Classic History Books


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

while eight 60-pounders, eight 6-inch howitzers, and four 4.5-inch howitzers were employed in counter
battery work. The absence of wind placed us at a heavy disadvantage. The high explosive shells bursting

about the crest of 1070 raised enormous clouds of dust which obscured everything, and after a short

while even the flames of exploding shells were entirely hidden from view. The gunners had to stop firing

for three-quarters of an hour to allow the dust to settle. They then reopened, and by half-past eight, the

wire-cutting being reported completed, an intense bombardment was ordered, under cover of which, and

with the assistance of machine-gun fire from aeroplanes, the 181st Infantry Brigade of the 60th Division

went forward to the assault. They captured the hill in ten minutes, only sustaining about one hundred

casualties, and taking nearly as many prisoners. A German machine-gunner who fell into our hands

bemoaned the fact that he had not a weapon left - every one of the machine guns had been knocked out

by the artillery, and a number were buried by our fire.

The first phase of the operations having thus ended successfully quite early in the day, the second stage
was entered upon. Field guns were rushed forward at the gallop over ground broken by shallow wadis

and up and down a very uneven stony surface. The gun teams were generally exposed during the advance

and were treated to heavy shrapnel fire, but they swung into action at prearranged points and set about

wire-cutting with excellent effect. The first part of the second phase consisted in reducing the enemy's

main line from the Khalasa road to the wadi Saba, though the artillery bombarded the whole line. The

60th Division on the right had two brigades attacking and one in divisional reserve, and the 74th Division

attacking on the left of the 60th likewise had a brigade in reserve. The 74th, while waiting to advance,

came under considerable shell-fire from batteries on the north of the wadi, and it was some time before

their fire could be silenced. As a rule the enemy works were cut into rocky, rising ground and the

trenches were well enclosed in wire fixed to iron stanchions. They were strongly made and there were

possibilities of prolonged opposition, but by the time the big assault was launched the Turks knew they

were being attacked on both sides of Beersheba and they must have become anxious about a line of

retreat. General Shea reported that the wire in front of him was cut before noon, but General Girdwood

was not certain that the wire was sufficiently broken on the 74th Division's front, though he intimated to

the Corps Commander that he was ready to attack at the same time as the 60th. It still continued a

windless day, and the dust clouds prevented any observation of the wire entanglements. General

Girdwood turned this disadvantage to account, and ordering his artillery to raise their fire slightly so that

it should fall just in front of and about the trenches, put up what was in effect a dust barrage, and under

cover of it selected detachments of his infantry advanced almost into the bursting shell to cut passages

through the wire with wire-cutters. The dismounted yeomanry of the 231st and 230th Infantry Brigades

rushed through, and by half-past one the 74th Division had secured their objectives. The 179th and 181st

Brigades of the 60th Division had won their trenches almost an hour earlier, and about 5000 yards of

works were in our hands south of the wadi Saba. The enemy had 3000 yards of trenches north of the

wadi, and though these were threatened from the south and west, it was not until five o'clock that the

230th Brigade occupied them, the Turks clearing out during the bombardment. During the day, on the

left of the 74th Division, the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade and two battalions of the 53rd Division held

the ground to the north of the wadi Saba to a point where the remainder of the 53rd Division watched for

the approach of any enemy force from the north, while the 10th Division about Shellal protected the line

of communications east of the wadi Ghuzze, and the Yeomanry Mounted Division was on the west side

of the wadi Ghuzze in G.H.Q. reserve. The XXth Corps' losses were 7 officers killed and 42 wounded,

129 other ranks killed, 988 wounded and 5 missing, a light total considering the nature of the works

carried during the day. It was obvious that the enemy was taken completely by surprise by the direction

of the attack, and the rapidity with which we carried his strongest points was overwhelming. The Turk

 

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