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

Colonials in the engineer sections worked at the wells as if the success of the whole enterprise depended
upon their efforts, as, indeed, to a very large extent it did. Theirs was not an eight hours day. They

worked under many difficulties, often thigh deep in water and mud, cleaning out and deepening wells

and installing power pumps, putting up large canvas tanks for storage, and making water troughs. The

results exceeded anticipations, and the Commander-in-Chief, on a day when the calls on his time were

many and urgent, made a long journey to thank the officers and men for the work they had done and to

express his high appreciation of their skill and energy.

The principal work carried out by the XXth Corps during the period of concentration consisted in laying
the standard gauge line to Imara and opening the station at that place on October 28; prolonging the

railway line to a point three-quarters of a mile north-north-east of Karm, where the station was opened on

November 3; completing by October 30 the light railway from the east bank of the wadi Ghuzze at

Gamli via Karm to Khasif; and developing water at Esani, Malaga, and Abu Ghalyun for the use

first by cavalry detachments and then by the 60th Division. Cisterns in the Khasif and Imsiri area were

stocked with 60,000 gallons of water to be used by the 53rd and 74th Divisions, and this supply was to be

supplemented by camel convoys. Apparently the enemy knew very little about the concentration until

about October 26, and even then he could have had only slight knowledge of the extent of our

movements, and probably knew nothing at all of where the first blow was to fall. In the early hours of

October 27 he did make an attempt to interfere with our concentration, and there was a spirited little

action on our outpost line which had been pushed out beyond the plain to a line of low hills near the wadi

Hanafish. The Turks in overwhelming force met a most stubborn defence by the Middlesex Yeomanry,

and if the enemy took these London yeomen as an average sample of General Allenby's troops, this

engagement must have given them a foretaste of what was in store for them.

The Middlesex Yeomanry (the 1st County of London Yeomanry, to give the regiment the name by which
it is officially known, though the men almost invariably use the much older Territorial title) and the 21st

Machine Gun Squadron, held the long ridge from El Buggar to hill 630. There was a squadron

dismounted on hill 630, three troops on hill 720, the next and highest point on the ridge, and a post at El

Buggar. At four o'clock in the morning the latter post was fired on by a Turkish cavalry patrol, and an

hour later it was evident that the enemy intended to try to drive us off the ridge, his occupation of which

would have given him the power to harass railway construction parties by shell-fire, even if it did not

entirely stop the work. Some 3000 Turkish infantry, 1200 cavalry, and twelve guns had advanced from

the Kauwukah system of defences to attack our outpost line on the ridge. They heavily engaged hill 630,

working round both flanks, and brought heavy machine-gun and artillery fire to bear on the squadron

holding it. The Royal Flying Corps estimated that a force of 2000 men attacked the garrison, which was

completely cut off.

A squadron of the City of London Yeomanry sent to reinforce was held up by a machine-gun barrage and
had to withdraw. The garrison held out magnificently all day in a support trench close behind the crest

against odds of twenty to one, and repeatedly beat off rushes, although the bodies of dead Turks showed

that they got as close as forty yards from the defenders. Two officers were wounded, and four other ranks

killed and twelve wounded.

The attack on hill 720 was made by 1200 cavalry supported by a heavy volume of shell and machine-gun
fire. During the early morning two desperate charges were beaten off, but in a third charge the enemy

gained possession of the hill after the detachment had held out for six hours. All our officers were killed

or wounded and all the men were casualties except three. At six o'clock in the evening the Turks were

 

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