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

crossed. An officer commanding a battalion at Muannis was taken in his bed, whilst another
commanding officer had the surprise of his life on being invited to put his hands up in his own house. He

looked as if he had just awakened from a nightmare. In one place some Turks on being attacked with the

bayonet shouted an alarm and one of the crossings was shelled, but its position was immediately changed

and the passage of the river continued without interruption. The whole of the Turkish system covering

the river, trenches well concealed in the river banks and in patches of cultivated land, were rushed in

silence and captured. Muannis was taken at the point of the bayonet, the strong position at Hadrah was

also carried in absolute silence, and at daylight the whole line the Scots had set out to gain was won and

the assailants were digging themselves in. And the price of their victory? The Scots had 8 officers and 93

other ranks casualties. They buried over 100 Turkish dead and took 11 officers and 296 other ranks

prisoners, besides capturing ten machine guns.

The forcing of the passage of the Auja was a magnificent achievement, planned with great ability by
General Hill and carried out with that skill and energy which the brigadiers, staff, and all ranks of the

Division showed throughout the campaign. One significant fact serves to illustrate the Scots' discipline.

Orders were that not a shot was to be fired except by the guns and machine guns making their nightly

strafe. Death was to be dealt out with the bayonet, and though the Lowlanders were engaged in a life and

death struggle with the Turks, not a single round of rifle ammunition was used by them till daylight

came, when, as a keen marksman said, they had some grand running-man practice. During the day some

batteries got to the north bank by way of the ford, and two heavy pontoon bridges were constructed and a

barrel bridge, which had been put together in a wadi flowing into the Auja, was floated down and placed

in position. There was a good deal of shelling by the Turks, but they fired at our new positions and

interfered but little with the bridge construction.

On the night of the 21st-22nd December the 54th Division assaulted Bald Hill, a prominent mound south
of the Auja from which a magnificent view of the country was gained. Stiff fighting resulted, but the

enemy was driven off with a loss of 4 officers and 48 other ranks killed, and 3 officers and 41 men taken

prisoners. At dawn the Division reported that the enemy was retiring from Mulebbis and Fejja, and those

places were soon in our hands. H.M.S. Grafton, with Admiral T. Jackson, the monitors M29,

M31, and M32, and the destroyers Lapwing and Lizard, arrived off the coast and shelled

Jelil and Arsuf, and the 52nd Division, advancing on a broad front, occupied the whole of their objectives

by five o'clock in the afternoon. The 157th Brigade got all the high ground about Arsuf, and thus

prevented the enemy from obtaining a long-range view of Jaffa. A few rounds of shell fired by a naval

gun at a range of nearly twenty miles fell in Jaffa some months afterwards, but with this exception Jaffa

was quite free from the enemy's attentions. The brilliant operation on the Auja had saved the town and its

people many anxious days. By the end of the year there were three strong bridges across the river, and

three others substantial enough to bear the weight of tractors and their loads were under construction.

The troops received their winter clothing; bivouac shelters and tents were beginning to arrive. Baths and

laundries were in operation, and the rigours of the campaign began to be eased. But the XXIst Corps

could congratulate itself that, notwithstanding two months of open warfare, often fifty to sixty miles from

railhead, men's rations had never been reduced. Horses and mules had had short allowances, but they

could pick up a little in the country. The men were in good health, despite the hardships in the hills and

rapid change from summer to winter, and their spirit could not be surpassed.

 

CHAPTER XVIII. BY THE BANKS OF THE JORDAN

We have seen how impregnable the defences of Jerusalem had become as the result of the big advance

 

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