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Sketch of foreshore and pier at El Arish

Date: 27 December 1916
Overall: 146 x 202 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Helen Clift
Classification:Maps, charts and plans
Object Name: Map
Object No: ANMS1112[001]
Related Place:Palestine,

User Terms

    This archive series consists of papers collected by Petty Officer Douglas Ballantyne Fraser, a naval reservist who served in the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (RANBT) in Gallipoli (Suvla Bay), Suez Canal and Palestine between 1915 - 1917.

    SignificanceThese objects are significant because they relate to a naval reservist who served in a little known and relatively unheralded unit of the Royal Australian Navy in WWI. These objects are a material record of the overseas service -on Gallipoli and in the Middle East- of a Petty Officer in the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (RANBT) during WWI. Very little material evidence associated with the RANBT has survived and most of the unit's history is known only in relatively small circles, possibly because the 1st RANBT was not at Anzac Cove!

    HistoryThe Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train was formed at the beginning of 1915 and was originally destined for service on the Western Front in Europe. It was made up of naval reservists and trained in Melbourne prior to departure aboard the troopship PORT MACQUARIE on 4 June 1915.
    The RANBT did not however arrive in Europe but were diverted towards the Gallipoli Peninsula where they landed on 7 August 1915 to provide "engineering support in connection with the British landings at Suvla Bay to the north of ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. During that time they would be under British command and control."
    The RANBT remained at Suvla Bay until December 1915 when the command to abandon the peninsula was received. While the majority of the unit was evacuated on the 1496 and 17 December, some 50 men remained behind to maintain the wharf until the final rear guards could be evacuated. These 50 men would become the last Australians to remain at the Gallipoli Peninsula.

    After leaving Gallipoli the RANBT served in the Suez region before landing at El Arish on 22 December 1916. This was in response to the fighting taking place in the Sinai:

    "The pace of the fighting in the Sinai, in the second half of 1916, quickened and soon the front line troops were pushing the Turkish forces back and the re-supply of food, water and ammunition for these forward units became a problem. A plan was subsequently developed to conduct an amphibious assault in late December 1916 and seize the Turkish coastal town of El Arish which could then be used as a forward re-supply base. The 1st RANBT was directed to provide a 50 man detachment to land with the troops and construct a pier over which supplies could be landed from ships."

    THE RANBT were disbanded in 1917 but during its brief existence the 1st RANBT’s men served five months on the Gallipoli Peninsula, took part in the amphibious assault on El Arish and participated in the abortive First Battle of Gaza.

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