Extract from the diary of Maj P K Glazebrook, Cheshire Yeomanry, Egypt Expeditionary Force
“Zero day”, or the day of our attack on the Turkish trenches. There was a good deal of bombardment in the night, mostly towards Gaza. We saw a distant bombardment on the right, towards Beersheba, at about 6 AM, & then it ceased & dust arose, as of big forces going forward. From the cessation of fire we judged things were going well. We had to move in the morning to Imara, about four miles. We heard that “Hill 1070” was taken at about 8.30 this morning, with slight casualties, & were also told that the Turks cheered our men who went forward to cut the wired! What the foundation for this strange rumour is, I cannot say. The absence of reliable news here is absolutely damnable.
[follow-on] In this damned re-inforcement [sic.] camp, where a few officers & about 120 to 150 men of each battalion of the division are assembled, perhaps 1500 altogether, we are derelicts, utterly without any importance in the operations. The whole lot are pooled, & if a re-inforcement [sic.] is wanted for any part of the division, any of us may be sent at a moment’s notice. We send off officers & men as escort to camel convoys going up, and provide parties for any purpose, for instance to fetch up horses from Rafa to replace those killed. There is practically no organization for our transport as we follow the troop, & no arrangement for giving us any news of our friends & our men. We have parades and inspections of the lines, even as we have done all the time, & of course I have to do everything for our lot, while the old C.O. sits in his chair roorkee [sic.] chair, or rides about on his infernal grey pony. Somehow I hate that pony, for while the men are sweating under their packs in the dust, & I with them, the C.O rides along on it, carrying his stalking glass & nothing else, & talks afterward about march discipline, & not drinking out of their water-bottles. The men are on short rations of water, nominally half a gallon a day, though usually we have got a bit more. A cup of tea (1 pint) at 6 AM breakfast & again at 5 PM tea, & a water-bottle, always tepid, for the rest of the 24 hours, including shaving, is very little, & then there are orders about being sure of having the waterbottle full at night in case of moving etc etc.
We heard practically nothing on Oct 31st, the opening day, but on Nov 1st were told that Beersheba had been taken, & that our 20th Army Corps had only had 400 casualties. As 1400 prisoners are said to have been taken, with nine guns, this is extraordinarily good, if true. Some of the Welsh Horse are reported to have got knocked about, having four officer casualties, but not a word can we hear of the 10th KSLI. They were only in reserve & ought not to have suffered except from shell-fine, so I hope they are all right. When we shall be allowed to re-join is quite unknown to us, & I am afraid that if we are pressing hard upon the Turk, nobody will think of us, for they have matters so much more important to occupy them. Probably the Turk will have retired to his Hareira & Sheria positions, reported to be very strong. Of the left of our line, near the sea, where we were digging four weeks ago, we have not heard a single word, though the guns have been firing very hard at times. I believe an attack will have taken place there at about the same time as ours, but do not know. Nov 2nd . Rumours of the taking of Umbrella Hill, Rafa trench & other trenches near the sea reached us today.