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In order to test the mobility

2017-07-18 10:34:10 | xinling

The two former divisions had to be ready at all times to move out to battle at half an hour's notice, and much of the training was directed towards cutting down the time taken to turn out in 'marching order.' The division in the line had plenty of work to do, with daily outposts, extended patrol work, and the long reconnaissances undertaken every fortnight, so that the training was confined to the periods spent at Abasan.

As the operations were to take place in the late summer, and, it was hoped, would be concluded before the winter rains set in, no great provision against cold and wet was called for. Blankets and greatcoats were, therefore, not to be carried. Each man was provided with a pair of officers' pattern saddle-wallets, in which he carried three days'[Pg 13] rations (including the iron ration) of bully beef, biscuit, and groceries, besides the few articles of clothing he was allowed to take. Two nose-bags on each saddle carried 19 lb. of grain (two days' forage on the marching scale). A third day's forage was carried in limbered G.S. wagons, three to each regiment. The divisions were, therefore, self-supporting for three days, without recourse to their divisional trains. The latter, during the subsequent operations, did not accompany their divisions, but acted as carriers between them and the advanced ration dumps established by the corps' lorry column each day. One other L.G.S. wagon was allowed per regiment for technical stores, cooking utensils, etc. All entrenching tools were carried on pack animals Makeup artist.

In order to test the mobility of the troops, it was the custom for each divisional commander, during the period when his division was in the Abasan area, to issue from time to time a surprise order for the troops to turn out ready for operations, and rendezvous by brigades or regiments in stated places, where they were carefully inspected. These orders were generally issued in the early morning, and, as no hint of them was ever given beforehand, even to the Staff, they constituted a real test of mobility. The time taken by each unit to turn out was noted by Staff officers, and the keenest rivalry sprang up between the divisions and the different units of each division to make the best showing. Ration and store wagons were packed each night, nose-bags filled after the last feed and tied on the saddles, and all harness and saddlery laid out in order behind the horses. The men's wallets were kept packed permanently, the rations in them being renewed from time to time, when the old ones were consumed. The record ultimately went to one of the Horse Artillery[Pg 14] batteries, which turned out complete in full marching order, with all its ammunition, rations, and stores correct, in eleven minutes from the receipt of the order reenex.

About once a fortnight the cavalry division that was in the line made a reconnaissance towards Beersheba, the other two divisions closing up to Shellal and Abasan respectively. Moving out in the afternoon, the division would march all night, and occupy a line of posts on the high ground west of Beersheba by dawn next morning. Behind this line of protecting posts the infantry corps and divisional commanders, and innumerable lesser fry, disported themselves in motor cars and on horseback. The senior corps commander and his staff used to be irreverently referred to as the 'Royal Party,' a flippant term which may be excused by the tedium and discomfort of the operations.

After seeing the last of the infantry commanders safely away, the cavalry used to withdraw, and march back to Shellal during the night. The reconnaissances thus entailed two nights and a day of almost continual movement and watchfulness, without any sleep or rest, during which time it was not uncommon for regiments to cover seventy miles or more. Apart from the fatigue occasioned by thirty-six hours of constant anxiety and hard work, the absence of water caused severe hardship to the horses and no little discomfort to their riders. No water for horses was available from the afternoon of the day on which the division moved out till the evening of the following day, when, as a rule, they got a drink at Esani on the way back to Shellal. The men started with full bottles, and got one refill from the regimental water-carts Wedding dress rental .

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