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Eran Tearosh

The Armenian Legion's Battle of Arara - September 19th 1918

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Eran Tearosh

I was asked by the Arminian Patriarchate of Jerusalem to talk about the Battle of Arara, which is a cornerstone of the Arminian heritage. Although I've been to this battlefield in the past, and I have a good understanding of the general moves (which is what I need for this talk) - I'm still trying to better understand the finer details. At least one short book was written about the battle, way back in 1919, alas, in Armenian - The Arminian Patriarch's assistant will try to translate some of it to me next week (I'll report of any significant info).

 

Quote from Wikipedia: On the right of the 54th (East Anglian) Division's 163rd Brigade, the DFPS fought against the German Pasha 11 Group which held a ridge opposite the Rafat salient, captured and held by the British since April 1918. Here, the DFPS attacked the col west of Rafat and the sites known as Three Bushes and Scurry Hills; these last two being quickly captured at 05:10 and 05:45 respectively. Although Kh. Deir el Qassis east of Scurry Hill was occupied soon after it had to be abandoned due to heavy artillery beyond the reach of the French artillery. During the night of 19 September, the DFPS occupied Arara north east of Rafat having captured almost all their objectives and 212 prisoners.

 

This fits what I figured out from various sources, mostly the BOH and the maps that go with it:

 

1256279175_DFPS-2.jpg.d7c707b20d1c8c0aba0070bec87df8c0.jpg

 

As we see, most of the fighting was north-west of Rafat, towards Kh. Deir el Qassis. The movement on Arara itself (High, dominating hill north-east of Rafat), is not even described on the map, and the quote from Wikipedia claims it happened that night (New piece of info for me). 

 

The fact is that the battle is known as The battle of Arara. So I guess I'm missing something here - if most of the battle took place around Kh. Deir el Qassis, why not use that name? And if the main engagement took place at Arara, why did the BOH skip it? I'm searching for testimonies, photos etc - Arminian, Algerians, German or Ottoman.

 

Eran

 

 

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

This is a hard case, the BOH shows that the Pasha 2 and 16th Ottoman Div, but also 46th Div?

 

The two reports I have for April 1918 for the German/Ottoman Asia Corps are (British Intell reports show only fighting strengths) ;

 

shown April 1918 Allied reports 701Bn (600 men 31 MGs 50 cav) 702Bn (600 men 31 MGs 50 cav) (7th Div 16th Div) (5900 men 220 MGs 400 cav)

shown April 1918 Allied reports (Pasha II Group 16th Div 7th Div + part 46th Div)

 

The next report only give German strength

 

shown May 1918 Allied reports - Pasha II Group 701st Bn (450 men 50 Cav 27 MG's) 702nd Bn (450 men 50 Cav 27 MG's) 

 

So did these two German Bn's loss 300 men in that battle or were these though other reasons?

 

A closer look at the Two to three Ottoman Divs

 

The Ottoman 16th Div has no Orbat for April but does for Feb and May;

 

 shown Feb 1918 Allied reports (2700 men 86 x MGs 150 cav) 47th Regt 48th Regt 125th Regt

 

 shown May 1918 Allied reports - 47th Regt 48th Regt (1700 men 150 Cav 54 MG's) less 125th Regt (900 men 28 MG's) att 7th Army Troops

 

and the 7th Div;

 

shown April 1918 Allied reports (2000 men 72 MGs 150 cav) 20th Regt att 46th Div (600 men 18 MGs) -

shown May 1918 Allied reports (1950 men 150 cav 60 MG's)

 

The 46th Div shows (this Div had been broken up with half on this front and the other around Amman;

 

shown April 1918 Allied reports (3100 men 18 MGs 100 cav) 144th Regt (850 men 18 MGs) 1Bn/191st Regt det 145th Regt (to 3rd Cav Div) (800 men 18 Mgs) -

shown May 1918 Allied reports 144th Regt (1000 men 22 MG's) + 3Bn/17th Regt (200 men 4 MG's)

 

There appears to be little Ottoman losses in this action that I can find but needs more research?

 

I'll see whats out there?

 

S.B

Edited by stevebecker

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Eran Tearosh

 

Hi Steve,

 

You're referring to the actions nicknamed "The action of Berukin", April 1918. Indeed, the fighting during this event was in the same area I’m asking about, including Arara.

