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Title: With the Judæans in the Palestine Campaign
Author: Patterson, J. H. (John Henry), 1867-1947
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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WITH THE JUDÆANS IN THE PALESTINE CAMPAIGN


[Illustration: _Photo by Vandek_
LIEUT.-COL. J. H. PATTERSON, D.S.O.]


WITH THE JUDÆANS IN THE PALESTINE CAMPAIGN

by

LIEUT.-COL. J. H. PATTERSON, D.S.O.

Author of: "The Man-Eaters of Tsavo,"
"In the Grip of The Nyika,"
"With the Zionists in Gallipoli."

With a Map and 22 Illustrations.



London: Hutchinson & Co.
Paternoster Row



PREFACE


The formation of a Battalion of Jews for service in the British Army is
an event without precedent in our annals, and the part played by such a
unique unit is assured of a niche in history owing to the fact that it
fought in Palestine, not only for the British cause, but also for the
Restoration of the Jewish people to the Promised Land.

In writing the following narrative, my object has been to give a
faithful account of the doings of this Jewish Battalion while it was
under my command.

I am much indebted to Captain H. Davis, the Rev. L. A. Falk, Mr. Bendov
of Jerusalem, and Canon Parfit for permission to reproduce the
photographs illustrating this book, which add considerably to its
interest.

J. H. P.
London, 1922.



    CONTENTS

    INTRODUCTION                                         vii

    CHAPTER I.
    THE BALFOUR DECLARATION                               13

    CHAPTER II.
    THE SANBALLATS                                        18

    CHAPTER III.
    THE FORMATION OF THE JEWISH REGIMENT                  23

    CHAPTER IV.
    TRAINING AT PLYMOUTH                                  30

    CHAPTER V.
    THE KOSHER PROBLEM                                    39

    CHAPTER VI.
    WE SET OUT FOR PALESTINE                              43

    CHAPTER VII.
    BACK IN THE LAND OF BONDAGE                           51

    CHAPTER VIII.
    THE FEAST OF THE PASSOVER                             62

    CHAPTER IX.
    WE SET OUT FOR THE FRONT                              68

    CHAPTER X.
    THE NABLUS FRONT                                      79

    CHAPTER XI.
    WE MARCH TO THE JORDAN VALLEY                         91

    CHAPTER XII.
    OUR POSITION IN THE MELLAHAH                         103

    CHAPTER XIII.
    LIFE IN THE MELLAHAH                                 111

    CHAPTER XIV.
    WE WIN OUR FIRST HONOURS                             118

    CHAPTER XV.
    CAPTURE OF THE UMM ESH SHERT FORD                    125

    CHAPTER XVI.
    THE LOST TRANSPORT WAGONS                            131

    CHAPTER XVII.
    WE GO UP TO RAMOTH GILEAD                            137

    CHAPTER XVIII.
    THE CROWN OF VICTORY                                 144

    CHAPTER XIX. PAGE
    THE STRATEGICAL VALUE OF PALESTINE                   150

    CHAPTER XX.
    HOSPITAL SCANDAL AT JERUSALEM                        157

    CHAPTER XXI.
    LIFE AT LUDD                                         167

    CHAPTER XXII.
    AT RAFA                                              173

    CHAPTER XXIII.
    RETURN OF THE ANZACS                                 179

    CHAPTER XXIV.
    A RED-LETTER DAY                                     185

    CHAPTER XXV.
    JEWISH SOLDIERS ARE FORBIDDEN TO ENTER THE HOLY CITY 193

    CHAPTER XXVI.
    THE GREAT BOXING COMPETITION                         199

    CHAPTER XXVII.
    BIR SALEM--AN EXCITING RACE                          204

    CHAPTER XXVIII.
    DAMASCUS                                             211

    CHAPTER XXIX.
    AMONG THE PHILISTINES                                219

    CHAPTER XXX.
    THE FALL OF GOLIATH                                  227

    CHAPTER XXXI.
    PROTESTS                                             230

    CHAPTER XXXII.
    A TRIP TO THE SEA OF GALILEE                         239

    CHAPTER XXXIII.
    STRANGE METHODS OF THE E. E. F. STAFF                249

    CHAPTER XXXIV.
    THE FIRST JUDÆANS                                    259

    CHAPTER XXXV.
    THE JERUSALEM POGROM                                 262

    CHAPTER XXXVI.
    THE DAWN                                             274

    APPENDICES                                           277



    LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    LIEUT.-COL. J. H. PATTERSON, D.S.O.       _Frontispiece_
    "I HAD AN ABLE AND ENTHUSIASTIC STAFF"    Facing page 34
    LIEUT. VLADIMIR JABOTINSKY                   "    "   44
    THE REV. L. A. FALK                          "    "   46
    JERUSALEM                                    "    "   62
    THE BATTALION ON PARADE                      "    "   64
    TOMB OF RACHEL, NEAR BETHLEHEM               "    "   64
    CHOIR OF THE JEWISH REGIMENT                 "    "   70
    THE WAILING WALL AT JERUSALEM                "    "   92
    THE JERUSALEM-JERICHO ROAD                   "    "   96
    NEAR THE WADI KELT                           "    "   96
    THE AUJA ("A PLEASANT, SWIFTLY FLOWING
        STREAMLET")                              "    "  140
    ES SALT (THE ANCIENT RAMOTH GILEAD)          "    "  140
    ROMAN ARCH AT AMMAN                          "    "  144
    IN THE OLD CITADEL AT AMMAN                  "    "  144
    PART OF THE GREAT AMPHITHEATRE AT AMMAN      "    "  146
    CIRCASSIAN CART AT AMMAN                     "    "  146
    "HERE THE TENTS OF ISRAEL WERE PITCHED"      "    "  174
    GROUP OF OFFICERS AT RAFA                    "    "  180
    RUINS OF BAALBEK                             "    "  210
    MY CHARGER BETTY                             "    "  210
    RUINS OF THE OLD CITY OF TIBERIAS            "    "  244



INTRODUCTION

In the darkest days of the War, the British Cabinet decided that it
would be good policy to create a Jewish Regiment, and accordingly, in
August, 1917, the first Jewish Battalion was formed.

From that day forth, as a matter of duty and loyalty to King and
Country, it was clearly incumbent on all those in authority to treat
this new unit with justice, and do everything in their power to make it
a success.

It is to be deplored that this Jewish Battalion--this ewe lamb of
Israel--did not receive, while on Active Service in the Holy Land, that
measure of justice and fair play that was its due.

In common with the vast majority of my countrymen I have the "fair play"
sense strongly developed. I am always prone to be on the side of the
under dog--more especially when I see that the poor devil is getting
more kicks than in all fairness are his due. In Palestine,
unfortunately, I was constantly called upon to ward off unfair blows
aimed at the Jewish Battalion under my command by certain members of the
local staff of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

I have passed over many of our sufferings in silence, and no record of
them will be found in this book, but I am afraid they have left an
indelible mark in the mind and heart of every man who served in the
Jewish Battalion under my command, and I fear that the evil effects of
the local Military Administration will reverberate throughout Palestine
for many a long year.

But before I proceed further, let me first of all make it clearly
understood that I am not a Jew,--indeed, at the outbreak of the Great
War I knew nothing of this ancient people, always excepting what I had
read about them in the Bible, and other Jewish books. My first contact
with Jews was in the Gallipoli campaign, where I was sent in command of
a Corps composed of Zionists who had escaped from Palestine at the
outbreak of war and taken service with the British Forces. Presumably
because I had had this experience, I was appointed to the command of the
first Jewish Infantry unit raised for service with the British Army. The
career of such a unique unit is bound to be closely followed by all
Jews, while it would not surprise me if the historian of the future
seizes upon this dramatic appearance of the Jewish warrior, fighting for
the redemption of Israel under the banner of England, as one of the most
interesting episodes of the great World War.

Unfortunately for us, with a few honourable exceptions, the local Staff
of the E.E.F. were "troublers of Israel." Instead of furthering the
policy of the Home Government by holding out a helping hand to this new
unit, on the contrary every obstacle was placed in its way.

In our times of tribulation in the Holy Land, my thoughts often went
back to the Dardanelles, and I was heartened and cheered by the
remembrance of the vastly different treatment meted out to the Jewish
soldiers by the Staff in Gallipoli. Sir Ian Hamilton had vision enough
to foresee what a tremendous force would be won over to the cause of
England by dealing justly with Israel. In the Mediterranean
Expeditionary Force the attitude was essentially British. I regret I
cannot say the same of the Staff of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in
1918 and 1919.

I am happy to be able to put on record that the Battalion was treated
fairly and justly all the time it was stationed in England. The Staff at
Plymouth always held out a helping hand when needed, and we embarked for
Egypt with the blessing of the War Office, and of the Adjutant-General,
Sir Nevil Macready, who told us before we sailed that it was his aim to
form a Jewish Brigade, and that he was writing to the Commander-in-Chief
of the E.E.F. to recommend that this should be done as soon as our
numbers justified such a step.

I felt that the Adjutant-General had confided a great trust to me when I
was selected for the command of this Jewish unit. It was a complete
change from the command of an Irish Battalion, but the Irishman and the
Jew have much in common--temperament, generosity, love of children,
devotion to parents, readiness to help those down on their luck, and, be
it noted, great personal bravery. These qualities will probably not
appear out of place to my readers so far as the Irishman is concerned,
but I imagine many will be surprised when they hear that they also apply
to the Jew. It is true, however, and so should be more widely known.
The soul-stirring deeds on the battlefield of such heroes as Judas
Maccabæus, Bar Kochba, and many others can never be forgotten.

I had one fear when I took over command of the Judæans, and that was
that I might not be able to do them justice. I felt that, if a suitable
Jewish officer could be found, it would be more appropriate that he
should have the honour of leading these soldiers of Israel in the
struggle for the redemption of Palestine; but, although I publicly
stated that I should be glad to see a Jewish officer appointed to the
command, no one came forward, and I was left with the whole weight of
this great responsibility to the Jewish people on my shoulders. I
therefore made up my mind, from the moment I took command, that, so far
as was humanly possible, the Jewish Battalion should be brought through
its fiery ordeal with honour.

It was unfortunate for the new Regiment, and doubly unfortunate for the
Jewish people in Palestine, as this narrative will show, that the
attitude of the local Staff was diametrically opposed to the declared
policy of His Majesty's Government, which had announced to the world, in
the famous Balfour Declaration, that Palestine should once again become
a National Home for the Jewish people. In the face of this British
announcement, certain officials in the Holy Land acted as if this
epoch-making Declaration were nothing but a mere "scrap of paper."

When I observed the vain strivings of these men, and remembered the
Promise to Israel, I called to mind the saying of Gamaliel, the great
Rabbi, "If this work be of men it will come to naught, but if it be of
God, ye cannot overthrow it."

This local anti-Jewish policy eventually culminated in the Jerusalem
pogrom, described at the close of this book, when, under British rule,
murderous native mobs ran riot, practically unchecked, for nearly three
days within the walls of the City.

This deplorable outrage at last opened the eyes of the Imperial
Authorities to what was going on in Palestine, with the result that the
Military Administration was abolished. A competent civil Governor
replaced the Military Administrator, and Sir Herbert Samuel was sent out
to pour oil and wine into the wounds which the unfortunate Jewish
inhabitants had received, and to carry out the declared policy of
England as announced in the Balfour Declaration.


[Illustration: MAP
Showing chief places mentioned in the book.]



WITH THE JUDÆANS IN THE PALESTINE CAMPAIGN


CHAPTER I.
THE BALFOUR DECLARATION.


In the early days of 1917 the outlook for the Allied Powers was
particularly black and menacing. England, the mainstay in the great
struggle, was in deadly peril, for, just about this time, the ruthless
Submarine campaign was at its height and our shipping losses were
appalling.

The Central Powers, with startling rapidity, had crushed and overrun
Belgium, Serbia, and Roumania, and a large slice of France was in the
grip of the invader. It was a case of stalemate with Italy, while
Russia, the Colossus with the feet of clay, was in the throes of a
Revolution and lost to the Allies.

Turkey, the so-called "sick man of Europe," was found not only able to
"sit up and take nourishment," but strong enough to administer some
nasty knocks to the surgeon, as we discovered to our cost in Gallipoli,
and other places in the Near East.

The Great Republic of the West did indeed throw in her lot with us in
April, 1917, but many perilous months would have to elapse before she
could pull her full weight, or even make her enormous power felt to any
appreciable extent on the battlefields of Europe.

At such a moment as this it was of the very greatest importance that the
world should be carefully scanned, and every available ideal and policy
made use of, which could be of advantage to our righteous cause.

The happy inspiration thereupon seized upon our Ministers to win over to
the side of the Allies the teeming millions of the Children of Israel
scattered throughout the world.

The restoration of these people to the land of their forefathers had
long been engaging the thoughts of mankind, and our Statesmen now felt
that the time was ripe for this age-long issue to be brought to
fruition.

It was of course known to the leading Zionists that the British
Government was considering the policy of making a pronouncement in
favour of the Jewish people, and many of the leaders of Zionism, such as
Dr. Weizmann, Mr. Sokolow, Mr. Jabotinsky, Mr. Joseph Cowen, etc., lost
no opportunity of pressing home the importance of winning Jewry, the
world over, to England's side, by declaring boldly for a Jewish
Palestine.

It was felt by many that the right and proper way for Jewry to help
England was by raising a Jewish Legion to aid in the redemption of
Palestine, and of this movement the leading spirit was Vladimir
Jabotinsky, a distinguished orator, author, and journalist.

Ever since the beginning of the War this remarkable man, a Jew from
Russia, had carried on a vigorous propaganda on behalf of England. At
his own expense, he had founded a newspaper in Copenhagen, and
distributed it broadcast among Jews in Russia, Poland, neutral
countries, America, etc.

His propaganda was of great value to the Allies, for the Jews naturally
hated Russia, owing to their harsh treatment and persecution in that
country, and it was not until Jabotinsky set to work that they perceived
that their real interests lay with the Allies.

To show a good example to others, he enlisted as a private in the 20th
Battalion London Regiment, where he gathered round him a platoon
composed principally of men who had recently been serving in Gallipoli
in the Zion Mule Corps.

From his humble position in the ranks he bombarded the Prime Minister,
and the Secretaries of State for War and Foreign Affairs in this
country; he sent emissaries to America, North and South, to Russia,
Poland, the Caucasus, etc., and when, in July, 1917, the Government
declared their intention of creating a Jewish Regiment, he had
everything in train for the formation of a legion at least 50,000
strong.

I mention this here as one instance of this gallant officer's efforts
for England, and I will ask the reader to make a mental note of it, for
before this narrative is ended it will be my painful duty to show how
Jabotinsky was rewarded for all his invaluable services to the British
cause.

The Government policy towards world Jewry was brought to a head by a
vigorous Zionist offensive, and resulted in the creation of a Jewish
Battalion in August, 1917, followed a little later by the famous Balfour
Declaration in favour of a National Home for the Jewish people in
Palestine.

This bold and wise pronouncement of British policy was of great and
far-reaching importance, and is regarded by Jewry throughout the world
as their Charter of Liberty.

It is embodied in the following letter to Lord Rothschild:--

FOREIGN OFFICE,
2nd November, 1917.

DEAR LORD ROTHSCHILD,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of H.M.'s Government,
the following Declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations,
which has been submitted to and approved by the Cabinet:

=His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in
Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their
best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object=, it being
clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the
civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in
Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any
other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this Declaration to the
knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR.

This was, perhaps, the most momentous Declaration made throughout the
War, and it derived a special significance from the fact that it was
made just at the time when the first definite steps were being taken
towards freeing Palestine from the yoke of the Turk. It was received by
practically all sections of the British Press with the most cordial
approval.

By pious Jews it was regarded as little short of the Voice of God,
bringing their long-cherished aspirations within sight of fulfilment.

All down the centuries from the time of the Dispersion it has been the
dream of the Jew that one day he would be restored to his ancestral
home. In his exile the age-long cry of his stricken soul has ever been
"next year in Jerusalem."

Christians too have always believed in the fulfilment of prophecy, and
the Restoration of the Jewish people is of no little interest to them,
so it can be imagined with what feelings of joy and gratitude the masses
of the Jewish people looked upon this promise of England, holding out as
it did the prospect of the realization of their dearest hope. Nothing
like it has been known since the days of King Cyrus. It is not too much
to say that this epoch-making Declaration uplifted the soul of Israel
the world over.

Sir Arthur Balfour may not live to see the full fruits of his famous
pronouncement, but prophecy will assuredly be fulfilled, and his name
will go down for all time, second only to that of Cyrus, in the
Chronicles of Israel.

Jeremiah's prophecy on the Restoration of Israel has a wonderful
significance in these days: "Hear the word of the Lord, _O ye nations,
and declare it in the isles afar off_, and say, He that scattered Israel
_will gather him and keep him_, as a Shepherd doth his flock."



CHAPTER II.
THE SANBALLATS.


On the 27th July, 1917, while I was stationed at the Curragh in command
of a Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, I got a telegram from the
War Office ordering me to report there and commence the organization of
the Jewish Legion about to be raised, so I set out forthwith for London.

On getting my instructions from Major-General R. Hutchison, the Director
of Organization, he told me, among other things, that a certain Sergeant
Jabotinsky would probably be most useful to me, for he was a very keen
worker and an ardent advocate of the Jewish Regiment. I told him that I
had already met Jabotinsky, and I knew his assistance would be
invaluable, and requested that he might be attached to me for duty at
once.

I was given a room at the War Office Annexe which had been taken over
from the National Liberal Club. Here I was joined in due course by
Jabotinsky, now a full-fledged sergeant.

We had hardly begun to move in the matter of recruiting for the Jewish
Regiment, when I became aware that in certain quarters of influential
English Jewry there was violent hostility to Zionist aspirations, and
also to the very idea of a Jewish Regiment.

I therefore felt that, in order to clear the air, it would be necessary
to hold a meeting of those who were in favour of, as well as those who
were opposed to, the formation of a Jewish Regiment, and try to induce
the latter to cease obstructing a policy which had already been decided
upon by the British Government, and to give me their help in making the
proposed Regiment a success.

A meeting of representative men on both sides was held at the War Office
on the 8th August, 1917. Among those present were: Lord Rothschild,
Major Lionel de Rothschild, Major Neil Primrose, Captain Ormsby Gore,
M.P., Mr. Sebag Montefiore, Dr. Weizmann, Mr. Joseph Cowen, Dr. Eder,
Captain Salaman, R.A.M.C., Mr. M. J. Landa, Mr. L. J. Greenberg, the
Rev. S. Lipson (Senior Jewish Chaplain to the Forces in England), and
Sergeant Jabotinsky--about twenty in all. Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, M.P.
(whose untimely death I deeply lament), and Lieut.-Colonel L. S. Amery,
M.P., who were then Secretaries to the War Cabinet, also attended, both
being warm friends of the movement.

I briefly addressed the meeting and explained that I had called them
together to give me their advice and assistance in the formation of the
Jewish Regiment.

I was, of course, aware that there was somewhat of a cleavage amongst
the Jews on this question, but the bitterness and hostility shown was
quite a revelation to me. I could not understand how any Jew could fail
to grasp this Heaven-sent opportunity and do all in his power to
further the efforts of the British Government on behalf of the Jewish
people.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when certain of the Jews in opposition
vigorously denounced the formation of a Jewish Regiment, and equally
vigorously damned the aspirations of the Zionists!

Dr. Weizmann gave a slashing reply to the Sanballats from the Zionist
point of view which cut the ground from under their feet; and
Jabotinsky, in his address for the cause he had at heart, lifted the
debate to a level immeasurably above the point of view of his opponents.

A few others spoke, and then I again addressed the meeting and said I
thought it was a good thing the Government had not left it to the
community to form a Jewish Regiment, for I saw that they would never
agree; but, as the Government had already made up its mind, and was
determined to have a Jewish Legion of some kind, I begged them to lay
aside all differences and help me to make a success of a movement which
was bound to affect Jews, one way or another, throughout the world. In
conclusion, I said I would rather know who were my friends, and asked
all those who did not intend to further this scheme, which after all was
a scheme propounded and adopted by the British Government, to retire.
Not a man moved.

While I was making my address a note was passed to me from hand to hand.
On opening it I read, "Can you dine with me this evening? I should like
to join your new Battalion. N.P." I little knew when I scribbled back:
"So sorry, am engaged," what serious consequences hung on my answer,
for I feel sure that Neil Primrose would not have been cut off in his
prime had I dined with him that night and "recruited" him for the Jewish
Battalion, but I never saw this very gallant officer again. He went out
to Palestine soon afterwards, where he met his death while leading his
men in a charge.

To return to the meeting: when I found that not one of our opponents was
prepared to declare himself an open enemy of the policy of H.M.'s
Government, I said that as the formation of the various Committees
connected with the Regiment was an essentially Jewish matter I would now
retire, and I asked Lord Rothschild to take the Chair.

Within half an hour I was summoned by Brigadier-General Sir Auckland
Geddes, as he then was. The General appeared to be extremely flurried
and annoyed. Apparently, immediately after I had left the meeting, two
gentlemen had gone straight from it to Sir Auckland, and made a bitter
attack on me for having, as they said, held a Zionist Meeting in the War
Office.

I assured him that there was no attempt at holding a Zionist meeting,
but that a number of representative Jews and others had been called to
help me in carrying out the policy of the War Office, and I pointed out
that it was entirely due to the two gentlemen who complained, that any
question of Zionism had been raised.

Why any Jew should be an anti-Zionist passes my comprehension, for the
Zionist ideal in no way interfe[1] with the rights and privileges of
those fortunate Jews who have found happy homes in friendly countries,
but aims at establishing a national home for those less happy ones,
who, against their will, are forced to live in exile, and who have never
ceased to yearn for the land promised to their forefather Abraham and
his seed for ever.

Yet I will have to show that, as there were Sanballats[1] who bitterly
opposed the restoration in the days of King Artaxerxes 2,500 years ago,
so there were modern Sanballats who bitterly opposed the restoration in
the days of King George.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] See Nehemiah, Chapters 3 and 4.



CHAPTER III.
THE FORMATION OF THE JEWISH REGIMENT.


On the 23rd August, 1917, the formation of the "Jewish Regiment" was
officially announced in the _London Gazette_, and I was appointed to the
command of a Battalion.

At the same time it was officially intimated that a special Jewish name
and badge would be given to the Battalions of this Regiment.

On hearing of this determination the Sanballats immediately got very
busy. Heads were put together, and letters written up and down the land
to all and sundry who were likely to serve their purpose, with the
result that, on the 30th August, 1917, a deputation waited upon Lord
Derby (then Secretary of State for War), for the purpose of making
representations against the proposed name and badge of the Jewish
Regiment, and, in fact, against the formation of any such unit as a
Jewish Battalion.

One member of this Deputation went so far as to represent to Lord Derby
that Lord Rothschild, the head of the celebrated Jewish family, to whom,
as representing the Jewish people, Mr. Balfour later on addressed the
famous declaration, was also opposed to the formation of a Jewish
Regiment.

Lord Rothschild assured me that this was not the case; for, once it
became the policy of the British Government to form a Jewish Regiment,
he felt bound as a patriotic Jew to back it up and do all in his power
to make it a success. No little thanks are due to Lord Rothschild for
the way he devoted himself to the comfort and welfare of the Jewish
Battalions, from the first day they were formed.

The result of the Deputation was that the name "Jewish Regiment" was
abolished, and no Jewish badge was sanctioned. All Jewish Battalions
raised were to be called "Royal Fusiliers."

But our worthy friends might have saved themselves all the trouble they
took, and the trouble they gave to the War Ministry, because, from the
moment that the battalions were formed, although they were known
officially as Royal Fusiliers, yet unofficially, everywhere, and by
every person, they were known solely as the Jewish Battalions.

Lord Derby made the mistake of thinking that these few rich men
represented the Jewish masses. A greater mistake was never made, for,
from my own experience, I can vouch for the fact that they are
altogether out of touch with the thoughts and feelings of the vast
majority of the Jewish people.

What a different tale I should have to tell had men such as these played
up to the policy of England. Had their vision only been broader, they
would have said among themselves, "This is a policy we do not like. It
may affect us adversely, but it is the policy of England, and England in
peril, and we must therefore bind ourselves together and make it a
success."

If they feared that these Jews from Russia and Poland would not worthily
uphold Jewish traditions, they might have gone to the Secretary for War
and told him their fears, and said that, as it was absolutely necessary
for world Jewry that this experiment of creating Jewish Battalions
should have a fair chance, they would request his aid in this matter,
and ask that at least twenty-five per cent. of every battalion be
composed of Jews from England, who, having seen service in France, would
therefore give some necessary and valuable stiffening to these raw
Jewish units.

With such a stiffening, and a solid English Jewry at the back of the
Jewish Regiment, what a triumphant page in Jewish history these
battalions would have written!

Instead of this, every possible obstacle was placed in the way of
success. Interested parties scoured the East end of London and the big
provincial cities, advising young Jews not to enlist. Even in France the
Jewish soldiers serving in the various units there were told by Jews who
ought to have known better that they should on no account transfer. The
result of this was that recruiting went on very slowly, and instead of
being able to form a Jewish legion in the course of a few weeks, as
could easily have been done out of the 40,000 Jewish young men in
England alone, it took over four months to form even one battalion.

I happened by chance one day to meet a prominent member of the Sanballat
deputation in the War Office, and, in the course of conversation, I
asked him why he objected so strongly to the formation of a Jewish
Regiment. He replied that he had no faith in the Russian Jews, and
feared they would bring discredit on Jewry. I said that, from what I had
seen in Gallipoli of the Jew from Russia, I had more faith in him than
he had, and that I felt confident I could make him into a good soldier.
He was kind enough to remark, "Well, perhaps under you they will turn
out to be good soldiers, but then they might win Palestine, and _I_
don't want to be sent there to live." I replied that his fears in this
respect were entirely groundless. He remarked that he was not so sure
about that, for if the Jews had a country of their own, pressure might
be brought to bear upon them to go and live there--which clearly shows
that these rich and fortunate Jews cannot have given much real thought
to the question, for there is nothing in the Zionist movement to force
anyone to live in Palestine, and it would be manifestly impossible to
pack 14,000,000 of people within the narrow limits of their ancestral
home.

When my pessimistic friend told me that these foreign Jews were no good,
and would bring discredit upon the best part of Jewry, I made a mental
resolve that I would prove to him one day that his despised Jewish
brethren, from Russia and elsewhere, would make as good soldiers, and as
good all-round men, as those in any unit of the British Army. As these
pages progress, and the history of the 38th Jewish Battalion is unfolded
before the eyes of the reader, it will be seen that my expectations were
more than realised, for the Battalion drilled, marched, fought, and
generally played the game as well as any battalion in the Army.

It is a curious fact that, so far as I could gather, the Inner Actions
Committee of the Zionist organization, with the honoured exception of
Dr. Weizmann, looked on us with suspicion. The formation of Jewish
Battalions did not appeal to them. How it was possible that the leaders
of Zionism should not have grasped, and taken to their hearts, this gift
of Jewish Battalions from the British Government, for the furtherance of
their own ends, is one of the greatest examples of ineptitude that have
ever come within my experience. Here was a body of keen and enthusiastic
men, devoting their lives to the restoration of the Holy Land to its
rightful owners, and yet they shied when the one essential weapon that
could have given it to them was being virtually thrust into their hands.

How different would have been the position of the Zionists at the Peace
Conference after the Armistice was signed if they had been able to point
proudly to 50,000 Jewish troops in Palestine, instead of to the 5,000
who were actually serving there at the close of the War.

I know that Dr. Weizmann had vision enough to foresee the strength which
such a legion would give to his diplomacy, but unfortunately his
colleagues on the Zionist Council did not see eye to eye with him in
this matter until it was too late.

I tried to do what in me lay with certain of the leaders of Zionism, and
spent some time endeavouring to enthuse a devoted and spiritual Jew who
was deeply interested in the Restoration; indeed, I thought I had won
him over to the cause of the legion, for at times during our
conversation his face lit up at the possibilities unfolded to him, but,
alas, after I left him, I fear he fell away from grace!

Some of the Zionists, men such as Mr. Joseph Cowen, fully realised all
the advantages which would accrue from a Jewish legion helping to win
Palestine from the enemy, and these were eager workers towards this end.

Vladimir Jabotinsky always believed in the proverb that the Lord helps
those who help themselves, and, therefore, he felt that it was essential
that a Jewish legion should fight for the redemption of Israel's ancient
heritage. And it was well for Jewry that Jabotinsky was a chosen
instrument, because, if no Jewish troops had fought in Palestine, and no
Jewish graves could be seen in the Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and
in every Military Cemetery in Egypt and Palestine, it would have been,
for all time, a reproach unto Israel, and I have grave doubts whether
the Peace Conference would have considered the time ripe for the Jewish
people to be restored to their ancient land. I am certain of this, that
if Jabotinsky's ideals of a powerful legion had been more fully
realised, Dr. Weizmann's position at the table of the Peace Conference
would have been immeasurably strengthened.

It must, however, be recorded for the honour of British Jewry, that the
vast majority of English Jews were heartily in accord with the
Government policy, and proud of the fact that, practically for the first
time in Jewish history since the days of Judas Maccabæus and Bar Kochba,
battalions of Jewish infantry were to be raised and led against the
common enemy in Palestine.

It was also to the credit of English Jewry that a deputation
representing the Jewish masses in England, sought and obtained an
interview with the Secretary of State for War, with the view to the
retention of a distinctive Jewish name and badge for the Battalions.
This deputation was introduced on Sept. 5th by Mr. J. D. Kiley, M.P., a
non-Jew, and among others the following men were present:--Captain
Redcliffe Salaman, Dr. Eder, Messrs. Elkin Adler, Joseph Cowen, L. J.
Greenberg, M. J. Landa, etc. Lord Derby had, however, committed himself
to the first deputation, and all he could promise to the deputation
representing the Jewish masses was that, if the Regiment distinguished
itself in the Field, it would then be given a Jewish title and a Jewish
badge. This deputation also obtained the War Secretary's sanction to the
supply of Kosher food, and to the observance of Saturday as the day of
rest; Lord Derby also promised that, as far as possible, all Jewish
festivals should be respected, and that Jewish units would, service
conditions permitting, be employed only in Palestine.

How the Battalions distinguished themselves, and won a special Jewish
name and badge, will be recorded faithfully in the following pages.



CHAPTER IV.
TRAINING AT PLYMOUTH.


I was delighted when, at last, I got away from organization duty at the
War Office, with all its worries and vicissitudes, and commenced the
real active work of training a fighting Battalion of Jews.

Plymouth was the spot chosen as our training centre, and at the Crown
Hill Barracks, near this famous and beautiful harbour, we commenced our
military career.

A recruiting Depôt was at the same time established in London at 22,
Chenies Street, where a Staff was installed under the command of Major
Knowles, an excellent officer, who had previously served under me in the
South African War, and who was an ardent supporter of Zionist ideals.

Recruits were received here, and fitted out with uniforms before being
sent on to Plymouth. The comfort of the men while at the Depôt was ably
attended to by various Committees of ladies and gentlemen, whose names
will be found in the Appendix. They were fortunately in a position to
give much needed financial aid to various dependents from the moment the
Committees began work, for public-spirited and liberal Jews were found
who gave to the good cause with both hands. Among these was Mr. Leopold
Frank, who gave the princely donation of £1,000. Mr. Lionel D. Walford
especially was untiring in his efforts for the welfare and happiness of
every recruit who came to the Depôt, and so won the hearts of all by the
personal service that he gave, day in and day out, that he was
universally and affectionately known to the Judæans as "Daddy."

As a nucleus for the Jewish Battalion I arranged for the transfer of a
platoon of my old Zion Mule Corps men from the 20th Battalion of the
London Regiment, where they were then serving under the command of
Colonel A. Pownall. My best thanks are due to this officer for the help
he gave me in effecting the transfer of my old veterans. These warlike
sons of Israel, not content with the laurels they had already won in
Gallipoli, sought for fresh adventure in other fields, and so
volunteered for service in France. On the way their ship was torpedoed
and sunk by an Austrian submarine, but fortunately not a Zion man was
drowned; all managed to cling on to spars and other wreckage and floated
safely to a Grecian isle from which they were rescued. They eventually
reached England in safety, but all their personal belongings were lost.

Men soon began to arrive at Plymouth in batches of twenties and
thirties, from all over the Kingdom. Many trades and professions were
represented, but the vast majority were either tailors or in some way
connected with the tailoring trade. I made it a practice to see every
recruit as soon as he joined and find out something about his family and
affairs. I also gave every man some advice as to how he was to conduct
himself as a good soldier and a good Jew. The famous sculptor, Jacob
Epstein, was one of my most promising recruits, and after he had served
for some months in the ranks I recommended him for a commission. When
the 38th Battalion left Plymouth for Palestine, Epstein remained behind
with the second Jewish Battalion then formed, but owing to some bungling
the commission was never granted.

The difficulties of my command were not few.

On broad religious grounds Judaism is not compatible with a soldier's
life--and I may say I had many strict Jews in the Battalion; then the
men were aliens, utterly unaccustomed to Army life, and with an inherent
hatred of it, owing to the harsh military treatment to which the Jew in
Russia was subjected; some of them did not speak English, and
practically all of them hated serving any cause which might in the end
help Russia; they knew also that there was a strong body of Jewish
opinion in England which was hostile to the idea of a Jewish unit.

To make matters worse, the recruits came from sedentary occupations.
They had never been accustomed to an out-door, open-air life, and
naturally dreaded, and really felt, the strain of the hard military
training which they had to undergo in those cold winter days in
Plymouth.

It can be imagined, therefore, that I had no easy task before me in
moulding these sons of Israel, and inspiring them with that martial
ardour and _esprit de corps_ which is so necessary, if men are to be of
any use on the field of battle. I impressed upon them that strict
discipline, and hard training, was not merely for my amusement or
benefit, but was entirely in their own interests, so that when the day
of battle came they would be fitter men and better fighters than their
enemies, and with these two points in their favour the chances were that
instead of getting killed, they would kill their opponents and emerge
from the battle triumphant.

The men soon grasped the idea, and took to soldiering and all that it
means with a hearty goodwill. I am happy to say that all difficulties
were surmounted, and, at the close of the campaign, the Battalion
presented as fine and steady an appearance on Parade as any Battalion in
the E.E.F.

Luckily for me, I had an able and enthusiastic staff to assist me in my
endeavours. I cannot sufficiently praise the great service rendered to
the Battalion, during its infant stages, by Captain Redcliffe Salaman,
R.A.M.C., who was our medical officer. His knowledge of the men and of
Jewish matters generally was invaluable to me.

My Adjutant, Captain Neill, had already had two years' experience in a
similar position with a battalion of the Rifle Brigade. I found him to
be able and diplomatic--the latter an essential quality in the handling
of Jewish soldiers.

In my Second in Command, Major MacDermot, I had an officer of wide
experience and high principles, who had served under my command in the
Dublin Fusiliers.

In my Assistant Adjutant, Lt. B. Wolffe (whose tragic death in Palestine
I shall relate in its proper place), I had an exceptionally gifted
Jewish officer, hardworking, painstaking, conscientious, and all out in
every way to make the Jewish Battalion a success.

I tried to induce Senior Jewish officers to join the Battalion, but I
found it very hard to get volunteers, for the Senior men preferred to
remain in their own British Regiments.

I was able to obtain the services of a fair number of Junior Jewish
officers, and the Battalion gradually filled up in officers, N.C.O.'s
and men.

I would like to mention here that, although the great majority of all
ranks were Jews, yet there were some Christian officers, N.C.O.'s and
one or two men. In spite of this there was never the very slightest
question between us of either race or religion. All eventually became
animated with one spirit--the success, welfare and good name of this
Jewish Battalion.

I am glad to say that we had practically no crime to stain our record.
There was not a single case of a civil offence being recorded against us
all the time we were at Plymouth, which is something new in Army annals.

And yet another record was created by this unique Battalion. The Wet
Canteen, where beer only was sold, had to be closed, for not a single
pint was drunk all the time it was open.

The men showed wonderful quickness and aptitude in mastering the details
of their military training. It came as a surprise to me to find that a
little tailor, snatched from the purlieus of Petticoat Lane, who had
never in all his life wielded anything more dangerous than a needle,
soon became quite an adept in the use of the rifle and bayonet, and
could transfix a dummy figure of the Kaiser in the most approved
scientific style, while negotiating a series of obstacle-trenches at the
double.

[Illustration: "I HAD AN ABLE AND ENTHUSIASTIC STAFF"
(_See page 33_)]

I noticed that the men were particularly smart in all that they did
whenever a General came along. I remember on one occasion, when we were
about to be inspected, I told the men to be sure and stand steady on
parade during the General Salute; I impressed upon them that it was a
tradition in the British Army that, unless a Battalion stood perfectly
steady at this critical moment, it would be thought lacking in
discipline and smartness, and would get a bad report from the General.
So zealous were my men to uphold this time-honoured tradition, that I
verily believe that these wonderful enthusiasts for rigid British
discipline never blinked an eyelid while the General was taking the
salute. Certainly every Commander who inspected us always expressed his
astonishment at the rock-like steadiness of the Jewish Battalion on
parade.

During our training period at Plymouth we received many kindnesses from
the Jewish community there, more especially from its President, Mr.
Meyer Fredman.

In the long winter evenings we had lecturers who addressed the men on
various interesting subjects. The famous and learned Rabbi Kuk of
Jerusalem paid us a visit, and gave the men a stirring address on their
duties as Jewish soldiers. Jabotinsky gave various lectures, one
especially on Bialik, the great Jewish poet, being particularly
memorable.

We had many talented music-hall and theatrical men in our ranks; our
concerts were, therefore, excellent, and our concert party was in great
request throughout the Plymouth district.

If there was one officer more than another who helped to promote the
men's comfort, it was Lieut. E. Vandyk. He was in charge of the messing
arrangements, and the Battalion was exceptionally fortunate in having a
man of his experience to undertake this most exacting of all tasks.

Later on Vandyk proved himself equally capable as a leader in the field,
where he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

I must not forget the kindness shown to us at Plymouth by Lady Astor,
M.P., who gave us a Recreation Hut, and by Sir Arthur Yapp, the
Secretary of the Y.M.C.A., who furthered our comfort in every possible
way.

While we were yet at Plymouth I received orders from the War Office to
form two more Jewish Battalions in addition to the 38th.

As soon as sufficient recruits justified it I recommended the
Authorities to proceed with the formation of the 39th Battalion and to
appoint Major Knowles, from the Depôt, to the Command. This was done,
and from what I saw during the time I was in Plymouth, I felt quite
confident that Colonel Knowles would make an excellent commander.

Colonel Knowles was succeeded at the Depôt in London by Major
Schonfield, who worked untiringly to promote the interests of the
recruits, and to imbue them with a good, soldierly spirit while they
were passing through his hands in Chenies Street. About the same time as
Colonel Knowles was appointed, Captain Salaman so highly recommended his
brother-in-law, Colonel F. D. Samuel, D.S.O., to me that I asked the
Adjutant-General if this officer might be recalled from France to take
charge of the training at Plymouth, and Jewish affairs there generally,
after my departure for Palestine. The Adjutant-General very kindly
agreed to my request, and transferred Colonel Samuel from France to
Plymouth at very short notice.

Soon after I left for Palestine recommendations were made to the War
Office that it would be preferable to have a Jewish officer in command
of the 39th Battalion, and the result was that Colonel Samuel was
appointed to the 39th Battalion in the place of Colonel Knowles. This
treatment was most unfair to the latter, who had worked extremely hard
and enthusiastically, both at the Depôt and during the time he held
command of the 39th Battalion, where he did all the spade work and made
things very easy for his successor. Colonel Knowles afterwards went to
France and later on served with the North Russian Expeditionary Force.

