Classic History Books


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

Turks out of another series of hills and were in firm possession of the line from Beitin, across the Nablus
road north of the Balua Lake, to the ridge of El Burj, having carried through everything which had been

planned for the Division.

Ramallah had been taken at nine o'clock in the morning without opposition by the 230th and 229th
Brigades, and at night the 74th Division held a strong line north of the picturesque village as far as Et

Tireh. The 10th Division also occupied the Tireh ridge quite early in the day, and one of their field

batteries and both mountain batteries got within long range of the Nablus road, and not only assisted in

shelling the enemy in Bireh but harassed with a hot fire any bodies of men or transport seen retreating

northwards. The Flying Corps, too, caused the Turks many losses on the road. The airmen bombed the

enemy from a low altitude and also machine-gunned them, and moreover by their timely information

gave great assistance during the operations. By the 30th December all organised resistance to our

advance had ceased and the XXth Corps consolidated its line, the 60th Division going forward slightly to

improve its position and the other divisions rearranging their own. The consolidation of the line was not

an easy matter. It had to be very thoroughly and rapidly done. The supply difficulty compelled the

holding of the line with as few troops as possible, and when it had been won it was necessary to put it in

a proper order in a minimum of time, and to bring back a considerable number of the troops who had

been engaged in the fighting to hold the grand defensive chain which made Jerusalem absolutely safe.

The standard gauge railway was still a long way from Ramleh, and the railway construction parties had

to fight against bad weather and washouts. The Turkish line from Ramleh to Jerusalem was in bad order;

a number of bridges were down, so that it was not likely the railway could be working for several weeks.

Lorries could supply the troops in the neighbourhood of the Nablus road, though the highway was getting

into bad condition, but in the right centre of the line the difficulties of terrain were appalling. The enemy

had had a painful experience of it and was not likely to wish to fight in that country again; consequently

it was decided to hold this part of the line with light forces.

In this description of the operations I have made little mention of the work of the Australian Mounted
Division which covered the gap between XXth and XXIst Corps. These Australian horsemen and

yeomanry guarded an extended front in inaccessible country, and every man in the Division will long

remember the troubles of supply in the hills. They had some stiff fighting against a wily enemy, and not

for a minute could they relax their vigilance. When, with the Turks' fatal effort to retake Jerusalem, the

10th Division changed their front and attacked in a north-easterly direction, the Australian Mounted

Division moved with it, and they found the country as they progressed become more rugged and bleak

and extremely difficult for mounted troops. The Division was in the fighting line for the whole month of

December, and when they handed over the new positions they had reached to the infantry on the last day

of the year, their horses fully needed the lengthened period of rest allotted to them.

 

CHAPTER XVII. A GREAT FEAT OF WAR

From the story of how Jerusalem was made secure (for we may hope the clamour of war has echoed for
the last time about her Holy Shrines and venerable walls) we may turn back to the coastal sector and see

how the XXIst Corps improved a rather dangerous situation and laid the foundations for the biggest

break-through of the world struggle. For it was the preparations in this area which made possible General

Allenby's tremendous gallop through Northern Palestine and Syria, and gave the Allies Haifa, Beyrout,

and Tripoli on the seaboard, and Nazareth, Damascus, and Aleppo in the interior. The foundations were

soundly laid when the XXIst Corps crossed the Auja before Christmas 1917, and the superstructure of

the victory which put Turkey as well as Bulgaria and Austria out of the war was built up with many

 

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