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Title: The Desert Mounted Corps - An Account of the Cavalry Operations in Palestine and Syria 1917 - 1918
Author: Preston, R.M.P.
Language: English
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THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS

[Illustration: LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR H.G. CHAUVEL, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.

Commanding the Desert Mounted Corps.]



  THE

  DESERT MOUNTED CORPS

  AN ACCOUNT OF THE CAVALRY OPERATIONS
  IN PALESTINE AND SYRIA

  1917-1918

  BY

  LIEUT.-COLONEL

  THE HON. R.M.P. PRESTON, D.S.O.

  _With an Introduction by_

  LIEUT.-GENERAL

  SIR H.G. CHAUVEL, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.

  [Illustration]

  BOSTON AND NEW YORK
  HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
  1921


_Printed in Great Britain_



  TO

  B

  DEAR LOYAL FRIEND AND PERFECT COMRADE

  WITHOUT WHOSE ENCOURAGEMENT AND HELP

  THIS BOOK WOULD NEVER HAVE

  BEEN WRITTEN



INTRODUCTION


It gives me great pleasure to write a few words of introduction to
Lieut.-Col. Preston's _History of the Desert Mounted Corps_, which
I had the honour to command. In writing this History Lieut.-Col.
Preston has done a service to his country which I am sure will be
fully appreciated, particularly, perhaps, by those who served in the
Corps, and who feel that the part they played in the Great War is but
little known to the general public. As a work on Cavalry Tactics, I
trust it will be of some value to the student of Military History,
and, if it does nothing else, it must demonstrate to the world that
the horse-soldier is just as valuable in modern warfare as he ever has
been in the past. Indeed, the whole of the operations in Palestine
and Syria, under General Allenby, were text-book illustrations of the
perfect combination of all arms, both in attack and defence, and the
last operations in this theatre, which led to the total destruction of
the Turkish Arms and the elimination of Germany's Allies from the War,
could not have been undertaken without large masses of Cavalry.

Lieut.-Col. Preston is well qualified to undertake the work. First of
all in command of one of my finest Horse Batteries, and subsequently
as C.R.A. of the Australian Mounted Division, he was often in touch
with my Staff, being constantly employed on reconnaissance duties, in
which he was peculiarly expert. He served throughout the whole of the
operations of which he writes, and had considerable previous experience
in the Sinai Campaign, in which the Horse Artillery of the Desert
Column played so conspicuous a part.

This History commences with the reorganisation of the British Troops
in the Egyptian theatre of the War, on Sir Edmund Allenby taking
over command in June 1917. The troops operating East of the Suez
Canal had hitherto been known as the 'Eastern Force,' which had been
successively commanded by Sir Herbert Lawrence, Sir Charles Dobell and
Sir Philip Chetwode, who were again directly under the orders of the
Commander-in-Chief in Cairo.

The advanced troops of 'Eastern Force,' viz., all the available
Cavalry, Horse Artillery and Camel Corps, with from one to two
Divisions of Infantry, had been organised into what was called 'The
Desert Column.' Sir Edmund Allenby decided to take command of the
troops in the Eastern Field himself. The available Infantry was formed
into two Army Corps, and the Cavalry of the Desert Column was formed
into a Cavalry Corps of three Divisions (subsequently increased to four
on the arrival of the Indian Cavalry from France early in 1918). The
name of the original Desert Column was preserved as far as possible in
the title of the new Cavalry Corps, as most of the troops composing
it had fought throughout the Sinai Campaign, and by them much had
already been accomplished. The Turk had been driven from the vicinity
of the Suez Canal, across the Sinai Desert to the Palestine Border and
beyond, and several hard-won battles had been fought. Also, covered by
these operations, a railway and pipe line had been constructed, without
which, under modern conditions, the further invasion of Palestine could
not have been attempted.

The Desert Mounted Corps was composed of Australians, New Zealanders,
British Yeomanry, and Territorial Horse Artillery and Indian Cavalry,
with French Cavalry added for the last operations; and it says much for
the loyalty of all, and the mutual confidence in each other, that the
whole worked so harmoniously and efficiently to one end. It will be
readily understood, too, that operations of the nature Colonel Preston
describes could not have been carried out successfully without a highly
efficient staff. I was peculiarly fortunate in the _personnel_ of my
staff and also in my Divisional Commanders, two of whom were Indian
Cavalry Officers, one a British Cavalry Officer, and the fourth an
Officer of the New Zealand Staff Corps.

To a leader or a student of military history the campaign was intensely
interesting, but at the same time there were many hardships--intense
heat in the summer, with dust and insect pests inconceivable to those
who did not go through the campaign, and cold and heavy rains in the
winter. The fortitude and endurance of the troops was beyond all
praise, but the summer of 1918 spent by the Corps in the Jordan Valley,
at about 1200 feet below sea-level, with a temperature varying from 110
to 125 degrees, will not be forgotten by them.

The occupation of this area was essential to the success of General
Allenby's final operations; and everything possible was done to
alleviate the conditions--with considerable success, as, though our
wastage from malaria and other diseases was heavy, the greater bulk
of the cases of malaria were contracted after leaving the areas which
had been treated under the supervision of our Medical Staff. Our most
serious losses occurred after reaching Damascus, and, on the farther
advance to Aleppo, one division was brought to a complete standstill by
the ravages of this disease.

Though drawn from such widely different quarters of the Empire, the
_personnel_ of the Corps was well fitted for the class of warfare
it was called upon to undertake. The horsemen of Australia and New
Zealand were accustomed to wide spaces and long days in the saddle, and
were full of initiative, self-reliance and determination to overcome
every obstacle in their way. The Yeomanry, though not so accustomed
to hardships, had behind them the glorious traditions of the British
Cavalry, in the annals of which their charges at Huj and El Mughar will
live for all time. The Horse Artillery too, drawn from the Counties of
England and Scotland and the City of London, lived through the whole of
the campaigns in Sinai and Palestine with their comrades from overseas,
and showed themselves no whit behind-hand in the matter of endurance.
The value of their work is best shown by the esteem in which they were
held by the other troops. The long apprenticeship of the Indian Cavalry
to the trench warfare of the Western Front had robbed them of none of
their dash and brilliancy in the open warfare to which they were so
eminently fitted. The _personnel_ of the Signal Service, Engineers,
Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, Army Medical Corps, and Army
Veterinary Corps came from the same sources as the other troops--units
often being composed of mixed _personnel_--and to the efficiency of
these the successes attained by the Corps were very largely due.

  HARRY CHAUVEL,

  _Lieut.-General,
  late Commanding the Desert Mounted Corps_.

  COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA,
  DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE,
  OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL,
  _3rd September 1920_.



AUTHOR'S NOTE


As regards both the numbers engaged and the results achieved, the
campaign in Palestine and Syria ranks as the most important ever
undertaken by cavalry. In the first series of operations our troops
made a direct advance of seventy miles into enemy territory, and
captured some 17,000 prisoners and about 120 guns. The final operations
resulted in an advance of 450 miles, the complete destruction of three
Turkish Armies, with a loss of about 90,000 prisoners and 400 guns, and
the overwhelming defeat of what had hitherto been considered one of the
first-class Military Powers.

These remarks must not be taken, in any way, as underrating the value
of the work of our infantry, who, as always, bore the brunt of the
fighting, while denied much of the interest and excitement of the long
pursuits that fell to the lot of the cavalry. In both the main series
of operations, the infantry prepared the way for the cavalry, and
enabled them to complete the victory won, in the first instance, by the
bayonets.

General Allenby's campaign divides itself naturally into three phases.
First, the Beersheba-Gaza battle and the subsequent pursuit over the
Philistine Plain, culminating in the capture of Jerusalem; secondly,
the operations in the Jordan Valley, and east of the river Jordan; and
thirdly, the final series, resulting in the destruction of the Turkish
Armies, and the capture of Damascus, Aleppo, etc., followed by the
capitulation of the Turkish Empire.

Though the Turks at their best are not to be compared in fighting
value with the troops of the first-class fighting nations of Europe,
such as the British, French, and Germans, they generally fought well
against our infantry, attacking with vigour, and defending their
entrenched positions most stubbornly. They were well supplied with all
the appurtenances of modern warfare, and, in the first part of the
campaign, were generally well led.

At the commencement of the operations, the Turkish soldiers were of
good _morale_ on the whole, their physique was excellent, and their
health satisfactory. There was a large proportion of seasoned soldiers
among them, many with the Gallipoli medal. In the latter part of the
campaign, however, their _morale_ had deteriorated considerably, their
physique was greatly undermined by disease, and there were few old
soldiers left, nearly all having been killed or captured, or died of
disease. Many units were full of untrained troops, ill-disciplined
and demoralised. After the first day's fighting, there was little
resistance by the enemy, except when stiffened by a large proportion of
German troops, as at Semakh and Jisr Benat Yakub.

There were doubtless many causes for this deterioration of _morale_
among the Turkish troops, but, unquestionably, one of the chief was the
constant friction that existed between Turkish and German officers,
which spread downwards to the ranks of both nations. The hectoring
stupidity of the Prussian was nowhere better exemplified than in his
treatment of his Turkish Allies. German officers openly and constantly
expressed their contempt for the Turks, whom they compared to niggers,
and numerous instances came to our knowledge of German N.C.O.'s and
privates beating and kicking Turkish officers.

The three things which the Turks feared most were a threat to their
communications, a charge of cavalry, and a heavy aerial attack. As
regards the first, there was, I believe, no instance in the campaign
when they fought on to the end after being surrounded, though, on
several occasions, Turkish units continued to attack till annihilated.

The losses of the Turks were much heavier than ours in every action
of the campaign, even when they were successful, or partially so, as
in the two trans-Jordan raids.[1] This fact was largely due to their
bad rifle shooting. While our troops were good enough shots to pick
off Turkish soldiers showing their heads above rocks and trenches,
the Turks, as a rule, could only hit our men when standing up during
an advance. When the enemy made his great effort to retake Jerusalem,
on the 26th of December 1917, the number of dead Turks found on the
position after the battle was greater than our total casualties.

As a set-off to their bad rifle shooting, the enemy troops were
supplied with a far larger proportion of machine guns than we were.
Their machine-gun companies, which were largely staffed by Germans,
were generally effective, and caused us the major part of our
casualties during the war.

Their field artillery work in general was slow and inaccurate, but the
heavy artillery, manned by Germans or Austrians, was almost invariably
good.

The above remarks as to _morale_ should be borne in mind in estimating
the tactics of General Allenby.

It will be noticed that he took greater risks in the latter part of
the campaign than he had done at the beginning. These risks were fully
justified by the very complete knowledge of the reduced state of the
enemy's _morale_ which had been acquired by our Intelligence Staff.

In spite of the indifferent _morale_ of the enemy troops, the campaign
is of great value to the student of cavalry tactics, being, as it is,
the only instance in modern war of cavalry operating on a large scale.
It demonstrated once more the soundness of the principles laid down
in our training manuals, which appear to be immutable, in spite of
aircraft and other devilish inventions of present day warfare.

The value of aeroplanes and armoured cars acting in conjunction with
cavalry was very clearly brought out, notably in the final series of
operations.

My thanks are due to Lieutenant-Colonel R.H. Osborne, D.S.O., M.C.,
20th Hussars, cavalry instructor at the Staff College Camberley, for
very kindly reading the manuscript, and for many valuable suggestions
and corrections. Also to Major A.F. Becke, R.A., in charge of the
Historical Section, W.D., for much help in studying war diaries and
maps.

My thanks are also due to the many officers, too numerous to mention
individually, who have very kindly lent me their private diaries, or
given me information about obscure points. I have taken every care
to make the narrative as accurate as possible, but, if any who read
it notice inaccuracies, I shall be very grateful if they will point
them out to me. I have also to thank those who have allowed me to use
photographs taken by them as illustrations. A number of the photographs
taken on the enemy side were obtained from Mr. C. Raad, photographer,
of Jerusalem, who had secured the original negatives, and by whose
permission they are reproduced in the book.

Lastly, I desire to thank Lieutenant-General Sir H.G. Chauvel, K.C.B.,
K.C.M.G., Commander of the Desert Mounted Corps throughout the
campaign, for his help and encouragement, and for having very kindly
written the preface to the book.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: Except in the two first battles of Gaza, April and May
1917, when our losses, in comparison with the numbers engaged, were as
severe as in some of the hardest fought battles on the Western Front.]



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER I

                                                                      PAGE

    Preliminary. Situation in the East in June 1917. Objectives of
    the Palestine Campaign. The country. The opposing armies             1


    CHAPTER II

    Plan of the operations. Laying the foundations. Cavalry
    reconnaissances. Work of the engineers. Maps and water supply       10


    CHAPTER III

    1917
    Oct. 27th to Nov. 1st

    The first round. The attack on Beersheba. Charge
    of the 4th A.L.H. Brigade. Capture of the town with
    2000 prisoners. Destruction of the wells. First attack
    on the Gaza defences. German buildings in Beersheba.
    Arab sheikhs and the Camel Transport Corps                          18


    CHAPTER IV

    Nov. 2nd to Nov. 7th

    The decisive battle. Enemy counterstroke on the
    east. Hard fighting of the cavalry and the 53rd
    Division. Lack of water. Capture of Tel Khuweilfeh.
    And of Hareira and Sharia. Enemy's front broken.
    Cavalry through the gap. Fall of Gaza                               38


    CHAPTER V

    Nov. 8th and 9th

    The pursuit. All three cavalry divisions employed.
    Strong enemy resistance. Charge of the Yeomanry at
    Huj. Water at last. Sufferings of the horses. Delay
    caused by lack of water. Arak el Menshiye and Beit
    Duras                                                               50


    CHAPTER VI

    Nov. 10th to Nov. 12th

    The Cavalry Corps in line from the railway to the sea.
    Difficulties of supply. Withdrawal of all but two
    infantry divisions. Great heat and lack of water causes
    a slackening of the pursuit. Anzac Division seizes the
    Esdud bridge. Stiffening of the enemy resistance.
    The action of Balin                                                 61


    CHAPTER VII

    Nov. 13th to Nov. 15th

    Attack on the enemy line. Charge of the 6th Mounted
    Brigade at El Mughar. Armoured cars enter Junction
    Station. Capture of the station. Enemy forces cut
    in two. Right group driven northwards across the
    River Auja, and left group into the Judæan Hills.
    Occupation of Ramleh, Ludd, and Jaffa. The Sidun-Abu
    Shusheh position. Second charge of the 6th
    Mounted Brigade                                                     77


    CHAPTER VIII

    Nov. 16th and 17th

    Necessity for reinforcements, and exhaustion of horses
    causes a lull in the operations. A waterless record.
    The Australian cavalry horse. Junction Station. Reappearance
    of the Corps Ammunition Column. The Predatory Gunner. The
    A.P.M.'s Odyssey. A Turkish _communiqué_                            93


    CHAPTER IX

    Nov. 18th to Nov. 25th

    The advance resumed. Amwas. The Australian
    Mounted Division withdrawn to rest. The Yeomanry
    Division enter the mountains. Rain. Unsuccessful
    attacks on the Beitunia Ridge. Difficulties of the
    country. Our infantry seize Nebi Samwil. The
    Anzac Mounted Division forces the crossing of the
    Nahr el Auja in the plain. And is driven back                      101


    CHAPTER X

    Dec. 1st to Dec. 31st

    Hard fighting and bad weather in the hills. Our communications
    cut. The last of the Yeomanry Division.
    Winter conditions in the Philistine Plain. Rain and
    mud. Floods cause breakdowns in the supply services.
    A 'Merry Christmas.' Enemy spies in the mountains.
    Surrender of Jerusalem. Final crossing of the Auja.
    Results achieved by the Desert Mounted Corps during
    the operations                                                     112


    CHAPTER XI

    1918
    Jan. 1st to Feb. 28th

    'Rest and Refit.' The ruins of Gaza. Decision to
    extend the battle line to the Jordan. The country between
    Jerusalem and the Dead Sea basin. The
    first descent into the Jordan Valley. Occupation of Jericho.
    A naval battle 1300 feet below the level of the ocean.
    Second descent into the Valley. Our right flank
    established on the river Jordan. Operations of the
    Arab forces                                                        123


    CHAPTER XII

    Mar. 1st to Apr. 2nd

    The first trans-Jordan raid. Description of the trans-Jordan
    country. Bridging the Jordan. Difficulties
    of the cavalry. Rain and cold. Hedjaz Railway cut
    north and south of Amman. Unsuccessful attacks
    on the town. Large enemy reinforcements arrive on
    the scene. Floods sweep away the bridges over the
    Jordan. Hard fighting at El Salt. Attack on Amman
    abandoned. Withdrawal of the raiding force                         132


    CHAPTER XIII

    Apr. 3rd to May 4th

    Results of the raid. Successes of the Arab Army.
    Reorganisation of the Cavalry Corps. The second
    trans-Jordan raid. Capture of El Salt. Failure of
    first attack on Shunet Nimrin. Enemy reinforcements
    cross the Jordan at Jisr el Damieh. 4th A.L.H.
    Brigade hard pressed. Loss of the guns. Enemy
    clears the way to El Salt. The Beni Sakhr play us
    false. Precarious position of our cavalry in the hills.
    Failure of second attack on Shunet Nimrin. Hard
    fighting at El Salt. Ammunition running out. The
    raiding force withdraws across the Jordan. Results
    of the raid                                                        153


    CHAPTER XIV

    May 5th to Aug. 31st

    Decision to hold the Jordan Valley during the summer.
    The Valley line. Description of the country and
    climate. Enemy attacks on Abu Tellul and El Henu
    repulsed. An example of 'Kultur.' Out of the Valley
    of Desolation                                                      177


    CHAPTER XV

    Sept. 1st to Sept. 18th

    Preparations for the great drive. Description of the
    Turkish line and the country behind it. The opposing
    forces. Precautions to ensure secrecy. Plan of the
    operations. Lawrence's Arabs cut the enemy railway
    at Deraa junction. At the starting post                            190


    CHAPTER XVI

    Sept. 19th to Sept. 21st

    Opening the door. Cavalry through the gap and over
    the Carmel Range. On the Plain of Armageddon. 13th
    Cavalry Brigade captures the enemy G.H.Q. at Nazareth.
    Cavalry seize Afule, Jenin, and Beisan. Big
    haul of prisoners at Jenin                                         202


    CHAPTER XVII

    Sept. 19th to Sept. 22nd

    Rolling up the enemy flank. Work of the 5th A.L.H.
    Brigade. Our infantry attack all along the line and
    drive in the Turkish front. Our cavalry reoccupy
    Nazareth. Sad fate of the 'Haifa Annexation Expedition.'
    Chaytor's force closes the Jisr el Damieh
    road, and advances on Shunet Nimrin. Turkish
    armies trapped                                                     217


    CHAPTER XVIII

    Sept. 23rd

    Drawing the net. Action of Makhadet Abu Naj.
    Capture of Haifa. Action at Makhadet el Masudi.
    Turkish VIIth and VIIIth Armies completely destroyed.
    Adventures of Chaytor's Force. Surrender of the
    Hedjaz Corps. British and Turks as 'Allies'                        229


    CHAPTER XIX

    Sept. 24th to Sept. 27th

    Decision to advance on Damascus. The orders for
    the advance. 4th A.L.H. Brigade captures Semakh.
    Treachery of the Germans. Capture of Tiberias. The
    race for Damascus. 4th Cavalry Division strikes at
    the flank of the retreating IVth Army. And joins
    hands with the Arab forces                                         247


    CHAPTER XX

    Sept. 27th and Sept. 28th

    The action at the Bridge of Jacob's Daughters. A
    memory of Napoleon's campaign in Syria. Last crossing
    of the Jordan. Occupation of El Kuneitra. Some
    undisciplined 'Allies.' 4th Cavalry Division reaches
    El Mezerib. Turks massacre women and children.
    The Arabs' vengeance                                               258


    CHAPTER XXI

    Sept. 29th to Oct. 5th

    The last lap of the race to Damascus. Orders of the
    Cavalry Corps. A fight in the darkness. The action
    of Kaukab. 5th A.L.H. Brigade closes the Beirût
    road. Our two columns meet at Damascus. End of
    the Turkish IVth Army. Capture of the city with
    12,000 prisoners. Terrible condition of the enemy
    troops. A record charge by Australian cavalry. Disorders
    in Damascus                                                        266


    CHAPTER XXII

    Oct. 5th to Oct. 31st

    Decision to advance to Rayak and Beirût. Sickness
    in the Corps. Occupation of Homs and Tripoli. 5th
    Cavalry Division ordered to advance to Aleppo. A
    hunt by the armoured cars. A piece of bluff.
    Fall of Aleppo. The last of the Turkish army. The Armistice.
    Captures of the Desert Mounted Corps                               282


    CHAPTER XXIII

    Police work. The Desert Mounted Corps administers a country
    larger than Scotland. Condition of the country after the
    Armistice. Pax Britannica. Co-operation of the Arabs. Work
    of the Armenian Reparations Committee. Character of the
    Armenians. A gamble in exchange. Sport and games. End
    of the Desert Mounted Corps. Northern Syria handed over to
    the French                                                         295


    CHAPTER XXIV

    Horse Artillery                                                    303


    CHAPTER XXV

    Horses                                                             311


    CHAPTER XXVI

    Transport and Ammunition Supply                                    322


    APPENDIX I: (_a_) The Desert Mounted Corps                         331

                (_b_) Infantry                                         335


    APPENDIX II: Note on the Arab Movement                             337


    APPENDIX III: Terms of Turkish Armistice                           342



ILLUSTRATIONS


    LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR H.G. CHAUVEL, K.C.B.,
    K.C.M.G.      _Frontispiece_

          TO FACE PAGE

    WATER AT ESANI                                                      20

    COUNTRY NEAR BEERSHEBA                                              20

    BEERSHEBA                                                           36

    BEERSHEBA FIRST TRAIN                                               36

    TURKISH CAVALRY                                                     48

    TURKISH MACHINE GUNS                                                48

    AFTER THE CHARGE AT HUJ                                             76

    MARCHING OVER PHILISTINE PLAIN                                      76

    VON FALKENHAYN                                                     108

    AUSTRIAN HOWITZER                                                  108

    R.H.A. IN ACTION IN MOUNTAINS                                      120

    READING BRITISH PROCLAMATION IN JERUSALEM                          120

    MOSQUE AT GAZA                                                     124

    GERMAN MOTOR BOAT                                                  152

    GRAIN FROM MOAB                                                    152

    RIVER JORDAN                                                       176

    SHUNET NIMRIN                                                      176

    MOTOR LORRIES 'BEFORE'                                             212

    MOTOR LORRIES 'AFTER'                                              212

    GERMAN AIRCRAFT                                                    228

    IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY                                          228

    NAZARETH                                                           252

    TIBERIAS                                                           252

    R.H.A. FORDING RIVER JORDAN                                        270

    BARADA GORGE, DAMASCUS                                             270

    FEISAL'S HEADQUARTERS AT DAMASCUS                                  278

    TRIPOLI                                                            278

    ALEPPO                                                             288

    ARABS AND FEISAL'S SOLDIERS                                        288

    RIVER EUPHRATES                                                    296

    AINTAB                                                             296

    INSCRIPTION AT DOG RIVER                                           302


LIST OF MAPS AND DIAGRAMS.

  KEY MAP                                                              327


_Folding out._

  MAP A                                                                122

   "  B                                                                246

   "  C                                                                280

   "  D                                                                294


_Full page._

  DIAGRAM 1                                                             18

     "    2                                                             46

     "    3                                                             80

     "    4                                                             86

     "    5                                                            170

     "    6                                                            222

     "    7                                                            236



THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS

AN ACCOUNT OF THE CAVALRY OPERATIONS IN PALESTINE AND SYRIA, 1917-1918



CHAPTER I

THE COUNTRY AND THE OPPOSING FORCES


When General Allenby arrived in Egypt in June 1917, and assumed command
of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, British prestige in the East
was at a very low ebb. The evacuation of Gallipoli in December 1915,
followed by the fall of Kut el Amara four months later, and by our two
unsuccessful attacks on Gaza in the spring of the following year, had
invested the Turkish arms with a legend of invincibility which was
spreading rapidly in all Moslem countries. For the first time in seven
centuries, sang the journalistic bards of Stamboul, the followers of
Islam had triumphed over the Infidel; Allah was leading the Faithful to
victory; the Empire of the Moslems was at hand.

The fall of Baghdad in March 1917 somewhat dashed these high hopes,
it is true. But the Germans, to whom the city was, at the moment, of
no more importance than any other dirty Eastern village, had little
difficulty in persuading the Turks that its loss was a mere incident
in the world war, which would be more than made good in the final, and
glorious, peace terms. Nevertheless, the Turks insisted on making an
effort to recapture the place, and for this purpose a special, picked
force, known as the _Yilderim_, or Lightning, Army Group, was in
process of formation in northern Syria at this time. The command of
this group had been entrusted to the redoubtable von Falkenhayn, who
was at Aleppo, directing the training and organisation of the troops.

Comforted by highly coloured accounts of the efficiency and fighting
value of this force, the Turks rapidly recovered from the effects of
the loss of Baghdad. Bombastic articles, inspired by Potsdam, began
to make their appearance in the Turkish press, chronicling the doings
of the 'Lightning' armies. They were to recapture Baghdad, drive the
British into the Persian Gulf, and then march to the 'relief' of India.
Afterwards the presumptuous little force that had dared to oppose the
Turks' advance into their own province of Egypt would be dealt with in
a suitable manner; Egypt would be delivered; and the Suez Canal, 'the
jugular vein of the British Empire,' would be severed.

Aided by such writings, and supported by German money, Pan-Islamic
emissaries were busily engaged in every Moslem or partly Moslem
country, stirring up the Faithful to sedition and revolt. India,
Afghanistan, Persia, and Egypt were all in a state of suppressed
excitement and unrest, and it is probable that one more British reverse
in the East would have been sufficient to set all these countries in
a blaze. The least imaginative can form some idea of the tremendous
consequences that such an upheaval would have had upon the war in
general. Yet the newspapers of that time show clearly that there was a
considerable, and vociferous, body of public opinion, both in England
and in France, that regarded the Syrian and Mesopotamian campaigns as
useless and extravagant 'side-shows,' and clamoured insistently for the
recall of the troops engaged in them.

Thus, both for the purpose of re-establishing our waning prestige in
the East, and of silencing the mischievous agitation at home, it was
imperative that a signal defeat should be inflicted on the Turks as
soon as possible. The capture of Jerusalem, which city ranks only after
Mecca and Stamboul among the holy places of Islam, would set a fitting
seal upon such a defeat, and would be certain to create a profound
impression upon Moslems the world over.

Jerusalem, therefore, became the political objective of the new British
Commander-in-Chief. The strategical objective will be discussed later.

The situation in Palestine in the summer of 1917 was not, however, at
first sight, very encouraging. Our two abortive attempts on Gaza had
shown the German commanders the weak points in the Turkish defences,
and they had set to work, with characteristic energy and thoroughness,
to strengthen them. 'Gaza itself had been made into a strong, modern
fortress, heavily entrenched and wired, and offering every facility
for protracted defence. The remainder of the enemy's line consisted
of a series of strong localities, viz.: the Sihan group of works, the
Atawineh group, the Abu el Hareira-Abu el Teaha trench system (near
Sharia), and, finally, the works covering Beersheba. These groups of
works were generally from 1500 to 2000 yards apart, except that the
distance from the Hareira group to Beersheba was about four and a
half miles.... By the end of October these strong localities had been
joined up so as to form a practically continuous line from the sea to a
point south of Sharia. The defensive works round Beersheba remained a
detached system, but had been improved and extended.'[2]

The Turkish forces were thus on a wide front, the distance from Gaza
to Beersheba being about thirty miles, but a well-graded, metalled
road, which they had made just behind their line, connecting these two
places, afforded good lateral communication, and any threatened point
of their front could be very quickly reinforced.

From July onwards continual reinforcements of men, guns, and stores had
arrived on the enemy's front, and he had formed several large supply
and ammunition depots at different places behind his lines. He had
also laid two lines of railway from the so-called Junction Station on
the Jerusalem-Jaffa line, one to Deir Sineid, just north of Gaza, and
the other to Beersheba, and beyond it to the village of El Auja,[3]
on the Turko-Egyptian frontier, some twenty-five miles south-west of
Beersheba. It was evident that the Turks intended to hold on to the
Gaza-Beersheba line at all costs, in order to cover the concentration
and despatch of the Yilderim Force to Mesopotamia.

This Junction Station was to be the strategical objective of our
operations. From the junction a railway ran northwards, through Tul
Keram, Messudieh, Jenin and Afule, to Deraa on the Hedjaz Railway,
whence the latter line continued to Damascus, Aleppo, and the
Baghdad Railway. With the junction in our hands, any enemy force in
the Judæan hills, protecting Jerusalem, would be cut off from all
railway communication to the north, and would be compelled to rely
for its supplies on the difficult mountain road between Messudieh and
Jerusalem, or on the longer and still more difficult road from Amman
station on the Hedjaz Railway, thirty miles east of the Jordan, _via_
Jericho to Jerusalem.

Our own position extended from the sea at Gaza to a point on the Wadi
Ghuzze near El Gamli, some fourteen miles south-west of Sharia and
eighteen miles west of Beersheba. The opposing lines thus formed a
rough 'V,' with its apex at Gaza, where the lines were, in some places,
only a couple of hundred yards apart. From here they diverged to El
Gamli, which was about nine miles from the nearest part of the Turkish
positions. The intervening space was watched by our cavalry.

The right flank of our line being thus 'in the air' out in the
desert, it was a comparatively easy matter for enemy spies, disguised
as peaceful natives, to pass round it under cover of darkness, and
approach our positions from the rear in daylight. Native hawkers, other
than those with passes from the Intelligence Staff, were forbidden to
approach our lines, but it was impossible to control all the natives in
such a scattered area, and much can be seen, with the aid of a pair of
field-glasses, from the top of a hill a mile away. There were also at
least two very daring Germans, who several times penetrated our lines
disguised as British officers. They were both exceedingly bold and
resourceful men, and it is probable that they obtained a good deal of
useful information, before they met the almost inevitable fate of spies.

Before the end of our time of preparation, however, methods were
evolved to deal with this nuisance, and the enemy was kept in ignorance
of our movements and intentions with that success which always
attended the efforts of General Allenby in this direction. An enemy
staff document, subsequently captured by us, and dated just prior to
the commencement of the operations, stated that: 'An outflanking
attack on Beersheba with about one infantry and one cavalry division
is indicated, but the main attack, as before, must be expected on the
Gaza front.' How far wrong was this appreciation of the situation will
be apparent later on. The same document also stated that we had six
infantry divisions in the Gaza sector, whereas at the time there were
only three.

The Royal Air Force was an important factor in denying information to
the enemy during the latter part of our time of preparation. One of
the first things the Commander-in-Chief had done on his arrival at the
front, was to re-equip the force completely. Hitherto the German Flying
Corps had done what it liked in the air over our lines. For several
months on end our troops had been bombed, almost with impunity, every
day. Our own pilots, starved alike of aeroplanes and of materials for
repairs, gingerly manoeuvring their antiquated and rickety machines,
fought gallantly but hopelessly against the fast Taubes and Fokkers of
the German airmen, and day by day the pitiful list of casualties that
might have been so easily avoided grew longer.

In four months all this had changed. Our pilots, equipped with new,
up-to-date and fast machines, met the Germans on level terms, and
quickly began to obtain supremacy in the air. By the end of October
this supremacy was definitely established, and the few enemy pilots who
crossed our lines at that time flew warily, ever on the look-out for
one of our fighting machines.

The country occupied by the opposing armies varied considerably in
character. The district near the coast consisted of a series of high
dunes of loose, shifting sand, impassable for wheeled traffic. Farther
east the ground became harder, but it was still sandy and heavy going
for transport. Eastwards again, towards Beersheba, the country changed
to a wilderness of bare, rocky hills, intersected by innumerable
wadis (dry river beds). These wadis were, for the most part, enclosed
between limestone cliffs, sometimes 100 feet or more in height, and
impassable except where the few native tracks crossed them. The whole
of this part of the country was waterless, except for three very deep
wells at Khalasa and one at Asluj (all of which had been destroyed by
the Turks), and some fairly good pools in the Wadi Ghuzze at Esani and
Shellal. In Beersheba itself there were seven good wells.

Northwards of the enemy's positions, between the Judæan mountains and
the sea, stretched the great plain of Philistia, a strip of rolling
down-land fifteen to twenty miles wide, admirably suited for the
employment of mounted troops.

The appointment of General Allenby, himself a cavalryman, to the
command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, presaged the employment of
cavalry on a much larger scale than had hitherto been attempted. From
his first study of the problem before him, the new Commander-in-Chief
realised the predominant part that cavalry would play in the
operations, and devoted himself, with his customary energy, to
organising a force suitable for the work in prospect.

For the advance across the Sinai Desert from the Suez Canal, a special
force had been organised, under the command of Sir Philip Chetwode.
This force, which was known as the Desert Column, consisted of the
Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division (which then included the
1st, 2nd, and 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigades and the New Zealand
Mounted Brigade), the 5th Mounted Brigade (Yeomanry), and the 42nd and
52nd Infantry Divisions.

The 2nd Mounted (Yeomanry) Division, which had arrived in Egypt in
April 1915, had been sent to Gallipoli dismounted. After the evacuation
of the peninsula, part of this division had been remounted. The 5th
Mounted Brigade had taken part in the advance across Sinai, and other
units of the division had been employed in the campaign against the
Senussi, and in the Fayoum and other parts of Egypt. Most of these
scattered units had been collected prior to the first battle of Gaza,
and organised into two divisions of four brigades each, including a
new brigade of Australian Light Horse (the 4th) which had been formed,
partly out of Light Horsemen who had returned from Gallipoli, and
partly out of reinforcements from Australia. General Allen by now
remounted the remainder of the Yeomanry in Egypt, and formed out of
them two new brigades. The ten brigades thus available were organised
as a corps of three divisions: the Australian and New Zealand (1st and
2nd A.L.H. Brigades and the New Zealand Brigade), generally known as
the Anzac Mounted Division; the Australian Mounted Division (3rd and
4th A.L.H. and 5th Mounted Brigades); and the Yeomanry Division (6th,
8th, and 22nd Mounted Brigades). The corps reserve consisted of the
7th Mounted Brigade, and the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, while the
(Indian) Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade[4] formed part of the Army
troops. Only the Yeomanry Division and the 7th Mounted and Imperial
Service Cavalry Brigades were at this time armed with swords.

It was originally intended to call this force the 2nd Cavalry Corps,
but General Chauvel, who was appointed to command it, asked that the
name of the Desert Column might be perpetuated in that of the new
force. It was accordingly named the Desert Mounted Corps.[5]

The infantry of the Expeditionary Force, largely augmented by troops
in Egypt, was formed into two corps of three divisions each, the 20th
under Sir Philip Chetwode, and the 21st commanded by Lieutenant-General
Bulfin, with one other infantry division. The 20th Corps (10th, 53rd,
and 74th Divisions, with the 60th Division attached) was in the
eastern sector of our line, while the 21st Corps (53rd, 54th, and 75th
Divisions) held the trenches opposite Gaza.[6]

The Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade was attached to the 21st Corps
during the operations. This brigade had not yet seen any serious
service, and its fighting qualities were rather an unknown factor.
Later on in the campaign, however, all three regiments distinguished
themselves greatly, and established a fine reputation for dash.

Our total forces numbered some 76,000 fighting men, of whom about
20,000 were mounted, with 550 guns. The enemy troops opposed to us
consisted of nine Turkish divisions, organised in two armies, the VIIth
and VIIIth, and one cavalry division, a total of about 49,000 fighting
men, 3000 of whom were mounted, with 360 guns.[7] Our superiority in
numbers, though considerable, thus fell short of the Napoleonic minimum
for the attack of entrenched positions, but our large preponderance
of cavalry promised great results, if we could succeed in driving the
Turks out of their fortifications.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: General Allenby's despatch, dated 16th December 1917.]

[Footnote 3: The portion of the line between Beersheba and El Auja was
raided by our cavalry in May 1917, and about thirty miles of the track
destroyed, in order to prevent any attempted raid on our communications
_via_ the latter place.]

[Footnote 4: Raised and equipped by some of the ruling princes of
India.]

[Footnote 5: See Appendix I. _a._]

[Footnote 6: See Appendix I. _b._]

[Footnote 7: The VIIth Army was commanded by the German General Kress
von Kressenstein, and the VIIIth by Fevzi Pasha. The general staff of
all the enemy formations was in the hands of the Germans. All ranks
of the flying corps, heavy artillery and motor transport corps, and
the officers of the engineer and supply services and of the railway
administration were also Germans. There were a few German and Austrian
infantry battalions.]



CHAPTER II

THE PLAN OF OPERATIONS


The Commander-in-Chiefs plan was bold and simple, and promised great
results. It depended for its success largely on the resolution and
vigour with which the first part of the plan, the attack of Beersheba,
was carried out. Owing to the waterless nature of the country, this
place had to be in our hands within twenty-four hours from the
commencement of the operations. If it were not, the troops would have
to be withdrawn, owing to lack of water, the attack abandoned, and
the operations commenced anew at some later date, against an enemy
forewarned of our plans, and with the prospect of the winter rains
putting a stop to our advance before it had well begun.

The operations as a whole divided themselves naturally into three
main parts, in each of which the fighting would be of a totally
different character. First, the attack and capture of the enemy's
entrenched positions from Beersheba to the sea. This was primarily
an infantry operation. Secondly, the pursuit of the enemy over the
plain of Philistia, culminating in the capture of Junction Station,
and the consequent isolation of any enemy force endeavouring to cover
Jerusalem. This was to be the cavalry's opportunity. And lastly, the
advance through the Judæan hills, and the capture of the Holy City.

For obvious reasons only the first part of these operations could
be thought out in detail beforehand. The plan for this phase was as
follows:--

1. To seize Beersheba and the high ground to the north and north-west
of it, by a combined attack of cavalry and infantry, thus throwing open
the left flank of the main enemy position at Hareira and Sharia. After
the fall of Beersheba the cavalry would thus all be concentrated on the
right flank of our forces, ready to pursue the enemy when driven from
the remainder of his positions. The possession of Beersheba would, it
was hoped, give us the necessary water to enable us to maintain our
cavalry on this flank till the conclusion of the second phase of the
attack.

2. To deliver the main infantry attack against the enemy's open left
flank at Hareira, and endeavour to roll up his line from east to west.

3. In order to deceive the enemy up to the last moment as to the real
point of our main attack, to pin him to his positions, and to draw
reinforcements away from his left flank, an attack, preceded by a
week's bombardment, was to be launched on the Gaza defences twenty-four
to forty-eight hours previous to 2.

As the attack on Beersheba necessitated a march of some seventy miles
on the part of the cavalry, who were to attack from the east, and of
about twenty for the infantry, over unknown country, a great deal of
preliminary work was required. The water supply had to be developed,
tracks and the crossing places of wadis improved and marked on the
maps, and the enemy positions south and west of Beersheba most
carefully reconnoitred. It was also very desirable that all commanders
should gain some knowledge of the country over which they were to lead
their troops.

To these ends our line was organised as follows:--

A permanent position, strongly entrenched and wired, was constructed
from the sea at Gaza to Shellal on the Wadi Ghuzze, and held by
infantry. From Shellal a lightly entrenched line extended to El
Gamli, and this was held by one cavalry division, which also supplied
the outposts and patrols in the wide 'no man's land' at this end
of the line. A second cavalry division was held in support in the
neighbourhood of Abasan el Kebir, and the third was in reserve,
resting, on the seashore near Tel el Marrakeb. These divisions relieved
one another every month.

The cavalry divisions in the line and at Abasan lived in bivouacs made
of light, wooden hurdles, covered with grass mats, and erected over
rectangular pits dug in the ground. These bivouac shelters gave fair
cover from the sun, and the pits afforded some protection from enemy
bombs. The division on the seashore was accommodated in tents.

The two former divisions had to be ready at all times to move out to
battle at half an hour's notice, and much of the training was directed
towards cutting down the time taken to turn out in 'marching order.'
The division in the line had plenty of work to do, with daily outposts,
extended patrol work, and the long reconnaissances undertaken every
fortnight, so that the training was confined to the periods spent at
Abasan.

As the operations were to take place in the late summer, and, it was
hoped, would be concluded before the winter rains set in, no great
provision against cold and wet was called for. Blankets and greatcoats
were, therefore, not to be carried. Each man was provided with a
pair of officers' pattern saddle-wallets, in which he carried three
days' rations (including the iron ration) of bully beef, biscuit, and
groceries, besides the few articles of clothing he was allowed to take.
Two nose-bags on each saddle carried 19 lb. of grain (two days' forage
on the marching scale). A third day's forage was carried in limbered
G.S. wagons, three to each regiment. The divisions were, therefore,
self-supporting for three days, without recourse to their divisional
trains. The latter, during the subsequent operations, did not accompany
their divisions, but acted as carriers between them and the advanced
ration dumps established by the corps' lorry column each day. One other
L.G.S. wagon was allowed per regiment for technical stores, cooking
utensils, etc. All entrenching tools were carried on pack animals.

In order to test the mobility of the troops, it was the custom for
each divisional commander, during the period when his division was in
the Abasan area, to issue from time to time a surprise order for the
troops to turn out ready for operations, and rendezvous by brigades or
regiments in stated places, where they were carefully inspected. These
orders were generally issued in the early morning, and, as no hint of
them was ever given beforehand, even to the Staff, they constituted
a real test of mobility. The time taken by each unit to turn out was
noted by Staff officers, and the keenest rivalry sprang up between the
divisions and the different units of each division to make the best
showing. Ration and store wagons were packed each night, nose-bags
filled after the last feed and tied on the saddles, and all harness and
saddlery laid out in order behind the horses. The men's wallets were
kept packed permanently, the rations in them being renewed from time
to time, when the old ones were consumed. The record ultimately went
to one of the Horse Artillery batteries, which turned out complete
in full marching order, with all its ammunition, rations, and stores
correct, in eleven minutes from the receipt of the order.

About once a fortnight the cavalry division that was in the line made
a reconnaissance towards Beersheba, the other two divisions closing
up to Shellal and Abasan respectively. Moving out in the afternoon,
the division would march all night, and occupy a line of posts on the
high ground west of Beersheba by dawn next morning. Behind this line
of protecting posts the infantry corps and divisional commanders,
and innumerable lesser fry, disported themselves in motor cars and
on horseback. The senior corps commander and his staff used to be
irreverently referred to as the 'Royal Party,' a flippant term which
may be excused by the tedium and discomfort of the operations.

After seeing the last of the infantry commanders safely away, the
cavalry used to withdraw, and march back to Shellal during the night.
The reconnaissances thus entailed two nights and a day of almost
continual movement and watchfulness, without any sleep or rest, during
which time it was not uncommon for regiments to cover seventy miles
or more. Apart from the fatigue occasioned by thirty-six hours of
constant anxiety and hard work, the absence of water caused severe
hardship to the horses and no little discomfort to their riders. No
water for horses was available from the afternoon of the day on which
the division moved out till the evening of the following day, when,
as a rule, they got a drink at Esani on the way back to Shellal. The
men started with full bottles, and got one refill from the regimental
water-carts.

The day was made up of a series of petty annoyances. The scattered
squadrons were invariably bombed by the enemy, generally with effect,
and the Turks' light guns, brought out to concealed positions, from
which they had previously registered all the high ground, wadi
crossings, etc., added to the general discomfort by their continual,
galling shell fire. Many of the crossings in this part of the country
consisted of a narrow, stony cleft in the rock sides of the wadi, down
which troops could only move in very narrow formation, often only in
single file. When, as sometimes happened, a whole brigade of cavalry
had to cross by one of these narrow drifts, while the bed of the wadi
was being swept by shrapnel and high explosive shell the whole time,
tempers were apt to get short. We on our side could rarely spare an
aeroplane to observe for one of our own batteries, and so were seldom
able to locate the hostile guns. The inability to reply effectively
increased the exasperation caused by their fire. Many of the
surrounding natives had been armed by the Turks and stirred up against
us, and, though they never succeeded in causing us any casualties,
their hostility added to the general insecurity, and increased the need
for watchfulness.

For the rest, the country was a desert of blistering rocks and stones,
the temperature ranged up to 110 degrees in the shade (of which there
was none save that cast by the bodies of men and horses), and the flies
were innumerable and persistent. It was with a sigh of heartfelt relief
that the troops saw the last of the motor cars of the 'Royal Parties'
disappear in a cloud of dust to the north-west, and received the
welcome order to withdraw and march back to Shellal through the cool
night.

There was, however, one never-failing amusement to be got out of these
reconnaissances. This came on the following day, when we intercepted
the Turkish wireless _communiqué_ on its way to the Berlin press. These
_communiqués_ never varied in their description of the operations.
'The enemy made a determined attack on Beersheba with about seventy
squadrons supported by artillery.' This was the invariable formula.
'After heavy fighting, the hostile forces were defeated and driven
right back to their original positions, having suffered important
losses!' One imagines that even the simple Berliner must have become,
at last, somewhat sceptical of these regular, fortnightly victories.

The result of this series of reconnaissances to the west and south-west
of Beersheba was that every general officer who was to lead troops over
this area gained a very thorough knowledge of the country, which was of
the highest value in the subsequent operations. The sappers attached
to the cavalry divisions also took advantage of the reconnaissances to
reconnoitre for water at Khalasa and Asluj, where they subsequently
repaired the wells that had been destroyed by the Turks, and to develop
the supply at Esani in the Wadi Ghuzze. They also improved and marked
many of the wadi crossings, and made route surveys of the whole area.

Our line of communications, at this time, consisted of a broad-gauge
railway, which had been laid by the Royal Engineers across the 130
miles of desert from Kantara on the Suez Canal to Deir el Belah, about
eight miles south of Gaza. The railhead of this line had followed close
behind the Desert Column during its advance across Sinai. After the
occupation of El Arish, the doubling of the railway track had been
taken in hand, and, by the end of September 1917, the double track
extended as far as Deir el Belah. During September and October a
branch line was laid from this place to Shellal, where it was carried
over the Wadi Ghuzze, here some 800 yards wide and sixty feet deep, on
a fine trestle bridge built by British and Australian Sappers. Work was
then continued towards Karm, whence a narrow-gauge line was to be run
out to Beersheba, as soon as that place was in our hands.

In order to relieve the railway of some of its heavy traffic, to enable
it to bring up stores for the 'Big Push,' a sea-borne supply line from
Port Said to Deir el Belah was organised by the Royal Navy during
September. All the supplies for the 21st Corps, which held the coastal
sector of our line, were then carried by sea, and landed in surf boats
on the coast. The shipping, convoying, and landing of stores were
admirably carried out by the Navy, under great difficulties.

Towards the end of October these long and careful preparations were
completed, and the troops began to move unobtrusively to their
concentration areas, leaving their old camps standing, in order to
deceive enemy aircraft. So well were these large troop movements
concealed, that, up to the moment when our attack was launched, the
enemy believed that we had six infantry divisions still in the Gaza
sector and only one in the eastern sector. This apparent disposition
of our troops confirmed him in his mistaken opinion that our main
attack would be delivered against Gaza, and caused him to concentrate
most of his available reserves behind the western portion of his line,
a fact which contributed materially to our success in the subsequent
operations.



CHAPTER III

THE FIRST ROUND


October the 31st was the date fixed for the capture of Beersheba, which
was to be the first phase of the operations. The plan of attack was as
follows:--

The 60th and 74th Divisions were to attack the outer defences on the
west and south-west, immediately after dawn, and, having captured them,
were to hold the high ground west of the town. The 53rd Division and
the Camel Corps Brigade were directed to protect the left flank of
these operations.

Meanwhile the Anzac and the Australian Mounted Divisions, starting
respectively from Asluj and Khalasa, were to march during the night,
south of Beersheba, right round the enemy flank, and attack the town
from the east, where the defences were known to be less formidable.
These two divisions thus had night marches of twenty-five and
thirty-five miles respectively before reaching their first objectives.
The 7th Mounted Brigade, marching direct from Esani, had the task of
masking the strongly entrenched hill of Ras Ghannam, which formed the
southern end of the enemy's outer defences, and of linking up the
Australian Mounted Division and the 20th Corps. To the cavalry thus
fell the task of seizing the town of Beersheba itself.

It will be seen that, during the attack on Beersheba, there would be
a gap of some seventeen miles between the 20th Corps on the right and
the 21st Corps in the coastal sector. Our railway ran right up into
this gap, the railhead at Karm being actually in front of our line, and
within eight miles of the main enemy positions about Hareira.

[Illustration: _Diagram illustrating the position of troops on the 31st
of Oct. 1917._]

To cover this gap, and to deal with any attempted counter-attack
against our railhead, the Yeomanry Division was to concentrate at, and
east of, Karm, with the 10th Division in support about Shellal. The
action of the Commander-in-Chief in thus trusting the guarding of this
wide gap to so small a force is of particular interest as indicating
his readiness to accept a considerable risk in order to achieve
victory. It also demonstrates his complete confidence in the success of
his efforts to deceive the enemy as to our real intentions.

The fortifications of Beersheba consisted of two lines of defensive
positions. The outer line, heavily entrenched and wired, ran in a
semicircle along the high ground north-west, west, and south-west of
the town, from the Gaza-Beersheba road to Ras Ghannam, at an average
distance of 7000 yards from the town. On the north-east, east, and
south-east the outer defences were not continuous, but consisted of a
series of strong posts, chief of which were Tel el Sakaty, Tel el Saba,
and two stone block-houses on the north bank of the Wadi Saba. The
inner line ran completely round the town itself, and on its outskirts,
crossing the Wadi Saba just south of the railway bridge. It was
believed, but not with any great degree of certainty, that the portion
of this line on the east of the town was not protected by wire.

Beersheba is situated on the east bank of the wadi, at the
north-western end of a flat, treeless plain, about four miles long
and three miles wide, completely surrounded by ranges of tumbled,
rocky hills. To the north-east these hills rise gradually to join the
main Judæan range, along the backbone of which runs the road to
Jerusalem, through El Dhahariyeh, Hebron, and Bethlehem.

[Illustration: Australian engineers developing the water supply at
Esani.]

[Illustration: Cavalry country! Near Beersheba.]

On the evening of the 26th of October all preliminary arrangements for
the attack were complete, and the 20th Corps was concentrating about
Shellal. The Australian Mounted Division was in the line from Shellal
to Gamli, and held a line of outposts covering the railway construction
at Karm, from El Buggar, through points 720 and 630, nearly to the
Wadi Sharia, a distance of about fourteen miles. This outpost line
was manned by the 8th Mounted Brigade, which had been lent for the
purpose by the Yeomanry Division, and which came under the orders of
the 53rd Division at midnight on the 26th. The Yeomanry Division was
concentrated in the neighbourhood of Hiseia and Shellal, the Anzac
Division was at Abasan el Kebir, and the Camel Brigade at Shellal.

At dawn on the 27th, the centre of the thinly held cavalry outpost line
was suddenly attacked by an enemy force of all arms, between 3000 and
4000 strong. The post on point 630 was driven in, but the squadron of
the Middlesex Yeomanry that formed the garrison withdrew to a cruciform
trench just below the top of the hill, which had been cleverly sited by
the general staff of the Australian Mounted Division. In this trench,
though surrounded by the enemy and repeatedly attacked, the little
garrison held out all day with the greatest gallantry, till relieved by
a brigade of the 53rd Division at half-past four in the afternoon.

As soon as news of the enemy attack was received, General Hodgson,
realising that it was impossible for the infantry to reach the outpost
line in time to save the situation, despatched the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade
and the Notts Battery R.H.A. to the aid of the Yeomanry. Before they
arrived on the scene, however, the small garrison on point 720 had been
subjected to a concentrated shell fire, and overwhelmed by a combined
mounted and dismounted attack. This was the first and last time that
the Turkish cavalry screwed themselves up to the point of a charge.
One of the only three survivors of the garrison estimated that about
seventy saddles were emptied, but the Turks rode on like men, and
galloped right over the post.

The reserve regiment of the 8th Brigade held the line till the arrival
of the Australians, and frustrated the enemy's attempt to break through
the gap between points 630 and 720. The enemy withdrew at dusk, and our
troops reoccupied the position.

From the large force employed by the Turks in this operation, it
appears probable that they had intended to hold the 630-720 ridge
permanently, if they succeeded in capturing it. The ridge commanded a
full view of all the country lying between it and the Wadi Ghuzze, and,
at the same time, concealed this bit of country from direct observation
from the Turkish positions farther east.

The Anzac Mounted Division moved out from Abasan el Kebir on the
evening of the 27th, and reached Khalasa early next morning, where it
remained during the day.

The bombardment of Gaza commenced on this day, and continued with
gradually growing intensity till the morning of the 2nd of November,
when the outer defences of the town were captured by the 21st Corps.

On the 28th of October the 53rd Division relieved the Australian
Mounted Division on the El Buggar outpost line, the 8th Mounted Brigade
rejoined the Yeomanry Division, and the Australian Mounted Division
moved out at dusk and marched to Khalasa, arriving early on the morning
of the 29th. The Anzac Division marched the same night from Khalasa to
Asluj. The two divisions rested at these places during the 29th and
30th, in preparation for the strenuous work ahead of them. During these
two days the 60th Division marched from the Shellal area to Bir el
Esani, the advanced brigade pushing on to a point near Ma el Mallaka.
One brigade of the 74th Division moved forward to fill the gap between
the 53rd and 60th Divisions, and the 10th Division concentrated near
Shellal.

