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

unsuccessful. At dusk the attack on Tahta, which had been under shell-fire all day, was beaten off and the
enemy was compelled to withdraw one mile. Suffa was still his, but his advanced troops on the cairn

south of that place had suffered heavily during the day at the hands of the 7th Mounted Brigade, who

several times drove them off. Some howitzers of the 52nd Division were hauled over the hills in the

afternoon and shelled the cairn so heavily that the post sought shelter in Suffa. To the south-east of the

line of attack the Turks were doing their utmost to secure Foka. They came again and again, and their

attacks were always met and broken with the bayonet by yeomen who were becoming fatigued by

continuous fighting, and advancing and retiring in this terrible country. They could have held the place

that night, but there was no possibility of sending them reinforcements, and as the enemy had been seen

working round to the south of the village with machine guns it might have been impossible to get them

out in the morning. General Barrow accordingly withdrew the Foka garrison to a new position on a

wooded ridge half-way between that place and Tahta, and the enemy made no attempt to get beyond

Foka. Late at night he got so close to Tahta from the north that he threw bombs at our sangars, but he was

driven off.

During the evening the Yeomanry Mounted Division received welcome reinforcements. The 4th
Australian Light Horse Brigade were placed in support of the 6th Mounted Brigade and a battalion of the

156th Infantry Brigade assisted the 7th Mounted Brigade.

On the 29th the Turks made their biggest effort to break through the important line we held, and all day
they persisted with the greatest determination in an attack on our left. At midnight they had again

occupied the cairn south of Suffa, and remained there till 8 A.M., when the 268th Brigade Royal Field

Artillery crowned the hill with a tremendous burst of fire and drove them off. The machine-gunners of

the 7th Mounted Brigade caught the force as it was retiring and inflicted many casualties. The Turks

came back again and again, and the cairn repeatedly changed hands, until at last it was unoccupied by

either side. Towards dusk the Turks' attacks petered out, though the guns and snipers continued busy, and

the Yeomanry Mounted Division was relieved by the 231st Infantry Brigade of the 74th Division and the

157th Infantry Brigade of the 52nd Division, the Australian Mounted Division ultimately taking over the

left of the line which XXth Corps troops occupied.

The Yeomanry Mounted Division had made a grand fight against a vastly superior force of the enemy in
a country absolutely unfavourable to the movement of mounted troops. They never had more than 1200

rifles holding a far-flung barren and bleak line, and the fine qualities of vigorous and swift attack,

unfaltering discipline and heroic stubbornness in defence under all conditions, get their proof in the 499

casualties incurred by the Division in the hill fighting, exclusive of those sustained by the 7th Mounted

Brigade which reinforced them. The Division was made up entirely of first-line yeomanry regiments

whose members had become efficient soldiers in their spare time, when politicians were prattling about

peace and deluding parties into the belief that there was little necessity to prepare for war. Their

patriotism and example gave a tone to the drafts sent out to replace casualties and the wastage of war,

and were a credit to the stock from which they sprang.

While the Yeomanry Mounted Division had been fighting a great battle alongside the infantry of the
XXIst Corps in the hills, the remainder of the troops of the Desert Mounted Corps were employed on the

plain and in the coastal sector, hammering the enemy hard and establishing a line from the mouth of the

river Auja through some rising ground across the plain. They were busily engaged clearing the enemy

out of some of the well-ordered villages east of the sandy belt, several of them German colonies showing

signs of prosperity and more regard for cleanliness and sanitation than other of the small centres of

 

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