Classic History Books


W.T. Massey - How Jerusalem Was Won. Allenby's Campaign in Palestine

picturesque, though usually unclean, water carrier is passing into the limbo of forgotten things, and his
energies are being diverted into other channels. The germs that swarmed in his leathern water bags will

no longer endanger the lives of the citizens, and the deadly perils of stagnant cistern water have been to a

large extent removed.

For its water Jerusalem used to rely mainly upon the winter rainfall to fill its cisterns. Practically every
house has its underground reservoir, and it is estimated that if all were full they would contain about

360,000,000 gallons. But many had fallen into disrepair and most, if not the whole of them, required

thorough cleansing. One which was inspected by our sanitary department had not been emptied for

nineteen years. To supplement the cistern supply the Mosque of Omar reservoir halved with Bethlehem

the water which flowed from near Solomon's Pools down an aqueduct constructed by Roman engineers

under Herod before the Saviour was born. This was not nearly sufficient, nor was it so constant a supply

as that provided by our Army engineers. They went farther afield. They found a group of spring-heads in

an absolutely clean gathering ground on the hills yielding some 14,000 gallons an hour, and this water

which was running to waste is lifted to the top of a hill from which it flows by gravity through a long

pipe-line to Jerusalem, where a reservoir has been built on a high point on the outskirts of the city.

Supplies of this beautiful water run direct to the hospitals, and at standpipes all over the city the

inhabitants take as much as they desire. The water consumption of the people became ten times what it

was in the previous year, and this fact alone told how the boon was appreciated.

The scheme did not stop at putting up standpipes for those who fetched the water. A portion of the
contents of the cisterns was taken for watering troop horses in the spring - troops were not allowed to

drink it. The water level of these cisterns became very low, and as they got emptied the authorities

arranged for refilling them on the one condition that they were first thoroughly cleansed and put in order.

The British administration would not be parties to the perpetuation of a system which permitted the

fouling of good crystal water. A householder had merely to apply to the Military Governor for water, and

a sanitary officer inspected the cistern, ordered it to be cleansed, and saw that this was done; then the

Department of Public Health gave its certificate, and the engineers ran a pipe to the cistern and filled it,

no matter what its capacity. Two cisterns were replenished with between 60,000 and 70,000 gallons of

sparkling water from the hills in place of water heavily charged with the accumulation of summer dust on

roofs, and the dust of Jerusalem roads, as we had sampled it, is not as clean as desert sand.

The installation of the supply was a triumph for the Royal Engineers. In peace times the work would
have taken from one to two years to complete. A preliminary investigation and survey of the ground was

made on February 14, and a scheme was submitted four days later. Owing to the shortage of transport

and abnormally bad weather work could not be commenced till April 12. Many miles of pipe line had to

be laid and a powerful pumping plant erected, but water was being delivered to the people of Jerusalem

on the 18th of June. Other military works have done much for the common good in Palestine, but none of

them were of greater utility than this. Mahomedans seeing bright water flow into Jerusalem regarded it as

one of the wonders of all time. It is interesting to note that the American Red Cross Society, which sent a

large and capable staff to the Holy Land after America came into the war, knew of the lack of an

adequate water supply for Jerusalem, and with that foresight which Americans show, forwarded to Egypt

for transportation to Jerusalem some thousand tons of water mains to provide a water service. When the

American Red Cross workers reached the Holy City they found the Army's plans almost completed, and

they were the first to pay a tribute to what they described as the 'civilising march of the British Army.'

Those who watched the ceaseless activities of the Public Health Administration were not surprised at the

 

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