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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

A raid at Arsuf...

Chris Boonzaier

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This usually falls outside of my scope of interest, but I have the following medal group in my collection, and have a write up about the action. This is obviously a microcosm and tells the viewer little about the bigger picture....


Is there anyone who could give a short passage about the bigger picture, be it 10 or 50 lines? I would add it to the article and credit the writer and the great war forum.

I hope you enjoy the page.

If anyone thinks typesetters at the L.G. must have been a dreary bunch... the entry in the L.G. does not say "Arsuf" but rather "Arsup"... an unlikely error ;-)

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  • 4 weeks later...

quote: This is obviously a microcosm and tells the viewer little about the bigger picture....


I'm afraid that I don't have the big picture either and count myself a novice in this theatre, however I am pleased to share what I have and hope that someone else will correct me if I go wrong. This is the period which Wavell in his biography of Allenby describes as 'Reorganization and Planning': reorganization as troops left the EEF for France and were replaced by those from other theatres, and planning for the final act in the autumn – Megiddo.

From "'A Brief Record of the Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force' Compiled from Official Sources, 2nd edition, HMSO, London, 1919" as reprinted by the N & M Press

The 1st Guides Infantry were part of the 21st Infantry Brigade [together with 2nd Batt. Black Watch, 20th Punjabis and the 1/8th Gurkha Rifles] under Lt-Col (temp. Brig-Gen) A. G. Kemball.

21st Brigade was part of the 7th Indian Division [together with 19th Infantry Brigade and 28th Infantry Brigade (F.F.)] under Maj-Gen Sir V. B. Fane K.C.I.E., C.B.

The 7th (Indian) Division served in France (1914-1915), in Mesopotamia (1916-1917), landed in Egypt in January 1918, joined XXIst Corps and relieved 54th Division in the Coastal Sector of the front line (from near Tel el Mukhmar to Arsuf) in March, taking over the Divisional Artillery of the 52nd Division in exchange for its own which went to France with the 52nd Division.


May 28-29. - Advanced the line one and a half miles on a seven mile front. 2nd Leicesters and 53rd Sikhs (28th Brigade) were prominent in this fighting and took over 100 prisoners.

June 8-10. - 21st brigade took the 'Sisters' after heavy fighting in which 2nd Black Watch and 1st Guides Infantry bore the brunt. As the result of this engagement 250 prisoners were taken and the enemy lost a valuable observation post.

July 13. - A post in the enemy's front line system was raided in daylight by Gurkhas of the 1st Guides who captured fifteen prisoners and three machine guns........................."

There is a further brief mention of this raid in General Sir E. H. H. Allenby's Report of September 18th, 1918, in which he gives details of operations from December 11th, 1917.

In his item 15 he describes the despatch of troops to France, and in item 16 he mentions that "During these months of reorganization various minor operations and a number of raids have been carried out." Included by Allenby in these operations and raids is,

"The India troops have carried out a number of minor raids with success. On July 13 a party of the Guides surprised the enemy in his trenches in the middle of the day, bringing back fifteen prisoners and a machine gun."

The map below if from the British OH.

Arsuf is on the Mediterranean coast about 17 kms north of Jaffa (about half way up in the part reproduced here). Tel el Mukhmar is just over half way on the road running north-east from Jaffa to Kefr Saba.


The citation says that the raid took place 'north of Arsuf'; unfortunately I cannot show you that spot, however I do have the coast, including part of Arsuf, just to the south of where the raid took place

The photograph below is from Benjamin Z. Kedar's book 'The Changing Land between the Jordan and the Sea.' Kedar admits that the photograph is of 'mediocre quality' however it might be of use here. It was taken at 12.00 hrs on 29th December 1917 from a height of 3,000 metres and is ref No. M.1272 at the Bayerisches Haupstaatsarchiv, Munich, Abt. IV: Kriegesarchiv


The prominent white building is the shrine built around the tomb of 'Ali ibn 'Alim who died in 1086. The dark triangle to the right of the shrine is the village of El-Haram. As you will see from the map, Arsuf is just above the village and what you are looking at are the remains of medieval ramparts etc covered by earth and vegetation.

Arsuf began in the 6th-5th century BCE as a Canaanite settlement. During the Hellenistic period it was known as Apollonia [it was pillars (borrowed) from the ruins of Apollonia which the 52nd (Lowland) Division set up to mark their three crossing points on the Auja - see

After the Arab invasion in the 7th century it reverted to being Arsuf, until the Crusaders arrived and established themselves there, calling it Arsur. In 1265 the Crusaders were defeated and their town razed to the ground. For further details see http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/E...20Fortress%20on

I hope that you can glean something of use from all this

with best regards


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Superb, thanks. I have incorporated it into the page and credited you and the Forum.



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  • 3 weeks later...


The attached map may be of interest and indeed it may be worth considering if it might not be of more use than that which I gave previously

It shows the line as it was on the 18th September 1918 immediately before the big push was launched at 0445 hrs the next morning

This is a couple of months after the actions of 2nd Lt. Charles Winton,

However, it has the advantage of being a larger scale and it also shows the location of the 'Sisters' where the 1st Guides were active in mid-June.

I make the distance from Arsuf north to the front line only one and three-quarters to two miles, so there can be little doubt that it hardly changed between mid-July and mid-Sept.

The only thing to bear in mind is that the disposition of divisions shown is correct for Sept and not July ["September 18, - On this day the preliminary concentration was complete. The divisions detailed for the main attack, 60th, 7th, 75th, 3rd 54th, and the French contingent, had actually taken up their positions, the troops previously holding the coastal sector having closed up on their own fronts of attack to make room for them."]




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  • 2 years later...

Having just had the honour to add Merton's group to my collection I thought I'd bump this thread up to the top.

Any other information in relation to the Guides in Palstine would be most welcome. :)


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