Classic History Books

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

since the early days of the war. They had proved sterling soldiers in the desert war, hard, full of courage,
capable of making light of the longest trek in waterless stretches of country, and mobile to a degree the

Turks never dreamed of. There were six other regiments of Australian Light Horse and three first-line

regiments of yeomanry in the Australian Mounted Division, and nine yeomanry regiments in the

Yeomanry Mounted Division. The 7th Mounted Brigade was attached to Desert Corps, as was also the

Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, formed of yeomen and Australians who had volunteered from their

regiments for work as camelry. They, too, were veterans.

All these divisions had to be trained hard. Not only had the four infantry divisions of XXth Corps to be
brought to a pitch of physical fitness to enable them to endure a considerable period of open fighting, but

they had to be trained in water abstinence, as, in the event of success, they would unquestionably have

long marches in a country yielding a quite inadequate supply of drinking water, and this problem in itself

was such that fully 6000 camels were required to carry drinking water to infantry alone.

Water-abstinence training lasted three weeks, and the maximum of half a gallon a man for all purposes

was not exceeded, simply because the men had been made accustomed to deny themselves drink except

when absolutely necessary. But for a systematic training they would have suffered a great deal. The

disposition of the force is given in the Appendix.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Appendix v].



To ease the supply problem a spur line was laid from Rafa to Shellal, on the wadi Ghuzze. In that way
supplies, stores, and ammunition were taken up to our right flank. Shellal was a position of great strategic

importance. At one time it appeared as if we should have to fight hard to gain it. The Turks had cut an

elaborate series of trenches on Wali Sheikh Nuran, a hill covering Shellal, but they evacuated this

position before we made the first attack on Gaza, and left an invaluable water supply in our hands.

At Shellal the stony bed of the wadi Ghuzze rests between high mud banks which have been cut into
fantastic shapes by the rushing waters descending from the southern extremities of the Judean range of

hills during the winter rains. In the summer months, when the remainder of the wadi bed is dry, there are

bubbling springs of good water at Shellal, and these have probably been continuously flowing for many

centuries, for close above the spot where the water issues Anzac cavalry discovered a beautiful remnant

of the mosaic flooring of an ancient Christian church, which, raised on a hundred-feet mound, was

doubtless the centre of a colony of Christians, hundreds of years before Crusaders were attracted to the

Holy Land. Our engineers harnessed that precious flow. A dam was put across the wadi bed and at least a

million gallons of crystal water were held up by it, whilst the overflow went into shallow pools fringed

with grass (a delightfully refreshing sight in that arid country) from which horses were watered. Pumping

sets were installed at the reservoir and pipes were laid towards Karm, and from these the Camel

Transport Corps were to fill fanatis - eight to twelve gallon tanks - for carriage of water to troops on the


The railway staff, the department which arranged the making up and running of trains, as well as the
construction staff, had heavy responsibilities. It was recognised early in 1917 that if we were to crush the

Turk out of the war, provision would have to be made for a larger army than a single line from the Suez

Canal could feed. It was decided to double the track. The difficulties of the Director of Railway

Transport were enormous. There was great shortage of railway material all over the world. Some very

valuable cargoes were lost through enemy action at sea, and we had to call for more from different


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