Classic History Books

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

till nearly six o'clock in the evening, when enemy aircraft were usually at rest and the light was
sufficiently dull to prevent the Fritzes seeing much if they had made an exceptionally late excursion. All

the tents and temporary shelters which had been occupied for weeks were left standing. Cookhouses,

horse lines, canteens, and so on were untouched, and one had an eerie feeling in passing at night through

these untenanted camping grounds, deserted and lifeless, and a prey to the jackal and pariah dog. A vast

area of many square miles which had held tens of thousands of troops and animals almost became a

wilderness again, and the few natives hereabouts who had made large profits from the sale of eggs, fruit,

and vegetables looked disconsolate and bewildered at the change, hoping and believing that the empty

tents merely denoted a temporary absence. But the great majority of the Army never came that way


When the infantry started on the march, divisions and brigades had allotted to them particular areas for
their march routes, and all over that country, where scarcely a tree or native hut existed to make a

landmark, there were dotted small arrow-pointed boards with the direction 'A road,' 'B road,' 'Z road,' as

the case might be. Marching in the dark hours when a refreshing air succeeded the heat of the day, the

troops halted as soon as a purple flush threw into high relief the southern end of the Judean hills, and

they hid themselves in the wadis and broken ground; and on one unit vacating a bivouac area it was

occupied by another, thus making the areas in which the troops rested as few as possible.

The concentration was worked to a time-table. Not only were brigades allotted certain marches each
night, but they were given specified times to cover certain distances, and these were arranged according

to the condition of the ground. In parts it was very broken and covered with loose stones, and the pace of

infantry by night was very slightly more than one mile per hour. The routes for guns were not chosen

until the whole country had been reconnoitred, and it was a highly creditable performance for artillery to

get their field guns and heavy howitzer batteries through to the time-table. But the clockwork precision

of the movements reflected even more highly on the staff working out the details than on the infantry and

artillery, and it may be said with perfect truth that the staff made no miscalculation or mistake. The XXth

Corps staff maps and plans, and the details accompanying them, were masterpieces of clearness and

completeness. The men who fought out the plans to a triumphant finish were glad to recognise this

perfection of staff work.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Appendix VI.]



The XXth Corps began its movement on the night of 20-21st October. The whole Corps was not on the
march, but a sufficient force was sent forward to form supply dumps and to store water at Esani for

troops covering Desert Mounted Corps engineers engaged on the development of water at Khalasa and

Asluj. Some of the Australian and New Zealand troops engaged on this work had previously been at

these places.

In the early summer it was thought desirable to destroy the Turkish railway which ran from Beersheba to
Asluj and on to Kossaima, in order to prevent an enemy raid on our communications between El Arish

and Rafa, and the mounted troops with the Imperial Camel Corps had had a most successful day in

destroying many miles of line and several bridges. The Turks were badly in need of rails for the line they

were then constructing down to Deir Sineid, and they had lifted some of the rails between Asluj and

Kossaima, but during our raid we broke every rail over some fifteen miles of track. Khalasa and Asluj

being water centres became the points of concentration for two mounted divisions, and the splendid


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