Classic History Books


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

only light operations were undertaken. On the 17th the West Kent and Sussex battalions of the 160th
Brigade stalked the high ground east of Abu Dis at dawn, and at the cost of only 26 casualties took the

ridge with 5 officers and 121 other ranks prisoners, and buried 46 enemy dead. One battalion went up the

hill on one side, while the Sussex crept up the opposite side, the Turks being caught between two fires.

The 53rd Division also improved their position on the 21st December. As one leaves Bethany and

proceeds down the Jericho road one passes along a steep zigzag with several hairpin bends until one

reaches a guardhouse near a well about a mile east of Bethany. The road still falls smartly, following a

straighter line close to a wadi bed, but hills rise very steeply from the highway, and for its whole length

until it reaches the Jordan valley the road is always covered by high bare mountains. Soon after leaving

the zigzag there is a series of three hills to the north of the road. It was important to obtain possession of

two of these hills, the first called Zamby and the second named by the Welsh troops 'Whitehill,' from the

bright limestone outcrop at the crest. The 159th Brigade attacked and gained Zamby and then turned

nearer the Jericho road to capture Whitehill. The Turks resisted very stoutly, and there was heavy

fighting about the trenches just below the top of the hill. By noon the brigade had driven the enemy off,

but three determined counter-attacks were delivered that day and the next and the brigade lost 180 killed

and wounded. The Turks suffered heavily in the counter-attacks and left over 50 dead behind them; also

a few prisoners. At a later date there was further strong fighting around this hill, and at one period it

became impossible for either side to hold it.

By the 21st there was a readjustment of the line on the assumption that the XXth Corps would attack the
Turks on Christmas Day, the 53rd Division taking over the line as far north as the wadi Anata, the 60th

Division extending its left to include Nebi Samwil, and the 74th going as far west as Tahta. As a

preliminary to the big movement the 180th Brigade was directed to move on Kh. Adaseh, a hill between

Tel el Ful and Tawil, in the early hours of December 23, and the 181st Brigade was to seize a height

about half a mile north of Beit Hannina. The latter attack succeeded, but despite the most gallant and

repeated efforts the 180th Brigade was unable to gain the summit of Adaseh, though they got well up the

hill. The weather became bad once more, and meteorological reports indicated no improvement in the

conditions for at least twenty-four hours, and as the moving forward of artillery and supplies was

impossible in the rain, General Chetwode with the concurrence of G.H.Q. decided that the attack should

not be made on Christmas Day. The 60th Division thereupon did not further prosecute their attack on

Adaseh. On the 24th December, while General Chetwode was conferring with his divisional

commanders, information was brought in that the Turks were making preparations to recapture Jerusalem

by an attack on the 60th Division, and the Corps Commander decided that the moment the enemy was

found to be fully committed to this attack the 10th Division and one brigade of the 74th Division would

fall on the enemy's right and advance over the Zeitun, Kereina, and Ibzia ridges. How well this plan

worked out was shown before the beginning of the New Year, by which time we had secured a great

depth of ground at a cost infinitely smaller than could have been expected if the Turks had remained on

the defensive, while the Turkish losses, at a moment when they required to preserve every fighting man,

were much greater than we could have hoped to inflict if they had not come into the open. There was

never a fear that the enemy would break through. We had commanding positions everywhere, and the

more one studied our line on the chain of far-flung hills the more clearly one realised the prevision and

military skill of General Chetwode and the staff of the XXth Corps in preparing the plans for its capture

before the advance on Jerusalem was started. The 'fourth objective' of December 8-9 well and truly laid

the foundations for Jerusalem's security, and relieved the inhabitants from the accumulated burdens of

more than three years of war. We had nibbled at pieces of ground to flatten out the line here and there,

but in the main the line the Turks assaulted was that fourth objective. The Turks put all their hopes on

 

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