Tuesday 17 April 1917 – We Lost 733
Having failed in his first attempt to capture Gaza on 26-27 March 1917, ‘Sir’ Archibald Murray, commander of British-led forces in the region, is obliged to contemplate an early renewal of hostilities as a direct consequence of the manner of his report of the initial action to the War Office. At best a draw Murray nevertheless conveyed the impression to London of a clear-cut British victory. While British losses of 4,000 were reported accurately Murray trebled details of Turkish casualties, which in the event were lower than his own, at 2,400. London under the mistaken impression that Murray is on the verge of a notable breakthrough orders him to re-engage his forces, this time with Jerusalem as the ultimate goal.
The resumption of the attack on Gaza effectively begins this morning the start of the preliminary bombardment of the fortifications which will last for two days. British heavy guns south of Gaza are joined by naval gunfire from the French coastal defense ship Requin and two British monitors (M21 and M31). While the bombardment is heavy by the standards of the Sinai and Palestine battles so far, it is weak in comparison to the standards of the Western Front and has limited effect on the Gaza defenses.
The ambulance transport S S Donegal is torpedoed and sunk between Le Havre and Southampton. The hospital ship S S Lanfranc is torpedoed and sunk between Le Havre and Southampton. At least fifteen are killed along with twenty German patients.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple families that will lose two, three and four sons in the Great War
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- A singer for the Glad Idlers
- A Foxfar East End footballer
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain Cunningham Burnside Tweedie MC (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 24 two days before his brother is killed.
- Lieutenant Charles Stuart Bott (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend William Ernest Bott Rector of Partney (Lincolnshire Regiment) and his brother will be killed in September 1918 while another will die on service in Basra in 1920.
- Second Lieutenant Hubert William Kiver (East Surrey Regiment) is killed by a shell at age 23. He is a singer with the Glad Idlers.
- Second Lieutenant James Melville Moncur (Royal Scots) is killed at age 24. His brother will die of wounds as a prisoner of war in December.
- Second Lieutenant Hugh Pater (West Yorkshire Regiment attached Royal Flying Corps) is accidentally killed at age 29. He is the son of the Reverend Septimus Pater Vicar of Sunderland.
- Corporal Frederick James Smith (Suffolk Regiment) is killed at age 32. His three brothers will lose their lives in the Great War.
- Private Fred Callender (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) dies from wounds received in the face at age 19. He played football for the Forfar East End Football Club.
- Private Harry Waller (Alberta Regiment) is killed in action at age 22. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
- Sergeant Frederick A Honey (East Kent Regiment) dies of wounds at age 28. His brother will be killed in June.
- Private Robert Henry Parkins (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed last July
- Private George Hobday (Royal Army Medical Corps) a postman dies of disease at home in Eastbourne at age 37. He is the father of Charles Hobday one of the members of the group of radical writers who gathered around the communist cultural magazine Our Time in the late 1940’s. He had served previously for 12 years in the Royal Field Artille