Classic History Books


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

the surface. It was desperately hard to steer a course on this treacherous highway, and a number of lorries
we passed had gone temporarily out of action in ditches. The Germans with the Turks had blown up most

of the culverts, and the road bridges which had been destroyed had only been lightly repaired with planks

and trestles, no safety rails being in position. To negotiate these dangerous paths in the dark the driver

had to put on all possible speed and make a dash for it, and he usually got to the other side before a skid

became serious. Most of the lorry drivers put out no light because they thought no car would be able to

move on such a night, and we had several narrow escapes of finishing our career on a half-sunken supply

motor vehicle.

Reinforcements for infantry battalions moved up the road as we came down it. They were going to the
front to take the place of casualties, for weather and mud are not considered when bayonets are wanted in

the line. So the stolid British infantryman splashed and slipped his way towards the enemy, and he would

probably have been sleeping that night if there had not been a risk of his drowning in the mud. The

Camel Transport Corps fought the elements with a courage which deserved better luck. The camel

dislikes many things and is afraid of some. But if he is capable of thinking at all he regards mud as his

greatest enemy. He cannot stand up in it, and if he slips he has not an understanding capable of realising

that if all his feet do not go the same way he must spread-eagle and split up. This is what often happens,

but if by good luck a camel should go down sideways he seems quite content to stay there, and he is so

refractory that he prefers to die rather than help himself to his feet again. On this wild night I had a good

opportunity of seeing white officers encourage the Egyptian boys in the Camel Transport Corps. At Julis

the roadway passes through the village. There was an ambulance column in difficulties in the village, and

while some cars were being extricated a camel supply column came up in the opposite direction. The

camels liked neither the headlights nor the running engines, and these had to be made dark and silent

before they would pass. The water was running over the roadway several inches deep, carrying with it a

mass of garbage and filth which only Arab villagers would tolerate. Officers and Gyppies coaxed and

wheedled the stubborn beasts through Julis, but outside the place the animals raised a chorus of protest

and went down. They held me up for an hour or more, and though officers and boys did their utmost to

get them going again it was a fruitless effort, and the poor beasts were off-loaded where they lay. That

night of rain and thunder, wind and cold, was bad alike for man and beast, but beyond a flippant remark

of some soldier doing his best and the curious chant of the Gyppies' chorus you heard nothing. Tommy

could not trust himself to talk about the weather. It was too bad for words, for even the strongest.

It took our car ten hours to run forty miles, and as the last ten miles was over wet sand and on rabbit wire
stretched across the sand where the car could do fifteen miles an hour, we had averaged something under

three miles an hour through the mud. Wet through, cold, with a face rendered painful to the touch by

driven rain, I reached my tent with a feeling of thankfulness for myself and deep sympathy for the tens of

thousands of brave boys enduring intense discomfort and fatigue, coupled with the fear of short rations

for the next day or two. The men in the hills which they were just entering had a worse time than those in

the waterlogged plain, but no storms could damp their enthusiasm. They were beating your enemies and

mine, and they were facing a goal which Britain had never yet won. Jerusalem the Golden was before

them, and the honour and glory of winning it from the Turk was a prize to attain which no sacrifice was

too great. Those who did not say so behaved in a way to show that they felt it. They were very gallant,

perfect knights, these soldiers of the King.

 

CHAPTER XIII. INTO THE JUDEAN HILLS

When the 52nd Division were moving out of Ludd on the 19th November the 75th Division were

 

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