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

considerable body of prisoners.

The enemy's guns remained active until seven o'clock, when they reserved their fire till the afternoon.
Then a heavy counter-attack was seen to be developing by an aerial observer, whose timely warning

enabled the big guns and warships to smash it up. Another counter-attack against Sheikh Hasan was

repulsed later in the day, and a third starting from Crested Rock which aimed at getting back El Burj

trench was a complete failure. After the second phase our troops buried 739 enemy dead. Without doubt

there were many others killed and wounded in the unsuccessful counter-attacks, particularly the first

against Sheikh Hasan, when many heavy shells were seen to fall in the enemy's ranks. We took prisoners

26 officers, including two battalion commanders, and 418 other ranks. Our casualties were 30 officers

and 331 other ranks killed, 94 officers and 1869 other ranks wounded, and 10 officers and 362 other

ranks missing. Considering the enormous strength of the positions attacked, the numbers engaged, and

the fact that we secured enemy front 5000 yards long and 3000 yards deep, the losses were not more

severe than might have been expected.

The Turks clung to their trenches with a tenacity equal to that which characterised their defences on
Gallipoli, and officer prisoners told us they had been ordered to hold Gaza at all costs. That was good

news, though even if they had got back to the wadi Hesi line it is doubtful if, when Sheria was taken,

they could have done more than temporarily hold us up there. During the next few days the work against

the enemy's right consisted of heavy bombardments on the line of hills running from the north-east to the

south of Gaza, and on the prominent position of Sheikh Redwan, east of the port. The enemy made some

spirited replies, notably on the 4th, but his force in Gaza was getting shaken, and prisoners reluctantly

admitted that the heavy naval shells taking them in flank and rear were affecting the moral of the troops.

The gunfire of Rear-Admiral Jackson's fleet of H.M.S. Grafton, Raglan, Monitors 15, 29,

31, and 32, river-gunboats Ladybird and Amphis, and the destroyers Staunch

and Comet, was worthy of the King's Navy. They were assisted by the French battleship

Requin
. We lost a monitor and destroyer torpedoed by a submarine, but the marks of the Navy's hard
hitting were on and about Gaza, and we heard, if we could not see, the best the ships were doing. On one

day there was a number of explosions about Deir Sineid indicating the destruction of some of the

enemy's reserve of ammunition, and while the Turks were still in Gaza they received a shock resembling

nothing more than an earthquake. One of the ships - the Raglan, I believe - taking a signal from a

seaplane, got a direct hit on an ammunition train at Beit Hanun, the railway terminus north of Gaza. The

whole train went up and its load was scattered in fragments over an area of several hundred square yards,

an extraordinary scene of wreckage of torn and twisted railway material and destroyed ammunition

presenting itself to us when we got on the spot on November 7. There was another very fine example of

the Navy's indirect fire a short distance northward of this railway station. A stone road bridge had been

built over the wadi Hesi and it had to carry all heavy traffic, the banks of the wadi being too steep and

broken to permit wheels passing down them as they stood. During our advance the engineers had to build

ramps here. A warship, taking its line from an aeroplane, fired at the bridge from a range of 14,000 yards,

got two direct hits on it and holed it in the centre, and there must have been thirty or forty shell craters

within a radius of fifty yards. The confounding of the Turks was ably assisted by the Navy.

 

CHAPTER IX. CRUSHING THE TURKISH LEFT

Now we return to the operations of XXth Corps and Desert Mounted Corps on our right. After the
capture of Beersheba this force was preparing to attack the left of the Turkish main line about Hareira

and Sheria, the capture of which would enable the fine force of cavalry to get to Nejile and gain an

 

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