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

and they were as thorough as the energy of a capable staff could make them.

 

CHAPTER IV. TRAINING THE ARMY

Those of us who were fortunate enough to witness the nature of the preparations for the first of General
Allenby's great and triumphant moves in Palestine can speak of the debt Britain and her Allies owe not

merely to the Commander-in-Chief and his Headquarters Staff, but to the three Corps Commanders, the

Divisional Commanders, the Brigadiers, and the officers responsible for transport, artillery, engineer, and

the other services. The Army had to be put on an altogether different footing from that which had twice

failed to drive the Turks from Gaza. It serves nothing to ignore the fact that the moral of the troops was

not high in the weeks following the second failure. They had to be tuned up and trained for a big task.

They knew the Turk was turning his natural advantages of ground about Gaza into a veritable fortress,

and that if their next effort was to meet with more success than their last, they had to learn all that

experience on the Western Front had taught as to systems of trench warfare.

And, more than that, they had to prepare to apply the art of open warfare to the full extent of their
powers.

A couple of months before General Allenby took over command, General Chetwode had taken in hand
the question of training, and in employing the knowledge gained during the strenuous days he had spent

in France and Flanders, he not only won the confidence of the troops but improved their tone, and by

degrees brought them up to something approaching the level of the best fighting divisions of our Army in

France.

This was hard work during hot weather when our trench systems on a wide front had to be prepared
against an active enemy, and men could ill be spared for the all-important task of training behind the

front line. It was not long, however, before troops who had got into that state of lassitude which is

engendered by a belief that they were settling down to trench warfare for the duration of the war - that, in

fact, there was a stalemate on this front - became inspired by the energy of General Chetwode. They saw

him in the front line almost every day, facing the risks they ran themselves, complimenting them on any

good piece of work, suggesting improvements in their defences, always anxious to provide anything

possible for their comfort, and generally looking after the rank and file with a detailed attention which no

good battalion commander could exceed.

The men knew that the long visits General Chetwode paid them formed but a small part of his daily task.
It has been said that a G.O.C. of a force has to think one hour a day about operations and five hours about

beef. In East Force, as this part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force was then called, General Chetwode,

having to look months ahead, had also six worrying hours a day to think about water. For any one who

did not love his profession, or who had not an ardent soldierly spirit within him, such a daily task would

have been impossible. I had the privilege of living in General Chetwode's camp for some time, and I have

seen him working at four o'clock in the morning and at nine o'clock at night, and the notes on a writing

tablet by the side of his rough camp-bed showed that in the hours when sleep forsook him he was

planning the next day's work.

His staff was entirely composed of hard workers, and perhaps no command in this war ever had so small
a staff, but there was no officer in East Force who laboured so long or with such concentration and

energy and determination as its Chief. This enthusiasm was infectious and spread through all ranks. The

sick rate declined, septic sores, from which many men suffered through rough life in the desert on Army

rations, got better, and the men showed more interest in their work and were keener on their sport. The

 

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