Classic History Books


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

excellent water supply, to advance to the neighbourhood of Huj and so reach the plain and threaten the
enemy's line in rear, and to fall on his line of retreat. It was proposed to make the attack on the

Kauwukah and Rushdi systems at Hareira on November 4, but the water available at Beersheba had not

been equal to the demands made upon it and was petering out, and mounted troops protecting the right

flank of XXth Corps had to be relieved every twenty-four hours. The men also suffered a good deal from

thirst. The weather was unusually hot for this period of the year, and the dust churned up by traffic was

as irritating as when the khamseen wind blew. The two days' delay meant much in favour of the enemy,

who was enabled to move his troops as he desired, but it also permitted our infantry to get some rest after

their long marches, and supplies were brought nearer the front. 'Rest' was only a comparative term.

Brigades were on the move each day in country which was one continual rise and fall, with stony beds of

wadis to check progress, without a tree to lend a few moments' grateful relief from a burning sun, and

nothing but the rare sight of a squalid native hut to relieve the monotony of a sun-dried desolate land.

The troops were remarkably cheerful. They were on their toes, as the cavalry told them. They had drawn
first blood profusely from the Turk after many weary months of waiting and getting fit, and they knew

that those gaunt mountain ridges away on their right front held behind them Bethlehem and Jerusalem,

goals they desired to reach more than any other prizes of war. They had seen the Turk, and had soundly

thrashed him out of trenches which the British could have held against a much stronger force. Their

confidence was based on the proof that they were better men, and they were convinced that once they got

the enemy into the open their superiority would be still more marked. The events of the next six weeks

showed their estimate of the Turkish soldier was justified.

The 53rd Division with the Imperial Camel Corps on its right moved to Towal Abu Jerwal on November
1 to protect the flank guard of the XXth Corps during the pending attack on the Kauwukah system. The

infantry had some fighting on that day, but it was mild compared with the strenuous days before them.

The 10th Division attacked Irgeig railway station north-west of Beersheba and secured it, and waited

there with the 74th Division on its right while the Welsh Division went forward to fight for Khuweilfeh

on November 3. The Welshmen could not obtain the whole of the position on that day, and it was not

until the 6th that it became theirs. Khuweilfeh is about ten miles due east of Sheria, the same distance

north of Beersheba, and some five miles west of the Hebron road. It is in the hill country, difficult to

approach, with nothing in the nature of a road or track leading to it, and there was no element in the

position to suggest the prospect of an easy capture. When General Mott advanced to these forbidding

heights the strength of the enemy in these parts was not realised. Prisoners taken during the day proved

that there were portions of three or four Turkish divisions in the neighbourhood, and the strong efforts

made to prevent the Welsh troops gaining the position and the furious attempts to drive them out of it

suggested that most of the Turkish reserves had been brought over to their left flank to guard against a

wide movement intended to envelop it. It afterwards turned out that von Kressenstein believed General

Allenby intended to march on Jerusalem up the Hebron road, and he threw over to his left all his reserves

to stop us. That was a supreme mistake, for when we had broken through at Hareira and Sheria the two

wings of his Army were never in contact, and their only means of communication was by aeroplane.

The magnificent fight the 53rd Division put up at Khuweilfeh against vastly superior forces and in the
face of heavy casualties played a very important part in the overwhelming defeat of the Turks. For four

days and nights the Welsh Division fought without respite and with the knowledge that they could not be

substantially reinforced, since the plan for the attack on Hareira and Sheria entailed the employment of

all the available infantry of XXth Corps. Attack after attack was launched against them with extreme

violence and great gallantry, their positions were raked by gunfire, whilst water and supplies were not

 

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