Of course, it was all to the good to have a Jewish Commanding Officer,
but it should have been arranged without doing an injustice to Colonel
Knowles.

About this time Major Margolin, D.S.O., a Jewish officer attached to the
Australian Forces, was transferred to the Depôt at Plymouth, and
eventually replaced Colonel Samuel in the command of the 39th Battalion.

Outsiders will never be able to imagine the immense amount of trouble
and detail involved in the formation of this unique unit. I must say
that the War Office, and the local command at Plymouth, gave me every
possible assistance. Colonel King, of the Military Secretary's Staff at
the W.O., helped me through many a difficulty in getting Jewish officers
brought back from France.

Colonel Graham, also of the War Office, came to my assistance whenever
he could possibly do so, while the late Military Secretary, General Sir
Francis Davies, under whom I had served in Gallipoli, was kindness
itself.

General Hutchison, the Director of Organization, was always a tower of
strength, and the Jewish Battalions owe him a heavy debt. Lieut.-Colonel
Amery, M.P., and the late Sir Mark Sykes, M.P., also did what was in
their power to make our thorny path smooth.



CHAPTER V.
THE KOSHER PROBLEM.


The only serious trouble we had in Plymouth occurred over Kosher food.
As most people probably know, Jewish food has to be killed and cooked in
a certain way as laid down in Jewish Law, and it is then known as
"kosher," _i.e._ proper.

This was, of course, quite new to the Military authorities, and the Army
being a very conservative machine, and, at times, a very stubborn one,
they failed to see the necessity of providing special food for the
Jewish troops--a curious state of mentality considering the care taken
with the food of our Moslem soldiers.

I have a fairly shrewd idea that all the blame for the trouble we were
put to in this matter must not rest altogether on the shoulders of the
Army officials, for I strongly suspect that our Jewish "friends," the
enemy, who were so anxious to destroy the Jewishness of the Regiment,
had their fingers in this Kosher pie!

Now I felt very strongly that unless the Jewish Battalion was treated as
such, and all its wants, both physical and spiritual, catered for in a
truly Jewish way, this new unit would be an absolute failure, for I
could only hope to appeal to them as Jews, and it could hardly be
expected that there would be any response to this appeal if I
countenanced such an outrage on their religious susceptibilities as
forcing them to eat unlawful food. I made such a point of this that I
was at length summoned to the War Office by the Adjutant-General, Sir
Nevil Macready, who informed me that I was to carry on as if I had an
ordinary British battalion, and that there was to be no humbug about
Kosher food, or Saturday Sabbaths, or any other such nonsense. I replied
very respectfully, but very firmly, that if this was to be the attitude
taken up by the War Office, it would be impossible to make the Battalion
a success, for the only way to make good Jewish soldiers of the men was
by first of all treating them as good Jews; if they were not to be
treated as Jews, then I should request to be relieved of my command.

Accordingly, as soon as I returned to Plymouth, I forwarded my
resignation, but the G.O.C. Southern Command returned it to me for
reconsideration.

In the meantime a telegram was received from the War Office to say that
the Kosher food would be granted, and Saturday would be kept as the
Sabbath.

After this things went smoothly; Sir Nevil Macready readily lent us his
ear when I put up an S.O.S., and, as a matter of fact, he became one of
our staunchest friends.

I was more than gratified to receive, a few days later, the following
"Kosher" charter from the War Office--a charter which helped us
enormously all through our service, not only in England, but also when
we got amongst the Philistines in Palestine.

    14th SEPT., 1917.
    20/Gen. No. 4425 (A.G. 2a).

    SIR,

    With reference to Army Council Instruction 1415 of the 12th
    Sept., 1917, relating to the formation of Battalions for the
    reception of Friendly Alien Jews, I am commanded by the Army
    Council to inform you that, as far as the Military exigencies
    permit, Saturday should be allowed for their day of rest instead
    of Sunday.

    Arrangements will be made for the provision of Kosher food when
    possible.

    I am, etc.,

    (Signed) B. B. CUBITT.

    To the General Officer Commanding
        in Chief, Southern Command.
    O.C. 38TH BN. ROYAL FUSILIERS.
        Forwarded for Information.

    Devonport, 21/9/17.
    (Signed) E. Montagu, Colonel.
    A.A. and Q.M.G.

Before we sailed for the front, General Macready did us the honour of
coming all the way from London, travelling throughout the night, to pay
us a friendly visit, without any of the pomp or circumstance of war, and
he was so impressed by what he saw of the soldierly bearing of the men
that, from that day until the day he left office, no reasonable request
from the Jewish Battalion was ever refused.

I had a final interview with General Macready at the W.O. before setting
out for Palestine, when he told me in the presence of Major-General
Hutchison, Director of Organization, that the object he aimed at was the
formation of a complete Jewish Brigade, and that he was recommending
General Allenby to commence that formation as soon as two complete
Jewish Battalions arrived in Egypt.

Of course, this was very welcome news to me, because it would mean all
the difference in the world to our welfare and comfort if we formed our
own Brigade. It would mean that the Brigade would have its own Commander
who would be listened to when he represented Jewish things to higher
authority. It would mean direct access to the Divisional General, to
Ordnance, to supplies, and the hundred and one things which go to make
up the efficiency and cater for the comfort of each unit of the Brigade.

No worse fate can befall any Battalion than to be left out by itself in
the cold, merely "attached" to a Brigade or a Division, as the case may
be. It is nobody's child, and everybody uses it for fatigues and every
other kind of dirty work which is hateful to a soldier.

It can be imagined, therefore, how grateful I was to General Macready
for promising a Jewish Brigade, for I knew that such a formation would
make all the difference in the world to the success of the Jewish cause
as a whole and, what was of great importance, to the good name of the
Jewish soldier.



CHAPTER VI.
WE SET OUT FOR PALESTINE.


Towards the end of January, 1918, we were notified that the 38th
Battalion was to proceed on Active Service to Palestine. This news was
received with great joy by all ranks, and every man was granted ten
days' leave to go home and bid farewell to his family.

Of course, our pessimistic friends took every opportunity of maligning
the Jew from Russia, and said that the men would desert and we should
never see a tenth of them again. I, however, felt otherwise, and had no
anxiety about their return. Nor was I disappointed, for when the final
roll-call was made there were not so very many absentees, certainly no
more than there would have been from an ordinary British battalion, so
here again our enemies were confounded and disappointed, for they had
hoped for better things.

The Battalion was ordered to concentrate at Southampton for embarkation
on the 5th February. Two days before this date Sir Nevil Macready
ordered half the Battalion to come to London to march through the City
and East End, before proceeding to Southampton. This march of Jewish
soldiers, unique in English military history, proved a brilliant
success. The men were quartered in the Tower for the night, and on the
morning of the 4th February started from this historic spot, in full kit
and with bayonets fixed, preceded by the band of the Coldstream Guards.
The blue and white Jewish flag as well as the Union Jack was carried
proudly through the City amid cheering crowds. At the Mansion House the
Lord Mayor (who had granted us the privilege of marching through the
City with fixed bayonets) took the salute, and Sir Nevil Macready was
also present to see us march past.

As we approached the Mile End Road the scenes of enthusiasm redoubled,
and London's Ghetto fairly rocked with military fervour and roared its
welcome to its own. Jewish banners were hung out everywhere, and it
certainly was a scene unparalleled in the history of any previous
British Battalion. Jabotinsky (who had that day been gazetted to a
Lieutenancy in the Battalion) must have rejoiced to see the fruit of all
his efforts. After a reception by the Mayor of Stepney, the march was
resumed to Camperdown House, where the men were inspected by Sir Francis
Lloyd, G.O.C. London District. He complimented them on their smart and
soldierly appearance, and made quite an impressive speech, reminding
them of the heroism and soldierly qualities of their forefathers, and
concluded by saying that he was sure this modern Battalion of Jews now
before him would be no whit behind their forbears in covering themselves
with military glory.

An excellent lunch was provided for the men in Camperdown House, where
speeches were delivered by the Chief Rabbi, the Mayor of Stepney, Mr.
Kiley, M.P., Mr. Joseph Cowen (the Chairman), and other friends of the
Battalion.

[Illustration: LIEUT. VLADIMIR JABOTINSKY]

Afterwards the troops proceeded, amid more cheering, to Waterloo,
where, before they entrained for Southampton, they were presented by
Captain Fredman with a scroll of the law.

My new Adjutant, Captain Leadley, who came to take the place vacated by
Captain Neill on promotion to Major, had only just joined us on the
morning of our march. He was much surprised at the first Regimental duty
he was called upon to perform, which was to take charge, on behalf of
the Battalion, of the Scroll of the Law. The excellent Jewish Padre who
had just been posted to us, and whose duty this should have been, was
with the remainder of the troops at Plymouth.

I was very favourably impressed by Captain Leadley from the first moment
I saw him, and during the whole time he remained with the Battalion I
never had cause to change my opinion. He was a splendid Adjutant, and,
in my opinion, was capable of filling a much higher position on the Army
Staff.

When the half Battalion reached Southampton, it joined forces with the
other half, which had been brought to that place from Plymouth by Major
Ripley, who was now Second-in-Command in place of Major MacDermot, who
remained behind with the Depôt. The whole Battalion proceeded to embark
on the little steamship _Antrim_ on the 5th February.

Just as Captain Salaman was about to go on board, he was confronted by
another Medical Officer, Captain Halden Davis, R.A.M.C., who, at the
last moment, was ordered by the War Office to proceed with us instead of
Captain Salaman. I knew nothing about this, and was naturally loth to
lose Captain Salaman, while he, on his part, was furious at the idea of
being left behind. However, there was no help for it, so back he had to
go to Plymouth. I think a certain number of the shirkers in the
Battalion may have been pleased to see him go, for he stood no nonsense
from gentlemen of this kidney.

I had, for some time, been making strenuous efforts to obtain the
services of the Rev. L. A. Falk, the Acting Jewish Chaplain at Plymouth,
as our spiritual guide, and luckily I was successful, for, at the last
moment, all difficulties were surmounted, and he joined us as we
embarked. I had had many warnings from people who ought to have known
better that he was not a suitable man for the post, but I had seen him
and judged for myself, and I felt sure that he would suit my Jews from
Russia much better than a Rabbi chosen because he was a Jew from
England.

His work and his example to others, during the whole time he served with
us, were beyond all praise, and I often felt very glad, when he was put
to the test of his manhood, that I had not listened to the voice of the
croaker in England.

The embarkation of the Battalion was complete by 5 p.m. on the 5th
February, and after dark we steamed out of the harbour and made for
Cherbourg. It is fortunate that we escaped enemy submarines, for the
little _Antrim_ was packed to its utmost limits, not only with the
Jewish Battalion, but also with other troops. We were kept at the
British Rest Camp at Cherbourg until the 7th, and then entrained for St.
Germain, near Lyons, where we rested from the 9th to the 10th. From here
we went on to Faenza, along the beautiful French and Italian Riviera.

[Illustration: The REV. L. A. FALK]

The arrangements throughout the journey for feeding the men and giving
them hot tea, etc., were not perfect, but on the whole we did not fare
badly.

We arrived at Faenza on the 13th, and we will always cherish a kindly
remembrance of this well-arranged Rest Camp, and of the Staff in charge
there. The greatest credit is due to the Commandant, Colonel Scott
Harden, for having made a veritable garden in the wilderness, and
arranged everything for the comfort and well-being of the tired and
travel-stained soldier passing through his capable hands. The only
drawback was that my unsophisticated boys were no match for the Scotsmen
whom they met in the Sergeant's Mess! However that may be, we all came
away with the liveliest feelings of gratitude towards our kindly hosts
who had given us a real good time at Faenza.

During our halt at this delightful camp we gave a concert and also a
boxing exhibition to the Italian officers of the garrison, both of which
were much appreciated. The Italian G.O.C., with all his Staff, also
came, and was highly interested in the exhibition. As a special
compliment to us, because we were the first complete British Battalion
to go through Italy, he reviewed us in front of the Town Hall on our
march to the station at 10 o'clock at night.

From Faenza we continued our journey to Taranto, and on the way spent a
few pleasant hours at Brindisi. I walked along the docks, and, by the
number of naval vessels of all types moored there, I realized that there
could not be many Italian warships at sea; but it must be remembered
that the Mediterranean was at this time infested with German and
Austrian submarines, so that our allies must not be blamed if they were
taking as few chances as possible with their ships of war. I remember
asking myself the question, what is the use of a ship of war that is
afraid to show itself on the open sea?

As we ran along the shores of the Adriatic, we were all wondering
whether an Austrian war vessel would not suddenly dash up and blow us
and our train to pieces, but, wherever the Austrian fleet may have been
that day, fortunately for us it was not cruising on the Adriatic Coast
of Italy, and we reached Taranto on the 16th.

Thieving from the trains running through Southern Italy was a pleasant
pastime for the natives, but we were fortunate in that we lost but
little. We had a couple of accidents during our long railway journey
which might, without luck, have proved disastrous. Just before we
reached Marseilles a coupling about the middle of the train parted, and
the rear carriages were left standing on the line. Fortunately, however,
this was discovered before anything serious occurred, and a relief
engine brought the stranded portion along. The same thing happened on
the Italian railway between Brindisi and Taranto, which delayed us for
about eight hours.

The behaviour of the men during the whole long journey of nine days was
exemplary, and I wired a message to this effect to the War Office, for,
as Russia was just out of the War, there was some anxiety in England as
to how Russian subjects in the British Army would behave on hearing the
news.

As a matter of fact recruiting of Russian Jews in England had been
stopped after we left Southampton, and many of the men naturally
questioned the fairness of the authorities in freeing slackers or late
comers, while retaining those who had promptly answered the call.

I cabled this point of view to the Adjutant-General on reaching Taranto
and received a reply that all such matters could be settled in Egypt.

We remained basking in the sunshine of Southern Italy for over a week. I
met here an old friend of mine, Captain Wake, who had been badly wounded
in one of our little wars on the East African coast many years ago.
Although minus a leg he was still gallantly doing his bit for England.

We were encamped at Camino, a few miles from Taranto, and our strength
at this time was 31 officers, and roughly 900 other ranks.

Two officers and about 70 N.C.O.'s and men sailed on another boat from
Marseilles, with the horses, mules and wagons, under the command of
Captain Julian, M.C.

While we were at Taranto the Rev. L. A. Falk and I, accompanied by
Jabotinsky, searched for and eventually found a suitable Ark in which to
place the Scroll of the Law.

At the close of our last Sabbath service before we embarked, I addressed
the men, and, pointing to the Ark, told them that while it was with us
we need have no fear, that neither submarine nor storm would trouble us,
and, therefore, that their minds might be easy on board ship.

We embarked on the _Leasoe Castle_ at 9 o'clock a.m. on the 25th,
steamed out of the harbour in the afternoon, under the escort of three
Japanese destroyers, and arrived safely in Alexandria on the 28th
February, never having seen a submarine or even a ripple on the sea
throughout the voyage. Owing to this piece of good luck my reputation as
a prophet stood high! It is a curious fact that on her next voyage the
_Leasoe Castle_ was torpedoed and sunk.



CHAPTER VII.
BACK IN THE LAND OF BONDAGE.


When we landed at Alexandria on the 1st March the Battalion was invited
by the Jewish community, headed by the Grand Rabbi, to commemorate its
safe arrival in Egypt by attending a special service in the beautiful
Temple in the street of the Prophet Daniel.

The men got a splendid reception from the Alexandrians as they marched
to the Synagogue, where a most impressive service was held, the Grand
Rabbi giving the soldiers a special benediction in the grand old
language of the Prophets.

After the service, refreshments were served by a number of Jewish
ladies, who could hardly indeed believe that they were waiting upon a
Battalion, composed of men of their own race, who were now serving as
Jewish soldiers under the flag of England. Their faces glowed with joy
at the thought that a complete Jewish unit was now before their eyes,
and was on its way to assist in releasing the land of their forefathers
from the hand of the Turkish oppressor.

It was a great pleasure to meet again those good people who had helped
me so wholeheartedly in looking after the wives and dependents of my
Zion Mule Corps men who had served in Gallipoli in 1915. Perhaps none
worked more zealously or gave more unselfish devotion to those poor and
miserable refugees than the Baroness Rosette de Menasce. No matter what
I wanted done in the way of help or assistance for the impoverished
dependents, I could always rely on this beautiful and charitable lady to
see it through.

After lunch was over we marched to the station and entrained for
Helmieh, a village a few miles outside Cairo, where the battalion was to
be encamped, while completing its training for the front. On arrival
there we found awaiting us Captain Julian with the transport section
complete, which had safely arrived a couple of days previously.

At Cairo we were met by an emissary from Palestine, who informed us that
there was a great Jewish volunteer movement on foot in Judæa, and that
hundreds of young men were eager to join the Army, and scores of Jewish
ladies were anxious to give their services as nurses, or even as
transport drivers.

This was cheering news--news which I naturally thought would prove most
welcome to the Commander-in-Chief of the E.E.F.

The leading Jewish citizens of Cairo, not to be outdone by their
brethren of Alexandria, arranged with the authorities, soon after our
arrival, that we should attend a religious service in the Chief
Synagogue; the battalion had a wonderful reception as it marched through
the City, which was thronged with cheering crowds. The High
Commissioner, General Sir Francis Reginald Wingate, took the salute as
the men marched past the Residency, and evinced the greatest and most
friendly interest in this Jewish unit and the Jewish movement generally.

I must mention here that the battalion was much indebted to Mr. Maurice
Gattegno, of Cairo, for the immense amount of trouble he took in
everything which could be helpful, and the generous way in which he
contributed to all our comforts. He had an able helper in his
sister-in-law, Miss Viterbo (now Mrs. Hopkin), who was untiring in her
efforts on the men's behalf. Mr. Franco and Mr. Cohen, of Alexandria,
were also ardent supporters of the battalion.

The Jews who have made Egypt their home are a kindly hospitable people,
and we owe them a debt of gratitude for the way they received us and the
interest they took in our welfare. The land of the Pharaohs is supposed
to eat away the soul of a people and send them after strange gods, but,
in my intercourse with the Jews of Egypt, I found that there are to-day
many devout men, who work, and pray, and give lavishly of their
substance, to the end that Israel may be restored.

The usual infantry training was carried out at Helmieh--drill, physical
training, bayonet fighting, bombing, marching, musketry, signalling,
etc., went on from morning until night, and the men made excellent
progress. In fact, within a few weeks of our arrival in Egypt, no one
would have recognized in these bronzed and well set up men, who walked
about with a conscious look of pride in themselves and their battalion,
the pale, pinched, miserable looking conscripts who joined up at
Plymouth.

Soon after our arrival in Egypt I sent the following letter to the
Commander-in-Chief:

CAIRO,
5TH MARCH, 1918.

MY DEAR GENERAL,

No doubt you have heard of the arrival of the Jewish Battalion in Egypt.
I am very anxious to see you in connection with the formation of a
Jewish Brigade, about which the War Office have given me to understand
they have made some communication to you.

First of all there will be the position of the Russians to discuss, as I
have some hundreds of these with me. They are at present performing
their duties cheerfully and well, and I have no fault to find with their
attitude; but, as Russia has signed a separate peace, a new situation
may arise which I would like to be ready to meet. There are already two
more Jewish Battalions formed in England, and one of these, the 39th,
was under orders to embark when I left Plymouth. Presumably, it will
arrive in Egypt soon. I hear of other battalions for service with the
Jewish Brigade being formed in New York; and the Adjutant-General
informed me that it was probable that the French authorities would
transfer the Polish Jews now serving in France to this Brigade. I am
told that there are several hundred young Jews waiting to enlist in
Palestine. There are a number more in Cairo and Alexandria.

With your permission I would gladly commence recruiting in these areas,
and form a new battalion here. For the purpose of enlisting the
Palestine volunteers, it would require a recruiting party to make a trip
round the Jewish colonies to collect the recruits. I have an ideal party
for such a duty in my present battalion, all speaking Hebrew, headed by
an officer who knows Palestine. With your approval I would send this
party as soon as possible on tour. Recruiting offices should also be
opened in Cairo and Alexandria, where I have promises of every support
from the Jewish communities of these cities.

In England the Adjutant-General allowed transfers of Jewish Officers,
N.C.O.'s and men. I hope you will be equally indulgent to those who wish
to join me from other units now under your command.

I am strongly of the opinion that the training ground of the Jewish
Brigade should be in Judæa itself, firstly for its great moral effect on
the men; secondly, the climate of Cairo during the training months of
March and April will make it practically impossible to do much
satisfactory work here. I am convinced that twice the results could be
obtained in such a place as Jaffa, or other suitable colony, while the
health of the troops would greatly benefit by the cooler climate. It
would also enormously stimulate recruiting in Palestine.

I know that the Home Government attach the greatest importance to the
moral effect of this Jewish Brigade on the outer world of Jewry--not
only in allied and neutral, but also in enemy countries--and such full
effect can only be obtained by placing the Brigade in Palestine at the
earliest possible moment.

There are some other points which I would like to bring to your notice,
but I will not add to the length of this letter by mentioning them now.

I should, however, be very glad to see you, and discuss these matters
generally with you, and hope you will send instructions for me to report
at your headquarters at an early date.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) J. H. PATTERSON.

I got a reply from Major-General Louis Jean Bols, the Chief of Staff,
asking me to come to G.H.Q., but at the same time informing me that
General Allenby was not in favour of my suggestions.

This was somewhat of a surprise to me, for at a time when men were so
badly needed, I thought that a Jewish legion, of say 25,000 men, would
have been most acceptable on the Palestine front, and, had General
Allenby shown himself at all favourable to the idea of a Jewish legion,
it would at that time have been an easy task to have obtained any number
of men, from America and elsewhere, to fight in Palestine.

Nothing daunted, however, I proceeded to G.H.Q., where I had an
interview with the Commander-in-Chief, who told me quite frankly that he
was not in sympathy with the War Office policy in sending this Jewish
Battalion to Palestine, and that he did not want any further addition
such as I suggested to his Forces.

At a subsequent interview which I had with his Chief of Staff, I
gathered that I need expect but little sympathy for my battalion, as
Major-General Louis Jean Bols told me quite plainly that he was not
favourably disposed towards Jewish aspirations.

This anti-Jewish policy of General Allenby and his Chief of Staff came
as a shock to me, for I knew that it was the settled intention of His
Majesty's Government to support these Jewish Battalions, and the Jewish
claim to Palestine, and I had been expecting quite a different reception
for my proposals from the E.E.F. authorities to that which they
received. I found, to my amazement, that the policy adopted by the Staff
towards this Jewish Battalion, and the Jewish problem generally, ran
counter to the declared policy of the Home Government. Alas! it seemed
that another Pharaoh had arisen who knew not Joseph; and once again we
would be expected to make bricks without straw, and become hewers of
wood and drawers of water. Instead of this new unit being helped and
encouraged, we were, on the contrary, throughout our service in the
E.E.F., made to feel that we were merely Ishmaelites, with every hand
uplifted against us.

I knew full well what our fate would be once the policy of G.H.Q. on
this question was known, and, as I will show later, the underlings of
the Staff did not fail to play up to the attitude of the higher command.
I hoped, however, that the battalion would do such good work that we
would eventually overcome all prejudice. We looked for no favours, and
only wanted to be treated as a battalion "all out" to do its duty.

The Commander-in-Chief was of course aware by this time of the Arab
pretensions to Syria, and as his mind was, no doubt, wholly centred on
his own war theatre, he was naturally anxious to placate the Arab at all
costs. The Arab was at his door, giving him certain assistance by
harrying the Turks to the East of the Jordan, and the fact that the
Hedjaz Army was fighting on our side kept Bedouins and other marauders
from interfering with our lines of communication--no small matter in
Palestine and Syria. The intrusion of the Jew was a disturbing factor to
his policy, and was therefore resented.

The local Military Authorities, however, seemed oblivious of the fact
that there was a much bigger question involved than that which loomed so
largely in their eyes on the Palestine horizon. There was England's
world policy to be considered, and her Statesmen had already decided
that it was very much in her interests to win over to her side Jewish
help and sympathy the world over. Let no one under-estimate what that
help meant to the Allies during the Great War. The Jewish element, owing
to the Balfour Declaration, came solidly to our side in every land, and
in America greatly helped to counter the German propaganda which was
fast gripping hold of the United States. It was unfortunate that this
far-sighted and wise policy of our Imperial Statesmen was never grasped
by their local agents in Palestine.

In the E.E.F., so far as one on the spot could judge, but scant heed was
paid to any policy unless it bore on local affairs and coincided with
the point of view held by G.H.Q. and the satellites revolving round it.

If only a little wise diplomacy had been employed, I am strongly of the
opinion that it would have been quite practicable for the local
authorities to have treated the Jewish problem fairly and on the lines
of the Balfour Declaration and, at the same time, have retained the
Arabs on our side. After all the Arabs were as much interested in the
downfall of the Turk as we were ourselves, and, to his honour be it
said, the Emir Feisal never showed himself hostile to Jewish
aspirations. On the contrary he expressed the utmost goodwill and worked
hand in hand with Dr. Weizmann for the common good of both peoples.

The Jew and the Arab are necessary to each other in the Near East, and
if England wishes to retain her Empire it is vital to her interests to
keep friendly with both. I am afraid that at the moment we are at a
discount to the East of Suez. During the stress of war certain promises
were made to the Arabs which appear difficult to redeem, mainly due to
the policy of France in Syria. I admire France immensely, and that is
why I so much deplore her imperialistic aims beyond the Lebanons. She is
sowing a rich crop of troubles for herself in these regions, and I am
certain that ere long we shall see her reaping a bitter harvest. I met a
much travelled French officer in Cairo, who had just relinquished an
administrative post in Beyrout, and he told me that, if his Government
was wise, it would clear out of Syria, where it would have nothing but
trouble for generations to come. "If only," he went on, "England would
give us a bit of Africa and take Syria instead, France would make a good
bargain."

We, however, do not want Syria, but we do want to see a strong and
settled Arab state in these strictly Arab regions, and I sincerely hope
that our Statesmen will be wise enough, and energetic enough, to bring
about such a desirable consummation. If we permit the Bolshevists and
Turks to oust us from our friendship with the Jews and Arabs, and with
King Hussein and his son the Emir Feisal (now the King of Irak), upon
whom we have alternately blown hot and cold, just as it pleased France
to pipe the tune then we shall witness the beginning of the end of our
power and prestige in the Orient.

My trip to G.H.Q. was not quite in vain, for just before we left Egypt
sanction was given to enlist Palestinian volunteers. I sent to Judæa a
specially trained recruiting party, all fluent Hebrew speakers, under
the command of Lieutenant Lipsey, to report to Major James de Rothschild
of the 39th Battalion, who was the officer appointed to supervise this
work in Egypt and Palestine.

The response to Major de Rothschild's appeal was enthusiastic--in fact
his chief trouble was to keep out grey-beards and unfledged youths, so
eager were all to join up.

Lieutenant Lipsey had some difficulty in keeping his end up in
Jerusalem, where there were many anti-Zionists, but finally he worsted
his opponents and emerged triumphant with nearly 1,000 recruits.

The following is a translation of the Hebrew recruiting poster sent
throughout Palestine at this time:--

    HEAR, O ISRAEL!

    Hear! What does your heart prompt you to do?
    Shall we not reclaim our heritage and establish its possession
          in the eyes of the world?

    Hearken! What does your reason say to you?
    The British are fighting here before our eyes, and shall
        we remain in our houses until they return from the
        battle to give us our country which they have redeemed
        with their blood?
    Hearken! What does your honour and conscience
        dictate?
    Is it possible for us to accept from the hands of our
        righteous redeemers such an offering of blood?
    Shall not we too, together with them, offer our lives
        for our country?


    HEAR, O ISRAEL!

    The blood of our heroic forefathers, the blood of the
        British who fight for us this day, and the blood of
        the martyrs, cry unto us from this sacred ground.


    ENLIST! ENLIST!

    Shoulder to shoulder, together with our saviours, to the
        battle let us go. And salvation is with the Lord.


    BE STRONG!



CHAPTER VIII.
THE FEAST OF THE PASSOVER.


At this time G.H.Q. was situated at a place called Bir Salem (the Well
of Peace), ten miles to the east of Jaffa, and as, after my interview, I
had the whole day before me, I borrowed a motor-car and paid a flying
visit to Jerusalem, some thirty miles away to the eastward. I will not
attempt to describe here what I felt as I approached the Holy City,
along the winding road which leads up to it through the rocky Judæan
mountains.

I entered the old walled city through the Jaffa Gate, and was soon
buried in its gloomy bazaars and labyrinthine passages, seeking out the
old historic spots which I had reverenced from the days of my youth. I
had but a few hours for my explorations, but they were about the busiest
hours I ever spent, and although I have paid many visits to Jerusalem
since that date I have not forgotten the glamour thrown over me by my
first visit to these sacred shrines and temples of antiquity.

I left Jerusalem at three in the afternoon and was back in my camp at
Helmieh within twenty-four hours.

[Illustration: JERUSALEM]

The Battalion was attached to the School of Instruction at Zeitoun
(close to Helmieh), which was an unfortunate arrangement, for our
requirements were not attended to, and we were often kept idle for long
periods owing to want of equipment, such as rifles, etc., to enable the
men to fire their musketry course. There was no excuse for this, for
there was plenty of equipment of all kinds in the Ordnance Stores at
Cairo. It was the fault of the vicious system of having to get
everything we wanted through the School of Instruction, whose staff did
not seem to think that our requirements needed speeding up. It was not
until Brigadier-General A. B. Robertson assumed command of the school
that matters were mended, for this officer took a very friendly interest
in us and did everything in his power to help us along.

The Feast of the Passover was celebrated during our stay at Helmieh.
Thus history was repeating itself in the Land of Bondage in a Jewish
Military Camp, after a lapse of over 3,000 years from the date of the
original feast.

I had considerable trouble with the authorities in the matter of
providing unleavened bread. However, we surmounted all difficulties, and
had an exceedingly jovial first night, helped thereto by the excellent
Palestinian wine which we received from Mr. Gluskin, the head of the
celebrated wine press of Richon-le-Zion, near Jaffa. The unleavened
bread for the battalion, during the eight days of the Feast, cost
somewhat more than the ordinary ration would have done, so I requested
that the excess should be paid for out of Army Funds. This was refused
by the local command in Egypt, so I went to the H.Q. Office, where I saw
a Jewish Staff Officer, and told him I had come to get this matter
adjusted. He said that, as a matter of fact, he had decided against us
himself. I told him that I considered his judgment unfair, because the
battalion was a Jewish Battalion, and the Army Council had already
promised Kosher food whenever it was possible to obtain it, and it would
have been a deadly insult to have forced ordinary bread upon the men
during Passover. I therefore said that I would appeal against his
decision to a higher authority. He replied, "This will do you no good,
for you will get the same reply from G.H.Q." He was mistaken, for I
found the Gentile, on this particular occasion, more sympathetic than
the Jew, and the extra amount was paid by order of the Q.M.G., Sir
Walter Campbell.

During our stay at this camp we were reviewed by H.R.H. the Duke of
Connaught, and, towards the end of May, by the Commander-in-Chief,
General Allenby. Both these officers expressed themselves as pleased
with the smart soldierly appearance and steadiness of the men, the Duke
of Connaught remarking that "the men all appeared to be triers."

Towards the close of our training at Helmieh, and just as I was
beginning to congratulate myself that the battalion was shaping well and
would soon be fit for the front, I was staggered by the receipt of a
letter from G.H.Q. which aimed a deadly blow at our very existence. It
was nothing less than the proposal to break up the battalion and allow
the men to join Labour units! This was undoubtedly a clever move on the
part of the Staff to rid themselves of the Jewish problem and, at the
same time, bring the derision of the world upon the Jew.

[Illustration: THE BATTALION ON PARADE]

[Illustration: TOMB OF RACHEL, NEAR BETHLEHEM
(_See page_ 93)]

It put me in a very difficult position, for I felt very keenly that, if
the battalion were disbanded and turned over to Labour units, it would
throw an indelible stigma on Jewry.

I felt that it was my duty to protect the battalion from the disgrace
that would attach to it if it could be said that the only Jewish unit
raised for war purposes had refused to fight--even for Palestine.

I therefore ordered a parade of the men by Companies, and got the
officers to point out to the men their sacred duty, and gave
instructions for any malcontents to be sent before me for a final
appeal. Only twelve men were found who wished to join a Labour unit, and
to these twelve (I thought the number appropriate, as it was one for
each tribe) I made a strong personal appeal, and after I had pointed
out, in the best language at my command, what a stigma they were placing
on the battalion, and on their fellow Jews throughout the world, ten saw
the error of their ways and cheerfully said they wished to do their duty
as soldiers, and continued serving with the battalion, and I am glad to
be able to place on record that these ten did very well afterwards in
the field, one of them making the supreme sacrifice. Two only remained
obdurate to all appeals, and insisted on being posted to a Labour unit,
and I think Jewry should remember them to all time. Their names and
numbers, and the evil which they did, are recorded in the chronicles of
the battalion. They were turned out of the camp and drafted to a Labour
unit at a moment's notice, just as if they had been lepers.

Towards the end of April, 1918, we were delighted to welcome the 39th
Battalion from England, under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Margolin,
D.S.O., and with them as M.O. I was glad to see Captain R. Salaman. We
gave the new arrivals a very hearty welcome, the band of the 38th
Battalion playing them into Camp amid great enthusiasm.

There was much friendly rivalry between these Jewish Battalions, and
honours were about easy in our sporting competitions. We gave one or two
"At Homes," to which all Cairo seemed to flock, and I am sure our good
Cairene friends were favourably impressed with what they saw of the
Jewish Battalions at work and play.

Just about this time we were visited at Helmieh by Dr. Weizmann, Mr.
Joseph Cowen, and Mr. Aaronson. All three gave addresses to the men. Mr.
Aaronson moved his audience to fury by graphically describing the
torture which the Turks had inflicted on his aged father and young
sister in Palestine, because they had dared to help England. Mr.
Aaronson lived to see his home land freed from the Turk, but soon
afterwards lost his life in an aeroplane disaster while crossing from
England to France.

Dr. Weizmann has done much and suffered much since he addressed us on
that peaceful evening in the Egyptian desert. If he could have foreseen
everything I doubt if even his undaunted soul would have faced
unblenched all the trials and tribulations which have fallen to his lot
since he undertook the arduous task of leading his people back to the
Land of Israel. His task has been, if anything, more difficult than was
that of the great Lawgiver. The latter had only to surmount the
obstinacy of one Pharaoh, while Dr. Weizmann had to overcome that of
thousands--not a few of them being Jews!

What a pity it was that the modern leader had not the power to dispense
a few of the plagues which Moses eventually found so efficacious. It is
a striking testimonial to the genius of Dr. Weizmann that so much has
already been accomplished towards the Restoration; the fact that the
Jewish people are now within sight of their hearts' desire is, without
doubt, mainly due to the patient, persistent, and able diplomacy of this
brilliant leader.

It must not be forgotten, however that he was at all times, and often in
the teeth of bitter opposition, given the ready help and sympathy of Mr.
Lloyd George and Sir Arthur Balfour.



CHAPTER IX.
WE SET OUT FOR THE FRONT.


By the end of May our training was completed and on the 5th June, 1918,
we left Egypt for Palestine, getting a very hearty "send-off" from Col.
Margolin and the 39th Battalion.

Before we set out I had the gratification of receiving from General
Robertson the following letter:

SAVOY HOTEL,
CAIRO,
4TH JUNE, 1918.

DEAR COLONEL PATTERSON,

On the eve of your departure for the front I desire to wish you and the
officers and men of the 38th Royal Fusiliers God-speed, and success in
the tasks which you may be called upon to undertake in the future.

From what I have seen of your battalion I know it will uphold the
glorious traditions of the Regiment to which it has the honour to
belong, and its career will be watched with interest and sympathy by its
well-wishers in all parts of the world.

Personally I am proud to have been associated with the battalion even
for a short time.

Its well-known good behaviour must be a source of satisfaction to you,
because that will provide a sound foundation on which to build a solid
battle discipline, while the progress it made in the training at Helmieh
augurs well for its future efficiency.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed) A. B. ROBERTSON.
Lieut.-Col. J. H. Patterson, D.S.O.,
38th Battn., Royal Fusiliers, E.E.F.

The Battalion entrained smoothly and quickly at the railway siding close
to our camp and we were soon rolling onward to realize our ideals and
aspirations in the Promised Land.

Our Chaplain, who was a man of insight and vision, arranged that our
trumpets should sound, and that a short prayer should be said by the
troops as they entered, for the first time, the ancient land of their
Fathers.

All through the night, as we sped across the Sinai Desert seated in our
open trucks, we could see the funnel of the engine belching forth a
pillar of flame, and we were greatly reminded of the wanderings of the
forefathers of these men in this very Desert, who in their night
journeys were always guided by a pillar of fire. Nor did the simile
cease as dawn broke, for then the pillar of flame turned into a cloud of
smoke shot up into the still morning air.

Soon after sunrise we passed Gaza, the scene of Samson's exploits, and
saw, in the distance, the hill to the top of which he carried the gates
of the town. Gaza may be considered the bridgehead leading into or out
of Egypt. In Biblical times it was always a thorn in the side of the
Jews, and they were never able to capture it. It was, however, captured
from the Philistines on various occasions both by the Egyptians on their
expeditions into Syria and by the Syrians on their expeditions into
Egypt. No army could afford to leave it untaken on their lines of
communication. It will be remembered that we ourselves made two costly
failures here in our first attempts to enter Palestine during the Great
War. The third time of course we succeeded, and with its fall the whole
plain of Philistia was at our mercy.

As we rolled onward historical places cropped up every few miles and
kept us spellbound with interest. Beersheba was away thirty miles to the
east, and we hoped in good time to see Dan; meanwhile the Shephelah
downs ran parallel to us, ending up with Mount Gezer where David won a
victory over the Philistines. This hill was well known to every invading
force that has passed through Palestine, and around its base gallant men
of many nations have fallen.

In the distance, like a cobalt mist, loomed the mountains of Ephraim and
of Judæa, while the "utmost sea" occasionally shimmered on our left.

About noon we steamed through a grove of olives into Ludd (the ancient
Lydda), where we detrained. It was one of the hottest days I have ever
experienced, and our march to Surafend, under a blazing midday midsummer
sun, loaded up as we were with full kit, was a severe test of the
endurance of the men.

[Illustration: CHOIR OF THE JEWISH REGIMENT]

Almost as soon as we reached our bivouac at Surafend the Jewish
Colonists of Richon-le-Zion, Jaffa, Rechoboth and all the surrounding
colonies came out in their hundreds with flags and banners, on foot, on
horseback, and in chariots, to greet us, and show us how much they
thought of their brethren who had come all the way from England to help
them to redeem their country. Amongst the Zionists from Jaffa and
Richon-le-Zion were many scores of both men and women who had already
volunteered for service with the Army.

It was an inspiring sight to see how these young men and women rode and
managed their horses. No cowboy of the Western States of America could
be more expert. It is quite evident that a new and free Jewish race is
arising among the colonists of Palestine, for even the small children of
eight and nine years of age can ride and manage horses with ease. We
celebrated our first Sabbath in Palestine at Surafend, where special
prayers for the occasion were recited, including one composed by the
Haham Bashi of Egypt, Rabbi Simeon.

Richon-le-Zion, besides sending its quota of young men and women to
greet us, sent us also three casks of choice Richon wine, which in those
thirsty days the battalion much appreciated.

We remained at Surafend for three days, and during our stay there, were
inspected in our bivouac by General Allenby, who again expressed himself
as well pleased with all he saw.

