Deir al-Balah was captured by the British Army following the surrender of Khan Yunis
on 28 February 1917.
By April an aerodrome and an army camp were established there and Deir al-Balah
became a launching point for British forces against Ottoman-held Gaza and Beersheba (en.wikipedia.org) to
the north and northeast, respectively.
Of the 25 British war cemeteries dating from WW I, one of the six largest was built in
Deir al-Balah in March 1917.
It continued to be used until March 1919 and contains a total of 724 graves.
It became a part of the British Mandate of Palestine starting in 1922. A municipal council
to administer the town was established by the British authorities in 1946, but it had limited
jurisdiction over civil affairs and provided a few basic services.
28 February 1917, the cavalry of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force entered Khan Yunus,
midway between the Egyptian border and Deir el Belah causing the Turks to withdraw to
Gaza and Beersheba.
The railway was pushed forward to Deir el Belah, which became the railhead in April 1917,
and an aerodrome and camps were established there.
The cemetery was begun towards the end of March and remained in use until March 1919.
Most of the burials were made either from field ambulances from March to June 1917,
or from the 53rd, 54th, 66th and 74th Casualty Clearing Stations,
and the 69th General Hospital, from April 1917 until the Armistice with Turkey.
A number of graves, the majority of which were originally at Khan Yunus, were brought into
the cemetery after the Armistice.
The cemetery contains 724 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.
Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan. 16/11/2014. Lest we forget.