Soon after dark on the night of the 30th the troops left their
bivouacs, and commenced to move silently on the unconscious enemy. The
Anzac Mounted Division, in the lead, was to send one brigade, _via_ Bir
el Arara, against Bir el Hammam and Bir Salim Abu Irgeig, the first
objectives, the remainder of the division marching _via_ the Wadi el
Shreikiye, Gebel el Shegeib, and Iswaiwin to attack Tel el Sakaty and
Tel el Saba, and then close in on Beersheba.

The Australian Mounted Division, following the Anzac Division along the
Wadi el Shreikiye, was to halt at a point a little north of Iswaiwin,
and be prepared to act either northwards, in support of the Anzac
Division, or westwards towards Beersheba, as might be required. The 7th
Mounted Brigade was ordered to march from Esani, _via_ Itweil el Semin,
against Ras Ghannam.

The leading of the troops, never an easy matter at night, was rendered
more troublesome by the fact that the country beyond Asluj was quite
unknown to us, and was, besides, of a most difficult and intricate
nature. Maps, though accurate in the main, were lacking in detail,
and the employment of native guides was too risky an experiment to be
contemplated. However, favoured by a bright moon, which rose soon
after dark, the marches were accomplished without mishap, and the
Anzac Mounted Division secured its first objectives without serious
opposition about eight o'clock. The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade was now directed
on Tel el Sakaty, and the New Zealanders on Tel el Saba, the 1st A.L.H.
Brigade following in reserve.

The Headquarters of the Australian Mounted Division reached the high
hill of Khashim Zanna about ten o'clock, and looked down upon the
plain of Beersheba and the picturesque little town, which had to be
in our hands by nightfall at all costs. Shells from the guns of the
60th Division were bursting all along the ridge beyond the town, and,
away to the right, the rattle of machine-gun fire told where the
Anzac Mounted Division was engaged at Tel el Sakaty. Patrols from the
Australian Mounted Division were pushed out to the west to reconnoitre
the approaches to Beersheba, south of the Wadi Saba.

Meanwhile the 7th Mounted Brigade dismounted, and, scrambling up the
rocky steeps of Ras Ghannam, was meeting with strong opposition from
the well-entrenched Turks on the top of the hill.

The enemy resistance soon began to increase considerably, and the
Anzac Division made but slow progress across the bare open plain. The
entrenched hill of Tel el Sakaty was captured by the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade
about one o'clock, after a stiff fight, and half an hour later this
brigade got across the Jerusalem road.

Shortly before this, a patrol of the Australian Mounted Division
had smartly rounded up and captured a Turkish officer with a small
escort. He turned out to be the personal aide-de-camp of Ismet Bey,
the commander of the Beersheba garrison. It appeared that Ismet had
been sitting in his battle headquarters, on a hill west of the town,
since early morning, watching with complete equanimity the attack of
our infantry, which he believed to consist of only one division. About
eleven o'clock, happening to turn his head, he received a distinct
shock on seeing the plain behind him covered with cavalry. He at once
sent his staff officer off _ventre à terre_ to find out if the cavalry
intended to attack, or were only making a demonstration. The officer
received full information on this point, but, as he was not in a
position to take it back to his chief, the latter became uneasy, and
shortly afterwards appears to have lost his head completely, for he
proceeded to fling all his reserves into the fight on the west, before
the battle was well begun.

By half-past one our infantry had captured all their objectives west of
the town, and commenced to consolidate on the positions won. From the
Cavalry Corps headquarters the enemy troops could be seen retiring in
an orderly manner into Beersheba.

The headquarters of the two cavalry divisions were at this time with
corps headquarters, on Khashim Zanna, which was the highest hill
for miles around. After a light but satisfactory lunch, the three
headquarters Staffs sat down in a long line on the very top of the
hill, with maps and field-glasses, to watch the 'manoeuvres' in the
plain below. Observing the irresistible target thus presented to the
enemy artillery, the gunnery staffs of the two divisions, moved by a
common impulse, faded silently into the comparative safety of the open
plain. Immediately afterwards a salvo of high-velocity shells landed
right on top of the hill, scattering maps, field-glasses, and staff
officers like chaff before the wind! Fortunately, no one was hurt, but
for the rest of the day the staff treated the enemy gunners, always
good, with the respect due to them.

Meanwhile the advance of the cavalry across the plain dragged slowly
on. The country was flat and open, and there were no trees or scrub to
afford cover even to dismounted men. The whole plain was swept by the
fire of numerous machine guns and field guns concealed in the town of
Beersheba, along the banks of the Wadi Saba, in the two block-houses
on the north bank of the wadi, and on the strongly entrenched hill of
Tel el Saba. From the last-named position any advance across the plain
was enfiladed, and it was clear that this hill would have to be taken
before any further progress could be made.

The New Zealand Brigade had worked along the dry bed of the Wadi Saba
for some distance, and then, leaving the horses under cover, advanced
to attack the position on foot. The hill is steep and rugged, and
overlooks the bed of the wadi for some 400 yards to the east, where it
makes a sharp bend. The New Zealanders got as far as this bend, but
could make no farther progress, as every part of the confined river bed
in front of them was swept by rifle and machine-gun fire. One regiment
got out of the wadi on the north side, and made a detour to try and
take the hill in rear, but could make little headway over the exposed
ground, in face of the heavy enemy fire. About the same time the 3rd
A.L.H. Brigade and two batteries from the Australian Mounted Division
were pushed in to assist the attack from the south.

The day was now far gone, and the advance seemed to be at a standstill.
General Chaytor then put in his reserve brigade (the 1st), to
co-operate in the attack on Tel el Saba from the south. General Cox,
commanding the brigade, directed the 2nd A.L.H. Regiment on the two
block-houses, and the 3rd on Tel el Saba. From the shelter of a small
wadi, some three miles south of the hill, the two regimental commanders
scrutinised the open plain in front of them in an effort to find some
covered way of approach. None could be found, so the two commanders
determined to make a dash for it mounted, and get as near as possible
before dismounting to continue the attack on foot.

Deploying from the wadi, the two regiments swung out into line of
troop columns at wide interval, and galloped forward over the open
plain in full view of the enemy. Several Turkish batteries at once
opened fire on them, but they were advancing so fast that the enemy
gunners seemed to be unable to get the range, and but little damage
was caused by their fire. It was not, indeed, till the regiments came
under machine-gun fire that casualties began to occur, and, even then,
our loss was slight, probably owing to the comparatively steep angle of
descent of machine-gun bullets at long ranges, and to the difficulty
of finding and keeping the range. At 1500 yards from the position,
they rode into a convenient depression, and here they dismounted and
continued the advance on foot.

There was no cover of any sort, and their approach from this point was
necessarily slow, in face of the heavy fire which they encountered.
Now that they were on foot, and moving slowly, they began to suffer
severely, whereas they had advanced mounted for over two miles with
scarcely any casualties. An intense fire fight developed, as the two
brigades closed gradually in on the enemy. Our little thirteen-pounder
Horse Artillery guns, though pushed up boldly to close range, could
make little impression on the well-built enemy trenches and machine-gun
emplacements on Tel el Saba, and none at all on the thick stone walls
of the block-houses. They did good service, however, in keeping down
the hostile fire.

About two o'clock, the 2nd A.L.H. Regiment reached and stormed the
block-houses, and, from the captured positions, poured a heavy fire
into the flank of Tel el Saba. This caused some slackening of the
enemy's fire, of which the New Zealanders took prompt advantage. With
a sudden, tremendous rush, they charged down the bed of the wadi, up
the steep sides of the hill, and into the position, almost before the
Turks were aware of the attack. A few minutes' sharp bayonet fighting
completed the capture of the hill, with about 120 prisoners and a large
number of machine guns. This success removed the last obstacle to our
advance on Beersheba, but the town itself still held out, and there
was a wide space of open ground still to be crossed before it could be
assaulted.

Orders were issued at once for the whole of the two divisions, less the
5th Mounted Brigade, to advance mounted, and endeavour to get close
enough to the town to make a dismounted attack before darkness fell.
This order reached the 4th A.L.H. Brigade, which had not yet been in
action, at half-past four. It was then waiting at the south-eastern
edge of the plain, fully three miles from Beersheba, and, as sunset was
due at five o'clock, there was no time to be lost.

Making up his mind instantly, General Grant, commanding the brigade,
collected the two regiments he had with him, the third being engaged
in reconnaissance work, and moved rapidly forward to the shelter of
some dead ground about 3000 yards from the enemy trenches south-east
of the town. Having sent a message to the two nearest batteries of the
division, 'A' Battery H.A.C. and the Notts Battery R.H.A., to be ready
to support his attack, he ordered a charge. The two batteries at once
limbered up, and, moving rapidly forward, galloped into action in the
open, at a range of about 2500 yards, and opened a heavy fire on the
Turkish trenches and field guns in front, and on a nest of machine guns
to the left front.

As soon as the batteries were in action, General Grant's two regiments
swept out into the open, in column of squadrons in line, and galloped
straight at the Turkish trenches.

Seen from the rising ground on which our guns were in action, it was
a most inspiriting sight. It was growing dark, and the enemy trenches
were outlined in fire by the flashes of their rifles. Beyond, and a
little above them, blazed the bigger, deeper flashes of their field
guns, and our own shells burst like a row of red stars over the Turkish
positions. In front the long lines of cavalry swept forward at racing
speed, half obscured in clouds of reddish dust. Amid the deafening
noise all around, they seemed to move silently, like some splendid,
swift machine. Over the Turks they went, leaping the two lines of deep
trenches, and, dismounting on the farther side, flung themselves into
the trenches with the bayonet.[8] The whole position was in our hands
in ten minutes, and was consolidated immediately.

It was now quite dark, so General Grant collected his squadrons
together, attended to casualties, and rounded up his prisoners. Then,
leaving a guard with the prisoners, and remounting the remainder of
his men, he sent them at a gallop into the town itself. Through the
streets they raced in the darkness, riding down all opposition, and so
hustling the Turks that they never had a chance to rally. Before six
o'clock the town, with 1200 prisoners and 14 guns, was in our hands.
Ismet Bey escaped in a motor-car ten minutes before the final charge.

In the interval between the capture of the trenches and the charge
into the town, the enemy had begun to blow up the wells and ammunition
depots. Huge, mushroom-shaped columns of violet flame and smoke shot
up here and there, accompanied by sullen, heavy explosions. Shortly
afterwards, the main store and some of the railway station buildings
were set on fire, and the flames from these burning buildings lighted
up the whole town, and, as it happened, materially assisted our troops
in them task of handling the prisoners. These proved surly and rather
truculent, and two incidents which occurred during the early part of
the night warned us that it would be well to get them away as soon as
possible. As a body of prisoners was being marched out of the town to a
piece of open ground on the east side, where they were being collected
and counted, some of them suddenly halted and fired several Verey
lights into the air, evidently with the intention of signalling to
their comrades in the north. Shortly afterwards another party of them
made a sudden and determined rush for one of the captured guns, and
several had to be shot down before the rush was stopped. The attitude
of these prisoners was in marked contrast to that of most of the Turks
whom we captured, who generally accepted their fate stoically, if
not with satisfaction. They seemed to resent the charge extremely,
and there is no doubt that they were expecting to be able to retire
quietly along the Gaza-Beersheba road during the night, when the sudden
dash of the Australians surprised them.

Including those taken by our infantry, about 2000 prisoners were
captured at Beersheba, and over 500 Turkish corpses were buried on the
battle-field. The casualties in the two regiments of the 4th Brigade,
32 killed and 32 wounded, may be considered remarkably light, in view
of the strength of the enemy.

General Grant's action forms a notable landmark in the history of
cavalry, in that it initiated that spirit of dash which thereafter
dominated the whole campaign. When he received the orders for the
attack, he had to consider that the enemy was known to be in strength,
well posted in trenches, and adequately supplied with guns and machine
guns. In order to reach the town itself, it would be necessary to cross
the Wadi Saba, of unknown depth, and, possibly, with precipitous banks.
The character of the intervening country was known only in so far as it
had been revealed by field-glasses. It was not even certain that there
was no wire in front of the enemy's position. On the other hand, the
town had to be in our hands before nightfall, or the whole plan failed.

He weighed the chances, and made up his mind instantly to risk all in
a charge, and the success he achieved surprised even the most ardent
votaries of the white arm.

The remainder of the Australian Mounted Division moved into Beersheba
during the night, leaving the 3rd Brigade to assist the Anzac Division
in holding an outpost line north and north-east of the town, from Bir
el Hammam to the Gaza-Beersheba road. The 7th Mounted Brigade, which
had had a day of desultory fighting, joined the division in the town
early next morning.

With the capture of Beersheba, the first phase of the operations
had ended satisfactorily, and, as the earlier reports from the town
as to the water supply were favourable, it was decided to commence
phase two, the attack on Gaza, on the night of the 1st of November.
The attack was launched at 11 P.M., and stubborn fighting continued
all night. By half-past six on the morning of the 2nd, the whole of
the front line and support trenches, from 'Umbrella' Hill, about the
middle of the system, to Sheikh Hassan on the sea coast, were in our
hands. Sheikh Hassan was some distance behind the enemy's front line,
and its capture therefore threatened his right flank. The positions
won were consolidated, and no further advance was attempted, as it was
considered that the object of the attack, which was to deceive the
enemy and to retain his reserves in the coastal sector, had been fully
secured.

Preparations were at once commenced for phase three, the main attack
on the enemy's exposed left flank about Sharia and Hareira. For this
purpose the 53rd Division made a long march on the 1st, and occupied
a line from Toweil Abu Jerwal to Khurbet el Muweileh, with the Camel
Brigade on its right. The Anzac Mounted Division, prolonging this line
from Abu Jerwal to the Hebron road about Bir el Makruneh, met with more
opposition than had been expected, the reason for which was to become
apparent in the course of the next few days. The division captured
about 200 prisoners and a number of machine guns during the day.

Reports sent back from this area indicated such a lack of water that it
was clear that no more than one cavalry division could be maintained
there. Accordingly the Australian Mounted Division was ordered to
remain in Beersheba, in general reserve, and was directed to endeavour
to improve the water supply there. There were a few surface pools in
the Wadi Saba, the result of a thunderstorm that had broken a few days
previously, but these were already rapidly drying up. Of the seven good
wells in the town, five had been blown up by the Turks on the night
of the 31st, and the remaining two had been prepared for demolition,
but the charges had not been fired. Our sappers were left in splendid
isolation, as they gingerly probed the _débris_ round these wells, and
eventually located the charges and safely removed them.

The enemy had evidently intended, in the event of his having to
abandon Beersheba, to leave nothing but ruins behind him, for the
whole place was a nest of explosive charges, 'booby traps' and trip
wires. By a fortunate chance the German engineer who was responsible
for the destruction of the town was away on leave in Jerusalem at the
time of its capture. Consequently most of these trip wires were not
yet attached to their detonators. A few, however, had been connected
up before the town was taken. The writer came across one such, while
making a rapid artillery reconnaissance round the town at daybreak
on the 1st of November. Luckily it was noticed before the party rode
over it, and, on being cut and followed to its source, was found to be
connected to a detonator concealed in twenty cases of gelignite in the
railway station,--enough to have laid the whole town in ruins.

Large numbers of hand grenades had been concealed in stores of grain
and food in different parts of the town, and there were one or two
accidents at first among parties of too eager explorers. Sir Philip
Chetwode, commander of the 20th Corps, moved his headquarters into
Beersheba a day or two later, and occupied the house of the enemy
commander. On examining the building before he moved in, our sappers
found it packed from cellar to garret with cases of explosives, all
connected to trip wires.

This house was one of the fine stone buildings, of which there were a
number, surrounding a large public garden, and which had been built
by the Germans during the war. The whole of this modern portion of
the town appeared to have been built for propaganda purposes, or like
the cities of lath and plaster which are run up in a few days for
cinematograph productions. From time to time articles on the war in the
East appeared in the German papers, generally synchronising with some
reverse on the Western Front. In these articles, which were lavishly
illustrated, Beersheba figured under headings such as 'the Queen
City of the Prairies.' Apparently, in order to supply the necessary
pictures, the Germans had laid out a large public garden, and built
around it a series of imposing public buildings, including a Governor's
house, Government offices, hospital, barracks, mosque, and even an
hotel. The surrounding country abounds in a species of hard white
limestone admirably suited for building, and all the houses were built
of this and roofed with red tiles. They were ranged round the square,
like four rows of stiff white soldiers with red helmets, and were
so sited that any number of photographs could be taken from various
positions, each showing a different view, and each hiding the real
town behind the brand new German architecture. But once behind these
houses, a shocking contrast met the eye. Here was the real Beersheba,
a miserable collection of filthy mud hovels, huddled shrinkingly
together as though trying to hide their shabbiness from their gorgeous
neighbours. The _place_ in the centre was conspicuously labelled 'Bier
Garten,' and was laid out with a number of little paths in an exact,
geometrical pattern. The flower-beds supported a few dusty shrubs and a
quantity of those hideous 'everlastings' so dear to the Teuton heart.
All the buildings were laid out exactly facing the four points of the
compass, except the mosque, which, in deference to Moslem prejudices,
had been built with its _mihrab_ turned towards Mecca, and consequently
was lamentably askew. The Huns had taken their revenge, however, by
garnishing the windows with German stained glass of an ugliness so
startling that the Australians vowed their horses shied at it!

The railway, built by the German engineer, Meissner Pasha, of Baghdad
Railway fame, was an admirable piece of work, metalled throughout, and
carried over the numerous wadis on fine, arched bridges of dressed
stone. The bridge over the Wadi Saba was upwards of 400 yards long. One
wonders who paid for all the work.

While we were in occupation of Beersheba, some one in the Intelligence
Branch of the staff conceived the brilliant idea of trying to impress
the local Arabs, some of whom were hostile to us, with the majesty and
power of the British Empire. Accordingly, after a good deal of trouble,
a few of the neighbouring sheikhs were induced to come into the town,
and were escorted round by an officer who spoke Arabic. They were
shown first a regiment of cavalry, which left them cold, as the horses
appeared clumsy to them in comparison with their own little Arabs. Then
lines of marching infantry were pointed out to them, and field guns,
and more cavalry, and motor lorries. All to no purpose. An occasional
grunt and a half concealed yawn were all the response the perspiring
officer received. When a sixty-pounder gun, drawn by a 'caterpillar'
motor tractor, hove in sight, they showed some signs of uneasiness,
and eyed this new form of devil carriage with profound distrust. But
when they found that it could only move at a walking pace, they became
reassured and lost all interest in it. The hard-working staff officer
was in despair, when, towards evening, the first ration convoy of
camels arrived. We had at that time about 30,000 camels in the force,
and they were in magnificent condition--big, strong beasts, covered
with muscle, and free from the blemishes which so disfigure the desert
Arabs' animals.

Here was something the sheikhs could understand. They watched the
camels winding into the town, line after line, hundred after hundred,
and their eyes grew round with wonder. The first eager talk died away
to an astonished silence. When all the convoy, about 1000 strong, was
in, and _barracked_ in an open space, the natives turned to the officer
with a volley of questions. Seeing the impression made, he told them,
in an off-hand manner, that the British had more than twenty times
that number with their army. The sheikhs' looks politely conveyed the
message that they considered him a liar. Determined to strike while the
iron was hot, he bundled them all into a couple of motor cars, after
some signs of panic on their part, and ran them across to Shellal,
where in truth they saw more camels than they had ever dreamed of.
They spent all the afternoon visiting the camps of the Camel Transport
Corps, and watching the departure of laden convoys and the return of
empty ones. In the evening they mounted their horses again, and
rode off into the darkness to rejoin their own people. But before they
left, the chief among them, acting as spokesman for all, told our staff
officer that they were now quite convinced that the _Ingilizi_ were
certainly the greatest tribe in the world, and that they would advise
their young men to keep on friendly terms with us and help us in every
way. They were as good as their word, and we had no more trouble from
hostile Arabs.

[Illustration: Beersheba. From an enemy photograph taken before the
completion of the new German buildings.]

[Illustration: Arrival of the first enemy train in Beersheba. Meissner
Pasha in white helmet and gaiters. The inscription on the coach means
"Stamboul to Cairo." (From an enemy photograph)]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 8: They had charged with bayonets drawn and extended in front
of them like swords.]



CHAPTER IV

THE DECISIVE BATTLE


The next five days were occupied in securing the necessary
concentration of troops for the main attack on Sharia and Hareira, and
in developing the scanty water supply, and organising water convoys to
enable these troops to subsist in the barren country in which they were
to operate.

The Anzac Division, pushing northwards on the 2nd, astride the Hebron
road and on the right of the 53rd Division, encountered increasing
resistance, and made but slow progress. Very hard fighting continued
during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, in the course of which it became clear
that the enemy had concentrated practically the whole of his available
reserves in this area. The 19th Turkish Division, the remains of the
27th (the late garrison of Beersheba), and part of the 16th Division,
together with the whole of the 3rd Cavalry Division, were identified in
this fighting round Ain Kohleh and Tel Khuweilfeh.

In thus throwing the whole of their available reserves against
our extreme right flank, the Turks were committed to a bold but
dangerous course. It was evident that they hoped to compel the
British Commander-in-Chief to detach part of his force to meet this
counter-attack. Had they succeeded in involving any considerable
portion of our army in the difficult, waterless country around Tel
Khuweilfeh, it is probable that our main force would have been so
weakened as to be unable to attack the Sharia and Hareira positions
with any chance of success. Such a failure might well have brought
the whole of our offensive to a standstill, and enabled the Turks to
establish themselves on a new line from Sharia to the Hebron road.

On the other hand, should we succeed in holding the enemy's
counterstroke without having to weaken our main striking force, he ran
the risk of finding his reserves immobilised at the critical moment,
and thus prevented from rendering any assistance to the garrisons of
Sharia and Hareira when those places were attacked. This, in fact, was
exactly what happened. General Allenby refused to be drawn to the east,
and, relying on the Anzac and 53rd Divisions to hold the enemy in check
at Tel Khuweilfeh, proceeded resolutely with his preparations for the
assault on the left flank of the main Turkish position.

On the 2nd of November the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade, less one regiment,
rejoined the Australian Mounted Division, and the 5th and 7th Mounted
Brigades were attached to the Anzac Division. The 5th Brigade remained
in Beersheba, but the 7th joined the Anzac Division, and had a stiff
day's fighting, culminating in the seizing of the hill of Ras el Nukb,
near Tel Khuweilfeh, to which the enemy attached great importance, and
which he defended most stubbornly. The brigade withdrew from Ras el
Nukb at nightfall, as it was too much in advance of our general line to
be held during the night. The Anzac Division occupied a line from about
Bir el Nettar to Deir el Hawa, and thence south-west to Khurbet el
Likiye, whence the Camel Corps Brigade carried on the line to the right
of the 53rd Division near Toweil Abu Jerwal.

Next day the 53rd Division attacked the heights of Tel Khuweilfeh, but
met with strong resistance from the enemy, and by evening had gained
only a precarious footing on the south-western spur of the hill. The
cavalry were engaged throughout the day on the right of the 53rd,
towards Dhahariyeh and east of Tel Khuweilfeh.

The fighting continued day and night during the 4th and 5th. As
the time passed, and our preparations for the main attack neared
completion, the enemy, who must by this time have realised our
intention, flung his reserves more and more recklessly against our weak
right flank, in a desperate endeavour to drive it in. He completely
failed in his effort, and our troops, after three days and nights
of incessant fighting, short of food and water, and, at one time,
perilously short of ammunition, not only held their own, but drove back
the Turks inch by inch, and at last, on the morning of November 6th,
the 53rd Division captured the ridge of Tel Khuweilfeh. One magnificent
counter-attack the enemy made, which drove our men off the ridge again,
but it was a last despairing effort. His exhausted troops were quickly
dislodged from the position, and the ridge remained in our hands.

The fine fighting and grim endurance of the 53rd and the Anzac Mounted
Divisions during these three days played a vital part in the success of
the subsequent operations, by engaging the enemy's principal reserves
and defeating his counterstroke, thus permitting our concentration for
the main attack to proceed unhindered. The cavalry had an especially
hard time. The country was quite unsuited for mounted work, and so all
their fighting was done on foot. But it was necessary to keep their
horses always near them in order to be in a position to pursue the
enemy at once, should he give way and endeavour to withdraw. Water was
very scarce, and the few known wells were quite inadequate for the
requirements of the division.

When our troops had first entered this region there were a number of
pools in the wadis, left by the thunderstorm which had broken a few
days before the operations began, but these rapidly dried up, and, by
the morning of the 5th of November, had finally given out. The horses
then had to be sent back to Beersheba to water. From the Dhahariyeh
area to Beersheba and back again is twenty-eight miles, and a record
of the movements between these two places from the 3rd to the 6th of
November will give some idea of the extra work entailed on horses and
men by the lack of water.

On the 3rd of November the 1st Brigade was relieved by the 5th, and
marched back to Beersheba to water, their horses having then been
thirty hours without a drink. On the 4th the New Zealanders relieved
the 5th Brigade at Ras el Nukb for the same purpose. This brigade had
also been thirty hours without water. On the 5th the New Zealanders
remained at Ras el Nukb, since there was no brigade available to
relieve them, but sent all their horses back to Beersheba during the
night. They had then been unwatered for forty-eight hours. On the 6th
it was the turn of the 2nd Brigade to make the weary pilgrimage to
Abraham's Well.

Thus the horses of each of these brigades had only one really good
drink during the four days they were in this area. Some of them, it
is true, picked up a little water here and there, generally at night.
Indeed many units of the division spent every night in a search for
water that too often proved fruitless, and only added to the fatigue of
men and horses. The 7th Brigade found enough water on the east of the
line to eke out a bare existence for its horses.

During all this period the cavalry were continually engaged with the
enemy, and some of the fighting was severe. The Turks assaulted Ras el
Nukb repeatedly on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of November. This hill was
held in turn by the 7th Brigade, which had captured it in the first
instance, the 1st, 5th and New Zealand Brigades, and each of these had
to withstand one or more attacks.

By the evening of the 5th of November the 20th Corps was in readiness
for the assault on the Sharia-Hareira positions, which was to complete
the defeat of the Turks.

The situation was now slightly different from what had been expected.
The action of the enemy in counter-attacking against our right flank
had resulted in prolonging his line to the east. The coming operations,
therefore, consisted in an attempt to pierce his line at Sharia,
instead of an attack against his left flank, as had been anticipated.
In order to secure the troops engaged in this attempt from molestation
by the considerable body of enemy about El Dhahariyeh, a force, known
as Barrow's Detachment,[9] was formed to protect our right flank.
This force consisted of the 53rd Division, the New Zealand Mounted
Brigade, and the Camel Corps Brigade, with the Yeomanry Division, which
crossed over to the right of our line on the night of the 4th to join
the detachment. All the horses of this division had to be sent back
to Beersheba, fifteen miles away, to water. The Australian Mounted
Division had left Beersheba on the 4th, having nearly exhausted all the
water there, and moved to Karm, taking up a line of observation from
the Wadi Hanafish to Hiseia.

There was now a gap some twelve miles wide between the 21st Corps at
Gaza and the 20th Corps opposite Sharia, and it was possible, though
not very probable, that the enemy might attempt to throw his cavalry
through this gap in an endeavour to raid our communications. It was
part of the task of the Australian Mounted Division to frustrate any
such attempt.

At dawn on the 6th November the 10th, 60th, and 74th Divisions
attacked the south-eastern portion of the Hareira defences, known as
the Kauwukah and Rushdi systems. The 74th, after some of the hardest
fighting of a day of hard fighting, succeeded in capturing all its
objectives by half-past one. The 10th and 60th Divisions, which were
attacking on the left of the 74th, had farther to go, and the heavy
wire of the main Kauwukah position had to be methodically cut before
the attack could be launched. To reach its objectives, the 10th (Irish)
Division had to cross a perfectly flat, open plain, two miles wide,
which was swept from end to end by the fire of enemy guns of all
calibres, and by machine guns and rifles. The advance of this grand
division, marching across the fire-swept plain as steadily as though
on parade, was a sight that will never be forgotten by those who were
privileged to see it.

By half-past two in the afternoon both the 10th and the 60th Divisions
had penetrated the enemy lines, and captured the whole of the Kauwukah
and Rushdi systems. The 60th Division reached Sharia station, but was
unable to cross the Wadi Sharia to capture the hill of Tel el Sharia
that night. This hill, together with the main redoubts of Hareira,
remained, therefore, for the next day's task.

During the night the Australian Mounted Division marched to a concealed
position three miles south-west of Sharia, in readiness for the
expected break-through. The 5th Mounted Brigade rejoined the division
here, and the 7th went into Corps Reserve.

The rôle of the cavalry during the next few days was to sweep across
the plain to the north-west, in order to cut off or pursue the retiring
enemy troops, after they had been driven out of their positions from
Sharia to the sea. In pursuance of this rôle, the Anzac and Australian
Mounted Divisions were ordered to push forward, as soon as the way was
clear, the Anzac Division, on the right of the movement, being directed
to keep well in advance, so as to outflank any enemy opposition. The
60th Division was to move in support of the cavalry on the left flank,
and the Australian Mounted Division, in the centre, was to maintain
touch with the Anzacs and the 60th. The Yeomanry Division would remain,
at first, with the 53rd Division, to carry out a special task.

Water for the cavalry horses was an essential preliminary to the
pursuit of the enemy. The country north of Sharia was sparsely
populated, and the few wells to be found there were of great depth and
poor supply. The only water sources on our front which were believed
to be capable of supplying the large number of horses we had were at
Bir Jemameh, where there was reported to be a good well with a steam
pumping plant, and at Tel el Nejile and Huj. The Anzac Division was
accordingly directed on the two first-named places, and the Australian
Division on Huj. The former division had only two brigades with it,
having left the New Zealand Brigade in the Jurat el Mikreh, under the
orders of the 53rd Division.

The attack of our infantry was resumed early on the 7th, and the
10th Division stormed the Hareira positions in the morning. The 60th
Division secured the hill of Tel el Sharia in the early afternoon, but
the enemy succeeded in withdrawing in good order to a long ridge on the
north side of and overlooking the Wadi Sharia, where he held out all
the afternoon. The approach to this ridge was up a long, bare slope,
devoid of cover, and the enemy made full use of his many machine guns
and of his heavy artillery.[10]

At four o'clock in the afternoon, the 4th A.L.H. Brigade, supported
by two batteries of the Australian Mounted Division, was sent across
the Wadi Sharia dismounted, in order to cover the concentration of
the 60th Division for a final assault. When the position was carried,
just before dark, it took some time to disengage this brigade, and the
division was consequently unable to move farther that night. The 3rd
A.L.H. and the 5th Mounted Brigades, however, were sent round the right
flank of the 60th Division, to endeavour to make a mounted attack on
the retreating enemy. They had to ride two miles to the east, before
a possible crossing place over the wadi was found, and it was then
too late to do anything more. Two regiments of the 5th Brigade did
indeed draw swords, and canter out into the open north of the wadi, but
darkness fell before they were able to close with the enemy.

The Anzac Mounted Division, more fortunate, had been able to push
through the gap formed in the enemy's line, by the driving in of his
inner left flank, and advanced on its first objective, the station of
Umm el Ameidat on the Junction Station-Beersheba line, where the enemy
had a large supply and ammunition depot. The 1st Brigade, in the lead,
moved forward in open formation over the plain, being severely shelled
by enemy guns from the west and north-west.

About 11 A.M. the advanced troops were fired at on approaching the
station. The vanguard regiment at once closed up and charged, capturing
the place after a sharp fight, with about 400 prisoners and a great
quantity of ammunition and stores. Reconnaissances pushed out at once
to the north and east located a strong enemy rearguard in position
on the hill of Tel Abu Dilakh. The 2nd Brigade was despatched to
the assistance of the 1st, and the two brigades attacked the hill
dismounted. The position was taken just before dark, after severe
lighting, but our troops were then heavily shelled on the hill, and the
Turkish rearguard only retired a short distance to the ridges north of
the position. The division held a battle outpost line for the night
from Abu Dilakh to a point about two miles east of the railway.

Scouts of the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade succeeded in gaining touch with the
Anzac Division about Abu Dilakh late at night. No water was obtainable
for the horses of either division.

There had been an extraordinary instance in the morning of 'counting
chickens before they are hatched.' After the attack on Beersheba,
the heavy wagon échelons of the cavalry ammunition columns had been
withdrawn from their divisions, brigaded together, and placed under the
direct command of the Corps. The intention was to direct this Corps
column each day on a pre-arranged place, and notify its location to the
divisional ammunition columns, which could then send their light,
limbered wagons to that place to refill. The spot chosen for the 7th
of November was Tel el Sharia, and the column was directed to report
there at 11 A.M. The order was actually issued on the morning of the
6th, the staff officer who gave it believing that the place would be
in our hands that night, whereas it was not taken till the following
afternoon. Accordingly, about nine o'clock on the morning of the 7th,
the ammunition column was seen marching steadily towards the enemy, to
the admiration of the spectators, and the no small consternation of the
staff officer who had given the order!

[Illustration: _Diagram illustrating the situation on the evening of
November the 7th._]

Fortunately the commander of the column noticed, as he explained
afterwards, that 'there seemed to be _something wrong_ at Tel el
Sharia, so he thought he had better go to ground with the column till
he could find out who the beggars on the hill really were.'

While the 20th Corps was thus occupied driving in the enemy's left
flank, the 21st Corps, in the coastal area, was administering the _coup
de grâce_ to Gaza. The bombardment had been resumed on the 3rd, and
had continued for the following three days with growing intensity. On
the 5th and 6th the Navy joined in the fight, and plastered the town
with shells of heavy calibre. During the night of the 6th a series of
attacks carried out by our infantry on the enemy positions met with
only half-hearted resistance, and, when a general advance was made on
the morning of the 7th, it was found that the Turks had retired during
the night.

The Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade at once went forward, riding
through the ruins of Gaza, and reached Beit Hanun, just south of the
Wadi Hesi, early in the afternoon. At the same time two brigades of the
52nd Division made their way along the seashore under cover of the
cliffs, and seized the high ground north of the Wadi Hesi, in the face
of strong resistance from the enemy.

[Illustration: Turkish Cavalry near Sharia.

(From an enemy photograph.)]

[Illustration: A Turkish cavalry machine-gun battery in action near
Sharia.

(From an enemy photograph.)]

This rapid move of the 52nd Division was of the greatest value to
us. The Turks had constructed a strong, defensive line just north of
the wadi, and had evidently hoped, in the event of being driven out
of Gaza, to be able to rally on this line, and hold up our farther
advance. Some of our cavalry subsequently took prisoner the engineer
officer who had superintended the making of this line. He expressed
keen disappointment that the Turks had been driven out of it before
they had had time to settle down, and declared that, had they got there
a few hours sooner, all our operations would have come to a standstill.
No doubt he was biassed in favour of his own handiwork, but there is
little doubt that the Turks would, at the least, have been able to
organise their retreat, had they succeeded in holding this line even
for a short time. Now, however, driven out of their last entrenched
position, and with their forces disorganised and split into two widely
separated groups, they were compelled to retreat over open country,
pursued by a vigorous and successful enemy.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 9: From its commander, Major-General Sir G. de S. Barrow,
G.O.C. of the Yeomanry Division.]

[Footnote 10: On one occasion, the Huns, with characteristic ferocity,
deliberately turned their heavy artillery on to a convoy of ambulance
camels bearing wounded out of the fight, and utterly destroyed it.]



CHAPTER V

THE PURSUIT


On the morning of the 8th of November the pursuit began. The enemy
had made the best use of the night to put such a distance between his
troops and ours that his rearguards were able to entrench lightly,
and thus offered a sturdy resistance to our advance all day. He well
knew that, if he could keep our cavalry away from water for another 48
hours, they would have to be withdrawn. Once free from the harassing
menace of the mounted troops, the Turks, who could always outmarch our
infantry, would have experienced little difficulty in retiring rapidly
to the north, aided by their two railways, and would have had time to
select and entrench a strong position in the Judæan foothills, on which
to bar our farther advance.

The cavalry, supported by the 60th Division, were ordered to continue
their advance to the north-west, and to push on with the utmost vigour,
so as to intercept the retirement of the Gaza garrison. The Anzac
Division was directed on Bureir, some twelve miles north-east of Gaza,
with the Australian Mounted and 60th Divisions on the left, in échelon
to the rear. The country was open, rolling down-land, devoid of trees
or scrub, and dotted with prominent hills or 'tels.' The ground surface
was hard, and the whole terrain was admirably suited for cavalry work.

The Anzac Division moved off at dawn, with the 1st and 2nd Brigades in
line covering a front of some six miles, with centre about Abu Dilakh,
and in touch with the Australian Mounted Division on the left. The 7th
Mounted Brigade, which had joined the division from Corps Reserve early
in the morning, marched in support.

From the commencement of the advance, the Turks resisted strongly.
Having been retiring during the two previous nights, and pressed by
our cavalry on the intervening day, they had not had any opportunity
of organising a definite line of resistance, but bodies of them,
varying from a company to several regiments, occupied every tel or
other commanding ground along the line of our advance, and held on
tenaciously.

About nine o'clock, in order to expedite the advance, General
Chaytor pushed up the 7th Brigade between the other two, which
were encountering strong resistance. At eleven o'clock the enemy
counter-attacked strongly against the 2nd Brigade, which was on the
right of our line, near Tel el Nejile, and held up its advance. The 7th
Brigade, in the centre, continued to push on, and had nearly reached
Bir el Jemameh, about one o'clock, when it was heavily attacked by a
large force of the enemy covering the water supply there. The brigade
was forced back, and its left flank was endangered, when the 1st
Brigade came up on the west, and drove back the Turks. Following up
their advantage, the leading troops of this brigade fought their way
into Bir el Jemameh shortly after three o'clock, capturing the steam
pumping plant intact and complete, even to the engineer in charge.
This individual had been left behind to blow up the plant, but instead
remained to work it for us with great docility.

A regiment of the 1st Brigade pushed out to the north, and secured
the high ground overlooking Bir el Jemameh, and, under cover of this
regiment, the 7th Brigade and the rest of the 1st were able to water
all their horses. The enemy fell back after dark, and the 2nd Brigade
occupied Tel el Nejile. Some water was found here in the Wadi el Hesi,
but it was not possible to water the horses of the outpost troops.
The division established a night outpost line, protecting Nejile and
Jemameh.

Meanwhile the Australian Mounted Division, on the left of the Anzacs,
and with the 60th Division in its rear and a little farther west,
pushed slowly after the retreating enemy, engaged in continuous,
isolated troop actions throughout the day, in the course of which a
number of enemy guns, particularly heavy howitzers, were captured. The
3rd A.L.H. Brigade especially distinguished itself in this form of
warfare. Troops of the brigade repeatedly stalked enemy guns during
the day, and then charged them suddenly from the rear, killing the gun
crews and capturing the guns. It became a commonplace to find an enemy
5·9-inch howitzer in a hollow in the ground, with the detachment dead
around it, and the words 'captured by the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade' scrawled
in chalk on the chase of the gun.

Early in the afternoon, a regiment of the 4th A.L.H. Brigade was
ordered to try and gain touch with the right of the 21st Corps, which
was out of communication with our troops in the centre. All the
afternoon, the regiment rode hard over the plain to the north-west,
avoiding the enemy troops where possible, brushing them aside when
encountered, and succeeded in linking up with the Imperial Service
Cavalry Brigade about Beit Hanun before nightfall. It rejoined the
division at Huj next day.

About 3 P.M., as the right flank of the 60th Division was approaching
Huj, it came suddenly under a devastating fire at close range from
several concealed batteries of enemy artillery, which, with two
battalions of infantry, were covering the withdrawal of the VIIIth Army
headquarters. The country was rather like Salisbury Plain, rolling
down-land without any cover, and our troops suffered severely from the
murderous fire. Major-General Shea, commanding the division, finding
Colonel Gray-Cheape of the Warwick Yeomanry close by him, requested him
to charge the enemy guns at once. Colonel Cheape collected a few troops
of his own regiment that he had with him, and some of the Worcester
Yeomanry, and led them away to the right front. Taking advantage of
a slight rise in the ground to the east of the enemy position, he
succeeded in leading his troops to within 800 yards of the Turkish guns
unseen. He then gave the order to charge, and the ten troops galloped
over the rise, and raced down upon the flank of the enemy guns. The
Turks had in position a battery of field and one of mountain guns, with
four machine guns on a low hill between the two batteries, and three
heavy howitzers behind.

As our cavalry appeared, thundering over the rise, the Turks sprang to
their guns and swung them round, firing point-blank into the charging
horsemen. The infantry, leaping on the limbers, blazed away with their
rifles till they were cut down. There was no thought of surrender;
every man stuck to his gun or rifle to the last. The leading troops of
the cavalry dashed into the first enemy battery. The following troops,
swinging to the right, took the three heavy howitzers almost in their
stride, leaving the guns silent, the gun crews dead or dying, and
galloped round the hill, to fall upon the mountain battery from the
rear, and cut the Turkish gunners to pieces in a few minutes. The third
wave, passing the first battery, where a fierce sabre _v._ bayonet
fight was going on between our cavalry and the enemy, raced up the
slope at the machine guns. Many saddles were emptied in that few yards,
but the charge was irresistible. In a few minutes the enemy guns were
silenced, their crews killed, and the whole position was in our hands.

Most of the Turkish infantry escaped, as our small force of cavalry was
too scattered and cut up by the charge to be able to pursue them, but
few of the enemy gunners lived to fight again. About seventy of them
were killed outright, and a very large number were wounded.

This was the first time that our troops had 'got home' properly with
the modern, cavalry thrusting sword, and an examination of the enemy
dead afterwards proved what a fine weapon it is. Our losses were heavy.
Of the 170 odd who took part in the charge, seventy-five were killed
and wounded, and all within a space of ten minutes. In this charge,
as in all others during the campaign, it was noticeable how many more
horses were killed than men. Apart from the fact that a horse presents
a much bigger target than a man, it is probably that infantry, and
especially machine gunners, when suddenly charged by cavalry, have a
tendency to fire 'into the brown,' where the target looks thickest,
which is about the middle of the horses' bodies, thus dropping many
horses but failing to kill their riders. A man whose horse is brought
down is, however, by no means done with, as the Turks learnt to their
cost. In this, as in subsequent charges, many a man whose horse had
been shot under him, extricated himself from his fallen mount, and,
seizing rifle and bayonet, rushed on into the fight.

It is sad to have to relate that the gallant officer who led this great
charge, met his death subsequently, not on the field of battle as he
would have wished, but in the Mediterranean, when the transport that
was taking him and his regiment to France for the final act of the war,
was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine.[11]

The action was of interest as an indication of what may be
accomplished, under suitable conditions, by even a very small force
of cavalry when resolutely led. The charge was made on the spur of
the moment, with little preliminary reconnaissance of the ground,
without fire support, and with the equivalent of little more than one
squadron of cavalry. It resulted in the capture of eleven guns and four
machine guns, and the complete destruction of a strong point of enemy
resistance, at a cost of seventy-five casualties.

There was considerable divergence of opinion in the cavalry as to
the best method to be employed in a mounted attack. As there were
no reliable precedents in modern warfare, with its machine guns and
quick-firing artillery, brigadiers had been given a free hand to
develop the tactics they favoured, subject to the principle that fire
support should always be provided if available, and that the line of
fire and the direction of the mounted attack should be as nearly as
possible at right angles to one another.

Prior to the operations the 5th Mounted Brigade had been practising
the following method for the attack of lightly entrenched troops. A
regiment charged in column of squadrons in line, with a distance of 150
to 200 yards between squadrons. The leading squadron charged with the
sword, and, having passed over the enemy position, galloped straight on
to attack any supports that might be coming up. The remainder of the
regiment charged without swords. The second squadron galloped over
the trench while the enemy troops were still in a state of confusion,
dismounted on the farther side, and attacked from the rear with the
bayonet. The third squadron dismounted before reaching the trench, and
went in with the bayonet from the front. Two machine guns accompanied
this last squadron, and came into action on one or both flanks, as the
situation demanded, to deal with any counter-attack that might develop.
If more than one regiment took part in the attack, the machine guns, of
course, moved on the outer flanks of the regiments.

Unfortunately this brigade never had an opportunity of putting this
method to the test, but the 4th A.L.H. Brigade used it in a modified
form at Beersheba, with excellent results.

The wisdom of accompanying a mounted attack by one or two machine guns
was generally recognised, and in most cases where a charge was made
deliberately and after due preparation, and the guns were available,
this method of support was employed.

Where a mounted attack had to cover a considerable distance of open
ground before reaching charging distance, the most usual formation was
in column of squadrons in line of troop columns. Our own gunners were
of opinion that this formation offered the most difficult target to
artillery, provided the interval between troops was not less than 25
yards, and the distance between squadrons not less than 100 yards. The
experience of the campaign seemed to point to the fact that cavalry
also suffered less from machine-gun fire in this formation than in any
other, at any rate at ranges beyond 1000 yards.

The Turks had their main ammunition depot at Huj. A squadron of the
Worcester Yeomanry came upon this depot just after the charge, and
found a party of enemy cavalry engaged in setting fire to it. The
squadron commander of the Worcesters at once decided to charge the fire
instead of the enemy, and his prompt action was the means of putting
out the fire and saving the ammunition. Later on in the campaign we
made considerable use of captured enemy guns, especially those of heavy
calibre, and this vast store of shells was of the greatest value to us.

General Kress von Kressenstein and his staff, who were still at Huj
when our cavalry made this charge, narrowly escaped capture, and had
to leave everything behind them in their hurried flight, even to
their wireless code book. The Turks had, of course, abandoned all
their telephone and telegraph wires, when they were driven off their
positions from Gaza to Beersheba. During the retreat over the plain
of Philistia their units were so scattered and disorganised that they
had to rely almost entirely on gallopers for all orders and messages.
Once in the Judæan hills, however, they re-established their wireless
service, and thereafter all orders were sent by wireless, until the
arrival of fresh telephone and telegraph equipment in January 1918.
Armed with their code book, we were able to decode all their messages,
and were thus always in possession of enemy orders as soon as they
were issued. This piece of luck stood us in good stead later on, more
particularly at the time when the Turks made their big effort to
recover Jerusalem at the end of December.

As soon as it had arrived at Huj the Australian Mounted Division set
about watering horses from the two wells there. These wells were each
about 150 feet deep, and, as the Turks had destroyed the winding
apparatus, water could only be obtained by the laborious process of
letting down and hauling up by hand a few small canvas buckets attached
to a length of field telephone wire. Most of the horses had been
without any water since the afternoon of the 6th, and the poor brutes
were raging with thirst, and drank inordinately. In some cases a single
troop took over an hour to water. All night long and all the next
day the weary work went on, but, on the evening of the 9th, when the
advance was resumed, the horses of the divisional ammunition column had
not yet been watered.

The task of the Yeomanry Division on the 8th of November was to attack
the eastern group of the enemy forces on its right flank, so as to
drive it across the front of the 53rd Division and the Camel Corps
Brigade about Tel Khuweilfeh. The Turkish flank was located in a strong
position on the high and broken ground at Khurbet el Mujeidilat. The
8th Mounted Brigade attacked this position, but was unable to dislodge
the enemy, and, before a further attack could be organised, orders
were received to break off the action and march to Sharia to water,
preparatory to taking part in the more important task of pursuing the
enemy forces over the coastal plain. The 53rd Division and the Camel
Corps remained in observation of the enemy. The Yeomanry watered at
Sharia that evening, and marched to Huj on the following day.

It was now clear that the attempt to cut off the whole of the enemy
forces had failed. Most of the rearguards left by the troops who had
been driven out of the Sharia-Hareira positions had been disposed of by
the Anzac and Australian Mounted Divisions during the past two days,
but the sturdy resistance offered by these rearguards, coupled with the
delay caused to our cavalry by the scarcity of water, had afforded time
for the Gaza garrison and some of the enemy troops east of Gaza to make
good their escape.

The rôle of the cavalry thus changed to a direct pursuit of the enemy.
Accordingly the Anzac Division, which had got some water on the evening
of the 8th, and was ready to move, was ordered to push across the plain
towards the coast, with Bureir as the first objective and El Mejdel
as the second. The Australian Mounted Division, on completing the
watering of horses at Huj, was to move to the north on Arak el Menshiye
and El Faluje, thus coming up on the right of the Anzac Division. The
Yeomanry, when they had reached Huj, were to push on and come into line
on the right of the Australian Division. The Corps would then be in
line across the plain, from the foothills to the sea, and ready for the
further pursuit of the enemy.

The Anzac Division started soon after daylight on the 9th, with the 1st
and 2nd Brigades in line, each being responsible for the protection
of its own front and outer flank, and the 7th Brigade in support. The
1st Brigade, on the left, entered Bureir about half-past eight, after
encountering some opposition. About an hour later, the 2nd Brigade,
nearing El Huleikat, located a body of the enemy occupying some high
ground north-west of the village. The brigade attacked dismounted, and
drove off the Turks, capturing about 600 prisoners. There was no water
available at either place.

About mid-day the 1st Brigade reached El Mejdel, which was seized with
little difficulty, the small force of Turks there making but a feeble
stand. One hundred and seventy prisoners were taken. There was a good
well with a steam pump here, and the brigade was able to get water for
all the horses.

A message now arrived from the Corps to the effect that the 21st Corps
was marching on El Mejdel and Julis, and that the Anzac Division was to
push on to the neighbourhood of Beit Duras. The division accordingly
wheeled to the right, and the line of advance became north-east. The
troops pressed on as fast as their jaded horses could carry them, and,
towards evening, the 1st Brigade reached Esdud, and the 2nd entered the
villages of Suafir el Sharkiye and Arak Suweidan. On the way the latter
brigade had captured a Turkish convoy, with its escort of about 350
men. While these prisoners were being sent to the rear, some enemy guns
farther north opened fire and shelled captors and captives with a fine
impartiality. This shelling of their own men when taken prisoner was of
such frequent occurrence that it is impossible not to suspect German
inspiration.

Just before dark the 2nd Brigade rounded up another 200 Turks. The
division occupied a battle outpost line along the high ground south of
the Wadi Mejma, from near Esdud to Arak Suweidan. Just at dusk a small
body of Turks advanced with fixed bayonets to attack the outposts of
the 2nd Brigade. When they were close up to our line, an officer in
the brigade, who had evidently been studying the _Handbook of Turkish
Military Terms_, shouted in Turkish a peremptory command to surrender.
The weary Turks, thinking that the order had been given by one of their
own officers, and being only too glad to comply with it, obediently
laid down their arms, and were added to the bag!

The enemy troops encountered during the day, and especially towards
evening, were utterly disorganised, and offered little resistance to
our advance. They were quite worn out by their exertions of the past
three days. Many of them had dysentery, and all were suffering severely
from thirst.

The advanced troops of the 52nd Division, 21st Corps, reached El Mejdel
in the evening.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 11: The charge formed the subject of a brilliant picture by
Lady Butler painted from notes made by an eye-witness of the action.]



CHAPTER VI

OVER THE PHILISTINE PLAIN


On the evening of the 9th of November, as the Anzac Mounted Division
was 'in the air,' it was necessary for the other two divisions of the
Desert Mounted Corps to press on and join it as soon as possible. The
Australian Mounted Division, therefore, left Huj on the evening of the
9th, although all its horses were not yet watered, and marched to the
north-east, the first objective being Tel el Hesi, and the second Arak
el Menshiye and El Faluje. This was the only night march made by the
cavalry in enemy country during the pursuit. The 3rd Brigade, with a
battery attached, acted as advance guard, being followed by the 5th and
4th. The advance guard dropped pickets along the route every quarter of
a mile, which were picked up by the 5th Brigade. This brigade, in turn,
dropped pickets to be picked up by the rearguard. Signallers with lamps
were sent by the two leading brigades on to every prominent hill top
during the march, to flash the letters of the divisional signal call
intermittently in a south-westerly direction. These arrangements worked
well, and the division arrived at Tel el Hesi at half-past four in the
morning, and halted there till daylight.

There were several large pools of good water in the Wadi Hesi, and the
rest of the horses got their fill at last, having been without water
for _three days and four nights_.

The division pushed on at once, and came up on the right of the Anzac
Division at Faluje and Arak el Menshiye Station about eight o'clock.
It was joined, some few hours later, by the Yeomanry Division, which
had left Huj early in the morning, after having spent all the previous
night trying to water horses. This division took over Arak el Menshiye,
and extended a little farther east. Thus, on the afternoon of the 10th,
the whole of the Corps, with the exception of the New Zealand Mounted
Brigade, was in line from a point a little east of Arak el Menshiye to
the sea, and ready for the further pursuit of the enemy.

The cavalry were now some thirty-five miles in advance of railhead at
Deir el Belah, and the problem of supply became pressing. No help could
be obtained from the two enemy railways, as the Turks had blown up
bridges and culverts, and destroyed portions of the line during their
retreat. Our only means of supply was, therefore, by motor lorries
and camels along the single, narrow, ill-metalled road from Gaza to
Junction Station. Between Gaza and Beit Hanun the road was unmetalled
and deep in sand, and lorries had great difficulty in getting over
this part, even with the light load of one ton, which was the maximum
allowed to be carried. The marching ration of our horses was only 9-1/2
lbs. of grain a day, without any hay or other bulk food, but even this
small ration, when multiplied by 25,000 (approximately the number of
horses in the Corps), worked out at over 100 tons of forage a day. In
addition to this there were the rations for the men of the Corps, and
the food and forage for the infantry.

