Classic History Books


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

was ready to be put into execution. No weak points in the defences could be discovered, and just as it
seemed possible that a daylight attack would be held up, a thick mist rolled up the valley and settled

down over Enab. The 2/3rd Gurkhas seized a welcomed opportunity, and as the light was failing the

shrill, sharp notes of these gallant hillmen and the deep-throated roar of the 1/5th Somersets told that a

weighty bayonet charge had got home, and that the keys of the enemy position had been won. The men

of the bold 75th went beyond Enab in the dark, and also out along the old Roman road towards Biddu to

deny the Turks a point from which they could see the road as it fell away from the Enab ridge towards

the wadi Ikbala. That night many men sought the doubtful shelter of olive groves, and built stone sangars

to break the force of a biting wind. A few, as many as could be accommodated, were welcomed by the

monks in a monastery in a fold in the hills, whilst some rested and were thankful in a crypt beneath the

monks' church, the oldest part of the building, believed to be the work of sixth-century masons. The

monks had a tale of woe to tell. They had been proud to have as their guest the Latin Patriarch in

Jerusalem, who was a French protege, and this high ecclesiastic remained at the monastery till November

17, when Turkish gendarmerie carried him away. The Spanish Consul in Jerusalem lodged a vigorous

protest, and, so the monks were told, he was supported by the German Commandant. But to no purpose,

for when General Allenby entered Jerusalem he learned that the Latin Patriarch had been removed to

Damascus. For quite a long time the monks did many kindly things for our troops. They gave up the

greater part of the monastery and church for use as a hospital, and many a sick man was brought back to

health by rest within those ancient walls. Some, alas, there were whose wounds were mortal, and a

number lie in the monks' secluded garden. They have set up wooden crosses over them, and we may be

certain that in that quiet sequestered spot their remains will rest in peace and will have the protection of

the monks as surely as it has been given to the grave of the Roman centurion which faces those of our

brave boys who fell on the same soil fighting the same good fight.

While the 75th Division were making their magnificent effort at Enab the Lowlanders had breasted other
and equally difficult hills to the north. General Hill had posted a strong force at Beit Likia, and then

moved south-east along the route prepared by Cestius Gallus nearly 1900 years ago to the height of Beit

Anan, and thence east again to Beit Dukku. On the 21st the road and ground near it were in exceedingly

bad condition, and the difficulty of moving anything on wheels along it could hardly have been greater.

Already the 52nd Division had realised it was hopeless to get all their divisional artillery into action, and

only three sections of artillery were brought up, the horses of the guns sent back to Ramleh being used to

double the teams in the three advanced sections. It was heavy work, too, for infantry who not only had to

carry the weight of mud-caked boots, but were handicapped by continual slipping upon the rocky ground.

The 75th advancing along the road from Enab to Kustul got an idea of the Turkish lack of attention to the

highway, the main road being deep in mud and full of dangerous ruts. They won Kustul about midday,

and officers who climbed to the top got their first glimpse of the outskirts of Jerusalem from the ruined

walls of a Roman castle that gives its name to the little village perched on the height. They did not,

however, see much beyond the Syrian colony behind the main Turkish defences, and the first view of

Jerusalem by the troops of the British Army was obtained by General Maclean's brigade when they

advanced from Biddu to Nebi Samwil, that crowning height on which many centuries before Richard the

Lion Heart buried his face in his casque and exclaimed: 'Lord God, I pray that I may never see Thy Holy

City, if so be that I may not rescue it from the hands of Thine enemies.'

What a fight it was for Nebi Samwil! The Turk had made it his advanced work for his main line running
from El Jib through Bir Nabala, Beit Iksa to Lifta, as strong a chain of entrenched mountains as any

commander could desire. General Maclean's brigade advanced from Biddu along the side of a ridge and

 

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