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Jerusalem Memorial Jerusalem Memorial
First Name: Christopher Last Name: SEAGO
Date of Death: 26/03/1917 Lived/Born In: Tottenham Court Road
Rank: Private Unit: Middlesex2/10
Memorial Site: Jerusalem Memorial

Current Information:

Born-Leith, Scotland

Enlisted-Willesden

 

After the Western Front, the second largest theatre of war between 1914 and 1918 was Egypt and Palestine. Britain had long had a foothold in Egypt guarding the vitally important Suez Canal and when war was declared against Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) who controlled all of what is now known as the Middle East, British troops were sent to guard the canal from attacks from the north. For the first two years of the war the British forces were on the defensive as the Turks, backed by the Germans, made a number of attempts against the canal but an important victory in August 1916 at Rumani relieved the pressure and the British force was then able to move onto the offensive and advance north into Palestine. By March 1917 they had concentrated at Rafah and were ready to attack the coastal town of Gaza and the fortifications running east from there to Beersheba.

The First Battle of Gaza was launched on 26th March, 1917 from the Wadi Ghazze, about eight miles south of Gaza and involved cavalry units, mainly Australian and New Zealanders, encircling the town whilst the infantry, 52nd, 53rd and 54th Divisions, all Territorial Army units, moved in from the south and south-east. Protected by a thick, early morning sea mist they made good progress. 53rd Division led the way and had soon established themselves on the Es Sire Ridge overlooking the town. The actual assault on the town did not begin until midday and immediately met heavy fire from entrenched Turkish troops. There followed an afternoon of heavy fighting at the end of which the British were in possession of most of the high ground surrounding Gaza and in a position to capture the town the following day. But then things began going wrong. Believing that the infantry attack had come to a halt and because their horses were in desperate need of water, the cavalry screen was withdrawn. This of course left the infantry vulnerable and reluctantly, they pulled back as well. The next day, 27th March, the attack was resumed but by now the Turks had moved up their reinforcements and although the high ground was once again occupied by the British, they were not able to break through the Turkish lines and capture Gaza.

On 26th March, 1917, 53rd Division were protected by early morning fog when they took up their assembly positions across the Wadi Ghazee. On the left of their line, 160 Brigade advanced and by 1.30pm, the Labyrinth, a maze of entrenched gardens due south of Gaza City, was taken and 2/10th Middlesex had established themselves on a grassy hill overlooking the town and half mile from it. They remained here, fighting off Turkish counter attacks and consolidating their position for the rest of the afternoon until, with the withdrawal of the cavalry, the infantry, including 2/10th Middlesex, fell back to the Wadi Ghazee. Among the casualties sustained by 2/10th Middlesex on 26th March was Christopher Seago.

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