Classic History Books


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

saw natives moving towards their village at a rate somewhat in excess of their customary shuffling gait
you were almost led to think that their superstitious fears were driving them home before sundown lest

darkness should raise the ghosts of the Turkish dead. A few of the Jewish settlers, whose industry has

improved the landscape, were leaving the fields and orchards they tended so well, though there was still

more than an hour of daylight and their tasks were not yet done. They were weatherwise. They could

have been deaf to the rumblings in the south and still have noticed the coming of the storm. I was some

forty miles from the spot at which my despatch could be censored and passed over land wire and cable to

London, when a vivid lightning flash warned me that the elements were in forbidding mood and that I

had misread the obvious signal of the natives' homeward movement.

The map showed a path from Akir through Mansura towards Junction Station, from which the so-called
Turkish road ran south. In the gathering gloom my driver picked up wheel tracks through an olive

orchard and, crossing a nullah, found the marks of a Ford car's wheels on the other side. The rain fell

heavily and soon obliterated all signs of a car's progress, and with darkness coming on there was a

prospect of a shivering night with a wet skin in the open. An Australian doctor going up to his regiment

at grips with the Turk told me that he had no doubt we were on the right road, for he had been given a

line through Mansura, which must be the farmhouse ahead of us. These Australians have a keen nose for

country and you have a sense of security in following them. The doctor's horse was slipping in the mud,

but my car made even worse going. It skidded to right and left, and only by the skill and coolness of my

driver was I saved a ducking in a narrow wadi now full of storm water. After much low-gear work we

pulled up a slight rise and saw ahead of us one or two little fires. Under the lee of a dilapidated wall some

Scottish infantry were brewing tea and making the most of a slight shelter. It was Mansura, and if we

bore to the right and kept the track beaten down by lorries across a field we might, by the favour of

fortune, reach Junction Station during the night. The Scots had arranged a bivouac in that field before it

became sodden. They knew how bad it had got, and a native instinct to be hospitable prompted an

invitation to share the fire for the night. However, London was waiting for news and I decided to press

on. The road could not be worse than the sea of mud in which I was floundering, and it might be better.

We turned right-handed and after a struggle came up against three lorry drivers hopelessly marooned.

They had turned in. Up a greasy bank we came to a stop and slid back. We tried again and failed. I

relieved the car of my weight and made an effort to push it from behind, but my feet held fast in the mud

and the car cannoned into me when it skidded downhill. 'Better give it up till the morning,' said an M.T.

driver whose sleep was disturbed by the running of our engine. 'Can't? Who've you got there? Eh? Oh,

very well. Here, Jim, give them a hand or we'll have no sleep to-night' - or words to that effect. Three of

the lorry men and the engine got us on the move, and before they took mud back with them to the dry

interiors of the lorries they hoped, they said, that we would reach G.H.Q., but declared that it was

hopeless to try.

Before getting much farther a light, waved ahead of us, told of some one held up. I walked on and found
General Butler, the chief of the Army Veterinary Service with the Force, unable to move an inch. The

efforts of two drivers failed to locate the trouble, and everything removable was taken off the General's

car and put into ours, and with the heavier load we started off again for Junction Station. This was not

difficult to pick up, for there were many flares burning to enable working parties to repair engines,

rolling stock, and permanent way. We got on to the road ultimately, carrying more mud on our feet than I

imagined human legs could lift. Leaving a driver and all spare gear at the station, we thrashed our way

along a road metalled with a soft, friable limestone which had been cut into by the iron-shod wheels of

German lorries until the ruts were fully a foot deep, and the soft earth foundation was oozing through to

 

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