In order to enable the pursuit to continue, it was clear that
the greater part of the infantry would have to be left behind.
Accordingly, on the 9th, the whole of the 20th Corps, with the
exception of the 53rd Division, which was still watching the right
group of the enemy forces, withdrew to railhead at Karm. Of the 21st
Corps, only the 52nd and 75th Divisions continued the advance. The
54th, which had remained at Gaza, gave up all its transport to assist
the other two divisions. All the available motor lorries and camels
were organised in convoys along the Gaza-Junction Station road, from
Deir el Belah to El Mejdel, whence the supplies were distributed to
divisions by the horse-drawn wagons of the divisional trains. These
trains had heavier work than any other part of the force. Even on the
rare occasions when the cavalry got some rest at night, there was none
for them, as they were distributing supplies from nightfall till dawn.
Men and horses got into the habit of sleeping as they marched, and, as
long as one or two men kept awake to lead the way, the wagons always
reached their destination safely. The Divisional Ammunition Columns
were in little better case, and the _Sharki_, or hot wind from the
east, that commenced to blow on the 10th, added to the sufferings of
the unfortunate horses.

The whole Corps was suffering from lack of water, but the Australian
Mounted Division, which was advancing through the almost waterless
country along the edge of the Judæan range, was in an almost desperate
condition. The Anzac Division, although operating in the better watered
coastal area, had moved farther and faster and had more fighting than
the other two, and was also in a bad way. Moreover, owing to the rapid
advance of the last two days, forage and rations had failed to reach
this division. There was absolutely no grazing to be found, and what
little grain the Turks had left in the villages was securely hidden.
The 2nd A.L.H. and 7th Mounted Brigades, some of the horses of which
had not had a drink for eighty-four hours, carried on all through the
night of the 9th, trying to water with buckets from two or three deep
wells, but got little satisfaction. The depth of the shallowest of
these wells was 150 feet, and of the deepest nearly 250 feet. It was
quite clear that these two divisions could make no further substantial
move forward till all their horses had been watered and fed.

Had water been available in abundance throughout the advance, there is
little doubt that our cavalry would have been able to overwhelm the
retreating Turkish armies, and the capture of Jerusalem might then have
been accomplished by a rapid raid of mounted troops. As it was, each
night was spent by a large part of the cavalry in a heart-breaking
search for water, that too often proved fruitless, while the enemy,
moving in his own country, utilised the hours of darkness to put such a
distance between his troops and their pursuers as enabled him generally
to entrench lightly before our cavalry came up with him in the morning.
The marching powers of the Turks are phenomenal. Time after time, after
fighting all day, they would retire when darkness fell, and march all
night, and repeat this performance of fighting all day and marching
all night for several days in succession. During their retreat they
systematically destroyed the water-lifting apparatus of all the wells
they passed, thus incidentally depriving the native inhabitants of
water.

The inevitable delay caused by the necessity of resting our cavalry
now gave the enemy the opportunity to collect his scattered forces and
organise some sort of line of resistance. Already, on the 10th of
November, his troops could be seen digging in along the high ground on
the right bank of the Nahr Sukereir, and aeroplane reports indicated
that he was preparing a second line farther north.

The 1st A.L.H. Brigade, reconnoitring northwards on the 10th, located
the Turks in position from the hill of Tel el Murre near the sea, along
the high ground on the right bank of the Nahr Sukereir, through Burka
to Kustine. Finding a small force of Turks holding the bridge at Jisr
Esdud, the 1st A.L.H. Regiment attacked, and drove them off. General
Cox at once ordered a bridgehead to be established on the north bank,
and entrenched. The possession of this bridge was of great value to us
during the next few days. The Nahr Sukereir, in its lower course, runs
between high, precipitous banks, and forms a barrier to movement north
and south very difficult to pass except by this one bridge. The enemy
was well aware of this, and squandered some of his best and freshest
troops in a desperate attack on our bridgehead, supported by heavy
artillery, but the 1st Brigade stood fast, and beat off the attack.

The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade continued the weary business of watering
from two very deep wells at Suafir el Sharkiye, but there were 800
prisoners here clamouring for water, and the local inhabitants, who
had been driven from the wells by the retiring Turks, had had none for
twenty-four hours. In the middle of the pandemonium created by this
fight for water, some enemy guns opened fire on the village, causing a
number of casualties among the Arabs and Turks. The Arabs fled to the
shelter of their houses, and the prisoners were sent back out of the
way. Later on in the morning, some troops of the brigade returned to
the village to continue watering. No sooner had they entered the place,
than the enemy guns opened fire again. A thorough search of the houses
now revealed two Turks concealed in one of them, directing the fire of
the enemy guns by telephone. They were promptly shot, and the firing at
once ceased. A more callous action than this of directing gun-fire on
to a village full of their own captured comrades and harmless natives
could hardly be imagined. It again suggests German influence, as the
Turks did not, as a rule, do such things on their own initiative.

In the evening part of the 52nd and 74th Divisions arrived at Esdud and
Suafir el Sharkiye, and the weary 2nd A.L.H. and 7th Mounted Brigades
were withdrawn to water and rest near Hamame. The 1st A.L.H. Brigade
held an outpost line during the night from the sea west of Jisr Esdud
to a point on the Wadi Mejma just north of Beit Duras, in touch with
the infantry on the right.

Meanwhile the Australian Mounted Division and the Yeomanry Division,
on the east, pushing their tired horses slowly after the retreating
Turks, advanced a few miles, and located the left half of the enemy's
line running from Kustine, roughly through Balin and Berkusie, to the
neighbourhood of Beit Jibrin.

The headquarters of the Australian Division was at El Faluje on the
10th and 11th. Shortly after its arrival there, the headman of the
village, which is the seat of a _Nahie_,[12] came to pay his respects
to the British General. After a few polite compliments, he asked
anxiously if we had any men from his village among our prisoners. We,
of course, could not tell, as all prisoners were sent back as soon as
possible after being taken. The old man remarked sadly that he had not
had much hope of finding any of them, as he believed they had all gone
to the Caucasus. About two years ago, he said, a Turkish battalion had
suddenly arrived at the village one morning, and carried off 500 of his
young men to be pressed into the Army, and from that day no word had
been heard from any of them.

All through the campaign we heard similar accounts of Turkish
recruiting methods. The Turks always sent their conscripts to fight in
a theatre of war as far removed from their native country as possible,
in order to discourage desertion. In spite of this, their soldiers
were constantly deserting, either to find a ready hiding-place in
some neighbouring town or village, or to give themselves up to us. So
serious had the question become in the Turkish Army that there was a
standing reward of £5 Turkish offered to all natives for delivering
a deserter to the Army authorities. An organised propaganda was also
carried on by the officers, by means of lectures to their men, the
chief feature of which was a description of the tortures and hideous
deaths inflicted on their prisoners by British soldiers. These lectures
were illustrated by pictures supplied by Berlin. Our reply to this
propaganda was to scatter from our aeroplanes hundreds of handbills
over the Turkish lines. These sheets showed, on one side, the signed
photograph of a fat and smiling Turk, one of our prisoners, with an
autograph letter from him, inviting his friends to join him, and, on
the other side, a bill of fare of the prisoners' camps that must have
made the hungry Turkish soldiers positively slobber!

The strange fact was that, in spite of these constant desertions,
the Turks, when brought to bay, nearly always fought splendidly,
and that not alone in defence, but in attack also. Indeed, some of
their counter-attacks were simply heroic. Out-numbered, out-gunned,
out-manoeuvred, doomed to defeat before even the attack was launched,
they yet advanced with the most reckless courage, shouting their war
cry, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' The explanation must probably be sought
in their religious hatred of the infidel. The Turks opposed to us in
Palestine at this time were mostly Anatolians, of fine physique, and
sturdy fighters.

The Commander-in-Chief determined to continue the advance on the 12th,
devoting the preceding day to preparations for the attack on the enemy
positions. The delay would afford time for the 52nd and 74th Divisions
to close up and move forward to their preliminary positions.

He decided to attack the right centre of the Turkish line with his
infantry, and turn the right flank with his cavalry. The Anzac Division
had now, however, only one brigade (the 1st) in a fit state to continue
the operations. Accordingly the Yeomanry Division was ordered to march
on the 11th right across from east to west, behind our line, and
relieve the 2nd and 7th Brigades on the coast. The Australian Mounted
Division was directed to extend to the east, to a point south-west of
Zeita, so as to cover the country vacated by the Yeomanry. Its rôle was
to protect the right flank of our forces during the operations, and to
attract the enemy's attention to this flank. All patrol work was to be
made as conspicuous as possible, and reconnaissances were to be pushed
forward vigorously. This work was excellently carried out throughout
the day, along a front extending from near Zeita nearly to Suafir el
Sharkiye.

The Yeomanry Division marched _via_ Tel el Hesi, in order to get water
for its horses, and arrived at El Mejdel in the evening. At the same
time the New Zealand Brigade and the Camel Corps were ordered up from
the Beersheba area, to join the cavalry force on the left of our line.
These two brigades started on their forty-mile march on the morning of
the 11th, and reached El Mejdel late on the following afternoon.

In order to facilitate the crossing of the Nahr Sukereir, the 1st
A.L.H. Brigade was directed to enlarge the bridgehead at Jisr Esdud.
This was found to be impossible as long as the enemy held the hill
of Tel el Murre, which commanded the country north of the bridge.
There were no troops available to assist the 1st Brigade, but General
Cox obtained permission to attempt the capture of the hill. The 2nd
A.L.H. Regiment, which was selected for the task, reconnoitred the
river west of the bridge during the day, but found no crossing place.
Undeterred by this, the regiment concentrated in the evening under
cover of the hill of Nebi Yunus, which concealed it from the Turks,
and the Australians swam their horses across the river, which was here
some fifty yards wide and ten feet deep. Moving forward dismounted in
the darkness, they completely surprised the Turks, who had fancied
themselves protected on that side by the river, and captured the hill
after a sharp bayonet fight. Now, with Tel el Murre and the Esdud
bridge in our hands, we had a strong hold on the north bank of the
river.

There was a good landing-place on the coast here, and, a few days
later, when our troops had pushed farther north, the navy reopened
the sea-borne supply line, with the mouth of the Nahr Sukereir as its
terminus. The reopening of the sea route greatly eased the supply
situation, and enabled two more infantry divisions to be brought up to
the front.

During the past two days, the 10th and 11th, there had been a
noticeable stiffening of the enemy resistance all along the line, and
this fact, coupled with the capture of prisoners from almost every unit
of the Turkish army, showed that the enemy rearguards had been driven
in on his main body, and that we were now opposed by the whole of the
remainder of his force. It was soon apparent that he intended to rally
on a line north of the Nahr Rubin, and make a supreme effort to hold
us off the vital Junction Station till he had been able to steady his
forces and organise his retreat.

During the past few days several new units, portions of the much
vaunted Yilderim group, had arrived from the north. Assisted by these
fresh troops, and favoured by the delay to our cavalry caused by lack
of water, the enemy had prepared, and partly entrenched, a defensive
line, which was located by the Royal Air Force on the 11th, running
from Kubeibe, three miles north-east of Yebnah, through Zernuka,
El Mughar, Katrah and Tel el Turmus, to about Beit Jibrin. Each of
these localities had been prepared for defence, and was held by a
considerable force of Turks. The intervening spaces were covered by
machine-gun fire from the defended posts. The forward positions already
located by our cavalry north of the Nahr Sukereir had evidently been
established to delay our advance long enough to enable the main line to
be entrenched and consolidated.

Thus, though he had been retiring to the north, the enemy's line now
ran nearly north and south. This position was forced on him, partly
by the pressure of our advance, and partly by the lie of the ground.
The line ran parallel to, and about five miles to the west of, the
railway he wished to defend. The right flank rested on a high, steep
ridge connecting the villages of El Mughar and Zernuka, and extending
north-westwards to Kubeibe. The southern extremity of this ridge
commanded the flat country to the west and south-west for a distance of
two miles or more.

The attack on this formidable line, originally planned for the 12th of
November, was now put off till the next day, owing to the necessity of
first driving the enemy from his advanced positions along the north
bank of the Nahr Sukereir. The hot east wind had continued to blow
throughout the 10th and 11th, raising clouds of suffocating dust over
all the country, and adding to the discomforts caused by the lack of
water.

In order to clear the enemy from his advanced positions, a brigade of
the 52nd Division crossed the Esdud bridge on the morning of the 12th,
and advanced against Burka, supported on the left by the 1st A.L.H.
Brigade, and on the right by part of the 75th Division. The Turks were
well posted, and fought stubbornly, and the village was only taken
after an hour and a half of strenuous fighting. After its capture, our
infantry advanced a short distance without further opposition, and
established an outpost line a few miles north of the Nahr Sukereir.

The Yeomanry Division came up in the afternoon on the left of the
infantry, and the 1st A.L.H. Brigade withdrew to bivouac south of
Esdud. The 8th Mounted Brigade had arrived in time to take part in the
capture of Burka. The New Zealand Brigade rejoined the Anzac Division
in the evening, and the Camel Corps Brigade, on arrival, was attached
to the Yeomanry.

On the right of our line the Australian Mounted Division continued
its task of making a big noise, and carried it out so effectively as
to attract rather more attention from the enemy than was altogether
pleasant.

The 5th Mounted Brigade was ordered to push into Balin, and then make
a vigorous reconnaissance as far north as the Wadi Dhahr, from Tel el
Safi to the Beersheba Railway. The 3rd A.L.H. Brigade, concentrated in
a concealed position at Summeil, sent a squadron into Berkusie, and
pushed out strong, fighting patrols to the east and south-east. The 4th
A.L.H. Brigade was directed to send a squadron to the high ground near
the Deir Sineid Railway line, about a mile south-west of Tel el Turmus,
watch the country between that point and Balin, and force the enemy to
disclose his positions.

About one o'clock the enemy suddenly flung a force of about 5000
men against the 5th Brigade in Balin. This was by far the heaviest
counter-attack we had experienced since the break-through at Sharia on
the 7th, and there is reason to believe that it was directed by Marshal
von Falkenhayn in person. The attack was made by two columns, one of
which had come down the track from Junction Station to Tel el Safi,
and the other by rail to El Tine Station. Just after the attack was
launched two large motors came tearing down the road to Tel el Safi.
From one of these several officers got out, and climbed a little way
up the hill to watch the development of the attack. One of them, from
his great height, was believed to be the Marshal, but unfortunately the
party was out of range of our thirteen-pounders in Balin.

The enemy attack was pressed with the greatest vigour, and the 5th
Brigade was almost surrounded. At one time it appeared likely that the
guns of 'B' Battery H.A.C., attached to the brigade, would be lost, as
the country was a mass of rocks, and it was impossible to move them
quickly. Assisted by the magnificent fighting of the Brigade Machine
Gun Squadron, however, the battery was able to withdraw slowly by
sections, firing at point-blank range most of the time.

The 3rd Brigade was sent up at a canter from Summeil, followed by the
remaining two batteries of the division, and the leading regiment came
up on the right of the 5th Brigade just as the latter had cleared
Balin. Almost immediately afterwards the enemy turned his attention to
Berkusie, now occupied by a regiment of the 3rd Brigade. Supported by a
heavy fire from several batteries, the Turks attacked this village, and
forced the regiment to retire.

All the available troops of the division were now engaged, and, as the
enemy still pressed on, the situation became somewhat anxious. The 4th
Brigade was strung out to the west as far as the Deir Sineid line,
and could render no effective aid to the other two brigades. General
Hodgson, therefore, ordered the division to withdraw slowly to the
line Bir Summeil-Khurbet Jeladiyeh. Hardly had the order been given
when an enemy train appeared, coming south along the Beersheba line.
It stopped west of Balin, and disgorged a fresh force of Turks, which
deployed rapidly, and advanced against the left of the 5th Brigade. Our
other two batteries were now, however, in action on the high ground
north-west of Summeil, and they at once engaged this force. The Turks
were moving over an open plain, in full view of our gunners, who took
full advantage of the excellent target offered by the enemy, and made
such good practice that the attack was broken. The enemy troops fell
back a little on this flank, and commenced to dig themselves in.

Fighting steadily and skilfully, the two brigades withdrew till they
reached the edge of Summeil village. Here, favoured by the protection
afforded by the houses and walls of the village, and by the rocky
ground on either side of it, they were able to make a stand, and the
enemy's attack was finally held.

The Turks did not attempt to renew their attack, which was just as
well, as no troops could have been spared to assist the Australian
Division. Our losses had been somewhat severe, especially in the 5th
Brigade Machine Gun Squadron, whose fine fighting was the chief factor
in extricating the brigade from Balin. Towards the end of the fighting
there, the Turks had got to within a few hundred yards of our troops on
three sides. A few of them even succeeded in getting across our line of
withdrawal, and several of the battery drivers were shot from the rear
while getting the guns away. The division occupied a battle outpost
line for the night from near Arak el Menshiye, through Summeil and
along the high ground north of the Wadi Mejma, to Khurbet Jeladiyeh, in
touch with the 75th Division on the left.

The employment of the artillery in this action deserves notice. In some
of the cavalry divisions it had been the custom to attach a battery of
Horse Artillery permanently to each brigade. General Hodgson, however,
elected to keep his artillery together, and under his immediate
command, only attaching a battery to a brigade when on some special
mission, as in this case, when the 5th Brigade, with 'B' Battery H.A.C.
attached, was sent forward into Balin, acting as a sort of advance
guard to the division, which was écheloned to the rear or either side
of it.

Though there may be something to be said in favour of the principle of
attaching each battery to a brigade when, as was generally the case in
these operations, a division is moving on a very wide front, there is
little doubt that it is the sounder plan for the divisional commander
to keep at least a part of his artillery in his own hands.

In this action General Hodgson, having his other two batteries in hand,
and well up behind the centre of the front covered by his division,
was able to throw them at once into the fight at the critical moment,
and there is no doubt that their fire materially assisted in the final
defeat of the enemy thrust. Had these two batteries been attached
to the 3rd and 4th Brigades, one of them would probably have been
far to the south towards Zeita, and the other possibly nearly as far
west as the Deir Sineid Railway. Both would almost certainly have
been unavailable at the moment when their services were most urgently
needed. This subject is dealt with more fully in Chapter xxiv.

The attempt of the enemy to arrest our pursuit by using his reserves in
a bold attack against our weak right flank deserved better success than
it achieved. It was a repetition, on a smaller scale, of his tactics at
Tel Khuweilfeh, after the battle of Beersheba. In both instances, had
his troops been as bold in attack as they were tenacious in defence,
the campaign might well have taken a different turn.

One of General Allenby's most marked characteristics was his
capacity for gauging the fighting qualities of his enemy. He rarely
underestimated the Turks' strength or _morale_, but he seemed to know,
as by instinct, the minimum force necessary to hold any counter-thrust
that might possibly be made. In this case aeroplane and cavalry
reconnaissances had established the fact that there was a considerable
force of the enemy on our right, but the Commander-in-Chief left the
task of dealing with it, with complete equanimity, to one cavalry
division.

[Illustration: Huj. After the charge.]

[Illustration: British Horse Artillery and Australian Cavalry advancing
over the Philistine Plain.]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 12: Turkish provinces are divided into a number of Sanjaks,
each under a Mutasserif; these in turn are divided into Kazas, each
under a Kaimakam; and each Kaza into several Nahies under Mudirs or
headmen of villages.]



CHAPTER VII

NEARING THE HILLS


Early on the morning of the 13th the attack on the enemy positions
began.

The Yeomanry Division and the Camel Corps Brigade advanced on the left
of our line, with the 52nd Division on their right. Then came the 75th
Division and the Australian Mounted Division, the latter covering a
front of about eight miles. The orders to this division were to watch
the right flank of our line, and attract the enemy's attention, as
on the previous two days. In view of the large area of country to be
covered, the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade, now Corps Reserve, was stationed
at Khurbet Jeladiyeh. The 7th Mounted Brigade relieved the 5th, the
horses of which were exhausted. The 2nd and 7th Brigades had only been
withdrawn from the line late on the evening of the 11th, and had thus
had but one day's complete rest. One of the chief difficulties of the
Corps Commander at this time, and one which increased daily, lay in
the fact that one or another of his brigades was always on the verge
of coming to a standstill owing to the exhaustion of its horses. This
fact compelled the continual movement of brigades from one part of the
line to another, to relieve others unable to carry on the pursuit, thus
increasing the fatigue and distress of the horses.

The country in which our troops were now operating is an undulating,
treeless plain, rising here and there into isolated, rocky hills,
similar in character to the country farther south. It is, however, much
more populous than southern Palestine, and is extensively cultivated,
though at this time of year the crops had all been gathered, and the
land was as bare as a village common. Partly, no doubt, for purposes
of defence, and partly to avoid wasting the fertile plain land,
most of the villages are built on the tops of the hills, where the
rock, outcropping over large areas, renders the land unsuitable for
cultivation. Many of these villages are surrounded by trees and small
enclosed gardens, and some are encircled by stout mud walls. All of
them command the surrounding country for a wide space, and, with their
walls and cactus hedges, form admirable strong points, very difficult
to reduce without the aid of heavy artillery. The village of El Mughar,
on its high and rocky ridge, is one of the most prominent of these hill
strongholds, and forms a notable landmark from the flat country to the
west and south of it.

The 8th Mounted Brigade, leading the Yeomanry Division, approached
Yebnah about eight in the morning, and two troops were sent forward to
gallop into the village from either side. This was the usual method
adopted by our cavalry, when approaching villages during a rapid
advance, unless they were definitely known to be strongly held by the
enemy. If there proved to be few Turks in the village, or none at all,
these troops would signal back to their regiment or brigade to advance.
If, however, the village proved to be strongly held, the few men in the
exploring troops, moving in extended order and at a very fast pace,
seldom sustained many casualties, while they nearly always succeeded
in gaining a fairly accurate idea of the numbers of the enemy, the
location of his machine guns, etc.

In the present case Yebnah was found very lightly held, and the 8th
Brigade at once pushed through it, and advanced to the attack of the
villages of Zernuka and Kubeibe, on which rested the extreme right
flank of the enemy's line. The Turks were found in force in these two
places, and the brigade was unable to make any substantial progress, in
the face of very heavy machine-gun fire.

The 6th Mounted Brigade remained in divisional reserve at Yebnah, and
the 22nd was ordered to try and push between Zernuka and El Mughar, and
seize the village of Akir, behind the enemy's line. Intense machine-gun
fire from Zernuka, however, on the flank of the line of advance,
prohibited the brigade from moving forward till this place had been
taken.

A brigade of the 52nd Division attacked the village of Katrah from the
south about nine o'clock, and captured it by a fine bayonet charge,
taking 600 prisoners and a large number of machine guns. The brigade
then advanced on El Mughar, and succeeded in reaching the Wadi Jamus,
about half a mile farther north. From the wadi to El Mughar the ground
sloped gently upwards, devoid of any cover, and traversed by no
depression capable of concealing troops. The infantry extended along
the wadi, and attempted to advance up the slope towards El Mughar,
but were checked by a tremendous fire from machine guns and riflemen
concealed in the gardens of the village, and from field guns in action
farther north. It was soon apparent that they could not hope to cross
the wide stretch of open ground, and they were withdrawn into the
shelter of the wadi. The 52nd Division then sent a message to the
Yeomanry, asking the latter to co-operate by attacking El Mughar from
the east.

General Barrow ordered the 6th Mounted Brigade, which was now extended
from Yebnah to El Gheyadah, about a mile north of Beshshit, to carry
out the attack.

From his position at El Gheyadah, General Godwin had observed that the
infantry advance on El Mughar had been held up, and was anticipating an
order to co-operate with his brigade. He had accordingly already got
one of his regiments, the Bucks Yeomanry, into the Wadi Jamus, at a
point about a mile south-east of Yebnah, and had sent officers' patrols
forward to reconnoitre a line of approach. The reports of these patrols
confirmed the General's own impression that the enemy position could
only be reached by a mounted charge. The country west of El Mughar was
just as bare and open as that to the south, over which our infantry had
found themselves unable to advance. On the other hand, the absence of
obstacles favoured a galloping attack, and, though the distance to be
traversed in the open (over two miles) was considerable, there appeared
to be a good prospect of the enterprise succeeding, provided it was
adequately supported by the R.H.A. and machine gunners.

Having decided on a mounted attack, General Godwin brought up the
Dorset Yeomanry, and galloped them across the open in small parties,
into the shelter of the Wadi Jamus. This regiment was directed on
the left, or northern, end of the enemy position, and the Bucks on
a portion of the ridge to the right of the Dorsets' objective, and
immediately north of the village itself. The Berks Yeomanry was held in
reserve, west of the wadi and near the south end of Yebnah. The Berks
Battery R.H.A., which was at Beshshit, and the Machine Gun Squadron
were ordered to provide covering fire from the south. The 8th Mounted
Brigade, which was attacking Zernuka, would afford protection to the
left flank of the 6th during the action.

[Illustration: _Diagram illustrating the action of El Mughar_]

The Berks Battery was soon in action among some trees north of El
Beshshit, registering the village of El Mughar, and the ridge to the
north of it. The machine gunners, taking advantage of some broken
ground south-east of Yebnah, got into the Wadi Shellal el Ghor, and
worked their way along it to a position about 1000 yards south-west of
El Mughar village.

As soon as the steady bursts of fire from the wadi apprised General
Godwin that his machine guns were in action, he gave the order to
advance, and the two regiments scrambled up the steep sides of the
Wadi Jamus into the open, and trotted forward over the plain in
extended order, the squadrons of each regiment following one another
at a distance of about 200 yards. Two machine guns on pack horses
accompanied each regiment, moving on the outer flanks.

The appearance of the cavalry was the signal for a tremendous fire on
both sides. Every weapon the enemy had in action was turned on the
advancing lines of cavalry, while the Berks Battery and the 6th Brigade
Machine Gun Squadron poured an intense fire on the ridge of Mughar,
sweeping it from end to end.

The regiments trotted quietly across the open till they were some half
a mile from the enemy position, when they shook out into a fast canter,
and swung up the rocky slope at the Turks. A hundred yards from the top
the order to charge was given, and the men sat down and rode.

The leading squadron of the Bucks went through the Turks with the
sword in ten seconds, killing many of them, and galloped right over
the ridge before they could pull up. Ere the enemy troops had time to
rally, the second and third squadrons dashed into them, completing
the rout. In a few minutes from the time when the order to charge was
given, the Bucks Yeomanry had secured their objective, and commenced to
consolidate on the position.

The Dorset Yeomanry, on the left, encountered more broken ground, and
the leading squadron dismounted and attacked with the bayonet. The
other two squadrons, however, stuck to their horses, and reached the
top first. There was not much momentum left in the charge by the time
the cavalry met the enemy, but the long swords do not need much pace
behind them to do their work properly, and the issue of the fight was
never in doubt. Before the dismounted squadron had gained the summit of
the ridge, the other two had cleared the position, and the surviving
Turks were in flight or had surrendered. Incidentally it may be
remarked that the squadron on foot lost more heavily, both in men and
horses, than the two that had gone in with the sword.

While the position was being cleared and consolidated, a number of
the enemy in the village opened fire on our troops with machine guns,
inflicting some loss, and interfering with the work. Two squadrons
of the Berks were sent up at a gallop, and fought their way into the
village on foot, clearing the Turks out of it, and taking about 400
prisoners.

About 600 enemy dead were counted on the position afterwards, and many
more were killed, as they were trying to escape, by the fire of the
machine guns which had accompanied each regiment in the charge. In
addition to those taken in Mughar village, 1100 prisoners fell into our
hands, with three guns and a large number of machine guns. The enemy's
right was completely broken. His troops evacuated Kubeibe and Zernuka
after dark, and fell back in considerable confusion.

Our casualties in the two regiments were 129 officers and men and 265
horses killed and wounded, not an unduly heavy bill when compared
to the number of enemy dead, and, still more, to the great results
obtained.

The 22nd Mounted Brigade rode forward to attack Akir, as soon as Mughar
had been taken, but was held up till nightfall by unexpectedly strong
enemy opposition. The Brigade rounded up seventy prisoners and a few
machine guns retiring from El Mughar, and occupied Akir next morning,
the enemy having retired during the night.

Meanwhile, in the centre, the 75th Division had captured Mesmiye with
the bayonet, taking 200 prisoners, and reached a point on the Deir
Sineid line about two miles west of Junction Station in the evening.
The Turks attacked in considerable force during the night, but were
driven off, and the division entered Junction Station early next
morning.

The Australian Mounted Division advanced a few miles, covering the
right flank of the 75th Division, and seized Tel el Turmus without
encountering serious opposition. During the day the headquarters of
this division, at the village of El Jeladiyeh, three miles east of El
Suafir el Sharkiye, got into touch by helio with the 53rd Division
twenty miles away to the east, and exchanged news. This was the first
and last communication between the two parts of our force, from the day
of the battle of Sharia, till the 7th of December, when the 10th A.L.H.
Regiment gained touch with the 53rd Division in the hills ten miles
south of Jerusalem, two days before the city fell.

Next day, as soon as it was light enough to see, our line was on the
move in pursuit of the enemy.

Early in the morning a couple of armoured cars, sent forward to
reconnoitre, entered Junction Station, and drove suddenly into a crowd
of some 400 Turks employed in setting fire to the buildings, and doing
a little private looting on their own account. The commander of the
leading car summoned these men to surrender, and was answered by a
scattering volley from their rifles. Whereupon he shut the armoured
doors of his car, and charged down upon them, with his machine gun
going full blast. The discomfited Turks turned and fled, pursued for
two miles by the cars. Over 200 of them were killed or wounded; the
remainder escaped into the hills.

The 75th Division entered Junction Station shortly afterwards, and
collected 100 prisoners, a number of guns, and a quantity of rolling
stock.

The Australian Mounted Division pushed on to the north-east, the 4th
Brigade seizing El Tine Station, on the Beersheba line, early in the
morning, where large quantities of ammunition and stores were found
intact. Continuing their move, units of the division penetrated through
the enemy front, which was now broken at Junction Station, and reached
the railway two miles east of the station.

The Yeomanry Division, moving in advance of the 52nd, pushed through
Akir to Naane. The two brigades which occupied the latter place were
heavily shelled by the enemy from about Abu Shusheh, some three miles
farther east, but no other opposition was met with.

The rapidity with which the Mughar-Kutrah line had been captured on
the previous day had resulted in the Turkish army being again broken
into two separate parts. The thrust of the Yeomanry to Naane had now
driven a wedge between these two parts, and the operations of the next
two days were directed towards widening the gap. The larger portion of
the enemy force entered the hills to the east, and commenced to retire
along the main road towards Jerusalem, shepherded by the Yeomanry and
Australian Mounted Divisions. The smaller portion retired northwards
over the plain, followed by the Anzac Division. The 1st A.L.H. and New
Zealand Brigades made good Kubeibe and Zernuka early in the morning,
and then advanced on Ramleh and Khurbet Surafend respectively, with the
Camel Corps Brigade patrolling the sand dune country on their left.
The New Zealanders encountered a force of Turks on the high hill of
Ayun Kara (Richon-le-Zion) about two in the afternoon, and drove them
off without much difficulty. Half an hour later the Turks emerged from
the shelter of the large fruit orchards and vineyards which surround
Ayun Kara, and launched an unexpected counter-attack on the New Zealand
Brigade. They were well supplied with bombs, and pushed their attack
fiercely right up to our line. The New Zealanders then went in with
the bayonet, and drove them back to the bottom of the hill, inflicting
heavy losses on them. Two squadrons from the 1st Brigade and a company
of the Camel Corps reinforced the New Zealand Brigade, which had
suffered somewhat severely, but the enemy had had enough, and made no
further attack. This was the only serious fighting of the day.

The two brigades held an outpost line for the night from the sea coast,
through Ayun Kara to Khurbet Deiran, in touch with the Yeomanry on
their right. The Camel Corps Brigade occupied a support line a short
distance farther south. The Yeomanry Division remained in occupation of
Akir and Naane, watching the northern exits from the latter place, with
the 52nd Division lying behind it about El Mughar. The 75th Division
had a brigade in Junction Station, and the remainder of the division at
Mesmiye, while the Australian Mounted Division held an outpost line in
observation of the country to the south-east.

[Illustration: _Diagram illustrating the Situation on the 14th
November_]

On the 15th the Anzac Mounted Division, moving northwards over the
plain, occupied Ramleh without opposition, taking about 350 prisoners,
and on the following day the New Zealand Mounted Brigade entered Jaffa,
where it was received with acclamation by the populace. On the 17th
the division had reached the Nahr el Auja, near its mouth, without
having yet succeeded in bringing the enemy to action. Favoured by the
hard ground on the plain, and assisted to some extent by the railway
along which they were retreating, the Turks made the best use of the
nights during this period, and never stopped till they had put the wide
and deep channel of the river Auja between themselves and our troops.
They were now located, entrenched along the north bank of the river,
from near the sea to about Khurbet Hadrah. The Anzac Division received
orders to halt opposite this line, and remain in observation of the
enemy, pending the arrival of reinforcements, while the more important
task of the advance on Jerusalem was taken in hand.

Meanwhile the Yeomanry division was engaged driving the right half
of the enemy army into the hills. The road from Jerusalem to Jaffa
runs through a deep and narrow valley in the mountains, which has its
outlet at Amwas, near Latron. Here the valley opens out into the
Vale of Ajalon, which slopes gently down to the level of the coastal
plain. Running north and south across the western end of the Vale, a
bold ridge stands up sharply from the plain, between the villages of
Sidun and Abu Shusheh. The northern end of this ridge terminates at Abu
Shusheh, and the southern end at the hill of Tel Jezer, the ancient
Gezer, round which so many battles have been fought in the past.

The enemy had posted a strong rearguard on the northern end of the
ridge, to cover the retreat of his main body up the Jerusalem road.
The Yeomanry Division was ordered to dislodge this rearguard, and then
clear up the foothill country from Amwas, at the eastern end of the
Vale of Ajalon, to Ramleh.

The enemy's position was one of great natural strength, and was held
by a force of about 4000 Turks, well supplied with machine guns and
artillery. The greater part of this force was distributed in, and on
each side of, the village of Abu Shusheh, but a considerable body of
Turks with machine guns was stationed some distance farther south,
evidently in order to outflank any attack on the village from the west.
The country on that side of the position was of an undulating nature,
and afforded some cover to troops advancing over it. The ridge itself
rose abruptly from this undulating country, a forbidding-looking mass
of boulders and scrub. In places the solid rock outcropped from the
hill over large areas, and there were a number of caves among the
rocks, in many of which the Turks had posted machine guns.

General Barrow directed the 22nd Mounted Brigade and the Camel Corps
to attack the hill on the north-west and north respectively, and the
6th Mounted Brigade from the south-west. At seven o'clock the two
former brigades were in action, advancing dismounted. In view of the
open nature of the country on the west side of the ridge, and the
distance to be covered, General Godwin, who had been reconnoitring the
position with his regimental commanders since dawn, decided to repeat
his tactics of the 13th. Had he been able to obtain a nearer view of
the appalling country over which he was launching his squadrons, it is
possible that he might have decided to make at least the final assault
on foot, in which case we should have lost a classic example of the
capabilities of cavalry when well led.

Having made up his mind to attack mounted, he sent half of the brigade
machine guns, covered by a squadron of the Berks Yeomanry, to push
forward dismounted, taking advantage of what cover the ground afforded,
to a point west of Abu Shusheh, and as close in as possible, from
which to engage the enemy machine guns on the ridge. The Berks Battery
R.H.A., from a position some 3500 yards south-west of the village,
assisted in this task. The Bucks Yeomanry were ordered to charge the
enemy at Abu Shusheh, while the remainder of the Berks charged on the
left, against a spur running out to the west of the ridge, just north
of the village. The Dorset Yeomanry were held in reserve on the right,
to protect that flank. The attack of the 22nd Brigade protected the
left flank.

As soon as the battery and the machine guns were in action, Colonel
Cripps led the Bucks Yeomanry out into the open, in column of squadrons
in line of troop columns, and cantered forward towards the village,
under a fairly heavy, but ill-directed, fire. As they neared the
position, the Yeomanry came under severe enfilade fire from the group
of enemy machine guns on the southern portion of the ridge. Leading
his regiment at a gallop into the shelter of some dead ground, Colonel
Cripps halted them and signalled back for support. The Dorset Yeomanry
were at once sent off to make a turning movement to the south, and take
the hostile machine guns in rear. Some of the guns of the Berks Battery
were also turned on to this party of the enemy.

The appearance of the Dorsets engaged the attention of the Turkish
machine gunners, and the Bucks Yeomanry, taking advantage of the
respite, emerged from concealment, and raced at the position.

Their appearance was met by an outburst of hysterical fire from Abu
Shusheh, through which they passed almost unscathed, and reached the
foot of the ridge. Then, catching their horses short by the head, they
put them at the slope. Slipping and sliding, scrambling like cats among
the rocks, they galloped up, and went over the Turks with a cheer.

The two squadrons of the Berks galloped up on the left at the same
moment, and completed the work. Once our cavalry were in the position
the enemy made but a poor fight.

Meanwhile the Dorsets took advantage of the confusion caused in the
enemy ranks to charge the machine guns farther south. The charge got
well home, and most of the Turks were sabred; the rest surrendered.

While the three regiments were clearing the ridge of isolated parties
of the enemy who still showed fight, a force of Turks appeared from
among the rocks farther south, and attempted a counter-attack against
the right of our troops. The Berks Battery, however, was on the watch,
and at once opened a rapid and accurate fire on these Turks, driving
them back with heavy losses, and breaking up the counter-attack. By
nine o'clock the whole of this strong position was in our hands, with
360 prisoners, and all the enemy machine guns. About 400 Turks were
killed with the sword alone, and many more were found dead on the
position, as a result of our gun and machine-gun fire.

Our own losses were extraordinarily light, only thirty-seven of all
ranks killed and wounded. The Berks Battery and the Machine Gun
Squadron, by their effective covering fire, had helped materially to
keep down our casualties; but the chief credit for this desirable
result must be given to the Turks themselves, whose shooting during
the attack was exceedingly bad, and appeared to be completely out of
control. It is probable that among the garrison were many who had
spoken with survivors from El Mughar, and we may be sure that the
story of that charge had lost nothing in the telling, and probably
contributed largely to the 'nerves' of the Turks. The action earned a
generous tribute from the Commander-in-Chief, who described it in his
despatch as a brilliant piece of cavalry work.

The 22nd Brigade pursued the enemy towards Amwas, rounding up a few
prisoners, but the majority of the Turks escaped over the rocky,
inaccessible country to the east, where our cavalry had little chance
of catching them.



CHAPTER VIII

AN ENTR'ACTE


The enemy had now been driven into a tract of difficult mountain
country, very favourable for defensive tactics, and most unsuited for
cavalry. Reinforcements of men and guns were being hurried southwards
from Aleppo to his aid; some had already arrived. In order to drive the
eastern group of his forces through the mountains, and at the same time
hold the northern group on the plain, more infantry would be required.

The Royal Navy was reorganising the sea-borne supply line, but the
landing of stores, which had to be carried out in surf boats, depended
on a continuance of fine weather, and the 20th Corps could not,
therefore, be brought up with safety until our railway had been pushed
considerably farther north. Relays of Sappers had been working on
the line day and night since the fall of Gaza, and the railhead was
moving forward at a pace that beat all previous records for railway
construction in any part of the world. Even under the most favourable
conditions, however, it would take at least a fortnight to reach a
point from which it would be possible to supply our troops in the
mountains.

The 54th Division, 21st Corps, was already under orders to march from
Gaza, but, before it could start, its transport, which had been lent to
the 52nd and 75th Divisions, had to be returned, and this necessitated
a complete rearrangement of transport in the Corps.

Moreover, the operations had now continue seventeen days practically
without cessation, and a rest was absolutely necessary, especially
for the horses. The cavalry divisions had covered nearly 170 miles
since the 29th of October, and their horses had been watered, on an
average, only once in every thirty-six hours during that time. The
heat, too, had been intense, and the short ration, 9-1/2 lbs. of grain
per day, without any bulk food, had weakened them greatly. Indeed the
hardships endured by some of the horses were almost incredible. One of
the batteries of the Australian Mounted Division had only been able
to water its horses three times in the past nine days, the actual
intervals between waterings being 68, 72, and 76 hours respectively.
Yet this battery, on its arrival at Junction Station, had only lost
eight horses from exhaustion, not counting those killed in action or
evacuated wounded.

As an indication of the reduction in the fighting strength of the
cavalry, due to casualties and sickness among men and horses, it may
be mentioned that the G.O.C. of the 5th Mounted Brigade reported on
the 16th of November that he had, in his three regiments, only 690 men
mounted and fit for duty. It is true that this brigade had suffered
more severely than most of the others in the Corps, but all much under
strength in men and horses, and in urgent need of a rest.

The majority of the horses in the Corps were Walers, and there is no
doubt that these hardy Australian horses make the finest cavalry mounts
in the world. For many years past the Australians have been buying up
the well-bred failures on the English Turf, and buying them cheap;
not for racing purposes, but to breed saddle horses for up-country
stations. As a result of this policy, they have now got types of
compact, well built, saddle and harness horses that no other part of
the world can show. Rather on the light side, according to our ideas,
but hard as nails, and with beautifully clean legs and feet, their
record in this war places far above the cavalry horses of any other
nation. The Australians themselves can never understand our partiality
for the half-bred, weight-carrying hunter, which looks to them like
a cart horse. Their contention has always been that good blood will
carry more weight than big bone, and the experience of this war has
converted the writer, for one, entirely to their point of view. It
must be remembered that the Australian countrymen are bigger, heavier
men than their English brothers. They formed just half the Corps, and
it is probable that they averaged not far short of twelve stone each
stripped. To this weight must be added another nine and a half stone,
for saddle, ammunition, sword, rifle, clothes and accoutrements, so
that each horse carried a weight of over twenty-one stone, all day and
every day for seventeen days, on less than half the normal ration of
forage, and with only one drink in every thirty-six hours!

The weight-carrying English hunter had to be nursed back to fitness
after these operations, over a long period, while the little Australian
horses, without any special care other than good food and plenty of
water, were soon fit to go through another campaign as arduous as the
last one.

Junction Station was the first place where we found unlimited, and
accessible, water. Owing to vigorous action of the armoured cars, the
Turks had not had time to destroy the steam pumping plant there, and
our engineers soon had rows of drinking troughs erected, and a steady
stream of sweet clear water flowing into them. It was good to see the
horses burying their heads in the water, and drinking their fill at
last. The Anzac Mounted Division, about the same time, found excellent
water and a steam pump at the big Zionist wine press at Richon-le-Zion.

Everything about Junction Station spoke of the methodical German.
Solidly built, stone storehouses and locomotive sheds, well-found
machine shops, orderly stacks of priceless timber, pyramids of drums of
oil and petrol; everything in its place, and a place for everything.
Neat finger-posts and notice-boards directed the stranger where to go,
and where not to go, and a host of the inevitable 'Verboten' signs
bristled on every side. It was noticeable that these last were the only
ones that were written in Turkish as well as German, except the name
of the station, which the Germans called Wadi Surar. We found in the
station two locomotives and a number of railway wagons, which were of
great value to us during the ensuing few weeks, till our own railway
reached Ludd.

The heavy échelons of the cavalry ammunition columns, which had last
been seen at Sharia on the 7th November, advancing boldly on the enemy,
turned up at Junction Station on the 19th. They had been completely
lost during the intervening twelve days, and had wandered about,
neglected and forlorn, in the wake of the cavalry. During all this time
they had received no rations, and had been maintained entirely by the
predatory genius of the gunner subaltern in command. As this officer
has now returned to civilian life, and is a respected, and it is to
be hoped respectable, member of society, it is, perhaps, kinder to
draw a veil over his methods. Suffice it to say that he brought his
command of 600 horses and men into the Station, all fit and well, and
no questions were asked. And if, sometimes, a battalion waited in vain
for its rations; if, now and then, a harried supply officer found that
one of his camel convoys had delivered its supplies during the night
to some unknown unit, owing to a mistake; if guards on ration dumps
are notoriously vulnerable to cigarettes and soft words, one can only
reflect that war is a sad, stern business, in which 'dog eats dog' when
opportunity arises.

On the same day another wanderer returned, whose Odyssey was even more
remarkable. When the headquarters of the Australian Mounted Division
had been at Khurbet Jeladiyeh on the 13th, the divisional interpreter,
a Greek named Theodore, had overheard certain remarks made by a man in
the village, who was dressed as a native. The man was arrested, and
proved to be a Turkish spy. Terrified at finding himself discovered,
the miserable wretch begged for his life, and promised, if he was
spared, to put us on the track of the man who, he said, was the head
of the native spy organisation of the Turkish Army. He was told to say
what he knew, and we would consider whether his information was worth
his life. He then gave particulars of the man, who, it appeared, was
_his own father_, and said that he believed him to be at Beit Jibrin.

Accordingly the A.P.M. of the division set off next day with two cars
of a light car patrol[13] and the interpreter, to try and surprise the
arch spy at Beit Jibrin. The party arrived at the village about nine
o'clock in the morning, to find the bird flown. On making inquiries,
they learnt that he had gone on--to quote the report of the A.P.M.--'to
a place called Ram Allah Rakhman, which we took to be somewhere near
Bethlehem, but subsequently discovered to be the same place!' The
enemy's right group was at this time in the neighbourhood of Hebron,
and his left group was west of Junction Station, so that Bethlehem was
a good fifteen miles behind his line. But this trifling fact did not
in any way deter the pursuers. What could the Turkish Army do against
two Ford cars _and_ two machine guns? They blithely took the track to
Bethlehem.

Shortly afterwards they came suddenly upon a patrol of six Turkish
cavalrymen. 'We opened fire at once,' so runs the A.P.M.'s report,
'and killed the men and five of the horses. The sixth horse unluckily
escaped, but we came up with it later on and destroyed it, thus leaving
no trace of the enemy patrol!' A few miles farther on, they encountered
another, and larger, body of enemy cavalry. 'This time,' says the
report, 'there were about thirty of them, but, as we came upon them
unawares, we had no difficulty in driving them off, after killing a
good few, and we then proceeded on our way.'

Late in the afternoon the cars drove into Bethlehem, where our men were
received with transports of joy by the inhabitants, nearly all of whom
are Christians. The poor people crowded round their deliverers to kiss
their hands, shouting and weeping, and pressing offerings of food on
them, much to their embarrassment.

As it was getting late, and they found that their quarry had again
moved on, the hunters consented to stay and eat with some of the
notables of the town, after which they got under way again, and drove
a short distance along the Beersheba road, to a place where they could
hide the cars for the night.

At dawn next morning they resumed their journey, and motored _right
through the enemy force_, at Hebron, without being detected.
Fortunately the Turks had no post actually on the road, and it is
probable that a couple of cars coming from behind their lines attracted
little attention. The party drove quietly on to Beersheba, where they
found a canteen, and, having loaded up with stores, returned in triumph
to Junction Station.

In the meantime Corps Headquarters had become seriously alarmed at
their long absence, and had despatched another patrol of two cars to
try and find them. These cars got to Beit Jibrin, where they found, and
captured, the spy who was the cause of all the trouble, and who had
doubled back on his tracks from Bethlehem. Then, hearing that the cars
had started off with the intention of going to Bethlehem, they gave
them up for lost, and returned to headquarters to report.

Meanwhile an aeroplane, that had also been sent to look for the first
patrol, came upon the second one returning from Beit Jibrin, and at
once flew back to Corps Headquarters and reported that the lost sheep
were found, and were on their way back. The second patrol came in a few
hours afterwards, and reported that there were no signs of the missing
cars, which must have been captured by the enemy.

By now the Corps was thoroughly puzzled, and not a little angry.
The result was that, when the blushing Ulysses did finally arrive,
instead of receiving a 'few kind words of praise' for carrying out an
exceedingly daring reconnaissance, he got an unmerciful dressing down
for giving headquarters such a fright!

On the 18th of November the populations of the enemy countries received
their first intimation that all was not well in the East. Up till
this date the Turkish papers, after chronicling each day the many
victories won in the past twenty-four hours in France and Russia, had
added gravely, 'On the Palestine front there is no change!' At last
the Germans came to the conclusion that this bluff might possibly be
carried too far, so they caused to be printed in their own papers what
purported to be an official Turkish _communiqué_, though none of the
Turkish papers received it till after it had been published in Berlin.
This precious document stated that in Palestine 'there had been a
retirement _according to plan_.' It might have been added that the plan
included leaving 12,000 prisoners and more than 100 guns in the hands
of the enemy!

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 13: Unarmoured Ford vans carrying a machine gun each.]



CHAPTER IX

MOUNTAIN WARFARE


The advance was resumed on the 18th of November. During the preceding
two days there had been no movement of importance on the part of our
forces. The 22nd Mounted Brigade had located the Turkish rearguard at
Amwas on the 16th, and had then cleared the foothill country as far
as Ramleh, without meeting any more of the enemy. On the same day the
8th Mounted Brigade had entered Ludd without opposition, rounding up a
few prisoners there. The Anzac Division remained in observation of the
northern group of the Turkish forces, along the Nahr el Auja, and the
Australian Mounted Division moved close to Amwas, in preparation for
the advance up the Jerusalem road.

In order to avoid fighting in or near the Holy Places, the
Commander-in-Chief determined to try and isolate Jerusalem completely.
In order to do this it was necessary to gain possession of the only
road which traverses the Judæan Range from north to south, between
Nablus and Jerusalem.

The Yeomanry Division was accordingly directed to move by the old
Roman road from Ludd, through Berfilya and Beit Ur el Tahta, to Bire,
pushing through the mountains as quickly as possible. The two available
infantry divisions were to advance up the Jerusalem road, preceded by
two brigades of the Australian Mounted Division, to about Kuryet el
Enab, whence they were to strike north-eastwards towards the Nablus
road. The 5th Mounted Brigade, moving up the Wadi Surar, would protect
the right flank of the infantry during their advance. Finally the 53rd
Division, now about Hebron, was to press on from that place, and secure
the Jericho road, east of Jerusalem.

The city would thus be cut off from all sources of reinforcement and
supply, and, it was hoped, would capitulate without further bloodshed.

On the morning of the 18th the Australian Mounted Division found a
force of the enemy entrenched on the hill of Amwas, which stands square
in the middle of the pass, just where it debouches into the Vale of
Ajalon. The artillery of the division, assisted by some of the guns
of the 75th Division, opened a vigorous fire on the enemy on Amwas
Hill, to which the Turks made but a feeble reply, while the 3rd A.L.H.
Brigade endeavoured to pass through the hills to the north, round the
enemy's right flank.

All day the regiments struggled on among the rocks, scrambling up and
down the steep hills, and making very slow progress. By four o'clock in
the afternoon they had advanced barely five miles, and the order was
then given to return, and leave the task to the infantry the next day.
The threat to their flank had, however, been enough for the Turks, who
retired during the night, abandoning four guns, the teams of which had
been killed by the fire of the R.H.A.

There had been no fighting to speak of, but the action was of great
interest from the associations of the place. From its position in the
mouth of the valley, Amwas is, and always has been, the key of the pass
to Jerusalem. Who holds this hill holds the city. From the earliest
ages, all the armies that have sought to take Jerusalem have passed
this way, save only that of Joshua. Philistine and Hittite, Babylonian
and Assyrian, Egyptian and Roman and Greek, Frankish Knights of the
Cross, all have passed this way, and all have watered the hill of Amwas
with their blood.

The Australian Mounted Division handed over the further advance to the
75th Division next day, and withdrew to the mouth of the Nahr Sukereir,
to get grazing for its horses. Two days later the division marched back
to El Mejdel, in order to relieve the supply situation. Our broad-gauge
railway had now nearly reached this place, and it was possible to draw
supplies direct from railhead with the divisional train.

The 8th and 22nd Brigades of the Yeomanry Division plunged into
the hills on the morning of the 18th, and soon found themselves in
difficulties. In this mountain country, in which there were no wheeled
vehicles, and all goods were carried on the backs of donkeys, what was
known to the natives as a good road was usually little more than a
goat track, winding in and out among the boulders. As far as Beit Sira
there was some semblance of a road, though, even on this portion of it,
the gunners were at work all day removing the biggest of the boulders
from the path, before their guns could pass. Beyond Beit Sira the road
was nothing but the merest footpath, leading straight down and up the
numerous deep and narrow ravines that intersect the country in all
directions. Sometimes it required half an hour's reconnaissance to move
forward half a mile.

Under such conditions, the 8th Brigade accomplished a remarkable feat
in penetrating nearly as far as Beit Ur el Tahta by nightfall. The 22nd
Brigade reached Shilta the same evening, but had to send back all its
guns and transport, owing to the difficulties of the country. The 6th
Brigade, starting on the following morning, reached Beit Ur el Tahta
about two in the afternoon.

Cavalry, as such, were really unable to operate in this country. They
were confined to the roads, or the tracks that did duty as roads, and,
even on these, they could often move only in single file. Consequently
they were exceedingly vulnerable, and their inability to make effective
use of flank guards, or even to deploy quickly when attacked, increased
the dangers to which they were exposed. Horses were little more than
an encumbrance, reducing the number of men available for dismounted
fighting, largely increasing the amount of transport required, and
adding but little to the mobility of the troops.

