Classic History Books


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

the ground had prevented from keeping up with him.

Now as to the advance of the 180th Infantry Brigade. Their principal objective was the Deir Yesin
position, the hill next on the northern side of Subr, from which it was separated by a deep though narrow

valley. The trenches cut on both sides of this gorge supported Subr as well as Deir Yesin, and the Subr

defences were also arranged to be helpful to the Deir Yesin garrison by taking attackers in flank. The

180th Brigade's advance was a direct frontal attack on the hill, the jumping-off place being a narrow

width of flat ground thickly planted with olive trees on the banks of the wadi Surar. The 2/19th Londons,

the right battalion of the 180th Brigade, had not got far when it became the target of concentrated

machine-gun fire and was unable to move, with the result that a considerable gap existed between it and

the 179th Brigade. The stoppage was only temporary, for, with the advance of the centre and right, the

19th battalion pushed forward in series of rushes and, with the other battalions, carried the crest of Deir

Yesin at the point of the bayonet, so that the whole system of entrenchments was in their hands by seven

o'clock. The brigade at once set about reorganising for the attack on the second objective, which, as will

be remembered, was a wheel to the left and, passing well on the outside of the western suburbs of

Jerusalem, an advance to the rocky ground to the north-west of the city down to the wadi Beit Hannina.

The commander of the 2/18th Londons in his preparations had pushed out a platoon in advance of his

left, and these men at half-past nine saw 200 of the enemy with pack mules retiring down a wadi

north-east of Kulonieh. The platoon held its fire until the Turks were within close range, and then

engaged them with rifles and machine guns, completely surprising them and taking prisoners the whole

of the survivors, 5 officers and 50 men. The Turks now began to develop a serious opposition to the

180th Brigade from a quarry behind Deir Yesin and from a group of houses forming part of what is

known as the Syrian colony, nearly a mile from the Deir Yesin system. There were some Germans and a

number of machine guns in these houses, and by noon they held up the advance.

The brigade was seriously handicapped by the difficulty in moving guns. The road during the morning
had got into a desperate state. It was next to impossible to haul field guns anywhere off the road, and as

the Turks had paid no attention to the highway for some time - or where they had done something it was

merely to dump down large stones to fill a particularly bad hole - it had become deeply rutted and

covered with a mass of adhesive mud. The guns had to pass down from Kustul by a series of zigzags

with hairpin bends in full view of enemy observers, and it was only by the greatest exertion and devotion

to duty that the gunners got their teams into the neighbourhood of the wadi. The bridge over the Surar at

Kulonieh having been wholly destroyed, they had to negotiate the wadi, which was now in torrent and

carrying away the waters which had washed the face of the hills over a wide area. The artillery made a

track through a garden on the right of the village just before the road reached the broken bridge, and two

batteries, the 301st and 302nd, got their guns and limbers across. They went up the old track leading

from Kulonieh to Jerusalem, when first one section and then another came into action at a spot between

Deir Yesin and Heart Redoubt, where both batteries were subjected to a close-range rifle fire.

For several hours the artillery fought their guns with superb courage, and remained in action until the fire
from the houses was silenced by a brilliant infantry attack. At half-past one General Watson decided he

would attack the enemy on a ridge in front of the houses of the Syrian colony with the 18th and 19th

battalions. With them were units of other battalions of the Brigade. Soon after three o'clock they

advanced under heavy fire from guns, machine guns, and rifles, and at a quarter to four a glorious

bayonet charge, during which the London boys went through Germans and Turks in one overwhelming

stride, sealed the fate of the Turk in Jerusalem. That bayonet charge was within sight of the Corps

Commander, who was with General Shea at his look-out on Kustul, and when he saw the flash of steel

 

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