Classic History Books


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

in the dark and got to the line across the Nablus road from Er Ram to Rafat, capturing some prisoners.
The 74th Division also made splendid progress. In the early hours the Division, with the 24th Royal

Welsh Fusiliers and the 24th Welsh Regiment attached, secured Jufeir and resumed their main advance in

the afternoon, the 230th and 231st Brigades cooperating with the 229th Brigade which was under the

orders of the 10th Division. Before dark they had advanced their line from the left of the 60th Division in

Rafat past the east of Beitunia to the hill east of Abu el Ainein, and this strong line of hills once secured,

everybody was satisfied that the Turks' possession of Ramallah and Bireh was only a question of hours.

Part of this line had been won by the 10th Division, which began its advance before noon in the same

battle formation as on the 27th. Soon after the three groups started the heavy artillery put down a fierce

fire on the final objectives, and before three o'clock the Turks were seen to be evacuating Kefr Skyan,

Ainein, and Rubin. The enemy put up a stout fight at Beitunia and on a hill several hundred yards

north-west of the village, but the 229th Brigade had good artillery and machine-gun assistance, and got

both places before four o'clock, capturing seventy prisoners, including the commander of the garrison,

and a number of machine guns. The left group was hotly opposed from a hill a mile west of Rubin and

from a high position south-west of Ainein. The nature of the ground was entirely favourable to defence

and for a time the Turk took full advantage of it, but our artillery soon made him lose his stomach for

fighting, and doubtless the sound of many shell-bursts beyond Ramallah made him think that his rock

sangars and the deep ravines in front of him were not protection against a foe who fought Nature with as

much determination as he fought the Turkish soldier. Six-inch howitzers of the 378th Siege Battery had

been brought up to Foka in the early hours, and all the afternoon and evening they were plastering the

road from Ramallah along which the enemy were retreating. The left group defied the nests of machine

guns hidden among the rocks and broke down the defence. The centre group had been delayed by the

opposition encountered by the left, but they took Skyan at six o'clock and all of the objectives for one day

were in our hands by the early evening. An advance along the whole front was ordered to begin at six

o'clock on December 29. On his right flank the enemy was willing to concede ground, and the 159th

Brigade occupied Hismeh, Jeba, and the ridges to the north-west to protect the flank of the 60th Division.

The 53rd Division buried 271 enemy dead on their front as the result of three days' fighting. The 181st

Brigade made a rapid advance up the Nablus road until they were close to Bireh and Tahunah, a high

rocky hill just to the north-west of the village. The Turks had many machine guns and a strong force of

riflemen in these places, and it was impossible for infantry to advance against them over exposed ground

without artillery support. The 303rd Field Artillery Brigade was supporting the brigade, and they were to

move up a track from Kullundia while the foot-sloggers used the high road, but the track was found

impassable for wheels and the guns had to be brought to the road. The attack was postponed till the guns

were in position. The gunners came into action at half-past two, and infantry moved to the left to get on

to the Ramallah-Bireh metalled road which runs at right angles to the trunk road between Nablus and

Jerusalem. The 2/22nd and the 2/23rd Londons, working across the road, reached the Tahunah ridge, and

after a heavy bombardment dashed into the Turkish positions, which were defended most stubbornly to

the end, and thus won the last remaining hill which commanded our advance up the Nablus road as far as

Bireh. On the eastern side of the main highway the 180th Brigade had once more done sterling service.

There is a bold eminence called Shab Saleh, a mile due south of Bireh. It rises almost sheer from a piece

of comparatively flat ground, and the enemy held it in strength. The 2/19th and the 2/20th Londons

attacked this feature, and displaying great gallantry in face of much machine-gun fire seized it at

half-past three. Once again the gunners supported the infantry admirably. The 2/17th and 2/18th Londons

pushed past Saleh in a north-easterly direction and, leaving Bireh on their left, got into extremely bad

country and took the Turks by surprise on a wooded ridge at Sheikh Sheiban. The two brigades rested

and refreshed for a couple of hours and then advanced once more, and by midnight they had routed the

 

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