In the present case, however, there were several reasons for attempting
to push the Yeomanry through the hills. In the first place it was known
that the enemy forces had been broken into two widely separated groups,
and there was thus little danger of any attack from the north, for
the next few days at any rate. Moreover there was a saving of time in
employing the Yeomanry instead of the 52nd Division, as the latter was
a day's march farther west when the plan of advance was decided upon.
Finally, native reports of the hill country had led to the belief that
it was of a much easier nature than proved to be the case.

The winter rains broke with a heavy downpour on the 19th, and this
added to the difficulties of the cavalry, turning the valley bottoms
into a sea of viscid, black mud, and the beds of the ravines into
rushing torrents. The sudden drop in temperature which accompanied
the rain was a severe trial to our troops, who were dressed in light,
khaki-drill clothing, and had no blankets, greatcoats, or tents.

During the morning of the 19th of November the 8th and 22nd Brigades
struggled through the rain and mud along the Wadi el Sunt, towards
Beitunia and Ain Arik respectively, but about mid-day they encountered
a force of Turks which had come down the main road from Nablus to Bire,
and then marched westwards to oppose the Yeomanry advance. Unable to
make headway against the difficulties of the country and the opposition
of the enemy, who was in considerable force, the brigades held their
position, and awaited the arrival of the 6th Brigade.

On the 20th the division made another effort to get on, the 6th Brigade
moving to the assistance of the 8th. All wheels, including the guns,
had to be sent back to Ramleh, as they were unable to move, and water
for horses was scarce, despite the rain. Strong, organised resistance
was now encountered at Beitunia, and prisoners captured from the enemy
in the course of the fighting proved to be men from fresh, well-trained
units from Aleppo, part of the Yilderim force. Little headway was made
during the day. Rain came on again in the night, and no supplies were
able to reach the division.

Next day the Yeomanry made a final attempt to storm the high ridge of
Beitunia, which had held up their advance for two days. The 6th and
8th Brigades attacked the ridge itself from the west, while the 22nd
Brigade, operating farther north towards Ram Allah, tried to turn
the enemy's right flank. The attacking brigades got to within a few
hundred yards of Beitunia village, on the top of the ridge, when they
encountered a fresh enemy force, that outnumbered them by three to
one. The Turks had a number of field and mountain guns, that had come
from the north along the metalled road, while our troops had only one
mountain battery. The Yeomanry made several desperate attempts to
force their way up the steep, rocky sides of the ridge, but were unable
to reach the top. Early in the afternoon, more enemy reinforcements
arrived from the north, and counter-attacked strongly, forcing our
troops back into the deep ravine on the west side of the ridge. The
situation soon became serious, and orders were given for all three
brigades to break off the action and retire to Beit Ur el Foka. The
withdrawal began after dark, and was carried out successfully.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the difficulties of the
cavalry. The country was a maze of high, rocky ridges, running in
all directions, and separated by deep and narrow ravines, the sides
of which were almost precipitous, and the bottoms muddy morasses.
The ground was covered with a mass of boulders, among which grew
sparse patches of coarse scrub. Mounted work was, of course, out of
the question in such country, and all the horses had to be kept far
back from the fighting line. A quarter of the whole force was thus
occupied in holding the horses, and, as the division had already
been considerably weakened by the fighting of the past three weeks,
the actual number of rifles available for the advance was hopelessly
inadequate. It was clear that the attempt of the division to reach
the main road had been definitely checked, and the only thing to be
done was to try and hold on to the positions already gained till
reinforcements could arrive. Men and horses were short of food, owing
to the great difficulty of getting up supplies in these roadless
mountains during the rains.

While the Yeomanry Division was slowly fighting to a standstill in
the north, the 75th Division, advancing along the main road towards
Jerusalem, and the 52nd Division on the track north of this road,
through Beit Likia, pressed slowly forward, against strong resistance
from the enemy, to Kustul and Beit Dukka respectively. The latter
division sent a brigade to the north on the night of the 21st, and
seized the high hill of Nebi Samwil, the traditional tomb of the
Prophet Samuel. This hill dominates all the country to the east, even
to Jerusalem itself, which can be seen from its summit. It was from
here that the followers of Richard Coeur de Lion first looked upon
Jerusalem in 1192, and pointed it out to the King. But Richard hid his
face in his casque, lest he should see it, and prayed: 'Lord! let me
not set mine eyes upon Thy Holy City till I have rescued it from the
Infidel.'

Recognising the importance of this hill in operations against
Jerusalem, the Turks next day launched a series of determined attacks
against it, but were unable to retake it. Day after day, till within
a few days of the surrender of the city, the enemy attacked the hill,
and the fiercest and most sustained fighting of the campaign took place
round it. But in spite of all their efforts, it remained in our hands,
and became, at last, the key that opened to us the gates of the Holy
City.

The next four days were comparatively quiet on the mountain front. Both
sides were too exhausted by the arduous fighting they had undergone,
and by the cold and wet, to make much effort, and operations were
confined to minor enterprises.

During this period the Yeomanry Division held a line, running north and
south, along the heights just east of Beit Ur el Foka, and extending
for about three miles. On the 23rd all horses had to be sent back to
Ramleh, as it was impossible any longer to transport forage to them in
the mountains. The following day the division made a demonstration
along the whole front to assist the attack of the infantry against
El Jib, where the Turks held a position barring our advance to the
Nablus road. The enemy, however, was found in too great force for the
attack to be pushed home, and, after being repulsed in three desperate
assaults, our infantry had to abandon the attempt.

Meanwhile, on the plain, the Anzac Division had remained in observation
of the enemy along the Auja, and had been engaged in active patrol
work and reconnaissances for crossing places. Four possible places
had been located; a road bridge at Khurbet Hadrah, a ford about two
miles farther east, another at Jerisheh, and a third at the mouth of
the river. All these crossings were held by parties of the enemy. The
average width of the river was thirty-five yards, and the depth five
to seven feet. The banks were in most places steep, and the bottom was
very muddy.

On the 24th the Division received orders to establish one or more
bridgeheads north of the river, with the object of inducing the enemy
to believe that we intended to make a farther advance along the coast.
At least one of these bridgeheads was to be retained if possible.

General Chaytor decided to force the passage of the river by the ford
at the mouth, where the bottom was sandy, covering the crossing by
demonstrations at Hadrah and at the other two fords. The only troops
available for the enterprise were the New Zealand Brigade and two
battalions of infantry lent by the 54th Division,[14] a small enough
force, in view of the known strength of the enemy. The rest of the
Anzac Division was, however, required to watch the enemy forces on the
right, about Mulebbis, and in the foothills farther east.

The operations commenced shortly after mid-day, the infantry advancing
with much noise and display on the bridge and upper fords, while the
New Zealanders made for the ford at the mouth of the river. They
crossed here without much difficulty, overpowering the small enemy post
covering the ford, and then galloped along the north bank to Sheikh
Muannis. An armoured car battery was now pushed up to the south bank
of the Auja opposite Hadrah, and opened fire on the Turks holding the
bridge there. At the same time the New Zealanders swept down on the
flank from Muannis, and drove off the enemy. A battalion of infantry
now crossed the river, and established a bridgehead on the north
bank, with half the battalion at the bridge and half in the village
of Muannis. During the night two squadrons of the New Zealand Brigade
were posted on the high ground north of Hadrah and Sheikh Muannis, and
a third covered the ford at the mouth of the river. Under cover of the
darkness the divisional engineers threw a pontoon bridge across the
river at Jerisheh, which was held by the other battalion of infantry.

[Illustration: Arrival of Marshal von Falkenhayn in Jerusalem in 1917.

(From an enemy photograph.)]

[Illustration: 9.45 inch Austrian Howitzer on the Nablus road.

(From an enemy photograph.)]

Just after dawn next morning, the cavalry north of the river were
heavily attacked by a large force of Turks, and driven back. The enemy
followed up resolutely, and attacked the bridgehead at Hadrah. The
squadron at the mouth of the river, reinforced by another regiment, was
ordered to move against the Turkish right, while the remaining regiment
of the brigade moved up to the south bank of the Auja at Hadrah. The
Somerset Battery R.H.A., the only available artillery, came into action
close by, the fire of the guns being directed by the battery commander
from a house in Sheikh Muannis, across the river.

At half-past eight, the bridgehead at Hadrah was driven in, and the
infantry fell back across the river. At the same time the two companies
in Sheikh Muannis, which were moving to the support of the bridgehead,
were heavily counter-attacked, and driven back to Jerisheh, where
they crossed by the pontoon bridge, covered by the two squadrons of
New Zealanders. The led horses of these squadrons were sent back to
the ford at the mouth of the river at a gallop. They had to run the
gauntlet of close-range rifle and machine-gun fire, but got through
with comparatively few casualties, and crossed the river under cover of
the squadron there, which then withdrew to the south bank.

The last man to leave Sheikh Muannis was the battery commander. He
remained, coolly directing the fire of his guns, till the Turks were in
the village, and then made a run for it, swimming the river under fire,
and got safely away. His fine work had greatly assisted the retirement
of our small force.

As soon as the last of our troops had been safely withdrawn, the Anzac
Division fell back to a position on the high ground overlooking the
south bank of the Auja, from Yahudieh, through Nebi Tari, to the sea,
and hurriedly dug in, expecting an attack. The Turks, however, seemed
to be content with having thrown our troops back across the river, and
made no further move.

The operations had shown that the enemy was in such force that it would
be impossible to maintain a bridgehead on the right bank, without
holding the whole of the high ground two miles north of the river. As
sufficient troops were not available for this purpose, the line south
of the Auja, which commanded all the crossing places, was entrenched
and held by the Anzac Division, supported by a brigade of infantry,
until the second, and successful, passage of the river four weeks
later.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 14: This division had arrived from Gaza on the 19th, and was
holding a line from the right of the Anzac Division to the village of
Shilta, about five miles west of the left of the Yeomanry Division.]



CHAPTER X

THE FALL OF JERUSALEM


On November the 27th the enemy renewed his activity in the hills.
The Yeomanry Division was, at the time, reduced to about 800 rifles
in the line, and was holding a position nearly four miles long with
this imposing force. To add to the sense of security, there was a gap
of about five miles between the left flank of the division and the
nearest post of the 54th Division at Shilta. Moreover, the only line of
communications was still by the Beit Sira-Berfilya-Ludd road, up which
the division had marched on its first advance. This road, along which
all ammunition and supplies had to come, ran parallel to, and only just
behind, this gap in the line, and there seemed to be no particular
reason why the enemy should not walk through the gap whenever he felt
so inclined, and sit down on the road. The 'line' consisted of a few
posts, held by as many men as could be spared, and a number of small,
roving patrols. One of these posts, consisting of three officers
and sixty men, was in a small stone building on the top of a ridge
near Zeitûn. It was attacked early in the afternoon of the 27th by a
battalion of Turks with machine guns and artillery. The fight went on
till dark, when the Turks drew off to nurse their wounds and get their
breath for another attack. The commander of the garrison, now reduced
to twenty-eight all ranks, sent an apologetic signal message to the 6th
Brigade headquarters to ask if a few men could be spared to reinforce
him. The house which his men had been holding had been destroyed by
shell fire, and every part of the top of the hill was reeking with
the fumes of high explosive shell. Two weak troops were sent to the
assistance of the garrison, though it was realised that the provision
of this reinforcement dangerously weakened the rest of the front!

Thus strengthened and encouraged, the garrison of the Zeitûn post
successfully held out all night against repeated attacks. The Turks
were again reinforced during the night, however, and next morning, as
it was clear that the little garrison could not hope to hold out any
longer, it was withdrawn. The enemy immediately occupied the Zeitûn
ridge, the possession of which gave him command over our positions,
and necessitated a withdrawal of our line. On the left flank the 22nd
Brigade was thrown back, covering Beit Ur el Tahta, and the line then
ran from that village, through Beit Ur el Foka, to about El Tire. The
right flank of the division was in exiguous and intermittent touch with
the 52nd Division. The left was entirely 'in the air.'

Throughout the day Turkish troops were moving to the north, and making
their way westwards towards the gap in our line west of Beit Ur el
Tahta. Large parties continually attacked the Yeomanry at different
points, thus preventing the division from making any effective change
of dispositions to meet the threatened envelopment.

The 7th Mounted Brigade, which was in Corps Reserve at Zernuka, and the
Australian Mounted Division, resting at El Mejdel, were ordered up.
Both made forced marches during the night of the 27th, and the former
arrived at Beit Ur el Tahta at five in the morning of the 28th, just in
time to help the 22nd Mounted Brigade to repulse a heavy attack from
the north.

A brigade of the 52nd Division was sent to reinforce the exposed
left flank of the Yeomanry Division, but, before it arrived there, a
small party of Turks with some machine guns walked quietly through
the gap between the Yeomanry Division and the 54th, and took up a
position overlooking the Berfilya track. Later in the morning, a
section of the Yeomanry Divisional Ammunition Column, coming up the
road from Ramleh with sorely needed ammunition for the division, was
ambushed by the Turks and utterly destroyed. A motor cyclist going
down to Ramleh reached the scene immediately afterwards, and, seeing
the wrecked wagons and the dead men and horses on the road, swung
round his machine, and raced back again as fast as the track would
allow. The Turks opened fire with their machine guns, but failed to
hit him, and he carried the news back to the division that the road
was cut. A detachment from the brigade of the 52nd, which had been
sent up to cover this flank, pushed ahead, and drove off this party
of Turks. The brigade then attacked the village of Suffa, which was
full of enemy troops, in order to try and relieve the pressure on the
left of the Yeomanry Division, but the Turks were found in too great
strength to be dislodged. Fortunately, however, they made no further
attempt to penetrate through the gap, probably because they were really
unaware of its existence. Positions on both sides were exceedingly
ill-defined, owing to the impossibility of digging trenches in the
solid rock, of which most of the hill and ridge tops were composed.
Very heavy fighting continued throughout the day, but the enemy, though
continually reinforced, was unable to break our line.

The Australian Mounted Division arrived at Khurbet Deiran early in the
morning, having marched the twenty-one miles from Mejdel in one night.
The 4th A.L.H. Brigade at once pushed on into the hills, and came into
the line in the centre, in support of the 6th Brigade, about five in
the evening. The hard-worked 52nd Division contrived to spare another
battalion, which reinforced the 7th Brigade on the left.

The attack on this brigade was resumed at dark, but was driven off,
after prolonged and bitter fighting. As an indication of the close
nature of the struggle, it may be mentioned that the headquarters of
two of the Yeomanry brigades used up all their revolver ammunition
during the day.

Next day the Yeomanry Division and the 7th Brigade were relieved in the
line by two more brigades of infantry from the 52nd and 74th Divisions,
the latter of which had just arrived from the south. These reliefs were
carried out in the intervals between repeated fierce attacks by the
enemy, who flung his troops against our line all day with the greatest
determination. Had it not been possible to relieve the Yeomanry about
this time, there is no doubt that they would have been overwhelmed.
So depleted were their ranks that the substitution of two brigades of
infantry for the four cavalry brigades meant six rifles in the line for
every one that had been there before. This increase in strength, with
the addition of the Australian Mounted Division, sufficed to hold all
the enemy attacks.

On the following morning the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade relieved the brigade of
the 52nd Division on the left of the Yeomanry line, near El Burj, and
the headquarters and artillery of the division moved up in the evening.

On the same day, the weary troops of the Yeomanry Division withdrew
to Annabeh, whence they marched to the neighbourhood of El Mughar to
rest and refit, within sight of the hill which they had captured so
brilliantly a fortnight earlier.

During their twelve days in the hills they had been fighting
continually, day and night, not only against a vigorous and determined
enemy, but against the difficulties of a roadless mountain country.
Exposed to constant rain and cold, without tents, blankets or
greatcoats, often short of food, and opposed at all times by greatly
superior forces of the enemy, they had set an example of dogged courage
and tenacity and of unquenchable cheerfulness that has never been
surpassed.

These were the last operations in the East in which they were destined
to take part. In the following spring, in response to the urgent call
from France for more troops to stem the great German attack, the
division was disbanded, and reorganised into a number of dismounted
machine gun companies. After a short course of training, these
companies embarked for France, there to earn fresh laurels for their
old division in the last great act of the war.

Units of the division had fought in nearly every action since the
beginning of the war with Turkey, and all had distinguished themselves.
At Suvla Bay in the Peninsula; at Sollum and Mersa Matruh in the
western desert; at Romani, Maghdaba and Rafa during the advance across
Sinai; in the two first battles of Gaza; and lastly in the great ride
over the Plains of Philistia, and the stubborn drive into the Judæan
Mountains. Everywhere the Turks had learned to dread the long swords
and the steady rifles of the Yeomen. Their comrades of the Desert
Mounted Corps bade farewell to the gallant division with real sorrow.

The enemy made one more attempt to break our line at its weakest part
on the night of the 30th. About two o'clock in the morning a battalion
of picked assault troops from his 19th Division was launched against
the position held by the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade. The Turks were well
supplied with hand grenades, which were not carried by our cavalry at
that time, and pushed their attack in the most resolute manner. Our
line was forced back a few hundred yards, and a small, but important,
hill was lost for a time. A squadron of the Gloucester Yeomanry (5th
Mounted Brigade) and a company of infantry from the 52nd Division
reinforced the 3rd Brigade, and the Turks' attempt to break through was
finally defeated, but only after the complete destruction of the enemy
battalion. Three times during the night, between 2 A.M. and 6 A.M.,
this gallant regiment flung itself against our positions, pressing on
each time with the most reckless courage. Each attack was repelled with
heavy losses to the enemy, and in the end the battalion was wiped out:
172 Turks, many of them wounded, remained in our hands as prisoners;
the rest were killed.

The 5th Mounted Brigade rejoined the Australian Division from the
21st Corps on the 1st of December, being replaced by the 10th A.L.H.
Regiment, which remained on the right flank of the 60th Division, and
gained touch with the 53rd Division on the 7th December.

The Australian Mounted Division remained in the mountains till the end
of December, when it was withdrawn to Deir el Belah to rest and refit.
It had little fighting during the period spent in the hills, but the
awful weather fully made up for any lack of activity on the part of
the enemy. During the whole time rain fell almost incessantly, and the
cold winds that swept up and down the narrow valleys were exceedingly
trying to men who were nearly always in wet clothes.

But, if the conditions in the hills were execrable, those in the
coastal plain, where all the horses of the division were kept, were
nearly as bad. The rains broke late this year, and, when they did
come, fell with unusual violence. The plain was soon transformed into
a deep sea of mud. Large areas were completely under water, and the
flood carried immense quantities of soil into the innumerable small
wadis that intersect the plain, filling them bank full with mud.
When the waters subsided a little, from time to time, these wadis
were indistinguishable from the surrounding country, and became very
dangerous traps. There was more than one instance of men and horses
being engulfed and drowned in their horrible black depths.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1917 are never likely to be forgotten
by any of the troops who were in Palestine at the time. A raging storm
of rain fell without intermission for thirty-six hours. The railway was
washed away in several places, wagons and lorries were unable to move,
and hundreds of camels in the ration convoys lay down in the water that
covered the land, and died. No food or other supplies could be brought
up to the troops.

A small party of Yeomanry, making its way northwards from Esdud,
reached the bridge over the Nahr Sukereir about mid-day. The men halted
to feed their horses on the bridge, which consisted of a single high
stone arch, and was comparatively dry. After half an hour's halt, they
attempted to continue their march, but found the country to the north
of the river so deep in water and mud that they could not get on. They
then tried to go back again, but, in the meantime, the waters had
risen behind them, and they found themselves cut off on the bridge,
which was now a small island in an apparently limitless sea of muddy
water. Marooned on their tiny island, lashed by the rain and the bitter
wind, they spent the night and the next day (Christmas Day) huddled
miserably together, without food, fire, or shelter! On the 26th the
waters subsided a little, and they were able to struggle back to their
camp.

The horses, already thin and tired after the heavy work and short
rations of the past month, went back rapidly in condition. They were
standing always up to their hocks in mud, wet through nearly the whole
time, and, in this treeless country, there was little or no shelter
from the biting winds. Forage, too, was often woefully short, owing to
partial breakdowns of the supply columns. It is small wonder that, by
the end of December, when the division was relieved, they resembled
ragged scarecrows rather than horses.

Much trouble was caused in the mountains owing to the impossibility
of preventing information reaching the enemy from the natives. A
regulation, prohibiting the inhabitants of the villages behind our
lines from leaving their houses during the hours of darkness, was
rigidly enforced, and any natives found at large during the night
were liable to be shot at sight. Nevertheless, with a line so lightly
held as was ours, and with no regular system of trenches, it was a
comparatively easy matter for the villagers to pass between the lines,
even in daylight, and much information undoubtedly reached the enemy in
this way.

One day a small patrol of five men of the Australian Mounted Division
was making its way cautiously forward towards the enemy position in
the village of Deir el Kuddis. Crossing the bottom of a deep valley,
the patrol came upon a solitary Arab squatting among the rocks in the
bottom of the ravine. He said he had come from Deir el Kuddis, and
that it had been evacuated by the enemy. Our men, one of whom spoke
a little Arabic, questioned him closely, but he stuck to his story,
and also showed them a path which led to the village. They left him
in the ravine, and, taking the path indicated, moved warily forward
towards the village. Shortly afterwards, they heard a jackal cry in
the valley behind them, but, as the hills were full of these beasts,
whose mournful wailing was to be heard all night long, the men paid no
attention to it at the time. Almost immediately afterwards a concealed
enemy machine gun opened fire on them unexpectedly, killing one man
and wounding another. They withdrew, carrying their dead comrade with
them, and were making their way back towards the ravine where they had
left the native, when one of them was suddenly struck by the thought
that he had never before heard a jackal call in the daytime. After a
discussion, they came to the conclusion that the jackal cry must have
been made by the Arab they had seen, as a signal to the enemy. One of
them accordingly went to look for the man, and found him in the same
place. As soon as he saw the soldier, the native jumped up with a cry,
and attempted to run away, but was promptly shot dead by the Australian.

The body of this man lay unburied in the bottom of the ravine all the
time we were there, as none of the villagers would touch it. They had
taken and buried the bodies of several other natives who had been shot
when found away from their villages after dark, and, as they would not
give the same treatment to this man, it is possible that he was a Turk
in disguise.

[Illustration: One of our Horse Artillery batteries in action in the
mountains west of Jerusalem. Note the bivouac shelters pitched among
the guns as camouflage.]

[Illustration: Reading the British Proclamation in Jerusalem, 11th
November, 1917. General Allenby with Allied Representatives in the
centre.]

In the latter half of November the four infantry divisions that had
remained about Gaza and Karm during the pursuit of the enemy commenced
to move up to the front, and, by the end of the month, were all in the
line from the sea to Nebi Samwil. At the beginning of December the
53rd Division began its advance up the Hebron road, and, on the early
morning of the 9th, was in touch with the 60th Division, and had one
brigade fighting its way up the Mount of Olives. The latter division,
pivoting on the hill of Nebi Samwil, had made a wonderful fighting
wheel to the left during the past three days, and had now closed in on
Jerusalem on the west and south.

At eight o'clock in the morning the keys of the Holy City, borne by
the Mayor under a flag of truce, were handed to an officer of the 60th
Division.

After six hundred years the Christian had returned.

       *       *       *       *       *

General Allenby made his official entry into Jerusalem on the 11th,
accompanied by representatives of the Allied Nations. This event, and
the magnificent infantry fighting that led up to it, have been too well
chronicled elsewhere to need recapitulation in this narrative, which is
concerned only with the doings of the cavalry.

One may be permitted, however, to emphasise once more the impressive
contrast between the entry of the Conqueror of Jerusalem and that of
the crazy mountebank who had visited it twenty years before. The German
Emperor entered on horseback, surrounded by an immense retinue, in
uniforms blazing with medals and decorations. General Allenby entered
on foot and almost alone, dressed in worn, service khaki, and carrying
a cane. _But_ he went through the Jaffa Gate, which, in accordance with
ancient tradition, is opened only to a conqueror of the Holy City; the
Kaiser entered through a breach in the wall.

The Australian Mounted Division was relieved by the 10th Infantry
Division on the 1st of January, and the 3rd and 5th Brigades withdrew
from the hills that day, and marched south for Deir el Belah, followed
a week later by the 4th Brigade. The three days' march was carried out
in continual, heavy rain, changing to hail and sleet every now and
then, and through a country that was nearly all under water. Once among
the clean, dry sandhills of Deir el Belah, however, all troubles were
over, and soon afterwards the weather improved, and clothes could be
dried for the first time for seven weeks. The Yeomanry Division had
moved into the same area shortly before the Australian Division arrived.

The Anzac Division remained on the Auja till the 7th of December, when
it withdrew to rest at Richon-le-Zion. Cavalry operations were much
hampered by the continual rain and deep mud, but the division carried
out a series of daring and successful raids on the enemy, which kept
him constantly on the jump, and paved the way for the final crossing of
the Auja on the 21st and 22nd of December. Two brigades took part in
this operation, in support of the 52nd and 54th Divisions, and, as soon
as our line was consolidated on the north bank, the whole division was
withdrawn, and went into camp near the coast to rest.

Between the 31st of October and the end of December the Desert
Mounted Corps had advanced some eighty miles,[15] fought nine general
engagements, and captured about 9500 prisoners and 80 guns.

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 15: The actual distances covered by the three divisions in
the period were:--Anzac Mounted Division, one hundred and seventy
miles; Yeomanry Division, one hundred and ninety miles; Australian
Mounted Division, two hundred and thirty miles.]



CHAPTER XI

DOWN TO THE JORDAN


The advance across the Nahr el Auja at the end of December 1917,
and the infantry operations north of Jerusalem about the same time,
established our line sufficiently far north of Jaffa and Jerusalem
to secure these two places from all but long-range gun fire from the
enemy. The line was then consolidated, and a period of trench warfare
set in, which, with the exception of several minor operations, was to
last till the autumn of the following year.

For the first part of this period, the Desert Mounted Corps remained in
the neighbourhood of Gaza to rest and train.

The horses were in a sorry state, and the remount depots were empty,
save for a few animals which had been returned from veterinary
hospitals, after treatment for wounds or other injuries. Owing to the
shortage of shipping, there was no prospect of any fresh remounts
arriving in the country for an indefinite time. Consequently all the
horses of the Corps had to be nursed back to condition before the
cavalry could take part in any further serious work.

The divisions were all camped on deep sand, among the coastal
dunes--the Yeomanry and the Australian Mounted Divisions round Gaza,
the Anzac Division farther north. The heaviest rain drained through
this sand immediately, and half an hour of sunshine was enough to dry
the surface. For the first time in many weeks the horses had clean,
dry standings, and the effect of this was soon evident in the improved
condition of their legs and coats. At the end of the first fortnight,
which was a period of rest for men as well as horses, there was an all
round improvement. Forage was plentiful again, and of fair quality,
though every one would have given a great deal for a few tons of good
oats, in place of the eternal barley.

After the first fortnight, training recommenced, gradually at first, so
as not to check the recovery of the horses. By the end of the month,
however, brigade and divisional schemes were in full swing.

The training was varied by salvage work on the old trenches at
Gaza, from which a great quantity of ammunition and stores of every
description was collected. Most of the men had an opportunity of
visiting Gaza, and many were the 'curios' collected among the ruins, to
be taken home to sweethearts and wives on that glorious 'leave,' that
was always coming, but never quite came.

At a little distance the city appeared to be intact, except for two
minarets, accidentally broken by shell fire, the jagged stumps of which
stood up conspicuously. This curious, undamaged appearance was due to
the great quantity of trees which grew all over the town, and which
had now put on their spring coat of green. The kindly leaves hid the
scarred and broken skeletons of the trees, and veiled the shapeless
ruins of the houses.

Inside, however, was a scene of utter desolation. Not a living thing
was to be seen in this city, which once held 40,000 souls, save an
occasional, hungry pariah dog, engaged in his horrible work among the
graves of the dead.

[Illustration: Ruins of the Great Mosque at Gaza, showing one of the
arches of the old Crusader Church.]

The great mosque, which had once been a noble, Christian church,
was almost entirely destroyed, but not by our guns. The Turks had used
it as an ammunition depot, with that callous disregard for the Holy
Places of their own religion which was always so characteristic of
them, and, when the city was abandoned, they blew up the great store of
shells there, and laid the mosque in ruins. Some of the lower arches
remained, and one beautiful Norman gateway, but all the rest was a heap
of tumbled masonry.

The German headquarters was in the north-west corner of the town,
close to the remains of a graceful little Greek church. The house in
which the officers lived was screened from view on all sides, and,
as it was far removed from any of the enemy defences, it had escaped
serious damage. But it was satisfactory to note that both the tennis
courts, which had been made with such evident pains, had been visited
by eight-inch shells.

The rest of the city was a mass of ruins, stark and silent. And so it
is likely to remain for all time, an awful witness to the devastation
of war. Its inhabitants have neither the energy of the people of
Europe, nor the incentive of a bitter climate, and they are never
likely to rebuild it.

By the end of January our front had been thoroughly consolidated, and
the infantry had recovered from the hard fighting and cruel weather of
December. The Commander-in-Chief now determined to extend his line to
the Jordan, in order to secure his right flank.

There were several other advantages to be gained by securing possession
of one or two crossings over the river. The enemy was at this time
obtaining large supplies of grain from the districts round Kerak, in
the land of Moab, on the eastern and south-eastern shores of the Dead
Sea. This grain was carried across the sea, in barges towed by motor
boats, to the north end, whence it was transported to the Turkish front
by the good metalled road from Jericho to Jerusalem. With Jericho and
the crossings of the Jordan immediately north of the Dead Sea in our
hands, we should have control of the sea, and all this traffic would be
stopped. The grain would then have to be brought up to Amman, thirty
miles east of the Jordan, by the Hedjaz Railway, and transported from
there over some fifty miles of bad mountain track. In the extremely
disorganised state of the Turkish transport, this would be likely to
cause the enemy much inconvenience and delay. The control of the river
crossings at Jericho would also facilitate raiding operations across
the Jordan, directed against the enemy's line of communications with
the Hedjaz.

The operations necessary to secure these objects were limited to the
establishment of one or more bridgeheads on the east bank of the
Jordan, and to an advance of our line northwards as far as the Wadi el
Auja, a small, perennial stream that flows into the Jordan some nine
miles north of the point where the latter enters the Dead Sea.

The watershed between the Mediterranean and the deep cleft of the
Jordan Valley runs roughly north and south, through the Mount of
Olives. Some description of the difficulties of the country on the west
of the watershed has already been given. On the east side they are very
much greater. The streams that run down from the mountains to the plain
have cut gorges through the rock, often many hundreds of feet deep,
which divide the eastern portion of the range into a series of parallel
ridges running east and west. Innumerable tributaries of the main
watercourses run in all directions, and split these ridges again into
isolated masses of rocks. It is only possible to cross the main wadis
in a few places, so that movement north and south on the part of any
considerable body of troops is out of the question.

Going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, the general fall of the
ground is gradual to Talaat el Dumm, the Hill of Blood, above the Good
Samaritan Inn. From here the road pitches down, in a series of zigzags
and hairpin turns, to the valley floor nearly 3000 feet below. Farther
north, at Jebel Kuruntul, the traditional Mount of Temptation, the
mountains end abruptly in a single stupendous cliff, over 1000 feet
high.

Over this country the 60th Division and the Anzac Mounted Division,
which had concentrated at Bethlehem on the 18th of February, were
directed to move on Jericho.

The advance began on the 19th of February, in heavy rain. All day the
infantry struggled forward, against strong opposition from the enemy,
and by nightfall had advanced nearly three miles, to a position about a
mile west of Talaat el Dumm.

Meanwhile the cavalry, moving to the south of the 60th Division,
through the Wilderness of Jeshimon, had reached El Muntar, about seven
miles from the Dead Sea, and some four miles south of the Jericho road.

Next day the infantry stormed Talaat el Dumm shortly after dawn, and
advanced against the high ridge of Jebel Ekteif, about one mile farther
south, while the cavalry moved on Jebel Kalimun and Tubk el Kuneitra.
Both these places were strongly held, and the only possible lines of
approach were under accurate shell and machine-gun fire from the hill
of Nebi Musa, a little to the north. The cavalry had to advance in
single file along a few goat paths, and they suffered considerably from
the enemy fire, without being able to make any adequate reply. Shortly
after mid-day, however, two regiments of the New Zealand Mounted
brigade, having left their horses under cover in a ravine, made an
assault on foot against the two hills, and captured both of them after
a sharp struggle.

Meanwhile the 1st A.L.H. Brigade found a way down, along the gorge of
the Wadi Kumran, and debouched on to the plain, on the shores of the
Dead Sea, at dusk.

At dawn on the 21st, the New Zealand Brigade, with a battalion from the
60th Division, occupied Nebi Musa without opposition, the enemy having
retired along his whole line during the night. The 1st A.L.H. Brigade
pushed rapidly over the plain, and entered Jericho, which was found
deserted, soon after eight in the morning. From here patrols were sent
out to the east and north, and located the enemy holding a bridgehead
on the west bank of the Jordan at Ghoraniyeh, east of Jericho, and in
position along the Wadi el Auja to the north.

A squadron of the New Zealand Brigade, patrolling east from Nebi Musa,
reached Rujm el Bahr, at the north-west corner of the Dead Sea, which
was the northern base for the fleet of German motor boats engaged in
towing grain barges across the sea. Shortly afterwards some of our
troops found one of these boats alongside the jetty, and succeeded
in capturing it intact. Mounting a machine gun in the bows, they at
once set out across the sea, and, soon afterwards, encountered another
German boat. After an exciting chase they forced the enemy to strike
his colours, and, putting a 'prize crew' aboard, continued their
voyage. In the course of their cruise they sank another boat, and
drove a fourth aground! Later on, these captured boats were taken over
by a detachment of the Royal Navy, and did good service patrolling the
sea, and keeping open the communications between our forces and the
Sherifian troops. They achieved the distinction of being the first
British war vessels to be navigated 1300 feet below the level of the
ocean.

As the enemy bridgehead at Ghoraniyeh was found to be strongly held,
and its capture would have entailed heavy losses, it was decided not to
attempt an attack. Our infantry withdrew to a position running north
and south astride the Jericho road, at Talaat el Dumm, and the Anzac
Mounted Division returned to Bethlehem, leaving one regiment to patrol
the valley.

Some idea of the difficulties of the country during these operations
may be gathered by the fact that a battery of field artillery,
unhampered by enemy action, took thirty-six hours to advance eight
miles.

During the first half of March the 60th Division again descended
into the valley, and, after some very stiff fighting, succeeded in
establishing our line north of the Wadi el Auja, from the Jordan to the
mountains. Thereupon the Turks withdrew their bridgehead at Ghoraniyeh,
and retired to the east bank of the river.

This operation cleared the lower Jordan Valley of the enemy, and
established a base broad enough to enable a raid to be undertaken
against the Hedjaz Railway, the Turkish line of communications for the
force operating against the Arabs round Maan.

The Arab forces, which were under the control of General Allenby, were
based on Akaba, at the north end of the Red Sea. They were supplied by
us with arms, ammunition and light guns, and largely led by British
officers, chief among whom were Lieutenant-Colonels Lawrence and Joyce.

Though intolerant of anything in the nature of discipline, and
constantly at war among themselves, many of the Arab tribes of the
Hedjaz had joined the standard of the old Sherif Hussein, moved thereto
by their hatred of the Turks. Under Hussein's energetic son Feisal,
they had carried on a successful guerilla warfare against the scattered
Turkish garrisons since June 1916. Their operations were directed
especially against the Hedjaz Railway. Under the leadership of the
daring and beloved Lawrence, train wrecking was elevated among the
Arabs to the status of a national sport. Many of the wrecked trains
yielded rich booty to the Sherif, and on one occasion the haul included
£20,000 in Turkish gold. Eighteen months of this warfare had given the
Arabs valuable experience, and numerous minor successes had induced
many tribes who were wavering to throw in their lot with the Sherif.

By the end of 1917 the Emir Feisal's forces were strong enough to
undertake more serious operations. In January 1918 he seized the
high ground a few miles south of Maan, while another force, under a
local leader, destroyed a large part of the Turkish light railway
which had been built from Kalaat Aneiza on the Hedjaz line to the
Hish Forest, and was used to transport wood as fuel for locomotives.
Shortly afterwards another force raided a station on the Hedjaz line,
some thirty miles north of Maan, destroying the station buildings and
some engines and rolling stock. In this raid the Arabs took over 200
prisoners, and killed a large number of Turks. Farther north, Arabs
of the Huweitat tribe captured Tafile, which is only fifteen miles
south-east of the south end of the Dead Sea. A considerable Turkish
force, with guns and machine guns, which was sent, towards the end of
January, to recapture this place, was decisively beaten by the Arabs,
with a loss of 500 killed and 250 prisoners. In March a larger body of
Turkish troops, reinforced by a German battalion, reoccupied Tafile,
the Arabs withdrawing to the south.[16]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 16: See Appendix II. for note on the Arab Movement.]



CHAPTER XII

THE FIRST TRANS-JORDAN RAID


In view of the successes obtained by the Arabs, General Allenby now
judged the time to be ripe for a raid by our troops on the Hedjaz
Railway at Amman, which he had long contemplated. The immediate effect
of such a raid would be to compel the enemy to withdraw the force which
had recently occupied Tafile. It might, in addition, force him to call
on the Turkish troops at Maan for aid, thus weakening the garrison
there, and giving the Arabs an opportunity to attack the place with
some prospects of success. A further result to be expected from the
raid would be to induce the enemy to keep a large part of his army east
of the Jordan, thus correspondingly weakening his forces in the Judæan
hills. The deep and difficult valley of the Jordan, and the river
itself, would, moreover, form a dangerous obstacle to communication
between the two portions of his army, a fact which might be expected to
assist us materially in our next general advance.

Amman was the one really vulnerable point on the Hedjaz Railway. The
Arabs had frequently destroyed portions of the line farther south, but
such raids only resulted in interrupting the traffic for a few days
at a time. Material for repair was available at every station, and
long practice had brought the Turkish engineers to a high state of
efficiency in restoring these temporarily damaged places. At Amman,
however, the line ran over a viaduct, and through a considerable
tunnel. If these two works could be thoroughly destroyed, the resulting
interruption of traffic might well be so prolonged as to compel the
retirement of the whole of the enemy force in the Maan area. Such a
prospect justified the acceptance of greater risks than General Allenby
proposed to incur.

The Turks were well aware that Amman was the Achilles' heel of the
Hedjaz Expeditionary Force, and had provided for its protection as many
troops as they could spare. The town itself, which lay immediately to
the west of, and covering, the tunnel and viaduct, had been garrisoned
and prepared for defence. An advanced defensive position had been
established astride the Jericho-El Salt road, extending from El Haud to
Shunet Nimrin, and a third position was in course of preparation on the
east bank of the Jordan, opposite El Ghoraniyeh.

The Anzac Mounted Division, with the Camel Corps Brigade attached, and
the 60th Division were detailed to carry out the raid, which had as
its sole object the destruction of the viaduct and tunnel. The town
of Amman, which is the principal Circassian settlement in Syria, lies
some thirty miles east-north-east of the north end of the Dead Sea,
and is connected with Jericho by an indifferent metalled road, passing
through El Salt, which the Turks had constructed during the war. From
the Jordan at El Ghoraniyeh, 1200 feet below the level of the sea,
to Naaur, sixteen miles farther east, at the edge of the plateau on
which Amman lies, the ground rises 4300 feet. Nearly the whole of
this rise occurs in the last ten miles before Naaur is reached, and
the intervening country is a maze of rocky hills, intersected by deep
ravines, and traversed only by a few narrow footpaths.

In the course of the ages the Jordan has cut a deep trough through the
valley, varying in width from a few hundred yards to a mile or more,
and lying about 100 feet below the general level of the surrounding
country. The bottom of this trough is a flat plain covered with a dense
jungle of tamarisk, and the banks are, in most places, perpendicular.
The present channel winds about down the trough, and is only about
forty yards wide in normal weather, but the river is deep and very
swift, and liable to a rapid rise after heavy rain.

The main watercourses descend from the hills on the east in a series of
deep gorges, which traverse the narrow strip of flat country between
the foothills and the old channel, and form a succession of barriers to
movement along this strip, north and south. Many of these gorges can
only be crossed by a single track, which runs from near Beisan, fifteen
miles south of Lake Tiberias, to El Ghoraniyeh.

The plan was for the 60th Division to force the passage of the river,
drive the enemy from his position at Shunet Nimrin, and then advance up
to Jericho-Amman road, as far as El Salt, which was to be seized and
held. Meanwhile the rest of the cavalry and the Camel Brigade were to
move direct on Amman by the tracks through Naaur and Ain el Sir. After
blowing up the viaduct and tunnel at Amman, and destroying as much
of the railway line as they could, they were to withdraw on the 60th
Division, and the whole force would then recross the Jordan, leaving
permanent bridgeheads on the east bank.

The operation was thus purely a raid. Our cavalry would again be
engaged in a country that was at least as unsuited for mounted work as
was the Judæan Range, of which we had already had such unfavourable
experience. The only information available about the Amman hills,
other than that of natives, which was always quite unreliable, was
contained in a memorandum written for the Commander-in-Chief by two
mission fathers who had spent many years in the country east of the
Jordan and Dead Sea. This document was an admirable ethnographical and
geographical treatise, but, from the military point of view, which
requires the utmost detail of description as regards the terrain, it
left much to be desired. It appeared, however, that cavalry might be
expected to be able to move with some speed up the Naaur-Ain el Sir
track to Amman, in fine weather, and thus carry out the necessary
demolition on the railway, and make good their retreat, before the
enemy should have time to reinforce his troops east of the Jordan.

During the night of the 21st of March a party of swimmers of the
60th Division succeeded, after many fruitless attempts, in getting a
line across the Jordan at Makhadet Hajlah, some six miles south of
El Ghoraniyeh, and bridge building began at once. Our infantry and
engineers suffered severely from the enemy's fire, but the bridge was
completed by eight in the morning, and by mid-day a brigade of infantry
was over the river, and forcing its way through the dense tamarisk
jungle on the east side.

Meanwhile, similar attempts to cross at El Ghoraniyeh during the night
had been frustrated by the strength of the current. The efforts had to
be abandoned during the daytime, owing to the activity of the enemy,
but were renewed during the night of the 22nd. These attempts again
failed, and it was not until the morning of the 23rd that a raft was
got across here. At four o'clock in the morning a regiment of the New
Zealand Mounted Brigade crossed the river by the pontoon bridge at
Makhadet Hajlah, and, galloping along the bank to the north, cleared
the enemy from the east bank opposite Ghoraniyeh, thus facilitating
the crossing of our infantry at that place. By mid-day this regiment
had seized the high ground commanding El Ghoraniyeh, capturing about
seventy prisoners and several machine guns.

They were followed across the Jordan by a regiment of the 1st A.L.H.
Brigade, which cleared the enemy from the country south of Hajlah, and
gained touch with a party of infantry which had crossed the Dead Sea in
motor boats, and landed on the east bank of the river near its mouth.

By nightfall a second pontoon bridge had been thrown across the Jordan
at Hajlah, and three more had been completed at Ghoraniyeh. The whole
force detailed for the raid had safely crossed the river before
daylight on the 24th.

As soon as it was light enough to see, the advance on Amman commenced.
The 1st A.L.H. Brigade moved up to El Mandesi, about three miles north
of Ghoraniyeh, to cover the left flank of the 60th Division during the
attack on the enemy positions astride the Amman road, at El Haud and
Shunet Nimrin. El Haud was captured about three in the afternoon, after
hard fighting, and its possession enabled our infantry to turn the
right flank of the enemy, who then retired on El Salt. A squadron of
the New Zealanders pursued the Turks, followed by our infantry, but the
bad state of the road, which the enemy blew up in several places as he
retired, delayed the pursuit. The rest of the New Zealand Brigade moved
on El Sir up the Wadi Jofet el Ghazlaniye. At nightfall our infantry
had only succeeded in advancing about four miles from Shunet Nimrin,
and were in touch with the enemy astride the road.

Meanwhile the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade, followed by the Camel Corps, had been
floundering up the Wadi Kefrein, south of the road, and reached Rujm
el Oshir about half-past three in the afternoon. Here the track, such
as it was, petered out altogether, and all wheeled transport had to be
sent back, the ammunition being transferred to camels. This caused a
long delay, and it was not till half-past nine at night that the march
could be renewed. Heavy rain had fallen for several days prior to the
commencement of the operations, and all the tracks were deep in mud.

Rain came on again during the night of the 24th, and continued during
the whole of the next three days, accompanied by bitter cold. Under
this downpour the tracks marked on the map revealed themselves for
what they really were, the beds of mountain streams. Each of them was
transformed into a rushing torrent, carrying down rocks and mud in its
course. Bad as they were, however, they formed the only possible lines
of advance in this mountain country, and the cavalry had to make the
best of them.

Pushing and pulling their shivering and exhausted animals up the track,
the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade and the Camel Corps stumbled on in the rain and
darkness all night. At half-past four next morning the head of the
column reached Ain el Hekr, having taken just twenty-four hours to
cover the sixteen miles from the Jordan. The whole day was spent in
closing up the remainder of the column, and it was not till half-past
seven in the evening that the last of the Camel Corps got in, having
walked the whole way, pulling their camels after them.

As soon as they were in, the advance was continued, _via_ Naaur, in
pouring rain. During this part of the march the way was not so steep as
in the earlier part, but the alternate deep mud and slippery rock over
which the track led caused endless delays, especially to the camels,
and the force was soon strung out again over a length of many miles.
At five on the morning of the 26th, the head of the column met the New
Zealand Brigade at the cross tracks one mile east of El Sir. The New
Zealanders had encountered similar difficulties of country and climate,
and both men and horses were in an exhausted condition.

General Chaytor now received orders to push on at once, and seize
Amman! But, as his men had been marching for three consecutive nights
(including the move to the point of assembly west of the Jordan), under
conditions of the utmost discomfort and fatigue, he considered that
they were in no state to make an attack on a strongly held position,
even if it were possible to reach Amman before nightfall, which was
extremely unlikely. He therefore asked, and received, permission to
halt for twenty-four hours, and march on Amman next morning. Outposts
were placed north, east, and south of El Sir, and strong patrols of the
2nd Brigade were sent out to reconnoitre northwards, as far as the El
Salt-Amman road. These patrols encountered a body of the enemy near El
Sweileh, and dispersed it, taking 170 prisoners. They also destroyed
thirty German motor lorries and a car, which they found here, stuck
fast in the mud.

While the Anzac Division was struggling towards El Sir on the 25th, the
infantry of the 60th Division had been marching up the main road from
Shunet Nimrin towards El Salt, with the 1st A.L.H. Brigade on their
left flank, on the Wadi Arseniyet track. This brigade reached El Salt
about six in the evening, and was joined there, some two hours later,
by a brigade of the 60th Division. A second infantry brigade arrived at
midnight. The place had been evacuated by the enemy, in consequence of
the threat to his rear caused by the advance of our cavalry to El Sir.

Our infantry were now quite as exhausted as the cavalry. They had
been marching or fighting continually for three days and nights, over
difficult mountain country, and in most inclement weather, and it was
necessary to give them a day's rest. The first A.L.H. Brigade was
directed to remain at El Salt, and patrol the country to the north and
north-west of that place.

Thus, on the morning of the 27th, when the advance was resumed, the
foremost troops of the raiding force were little more than two-thirds
of the way to Amman. The delay had been of the utmost value to the
Turks, who were hurrying up reinforcements by road and rail.

During the previous night General Chaytor had sent two small raiding
parties, mounted on the freshest horses available, to try and blow
up the Hedjaz Railway north and south of Amman, in order to entrap a
considerable quantity of rolling stock which was reported to be in
the station. The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade party made for the railway north
of Amman, but encountered a body of Turkish cavalry, and was forced
to turn back. The New Zealanders, who were directed south of the
town, were more fortunate, and succeeded in reaching the railway at
a point some seven miles south of Amman station. Having destroyed a
considerable stretch of the line, they withdrew safely, and made their
way back to El Sir.

This march, carried out at night, in unknown and very difficult
country, without guides or reliable maps, and into the heart of the
enemy's country, was a striking example of the special qualities of
the Australian and New Zealand Cavalry. Trained from the cradle in the
art of finding their way in uncharted country, they have the bushman's
almost uncanny sense of direction. Tireless as the wiry horses they
breed and ride, possessed of a wonderful keenness of vision, alert,
wary and supremely self-confident, they are the finest scouts in the
world.

The advance on Amman was resumed on the 27th. Early in the morning a
light car patrol arrived at Sweileh from El Salt, but could get no
farther east, owing to the mud. General Chaytor, therefore, ordered the
cars to remain at Sweileh, as a flank guard to his division during the
attack on Amman. A brigade of infantry, with two mountain batteries,
set out from El Salt at five in the morning, to march to the support of
the Anzac Division. This brigade could not be expected at Amman till
late at night, but it was hoped that the Anzac Division would be able
to take the place before then. Unfortunately the delay to our troops
caused by the rain had afforded time to the enemy both to improve his
defence and to reinforce his garrison.

General Chaytor directed the New Zealand Brigade to cross the Wadi
Amman, south-west of the town, and move against the high ground
overlooking the town and station from the south. One battalion of the
Camel Corps Brigade, acting on the right of the New Zealanders, was to
destroy as much of the line as possible.

The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade was ordered to push forward to the railway north
of Amman as quickly as possible, and cut the line, in order both to
isolate the rolling stock in the station, and to delay the arrival of
possible reinforcements from the north. The brigade was then to attack
the enemy positions from the north-west. The Camel Corps Brigade, less
one battalion, was to attack from the west.

There was no divisional reserve. It was considered that the superior
mobility of our cavalry and camelry would enable them to disengage
from the fight, should such a course become necessary, and fall back
on our infantry advancing from El Salt. Moreover, the difficulties of
the country were so great that it was doubtful if a divisional reserve
could have reached any distant part of the line that was hard pressed,
in time to be of any service.

The three brigades set out from Ain el Sir at nine o'clock. All three
were much impeded by difficulties of terrain. Deep mud alternated
with stretches of wet and slippery rock, on which neither camels nor
horses could get secure foothold. The camels suffered particularly
severely. Designed by nature for work in the soft and yielding sand of
the desert, they are more unfitted than any other animal to march over
stony country, or through mud. Many of them fell and broke their legs,
and had to be shot. Many more had already met the same fate during the
awful climb up to the plateau from the Jordan Valley. In several places
large morasses were encountered, and much precious time was wasted
finding a way round these. The wadis, too, were deep and precipitous,
particularly the Wadi Amman, which was impassable save in one or two
places, and then only in single file.

The New Zealanders reached this wadi about half-past ten in the
morning, and were delayed so long in crossing it that it was three in
the afternoon before they reached the railway.

The Camel Corps Battalion then moved south along the line, with a
demolition party, blowing up the railway. While engaged on this work,
they met an enemy train, steaming slowly over the very portion of the
line that had been blown up by the New Zealanders the night before! The
train was engaged with machine-gun fire, and withdrew. Our men then
examined the line, and learnt a valuable lesson in the art of temporary
destruction of a railway.

It was the custom at that time for our raiding parties, which could
only carry a small quantity of explosives, and no tools suitable for
carrying out a systematic destruction, to blow a piece out of each
rail, by means of slabs of gun-cotton placed on each side of it. The
gaps thus made were about a foot long. A length of several miles of
line, in which each rail had a piece cut clean out of the middle, had
the appearance of having been very thoroughly destroyed, and it was
believed that the whole line would have to be relaid with new rails
before it could be used. But the ingenious German engineers discovered
that, if a hard-wood sleeper were pushed into each gap, with its end
flush with the inner edge of the rail, trains could be run over the
line at once, provided they were driven slowly.

As a result of this experience, Captain Brisbane, an engineer officer
of the Australian Mounted Division, devised a better method, which
consisted in attaching one slab of gun-cotton only to the outside of
the rails at each joint. When this was detonated, the fishplates were
blown off, and the ends of the two rails were bent sharply inwards.
Demolitions carried out by this method could only be repaired by
relaying the line completely.[17]

While the New Zealanders had been searching for a crossing place
over the wadi, the 2nd A.H.L. Brigade had pushed forward on the
north-west, and got to within three miles of Amman, when it was heavily
counter-attacked, about eleven o'clock, by a large force of the enemy,
well supplied with artillery. The attack was beaten off, after severe
fighting, but more Turks appeared to the north of the brigade, and
began to work round its left. General Ryrie had to form a defensive
flank to meet this threat, and his advance was stopped. Meanwhile the
Camel Brigade, advancing straight on Amman astride the Sweileh track,
was held up by heavy machine-gun fire, on reaching the open ground west
of the town, and could get no farther.

The New Zealanders fared no better. They were very heavily attacked
when attempting to seize the high ground south of Amman, and forced
to give ground. The Turks attacked repeatedly on the north, west
and south, and in ever increasing numbers, and our small force was
hard put to it to hold its own. It was soon obvious that no farther
progress was possible. General Chaytor, therefore, ordered his
brigades to hold their present positions as night outposts, till the
arrival of the infantry, and to keep touch with the enemy by means of
frequent patrols. The force was strung out over a wide front, lateral
communication was very difficult, and only small, local reserves were
available. Fortunately the Turks contented themselves with digging hard
all night, and erecting rock sangars, and made no serious attempt to
attack.

During the night a raiding party, consisting of a few men from the 2nd
A.L.H. Brigade, succeeded in penetrating through the enemy in the dark,
and blew up a two-arch bridge near Khurbet el Raseife, seven miles
north of Amman. The gallant little party returned safely before dawn,
having done damage sufficient to interrupt traffic from the north for
at least forty-eight hours. Before that period had expired, it was
hoped that Amman would be in our hands.

