18 April 1917

Extract from the diary of Maj P K Glazebrook, Cheshire Yeomanry, Egypt Expeditionary Force

An idle morning, with comparatively leisurely artillery work. I was suddenly sent for by the General in the afternoon & sent to reconnoitre the place where our brigade was to go, but I had to go with about a dozen other officers & had to go across country & try to do my reconnaissance on the way back, after dark. I got half an hour off to get something to eat & then had to guide the brigade out of the place, which I managed to do. They seem to be making me do a lot of staff work as well as my own. While reconnoitring I got a pretty good view of the area of the fighting & saw unfortunate fellows coming back wounded. One knows extraordinarily little of what is going on.

[follow-on] It is not allowed to take diaries into action, & I am keeping this in my saddle-bags, so I cannot write very much, for my horse may not be far behind, and this diary might be picked up by Turks There would not really be very much to tell that would be useful, except the strength of our forces. The shelling is a thing about which the Turk knows more than I do, as it has all been in his direction. We have not been shelled at all up to midday 18th. During the first day of the “Battle of Gaza”, the 17th, I was walking & riding about, doing Staff work for the brigade, exactly as if it were an ordinary field day. It seemed such glorious impertinence that it rather amused me, for we were in country which gives opportunities for distant views, and we were in full view of Gaza, & of all the country between. We could watch the guns firing & see the shells bursting. I was not much impressed, but the organisation was interesting. Great convoys of camels, wagons & mules were trekking about everywhere, in the dark especially. Dust is very bad, but the country would be very attractive in ordinary times. Shortage of water is a nuisance & whenever one has a spare cup it is question as to whether one shall shave, drink, brush one’s teeth, or have a bath, which consists of a rub over with a wet towel. We get war news from France, which is of the most encouraging nature, & now we hear that Austria is making overtures for a separate peace. I don’t suppose for a moment that she will get it, but it is a distress signal. We really seem to be winning at last, and if only the submarine menace can be dealt with satisfactorily, we are fairly safe. Our only other risk is giving Germany easy terms for the short-sighted object of ending the war.

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