Classic History Books

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

[Footnote 1: See Appendices I., II., and III.]

Down to the south the Turks had to bring their divisions. Their line of communications was very bad.
There was a railway from Aleppo through Rayak to Damascus, and onwards through Deraa (on the

Hedjaz line) to Afule, Messudieh, Tul Keram, Ramleh, Junction Station to Beit Hanun, on the Gaza

sector, and through Et Tineh to Beersheba. Rolling stock was short and fuel was scarce, and the enemy

had short rations. When we advanced through Syria in the autumn of 1918 our transport was nobly

served by motor-lorry columns which performed marvels in getting up supplies over the worst of roads.

But as we went ahead we, having command of the sea, landed stores all the way up the coast, and unless

the Navy had lent its helping hand we should never have got to Aleppo before the Turk cried 'Enough.'

Every ounce of the Turks' supplies had to be hauled over land. They managed to put ten infantry

divisions and one cavalry division against us in the first three weeks, but they were not comparable in

strength to our seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions. In rifle strength we outnumbered

them by two to one, but if the enemy had been well led and properly rationed he, being on the defensive

and having strong prepared positions, should have had the power to resist us more strongly. The Turkish

divisions we attacked were: 3rd, 7th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 26th, 27th, 53rd, and 54th, and the 3rd

Cavalry Division. The latter avoided battle, but all the infantry divisions had heavy casualties. That the

moral of the Turkish Army was not high may be gathered from a very illuminating letter written by

General Kress von Kressenstein, the G.O.C. of the Sinai front, to Yilderim headquarters on September

29, 1917.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Appendix IV.]

The troops who won Palestine and made it happier than it had been for four centuries were exclusively
soldiers of the British Empire. There was a French detachment and an Italian detachment with General

Allenby's Army. The Italians for a short period held a small portion of the line in the Gaza sector, but did

not advance with our force; the French detachment were solely employed as garrison troops. The French

battleship Requin and two French destroyers cooperated with the ships of the Royal Navy in the

bombardment of the coast. Our Army was truly representative of the Empire, and the units composing it

gave an abiding example that in unity rested our strength. From over the Seven Seas the Empire's sons

came to illustrate the unanimity of all the King's subjects in the prosecution of the war. English, Scottish,

Irish, and Welsh divisions of good men and true fought side by side with soldiers of varying Indian races

and castes. Australia's valiant sons constituted many brigades of horse and, with New Zealand mounted

regiments, became the most hardened campaigners in the Egyptian and Palestine theatre of operations.

Their powerful support in the day of anxiety and trial, as well as in the time of triumph, will be

remembered with gratitude. South Africa contributed good gunners; our dark-skinned brethren in the

West Indies furnished infantry who, when the fierce summer heat made the air in the Jordan Valley like a

draught from a furnace, had a bayonet charge which aroused an Anzac brigade to enthusiasm (and

Colonial free men can estimate bravery at its true value). From far-away Hong Kong and Singapore came

mountain gunners equal to any in the world, Kroomen sent from their homes in West Africa surf

boatmen to land stores, Raratongas from the Southern Pacific vied with them in boat craft and beat them

in physique, while Egypt contributed a labour corps and transport corps running a long way into six

figures. The communion of the representatives of the Mother and Daughter nations on the stern field of

war brought together people with the same ideals, and if there are any minor jealousies between them the

brotherhood of arms will make the soldiers returning to their homes in all quarters of the globe the best

of missionaries to spread the Imperial idea. Instead of wrecking the British Empire the German-made war

should rebuild it on the soundest of foundations, affection, mutual trust, and common interest.


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