Dawn found our weary troops cramped and stiff with their long night's
vigil in the bitter cold. They had been marching and fighting for four
days and nights, with only one night's rest, and had been wet through
the whole time. The Turkish guns opened the ball soon after daylight,
and shelled our positions intermittently during the morning.

About mid-day two battalions of infantry arrived from El Salt. They
had been delayed at Sweileh, the previous night, in consequence of
having marched into the middle of a sort of Belfast riot between
the Circassians (Moslems) of Sweileh and the Christian Arabs of El
Fuheis. With two separate wars thus going on in the same area, the
situation appeared too obscure for farther advance, especially as
both Circassians and Arabs showed a disposition to fire impartially
on all who came within range, quite irrespective of their religion or
politics. The column had, therefore, halted for the night.

General Chaytor had expected to be reinforced by a brigade of infantry
during the previous night, and, in anticipation of its arrival, had
issued orders for an attack soon after daylight. Though disappointed
at receiving only two battalions, and those not till twelve hours
later than he had expected, he decided, in view of the urgency of the
situation, to attack at once.

The infantry were pushed in between the Camel Corps and the 2nd A.L.H.
Brigade, and ordered to advance with their right on the Sweileh-Amman
road. The attack commenced at two o'clock, and the whole line pressed
forward vigorously, and got to within 1000 yards of the enemy positions
in the centre, when a very heavy counter-attack was launched against
the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade. The cavalry were pressed back some distance
under the weight of this attack, thus exposing the left of the
infantry. Intense machine-gun fire was now opened on the infantry
and Camel Corps, who were on the edge of a bare, open plateau, which
extends for some distance west of the town. Our attack was brought to
a stop, and, as it was clearly impossible to make any farther progress
in face of the strong enemy resistance, and as night was coming on,
General Chaytor withdrew his force a little, to positions suitable for
battle night outposts, and ordered them to hold on till next morning,
when the remainder of the infantry brigade was expected up.

Desultory firing continued all night, but the enemy made no attack.
Parties of the 2nd A.L.H. and New Zealand Brigades were active
throughout the night, patrolling up to and across the railway, north
and south of Amman. They were assisted by friendly Arabs, who spent
the hours of darkness sniping at parties attempting to mend the bridge
which had been blown up the previous night. Others co-operated with a
troop of the New Zealand Brigade, to prevent any trains approaching
Amman from the south.

The rest of the infantry brigade, accompanied by two mountain
batteries, joined General Chaytor's force about mid-day on the 29th.
We then had two brigades of cavalry, one of infantry, and the Camel
Brigade at Amman; a cavalry brigade and an infantry brigade at El Salt,
fifteen miles farther west; and a third brigade of infantry between
Shunet Nimrin and the bridgeheads on the Jordan. There were no troops
available to increase this force.

During the morning, fresh enemy reinforcements reached Amman by rail
from the north, and these troops immediately developed a strong attack
against the left flank of our line. The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade drove off
this attack, but the Turks repeatedly assaulted the position held by
the brigade during the day, and gave our weary troops no rest.

Meanwhile a further complication had arisen, owing to a considerable
body of the enemy from west of the Jordan having crossed the river at
Jisr el Damieh, fifteen miles north of Ghoraniyeh, on the previous day,
and commenced to advance up the track towards El Salt. On the morning
of the 29th, the advance guard of this force, consisting of the Turkish
3rd Cavalry Division and two brigades of infantry, was beginning to
make its pressure felt against our positions at El Salt. The 1st A.L.H.
Brigade, supported by some field artillery, moved out to oppose it.

The rain had continued without abatement from the commencement of the
operations, and the country was now in an almost impassable state. To
add to our difficulties, the Jordan suddenly rose no less than nine
feet during the morning of the 29th, and the flood water swept away all
but one of our bridges. The approaches to the remaining bridge were
under water, and it was evident that, if the river rose any higher, it,
too, would be swept away, and our force east of the river would be cut
off in the enemy's country.

It was clear that, if Amman was to be taken, there was no time to be
lost. General Chaytor had intended to attack as soon as the infantry
reinforcements had arrived, but, in view of their exhausted state, he
decided, after consultation with the brigadier, General Da Costa, to
put off the attack till dark.

Such men as could be spared from the fighting had been set to work
repairing the road beyond El Salt, and, by the afternoon of the 29th,
it was sufficiently restored to enable a battery of Horse Artillery to
start for Amman from Shunet Nimrin.

The New Zealand Brigade, with one battalion of the Camel Corps on
its right, was directed to seize Point 3039, a high hill about a
mile south-east of Amman town, which commanded both the town and the
station. This hill was strongly held by the enemy, who occupied two
lines of entrenchments, one above the other, on the southern slopes.
The Camel Corps Brigade and the infantry, moving respectively south and
north of the El Salt road, were to attack the town and the old citadel.
The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade was instructed to make itself as offensive as
possible on the north flank, so as to distract the enemy's attention
from the movements of our troops farther south.

The advance began at two o'clock in the morning. It was very dark and
raining hard, and the troops had great difficulty in keeping in touch
and maintaining direction over the rocky ground. The New Zealanders,
very skilfully led, evaded the enemy trenches at the bottom of the
hill, and reached the second line, higher up the slope, which they
attacked with the bayonet, and captured. When day broke the Turks in
the trenches below were forced to surrender without firing a shot. The
New Zealanders now got on to the top of 3039 at the southern end, where
they were held up by intense machine-gun fire. The Turks followed up
this fire with a determined counter-attack, just at dawn, which was
beaten off, but only with the greatest difficulty.

Meanwhile the Camel Brigade and the infantry, in the centre, had met
with success at first, having captured the enemy's advanced trenches,
with about 200 prisoners. About nine o'clock the Camel Brigade, then
about 800 yards west of the main enemy position, came under heavy
machine-gun fire from both flanks, especially from the north end of
3039, which the New Zealanders had been unable to take, and from the
old citadel on the left front. At the same time the enemy launched a
powerful counter-attack against the left flank of our infantry, in the
gap between them and the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade. This attack was repulsed,
but the Turks maintained a continuous and heavy pressure against this
flank all day, and our troops were barely able to hold their ground.

Fresh enemy reinforcements arrived from the north about ten o'clock,
and immediately launched another violent attack on the New Zealand
Brigade, which was clinging precariously to the southern edge of Hill
3039. The attack was repulsed, but only after prolonged and anxious
fighting. The Somerset Battery R.H.A., which had left Shunet Nimrin the
previous day, and had been marching for thirty hours, arrived just in
time to take a decisive part in repelling this attack.

The enemy then directed an intense shell fire on the New Zealanders,
and attacked the Camel Corps battalion on their right, with the evident
intention of outflanking our troops on the hill. This attack was
also beaten off, and, for the rest of the day, the Turks contented
themselves with shelling the hill heavily, but did not succeed in
dislodging the New Zealand Brigade.

Early in the afternoon the persistent enemy attacks against the left
flank of our infantry ceased, probably as a result of a push forward
made by the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade farther north. The infantry took
advantage of this respite to resume their dogged advance on the Amman
town position. They pressed forward till they were held up by the deep
fosse on the west side of the citadel. Here they came under a murderous
machine-gun fire from both flanks. The few mountain guns with our
force were quite inadequate to the task of keeping down this hostile
fire, and could make no impression on the thick stone walls of the old
citadel. Our infantry had to withdraw to shelter.

Fresh enemy troops continued to arrive from the north, and General
Chaytor now reluctantly reported that he saw no hope of taking Amman
with the force at his disposal, and that any further attempt would only
entail useless loss of life. No reinforcements were available; indeed,
during the day, a battalion of infantry had been ordered back from
Amman to El Salt. This battalion was the only one that had not been
engaged, and constituted the last of our reserves.

El Salt itself had been heavily attacked all day long. The enemy column
that had crossed the Jordan, and advanced up the Jisr el Damieh track,
drove in our advanced post on that side during the morning. The Turks
continued to press their attack with the greatest determination from
the west, north-west and north, and soon all our scanty reserves were
involved. One battalion of infantry had been spared from the brigade
that was covering the country from the Jordan to Shunet Nimrin, and one
had been sent back from Amman, as already stated.

At four o'clock in the afternoon, our troops at Amman and El Salt were
only just holding their own, and it was doubtful if they could do so
much longer, in face of the constantly increasing strength of the
enemy. General Shea,[18] who was in command of the whole force, decided
to withdraw. The troops at Amman were to move first, breaking off the
action as soon as it was dark, and retiring along the Ain el Sir tracks.

As soon as darkness fell the New Zealand Brigade and the detached
battalion of the Camel Corps disengaged, and fell back to the west
bank of the Wadi Amman, where they held a line of posts to cover the
withdrawal of the infantry and the Camel Corps Brigade. The infantry
marched along the El Salt road, covered by the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade, as
far as Sweileh, where they turned off towards El Sir, to avoid the
fighting that was going on at El Salt. The New Zealanders held their
position west of the wadi till the infantry had reached El Sir, and had
a sharp action with the Turks, who had followed up closely. The enemy
was finally repulsed at daybreak, and the New Zealanders then fell back
slowly to Ain el Sir, which they reached in the evening. The retirement
continued through the night, in the rain and darkness. Just as the
rearguard troops of the New Zealand Brigade were moving out of El Sir,
they were treacherously fired on by some of the local inhabitants. A
troop was at once sent back into the village, and attacked a party of
Arabs caught in the act of sniping at our men. Thirty of the natives
were killed in the encounter, and this condign punishment had an
instant effect. We had no more trouble from the local Arabs.

Meanwhile the fierce attacks on El Salt had continued all through
the 31st, and it was not till eleven o'clock at night that the Turks
finally drew off exhausted. During the night of the 1st of April, our
troops withdrew from the village unmolested, covered by the 1st A.L.H.
Brigade, having destroyed all the enemy ammunition and stores there,
and the whole force was safely across the Jordan by the evening of the
2nd.

The operations had lasted twelve days, and it had rained almost the
whole time. The troops were without tents or shelter of any kind, and,
for the last ninety hours of the operations, they had been marching
and fighting continuously, without sleep or rest. The fighting, too,
had been severe, and our casualties, about 1600 killed, wounded and
missing, sufficiently heavy, considering the small size of our force,
and the absence of any great artillery concentration against us.

The wounded suffered severely. The nearest hospital was at Jerusalem,
separated from Amman by more than sixty miles of bad mountain road.
From the firing line the wounded were taken in camel cacolets[19] to a
motor ambulance relay station on the road between Amman and El Salt.
The tortures of this mode of conveyance to a wounded man have to be
experienced to be believed. When the animal, having received its double
burden, rises with its peculiar jerk forward, it nearly pitches the
patients out of the cacolets. Thereafter, each lurching step of the
long, agonising march stretches the unhappy victims upon a species of
rack comparable to that of a mediæval torture chamber.

At the relay station, five miles east of El Salt, the wounded were
transferred to ambulance motor cars, which ran them into El Salt. Here
there was an advanced dressing station, where wounds were attended
to, and then the victims were again loaded into ambulances, and run
down to the main dressing station at Shunet Nimrin. At this station
they were taken over by a fresh relay of cars, which carried them
as far as Jericho, if they were lucky. When the bridges were washed
away, however, it was for a time unsafe for the cars to cross the one
remaining bridge, and the men had to be carried across the river on
stretchers, and put into cars on the west bank. At Jericho there was
an operating unit for serious cases, and there is no doubt that this
unit saved the lives of many by an immediate operation, who would
almost certainly have died had they been sent straight on to Jerusalem.
Another change of cars was made at Jericho, and another at Talaat el
Dumm. And then at last the long nightmare of the journey ended in the
blessed peace and comfort of a hospital in Jerusalem.

Nearly 2000 cases, including the sick, were evacuated in this way
during the operations.

[Illustration: German motor boat leaving Jerusalem for the Dead Sea.
(From an enemy photograph.)]

[Illustration: Turks loading grain from Moab for transport across the
Dead Sea. (From an enemy photograph.)]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 17: At a demonstration given some months later by a small
party of engineers specially trained by this officer, one mile of track
was completely destroyed in ten minutes.]

[Footnote 18: Major-General Sir J.S.M. Shea, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O.,
commanding the 60th Division.]

[Footnote 19: Canvas hammocks, stiffened with bamboo poles and slung
one on each side of the camel, to take a man lying down.]



CHAPTER XIII

THE SECOND TRANS-JORDAN RAID


Though the raid on Amman had failed in its primary object of so
damaging the railway as to compel the withdrawal of the Turkish forces
in the Hedjaz, it had succeeded in drawing northwards and retaining not
only the Turkish troops which had been operating against the Arabs, but
also a portion of the garrison of Maan and the stations farther south.
Indeed the number of enemy troops east of the Jordan, in the Amman-El
Salt-Shunet Nimrin area, was doubled as a result of these operations.

Taking advantage of this weakening of the Turkish forces opposed to
him, the Emir Feisal renewed his attempts on Maan, and, during the
first half of April, successfully destroyed a considerable portion of
the railway both north and south of it, and even captured an outwork of
the town itself, within two miles of the main positions.

Apart from the help given to the Arabs, the raid had resulted in a loss
to the enemy of nearly 1000 prisoners and of all his ammunition and
stores at El Salt. His losses in killed and wounded were estimated to
have been not less than 1700.

Moreover the bridgehead which had been established across the Jordan at
Ghoraniyeh was maintained and improved, and, a little later on, another
bridge was thrown over the river some four miles farther north, at the
mouth of the river Auja.

These bridges were a perpetual menace to the Turks across the Jordan,
and caused them great uneasiness. On April 11th they made a determined
attack on the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead simultaneously with an attack by
German troops on our positions west of the Jordan, north of the Wadi el
Auja. The bridgehead was held at the time by the 1st A.L.H. Brigade,
and the Auja positions by the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade and the Camel Corps.
Both attacks were pressed vigorously throughout the day, but ended in
the complete defeat of the enemy, who left some 500 dead on the two
positions, and over 100 prisoners in our hands.

Towards the end of April preparations were begun for a second raid
across the Jordan. After the failure of his attack on the Ghoraniyeh
bridgehead, the enemy had largely increased his forces east of the
river, and had improved and strengthened his entrenched position at
Shunet Nimrin. At the end of April he had about 8000 troops occupying
this position. General Allenby determined to try to cut off and destroy
this force, and, if successful, to hold El Salt till the Arab forces
could advance and relieve our troops.

The great German offensive in France in March and April resulted in the
force in Palestine being called upon to send to Europe every man and
gun that could be spared. Thus, during April, the Yeomanry Division
and two infantry divisions, besides ten other infantry battalions and
a number of siege batteries and machine gun companies, were withdrawn
from the line, and embarked for France. These troops were replaced by
Indian regiments, the Yeomanry by Indian cavalry from France, and the
infantry partly by the Lahore Division from Mesopotamia, and partly by
untrained native troops from India.[20]

It was originally intended that the raid should take place about the
middle of May, when the reorganisation had been completed, and the
full strength of the Desert Mounted Corps would have been available.
A necessary part of the raid, however, was the co-operation of the
powerful Beni Sakhr tribe of Arabs, numbering some 7000 fighting men,
which was at that time in the district round Madeba, about twelve
miles east of the north end of the Dead Sea. Towards the end of April
this tribe reported that their supplies would be exhausted by the 4th
of May, and that they would then have to move to their summer grazing
grounds farther south. The Commander-in-Chief therefore decided to
attack at once, without waiting for the arrival of the Indian troops,
though, in doing so, he was compelled to carry out the operations with
a considerably smaller force than would have been the case if he had
been able to wait another fortnight.

Thus the troops available for the raid consisted only of the Anzac and
Australian Mounted Divisions, with two brigades of the 60th Division,
and the (Indian) Imperial Service Cavalry and Infantry Brigades.

There was good reason for the employment of this large proportion of
cavalry in an operation that was to be carried out in country most
unsuited for mounted work.

General Allenby was always reluctant to keep his mounted troops in the
trenches, if he could avoid doing so. Cavalry are most uneconomical
troops in trench warfare, since at least a quarter of them are occupied
caring for the horses, and consequently are not available for the
firing line. Moreover, while employed in the line, they are deprived
of the opportunity of training for mounted work, and their horses
generally lose condition, since there are not enough men to look after
them properly.

When, however, the three cavalry divisions were not used in the
trenches, there were barely sufficient troops left to hold our long
line securely, and very few infantry could be spared for extraneous
enterprises. Moreover, though he would not put his cavalry into the
line, if he could help it, the Commander-in-Chief had no intention of
allowing them to grow rusty for lack of active operations. He was a
firm believer in the old prize-ring adage that the best training for a
fight is fighting.

The enemy's position ran north and south, astride the Jericho-Amman
road, just west of Shunet Nimrin, his left resting on the deep gorge
of the Wadi Kefrein, and his right flank thrown back in a half circle
across the Wadi Arseniyat track to El Haud. Both flanks were protected
by detachments of cavalry. From Shunet Nimrin two roads led back to
Amman; the metalled road through El Salt, and the more direct track
through El Sir. The former was the only one available for wheeled
traffic, but the latter had been considerably improved by the Turks
since our last raid into Gilead. The plan was for the infantry to
attack this position from the west, with the New Zealand Mounted
Brigade on their right flank, while the rest of the cavalry, moving
along the east bank of the Jordan as far as Umm el Shert and Jisr el
Damieh, turned into the hills up the tracks from these two places,
and captured El Salt, thus cutting the road to Amman. The Beni Sakhr
Arabs undertook to hold the Ain el Sir track. With their only two lines
of reinforcement or retreat thus closed, there appeared to be a good
prospect of capturing or destroying the enemy forces at Shunet Nimrin.

In order to prevent the enemy from transferring troops from the east
to the west bank of the Jordan at Jisr el Damieh, as he had done during
the previous raid, one brigade of cavalry, the 4th A.L.H., was directed
to seize the Turkish bridge at that place if possible. If, however, it
proved too strong to be taken, the brigade was to take up a position
covering the track to El Salt, and endeavour to prevent the enemy
crossing the river.

Our force crossed the Jordan on the night of the 29th of April, and by
dawn the cavalry were through the scrub on the east bank, and advancing
up the narrow plain between the river and the mountains, led by the 4th
A.L.H. Brigade. The 1st and 2nd A.L.H. Brigades were attached to the
Australian Mounted Division during the operations.

The 5th Mounted Brigade, followed by the 2nd A.L.H., turned off up the
Umm el Shert track, and made for El Haud, while the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade
turned up the track from Jisr el Damieh towards El Salt.

The 4th A.L.H. Brigade, followed by the 1st, in reserve, continued its
march towards the bridge, and was fired on, just after dawn, from a
prominent hill on the east bank about 6000 yards north-east of Umm el
Shert, known to us as Red Hill. The 1st A.L.H. Regiment (1st Brigade)
was directed against this hill, and the 4th Brigade passed to the east
of it, and reached Jisr el Damieh about six o'clock. The 11th Regiment
was at once sent forward to seize the bridgehead, but found the Turks
in great force and strongly entrenched, and was unable to dislodge
them. A further attempt to drive in the bridgehead also failed, and
it was evident that the brigade was not strong enough to carry out
the task. Red Hill, however, fell to the 1st Regiment about mid-day,
after some sharp fighting, and the 4th A.L.H. Brigade then took up a
position facing north-west about 2000 yards west of the foothills, and
covering the Jisr el Damieh-El Salt track, from the Nahr el Zerka to
a point about half a mile south of the track, with the 1st Regiment
on Red Hill. It was supported by the three R.H.A. batteries of the
Australian Mounted Division.

Early in the afternoon, columns of enemy troops were observed marching
down to the west bank of the Jordan. They were engaged by our batteries
and dispersed, disappearing among the broken ground on the far side of
the river. It was not known at the time that the Turks had a pontoon
bridge between Red Hill and El Damieh. It was towards this bridge that
they were advancing, avoiding the one at El Damieh, which they knew to
be under observation by our troops, and within range of our guns and
machine guns.

At three o'clock the 1st A.L.H. Brigade was directed by the Corps to
follow the rest of the cavalry towards El Salt, by the Umm el Shert
track, leaving only one squadron on Red Hill.

Meanwhile our infantry had attacked the Shunet Nimrin positions on the
west, and captured the advanced works, but were unable to make any
farther progress, in face of greatly superior numbers of the enemy.

The 3rd A.L.H. Brigade, pushing very fast up the track from Jisr el
Damieh, approached El Salt late in the afternoon, and was held up
by fire from some enemy works covering the town on the north-west.
The 9th and 10th Regiments attacked these works at once, and stormed
them with the bayonet after a stiff fight. As soon as the position
was taken, the 8th Regiment, which had been held in reserve under
cover, mounted and galloped into the town, which was full of enemy
troops. The Turks, surprised by this sudden charge, fought without
cohesion, and the hustling tactics of the Australians broke up all
attempts at reorganisation. By seven in the evening the whole place
was in our hands, with some three hundred prisoners, a large number
of machine guns, and all the papers and documents of the Turkish IVth
Army headquarters, which was located in the town. The commander of the
army, indeed, only just made good his escape. One regiment picketed
the approaches of the town on the north, while the position was being
cleared and the prisoners collected.

A squadron of the 8th Regiment pursued the enemy some distance down the
Amman road, and captured a considerable number of prisoners. On its
return, about eleven o'clock at night, the 10th Regiment was sent out
along the road in the dark, to make good the junction of the Amman-Ain
el Sir roads, some seven miles east of El Salt. The enemy was located
in position astride the road at Ain Hemar, just west of the junction,
and, as it was impossible to ascertain his strength in the darkness,
the regiment threw out pickets, and remained facing the Turks till
daylight.

The 5th Mounted and the 2nd and 1st A.L.H. Brigades, with the
headquarters of the Australian Mounted Division and two mountain
batteries, were overtaken by night on the Umm el Shert track. They had
to lead their horses in single file up a very steep goat path, and made
but slow progress. The head of the column reached El Salt early in the
morning of the 1st of May, and the 2nd Brigade at once pushed on along
the Amman road to Ain Hemar, drove off the small force of Turks there,
and occupied the road junction. The 3rd Brigade held an outpost line
north-west and north of El Salt, and the 1st Brigade a similar line to
the west, astride the El Shert track. The three brigades thus formed a
cordon round El Salt on the east, north, and west. The 5th Brigade was
ordered to move down the main road towards Shunet Nimrin, and attack
the enemy's rear vigorously.

Meanwhile, down in the valley, the 4th A.L.H. Brigade was in
difficulties. All night long the enemy had been crossing the river
unseen, by the pontoon bridge mentioned above. About half-past seven in
the morning some 4000 Turkish infantry deployed from the broken ground
east of the Jordan, and advanced in open order, with their right flank
directed on the gap between the left of the 4th Brigade and Red Hill.
When the 1st Brigade had been withdrawn the previous evening, leaving
only one squadron on the hill, General Grant had sent a squadron from
the 11th Regiment to reinforce it, and had ordered two armoured cars
which he had with him to watch the gap. One of these cars was put out
of action very soon by a direct hit from a Turkish shell, but the
other remained in action, and did much to stem the first rush of the
Turks, until it was forced to retire, owing to casualties and lack of
ammunition.

Our three batteries at once opened a rapid and accurate fire on the
advancing Turks. They were immediately engaged by enemy batteries on
the west bank of the Jordan, and heavily shelled, but continued in
action, and caused severe casualties to the enemy.

Simultaneously with the attack from the west, about 1000 Turkish
infantry and 500 cavalry, who had made their way up the Nahr el Zerka,
debouched from the river bed, and attacked the right flank of the 4th
Brigade. This attack was driven off, after a very sharp fight, but the
Turks still continued to advance over the open ground from the west. At
nine o'clock their forward lines had been annihilated by our fire, and
they fell back a little, taking cover in some broken ground.

For about an hour there was a lull in the fighting. At ten o'clock a
large body of the enemy, that had evidently worked south along the
bed of the Jordan, suddenly appeared in the open, and swept over Red
Hill, overwhelming the little garrison there. The remnants of our two
squadrons withdrew to the broken ground south and south-east of the
hill.

Immediately afterwards, the Turks attacked again along the whole line,
rushing forward recklessly, shouting 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' Our small
force, outnumbered by five to one, and hampered by its horses in the
difficult country, was gradually forced back to the east against the
hills, fighting desperately every step of the way. The right flank was
driven back across the El Damieh-El Salt track, and the enemy entered
the foothills north of the track, and began to work round to the rear.
At the same time parties of Turks began to push southwards, between
the left flank of the 4th Brigade and the remnants of the Red Hill
garrison, now clinging grimly to their position south of the hill. Two
troops, all that could be spared, were sent out to try and check this
movement long enough to allow the right flank of the brigade to be
withdrawn. The brigade headquarters and every man of 'B' Battery H.A.C.
that could be spared from the service of the guns were also thrown
into the fight. This little handful of men fought heroically, but
hopelessly, against the ever advancing waves of the enemy, and at last
was pushed back across our line of retreat to the south.

When his right flank was turned, General Grant, realising the
impossibility of holding on any longer in the face of such odds, had
ordered a retirement to a shorter line farther south, covering the Umm
el Shert track. The right flank regiment was to retire first, followed
by the regiment in the centre, and the line was to be re-formed, east
and west across the valley, just north of Red Hill.

The brigade was now, however, in a very difficult position. Our troops
had been forced back till they were facing due west, with their backs
to the tangled maze of rocky hills, impassable for cavalry and guns.
Some of the Turks were across their line of retreat to the south,
though only in small numbers as yet. Others were working round the
right flank of the brigade. All along the line our troops were hotly
engaged at close quarters. To withdraw to a flank under such conditions
was a very hazardous operation, but it appeared to offer the only
chance of extricating the brigade from its desperate situation.

Two regiments of the New Zealand Mounted Brigade, which had been
co-operating in the attacks on the Shunet Nimrin positions from the
south, had been despatched to the assistance of the 4th Brigade, but
they had fifteen miles of bad ground to cover, and could not possibly
arrive in time to save the position. The most they could hope to do was
to form a rallying point for the 4th Brigade to fall back upon.

The 4th A.L.H. Regiment, on the right flank, held on till the enemy
closed to within 200 yards, in a desperate effort to cover the
retirement of our guns. 'A' Battery H.A.C. was in this sector of the
line, the Notts Battery R.H.A. near the centre, and 'B' Battery H.A.C.
at the south end. The position of the two northernmost batteries was
quite hopeless. Driven back to the verge of the impassable hills, they
were in action in the open in the front line, and the only way of
retreat feasible for wheeled vehicles was to the south, down the line
of our troops, and in full view of the enemy at a few hundred yards
distance.

Nevertheless the two batteries fought steadily on, attempting the
impossible task of retiring by sections to the left flank. Each time
a Turkish attack broke and melted away before their fire, the enemy
dead lay a little closer to our guns. Each time a short retirement was
made, the heavy pressure of the enemy pushed the guns farther into the
hills; and each time there were fewer men and horses to move them. At
last they were forced into a position from which there was no way out,
and here they made a final stand, fighting till all their ammunition
was exhausted, and the Turks were within two or three hundred yards on
three sides of them. Even then a last effort was made to find a way
out, but the teams were mown down by machine-gun fire, and the guns had
to be abandoned. The remaining men and horses scrambled up the hills to
the east, and succeeded in reaching the Wadi el Retem. The Australian
troopers accompanied them, fighting grimly and silently, as an old dog
fox, run into by the hounds, turns on his pursuers, slashing right and
left, and dies with his teeth locked in a hound.

'B' Battery H.A.C., having a shorter distance to go, succeeded in
retiring to the south, through the enemy, and came into action again
near the Umm el Shert track, to cover the withdrawal of the rest of our
troops. During its retirement a gun was overturned in the bottom of a
deep wadi, and had to be abandoned. A party of men, under an officer,
descended into the ravine, and made a fine effort to right the gun and
get it away; but the Turks appeared on the banks above, and opened fire
on them with machine guns, killing nearly all the horses, and the
attempt had to be abandoned.

Scrambling hurriedly through the foothills, our troops reassembled on
the new position about mid-day, and took up a line along the south
side of a small wadi, facing north, with Red Hill, which was occupied
by the enemy, slightly to their left rear. General Chaytor, of the
Anzac Division, now arrived in a motor, and assumed command. He at once
decided to make a further retirement to a position immediately north
of, and covering, the Umm el Shert track. This withdrawal was carried
out successfully, with the assistance of the two New Zealand regiments,
and a line was established along the Wadi el Retem, from the Jordan,
to the foothills. Three times during the day the enemy attacked this
position in a most determined manner, but the line stood fast, and
each attack was repulsed with heavy losses to the Turks. When night
fell, the vital Umm el Shert track, which was now the only way of
communication with El Salt, was still open. Late in the afternoon touch
was established with the 1st A.L.H. Brigade in the hills.

While the 4th Brigade was fighting desperately to keep open our
communications with El Salt, the infantry were heavily engaged in
another attack on the enemy's position at Shunet Nimrin. Fighting
continued all day, but very little headway was made. Our light field
guns could make no impression on the rock-hewn trenches of the Turks,
and the wire, protected and partly concealed by the innumerable
boulders in front of the positions, could not be effectively cut.

In spite of the weakness of our force, and the strength of the enemy's
position, the attack might have been successful had the Beni Sakhr
carried out their part of the bargain. Unfortunately, either through
cowardice or treachery, they played us false, and never put in an
appearance at all. Consequently the track through Ain el Sir remained
open to the enemy, and, towards evening, reinforcements began to arrive
at Shunet Nimrin by this road.

The 5th Mounted Brigade had set out from El Salt, soon after dawn, to
co-operate with our infantry by attacking the enemy's rear about El
Howeij. So great were the difficulties of the country, however, that
it was not till nearly one o'clock that the brigade got in touch with
the enemy, near the road bridge at El Howeij. The Turks were in great
force, and strongly entrenched, and the 5th Brigade was unable to make
much headway. The 1st A.L.H. Brigade was ordered to assist by attacking
the enemy's flank farther west, at El Haud, while still guarding the
El Shert track. Little progress was made during the day, and, as soon
as darkness fell, the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade was withdrawn from Ain Hemar,
and sent to the assistance of the 5th. Orders were sent to these two
brigades that the 60th Division would attack Shunet Nimrin and El Haud
at dawn on the 2nd, and that they were to co-operate in this attack by
endeavouring to seize the high ground about Arkub el Khaluf.

In view of the precarious position of the 4th A.L.H. Brigade, down in
the valley, the 1st Brigade was ordered to employ its whole strength
in protecting the Umm el Shert track from all directions, and to keep
touch with the 4th. These dispositions left only the 3rd Brigade to
protect El Salt on the east, north, and north-west.

Our cavalry were now in a very precarious position. The strong force
at Shunet Nimrin barred the main road, and the Wadi Arseniyat track,
on the south-west. The Turkish 3rd Cavalry Division and part of an
infantry division, having cleared our troops from their line of advance
from Jisr el Damieh, were advancing on El Salt from the north-west; and
a third force was closing in on the east from Amman. The only line of
supply or retreat still open was by the difficult Umm el Shert track.

Ammunition and food were running short, and fresh supplies had to be
sent up to El Salt before morning. No vehicles could get up the Umm el
Shert track, and, as the journey had to be done in the night, camels
were equally out of the question. Each of the cavalry regiments had
at this time a few donkeys, which were used by cooks and batmen, who
did not usually accompany their units into action. About 200 of these
were collected at Ghoraniyeh in the evening, loaded with ammunition and
stores, and sent off in charge of a subaltern of the gunners.

Marching all night, they succeeded in reaching El Salt, which was then
being hotly attacked by the enemy, on the morning of the 2nd, delivered
their sorely needed ammunition, and returned safely to Ghoraniyeh.
The distance covered on the double journey was forty miles, over an
appalling country, and with the prospect of stumbling into the enemy
at any moment. The men of the convoy had had no sleep for the two
previous nights, and, being cavalrymen, were unaccustomed to marching.
That they carried out their task in the face of such difficulties, with
no greater mishap than the loss of a number of donkeys, which strayed
from their half-dead drivers on the way back, is a fine tribute to
the hardihood and determination of the men and the skill of the young
officer in charge.

The 60th Division began the attack before dawn, but made very slow
progress up the rocky steeps of Shunet Nimrin, in face of the strong
force of Turks, well posted on the heights above. The 5th Mounted
Brigade commenced its advance on the Turkish right flank at El Howeij
about eight o'clock, having been delayed in coming to grips with the
enemy, owing to the extreme difficulty of the country. Even after the
advanced troops of the brigade had engaged, it was estimated that the
attack would take three hours to develop. At half-past ten, however,
the whole brigade was in action against the first objective, the Howeij
bridge position. The 2nd Brigade, which had farther to go, had not yet
reached El Haud.

Early in the morning, the enemy column that had advanced from El
Damieh, after driving in the 4th Brigade, reached El Salt, and
developed a strong attack on the position held by part of the 3rd
Brigade, north-west of the village. Under the weight of this attack,
our line was pressed back a little, and, at eleven o'clock, a regiment
from the 1st Brigade had to be despatched to the aid of the 3rd. Half
an hour later a second regiment was withdrawn from the 1st Brigade,
for the same purpose. The donkey convoy, carrying 100,000 rounds of
small-arm ammunition and about 300 rounds for the mountain batteries,
arrived at a most critical moment. The 3rd Brigade machine guns, which
had almost been reduced to silence, awoke again, and the Turkish attack
was temporarily driven back.

Just at this time, the brigadiers of the 2nd and 5th Brigades
telephoned to El Salt that the country was so difficult that they saw
no prospect of gaining their objectives before dark. General Hodgson
directed them to push on as fast as they could, and attack the enemy
with the utmost vigour, in order to assist our infantry in their
attempt on the western slopes of the Shunet Nimrin positions.

Half an hour later General Kelly, commanding the 5th Brigade, reported
his left flank in danger from a force of the enemy at El Fuheis,
south of El Salt. This was most disquieting news. With a large force
of Turks attacking El Salt on the north and north-west, and another
force reported advancing on the east from Amman, General Hodgson had
no troops to spare for defence on the south side. The cavalry were
labouring under the inevitable disadvantage of having a quarter of
their number occupied in holding the horses of the remainder, since all
fighting in such country had to be done on foot. A whole brigade of
cavalry was, therefore, barely equivalent in rifle strength to a single
infantry battalion.

There was a gap of five miles of jagged, mountain country between the
small force at El Salt and the 5th Brigade, which was fully occupied at
El Howeij, and it appeared probable that the enemy troops at El Fuheis
might penetrate through this gap. In that case the position of the
5th Brigade, and probably also of the 2nd, would be hopeless. General
Hodgson, however, could send no help. The only chance lay in driving
in the enemy's flank at El Howeij and El Haud, and thus giving our
infantry the opportunity to assault Shunet Nimrin from the west with
some prospect of success. He ordered the 5th and 2nd Brigades to push
on at all costs.

Half an hour later, however, the advance of the enemy force from Amman
had become so threatening that he telephoned to the Corps Commander,
asking if the attack of these two brigades could be stopped, in order
that he might have them in hand for the defence of El Salt. Our
infantry at this time were closely engaged on the west of Nimrin,
fighting their way desperately up the hills, and there still appeared
to be a chance of carrying the position, provided the cavalry continued
to press against the enemy's right flank. General Chauvel, therefore,
decided that the attack of the 2nd and 5th Brigades must be continued,
but allowed one regiment of the 2nd to be withdrawn for the defence of
El Salt. Shortly afterwards he consented to a second regiment being
withdrawn from this brigade. This left only the 5th Brigade, already
reduced in strength by casualties, and one regiment of the 2nd Brigade,
to carry on the action at El Howeij.

By two o'clock these troops had progressed, with infinite difficulty
and no little loss, to the edge of a tributary of the Wadi Nimrin,
just north of El Howeij. At half-past two the 1st Brigade was ordered
to send another regiment at once to join the two regiments of the 2nd
Brigade at El Salt, who were hard pressed. There was now only one
regiment of the 1st Brigade left on the west side of the village, and
this was the only regiment of the force in the line not in action with
the enemy. The 3rd Brigade, holding a line north-west and north of El
Salt, was heavily engaged all along the line. Two regiments of the 2nd
and one of the 1st Brigade were fighting on the north-east and east,
and the remaining regiment of the 1st was in divisional reserve in the
village.

At half-past four General Kelly reported that he was unable to advance
at all. A body of Turkish cavalry was threatening his left flank and
rear, and he was anxious about his led horses. General Hodgson had no
troops to spare, and indeed was hard put to hold his own at El Salt.
He directed General Kelly, while protecting his flank and rear as
best he could with the 6th A.L.H. Regiment (2nd Brigade), to put in
his reserve regiment in one last attack on El Howeij. If this attack
failed, he was to remain in contact with the enemy, and attract as much
attention as possible.

General Kelly formed a defensive left flank with the 6th A.L.H.
Regiment, and threw in his reserve regiment to the attack. Scrambling
painfully up the steep, rocky slope, the three regiments struggled
forward with the utmost gallantry, against a murderous fire. Worn out
by three days and nights of continuous marching and fighting, reduced
by casualties, and with no supports to give their attack depth, they
had no chance of reaching the enemy's position. The Turks, strong in
numbers, and well posted in trenches and behind sangars, swept the
slope with a hail of bullets, through which our little force could make
no headway. The attack failed completely. The brigade re-formed, and
took up a fire position on the north side of the wadi, facing the Turks.

On the west the attack of our infantry had also failed, and, in the
evening, our troops drew off a little, and remained in observation of
the Turks during the night. The enemy had been greatly reinforced at
Shunet Nimrin during the day, and it was now clear that the operations
would have to be abandoned. The problem was how to withdraw the cavalry
from the mountains. All day long the Turks had been closing in on El
Salt from the east, north, and north-west. From midnight onwards the
enemy's fire had been very heavy on the front of the 2nd Brigade, and,
in the early hours of the morning, his troops had worked up to within
fifty yards of the 3rd Brigade at Kefr Huda. At the first sign of dawn
on the 3rd, a squadron from this brigade made a desperate bayonet
charge on this force. The Australians crashed into the Turks, just as
they were massing for an assault, fighting like tigers, and drove them
back more than half a mile, killing over a hundred of them.

[Illustration: _Diagram illustrating the situation on the 3rd. of May
1918._]

This charge relieved the pressure on the north side for a little while,
but another large enemy force now appeared on the Amman road to the
east, and at once attacked the 2nd Brigade. Our troops were forced
back by the weight of the attack, and, for a time, it looked as if our
line would be broken. The situation was cleared by the action of Major
Shannon, commanding the 8th A.L.H. Regiment (3rd Brigade), which was
temporarily attached to the 2nd Brigade. He despatched a single troop,
all that he could spare, with instructions to work round the Turks'
right flank, unseen by the enemy if possible, and charge them from the
rear. This desperate expedient was completely successful. The troop
succeeded in getting behind the Turks just as they were preparing for
another attack, and charged them with the bayonet, while the remainder
of the 8th Regiment attacked in front. There were only twenty-five
men in the troop, but they swung into the enemy with magnificent dash
and a great deal of noise, and the sudden and unexpected attack from
behind so disconcerted the Turks that they were thrown into confusion.
The 8th Regiment, charging in front at the same time, completed the
discomfiture of the enemy troops, who were driven back disorganised,
and left 300 prisoners in our hands.

This success held up the enemy's offensive for some time, but, about
seven o'clock, the Turks were seen to be again massing for an attack,
and it became necessary to withdraw the 6th A.L.H. Regiment from El
Howeij to support the 3rd Brigade. Shortly afterwards the 5th Brigade
was called on to send a regiment to El Salt. The remaining two
regiments, a mere handful of men, were directed to watch the rear of
our force at El Salt, and endeavour to prevent the enemy from advancing
up the road from Shunet Nimrin. Our infantry on the west assisted in
this task by keeping up a sharp fire fight.

Arrangements were now put in hand to evacuate the wounded and such of
the camel transport as was not required with the fighting troops, down
the El Shert track, preparatory to the withdrawal of the whole force.
Camels are slow and obstinate beasts, even in their native desert.
Moving in single file down the precipitous goat path to Umm el Shert,
they made barely half a mile an hour. Frightened by the slippery rocks,
their feet cut and bruised by the sharp stones of the path, groaning
and protesting in the manner of camels at every step, the unwieldy
beasts lurched perilously down the track. Every now and then one of
them would stop short, blocking the way for those behind it, and refuse
obstinately to move on. What the wounded men in the cacolets must have
suffered during this terrible journey can scarcely be imagined. It was
past mid-day before the last camel had cleared El Salt.

Since the failure of their first attacks in the morning, the enemy
troops had maintained a heavy fire on our positions east and north
of the town, but had made no further serious attempt at an assault.
Parties of them were, however, working round to the south, and the
situation was becoming increasingly grave.

At half-past twelve a force of about 3000 Turkish infantry was
observed advancing up the El Damieh track, the head of the column
being then about three miles from El Salt. Two hours later this force
had deployed, and was attacking the 3rd Brigade. At the same time the
enemy renewed his pressure on the east. As the wounded were now well
on their way down to the valley, the Corps Commander ordered General
Hodgson to withdraw to a position south-west of El Salt, covering the
El Shert track. As soon as this withdrawal began, the enemy pushed
forward, and engaged our troops most severely. One of our posts on
the north-west was driven in, but, before any counter-attack could be
organised, a message was received from Corps Headquarters ordering the
cavalry to withdraw altogether from the hills, _if able to do so_.

The 1st Brigade was now in position across the El Shert track,
south-west of El Salt, and facing east. The remainder of the force
withdrew through this line, by regiments, after dark, and marched down
the track during the night. As they could only move in single file,
daylight found them strung out for several miles along the path. The
evacuation of El Salt was completed by half-past two in the morning,
but the Turks did not discover this fact till dawn. They at once pushed
on through the village to attack the 1st Brigade. At the same time
enemy guns heavily shelled the rearguard of the brigade, and several
hostile aeroplanes bombed our troops in the defile, causing a number
of casualties. The Turks continued to press the 1st Brigade rearguard
till it was three miles west of El Salt, when they drew off, evidently
fearing to venture farther towards our troops in the valley.

By half-past ten the whole of our force was clear of the hills, and
moving in extended order down the valley towards El Ghoraniyeh, covered
by the 4th A.L.H. Brigade and part of the New Zealand Brigade. These
two brigades had been in action almost continuously since they had
taken up the position covering the Umm el Shert track on the 1st. They
had, however, succeeded in repelling all attacks, with heavy losses to
the enemy. On the evening of the 3rd the Turks, abandoning the attempt
to break our line in the valley, had withdrawn to the north, and
followed their comrades towards El Salt. The dogged fighting of the 4th
Brigade and the New Zealanders had saved the situation. Had they given
way, the Turks would have reached the Umm el Shert track, and the whole
of our cavalry force in the hills must then, almost certainly, have
fallen into the hands of the enemy.

By nightfall the whole of our force had withdrawn behind a brigade of
infantry which had been brought across the Jordan from the west to
form an extended bridgehead. During the night the troops recrossed the
river, and the force was all safely on the west bank before morning on
the 5th. The Ghoraniyeh bridgehead was restored, and the Australian
Mounted Division took over the left sector of the Jordan Valley
defences, along the river Auja, including a new bridge and bridgehead
which had been thrown across the Jordan, at its junction with the Auja,
during the operations. The Anzac Mounted Division took over the right
sector of the valley defences, including the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead.

Although the raid had failed in its primary object, which was the
destruction of the enemy force at Shunet Nimrin, it had not been
altogether unsuccessful. In the first place the Turks had been very
roughly handled, and, besides having many of their troops killed and
wounded, had lost nearly 1000 prisoners. The really important result
of the operations, however, lay in the fact that the raid finally
convinced the enemy that, in our next general advance, our cavalry
would be directed on Amman and Deraa Junction.

Under the influence of this idea, he was led to place practically the
whole of his IVth Army east of the Jordan, which was thus separated by
the river, with its deep and difficult channel, from the remainder of
his forces in the Judæan Hills. It was this fact that enabled us, in
the following September, to envelop and completely destroy the VIIth
and VIIIth Armies, before the IVth Army could intervene.

[Illustration: The River Jordan at Ghoranigeh.]

[Illustration: Shunet Nimrin and the Amman Road. Looking east, towards
the positions held by the enemy.]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 20: See Appendix I. _a_ for composition of Desert Mounted
Corps after the reorganisation.]



CHAPTER XIV

THE VALLEY OF DESOLATION


The Commander-in-Chief had now to decide whether or not he should
hold the Jordan Valley during the summer. Local authorities declared
emphatically that it was impossible for Europeans to exist there during
the summer months, owing to the intense heat and the prevalence of
malaria of a most virulent type. They pointed to the fact that even the
native Arabs move out of it to the hills during the hot weather, and
that Jericho itself is deserted. The only inhabitants of the district
during the summer are the small and miserable tribe of the Abid Miriam,
a people of negroid origin, descendants of African slaves imported by
the Arabs in former times. These live about Ain el Duk, where they
carry on a rude form of irrigation by means of a few of the old, Roman
water channels that still exist.

The official military handbook of Palestine confirmed the local opinion
by the statement that 'Nothing is known of the climate of the lower
Jordan Valley in summer time, since no civilised human being has yet
been found to spend a summer there'!

On the other hand, there were several strong reasons for continuing to
hold the valley line if possible. Some of these have been indicated at
the beginning of Chapter XI., but there was now another, and stronger,
reason for holding it, which was to confirm the enemy in his belief
that we intended to strike east of the Jordan in our next big advance.
Moreover, since it was clear that it would be necessary to occupy the
valley and the river crossings, when the next advance was commenced,
it was considered less costly to continue to hold it during the summer
than to have to retake it later on.

After careful consideration, General Allenby resolved to hold the
valley line permanently, and, as several of the German staff documents
which we had captured assumed that we would strike in that part of our
line near which the cavalry was stationed, it was decided to put them
there.

The line was accordingly organised in two sectors. The left sector
extended from the foot of the Judæan mountains, along the north bank
of the Wadi el Auja, to its junction with the Jordan, and included the
bridge and bridgehead there. A rocky ridge, several hundred feet high,
ran north and south through this position, from Tel el Sultan, near
Jericho, and extended north of the Auja, along the hill of Abu Tellul,
ending in an abrupt bluff at Musallabeh. This ridge was held by us, so
that this portion of the line resembled a fist with the first finger
extended, the finger representing the ridge, and the Wadi el Auja the
line of the knuckles. Abu Tellul and Musallabeh overlooked a dreary
expanse, part swamp, part stony plain, covered with large patches of
dense scrub, and intersected by innumerable deep wadis. The Turks were
able to move unseen among the scrub and wadis all round the salient in
our line, a fact which caused us much annoyance all the time we were
in occupation of the valley. It was, however, necessary to hold Abu
Tellul and Musaliabeh, both to preserve the water supply of the Auja
for ourselves, and to deny it to the enemy.

The right sector extended from the mouth of the Auja, along the right
bank of the Jordan, to the Dead Sea, and included the bridges and
bridgehead at Ghoraniyeh.

The reorganisation of the cavalry was completed by the middle of May,
and the Desert Mounted Corps now consisted of the Anzac and Australian
Mounted Divisions and the 4th and 5th (Indian) cavalry divisions.[21]
The valley line was held by two cavalry divisions, one in each sector,
supported by a brigade of Indian infantry, and two battalions of the
British West Indies Regiment. This organisation permitted of two
divisions at a time being withdrawn to rest in camps established in
the cool hills near Bethlehem, so that each cavalry division had
alternatively a month on duty in the valley, and a month at rest in
the hills. For the gunners of the Corps, however, there was no relief,
owing to the shortage of artillery in the force, and they had to pass
the whole summer in the valley, till the end of July, an experience
which none of them is ever likely to forget.

In past ages the Dead Sea covered a much greater area than it does at
the present day. The lower Jordan valley is, therefore, the bottom
of the old sea, and is covered with a layer of white marl, several
feet deep, which is strongly impregnated with salt. In spring the
land supports a little thin grass, but the fierce sun of early summer
scorches it in a few days to brittle dust. Under the feet of men and
horses the marl of the valley floor soon broke up into a white powder,
as fine as flour, which lay everywhere, in places over a foot deep.
Every morning, after a breathless night, a strong hot wind arose
from the north, and swept the dust down the valley in dense, choking
clouds. About eleven o'clock in the morning the wind used to die down
as suddenly as it had arisen, and for about half an hour there was a
period of deathlike stillness, accompanied by the most intense heat
of the day. Then the wind recommenced violently, but blowing from the
_south_, and continued till about eight in the evening. Innumerable,
violent air currents swept about the valley, often carrying along 'dust
devils' of immense height. It was no uncommon thing for one of these
devils to tear up a tent, and lift it bodily high into the air.

There was a tiny patch of green cultivation at Ain el Duk, about five
miles behind our line, and another at Jericho, and a few dusty thorn
trees grew along the Wadi el Auja. The rest of the valley was a barren
and awful wilderness of dust, stones, and boulders, inhabited, before
we came, only by snakes and scorpions.

The average maximum daily temperature during July, as taken at the R.A.
Headquarters on the top of the Tel el Sultan-Abu Tellul Ridge, was
113·2° F. in the shade. The highest reading recorded during the month
was 122° and the lowest 107°. At the foot of the ridge the temperature
was about 3° higher, and at Ghoraniyeh it reached 130° on several
occasions. During August the temperature rose still higher, but no
daily record was then kept of the thermometer readings. The tremendous
evaporation of the Dead Sea keeps the atmosphere moist, and adds to
the discomfort caused by the great heat, while the increased air
pressure, due to the depth of the valley floor below sea level (1200
feet at Ghoraniyeh), induces a feeling of lassitude against which it is
difficult to fight.

The effect of the climate on the horses was most remarkable. After
about three weeks in the valley, they became so tired and dispirited,
though they had little or no work to do, that they could scarce drag
themselves the mile or so to water and back again.

An unceasing campaign was carried on by the medical staff of the Corps
against the malaria-bearing mosquitoes which infested the valley,
and this undoubtedly did much to lessen the incidence of malaria,
especially of the malignant type, among the troops. In spite of all
efforts, however, the sick rate was high, as it was bound to be under
such conditions. Deaths and evacuations of sick to hospital averaged
together about one per cent. of the total strength per day, which meant
that the whole force in the valley would have to be replaced every
three months. Actually, however, the alternate month in the hills
enjoyed by the cavalry enabled many men, who had been sent to hospital,
to recover in time to do another tour of duty in the valley. Curiously
enough the Indian troops suffered more severely than did the British.

In this climate, and under such conditions, His Majesty's troops,
white, brown, and black, held the line throughout the summer of 1918,
and it is safe to say that few other troops in the Great War endured
greater hardships and discomfort than did the Jordan Valley force.

There was but one action of importance during the summer. On the 14th
July two Turkish divisions, supported by three battalions of German
infantry, attacked our positions at Musallabeh and Abu Tellul from the
west. Under cover of darkness the German troops, having cut our wire,
penetrated between two of our posts, and actually reached our second
line on the top of Abu Tellul, which was not occupied, owing to lack of
troops.

The 1st A.L.H. Brigade was holding this sector of the line at the
time, supported by a miscellaneous collection of artillery--horse,
field, mountain and siege. The attack was preceded by a very heavy
enemy bombardment, which cut all our telephone wires. The batteries
were thus, early in the fight, out of touch with their observers,
and, as the latter had in some cases to move hurriedly from their
posts to avoid capture, it was some time before communications could
be re-established. In the meantime the batteries continued to fire on
their S.O.S. lines.

The commanding officer of the 2nd A.L.H. regiment, against which the
brunt of the attack fell, narrowly escaped capture, but succeeded with
his staff in reaching a post in the second line on Abu Tellul. In the
uncertain light just before dawn, he observed a large body of troops
coming up the hill towards him, and at first took these for some of
his own men retiring from the outer posts. When they reached the wire,
however, and began to cut it, he realised that they were the enemy,
and at once gave the order to open rapid fire on them. This had the
effect of driving the Germans, who were ignorant of the fact that there
were only twelve men in front of them, away to the right, where they
occupied a post near the end of Abu Tellul, known as the Bluff.

Meanwhile the artillery officer with this section of the defence, who
had had both his signallers wounded, succeeded in getting a runner
back to one of the Horse Artillery batteries, with news of the state
of affairs. An officer at once set out from his battery with two
signallers, and, riding as far as the foot of Abu Tellul, under very
heavy shell fire, dismounted, and set to work repairing the telephone
wires. Having got into communication with the battery, the officer
went forward on foot with his signallers, running out a fresh wire,
and reached the top of Abu Tellul just after daylight. Here he found
two officers and twelve men of the reserve regiment of the 1st A.L.H.
Brigade, who were on their way to counter-attack the Bluff, a strongly
entrenched position in which there were, at the time, some eighty
German infantry! The party moved forward cautiously, taking advantage
of the cover afforded by the numerous rocks, but had not gone far when
an enemy shell burst among them, killing and wounding six. One of the
officers thereupon went back for reinforcements, and the remaining
nine, including the gunners, continued their advance. After going a
short distance farther, they observed a number of the enemy near the
Bluff, some 200 yards distant. Fortunately the telephone line still
held, so the fire of the battery was directed on the enemy. The little
13-pounder H.E. shell burst with excellent effect among the rocks
of the position, and the Germans very soon had enough of them, and
surrendered. They were collected, to the number of forty, disarmed, and
put in charge of two of the Australians, while the 'counter-attack,'
now reduced to seven, moved forward again. Another body of the enemy
was soon discovered occupying the end part of Abu Tellul. The battery
opened fire on these, and after a few minutes, believing that they were
cut off, they too put up a white flag and laid down their arms. There
were six officers and eighty men here, and their chagrin was great
on discovering that they had surrendered to seven men. However, they
were told that the rest of their force had been repulsed, and that our
battery was quite ready to open fire again, if need arose. The two
parties were quickly hustled away to the rear, being liberally shelled
by their own gunners on the way.

