First Battle of Gaza

First Battle of Gaza
Date March 26, 1917
Location Gaza, southern Palestine
Victor Ottoman victory
Flag-of-the-United-Kingdom British Empire Flag_of_the_German_Empire German Empire
Ottoman_flag Ottoman Empire
Casualties and Deaths
Total: Total:
523 killed
2932 wounded
512 missing
16 Germans and Austrians killed or wounded and 41 missing
300 Ottomans killed, 750 wounded and 600 missing
Part of the World War I

The First Battle of Gaza was a powerful strategic undertaking by the British in the Middle East in 1917. The plan was not originally considered feasible, but the British military eventually decided the campaign was worth the effort.

Aftermath of Turkish Forces Relocating

Turkish forces were pushed out from the Sinai Peninsula in January of 1917. The removal of the Turkish forces led the British military, under the command of Sir Archibald Murray, to use the situation to launch a direct and targeted assault into Palestine.

Such an assault would be a very complicated strategy. In order to achieve the desired result, the remaining Turkish forces had to be removed from their positions among the ridges in between Beersheba and Gaza. The ridges reflected the only viable entry into Palestine. The British troops would have to engage in battle with the Turkish forces that were under German command in Gaza in order to reach Palestine. The numbers were in the favor of the British.

Advantage of British Forces

The British maintained a strong two-to-one advantage over the Turkish forces. General Kressenstein, the commander of the Turkish troops, was told to hold the position under any and all circumstances.

General Sir Charles Dobell led the British into an incursion into Gaza. His cavalry would take advantage of severely dense fog to cut off escape, supply, and reinforcement routes prior to launching an attack. The British did launch their attack and was able to navigate the very difficult terrain. The supporting circling cavalry troops helped improve the chances of the marching army.

The battle broke out and it seemed the British were poised for victory.

The British are Unsuccessful

Falls_SkB-Eastern-DesertTactical errors led to the First Battle of Gaza being a draw. Quite a number of strategic miscues led to such an outcome. Dobell issued an order for the cavalry forces to be withdrawn.

Later, it was revealed that the infantry advance was failing even when it was not. Surprisingly, Kressenstein was also confused over the situation that was developing. He canceled calls for reserves and assumed Gaza was lost.

Kressenstein was able to pull in 4,000 men to defend the town. The Turks would launch a major attack on the British troops at a time when the British were suffering from a lack of access to water. The chaos led Dobell to cease the invasion.

End Results of the Battle

The First Battle of Gaza was considered a draw. The British suffered 4,000 casualties while the Turkish troops ended up losing 2,400. The War Office in London received information about the battle and it was utterly incorrect as the estimation of Turkish losses was suggested to be around 7,500. This led the powers-that-be in Britain to assume they won a major victory, but this was not the case at all.

The false information led the British War Office to order an attack on Jerusalem. The Turkish troops were well prepared for such an attack leading to another troubling incursion in the Middle East.

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