Major James de Rothschild came over from Jaffa, where he was then doing
recruiting duty, and gave us a God-speed as we left our pleasant
surroundings at Surafend for our journey to the Front.

We marched off at 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the 9th June, and
reached El Kubab at 8.15 the same evening. Personally I only went
half-way, for I was recalled to Cairo to preside at a General
Court-Martial assembled there for the trial of three Royal Air Force
officers who had been performing some unauthorised stunts. I rejoined
the Battalion at Umm Suffah, a few miles short of the Turkish lines.
While the 38th was at this place there was an air raid on our lines, but
no damage was done.

From El Kubab the Battalion went to Beit Nuba. They left on the 11th,
and reached Harith the same day, where they came under the orders of
Brigadier-General E. M. Morris, a first-rate soldier commanding the 10th
Irish Division. They marched out of Harith at 5 p.m. on the 12th, and
arrived at Umm Suffah at 10 p.m. the same day.

We were now among the hills of Samaria and the transport was much
delayed on this march owing to the frightfully rough and stony road.
Several wheels got broken and, as a matter of fact, the transport, with
the food, etc., did not arrive until the early morning of the 13th.

On the 13th June the Battalion was placed in Divisional Reserve. On
Saturday the 15th it first came under shell fire while we were holding
Divine Service. Shells exploded quite close to the men, but no damage
was done, and the battalion took its baptism of fire quite cheerfully.

During the week that followed the Companies were posted to units already
in the line, to gain some knowledge of the country, and to learn the
nature of the duties to be carried out in the fighting zone.

Before we took our place in the line we were inspected by the G.O.C.
10th Division, who, when the inspection was over, expressed himself as
very pleased with the general appearance and steadiness of the men.

On the 27th June A, B, and C Companies were detailed to garrison
supporting points on the front occupied by the 31st Infantry Brigade, to
which we were now attached, and which was under the command of
Brigadier-General W. B. Emery, a genial gunner.

Battalion Headquarters and D Company moved up to the front on the 30th
June and took over the second line of supporting points, from a place
known as the Wadi Tiyur to the Wadi Belat, just to the west of the main
road running from Jerusalem to Nablus (the ancient Shechem), where it
cuts the Wadi Jib some twenty miles north of the Holy City.

On the 3rd July the Battalion relieved 2/101 Grenadiers in the left
sector of the 31st Infantry Brigade front, the relief being commenced
after dark and completed by 10.15 p.m.

We found the piece of country we took over most interesting. We occupied
the summits of the hills facing the Turkish position, and were
responsible for some three or four miles of front.

Our right rested upon Jiljilia, a pretty hamlet of Samaria, and our left
upon Abwein, a strong, stone-built Arab village, nestling half-way down
a steep hillside, surrounded by fig and olive trees. Our line on the
hills between these two places twisted and turned about like a snake,
for of course we conformed to the nature of the ground. Our frontage
towards the enemy descended into the valley, some 200 feet below, in a
series of rocky terraces, each having a drop of from six to twenty feet.
These terraces and hill slopes were dotted with olive trees. A wadi,
called the Wadi Gharib, ran through the narrow valley which lay at the
bottom, and then there was a very steep ascent up the opposite side to
the Turkish line.

Our front wire was actually a few hundred yards down over the crest of
the hill on the Turkish side, for from this position we had a better
field of fire.

When we took over this position from Lieut.-Colonel Strong, the O.C. of
the 2/101 Grenadiers, a considerable amount of work necessarily remained
to be done, building stone sangars, digging trenches, making roadways,
and generally improving the position in every possible way.

Our line was divided into four sections, one company guarding each part,
Major Neill on the extreme right holding Jiljilia, and Captain Brown
with his Company in Abwein.

We at once assumed a vigorous offensive policy; our patrols were pushed
out every night down into the valley, and often up to the Turkish wire
on the opposite hills. During daylight only the Observation Posts were
manned along our front wire. A couple of men in each vantage point,
equipped with field glasses or telescopes, and provided with a
telephone, kept us informed of any movement in the Turkish lines. As
soon as darkness had fallen each company marched its men over the crest
of the hills and took up position in the sangars and defence posts along
the barbed wire fence. All night long work and building, etc., went on,
the unfortunate men getting very little rest. Listening posts were
established well out beyond the wire, and strong patrols went down the
ledges looking for trouble in Turkish territory. Our aggressive policy
thoroughly scared the Turks, so much so that they never once attempted
to come anywhere near our front.

Just as dawn was breaking, having made certain by means of patrols and
scouts that no Turks were in the neighbourhood, the troops returned to
their bivouacs behind the crest, leaving only the Observation Posts on
the watch.

I had a very good Intelligence Officer in Lieutenant Simon Abrahams, who
explored "no man's land" very methodically, and who earned a high
measure of praise from our Brigade Commander. Abrahams would go out with
a daring scout like Pte. Angel (who afterwards won the M.C.) and sketch
roads, routes, tracks, etc., right under the very noses of the Turks,
and so careful was he, and so secretive, that his presence on the
debatable ground was never even suspected by the enemy.

It might be thought that when the men had finished their night's vigil
they would be allowed to rest, but instead of this, as soon as a hasty
breakfast had been swallowed, they immediately had to fix up barbed wire
entanglements, build stonework redoubts, gun emplacements, make
railways down the hills, or bury animals which had died or been killed
in somebody else's camp.

Anything and everything was demanded from the battalion, and every call,
no matter how distasteful, was responded to with readiness, if not with
cheerfulness. All the time we were holding this bit of the Nablus front,
from the Wadi Jib to the Wadi Gharib, the men were constantly running
about on arduous jobs and as busy as bees.

About this time there was a rumour that we were soon to take the
offensive, and I was especially pleased when I got a confidential
communication from our Brigade Commander ordering me to prepare a
careful reconnaissance of the country to our left front, where the
surprise attack on the Turks was to be made. A good track up to the
enemy wire, concealed as much as possible from his view, had to be
found, the general idea being that once there we would make a sweep to
the right along the Turkish front opposed to our lines. I detailed
Captain T. B. Brown for this important task, which he carried out
admirably. A suitable route by which to return with the expected
prisoners and loot had also to be discovered and sketched, and
Lieutenant Simon Abrahams was in his element when I selected him for
this adventure.

The hope of coming to grips with the Turks buoyed us up considerably,
and the prospect of a battle in which we felt sure we would do well
helped us through the trying and weary round of daily routine.

Our Brigadier was a soldier whom we all liked, but he had a mania for
putting up barbed-wire fences, and at last we erected so much on our
front that we caused a serious shortage of this material in the E.E.F.,
and further wiring was prohibited.

On the 10th July our Transport was shelled. Luckily only one mule was
killed and one wounded.

We were heavily bombarded by guns of various calibres at 2.30 in the
morning on July 14th, but it was an absolute waste on the part of the
Turks, for not a single casualty of any kind was sustained.

On this day the Turks and Germans attacked in the Jordan Valley and got
severely mauled by the Anzac Mounted Division. We, too, expected an
attack, but soon after dawn the shelling ceased and the situation became
normal.

While the Battalion was holding the forward trenches I always made a
round of the posts every night to see that every one was on the alert
and that they knew what to do in case of attack.

I made the men place white stones along the wire so that they could take
aim on them in case of a Turkish assault in the dark, and arranged
bombing parties at various points; in fact, we were all ready to give
the enemy a very warm reception if he ever came our way.

Once, on going my rounds, I heard a noise a little way down the hill, so
I ordered a young soldier to throw a bomb; he failed to get the pin
quite out and slipped the "dud" into his great-coat pocket; fortunately,
a sergeant standing near saw what had happened and, on examining the
"dud," found the pin practically released! The slightest movements would
have set the bomb off and we should all have been blown sky high.

No matter at what hour I returned from my tour of inspection along the
battle line, I always found my faithful orderly, Corporal Hutchinson,
awaiting me with a "nightcap" such as could only be mixed by the
dexterous hand of an old campaigner. Hutchinson served with me when I
commanded a battalion of the Irish Fusiliers, and followed my fortunes
when I went to command the Dublin Fusiliers. On asking him if he would
go with me to the Jewish Battalion, he replied, "Oh, be the hokey!--but
shure, Sir, that's where you'll be wanting me the most."

Hutchinson remained with me until we set out for the Jordan Valley, when
he was taken ill and invalided home. I missed him sadly, for he used to
remain by my tent door and ward off any undesirable intruder like a
well-trained watch dog. A more faithful, loyal and trust-worthy soldier
never shouldered a rifle.



CHAPTER X.
THE NABLUS FRONT.


On the 17th July we were transferred to the 60th Division and attached
to one of its Brigades.

We were very sorry to leave the 10th Division, for we had made many good
friends all round, and our Divisional and Brigade Commanders had always
treated us fairly and justly.

On the evil day of our transfer a fatal accident befell Lieutenant B.
Wolffe. He was in charge of the transport wagons and was engaged in
loading up supplies at the Ordnance Depôt. The drivers were, of course,
dismounted and standing by their teams while the work of loading was
going ahead. A sudden noise frightened one of the teams, and off the
four horses careered at a mad gallop. They were heading straight for
some troops standing near, and Lieutenant Wolffe, seeing this, made a
gallant attempt to stop them by springing at the heads of the leaders as
they dashed past. Unfortunately they were going too fast for him, and he
was dragged under their feet, the wagon passing over his body.

I visited him in hospital, as did also our Chaplain and others, and we
cheered him up as much as possible, but he died on the 20th, and his
death cast a gloom over the whole battalion, for he was a most
conscientious officer, a good Jew, and well liked by all ranks. He was
buried with full Jewish rites, a "Minyan" from the battalion attending.

The Commander-in-Chief in General Orders eulogised the gallant attempt
which he made when he sacrificed his own life in his plucky effort to
save others.

On the 24th July I was requested by Dr. Weizmann to bring a
representative party of officers and men of the battalion to a most
interesting ceremony at Jerusalem--the laying of the foundation stones
of the Hebrew University On Mount Scopus.

In the days of her past greatness the law was expounded at Jerusalem. It
is quite possible that again, even in our own days, we shall hear a
message of peace and goodwill issue forth from the Temple of Learning
overlooking the Holy City.

The site chosen for the building is a magnificent one. It looks down on
the domes and minarets of Jerusalem on the one side, and, on the other,
overlooks the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, with the green hills of
Moab looming in the distance.

The ceremony itself was a most interesting one. The Commander-in-Chief
was present; also all the civil and religious heads of the Jewish,
Christian, and Moslem communities, while a vast multitude of people of
all creeds thronged along the slopes of Scopus from Jerusalem--a
seemingly good omen for future peace and concord. It was a truly
inspiring and historic occasion, and augured well for the future
greatness of the University. Stones were laid by the Christian Bishop
in Jerusalem and by the Mufti (the Chief Mohammedan dignitary). One was
also laid by Dr. Weizmann in the name of the Jewish Regiment, while what
perhaps appealed to me most of all was the part taken by Jewish children
in laying a stone representing the Hope of Israel.

On my return to the Battalion I found the Headquarters encamped in a
pretty grove of olives on the Inniskilling Road, some two miles behind
the firing line. While we were here our Chaplain, the Rev. L. A. Falk,
one day discovered a red granite column embedded in the side of a hill.
This we unearthed and, on measuring it, found that it was about 12 feet
high and about 2 feet in diameter. We erected it in our camp in a grove
of olive trees. I much perturbed our good Rabbi by chaffingly suggesting
to him that we had been erecting an altar to Baal, in a grove, in one of
the high places! Our find got noised abroad, and the Governor of
Jerusalem, Colonel Storrs, with his assistant, Lord William Percy,
motored out from Jerusalem to see it. They had lunch with us, and I was
delighted to note that Lord William Percy took a keen interest in
preserving the fauna of Palestine, and had induced General Allenby to
impose strict limitations on the shooting of birds and beasts.

Our transfer to the 60th Division did not, for the time at least, result
in any change in our position in the line, but, almost from the moment
we joined the new Brigade, we felt the hostility shown towards all
things Jewish by the Brigade Commander. I endeavoured to counter his
prejudice against the battalion, during a friendly after-dinner chat,
by pointing out the immense debt we owed to the "People of the Book" for
all they have done towards civilising and humanizing the world for
thousands of years. During their struggle for existence through
centuries of exile, in countries where every form of torture and
repression had been in vogue against them, they never lost their
age-long Hope of a Restoration. The General seemed, like many others, to
have a very vague idea as to the aim of the Zionists, which is simply to
establish a National Home in Palestine where Jewish life, rooted in its
own soil, would have an opportunity of developing on modern lines, in
accordance with its own ideals. I gave the Brigadier some new ideas on
Jews, but all my eloquence was in vain, for I failed to convert him, and
he hinted that I was only wasting my time by being mixed up with a
Jewish unit!

But although the Brigadier was right in one way when he said "You will
get nothing out of it," yet in another way he was altogether wrong, for
I have got a very great deal out of my service with this Jewish
Battalion. I have had the satisfaction of proving that, in spite of all
obstacles placed in its path, this new unit showed that it was worthy of
the best traditions of the Maccabæans, those doughty Jewish soldiers
who, on many a well-fought field, defeated the legions of Antiochus and
freed Judæa from a foreign yoke.

But it is not by fighting alone that a good battalion is proved, and the
Jewish unit was tested in many ways as this record will show.

There was no respite from such work as digging trenches, building stone
sangars, and constructing roads along the hill-sides, by day and by
night; nevertheless, every soldierly duty allotted was carried out
cheerfully and promptly.

The rumour which had got abroad about the attack on the Turkish trenches
opposite our front now crystallised into definite shape, and the actual
date of the attack was often hinted at.

A few days before the assault was to take place our Brigadier gave us
the special job of making stone emplacements, almost within sight of the
Turks, just above the village of Jiljilia, and as we fondly hoped we
would have a place in the assaulting column, all hands worked with a
will, especially our two Christian Lithuanians, Stenelus and Sterilitis;
these men amazed the British gunners by the ease with which they placed
huge blocks of stone in position--all done by sheer strength of muscle
combined with hearty good will.

This particular piece of work was under the supervision of Major Neill,
and, as it had to be done in record time, his task was no easy one, but,
fortunately for him and his Company, the Turks never spotted what was
going on, and before we left these parts Major Neill saw the guns safely
emplaced without suffering a single casualty.

All this stone work on the steep sides of a hill, coupled with heavy
marching to and fro, and scrambling up and down, was not good for the
men's clothing, which soon got worn, ragged and dirty. A false step on a
slippery slope meant that the seat of a man's flimsy shorts was rent
asunder, and it was quite usual to see the tail of a shirt hanging out!
Yet, no matter how ragged and disreputable-looking the men were, I
found it impossible to get any renewal of clothing, although it was
freely handed out to other units.

It seemed as if it were a joy to some people to be able to withhold
necessary articles of clothing, such as shirts, boots, socks, shorts,
etc., and keep the men working on dirty jobs, and then say with glee,
"Look at the ragged dirty Jews."

It must be remembered that we could not obtain enough water even to wash
our faces, for every drop had to be carried up the precipitous sides of
the hills on camels as far as they could clamber, and then by mules and
donkeys up the steeper parts. Often there was a shortage of the precious
fluid even for tea-making.

I wrote urgent letters again and again, and protested that the men were
unfit to march for want of shoes, and that many of them were actually
exposing their nakedness for want of clothing. I sent my Quartermaster,
Lieutenant Smythe, day after day, to the Ordnance Stores trying to
extract necessary articles, but all in vain! We were nobody's children,
and consequently we could get nothing. I saw the Brigadier, and
represented to him that in many cases our men were ragged, shirtless,
sockless, and bootless, but if he made any representations on our behalf
there was no result.

Had we belonged to a Brigade instead of being merely "attached" most of
our troubles would never have arisen, but the policy adopted by the
local Staff was to keep us as "wandering Jews," pitched from one Brigade
to another, in a continuous round of General Post.

It was a heart-breaking experience as any soldier will understand.

At last I rode over to my old Gallipoli friend, Colonel O'Hara, who was
on the Staff of the 10th Division, and he, like the good soldier that he
is, helped me out of my difficulty as far as it lay in his power.

What a difference it makes when one meets a good Staff Officer! Not
nearly enough care is given to the task of selecting the right men for
this all-important branch of the Army. They are too often selected for
any reason except the right one, viz., efficiency.

The Brigade to which we were attached was fortunate in having at least
one good Staff Officer. The Brigade Major was a thoroughly capable
soldier, and always out to help in every way in his power.

The Brigadier often caused me much inward amusement by pointedly
appealing in my presence to the judgment of a certain Colonel X, an
officer junior to me, who was in command of a section on our right. If I
had a sangar built which commanded a good field of fire, it was sure to
be found fault with, and another had to be built in a site chosen by
their joint wisdom.

One night the gallant Brigadier came across the spot where I had my
outlook post established; he thought it was in the wrong place, of
course, and consulted his friend, Colonel X, as to where it should be.

"Don't you think it ought to be on the top of this house?" said the
General. The Colonel climbed to the top of the house, gazed round in the
inky darkness, came down again, and said he quite agreed with the
General, as all good, well-trained Colonels, with an eye to the main
chance, invariably do!

I was then ordered to put the outlook on the top of the house, which had
a flat roof, where a man would be seen by every Turk for miles round!
Needless to say, I never placed an observer in this absurd position.

Just about this time one of my men, quite a youth, was found asleep at
his post, and as this is about the most serious crime of which a sentry
can be guilty, he was tried by General Court Martial and sentenced to
death.

A few days later a telegram came from the Provost Marshal ordering me to
send the condemned man under strong escort, with two senior
non-commissioned officers, to the prisoners' compound some distance
away. I feared that the unfortunate lad would be shot at dawn, and as I
knew he had been working exceedingly hard, day and night, for 48 hours
before he was found asleep at his post, and was of good character and
very young, I determined to try to save him. I therefore sent a private
wire to General Allenby asking him on these grounds to reprieve him.

My friend the Brigadier saw the wire before it was despatched and
stopped it. However, one of my men in the Signal Office told me of this,
so I immediately wrote a confidential letter to General Allenby, gave it
to a motor-cyclist, and sent him off post haste to G.H.Q., some thirty
miles away, telling him to ride for all he was worth, as a man's life
hung on his speed.

I am glad to say that not only did General Allenby reprieve the man and
reduce the sentence to a certain number of years' imprisonment, but he
suspended even that punishment, provided the man proved himself worthy
of forgiveness by doing his duty faithfully in the battalion.

The young soldier returned to us overjoyed and full of gratitude for his
release. He proved himself worthy in every respect, and was never
afterwards called upon to do a day's imprisonment.

Not satisfied with having held up the wire, the Brigadier motored some
miles away to report the matter to the Divisional General, Sir John
Shea.

I was duly haled before the General, not knowing for what reason, until
he said, "You know you will get yourself into trouble if you go sending
telegrams direct to the Commander-in-Chief." It then dawned on me for
the first time why I had been sent for.

I explained all the circumstances to the General, and said that, in such
an emergency, I felt justified in what I had done. Besides, I said, I
had not addressed the Commander-in-Chief as such, but as General
Allenby, an officer whom I had known for many years. I also confessed
that, when I found that the wire had been blocked, I had immediately
written a letter of appeal to General Allenby, and had sent it off by a
special cyclist despatch rider.

The General pretended to be so horrified at this that he needed a
cocktail to revive him--in which I may add he asked me to join him. I do
not know what he thought of the Brigadier's action, but I can leave the
reader to imagine what I thought of it!

A few days later, when I was breakfasting with General Shea, I was much
amused when he told me that when he was at home his children insisted on
his reading a lion story to them every evening out of "The Man-Eaters of
Tsavo"!

From the frequent consultations between the Brigadier and his friend
Colonel X I felt that something was on foot, but little realised that it
was a matter which, if carried out, would strike a blow at the very
identity of the Jewish Battalions. This, however, soon became evident.

Shortly after my interview with the Divisional General I was called to
the telephone to speak to the Brigadier, who said, apparently with great
satisfaction, "I want to tell you that your Battalion and the 39th
Battalion (which was then on its way up from Egypt) are to be brigaded
with two West Indian Battalions, and you are to be placed under the
command of Colonel X, who is now a General and has come to live near my
camp. You will find General X a very nice man." I thanked the Brigadier
for his interesting information and hung up the receiver.

It was now clearly my duty to stop this second attempt to destroy the
identity of the Jewish Battalions in Palestine or resign my command. It
was no easy task to achieve, because our good friends had worked
underground all the time, and sprang this surprise upon me only when it
became an accomplished fact; Colonel X had actually been appointed to
the command, a Brigade Major and a Staff Captain had been posted to the
new Brigade, while the transport and ordnance section of the formation
had been already organized and sent to Jericho.

The Staff at G.H.Q. had, of course, arranged the whole affair, and it
would be no easy task to get the Commander-in-Chief to countermand the
Brigade formation. I felt that a very firm stand must be taken if this
blow aimed at Jewish prestige was to be averted.

I accordingly wrote a strong letter direct to General Allenby, pointing
out that, if such a scheme were carried out, it would involve very grave
issues. The Adjutant-General at the War Office had promised that the
Jewish Battalions would be formed into a Jewish Brigade, and to depart
from this declared policy would be looked upon as a direct slight, both
by the Jewish Battalions and by Jewry the world over. Loth as I was to
worry the Commander-in-Chief, I considered it my duty to him, to my men,
to myself, and to Jewry to see that Jewish interests were not trampled
upon without a protest while I retained command. I requested therefore
that the orders should be cancelled, and, if not, that I should be
relieved of my command.

That my attitude on this question was correct was proved by the receipt
of a most friendly reply from General Allenby, in which he thanked me
for my letter and said:

    I see the undesirability of brigading Jewish with West Indian
    Battalions, and I have decided not to do so. I shall form a
    provisional Brigade of the two Jewish Battalions until a
    complete Jewish Brigade can be formed, and they will be under
    you.

The whole tone of this letter showed that the C.-in-C. had been badly
advised by his Staff in this attempted amalgamation of the Jewish with
the West Indian Battalions.

A few hours after I had received General Allenby's communication a wire
came from G.H.Q. cancelling all the orders which had already been issued
with regard to the formation of the new Brigade.

Thus I won the second round in my fight for fair play for the Jewish
Battalions and Jewish ideals generally.

I realized that my stand for justice would be bitterly resented by
certain individuals at G.H.Q., and that, sooner or later, I would be
penalised for having upset their attempted little coup.



CHAPTER XI.
WE MARCH TO THE JORDAN VALLEY.


Within two days of the receipt of General Allenby's letter cancelling
the mixed Brigade formation, we were suddenly ordered to leave the cool
and pleasant hill-tops of Ephraim and march down to the sweltering heat
and fever-stricken desolation of the Jordan Valley, 1,300 feet below sea
level, in the very hottest and most unhealthy month of the year.

We, of course, took our orders for the deadly Valley quite cheerfully,
feeling that it was "not ours to reason why," but we did feel that it
was a blow below the belt to be taken out of the line on the Nablus
front, just as an attack, for which we had done most of the spade work,
was about to be made.

Had we remained with General Emery, I feel sure that he would have given
us a chance to show our mettle in the raid which was timed to take place
on 12th August, 1918.

Even when we were transferred to the Brigade in the 60th Division we
still looked forward to taking part in this move, and, as I have already
mentioned, we slaved away at every kind of preparation for the affair,
but, alas, we were taken out of the line, and ordered to march to a new
front, just three days before the attack.

It almost looked as if our enemies feared we would do well, and our
prowess would then get noised abroad to the discomfiture of our
detractors.

On the 9th August we marched from our pretty camp at Inniskilling Road,
where we had revelled in the grateful shade of the olive trees which
abound there, and took the road, bag and baggage, for Ram Allah, our
first halt, where we were to bivouac. Here we were to get further orders
from the G.O.C. 53rd Division, whose headquarters were in that ancient
town. It was midnight when we got to our camp, where we found that
someone had carefully chosen a site for us which was literally one mass
of stones. It must have been the favourite place of execution in olden
days when stoning to death was in vogue, and the stones had never since
been gathered up! There was no grumbling, however; every man cleared a
little patch whereon to lie down on his waterproof sheet, and slept the
sleep of the tired. We remained at this delectable spot for the best
part of two days, and on the afternoon of the 11th we marched to
Jerusalem, where we came under the orders of the Desert Mounted Corps.

We bivouacked about a mile or so short of Jerusalem, and, as the camp
was reached long after dark, the City remained hidden until dawn next
morning. I had a cheery and welcome dinner the evening we arrived with
Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode, who commanded the 20th Corps, at
his headquarters at the German Hospice on the Mount of Olives.

[Illustration: THE WAILING WALL AT JERUSALEM
(_See page_ 93)]

I was awake about 5 o'clock next morning, just as the mist was
beginning to disperse, and woke up everybody all round about me to have
their first look at the Holy City. My officers were all very tired, so
merely gave one peep at it out of sleepy eyes, and then buried
themselves once more in their blankets. Later on the men spent the whole
of the forenoon visiting Jerusalem, and especially the celebrated
Wailing Wall, which is the only authentic portion of the Temple
enclosure which still remains. Its huge blocks of stone seem to be as
indestructible as the indomitable race which designed, shaped, and
placed them in position so many centuries ago. The Jewish "bevel" is a
noticeable feature in the stones. Here the Jews for nearly two thousand
years have wept and wailed, placing their foreheads against the walls
and copiously watering the masonry with their tears. The wailing of the
Jews at this remnant of their Temple is one of the most pathetic and
curious sights I have ever witnessed.

The Jewish mendicants who are allowed to congregate in the vicinity of
the Wailing Wall are not a pleasing spectacle, and I hope that one of
the first acts of the Zionists will be the removal of this blot on
Jewry.

Bethlehem can be reached in a few minutes by motor from Jerusalem, and
near to it Rachel's tomb stands by the roadside, while almost opposite
is the field in which Ruth gleaned.

At 4.30 in the afternoon of this day (12th August) we marched off under
the walls of Jerusalem, past the Damascus Gate, skirted the Garden of
Gethsemane, and wended our way on to the road which would take us down
to Jericho. It was a lovely sight as we halted and looked back over the
Valley of Jehoshaphat, with the brook Kidron between us and the walls
of the venerable city, the beautiful Mosque of Omar overshadowing the
Temple area, the mysterious Golden Gates fronting us, sealed up, and the
westering sun gilding Mount Zion.

I have seen Jerusalem since from many points, but the view from the
corner of the Jericho Road, where it skirts the Mount of Olives on the
descent to Bethany, is, to my mind, by far the most beautiful and
impressive. I halted every platoon there, so that all might look well at
the glory of it--a glory which, alas, some of them would never again
return to look upon.

We bivouacked about three miles beyond Jerusalem, and next morning (13th
August) marched through Bethany while it was yet dark, and reached our
bivouac at Talaat ed Dumm at 2.30 in the afternoon. I reported our
arrival to General Chauvel, of the Australian Mounted Division, whose
headquarters were at this place, and from his hut I had a splendid view
of the beauty and desolation of the Jordan Valley which lay spread out
before me.

Talaat ed Dumm is a weird uncanny spot. It is mentioned in the Book of
Joshua as Adummim, and is the gate of the Judæan wilderness. The red and
yellow barren hills and rocky narrow valleys have a peculiar desolation
all their own, while the heat at the time we were there was scorching.

By some jugglery on the part of the Staff, all our transport animals had
been taken away from us, and we found ourselves stranded without a
particle of shade, shelter, or food on this God-forsaken spot,
sweltering in the fierce rays of the burning sun. At last, towards
sundown, our baggage and rations arrived in motor lorries, dinners and
teas were rolled into one, and peace reigned once more in this drowsy
wilderness.

When the terrific heat had become somewhat less scorching, accompanied
by the Padre, I wandered up to an ancient ruin which topped the summit
of a hill dominating the roadway. This proved to be the castle of a
redoubtable robber chief, who had lived here in bygone days and taken
his toll from every traveller. From time immemorial this had been the
stronghold of the robber bands who waylaid, robbed, and even murdered
those journeying to and fro between Jerusalem and Jericho. It was close
to this bandit's castle that the Good Samaritan poured oil and wine into
the wounds of the unfortunate wayfarer who had fallen among thieves. It
was an ideal spot for a robber's lair, because it commands a full view
of what is practically the only route for caravans through this dreary
barren wilderness.

We were not sorry to leave our camp at dawn, and strode out so merrily
that we overtook a Cavalry Brigade which blocked our way! As we marched
down the steep descent to the Jordan Valley we had on our left the Wadi
Kelt, which wound its tortuous course through the boulders at the
bottom, hundreds of feet sheer below us. Some people say that it was
here that the Prophet Elijah was fed by the ravens, but it has been
satisfactorily proved that the brook Cherith, where Elijah hid, is now
known as the Wadi Fusail. It runs into the Jordan from the westward,
near a place called the rock of Oreb.

This suggested an idea to me that the "ravens" spoken of in the Bible
were not birds but people, for the word "Oreb" means a raven. Now we
know there was a prince called Oreb, for we have an account of his death
in Judges, Chapter 7, Verse 25. It is also a well-known fact that in the
East tribes take their names from their prince or chief man, so that in
all probability there was a tribe called Orbim (the plural of "oreb" or
raven).

The place where Prince Oreb was slain was the rock of Oreb, and it is
known to this day as "Tel el Orbaim." Moreover, this place is in Gilead,
which was Elijah's old home, so it was quite natural that he should flee
to this neighbourhood and be fed with flesh and bread, night and
morning, by his friends the Orbim, or "Ravens."

How similar, too, are the words used in the 4th and 9th verses of 1st
Kings, Chapter 17: "I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there," and
"I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee!"

Can it be possible that the ravens were people and not birds, and that
our old and learned translators fell into the error of thinking that
they were birds, because they did not know of the possible existence of
a tribe called "Orbim" or "Ravens"?

We continued our march down through the Judæan wilderness, the place
where the High Priest yearly turned loose the Scapegoat which bore on
its head the sins of the Children of Israel.

Occasionally, away to our right, between the desolate, dusty,
sulphurous-looking hills, we caught a momentary glimpse of the emerald
sheen of the Dead Sea, while away on our left on the edge of the valley,
stood out the Mount of Temptation.

[Illustration: THE JERUSALEM-JERICHO ROAD]

[Illustration: NEAR THE WADI KELT
(See page 95)]

The moment we got down to the Jordan Valley (or Ghor, as the Arabs call
it) the real trials of the men began. The heat was intense, and the
going became very heavy, for we had no longer a good metalled road on
which to march. Dust lay a foot deep on the path; it was exceedingly
fine and looked like the best powdered cement. As the men marched clouds
of it arose and choked them, while their feet were actually sucked down
at each step, and an effort had to be made to draw the foot out again,
as if some devil were below, pulling at the sole of the boot.

The sixteen platoons forming the battalion marched well apart in order
to evade as much of this blinding, choking, sulphurous dust as possible.

Jericho, the city of the Palms, lay a little to our right. We passed its
outskirts and halted for a rest under Old Jericho, the walls of which
the Bible tells us miraculously fell to Joshua's trumpets over 3,000
years ago. This was a thought which acted as a spur to every Jewish
soldier, and although the march was a hard one and the worst of it had
yet to be done, the men came through the ordeal triumphantly, and very
few dropped out by the way. Those who did fall by the wayside were
helped along by our Padre, the Rev. L. A. Falk, who gave up his horse to
the footsore and carried the pack and rifle of the weary, thus cheering
them along into Camp. This time it was the Priest who proved the Good
Samaritan on the road to Jericho.

Soon after we recommenced our march from under the walls of old Jericho
a huge black column of fine dust, whose top was lost in the Heavens,
arose in front of us and gyrated slowly and gracefully as our vanguard,
leading us onward to our bivouac on the banks of a cool and pleasant
brook, where it vanished. I felt that this was a good omen for our
success in the Jordan Valley, for it was a case of the Children of
Israel being led once more by a pillar of cloud.

The Headquarters of the Australian Mounted Division was close beside our
bivouac, and here I had a very welcome breakfast with Major-General H.
W. Hodgson, its capable and genial Commander. The General told me that
he would review the battalion on the following afternoon, on its march
out to the new camping ground on the Auja.

Next morning, while the men were resting and refreshing themselves on
the banks of the Nueiameh (for so the cool stream was named), I rode
down the Valley to the eastward of Jericho, accompanied by our Padre.

We waded through the Wadi Kelt, luxuriant grass growing where the water
had overflowed its banks, showing how fruitful the Valley would be if it
were irrigated. We searched the plain to discover, if possible, some
traces of the ancient Gilgal, Joshua's G.H.Q., and eventually we came
upon what we took to be the site, some three miles to the south-east of
Old Jericho. At all events we found some very ancient stonework buried
in grass-grown mounds just about where Gilgal might be looked for, and I
feel sure that if excavations were carried out here some very
interesting discoveries would be made.

After we had briefly examined the ruins, I suggested to the Padre that
we should go and breakfast in Jericho, if indeed we could find a
caravanserai there, so in search of a hostelry we rode into the modern
city of the Palms.

It proved to be but a poor tumble-down jumble of buildings, as might
have been expected. However, as we rode along, we came upon a somewhat
pretentious looking building on which was painted "The Gilgal Hotel."
Whatever doubt there may have been about the ancient Gilgal, here at any
rate was a modern one, the discovery of which at this moment was most
opportune, for we were both decidedly hungry after our explorations.

As we rode into the courtyard a dozen Arab urchins who had been lounging
about made a dash for our horses, each eager to grasp the reins in the
hope of some "baksheesh." An elderly dame, on hearing the scuffle,
emerged from a doorway, scattered the surplus boys, and called loudly,
"Victoria, Victoria." A musical voice from a room above responded to
this familiar name, and, on looking up, we saw a buxom, olive-tinted
damsel step on to the balcony. A voluble dialogue then took place
between mother and daughter, the result of which was that Victoria, in
excellent English, invited us up to breakfast. We had a most sumptuous
feast, or so it appeared to us, inured as we were to plain Camp fare. I
was particularly pleased with the flavour of the honey, which Victoria
informed me was taken from a hive in the garden. The milk, too, was
good and plentiful, so we had at last reached the "land flowing with
milk and honey."

Before we left, I asked our fair hostess how it came about that she, a
Syrian damsel, was known as Victoria, to which she promptly replied,
"Because I am Queen of Jericho."

Some time afterwards I made a special visit to Old Jericho. Naturally,
during the 3,000 odd years that have elapsed since its capture by
Joshua, the old city has got silted up and the place has been covered
over by soil washed down from the Judæan hills; but just before the War
a party of Antiquarians commenced excavation work and exposed several
buildings of the old city, some twenty or thirty feet below the surface
of the ground. There the lintels and door-posts of wood may still be
seen embedded in the brickwork, but they are all turned into charcoal,
probably from the fire which consumed the city by Joshua's command.

It will be remembered that the rebuilding of Jericho was forbidden under
a terrible curse, "Cursed be the man before the Lord that riseth up and
buildeth this city Jericho; he shall lay the foundation thereof in his
firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it."

The Battalion left its pleasant bivouac by the Nueiameh at 5 o'clock in
the afternoon, and waded across through its cool waters; when we had
marched through the appalling dust of the Valley for some three miles, I
observed General Hodgson waiting to review us on the far side of a steep
nullah. I cantered on, and took my place beside the General and his
A.D.C., Captain Buxton.

I am certain that a review was never held under more peculiar
circumstances.

The men marched in column of fours, platoon after platoon, down one side
of the steep gully and up the other, and then past the General, who
apparently expected to see them marching as steadily as if they had been
in the Long Valley at Aldershot; and the strange part of it is that they
_were_ marching steadily, shoulder to shoulder, in spite of the
difficult ground which they had to negotiate and the enormous load they
had to carry. They were one mass of dust from head to foot. Nothing
could be seen of their faces except a pair of eyes blinking out of a
countenance which looked as if it had been dipped in a flour barrel and
then streaked with lines of soot, for rivulets of black sweat ran in
parallel lines down their dust-covered faces.

It was the funniest sight I ever saw in my life, but the men were as
grave as owls. I could hardly keep my face straight when, on the command
"eyes left" being given, they turned their comical looking faces boldly
up to the General!

I remarked to him that it was a bit of an ordeal to review them just
after scrambling down and up the steep sides of a gully, and he replied,
"That is exactly why I am here. I want to see how they shape under the
most difficult possible circumstances, and I must congratulate you on
their soldierly bearing and steadiness."

The Battalion certainly did itself credit that day, for it was no light
ordeal to go through, considering the dust and heat, and the enormous
weight that the unfortunate men had to carry stowed away on every part
of the person.

When we had completed about six miles of the march towards our camping
place at the Auja, we were met by the Brigade Major of the 12th Cavalry
Brigade, an energetic Staff Officer, who, besides coming himself, had
thoughtfully provided guides to lead us into the Camp in the darkness.
It must be remembered that we were now within sight and range of the
Turkish guns, and all large bodies of troops had to move in the dark. We
were very glad to reach our bivouac on the Auja, which is a pleasant,
swiftly-flowing streamlet, with many cool and shady nooks amid the
foliage which grows in profusion along its banks.



CHAPTER XII.
OUR POSITION IN THE MELLAHAH.


We were now attached to the 12th Cavalry Brigade, commanded by
Brigadier-General J. T. Wigan, and on the 16th, 17th, and 18th August we
took over D and E sections of the Desert Corps front line, relieving the
19th Indian Lancers and the 6th Indian Cavalry Regiments. We were
unfortunately only a few days with the 12th Brigade, which was moved to
Ludd soon after we were posted to it.

The Jordan Valley, at the place where we were entrenched, is about
fifteen miles wide and is over 1,200 feet below sea level. It is for the
most part fairly flat, but is intersected here and there by huge
ravines, which are in places quite narrow, and at others some hundreds
of yards across, with sheer cliffs some thirty to fifty feet high as
banks. Looking at the valley from the hills that border it, one would
never suspect the existence of these great rifts. The River Jordan runs
in the centre of one of these depressions, which in places is 50 to 100
feet below the ordinary level of the rest of the valley.

The Wadi Mellahah is another huge cleft or rift, running about a mile to
the west of, and more or less parallel to, the Jordan. It is some 10
miles long, and varies from a few score yards to a mile in width. Steep
cliffs and slopes shut it in on both sides, and make the bed of the
Mellahah about as hot and stifling a spot as can well be imagined,
while, to add further abomination to it, noxious fumes arose in places
from its barren and desolate looking sides and bed. A tiny, briny
streamlet runs its straggling course through it in the dry season,
although in places it spreads out into large reed-covered swamps. The
water of this rivulet was so salt that a single drop was more than one
could bear to take on the tip of one's tongue.

We made our headquarters in this gully some three miles from where it
flows into the Auja, of which it is a tributary, and here we fixed up a
reed hut as our mess house, under the shade of the only tree in this
depressing spot. Of course we had to keep down in the depths of the
ravine, otherwise we would be seen and shelled by the Turks.

This Mellahah Wadi had been made in the course of ages by the rush of
water coming down from the Judæan range and from other hills to the
north where there is a heavy annual rainfall. Here and there in the
ravine, where it is at its broadest, stand isolated hillocks which the
water has not worn away, and on these had been constructed some of our
more northern redoubts; they were easy to defend and commanded a good
view, for their tops were on a level with the surface of the surrounding
valley.

One of our redoubts was named "Salt," and just to the north of it a
sparkling spring bubbled out of the side of the cliff. It looked so pure
and inviting that I took a mouthful, and was nearly poisoned for my
pains. It was the most briny, sulphurous liquid imaginable. There is a
fortune awaiting the man who exploits its medicinal properties!

