|Extending the railway across Sinai|
The Main Allied force was rhe ANZAC Mounted Division, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigades and a New Zealand Mounted Rifle Division. From December 1916 these forces were assigned to the Desert Column, formed to support operations in Sinai and Palestine.
|Turkish base at Hafr al-‘Auja|
The Commander of the Desert Column, Sir Phillip Chetwode, arrived at El ‘Arish with supplies from Port Said, and prepared to dispatch the ANZACs under Sir Harry Chauvel. The German Commander of the Ottoman Desert Force, Kress von Kressenstein, had constructed a series of fortified redoubts at Magdhaba which he thought could resist attack, but he reckoned without the high mobility of the Light Horsemen.
The ANZACS, under Sir Harry Chauvel, advanced on the night of December 22-23, and in a fierce battle on the 23rd succeeded after a day's hard fighting, forced an Ottoman surrender. The fight at Magdhaba had set the stage for the Battle at Rafah, the last act in Sinai.