Basically, these April operations were an EEF failure and a great defensive action of the German & Ottoman forces in that sector (Asia Corps). It was also a great achievement for the new command of Liman von Sanders.

 

However, I’m asking about the September 1918 operations (Megiddo), specifically about the D.F.P.S., especially about the Arminian force.

 

Eran

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stevebecker

Eran,

 

Dohhh, sorry mate

 

The BOH shows that the Pasha 2 and 16th Ottoman Div, but also 46th Div?

 

The Asia Corps is given in British Intell reports (combat strength not total strength) as;

 

shown Sept 1918 Allied reports (4280 men 199 Mgs 250 cav) (Pasha II Group (701 & 702Bn's) 16th Div and 19th Div)

 

16th Div

 

shown Sept 1918 Allied reports (86 Mgs) 47th Regt (860 men 26 Mgs) 48th Regt + 248th MG Co (760 men 31 Mgs) 125th Regt (580 men 32 Mgs) attack/storm Co (70 men) Div Cav (150 men) + 1Bn/146th Regt (German) (450 men 29 MG's)

 

The 46th Div shows (this Div had been broken up with half on this front and the other around Amman with the 4th Army;

 

shown Sept 1918 Allied reports (36 MG's) 1Bn & 3Bn/17th Regt (300 men) and 144th Regt (310 men) + 1Bn/73rd Regt (300 men 6 MG's) with 8th Army and 2Bn & 4Bn/146th Regt + Div Cav with 2nd Corps 4th Army 

 

For the maps I 've seen all show (parts) the 77th Regt (19th Div) and 48th Regt's (16th Div) around that area (if I am reading them right)?

 

As shown the 48th Regt + 248th MG Co (760 men 31 Mgs), and

 

the 77th Regt (470 men) around 28 MG's)

 

German units of the Pasha 2 group were shown in Reserve, but not near the front, as are whats left of the 46th Div?

 

These were the last strength states given, as the Ottoman Army collasped after this battle, so what there losses are is anybody's guess?

 

Sorry, but not much out there on this action, as after the battle things were so mixed up

 

With check other sourses to see whats out there

 

S.B

Edited by stevebecker

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emrezmen

Eran, check this out please: http://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/en/arkotheque/inventaires/ead_ir_consult.php?ref=FRSHD_GR4H_01_ead&fam=14 (I don't know if you're already familiar)

 

I looked at records of Armenian Legion a little bit and found nothing tangible related to your question. There was a reference to "Mt. Arara" somewhere but nothing more than that. Maybe I overlooked. Also, found nothing specific about the battle around Arara in main Turkish sources if I didn't overlooked something.

 

Edit: You can also check these links; There are some mentions about Arara: http://www.imprescriptible.fr/rhac/tome3/p2a and http://www.les-tirailleurs.fr/documents/ed0688be-301e-4890-a43d-0cb494906bb1/afficher

 

As you know, Arara was the highest point on the direction of attack in that area, and it was attributed great importance. I think the naming is about that. More research required indeed.

Edited by emrezmen

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Eran Tearosh

Emrezmen - Thank you! Great links!!

Steve, as always - incredible stuff!

 

At this stage, seems that the major attack on Sep. 19th was indeed directed west of Ra-fat & Arara, and only during the night of Sep. 19-20th Arara was taken. 

As Emrezmen stated - Arara is the dominating point in this sector, and it reminds the name Ararat, so important in Arminian heritage. I guess that's why the Arminians chose that hill as the burial place of their fallen and the name they gave to the battle. Still, need some more work to validate these assumptions. 

 

Meeting later today the Arminian Patriarch's assistant, to go through that 1919 booklet. I'll update on that. 

 

Eran

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stevebecker

Mates,

 

Strength states by the British are subjective, read what there  history said pages 452-53

 

Thank you for that interesting French account of this area

 

I was worried about when the French mention, they attacked the three German Bn's of Pasha 1 (701 702 703 Bn's).

 

The BOH gives Ottoman/German losses page 476, as 700 men prisoners with 9 guns and 20 MG's.

 

The British accounts all mention Ottoman Troops and no Germans, while the French account mentions Germans but no Ottomans?

 

Strange?

 

While we know that Ottoman Troops held this area (parts 77th Regt and 48th Regt) and possibly a small number of German Troops (from pasha 1 units shown with the Asia Corps) may have stiffen there defences, German losses appear limited, so they were not in strength in the Ottoman defences.

 

Cheers

 

S.B

 

 

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