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

the war marked him as the one officer of high rank suited for the Palestine command, and his proved
capacity as a General both in open and in trench warfare gave the Army that high degree of confidence in

its Commander-in-Chief which it is so necessary that a big fighting force should possess. A tremendously

hard worker himself, General Allenby expected all under him to concentrate the whole of their energies

on their work. He had the faculty for getting the best out of his officers, and on his Staff were some of the

most enthusiastic soldiers in the service. There was no room for an inefficient leader in any branch of the

force, and the knowledge that the Commander-in-Chief valued the lives and the health of his men so

highly that he would not risk a failure, kept all the staffs tuned up to concert pitch. We saw many

changes, and the best men came to the top. His own vigour infected the whole command, and within a

short while of arriving at the front the efficiency of the Army was considerably increased.

The Palestine G.H.Q. was probably nearer the battle front than any G.H.Q. in other theatres of
operations, and when the Army had broken through and chased the enemy beyond the Jaffa-Jerusalem

line, G.H.Q. was opened at Bir Salem, near Ramleh, and for several months was actually within reach of

the long-range guns which the Turks possessed. The rank and file were not slow to appreciate this. They

knew their Commander-in-Chief was on the spot, keeping his eye and hand on everything, organising

with his organisers, planning with his operation staff, familiar with every detail of the complicated

transport system, watching his supply services with the keenness of a quartermaster-general, and taking

that lively interest in the medical branch which betrayed an anxious desire for the welfare and health of

the men. The rank and file knew something more than this. They saw the Commander-in-Chief at the

front every day. General Allenby did not rely solely on reports from his corps. He went to each section of

the line himself, and before practically every major operation he saw the ground and examined the

scheme for attack. There was not a part of the line he did not know, and no one will contradict me when I

say that the military roads in Palestine were known by no one better than the driver of the

Commander-in-Chief's car. A man of few words, General Allenby always said what he meant with

soldierly directness, which made the thanks he gave a rich reward. A good piece of work brought a

written or oral message of thanks, and the men were satisfied they had done well to deserve

congratulations. They were proud to have the confidence of such a Chief and to deserve it, and they in

their turn had such unbounded faith in the military judgment of the General and in the care he took to

prevent unnecessary risk of life, that there was nothing which he sanctioned that they would not attempt.

Such mutual confidence breeds strength, and it was the Commander-in-Chief's example, his tact, energy,

and military genius which made his Army a potent power for Britain and a strong pillar of the Allies'

cause.

Let it not be imagined that General Allenby in his victorious campaign shone only as a great soldier. He
was also a great administrator. In England little was known about this part of the General's work, and

owing to the difficulties of the task and to the consideration which had, and still has, to be shown to the

susceptibilities of a number of friendly nations and peoples, it may be long before the full story of the

administration of the occupied territory in Palestine is unfolded for general appreciation. It is a good

story, worthy of Britain's record as a protector of peoples, and though from the nature of his conquest

over the Turks in the Bible country the name of General Allenby will adorn the pages of history

principally as a victor, it will also stand before the governments of states as setting a model for a wise,

prudent, considerate, even benevolent, administration of occupied enemy territory. In days when Powers

driven mad by military ambition tear up treaties as scraps of paper, General Allenby observed the spirit

as well as the letter of the Hague Convention, and found it possible to apply to occupied territory the

principles of administration as laid down in the Manual of Military Law.

 

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