While this little comedy was being enacted at the end of the Abu Tellul
Ridge, daylight had come, and the enemy's only chance of capturing the
position had passed. Our outer posts, though surrounded, had all held
out, and turned the fire of their machine guns with good effect on the
enemy on the southern end of Abu Tellul. Some of these worked south to
the part of the ridge overlooking the Wadi el Auja, and suddenly found
themselves looking down on a battery of mountain howitzers that were
firing in the opposite direction, at some Turks who were attempting
to cross the wadi. The howitzers were immediately turned end for end
in their pits, and fired up the hill straight into the faces of the
astonished Germans, who retired discomfited, to hide among the rocks
and trenches farther north till gathered in by our troops later on.

By now the 5th A.L.H. regiment and the New Zealand Mounted Brigade,
which had been sent up in support, had arrived on the scene. Pushing
along both sides of the Abu Tellul Ridge, they quickly drove out the
rest of the enemy, and restored the position.

The two Turkish divisions, which were to have attacked on each side
of the German troops, had waited for daylight to make their assault,
with the result that they were easily driven off. The southern force,
indeed, only attacked once, and that but half-heartedly, but the
division on the enemy's left made three attempts on Musallabeh, only
to be driven back each time with heavy loss by a murderous machine-gun
fire. The Turks left about 200 dead on the positions.

By ten o'clock in the morning the whole position was completely
restored, and our prisoners (380 Germans and about 200 Turks) were on
their way back to headquarters.

At this juncture there occurred an incident so typical of the Hun that
it is worth recording. As they were marching back, a number of the
German officers and men commenced to show evident signs of distress,
and presently began to drop insensible by the wayside. As they had
only light field service caps on their heads, it was thought that
they had been overcome by the sun. Ambulance carts were sent for, and
the sufferers were conveyed to a field hospital near by, attended on
the way with the most solicitous care by their Australian escort. On
arrival at the hospital, however, it was discovered that they were
merely speechlessly drunk, whereupon the incensed Australians soused
them unceremoniously with water, and sent them on their way to the
prisoners' compounds without more ado. It transpired afterwards that
several small parties of Germans had been detailed to cut our telephone
wires as soon as they had penetrated our lines. While engaged on this
work they had stumbled on a tent, pitched in a little gully, in which
were stored several cases of beer and one or two of whisky, which had
been brought up at very great trouble for the men of the 2nd A.L.H.
regiment. Unable to resist this liquor, the Germans, officers and
men, abandoning their task of wire cutting, fell upon the cases, and,
knocking off the heads of the bottles, poured the contents down their
throats. When they had drunk all they could hold, they smashed the rest
of the bottles, and staggered away, to be captured disgracefully by our
troops. Had any of them been on the scene when the thirsty Australians
repaired to the tent after being relieved from the trenches, they would
undoubtedly have shared the fate of the bottles!

During the attack on Musallabeh and Abu Tellul the enemy was observed
to be massing for an attack east of the river Jordan, opposite El
Henu ford, about half-way between Makhadet Hajlah and the Dead Sea.
The Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade immediately moved out from
Ghoraniyeh to attack. Taking advantage of the cover afforded by the
broken ground and scrub on the east bank, the cavalry arrived within
charging distance before they were observed. They charged at once, and
routed the Turks, killing ninety with the spear, and taking about 100
prisoners and several machine guns.

During the remainder of the period spent in the Jordan Valley, action
on both sides was confined to artillery activity, in which the enemy,
owing to the freedom of movement he enjoyed, had the advantage of us,
and to patrol work, in which our troops, more especially the Indian
Cavalry, had it all their own way. The only sources of water, other
than the Jordan, were the Wadi el Auja, which was used by the troops
and horses in the left sector, and the Wadi Nueiameh, which arose at
Ain el Duk, and flowed into the Jordan at El Ghoraniyeh. The latter
wadi was used by the Headquarters of the Valley Defences and by the
field ambulances and supply and ordnance troops. The east side of the
Tel el Sultan-Abu Tellul Ridge, which was only about 7000 yards from
the Jordan, was occupied by horse lines, ammunition column camps, and
field hospitals. Early in July the enemy, who had received considerable
artillery reinforcements, pushed a number of field guns and heavy
howitzers southwards, east of the Jordan, and commenced a systematic
shelling of these troops. Camps and horse lines had to be moved, and
scattered about in sections, in most inconvenient situations, along the
bottoms of small wadis running down from the ridge into the plain. Some
protection was obtained by these measures, but there was not sufficient
room in the wadis for all the units, and those which had to remain in
the open suffered under a constant, galling shell fire, and had to
shift their camps every few days.

The whole of the Wadis el Auja and Nueiameh was under the enemy's
observation either from Red Hill and other high ground east of the
Jordan, or from the foothills west and north-west of Abu Tellul. The
Turks took full advantage of this to shell our watering parties almost
every day. The drinking-places were frequently changed, and every
effort was made to distract the enemy's attention, during the hours
when horses were being watered, by shelling his positions vigorously.
But the dense clouds of dust raised by even the smallest parties of
horses on the move, generally gave the game away, and we had constant
trouble and numerous casualties among men and horses.

About the same time as the Turks became aware of the possibilities
of artillery on the east bank of the Jordan, they got a six-inch
long-range gun in position in the hills north-west of our line in the
valley, and shelled Ghoraniyeh, Jericho, and other back areas at a
range of some 20,000 yards. The gun was nicknamed 'Jericho Jane' by our
gunners, and the name found its way eventually into the Corps' Daily
Intelligence Report. But when the enemy brought up two more such guns
into about the same position, and the three were referred to in the
daily report from one of the R.A. Headquarters as 'Jericho Jane and her
two wicked sisters,' the powers that were decreed that such slang was
inappropriate in official reports!

For the first week 'Jericho Jane' confined her unwelcome attentions to
Jericho, into which she put about thirty shells, and to various camps
and horse lines in the neighbourhood. But, when her wicked sisters
arrived, they at once commenced to pay court to the 13th Cavalry
Brigade, which was in reserve at the time, and was camped about Ain el
Duk on the west side of the ridge. This position had hitherto been
deemed the only safe spot in the whole horrible valley, and it was
a sad blow to the 13th Brigade, who had a comfortable camp close to
water, to find their sanctuary invaded by these outrageous viragoes.

The first shot hit the top of the Mount of Temptation, just above the
rock-hewn hermitage of a community of Greek monks. The line of fire
then moved slowly down the mountain side, the thunderous crashes of
the bursting shells sending the good monks to the shelter of their
rock cells quicker than ever the prayer bell had done. Meantime the
cavalry were breaking camp in record time. Before the first shell burst
in the camp, the whole brigade was mounted and moving southwards into
the Wilderness, homeless as the Children of Israel. The 'safe' camp,
the envy of all the valley, with its outlook over a beautiful patch of
vivid green at Ain el Duk, was abandoned to the snake and the scorpion,
and the indignant troops had to find such shelter as was available here
and there in the bottoms of arid, dusty wadis.

The three sisters were eventually spotted by aeroplanes, and silenced
by some of our heavy artillery in the mountain sector. In the valley
itself, it was almost impossible to locate the enemy guns. Owing to the
very broken nature of the country, the damp atmosphere and the constant
dust, our aeroplanes were unable to spot them, even when firing, and
they caused us constant annoyance, while remaining almost immune from
our fire. Flying over the valley was at all times most hazardous work,
owing to the innumerable vortices and pockets in the air, and there
were many bad accidents.

The Australian Mounted Division left the valley finally on the 1st
August, followed shortly afterwards by the 5th Cavalry Division.
The two divisions were relieved by the 4th and the Anzac Divisions.
Marching by easy stages during the night, and remaining hidden by day
among vineyards and olive groves, they crossed the mountains to the
coastal plain, and went into camp in the neighbourhood of Selmeh and
Ludd.

The blessed coolness of the nights, and the clear and comparatively
bracing air of the plain, soon began to have a good effect on the jaded
troops and horses, worn out by their long periods in the dismal Valley
of Desolation. Training recommenced at once, and continued till the
middle of September, when the two divisions marched into positions
of hiding, preparatory to the Great Drive. The 4th Cavalry Division,
having left the valley on the 11th September, joined them on the 17th.

The Anzac Division remained sweltering by the Jordan till after the
commencement of the September operations, suffering greatly from
sickness, but 'carrying on' with the cheerfulness and courage typical
of the Australians.

Just before leaving the valley, the writer heard an Australian trooper
sum up the all-pervading horror of the place in a characteristic
sentence. After gazing for some time at the hideous expanse of white
dust and blistering rocks at his feet, he remarked slowly: 'Well, I
reckon God made the Jordan Valley, and when He seen what He done, He
threw stones at it!'

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 21: See Appendix I. _a._ for detail of cavalry.]



CHAPTER XV

PREPARATIONS FOR THE GREAT DRIVE


At the end of August 1918 the 5th and Australian Cavalry Divisions were
encamped near Khurbet Deiran and Ramleh respectively; the 4th Division
and the Anzac Mounted Division were still in the Jordan Valley. The
new 5th A.L.H. Brigade, which had only two regiments, was completed by
the inclusion of the French 'Régiment Mixte de Cavalerie.' This was
a four-squadron unit, consisting of two squadrons of regular French
cavalry and two of Algerian Spahis, and was commanded by Colonel Le
Bon, an officer who had had many years' experience in the East. The
Spahis, with their picturesque half-Arab uniforms and their enormous
curved sabres, which they carried under the flaps of their saddles,
added a note of colour to the division, and caused endless diversion to
the Australians. They were mounted on good-looking barbs, which could
march indefinitely, if allowed to go at their own rate, but the pace
of our big horses was rather too hot for them, as was proved by the
subsequent operations.

As there were only ten batteries of Horse Artillery available, one
battery ('B' H.A.C.) was withdrawn from the Australian Mounted Division
in August, and joined the 5th Cavalry Division. These two divisions had
thus only two batteries each.

During the first half of September preparations for the Great Drive
were pushed forward energetically. Our broad-gauge railway had now
been carried forward as far north as Ludd, and the old Turkish line
from Ludd to Jerusalem had been relaid for broad gauge. Light railways
had been built along the coastal plain, from Ludd up to our front
line; tracks had been improved, and roads made behind the line in
the mountain sector, and, from Jiljulie to the sea, the gunners were
working ceaselessly, like a legion of ants, preparing positions for the
considerable force of artillery that was to assist in forcing the enemy
defences here.

The Turkish line west of the Jordan ran east from the coast, at a point
just north of the old Crusader fortress of Arsuf, over the coastal
plain to Jiljulie, near the railhead at Kalkili. Here it entered the
mountains, and ran a little south of east, passing roughly through
Mesha, Furkha and El Lubban, to the Jordan at Umm el Shert.

Forty miles north of this line lie the Plain of Esdraelon, or
Armageddon, and the Valley of Jezreel, which cut a gap right through
the mountain range from the sea to the river Jordan. Esdraelon is
shaped roughly like a broad-bladed arrow head, having its point at
Haifa on the sea coast, and the extremities of its blades at Mount
Tabor on the north, and at the little town of Jenin on the south.
Mid-way between these two lies the village of Afule, whence the Valley
of Jezreel, forming the shaft of the arrow, runs down to the Jordan at
Beisan, which is about fifteen miles south of the Sea of Galilee, and
four miles west of the Jordan.

From Deraa Junction on the Hedjaz Railway, about thirty-five miles east
of the Sea of Galilee, a branch line runs westwards to Semakh, at the
southern end of the lake, and thence southwards down the Jordan Valley
to Beisan. From here two roads lead south down the valley, one on each
side of the river, and a third goes south-west through the mountains
to Nablus. Leaving Beisan, the railway continues in a north-westerly
direction up the Valley of Jezreel, through Afule, to Haifa. From
Afule a branch line runs south to Jenin, and thence to Samaria and
Nablus; and from Messudieh, near Samaria, another branch winds through
the mountains to Tul Keram on the coastal plain, and thence south to
Kalkili.

Thus, to quote the Commander-in-Chiefs despatch:[22] 'Afule, Beisan,
and Deraa were the vital points on the enemy's communications. If they
could be seized, his retreat would be cut off. Deraa was beyond my
reach, but not beyond that of mobile detachments of the Arab Army. It
was not to be expected that these detachments could hold this junction,
but it was within their power to dislocate all traffic.'

The coastal plain, consisting of rolling down-land, is about ten miles
wide at Arsuf. From this point northwards it gradually narrows, till
it is shut off altogether at Haifa, where the Mount of Carmel, an
offshoot from the main Judæan range, falls in steep cliffs to the sea.
The only track over the Carmel Range into the Plain of Esdraelon that
is possible for wheeled traffic is by the famous Musmus Pass, from
Kerkur to Lejjun on the river Kishon, over which Thothmes III. led his
army, 'horse behind horse and man behind man,' to the great victory of
Megiddo, in 1479 B.C.

The pass, which carries the age-old caravan road from Egypt to
Mesopotamia, leads through a narrow, rocky defile, in steep and
difficult mountain country, and, near the top of the range, is enclosed
in places between sheer cliffs. Skilfully handled, a small body of
troops could hold it for a long time against a greatly superior force.

The enemy VIIth and VIIIth Armies held the line from the sea to the
Jordan Valley. His IVth Army was disposed in the valley and east of
the Jordan. A fairly good, metalled road runs from Jiljulie, through
Tul Keram, to Nablus. From here two bad mountain tracks lead down to
the Jordan, one through Beit Dejan, and the other by Ain Shibleh and
down the Wadi Farah. These two tracks join one another at El Makhruk,
four miles west of the river, and then continue over the Jordan at
Jisr el Damieh, and on to El Salt. This was the enemy's only lateral
communication, and the portion between Nablus and El Salt was so
difficult that the IVth Army was practically isolated from the rest of
the force.

The Turkish armies opposed to us, including reserves and lines of
communication troops, numbered some 90,000 men, of whom perhaps 5000
were cavalry, with about 400 guns. Their Commander-in-Chief was the
German Marshal Liman von Sanders, who had his headquarters at Nazareth.
Our own troops numbered about 120,000, including 25,000 cavalry, with
540 guns.

The _morale_ of the enemy troops, both Turkish and German, was lower
than it had been at any time since the beginning of the campaign.
Many of the Turkish soldiers were ill-trained and of poor character.
Disheartened by a long series of successful small raids, carried out
by our infantry during the past two months, utterly weary of a war
the objects of which they little understood, racked with disease, and
imbued with a bitter hatred of their German masters, who despised and
bullied them, they were in no state to withstand the onslaught that was
preparing. The ill-feeling between Turks and Germans, which had existed
from the very beginning of the war, had now reached an acute stage.
The Germans, with characteristic stupidity, failed to do anything to
allay the irritation caused by their overbearing manner, and openly
expressed contempt for their allies.

Numerous documents, subsequently captured by us at the enemy G.H.Q.,
testified to the deplorable state of internal strife and suspicion
to which the enemy army was now reduced. Indeed, with the exception
of a few senior officers, the Germans seemed to take a delight in
ill-treating and insulting the unhappy Turks.

These factors must be borne in mind in estimating the tactics adopted
by the British Commander-in-Chief. His plan was one of the boldest
and simplest ever conceived by a great captain, and will live in the
text-books of the soldiers of all nations, as a model of the use of
cavalry, as long as war is waged. Such risks as he took in the carrying
out of that plan, and they were numerous, were justified by the state
of the enemy armies opposed to us, and were, in every instance,
triumphantly vindicated by the success of the operations.

In broad outline, the plan was to concentrate an overwhelming force
of infantry and guns in the coastal sector, together with three
divisions of cavalry: for the infantry to attack the enemy positions
from Jiljulie to the sea, and, having captured them, to wheel to the
right, pivoting on Jiljulie, and bend back the enemy's right wing
into the hills, exactly like opening a door. Through this open door
the cavalry were to dash, and ride up the coast and over the Musmus
Pass into the Plain of Esdraelon. Once in the plain, their task was to
seize Afule, and then ride down the Valley of Jezreel to Beisan and
the Jordan, and cut the railways at these two places, while an Arab
force cut it farther east at Deraa. Later on Haifa was to be occupied,
and thus a net of cavalry would be drawn from the sea to the Jordan.
As soon as the cavalry were well through the gap on the coastal plain,
our infantry were to attack all along the line in the mountain sector,
while the troops that had opened the door endeavoured to roll up the
enemy line from his right flank. Our force in the Jordan Valley was
to advance simultaneously, and seize the bridge over the Jordan at El
Damieh. The two Turkish armies west of the Jordan would thus be caught
in a trap, with the sea on their right and the Jordan on their left,
and, with all their communications cut, would be forced back into the
cavalry net behind them.

Once the crossing over the Jordan at Jisr el Damieh was in our hands,
the Turkish IVth Army east of the river would find itself isolated,
with its communications cut (at Deraa), and exposed to the converging
attacks of our force in the valley, which would hold the river
crossings, and of the Arab forces on the east. At the beginning of
September a mobile column of the Arab Army, accompanied by armoured
cars and a mountain battery, was assembling at Kasr el Azrak, in the
desert fifty miles east of Amman, under the energetic direction of
Lawrence.

The first essential for the success of the plan was to conceal from the
enemy the considerable concentration of troops on the coastal plain,
especially that of the three cavalry divisions.

It is doubtful if there has ever been a greater master of the art of
deception in war than the British Commander-in-Chief. No detail was too
small, no dodge too insignificant to engage his full attention. The two
trans-Jordan raids had given the enemy the impression that we intended
to attack either up the Jordan Valley, or east of it, at Amman and
along the Hedjaz Railway, and General Allenby now set himself to foster
this belief by every possible means.

To this end he ordered Major-General Chaytor, who was in the Jordan
Valley, in command of a mixed force consisting of the Anzac Mounted
Division and eight battalions of infantry, to make a series of
demonstrations, with the object of inducing the enemy to believe that
an attack east of Jordan was intended. The camps in the valley vacated
by the cavalry were left standing, and other camps were pitched there,
and occupied by a few men, to show signs of movement, and to make
tracks about, and leading to, the camps, in order to deceive enemy
airmen. New bridges were thrown across the Jordan, miles of Décauville
railway were laid, and thousands of dummy horses were erected on dummy
horse lines in the dummy camps. Every day, for some considerable time,
a battalion or two of infantry marched down the Jerusalem-Jericho
road from Talaat el Dumm, and occupied one or other of these camps.
During the night they were brought back to Talaat el Dumm, in returning
empty motor lorries, ready to march back again next day. These troops
could be plainly seen, marching down into the valley, by the enemy at
Shunet Nimrin, who was thus induced to believe that a considerable
concentration was taking place in the valley. This unpleasant daily
promenade fell to the lot of the British West Indies regiments.

For the benefit of the native population, elaborate bogus preparations
were made for the removal of G.H.Q. to Jerusalem. One of the hotels
there was cleared of its occupants, much to their disgust, and staff
officers busied themselves installing office furniture and telephone
equipment, and painting the names of a multitude of departments on the
doors of the rooms.

Lastly, lest a chance word should reach a native enemy spy within our
lines, everything was done to further the belief among our own troops
that we were likely to attack on the east flank. The writer remembers
receiving a visit one day from his Divisional General, and being told
to do nothing to discourage the idea that the cavalry would once again
find themselves in the Valley of Desolation. He also remembers vividly
the lurid language that arose on all sides when this report spread
about the camps!

No orders were committed to paper other than those issued by G.H.Q. and
the three Corps. Secret conferences were called in turn at the various
Divisional Headquarters, when the scheme was explained to staffs and
commanders of brigades, each of whom then prepared his scheme, and
submitted it verbally to his immediate superior.

The three cavalry divisions on the left of our line were hidden
securely from the eyes of enemy aeroplane observers; the Australian
Mounted Division in the immense, old olive woods round Ramleh, the
4th Cavalry Division in the orange groves near Selmeh, and the 5th
Division, which had left the Jordan Valley on September 11, in those
north-west of Sarona.

Shortly before the operations commenced, the 60th and 75th Infantry
Divisions were brought across to the coastal sector, where they
remained, unseen by the enemy, till the attack was launched.

During all the period of concentration, the magnificent work of
the Royal Air Force played a dominant part in keeping the enemy in
ignorance of our movements. The Commander-in-Chief paid the force a
well-deserved compliment in his despatch when he said: 'The chief
factor in the secrecy maintained must be attributed, however, to the
supremacy in the air which had been obtained by the Royal Air Force.
The process of wearing down the enemy's aircraft had been going on all
through the summer. During one week in June 100 hostile aeroplanes
had crossed our lines. During the last week in August this number had
decreased to eighteen. In the next few days a number were shot down,
with the result that only four ventured to cross our lines during the
period of concentration.'[23]

On the 18th of September, the day before the attack, a large force
of bombing aeroplanes was directed over Nablus, where it was known
the enemy had his main telephone and telegraph exchange. This was
completely destroyed, a fact which played an important part in enabling
our cavalry to reach the Plain of Esdraelon next day, before the enemy
G.H.Q. knew they had broken through.

The striking success of these measures was afterwards proved by
captured enemy documents. Among these was the German Intelligence
Service map, issued on the very day before our attack commenced. This
map shows three cavalry divisions still in the Jordan Valley, and only
one in the coastal sector. Only two infantry divisions are shown in the
coastal sector instead of five, and the whole map points to an attack
in, or east of, the Jordan Valley. A German air reconnaissance report,
dated 17th of September, and found among Liman von Sanders' papers
at Nazareth, stated that 'far from there being any diminution in the
cavalry in the Jordan Valley, there are evidences of twenty-three more
squadrons there.'

The Turkish line on the plain consisted of two defensive positions,
well constructed and heavily wired. The first, 14,000 yards in
length and 3000 in depth, ran along a sandy ridge in a north-westerly
direction from Bir Adas to the sea. It consisted of a series of works
connected by a continuous network of fire trenches. The second, or
El Tire system, 3000 yards in the rear, ran from the village of that
name to the mouth of the Nahr el Falik. On the enemy's extreme right
the ground, except for a narrow strip along the coast, was marshy, and
could only be crossed in few places. The defence of the second system
did not, therefore, require a large force.

The attack of these positions was entrusted to the 21st Corps (3rd,
7th, 54th, and 75th Divisions), to which were also attached the 60th
Division, the French Infantry Detachment, and the 5th A.L.H. Brigade
(Australian Mounted Division), together with a large number of heavy
guns and two brigades of mountain artillery. This force was to break
through the enemy's defences between the railway and the sea, in order
to open the door for the cavalry, and, at the same time, to seize the
foothills south-east of Jiljulie. The Corps was then to swing to the
right, pivoting on Jiljulie, as already explained, on to the line
Hableh-Tul Keram, and advance in a north-easterly direction, converging
on Samaria and Attara (on the Jenin-Samaria Railway about five miles
north-west of the latter place), so as to drive the enemy up the two
roads from Messudieh Junction and Samaria to Jenin, into the arms of
the cavalry on the Plain of Esdraelon. The 5th A.L.H. Brigade was to
cover the outer (left) flank of the Corps during this turning movement,
capture Tul Keram station, and then raid and cut the Messudieh-Jenin
Railway, near Ajje.

As soon as the infantry had broken through, the three cavalry divisions
were to advance rapidly up the plain, the 5th Division along the coast
road, through Mukhalid, the 4th _via_ Tabsor and Mughair, and the
Australian Mounted Division following the 4th.

The enemy had partially prepared an entrenched position across the
plain from about Jelameh, through El Mejdel and Liktera, to the sea
near the mouth of the Nahr Mefjir, and this was known to be held by a
few troops. The 4th Division had orders to seize the portion of this
line between Jelameh and Liktera, while the 5th dealt with the western
half from Liktera to the coast.

Having made good the line of the Nahr Mefjir, they were to turn
north-east and cross the Carmel Range, the 4th and Australian Divisions
by the Musmus Pass, and the 5th by a little-known track from Sindiane
to Abu Shusheh, and enter the Plain of Esdraelon. Arrived on the plain,
the 4th Cavalry Division was to seize Afule and then push rapidly down
the Valley of Jezreel to Beisan, occupy the Jordan bridges there, and
send a force to hold and, if necessary, destroy the bridge at Jisr
Mejamieh, twelve miles farther north. This programme entailed a ride
of ninety-seven miles on end, and included the crossing of a mountain
range by a difficult pass.

The 5th Division was directed on Nazareth (seventy miles) to capture
the enemy General Headquarters, which was located there, and, if
possible, Liman von Sanders himself, and then clear the plain as far
east as Afule. The Australian Division was to remain on the Plain of
Esdraelon at El Lejjun, sending a force to Jenin (sixty-eight miles),
to intercept the Turks retiring from Samaria, when that place had been
captured by our infantry.

As these immense distances had to be covered in one 'bound,' speed
was essential. The 4th and 5th Divisions, were, therefore, ordered to
move up the coast on a wide front, and sweep over the Jelameh-Liktera
positions with the sword and lance. If unexpectedly strong opposition
was encountered there, the Australian Division was available,
immediately in rear, to reinforce. The crossing of the Carmel Range was
to be carried out as rapidly as possible, as it was recognised that
our troops could only move in very narrow columns over the mountains,
especially through the Musmus Pass, and flank guards would be out of
the question. The 5th Division was, however, directed to drop a small
force on the Sindiane-Abu Shusheh track, at the top of the range, to
protect the left flank of the other two divisions, while they were
passing through the defile.

The 20th Corps, in the hills north of Jerusalem, was ordered to attack
all along its front on the day after the attack in the coastal plain,
and drive the enemy northwards into the arms of the cavalry, while, in
the Jordan Valley, Chaytor's Force had first to seize the bridge over
the river at El Damieh, and then to cross the Jordan for the third and
last time, and advance on Amman.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 22: Dated October 31, 1918.]

[Footnote 23: Despatch dated October 31, 1918.]



CHAPTER XVI

ARMAGEDDON


By the evening of the 18th of September all troops were in readiness
for the attack. The 4th, 5th, and Australian Cavalry Divisions were
hidden in the orange and olive groves at Sarona, Selmeh, and Ludd
respectively. Their Horse Artillery batteries had moved up into
the line on the night of the 17th, to take part in the preliminary
bombardment.

Before daylight on the 19th the three divisions commenced their
march up to the front, the 5th Division riding along the sea shore,
at the foot of the high cliffs that fringe the coast in this part,
the 4th _via_ Jelil and El Haram, and the Australians on Tabsor. The
two first-named divisions sent dismounted pioneer parties from each
brigade forward with the infantry, to cut gaps in the wire, and to
flag passages through it for their brigades. Their horses were led as
close behind them as possible, and _liaison_ with their brigades was
maintained by gallopers.

At 4.30 A.M. the 400 guns concentrated on the front of attack opened an
intense fire on the Turkish positions, and the five infantry divisions
dashed forward to the attack.

The enemy was taken completely by surprise, and our infantry broke
through the Turkish lines with hardly a pause, the guns maintaining
a creeping barrage in front of them till they were through the first
position. About 50,000 shells were put over during the short time that
the bombardment and barrage lasted. At eight minutes past five the
whole of the front line was reported taken, and by eighteen minutes
to six the whole of the first position was in our hands, and our line
began to wheel to the right.

The 5th Cavalry Division, being sheltered from view by the high
cliffs of the sea shore, was able to ride right on the heels of the
infantry, and the 13th Brigade, acting as advance guard, was across
the Nahr el Falik by half-past eight, and riding hard up the plain
towards Mukhalid. A strong patrol from this brigade was sent forward to
reconnoitre Liktera.

The 4th Division, being in the open, had to wait till the El Tire-Nahr
el Falik line had been cleared, so as not to interfere with our
infantry, and thus did not cross the Falik till about ten o'clock. The
12th Brigade led through the enemy positions, but, as soon as they were
clear of the wire, the 10th and 11th Brigades came up on the left,
and the division advanced in line of brigade columns, each finding
its own advance guard. The Australian Division was then about five
miles farther back, passing through the enemy defences at Tabsor. Each
division had picked up its artillery on the way.

The advance of the infantry had been so rapid that there had been
very little time to collect prisoners, and as the cavalry advanced
they came across numerous small parties of Turks, wandering about
disconsolate and bewildered. They were quite disorganised, and did not
attempt to interfere with our troops, and later on were all gathered
in by 'mopping up' parties, and taken to the collecting cages in rear.
Farther east, disorganised parties of the enemy were streaming across
the plain towards Tul Keram, pursued by the 5th A.L.H. Brigade, but
these were out of sight of the rest of the cavalry as they crossed
the line. Looking at the strong defences as we passed through them,
deserted and quiet, it was hard to believe that, only a few hours
before, these positions had been held by a numerous and well-organised
enemy.

While the 5th Division was crossing the Nahr el Falik, the patrol
which had been sent on towards Liktera reported a small force of enemy
cavalry some two miles in front. This force at once made off in a
north-easterly direction, and was not seen again. About the same time,
a contact aeroplane reported some enemy infantry holding a position
near Birket Ata. The 9th Hodson's Horse, which was vanguard to the
13th Brigade, reached this position about half-past ten, and at once
charged and dispersed the enemy, taking about 250 prisoners and four
guns. Pressing on at once, the regiment reached Liktera, half an hour
later, where the Turkish Commandant surrendered at discretion, with his
small garrison. The first objective having thus been secured without
difficulty, the division closed up and halted on the line of the Nahr
Mefjir, to water and feed. A squadron, supported by two armoured cars,
was sent ahead to reconnoitre the Sindiane-Abu Shusheh track.

The 4th Division, which had been somewhat delayed finding a way through
the enemy's wire, crossed the Nahr Iskanderuneh about 11.30, and,
shortly afterwards, the leading regiment of the 11th Brigade, the 36th
Jacob's Horse, came under fire from some Turks holding a portion of the
enemy's entrenched position, just south of Zelefe. The regiment charged
immediately, and the Turks broke and fled, leaving 200 prisoners in our
hands. About the same time the 6th Cavalry, leading the 12th Brigade on
the right, encountered a small enemy rearguard near Jett. This force
was likewise promptly charged and dispersed. A marked map, found on a
prisoner captured here, indicated that the enemy intended to hold a
line from Arara, through Kefr Kara and Kannir to Mamas, covering both
routes over the mountains. The 10th Brigade was, therefore, sent on at
once with an armoured car battery to seize the Musmus Pass, the rest of
the division remaining at El Mejdel and Tel el Dhrur to water and feed.

The Australian Mounted Division was ordered to halt for a time near
Jelil, till word was received that the infantry, advancing to the line
Hableh-Tul Keram, were progressing satisfactorily. This information
came in about mid-day, and the division was then directed by the
Corps Commander to push on at once towards the Nahr Iskanderuneh. The
advanced guard reached the river at ten o'clock at night, without
encountering any opposition, and the rest of the division, with the
advanced Headquarters of the Corps, got in about an hour later. Horses
were watered and fed, and the march was resumed at one o'clock in the
morning.

The two leading divisions had marched again about six in the evening.
The patrol from the 5th Division, which had gone ahead to reconnoitre
the Sindiane track, reported that it was unfit for wheels. The
divisional transport was, therefore, directed to cross by the Musmus
Pass, in rear of the Australian Mounted Division, the 15th Brigade
to remain at Liktera for the night, and cross by the Sindiane track,
with the artillery of the division, the following day. The rest of the
division, led by the 13th Brigade, reached Sindiane long after dark,
and was soon involved in a tangle of hills, with no defined track
visible, but innumerable, shadowy paths leading in all directions. Our
maps showed a fairly direct track, which had been reported by natives
as feasible for cavalry and light guns. Their information was, however,
merely hearsay, as we had not been able, before starting, to find any
natives who actually knew the track.

Fortunately the 13th Brigade had in its commander[24] an officer
who had had ten years' service in the Egyptian cavalry, and spoke
Arabic fluently. From time to time, during the night, he came across
a few Arabs from whom he was able to get some information. His long
experience of marching in uncharted country, and a natural aptitude for
finding his way, stood him in good stead, and he successfully led the
two brigades over the range in the dark, marching in single file most
of the time. Two squadrons were dropped at Jarak, as left flank guard
for the remainder of the Corps, while passing the Musmus defile.

The two brigades reached Abu Shusheh about half-past two in the
morning, and continued the march across the plain in the darkness,
crossing and cutting the Afule-Haifa Railway near Warakani, about
half an hour later. The moon was nearly full, and the light good. On
arriving at the foothills, the 14th Brigade halted till daylight, and
the 13th pushed on up the track _via_ Jebata and El Mujeidil, towards
Nazareth.

On nearing El Mujeidil, a native guide, who had been picked up on Mount
Carmel, stated that the place was Nazareth. Though feeling sure that he
was either mistaken or funked going any farther, the Brigadier decided
to seize the place. He directed the 18th Lancers to surround it, which
they did, and, having blocked all exits, sent a couple of troops into
the village. By now it was clear that it was much too small a place to
be Nazareth, but it was thought worth while to search it hurriedly, as
a result of which 200 sleepy Turks were dug out of a large house. The
brigade then passed on up the main road, the Gloucester Yeomanry taking
the lead.

Shortly afterwards the houses of Nazareth appeared in front, gleaming
white and silent in the moonlight. The advanced guard now halted,
and the troop leaders were given their instructions. The town lies
in a cup-shaped hollow, and straggles up the steep and rocky hills
surrounding it. The principal houses, in one of which the enemy G.H.Q.
would probably be located, are situated in the centre of the town
at the bottom of the hollow, and on the northern slopes. The only
information we had as to the exact location of G.H.Q. was that it was
near a big motor-lorry park. Two troops were directed to make for the
centre of the town, find the lorry park, and rush any big houses near
by. Others were directed to gallop on, and seize tactical points on the
northern slope, and block the roads leading north-east to Tiberias and
north-west to Haifa.

Just as day was breaking the regiment drew swords and galloped into
the town, causing the most indescribable confusion amongst the enemy
troops, mostly German, there. Liman von Sanders himself only just made
his escape in time. His housekeeper, whom we questioned later, declared
that, at the first alarm, he dashed down the stairs of his house and
out into the street in his pyjamas, and made off in a car along the
Tiberias road.

The brigade had some hard street fighting, after the enemy had
recovered from his first consternation, but the Germans and Turks were
driven out of the town to the north-east. Here, however, a number of
them got into some houses on the Tiberias road, and put up a good
fight.

Several machine guns, mounted in a big convent which overlooked
the centre of the town from the northern slope, made things very
unpleasant, and it soon became evident that a deliberate dismounted
attack would be necessary to dislodge them. Meanwhile the troops
detailed for the duty had found and entered the enemy G.H.Q. They
made a hurried search of the premises, covered by the rest of the
regiment on the north and north-east, and by Hodson's Horse standing
by, and seized all the more important documents. As soon as this work
was finished, the advanced troops fell back fighting, and the brigade
withdrew down the Afule road, taking with it 1200 prisoners. Before
leaving, our troops put out of action all the motor cars of the enemy
G.H.Q., and the lorries of the German lorry park. These were all
afterwards repaired and used by us. On reaching the plain again, the
brigade occupied Junjar, Tel Shadud and Jebata, holding the southern
exits from Nazareth.

The 14th Brigade was occupied after daylight clearing the north-western
portion of the plain of small parties of enemy troops, and entered
Afule later on in the morning.

The 15th Brigade, with the guns and transport of the division, left
the Nahr Iskanderuneh soon after dawn on the 20th, and marched by the
same route to Afule. The gunners had a very rough passage over the
mountains, and had to spend many hours making a roadway for the guns,
so that they did not reach the station till about eleven at night.

The 4th Division left the Nahr Mefjir about the same time as the 5th,
the 10th Brigade having gone on in advance to secure the Musmus Pass.
The 2nd Lancers and an armoured car battery, acting as vanguard,
entered the Pass, and reached Khurbet Arah without encountering any
opposition. They placed outposts covering the cross roads here, and
sent back a report to the 10th Brigade. Unfortunately this brigade had
lost its way in the darkness, before moon-rise, and was now somewhere
north of Kerkur. On learning the state of affairs, General Barrow
ordered the 12th Brigade up to the support of the 2nd Lancers, and
himself motored up to Khurbet Arah, and directed the regiment to push
on at once through the defile to Lejjun. This place was reached without
opposition about eleven at night, the 12th Brigade arriving some hours
later. The 11th Brigade, followed by the 10th, which had regained the
road, came in at five o'clock in the morning.

As soon as it was light enough to see, the troops commenced to move
out into the Plain of Esdraelon. They were none too soon. As the 12th
Brigade, forming the advanced guard of the division, debouched from the
defile, a Turkish battalion, with several machine guns, was deploying
in the plain below.

The 2nd Lancers were leading, accompanied by the armoured cars. Taking
in the situation at a glance, Captain Davison, commanding the regiment,
ordered the cars to engage the enemy in front with their machine
guns, supported by one squadron of his regiment. Taking the other two
squadrons with him, he galloped along a slight depression to the right,
and charged the Turks on their left flank. The two squadrons went right
through the enemy from left to right, killing forty-six with the lance.
The survivors of the battalion, about 500 in all, were taken prisoners.
The Turks fought well, firing steadily till they were ridden down, but
the rapid work of the cavalry gave them no chance. The whole action
did not take more than five minutes, and furnished a perfect little
example of sound shock tactics--movement and fire at right angles to
one another.

Had our cavalry been a few hours later, this battalion would have
been at the defile at the top of the pass, and might have caused a
delay that would have been fatal to the success of the operations. The
battalion came from Afule, and had been ordered to cross the mountains
and move down the coast to the support of the enemy right wing. The
Turks knew that their line had been broken on the coast, but they had
absolutely no idea that our cavalry were through the gap.

Without a pause the 12th Brigade poured out of the pass and cantered
across the plain towards Afule. The leading troops charged into the
station at eight o'clock, capturing the place with little opposition.
A squadron from the 14th Brigade (4th Division) rode in from the
north about the same time. The garrison of the place having just been
disposed of at Lejjun, few enemy troops were found here, but the
Germans had an aerodrome close to the station, and this was captured
intact, with three aeroplanes and their pilots and all the mechanical
staff. A fourth aeroplane succeeded in getting away in the general
confusion. So unconscious was the enemy of the fact that our cavalry
were on the plain, that, shortly after this, an enemy aeroplane,
returning from a reconnaissance, actually landed on this aerodrome, and
was promptly captured intact with its pilot and observer!

Afule proved a valuable prize. In addition to ten locomotives and fifty
railway trucks, which were found standing in the station, there was a
fully equipped hospital, with a quantity of excellent drugs. One of the
most valuable finds was a great store of petrol, which was discovered
in an underground cave.

While the 12th Brigade was 'mopping up,' the armoured cars were having
the time of their lives chasing twelve German motor lorries down the
track leading to Beisan. They captured them all, and brought the
drivers back to the station. Unfortunately no men could be spared
to guard these lorries, and, when the 5th Division arrived shortly
afterwards, and tried to drive them back to the station, it was found
that the natives had been there in the meantime, and cut open every
petrol tank to get the spirit. They were afterwards repaired, however,
and did good service for us later on.

Having sent the prisoners back to Lejjun under a small escort, the 4th
Division pressed on towards Beisan, after cutting the railway east,
west, and south of Afule.

Riding fast all day down the Valley of Jezreel, the division reached
Beisan about half-past four in the afternoon, having rounded up another
800 prisoners on the way. The Lancers made short work of the small
garrison they met with here, galloping over the Turks, and taking 100
prisoners and three 5·9-inch howitzers. These guns were in position
to defend the town against an attack from the _east_, an eloquent
testimony to the manner in which the enemy had been deceived. Our
troops then occupied the bridge over the Jordan at Jisr el Sheikh
Hussein, and placed outposts south and east of Beisan.

The division had now marched eighty-five miles in thirty-four hours,
fought two skirmishes, and captured 1400 prisoners, but its day's
work was not yet quite finished. At six in the evening, after having
watered and fed, the 19th Lancers (12th Brigade) set out in the dark,
along a difficult mountain track west of the railway, to Jisr Mejamie,
the railway bridge over the Jordan, twelve miles north of Beisan.
This they reached and seized at dawn next morning, having covered
ninety-seven miles since the commencement of their march.

The Australians, who had left the Nahr Iskanderuneh at one o'clock in
the morning, reached Kerkur and Beidus just after dawn, and thus made
the crossing of the Carmel Range in daylight. They were rewarded by
the magnificent view from the top of the pass, across the Plain of
Esdraelon to Mount Tabor and Nazareth, and over the Nazarene hills to
the great mass of Mount Hermon, poised against the sky sixty miles to
the north-east. Scattered along the track were a number of derelict
Turkish transport wagons, which had been abandoned as they were being
driven over the pass, when the 4th Division came upon them in the
dark. Many of the Turks who had accompanied these wagons, came back to
the track after daylight, preferring capture by the British to facing
the tender mercies of their inveterate enemies, the local Arabs. In
this way the division had collected about 100 stragglers by the time
it reached Lejjun. Near the top of the pass a large gang of natives
was discovered at work on an excellently graded road, which was being
built to the village of Umm el Fahm. It appeared that the Germans
had intended to build a sanatorium there, in connection with their
hospitals at Afule and Jenin. The natives employed making the road
had gone to work as usual that morning, all unaware that the Germans
and Turks were no longer masters in the land. When they learned the
true state of affairs, their first thought was for their wages, which
had not been paid, and they were not at all grateful to us for having
driven their paymasters out of the country!

[Illustration: Before: German motor lorries at Nazareth. (From an enemy
photograph.)]

[Illustration: After: The same lorries near Afule, after our armoured
cars had finished with them.]

The division reached Lejjun at eleven o'clock, and got water for man
and horse in the beautiful little Wadi el Sitt, the 'Lady's Brook,' a
tributary of the river Kishon, hard by the ruins of an old Roman fort
and aqueduct.

Shortly after mid-day the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade, with 'A' Battery
H.A.C., resumed the march to Jenin, to intercept the enemy troops
that were expected to retire down the Dothan Pass from Nablus and its
neighbourhood. The brigade reached the town in the early afternoon,
and the leading regiment, the 10th, at once charged straight into it,
galloping over an entrenched position, and through the streets of the
town. The enemy was completely demoralised by this unexpected attack
from the rear, and made little resistance. Such opposition as was
encountered was speedily crushed, and nearly 2000 prisoners fell into
our hands. None of the troops in the place had the faintest idea that
our cavalry had even broken through their line, much less that we were
actually in the plain. The German officers, of whom there was a number
in the place, absolutely refused to believe that our troops had ridden
the whole way, and declared that we must have been landed at Haifa,
covered by our 'Wonderful Navy,' as they called it.

As soon as the prisoners had been got away, and lodged in a little
valley out of sight of the town, the hills to the south were picketed,
to prevent information getting to the enemy at Nablus, and the
remainder of the brigade was disposed by squadrons in hollows and folds
in the ground on each side of the Jenin-Afule road. The battery came
into action north-east of the town, covering the Nablus road.

As was expected, after dark the enemy began to retire from his
positions at Nablus and Samaria, and all night long his battalions
marched down the road, through Jenin, and out on to the plain.
These were not fugitives, but formed bodies of troops, retiring to
the Nazarene hills, where they had a partially prepared defence line
extending from the sea to Lake Tiberias. It was rather an eerie
experience to watch these troops, trudging wearily along the road
in the bright moonlight, all unconscious of the keen eyes of their
enemies on every side of them. As each detachment got well out into
the plain, at a given signal, the waiting squadrons sprang from their
hiding places, and charged down upon it. One can imagine the terror
of the Turks, nodding with half-closed eyes as they trudged along,
when their senses were suddenly assailed by the thunder of hoofs all
round them, and by the sight of wild horsemen, exaggerated in size by
the moonlight, charging down upon them from every side. Small wonder
that there was little resistance. Many flung themselves on the ground,
shutting eyes and ears to the horrid nightmare, and calling on Allah to
deliver them. Others threw down their rifles and held up their hands.

Each lot was quickly hustled out of sight, and the squadrons returned
to their lairs, to await the coming of the next. Only one battalion,
a German one, tried to put up any fight, and succeeded in getting a
machine gun into action, but it was ridden down at once. None of the
other German troops did any better than the Turks.

Some time during the night, information of the state of affairs at
Jenin evidently got back to the enemy in the hills about Nablus, for
the supply of prisoners suddenly ran dry. By this time the brigade
had got over 8000, and needed help in handling them. In response to
a message sent back to the divisional headquarters at Lejjun, the
4th A.L.H. Brigade, with a section of the Notts Battery R.H.A.,
left that place at half-past four on the morning of September the
21st, and marched to Jenin. An extraordinary sight met the brigade
on its arrival. The whole plain seemed to be covered with prisoners,
motor cars, lorries, wagons, animals, and stores, in an inextricable
confusion. In and out of this mass the sorely tried Australian troopers
pushed their way, sweating and swearing, every now and then riding
savagely at the hordes of natives hovering on the outskirts of the
crowd like a flock of vultures, and looting the stores that strewed
the ground; anon pressing into the throng again, to round up a group
of straying prisoners. Over all presided the stocky figure of the
brigadier,[25] like the leader of a gigantic school picnic, unhurried
and efficient.

Jenin was the enemy's main supply and ordnance depot for his VIIth and
VIIIth Armies, and very large quantities of valuable stores of all
sorts were captured here, together with several well-equipped workshops
and three hospitals. There were twenty-four burnt aeroplanes, and one
intact, on the aerodrome, and a number of engines and a quantity of
rolling stock in the station. In some caves near by were found large
stores of German beer and wine, and a lot of excellent tinned food,
and, in a wagon abandoned on the road, there were nearly £20,000 in
gold. The two troopers who were detailed to guard this money sat on the
boxes of bullion all day, without knowing what was in them, and have
been kicking themselves ever since! This gold was of the greatest use
to the Corps later on, when we were living on the country, and had to
buy all our food and forage. Among the minor captures was a quantity of
photographic negatives belonging to the official photographer with the
German forces, one of which depicted some of our guns which were lost
in the second Amman raid. Also a British motor cycle, captured from us
at the first battle of Gaza, eighteen months before.

The chief medical officer of the German hospital in the town
volunteered the information that all ranks there, German as well as
Turkish, were secretly glad to be captured. For the past ten days, he
said, British aeroplanes had hovered over the place almost continually,
and a rain of bombs had fallen all the time on the station, aerodrome,
and workshops. Most of the troops left the town every day before
dawn, and spent the hours of daylight in caves in the hills. All work
was practically at a standstill, and none of the German aeroplanes
had ever ventured to leave the ground. He was very puzzled by the
fact that we had never bombed the town itself, and, when one of our
officers replied that it was not the British custom to bomb undefended
native villages, he shrugged his shoulders and remarked that such
ideas were inadmissible in war. The Germans never brought themselves
to believe that we were serious in our determination to observe the
rules of civilised warfare in this respect. They realised, however,
that we never bombed hospitals, a fact of which they were not slow to
take advantage. Later on, when Nazareth was reoccupied, it was found
that every house that harboured German troops, which is to say nearly
every house of substance in the town, had a red cross, or its Turkish
equivalent a red crescent, painted on the roof.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 24: Brigadier-General P.J.V. Kelly, C.M.G., D.S.O., 3rd
Hussars. He commanded the Egyptian troops in the brilliantly successful
little Darfur Campaign of 1916.]

[Footnote 25: Brigadier-General L. Wilson, C.M.G., D.S.O., A.I.F.]



CHAPTER XVII

DÉBÂCLE


While the cavalry were racing for the Plain of Esdraelon on the 19th
September the 21st Corps, continuing its wheel to the right, drove the
enemy into the hills. The 5th A.L.H. Brigade, riding on the left flank
of the Corps, and some distance in advance of it, approached Tul Keram
about mid-day.

The orders to the brigade were to seize the town, if possible, or,
failing that, to engage the enemy there, and endeavour to prevent him
withdrawing his troops and guns till the arrival of our infantry.
Knowing the moral effect on the Turks of a threat to their rear,
General Onslow decided to throw a portion of his brigade across the
Tul Keram-Nablus road, the only exit from the town to the east. He
despatched the 14th A.L.H. regiment and part of the brigade machine-gun
squadron, with instructions to find a way through the hills north of
the town, and descend on to the road some two miles to the north-east.
With the remainder of his brigade he approached the town from the
north-west, and was met by a very heavy fire from the enemy there. Tul
Keram was a railway and store depot of considerable importance. It had
been fortified, and now served the enemy as a strong point, on which
his troops, defeated in the coastal plain, might rally, and so save his
right flank. He was, of course, still in ignorance of the fact that
three divisions of cavalry were already well on their way up the coast.

As the 5th Brigade approached the town, the Royal Air Force swept down
out of the blue sky, and commenced an intense and systematic bombing
of the enemy positions around the town, and the closely packed column
of transport and guns slowly retiring along the road to Nablus. The
utmost confusion broke out in the enemy ranks. About three o'clock the
14th A.L.H. Regiment, which had moved with extraordinary rapidity,
descended on the Nablus road about two miles from Tul Keram. The Turks
were now faced simultaneously with the three things they most feared.
Their retreat was cut off; they were being heavily attacked from the
air; and they were threatened on both sides with a cavalry charge. The
demoralisation on the road was complete. Not knowing the strength of
the cavalry force which had suddenly appeared on the road in front of
them, and evidently deceived by the volume of fire poured on them from
our machine guns and automatic rifles, the enemy troops and transport
on the road made no attempt to break through, but turned back towards
Tul Keram. The persistent attacks of our aeroplanes soon destroyed
all semblance of discipline in the column, and a disordered mass of
fugitives streamed back into Tul Keram, increasing the confusion there.
The Turks in the positions surrounding the town, however, still fought
on gallantly enough, and General Onslow, unable to advance his brigade
over the open ground without encountering losses which would not have
been justified, contented himself with holding the enemy in check on
the north, east and west, and awaited the arrival of our infantry.
A brigade of the 60th Division came up about half-past five, having
marched and fought over sixteen miles of heavy country since dawn, and
rushed the town from the south-west.

General Onslow now reassembled his brigade, and succeeded in watering
all the horses, which was something of a feat, considering the darkness
and confusion. At two in the morning the brigade started off for its
second objective, the Messudieh-Jenin Railway east of Ajje.

Regarded merely as a march, this expedition, carried out in the dark
and without guides, over unknown and almost trackless mountain country,
ranks as one of the finest episodes of the campaign. Unable to use
the road or railway, along which Turkish reinforcements were known to
be hurrying towards Tul Keram, the brigade struck straight across the
mountains to the north-east, and, passed through Deir el Ghusn, Ellar,
Kefr Ruai, and Fahme. From the last-named place a moderate pack road
led through Ajje to the railway, which was reached at seven in the
morning by the brigade headquarters and a demolition party, who blew up
a section of the line.

Dawn found the brigade strung out over fifteen miles of country. Its
work was done, and, as it would have taken several hours to reassemble
the regiments at Ajje, the Brigadier at once turned back along the
track by which he had come, picking up his scattered units on the way,
and returned to Tul Keram. It was seven o'clock in the evening before
the whole brigade was again concentrated there.

In accordance with the Commander-in-Chief's plan, the 20th Corps had
taken no part in the advance during the first day, beyond seizing one
or two tactical points, to facilitate its operations on the following
day, but on the 20th it was thrown into the battle, and the whole line
became hotly engaged. The enemy fought stubbornly, especially in the
centre of his line, where most of the German troops were concentrated.
His positions were of great natural strength, and had been excellently
entrenched and wired during the summer. By nightfall, however, his
resistance had been broken all along the front, and our infantry had
advanced as far as the line Anebta (five miles east of Tul Keram)-Beit
Lid-Funduk-Kefr Harries-El Lubban (on the Nablus-Jerusalem road, eleven
miles south of Nablus) to Dome. The enemy had thus been turned out of
nearly all his entrenched positions.

Owing to the breakdown of their communications, and the virtual
destruction of their air force, the Turks had not yet realised that
our cavalry were behind them, and that all their lines of retreat to
the north were thus closed. The only way of escape still left open for
their trapped armies was by the two difficult tracks from Nablus and
Ain el Subian (on the Nablus-Beisan road) to Jisr el Damieh. Chaytor's
Force was fighting hard in the Jordan Valley to reach and block the
lower end of these roads.

Our infantry resumed the attack at daylight on the 21st. The 20th Corps
made rapid progress, and, by nightfall, had established itself across
the Nablus-Jisr el Damieh track about Beit Dejan.

On the 21st Corps front, the advance was slower. The enemy in this
part of the field was not yet demoralised, and his rearguards put up a
stubborn fight, especially about Nablus. The 5th A.L.H. Brigade, moving
along the main road from Tul Keram, with an armoured car battery,
was usefully employed protecting the left flank of the Corps during
the day. General Onslow turned the Turks and Germans out of a series
of strong rearguard positions astride the road, by using his machine
guns and armoured cars on the road, to hold the enemy in front with
their fire, while dismounted parties from the brigade worked round his
flanks. The French regiment particularly distinguished itself in this
fighting, and earned generous praise from the Australians.

