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

Warwickshire Yeomanry in the afternoon they would not have been in the neighbourhood of Huj when
darkness fell. The 60th were in the centre, sandwiched between the Anzacs and Australian Mounted

Division, and their allotted task was to clear the country between Sheria and Huj, a distance of ten miles.

The country was a series of billowy downs with valleys seldom more than 1000 yards wide, and every

yard of the way was opposed by infantry and artillery. Considering the opposition the progress was good.

The Londoners drove in the Turks' strong flank three times, first from the hill of Zuheilika, then from the

cultivated area behind it, and thirdly from the wadi-torn district of Muntaret el Baghl, from which the

infantry proceeded to the high ground to the north. It was then between two and three o'clock in the

afternoon, and maps showed that between the Division and Huj there was nearly four miles of most

difficult country, a mass of wadi beds and hills giving an enterprising enemy the best possible means for

holding up an advance. General Shea went ahead in a light armoured car to reconnoitre, and saw a strong

body of Turks with guns marching across his front. It was impossible for his infantry to catch them and,

seeing ten troops of Warwick and Worcester Yeomanry on his right about a mile away, he went over to

them and ordered Lieut.-Colonel H. Cheape to charge the enemy. It was a case for instant action. The

enemy were a mile and a half from our cavalry. The gunners had come into action and were shelling the

London Territorials, but they soon had to switch off and fire at a more terrifying target. Led by their

gallant Colonel, a Master of Foxhounds who was afterwards drowned in the Mediterranean, the yeomen

swept over a ridge in successive lines and raced down the northern slope on to the flat, at first making

direct for the guns, then swerving to the left under the direction of Colonel Cheape, whose eye for

country led him to take advantage of a mound on the opposite side of the valley. Over this rise the

Midland yeomen spurred their chargers and, giving full-throated cheers, dashed through the Turks' left

flank guard and went straight for the guns. Their ranks were somewhat thinned, for they had been

exposed to a heavy machine-gun fire as well as to the fire of eight field guns and three 5.9 howitzers

worked at the highest pressure. The gunners were nearly all Germans and Austrians and they fought well.

They splashed the valley with shrapnel, and during the few moments' lull when the yeomanry were lost

to view behind the mound they set their shell fuses at zero to make them burst at the mouth of the guns

and act as case shot. They tore some gaps in the yeomen's ranks, but nothing could stop that charge. The

Midlanders rode straight at the guns and sabred every artilleryman at his piece. The Londoners say they

heard all the guns stop dead at the same moment and they knew they had been silenced in true Balaclava

style. Having wiped out the batteries the yeomen again answered the call of their leader and swept up a

ridge to deal effectively with three machine guns, and having used the white arm against their crews the

guns were turned on to the retreating Turks and decimated their ranks. This charge was witnessed by

General Shea, and I know it is his opinion that it was executed with the greatest gallantry and elan, and

was worthy of the best traditions of British cavalry. The yeomanry lost about twenty-five per cent. of

their number in casualties, but their action was worth the price, for they completely broke up the enemy

resistance and enabled the London Division to push straight through to Huj. The Warwick and Worcester

Yeomanry received the personal congratulations of the Commander-in-Chief, and General Shea was also

thanked by General Allenby.

During this day General Shea accomplished what probably no other Divisional Commander did in this
war. When out scouting in a light armoured car he was within 500 yards of a big ammunition dump

which was blown up. He saw the three men who had destroyed it running away, and he chased them into

a wadi and machine-gunned them. They held up their hands and were astonished to find they had

surrendered to a General. These men were captured in the nick of time. But for the appearance of General

Shea they would have destroyed another dump, which we captured intact.

 

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