Classic History Books

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

and when one says that at this time they were fighting with courage and magnificent determination one is
not only paying a just tribute to the enemy but doing justice to the gallantry and skill of the troops who

defeated him. The Scots can claim a large share of the success of the next two days, but British yeomanry

took a great part in it, and their charge at Mughar, and perhaps their charge at Abu Shushe as well, will

find a place in military text-books, for it has confounded those critics who declared that the development

of the machine gun in modern warfare has brought the uses of cavalry down to very narrow limits.

The 156th Brigade was directed to take Burkah on the 12th so as to give the infantry liberty of
manoeuvre on the following day. Burkah was a nasty place to tackle. The enemy had two lines of

beautifully sited trenches prepared before he fell back from Gaza. The Scots had to attack up a slope to

the first line, and having taken this to pass down another slope for 1000 yards before reaching the glacis

in front of the second line. The Scottish Rifles assaulted this position by day without much artillery

support, but they took it in magnificent style. It looked as if the Turks had accepted the verdict, but at

night they returned to a brown hill on the right and drove the 4th Royal Scots from it. This battalion came

back soon afterwards and retook the hill with the assistance of some Gurkhas of General Colston's 233rd

Infantry Brigade, and the Turk retired to another spot, hoping that his luck would change. While this

fighting was going on about Burkah the 155th Brigade went ahead up a road which the cavalry said was

strongly held. They got eight miles north of Esdud, and were in advance of the cavalry, intending to try

to secure the two heights and villages of Katrah and Mughar on the following day. Katrah was a village

on a long mound south of Mughar, native mud huts constituting its southern part, whilst separated from it

on the northern side by some gardens was a pretty little Jewish settlement whose red-tiled houses and

orderly well-cared-for orchards spoke of the industry of these settlers in Zion. All over the hill right up to

the houses the cactus flourished, and the hedges were a replica of the terrible obstacles at Gaza. From

Katrah the ground sloped down to the flat on all four sides, so that the village seemed to stand on an

island in the plain. A mile due west of it was Beshshit, while one mile to the north across more than one

wadi stood El Mughar at the southern end of an irregular line of hills which separated Yebnah and Akir,

which will be more readily recognised, the former as the Jamnia of the Jews and the latter as Ekron, one

of the famous Philistine cities. While the 75th Division was forcing back the line

Turmus-Kustineh-Yasur and Mesmiyeh athwart the road to Junction Station the 155th Brigade attacked

Katrah. The whole of the artillery of two divisions opened a bombardment of the line at eight o'clock, but

the Turks showed more willingness to concede ground on the east than at Katrah, where the machine-gun

fire was exceptionally heavy. General Pollak M'Call decided to assault the village with the bulk of his

brigade, and seizing a rifle and bayonet from a wounded man, led the charge himself, took the village,

and gradually cleared the enemy out of the cactus-enclosed gardens. The enemy losses at Katrah were

very heavy. In crossing a rectangular field many Turks were caught in a cross fire from our machine

guns, and over 400 dead were counted in this one field.



In front of the mud huts of Mughar, so closely packed together on the southern slope of the hill that the
dwellings at the bottom seemed to keep the upper houses from falling into the plain, there was a long

oval garden with a clump of cypresses in the centre, the whole surrounded by cactus hedges of great age

and strength. In the cypresses was a nest of machine guns whose crews had a perfect view of an advance

from Katrah. The infantry had to advance over flat open ground to the edge of the garden. The Turkish

machine-gunners and riflemen in the garden and village were supported by artillery firing from behind

the ridge at the back of the village, and although the brigade made repeated efforts to get on, its advance

was held up in the early afternoon, and it seemed impossible to take the place by infantry from the south


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