Classic History Books


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

Rightly did the people rejoice.

When General Allenby went into Jerusalem all fears had passed away. The Official Entry was made
while there was considerable fighting on the north and east of the City, where our lines were nowhere

more than 7000 yards off. The guns were firing, the sounds of bursts of musketry were carried down on

the wind, whilst droning aeroplane engines in the deep-blue vault overhead told of our flying men

denying a passage to enemy machines. The stern voices of war were there in all their harsh discordancy,

but the people knew they were safe in the keeping of British soldiers and came out to make holiday.

General Allenby motored into the suburbs of Jerusalem by the road from Latron which the pioneers had

got into some sort of order. The business of war was going on, and the General's car took its place on the

highway on even terms with the lorry, which at that time when supplying the front was the most urgent

task and had priority on the roads. The people had put on gala raiment. From the outer fringe of

Jerusalem the Jaffa road was blocked not merely with the inhabitants of the City but with people who had

followed in the Army's wake from Bethlehem. It was a picturesque throng. There were sombre-clad Jews

of all nationalities, Armenians, Greeks, Russians, and all the peoples who make Jerusalem the most

cosmopolitan of cities. To the many styles of European dress the brighter robes of the East gave vivid

colour, and it was obvious from the remarkably free and spontaneous expression of joy of these people,

who at the end of three years of war had such strong faith in our fight for freedom, that they recognised

freedom was permanently won to all races and creeds by the victory at Jerusalem. The most significant of

all the signs was the attitude of Moslems. The Turks had preached the Holy War, but they knew the

hollowness of the cry, and the natives, abandoning their natural reserve, joined in loud expression of

welcome. From flat-topped roofs, balconies, and streets there were cries of 'Bravo!' and 'Hurrah!' uttered

by men and women who probably never spoke the words before, and quite close to the Jaffa Gate I saw

three old Mahomedans clap their hands while tears of joy coursed down their cheeks. Their hearts were

too full to utter a word. There could be no doubt of the sincerity of this enthusiasm. The crowd was more

demonstrative than is usual with popular assemblies in the East, but the note struck was not one of

jubilation so much as of thankfulness at the relief from an insufferable bondage of bad government.

Outside the Jaffa Gate was an Imperial guard of honour drawn from men who had fought stoutly for the

victory. In the British Guard of fifty of all ranks were English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh troops,

steel-helmeted and carrying the kit they had an hour or two earlier brought with them from the front line.

Opposite them were fifty dismounted men of the Australian Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted

Rifles, the Australians, under the command of Captain Throssel, V.C., being drawn from the 10th Light

Horse regiment, which had been employed in the capture of Jerusalem on the right of the London

Division. These Colonial troops had earned their place, for they had done the work of the vanguard in the

Sinai Desert, and their victories over the Turks on many a hard-won field in the torrid heat of summer

had paved the way for this greater triumph. A French and an Italian guard of honour was posted inside

the Jaffa Gate. As I have previously said, the Italians had held a portion of the line in front of Gaza with a

composite brigade, but the French troops had not yet been in action in Palestine, though their Navy had

assisted with a battleship in the Gaza bombardment. We welcomed the participation of the

representatives of our Allies in the Official Entry, as it showed to those of their nationality in Jerusalem

that we were fighting the battle of freedom for them all. Outside the Jaffa Gate the Commander-in-Chief

was received by Major-General Borton, who had been appointed Military Governor of the City, and a

procession being formed, General Allenby passed between the iron gates to within the City walls.

Preceded by two aides-de-camp the Commander-in-Chief advanced with the commander of the French

Palestine detachment on his right and the commander of the Italian Palestine detachment on his left. Four

Staff officers followed. Then came Brigadier-General Clayton, Political Officer; M. Picot, head of the

 

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