In the early afternoon some of the guns of the 3rd (Lahore) Division
succeeded in reaching a position overlooking Nablus from the
south-west, and their vigorous shelling, coupled with the converging
attacks of the 10th and 53rd Divisions, drove the Turkish rearguards
out of their positions. The 5th Brigade rode into the town hard on the
heels of the retreating enemy, and took 700 prisoners. One squadron
pushed on down the Jerusalem road, and gained touch with the 20th Corps
cavalry regiment, the Worcester Yeomanry, about Balata. The following
day the brigade marched to Jenin to rejoin the Australian Mounted
Division, having accounted for 3500 prisoners during the three days.

Both at Tul Keram and in Nablus great quantities of valuable stores,
which the enemy had been unable to remove or destroy, fell into our
hands. Especially welcome were the many railway engines and trucks
found intact at the former place, which were very soon employed on the
repaired railway, carrying ammunition and stores to our troops. Here,
too, a troop of the 15th A.L.H. Regiment rounded up and captured a
detachment of the Turkish Field Treasury, with about £5000 in gold and
a quantity of notes.

Throughout the day complete confusion had reigned in the enemy rear.
Camps and stores were hurriedly abandoned or set on fire. Many heavy
guns were dropped over precipices to save them from falling intact into
the hands of the British. Driven out of their organised positions,
and unable to keep touch with one another in this difficult, mountain
country, the enemy regiments retired independently. Most of them made
either for Beisan or Jisr el Damieh, but every wadi leading down to the
Jordan was congested with troops. The confusion was increased by the
repeated attacks of our aeroplanes, especially along the Nablus-Beisan
road, which was packed with a dense column of troops and transport.
Part of this column continued along the road to Beisan, where it fell
into the hands of the 4th Cavalry Division. The greater part turned off
at Ain el Subian, and made for Jisr el Damieh, along the Wadi Farah
track. About a mile beyond Ain Shibleh, this track passes through a
deep gorge. The transport at the head of the column was caught by our
aeroplanes in this gorge, and heavily bombed. A general panic ensued.
Drivers abandoned their vehicles, and fled into the hills; wagons,
lorries, and guns were smashed or overturned, and in a short time the
road was completely blocked. The remainder of the column turned off at
Ain Shibleh, along a narrow track leading to Beisan. Still harassed by
our aeroplanes, it broke up ultimately into isolated parties, which
scattered into the hills, and were gathered in by the 4th Cavalry
Division during the next two days.

Our infantry and the Royal Air Force had done their work well, in face
of great difficulties. To the cavalry now fell the task of gathering up
the remnants of the two Turkish armies.

There was little cavalry movement of importance on the 21st. The
4th Division established posts right across the Jordan Valley, east
of the river, and pushed patrols along the roads leading south and
south-west from Beisan. Shortly after dark, the first body of retiring
enemy troops was encountered on the Nablus road. It was at once
charged in the moonlight by the Central India Force (10th Brigade) and
dispersed, leaving a number of prisoners in our hands. There was no
serious fighting during the night, but the division had very hard work,
and got over 3000 prisoners before daybreak.

[Illustration: _Diagram illustrating the Situation on the evening or
the 20th of November_]

The 5th Cavalry Division had sent the 14th Brigade to Jenin, at
daylight, to assist the two brigades of the Australian Mounted Division
there in dealing with the large number of prisoners, and to help
protect the captured enemy stores from the natives. By the afternoon,
however, the prisoners had been got away under escort to Lejjun, and
the brigade was able to return to Afule. The 14th and 15th Brigades
then established a line of pickets along the railway to near Beisan, in
touch with the 4th Division.

Meanwhile the 13th Brigade, with 'B' Battery H.A.C., had been sent off
early in the morning to reoccupy Nazareth.

The 9th Hodson's Horse marched straight up the Afule-Nazareth road with
the guns, and entered the town from the south. The other two regiments,
leaving the road some distance south of the town, made their way
through the hills to the Tiberias road, and attacked from the east and
north. All three regiments attacked dismounted. There was a good deal
of fighting of a difficult nature in the narrow, tortuous streets of
the town, but most of the enemy troops remaining after our raid of the
previous day had already evacuated the town, and those still left were
soon overpowered. By ten o'clock the 13th Brigade had possession of the
town. The roads leading west, north, and east were then picketed, and
strong patrols were pushed out as far as Seffurie and Kefr Kenna.

Shortly after midnight a Turkish battalion, marching from Haifa,
attacked the outposts of the brigade on the Acre road. The 18th Lancers
promptly charged the Turks in the moonlight, and chased them for two
miles down the road, killing sixty with the lance and taking over 300
prisoners.

The Australian Mounted Division remained in the neighbourhood of Jenin
and Lejjun during the day.

The large numbers of prisoners taken by the cavalry during the past
twenty-four hours were a serious encumbrance, and the feeding of them
became a very difficult problem. The Corps ration convoy that arrived
at Jenin on the 21st had to hand over all its rations to them. As
our own men carried three-days men's and two-days horses' rations on
the man and horse, they did not actually have to go hungry, but the
food question had become acute, and, until the prisoners could be got
away, no further move forward could be contemplated. Fortunately, on
the following day, it was found possible to send most of them back to
Kakon, near Tul Keram, where they were taken over by a brigade of the
60th Division.

The Commander-in-Chief motored to Lejjun on the morning of the 22nd,
and met General Chauvel.

'Well, how are you getting on?' was his greeting.

'Pretty well, Sir, pretty well,' replied the General; 'we've got 13,000
prisoners so far.'

'No ... good to me!' exclaimed the Chief, with a laugh; 'I want 30,000
from you before you've done.'

He was to have over 80,000 from the Corps before the operations ended.

The 5th Cavalry Division concentrated at Nazareth on the 22nd,
preparatory to an advance on Haifa and Acre, its place at Afule being
taken by the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade. The 5th A.L.H. Brigade rejoined the
Australian Mounted Division at Jenin during the day.

In the early hours of the morning an enemy column, with transport and
guns, was reported by our aeroplanes to be moving north along the Ain
Shibleh-Beisan track, its head being then nine miles south of Beisan.
This was part of the force that had been caught and heavily bombed by
our aeroplanes the day before in the gorge of the Wadi Farah, as it was
trying to escape towards the Jordan.

The 4th Cavalry Division at once sent a force from Beisan along the
Ain Shibleh track to intercept the column, and despatched Jacob's
Horse over the bridge of Jisr el Sheikh Hussein to push patrols down
the track which follows the Jordan on its east bank, so as to secure
any parties which might escape across the river. At the same time the
20th Corps cavalry regiment, the Worcester Yeomanry, was ordered to
advance northwards from Ain Shibleh, supported by infantry, to collect
stragglers, and to drive any formed bodies into the arms of the 4th
Cavalry Division.

Our airmen then proceeded to attack the column with bombs and machine
guns, and, in a short time, had completely broken it up. The enemy
scattered in panic into the hills in small parties, which were rounded
up by the 4th Division next day. The Worcester Yeomanry rode as
far as the gorge where the ill-fated column had been caught by our
aeroplanes, and here its farther advance was stopped, as the track was
completely blocked by overturned vehicles and the dead bodies of men
and horses. On one stretch of the track just here, under five miles
long, eighty-seven guns and 900 motor lorries and other vehicles were
afterwards found by the infantry, when clearing up the area.

About mid-day the 11th and 12th Light Armoured Car Batteries were
sent to occupy Haifa, which was believed to have been evacuated by
the enemy. With them went the General commanding the artillery of the
Cavalry Corps, in a large and beautiful Rolls-Royce car, with the
Commander-in-Chiefs Union Jack on the bonnet, and a proclamation in his
pocket to read to the peaceful inhabitants.

He met with a warm reception. As the cars neared the town, several
enemy batteries opened fire on them, while machine guns on Mount Carmel
swept the road. The batteries had evidently registered carefully, for
almost the first salvo hit the General's car, knocking it into the
ditch and smashing the flag. The General himself, with his staff, had
to take cover in the same ditch, and quickly too, and there they lay,
getting the proclamation covered with mud, till the armoured cars
succeeded in retrieving them. It was a shocking affair, and showed a
sad lack of respect on the part of the enemy. The 'Haifa Annexation
Expedition,' as it was irreverently called, returned to Afule in
somewhat chastened mood, but fortunately without any serious casualties.

The chief movement of the day took place in the Jordan Valley. Early
in the morning the New Zealand Mounted Brigade succeeded in getting
astride the Nablus-Jisr el Damieh roads at El Makhruk, after a sharp
fight, taking 500 prisoners, including a divisional commander. About
an hour previously the 38th Royal Fusiliers, one of the two Jewish
battalions with the force, had captured the enemy position covering
the river ford at Umm el Shert, while, about half-past ten, the New
Zealand Brigade, with a West Indies battalion, seized the bridge at
Jisr el Damieh, and crossed to the east bank. In the attack on the
bridgehead the New Zealanders and the 'coloured gentlemen' both charged
the Turks simultaneously, and had a severe hand-to-hand struggle before
achieving their object. The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade also crossed the river
at Ghoraniyeh, and, in conjunction with the 20th Indian Infantry
Brigade, drove in the Turkish outposts, and, by nightfall, was facing
the main enemy position at Shunet Nimrin.

Early in the night it became clear that a general retirement of the
Turkish IVth Army had begun, and orders were issued for the force to
follow it vigorously on the morrow.

[Illustration: German aircraft captured intact at Afule. Mount Tabor in
the background.]

[Illustration: In the hands of the enemy! Some of our Horse Artillery
guns captured in the second trans-Jordan raid. (From an enemy
photograph.)]



CHAPTER XVIII

DESTRUCTION


Next day, September the 23rd, Chaytor's Force was on the move at
daylight, following up the retreating IVth Army east of the Jordan. The
3rd A.L.H. Regiment (1st Brigade), with the 2nd B.W.I. Regiment, had a
sharp fight at the ford of Mafid Jozeleh, half way between El Damieh
and Ghoraniyeh, where the Turks had left a rearguard. The enemy was
dispersed, and the Australians crossed the river at six o'clock. The
remainder of the 1st A.L.H. Brigade crossed at Umm el Shert, and moved
on El Salt up the Wadi Arseniyet track. The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade, having
crossed the Jordan at Ghoraniyeh, pressed on up the Wadi Kefrein, and
seized Kabr Mujahid at five o'clock, rounding up the small force there
after a lively fight, and then turned north along the very difficult
mountain track towards El Sir. Meanwhile the New Zealand Brigade,
having crossed at El Damieh, rode hard up the mountain track, and
occupied El Salt about seven in the evening. The only opposition met
with was from a small, wired-in post on the El Damieh-El Salt track. A
brigade of Indian infantry reached Shunet Nimrin in the evening, and
found it evacuated by the enemy. One battalion of the B.W.I. Regiment
and one squadron of cavalry were left at El Damieh, to gain touch with
patrols of the 4th Cavalry Division moving down the Jordan.

Orders were issued to the force in the evening by G.H.Q., to push on
next day, harass the enemy, and try to cut his line of retreat to the
north; also to gain touch with the Arab Army advancing from the south.

The 4th Cavalry Division also had a busy day. Early in the morning our
aeroplanes reported that the enemy had found a ford over the Jordan
about six miles south of Beisan and was crossing the river in large
numbers. The 11th Brigade, with the Hants Battery R.H.A., was at once
sent off to intercept them, and moved south along both banks of the
Jordan. The 1/1 County of London Yeomanry and the 29th Lancers marched
along the west bank, and Jacob's Horse east of the river. At half-past
eight, patrols of the 29th Lancers, approaching the ford of Makhadet
Abu Naj, seven miles south-east of Beisan, were fired on by a party
of Turks covering the passage of a large force of the enemy over the
river. A considerable portion of this force was already across. The
29th Lancers and part of the brigade machine-gun squadron engaged the
Turks on the north, while the Yeomanry pushed round the left flank
of the enemy force, in order to take it in rear. The ground was very
difficult, and the Yeomanry were subjected to a considerable fire from
a low hill on the west bank, on which the Turks had a number of machine
guns. This hill was the central point of resistance of the enemy
bridgehead.

As soon as the Yeomanry were clear of the enemy's flank, the 29th
remounted and charged the hill. The charge was completely successful.
Large numbers of the Turks were speared, and 800 prisoners and no less
than twenty-five machine guns were taken. Like all the work of these
veteran Indian cavalry regiments in the campaign, this charge was
admirably carried out, but that it succeeded in getting home in the
face of such a potential volume of machine-gun and rifle fire is an
indication of the state of demoralisation to which the enemy was now
reduced.

Meanwhile, on the east bank, Jacob's Horse, which was a little way
behind, rode up and instantly charged the large force of Turks on that
side. This charge, however, was held up by a deep wadi, and the intense
fire of the enemy compelled our troops to retire and take cover. The
regiment re-formed, and again attempted to charge the enemy, but was
again stopped by bad ground, and suffered severe casualties.

The Hants Battery, on the west bank, coming up just at this moment,
immediately galloped into action, and opened a rapid and accurate
fire on the masses of Turks across the river. It was at once hotly
engaged by two concealed enemy batteries on the east bank, and in a
few minutes every one of the guns had been hit. None were put out of
action, however, and all continued firing most gallantly. The enemy's
fire was so heavy that General Gregory ordered a troop of cavalry out
into the open to try and draw the fire of the Turkish guns, and so
enable the battery to withdraw and take up a concealed position. Before
the guns could be moved, however, the situation was cleared by one of
the Yeomanry squadrons, which had worked its way south of the enemy
position. This squadron succeeded in crossing the river at Makhadet
Fath Allah, and, wading across the river, charged and captured the
enemy guns.

Meanwhile a squadron of the 29th had been sent across the river,
a little farther north, to assist Jacob's Horse. Thus reinforced,
the regiment attacked again, and this attack, coupled with the loss
of their guns, broke the resistance of the Turks. Most of them
surrendered. A few succeeded in escaping for the time, amid the
broken ground on both banks of the river. 3000 prisoners, including a
divisional commander, ten guns, and thirty machine guns fell into our
hands.

After the action, the brigade continued its march south, to Ras el
Humeiyir, where it bivouacked for the night, with outposts south and
west, along the Wadi el Sherar and east of the Jordan.

During the night a troop of the 29th Lancers was sent off into the
hills to the west, to try and gain touch with the 20th Corps, about
Khurbet Atuf. This troop marched all night, along a very difficult
footpath, and met the 20th Corps cavalry regiment (Worcester Yeomanry)
at Atuf early in the morning. It rejoined the 11th Brigade near Ras Umm
Zoka during the day.

The task assigned to the 5th Cavalry Division on the 23rd was the
capture of Acre and Haifa. The 13th Brigade, with a Light Armoured Car
Battery and a light car patrol, left Nazareth at five in the morning.
Marching _via_ Seffurie and Shefa Amr, the force reached Acre about
mid-day, and captured it without difficulty, the small enemy garrison
showing little inclination to fight. 260 prisoners and two guns were
taken here.

The remainder of the division left Nazareth at the same hour, and
reached the Kishon railway bridge, near El Harithie, about mid-day. The
14th Brigade remained here, while the 15th Brigade, with 'B' Battery
H.A.C., moved on Haifa along the Afule-Haifa road, which skirts the
north-eastern edge of the Mount Carmel Range. There were only two
regiments with the brigade, as the Hyderabad Lancers were absent,
escorting prisoners back from Lejjun. They rejoined the brigade late in
the afternoon, just after Haifa had been captured.

The Mysore Lancers, advance guard to the brigade, reached the village
of Belled el Sheikh about ten o'clock, and, on emerging from the trees
that surround the village, came under heavy fire from a number of
guns on Mount Carmel, and from machine guns and rifles in the hills
north-west of the village. Patrols sent out to the north drew fire from
a large number of machine guns about Tel Abu Hawam, and concealed among
trees and shrubs near the main road south of that place. It was evident
that the position was strongly held.

General Harbord had arrived at Belled el Sheikh, and received the
report of his advance guard. He had a difficult task before him. South
of the road the rocky wall of Carmel rose steeply, 1500 feet above
the plain. To the north, the country was flat and open, and afforded
little or no cover for troops, except along that portion of the Nahr el
Mukatta (the river Kishon) which runs east and west a mile and a half
north of Belled el Sheikh, which was bordered with trees and scrub.
The Wadi Ashlul el Wawy is practically dry at this time of year, but
the Nahr el Mukatta is a perennial stream, the banks of which are very
marshy.

The Brigadier decided that the first thing to be done was to silence
the guns on Mount Carmel. He accordingly despatched a squadron of the
Mysore Lancers, with a couple of machine guns, to climb the mountain by
a goat path, which follows the Wadi el Tabil from Belled el Sheikh, and
joins the road running along the backbone of the range. This squadron
was ordered to move along this road to the north, locate the guns, and
attack them. With the remainder of his force the Brigadier decided to
make a mounted attack from the east on the enemy positions about Tel
Abu Hawam, supported by his guns and machine guns from the south-east.
'B' Battery H.A.C. came into action close to the road, about half a
mile north of Belled el Sheikh, and the remainder of the machine-gun
squadron, with two squadrons Mysore Lancers, a little farther north,
along the Acre Railway. The 4th squadron Mysore Lancers was sent up
the road running north from near El Harbaj, with instructions to turn
westwards at Tel El Subat, and make for the mouth of the Nahr el
Mukatta. It was then to push along the sea shore, so as to take the
enemy positions in reverse. The Jodhpur Lancers took up a position of
readiness, about 500 yards north-east of Belled el Sheikh, preparatory
to making a dash for the wooded portion of the Mukatta. They were to
cross this, and then wheel to the left, and charge the enemy on his
left flank.

These dispositions were soon completed, and the troops then set
themselves to wait until the Mysore Lancers' squadron had dealt with
the enemy guns on Mount Carmel. Meanwhile our artillery and machine
guns searched the palm groves and scrub about Tel Abu Huwam and along
the banks of the Mukatta. Observation was difficult, as the enemy was
well concealed.

Shortly before mid-day General Harbord received a welcome reinforcement
in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, which had been sent up from El
Harithie. He at once despatched a squadron of this regiment to the
assistance of the Mysore Lancers' squadron on Carmel.

Desultory firing continued for the next two hours, but there was no
sign of any slackening of the enemy's artillery activity. At last the
Brigadier came to the conclusion that his troops on Carmel had either
been unable to fulfil their task of silencing the enemy guns, or had
lost their way. Time was running on, and he decided that he could wait
no longer. The Jodhpur Lancers were ordered out to the attack.

Moving off in column of squadrons, in line of troop columns, they
cantered out into the open towards the stream, coming under intense
fire as they crossed the Acre Railway. The fire, however, appeared
ill-directed, which was probably due to the vigorous action of our
artillery and machine guns supporting the attack.

Owing to the exposed nature of the ground, it had not been possible
to reconnoitre the Mukatta beforehand, and, when the Jodhpur Lancers
reached it, they found it quite impassable. Two ground scouts, who
jumped into the bed of the stream, disappeared instantaneously into the
quicksands. The regiment, was, however, now committed to the attack,
and it was impossible to turn back. Changing direction left, the four
squadrons charged straight at the enemy.

The leading squadron, 'B,' galloping over the two branches of the Wadi
Ashlul el Wawy, dashed into the enemy machine guns, killed the crews,
and opened the defile between the Wadi Selman and the mountain. The
second squadron, 'D,' charged and captured the enemy guns and machine
guns about Tel Abu Hawam and north of it. The remaining two squadrons
galloped through the defile, straight on into the town. Meanwhile,
after clearing the defile, 'B' squadron made its way along the lower
slopes of Mount Carmel, and charged into the German Colony west of
Haifa, capturing several guns, and killing large numbers of Turks
and Germans. 'D' squadron, after clearing up the Tel Abu Hawam area,
galloped up the east bank of the Wadi Selman and along the beach,
entering the town on the north-east. All four squadrons thus entered
Haifa about the same moment.

As soon as the charge got home, the two squadrons Mysore Lancers, who
had supported the attack with their fire, mounted, and followed at a
gallop into the town. Of the two detached squadrons of this regiment,
that on the north had been held up about half a mile west of El
Suriyeh. This squadron now mounted, and charged a body of the enemy
in position near the mouth of the Mukatta, capturing two guns and 100
prisoners.

The squadron on Mount Carmel, after riding nearly six miles over very
bad country, had at last located the enemy guns at Karmelheim, much
farther north than had been expected. Dropping his machine guns and
all his Hotchkiss rifles on the track, to provide covering fire, the
squadron leader led the remainder of his troops away to the left to
charge the guns. Owing to casualties on the way up the range, and to
some of his men having been delayed by the difficulties of the track,
he found that, after providing for his Hotchkiss rifles, he had only
fifteen lances for the charge. Nevertheless, he decided to attack at
once, rightly judging that even an unsuccessful charge would probably
divert the fire of the enemy guns long enough to permit the Jodhpur
Lancers to make their attack in the plain. His machine guns and
Hotchkiss rifles had got close to the guns unseen, and now opened a
sudden and accurate fire on them. The fifteen men then galloped in from
the flank, and actually succeeded in silencing the battery. The crews
of two of the guns were killed, but the battery escort then came up,
and it might have gone hardly with the gallant little band of cavalry
had not the squadron of the Sherwood Rangers arrived just in the nick
of time to complete the work. By a fortunate coincidence, this charge
took place just as the Jodhpur Lancers attacked in the plain.

[Illustration]

1351 prisoners, seventeen guns, and eleven machine guns were collected
at Haifa after the action. The captured artillery included two six-inch
naval guns, which the Germans had mounted on the top of Mount Carmel,
to engage our warships in the event of an attempted landing.

The Turks had fought well, firing until they were ridden down, but once
our cavalry were through the defile, the fight was practically over.
They galloped through the town, riding down with the lance any bodies
of the enemy who showed fight, and, in twenty minutes, had overcome all
opposition.

The Australian Mounted Division had a day of comparative rest. The 3rd
A.L.H. Brigade relieved the 5th Cavalry Division at Nazareth, and the
rest of the division remained at Afule, sending patrols eastwards as
far as Beisan, to bring in the prisoners taken on the two previous days
by the 4th Cavalry Division. Towards evening the 'bag' began to arrive,
and, long after darkness fell, the endless column of captives was still
winding its way up the Valley of Jezreel.

Most of these prisoners had marched over twenty miles since their
capture, and no one knows how many more before they fell into our
hands. Their dragging feet raised a heavy cloud of dust, through which
they had trudged all the long, hot march, and they came in raging with
thirst. In anticipation of their arrival, several large canvas tanks
had been set up and filled with water, and elaborate arrangements had
been made by the capable and energetic water officer of the Australian
Division. Each man was to file past the tanks, have a drink, fill his
water bottle, and move on to the concentration area with a gentle sigh
of satisfaction. The water officer had eight orderlies. There were
8000 prisoners, and, as soon as they smelt the water, the 8000 charged
the eight. The charge was successful, and the prisoners thereupon all
tried to get _into_ the water together. In a few seconds the tanks were
trampled down, and the frenzied Turks struggled and fought with one
another in the darkness round the muddy ruins. Eventually they had to
be driven back at the point of the sword. More water was procured, and
the prisoners were marched up to it in small parties under escort. It
took all night to supply them all.

The following day the 4th Cavalry Division continued its 'mopping up'
operations in the Jordan Valley.

Early in the morning an observation post of the London Yeomanry, who
were on outpost duty, observed a large force of the enemy making for
the ford of El Masudi. A squadron at once galloped for the ford, but
the enemy got there first, and held it up. Another squadron, coming
up in support, several times charged the Turks debouching from the
hills, and captured a large number of them. The Yeomen had the greatest
difficulty in dealing with their prisoners, who, after surrendering
and throwing down their rifles when charged, repeatedly picked them up
again, and went on fighting.

The Hants Battery now came up, and got into action at close range
against the enemy holding the ford. Its rapid and accurate fire
completely disconcerted the demoralised Turks, and the 29th Lancers
took prompt advantage of the fact to charge them. The enemy, worn out
and dispirited, made but a poor fight of it, and the action was soon
over. 4000 Turks, including Rushdi Bey, Commander of the 16th Division,
were taken prisoner, and another 1000 were rounded up later on in the
course of the day. Very few escaped.

The horses of the 11th Brigade were now in a very exhausted condition,
and the ammunition of the battery was running low. General Barrow,
therefore, ordered the Brigadier only to continue his southward
movement as far as Ras Umm Zoka and the Wadi Kafrinji, sending patrols
along the Jordan, to gain touch with Chaytor's Force.

This action completed the destruction of the VIIth and VIIIth Turkish
Armies. A few stragglers escaped across the river, to wander miserably
in the barren, waterless country to the east, at the mercy of hostile
Arabs. With the exception of these, the entire enemy force west of the
Jordan had been captured or killed, and all its guns, transport, and
stores had fallen into our hands.

The IVth Army, east of Jordan, and the 2nd Corps (Hedjaz Force) about
Maan, remained to be dealt with. Both these forces were in full retreat
to the north, the former pursued by Chaytor's Force and the northern
portion of the Arab Army, the latter harried by the southern detachment
of the Arabs. As the Hedjaz Railway had been cut at Deraa, no supplies
could reach these enemy forces, and they had to depend for their food
on a sparsely populated country, already almost denuded of supplies by
Turkish requisitions, and inhabited by bitterly hostile tribes.

As the action of Chaytor's Force formed a separate episode in the
operations, it will be convenient to follow its fortunes to the
conclusion of its work.

On the night of the 23rd, the dispositions of the Force were as
follows:--

New Zealand Brigade in El Salt. 1st A.L.H. Brigade approaching El Salt,
along the Wadi Arseniyet track. 2nd A.L.H. Brigade on the Wadi Kefrein
track, a few miles west of Ain el Sir. Infantry at Shunet Nimrin. The
whole force resumed the advance vigorously at daylight on the 24th. The
New Zealanders encountered the Turkish rearguards at Sweileh at seven
in the morning, and the 2nd Brigade at Ain el Sir at the same hour. In
both places there was a sharp fight before the enemy was dislodged. The
Turkish IVth Army was not yet disorganised, and was retreating in good
order, fighting every step of the way.

At night the Anzac Division held a line north and south, a few miles
east of Sweileh and Ain el Sir, and the infantry had reached El Salt.
During the night a party from the New Zealand Brigade raided and cut
the railway near Kalaat el Zerka. At six o'clock next morning the
cavalry advanced straight on Amman, with orders to press into the town
if possible. If unable to seize the place, they were to hold the enemy
till the arrival of the infantry. At eleven o'clock the New Zealanders
made an attempt to gallop the town from the north-west, but were held
up by a steep cliff. Two mountain batteries arrived half an hour later,
and the division then went in dismounted, in a frontal attack. It was
of the utmost importance to keep fighting the Turks, so as to prevent
them from breaking off the action and retiring. For this reason no
attempt was made to outflank them, as the necessary movement to carry
out a flanking attack would, in that very precipitous country, have
entailed much time, of which the Turks would certainly have availed
themselves to disengage their forces, and make good their retreat. As
it was, Amman was not captured till half-past four in the afternoon,
and the time spent in clearing up the town precluded any possibility
of a further movement forward that night. The place had not fallen
without a sharp fight, costing fairly heavy casualties, but, of the
opposing forces, the Turks suffered far the more severely, and left 600
prisoners in our hands.

Covered by the good fighting of its rearguards, the Turkish IVth Army
had now got some distance to the north of Amman. General Allenby,
therefore, decided to leave it to the 4th Cavalry Division and the Arab
Army, and directed General Chaytor to remain in the Amman area, and
intercept the retreat of the enemy 2nd Corps from the Hedjaz.

Our aeroplanes had located this Corps on the evening of the 25th, some
fifteen miles south of El Kastal, hurrying north along the railway.
On the following morning, General Chaytor sent the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade
southwards, to gain touch with the Turks, and to destroy as much of the
railway as possible. Patrols from the 5th A.L.H. Regiment got as far as
Ziza Station, about four miles south of El Kastal, where they blew up a
portion of the line. The regiment remained at Ziza for the night, and
the rest of the brigade took up a position across the railway, on some
high ground north of Leben Station.

Now that Amman was in our hands, the only water available for the
enemy, between El Kastal and Deraa Junction, was in the Wadi el
Hammam, seven miles north of Amman. The enemy had dropped a rearguard
here, from the IVth Army, to secure the water supply for his Hedjaz
Force. The 1st A.L.H. Brigade was despatched on the 26th to dislodge
this rearguard, and occupy the wadi. The brigade had a couple of
brisk fights with the Turks, and drove them off, capturing about 400
prisoners and several guns, and then took up a line along the wadi,
covering the water areas.

On the morning of the 27th, therefore, the 2nd A.L.H. Brigade was in
position astride the Hedjaz Railway, north of Leben Station, with one
regiment pushed out as far as Ziza; the 20th Indian Infantry Brigade
was in Amman, with the New Zealand Brigade on the Darb el Haj, east of
the town; and the 1st A.L.H. Brigade was along the Wadi el Hammam and
at Kalaat el Zerka.

About half-past eight in the morning the head of the enemy corps was
seen approaching Ziza. Prisoners, captured by the 5th A.L.H. Regiment
during the night, had stated that the Turkish Force included the
Maan garrison, and numbered about 8000 men. This information was
subsequently found to have been exaggerated.

Though still retaining its cohesion, the enemy force was in a highly
nervous state. During its retreat from Maan, which had been made by
forced marches, it had been harried without cessation by the Sherifian
camelry. Not strong enough to give battle to such a large Turkish
force, the Arabs, mounted on fast trotting camels, had contented
themselves with carrying out a series of raids, in which they had
killed a considerable number of Turks, and captured about 300 prisoners
and twenty-five guns. The tribes of the districts through which they
passed flocked to the standard of King Hussein, moved partly by their
hatred of the Turks, and, at least as much, by their desire for loot.
Like the men of all semi-civilised races, the Arab prizes a good weapon
above everything, and the news that German Mauser rifles were to be had
in unlimited numbers at the expense of a few casualties, soon raised
the whole country. Consequently, by the time the Turks reached El
Kastal, they had, in their rear and on both flanks, a formidable force
of Arab fighting men, grown bold by repeated minor successes.

Early in the afternoon of the 28th, General Chaytor summoned the
Turkish force, by a message dropped from an aeroplane, to surrender by
nine o'clock next morning. It was pointed out to the enemy commander,
that all sources of water supply as far north as Deraa were in our
hands, and he was promised a most unmerciful bombing unless he complied
with the order.

No reply was received to this message till the following day, when a
Turkish officer, with a small escort, succeeded in penetrating the
fringe of blood-thirsty Arabs surrounding the force, and met Colonel
Cameron, commanding the 5th A.L.H. Regiment, to whom he brought the
surrender of the enemy commander with all his force. The Turkish
General made the unusual request that his men might be allowed to
retain their arms until they arrived at Amman, as he was convinced that
the Arabs would attempt to rush in and murder the whole of his force if
the arms were given up, and he was doubtful if the small British force
on the spot could prevent this.

While this parley was proceeding, a deputation arrived from the
Beni Sakhr Arabs, our quondam allies--and deserters--in the second
trans-Jordan raid. These gentry now coolly demanded that the Turkish
force should be handed over to them to 'protect,' as it was their
right to deal with it. Misunderstanding their motives, Colonel Cameron
assured them that the Turks would be well looked after by us, whereupon
the sons of Ishmael became greatly excited, waved their weapons wildly,
and uttered the most blood-curdling threats. Colonel Cameron temporised
with them as best he could, and sent an urgent message to hurry up the
other two regiments of the 2nd Brigade, which were marching towards
Ziza. They arrived at five o'clock, and, as the Arabs were now openly
hostile to us, the Turks were allowed to retain their arms. Under
the supervision of our officers, they entrenched a line of outpost
positions round the station, and these positions were then held by our
men and their Turkish prisoners side by side! The Arabs made several
attempts to rush the lines during the night, but were driven off by
British and Turkish machine-gun and rifle fire. It would be interesting
to know if there is any previous instance of prisoners of war assisting
their captors to hold the latter's own allies at bay.

It is only fair to the forces of the Emir Feisal to say that the
'allies' whom we successfully held off through the night were none of
his men. As soon as the enemy force had surrendered, the Arab regulars
had hurried north to rejoin their comrades pressing after the IVth
Turkish Army.

The New Zealand Brigade arrived at Ziza next day, and remained in
charge of the station, to guard about 500 Turkish sick and wounded and
a large amount of rolling stock and captured arms and ammunition, till
the railway had been repaired. The Arabs, frustrated in their amiable
designs on the Turkish prisoners, drew off disappointed, and followed
their compatriots towards Damascus. The 2nd A.L.H. Brigade then
escorted the prisoners, just over 4000 in number, to Amman, whence they
were evacuated a few days later across the Jordan.

This ended the operations of Chaytor's Force, which remained about
Amman and El Salt to rest and recuperate. Since the beginning of the
operations the force had contributed to the bag about 11,000 prisoners,
fifty-seven guns and 132 machine guns, besides large quantities of
rolling stock, ammunition, and other stores.

In the last three weeks of September the Anzac Division had evacuated
just over 3000 men from sickness alone. 2700 of these were cases of
malignant malaria, a terrible scourge that was with us all through
these operations. The long period spent in the Jordan Valley was no
doubt responsible for this heavy sick rate. The division had lost a
large number of men in the months preceding September, and it was now
reduced to considerably less than half its war strength. Weak and
reduced in numbers as they were, and suffering from the lassitude
engendered by their prolonged stay in the valley, the Australians
nevertheless acted throughout the operations with the greatest energy
and determination, and set an unrivalled example of toughness and
cheerfulness.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIX

THE ADVANCE ON DAMASCUS


As the Turkish VIIth and VIIIth Armies and the 2nd Corps had now
been entirely destroyed, and the IVth Army was in full retreat, the
Commander-in-Chief determined to push on with his cavalry and seize
Damascus.

Apart from the moral effect likely to be produced on the Turks by the
capture of this city, its occupation by our troops was a necessary
corollary to the co-operation of King Hussein with our army. Damascus
is an Arab, and particularly a Bedouin, city. From the time of
Mohammed, it has been the focus and centre of Arab political life,
constantly both reinforced and kept at the same level of civilisation
by intercourse with the tribes of the desert, till to-day they form
four-fifths of the total population.

It is an open secret that General Allenby had been urged by the amateur
strategists of Downing Street to make a cavalry raid on the city,
supported by the forces of the Emir, but he had steadily refused to
commit his cavalry to this hazardous enterprise until he had dealt with
the Turkish Army. Now, however, the way was clear, and he determined to
push on with all speed.

The advance was to be made in two columns. The Australian Mounted
Division and the 5th Cavalry Division were ordered to march _via_
Nazareth and Tiberias, crossing the upper Jordan just south of Lake
Huleh, and march up the Tiberias-Damascus road, across the Hauran. The
4th Cavalry Division was to cross the Jordan at Jisr Mejamie, north of
Beisan, and proceed _via_ Irbid and Deraa Junction, and thence up the
Hedjaz Railway, joining hands with the Arab Army about Deraa.

In order to increase to the utmost the mobility of the troops, all
transport, even to the regimental water-carts, was left behind. Only
the guns and ammunition wagons and a few light motor ambulances per
division accompanied the force. The arrangements as to food and forage
carried on the man and horse were the same as in the 1917 campaign.
When this two days' supply was exhausted, the cavalry were to live on
the country. Later on, after the capture of Damascus, and when our
line of communications had been organised, tea, milk, and sugar were
sent up by lorry to Damascus, or by sea to Beirût and Tripoli, but,
except for this, the Corps subsisted entirety on the local resources
of the country from the 25th September till the administration of the
conquered territory was finally handed over to the French more than a
year later.

The orders for the advance were received on the 25th of September, but
certain preliminary movements had taken place on the previous day. Thus
the 7th Infantry Division arrived at Jenin on the 24th, preparatory
to taking over Afule, Nazareth, and Haifa from the cavalry. The 4th
A.L.H. Brigade, with one regiment of the 5th Brigade, left Afule on
the evening of the same day to march _via_ Beisan to the village of
Semakh, at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. The enemy had a
small force here, engaged in evacuating the considerable quantities of
stores at Deraa. These were sent by rail to Semakh, and thence by boat
to Tiberias, where lorry columns awaited them, and shipped them on to
Damascus along the Hauran road. The Central India Horse (10th Brigade),
who had relieved the 19th Lancers at Jisr Mejamie on the 23rd, had
reconnoitred the village on the following day, and found it strongly
held. The 4th A.L.H. Brigade was ordered to capture the place, and then
rejoin the Australian Division at Tiberias.

On the 25th of September the 4th Cavalry Division concentrated at
Beisan, with the 10th Brigade at Jisr Mejamie. The Australian Mounted
Division, less the 4th Brigade, left Afule early in the afternoon, and
had concentrated at Kefr Kenna, some five miles east of Nazareth, about
ten o'clock that night. A regiment of the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade, supported
by two armoured cars, was sent ahead along the Tiberias road to
reconnoitre the town. The 5th Cavalry Division, which was not relieved
at Haifa by the infantry till early the next morning, left that place
at once, and reached Kefr Kenna about five in the evening.

The 4th A.L.H. Brigade, having bivouacked at Jisr Mejamie on the night
of the 24th, approached Semakh just at daylight on the following day.
At half-past four the advance guard, consisting of the 11th Regiment
and the brigade machine-gun squadron, came under heavy machine-gun and
rifle fire from the railway station. Patrols from the regiment located
the enemy holding an entrenched position south of the village (which
lies on a bare, flat plain), with posts extending across this plain to
the hills on either side.

General Grant decided to attack at once, and ordered the remainder
of his brigade to close up. The machine guns and one squadron of the
11th Regiment at once came into action south of the town, and opened a
hot fire on the enemy positions, particularly on a sort of fort that
had been built by the Germans out of railway material. The other two
squadrons of the 11th charged from the east, one on each side of the
railway. The charge was driven home, over the enemy positions and into
the village, where the Australians dismounted, and went in with the
bayonet.

On the arrival of the rest of the brigade, the 4th Regiment was sent in
mounted on the west. After charging into the town, these troops also
dismounted, and continued the fight on foot.

The enemy, stiffened by the large number of German troops, resisted
desperately, and some of the fiercest hand-to-hand fighting of the
campaign took place in this village. We learnt afterwards that Liman
von Sanders had paid a hurried visit to the place in a car, after
flying from Nazareth, and had given orders that it was to be held to
the last man, so as to clear the ammunition and stores from Deraa for
the defence of Damascus.

Gradually the defenders were driven back through the narrow streets
of the village, till only the railway 'fort' still held out. This
was garrisoned chiefly by Germans, who had a number of machine guns
covering all approaches. One of these guns was located in a railway
culvert, and, as a troop of the 12th Regiment was working towards it,
the crew suddenly stood up and held up their hands, shouting out: 'We
surrender!' Being unaccustomed to the ways of the Hun, our men got up
and walked towards the gun in the open. When they were about fifty
yards away, the crew dropped to their knees, at a given signal, and
opened a murderous fire on our men, killing or wounding nearly all
of them. The few who escaped worked round to the other side of the
railway, and, crawling through the culvert, fell upon the treacherous
crew from behind, and killed them all.

About the same time, another troop of the same regiment encountered
a German machine gun in charge of an officer. As our men approached,
the officer stood up and waved a white handkerchief, whereupon the
subaltern in command of the troop went up to him unsuspectingly. When
he was about two paces away, the German pulled out his automatic and
deliberately shot the unfortunate officer dead.

These two pieces of treachery met with a just retribution. The enraged
Australians stormed into the fort, deaf now to all offers of surrender,
and bayoneted the defenders almost to a man. About 150 Germans and
several hundred Turkish prisoners were taken in the action, and some
200 corpses, mostly those of Germans, were left on the position to be
looted by the natives. None of our men would put spade to the ground to
bury them.

Two motor boats were lying at the pier when our troops attacked. One of
these succeeded in escaping to Tiberias, where it was abandoned by the
crew, and burnt. The other was set on fire by Hotchkiss rifle fire, and
blew up.

As soon as the action was over, a squadron from the brigade was sent
forward along the lake road towards Tiberias. This squadron gained
touch with the regiment of the Australian Division advancing from
Nazareth, and the two detachments captured Tiberias, which was lightly
held, before dark, with about 120 prisoners.

The operations now resolved themselves into a race for Damascus between
our cavalry and the Turkish IVth Army. The country about ten miles
south of Damascus is favourable for defence against a force advancing
from that direction, and the enemy command hoped, if the IVth Army
could reach this position first, to be able to delay our troops long
enough for help to arrive from Aleppo, and thus save Damascus.

The survivors of the German G.H.Q. troops and garrison of Nazareth had
retired, _via_ Tiberias, to the Jordan at Jisr Benat Yakub, just south
of Lake Huleh. Crossing the river here, they blew up the bridge behind
them, and took up a strong position on the east bank, overlooking
the only known fords. They were joined, on the morning of the 26th,
by a few hundred Turkish troops who had been hurriedly collected in
Damascus, and sent down in motor lorries across the Hauran. If this
force could hold the crossing for twenty-four hours, there was a chance
of the Turks winning the race to Damascus.

The Australian Mounted Division left Kefr Kenna at midnight on
the 25th, and, marching all night, reached the hill of Tel Madh,
overlooking Tiberias, at dawn. Continuing the march, after a short halt
to water and feed, the division arrived at El Mejdel, on the lake shore
four miles north of Tiberias, in the early afternoon. In order to give
time for the 5th Division to close up, and for the 4th A.L.H. Brigade
to rejoin from Semakh, the Australians bivouacked here for the night.
Patrols were sent forward as far as Jisr Benat Yakub, and the rest of
the men spent the afternoon bathing in the lake.

Meanwhile, the 4th Cavalry Division, having crossed the Jordan at
Jisr Mejamie, on the morning of the 26th, sent the 10th Brigade ahead
as advance guard, with orders to push on towards Deraa as fast as
the difficult nature of the ground would allow. The remainder of the
division followed at a considerable distance.

[Illustration: Nazareth, from the north.

Note the Red Crescents on the roofs of the houses.]

[Illustration: Horse Artillery entering Tiberias, on the race for
Damascus.]

After the fall of Amman, the enemy IVth Army had hurried northwards
along the Hedjaz Railway, and, by the morning of the 26th, was passing
through El Remte, with a strong flank guard thrown out to the west.
Late in the afternoon the 10th Brigade located this flank guard holding
a position astride the Beisan-Deraa road, along a ridge from Beit Ras,
through Irbid, to Zebda. The country was very difficult and broken, and
intersected with wadis.

A reconnaissance carried out by the 2nd Lancers, the vanguard regiment,
indicated that Irbid was held in strength, while Beit Ras and Zebda
were occupied to protect the central portion of the enemy position, and
were not so strongly held. The Brigadier decided to encircle Irbid from
both flanks. He directed the 2nd Lancers to work round to the north of
the town, between it and Beit Ras, which latter place was apparently
very lightly held, and the Central India Horse to seize Zebda, and then
endeavour to get astride the Deraa road behind the enemy position. The
Berks Battery R.H.A. came into action just off the road, some two miles
west of Irbid, with the Dorset Yeomanry in reserve behind it.

The regiments moved off at once, and commenced to work round the
enemy's flanks. Half an hour later, a squadron of the 2nd Lancers
attempted to charge the Irbid position from the north-west. Night was
approaching, and the officer in command doubtless considered himself
justified in taking the risk of a charge, in the hope of breaking the
Turks' resistance before the coming of darkness enabled them to retire.
But the horses were very tired, the country was broken and stony, and
no previous reconnaissance of the ground was possible. The charge was
met by the enemy with very heavy machine-gun fire, and was brought to
a stop. The squadron suffered severely, two troops being practically
wiped out before it reached cover again.

The Turks at Irbid had been retreating rapidly for three days, harassed
by the Arabs, and their _morale_ was not high. But they had not, as
yet, suffered any severe defeat, and they were in considerably better
case than the miserable remnants of the VIIth and VIIIth Armies, with
which our cavalry had been engaged since the 20th of September. This
fact would seem to have been overlooked by the 2nd Lancers. Moreover
the enemy was in considerable strength. Natives reported on the
following day that there had been not less than 5000 Turks at Irbid.
This was manifestly an exaggeration, but the mere mention of such a
number indicated that there had been, at any rate, a large body of
them there. The failure of the charge taught a lesson that is liable
to be forgotten by cavalry when pursuing a broken and demoralised foe;
namely, that, for a small body of horse to charge an enemy force of
unknown strength, without previous reconnaissance of the ground, and
without any fire support, is to court disaster.

The rest of the regiment continued to work gradually round the enemy's
right flank. Nightfall found them some distance to the north-east of
the village, where they put out pickets and remained during the night.

Meanwhile the Central India Horse, advancing more warily, occupied
Zebda, after some sharp fighting, and then attempted to penetrate
Irbid dismounted from the south-west. The attack was driven back by
the enemy with some loss, and the regiment took up a position south of
the village, and engaged the Turks with machine-gun and rifle fire.
One squadron continued to work eastwards, and, by the time darkness
descended, had nearly reached the Deraa road. This squadron formed a
defensive post near the road, and stood to till daylight.

The 12th Brigade spent the night at El Shuni, on the Wadi el Arab, six
miles east of the Jordan, and the rest of the division at Jisr Mejamie.

From the summit of the ridge near Beit Ras, just before sunset, our
troops had seen the Arab Army, twenty miles away, on the far side of
Deraa. After their raids on the railway at this place, between the
16th and 18th of September, the Arabs had moved east into the wild
fastnesses of the Hauran. From here they had made several raids on
the IVth Army, harassing the Turks' right flank, and forcing them to
abandon much of their transport and artillery. On the day and night of
the 26th, the Arab camelry, led by Lawrence, pushed rapidly northwards,
cutting the railway at Ghazale and Ezra, ten and twenty miles north
of Deraa, and reached Sheikh Saad, fifteen miles west of Ezra, on
the morning of the 27th. Here they engaged and defeated an advanced
detachment of the IVth Army, capturing 500 Turks and a number of German
officers, and then entrenched themselves astride the Damascus road to
await the coming of the remainder of the army.

At daylight on the 27th, Irbid was found to have been evacuated during
the night. The 10th Brigade at once pushed on towards El Remte, with
the Dorset Yeomanry as advance guard. At half-past ten, patrols from
this regiment encountered the enemy in position astride the road, just
west of El Remte. The position was not so strong as that at Irbid, and
the country was more open.

A quarter of an hour later, the Dorsets reported the enemy to be
retiring from the position to the south-east. The Brigadier directed
the regiment to occupy the ridges on the left bank of the Wadi
Ratam, overlooking the village from the south-west, and to make a
demonstration against the enemy, in order to cover the assembly of the
remainder of the brigade, which was to advance under cover of the high
ground immediately north of El Remte, and cut off the enemy's retreat
to Deraa. The Berks Battery came into action west of the village, to
support this move, and to take advantage of such targets as offered.

While these movements were taking place, the Yeomanry were heavily
counter-attacked by the enemy troops that they had supposed to be
retiring. The attack was pressed vigorously, and the Dorsets were
forced back some distance. A signal message was sent to brigade
headquarters asking for assistance, but, before the message could be
acted upon, Lieutenant Mason, skilfully withdrawing his squadron in the
advanced firing line, mounted it, and charged the counter-attack. The
Turks were utterly surprised by this sudden charge. A number of them
were killed with the sword, and the rest driven back in confusion into
the village. The Dorsets then continued to work round to the south,
but were held up shortly afterwards by heavy machine-gun fire from a
fortified stone house.

Just at this moment, a body of enemy cavalry was observed galloping
away from the village to the east. The Yeomanry were unable to pursue
them, but they were effectively shelled by the Berks Battery, and
dispersed.

The Central India Horse had by now reached a point north-east of the
village, from where they espied the Turkish infantry retiring in some
disorder. Charging instantly, they went through the Turks, killing many
with the lance, and rounding up 200 prisoners. This charge completed
the rout of the enemy force, the survivors of which scattered in all
directions.

The 10th Brigade now received orders to await the arrival of the rest
of the division at El Remte. The 12th Brigade came up about half-past
five in the evening, and the 11th some two hours later. Patrols from
the 2nd Lancers, on outpost duty, gained touch with the Arab Army
during the night.

At dawn on the 28th, the brigade moved out to the hills east of El
Remte to cover the assembly of the division, which then marched to
Deraa. The advanced troops reached the town at seven in the morning,
and were met by Lawrence and Sherif Nasir. The Arab troops had arrived
there about midnight, and found the place evacuated and in flames. They
at once sent mounted scouts to the north, who located the main body
of the enemy forces retiring towards Mezerib, ten miles north-west of
Deraa. The road from Mezerib to Damascus runs through Sheikh Saad,
where Lawrence's camel corps was lying in wait for them.



CHAPTER XX

THE ADVANCE ON DAMASCUS (_Continued_)


While the 4th Cavalry Division was treading on the heels of the enemy
east of the Jordan, the Australians had not been idle. Leaving El
Mejdel soon after daylight on the 27th, they reached the Jordan at Jisr
Benat Yakub about mid-day. The news that the bridge had been destroyed,
and that the crossing was held by the enemy, had been brought back by
the patrols that had reconnoitred as far as the river the night before.

The division had no easy task before it. Napoleon rated the forcing of
a river crossing as one of the most difficult operations in war. In
this case the difficulties were increased by several factors. West of
the river the ground sloped gently upwards for about 3000 yards, in a
wide expanse of plough and grass land, unbroken by a single tree or
bush. On the east the ground was much steeper, thus giving good command
of the river, and was thickly covered with scrub and innumerable big
boulders, which afforded excellent protection to the enemy. The river
was deep and very swift, and the only known ford, some few hundred
yards south of the bridge, was commanded by the fire of numbers of
enemy machine guns. The only cover on the west bank was afforded by a
small group of buildings close to the bridge, and by the insignificant
ruins of the castle of Baldwin II. (Kusr Atra), a few hundred yards
farther down stream.

A local native stated that he thought the south end of Lake Huleh was
shallow enough to be waded by mounted men, and it was accordingly
decided to send the 3rd Brigade, by a long detour, to attempt a passage
here. To the French troops was assigned the task of endeavouring to
reach the buildings at the west end of the bridge, from where they
could engage the enemy with rifle and machine-gun fire, and, possibly,
force a passage over the river. The remainder of the 5th Brigade was
to reconnoitre for a ford farther south, and, if successful in finding
one, to cross the river, and get astride the enemy's line of retreat.
One regiment of the 4th Brigade, which had rejoined the division at El
Mejdel, accompanied the 5th Brigade. The rest of the 4th did not arrive
till the evening.

While the two brigades were moving to the north and south, the two
batteries of the division, in action due west of the bridge, amused
themselves by knocking out the enemy guns. Having silenced these, they
turned their attention to a column of motor lorries that had brought
some of the Turks from Damascus, and were now waiting to take the
Germans back again, when they judged it expedient to retire, and leave
their allies to be captured. Two of the lorries were knocked out, and
the remainder chased out of range. Our guns were then occupied with the
more serious business of registering such of the enemy machine guns as
had been located.

While thus engaged, the two batteries received orders to report to the
3rd and 5th Brigades respectively. Following instructions from the
brigadiers concerned, they limbered up, and moved off to accompany
the brigades moving north and south. Owing to the difficulties of the
country over which they had to move, and the long distance they were
required to go, it was nearly two hours before they were in action
again.

The French regiment, moving over the open, dismounted and widely
extended, reached the buildings with some loss, but was unable to
attempt the ford, in face of the very heavy fire from the east bank. No
artillery support was available, as our batteries were on the move.

The 3rd Brigade scouts found Lake Huleh quite unfordable, but one
regiment succeeded in working its way dismounted down to the river
bank south of the lake. It came under very heavy fire here--indeed the
water in the river was bubbling with machine-gun bullets--but the men
gradually worked south by twos and threes, towards what looked like a
possible crossing just north of the bridge.

Meanwhile the regiments with the 5th Brigade, after riding for two
miles south of the bridge, without finding any sign of a ford, waded
boldly into the river at a likely looking place, and succeeded in
struggling across. Arrived on the other side, they found themselves
involved in a perfect maze of precipitous wadis running in every
direction, in a formation of old lava, broken into huge, jagged
boulders. They wandered about in this wilderness for the rest of
the afternoon and evening, and only gained the Damascus road after
dark, too late to intercept the retiring enemy. The threat to their
communications, however, had had its invariable effect on the Turks,
and, as soon as darkness fell, they retreated hurriedly. All the
Germans, and as many Turks as could find room, piled themselves on to
the lorries. The rest of the Turks had to walk.

At dusk the regiment of the 3rd Brigade on the river bank, taking
advantage of the failing light, plunged into the river, and swam
across. The cold plunge, and the prospect of a night in their wet
clothes, induced in the men a suitable frame of mind for dealing
efficiently with any Turks they might meet, and, in the ensuing bayonet
fight on the east bank, they killed a large number of the enemy and
took eighty-five prisoners. They then pushed on up the road as far as
Deir el Saras, where they met patrols of the 5th Brigade.

Just before dark a German aeroplane flew over our troops at a great
height, and dropped a couple of bombs, which did no harm. This was
the first enemy aeroplane seen in the air by our cavalry since the
commencement of the operations, a fine tribute to the work of the Royal
Air Force.

