Classic History Books

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

did not attempt anything in the nature of a counter-attack by the Beersheba garrison, nor did he make any
move from Hareira against the 53rd Division. Had he done so the 10th Division and the Yeomanry

Mounted Division would have seized the opportunity of falling on him from Shellal, and the Turk chose

the safer course of allowing the Beersheba garrison to stand unaided in its own defences. The XXth

Corps' captures included 25 officers, 394 other ranks, 6 guns, and numerous machine guns.

The Desert Mounted Corps met with stubborn opposition in their operations south-east and east of
Beersheba, but they were carried through no less successfully than those of the XXth Corps. The

mounted men had had a busy time. General Ryrie's 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and the Imperial

Camel Corps Brigade had moved southwards on October 2, and on them and on the 1st and 2nd Field

Squadrons Australian Engineers the bulk of the work fell of developing water and making and marking

tracks which, in the sandy soil, became badly cut up. On the evening of October 30 the Anzac Mounted

Division was at Asluj, the Australian Mounted Division at Khalasa, the 7th Mounted Brigade at Esani,

Imperial Camel Brigade at Hiseia, and the Yeomanry Mounted Division in reserve at Shellal. The Anzac

Division commanded by General Chaytor left Asluj during the night, and in a march of twenty-four miles

round the south of Beersheba met with only slight opposition on the way to Bir el Hamam and Bir Salim

abu Irgeig, between five and seven miles east of the town. The 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade

during the morning advanced north to take the high hill Tel el Sakaty, a little east of the

Beersheba-Hebron road, which was captured at one o'clock, and the brigade then swept across the

metalled road which was in quite fair condition, and which subsequently was of great service to us during

the advance of one infantry division on Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The 1st Australian Light Horse

Brigade commanded by General Cox, and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade under General

Meldrum, moved against Tel el Saba, a 1000-feet hill which rises very precipitously on the northern bank

of the wadi Saba, 4000 yards due east of Beersheba. Tel el Saba is believed to be the original site of

Beersheba. It had been made into a strong redoubt and was well held by a substantial garrison adequately

dug in and supported by nests of machine-gunners. The right bank of the wadi Khalil was also strongly

held, and between the Hebron road and Tel el Saba some German machine-gunners in three houses

offered determined opposition. The New Zealanders and a number of General Cox's men crept up the

wadi Saba, taking full advantage of the cover offered by the high banks, and formed up under the hill of

Saba. They then dashed up the steep sides while the horse artillery lashed the crest with their fire, and

driving the Turks from their trenches had captured the hill by three o'clock. At about the same time the

1st Light Horse Brigade suitably dealt with the machine-gunners in the houses. Much ground east of

Beersheba had thus been made good, and the Hebron road was denied to the garrison of the town as a

line of retreat. The Anzac Mounted Division was then reinforced by General Wilson's 3rd Australian

Light Horse Brigade, and by six P.M. the Division held a long crescent of hills from Point 970, a mile

north of Beersheba, through Tel el Sakaty, round south-eastwards to Bir el Hamam.

General Hodgson's Australian Mounted Division had a night march of thirty-four miles from Khalasa to
Iswawin, south-east of Beersheba, and after the 3rd Light Horse Brigade had been detached to assist the

Anzac Division, orders were given to General Grant's 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade to attack and

take the town of Beersheba from the east. The orders were received at four o'clock, and until we had got

an absolute hold on Tel el Saba an attack on the town from this direction would have been suicidal, as an

attacking force would have been between two fires. The shelling of the cavalry during the day had been

rather hot, and enemy airmen had occasionally bombed them. It was getting late, and as it was of the

greatest importance that the town's available water should be secured that night, General Grant was

directed to attack with the utmost vigour. His brigade worthily carried out its orders. The ground was


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