The northern end of the Mellahah was held by the Turks, and there it
opened out into a huge swamp. Of course the mosquitoes bred and thrived
in this natural reserve, and played havoc, not only with the Turkish
Army, but with our men too; when the wind blew from the north it carried
the little demons amongst us in swarms. We had drained the swampy part
of the Mellahah within our own lines at enormous pains, so that unless
the wind blew from the north, we were fairly free of the irritating
pests.

As a matter of fact we used to go out every night half a mile or so in
front of our wire, deepening and diverting the streamlet, in order to
dry up the swamp and remove the breeding ground of the mosquitoes as far
as possible from our posts. This was always risky work, for, if the
Turks had discovered what we were about, they would no doubt have made
it very lively for us with rifle and machine-gun fire.

From a military point of view our position in the Mellahah was a
hazardous one.

We were now on the extreme right flank and extreme north front of the
British Army in Palestine--the post of honour and danger in the line,
with the Turks practically on three sides of us in the salient which we
held. We had the most exposed piece of front to guard which it is
possible to conceive, and we were so badly supported by guns, etc.,
that, had the Turks made a determined attack in force, we would probably
have been annihilated before succour could reach us. It was altogether
an extraordinarily risky position in which to place a raw battalion. The
authorities must have had great faith in our fighting abilities.

We were the only troops in the Mellahah, or within miles of it, our next
nearest neighbours being the West Indian Regiment, which had a much
better position than ours, close under the Judæan hills, with the swift
sweet waters of the Auja running through their lines.

The 20th Indian Infantry Brigade held the Jordan some three miles to the
south of us, and it would have been quite feasible for the Turks to have
concentrated a considerable force and thrust themselves into the gap
between our lines and theirs, and by so doing we would have been
completely cut off.

The Anzac Mounted Division was strung out a long way southward, from the
Auja to the Dead Sea, and some considerable time would have to elapse
before these doughty warriors could come to our assistance. The guns
guarding our section of the front were very few--about six 13-pounders
and a couple of howitzers, the latter being rarely brought into action.

We had in our neighbourhood part of the 4th Turkish Army, some 10,000
strong, with over 70 guns, so it can be seen how precarious our position
was. In our infant days some wag had bestowed upon us the unofficial
motto of "No advance without security," but here we did not live up to
it, for we were indeed well advanced without any security.

The Turks were in possession of the important Umm esh Shert Ford on the
Jordan, and held very strong positions covering the ford on our side of
the river, and their entrenched line ran right across our front and
onward to the Judæan foothills, some ten miles to the west of our
position.

To the southward of the Umm esh Shert Ford we had an observation post on
the cliffs which overlooked the Jordan, and on a moonlight night it was
an eerie experience to stroll across to it and lie on the warm sand,
listening to the melancholy howling of the jackals and hyenas which
filled the air with their dismal cries and wailings. I often wondered if
the thick growth of tangled trees and shrubs which spread out over 100
feet below me up and down the river banks did not conceal many strange
wild creatures, still unsuspected in these regions; the place lends
itself to the weird in all things, but the only uncanny thing I saw
there was a reddish coloured hare with enormous ears, which, on that
occasion at all events, got away safely to the shelter of the reeds.

The Turkish outposts at this point were established on the opposite bank
of the Jordan, but they never molested us, or attempted to cross at this
point.

Our sector of some seven miles of front stretched from this point in a
north-westerly direction, and we held a series of redoubts, some on the
Jordan bank of the Wadi Mellahah, others on hillocks in the ravine, as I
have already described, and three more on the right bank of the Wadi.

This sector was divided into two. I placed Major Ripley in command of
the north-western part, while Major Neill commanded the south-eastern
wing. Each of these officers had some six redoubts to defend, and
several of the posts were quite isolated and had to depend entirely on
themselves in case of attack.

I recommended that two of these posts should be abolished, for they were
unsuitable for defence purposes. The Corps Commander (General Chauvel),
the Divisional Commander, and all their staffs came out one day to see
if my suggestion was sound. I remember we all stood in a row looking
over one of the parapets of the useless redoubt in full view of the
Turks; if they had only fired a lucky shot from "Jericho Jane" that
morning they might have made a good bag!

All the generals agreed that the two posts were useless, so we
dismantled them gladly, for it meant less men to find for duty each
night--a most important consideration when one's men are all too few for
the work in hand.

This was the last I saw of General Chauvel and General Hodgson, for they
were soon afterwards ordered out of the Valley to prepare for the great
concentration which was being secretly carried out on the extreme left
of the Army near Jaffa. When the Australian Division was removed we were
attached to Major-General Sir Edward Chaytor, who commanded the Anzac
Mounted Division of immortal fame. This was a piece of rare good fortune
for us, for we found in General Chaytor a man of wide sympathy and
understanding, a demon for work and efficiency, but always ready to give
honour where honour was due--even unto Jews.

Although our position in the Mellahah was such an isolated and
precarious one, we had no pessimistic forebodings with regard to our
ability to give a good account of ourselves if attacked. We felt that
"the greater the danger, the greater the honour," and it behoved us to
be all the more vigilant, and up and doing at all times.

The magnificent way in which the men responded to the call of duty in
that desolate, nerve-racking region, is beyond all praise. All day long
the sun beat down mercilessly on them, their only shelter being a flimsy
bit of bivouac canvas, and the nights were stifling. Perspiration
streamed from every pore, even when resting. Flies and mosquitoes
deprived everyone of sleep, for our mosquito nets soon became torn and
worthless, and could not be replaced.

Just before dark every available man other than those required to go on
patrols and reconnoitring duty had to parade fully equipped and march to
his post on the redoubts. Here the apparently endless night was spent.
At dawn the men marched back to their comfortless bivouacs to snatch
what repose they could before they were again called upon to work on
strengthening the redoubts and deepening the trenches.

It was in truth an exceedingly strenuous life under such terrible
climatic conditions.

Water could only be obtained in very limited quantities; every drop had
to be carried from the Auja four or five miles away. The whole place was
constantly enveloped in stagnant dust, so it can be imagined with what
appetite a man could tackle food under such appalling conditions, every
mouthful of which was necessarily full of sand and grit.

An Australian summed up life in the Jordan Valley very well, when he
remarked one sweltering day, "God need not have troubled to make Hell
when He had the Jordan Valley."

This part of the Jordan Valley is not supposed to be habitable during
the months of August and September. Even the wild Bedouins, who linger
in these parts to feed their flocks of goats, flee from the accursed
place in these two dreaded months.

No British soldier had yet been called upon to endure the horrors of the
Mellahah even for a week; nevertheless the Jewish Battalion was kept
there for over seven weeks at the most deadly period of the year.
Looking back upon it all I can only say that the Jewish people may well
be proud of their Battalion for the admirable way it "carried on" in
this abomination of desolation. It was about the hottest, most
unhealthy, and most God-forsaken place in the universe--in fact some of
my men assured me that they saw the Devil himself there, horns, tail and
all!

Such was the position allotted to the 38th Battalion to defend and hold,
and it can be imagined that the change from the hill tops of Ephraim to
this inferno was appalling.

Knowing that our enemies had already tried to abolish the Jewish
Battalion, I was strongly reminded of the story of Uriah the Hittite!

How terribly we suffered owing to our tour of duty in this pestilential
region will be described in a later chapter.



CHAPTER XIII.
LIFE IN MELLAHAH.


Although the climatic change from the cool hill-tops of Samaria to the
inferno of the Jordan Valley differed as does Heaven from Hell, still we
had compensations in the fair, just, and kindly treatment meted out to
us by General Chaytor and every officer, non-commissioned officer, and
man of the Anzac Mounted Division.

The battalion stood entirely on its merits, and that it found favour in
the sight of these famous fighters is the proudest feather in its cap.
Their minds were as broad as the wide spaces from whence they had come,
and in their strong souls there was no room for petty spite or
discrimination. If we quitted ourselves like men and performed our
duties like good soldiers, then it did not matter, even if we were Jews.

The Anzac Mounted Division Headquarters were about eight miles from my
own, and it frequently fell to my lot to ride there through the
devouring heat of the day for a conference with the General. Never shall
I forget the delicious cool draught of shandy that always welcomed me,
straight from the ice-box, mixed by the cunning hand of Colonel Bruxner,
the A.A. and Q.M.G. of the Division. Bruxner would spy me from afar
off, and, being a man of understanding, had the nectar all ready by the
time I reached his tent, and oh, how good it was! No place in the world
can raise a thirst like the Jordan Valley, but it was almost worth
enduring when it could be quenched by a long draught of Bruxner's
elixir.

The principal objective on our special piece of front was the Umm esh
Shert Ford over the Jordan. It was some two miles to the East of our
most northerly posts on the Mellahah, and it was well protected by a
series of trenches, by barbed wire entanglements, and by the fortified
Jordan cliffs. If we could, by any chance, get possession of this
crossing, it would mean that the Turkish communications would be thrown
considerably out of gear, and all their local arrangements East and West
of the Jordan completely upset.

Furthermore, in the case of an advance on our part, by pushing mounted
troops across this Ford, the whole of the Turkish position, ten miles to
the East-South-East of us at Nimrin, would be turned, for the road by
the Umm esh Shert Ford was the short cut to Es Salt (the old Ramoth
Gilead) and Amman (the ancient Rabbath Ammon, where that splendid
Hittite soldier Uriah was treacherously sent to his death).

Our constant endeavour, therefore, in patrol and reconnaissance, was to
gather all possible information as to the ways and means of getting at
this spot and making it our own. No stone was left unturned and no risk
avoided which would lead to this important result, and in due course we
had our reward.

In such an isolated position as ours, the only thing to be done was to
adopt an aggressive attitude towards our enemies and so induce them to
think that we were a great deal stronger than was actually the case.
This policy succeeded admirably, and we put up such a good bluff, and
harried the Turks so vigorously, that they were in constant dread of
attack, and immediately began to erect barbed wire fences right along
their entire front, with every appearance of haste and nervousness.

Considering the nature and extent of the position which we held, we lost
very few men in killed, wounded, and missing during the seven odd weeks
we grilled in the Jordan Valley. We were daily and nightly shelled, but
the Turkish gunners rarely had any luck. On the other hand we harassed
them continuously, with the result that deserters began to come in
freely, sometimes singly, and often in twos and threes. It is strange,
but true, that until we came into the valley, prisoners and deserters
were very scarce.

On one occasion a prisoner was brought before me trembling violently. On
asking him what was the matter, he replied that he feared his throat was
about to be cut! His officer, he said, had told him that we finished off
all our prisoners in this way. I laughed, and (wishing to prove him)
told him that after he had had some food I proposed to send him back to
his camp so that he might tell all his comrades how well we treated
those who fell into our hands. On hearing this he cried bitterly that he
did not want to return to his camp at any price, and begged to be kept
by the British, a request to which I of course readily acceded.

A Turkish sergeant who was captured one day made us all laugh heartily.
Before he was marched off to the prisoners' compound somebody wanted to
take a photo of him. The little sergeant (for he was quite diminutive)
preened himself like a peacock, gave a rakish tilt to his headgear, a
fierce twist to his moustache, and struck a dramatic pose before he
would allow himself to be snapped. He was a regular Turkish Charley
Chaplin!

Most of our prisoners told us quite frankly that they were tired of the
war, their ill usage, and bad food, and were glad to be in our hands,
more especially as they never got any rest in front of our lines.

On the 26th August thirteen Turks of the 1st Infantry Battalion of the
2nd Regiment of the 24th Division surrendered. These men deserted _en
bloc_ while they were holding a post which guarded the flank of their
battalion. I found out from them that their relief party was due to
arrive before I could possibly get a half platoon from my battalion to
occupy the deserted post. If time had allowed me to lay a little trap, I
should like to have seen the faces of the incoming Turks when they found
themselves looking down our rifle barrels as they marched into their
post. They must have been sufficiently astonished as it was to find the
place empty.

I watched an exciting little adventure one morning as I stood in one of
the fire bays of our most advanced redoubt, just as dawn was breaking,
peering through my field glasses to the northward, along the jagged
course of the Mellahah where it spread out into many channels and
ravines near the Turkish lines.

All at once I spied, some 800 yards off, two Turkish officers standing
at the foot of a huge sand slope, gazing at something away to their
left. They looked to me as if they had come out to shoot a hare, or
perhaps a gazelle, as there were some of these pretty creatures in the
Valley. One of the officers was extremely tall and wore a long black
cloak.

Now I knew that I had an officer (Lieutenant Evans) and man out scouting
in that neighbourhood, and I felt rather anxious for their safety if
they should, unexpectedly, come upon the Turks. I therefore searched the
vicinity with my glasses, and sure enough, there they were walking
calmly along on the opposite side of the high sand bank under which the
Turks were standing. Neither party was aware of the presence of the
other. I felt it was not a time to take any chances, for I did not know
how many more Turks there might be concealed from my view behind the
many sand hills that were dotted about, so I called up Major Ripley and
sent him and half-a-dozen men at the double, to cause a diversion, and,
if possible, to capture the enemy officers.

While giving these directions I kept my glasses on my two scouts, hoping
that a lucky turn would take them out of danger, or expose the enemy to
them before they themselves were spotted. All at once Lieutenant Evans
headed up the side of the sand ridge, and I knew then that all would be
well, for the Turks had their backs to him. As soon as he reached the
top he cautiously peered over, and he must have been astonished to see
the enemy so near, for he promptly ducked his head out of view. He then
slid down the slope, took his orderly with him, and ran to put himself
between the Turks and their lines, hoping, I suppose, to ambush them as
they returned. The latter, all unconscious of what was going on, were
taking things very casually, and instead of going back to camp, they
came on a little way in the direction of our lines. This upset Evans'
calculations, so he and his man began to stalk the Turks, and just as he
was about to open fire on them they discovered him, and then both sides
loosed off their rifles and a regular duel began.

Meanwhile Major Ripley and his men had climbed half-way up the side of
the ravine, and they in turn began to blaze away at the Turks, who were
now thoroughly scared. They took to flight, and in the many twists,
turns and channels thereabouts managed to get safely away to their own
lines.

Evans and his scout got back to ours, none the worse for their
adventure.

I had a narrow shave myself in this same post a couple of days later. It
was my custom to scan the enemy's lines soon after daybreak every
morning from this commanding position in order to see if any changes had
taken place in the night. A Turkish sniper must have seen me and marked
me for his own. At all events I had just finished my survey, and stepped
down from my perch, when a bullet buried itself with a thud in the bank
just where my head had been!

A couple of days later Lieutenant Mendes and Sergeant Levy were out
scouting along the intricate course of the Mellahah, to the north of our
lines, when they walked into an ambuscade; the Sergeant fell at the
first volley, but luckily Mendes was not hit. He refused to surrender,
and, in spite of some fleet-footed Turks making the pace very hot for
him, he eluded the lot and got back to our lines safely, but thoroughly
exhausted.



CHAPTER XIV.
WE WIN OUR FIRST HONOURS.


On the 28th August a patrol of six privates, under the command of a
sergeant, crept up to the Turkish trenches near the Umm esh Shert Ford.
It was a dark and windy night, so they got quite close to the enemy
without being seen. When about thirty yards short of the Turks they lay
down and then observed a sentry standing a little way off. One of the
patrol, Private Sapieshvili, a Jew from the Caucasus, began to crawl
forward and cautiously stalk the unwary sentinel. When eventually he
succeeded in getting behind him, he stood up and advanced boldly,
pretending to be a Turk, for he was able to speak a few words of
Turkish. All at once he pounced on the sentry, seized him by the throat
and bore him to the ground.

The enemy in the trenches heard the scuffle and opened fire and one man
of our patrol was badly hit. Sapieshvili, however, stuck to his
prisoner, disarmed him and took him triumphantly off to our camp. The
Turks in the trenches numbered about a score, and kept up a heavy fire,
so the rest of the patrol withdrew. Before doing so, Private Gordon
lifted his wounded comrade (Private Marks) and carried him back to our
lines under a rain of bullets from the Turks.

I recommended these men to General Chaytor for their gallantry and
coolness under fire.

It was unfortunate that Private Marks' wound proved to be a mortal one.
He had only joined the battalion some three days previously, and this
was his first encounter with the Turks. He had served in France and
other war centres, and had passed through many a fierce fight scathless.

We gave him a very impressive burial the following morning, under the
lea of a little hillock, with his face turned towards Jerusalem; the
spires of the buildings on the Mount of Olives could actually be seen
from the spot where we were standing around his grave.

One of the ten men who, at Helmieh, had wished to join a Labour
battalion, but who, on reconsideration, had seen that it was his duty to
remain as a fighting soldier, was Private Greyman. He was a man who
disapproved of all forms of violence. He hated war and all the
brutalities pertaining thereto, yet he carried out his military duties
most conscientiously. He happened to be one of a party on duty in the
forward trenches on the Day of Atonement, and while repelling some
snipers who were attempting to make it unpleasant for us in our camp,
poor Greyman met with an instantaneous death, an enemy bullet passing
through his head. I heard afterwards that when his widow received the
usual War Office notification that he was killed in action, she refused
to believe it, for she saw that the date given was the Day of Atonement,
a day on which she said no Jew could possibly be fighting; but alas, we
had to man the trenches continuously, no matter how sacred or in what
reverence any particular day was held by Jew or Gentile.

We were sometimes attached to the 1st and sometimes to the 2nd
Australian Light Horse Brigades under Generals Cox and Ryrie; when they
moved we were placed under General Meldrum, the Commander of the New
Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. All were keen soldiers and good and
gallant comrades.

While we were under General Ryrie I remember he said to me one day that
he would like to come out and inspect my posts.

"Very good, General," I said. "Come out with me any morning you wish."

"When do you start?" he asked.

"Generally at 3 a.m.," I replied.

"That's a d--d good time to sleep," said the General.

Another night some of our patrols scared the Turks badly, and they
started a tremendous fusillade with every rifle and gun that could be
brought into action. The noise of the battle reverberated down the
Mellahah and reached the Auja, where General Ryrie was encamped.
Thinking that a serious attack had begun, the General sprang hastily out
of bed and planted his naked foot right on to the tail of a huge black
scorpion. For a full half-hour afterwards Australia was heard at her
best.

When I saw him a couple of days later he philosophically remarked that
there was virtue even in a scorpion sting, for it had completely cured
him of ever attempting to get out of bed again in the dark, even if all
the Turks in the Ottoman Empire were at his door.

General Ryrie, afterwards promoted to Major-General, was appointed to
the command of the Australian Mounted Division, and had the K.C.M.G.
conferred on him.

Towards the end of August General Allenby reviewed the Anzacs at their
Headquarters, some four miles to the north of Jericho. The Mounted
Division was formed into three sides of a square, and into this General
Allenby galloped, followed by his Staff. It was well for the
Commander-in-Chief that he was a good horseman, for the spirited animal
which he rode gave one or two very hearty bucks, quite enough to have
unseated the majority of our Generals.

Later, the Chief decorated a number of the officers and men who had
gallantly won distinctions, and at the end of the ceremony made a good
soldierly speech to the Division.

I was invited to be present at the review, and on being presented by
General Chaytor to the Commander-in-Chief the latter remarked, "Oh, by
the way, Patterson, I fear I cannot form your Jewish Brigade, for I have
been notified by the War Office that there are no more Jewish troops
coming out." I replied that I thought this information must be
inaccurate, for I had just had a letter from the officer commanding the
40th Battalion at Plymouth, informing me that he was about to embark
with his battalion for service in Palestine. The Commander-in-Chief
seemed somewhat surprised on hearing this, but remarked that he
considered his information later and better than mine, so of course
there was nothing more to be said.

A few days afterwards, on 30th August, General Chaytor had a conference
with all his Brigade and Infantry Commanders, and as he had heard
General Allenby saying to me that he considered his information with
regard to Jewish reinforcements better than mine, he remarked: "Well,
Patterson, your information about the coming of the other Jewish
Battalions was better than the Chief's after all, for one of my officers
has just come from England, and he tells me that a strong Jewish
Battalion came out with him in the same ship and landed in Egypt a
couple of days ago."

As I considered it only right to let the Commander-in-Chief know that
the information he had received was not accurate, I wrote and told him
that I understood that another Jewish Battalion, some 1,400 strong, had
already arrived in Egypt.

In reply to this I got a memorandum from the Chief of Staff,
Major-General Louis Jean Bols, intimating that in future I was only to
address the Commander-in-Chief through the ordinary channels of
communication.

It was evident from this that the Chief of Staff was not pleased that
the Commander-in-Chief should have any sidelight from me on Jewish
affairs. Of course this had long been apparent, for anything I had
previously written through the ordinary channels--no matter how
important to the welfare of the battalion--had invariably been returned
to me with the remark that it was not considered necessary to refer the
matter further.

Some months after my interview with the Commander-in-Chief yet another
thousand men arrived from England, and altogether there were over five
thousand Jewish soldiers serving in the Jewish units in Palestine. The
formation of a Jewish Brigade had been the definite policy of the War
Office, and an intimation to this effect had been sent to General
Allenby. The Commander-in-Chief of the E.E.F. had himself written to me
to say that a Jewish Brigade would be formed, yet this promise, which
meant so much to the comfort and efficiency of the men and to the
prestige of Jews the world over, was never fulfilled; instead, we were
pushed about from Brigade to Brigade and from Division to Division in
the most heart-breaking manner, with the result that we got all the
kicks and none of the traditional halfpence!

In the space of three months we were shunted about like so many cattle
trucks and found ourselves, in that brief period, attached to no less
than twelve different formations of the British Army!

General Chaytor gave a great lift to the spirit of the battalion when he
conferred the Military Medal on Privates Sapieshvili and Gordon for
their gallant conduct on the night patrol already mentioned. We had a
special parade in "Salt" post redoubt, after Divine Service on the first
day of the Jewish New Year (7th September, 1918). Before all their
comrades the General recounted their gallant deeds, pinned the coveted
ribbons on their breasts, and then ordered the battalion to march past
and salute--not himself, but the two men whom he had just decorated.
From this moment General Chaytor had with him the heartfelt devotion of
every man in the unit. A small thing can win the respect, goodwill, and
devotion of a Regiment, but it is not every General who has the knack of
gaining it.



CHAPTER XV.
CAPTURE OF THE UMM ESH SHERT FORD.


As the date fixed for the great advance of the Army in Palestine drew
near, certain parts of the Jordan Valley began to look very comical.
Here and there would be seen a battery of artillery parked, or a cavalry
regiment, with its horses tethered in neat and orderly array, in the
most approved army style, but on closer inspection both horses and guns
were found to be merely dummies! Great camps were pitched, but there was
not a soldier in them; fires were lighted all over the place at dusk, as
if a mighty army were bivouacked round about, and every conceivable kind
of bluff was put up in order to deceive the Turks and make them think
that the long expected attack was to be made through Gilead, to effect a
junction with the Arab Army of the Hedjaz. The Jewish Battalion was even
ordered to march and counter march from Jericho to the Dead Sea by some
wight at G.H.Q. who still remembered us, but General Chaytor scotched
this stunt, for of course he knew it was quite impossible for us to
guard our front throughout the night and march some forty miles by day
as well in that terrific heat.

There were really very few troops in the Valley, if one considers the
enemy force that could have been concentrated against us. According to
General Allenby's despatch, there were some 6,000 rifles, 2,000 sabres,
and 74 guns facing us in the Jordan Valley.

General Allenby in his despatch of the 31st October, 1918, writes:--

    "By reducing the strength of the troops in the Jordan Valley to
    a minimum," etc., and "To prevent the decrease in strength in
    the Jordan Valley being discovered by the enemy I ordered Major
    General Sir Edward Chaytor, K.C.M.G., C.B., A.D.C., to carry out
    with the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, the 20th
    Indian (Imperial Service) Infantry Brigade, the 38th and 39th
    Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers, and the 1st and 2nd
    Battalions British West Indies Regiment a series of
    demonstrations with the object of inducing the enemy to believe
    that an attack East of the Jordan was intended, either in the
    direction of Madeba or Amman.

    "The enemy was thought to be anticipating an attack in these
    directions and every possible step was taken to strengthen his
    suspicions."

On the 15th September the 39th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, under the
command of Colonel Margolin, D.S.O., arrived in the Jordan Valley, and
took up its position on the Auja in support of the 38th Battalion in the
line.

A couple of days before the big offensive which began on the 18th
September, General Allenby visited my Headquarters, where I presented to
him all the officers not on duty. He took me a little apart and asked me
if I was sure I could trust the men to fight, and I assured him that he
need have no anxiety on that score, for the men were all right and would
respond to any call when it was made.

He then asked me if there was any other point I should like to bring to
his notice: I told him that malaria was daily becoming more prevalent
and I was losing 200 men a week from this cause alone: I also pointed
out that I did not think that the medical arrangements for the
evacuation and care of the men were all that they should be. The General
made a note of this in his book.

The only result was that I got an irate letter from the Deputy
Adjutant-General asking me for a full report as to why I had misinformed
the Commander-in-Chief about my sick, and about medical matters
generally, so that on the morning of the 23rd September, the day we were
ordered to pursue the enemy, when I should have been solely devoted to
the leading of my men and all the problems pertaining thereto, I had to
sit down and smooth the ruffled feathers of the Deputy Adjutant-General.

I not only proved my case to the hilt, but emphasized it by giving
further evidence which I had not troubled the Commander-in-Chief by
recounting.

General Chaytor specially warned us that, during the offensive on our
left, we were to increase our patrols and harry the enemy as much as
possible, to keep him in his lines and to prevent, if possible, any
large force of Turks crossing from the East of the Jordan to reinforce
their armies holding the line from the Jordan to the sea.

This is how the official report runs:--"Chaytor's force in the Jordan
Valley had so far confined itself to vigorous patrolling to insure that
the enemy could make no move without their knowledge. The rôle of this
composite force was to secure the right flank of the army and the Jordan
crossings, to keep in close touch with the enemy and take advantage of
any withdrawal on their part, but to run no risk of being involved with
a more powerful foe too early in the battle. This difficult task was
admirably carried out."

During the nights of the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st September we made
demonstrations against the Turkish positions along our front. Parties
would crawl out into favourable positions, such as a fold in the ground,
and open fire all down the line. This always made the Turks nervy, and
their trenches would be manned and every individual would blaze away for
all he was worth.

On the 19th and 20th they got so "windy" that they called on their
artillery to put down a barrage to prevent us from making an assault.
Each time the barrage was put down our men were well clear, and lay snug
and safe until the enemy had uselessly expended hundreds of rounds, when
they quietly returned to camp, not a whit the worse for all the
cannonading. There was very little sleep on these nights for anyone, and
the Jewish Battalion certainly did all that in it lay to further the
intentions of the Commander-in-Chief by holding every Turk in the
neighbourhood of the Jordan closely to his lines.

On the 20th we pushed well up against the Turkish trenches, found them
all manned, and again drew heavy rifle, machine-gun and artillery fire.
We had a few men wounded in this affair. Why we had not a heavy casualty
list on these occasions is a mystery to me, for the men had to advance
in the open over a stretch of ground as level as a billiard table.

Number 6 Trench Mortar Battery R.A. was under my command in the
Mellahah, and I ordered this battery to open fire on the Turkish
position round Umm esh Shert, if we should find difficulty in ousting
the enemy from this important place.

I had arranged to attack this position on the 22nd September, but at
midnight on the 21st my Intelligence Officer sent me news that the
enemy's resistance in the trenches opposite Umm esh Shert Ford was
weakening.

I immediately ordered out my reserve, and sent them under Lieutenant
Cross to reinforce Major Neill, whose duty it was to push in the Turks
and take the Ford at the earliest possible moment. I got favourable news
by telephone of the steady advance of the men; trench after trench was
occupied, and when I left my Headquarters at 4 a.m. for the scene of the
fight, I was able to report to General Chaytor's Staff Officer that we
were almost in possession of the crossing.

I galloped off as dawn was breaking, scrambled up the cliffs and across
the ground from which the Turks had fled, and arrived in time to go down
with Major Neill, Captain Julian, and Lieutenants Jabotinsky and Cross,
to take possession of this coveted passage over the Jordan. I may
mention here that Jabotinsky had been attached to G.H.Q. for special
work, but, as soon as the battalion went into the line, he requested to
be returned to duty in order to share in all our dangers and hardships.

The moment we had secured the Umm esh Shert Ford I signalled the news to
General Chaytor, who immediately took advantage of our capture by
pushing mounted troops across the Jordan, thus outflanking the Turks who
held the foothills of Shunat Nimrin, which barred the way to Es Salt.

The 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade crossed while we covered the Ford
with our rifles and machine-guns, and they never drew rein until Es Salt
was reached that evening, where a large force of the enemy with guns,
etc., was captured by the Anzac Mounted Division.

That same afternoon, two companies of the 39th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
moved up to our support and took up position in the posts which we had
vacated in the Mellahah.

It is a curious fact that the whole movement of the British Army in
Palestine, which swept the Turks out of the country, was actually
pivoted on the sons of Israel, who were once again fighting the enemy,
not far from the spot where their forefathers had crossed the Jordan
under Joshua.



CHAPTER XVI.
THE LOST TRANSPORT WAGONS.

Meanwhile I was ordered to clear away the enemy believed to be still
holding the ground to the north of our trenches round Red Hill. I
detailed Captain H. H. Harris and his Company for this duty, the
remainder of the battalion taking up position in the vacated Turkish
trenches overlooking the Jordan. Lieutenant Jabotinsky, with his
platoon, took possession of Umm esh Shert and put the captured ford in a
state of defence, making machine-gun emplacements, etc., to cover the
crossing.

I myself with Captain Julian, Lieutenant Cross, and a platoon
reconnoitred up the river, for I had heard that there was a bridge in
existence, which had been thrown across by the Turks in the
neighbourhood of the ford, and I was anxious to find it if possible.
After going some little way I found it was nearly 8 o'clock a.m., and
time to be getting back to my Battalion Headquarters, so I left Julian,
Cross, and the patrol to push on and make what discoveries they could
along the river. When I got back to my tent I found a telegram awaiting
me from General Chaytor which informed me that I had been given command
of a body of troops to be known officially as "Patterson's Column." It
was composed of the 38th and 39th Battalions Royal Fusiliers, and was
ordered to concentrate on the Auja bridgehead.

I handed over command of the 38th to Major Ripley, who was the next
Senior Officer, and issued the necessary concentration orders.

Later on I rode out to view the position which we had wrested from the
Turks on the Jordan and, on the way, I was surprised to meet Captain
Julian being brought in wounded on a camel. He was in considerable pain,
but quite cheery and able to give me a full account of what had
happened. It seems that soon after I had left them the party was
ambushed by the Turks, who caught them, in the neighbourhood of Red
Hill, with machine-gun and rifle fire. Julian, Cross, and Private
Mildemer fell; the remainder of the patrol melted into a fold of the
ground and made their escape. Julian, although severely wounded in the
foot, also managed to get away, aided by Corporal Elfman, who gallantly
helped him to safety, although under heavy fire from the enemy.

Reinforcements had been sent out as quickly as possible to the scene of
the fight by the nearest Company, but by the time they arrived the Turks
had gone. No trace could be found of Lieutenant Cross's body, but
Private Mildemer was found lying dead where he fell.

On receipt of this news I sent another party under Lieutenant Bullock to
give burial according to Jewish rites to the gallant man who had fallen,
and to make a thorough search of the locality for Lieutenant Cross's
body, but no trace of the missing officer could be found. Telegrams were
dispatched to the hospitals at Amman, Deraa, and to Damascus after we
had captured that city, but nothing was known of him at any of these
places, and in the end we all came to the sad conclusion that we had
seen the last of poor Cross and that the Turks must have thrown his body
into the Jordan after he had died from his wounds. His loss cast a gloom
over the battalion.

I was also exceedingly sorry to be deprived of Captain Julian's services
with the transport, just at the moment when we were ordered to start off
in pursuit of the enemy, for he was an ideal Transport Officer, and
never once let the battalion down while he served in that capacity, and
he had held this important position from the day he joined us.

It was not long until we had a sharp reminder of his loss, for that same
evening our transport trekked off and could not be found anywhere.
Someone (I never could discover who) gave the Transport Sergeant orders
to leave his lines on the Auja and report, with all wagons, etc., to
Major Ripley in the Mellahah. In the darkness he failed to find the
Major, and on the morning of the 23rd not a single soul in the battalion
knew anything about where the Transport had gone, or how it could be
found. They had completely vanished from the ken of everybody, taking
with them our food, forage, cooking pots, and spare ammunition. The new
Transport Officer, Captain Cunningham, who had been detailed to take
Captain Julian's place, was unable to find any trace of them when he
went to take over charge. They had mysteriously disappeared from their
bivouac and gone off into the blue.

This was a very disturbing factor in the situation, for we had orders to
start off in pursuit of the enemy at 2 o'clock a.m. next morning.
Cunningham, Quartermaster Smythe, and all available men who could be
pressed into the service, were sent in every direction to run the
Transport to earth.

Eventually Smythe came back to say that he had been tracking wagon
wheels for at least five miles, but they could not be ours, for the
tracks led steadily in a northerly direction towards the Turkish lines.

After duly strafing Major Ripley for having, this early in his command,
lost his transport, I set off in quest of the rovers.

Luckily my charger Betty was in splendid condition, and I certainly put
her on her mettle that morning. I took up the trail that Smythe had
abandoned, followed it for seven or eight miles at a steady canter, and
then lost all trace on hard ground. I had to cast round in a big circle
before I found it once more, then I went on again for another three or
four miles when I met some Australians. On asking them if they had seen
a column of wagons going northward they said, "No, we have been along
here for a couple of miles, but we have seen nothing."

This was very disheartening news, and I almost felt inclined to give up
the quest in this direction and turn back; but having come so far, I
made up my mind to go on, even to the Turkish lines themselves, before I
gave up the hunt.

I was then about eight miles short of the Turkish position, or what had
been the Turkish position at the foot of the hills towards which the
tracks still led.

When I had covered another few miles, to my inexpressible relief, I at
last caught sight of the Transport, steadily pursuing its way northward!

I made Betty put on an extra spurt and soon caught them up. It is lucky
that there was no grass about, or the prairie itself would have caught
fire when I at last overtook the Transport Sergeant. The language
addressed to the jackdaw by the Cardinal Lord Archbishop of Rheims was
angel talk compared to mine.

When I ordered him sharply to get back at once to where he came from, he
was so confused that he promptly turned his horse round and began to
ride off towards camp--leaving his baggage wagons still calmly
proceeding in the opposite direction.

I called the dazed sergeant back and told him very forcibly to halt the
column and take the wagons back as quickly as possible to his original
camp. I was never able to get any satisfactory information from the
sergeant (who by the way was a Welshman and a Christian) as to what
induced him to trek off into the unknown in such a mad fashion. I can
only imagine that the devil, who lives in the Jordan Valley, had
impersonated Major Ripley and had ordered the sergeant to push for all
he was worth for the Turkish lines, leaving us without food, water,
cooking pots, or ammunition--in fact leaving us "beggars by the
wayside."

My chase of the transport wasted some precious hours, but I was back in
camp soon after 10 a.m., where I found the battalion full of bustle and
activity, preparing for concentration on the Auja bridgehead.

On my return to Headquarters I found that Major Ripley was ill and only
fit for hospital. He had had a most nerve-shattering time while
commanding his section; for his posts were very much exposed and there
was always the dread and anxiety of an attack in overwhelming numbers.
Sleep rarely comes to soothe a man's nerves in such trying
circumstances, especially in the awful heat we endured in the Mellahah;
in fact, Major Ripley's features had wasted away so much owing to the
worry and anxiety of all he had undergone that he reminded me of nothing
so much as one of the mummified birds I had once seen in a cave of Upper
Egypt. I never saw Major Ripley again in the battalion, but I am glad to
say he made an excellent recovery, and was eventually given a good staff
job in Alexandria.

I gave the command of the battalion to Major Neill, and from that moment
I had no further anxieties, outside my own province, with which to
contend.



CHAPTER XVII.
WE GO UP TO RAMOTH GILEAD.


When I took command of the Column I chose Captain Douglas Leadley as my
Staff Officer, and a better man it would be almost impossible to find. I
never knew Leadley to forget anything, and it was a great relief to feel
that when once I had given him any instructions, I need have no further
anxiety about them, for he was absolutely reliable and competent in
every way.

When Leadley came to me, Major Neill selected Captain T. B. Brown to
replace him as Adjutant of the 38th Battalion, and an excellent staff
officer he made, as far as I could judge.

The concentration on the Auja bridgehead proceeded as rapidly as
possible, for the Column had to move soon after midnight.

I found that the 38th Battalion could not possibly concentrate in time,
for Captain H.H. Harris's Company was many miles to the north, where it
had been sent in pursuit of the enemy. I therefore ordered Major Neill
to follow me as quickly as possible to Shunat Nimrin, a position on the
Moab foothills, some ten miles to the eastward of the Auja.

At 2 a.m. on the 24th, Column Headquarters and the 39th Battalion
crossed the Jordan at the Auja bridgehead, scrambled up the steep Jordan
cliffs, and marched on towards Nimrin.

General Chaytor had meanwhile ordered an advance upon Es Salt (the
ancient Ramoth Gilead) and Amman, with his whole force, which consisted
of the Anzac Mounted Division (less one squadron), a field battery, a
heavy battery, two mountain batteries, Patterson's Column, the 20th
Indian Infantry Brigade, and the 1st and 2nd Battalions British West
Indies Regiment.

The mounted troops pushed forward rapidly, and soon out-distanced the
infantry and guns. The Anzacs were such gluttons for battle that they
broke down every resistance and completely destroyed and broke up the
enemy before the Infantry could come into action.

The 20th Indian Infantry and the guns followed the horsemen, for, from
their position on the Jericho-Es Salt road, they were much better
situated to take the lead than any other dismounted troops.

My Column struck the advancing troops at Nimrin, where I was just in
time to see General Chaytor fly past in a motor car. The General always
believed in being well to the front when there was a fight on, and has
been known on more than one occasion to be mixed up in the fray itself.

My orders were to form the rearguard to Chaytor's Force, and all day
long the main Column wound its way slowly past Nimrin until 3 o'clock in
the afternoon of the 24th. I then gave the order for the 39th to
advance, and left orders for the 38th, on arrival at Nimrin, to follow
on to Es Salt.

It was interesting to observe the strong positions from which we had
driven the Turks, and to see overturned cannon, limbers, wagons,
ammunition carts strewing the road; "Jericho Jane," an enormous gun that
used to fire into Jericho, the Divisional Headquarters, and generally
rake us all round, was lying ignominiously on her back in a ditch; dead
bodies of men, horses, and draught bullocks made the world unpleasant in
their vicinity; Bedouins flocked around like locusts, looting machine
guns, rifles, ammunition and stores of all kinds which had been
abandoned by the Turks in their hasty flight. The Arabs in these parts
had the time of their lives, for loot is to them as honey to the bee.

General Chaytor had left word at Nimrin that he wished to see me, so I
was anxious to get on to Es Salt as quickly as possible, where I hoped
to find him. I therefore gave all necessary instructions to Colonel
Margolin, and, leaving Captain Leadley with him in case anything
unforeseen should crop up, and he should require the assistance of my
Staff Officer, I rode on as fast as possible to Es Salt, taking my groom
with me.

After great difficulty and much squeezing we forced our way through the
miles and miles of wagons, baggage, guns, etc., which were slowly and
painfully crawling up the steep mountain side towards Es Salt. I arrived
there at about 9 p.m., but failed to find the General, who had already
pushed further ahead. I was hospitably entertained by the Indian
Infantry Brigade, and afterwards turned aside, and, tethering my horse,
lay down a little way off the road, with my saddle for my pillow, glad
to have a blanket to wrap round me on these heights, which felt
decidedly chilly after the suffocating heat of the Mellahah. I woke up
in the middle of the night just in time to recover Betty, who had broken
loose and was straying off towards a forage cart. Having tied her up, I
settled down again and slept until dawn. I wondered during the night how
it was that my bed was so warm, and as soon as daylight came I
discovered the reason--I had been sleeping on a bed of dry stable
litter!

