Collection type Place
  • Egypt
  • Frontier
  • Sinai
  • Rafa

Rafa, a former police post on the Egypt-Palestine border, was the scene of action between the Desert Column and Turkish forces on 9 January 1917. Rafa was one of two Turkish outposts guarding the Palestine frontier and when the other, Magdhaba, fell on 23 December 1916 it became the focus of British and dominion operations. The main Turkish defences were located on a bare hill about one and a half kilometres south of the town, and consisted of a strong network of trenches sited around a central redoubt. The attacking force consisting of the ANZAC Mounted Division, the Imperial Camel Corps, and the 5th Yeomanry surrounded Rafa before dawn but the subsequent attack made slow progress. By mid-afternoon the commander of the Desert Column, Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Chetwode, considered calling the operation off as reserves, ammunition and water were getting short; a definite decision to break-off was precipitated by the approach of two strong groups of Turkish reinforcements. The orders to the assaulting brigades were, however, ignored at unit level and both the cameleers and troopers of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade succeeded in overrunning the redoubts to their front. The Turkish defence then rapidly collapsed.

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