Classic History Books


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

The natives marvelled at the change. In place of insecurity, extortion, bribery and corruption, levies on
labour and property and all the evils of Turkish government, General Allenby gave the country behind

the front line peace, justice, fair treatment of every race and creed, and a firm and equitable

administration of the law. Every man's house became his castle. Taxes were readily paid, the tax

gatherers were honest servants, and, none of the revenue going to keep fat pashas in luxury in

Constantinople, there came a prospect of expenditure and revenue balancing after much money had been

usefully spent on local government. Until the signing of peace international law provided that Turkish

laws should apply. These, properly administered, as they never were by the Turks, gave a basis of good

government, and, with the old abuses connected with the collection of revenue removed, and certain

increased taxation and customs dues imposed by the Turks during the war discontinued, the people

resumed the arts of peace and enjoyed a degree of prosperity none of them had ever anticipated. What the

future government of Palestine may be is uncertain at the time of writing. There is talk of international

control - we seem ever ready to lose at the conference table what a valiant sword has gained for us - but

the careful and perfectly correct administration of General Allenby will save us from the criticism of

many jealous foreigners. Certainly it will bear examination by any impartial investigator, but the best of

all tributes that could be paid to it is that it satisfied religious communities which did not live in perfect

harmony with one another and the inhabitants of a country which shelters the people of many different

races.

The Yilderim undertaking, as the Bagdad scheme was described, did not meet with the full acceptance of
the Turks. The 'mighty Jemal', as the Germans sneeringly called the Commander of the Syrian Army,

opposed it as weakening his prospects, and even Enver, the ambitious creature and tool of Germany,

postponed his approval. It would seem the taking over of the command of the Egyptian Expeditionary

Force by General Allenby set the Turks thinking, and made the German Military Mission in

Constantinople reconsider their plans, not with a view to a complete abandonment of the proposal to

advance on Bagdad, as would have been wise, but in order to see how few of the Yilderim troops they

could allot to Jemal's army to make safe the Sinai front. There was an all-important meeting of Turkish

Generals in the latter half of August, and Jemal stood to his guns. Von Falkenhayn could not get him to

abate one item of his demands, and there can be no doubt that Falkenhayn, obsessed though he was with

the importance of getting Bagdad, could see that Jemal was right. He admitted that the Yilderim

operation was only practicable if it had freedom for retirement through the removal of the danger on the

Palestine front. With that end in view he advocated that the British should be attacked, and suggested that

two divisions and the 'Asia Corps' should be sent from Aleppo to move round our right. Jemal was in

favour of defensive action; Enver procrastinated and proposed sending one division to strengthen the

IVth Army on the Gaza front and to proceed with the Bagdad preparations. The wait-and-see policy

prevailed, but long before we exerted our full strength Bagdad was out of the danger zone. General

Allenby's force was so disposed that any suggestion of the Yilderim operation being put into execution

was ruled out of consideration.

Several documents captured at Yilderim headquarters at Nazareth in September 1918, when General
Allenby made his big drive through Syria, show very clearly how our Palestine operations changed the

whole of the German plans, and reading between the lines one can realise how the impatience of the

Germans was increasing Turkish stubbornness and creating friction and ill-feeling. The German military

character brooks no opposition; the Turks like to postpone till to-morrow what should be done to-day.

The latter were cocksure after their two successes at Gaza they could hold us up; the Germans believed

that with an offensive against us they would hold us in check till the wet season arrived.[1]

 

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