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

attack made just after daybreak the enemy succeeded in getting into a short length of line, but men of the
2/15th Londons promptly organised a counter-attack and, advancing with fine gallantry, though their

ranks were thinned by a tremendous enfilade fire from artillery and machine guns, they regained the

sangars. For several hours after eight o'clock this portion of the line was quieter, but the Turk was

reorganising for a last effort. A very brilliant defence had been made during the night of Beit Hannina by

the 2/24th Londons, which battalion was commanded by a captain, the colonel and the majors being on

the sick list. The two companies in the line were attacked four times by superior numbers, the last assault

being delivered by more than five hundred men, but the defenders stood like rocks, and though they had

fifty per cent, of their number killed or wounded, and the Turks got close to the trenches, the enemy were

crushingly defeated.

The morning lull was welcome. Our troops got some rest though their vigilance was unrelaxed, and few
imagined that the Turks had yet given up the attempt to reach Jerusalem. We were ready to meet a fresh

effort, but the strength with which it was delivered surprised everybody. The Turk, it seemed, was

prepared to stake everything on his last throw. He knew quite early on that morning that his Caucasus

Division could not carry out the role assigned to it. General Chetwode had countered him by smashing in

with his left with a beautiful weighty stroke precisely at the moment when the Turk had compromised

himself elsewhere, and instead of being able to put in his reserves to support his main attack the enemy

had to divert them to stave off an advance which, if unhindered, would threaten the vital communications

of the attackers north of Jerusalem.

It was a remarkable situation, but all the finesse in the art of war was on one side. Every message the
Turkish Commander received from his right must have reported progress against him. Each signal from

the Jerusalem front must have been equally bitter, summing up want of progress and heavy losses. With

us, Time was a secondary factor; with the Turk, Time was the whole essence of the business, so he

pledged his all on one tremendous final effort. It was almost one o'clock when it started, and it was made

against the whole front of our XXth Corps. It was certainly made in unexpected strength and with a

courage beyond praise. The Turk threw himself forward to the assault with the violence of despair, and

his impetuous onrush enabled him to get into some small elements of our front line; but counter-attacks

immediately organised drove him out. Over the greater portion of the front the advance was stopped

dead, but in some places the enemy tried a whirlwind rush and used bomb against bomb. He had met his

match.

The 60th Division which bore the brunt of the onslaught, as it was bound to do from its position astride
the main road, was absolutely unbreakable, and at Tel el Ful there lay a dead Turk for every yard of its

front. The enemy drew off, but to save the remnants of his storming troops kept our positions from near

Ras et Tawil, Tel el Ful to the wadi Beit Hannina under heavy gunfire for the rest of the day. The Turk

was hopelessly beaten, his defeat irretrievable. He had delivered thirteen costly attacks, and his sole gains

were the exposed outpost positions at the Tawil and the quarries. All his reserves had been vigorously

engaged, while at two o'clock in the afternoon General Chetwode had in reserve nineteen battalions less

one company still unused, and the care exercised in keeping this large body of troops fresh for following

up the Turkish defeat undoubtedly contributed to the great success of the advances on the next three

days. Simultaneously with their attack on the 60th Division positions the Turks put in a weighty effort to

oust the 53rd Division from the positions they held north and south of the Jericho road. Whether in their

wildest dreams they imagined they could enter Jerusalem by this route is doubtful, but if they had

succeeded in driving in our line on the north they would have put the 53rd Division in a perilous position

on the east with only one avenue of escape. The Turks concentrated their efforts on Whitehill and

 

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