After an early cup of tea with the Indians, I pushed on through Es Salt
to General Chaytor's Headquarters, which were just beyond. Here I found
that the General had gone on to direct the operations which were then in
progress round Amman. Major Anderson of his Staff provided me with an
excellent breakfast, and soon afterwards we were joined by my friend,
Colonel Bruxner, who had had a strenuous night marshalling the guns and
transport on their toilsome journey up from the Valley.

I received telegraphic instruction from General Chaytor to make Es Salt
my Headquarters and put it into a state of all-round defence.

I put up my "bivvy" a little way out of the town, under an enormous fig
tree then laden with delicious fruit, close to the Nimrin, which flowed
swiftly by, almost at the edge of our bivouac.

Colonel Margolin and the 39th took over Es Salt and at once occupied the
commanding hills round about, where he was soon entrenched and ready to
give the enemy a very warm reception in case of attack.

[Illustration: THE AUJA
"A pleasant, swiftly-flowing streamlet"
(See _page_ 102)]

[Illustration: ES SALT
(The ancient Ramoth Gilead)]

The Turks had left a number of sick and wounded soldiers at this place
in a dreadful state. Captain Redcliffe Salaman took these poor wretches
in hand and soon brought about a wonderful improvement in their
condition. The town itself was in a state of indescribable filth, and
had it not been for the unceasing efforts of Captain Salaman and the
Sanitary Department which he organised, an outbreak of typhoid or other
dreadful disease must have ensued. No praise is too high for the work
which Salaman did during the period he was in Medical charge at Es Salt.

Soon after we had established ourselves here I found that the Bedouins
were looting the abandoned Turkish munitions, stores, etc., right and
left; as they were our allies, I did not want to interfere without
orders, so I reported the matter to General Chaytor.

The General promptly wired me to stop all looting by these marauders--a
proceeding which annoyed them intensely. I had to send out strong
parties from the 39th Battalion to patrol that part of the country
towards Amman, and the whole of the road from Es Salt back to Nimrin
had, in addition, to be watched and guarded. The 39th patrolled the
country from Es Salt as far as the El Howeij Bridge, some six miles
south of Es Salt, while the 38th took up guard duty from this point to
Nimrin. This was rather hard luck on the 38th, for they had almost
reached Es Salt when the order to counter-march came. They had to turn
and go back all that long weary way, practically without rest or food.

It was a march and counter-march that would have reflected credit on the
best marching Regiment in the British Army, and no better testimonial
could be given than that of Lieut. Cameron, a regular Highlander of the
old school, who freely admitted that this was the very worst he had ever
experienced in all his eighteen years of soldiering.

Cameron won the Military Cross, and also a bar thereto, while serving
with the 38th Battalion.

Major Neill afterwards told me that he received the greatest assistance
in getting the men along on this trying march from Captain H.H. Harris,
who had the arduous task of shepherding the weary ones along with the
rearguard.

No doubt if was one of these laggards who, some weeks afterwards, wrote
me a letter full of reproaches, which made me laugh heartily, and helped
to brighten the gloomy days through which I was then passing. I give an
extract from a very lengthy episode:--

    "You kept us in torture for six and a half weeks at Nablus. Then
    we left Nablus and thought after this torture you will send us
    for a rest, but no, you make us march to the Jordan in full
    marching order. You also gave us a bomb each man to put in our
    pocket so as to lighten the burden of the transport. You had
    consideration for horses, but not for humans. We travelled like
    pedlars to the Jordan, living on fresh air. When we reached the
    Jordan, it was a grand place, was it not? It surprises me you
    could not pick out a worse place to send us. Is there any worse
    place than the Mellalah in this God-forsaken country? (Evidently
    a non-Zionist, this fellow!) You kept us in this hot hole for
    another six-and-a-half weeks, no other troops ever being known
    to stay there for more than two or three weeks--but of course
    anywhere was good enough for the Jews."

From the above it will be seen that at least some of the men were of the
opinion that I was responsible for their troubles, while all the time I
was getting into the bad books of authority in my endeavours to get them
better treatment.



CHAPTER XVIII.
THE CROWN OF VICTORY.


The moment things were satisfactorily settled in the neighbourhood of Es
Salt I hurried on to Amman. Jumping into a passing motor, I discovered
that the name of the officer in the car was Lowe, and on asking him
whether he was, by chance, any relation of a man I knew named Harry
Lowe, he replied, "I am his brother."

On our arrival at Amman I found that General Chaytor's camp was some
distance beyond the town and close to the Hedjaz Railway Station. Seeing
the divisional flag flying over his tent, I made for it, and was
delighted at last to run him to earth.

I heartily congratulated him on the great victory he had won in such
record time. In four days his troops had covered over 60 miles; he had
forced his way through the hills and mountains of Moab, a most difficult
country, in the face of a superior force; he had captured the two
ancient cities of Es Salt and Amman, got astride of the Hedjaz Railway,
and had completely routed the 4th Turkish Army. He had captured
altogether some 11,000 prisoners, some 60 guns, about 150 machine-guns,
hundreds of tons of ammunition of all kinds, millions of rounds of
small arms ammunition, large quantities of railway rolling-stock, and
all kinds of other material, foodstuffs, horses, mules, transport
wagons, motor lorries, etc.--altogether as brilliant a piece of work as
was done in this or any other theatre of the Great War.

[Illustration: ROMAN ARCH AT AMMAN
(_See page 145_)]

[Illustration: IN THE OLD CITADEL AT AMMAN
(_See page 145_)]

I would have those who pin their faith to the sword make a special note
of the fact that not a single sabre or lance was carried by the mounted
men. The hefty Anzac was able to do all that was wanted by the
combination of man, horse, and rifle.

Of course Chaytor's Force lacked one great weapon, and that was a war
correspondent to write up its deeds!

While I was in General Chaytor's camp a sad accident happened. A
Signalling Sergeant quite close to us was examining a "dud" aerial bomb
when it exploded in his hands, killing him and wounding several others.

I found Amman (the Philadelphia of the Romans) rich in old Græco-Roman
architectural remains. A mighty amphitheatre, still in a fairly good
state of preservation, stands out boldly amidst the ruins. Judging by
the number of shattered columns and broken arches strewn about over a
wide area, it must have been a very important city in the days when Rome
was mistress of the world. Little or nothing of the old Rabbah Ammon is
left. The walls of a very ancient citadel still crown a hill-top close
by the Roman city, but whether it is the citadel which so long resisted
Joab, or a later structure, I cannot say.

I remained at Amman all night, in the shadow of the great ruined
amphitheatre. Once it must have rocked to the roar of the multitude
encircling its spacious arena. Now all was silent. Only bats and owls
circled through its broken arches or flew from its tilted columns,
alarmed perchance by the curse of an Australian trooper sleeping
uneasily amidst its ruins. While the bivouac fires yet flickered on this
hoary pile I sought the shelter of a motor lorry, in which, rolled in a
blanket, I lay snug and warm throughout the night.

From my own observation I can testify that the words of the Prophet
Ezekiel were literally fulfilled when he wrote: "And I will make Rabbah
(Ammon) a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couching place for
flocks."--(Ezekiel, Chap. XXV. verse 5.)

It must have been a very pleasant city in the old days, and I see no
reason why its glories should not be revived under a stable form of
Government. The country all round is fruitful and its waters sweet and
abundant.

In the present straggling town there is a large colony of Circassians,
and in the two previous raids made by the British on this place these
people had in each case made a treacherous attack on our rearguard. The
New Zealand Mounted Rifles suffered somewhat severely in the raid made
on March 30th, 1918.

I left the ancient capital of the Ammonites soon after daybreak and, as
I journeyed towards Es Salt, I had a magnificent view of the snow-capped
Lebanons away in the far distance, while Gilead and Bashan lay spread
out before me to the foot of Mount Hermon.

Es Salt and the hills surrounding it form the gateway to a vast rich
hinterland. I have never seen grapes as large as those that grow in
Gilead, or tasted any to compare with them in flavour. Figs, too, were
delicious and abundant in and about Es Salt.

[Illustration: PART OF THE GREAT AMPHITHEATRE AT AMMAN
(_See page 145_)]

[Illustration: CIRCASSIAN CART AT AMMAN
(_See page 146_)]

Rumours now began to get about that the Turkish force, still on the
Hedjaz Railway to the south of Amman, would attempt to break through and
try to escape northwards to Damascus by way of Nimrin.

General Chaytor ordered me to take steps to meet such an emergency, so I
wired to Major Neill to put the place in a state of defence, and on
September 28th I proceeded there myself and resumed command of the
battalion.

While Chaytor's Force was holding the enemy on the Jordan and, later,
chasing him through the Moab hills, the C.-in-C. was using the bulk of
his forces in destroying the enemy holding the country to the West of
the Jordan, and a very brief account of the operations may prove
interesting to the reader.

In the neighbourhood of Jaffa a Franco-British force was assembled
consisting of five Divisions of Infantry, a French detachment about
4,000 strong, the 5th Australian Light Horse Brigade, two brigades of
mountain artillery, and eighteen batteries of heavy and siege artillery.

Carefully concealed in the orange and olive groves round about Jaffa and
Ludd lay the 4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions, the Australian Mounted
Division (less one Brigade), and four squadrons of French Colonial
Cavalry (Spahis and Chasseurs d'Afrique).

All these were ready to dash north the moment the infantry and artillery
had broken a gap in the enemy's line to the North of Jaffa.

With this highly mobile force a brilliant victory was achieved, but of
course the historian will not give to the E.E.F. campaign the
extravagant praise which has been lavished upon it by an ill-informed
public, ignorant as yet of the fact that in the field of operations the
strength of the British to that of the Turk was as that of a tiger to a
tom-cat.

The bulk of the Turkish forces were on or south of a line drawn from
Jisr ed Damie, on the Jordan, through Nablus and Tul Keram to the
Mediterranean. His fighting strength on this front was, roughly, 17,000
Infantry, 1,000 Cavalry, and 266 guns. His line of communication was
long and bad. He was about 1,200 miles from his base at Constantinople,
and, owing to incomplete tunnels at Amanus and Taurus and a change of
gauge at Ryak, there were no less than three bad breaks in the single
line of railway which had to carry his reinforcements, munitions,
equipment, and food both to the Palestinian and Mesopotamian fronts.

His troops were badly fed and badly led; medical arrangements were very
poor; there was considerable friction between the Turks and Germans, and
the Turkish Army was composed of a mixture of races, many of them hating
their masters with a fierce hatred.

Here were all the elements of a _débâcle_ on a grand scale.

On the morning of September 19th one of the most triumphant cavalry
marches ever recorded in the world's history began at Jaffa, and before
the troops engaged in it drew rein in far-off Aleppo, five weeks later,
they had covered some 500 miles through an enemy's country, captured or
destroyed over 50,000 Turks, seized Damascus, Beyrout, and Aleppo, and
brought to an inglorious end the Ottoman Empire.

This was no mean record for a mere handful of mounted men to accomplish.
We must not forget, however, that without the lavish help of the other
arms--infantry, artillery, and especially the Air Force, victory on such
a colossal scale could not have been achieved.

It almost seems as if this crowning victory had been pre-ordained to
take place in the year 1918. Everybody knows that the Jewish era differs
from the Christian era, but perhaps not so many are aware that the
Jewish year 5679 corresponds to the year 1918 of our era. A peculiarity
of the Hebrew language is that every numeral has a special meaning other
than that connected with time or figures. In the dim and distant past,
when seers, sages, and scribes were devoutly engaged in evolving such
things, was it even then pre-ordained that this crowning victory--this
victory which will surely hasten the restoration of Israel--should take
place in the year 5679? However that may be, it is certainly
extraordinary that the figures 5, 6, 7, 9, being interpreted, should
mean Ha-atereth--"Crown of Victory."



CHAPTER XIX.
THE STRATEGICAL VALUE OF PALESTINE.


When Turkey, unfortunately for herself, ranged her forces on the side of
our enemies in the Great War she severed a friendship which had lasted
for the greater part of a century. Our policy had for many years been to
uphold the integrity of the Ottoman Empire because, with that Power
holding Palestine, our Egyptian interests were quite safe. Now that the
Turkish Empire has practically ceased to exist, Palestine becomes of
cardinal importance to our Eastern interests.

Situated as it is at the Gate of the three Continents of Europe, Asia,
and Africa, its strategical, political, and economic importance is
beyond computation and out of all proportion to the size of this
diminutive country.

Students of strategy and military history will agree that Palestine,
although some distance from the Suez Canal region, dominates that main
artery of our trade and commerce.

The eastern boundary of Egypt, running from Rafa on the Mediterranean to
Akaba on the Gulf of that name in the Red Sea, is, from a military point
of view, worthless. History tells us that all down the ages armies have
crossed the Sinai Desert and worked their will on the dwellers by the
Nile. Early in the War we ourselves were unable to hold this Egyptian
Frontier and were forced to retire to the line of the Suez Canal. It is
true we defeated the Turks there and drove them out of Egypt, but the
risk to our communications was very grave. It is a risk that should
never again be taken, and for the future the Suez Canal must be
defended, at all events on the Eastern side, from its strategical
frontier--Palestine. With a friendly people established in the Judæan
strongholds, and with sea power in our hands, the invasion of Egypt from
the East or North would be a well-nigh impossible enterprise. It was
always a cause of surprise to me that we did not very early in the War
seize and fortify the harbours of Haifa and Jaffa. This might easily
have been done, as they were practically undefended, and the people were
in their hearts pro-British. Even Gaza could have been occupied and
fortified in the early days. With these three towns in our hands no
Turkish force could have been organised in Palestine or used against
Egypt. No army could possibly march down the maritime plain with these
occupied towns menacing their flank, while the other route to Egypt by
the eastward of the Jordan Valley is almost impossible for a large army.

Some eighty years ago Ibrahim Pasha was forced to retire to Egypt from
Damascus by this eastern route because we held the coast ports. He left
the ancient capital of Syria with some eighty thousand men, and,
although he fought no battle on the way, his losses from sickness,
hunger, thirst, and fatigue amounted to over sixty-five thousand men.

This gives one some little idea of the chance we missed in not making
adequate use of our sea power by seizing the coast towns in the Levant
during the Great War.

The physical conformation of Palestine adds enormously to its
strategical strength.

The country is divided into four longitudinal belts running practically
throughout the length of the country from North to South. Along the sea
coast run the narrow maritime plains of Philistia, Sharon, and Acre.
These narrow plains stretch from the borders of Egypt to the mountains
of Lebanon.

The next belt of country consists of the continuation of the Lebanon
range, which runs down practically unbroken through central Palestine,
losing itself in the Southern Desert.

This hilly range constitutes the heart of the Holy Land and comprises
the provinces of Galilee, Samaria, and Judæa. The only complete break in
this range occurs between Galilee and Samaria, where the Plain of
Esdraelon and the Valley of Jezreel cut right across and leave an open
doorway from East to West. Through this gap from time immemorial armies
have marched and counter-marched to and from Egypt.

The next belt of country is the great depression of the Jordan Valley,
the deepest known in the world. It runs from "the waters of Merom," near
the foothills of Hermon, where it is on a level with the Mediterranean,
to the Dead Sea, where it is nearly 1,300 ft. below sea-level.

To the eastward of the Jordan Valley runs the table-land of the Hauran,
Gilead, and Moab. This rich belt of territory is from twenty to sixty
miles wide and ranges from 2,000 ft. to 4,000 ft. above sea-level. It
loses itself to the South and East in the Arabian and Syrian Deserts.

The natural frontiers of Palestine are the Mediterranean on the West,
the Syrian Desert to the East, the Arabian and Sinai Deserts to the
South, and the difficult mountain passes of the Lebanon to the North.
Next to the sea no better frontiers can be found than mountain passes
and deserts.

It will therefore be seen that if Palestine is given anything like her
Biblical frontiers, troops could readily be placed on any threatened
point and practically make the invasion of the country an impossibility.

As a matter of fact, a small national army in Palestine would make that
country almost as impregnable as are the Cantons of Switzerland.

It is of the first importance to British interests to further the
creation of a friendly State in Palestine which would act as a buffer
between herself and any aggressive neighbour to the North or East.

The greatest soldiers and statesmen of the past realised that in order
to obtain dominion over the East it was first of all necessary to secure
the friendly co-operation of the people of Palestine.

Alexander the Great knew what a help to his Greek Empire of the East the
Jews would be. He therefore showed them the greatest friendship, and
allowed them every possible civil and religious liberty.

Later on, when Palestine came under the dominion of Rome, Julius Cæsar,
the first and greatest of the Roman Emperors, realized so fully that
without a friendly Palestine he could not hope to overthrow the
Parthians and Persians to the eastward that in order to obtain the
friendship of the Jews he freed Palestine from tribute, withdrew his
legions from the country, exempted Jews from serving in the army, and
allowed them full liberty of conscience, not only in Palestine but
throughout the entire Empire.

Coming down to more modern times, we find Napoleon following as far as
possible the policy of his two great predecessors. At one time, early in
his career, he made an effort to restore the Jews to Palestine, and he
would probably have been successful in his scheme, and made himself
ruler of a French Empire in the East, only, unfortunately for him,
Nelson, at the battle of the Nile, deprived him of the command of the
sea. Nothing daunted by this, however, he marched his soldiers through
the Sinai Desert and subdued practically all Palestine, but, owing to
British sea-power, we were able to throw troops into Acre, and by his
defeat at the famous siege of that place, Napoleon's eastern ambitions
came to an end.

Great as was the importance of a friendly Palestine to the Greek and
Roman Empires, a friendly Palestine to-day is of immensely more
importance to the peace and prosperity of the British Empire. Our
statesmen were, therefore, but following in the footsteps of the
greatest men of the past when they issued the world-famous Balfour
Declaration pledging England to use her best endeavours to establish a
National Home in Palestine for the Jewish people.

It is useless to deny the fact that England is not nearly so popular in
the Near East as she was thirty or forty years ago. The Egyptians have
shown us pretty clearly that they have no love for us, while it is very
evident that the Arab kingdoms have ambitions of their own in those
regions, which might prove a very grave menace to our eastern
communications. Naturally, Turkey--or what is left of that once great
Empire--realises that it is to England that she owes her downfall, while
the policy of Greece, at the moment at all events, also runs counter to
our own.

It is very necessary, therefore, that Palestine should be colonised by a
people whose interests will go hand in hand with those of England and
who will readily grasp at union with the British Empire.

The Jews are the only people who fulfil these conditions. They have ever
looked upon Palestine as their natural heritage, and although they were
ruthlessly torn from it some two thousand years ago, yet through all the
terrible years of their exile they have never lost the imperishable hope
of a return to the Land of Promise. They have always had a friendly
feeling for this country, and if England now deals justly with Israel,
this friendly feeling will be increased tenfold. They would be quite
unable to stand alone in Palestine for some time, and therefore their
one aim and object would be to co-operate wholeheartedly with the Power
that had not only reinstated them in their own land, but whose strong
arm was adequate to protect them from the encroachments and aggressions
of neighbouring states.

It will undoubtedly be their policy to walk hand in hand with England.
British and Jewish interests are so similar and so interwoven that they
fit into each other as the hand does the glove.

In short, when the long-expected Restoration of the Jewish people to the
Promised Land becomes an accomplished fact, then the vital interests of
the British Empire in those regions will be unassailable.



CHAPTER XX.
HOSPITAL SCANDAL AT JERUSALEM.


It will be remembered that I had been ordered to proceed to Nimrin to
intercept any Turks who might attempt to break through from the South.
When I reached my camp I found about 1,500 Turkish prisoners already
concentrated there; hundreds of them were too feeble and ill to be
marched further, but about 1,000 were considered fit enough to go on,
and these were escorted by Captain Harris and a small detachment of the
38th to Jericho, and, after a short rest there, on to the prisoners'
cage at Ludd.

On October 1st Battalion Headquarters moved to Jerusalem, and on the way
thither it was pitiful to see these unfortunate Turkish prisoners,
starving and sick, crawling at a snail's pace up the steep ascent from
the Jordan Valley through the Judæan Wilderness; many fell by the way
and died from sheer exhaustion. The medical arrangements were quite
inadequate to cope even with our own sick, who now began to feel the
effect of the poisonous Mellahah, and went down daily by scores.

Our new camp was situated about a mile outside the walls of Jerusalem to
the southward, on the Hebron road, and by the time we reached it
hundreds of the men, exhausted and worn out from the effects of their
terrible experiences in the Jordan Valley, were ill with malaria;
practically every officer also was struck down with the same fell
disease. I myself had been far from well throughout the recent
operations, but I managed, with the skilful aid of our Medical Officer,
Captain Haldin Davis, to keep going.

Unfortunately, just before we arrived in Camp, there had been a terrific
downpour of rain, which had thoroughly soaked the ground, and as there
was no hospital accommodation available, the unfortunate patients had to
lie on the wet earth, with only one blanket, and no medical comforts or
treatment. There were no nurses or orderlies, and the men received no
attention of any kind, except such as could be given by those of their
comrades who were still able to move about. As a result of this
lamentable state of affairs, which could easily have been prevented by a
little forethought on the part of the Staff, many died of malaria and
pneumonia, and one poor fellow killed himself by cutting his throat in
his delirium.

Captain Davis had been taken ill at Nimrin, and removed in an ambulance
to hospital. I made urgent appeals for another doctor, but without
avail, and it was nearly a whole year before the authorities thought it
worth while to provide a medical officer for this Jewish Battalion,
which at one time was almost 2,000 strong. Not only were the Jewish
troops unable to find hospital accommodation, but hundreds of others
also--British, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian.

The whole thing was a grave scandal, which must be laid at the door of
the responsible muddlers.

It was distressing to see the German Hospice on the Mount of Olives, a
building which was absolutely ideal for a Hospital, used for Staff
purposes, while the sick and wounded men, who had suffered all the
hardships and done all the fighting, were allowed to lie about on the
wet ground in and around Jerusalem. The muddle was not the fault of the
few medical men on the spot, for they worked like slaves. The whole of
the blame for this wanton lack of organisation rests with G.H.Q. I had
written in the previous July recommending that hospital accommodation
should be provided at Jerusalem for Jewish troops, but no notice was
taken of my recommendation. If this had been acted upon many deaths and
much unnecessary suffering would have been avoided.

In my own battalion we lost over a score of men in this way, who, I am
convinced, would not have died if proper hospital arrangements had been
available, and had it not been for the timely arrival of Captain
Salaman, R.A.M.C., with the 39th Battalion, to whom I turned over all my
sick, the death-roll would in all probability have been much greater.

The battalion numbers, owing to the hardships we had undergone, were
reduced from a strength of nearly 1,000 to about six officers and less
than 150 men.

I can illustrate the pettiness of at least some of the G.H.Q. Staff no
better than by giving the following correspondence.

It will be remembered that I had reported to General Allenby in the
Jordan Valley that the medical arrangements were not good. This
apparently displeased some of the Staff, for they hunted up a private
telegram which I had sent some months previously (on July 18th),
addressed to the Secretary, Medical Committee, Jewish Regiment, London,
in which I had said:--

    "You should see Sir Nevil Macready. Am strongly advising base to
    be at Jerusalem."

On discovering this mare's nest the D.A.G. sent the following memo. to
General Chaytor:--

    A. 13780.            TO GENERAL CHAYTOR,
    Subject: Medical     Headquarters,
    Arrangements for     Chaytor's Force.
    Jewish Battalions.

    Please find attached herewith a copy of a telegram purporting
    to have been sent by the Officer Commanding 38th Royal
    Fusiliers.

    Please call upon this officer to furnish his reasons and such
    explanation as he may have to offer for advising a course of
    action which concerns the C.-in-C. under whom he is serving,
    without reference to or obtaining permission from the C.-in-C.

   (Signed)--MAJOR-GENERAL, _D.A.G._
   G.H.Q. 1st Echelon,
   17th September, 1918.

All this ado because I had simply sent a private telegram to the Jewish
Hospital Committee months before to say I was advising a Hospital base
to be set up at Jerusalem. This telegram was in reply to a cable from
the Committee in London asking if special hospital accommodation could
be provided for Jewish soldiers.

From the date on this memorandum it will be seen that G.H.Q. thought fit
to send out such a communication on the very eve of the great advance.
It would have been much more useful if the Deputy Adjutant General had
devoted his attention to providing Hospital accommodation for the
unfortunate sick and wounded, instead of choosing such a moment to harry
troops in the field engaged in a great offensive, the success of which
meant everything to England.

There was no excuse whatever for this memo., because on the 26th June,
1918, immediately on receipt of the cable from the Hospital Committee, I
had sent the following to G.H.Q.:--

    38th Battn. R.F.
    No. A/412/1/3.
    31st Inf. Brg. No. 57d.
    10th Divn. No. 1324A.
    XX. Corps No. P.C.A. 563.
    G.H.Q. 1st Echelon No. a/13780.
    HEAD Q. 31st. Inf. Brg.

    I have received the following cable from the Hon. Sec. Medical
    Committee for Jewish Units:

    "The Matron-in-Chief Q.A.I.M.N.S. sanctions Jewish Nursing Staff
    for Service in Palestine. Can you arrange Jewish wards in
    existing military Hospitals or other special provision?

    "Committee awaits reply."

    With reference to the above cable I have to state that when I
    was organising the Jewish Units in England, I had recommended a
    Jewish Base Hospital, and the A.G., Sir N. Macready, had
    sanctioned this, and given instructions, after I left England
    for Egypt, that it was to be based at Plymouth.

     The A.G. probably misunderstood my intention when he based it
     at Plymouth, as I had intended that the Hospital should be
     based in Egypt or Palestine. I therefore wrote home and
     suggested that there was no need for a special Jewish Hospital
     in England.

     I have no doubt that the above cable is the result of some
     negotiation with the A.G., and I would suggest that this matter
     be referred to G.H.Q., 1st Echelon, so that they may get into
     touch with the W.O., and find out what has been decided upon in
     this question. _Personally I would recommend that the Hospital
     should be at Jerusalem_.

    (Signed) J. H. PATTERSON, Lt.-Colonel,
    Commanding 38th Battn., R.F.
    In the Field, 26/6/18.

To the above I received the following reply:

    A/13780.

    Subject: Jewish Wards,
    and Military Hospitals.
    H.Q. 20TH CORPS.

    With reference to your memo. No. P.C.A. 565, dated 30/6/18, and
    attached correspondence regarding the question of Jewish wards
    in Military Hospitals. All Jewish soldiers will be sent to one
    particular Ward in the 27th General Hospital, as long as the
    casualty rate allows of this procedure being followed.

    (Signed) F. DALRYMPLE, Lt.-Colonel,
    A.A.G. for D.A.G.
    G.H.Q., 1st Echelon,
    10/7/18.

It will be seen therefore that if the D.A.G. had only known what was
going on in his own office there would have been no need for him to
trump up this petty inquisition, or trouble anybody for an explanation
about a private telegram which had been sent to London a couple of
months previously. General Chaytor had the good sense to retain the
D.A.G.'s memo, until active operations were over, upon which he sent it
on to me. As an explanation had to be given, the following is a copy of
my reply:

    HEADQUARTERS,
    CHAYTOR'S FORCE.    A/412/1/3.

    With reference to your M.C.412 dated 13/10/18 re medical
    arrangements for Jewish Battalions, I think that perhaps it will
    explain the situation if I point out that I was in direct touch
    with the War Office on all questions affecting the Jewish
    Battalions, and I had several interviews with Sir Nevil Macready
    on matters relating to this Jewish movement; in fact, I was
    looked upon in England as the responsible leader, and I had
    every conceivable kind of case to investigate and decide. I had
    already told Sir Nevil Macready my views while in England re
    Hospital for Jewish soldiers, and when I got a cable from this
    unofficial medical committee I replied in a private cable
    recommending them to consult him, and stating my own private
    views on the question.

    I certainly do not consider this private expression of opinion
    as "advising a course of action," and when I sent the cable
    nothing was further from my mind. I simply referred the
    Committee to Sir Nevil Macready, with whom I had already
    discussed the matter, and said what I personally thought the
    best place for a base.

    Naturally no action could be taken without consulting the
    C.-in-C., E.E.F.; as a matter of fact I did forward a copy of
    this telegram to G.H.Q., and also a letter in which I
    recommended Jerusalem as a base.

    I attach copy of my letter and, at the same time, I regret that
    my advice re Hospital at Jerusalem was not taken. If a Jewish
    Hospital had been established there, before the recent
    operations took place, much unnecessary suffering and many
    deaths would have been avoided. Men of the Jewish Battalions,
    who were very ill indeed, were lying about in hundreds on wet
    ground in Jerusalem, because there was no room for them in the
    overcrowded hospitals, and it was quite impossible to get our
    sick evacuated for days after they had really become cot cases.

    It was no fault of the Medical Officers on the spot; it was
    simply impossible to cope with the sick for want of Medical
    Officers and hospital accommodation. I may mention that of the
    Battalion under my command alone there are 27 Officers and 824
    other ranks in hospital, as a result of the Jordan Valley and
    subsequent operations.

    In conclusion I must say I am somewhat surprised that a private
    communication which I sent to a private individual in July last
    should be produced at this stage.

    I again and most emphatically state that I advised no course of
    action, merely gave my private opinion, and had no idea of any
    such action when I sent the cable.

    (Signed) J. H. PATTERSON, Lt.-Colonel,

    Commanding 38th Battn. Royal Fusiliers.
    In the Field,
    19/10/18.

As a result of the representations made by the Medical Committee in
England on behalf of the Jewish Battalions, a Staff of Jewish Nurses, in
charge of Sister Oppenheimer, were sent out to the 27th General Hospital
at Abbasieh, near Cairo, and I have on many occasions heard expressions
of gratitude showered on these nurses by men who had been under their
care.

It will be remembered that a number of Palestinian Jewish ladies
volunteered for Nursing Service as soon as the British occupied Jaffa
and Jerusalem. I had strongly urged that their offer of service should
be accepted and that they should be taken on and trained, for I foresaw
that they would be required as soon as a determined effort to oust the
Turk from Palestine was made.

Unfortunately, my advice was not taken, for, as I have already shown,
they were sadly needed in Jerusalem.

Later on about half-a-dozen Jewish ladies, including the Misses Berline,
who were well known in Jaffa and Jerusalem, were enrolled and attached
to the General Hospital at Belah. I went there on more than one occasion
to see my men, and on enquiring from the Matron-in-Charge how the Jewish
nurses were getting on she told me that she had never had better or more
conscientious workers under her in all her experience.

It was deplorable that the Staff had ignored the voluntary offer of the
Jewish ladies until it was almost too late to make use of their
services.



CHAPTER XXI.
LIFE AT LUDD.


On the 9th October the battered remnant of the battalion moved from
Jerusalem to Ludd by rail, where it was taken on the strength of Lines
of Communication troops for garrison duties.

When we heard that we were to be severed from the Anzacs our feeling was
one of regret, for every individual in the battalion had the greatest
admiration, respect, and affection for General Chaytor and his Staff,
and, in fact, a feeling of real comradeship for every officer and man in
the Anzac Mounted Division.

My sick and ailing could not even yet be taken into Hospital owing to
lack of accommodation, so I left them attached to the 39th Battalion,
under the care of Captain Salaman, R.A.M.C.

Our transport had been ordered to proceed from Jerusalem to Ludd by road
on the 5th October, but as the animals were worn to mere skin and bone
by hard work, and nearly all the drivers were down with malaria, I
represented to the authorities that it would be impossible for them to
move for at least a week, so they remained in Jerusalem for some days
after Battalion Headquarters had left the City.

When eventually the transport marched in to Ludd I found both animals
and men in a most pitiable condition. One of my best N.C.O.s, Corporal
Lloyd, was delirious with fever, and several other men who should have
gone into Hospital at Jerusalem but were unable to gain admission were
brought down on the wagons. All these I sent into the local Hospital;
Corporal Lloyd unfortunately did not recover, and died soon after he was
admitted. Of the half-dozen officers who had so far escaped the malaria,
one after another went down and were carried off to Hospital, until, out
of the whole battalion, only Captain Leadley, Lieutenant Bullock, and
myself were left in Camp!

Major Neill was one of the last to succumb, and his attack was so severe
that his life was despaired of. He was on the "dangerously ill" list for
some time, but fortunately recovered.

Day after day the few remaining men we had left went to hospital until,
in the end, I was put to such straits that I had to appeal once more to
the Australians, who had a reinforcement camp near us under the command
of Major Ferguson. I rode over and told him the difficulty I had in
finding men even to feed my animals, and asked him to spare me a score
of troopers to help with the exercising, watering, and grooming, etc.,
of the transport animals.

As usual, the Australians were all out to help, and readily gave me all
the assistance I asked for.

Soon after the 38th Battalion left Jerusalem, Colonel Margolin also
received orders to proceed to Ludd, although it was well known that
hundreds of sick were in the camp. What would have happened to these
unfortunate sufferers if he had obeyed orders and marched away leaving
them to their fate, sick and helpless as they were, I shall leave the
reader to imagine. Luckily for these poor fellows Colonel Margolin
refused to leave until such time as they could be accommodated in
Hospital.

Eventually he succeeded in getting his men into medical wards, and then
he and what was left of his battalion came and camped within a mile of
us at Surafend, a village between Ludd and Jaffa.

On the evening of the 22nd October Colonel Margolin and Captain Salaman
rode into my camp and complained to me of the discrimination and unfair
treatment to which the Jewish soldiers were being subjected in the
Hospitals--giving me various instances to illustrate certain of their
statements.

As the Senior Officer of the Jewish Battalions, not being myself a Jew,
I was deeply hurt at the un-English methods adopted towards men who had
done so well in the field in England's cause, and felt that I would not
be doing my duty to those under my command, and to Jewry generally,
unless I protested against this unfair discrimination.

I considered that the best way of bringing matters to a head was by
requesting to be relieved of my command as a protest against the
anti-Jewish policy which prevailed. I accordingly sent forward my
resignation. This found its way to G.H.Q., but as certain individuals
there had no desire to see me land unmuzzled in England, my resignation
was not accepted. Some of the Staff knew only too well that if I were
free to return to England I would at once let the authorities there know
that their representatives in Palestine were not carrying out the
declared policy of the Imperial Government, but, on the contrary, were
doing their best to make of the Balfour Declaration a mere "scrap of
paper."

As G.H.Q. was then only some two miles from my Camp I thought it might
help matters if I could see Major-General Louis Jean Bols, the
Chief-of-Staff, and get him to put a stop to the persecution that was
going on, and see that his underlings "played the game." I therefore
called on this gentleman, but he, for reasons best known to himself,
refused to see me.

I told his A.D.C. that I was camped close by and would be glad to see
the General any time that was convenient to him, but I left his office
feeling there never would be a convenient time, and so, in fact, it
turned out.

When my resignation was refused and my request for an interview treated
in the same manner, I made a vigorous protest against the anti-Jewish
policy which prevailed, and stated that if it was not altered I would
have the matter placed before the Secretary of State for War in
Parliament.

As a result of this I got a letter from G.H.Q. requesting me to furnish
a list of the complaints I wished to make, and also asking me to forward
recommendations for the improvement and comfort of the Jewish Battalion.

In my reply I pointed out how the battalion had suffered owing to the
discrimination to which it had been subjected, and gave specific
instances of unfair and unjust treatment during our service with the
E.E.F.

I also forwarded a separate memorandum recommending various changes for
the improvement and comfort of the men. I made five specific
suggestions; not a single one of these was carried out.

One of my suggestions was that a special Jewish name and badge should be
given to the battalion. This had been promised by the War Office, but
the fact that it was granted was _purposely withheld from our knowledge_
by the Staff, and it was only by accident, a whole year later, that I
discovered this deliberate shelving of Army Council Orders by G.H.Q. in
Egypt.

This could not have been an oversight because I had written more than
once to enquire whether this distinction had yet been conferred on the
battalion.

Having seen the majority of my officers and men all carried off to
Hospital, and feeling ill and depressed in my lonely camp, I sat down
late one night and wrote a letter of condolence to Mrs. Cross. I told
her that although we had wired to every Turkish Hospital, from Es Salt
to Damascus, we could obtain no information about her husband; I wound
up my letter by stating that although there might still be some very
faint hope, she must steel herself to face the facts, for I feared she
would never see her husband again.

It must have been close on midnight when I lay down, and, as I was
unable to sleep, I was reading by the dim light of a candle when
suddenly I saw a white ghostly face appear in the tent door, and only
that I knew Cross was dead I would have thought it was the face of
Cross. Then a sepulchral voice said, "Are you awake, Sir?" and I began
to wonder if it were all a dream. When the figure approached the light,
I saw that it really _was_ Cross, so I bounded up to give him a
welcome--such a welcome as one would give to a friend who had risen from
the dead.

It appeared that when the patrol had been ambushed, Cross got wounded
and lay under a sandbank where he was discovered by the Turks; they
carried him off, and, as they were then retiring as fast as they could,
took him with them, pushed him on to Amman, and from there by rail to
Damascus. He was about to be sent further north when the British entered
the city. In the confusion Cross made good his escape and eventually
worked his way back to me. Thus it was that nobody knew anything of his
whereabouts, for he had never reported to any of the Hospitals en route.

Mrs. Cross had already been informed by the War Office that he was
missing and reported killed. I told Cross that I had just posted a
letter to his wife to say that I feared that he must have been killed:
he, of course, at once sent a private cable to tell her that he was
alive and well, while I sent an official one to the War Office giving
the same account. At all events, my letter of condolence to Mrs. Cross
will always be a good souvenir of the part her husband took in the Great
War.



CHAPTER XXII.
AT RAFA.


The Armistice with Turkey was announced on the 31st October, 1918, amid
the firing of guns and rockets and joy stunts by the Air Force above our
camp at Ludd.

On the 6th November the battalion was ordered to proceed to Rafa to
recuperate, refit and reorganise, and on the 7th, in the early morning,
we arrived at this frontier station bordering on "the desert and the
town."

Rafa is actually in Egypt, just over the borders of Palestine, on the
Palestine-Egyptian Railway line some five miles from the Mediterranean,
and here the tents of Israel were pitched.

Along the whole coast in this neighbourhood there runs a belt, about
four miles deep, of sand dunes and sand hills. These are very irregular
in outline, running in some places to peaks nearly 100 feet in height,
and in others forming miniature precipices, valleys and gullies. It is,
in fact, a mountainous country on a lilliputian scale.

The sand is so firm that a horse can be ridden all over it, thereby
giving great joy to the hunters of the jackals and hyenas which roam on
its barren surface. The air on this stretch of sandy dunes is
wonderfully fresh and exhilarating, and we drank it in with delight
after our trying experience in the Jordan Valley. The seashore itself
abounds with millions of curious shells.

The sand belt ends abruptly landwards and, at the very edge of it, the
Bedouin scratches up the soil with an antiquated plough which dates from
the time of Abraham. Green waving crops, pleasant to the eye, may be
seen almost under the shadow of a sand cliff. The country inland
consists of a somewhat sandy soil and gently undulating plains which
are, for the greater part, cultivated by Arabs who live in scattered
villages, and by Bedouins who come and go as the spirit moves them. The
whole place is honeycombed with holes burrowed by the little conies,
which makes riding at a fast pace somewhat hazardous.

Such was the quiet little spot in which we found ourselves after our
strenuous and exciting days in the Jordan Valley and the Land of Gilead.
Day by day our men gradually came back from Hospital and, owing to
drafts from the 40th Battalion, our strength was soon over 30 officers
and 1,500 other ranks.

