Classic History Books


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

to the right of the Bucks, and the latter then charged the hill a little south of the village and captured it. It
was a fine effort. The sides of the hill were steep with shelves of rock, and the crest was a mass of stones

and boulders, while from some caves, one or two of them quite big places, the Turks had machine guns

in action. When the Bucks were charging there was a good deal of machine-gun fire from the right, but

the Dorsets dealt with this very speedily, assisted by the Berks battery which had also moved forward to

a near position from which they could command the ridge in flank. A hostile counter-attack developed

against the Dorsets, but this was crushed by the Berks battery and some of the 52nd Division's guns. Two

squadrons of the Berks Yeomanry in the meantime had charged on the left of the Bucks and secured the

hill immediately to the south-east of Abu Shushe village, and at nine o'clock the whole of this strong

position was in our hands, the brigade having sustained the extremely slight casualties of three officers

and thirty-four other ranks killed and wounded. So small a cost of life was a wonderful tribute to good

and dashing leading, and furnished another example of cavalry's power when moving rapidly in extended

formation. To the infinite regret of the brigade, indeed of the whole of General Allenby's Army, one of

the officers killed that day was the Hon. Neil Primrose, an intrepid leader who, leaving the comfort and

safety of a Ministerial appointment, answered the call of duty to be with his squadron of the Bucks

Hussars. He was a fine soldier and a favourite among his men, and he died as a good cavalryman would

wish, shot through the head when leading his squadron in a glorious charge. His body rests in the garden

of the French convent at Ramleh not far from the spot where humbler soldiers take their long repose, and

these graves within visual range of the tomb of St. George, our patron saint, will stand as memorials of

those Britons who forsook ease to obey the stern call of duty to their race and country.

The overwhelming nature of this victory is illustrated by a comparison of the losses on the two sides.
Whereas ours were 37 all told, we counted between 400 and 500 dead Turks on the field, and the enemy

left with us 360 prisoners and some material. The extraordinary disparity between the losses can only be

accounted for first by the care taken to lead the cavalry along every depression in the ground, and

secondly by rapidity of movement. The cavalry were confronted by considerable shell fire, and the

volume of machine-gun fire was heavy, though it was kept down a good deal by the covering fire of the

17th Machine Gun Squadron.

I have referred to the importance of Jezar as dominating the approaches to Latron on the north-east and
Ramleh on the north-west. Jezar, as we call it on our maps, has been a stronghold since men of all races

and creeds, coloured and white, Pagan, Mahomedan, Jew, and Christian, fought in Palestine. It is a spot

which many a great leader of legions has coveted, and to its military history our home county yeomen

have added another brilliant page. Let me quote the description of Jezar from George Adam Smith's

Historical Geography of the Holy Land
, a book of fascinating interest to all students of the Sacred
History which many of the soldiers in General Allenby's Army read with great profit to themselves:

'One point in the Northern Shephelah round which these tides of war have swept deserves special notice -
Gezer, or Gazar. It is one of the few remarkable bastions which the Shephelah flings out to the west - on

a ridge running towards Ramleh, the most prominent object in view of the traveller from Jaffa towards

Jerusalem. It is high and isolated, but fertile and well watered - a very strong post and striking landmark.

Its name occurs in the Egyptian correspondence of the fourteenth century, where it is described as being

taken from the Egyptian vassals by the tribes whose invasion so agitates that correspondence. A city of

the Canaanites, under a king of its own - Horam - Gezer is not given as one of Joshua's conquests, though

the king is; but the Israelites drave not out the Canaanites who dwelt at Gezer, and in the hands of these it

remained till its conquest by Egypt when Pharaoh gave it, with his daughter, to Solomon and Solomon

rebuilt it. Judas Maccabeus was strategist enough to gird himself early to the capture of Gezer, and

 

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