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

scheme I cannot offer an opinion, but it is beyond all question that the conduct of operations in Palestine
on a plan at once bold, resolute, and worthy of a high place in military history saved the Empire much

anxiety over our position in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, and probably prevented unrest on the

frontiers of India and in India itself, where mischief makers were actively working in the German cause.

Nor can there be any doubt that the brilliant campaign in Palestine prevented British and French

influence declining among the Mahomedan populations of those countries' respective spheres of control

in Africa. Indeed I regard it as incontrovertible that the Palestine strategy of General Allenby, even apart

from his stupendous rush through Syria in the autumn of the last year of war, did as much to end the war

in 1918 as the great battles on the Western Front, for if there had been failure or check in Palestine some

British and French troops in France might have had to be detached to other fronts, and the Germans'

effort in the Spring might have pushed their line farther towards the Channel and Paris. If Bagdad was

not actually saved in Palestine, an expedition against it was certainly stopped by our Army operating on

the old battlegrounds in Palestine. We lost many lives, and it cost us a vast amount of money, but the

sacrifices of brave men contributed to the saving of the world from German domination; and high as the

British name stood in the East as the upholder of the freedom of peoples, the fame of Britain for justice,

fair dealing, and honesty is wider and more firmly established to-day because the people have seen it

emerge triumphantly from a supreme test.

In the strategy of the world war we made, no doubt, many mistakes, but in Palestine the strategy was of
the best, and in the working out of a far-seeing scheme, victories so influenced events that on this front

began the final phase of the war - once Turkey was beaten, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary submitted and

Germany acknowledged the inevitable. Falkenhayn saw that the Bagdad undertaking was impossible so

long as we were dangerous on the Palestine front, and General Allenby's attack on the Gaza line wiped

the Bagdad enterprise out of the list of German ambitions. The plan of battle on the Gaza-Beersheba line

resembled in miniature the ending of the war. If we take Beersheba for Turkey, Sheria and Hareira for

Bulgaria and Austria, and Gaza for Germany, we get the exact progress of events in the final stage,

except that Bulgaria's submission was an intelligent anticipation of the laying down of their arms by the

Turks. Gaza-Beersheba was a rolling up from our right to left; so was the ending of the Hun alliance.



It was in accordance with the fitness of things that the British Army should fight and conquer on the very
spots consecrated by the memories of the most famous battles of old. From Gaza onwards we made our

progress by the most ancient road on earth, for this way moved commerce between the Euphrates and the

Nile many centuries before the East knew West. We fought on fields which had been the battlegrounds of

Egyptian and Assyrian armies, where Hittites, Ethiopians, Persians, Parthians, and Mongols poured out

their blood in times when kingdoms were strong by the sword alone. The Ptolemies invaded Syria by this

way, and here the Greeks put their colonising hands on the country. Alexander the Great made this his

route to Egypt. Pompey marched over the Maritime Plain and inaugurated that Roman rule which lasted

for centuries; till Islam made its wide irresistible sweep in the seventh century. Then the Crusaders

fought and won and lost, and Napoleon's ambitions in the East were wrecked just beyond the plains.

Up the Maritime Plain we battled at Gaza, every yard of which had been contested by the armies of
mighty kings in the past thirty-five centuries, at Akir, Gezer, Lydda, and around Joppa. All down the

ages armies have moved in victory or flight over this plain, and General Allenby in his advance was but

repeating history. And when the Turks had been driven beyond the Plain of Philistia, and the

Commander-in-Chief had to decide how to take Jerusalem, we saw the British force move along


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