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

more often interfered with by lack of water than by difficulty in defeating the enemy.

The scarcity of water was a sore trouble. There was an occasional pool here and there, but generally the
only water procurable was in deep wells giving a poor yield. The cavalry will not forget that long trek.

No brigade could march straight ahead. Those operating in the foothills on our right had to fight all the

way, and they were often called upon to resist counter-attacks by strong rearguards issuing from the hills

to threaten the flank and so delay the advance in order to permit the Turks to carry off some of their

material. It was necessary almost every day to withdraw certain formations from the front and send them

back a considerable distance to water, replacing them by other troops coming from a well centre. In this

way brigades were not infrequently attached to divisions other than their own, and the administrative

services were heavily handicapped. Several times whole brigades were without water for forty-eight

hours, and though supplies reached them on all but one or two occasions they were often late, and an

exceedingly severe strain was put on the transport. During that diagonal march across the Maritime Plain

I heard infantry officers remark that the Australians always seemed to have their supplies up with them. I

do not think the supplies were always there, but they generally were not far behind, and if resource and

energy could work miracles the Australian supply officers deserve the credit for them. The divisional

trains worked hard in those strenuous days, and the 'Q' staff of the Desert Mounted Corps had many a

sleepless night devising plans to get that last ounce out of their transport men and to get that little extra

amount of supplies to the front which meant the difference between want and a sufficiency for man and

horse.

On the 7th November the 60th Division after its spirited attack on Tel el Sheria crossed the wadi and
advanced north about two miles, fighting obstinate rearguards all the way. The 1st Australian Light

Horse took 300 prisoners and a considerable quantity of ammunition and stores at Ameidat, and with the

remainder of the Anzac Division reached Tel Abu Dilakh by the evening, and the Australian Mounted

Division filled the gap between the Anzacs and the Londoners, but having been unable to water could not

advance further. The 8th November was a busy and brilliantly successful day. The Corps' effort was to

make a wide sweeping movement in order first to obtain the valuable and urgently required water at

Nejile, and then to push across the hills and rolling downs to the country behind Gaza to harass the

enemy retreating from that town. The Turks had a big rearguard south-west of Nejile and made a strong

effort to delay the capture of that place, the importance of which to us they realised to the full, and they

were prepared to sacrifice the whole of the rearguard if they could hold us off the water for another

twenty-four hours. The pressure of the Anzac Division and the 7th Mounted Brigade assisting it was too

much for the enemy, who though holding on to the hills very stoutly till the last moment had to give way

and leave the water in our undisputed possession. The Sherwood Rangers and South Notts Hussars were

vigorously counter-attacked at Mudweiweh, but they severely handled the enemy, who retired a much

weakened body.

By the evening the Anzacs held the country from Nejile to the north bank of the wadi Jemmameh, having
captured 300 prisoners and two guns. The Australian Mounted Division made an excellent advance

round the north side of Huj, which had been the Turkish VIIIth Army Headquarters, and the 4th

Australian Light Horse Brigade was in touch with the corps cavalry of XXIst Corps at Beit Hanun, while

the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade had taken prisoners and two of the troublesome Austrian 5.9

howitzers.

It was the work of the 60th Division in the centre, however, which was the outstanding feature of the day,
though the Londoners readily admitted that without the glorious charge of the Worcester and

 

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