Classic History Books


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

slightly advanced its line. On the night of December 5 the 231st Brigade relieved the 60th Division in the
Beit Izza and Nebi Samwil positions, and on December 6 the line held by the 74th was extended to a

point about a mile and a half north of Kulonieh. The 53rd Division had passed through Hebron, and its

advance was timed to reach the Bethlehem-Beit Jala district on December 7. The information gained by

the XXth Corps led the staff to estimate the strength of the enemy opposite them to be 13,300 rifles and

2700 sabres, disposed as follows: east of Jerusalem the 7th cavalry regiment, 500 sabres; the 27th

Division covering Jerusalem and extending to the Junction Station-Jerusalem railway at Bitter Station,

1200 rifles; thence to the Latron-Jerusalem road with strong points at Ain Karim and Deir Yesin, the

53rd Turkish Division, 2000 rifles; from the road to Nebi Samwil (Beit Iksa being very strongly held) the

26th Turkish Division, 1800 rifles; Nebi Samwil to Beit ur el Foka, 19th Turkish Division with the 2/61st

regiment and the 158th regiment attached, 4000 rifles; Beit ur el Foka to about Suffa, the 24th Division,

1600 rifles; thence to the extreme left of the XXth Corps the 3rd Cavalry Division, 1500 sabres. The 54th

Turkish Division was in reserve at Bireh with 2700 rifles. The enemy held a line covering Bethlehem

across the Hebron road to Balua, then to the hill Kibryan south-west of Beit Jala, whence the line

proceeded due north to Ain Karim and Deir Yesin, both of which were strongly entrenched, on to the hill

overlooking the Jerusalem road above Lifta. From this point the line crossed the road to the high ground

west of Beit Iksa - entrenchments were cut deep into the face of this hill to cover the road from Kulonieh

- thence northward again to the east of Nebi Samwil, west of El Jib, Dreihemeh (one mile north-east of

Beit Dukku) to Foka, Kh. Aberjan, and beyond Suffa.

During the attack the Australian Mounted Division was to protect the left flank of the 10th Division,
which with one brigade of the 74th Division was to hold the whole of the line in the hills from Tahta

through Foka, Dukku, Beit Izza to Nebi Samwil, leaving the attack to be conducted by two brigade

groups of the 74th Division, the whole of the 60th Division, and two brigade groups of the 53rd Division,

with the 10th regiment of Australian Light Horse watching the right flank of the 60th Division until the

left of the 53rd could join up with it. One brigade of the 53rd Division was to advance from the

Bethlehem-Beit Jala area with its left on the line drawn from Sherafat through Malhah to protect the 60th

Division's flank, the other brigade marching direct on Jerusalem, and to move by roads south of the town

to a position covering Jerusalem from the east and north-east, but - and these were instructions specially

impressed on this brigade - 'the City of Jerusalem will not be entered, and all movements by troops and

vehicles will be restricted to roads passing outside the City.' The objective of the 60th and 74th Divisions

was a general line from Ras et Tawil, a hill east of the Nablus road about four miles north of Jerusalem,

to Nebi Samwil, one brigade of the 74th Division holding Nebi Samwil and Beit Izza defences and to

form the pivot of the attack. The dividing line between the 60th and 74th Divisions was the

Enab-Jerusalem road as far as Lifta and from that place to the wadi Beit Hannina. The form of the attack

was uncertain until it was known how the enemy would meet the advance of the 53rd Division, which, on

the 3rd December, was in a position north of Hebron within two ten-mile marches of the point at which it

would co-operate on the right of the 60th. If the enemy increased his strength south of Jerusalem to

oppose the advance of the 53rd Division, General Chetwode proposed that the 60th and 74th Divisions

should force straight through to the Jerusalem-Nablus road, the 60th throwing out a flank to the

south-east, so as to cut off the Turks opposing the 53rd from either the Nablus or the Jericho road. It was

not considered probable that the enemy would risk the capture of a large body of troops south of

Jerusalem. On the other hand, should the Turks withdraw from in front of the Welsh Division, the

alternative plan provided that the latter attack should take the form of making a direct advance on

Jerusalem and a wheel by the 60th and 74th Divisions, pivoting on the Beit Izza and Nebi Sainwil

defences, so as to drive the enemy northwards. The operations were to be divided into four phases. The

 

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