Classic History Books


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

Meanwhile the 60th and 74th Divisions had actively patrolled their fronts during the night, and the Turks
having tasted the quality of British bayonets made no attempt to recover any of the lost positions. We had

outposts well up the road above Lifta, and at half-past eight they saw a white flag approaching. The

nearest officer was a commander of the 302nd Brigade Royal Field Artillery, to whom the Mayor, the

head of the Husseiny family, descendants of the Prophet and hereditary mayors of Jerusalem, signified

his desire to surrender the City. The Mayor was accompanied by the Chief of Police and two of the

gendarmerie, and while communications were passing between General Shea, General Chetwode and

General Headquarters, General Watson rode as far as the Jaffa Gate of the Holy City to learn what was

happening in the town. I believe Major Montagu Cooke, one of the officers of the 302nd Artillery

Brigade, was the first officer actually in the town, and I understand that whilst he and his orderly were in

the Post Office a substantial body of Turks turned the corner outside the building and passed down the

Jericho road quite unconscious of the near presence of a British officer. General Shea was deputed by the

Commander-in-Chief to enter Jerusalem in order to accept the surrender of the City. It was a simple little

ceremony, lasting but a minute or two, free from any display of strength, and a fitting prelude to General

Allenby's official entry. At half-past twelve General Shea, with his aide-de-camp and a guard of honour

furnished by the 2/17th Londons, met the Mayor, who formally surrendered the City. To the Chief of

Police General Shea gave instructions for the maintenance of order, and guards were placed over the

public buildings. Then the commander of the 60th Division left to continue the direction of his troops

who were making the Holy City secure from Turkish attacks. I believe the official report ran: 'Thus at

12.30 the Holy City was surrendered for the twenty-third time, and for the first time to British arms, and

on this occasion without bloodshed among the inhabitants or damage to the buildings in the City itself.'

Simple as was the surrender of Jerusalem, there were scenes in the streets during the short half-hour of
General Shea's visit which reflected the feeling of half the civilised world on receiving the news. It was a

world event. This deliverance of Jerusalem from Turkish misgovernment was bound to stir the emotions

of Christian, Jewish, and Moslem communities in the two hemispheres. In a war in which the moral

effect of victories was only slightly less important than a big strategical triumph, Jerusalem was one of

the strongest possible positions for the Allies to win, and it is not making too great a claim to say that the

capture of the Holy City by British arms gave more satisfaction to countless millions of people than did

the winning back for France of any big town on the Western Front. The latter might be more important

from a military standpoint, but among the people, especially neutrals, it would be regarded merely as a

passing incident in the ebb and flow of the tide of war. Bagdad had an important influence on the Eastern

mind; Jerusalem affected Christian, Jew, and Moslem alike the world over. The War Cabinet regarded

the taking of Jerusalem by British Imperial troops in so important a light that orders were given to hold

up correspondents' messages and any telegrams the military attaches might write until the announcement

of the victory had been made to the world by a Minister in the House of Commons. This instruction was

officially communicated to me before we took Jerusalem, and I believe it was the case that the world

received the first news when the mouthpiece of the Government gave it to the chosen representatives of

the British people in the Mother of Parliaments.

The end of Ottoman dominion over the cradle of Christianity, a place held in reverence by the vast
majority of the peoples of the Old and New World, made a deep and abiding impression, and as long as

people hold dearly to their faiths, sentiment will make General Allenby's victory one of the greatest

triumphs of the war. The relief of the people of Jerusalem, as well as their confidence that we were there

to stay, manifested itself when General Shea drove into the City. The news had gone abroad that the

General was to arrive about noon, and all Jerusalem came into the streets to welcome him. They clapped

 

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