusk.

Remarkably, the brigade charged through the Turkish defences and machine-gun fire, taking Beersheba and its vital wells.

Situation at 18:00 1 November 1917.

The weak Turkish Seventh Army at Beersheba was forced into headlong retreat, leaving the Turkish left flank exposed to further British advances.