Classic History Books


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

Simon fortified it to cover the way to the harbour of Joppa and caused John his son, the captain of the
host, to dwell there. It was virtually, therefore, the key of Judea at a time when Judea's foes came down

the coast from the north; and, with Joppa, it formed part of the Syrian demands upon the Jews. But this is

by no means the last of it. M. Clermont Ganneau, who a number of years ago discovered the site, has

lately identified Gezer with the Mont Gisart of the Crusades. Mont Gisart was a castle and feif in the

county of Joppa, with an abbey of St. Katharine of Mont Gisart, "whose prior was one of the five

suffragans of the Bishop of Lydda." It was the scene, on the 24th November 1174, seventeen years

before the Third Crusade, of a victory won by a small army from Jerusalem under the boy-king, the leper

Baldwin IV., against a very much larger army under Saladin himself, and, in 1192, Saladin encamped

upon it during his negotiations for a truce with Richard.

'Shade of King Horam, what hosts of men have fallen round that citadel of yours. On what camps and
columns has it looked down through the centuries, since first you saw the strange Hebrews burst with the

sunrise across the hills, and chase your countrymen down Ajalon - that day when the victors felt the very

sun conspiring with them to achieve the unexampled length of battle. Within sight of every Egyptian and

every Assyrian invasion of the land, Gezer has also seen Alexander pass by, and the legions of Rome in

unusual flight, and the armies of the Cross struggle, waver and give way, and Napoleon come and go. If

all could rise who have fallen around its base - Ethiopians, Hebrews, Assyrians, Arabs, Turcomans,

Greeks, Romans, Celts, Saxons, Mongols - what a rehearsal of the Judgment Day it would be. Few of the

travellers who now rush across the plain realise that the first conspicuous hill they pass in Palestine is

also one of the most thickly haunted - even in that narrow land into which history has so crowded itself.

But upon the ridge of Gezer no sign of all this now remains, except in the Tel Jezer, and in a sweet

hollow to the north, beside a fountain, where lie the scattered Christian stone of Deir Warda, the Convent

of the Rose.

'Up none of the other valleys of the Shephelah has history surged as up and down Ajalon and past Gezer,
for none are so open to the north, nor present so easy a passage to Jerusalem.'

 

CHAPTER XII. LOOKING TOWARDS JERUSALEM

The Anzac Mounted Division had only the 1st Australian Light Horse and the New Zealand Mounted
Rifles Brigade operating with it on the 14th. The Australians, by the evening, were in the thick olive

groves on the south of Ramleh, and on the ridges about Surafend. On their left the Turks were violently

opposing the New Zealanders who were working along the sand-dunes with the port and town of Jaffa as

their ultimate objective. There was one very fierce struggle in the course of the day. A force attacked a

New Zealand regiment in great strength and for the moment secured the advantage, but the regiment got

to grips with the enemy with hand-grenades and bayonets, and so completely repulsed them that they fled

in hopeless disorder leaving many dead and wounded behind them. It was unfortunate that there was no

mobile reserve available for pursuit, as the Turks were in such a plight that a large number would have

been rounded up. General Cox's brigade seized Ramleh on the morning of the 15th, taking ninety

prisoners, and then advanced and captured Ludd, being careful that no harm should come to the building

which holds the grave of St. George. In Ludd 360 prisoners were taken, and the brigade carried out a

good deal of demolition work on the railway running north. The New Zealanders made Jaffa by noon on

the 16th, the Turks evacuating the town during the morning without making any attempt to destroy it,

though there was one gross piece of vandalism in a Christian cemetery where monuments and

tombstones had been thrown down and broken. In the meantime, in order to protect the rear of the

infantry, five battalions of the 52nd Division with three batteries were stationed at Yebnah, Mughar, and

 

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