After a brief time for rest, we took over "Line of Communication"
duties, and found ourselves with many miles of railway and country to
safeguard. Our life now became one constant round of guards, escorts,
fatigues, and drills whenever a few men could be spared from other
duties for the latter purpose. There were thousands of prisoners of war
in our custody, as well as a huge captured Turkish ammunition depot,
supply stores, engineer park, and all kinds of workshops, etc., etc.

[Illustration: "HERE THE TENTS OF ISRAEL WERE PITCHED"
(_See page 173_)]

Soon after we got to Rafa I lost the services of Captain Leadley, M.C.,
who was demobilized at his own request and returned to England. I
selected to succeed him Captain Duncan Sandison--as stubborn a Scot as
ever wore a kilt, a first-rate officer, loyal to the core, and a great
favourite with everybody except the evil-doers.

Early in December I received another large draft of raw Jewish recruits
from the 40th Battalion Royal Fusiliers--all American citizens.

I strongly objected to these untrained men being sent to me under the
circumstances in which I was placed, for it was impossible to give them
any training owing to the excessive duties we were called upon to
perform day and night. I knew that the result of putting raw recruits to
fulfil duties which should have been carried out only by seasoned
soldiers, must, before very long, end in disaster. I foresaw endless
breaches of discipline, not because the men were evilly disposed, but
because they were untrained and knew nothing of military discipline.

I accordingly urged the Staff to remove all these recruits, of whom I
had about 800, to a training centre, and repeatedly warned the
authorities of what the result must be if this were not done, but not
the slightest notice was taken of my appeal.

It was a thousand pities that these enthusiastic American volunteers did
not get a fair chance to show their mettle. I well remember how
favourably I was impressed with their physique and general appearance
when I inspected them on their arrival at Rafa. They were miles ahead,
physically, of the men who joined the battalion in England--in fact I do
not believe that there was a unit in the whole of the E.E.F. that held
such a fine-looking body of men. Because they were untrained and had no
idea of discipline, these hefty youths were constantly in trouble for
committing breaches of military rules and regulations. They simply did
not understand soldiering or what it meant. In this way I got to know
the majority of them fairly well. We had many interesting meetings at
"office hour." Of course, in dealing with these volunteers, I never
forgot that the faults they were guilty of were, in great measure, due
to lack of training, and I dealt with them accordingly. Their military
offences were not grave, just the delinquencies that must be expected of
recruits, because they are recruits.

Nevertheless, it is always a danger to have a battalion, supposed to be
at any moment ready to take the field, swamped with some 800 raw
untrained men.

I felt so strongly on this question, and so clearly foresaw the
inevitable end, that having failed to move the authorities myself, I
cast about me to see where I could look for help and sympathy in the
difficult situation in which I was placed; the only possible man who
might be able to do something was the Acting-Chairman of the Zionist
Commission then in Palestine. It will be remembered that, soon after the
famous Balfour Declaration, Dr. Weizmann, the President of the Zionist
Organisation, was sent out at the head of a Commission to investigate
conditions and safeguard Jewish interests in Palestine. Dr. Weizmann was
received by H.M. the King before his departure from England, and came
out armed with strong letters from the Prime Minister and Mr. Balfour to
General Allenby. Dr. Weizmann spent some time doing useful work in
Palestine, and was then recalled to England in connection with the
Zionist policy then before our Government. The mantle of Dr. Weizmann
eventually fell on Dr. Eder, and to him I now applied myself, as it was
a matter of the greatest importance that no undeserved slur should fall
upon the Jewish Battalion.

Like myself, however, Dr. Eder was unable to effect anything.

I felt very strongly that the whole attitude adopted towards the Jewish
Battalions was unworthy of British traditions of fair play. It is of
course possible that General Allenby did not know of the treatment to
which we were subjected by certain members of his Staff and other
underlings, for naturally only the greater questions would come before
him. If he had known he would surely never have countenanced the
jeopardising of the good name of any battalion in the E.E.F. by swamping
it with over 800 raw recruits who, owing to the "exigencies of the
service," had to be put on trained soldiers' duties the moment they
joined.

Unfortunately I was unable to let him know of our dilemma, for the Chief
of Staff, Major-General Louis Jean Bols, had forbidden me to address the
Commander-in-Chief direct, and apparently the appeals which I had made
on this question never reached a sympathetic quarter.

As I have already said, I had been ill from the time we began
operations in the Jordan Valley and was now reduced to a skeleton, but
by careful dieting I had hoped to weather the storm and had so far
managed to keep out of Hospital.

Thinking that a few days change would improve my health I applied for
leave and went to Cairo. While I was there I happened by chance to meet
Captain Salaman in the street, and he was so shocked at my appearance
that he straightway convoyed me off to Nasrieh Hospital, where I was
taken in hand by Captain Wallace, R.A.M.C. In a couple of weeks he had
me well enough to be transferred to the beautiful Convalescent Home at
Sirdariah, where the matron and staff of nurses were kindness and
consideration personified; a short spell in this well-managed
institution completed my cure, at the end of which I rejoined the
battalion.



CHAPTER XXIII.
RETURN OF THE ANZACS.


About this time the battalion was inspected by the G.O.C. Lines of
Communication, and the following is what he wrote of the impression we
made on him:

    HEADQUARTERS,
    PALESTINE LINES OF COMMUNICATION,

    8TH JANUARY, 1919.

    I was very glad to inspect your battalion and I was much struck
    with the soldierly appearance presented by the men.

    (Signed) E. W. BROADBENT,
    General Officer Commanding P.L. of C.

Isolated as we were on the edge of the desert we found life at Rafa
somewhat dull and dreary. Sandstorms were the bane of one's life there;
a "Khamsin" or hot wind would blow for days at a time, enveloping the
place in a cloud of fine sand and making life one long misery while it
lasted. One's eyes, nose, and throat got choked up, while every morsel
of food was full of grit. "Khamsin" is Arabic for fifty; the hot wind is
supposed to blow for that number of days but, thank Heaven, it rarely
lasted more than a week on end at Rafa.

There were no other troops in the place to vary the deadly monotony.
True, there were some Engineers of the Railway Operating Division, but
we found them somewhat selfish, for although they had an excellent
Concert Hall they refused our Concert Party permission to use it. Even
at Rafa the few underlings on the Staff took their cue from above and
did what they could to make our life as uncomfortable as possible, until
they came to know us better.

It can be imagined, therefore, with what joyful feelings we saw our old
friends of the Anzac Division march into Rafa and make it their
headquarters.

Since we had parted from the Anzacs in Gilead we had seen nothing of
them, but we knew that they had been camped in the green fields and
pleasant pastures surrounding the Jewish Colony of Richon-le-Zion. The
slings and arrows of misfortunes removed them from these sylvan
surroundings, but whatever ill wind blew them to Rafa it was a godsend
for us.

In these piping days of Peace, now that we were among our old friends
once more, there was horse-racing, hunting, tournaments and boxing
galore, while an enterprising kinema man came and photographed camp
scenes and groups of officers and men.

In the sand dunes around Rafa many ancient coins were to be found, and
General Chaytor himself could always be relied on to head a hunt for
these and other relics of antiquity. We never failed to find some
objects of interest--bits of glazed pottery, glass, beads, pins,
bangles, rings, etc. Every time there was a storm the top sand would get
blown away and we could always go and make fresh finds in the ground we
had already explored, and great was the competition as to who should
discover the best specimens.

[Illustration: GROUP OF OFFICERS AT RAFA]

The General had the eye of a lynx for such things, and it was rarely
indeed that anyone else had a look in while he was to the fore. He
discovered some very beautiful old mosaics buried at Shellal, and these
he had carefully sketched and artistically coloured, exactly as they
were in the original. I was very pleased when he kindly presented me
with a copy.

The rolling downs round about us were dotted here and there with the
graves of fallen Australian and New Zealand soldiers, and, riding as I
often did with General Chaytor, he would explain the operations which
took place when the British first entered Palestine at this point. He
gave me many vivid descriptions of the part which his Brigade had taken
in the overthrow of the Turks at the Battle of Rafa.

The General had a very narrow escape on that occasion. In the middle of
the battle, when he was galloping from one position to another, attended
only by his orderly, he came suddenly upon a concealed trench full of
Turks. Fortunately they thought he was at the head of a Squadron, so
threw up their hands and surrendered. The General left his orderly to
march off the prisoners and galloped on to conduct the fight elsewhere.

We motored over to Gaza once and spent a most interesting day there.

From Ali Muntar, a hill to the east of the town, which had been the
General's headquarters in the first battle of Gaza, he described the
whole situation. From this point almost every bit of Gaza and the
surrounding country could easily be seen.

It will be remembered that at the first battle we claimed a victory
which history has not since been able to verify, for we retired in hot
haste on Rafa; but it is said that, if there had only been a little more
push and go in the high command that day, Gaza would have been ours.

As a matter of fact it was ours at one time, for part of General
Chaytor's brigade was right in the town, where they captured some
hundreds of prisoners and a couple of guns which they turned on the
Turks in Gaza with considerable effect, sighting their strange new
pieces at point blank range by peeping through the bore of the guns.

The Turks were everywhere beginning to throw up the sponge, when, alas,
the British Force was suddenly ordered to retire because a Turkish
relieving column was seen approaching in the distance; but if only the
British Division, which all this time had been held in reserve, had been
thrust forward to intercept this column, tired, thirsty, and done up as
it was, we could, no doubt, have shattered it and won a complete
victory.

General Chaytor was ordered to retire somewhat early in the afternoon,
but, as he had a squadron right in the town, and many wounded men in
advanced positions, he waited until nightfall before withdrawing, taking
with him all his wounded, and also the Turkish prisoners and captured
guns. No matter who had the "wind up" that day, it certainly was not
General Chaytor or his Brigade.

The second battle of Gaza was, of course, a terrible fiasco, in which we
were repulsed and lost thousands of men to no purpose.

On another occasion I motored, with Colonel Croll, R.A.M.C., of the
Anzacs, to Beersheba. It was at this point that General Allenby made a
successful thrust when he first took command in Palestine, and from that
day to this he has never looked back. The Anzacs and the Australian
Mounted Division in this attack made a wide turning movement, outflanked
Beersheba, burst suddenly in upon Tel el Saba, some three miles to the
east of it, galloped the Turkish trenches, and poured into Beersheba at
one end in a whirlwind of dust and storm while the Turks skedaddled out
of it as fast as ever they could run from the other end, and made for
the shelter of the foothills towards Hebron.

The New Zealanders say that they were responsible for the capture of Tel
el Saba, for it was they who outflanked it; while the Australians
assured me that it was they who had stormed it at a mad gallop. At all
events it was a decisive victory for the Australians and New Zealanders
(for both took part in it), and as fine a piece of mounted work as had
been done so far during the war. Dash, energy, and initiative were shown
in a very high degree by all ranks engaged.

In the little cemetery at Beersheba I visited the grave of Major
Markwell, one of the bravest officers who fell that day.

We also paid a visit to the site of Old Beersheba, and were greatly
interested in peering down into the well dug at this celebrated place by
the Patriarch Abraham.

From Beersheba we motored to Gaza along the former Turkish front; every
inch of the way had been fortified and turned into a maze of trenches,
with formidable redoubts here and there throughout the line.

Once Beersheba was captured, the heart was taken out of the Turkish
resistance, though they put up some stiff fighting before they were
dislodged, especially at Atawineh, a strong redoubt near the centre of
the position.

After the capture of Beersheba, Lieutenant-Colonel S. F. Newcombe,
D.S.O., R.E., dashed northwards with part of the Camel Corps, to cut off
the Turks retreating on the Beersheba-Hebron Road. He reached a point
within a few miles of the latter place, but was surrounded by six
battalions of the enemy. He held out gallantly for three days; but at
last, when he had exhausted all his ammunition and suffered heavy
casualties, he was obliged to surrender.

Fate holds in its lap many surprises. If Colonel Newcombe had not been
captured that day he would undoubtedly, with ordinary luck, have won
distinction and rank, but there was another and better prize awaiting
him at Constantinople, for, while he was a prisoner and convalescing in
that city, he met a charming young lady who, at great personal risk,
helped him to escape from the clutches of the Turk, and afterwards
became his wife.



CHAPTER XXIV.
A RED-LETTER DAY.


Soon after the Anzac Division came to Rafa, General Chaytor expressed a
wish to inspect the battalion and present decorations to those officers,
N.C.O.s, and men who had won them while under his command.

It was a gloriously sunny afternoon, and every available man in the
battalion was on parade when General Chaytor, accompanied by Colonel
Bruxner and Major Anderson, rode on to the review ground and took the
"General Salute."

The battalion was then formed up on three sides of a square; the
officers, N.C.O.s, and men to be decorated stood in the centre, and as
each was called out to have the coveted honour pinned to his breast, his
deeds were recounted to the assembled troops.

Captain T. B. Brown won the Military Cross and bar for having gallantly
led many a dangerous reconnaissance into the enemy's lines.

Lieutenant Fligelstone was also decorated with the Military Cross for
good, gallant, and dangerous work successfully performed while he was
acting as machine-gun officer.

Lieutenant Cameron and Lieutenant Bullock both won Military Crosses and
bars for good and gallant patrol and intelligence work in the Jordan
Valley.

Corporal Bloom, Lance-Corporal Elfman, and Privates Angel and Robinson
were all decorated with the Military Medal for various gallant acts
performed in the Mellahah, and during the recent operations.

Major Neill had the D.S.O. conferred on him for his able handling of the
battalion while it was under his command in "Patterson's Column,"
Captain Leadley received the Military Cross for his good Staff work, and
Company Sergeant-Major Plant won the D.C.M. for special services
rendered by him during the whole time we were in the fighting line.

At the end of the presentation the General made the following address:

    Colonel Patterson, Officers, N.C.O.s, and men of the 38th Jewish
    Battalion Royal Fusiliers, I have specially come here to-day,
    first of all to present decorations to the officers and men who
    have won them in the recent operations under my command.

    Secondly, I want to tell you how sorry I am that I was not able
    to put you in the Van in the advance on Es Salt. I wished that
    you had been there, and I wanted you to be there, but the Indian
    Infantry and other units were in a more favourable position from
    which to spring off, while you were still entangled miles to the
    northward in the heavy sandhills of the Jordan Valley. In any
    case, even had you been in the Van you would have seen but
    little fighting, for the mounted men got well to the front and
    were able to effect the capture of Es Salt and Amman before the
    Infantry could possibly come up.

    I am pleased to be able to tell you, however, that I was
    particularly struck with your good work on the Mellahah front,
    and by your gallant capture of the Umm esh Shert Ford and defeat
    of the Turkish rearguard when I gave you the order to go, for I
    was then enabled to push my mounted men over the Jordan at that
    crossing, and so you contributed materially to the capture of Es
    Salt and of the guns and other material which fell to our share;
    to the capture of Amman; the cutting of the Hedjaz Railway, and
    the destruction of the 4th Turkish Army, which helped
    considerably towards the great victory won at Damascus.

I briefly thanked the General for his praise of the battalion, and a
march past the decorated officers and men concluded the pleasant
ceremony. It was indeed a Red-Letter Day for the battalion.

It will be seen from the above what really good work was done by the
Jewish Battalion, and how much it was appreciated by the one man who was
in a position to judge of our fighting abilities by actual experience in
the field.

Yet all mention of Jewish Troops was deliberately suppressed by the
Staff at G.H.Q. True, Jewish Troops were mentioned in official
despatches all over the world, but the part of these despatches
relating to Jewish Troops was never allowed to appear in the Palestinian
and Egyptian papers. This naturally upset and humiliated both Jewish
troops and the Jewish population generally, for it gave outsiders the
impression that we had failed to do our duty, whereas, on the contrary,
the Jewish Battalion had done extraordinarily good work for England. It
would, therefore, have been only mere justice and fair play if it had
received recognition in the local Egyptian and Palestinian Press, but it
was rigidly excluded from all mention by what the _Times_ truthfully
branded as "the most incompetent, the most inept, and the most savagely
ruthless censorship in any country under British control."

This omission was especially noted by all when the Commander-in-Chief in
his speech at Cairo, in December, 1918, mentioned all nationalities who
fought under his command, including Armenians and West Indians, but
maintained a stony silence on the doings of Jewish Troops in Palestine.
Coming on the top of all our persecution, this was most marked.

The following is indeed in his despatch published in England, which must
by some fluke or other have dodged the Censor:

    GENERAL ALLENBY'S DESPATCH,
    31ST OCTOBER, 1918.

    In operations east of the Jordan.

    The enemy, however, still held the bridgeheads on the west bank,
    covering the crossings of the Jordan at Umm es Shert, etc.

    Early in the morning of the 22nd September, the 38th Battalion
    Royal Fusiliers captured the bridgehead at Umm es Shert.

    Of the fighting troops, all have taken their share and have
    carried out what was required of them.

    I will bring to notice the good fighting qualities shown by the
    newer units. These include ... the 38th and 39th (Jewish)
    Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers.

    (Signed) E. H. H. ALLENBY, General,
    Commander-in-Chief, E.E.F.

The Commander-in-Chief also wrote in reply to a letter of congratulation
which he received from the Secretary of the Zionist Organization of
America:

    22D NOVEMBER, 1918.

    DEAR SIR,

    I have the honour to acknowledge your letter....

    You will be glad to hear that the Jewish Regiment did
    consistently good work....

I received letters of congratulations from many prominent people,
but the most valued of all was from that wonderful and truly great
man, Theodore Roosevelt. I only received this letter, written three
weeks before his lamented death, towards the end of March--over two
months after he had passed away. It had been sent to France in
error, and wandered in and out amongst the different armies there
until somebody noticed that it had "E.E.F." on the address, and sent
it on to Palestine:

     11TH DECEMBER, 1918.

     MY DEAR COLONEL PATTERSON,

     I most heartily congratulate you on leading in what was not
     only one of the most important, but one of the most dramatic
     incidents in the whole War. To have the sons of Israel smite
     Ammon "hip and thigh" under your leadership is something worth
     while.

     As for my own loss, the death of my son Quentin was very
     bitter, but it would have been far more bitter if he had been a
     hand's breadth behind his friends in entering the war. Two of
     my other sons have been wounded, one of them crippled. The
     other wounded one has recovered, and as Lieutenant-Colonel is
     now commanding his regiment on the march towards the Rhine.
     Kermit is Captain of Artillery, having first served in
     Mesopotamia, and then under Pershing in the Argonne fight.

    With hearty congratulations,
    Faithfully yours,
    T. ROOSEVELT.

Although the Staff denied us any local credit, our Zionist friends in
the country knew what good work the battalion had done, and we were glad
to receive the following official letter from the Zionist Commission:

    ZIONIST COMMISSION TO PALESTINE,
    c/o Chief Political Officer,
    G.H.Q., Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Palestine,

    15TH OCTOBER, 1918.

    COLONEL J. H. PATTERSON, D.S.O., 38TH R.F.

    DEAR COLONEL PATTERSON,

    It gives us great pleasure to express to you and to the men
    under your command of the 38th and 39th Royal Fusiliers, on
    behalf of the Zionist Commission, our warmest congratulations on
    the successful part taken by the Royal Fusiliers in the last
    battle that brought about the liberation of the rest of
    Palestine. We have always followed with the keenest interest the
    doings of the Regiment, and we are proud to know that it has
    done bravely and well.

    At a meeting of the Zionist Commission held yesterday,
    Lieutenant Jabotinsky informed us of the distinctions conferred
    upon four of the men of your battalion. It was resolved at this
    meeting to congratulate you thereon and ask you to be good
    enough to convey the congratulations of the Commission to the
    men who had earned these distinctions.

    With our best wishes for your welfare and that of the officers
    and men under your command,

    I am, dear Colonel Patterson,

    Yours faithfully,

    (Signed) JACK MOSSERI,
    Secretary.

Soon after my return to England I received the following letter from
General Chaytor, which will, I know, fill the hearts of the old boys of
the 38th with pride:

    WELLINGTON,
    NEW ZEALAND,

    9TH MARCH, 1920.

    MY DEAR PATTERSON,

    I hope the history of the 38th Battalion is out by now. So few
    people have heard of the battalion's good work, or of the very
    remarkable fact that in the operations that we hope have finally
    reopened Palestine to the Jews a Jewish force was fighting on
    the Jordan, within a short distance of where their forefathers,
    under Joshua, first crossed into Palestine, and all who hear
    about it are anxious to hear more.

    I shall always be grateful to you and your battalion for your
    good work while with me in the Jordan Valley.

    The way you smashed up the Turkish rearguard when it tried to
    counter-attack across the Jordan made our subsequent advance up
    the hills of Moab an easy matter.

    With best wishes, yours sincerely,

    (Signed) E. W. C. CHAYTOR.



CHAPTER XXV.
JEWISH SOLDIERS ARE FORBIDDEN TO ENTER THE HOLY CITY.


On the 24th February, 1919, I was appointed to the command of "Rafa
Area." The "Area" was rather an extensive one; it included nearly the
whole of the Sinai Desert to the south, and Palestine to the north,
almost as far as Bir Salem, while to the east it went beyond Beersheba
to the Arabian Desert. There were over 150 miles of railway to guard,
and the Bedouins had to be constantly watched and checked, or they would
have played all sorts of pranks with the line. Constant patrols had to
be maintained, and every day provided a fresh problem for solution. The
fresh-water pipe line from Egypt ran alongside the railway and, of
course, the wandering and thirsty Ishmaelite thought nothing of smashing
this in order to get a drink for himself and his camel. We had to be on
the alert all the time and nip these little enterprises of our friendly
Allies in the bud. They did not hesitate to attempt to loot the supply
stores of flour, forage, etc., stored at Rafa, and our sentries had many
lively little encounters with these marauders, and I must say that the
wily rascals took their chance of a bullet quite casually. While the
Anzac Division was with us I felt quite easy in my mind about being able
to keep these slippery customers in check, but it was quite "another
pair of shoes" when the Anzacs were hurriedly called away to suppress
the disorders in Egypt.

In addition to the 38th Battalion, I had some Indian Infantry holding
Gaza, and some South African troops holding El Arish. As demobilization
progressed these were withdrawn and the whole of this great area was, in
the end, solely garrisoned and guarded by the Jewish Battalion. They
performed their arduous duties extraordinarily well. They were scattered
up and down the line in small posts, often in the midst of Arab villages
and Bedouin camps, yet there was never any friction between Jew and
Arab, although here was a likely setting for it, if there had been any
real ill-feelings animating either side; but, as a matter of fact, the
Jew and Arab got on wonderfully well together all over Palestine, and
had worked amicably side by side for over forty years in the Jewish
colonies.

When the Egyptian Nationalist riots started the Military Governor of El
Arish feared an outbreak in this large Arab town, so I had to send
reinforcements to the garrison there under the command of Captain Jaffe,
an officer of the battalion. Aeroplanes flew up from the Aerodrome at
Heliopolis, and swooping low over El Arish put the fear of the Lord into
the inhabitants; this demonstration, and the great personal influence of
the Military Governor, Colonel Parker, kept these people quiet, and they
gave us no trouble whatever.

Later on we had to guard a number of political prisoners who were sent
up from Egypt as a result of the disturbances there, and this added
considerably to the heavy work of the battalion.

At Rafa there was an enormous Ammunition Depôt, covering acres of
ground, and this was a constant source of anxiety, and had to be guarded
on all sides, night and day. While the Jewish troops held it in custody
nothing untoward happened, but, after they were removed, by some evil
chance the whole place was blown up with considerable loss of life.

Notwithstanding the heavy work exacted from the battalion, there was one
great consolation for the men. No petty discrimination could now be
practised against them within my jurisdiction, and although I had five
Staff Officers under my command, I found them quite good fellows, and
willing to do all in their power to do the right thing by the Jewish
troops.

Discrimination against Jews was, however, still shown in other quarters.
Early in April the men were considerably upset on the receipt of orders
from G.H.Q. that no Jewish soldier would be allowed to enter Jerusalem
during the Passover; the order ran thus:

    "The walled city (of Jerusalem) is placed out of bounds to all
    _Jewish_ soldiers from the 14th to the 22nd April, inclusive."

I cannot conceive a greater act of provocation to Jewish soldiers than
this, or a greater insult. The days during which they were prohibited
from entering Jerusalem were the days of the Passover. Think of it!
Jewish soldiers for the first time in their lives in Palestine and
barred from the Temple Wall of Jerusalem during Passover! Only a Jew
can really understand what it meant to these men, and the great strain
it put on their discipline and loyalty.

How provocative and insulting this order was will be better understood
when it is realized that the majority of the population of Jerusalem is
Jewish, and, therefore, there could have been no possible reason for
excluding Jewish troops belonging to a British unit, while other British
troops were freely admitted, more especially as the conduct of the
Jewish soldiers was, at all times, exemplary.

Not since the days of the Emperor Hadrian had such a humiliating decree
been issued.

However, to make up somewhat for the action of the authorities, I made
arrangements for the Passover to be observed at Rafa with all the joy
and ceremony usually attending that great Feast of the Jewish People. At
considerable cost we provided unleavened bread, as well as meat and
wine--all strictly "Kosher." As we were nearly 2,000 strong at this
time, the catering for the feast had to be most carefully gone into, and
Lieut. Jabotinsky, Lieut. Lazarus, and the Rev. L. A. Falk did yeoman
service in providing for all needs. It was a wonderful sight when we all
sat down together and sang the Hagadah on the edge of the Sinai desert.

The Zionist Commission and Miss Berger, an American Zionist, helped us
materially with funds, and our friends in England did likewise. The
Acting Chairman of the Zionist Commission sent me the following letter
for the occasion:--

    ZIONIST COMMISSION TO PALESTINE,
    c/o Chief Political Officer,
    G.H.Q., Palestine.

    JERUSALEM, APRIL 6, 1919.

     To the Colonel of the 38th Battalion, COL. J. H. PATTERSON,
     D.S.O.

     My dear Colonel,

    May I request, in the name of the Zionist Commission, that you
    have this letter read to the men of your battalion at their
    Seder Service.

    The Commission is glad to be the means of aiding them in
    celebrating our Pesach, the Feast of Deliverance, and we trust
    that it will bring them all great joy. We have hopes now that
    our age-long prayers will soon be realized, and it should be a
    source of pride and happiness to them to know that they have
    contributed by their courage and their sacrifices toward its
    fulfilment. The Commission speaks in the name of the Zionist
    Organization in expressing to them the thanks of the nation for
    the devoted services they have rendered and are rendering, in
    the service of the liberty-loving nation, Great Britain, to
    which they have sworn fidelity, and to our people of Israel for
    whose future glory they have been willing to sacrifice their
    lives. The splendid part they have played, and will continue to
    play, will ever be remembered as a bright spot in the long
    history of our ancient people.

    Very cordially yours,

    (Signed) HARRY FRIEDENWALD,
    Acting Chairman, Zionist Commission.


As Rafa was just over the border of Palestine, and therefore in the
"Galuth," the Feast had to be kept for eight days. Many of the men
thought that, as we were only a matter of yards from the boundary, I
would on the eighth day issue leavened bread, which some of them were
already hankering after, but this I would not hear of, and from that day
forth I was considered the strictest Jew in the battalion!



CHAPTER XXVI.
THE GREAT BOXING COMPETITION.


There was a great deal of unrest and unhealthy excitement during
demobilization, so to keep the troops interested and amused,
competitions were got up throughout the E.E.F. in Boxing, Football,
Cricket, and sports of all kinds.

Soon after we reached Rafa a programme of coming sporting events was
circulated from G.H.Q.

Naturally, in a fighting army like the British, the greatest interest of
all was taken in the Boxing competition, and the 38th Royal Fusiliers
entered with keenness for all events.

By the terms of the contest teams could be chosen from Brigades, or even
from Divisions, but, as we belonged to no Brigade or Division, we could
only choose our men from our own battalion, which was of course a
considerable handicap.

However, I considered that this was a grand opportunity of proving that
men picked from this Jewish Battalion, if properly trained, would be
able to hold their own against any team that might be brought against
them from other units, or brigades, or even divisions, of the British
Army.

I therefore formed a Sports Committee, collected my team of boxers,
bought them boxing gloves, punch balls, etc., and despatched them with a
trainer to El Arish, some 30 miles away, on the shores of the
Mediterranean. There they raced, chased, boxed, bathed, danced, and were
generally licked into condition by Sergeant Goldberg, the boxing
instructor to the battalion.

In order to weed out the weaker teams so that only the very best should
appear at the finals in Cairo, the contest was subdivided into four
great tournaments: one for all the troops in Egypt, another for all the
troops in Palestine, the third for all the troops in Syria, and the
fourth for the best team among the Australians and New Zealanders. At my
inspection of the 38th team, just before the tournament, I was much
impressed with our prospects of success, for the men boxed wonderfully
well.

We were all agog with excitement, and I may say with hope, when the
great day for the Palestine Championship arrived and our men stepped
inside the ropes at Kantara, surrounded by thousands of onlookers.

There was some splendid fighting, but I cannot go into the details of it
here. It is sufficient to say that we defeated all comers, won five gold
medals, and emerged as the Champions of Palestine, with the right,
therefore, of representing it in the great Cairo tournament for the
Championship of the E.E.F. Could anything be more fitting? Jewish
soldiers as champions of Palestine.

It can be imagined what jubilation there was in camp when our team
returned to Rafa, and the ringing cheers which roared out when, at one
of our concerts, I presented the gold medals to the victors, whose names
are as follows:--

    Heavy-weight      Private Burack.
    Welter-weight     Private Tankinoff.
    Light-weight      Private Cohen.
    Feather-weight    Private Franks.
    Bantam-weight     Private Goldfarb.

The first round of this essentially British form of sport had been
fought and won by the despised Jewish Battalion!

There yet remained the great contest at Cairo, where we would have to
meet the champions of Egypt, and of the Australian forces, and of Syria.

Real hard training was once more the order of the day at El Arish, and I
can guarantee that no fitter men than ours stepped into the ring at
Cairo on that glorious night of the 13th March, when the first rounds of
the championship were fought in the presence of thousands of spectators
from all parts.

Again the Jewish Battalion won practically every contest, defeating all
its opponents among the British Regiments. Eventually, it was left in to
fight out the final round of the Championship for the whole of the
E.E.F. with the Australians, who on their side had defeated their
opponents.

It was a memorable night (the Ides of March) when this final contest
took place. Excitement and feeling ran very high round the ring, and
there was some magnificent fighting on both sides. In the end it was
found that the Jewish Battalion had tied for victory with the
Australians.

A decision, however, was given against us, on the grounds that we had
not entered an officer of the battalion in the team. As a matter of
fact, I _had_ entered an officer of the battalion with the teams, but
the judge (who was a British General, not an Australian) said that my
team officer was only "attached" to the 38th for duty, and therefore
could not be claimed as belonging to the battalion. Of course
practically every officer in the battalion was only "attached" for duty,
but there--I suppose it really would not have been the "right thing" for
one Jewish Battalion to have defeated the whole of the Egyptian
Expeditionary Force!

In football the men were almost equally good, and we were good
runners-up for the Championship of Palestine.

In cricket also--that essentially English game--the battalion acquitted
itself most creditably under Captain Pope's tuition, defeating all
comers in the Bir Salem matches, with the exception of the Flying Corps;
while our Americans were, of course, unrivalled at base ball, at which
they were real experts. They often gave exhibitions of their skill, to
the great delight of all those who had never before seen the game
played.

Our Concert Party was also still well to the fore, and easily took first
place in Palestine--its only possible rival being that of the 39th
Battalion. I had only got to let it be known that Tchaikov--our first
violinist--would give a performance to draw a crowd big enough to pack
our concert tent four times over. In the end a covetous man succeeded
in wheedling Tchaikov away from us. Colonel Storrs, the Governor of
Jerusalem, begged him from me so persuasively that I could not refuse
him, more especially as it was to Tchaikov's advantage to settle in the
Holy City, where he took up the post of Director of the School of
Music.



CHAPTER XXVII.
BIR SALEM--AN EXCITING RACE.


Early in May we were transferred from Rafa to Bir Salem. The advance
party moved on the 6th, and on the 10th the Battalion Headquarters
followed, and took over duties from the 7th Indian Infantry Brigade,
which was then sent to Haifa.

We were replaced at Rafa by the 40th (Jewish) Battalion Royal Fusiliers,
which was now composed mainly of the Palestinian youths recruited by
Major James de Rothschild and Lieutenant Lipsey. For a time they were
commanded by Lieut.-Colonel F. D. Samuel D.S.O., but he left for England
while the battalion was doing garrison duty at Haifa.

The command then fell to Colonel Scott, a most conscientious officer,
and a man in full sympathy with Zionist aspirations. While at Rafa he
had a most anxious time owing to the unwise action of the military
authorities. The men of the 40th Battalion had enlisted for service in
Palestine only, but the local Staff ignored this definite contract and
ordered part of the battalion to Cyprus. As this was a breach of their
terms of enlistment, the men refused to go, and in the end the officials
had to climb down and cancel all their unjust orders. Why did the
Staff, when they knew all about this special contract for service in
Palestine only, drive this excellent battalion almost to the verge of
mutiny? There were many other battalions available for Cyprus.

Happily, Colonel Scott brought his men safely through the rough time at
Rafa, and he served on with them until December, 1919, when the 40th was
merged in the 38th Battalion.

All through the early days of May I saw chalked up everywhere--on the
Railway Station, signal boxes, workshops, on the engines, trucks, and
carriages--the mystic words, "Remember the 11th May."

This was, of course, the date on which all soldiers, rightly or wrongly,
believed themselves entitled to their release, because it was six months
after the Armistice granted to the Germans on November 11th, 1918.

I heard it rumoured that there was a conspiracy on foot in the E.E.F.
for a general mutiny on that day, and found that men from other units
had endeavoured to seduce my battalion from its duty.

On learning this, I at once determined to nip the attempt in the bud,
and so made it my business to speak to every man in the battalion, and
on every isolated post, impressing upon them the responsibility which
rested on their shoulders as Jews, and urging them on no account to be
led away by the hot-heads in other units.

I told them that British troops could perhaps afford to mutiny, but
Jewish troops, while serving England, never.

I am proud to be able to state that not a man of my battalion failed on
the 11th May, but just "carried on" as usual. Mutinies took place
elsewhere, and thousands of British soldiers at Kantara ran riot and had
the place in a blaze. However, the matter was hushed up, concessions
were made, the mutineers were not punished, so far as I know, and things
gradually became normal again.

Our effective strength when we left Rafa was 15 officers and 1,300 other
ranks. Our duties at Bir Salem, Ludd, and Ramleh were exceptionally
heavy, the men being very often on duty three nights in a week, and when
they were off guard duties they were immediately put on to prisoner of
war escorts, etc., as there was a very large Turkish and German
Prisoners of War Camp at Ludd.

At Bir Salem we were attached to the 3rd (Lahore) Division, under the
command of General Hoskin. It is a great pleasure to me to be able to
state here that this officer and his Staff gave us a very hearty and
cordial welcome to Bir Salem, and did everything possible for our
comfort and welfare.

I look upon General Hoskin with his Staff as the one bright luminary
amidst the gloomy British constellations among whom we were continually
revolving! What an immense difference it makes to the feelings of a
regiment or a battalion when it is known that the Staff are out to help
and assist (as is their proper function), instead of to crab and block
everything; in the former case one is ready to work the skin off one's
bones, while in the latter everybody's back is up, with the result that
co-ordination and happy working is impossible.

This was a happy time for the young lions of Judah, for the G.O.C. and
his staff were out to help and assist in every possible way. We were not
then aware of all the trials and tribulations that awaited us on the
departure of General Hoskins and his excellent staff--sahibs to a man.

The battalion owes a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Jessop, the capable
secretary of the Y.M.C.A. in Egypt, who supplied us with a magnificent
marquee, completely furnished with tables, chairs, forms, lamps, etc.,
etc. Only for this gift from the Y.M.C.A. we should have been very badly
off indeed, for we were camped on a sandy waste without huts or any
conveniences which other troops in our neighbourhood fortunately
possessed.

It is a fact worthy of note that, although the wealthy Jews of Cairo and
Alexandria contributed generously to the E. E. F. Comforts Fund, not a
single article of any kind was ever sent to the Jewish Battalion to
cheer them in their desolate surroundings. We asked for gramophones,
etc., but got nothing--not even a reply!

There were compensations, however, at Bir Salem. We had many interesting
visitors who came to cheer us in our camp in the sands, among others the
Haham Bashi (Grand Rabbi of Jaffa) and the famous Dutch poet Dr. de
Haan. I remember that the latter took great interest in a pet monkey
which belonged to one of the men of the battalion, but the
quaint-looking little animal showed little respect for the poet, for she
evinced a decided desire to leave the print of her teeth in his finger
as a souvenir of his visit.

We were always kindly and hospitably received by the citizens of Jaffa,
headed by Mr. Bezalel Jaffe, and by those of Richon-le-Zion, headed by
Mr. Gluskin, when we visited those colonies.

While stationed here I spent many a pleasant evening chatting with Mr.
Aharoni, a well-known naturalist, who lives at Rechoboth. There is
perhaps no man in all Syria and Palestine with such a wide knowledge of
the flora and fauna of those countries, and he gave me many interesting
accounts of his adventures among the Bedouins while in quest of
specimens for various European museums.

When the Great War broke out he had secured two live ostrich chicks, new
to science, and these he had hoped to send alive to England. However,
when the pinch for food came there was none for the ostriches, so they
had to be killed; they were stuffed, and may now be seen at Lord
Rothschild's famous museum at Tring Park, Hertfordshire. This story of
the ostrich chicks was related to me by Mr. Aharoni while I was
celebrating with him the "Feast of Tabernacles," under the shade of
"boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick
trees, and willows of the brook," and we did greatly rejoice, for the
Feast was a goodly one, and the pottage of Gevereth Aharoni was such as
my soul loved.

About this time many military Race Meetings were organized in different
parts of Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, and officers were encouraged to
take part in them and get the men interested in the sport, so as to take
their thoughts away from the absorbing topic of demobilization.

On the 5th June a Race Meeting was held at Surafend, a few miles from
Bir Salem, and as we were all expected to support the programme, I
entered my charger Betty for one of the events.

Betty was a beautiful dark-brown creature, but somewhat skittish and
wayward, like many of her sex. I knew her little ways and how to humour
her to perfection, and she always gave me of her best. More than once
she managed to slip her fastenings in the horse lines, and used her
freedom to gallop off to my tent, where she would thrust her head
through the doorway; then, apparently satisfied, she would fly back to
her place in the lines.

She appeared at times to see something not visible to the human eye,
because, now and again, when cantering quickly along, for no apparent
reason she would suddenly bound aside as if the Devil himself had scared
her out of her wits.

The 3rd Lahore Division had at this time on its Staff an able and
energetic sportsman, Major Pott, of the Indian Cavalry; this officer
provided an excellent programme and ran the meeting without a hitch.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon, and thousands of people flocked to the
course, soldiers from the camps round about, civilians from Jerusalem,
Jaffa, and the surrounding colonies; the Arabs and Bedouins also sent a
very strong contingent.

In the race for which I had entered Betty (I called her Betty in memory
of another Betty, also beautiful and with a turn of speed!) a full score
of horses went to the post, and I, unfortunately, drew the outside
place. I therefore felt that unless I got well away at the start, and
secured sufficient lead to enable me to cross to the inside, I would
have but a poor chance of winning, for, about half-way down the course,
there was a tremendous bend to negotiate. I was lucky enough to jump
away in front, and, soon finding myself well ahead, swerved across to
the inside, where I hugged the rails. For three parts of the way round
Betty made the running, but soon after we came into the straight for
home I eased her a bit and was passed by Major Pott, who was riding a
well-known mare, also, strange to say, called Betty. At the distance the
Major was quite a length ahead of me, but I felt that there was still
plenty of go in my Betty, so I called upon the game little mare to show
her mettle. Gradually she forged herself forward until there was but a
head between them, and for the last dozen strides the two Bettys raced
forward dead level amid the frantic roars of the crowd, all shouting,
"Go on, Betty! Go on, Betty!" We both rode for all we were worth, my
Betty straining every nerve to defeat her namesake, and finally, amid
terrific cheering, by the shortest of heads, Betty won--but, alas, it
was the other Betty!

