Classic History Books


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

considerable supplies of wheat and flour from military depots, the cost being debited against their pay
which was paid in paper. They then sold the goods for gold. That accounted for the high prices of

foodstuffs, the price in gold being taken for the market valuation.

In the middle of November when there was a prospect of the Turks evacuating Jerusalem, the officers
sold out their stocks of provisions and prices became less prohibitive, but they rose again quickly when it

was decided to defend the City, and the cost of food mounted to almost famine prices. The Turks by

selling for gold that which was bought for paper, rechanging gold for paper at their own prices, made

huge profits and caused a heavy depreciation of the note at the expense of the population. Grain was

brought from the district east of the Dead Sea, but none of it found its way to civilian mouths except

through the extortionate channel provided by officers. Yet when we got into Jerusalem there were people

with small stocks of flour who were willing to make flat loaves of unleavened bread for sale to our

troops. The soldiers had been living for weeks on hard biscuit and bully beef, and many were willing to

pay a shilling for a small cake of bread. They did not know that the stock of flour in the town was

desperately low and that by buying this bread they were almost taking it out of the mouths of the poor.

Some traders were so keen on getting good money, not paper, that they tried to do business on this

footing, looking to the British Army to come to the aid of the people. The Army soon put a stop to this

trade and the troops were prohibited from buying bread in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. As it was, the

Quarter-master-General's branch had to send a large quantity of foodstuffs into the towns, and this was

done at a time when it was a most anxious task to provision the troops. Those were very trying days for

the supply and transport departments, and one wonders whether the civilian population ever realised the

extent of the humanitarian efforts of our Army staff.

During the period when no attempt was made to alleviate the lot of the people the Turks gave them a
number of lessons in frightfulness. There were public executions to show the severity of military law.

Gallows were erected outside the Jaffa Gate and the victims were left hanging for hours as a warning to

the population. I have seen a photograph of six natives who suffered the penalty, with their executioners

standing at the swinging feet of their victims. Before the first battle of Gaza the Turks brought the rich

Mufti of Gaza and his son to Jerusalem, and the Mufti was hanged in the presence of a throng

compulsorily assembled to witness the execution. The son was shot. Their only crime was that they were

believed to have expressed approval of Britain's policy in dealing with Moslem races. Thus were the

people terrorised. They knew the Turkish ideas of justice, and dared not talk of events happening in the

town even in the seclusion of their homes. The evils of war, as war is practised by the Turk, left a mark

on Jerusalem's population which will be indelible for this generation, despite the wondrous change our

Army has wrought in the people.

When General Allenby had broken through the Gaza line the Turks in Jerusalem despaired of saving the
City. That all the army papers were brought from Hebron on November 10, shows that even at that date

von Kress still imagined we would come up the Hebron road, though he had learnt to his cost that a

mighty column was moving through the coastal sector and that our cavalry were cutting across the

country to join it. The notorious Enver reached Jerusalem from the north on November 12 and went

down to Hebron. On his return it was reported that the Turks would leave Jerusalem, the immediate sale

of officers' stocks of foodstuffs giving colour to the rumour. Undoubtedly some preparations were made

to evacuate the place, but the temptation to hold on was too great. One can see the influence of the

German mind in the Turkish councils of war. At a moment when they were flashing the wireless news

throughout the world that their Caporetto victory meant the driving of Italy out of the war they did not

want the icy blast of Jerusalem's fall to tell of disaster to their hopes in the East. Accordingly on the 16th

 

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