Classic History Books

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

population hereabouts. The village of Sarona, north of Jaffa, an almost exclusively German settlement,
was better arranged than any others, but Wilhelma was a good second.

The most important move was on November 24, when, with a view to making the enemy believe an
attack was intended against his right flank, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade was sent across the

river Auja to seize the villages of Sheikh Muannis near the sea, and Hadrah farther inland, two

companies of infantry holding each of the two crossings. The enemy became alarmed and attacked the

cavalry in force early next morning, 1000 infantry marching on Muannis. The Hadrah force was driven

back across the Auja and the two companies of infantry covering the crossing suffered heavily, having no

support from artillery, which had been sent into bivouac. Some of the men had to swim the river. A

bridge of boats had been built at Jerisheh mill during the night, and by this means men crossed until

Muannis was occupied by the enemy later in the morning. The cavalry crossed the ford at the mouth of

the Auja at the gallop. The 1/4th Essex held on to Hadrah until five out of six officers and about fifty per

cent. of the men became casualties. There was a good deal of minor fighting on this section of the front,

and in a number of patrol encounters the resource of the Australian Light Horse added to their bag of

prisoners and to the Army's store of information. Nothing further of importance occurred in this

neighbourhood until we seized the crossings of the Auja and the high ground north of the river a week

before the end of the year.



The impossibility of getting across the road north of Jerusalem by making a wide sweep over the Judean
hills caused a new plan to be put into execution. This necessitated a direct attack on the well-prepared

system of defences on the hills protecting Jerusalem from the west, but it did not entail any weakening of

General Allenby's determination that there should be no fighting by British troops in and about the

precincts of the Holy City. That resolve was unshaken and unshakable. When a new scheme was

prepared by the XXth Corps, the question was put whether the Turks could be attacked at Lifta, which

was part of their system. Now Lifta is a native village on one of the hill-faces to the west of Jerusalem,

about a mile from the Holy City's walls, and, as it is not even connected by a road with any of the various

colonies forming the suburbs of Jerusalem, could not by any stretch of imagination be described by a

Hun propaganda merchant as part of Jerusalem. I happen to know that on the 26th November the

Commander-in-Chief sent this communication to General Chetwode: 'I place no restriction upon you in

respect of any operation which you may consider necessary against Lifta or the enemy's lines to the south

of it, except that on no account is any risk to be run of bringing the City of Jerusalem or its immediate

environs within the area of operations.' The spirit as well as the letter of that order was carried out, and in

the very full orders and notes on the operations issued before the victorious attack was made, there is the

most elaborate detail regarding the different objectives of divisions and brigades, and scrupulous care

was taken that no advance should be made against any resisting enemy within the boundaries not only of

the Holy City but of the suburbs. We shall see how thoroughly these instructions were followed.

When it became obvious that Jerusalem could not be secured without the adoption of a deliberate method
of attack, there were many matters requiring the anxious consideration of the XXth Corps staff. They

took over from XXIst Corps at a time when the enemy was still very active against the line which they

had gained under very hard conditions. The XXth Corps, beginning with the advantage of positions

which the XXIst Corps had won, had to prepare to meet the enemy with equal gun power and more than

equality in rifle strength. We had the men and the guns in the country, but to get them into the line and to

keep them supplied was a problem of considerable magnitude. Time was an important factor. The rains


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