[Illustration: RUINS AT BAALBEK
(_See page_ 212)]

[Illustration: MY CHARGER BETTY
(_See page_ 209)]



CHAPTER XXVIII.
DAMASCUS.


Towards the end of June I took part in the military races at Alexandria,
and from the "home town" of Hypatia I took ship and went to Beyrout--a
lovely seaport, nestling under the mighty and magnificent Lebanon. Here
I was most hospitably entertained by my friends, the Bustroses. From the
balcony of her palatial residence Madame Bustros enjoys a view second to
none in the world, and every imaginable fruit and flower grows and
blooms on her estate. Beyrout is undoubtedly a place of milk and honey,
and is unquestionably within the Biblical boundaries of the Promised
Land. Ezekiel xlvii., 17, states: "and the border from the sea shall be
Hazar-enan, the border of Damascus and the north northward and the
border of Hamath." This was the northern boundary assigned to Israel and
was actually occupied in the days of David and Solomon.

My journey across the Lebanon was one long feast of the most beautiful
scenery in the world. As we topped the range my last peep of mountain
and valley, stretching away down to Beyrout, hemmed in by the glittering
sea, was like a vision of Paradise.

Instead of going to Damascus direct, I branched off at Ryak and ran up
the Bakaa, the valley which stretches between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon
to Baalbek, where I spent a wonderful time amid the mighty ruins of that
ancient temple to Baal.

Baalbek is the most beautiful and impressive ruin that it has ever been
my good fortune to look upon. Thebes may exceed it in size, but the
wonder of Egypt had not the effect upon me that was produced when I
stood under the magnificent columns of this great temple to the heathen
god.

I wandered through the vast pile, an insignificant speck amidst its
gigantic pillars and fallen lintels, overthrown and shattered by the
devastating earthquake which centuries ago wrecked this mighty
structure. Who were the architects who designed it? and who were the
engineers who set on high those stupendous blocks? Verily there were
giants in those days.

At Baalbek railway station I came across one of the prettiest girls I
had seen for many a long day engaged in selling peaches. She was a
Syrian from Lebanon, which is noted for the beauty of its maidens; I
overheard her companions address this Houri of the mountains as "Edeen."
While I was standing waiting for my train to arrive a dust storm
suddenly sprang up, and when it was over Edeen sat down and calmly
_licked_ the dust off every peach until they all bloomed again in her
basket; then presently she presented the fruit, fresh and shining, to
the incoming passengers, who eagerly bought it from the smiling damsel!
I need hardly say that peaches were "off" for me during the rest of my
trip, for not all sellers were as beautiful as Edeen!

A few hours in the train took me over the Anti-Lebanon, and I caught my
first glimpse of Damascus, that most ancient of cities, which I had long
desired to see.

When Mohammed was a camel driver, making a caravan journey from Medina
to Aleppo, the story goes that he once camped on a hill overlooking
Damascus. His companions asked him to join them and go into the city but
he replied--"No; Paradise should only be entered after death!"

I viewed the city from the same spot, but, not being so sure of my
hereafter as was the Prophet, I decided to take my chance of entering
this earthly Paradise while it offered.

It is rightly described as a pearl set in emeralds. White mosques,
minarets, and cupolas peep dazzlingly in all directions out of the
emerald foliage. Trees, gardens, and flowers of all kinds abound in this
delectable city, whose charm is enhanced by the murmur of the many
rivers running through it. I, too, like Naaman the Syrian, found "Abana
and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel."
The latter is in the district, and runs some ten miles to the south of
the oldest city in the world. The great Saladin is buried in Damascus,
and of course I made a pilgrimage to the tomb of this famous warrior.

I like to avoid the caravanserais set up for Europeans as much as
possible when travelling in the East, so that I may see something of the
life of the people. In this way one has many pleasant little
adventures, experiences and remembrances, which give zest to life.

While lunching at a famous Arab restaurant I made the acquaintance of
Dr. Yuseff, a well-known medical man of Damascus and Beyrout; among
other subjects we talked horses and races, and we became such good
friends that he lent me his fiery, pure-bred Arab steed to ride while
sight-seeing in the neighbourhood--a sure token of friendship from this
cultured Arab of Syria.

Just on the outskirts of the city on the banks of the river Barada (the
Biblical Abana) I had noticed a Bedouin camp crowded with good-looking
horses, so thither I went and called on the Sheik of the tribe. While
sitting with the elders in a huge circle, sipping coffee out of tiny
cups, I discovered from their conversation that my hosts were wandering
Kurds, who were just about to set off for the confines of Persia. I
hinted that I would like to join their caravan, and was immediately
given a warm welcome, but, much as I should have liked to roam the
desert with them, I had to think of my Jewish Battalion waiting for me
at Bir Salem. The Kurds expressed much interest when I told them I had
to go on a pilgrimage to El Kuds (meaning Jerusalem), for of course they
were good Moslems and reverenced the Holy City.

On leaving Damascus I travelled down the Hedjaz Railway as far as Deraa.
The moment the ancient Syrian capital is left the train enters the
desert, the home of the Ishmaelite. These bold rovers, from time
immemorial, have hunted and harried the peaceful traveller caught
toiling through their fastnesses. We were not molested for the simple
reason that troops of cavalry, British and Indian, were posted at
strategic points all along the railway. A few months later, when we
withdrew from these parts, the Bedouins began their old games, and took
a fierce joy in derailing trains, and robbing, and even killing, the
passengers. In this way a good friend of mine, Comandante Bianchini, an
officer of the Royal Italian Navy, met his untimely end at the hands of
these desert marauders. Bianchini was deeply interested in, and worked
hard for, the Zionist cause, and his loss is a sad blow to his many
friends. A more cheery, lovable man never sailed the seas.

We reached Deraa (the ancient Edrei) without incident, and then branched
off westward to Haifa, the train clambering down and around the
precipitous sides of the Yarmuk Escarpment, past the southern shore of
the Lake of Galilee at Samakh, across the Jordan and running parallel to
it for some miles, then curving upwards out of the Jordan Valley, into
the valley of Jezreel, which continues into the plain of Esdraelon.

These narrow plains, the heritage of Issachar, sever the head of
Palestine from the body, or, in other words, separate Galilee from
Samaria and Judæa. To use an Irishism, this neck had been the "Achilles'
heel" of Israel throughout her history. All down the ages armies from
Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, and Egypt have marched and counter-marched
through this fertile belt. Open passes southward made Samaria an easy
prey. Beisan (the ancient Bethshan), which guards the eastern end and
dominates the passage over the Jordan, was generally in the hands of the
stranger. It was in the neighbourhood of this famous old stronghold
that Barak defeated Sisera, captain of the host of Jaban, king of the
Canaanites--a victory celebrated in the famous song of Deborah. It was
also in this neighbourhood that Gideon smote the Midianites. His motto,
"The sword of the Lord and of Gideon," was also the motto of the
Zionists who served England so stoutly in Gallipoli, and it was a
curious coincidence that, just as the Midianites were routed by the
shouting and clamour of Gideon's three companies, so was the Turkish
Army routed by the Zion mules when, with rattling chains and clattering
hoofs, they stampeded one dark night and galloped through the Turks as
they were creeping stealthily up to attack the British trenches.

Later on in the military history of the Israelites we find the
Philistines battling for the supremacy on these plains and overthrowing
the army of Israel under their first King Saul, who, in the bitterness
of defeat, and finding he could not escape, fell on his sword and died
on Mount Gilboa. In the same battle and the same place the death of
Jonathan put an end to his immortal friendship with David and called
forth the famous lament: "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high
places; how are the mighty fallen."

These stories of the Old Testament flashed vividly through my mind as we
rolled onward through this historic valley between Mount Gilboa and
Beisan on the left, and the cone-shaped Mount Tabor away on the right.

Other countries and other scenes were recalled to my mind when I spied
half a dozen beautiful antelope near some standing corn, and my
thoughts of Africa were further intensified when I caught a glimpse, on
the railway bank, of a huge black snake, some six feet long, rapidly
darting away out of danger.

Soon afterwards, on looking to the north, I saw Nazareth perched upon a
southern Galilean hill-top. We wound in and out by the brook Kishon,
where Elijah smote the false prophets. Finally we passed along the
mighty shoulder of Mount Carmel into that great natural anchorage of
Haifa, nestling under its shadow; then southward to Ludd and Bir
Salem--the whole train journey from Damascus taking some fifteen hours
and giving me an unrivalled feast of Biblical landscapes.

Early in July I visited Acre to take part in the races there (which
proved a fiasco owing to the antics of the starter), and suddenly found
myself close to the dwelling of the famous Abdul Baha, the exponent of
the doctrine of the Brotherhood of Man. He certainly has a wide field
before him, for at the present moment there seems to be very little
brotherly love in any part of the world! His particular mission is to
unite the peoples of the earth, and do away with all barriers of race,
creed, and prejudice.

Since Patriarchs, Popes, Archbishops, Mullahs, and ministers of all
creeds have failed to make humanity realise the necessity of "brotherly
love," the League of Nations would be well advised to adopt the Sage of
Acre and make him President of a "League of Teachers," pledged to
inculcate love for one's fellowmen as the cardinal feature of his
curriculum. One thing is certain--the League of Nations will never bring
the world into harmony unless the young are taught to love and help
their brothers, irrespective of nationality.

It will be remembered that Acre was the town to which Napoleon laid
siege after his wonderful march from Egypt with about 10,000 French
Infantry. This extraordinary man was able to cross the Sinai desert with
his army, without either roads, railway, or water supply, capture Gaza,
Jaffa, and Haifa with ease, and only for the British Fleet would
undoubtedly have added Acre, and probably all Syria, to his spoils.

Those who have traversed the Sinai sands in a comfortable railway coach
can afford to pay a warm tribute to this redoubtable warrior, and to the
no less redoubtable Infantry of France.



CHAPTER XXIX.
AMONG THE PHILISTINES.


When General Hoskin left Bir Salem to take up a command in England he
was replaced by Major-General Sir John Shea, under whom we had served
for a short time in the line. If this officer had not been called
elsewhere, I am quite sure that the regrettable incidents which I shall
have to relate would never have taken place; but, unfortunately, General
Shea was away practically all the time we were attached to his Division,
and a senior Brigadier acted in his place.

This Brigadier was apparently well aware of the anti-Jewish attitude
taken up by certain members of the G.H.Q. Staff, and trimmed his sails
accordingly, but unfortunately for himself, as the sequel will show, his
zeal to second their ill-advised efforts carried him to such lengths
that even those influential members whose policy he was supporting were
unable to save him from the consequences of his own outrageous folly.

No sooner had we come under his command than his anti-Semitic bias
became apparent. Certain areas were placed out of bounds to "Jewish
soldiers" but not to men in other battalions. Jewish soldiers were so
molested by the Military Police that the only way they could enjoy a
peaceful walk outside camp limits was by removing their Fusilier badges
and substituting others which they kept conveniently in their pockets
for the purpose. They found that by adopting this method they were never
interfered with by the Military Police.

Traditional British fair play seemed to have taken wings as soon as
General Z. appeared on the scene. I repeatedly made official complaints
about the way the men were persecuted, but nothing was done to mend
matters. As a British officer I felt ashamed to hold my head up in my
own camp owing to the unfair and un-English treatment to which the men
were subjected.

It may well be imagined that this attitude of the Staff made my command
anything but an easy one. In the first place, knowing how all ranks were
discriminated against, no officer or man wished to remain in the
battalion. It was exceedingly difficult under the circumstances to get
the best out of the men. While we were with the Anzacs, although we
suffered exceedingly from the deadly climate in the desolate Jordan
Valley, yet we were all thoroughly happy, because we were treated with
justice and sympathy by the Staff and by all other ranks in that famous
division. At Bir Salem, on the contrary, we were anything but a happy
unit.

It will be remembered that before we left Rafa the battalion had been
swamped by about 800 recruits. Physically they were a very fine lot,
but, being young and hailing from the United States, they were a bit
wild and difficult to handle. The moment they joined the battalion they
had to do real hard soldiering, and were put on outposts and detachments
up and down the country, guarding thousands of prisoners of war, long
stretches of railway line, millions of pounds worth of munitions, food,
ordnance supplies, etc. In fact, so arduous were these duties that the
men had scarcely more than every alternate night in bed, although it is
the rule in the army that whenever possible every man should be allowed
at least three consecutive nights' rest.

The great majority of my old trained men of the 38th had by this time
either been demobilised, invalided to England, or employed on special
duties between Cairo and Aleppo, so that a great part of the heavy
duties which had to be carried out fell on the American recruits. There
was absolutely no time to train these men, and I consider it was really
wonderful that they did so well under the circumstances.

I know of no more heart-breaking task for a Commanding Officer than to
endeavour to keep a battalion in a high state of discipline when he is
surrounded by a hostile staff, apparently all out to irritate and
humiliate both officers and men. From "reveille" to "lights out" it was
a case of countering the actions of those in authority which constantly
tended to create discontent and ill-feeling in our ranks.

I may mention that I had scores of protests from the men, often daily,
owing to the persecution to which they were subjected while we were at
Bir Salem. Is it to be wondered at that, suffering all these things,
some of the American volunteers at last became restive and asked
themselves, "Why should we serve England and be treated like dogs?"

I often felt it necessary to speak to the men, for I knew that their
loyalty was strained almost to breaking-point. At such moments I told
them that the honour of Jewry rested on their shoulders, and no matter
what provocation they might be subjected to, they must at all times
remain steadfast. The Imperial Government in England was sound and
sympathetic to their ideals, and eventually justice must prevail, and
the evil days through which we were passing would soon come to an end. I
appealed to them as Jews to be good soldiers, and, to their credit, they
always responded.

Before this persecution became acute volunteers were called for to serve
with the Army of Occupation in Palestine. Several hundred American
enthusiasts in the battalion offered their services, but owing to the
treatment they received their enthusiasm died out, and they requested
that they should be demobilized and repatriated. A small party of these
American citizens who were on outpost duty at Belah, some sixty miles to
the south of Bir Salem, sent in a signed memorial requesting
demobilization; otherwise they stated that they would refuse to do duty
after a certain date which was mentioned. This document I, of course,
forwarded to Divisional Headquarters.

I had been writing to the authorities for months, requesting that these
men should be demobilized and sent back to the United States, and at
last I heard, unofficially, that the order for repatriation was on its
way.

I sent my adjutant to inform the Belah men that their release was coming
through in the course of a few days, and to tell them to carry on
meanwhile like good soldiers.

More than half of the men responded, but the rest, being young and
untrained, refused to perform any further soldierly duties after the
expiry of the time limit; they just remained quietly in their tents, for
they wished to bring matters to a head.

I am glad to say that the Jewish soldiers, both Americans and British,
serving with me at Bir Salem, stood firm and carried out their duties as
usual.

After personal investigation into the conduct of these foolish youths at
Belah I remanded them for trial by Field General Court Martial, and
forwarded the charge sheets, with summaries of evidence, to General Z. I
had framed the charge sheets most carefully, but apparently my drafting
did not suit the General, for he framed fresh charges of mutiny, and
sent his A.D.C. with them to me for immediate signature. I had but a
moment to scan the charge sheets, for the A.D.C. was impatient to catch
a train which was due to leave. I did not like the General's drafting,
but, being a very obedient soldier, I duly signed the documents as
ordered and handed them back to the waiting Staff officer, wishing him
luck with them as he galloped off.

According to King's Regulations, a soldier remanded for trial by Court
Martial has the right to request the help of an officer to act as his
friend at the trial, and, of course, it is the bounden duty of such
officer to do everything in his power to get the accused acquitted. The
Belah men petitioned Lieutenant Jabotinsky to act as their advocate, and
he, somewhat unwillingly, assented to undertake the ungrateful task. He
was not anxious to defend these men of Belah because he held that they
should have carried out their duties faithfully to the end, even
although they felt that they had a grievance against authority.

The trial took place at Kantara, and, in the course of it, Lieutenant
Jabotinsky pointed out a fatal flaw in the charge sheets, with the
result that the charge of mutiny failed, and the Court had to be
dissolved. The President (who belonged to Major-General Louis Jean Bols'
late Regiment) was furious at the fiasco, and said, "This is all the
fault of Colonel Patterson, and I shall report him." My adjutant,
Captain Sandison, a staunch and sturdy Scot, was present in Court as
Prosecutor, and, knowing all the facts of the case, at once turned on
the President and said, "You have no right, Sir, to make such a
statement about my Commanding Officer. The G.O.C. Division rejected his
charge sheets, which were in perfect order, and framed the faulty ones
himself, so now you know whom to report."

A new Court had to be convened, but the men were now arraigned merely on
the lesser charge of disobeying an order. Even on this lesser charge
they were savagely sentenced to various terms of penal servitude,
ranging from seven years downwards. Had they been found guilty by the
first Court on the charge of mutiny I presume they would all have been
shot!

I am confident that if these young Americans had been properly trained
as soldiers, this Belah incident would never have taken place. I had
given the authorities ample warning of what was likely to happen when
these recruits were thrust upon me, but my advice was ignored.

All I can say is that if an Australian, English, Irish, or a Scottish
battalion had been treated as this Jewish battalion was treated,
Divisional Headquarters would have gone up in flames and the General
himself would have been lucky to escape.

Be it noted that the mutineers of other British units, the men who had
openly defied all authority and set Kantara in a blaze, were not even
put on trial!

Until the recruits were forcibly thrust upon me, I can vouch for it that
the 38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers was one of the most exemplary units
that ever took the field, crime being practically unknown. The men
endured hard marching, hard knocks, fatiguing manual labour, at times
scanty rations of food and water, the seething heat of the Jordan Valley
and the anti-Semitism of the local military authorities, and withal
gained the highest praise from the General Officer Commanding under whom
they served in the field.

Notwithstanding the fact that we were so despitefully used, the
authorities found that the men's services were invaluable. In addition
to garrisoning large areas of Palestine, I had officers, N.C.O.s, and
men, holding all kinds of important posts throughout the E.E.F., from
Aleppo to Cairo. The demand for men from the 38th Battalion was ever on
the increase, for executive officers found the Jewish soldier steady,
sober and reliable, three qualities, the importance of which I was
always impressing on the men, although, as a matter of fact, sobriety is
one of the outstanding virtues of the Jewish soldier.



CHAPTER XXX.
THE FALL OF GOLIATH.


The violent anti-Semitism shown by General Z at last reached such a
pitch that on one occasion (the 16th July to be exact), he rode into
camp and, without the slightest provocation, abused and insulted the
men, threatened one of them, and actually went so far as to strike an
unoffending private soldier with his whip, using at the same time
language which would make Billingsgate blush.

I was not present at this outrage, but I heard a full account of all
that happened from various eye-witnesses who reported the affair, and
all I could imagine was that the General must have suddenly gone insane.

The whole battalion was in an uproar, and I had much ado to pacify the
men and keep things going.

The man who was struck was sent to Hospital with a swollen arm, and the
other men who were specifically insulted reported to me at the orderly
room and complained of the treatment they had received. I forwarded
their complaint to General Z, together with the sick report of the man
he had struck with his whip. He replied requesting me to have these
particular men paraded so that he might speak to them.

I arranged for this embarrassing interview, and, to prevent any
hostility which the outraged battalion might have shown towards General
Z when he entered the camp, I kept the men in their tents, with N.C.O.s
in charge of each door, with instructions to see that no untoward
incident took place.

On arrival the General apologised to the insulted men, but so indignant
were they that at first they refused to accept it, or to shake hands
when he offered to do so. Finally, after over half-an-hour's persuasion,
they agreed to accept his apology, provided it was given publicity, and
also to the whole battalion on parade. This he did very fully, and I
sincerely hoped that the incident was happily ended, and that for the
future, in dealing with us, General Z would see that no injustice was
done merely because we were Jews.

To compensate for all the misfortunes we were called upon to endure, our
life in the battalion itself was quite smooth and happy, all pulling
well together.

Personally, I took no thought whether a man was a Jew or a Gentile; I
remember that an officer joined us while we were serving at the front,
and, through some misunderstanding, I took him to be a Jewish officer.
He distinguished himself later and earned the M.C., which pleased me
very much, for I was always glad when I was able to recommend a Jewish
officer for promotion or reward. I sent this officer with nine others to
form a "Minyan" (the number required to hold a Jewish religious service)
at the burial of a Jewish soldier who was killed on the day we captured
the Umm esh Shert Ford, and it was not until after this incident
happened that I discovered he was a Gentile.

There was one exception, however, to the general harmony and _esprit de
corps_ of the battalion. A Staff officer was sent to do duty with us
from G.H.Q., where he had been employed for over a year. Some time after
his arrival he publicly insulted one of my Jewish officers and refused
to apologise. The matter was then brought before me, and, as he still
remained obdurate, I brought him before General Z. When asked by the
latter why he had insulted the Jewish officer his reply was, "I don't
like Jews. _The Jews are not liked at G.H.Q., and you know it, Sir."_
The General ordered him to apologise, which I must say he did most
handsomely, but his remarks about the dislike of Jews at G.H.Q., though
no news to me or the General, may be somewhat illuminating to the
reader!

Although we hoped that all unpleasantness with the General was over, I
regret to say that this was not the case. I could give many instances of
unfair treatment to which we were subjected, but I will not weary the
reader by relating them here. After his apology the General never again
came near us, and every indignity, slight and petty tyranny that could
be invented was put upon the battalion. The whole subsequent attitude of
the G.O.C. showed us that his apology was merely eye-wash, and had
simply been extracted from him by fear of the consequences of his
outrageous behaviour.

In fact, in the end, I had to bring his conduct to the notice of the
Commander-in-Chief, with the result that he was removed from his Command
and no longer troubled Israel.



CHAPTER XXXI.
PROTESTS.


In case any readers may think that my account is exaggerated I give some
letters of protest which I received from some of the officers in my
battalion. From this it will be seen what a difficult position I was
placed in, owing to the policy of G.H.Q. towards Jewish aspirations.

A few interested parties, for their own ends, sedulously spread the
rumour that there was no anti-Semitism shown in Palestine. I will leave
the reader to judge whether these people were knaves or fools:

    LUDD,
    4-7-19,
    A7/48.

    SIR,

    I beg to report that the men are discontented, not only in our
    battalion, but also in the other Jewish units, which cannot fail
    to influence our men still more.

    The causes of their discontent are much deeper than delay of
    Demobilization. Over 3/7ths of the Judæans in this country are
    men who volunteered to serve in Palestine in the name of their
    Zionist ideals, and in reply to the pledge embodied in the
    declaration which Mr. Balfour, on behalf of H.M. Government,
    issued on the 2nd November, 1917.

    It is now a general impression among our soldiers, an impression
    shared by the public opinion of Palestine, that this pledge has
    been broken, so far as local authorities are concerned.

    Palestine has become the theatre of an undisguised anti-Semitic
    policy. Elementary equality of rights is denied the Jewish
    inhabitants; the Holy City, where the Jews are by far the
    largest community, has been handed over to a militantly
    anti-Semitic municipality; violence against Jews is tolerated,
    and whole districts are closed to them by threats of such
    violence under the very eyes of the authorities; high officials,
    guilty of acts which any Court would qualify as instigation to
    anti-Jewish pogroms, not only go unpunished, but retain their
    official positions. The Hebrew language is officially
    disregarded and humiliated; anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is
    the fashionable attitude among officials who take their cue from
    superior authority; and honest attempts to come to an agreement
    with Arabs are being frustrated by such means as penalising
    those Arab notables who betray pro-Jewish feeling.

    The Jewish soldier is treated as an outcast. The hard and honest
    work of our battalions is recompensed by scorn and slander,
    which, starting from centres of high authority, have now reached
    the rank and file, and envenomed the relations between Jewish
    and English soldiers. When there is a danger of anti-Jewish
    excesses, Jewish soldiers are removed from the threatened areas
    and employed on fatigues, and not even granted the right to
    defend their own flesh and blood.

    Passover was selected to insult their deepest religious
    feelings, by barring them access to the Wailing Wall during that
    week. No Jewish detachment is allowed to be stationed in
    Jerusalem or any of the other Holy Cities of Jewry.

    When a Jewish sentry is attacked and beaten by a dozen drunken
    soldiers, and a drunken officer disarms with ignominy a Jewish
    guard, nobody is punished. Leave to certain towns has become a
    torture because the Military Police have been specially
    instructed to hunt the Jew, and the weaker ones among our men
    escape this humiliation by concealing their regimental badge,
    and substituting the badge of some other unit.

    In addition, army pledges given to them are also disregarded;
    men who were recruited for service in Palestine are sent against
    their will to Messina or Egypt or Cyprus; men who enlisted under
    the understanding that their pay would be equal to that of any
    British soldier suddenly discover that no allowances will be
    paid to their wives and children.

    Under these conditions, even some of the best among them give
    way to despair; they see no purpose in carrying on, conscious
    that the great pledge has been broken, that instead of a
    National Home for the Jewish people, Palestine has become the
    field of operations of official anti-Semitism; they abhor the
    idea of covering with their tacit connivance what they--and not
    they alone--consider a fraud.

    They cannot formulate these grievances in full, nor gather the
    documents necessary to prove them, but under their desire to
    "get out of the show" there is bitter disappointment, one of the
    most cruel even in Jewish history.

    You, Sir, have always been in favour of speeding up their
    demobilization; I, as you know, was of the opinion that it is
    the duty of every volunteer to stick to the Jewish Regiment as
    long as circumstances might demand, and I still hope that many
    will stick to it in spite of all. But even I myself am compelled
    to admit that things have reached a stage when no further moral
    sacrifice can fairly be demanded of men whose faith has been
    shattered.

    I only hope that those who give up the struggle will not follow
    the example of a few misguided irresponsibles who chose the
    wrong way to support a right claim. I hope that they will await
    their release in a calm and dignified manner, discharging their
    duties to the last moment, and thus giving those who misrule
    this country a lesson in fair play--a lesson badly needed.

    I remain, Sir,
    Your obedient Servant,
    XX.

    To LIEUTENANT-COLONEL J. H. PATTERSON, D.S.O.,
    Commanding 38TH BATTALION ROYAL FUSILIERS.


    Bir Salem,
    17-7-1919.

    TO OFFICER COMMANDING 38TH ROYAL FUSILIERS.

    SIR,

    I have the honour to request that this application praying that
    I may be permitted to resign my Commission in His Majesty's
    Forces be forwarded through the usual channels, together with
    the undermentioned reasons for my taking this step after having
    originally volunteered for the Army of Occupation.

    My resignation, Sir, is my only method of protest against the
    grossly unfair and all too prevalent discrimination against the
    battalion to which I have the honour to belong. I desire to
    point out to you, Sir, the fact that this unfair and un-British
    attitude affects not only my honour as a Jew, but my prestige as
    a British officer, and this latter point must inevitably
    handicap me in the efficient discharge of my military duties.

    The disgraceful exhibition of yesterday morning is but a fitting
    climax to the endless series of insults and annoyances to which
    this battalion--because it is a _Jewish Battalion_--has been
    subjected, almost since our first arrival in the E.E.F. Insults
    to a battalion as a whole, Sir, are insults directed to every
    individual member of that battalion, and as long as I remain a
    member of His Majesty's Forces, I regret to say I find myself
    unable to fittingly resent in a manner compatible with my own
    honour, and the honour of my race, the insulting attitude
    towards my race, and through my race, towards me, of my military
    superiors.

    In passing, may I point out that my being a Jew did not prevent
    me doing my duty in France, in Flanders, and in Palestine, and
    in the name of the countless dead of my race who fell doing
    their duty in every theatre of war, I resent, and resent very
    strongly indeed, the abusive attitude at present prevalent
    towards Jewish troops.

    I have innumerable instances of petty spite, and not a few cases
    of a very serious character indeed, all of which I can readily
    produce should the occasion ever arise.

    I have the honour to be, Sir,
    Your obedient Servant,
    Y.Y.

It was not only my Jewish officers who found life unbearable under these
conditions, but the other officers also felt the strain.

I received the following letter from one of my senior Christian Officers
after an outburst on the part of the Staff:

    To the O.C. 38TH BATTALION ROYAL FUSILIERS.

    Sir,

    I have the honour to request that I be immediately relieved of
    my duties and permitted to proceed to England for
    demobilization. I am 40 years of age, and have had nothing
    except my desire to do my duty to keep me in the Service. The
    impossible conditions forced on the battalion by higher
    authority are too much for me, and I very much regret that I
    should have to trouble you with this application at the present
    time.

    I have the honour to be, Sir,
    Your obedient Servant,
    SS.

    Bir Salem,
    24TH AUGUST, 1919.

Letters such as these give some slight conception of the extremely
difficult position in which I was placed. On the one hand I had to ward
off the blows aimed at the battalion by the local military authorities,
while on the other hand I had to do my utmost to allay the angry
feelings of my officers, N.C.O.s, and men, goaded almost to desperation
by the attitude adopted towards the battalion.

This anti-Jewish policy was directed not only against the Jewish
Battalions, but also, in a flagrant manner, against the Jewish civil
population, upon whom every indignity was poured; in fact, the British
Military Administration made of the famous Balfour Declaration--the
declared policy of the British Government--a byword and a laughing
stock.

Early in 1919 the Chief Administrator then in office in Palestine, the
man who represented the British Government, offered a public insult to
the Jews at a Jewish Concert, by deliberately sitting down and ordering
his staff to do the same when the Hatikvah, the Jewish national hymn,
was being sung, while, of course, all others were standing. This was as
deliberate an insult as could be offered to the feelings of any people.
England must be in a bad way when a man such as this is appointed to
represent her as Governor.

Judge Brandies, of the United States Supreme Court, visited Palestine
about the time when these anti-Jewish manifestations were at their
height, and was shocked and horrified at the un-English attitude he saw
adopted towards the Jews and all things Jewish.

I myself told him of the mockery of the Balfour Declaration as
exemplified by the British Military Administration in Palestine, and
said I thought it was a pity that Mr. Balfour had not added three more
words to his famous utterance. The Judge asked me what words I meant,
and I said they were that Palestine was to be a national home for "the
baiting of" the Jewish people!

I know that Judge Brandies went home hurriedly, very much perturbed at
what he heard and saw, which was so contrary in everything to the spirit
of the declared policy of England. He represented the state of affairs
in Palestine to Downing Street, with the result that the local military
authorities were told that the policy as laid down in the Balfour
Declaration must be carried out.

This was a sad blow to those purblind ones who had looked forward to a
long rule in the Middle East; for them the writing was already on the
wall.

I want it to be clearly understood that this attitude was merely the
policy of the local military officials who, by their attitude, were
practically defying and deriding the policy of England, as expressed by
the Home Government.



CHAPTER XXXII.
A TRIP TO THE SEA OF GALILEE.


I had long looked forward to a visit to the Sea of Galilee (Lake
Tiberias), and eventually, late in October, my ambition was fulfilled,
for, taking advantage of "Damascus week," when leave was easy to get, I
slipped off from Ludd one morning at 8.30, and arrived at Samakh, on the
southern shores of the sea, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

My first peep of the Lake, as it stretched out before me and melted away
in the purple haze to the north, was delightful. The colouring was
superb and, as I sat on the edge of the rickety pier, I drank in my
novel surroundings with all the enthusiasms of a rapturous pilgrim.

The Lake glistened and glinted in the brilliant sunshine, the abrupt
arid-looking hill-sides deepened the silent mystery that seemed to hang
over it. Away to the right was the spot where the Gadarene swine,
possessed of the evil spirit, rushed down to the sea and destroyed
themselves.

Peering through my glasses straight north, I could see in the shimmering
distance the dense groves of evergreens which told me that this was the
place where the Jordan plunged down from "the waters of Merom" through
a rocky gorge, and entered the Lake. Away to the left I caught a glimpse
of a few trees and houses, and I realized that I was looking at
Capernaum, the place in which it will be remembered the worthy Roman
Centurion built a synagogue. Glancing further west, and somewhat nearer
to me, I saw the site of Bethsaida; sweeping further westward and yet
nearer, the round towers and rectangular walls of Tiberias itself stood
revealed, while close to my left hand, at the south-west corner of the
Lake, the thriving Jewish colony of Kinnereth overlooked the spot where
the Jordan rushed out of the Lake on its way to the Dead Sea.

Round about me were children revelling in the limpid water, and even a
few discreetly-veiled damsels displayed a fair share of their neat
limbs, while paddling along the sandy shore in the shade of the cliffs.

Suddenly, into all this old-world scenery, there dashed a lively
motor-boat, which had come from Tiberias to collect passengers. We
scrambled down from the crazy pier, and within an hour found ourselves
climbing up the rickety gangway leading to Tiberias, a city which stands
to-day much as King Herod Antipas, the builder, left it, although, in
the meantime, it has been much devastated by earthquakes.

I was agreeably surprised to find a clean and fairly comfortable hotel,
most capably managed by Frau Grossmann. It was still hot at Tiberias,
and yet, by some mysterious means, Frau Grossmann always managed to
produce a bottle of cold beer for dinner, a most grateful drink in this
thirsty valley.

In the early morning, I hired a boat with a good-humoured Arab crew of
three, and made an expedition across to Capernaum. Fish are still as
plentiful here as they were in the days of Simon Peter, and the
Capernaum fishermen still cast their nets as they did in apostolic
times, and wear just as little clothing.

As I wandered among the ruins, I met a striking Franciscan, Father
Vendelene, who was hospitality itself. He was a venerable German, a very
fine-looking man, standing over six feet high, full of Christian
charity, and apparently resigned to the blow which had fallen upon his
nation. Besides being a monk he was also an architect and had built many
monasteries, convents, and churches for the Franciscans in many parts of
the world; but he had been a soldier before he became a monk, and I
noticed, as he smoked a pipe and related to me his varied career, that
his eyes glowed, and his broad shoulders were thrown back, as he
described how he charged at the head of his squadron of Hussars in one
of the battles of the Franco-Prussian War. The good Father took me round
what was left of the synagogue built by the worthy Centurion whose
servant was healed. It must have been a fine piece of architecture in
its day, and it is a thousand pities that it has been levelled to the
ground by an earthquake.

On my return to the hotel I found that two Nursing Sisters had arrived
from Egypt to spend a few days at Tiberias, and at dinner I suggested
that they should join me in my boat on a voyage of discovery which I
intended to make across the Lake on the following morning, and to this
they readily agreed.

The Military Governor of Tiberias had very kindly arranged for a mounted
escort and a horse to be ready for me at the north end of the Lake where
the Jordan enters it, as I wished to make an exploring expedition as far
as possible up the river towards Lake Merom.

We left Tiberias at dawn and had a most delightful trip across the Lake,
breakfasting in the boat on the way. Sister Cook, who was blessed with a
charming voice, was moved to song, and the time passed so pleasantly
that before we knew where we were, we found ourselves stuck on a sandbar
in the Jordan River itself. Our boatmen hopped out, pushed the boat over
the bar into deep water, and off we paddled again up the famous river.
Great fields of ripe maize stretched away on either hand, and it was
curious to see dusky youths perched aloft on stagings, armed with a
sling, doing slaughter among any birds that dared to settle on their
crops. We shoved the nose of our boat into the bank, took a stroll along
a path through the tangled undergrowth, and soon met a crowd of Bedouins
who presented us with some delicious maize cobs. In this manner we
pleasantly meandered up the Jordan, now landing on this bank, and now on
that, as it took our fancy, until at last a point was reached where the
river was so shallow that the boat could go no further, and here I found
my pony and escort awaiting me.

The latter was composed of local mounted Arab gendarmerie, under the
command of a Jewish corporal, who had at one time served in the 40th
Battalion Royal Fusiliers, and I noticed with pleasure that the Jew and
the Arabs seemed to be on excellent terms.

I charged the boatman to take the Sisters to Capernaum, where I told
them to call on Father Vendelene, who I knew would give them a warm
welcome.

Having seen the boat safely started on the way, and with strict
injunctions to the sailors to return for me in good time, I mounted my
pony and started my exploration of the Upper Jordan.

My escort (who were also supposed to be guides) often got completely
lost in the dense oleander jungle that here abounds, but after many
trials and tribulations, in the course of which I came upon a submerged
herd of buffalo sleeping peacefully in a marshy backwater, I emerged
torn and bleeding at the entrance of the black rocky gorge down which
the Jordan rushes. Riding here became impossible, so I went on foot
until the westering sun warned me it was time to return.

On the way back, which was by another and much easier route, we came
across a stalwart Bedouin hunter who, only five days before, had shot a
splendid leopard on the hillside.

I asked him if there was any chance of my being able to do likewise. He
replied that it was possible, but I might have to wait a month before I
got a shot; I could, however, have other good hunting any day I liked,
for the thickets were alive with wild boar. This man knew every track
round about, and, as we were still shut in by dense thickets, he
volunteered to come with me as a guide to the Lake. On parting he
refused all offers of money, but later I sent him some tobacco, which I
hope he received safely. My escort, when we reached open level country,
raced and chased each other on their ponies, pulling up suddenly, or
darting to the right or left in wild career. Both rode thoroughbred Arab
mares and were immensely proud of their steeds, and their own prowess
thereon.

On reaching the Lake, I espied the boat coming along, and as the water
was shallow I urged my mount into it and rode out to meet the little
vessel. The Arab boatmen, singing some quaint chorus, came alongside and
I slipped off the saddle on to the gunwale, waved good-bye to my friends
of the gendarmerie, and headed the boat for Capernaum to pick up the
Sisters. Here I found that they had had a great time. Just as they were
in the midst of a mild flirtation with Father Vendelene, who was showing
them round his demesne, who should walk in but the Papal Legate,
Cardinal Filippo Giustini, just arrived from Rome on a tour of
inspection! The good cardinal was not horrified, however, for he
insisted on the ladies coming into the Refectory, where he himself
poured them out a cup of tea.

On the way back from Capernaum we hugged the west coast of the Lake and
made a call at Migdal, an up-to-date Jewish fruit farm on the site of
the ancient Magdala, the birthplace of that romantic figure in the New
Testament, Mary Magdalene. Unfortunately, the manager, Mr. Glickin, was
away, but his representative gave us a delightful tea in the open, under
the shade of an enormous fig tree. Here fruits and flowers of all kinds
were showered upon us, oranges, pomegranates, bananas, nuts, almonds,
etc., all of the most delicious flavour. Our boatmen had much ado in
carrying all our gifts down to the shore.

[Illustration: RUINS OF THE OLD CITY OF TIBERIAS
(_See page 245_)]

We then skirted the Lake, and when nearing Tiberias saw the caves where
the famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides, and the two famous Rabbis,
Meir and Ben Akiba, are buried.

Not very far from Tiberias is the pit of Joseph, which old Arabian
geographers maintain is the identical one into which the favourite son
of Jacob was cast.

Darkness was now swiftly coming on and, as we neared Tiberias, in the
twinkling of an eye, a sudden squall burst upon us, and we were glad to
reach the little haven in safety.

Altogether it had been a very full day and the Sisters assured me that
they would look upon it as one of the red-letter days of their lives.

Before leaving the Sea of Galilee, I made an excursion to the wonderful
hot sulphur baths, about three miles to the south of Tiberias, and saw
the boiling water gushing out of the cleft in a rock. There is a
bathhouse close by where people afflicted with rheumatism dip in these
medicinal waters and are made whole again.

On the way back from these springs I passed through the ruins of the old
city of Tiberias, with its columns all awry and prostrate, and mounds of
débris covering a considerable extent. On a hill, just above the modern
Tiberias, stand the ruins of Herod's Palace, and I there saw what is
reputed to be the chamber where Herodias' daughter danced for the head
of John the Baptist.

