The withdrawal of the soldiers from Gallipoli in December 1915 heralded in the next phase of Australian operations in World War One.  In the last week of 1915 , the first portions of A.I.F. units, scattered after the Evacuation, began to reach Tel el Kebir, they found camped, on the desert beside the railway, the transport sections from which they had been parted since the beginning of the campaign, but which now, with horses and harness lavishly cared for by the drivers, were awaiting the return of their mates. But these troops were in some cases seriously worn out and required rest and rebuilding.

The troops from Anzac found in the camps around Cairo, large numbers of reinforcements fresh from the colonies. At the beginning of 1916 the Australian troops were arranged in the following fashion. 

  • the 1 and 2 Divisions were stationed at Te el Kebir, Egypt.
  • the New Zealand and Australian Division assembled at Moascar junction near Ismailia, Egypt
  • the whole of the Australian Horse Transport stationed at Cairo through whole Gallipoli campaign was divided two main parts
    • 1:supply sections offered as support for Gallipoli but as there was no space for them they returned without disembarking.
    • 2: mounted sections in middle of November 1915 were despatched against Senussi tribes in the Libyan desert. This also included British infantry cavalry and horse artillery.
  • the 2 and 3 Light Horse and NZMR were stationed near Cairo  and the 1 Light Horse on Western frontier. When the Light Horse and mounted rifles returned from Gallipoli they were diverted to special camps around Cairo. However the 1 Light Horse was almost immediately, on 28 Decmber to be ready to ride out within 48 hours. They were tired after the long hard Gallipoli campaign but were delighted to be reunited with their horses.
  • 8 Australian Infantry Brigade and the 5, 6, and 7 Field Companies were stationed on the Suez Canal.
  • The ANZAC training depot at Cairo was home to around 30,000 Australian reinforcements and artillery for 2 Division.
  • the rest of the forces were made up of Personnel of the Australian intermediate Base, hospital staff and men in hospitals and convalescent homes.

Over the next few months the raw recruits, and the ‘veterans’ of Gallipoli were reconstituted into new divisions and fighting units. This was all done in the early months of 1916 and once finished the forces were then split; one group destined for the Western Front and the other to the campaign in Palestine. Except for the troops in the hospitals and depots the Australian Imperial Force was to be found in six, eventually seven, fighting divisions, namely, the five infantry divisions for the Western Front, and the mounted division (or divisions) in Palestine.

by-saCompiled by Geoff Barker, Coordinator Research and Collection Services, Parramatta City Council Heritage Centre, 2016

Charles Bean, Official History of the War 1914-1918 Volume 12, The AIF in France 1916, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1941