Classic History Books


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

first phase fell to the 60th and 74th Divisions, and consisted in the capture of the whole of the
south-western and western defences of Jerusalem.

These ran from a point near the railway south-west of Malhah round to the west of Ain Karim, then on to
the hill of Khurbet Subr, down a cleft in the hills and up on to the high Deir Yesin ridge, thence round the

top of two other hills dominating the old and new roads to Jerusalem from Jaffa as they pass by the

village of Kulonieh. North of the new road the enemy's line ran round the southern face of a bold hill

overlooking the village of Beit Iksa and along the tortuous course of the wadi El Abbeideh. In the second

phase the 60th Division was to move over the Jaffa-Jerusalem road with its right almost up to the

scattered houses on the north-western fringe of Jerusalem's suburbs, and its left was to pass the village of

Lifta on the slope of the hill rising from the wadi Beit Hannina. The objective of the 60th Division in the

third phase was the capture of a line of a track leaving the Jerusalem-Nablus road well forward of the

northern suburb and running down to the wadi Hannina, the 74th Division advancing down the spur

running south-east from Nebi Samwil to a point about 1000 yards south-west of Beit Hannina, the latter a

prominent height with a slope amply clothed with olive trees. The fourth phase was an advance astride

the road to Ras et Tawil. As will be seen hereafter all these objectives were not obtained, but the first,

and chief of them, was, and the inevitable followed - Jerusalem became ours.

Let us now picture some of the country the troops had to cross and the defences they had to capture
before the Turks could be forced out of Jerusalem. We will first look at it from Enab, the ancient

Kir-jath-jearim, which the Somersets, Wilts, and Gurkhas had taken at the point of the bayonet. From the

top of Enab the Jaffa-Jerusalem road winds down a deep valley, plentifully planted with olive and fig

trees and watered by the wadi Ikbala. A splendid supply of water had been developed by Royal

Engineers near the ruins of a Crusader fortress which, if native tradition may be relied on, housed

Richard of the Lion Heart. From the wadi rises a hill on which is Kustul, a village covering the site of an

old Roman castle from which, doubtless, its name is derived. Kustul stands out the next boldest feature to

Nebi Samwil, and from it, when the atmosphere is clear, the red-tiled roofs of houses in the suburbs of

Jerusalem are plainly visible. A dozen villages clinging like limpets to steep hillsides are before you, and

away on your right front the tall spires of Christian churches at Ain Karim tell you you are approaching

the Holy Sites. Looking east the road falls, with many short zigzags in its length, to Kulonieh, crosses the

wadi Surar by a substantial bridge (which the Turks blew up), and then creeps up the hills in heavy

gradients till it is lost to view about Lifta. The wadi Surar winds round the foot of the hill which Kustul

crowns, and on the other side of the watercourse there rises the series of hills on which the Turks

intended to hold our hands off Jerusalem. The descent from Kustul is very rapid and the rise on the other

side is almost as precipitous. On both sides of the wadi olive trees are thickly planted, and on the terraced

slopes vines yield a plentiful harvest. Big spurs run down to the wadi, the sides are rough even in dry

weather, but when the winter rains are falling it is difficult to keep a foothold. South-west of Kustul is

Soba, a village on another high hill, and below it and west of Ain Karim, on lower ground, is Setaf, both

having orchards and vineyards in which the inhabitants practise the arts of husbandry by the same

methods as their remote forefathers. An aerial reconnaissance nearly a year before we took Jerusalem

showed the Turks busily making trenches on the hills east of the wadi Surar. An inspection of the

defences proved the work to have been long and arduous, though like many things the Turk began he did

not finish them. What he did do was done elaborately. He employed masons to chisel the stone used for

revetting, and in places the stones fit well and truly one upon the other, while an enormous amount of

rock must have been blasted to excavate the trenches. The system adopted was to have three fire trenches

near the top of the hills, one above the other, so that were the first two lines taken the third would still

 

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