In enterprising hands, Tiberias could be made to flourish exceedingly as
a winter resort. There one can have excellent boating, fishing,
boar-hunting, explorations on horseback through the exceedingly
interesting country which surrounds it, and at the same time cure all
one's ills in the wonderful hot baths.

Beautiful Palestinian lace is made in this old Hebrew city by
industrious Jewish girls, and I brought away some very fine examples of
their work.

There is an old synagogue near the Hot Springs where the celebrated
Rabbi Meir expounded the law to Israel.

Before I left Galilee I met my old friend, Captain Trumpeldor, who had
served under me in the Zion Mule Corps in Gallipoli. I was delighted to
see this gallant officer once more, and we had a long chat over old
times. Trumpeldor had only just returned from Russia, where he had been
organizing a Jewish Legion for service in Palestine. The Bolsheviks,
however, interfered with his plans, and he was lucky to escape from
their clutches. Sad to relate, a few months after our meeting in
Galilee, Captain Trumpeldor met his death there, while defending a
Jewish Colony from a raiding party of Bedouins. He directed the defence
for two hours after he had been mortally wounded, and then died,
fighting to the last. He was one of the most gallant men I have ever
met, and his loss is keenly felt by all his friends and comrades.

The Sea of Galilee is bound to have an enormous influence on the
economic life of Palestine. Here we have stored up practically an
unlimited supply of latent energy. This great mass of water is situated
some 700 feet above the level of the Dead Sea, into which its overflow,
the Jordan runs.

A canal constructed from the south-west corner of Lake Tiberias, and
graded along the Jordan Valley, would, in the length of a few miles,
give a vertical fall of over 300 feet. A suitable hydro-electric plant
erected at the site of the falls would produce enough energy to
revolutionise every phase of life in the Holy Land.

It must be remembered that so far neither coal nor oil have been found
in the country, while forests do not exist; consequently the cost of all
kinds of fuel is very high, and industrial undertakings, where cheap
power is a factor, are out of the question.

What a Heaven-sent boon then is this stored-up energy of the blessed
Jordan. Cheap light, heat, and power can be had from it throughout the
length and breadth of Palestine. Touch a switch in summer and a whirling
fan will keep one's house delightfully cool, while in the winter
electrical fires will provide warmth in the chilly evenings on the
hill-tops. Evil smelling paraffin lamps and stoves will be a thing of
the past, for, of course, electricity will provide all that is necessary
in the way of fuel and light.

Ample power is available for the electrification of the existing
railways, and, of course, light tramways could be operated all over the
country.

Great areas of land now lying fallow could be irrigated and made
fruitful and capable of sustaining a large population.

If Palestine is to become a home for any large number of the Jewish
people, this great source of economic life must be turned to account,
and all the land blessed by the amazing benefits which electricity can
shower upon it.

Jewish brains, Jewish capital, and Jewish workers will undoubtedly
carry out this scheme, and gradually the country, which is now arid and
neglected, will be turned once more into a land flowing with milk and
honey. The hills will again be terraced and crowned with fig and olive
trees, and the valleys and plains will abound with ripening corn.

The country which for hundreds of years has been at a standstill, lends
itself to all kinds of industrial enterprises, such as fruit-farming,
olive oil and soap factories, fishing and canning, etc.

The trade and commerce that will flow through Palestine is not to be
measured by the paltry revenue returns now shown. When the country is
developed, the old trade routes with the hinterland reopened, and the
ports at Haifa and Jaffa improved, its importance, commercially, will be
enhanced beyond all recognition.



CHAPTER XXXIII.
STRANGE METHODS OF THE E.E.F. STAFF.


It will be remembered that Lieutenant Jabotinsky was responsible for the
idea of forming a Jewish Legion to help England in her great struggle
for world freedom.

The British Government was impressed with the possibilities he placed
before it, and eventually he was summoned to the War Office by Lord
Derby, then Secretary of State for War, and to the War Cabinet by
General Smuts, to expound his proposals. These high officials did not
disdain to meet and confer with Jabotinsky on the Jewish Legion
question, although at that time he was merely a private soldier, serving
in the 20th Battalion of the London Regiment. They knew that he held a
very high place in the Zionist movement, and was looked up to by the
Jewish masses the world over as one of its most brilliant young leaders.

This fact was also known to the Staff of the E.E.F., but when, as an
officer, in August, 1919, Lieutenant Jabotinsky sought an interview with
the Commander-in-Chief, hoping that he might induce the local
authorities to change their anti-Jewish policy in Palestine, he was not
only refused a hearing, but methods were immediately employed to strike
him down which I can only describe as despicable and un-English.

Jabotinsky was, of course, pro-British to the core. During his service
in Palestine he had been for a time specially attached to the Zionist
Commission with the sanction of the Commander-in-Chief. While he was
employed in this capacity he brought about the acceptance of a programme
by the Jewish Colonists, expressly calling for a British Mandate for
Palestine.

All through his military service with the Battalion he, to my personal
knowledge, did his utmost to allay the feelings of resentment felt by
the Jewish soldiers at the bad treatment they received at the hands of
the military authorities, treatment utterly undeserved and uncalled for,
but apparently deliberately adopted to further what appeared to be the
local policy of making the practical application of the Balfour
Declaration an impossibility.

Hostility to all things Jewish was so open, that only those who wilfully
shut their eyes could fail to see the game that was being played by
certain interested parties. Jabotinsky saw that the line of action
adopted must inevitably lead to outbreaks against the Jews, and
naturally wanted to ward off such a calamity.

Do not let the reader imagine that there was bad blood between the
Palestinian Arabs and the Zionists. That both had dwelt together in
unity and concord for over forty years is proof to the contrary.

The anti-Jewish outbreak, which actually took place later on, was
carefully fostered, and the hooligan element amongst the Arabs openly
encouraged to acts of violence by certain individuals who, for their
own ends, hoped to shatter the age-long aspirations of the Jewish
people.

There can be no doubt that it was assumed in some quarters that when
trouble, which had been deliberately encouraged, arose, the Home
Government, embarrassed by a thousand difficulties at its doors, would
agree with the wire-pullers in Palestine, and say to the Jewish people
that the carrying out of the Balfour Declaration, owing to the hostility
displayed by the Arabs, was outside the range of practical politics.

To these schemers it must have been somewhat galling, to say the least
of it, to find certain men openly fighting them, foot by foot, and inch
by inch, for the realisation of the ideals expressed in the famous
Declaration.

One of these men was Jabotinsky, a man with a notable name in Jewry,
therefore a thrust at him would also be a blow to Jewish prestige in
Palestine. He was a mere foreigner, a Jew from Russia, and presumably
without influential friends--a man, surely, on whom officialdom could
safely pour out the vials of its unjust wrath, without any fear of evil
consequences to itself.

At all events, contemptible methods were adopted in order to strike at
the man who had dared to let the authorities know that their local
policy was a menace to his people dwelling in the Holy Land, and a
serious danger to the Restoration.

When Jabotinsky saw that certain members of the Staff were adopting
measures towards Jewish soldiers, and Jewish ideals in Palestine, which
must inevitably result in disaster, and being loth to believe that the
Commander-in-Chief could be privy to such a policy, he addressed the
following letter to General Allenby.

    SIR,

    I was the initiator of both the Zion Mule Corps and the actual
    Jewish Battalions. To-day I am forced to witness how my work is
    breaking into pieces under the intolerable burden of
    disappointment, despair, broken pledges, and anti-Semitism,
    permeating the whole administrative and military atmosphere, the
    hopelessness of all effort and of all devotion.

    The common opinion is that you are an enemy of Zionism in
    general, and of the Jewish Legion in particular. I still try to
    believe that this is not true, that things happen without your
    knowledge, that there is a misunderstanding, and that the
    situation can yet improve.

    In this hope, as the last attempt to stop a process which
    threatens to impair for ever Anglo-Jewish friendship throughout
    the world, I beg you to grant me a personal interview and
    permission to speak freely. This letter is entrusted to your
    chivalry.

    (Signed) V. JABOTINSKY.

I knew nothing whatever about the despatch of this letter, and although
I am aware that red tape will hold up its hands in holy horror at the
audacity of it, it must be remembered that Jabotinsky's position was an
exceptional one. He was not a British subject, and not used to the
routine of British red tape. Members of the British Imperial War
Cabinet thought it good policy to hear his views, and, no doubt, when he
entrusted this letter to the chivalry of General Allenby, he felt
confident that if he was making any deviation from ordinary routine, it
was for a good purpose and would not be counted against him.

It is an open, straightforward, honest letter, a heartfelt cry from a
man who sees that the whole structure which he has been at such pains to
build is in serious peril of being overthrown by the machinations of the
anti-Jewish people on the Staff.

And now a curious thing happened. It was known to the Staff that
Jabotinsky was at the time staying in Jaffa, and that he was to be found
almost daily at the house of a friend who was living there. About a week
after he had sent his letter to the Commander-in-Chief, a Staff-Major
from G.H.Q., E.E.F., appeared in Jaffa and took up his quarters in the
same house as that in which Jabotinsky's friend dwelt. When the
inevitable meeting took place, the Staff-Major, who, by the way, knew
Jabotinsky well, remarked that the Commander-in-Chief had received his
(Jabotinsky's) letter, and would probably send for him one of these
days, but that, in the meantime, it would be well if Jabotinsky stated
his grievances then and there to himself. "You can speak to me openly as
to a friend," said the Major. "I have some influence at G.H.Q., and I
shall be glad to assist in righting any wrong done to Jews."

On hearing this, Jabotinsky unhesitatingly explained the situation, both
as to its effects on the Regiment and on Jewish aspirations in
Palestine. The result of this "friendly conversation" was a mendacious
report written by the Staff-Major to the Deputy Adjutant-General at
G.H.Q., E.E.F.

Sometime afterwards, by a mere chance, I saw a copy of this report, and
so far as it referred to Jabotinsky, it was practically untrue from
beginning to end.

If the responsible authorities at G.H.Q. knew of the method adopted to
lure Jabotinsky into the "friendly conversation" which served as a
pretext for a gross libel on his character, it reminds one of the good
old days when Governments had recourse to "Agents provocateurs." What
G.H.Q. certainly should have known was that the accusations levelled at
Jabotinsky by a member of their Staff were absolutely untrue. They knew
him to be a good and gallant officer who had done his duty, and much
more than his duty, faithfully and well to England, but it would appear
as if they were greedy for such a document and swallowed it with avidity
without any reference to me or, so far as I know, to anybody else.

I think that even the most prejudiced of my readers will admit that in
fairness and justice to Jabotinsky this secret report should have been
submitted to him for his information, and such explanation and
refutation as he could give, before any action was taken against him.

It is strictly laid down in the King's Regulations that all adverse
reports must be shown to the officer whose reputation is affected, but,
as I have shown over and over again, the Staff of the E.E.F. were
apparently a law unto themselves and above even King's Regulations!

I knew nothing whatever of all that had been going on; I knew nothing of
Jabotinsky's letter to the Commander-in-Chief; I knew nothing of his
interview with the Staff-Major from G.H.Q., and, needless to say, I knew
nothing of the report which the latter had written.

My first inkling of the situation was through an official letter
emanating from the Deputy Adjutant-General, which stated that "the
Commander-in-Chief has his own duly constituted advisers on matters of
policy and is not prepared to grant an interview to a Lieutenant of the
38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers to discuss such matters."

From this moment G.H.Q. lost no time in getting rid of Jabotinsky. On
the 29th August, 1919, I received an urgent order to send this officer
to Kantara for immediate demobilization. This took me by surprise, for I
was very short of Jewish Officers, and stood much in need of
Jabotinsky's services in the Battalion.

I wrote and protested against his demobilization, stating that I needed
his services, but the only result was the receipt of the following
peremptory memorandum:

    "A direct order was conveyed for Lieutenant Jabotinsky to
    proceed to Demobilization Camp, Kantara, forthwith. If he has
    not already gone, this officer will leave for Kantara by rail
    to-day. Non-compliance with this order will lead to disciplinary
    action being taken. Please report departure."

The above was signed by a Staff Officer.

As a result of this piece of Prussianism, Jabotinsky had to proceed to
Kantara, where at lightning speed he was demobilised.

He wrote a protest to the Army Council, which I forwarded with my own
views on the case. The appeal was a lengthy one, but I will merely quote
the following passage:

    "With the deepest reluctance and regret I must say that I
    consider this action shows ingratitude. I do not deserve it at
    the hands of the British Authorities. From the first days of
    this War I have worked and struggled for British interests. I am
    neither a British subject nor an immigrant. I had never been in
    the United Kingdom or in any British Dominion before this War. I
    came to England in 1915 as a Russian Journalist, correspondent
    of the oldest Liberal paper in Russia, the Moscow _Wiedomosti_.
    As a correspondent I did my best to explain to the Russian
    public the British effort and to combat the anti-British
    propaganda. At the same time I started on my own initiative a
    pro-Entente and pro-British propaganda amongst neutral and
    Russian Jewry. At that time many Jews bitterly resented
    England's alliance with Russia. In the autumn, 1915, I founded a
    Yiddish fortnightly (_Di Tribune_) in Copenhagen, which took up
    a strong anti-German and anti-Turkish attitude. Its articles
    were constantly quoted in the American Jewish Press, and found
    their way even into Germany and Austria. Here again I have the
    right to say that I was one of the few--perhaps one of the _two_
    men (counting Dr. Weizmann first)--responsible for the origin of
    the present pro-British attitude of all Jewry. I may add that I
    did all this at my own expense, or with means provided by my
    Zionist friends, without any support from any British source.

     Against this I know of no facts which could justify the
     attitude taken up by G.H.Q., E.E.F. I have never heard of any
     complaint or censure of my conduct as Officer or Man; I have
     never been informed or even given a hint that anything in my
     activity could be objected to.

     My compulsory Demobilization under these conditions will throw
     a slur on my name. I consider it unjust. I request that it be
     annulled, and that I be reinstated in my well-earned position
     as an Officer of the Judæans."

A reply to this appeal was never received, and I do not know whether it
ever reached the Army Council.

Thus came about the victimization of Jabotinsky, the man who had done so
much for England in her hour of need; who had over and over again in the
firing line shown that he was prepared to make even the last great
sacrifice itself in the cause for which England was fighting. As a
reward for all his devotion to England he was, by strange and un-English
devices, practically drummed out of the Army.

I think my readers will agree with me that the scandalous course of
action pursued by the Staff of the E.E.F. in the case of Lieutenant
Jabotinsky would, if it became popular in high places, soon bring our
country to ruin and rob us of our fair name.

We know what the corrupt Bureaucrats have done for the once mighty
Russian Empire. Had fair play and justice held sway there we would never
have beheld the present orgy of Bolshevism which is sweeping through
that unhappy country.

Let all kings, princes, rulers and governors remember that to "do
justice and ensue it" makes the stoutest barrier against Bolshevism,
for, as it says in Ecclesiastes, "oppression maketh a wise man mad."



CHAPTER XXXIV.
THE FIRST JUDÆANS.


Nothing but a sense of the duty which I owed to my officers and men
induced me to continue serving in such a hostile atmosphere after the
armistice had been declared.

We suffered, but we suffered in silence, and just "carried on."

In the midst of our tribulations we, however, scored a decided triumph,
for the year-old decision of the War Office was at last announced by the
local Staff that we had won a special name, viz., the Judæans, and that
H.M. the King had sanctioned the Menorah as a special badge for the
Battalion.

The withholding of this information from us for a full year could not
have been an oversight, for I had repeatedly written to ask if the War
Office had not sanctioned this name and badge for the Battalion, but
received no reply. I can only presume that the object of G.H.Q. in
withholding this information, which would have brought prestige to the
Jews, was that they had hoped to get the Battalion disbanded and
abolished so that it might never have the gratification of knowing that
the Imperial Authorities considered that the Jewish Battalion had
distinguished itself, and was therefore entitled to the special name and
badge promised in 1917 by Lord Derby when Secretary of State for War.

Just after we had received this good news, I was gladdened by receiving
from the Council of Jews at Jerusalem a beautifully illuminated
parchment scroll, thanking me for the stand I had made in upholding the
ideals expressed in the Balfour Declaration, and for having led the
Jewish Battalions successfully in the great struggle which resulted in
the "Crown of Victory."

Yet one more triumph was in store for the 1st Judæans, for, in the
beginning of December, 1919, orders came from the War Office that it was
to be retained to garrison Palestine, and that the 39th and 40th
Battalions were to be amalgamated with it.

It was a great satisfaction to me to learn that it was to be retained,
for a time at least, as a unit of the British Army, and that it was to
be officially known as the First Judæans Battalion.

I now felt that my work was done and I could chant my "Nunc Dimittis." I
had seen my child weather the storms which had beaten so fiercely about
it, and in the end specially chosen to garrison its own Home Land.

A permanent force of Judæans in Palestine is an essentially sound
measure from every point of view.

World Jewry would, I am sure, be willing to take the entire cost of the
maintenance of this Force on its own shoulders; the money spent on it
would be well invested, for it would be the training centre of
Palestinian volunteers. Such a training would instil a sense of
responsibility, and enable young Jewry the more readily to follow
steadfastly in the simple but sublime footsteps of their heroic
forefathers.

As soon as I got back to England, I had an interview with the
Adjutant-General at the War Office, and requested that the savage
sentences passed on the young Americans at Belah should be revised.
Although the Adjutant-General was most sympathetic, he could not, at the
moment, see his way to interfere, so I then wrote to the Prime Minister
to let him know that these American soldiers had been very harshly
treated and were still imprisoned in the Citadel at Cairo. I pointed out
that it was hardly sound policy to offend a powerful ally by inflicting
such a barbarous sentence on men who had come over the seas as
volunteers to help us in the Great War. I therefore begged him to have
their case investigated.

The result of this letter was that the men were speedily released and
went back to their homes in the United States.



CHAPTER XXXV.
THE JERUSALEM POGROM.


Shortly after my return to England events occurred in Palestine which
prove up to the hilt all that I have written with regard to the
anti-Jewish attitude of certain members of the E.E.F. Staff.

A veritable "pogrom," such as we have hitherto only associated with
Tsarist Russia, took place in the Holy City of Jerusalem in April, 1920,
and as this was the climax to the maladministration of the Military
Authorities, I consider that the facts of the case should be made
public.

To the observant onlooker it was quite evident that the hostile policy
pursued by the Administration must inevitably lead to outbreaks against
the Jews. An intelligent people, such as the Arabs, could not be blind
to the anti-Jewish course being steered.

The Balfour Declaration, that divinely inspired message to the people of
Israel, was never allowed to be officially published within the borders
of Palestine; the Hebrew language was proscribed; there was open
discrimination against the Jews; the Jewish Regiment was at all times
kept in the background and treated as a pariah. This official attitude
was interpreted by the hooligan element and interested schemers in the
only possible way, viz., that the military authorities in Palestine were
against the Jews and Zionism, and the conviction began to grow, in some
native minds at least, that any act calculated to deal a death blow to
Zionist aspirations would not be unwelcome to those in authority in the
Holy Land.

Moreover, this malign influence was sometimes strengthened by very plain
speaking. The Military Governor of an important town was actually heard
to declare in a Y.M.C.A. Hut, in the presence of British and French
Officers, and of Arab waiters, that in case of anti-Jewish riots in his
city, he would remove the garrison and take up his position at a window,
where he could watch, and laugh at, what went on!

This amazing declaration was reported to the Acting Chief Administrator,
and the Acting Chief Political Officer, but no action was taken against
the Governor. Only one interpretation can be placed on such leniency.

In March, 1920, the following extraordinary order was issued to the
troops in Palestine:--"As the Government _has to pursue_ in Palestine a
policy unpopular with the majority of the population, trouble may be
expected to arise between the Jews and the Arabs." This wording is very
significant. It was obviously calculated to throw the blame for any
trouble on the Jews, at the same time representing the Government as an
unfortunate victim, who, under some mysterious pressure, "_has to
pursue_" a Zionist policy.

The moment I heard that a certain officer was to be appointed to an
important post in Palestine I felt it my duty to warn the Chief Zionist
leader of the evil that would follow such an appointment, and told him
that in the interests not only of Jewry, but of England, it was
necessary that he should make a public protest against the appointment
of this official. Although I warned Dr. Weizmann of the dangers that
would follow, he was loth to believe that a British Officer would be
disloyal to the policy laid down by his Government. The good Doctor had
not suffered with the Jewish Battalion and did not realize the situation
or the intrigues that were in the air. So far as I am aware, no protest
was made and this official was duly appointed. I feared for the future,
not so much on account of the Jews, as on account of the harm that would
be done to the prestige and good name of England, and the result will
show that my fears were only too well grounded.

Within a few months of this appointment, public anti-Zionist
demonstrations were permitted throughout the land. These manifestations
took the form of processions through the streets with drums beating and
banners flying, the chanting of fanatical verses against the Jews being
a feature of these displays. In Jaffa inflammatory speeches were
delivered from the steps of the Military Governor's office, in the
presence of British officials, calling for the extermination of Zionism.

Arab papers were allowed to write the most outrageous articles against
the Jews, while on the other hand, if a Jewish paper dared to say the
least word of protest, it was immediately called to account.

With these significant happenings taking place before their eyes, and
feeling that they would get little or no protection from the Military
Administration, the Jews clearly saw that it was absolutely essential
for their own safety to form a Self-Defence Corps, for purely protective
purposes. This they did, and Lieutenant Jabotinsky was entrusted with
the command. This officer, with the full knowledge of the
Administration, enrolled a body of young men and trained them in case of
need.

His first act on taking command was to inform the Authorities of the
Corps' existence, its arming, and its purpose. He even asked the
Government for weapons, reminding them that rifles and ammunition had
been issued to Jewish Colonists in Galilee under similar circumstances.
It must be remembered that the Jewish people in Palestine never gave the
Authorities a moment's anxiety; on the contrary, they were most
law-abiding citizens, who helped the British Administration in every
conceivable way. They were astounded and mystified by the hostility
displayed towards them by the local Military Administration, and it is
not too much to say that they went in fear of their lives, for the
hooligan element in the Arab quarter began to declare openly that they
would slaughter them.

The day when an outbreak on the part of the cut-throats was expected was
Friday, 2nd April, for on that date the celebrated "Nebi Musa"
procession was to take place. Moslems from all parts of Palestine meet
once a year for prayer at the Mosque of Omar (built on the site of
Solomon's temple), and then form a procession to the Tomb of Moses in
the Jordan Valley, near the Dead Sea. The Moslem world holds Moses in
great veneration as a Prophet, and believes that when he died on Mount
Nebo, a Bedouin carried his body across the Jordan and buried it at the
shrine now known as Nebi Musa, which is annually visited by thousands of
Moslem pilgrims.

The day dreaded by the Jews passed without incident, but in the light of
what took place a couple of days later, I am inclined to think that this
desirable result was achieved, not so much by the precautions taken by
the Administration, as by those taken by the Jewish Self-Defence Corps,
which was known to be held in readiness for all eventualities on that
day.

On Sunday, 4th April, a belated crowd of pilgrims from Hebron approached
the Holy City by the Jaffa Gate. Fanatical agitators posted themselves
on the balcony of the Municipality Building and, for the space of two
hours, delivered brutally inflammatory speeches against the Jews to this
mob, in the presence of British officials who understood Arabic. It must
be remembered that these pilgrims were armed, and yet no attempt was
made to suppress the agitators, although there was ample police and
military strength available in the neighbourhood.

Immediately after the inflammatory speeches, acts of violence began.

I reproduce here extracts from a couple of letters which I received,
giving graphic descriptions of the outbreak by eye-witnesses, one of
them a Senior British Officer, not a Jew:

    PALESTINE,
    10TH APRIL, 1920.

    MY DEAR COLONEL,

    We are passing through terrible and unprecedented times. Who
    could ever have thought that a pogrom "à la Russe," with all its
    horrors, could take place in Jerusalem under British rule! Who
    could ever have conceived that it should be possible, in the
    Holy City of Jerusalem, that for three days Jews, old and young,
    women and children could be slaughtered; that rape should be
    perpetrated, Synagogues burnt, scrolls of the Law defiled, and
    property plundered right and left, under the banner of England!

    The anti-Jewish feeling of the Administration here you, of
    course, know all about, as you have experienced it yourself, but
    latterly the notorious _Syria Genuba_ (an Arab daily in
    Jerusalem) printed day after day inflammatory articles against
    the Jews....

    Anti-Jewish demonstrations were allowed to take place and
    inflammatory speeches were allowed to be made against the Jews.
    The evil men amongst the Arabs openly declared that they would
    slaughter the Jews at the Festival of Nebi Musa. The Government
    was warned by the Jewish press, and by Jewish responsible
    leaders, but these were not listened to, and, as a matter of
    fact, the Feast was proclaimed with great pomp, Lord Allenby and
    Major-General Louis Jean Bols, the Chief Administrator, being
    present....

    (Signed) XX.


    PALESTINE, 11TH APRIL, 1920.
    MY DEAR COLONEL,

    ... with my wife I went up to Jerusalem to spend the Easter
    week-end, and a very nice week-end it surely was! Long before
    this letter reaches you, you will have learned something of the
    happenings in the Holy City, but as my wife and I saw the first
    blow struck, and had very personal experience of the immediately
    ensuing bother, you may be interested.

    The happenings here have raised all sorts of questions, and
    while for the moment the trouble is over, I fear the end is not
    yet.

    On the morning of Easter Sunday we were standing on the balcony
    of the New Grand Hotel watching the progress of an Arab
    procession just arrived from Hebron. As the procession reached
    the entrance to the Jaffa Gate it just had the appearance of the
    usual show of this kind--a bit noisy, but apparently
    well-behaved. It was escorted by two officers of the Military
    Administration and a few of the Arab police. All at once the
    members of the procession formed themselves into a square, just
    inside the gate, and the first thing we saw then was an old Jew,
    about 70 years of age, get his head split open with an Arab's
    sword, and as soon as he was down he was stoned; within a few
    minutes a lot more Jews got like treatment. By this time the
    crowd was well out of hand and rushed quickly into the old City
    looting and killing, and a few hours afterwards there was a
    steady evacuation of battered Jews. There was no military
    present.

    The following day the trouble started again, and a lot more were
    injured, and the third morning there was more looting and more
    casualties, and then at last the military took strong steps and
    the trouble was at an end.

    ....

    Yours sincerely,
    (Signed) E.N.

In less than half an hour from the beginning of the outbreak, two
companies of the Self-Defence Corps marched to the Jaffa and Damascus
Gates to assist in quelling the disturbance within the walls, but they
found the gates closed to them and held by British troops. It is very
significant that within a few minutes of the commencement of the pogrom,
British troops held all the gates of the city, with explicit orders to
allow no one in and _no one out_--not even helpless women, fleeing from
the horrors that were being enacted in the Jewish quarter, unless they
held special permits.

For nearly three days the work of murder, rape, sacrilege, and pillage
went on practically unchecked--all under British rule. There is only one
word which fittingly describes the situation, and that is the Russian
word "pogrom." It means a semi-lawful attack on Jews. The assailants
believe that they may murder, rape, burn and loot to their hearts'
content, with the silent blessing of the authorities, and it is a very
significant fact that all through this Jerusalem pogrom the hooligans'
cry was "_El dowleh ma ana,_" which means "_The Government is with us._"
The attackers were absolutely convinced of the truth of their battle
cry.

During these three terrible days several Jews were killed, hundreds were
wounded (many of these being old men, women and children), rape was
perpetrated, Synagogues were burnt, and tens of thousands of pounds
worth of Jewish property was looted or destroyed.

The pogrom was confined to that part of Jerusalem within the walls of
the old City, where the Moslems greatly outnumber the Jews--in fact the
latter are here a small and helpless minority. They take no part in
politics, not even in political Zionism, but are absorbed in religious
practices and observances, and abhor all things worldly. Even
self-defence is repellent to them, and all forms of violence anathema.

These harmless people dwell in half-a-dozen narrow tortuous streets and
bazaars, in one corner of the old City. This Jewish quarter is quite
easy to defend. A few armed men posted at the narrow entrances could
hold any mob at bay. Why did not the military authorities see that this
was done? It was not until the third day that effective action was
taken. In the meantime, hell was let loose on these unfortunate people.
Even the wretched few who got to the City gates, unless they possessed
special permits, were refused permission to escape and were forced to
return to the devilries being enacted by the murdering, raping, looting
mob.

It is a black page in our history, and those responsible should not be
allowed to escape just punishment.

To cover their own blunders the local Administration looked round for a
scapegoat, and arrested Jabotinsky and some score members of the Jewish
Self-Defence Corps.

Jabotinsky was tried on a ridiculous charge of "banditism, instigating
the people of the Ottoman Empire to mutual hatred, pillage, rapine,
devastation of the country, and homicide in divers places"--in fact the
Ottoman penal code was ransacked to trump up these absurd charges
against him. Jabotinsky had been guilty of nothing except that he had
organised the Self-Defence Corps with the full knowledge of the
authorities, many weeks before the outbreak, and it was owing to the
existence of this Corps that the pogrom did not take much more serious
dimensions. By far the greater part of the Jews, and practically all the
Zionist Jews, dwell outside the old City in the modern part of
Jerusalem, and it would naturally be upon these that the mob would have
fallen, but not a Jewish house outside the City walls was raided, for
the simple reason that the Jewish Self-Defence Corps was there and ready
to act.

The Self-Defence Corps did nothing whatever against the British
Authorities, and many members of it were in fact used by the
Administration to police the environs of the City. Nevertheless, a
British Military Court, which publicly stated that it would be bound by
no rules of procedure, was found, which convicted Jabotinsky, and
inflicted upon him the savagely vindictive sentence of FIFTEEN YEARS'
PENAL SERVITUDE!

This trumping up of the preposterous charges mentioned is a disgrace to
British Justice, and the whole history of this atrocious outrage is a
foul stain on our fair fame.

It may be noted in passing that two Arabs caught raping Jewish girls
during the pogrom received the same sentence as Jabotinsky, whose only
crime was that he was a Jew.

Jabotinsky was cast into prison, clothed in prison garb, had his hair
cropped, and was marched in company with the two Arabs convicted of rape
through Jerusalem and Kantara, places where he was well known as a
British officer. Even the worst Hun that we have read of could hardly
have exceeded the savagery and tyranny shown by the Military Authorities
of the E.E.F. towards Jabotinsky, an officer who fought stoutly for us
and helped England and her cause in every possible way to the full
extent of his power during the War.

Of course a storm of public indignation was aroused. In fact one of our
leading Statesmen, on seeing the telegram announcing the barbarous
sentence, was heard to remark:--

    "The Military in Palestine must have gone mad."

The matter was raised in the House of Commons, and Mr. Churchill, who
was then Secretary of State for War, was called upon to make a
statement. The War Office took action and, in a very short time, the
sentence was annulled.

It apparently required this outrage to open the eyes of the Home
Government to what was going on in Palestine. As soon as they realised
the situation, matters began to move in the right direction, and one of
the first steps taken was the removal of the Military Administration
which had failed so hopelessly to carry out the policy of the Imperial
Government.



CHAPTER XXXVI.
THE DAWN.


While Jerusalem was yet plunged in sorrow and filled with lamentation,
the glad tidings arrived from San Remo that the Allied Council had
endorsed England's promise of a National Home for the Jews in Palestine,
and that Great Britain had been appointed the Mandatory Power.

England, to emphasize her determination to deal justly with Israel,
wisely decided that the ruler of Palestine should be a Jew, and
appointed Sir Herbert Samuel as first High Commissioner of the Holy
Land.

When the great roll-call is made of those who have helped in bringing
about the Restoration, the name of Baron Edmund de Rothschild will take
a high and honourable place. His boundless munificence to the Zionist
cause and to the Zionist Colonists in Palestine has helped the movement
enormously.

Palestine will loom larger and larger in world importance as the years
roll by. We have seen that it is the very keystone of our policy in the
Near and Far East, and when it is colonized by a friendly people working
hand in hand with England then the vexed question of our interests in
those regions will be solved.

There is plenty of room in Palestine for both Jew and Arab, and, in
fact, one is the complement of the other. At present there are about
650,000 Arabs in the country, but when Palestine is watered and tilled
and made a fruitful country once again, it will support a population of
five or six millions of people.

Not only would the Jews not injure the Arabs, but, on the contrary,
Jewish colonization and Jewish enterprise will prove extremely
beneficial to all the dwellers in Palestine.

The Jewish immigrants now going into the country are full of boundless
enthusiasm, ready to work and give even life itself to bring about the
reconstruction of their ancient Homeland.

With Jewish brains, Jewish labour, and Jewish capital, Palestine will be
made to flourish like the proverbial green bay tree. The land will be
irrigated and afforested; water power will be "harnessed" and made to
supply light and heat. Trade of all sorts will spring up, fresh markets
for goods will be opened, the wonderful natural harbour of Haifa will be
improved--and all of this will naturally bring increased wealth and
comfort to the Arab as well as to the Jew.

Even at the present moment the Jewish colonies are a joy to behold, and
the land in their immediate neighbourhood has gone up in value
threefold.

For many years the Jew and the Arab have worked together without the
slightest friction, and I see no reason for any in the future. There
will be no trouble whatever in Palestine between these two peoples when
the country is properly governed, and the local officials loyally carry
out the policy of the Imperial Government.

With an efficient straightforward Administration, holding the scales of
Justice evenly, and working in co-operation with Jew and Arab, the dawn
of a new and prosperous era for the Holy Land is assured, and Israel's
age-long aspirations will at last be fulfilled.

Britain's share towards the fulfilment of prophecy must, however, not be
forgotten, and the names of Mr. Lloyd George and Sir Arthur Balfour, two
men who were raised up to deal justly with Israel, will, I feel sure,
live for all time in the hearts and affections of the Jewish people. It
is owing to the stimulus given by the Balfour Declaration to the soul of
Jewry throughout the world that we are now looking upon the wonderful
spectacle unfolding itself before our eyes, of the people of Israel
returning to the Land promised to Abraham and his seed for ever.

In the ages to come it will always redound to the glory of England that
it was through her instrumentality that the Jewish people were enabled
to return and establish their National Home in the Promised Land.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."



    APPENDIX I.
    HONOURS LIST.


    Distinguished Service Order    Major E. NEILL.
    Military Cross                 Capt. D. G. LEADLEY.
    Military Cross with Bar        Capt. T. B. BROWN.
    Military Cross                 Second Lieut. T. H. FLIGELSTONE.
    Military Cross with Bar        Second Lieut. J. CAMERON.
    Military Cross with Bar        Second Lieut. A. B. BULLOCK.
    Distinguished Conduct Medal    Company Sergt.-Major PLANT.
    Military Medal                 Corp. M. BLOOM.
    Military Medal                 Lance-Corp. M. ELFMAN.
    Military Medal                 Private J. SAPIESHVILI.
    Military Medal                 Private J. GORDON.
    Military Medal                 Private J. ANGEL.
    Military Medal                 Private A. J. ROBINSON.
    Mentioned in Despatches        Major R. RIPLEY.
    Mentioned in Despatches        Capt. G. CUNNINGHAM.
    Mentioned in Despatches        Lieut. SIMON ABRAHAMS.
    Mentioned in Despatches        Company Sergt.-Major P. TENNENS.
                                       (Died on Service.)
    Mentioned in Despatches        Company Sergt.-Major C. BLACK.
    Mentioned in Despatches        Corp. W. BENJAMIN.
    Mentioned in Despatches        Private J. BLUMENTHAL.
    Mentioned in Despatches        Private N. KARSTADT.


    CASUALTY LIST.

    _Killed._

    Lieut. B. WOLFFE.
    Sergt. B. LEVY.
    Sergt. C. LEVY.
    Private S. MILDEMER.
    Private S. GRAYMAN.
    Private R. MARKS.

    _Died from Wounds or Disease._

    Company Sergt.-Major P. TENNENS.
    Lance-Corp. A. LLOYD.
    Lance-Corp. H. STRONG.
    Private B. BRICK.
    Private C. SEREMBER.
    Private G. REDLIKH.
    Private S. HART.
    Private L. BLACK.
    Private I. GOLDRICH.
    Private J. MALKIN.
    Private P. SOBORINSKY.
    Private S. ABRAHAMSON.
    Private S. ROSENBERG.
    Private M. DEITZ.
    Private W. WEINBERG.
    Private J. BERMAN.
    Private N. FREEMAN.
    Private H. CANTER.
    Private J. LEVY.
    Private N. ALICK.
    Private M. BIENSTOCK.
    Private M. BLOOMENTHAL.
    Private L. ALLONOWITZ.
    Private M. FREINER.
    Private M. GALINSKY.
    Private J. SHAFT.

    _Wounded._

    Capt. A. W. JULIAN, M.C.
    Lieut. H. B. CROSS.
    Private A. J. ROBINSON.
    Private P. LEFCOVITCH.



    APPENDIX II.
    CARE AND COMFORTS COMMITTEE, 38TH-42ND ROYAL FUSILIERS, KNOWN
    ALSO AS THE JEWISH REGIMENT AND THE JUDÆANS.

    _Civil Executive Committee._

    The Rt. Hon. LORD ROTHSCHILD, President.
    Mr. M. J. LANDA, Hon. Sec.
    Mrs. J. H. HERTZ.
    Mrs. Ch. WEIZMANN.
    J. D. KILEY, Esq., M.P.
    Sir ADOLPH TUCK, Bart.
    E. N. ADLER, Esq.
    JOSEPH COWEN, Esq.
    Dr. M. D. EDER.
    J. ETTINGER, Esq.
    LEOPOLD FRANK, Esq.
    L. J. GREENBERG, Esq.
    M. KAYE, Esq.
    Dr. GOODMAN LEVY.
    LIONEL D. WALFORD, Esq.
    HENRY WOLFF, Esq.

    _Hon. Members._

    Lieut.-Col. J. H. PATTERSON, D.S.O.
    Lieut.-Col. F. D. SAMUEL, D.S.O
    Lieut.-Col. E. L. MARGOLIN, D.S.O.
    Major W. SCHONFIELD.
    Major Rev. S. LIPSON, C.F.
    Lieut. W. A. LANGHORNE.
    Lieut. V. JABOTINSKY.
    Lieut. S. LIPSEY.
    Sergt. JOSEPH L. COHEN.

    _Care and Comforts Committee._

    Mrs. J. H. HERTZ, Chairman.
    Mr. HENRY WOLFF, Hon. Sec.
    Mrs. M. EPSTEIN, Chairman, Comforts Committee.
    Mrs. PAUL GOODMAN, Chairman, Canteen Committee.
    M. J. LANDA, Esq., Chairman, Literature Committee.
    Mrs. E. L. ROWSON, Chairman, Dependents Committee.
    Mrs. HENRY WOLFF, Chairman, Hospitality Committee.
    Miss FRANCESCA WOOLF, Chairman, Entertainments Committee.
    M. WALLACH, Esq.



    PRINTED BY THE FIELD PRESS LTD.
    WINDSOR HOUSE, BREAM'S BUILDINGS, LONDON, E.C. 4



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Hyphen removed: out[-]flanked (p. 183).

Hyphen added: hill-tops (p. 111), hill-sides (p. 83).

P. 44: "was" changed to "were" (the men were inspected).

P. 75: "sangers" changed to "sangars" (took up position in the sangars).

P. 79: "befel" changed to "befell" (a fatal accident befell).

P. 122: "Engalnd" changed to "England" (has just come from England).

P. 134: "thus" changed to "this" (this early in his command).

P. 169: "betwen" changed to "between" (a village between Ludd and
Jaffa).

P. 231: "frustated" changed to "frustrated" (are being frustrated by
such means).





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