Official War History of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment 1914-1919
On the morning of 24th September the advance was resumed to Suweileh, where preparations were made during the day to attack Amman, the other brigades of the Anzac Division having arrived in the vicinity, the Wellington Mounted Rifles taking up an outpost line to cover the New Zealand Brigade.
The prospect of again attacking Amman acted like a tonic on the men. Spurred by recollections of the desperate fighting of the previous raid—of the bitter cold and blinding rain and of the ingratitude of the treacherous Circassians—the men were eager to avenge themselves on the enemy.
Towards evening a demolition party of the A.M.R., under Major Herrold, proceeded to cut the Hadjaz railway line ten miles east. The work was successfully performed, and the party rejoined its regiment early next morning. All the party returned safely. It was a difficult task well done.
On the 25th, the Brigade was ordered to move forward at 6 a.m. to attack Amman from the north with its right resting on the Amman-Es Salt Road, and to co-operate with the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade, which was ordered to attack the town from the west, the 1st Brigade to protect the north and to co-operate with the other brigades if required. The 29th Indian Battery was the only artillery available to support the Division.
A stubborn defence of the town was anticipated, as its possession was of great importance to enable the Turks to extricate the garrison of Maan and the posts along the railway.
At the time appointed the W.M.R., as advance guard to the Brigade, moved forward, and at 7.45 the screen of the 9th Squadron encountered machine-gun and rifle fire and a few shells on a line two miles in length with its right on the Es Salt-Amman Road, two miles north-west of Amman, and its left two miles due north of the town. From this position, posts were advanced and machine-gunners dealt with enemy snipers. At this time touch had not been gained with the 2nd Brigade, which was advancing from the west, and enemy cavalry were observed moving in a southerly direction two miles south-west of the road. One section page 229of the 29th Indian Mountain Battery was then ordered further forward to support the W.M.R.
At 8.10 the 2nd W.M.R. Squadron (less one troop) was sent forward to the left of the 9th Squadron, where it later occupied a position two and a-half miles north by east of Amman, but it was held up by rifle and machine-gun fire from two redoubts to the east. From the position occupied, however, our machine guns brought enfilade fire to bear on the redoubts in the vicinity and severely dealt with enemy reinforcements massing to attack.
At ten o'clock the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade occupied high ground on which the 9th Squadron W.M.R. posts had been placed, and the latter were withdrawn.
Enemy cavalry were then observed endeavouring to work round the left flank and a troop of the 2nd W.M.R. Squadron was placed in position two and a-half miles to the north of Amman to check them. Half an hour later the A.M.R., with a section of the Indian Mountain Battery, pressed forward, the C.M.R. remaining in Brigade reserve.
About this time the enemy advanced posts were driven in towards strong redoubts on a line which ran through a stone tower about three-quarters of a mile north-west of Amman, where our advance was held up.
The C.M.R. were then ordered forward to a suitable position, with a view to breaking through the enemy's line and taking his defences in the rear.
At 11.30 the W.M.R. received orders to press the attack vigorously and to co-operate with the C.M.R. The latter Regiment, however, reported to Brigade Headquarters that two strong enemy posts dominated the road leading to Amman—one in the Stone Tower and one on the right about a mile due west of the town.
The C.M.R. were accordingly to force the main entrance to Amman, dismounted, and on that being done to mount and gallop through. Meantime the A.M.R. were at a point about one mile due north of Amman, from which position their two guns were directed against redoubts in an easterly direction, and two squadrons were advanced to positions closer to Amman on the right of the 2nd W.M.R. Squadron, in front of which were cleverly-concealed nests of enemy machine guns
Meanwhile perseverance and continuous pressure by the W.M R. and C.M.R. were taking effect on the right, and a C.M.R. Squadron thrust forward, under cover of machine-gun fire, towards the town, in the face of strong opposition, and by 2.30 the C.M.R. and the 9th W.M.R. Squadron had advanced the general page 230line with its right north of and close to Amman, and its left further to the north-east, facing the Wadi Amman, which ran in a north-easterly direction to Amman railway station.
At 2.40 a C.M.R. Squadron had occupied a hill immediately in front of the Stone Tower, assisted by machine-gun fire from the 9th W.M.R. Squadron, and from the machine guns attached to the C.M.R., which were directed with good effect.
Meanwhile a dismounted troop of the C.M.R. had entered the western end of the village, where it met a party of about two troops of the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade. At the same time two C.M.R. Squadrons stormed the Stone Tower at the bayonet point and three troops of the same Regiment galloped into the town at 3 p.m. The Tower was captured at 3.15, many of its defenders being taken prisoners.
A general advance then took place, covered by artillery and machine-gun fire, and the enemy facing the W.M.R. and A.M.R. were driven into the main wadi, where they met the fire of the C.M.R., advancing towards the station. During this advance the A.M.R., with a W.M.R. party, under Lieutenant Scholes, captured three field guns, hot from recent firing, which had been most active during the day. Two Howitzer guns were taken close to the main wadi, and a 4.5 was captured by the A.M.R. on the eastern bank of the wadi. Five machine guns were also taken.
The movements of the Brigade, timed and executed with clocklike precision, trapped the retreating Turks, 1700 of whom were then captured.
The simultaneous attack along the whole line had broken the enemy resistance, and Amman railway station was captured at 4.30, together with many prisoners, a complete wireless plant, and much booty. In addition, hundreds of prisoners were captured in the trenches, and others who attempted to escape were cut off by our troops. Posts were then established on the hills around the town and the victory was complete.
For gallant conduct during the capture of guns near the Wadi Amman, Lieutenant Scholes, of the W.M.R., was awarded the Military Cross.
In addition to the prisoners mentioned, the New Zealand Brigade's captures during the day included:—One 4.2 Howitzer, three 75-c.m. mountain guns, two 75-c.m. howitzers, twenty-five machine guns, two automatic rifles, three wireless sets, 298 horses, and a large amount of ammunition, stores, etc.
All ranks fought with determination throughout the day, and valuable assistance was given by the two sections of the 29th page 231 Indian Mountain Battery, which early in the fight were ordered to an advanced position, from which they fired with open sights moost effectively at close range, particularly against machine-gun positions.
Little then remained to be done to complete the capture or destruction of the whole Turkish force—the remnants of the IVth, VIIth, and VIIIth Turkish Armies being taken at Kastal and Damascus before the end of the month.
On the fall of Amman the N.Z.M.R. Brigade had fought its last battle of the Great War, its achievements during the final phases of the campaign being of a particularly brilliant nature, the important tasks entrusted to the Brigade and its attached troops being accomplished to the entire satisfaction of the Commander-in-Chief.
The boldness, speed, and initiative in attack of all ranks were outstanding characteristics throughout. Delivered at unexpected points with deadly precision, these attacks overwhelmed the Turks and contributed materially to the destruction of the Turkish armies and the deliverance of Palestine and Syria from Turkish misrule and oppression.
General Allenby was naturally elated with the wonderful successes which had been achieved by the forces under his command, and to mark his appreciation of their efforts he issued the following order on September 26th:—
"I desire to convey to all ranks of the Force under ray command my admiration and thanks for their great deeds of the past week, and my appreciation of their gallantry and determination, which have resulted in the total destruction of the VIIth and VIIIth Turkish Armies opposed to us. Such a complete victory has seldom been known in all the history of war."