Classic History Books


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

occupations were resumed by the people in the way that was a tradition from their forefathers. Our
victory meant peace and safety, according to the native idea, and an end to extortion, oppression, and

pillage under the name of requisitions. It also meant prosperity. The native likes to drive a bargain. He

will not sell under a fair price, and he asks much more in the hope of showing a buyer who has beaten

him down how cheaply he is getting goods. The Army chiefly sought eggs, which are light to carry and

easy to cook, and give variety to the daily round of bully, biscuit, and jam. The soldier is a generous

fellow, and if a child asked a piastre (2-1/2d.) for an egg he got it. The price soon became four to five for

a shilling in cash, though the Turks wanted five times that number for an equivalent sum in depreciated

paper currency. The law of supply and demand obtained in this old world just as at home, and it became

sufficient for a soldier to ask for an article to show he wanted it and would pay almost anything that was

demanded. It was curious to see how the news spread not merely among traders but also among villagers.

The men who first occupied a place found oranges, vegetables, fresh bread, and eggs cheap. In Ramleh,

for example, a market was opened for our troops immediately they got to the town, and the goods were

sound and sold at fair rates. The next day prices were up, and the standards fixed behind the front soon

ruled at the line itself. There was no real control attempted, and while the extortionate prices charged by

Jews in their excellent agricultural colonies and by the natives made a poor people prosperous, it gave

them an exaggerated idea of the size of the British purse, and they may be disappointed at the limitation

of our spending powers in the future. Also it was hard on the bravest and most chivalrous of fighting

men. But it opened the eyes of the native, whose happiness and contentment were obvious directly we

reached his doors.

Our movements on November 9 were limited by the extent to which General Chauvel was able to use his
cavalry of the Desert Mounted Corps. Water was the sole, but absolute handicap. The Yeomanry

Mounted Division rejoined the Corps on that day and got south of Huj, but could not proceed further

through lack of water and supply difficulties. The Australian Mounted Division also had to halt for water,

and it was left to Anzac Mounted Division, plus the 7th Mounted Brigade, to march eighteen miles

north-westwards to occupy the line Et Tineh-Beit Duras-Jemameh-Esdud (the Ashdod of the Bible). The

52nd Division occupied the area Esdud-Mejdel-Herbieh by the evening of the 10th, and on the way,

Australian cavalry being held up on a ridge north of Beit Duras, the 157th Brigade made another of its

fine bayonet charges at night and captured the ground, enabling the cavalry to get at some precious

water. The brigade made the attack just after completing a fourteen miles' march in heavy going,

achieving the remarkable record of having had three bayonet battles on three nights out of four. On this

occasion the Turks again suffered heavy casualties in men and lost many machine guns. The 75th

Division prolonged the infantry line through Gharbiyeh to Berberah. The 54th Division was in the Gaza

defences with all its transport allotted to the divisions taking part in the forward move, but as the 54th

had five days' rations in dumps close at hand it was able to maintain itself, and the railway was being

pushed on from the wadi Ghuzze with the utmost speed. The iron road in war is an army's jugular vein,

and each mile added to its length was of enormous value during the advance.

General Allenby, looking well ahead and realising the possibilities opened out by his complete success in
every phase of the operations on the Turks' main defensive line, on the 10th November ordered the 52nd

and 75th Divisions to concentrate on their advanced guards so as to support the cavalry on their front and

to prevent the Turk consolidating on the line of the wadi Sukereir. The enemy was developing a more

organised resistance on a crescent-shaped line from Et Tineh through Yasur to Beshshit, and it was

necessary to adopt deliberate methods of attack to move him. The advance on the 11th was the

preliminary to three days of stirring fighting. The Turks put up a very strong defence by their rearguards,

 

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