The name Jisr Benat Yakub means the Bridge of the Daughters of Jacob.
The bridge carries on its grey, old arches the oldest known road in
the world, the caravan way from Egypt to Mesopotamia. All the armies
of time have trod this trail. Egyptian, Assyrian, Hittite, Jew;
Saracen Arab and Christian Knight; Turkish Janissary and soldier of
Napoleon--all have crossed the sacred river at this point. So it is
conceivable that the name really comes, as the Arabs aver, from the
daughters of the patriarch, though a local tradition ascribes it to a
massacre of some Jacobin nuns, which took place here in the twelfth
century. The bridge marks the northern limit of Napoleon's advance
through Syria, and it was a strange turn of the wheel of fate that
again brought French soldiers here fighting the Turks, a hundred and
twenty years later, but this time as allies of the English.

The action had delayed the division for the better part of a day,
thus increasing the chance of the enemy army reaching Damascus first.
Indeed, had it not been for the vigorous and effective action of
Lawrence's camel corps on the following day, it is just possible that
the Turks might have won the race.

The delay had, however, permitted the 5th Cavalry Division, which had
left Kefr Kenna at dawn, to close up, and it lay that night near Rosh
Pina, a Jewish village about eight miles west of the Jordan.

The Corps bridging train came up during the night, and the Sappers set
to work repairing the bridge. This proved a big task, as one of the
four arches had been completely demolished. At daylight on the 28th,
as the work was still far from finished, the rest of the Australian
Mounted Division forded the river, and at once pressed on up the road
towards El Kuneitra. The passage of the guns was very arduous. The
river was only about four feet deep at the ford, but there were deep
holes on either side, and the current was torrential. The ground on
the other side proved to be a marsh, covered with a tangle of high,
stiff scrub, and interspersed with large boulders. A road had to be cut
through this scrub, boggy places filled in with tree trunks and bushes,
and the ford improved. All this took time, and it was nine o'clock
before the first gun was across the ford, and safely on the road.

For the first two miles from the Jordan, the road climbs out of the
valley in a series of steep zigzags, and the surface was atrocious.
Once out of the valley, however, an excellent, metalled road stretched
ahead all the way to Damascus. Four Turkish guns, three of them
destroyed by direct hits from our artillery, two motor lorries, and a
number of machine guns were found on the east bank.

The division made good progress, and the advanced troops reached the
Circassian village of El Kuneitra, at the top of the watershed, about
one o'clock. The 5th Division got in about five hours later, and the
two divisions bivouacked for the night east and west of the village.

The cavalry were now over sixty miles from Nazareth, the nearest post
held by our infantry, and Damascus was forty miles farther on. The
whole country was, very naturally, in a most disturbed state. Bands of
marauding Arabs and Druses patrolled the Hauran, ostensibly at war with
the Turks, but always ready to fall on and plunder any weakly-guarded
convoy. To protect our communications, therefore, General Grant, with
the headquarters of the 4th A.L.H. Brigade and the 11th Regiment, was
stationed at Kuneitra. The Hyderabad Lancers, who had been left at the
Jordan, near Jisr Benat Yakub, were also placed under his command.

Kuneitra is the seat of government of a _Kaza_, and one of the
most important of the Circassian villages that are found scattered
throughout the Hauran, and as far south as Amman. Their origin dates
back to the annexation by Russia of the Turkish provinces of Kars,
Batoum, and Ardahan in 1877. The Circassians, being Moslems, left
the annexed provinces in considerable numbers, and were planted by
the Turks along the fringe of the desert, to act as a check on the
turbulent Arab tribes. They were given land and favoured in other ways
by the Turks, and are consequently cordially hated by the local Arab
population. Our cavalry had encountered them before, during the Amman
raids. They used to enlist freely in the Turkish cavalry, and should
make good soldiers if properly trained. Now, however, the defeat of
their protectors laid them open to the vengeance of the Arabs, whom
they had always despised and insulted, and they were completely cowed.
On the afternoon of the 26th, our aircraft had reported a force of
enemy cavalry, estimated at 3000, in the neighbourhood of El Kuneitra.
This large force made no attempt to assist in holding the passage of
the Jordan, and, by the time our troops reached El Kuneitra, it had all
melted away. Arms were buried or hidden, uniforms thrown away, and the
big, sturdy, fair-haired louts were all wandering about their villages,
with their hands in the pockets of their baggy breeches, trying to look
as much like peaceful agriculturists as possible.

A party of Hauran Druses had looted the village before our troops
arrived. Some of them were rounded up near by and questioned, but, as
they were fighting with the Arabs, and were thus our 'allies,' albeit
their methods were not ours, they had to be set free again.

While the Australians and the 5th Cavalry Division were advancing on El
Kuneitra, the 4th Cavalry Division passed through Deraa, and pressed on
to El Mezerib and Tafas, with the Arabs on its right flank, harassing
the rear of the retreating IVth Army. The main Turkish force had got
some distance farther north, but it had been delayed for many hours on
the previous day at Sheikh Saad, by the skilful fighting of Lawrence's
Arabs. It was this delay that finally decided the fate of the Turks
in the race for Damascus. The remnants of the IVth Army did, in fact,
reach the city, but our troops were close on their heels, and they got
no farther. Of the units that left Deraa on the 27th, however, not one
man lived to reach Damascus. Passing through Tafas on the afternoon of
that day, they seized eighty Arab women and children, and butchered
them in cold blood, with every refinement of torture and outrage that
the bestial mind of the Turk could conceive. For this deed the Arabs
exacted vengeance to the last man. Not only was every man of the
Turkish rearguard killed, but two trains full of sick and wounded,
which were captured by the Arabs on the railway farther north, were
set on fire, and burnt with their human freight. It was a terrible
vengeance, but characteristic of the Arabs, and one can hardly blame
them. It is to be noted that the Turks who perpetrated this horrible
massacre were accompanied by a number of German officers, who appear to
have made no effort to stop the hideous work.



CHAPTER XXI

THE FALL OF DAMASCUS


At two o'clock on the afternoon of the 29th, the Australian Mounted
Division started on the last lap of the race to Damascus. The 5th
Cavalry Division followed a few miles in rear of the Australians. The
distance to be covered was about forty miles, and it was hoped that, if
the two divisions marched all night, they would be able to surround the
city soon after dawn on the 30th.

It was arranged that the Australian Mounted Division should send two
brigades along the foot of the hills west of Damascus, to close the
two roads leading north-west to Beirût, and north-east to Homs. The
5th Division was to send one brigade round the east side of the city,
to gain touch with the Australians on the Homs road, and place the
remainder of the division astride the Deraa-Damascus road, at or near
Kiswe, to receive the remnants of the Turkish IVth Army, which was to
be driven into their welcoming arms by the 4th Division.

It must be explained that the only available maps were very inaccurate
and greatly lacking in detail. Thus, there was no indication that the
steep and rocky hills, which press right on to Damascus on the west,
were almost impassable for cavalry; or that the Beirût road runs along
the bottom of a deep, precipitous gorge, into which it was impossible
for cavalry to descend; or that, to reach the Homs road, it would be
necessary to pass through the western suburbs of the city, always a
difficult and dangerous operation in a hostile country, and doubly so
for mounted troops.

For political reasons, strict orders had been given that no British
troops were to enter Damascus, and these orders considerably hampered
our subsequent operations, and made our task more difficult.

In the end, however, it was the action of the enemy that was the
chief cause of our delay. A couple of armoured cars went ahead of the
Australian Division to reconnoitre, and returned, shortly after the
division had started, with the information that the enemy was holding
a position astride the road, near the village of Sasa, a little north
of the Nahr Mughaniye. The cars had drawn a considerable fire from
guns and machine guns. Patrols of the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade crossed the
river just before dark, and had located the enemy's position fairly
accurately by the time the rest of the brigade arrived. The position
had been well sited by the enemy, on a rocky ridge running about east
and west. An impassable morass of unknown extent protected his right
flank, north of the road, and the country to the south was a wilderness
of broken lava boulders, most difficult even for infantry and in the
daylight.

The 8th and 9th A.L.H. Regiments dismounted, and advanced in pitch
darkness against the presumed position of the enemy's left flank. The
going was so bad that it was nearly two in the morning before they
got to grips with the Turks. There was a half-hour's very confused
bayonet fighting among the rocks in the darkness, during which it
was almost impossible to distinguish friend from foe. The Turks then
broke, most of them making for the road. A pre-arranged signal of
Verey lights, sent up by the attackers, apprised the division of this,
and, immediately it was seen, a squadron of the 10th A.L.H. Regiment,
which had been held in readiness, galloped straight down the road in
the dark, to get ahead of the retreating Turks and cut them off. It
very nearly came to grief over one of the enemy guns which had been
abandoned on the road, but fortunately the leading horses saw it, and
swerved aside just in time. The squadron was followed, at a more sober
pace, by the 4th and 12th Regiments of the 4th Brigade, which now took
the lead.

About 100 prisoners, three guns, and a number of machine guns were
captured on the position, and, after daylight, about 250 more
stragglers were gathered in, including a party of 150 Germans, who had
retired before the 10th Regiment charged down the road. Our casualties
had been rather heavy for so small an affair, and, by some strange
chance, the Turks captured and carried off with them in their retreat
eight of our men. These we came upon and rescued near the village of
Sasa, shortly after daybreak.

The net result of this action was that, instead of being on the
outskirts of Damascus at dawn on the 30th, our troops were still nearly
twenty miles away.

Pressing on as fast as possible, the division reached Kaukab about ten
o'clock, and here encountered the enemy again. At some time or other
the Turks had constructed a long line of entrenchments stretching from
near Katana (north of the El Kuneitra road) across the road at Kaukab,
along the high ridge of the Jebel el Aswad, over the Deraa road north
of Kiswe, and thence over the Jebel el Mania to near Deir Ali. It was
the western portion of this line, astride the El Kuneitra road, that
they were now holding. The position looked strong, and, had the Turks
put up a determined fight here, they might have saved many of their
friends in Damascus, to say nothing of their masters the Germans, from
capture.

'A' Battery H.A.C. and the Notts Battery R.H.A., which were marching
near the head of the advance guard, came into action at once, and
opened a rapid and effective fire on the enemy position. After a few
minutes' bombardment, the 4th A.L.H. Regiment was launched at the
village of Kaukab, and the 12th at a spur of the Jebel el Aswad,
against the enemy's left flank. The going here was good, and the
cavalry were able to gallop right on to the position, which they
proceeded to do, covered by the fire of the guns. The combination of
gun fire and charging cavalry was too much for the shattered nerves of
the Turks, who broke and fled, pursued by the Australians. The whole
force was killed or captured.

The 5th Brigade now took the lead, and rode hard up the road towards
Damascus, followed by the 3rd Brigade, which had rejoined from Sasa
just after the action. The leading troops came under fire from the
houses and gardens of the suburb of El Mezze. The Notts Battery came
into action, and shelled the enemy satisfactorily, while the 5th
Brigade plunged into the maze of hills north of the road, and made
for the Beirût road. Seeing their right threatened, the Turks retired
into the town, and the 3rd Brigade was free to move on. Patrols from
this brigade then found that it was impossible to reach the Homs road,
except by going right through the town, as the river Barada, running
between rock cliffs, barred their path farther west. As the orders
against entering the town were peremptory, there was nothing to be done
but send back word of the state of affairs, and wait for permission to
advance. This permission was not received till late at night, when it
was impossible for the brigade to make its way through the narrow,
tortuous streets of the town, which was still full of enemy troops.

Meanwhile the 5th Brigade was encountering great difficulties in the
bare, rocky hills west and north of El Mezze, but the advanced troops
reached the gorge of the Barada, above El Rabue, about five in the
evening. Here they found themselves on the top of a cliff about 200
feet high, overhanging the road and railway to Beirût, and looked down
upon an extraordinary sight. The whole of the bottom of the gorge,
from side to side, was packed with a struggling mass of fugitives, on
horse and afoot, in motors, cabs and carts, surging along like a tidal
wave. There was a train on the line, packed with Germans, but it was
completely blocked by the mass of people who struggled and fought along
the railway, and the engine driver had long since been submerged in the
tide of frenzied Turks. Even the river was full of men and horses.

There was no possible way of getting down on to the road from the top
of the cliffs, but the fugitives had to be stopped somehow. A few
machine guns were brought into action, and ordered to open fire on the
head of the column below. General Onslow, who commanded the brigade,
told the writer afterwards that he had never given an order with
greater reluctance and horror. With a view to minimising the inevitable
slaughter, he instructed his machine gunners to concentrate their fire
as much as possible on the vehicles at the head of the column, in order
to disable them and so block the road. When the firing commenced, the
Turks in front tried to turn back towards the city, but the pressure
behind them was so great that they were constantly pushed along into
the zone of the bullets. At last, however, the growing pile of corpses
and broken vehicles at the head of the column completely blocked
the gorge, and the Turks realised that their escape was barred. They
turned and streamed miserably back towards the city. Part of the crowd
was intercepted by troops of the 3rd Brigade, who took about 5000
prisoners. The rest reached the city, and were collected next day. How
many perished in the defile will never be known, but it took a large
force of German prisoners ten days to dispose of the bodies. It was
fitting that they, who by their insane ambition had brought the Turks
to this sorry end, should have had the task of burying the victims of
their lust for power.

[Illustration: Royal Horse Artillery fording the Jordan at Jisr Benat
Yakub.]

[Illustration: The Beirût road in the gorge of the River Barada. 1st
October, 1918.]

Before dark, the 5th Brigade got a small party down on to the road, and
picketed it during the night.

While the Australian Mounted Division had been pushing round west of
Damascus, the 4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions had been slowly closing
in on the city. The former had pursued the retreating IVth Army
relentlessly all through the 29th of September, and, on the morning of
the 30th, the 11th Brigade, which was acting as advance guard, reached
El Ghabaghib Station, on the old French railway from Damascus to
Mezerib, about thirty miles south of Damascus.

The main body of the enemy, which had been marching hard all night, was
now some distance ahead of the division, but its retreat was constantly
harassed by Lawrence's Arabs, who made repeated raids on the right
flank of the Turks, and had by now reduced them to a state of extreme
disorganisation. It must be remembered that the 4th Cavalry Division
had about thirty miles farther to go before reaching Damascus than the
other two divisions. Moreover, although there had been no opposition
from the enemy after the action at El Remte, the division had been much
delayed by the bad road from Deraa to Damascus, across the southern
Hauran. The whole of this area is overlaid with the _débris_ of extinct
volcanoes, mostly in the form of huge boulders of black basalt, which
everywhere cover the ground. Much time was spent in clearing away these
boulders, to make a passage for the guns and transport of the division.
The whole country from Deraa to Damascus was strewn with the bodies of
Turks that had died from exhaustion. Dead horses, broken-down vehicles,
and abandoned guns were scattered everywhere. It was estimated that
2000 enemy dead were passed on the march, and many more than that
number of dead animals. The hot sun, beating down on the black rocks,
burnt like the blast from a furnace, and the heavy air, poisoned by the
unburied corpses of men and beasts, hung like a pall over the land.
There is little water to be found in the Hauran in summer, and less
food, and not a single tree and scarce a human habitation soften the
desolation of this horrible region.

The 5th Cavalry Division reached Sasa at about eight on the morning
of the 30th, and there received a message from an aeroplane that a
large body of the enemy, which was, in fact, the leading portion of
the IVth Army, was approaching Kiswe, along the Deraa-Damascus road.
The 13th Brigade, followed by the 14th, was at once despatched to try
and intercept this force. Before they moved off, General MacAndrew[26]
issued the following characteristic order to his brigades: 'Push on!
Kill or capture all you can, and seize Damascus.'

This day marked the end of the Turkish IVth Army, but, as it split
up into a number of detached groups, which were attacked throughout
the day by brigades, regiments, and even single squadrons of the 4th
and 5th Cavalry Divisions, it is impossible to give any very concise
account of its destruction. It is clear, however, that, on the morning
of the 30th, the army was marching in two main bodies. The leading
portion, that which had been seen and reported by our aircraft,
consisted of the remains of the Turkish 3rd Cavalry Division, with such
of the infantry as had been able to keep up with the mounted troops.
The following portion, evidently much more disorganised, was marching
some eight to ten miles in rear.

The 13th Brigade, moving along the south bank of the Wadi el Zabirani,
encountered some opposition on the ridge of the Jebel el Aswad,
north of Deir Khabiye, from enemy troops occupying a portion of
the entrenched position that has been mentioned above. By mid-day,
however, the brigade had succeeded in dispersing the enemy, taking
some 700 prisoners. Meanwhile the 14th Brigade had got astride the
Deraa-Damascus road, north of Kiswe. It was just in time to intercept
the leading portion of the Turkish force, the advanced elements of
which had cleared Kiswe, and were hurrying up the road over the Jebel
el Aswad towards Damascus.

In the somewhat confused fighting which followed the encounter, the
greater part of what was left of the Turkish 3rd Cavalry Division,
including the divisional commander and his staff, fell into our hands.
The remainder of the force was driven back, completely broken, to Kiswe.

At this time the 15th Brigade was in divisional reserve a little east
of Khan el Shiha.

Shortly afterwards, about four in the afternoon, the second portion
of the Turkish army was seen approaching Kiswe, followed by the 11th
Brigade of the 4th Cavalry Division. This brigade had been checked for
a time at Khiyara Chiftlik, about six miles south of Kiswe, by a body
of the enemy who took up a position behind the mud walls of a farm
there. The brigade was rather heavily shelled from the direction of
Kalaat el Nuhas at the same time. The farm was cleared by a mounted
charge, and the Turks dispersed. Some escaped up the steep slopes
of the Jebel el Mania to the east, but the bulk of them continued
along the main road to Kiswe. On their arrival there, they joined the
demoralised remnants of the leading portion of their force, that had
escaped the onslaught of the 14th Brigade. Here they learnt that the
road to Damascus was barred, and, looking backwards, saw the lances
of the 4th Cavalry Division approaching. Caught between the two
forces, they made a last despairing attempt to break through. There
appears to have been a general _sauve qui peut_. Some attempted the
Damascus road, and were ridden down and captured by the 14th Brigade.
Others made their way north-east up the Nahr el Awaj, and attempted a
counter-attack against the left flank of this brigade, but were broken
up by the fire of the Essex Battery. They split up into small groups,
and disappeared among the gardens of the Damascus plain east of the
city, where the majority of them were almost certainly murdered by the
natives. The largest body broke out to the north-west, and fell into
the arms of the 13th Brigade near Sahnaya, where about 1500 prisoners
were taken, and many were killed. Others again were observed trying to
escape to the east. The Ayrshire Battery, attached to the 11th Brigade,
galloped forward, supported by two machine guns and a few Hotchkiss
rifles, and came into action at close range, causing the Turks to
scatter wildly. The 29th Lancers pursued these disorganised parties
up the slopes of the Jebel el Mania, and had rounded up large numbers
of them before darkness put an end to the pursuit. Finally, a number
remained in Kiswe, and tried to organise some sort of resistance there.
At five o'clock, however, the 13th Brigade swept suddenly down upon the
village and captured it, with about 700 prisoners and several guns.

It was now nearly dark, and nothing further could be done that day. The
5th Division remained for the night along a line north of the Wadi el
Zabirani, from the Kuneitra-Damascus road to a few miles north-east of
Kiswe. The 4th Division concentrated south of Kiswe.

Two troops of the Gloucester Yeomanry, 13th Brigade, and a troop of
the 12th Regiment, 4th A.L.H. Brigade, starting from south and west
of the town respectively, attempted to reach the big German wireless
installation at Kadem Station in the southern suburb. The wireless
plant had, however, been prepared for demolition, and was blown up
before our troops reached it. Both parties had a warm time, and were
continually sniped at by wandering bodies of the enemy from the houses
and wooded gardens. Eventually they came upon a number of large
ammunition dumps, which had been set on fire and were going off like a
monstrous Brock's Benefit, and they had to beat a hurried retreat. All
through the early part of the night tremendous explosions shook the
air, as the fire reached fresh stacks of shells. Kadem railway station
and all the houses round it were completely destroyed, but there was
little other damage in the city. The Turks were too dispirited and
worn out for deeds of frightfulness, and the Germans too intent on
trying to make good their escape. The independence of the city from
Turkish rule was actually publicly proclaimed in the Serai early on
the afternoon of September the 30th, without any opposition from the
Turks, although there were at the time some 15,000 Turkish and German
soldiers in the town, including Jemal Pasha, the commander of the IVth
Army. A number of these troops had come from Aleppo and Beirût, and
the remainder were stragglers who had made their way in, by rail and
road, from the south, after the _débâcle_ of September the 19th and
succeeding days. Nearly all of them were half starved and worn out by
continual marching, and their _morale_ had sunk so low that they made
no protest when the whole city broke out in a blaze of Sherifian flags.
Insulted and beaten by the people, who refused to give or sell them
food, abandoned by their German masters in the most callous manner,
diseased and starving, many of the poor wretches died in the streets
that night. Many others, less fortunate, met a brutal death at the
hands of the populace. Several thousand dragged themselves to the
Turkish barracks, which they filled, and overflowed into the parade
ground, where some 300 perished during the night. Two considerable
bodies did indeed attempt to escape, one along the Beirût road, and the
other towards Homs. The fate of the former has already been told. The
latter body, which consisted of fresher troops, from Aleppo and Beirût,
got out of the town on the north-east, and marched all night along the
Homs road.

The next day, October the 1st, as soon as it was light, the 5th Cavalry
Division concentrated and moved round to the east of the city, pushing
the 13th Brigade as far north as the Homs road, where it got into
touch with the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade of the Australian Mounted Division.
This brigade passed through the city at dawn, patrols of the 10th
A.L.H. Regiment reaching the Serai square about six in the morning,
and being thus actually the first troops to enter the city. Passing
the Baramkie railway station on the way, they found there a train just
about to start for Beirût, the troops in it being ignorant of the fact
that the railway had been cut (by the 5th A.L.H. Brigade) the previous
night. They were speedily undeceived, and about 500 prisoners and a
number of guns and machine guns were taken from the train, and handed
over to the 4th and 12th Regiments of the 4th Brigade, which marched to
the station later in the morning.

Hurrying through the town, the 3rd Brigade reached the Homs road, and
pressed along it on the track of the enemy force that had escaped
that way the previous evening. The 10th Regiment came up with part
of this force about nine o'clock in the morning, on the Wadi Maraba,
near Harista el Basal, and promptly charged it, killing many with the
sword, and capturing about 600 prisoners and some forty machine guns.
Continuing the pursuit, the cavalry came upon more of the enemy near
Duma, and again at Khan Kusseir, twelve miles from Damascus, in the
evening. They were engaged in continual skirmishing throughout the day,
and the action at Khan Kusseir, where they were opposed by Germans,
though short, was severe. The enemy troops had a number of machine
guns, and put up a good fight, but were broken by a charge delivered
from the cover of some vineyards and olive groves on their right flank,
and all of them were killed or captured. The brigade remained at Duma
for the night.

The advance troops of the Arab Army, under Lawrence, reached
Damascus about half-past eight in the morning, and established their
headquarters in the Government buildings.

Meanwhile the two regiments of the 4th A.L.H. Brigade were at
work collecting prisoners in the town, and evacuating them to a
concentration area near Daraya. All day long the sorry business
continued, and by evening nearly 12,000 had been collected. They were
in a pitiable state. Many of them, the remnants of the IVth Army,
had been chased for 150 miles by our cavalry and by the Arab forces.
Constantly bombed by our aircraft, harassed day and night by the Arab
Camel Corps and the hostile population of the country through which
they passed, denied all food, and often short of water, it is one of
the marvels of war that they had struggled so far. The task of getting
them out of the city was a horrible one. Many fell by the wayside,
and all the efforts of our cavalry failed to get them on their feet
again, and they had to be left to die. All night long our over-worked
ambulances toiled among them, bringing water and food and what medical
assistance was possible, but they were utterly unable to cope with the
numbers, and by morning over 600 were dead.

For the first fortnight, and until the rest and good food had had time
to take effect, the mortality in the prisoners' camp, though decreasing
daily, averaged over a hundred a day.

The whole Turkish force was riddled with disease. Nearly all were
suffering from either malaria or dysentery, and there were several
cases of smallpox. Venereal disease is endemic among the Turks, and, in
normal times, seems to have little effect upon their general health;
but, in the exhausted and weakened condition in which they now were,
it laid hold on them virulently, and took a heavy toll of lives. An
indication of the spread of this disease among the Germans was afforded
by a room in the hospital at Afule, which was filled with boxes of
salvarsan. This drug, we were informed by German medical officers, was
reserved exclusively for the use of German troops.

[Illustration: The Emir Feisals' Headquarters at Damascus.

Note the Sherifian standards on the balcony.]

[Illustration: Tripoli. The old Crusader Citadel.]

The operations closed on the 2nd October with an extraordinary charge
by the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade. Early in the morning, a column of the enemy
was seen moving north, parallel to the Homs road, and some miles to the
east. This column had evidently hoped, by avoiding the road, to make
its way unseen to Khan Ayash, where it would have entered the hills,
and probably then made its escape.

The whole brigade immediately mounted, galloped six miles over the open
plain, and charged the enemy with the sword. The Turks had with them a
few guns and a number of machine guns, which they brought into action
and fought to the last. The brigade galloped on, through a hot fire,
and charged clean through the enemy force, killing a large number of
them, and capturing 1500 prisoners, including a divisional commander,
three guns, and twenty-six machine guns. In point of distance this must
be a record cavalry charge.

On the same day, detachments from each brigade of the Corps and some
of the guns paraded at the village of Sbeine, south of Damascus, and
marched through the city from end to end, led by the Corps Commander.
This was not intended as a triumphal march, but was a necessary display
of force, to overawe the turbulent elements in the town, who threatened
to create a state of absolute anarchy.

For political reasons the city was supposed to be in charge of the
Arab forces, and an Arab Governor was actually appointed. But,
with the best intentions in the world, the small force of so-called
'regular' Arab soldiers could do little or nothing to keep order. The
irregular--highly irregular--forces of King Hussein far outnumbered the
Arab Army. During the advance on the city, hordes of nomad Arabs had
joined his standard, drawn thereto partly, no doubt, by their genuine
and deep-rooted hatred of the Turks, but also, and far more strongly,
by their equally genuine and deep-rooted love of plunder. Till they
reached Damascus, the loot had consisted almost entirely of rifles and
ammunition, best of all loot from the desert Arab's point of view, but
now that each son of Ishmael was in possession of at least two good
rifles, and was festooned with machine gun belts full of cartridges, he
felt that he could toy with some more fancy trifles, should they come
his way. So it was not surprising that, as soon as they entered the
city, they all set to work at once to collect what Thomas Atkins would
call 'souvenirs.' They were perfectly good-tempered about it, and only
killed a few shopkeepers who made an unconscionable fuss about having
their booths looted. No mercy was shown to the Turks, however. They
were hunted down and killed remorselessly whereever found. Some of the
Arabs even broke into the Turkish hospital, and set about murdering the
moribund wretches whom they found there, till driven away by our troops.

The desert-bred Arabs are probably the most independent of mankind.
They acknowledge no authority, and will take orders only from those
who are able to exact obedience by force of arms. This the Emir Feisal
was quite unable to do, even had he been willing, which is doubtful.
His attitude seemed to be that boys will be boys, and it would be a
shame to interfere with their simple pleasures, after the hard time
they had had. One of the first things the 'Boys' did was to open the
jail and release all the ruffians therein, who added to the liveliness
of the city.

[Illustration]

After two days of something like pandemonium, the powers that were
recognised the necessity of imposing some sort of restraint on the
lawless elements, and two regiments of the Australian Mounted Division
were stationed in the city for police duties. The Australian troopers
speedily had the situation in hand, and the normal life of Damascus was
resumed within forty-eight hours.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 26: Major-General Sir H.J.M. MacAndrew, K.C.B., Indian Army.
He died from burns received in an accident at Aleppo in July 1919.]



CHAPTER XXII

THE LAST PHASE


Arabian Syria extends northwards a little beyond Aleppo. A study of
the place-names on the map will establish a fairly well-defined line,
running from about Jerablus on the Euphrates to the sea near Antioch,
north of which the Arabic names give place to Turkish. From the
political point of view it was highly desirable that all the country
south of this line should be in our hands before the Turks should have
had enough, and ask for a cessation of hostilities. But Aleppo is a
far cry from Damascus, 230 miles by the Rayak road, and it is doubtful
whether the Commander-in-Chief had in his mind at this date so extended
an enterprise as the capture of that city.

Strategically, however, an advance as far as Rayak and Beirût offered
several advantages. The possession of Beirût would give us a good, if
small, port, connected by rail and road with Damascus, thus greatly
shortening our line of supply. And, with Rayak Junction in our hands,
we should control the important broad-gauge line that runs northwards
from this place, through Homs, Hama, and Aleppo, to join the Baghdad
line at Muslimie.

The total destruction of the Turkish armies had ensured us freedom
of movement at least as far as the line Rayak-Beirût, and the only
obstacle to an advance lay in the weak and reduced condition of the
Corps.

In the twelve days from the 19th to the 30th of September inclusive,
the three cavalry divisions had marched over 200 miles, fought a number
of minor actions, and captured more than 60,000 prisoners, 140 guns,
and 500 machine guns.

Long marches, especially at night, and half rations during the whole
period, had rendered the horses thin and tired, and they were in urgent
need of a rest. The men were in considerably worse case. In the course
of the operations, the Australian Mounted Division had lain one night
beside the Jordan at Jisr Benat Yakub, and the 4th Cavalry Division had
spent several nights in the neighbourhood of Beisan. In both places
the men were exposed to the attacks of swarms of malaria-bearing
mosquitoes. Though the outbreak of malignant malaria, which was the
fruit of these nights, did not begin to make its appearance till about
the 5th of October, the day on which the advance was resumed, there
were many cases of influenza in the Corps, and the hospitals were full
of sick men, especially Indians. The 5th Division, which had not been
in the mosquito districts, suffered less severely from malaria, and was
thus able to continue the advance later on, at a time when the other
two divisions were so weakened by the disease as to be almost incapable
of moving.

After weighing all the factors of the situation, however, the
Commander-in-Chief decided that the advantages to be gained by securing
the port of Beirût and the railway to Damascus, justified a farther
advance, and he determined to push on with his cavalry at least as far
as the Rayak-Beirût line.

The 4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions were detailed for this task, the
Australian Division remaining in and around Damascus, to keep order in
the city and throughout the surrounding country.

The two divisions started on the morning of the 5th of October. At
Khan Meizelun, eighteen miles from Damascus, their roads parted, the
4th Division moving on Zebdani, on the railway between Damascus and
Rayak, the 5th making for Rayak by the main road through Shtora. Both
objectives were reached without difficulty the following afternoon. In
the course of the advance the 14th Brigade entered Zahle, capturing
177 prisoners and a few guns. Thirty burnt aeroplanes were found on
the aerodrome at Rayak, and in the station a quantity of rolling stock
and a number of engines of both the broad and the narrow gauge. Though
damaged, most of these were subsequently repaired and put into use.

On the next day (the 7th) the armoured cars attached to the 5th
Cavalry Division made a reconnaissance to Beirût, which they entered
without opposition about mid-day. The townspeople received them with
acclamation, and showed with pride a party of about 600 Turkish
soldiers whom they had collected and disarmed. The 7th Indian Infantry
Division, which had left Haifa on October the 3rd, reached Beirût on
the 8th, and took over these prisoners.

On the 10th the cars reconnoitred northwards as far as Baalbek, without
encountering any of the enemy, and the Commander-in-Chief thereupon
decided to make a farther advance as far as Homs.

Unfortunately malaria had by now laid such a hold upon the men of the
4th Division, that the surviving hale scarce sufficed to carry on the
ordinary duties of camp, and any further work by this division was out
of the question. This left only the 5th Division, itself much reduced
in numbers, to carry on the advance.

The 7th Infantry Division was directed to send a brigade to Tripoli,
where there was a small port, with jetties suitable for landing stores
in fine weather, and a fairly good, metalled road running inland to
Homs, which would facilitate the sending of supplies to the cavalry at
the latter place. The 5th Division was then ordered to occupy Homs as
soon as possible, the 4th remaining in the Zahle-Rayak-Baalbek area.

The 13th Brigade entered Baalbek on the 11th of October, and collected
500 Turks who had surrendered to the inhabitants, and who had been
'offered' to the armoured cars the previous day.

The railway from Aleppo to Rayak was in working order, and it was quite
possible for the enemy to send troops south to delay our advance. It
was very important, therefore, that any further move forward, once
decided upon, should be carried out as rapidly as possible.

To this end General MacAndrew organised his division at Baalbek in
two columns. Column 'A,' which was to lead the advance, consisted of
the divisional headquarters, three batteries of armoured cars, and
three light car patrols, supported by the 15th Brigade. This brigade
had only two regiments, the Hyderabad Lancers being still on the line
of communications. The remainder of the division formed Column 'B.'
It will be apparent that Column 'A' was little more than a raiding
force, but it was considered that the heavy volume of machine-gun fire
provided by the twenty-four cars would be sufficient to disperse, or
at least to break up and disorganise, any body of the enemy that might
be encountered. The country was very suitable for the employment of
armoured cars, being open and fairly flat, with a hard surface.

A wing of the Royal Air Force was attached to the division for
reconnaissance purposes. Throughout the campaign, the close
co-operation between our aeroplanes and the cavalry had given most
excellent results. During the advance on Damascus, Air Force motor
cars had accompanied the advanced headquarters of the Corps, carrying
a party who selected and marked landing grounds at each halting place.
Lorries carrying petrol and stores followed a few miles in rear. These
arrangements resulted in maintaining that close personal contact
between the two forces without which satisfactory work is impossible.
Moreover, the provision of a landing ground beside the advanced Corps
headquarters meant that there was always an aeroplane ready at hand for
instant use, if any special work was required.

Similar arrangements were now made with the 5th Division, and the
subsequent assistance of the wing attached to the division was of the
highest value.

At this time no orders had been received as to Aleppo, but it is
evident that General MacAndrew had in his mind the probability of an
advance to seize that city. At any rate, this organisation of his
division enabled him to do so when the time came, and by a piece of
sheer bluff.

The march proceeded without incident up the valley of the Orontes, and
the armoured cars of Column 'A' entered Homs unopposed on the 15th,
where they met a force of Sherifian troops, under Sherif Nasir, who had
marched from Damascus by the direct north road. Two days previously the
20th Corps cavalry regiment had occupied Tripoli, where it was joined a
few days later by part of the 7th Infantry Division, and arrangements
were at once put in hand to land stores at the little port, and send
them up by road to Homs. Column 'B' arrived on the 16th.

The Commander-in-Chief now determined to complete the political part
of the campaign by seizing Aleppo, and occupying all the Arab-speaking
country from the sea to the Euphrates.

The only troops available for the enterprise were the 5th Cavalry
Division and the armoured cars. The Australian Division was at
Damascus, over 100 miles away, and could not be brought up in time.
The 4th Division, reduced in strength and exhausted by disease, was
incapable of any work till men and horses had been given a thorough
rest and time to recover from sickness. This division and the
Australian Division had suffered some 300 deaths from disease since
reaching Damascus, a fortnight before. Even the 5th Division, which
had suffered far less severely than the other two, was in a deplorable
state. The whole division hardly mustered 1500 sabres. The two R.H.A.
batteries with the division numbered between them but four officers and
eighty men.

It was known that there were about 20,000 Turks and Germans at Aleppo,
or south of that place, and it was believed that about half of these
were combatants, though probably ill-armed and disorganised. Aleppo
is over 100 miles from Homs, and 180 from Tripoli or Baalbek, the two
nearest points from which any possible reinforcements could be sent.

In the face of these facts, the boldest of commanders might well have
been excused for deciding to call a halt. But the political and moral
advantages to be gained by a farther advance into the enemy's country
appeared so great that General Allenby determined to accept the risk.
On the 19th of October he directed General MacAndrew to advance to
Aleppo.

The divisional field squadron Royal Engineers, covered by the 15th
Brigade, at once moved out to El Rastan, to repair the bridge over
the Orontes at that place, which had been blown up by the Turks during
their retreat. The following day the divisional headquarters and the
cars joined the 15th Brigade at El Rastan, and, on the morning of
the 21st, Column 'A' crossed the repaired bridge, and, making a long
march, reached Zor Defai, five miles north of Hama, that evening. No
opposition was encountered during the march.

Next morning the cars pushed off early on an extended reconnaissance.
Reaching Ma'arit el Na'aman, thirty-five miles distant, about mid-day,
without meeting any of the enemy, they made a short halt, and then
started off again towards Aleppo. Seven miles farther north, near Khan
Sebil, they sighted some enemy armoured cars and armed motor lorries.
These at once turned and fled, pursued by our cars, and a nice little
hunt ensued. Hounds were stopped after a fifteen mile point, as it
was getting late, but not before a German armoured car, two armed
lorries, and thirty-seven prisoners had been captured. Just as our cars
drew off, two enemy aeroplanes appeared, and, evidently mistaking the
German lorries for our troops, promptly dived, and machine-gunned them
vigorously! The armoured cars had reached a point fifty-five miles from
Zor Defai, and only twenty miles south of Aleppo, before they turned
back. They withdrew to a point four miles north of Seraikin, where they
bivouacked for the night, finding their own outposts. The 15th Brigade
reached Khan Shaikhun late in the afternoon.

[Illustration: Aleppo. The old citadel.]

[Illustration: Bedouin and Sherifian soldiers. Near the Euphrates.]

On the 23rd the cars pushed on again, and encountered some enemy
cavalry at Khan Tuman, about ten miles south of Aleppo. These they
brushed aside without much difficulty, and proceeded along the road.
Some miles farther on, however, they were held up by strong Turkish
rearguards holding an entrenched position astride the road, through El
Ansarie and Sheikh Said. A reconnaissance of this position, carried out
by the cars and some aeroplanes, indicated that it was held by a force
of 2000 to 3000 infantry. It was reported locally that there were six
or seven thousand more in Aleppo.

General MacAndrew thereupon determined to try and bluff the enemy into
surrendering, and, to this end, sent an officer with a flag of truce
into Aleppo in a car, to demand the capitulation of the city. The Turks
took this officer through their defences without blindfolding him,
apparently in order to show him that the position was a strong one,
which it was, and adequately held. Having done so, they entertained
him most courteously with cigarettes, coffee, and small talk for half
an hour or so, and then handed him a reply to take back to the British
General. The officer got back to Divisional Headquarters about four
in the afternoon, and delivered his letter, which proved brief and to
the point. 'The Commander of the Turkish garrison of Aleppo,' it ran,
'does not find it necessary to answer your note.' Fortunately for us,
however, the Turkish Commander, after making this bold reply, began to
get uneasy, and, in the course of the next three days, evidently came
to the conclusion that discretion was the better part of valour. During
the night of the 25th he commenced to withdraw his forces to the north.

At seven o'clock the cars were withdrawn into bivouac on the open plain
south of Khan Tuman, so as to give them freedom of movement if attacked
during the night.

The 24th was occupied in further reconnaissance of the enemy positions.
The Turks were found in occupation of the same trenches, with cavalry
outposts pushed forward on to the hills north of Khan Tuman. Some of
the cars were sent off in a north-westerly direction, with the object
of discovering a practicable way through the rocky hills south-west of
Aleppo, to the Alexandretta road. They were unable, however, to find
any track that was possible for cars.

Further reconnaissances on the 25th disclosed the enemy positions
more fully, and drew considerable fire from guns, machine guns, and
rifles all along the line. The 15th Brigade came up in the evening, and
relieved the cars on outpost duty that night. Sherif Nasir's Arabs,
who had been marching at a great pace along the railway, had arrived
earlier in the day, and moved east towards Tel Hasil, to attack the
city from that side.

Column 'B,' which had been steadily plodding along, a day's march in
rear of Column 'A,' reached Seraikin the same evening.

With the arrival of the 15th Brigade and the Arabs, General MacAndrew
deemed himself strong enough to take Aleppo. He ordered the 15th to
advance early next morning, through the hills west of Aleppo, via
Turmanin, and get astride the Aleppo-Alexandretta road, while the Arabs
and the armoured cars attacked from the east and south respectively.
During the night of the 25th, however, the Arabs, assisted by friends
in Aleppo, succeeded in entering the city. They enjoyed a first-rate,
old-fashioned, hand-to-hand fight with the Turks, and beat them
decisively. By ten o'clock in the morning the city was in their hands,
and General MacAndrew motored in with the armoured cars. Sherif
Nasir had lost about sixty killed, but he had inflicted far heavier
casualties on his enemies, and driven them out of Aleppo full speed.

Meanwhile the 15th Brigade had started at seven in the morning, and
reached the Alexandretta road, without opposition, about ten o'clock.
The only definite information the brigade had received at this time,
was that about 300 Turkish cavalry were on the road, eight miles north
of Aleppo. Shortly afterwards a verbal message was brought in by a car,
to the effect that about a thousand 'scallywags' of all descriptions,
with two field guns, had left Aleppo, going north, about half-past
seven in the morning.

The brigade proceeded along the road, and, about eleven o'clock,
two squadrons of the Jodhpur Lancers, who were acting as advanced
guard, topped the ridge overlooking the village of Haritan from the
south-east, and about a mile and a half distant. They immediately came
under heavy rifle fire from the village, and took up a dismounted
position on the ridge.

Rightly deeming that instant action was all important, and relying on
the information he had received as to the strength and composition of
the enemy force in front of him, General Harbord decided to attack
at once. He ordered the Mysore Lancers to move out to the east, and
endeavour to charge the enemy on his left flank. Two squadrons of the
Jodhpur Lancers were directed to move in support of the Mysores, as
a 'mopping up' party, while the remainder of this regiment, with the
machine gun squadron, held the Turks in front, with fire directed from
the ridge on which the advance guard had first taken up its position.

Just after the Mysore Lancers commenced their move eastwards, General
Harbord was reinforced by a battery of armoured cars, which had been
sent out from Aleppo to join him. He directed these cars to approach
the enemy positions along the road, and assist the attack with their
machine-gun fire. Unfortunately something went wrong with the battery
leader's car, and it was withdrawn and driven back to Aleppo. The
remaining three cars, through some misunderstanding, followed it, and
the brigade was thus deprived of their support.

Meanwhile the Mysore Lancers, finding that the enemy's position
extended farther than was expected, moved more to the east to gain
the flank. At twelve o'clock, Major Lambert, finding himself in a
favourable position, ordered a charge. The ground was rather rocky, and
gave some trouble to the horses, but the charge was driven well home,
and a considerable number of the enemy was killed. The Turks, however,
were to be found in much greater strength than had been expected, and,
after driving through their flank, the Lancers were heavily fired on
by Turks farther west. Many of those who had been ridden over, and had
thrown down their arms, now picked them up again, and continued the
fight. Seeing that his regiment had not sufficient weight to charge
through the large body of Turks farther west, Major Lambert rallied his
squadrons behind the Turkish line, and took up a dismounted position
on the left rear of the enemy, where the two squadrons of the Jodhpur
Lancers joined him.

The charge had compelled the Turks to reveal their full strength, which
turned out to be about 3000 infantry and 400 cavalry, with ten or
twelve guns and about thirty-five machine guns. Seeing the smallness
of the force opposed to them, they now advanced boldly to the attack,
but, when about 800 yards away, thought better of it, and began to dig
themselves in.

The 15th Brigade remained in observation of the Turks, and desultory
firing continued till about nine o'clock at night, when the enemy
faded gradually and silently away. Two hours later the 14th Cavalry
Brigade, which had reached Aleppo with Column 'B' late in the evening,
arrived on the scene, and relieved the 15th Brigade. The casualties in
the latter brigade totalled sixty-three killed, wounded, and missing,
which comparatively light bill might have been very much heavier had
the Turks showed any real disposition to fight. They outnumbered our
men by at least seven to one, and were well supplied with artillery
and machine guns, but their _morale_ had sunk so low that it was only
surprising that they did not all surrender, or break into helpless
flight, when charged. We learnt afterwards that the Turkish Commander
in Aleppo had been completely deceived by General MacAndrew, whose
boldness in detaching the whole of his cavalry to cut the Alexandretta
road led him to believe that we had a much larger force at our disposal
than was actually the case.

On the 28th the Arab forces seized Muslimie Junction, on the Baghdad
Railway twelve miles north of Aleppo, dislodging a small Turkish
rearguard there, and this inglorious little action ended the war
for Turkey. The few surviving Turks retired rapidly in the general
direction of Constantinople, and that was the last seen of their army.
The Armistice[27] came into operation at noon on the 31st of October.

In the thirty-eight days since the commencement of the operations, the
5th Cavalry Division had marched 567 miles, fought six actions, and
taken over 11,000 prisoners and fifty-eight guns. The total captures of
the Desert Mounted Corps in the same period were 83,700 prisoners and
about 160 guns.

The Australian Mounted Division left Damascus on October the 27th to
march to Aleppo, a distance of rather over 200 miles. Marching by the
direct road to Homs, which runs almost due north from Damascus, the
division reached the small village of Jendar, eighteen miles south
of Homs, at nine o'clock on the night of the 31st. Here the news of
the Armistice was received by wireless, but, as there was no water
available in the neighbourhood, the Australians continued the march
the same night, and arrived at Homs at eight o'clock on the morning
of the 1st of November. Three days later they moved down to Tripoli,
on the coast, where they remained until sent to Egypt, _en route_ for
Australia, at the end of February 1919.

The Commander-in-Chief made his official entry into Aleppo on the 12th
of December. As at Damascus, we had installed an Arab Governor here,
but, in view of the disorders that had occurred at the former place,
his powers were restricted to giving advice, and the whole of the
policing of the city was in the hands of our troops. The 'Chief' took
the occasion to give him some good advice, couched in the vigorous
language for which he was famous.

One of the first things General Allenby did, when order had been
restored in the country, was to direct that a day should be set aside
to be observed throughout the force as one of thanksgiving for victory.
Tuesday, December the 16th, was selected for the purpose, and was
celebrated by the holding of religious services in the morning by all
the many religions and denominations in the Corps. The afternoon was
spent in such games and sports as could be organised.

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 27: See Appendix III. for terms of Armistice.]



CHAPTER XXIII

POLICE WORK


The cavalry had reached their final goal, and their fighting work was
over. But there was still much to be done. The Desert Mounted Corps
took over the administration of the conquered country from Damascus in
the south to Marash, in Cilicia, 120 miles north of Aleppo; and from
the sea coast to Ras el Ain, 120 miles east of the Euphrates, an area
of about 35,000 square miles. Corps headquarters was established at
Homs. The 5th Cavalry Division, at Aleppo, had a brigade at Aintab,
eighty miles farther north, and detachments at Alexandretta, Islahie,
Marash, Arab Punar and Jerablus on the Euphrates. Later on, infantry,
attached to the Corps, occupied Alexandretta, Adana, Tarsus, Smyrna,
and other towns on or near the coast. The 4th Cavalry Division remained
at Beirût and in the neighbourhood, and the Australian Division at
Tripoli, with a brigade at Baalbek, and detachments at Shtora, Lebwe,
and Rayak. At the end of February 1919, when the Australians returned
to Egypt, the 4th Division handed over Beirût to the French, and was
quartered at Homs, Baalbek, Rayak, and Deraa.

As was only to be expected after the events of the past four years,
the country was in a most unsettled state. The crops and live stock
had been mercilessly requisitioned by the Turks over large areas, and
many of the peasants, left callously to starve, had taken to a life
of brigandage. The whole country was infested with robber bands. Even
large parties dared not travel at night, and indeed few ventured to
travel at all. Those whose business or duty took them about the country
crept from village to village by unfrequented bye-paths, avoiding the
roads. Merchants and shopkeepers buried most of their wares, displaying
in their places of business only a few miserable samples.

The direct road from Damascus to Homs was so overrun with robbers that
even considerable bodies of Turkish soldiers marching along it had
been attacked and massacred; so that it had been, at last, altogether
abandoned as a line of communications in favour of the longer, and far
worse, road through Baalbek.

Within three weeks of the signing of the Armistice, unarmed pedestrians
travelled alone and unafraid through all the land. On every road were
to be seen throngs of refugees returning to their ravished homes,
accompanied by carts piled high with household goods. When night came
on, these people pulled off the road, and slept in peace and safety
till morning. Merchants brought out their wares from secret places, and
buyers crowded into the cities in thousands.

During the whole time the British forces were in occupation of the
country, from the end of October 1918 till November 1919, there were
only two attempts to disturb the peace, and both of these were nipped
in the bud at once. The first occurred on the night of November the
30th, 1918, when a notorious robber chief, who lived in an almost
inaccessible village up in the Anti-Lebanon, attempted to raid one of
our ammunition and store depots at Rayak. The robbers were driven off,
with the loss of six men killed and twenty prisoners, and we had no
more trouble of that sort.

[Illustration: Within the jurisdiction of the Desert Mounted Corps.

The River Euphrates at Rakka.]

[Illustration: Aintab.]

The second attempt took place at Aleppo on the 23rd February 1919. A
plot was engineered by Turkish ex-officers and local Arabs, to bring
about a massacre of the hated Armenians in the city. The disturbance
was quickly put down, but not before a few persons on both sides had
been killed. Several prominent natives were arrested in connection with
the plot, and tried by a mixed court of British and Arab officers.
Those of the conspirators who were proved actually to have taken
life were executed, and others were sentenced to various terms of
imprisonment. These sentences had a most salutary effect, and there was
no further effort to disturb the peace.

There was a detachment of the Arab Army, about 200 strong, at Aleppo,
and one or two soldiers were quartered in all outlying villages of
any importance. It is pleasant to be able to record that the Arab
Government made a genuine, and successful, effort to assist in
maintaining law and order in the country, and the Arab Governor of
Aleppo was always on the best of terms with our officials. The Governor
at this time was Gafar Pasha, who had been a general in the Turkish
Army, and had fought against us in the Senussi Campaign, where he was
taken prisoner, and sent to Cairo to be interned. He was liberated, at
his own request, in order to join the Arab Army, in which he commanded
a division with distinction from the latter part of 1917 till the end
of the war.

One of the most difficult tasks carried out by the Corps was that of
restoring to the Armenians their houses and property. A Reparation
Committee was formed in Aleppo, with representatives at Aintab and
Marash, and much useful work was done. All houses that formerly
belonged to Armenians were evacuated by their Moslem occupiers, and,
as far as possible, restored to their rightful owners. Very many of
these had, however, been killed or had disappeared. Others, attracted
by tales of the fabulous sums to be made in Aleppo by trading with the
British, flocked into the city, and refused to return to their own
homes. Many Armenian women had entered the harems of Turks or Arabs,
and a number of these did not now wish to leave. They were well treated
there, and protected, and they preferred the comfort of the harem to
the prospect of starting again in the cold world outside.

The difficulties of the Reparations Committee were much increased
by the intrigues and lies of the members of local branches of the
Turkish Committee of Union and Progress. These people had been the
chief offenders in the persecution of the unhappy Armenians, and they,
more than any others, had grown fat on the plundered property. Now
that their power was broken, they feared not only the confiscation
of their ill-gotten goods, but drastic punishment, possibly even
death, for the many murders they had committed. It was not to be
wondered at, therefore, that they should seize every opportunity to
hamper and embarrass our officials in their investigations. More than
one prominent local member of the C.U.P. had to be removed from his
position as headman of a village, in consequence of his obstructive
tactics.

Notwithstanding all these difficulties, very large numbers of Armenians
were restored to their houses, furniture and effects were recovered or
made good, and families were re-united. Some 3000, who were awaiting
repatriation, were housed in the barracks at Aleppo, fed by the
British, and given work at high wages.

It must be confessed that the Armenians are, as a nation, a very
unpleasant people. That this is largely due to the treatment they have
received in the past does not alter the fact. Deprived of their land
many centuries ago, and debarred, to a great extent, from engaging in
industry, they have become moneylenders, as have the Jews in similar
circumstances. Usurers in all countries are a detested class, and the
Armenians are no exception to the rule. They are the usurers of Turkey,
grasping and avaricious, the holders of mortgages on the peasants'
land, the speculators in food, hated and despised by all classes. Small
wonder that the Turk, blood-thirsty as he is by nature, needs little
encouragement to start a massacre of them, whenever he has the chance.

Another important task undertaken by the Corps was the stabilising of
the exchange. At the time when we first occupied Aintab, shortly after
the Armistice, Turkish 100 piastre notes were worth about 4s. 6d. in
Aleppo. The ten piastre notes had practically no value, and most of
the merchants refused to accept them. All the Egyptian notes were
accepted at about their face value. In Aintab, on the other hand, which
was only eighty miles away, traders were suspicious of the Turkish
100 piastre notes, but those of ten piastres were readily accepted,
and were worth nearly twice as much as the equivalent Egyptian note.
Similar apparently unreasonable anomalies were to be observed in
other places. A good example occurred at the beginning of February.
One day a merchant of Aleppo came to General MacAndrew, and stated
that he had just heard that his business in Baghdad, which was his
principal source of livelihood, had been nearly ruined by an enemy.
If, said he, he could get there at once, he could save it, but it was
a matter of days, almost of hours. Under the circumstances, would his
Excellency permit him to ride to Baghdad and back in one of the British
aeroplanes, for which he would pay any sum that was demanded. He was
turned over to the Intelligence Branch, who, after making inquiries,
reported that he was a man of substance, much respected in Aleppo,
and with considerable local influence, which might be useful to us.
His request was accordingly granted, and he was taken to Baghdad in
one of our aeroplanes. He only remained there twenty-four hours, and
then flew back to Aleppo. He paid £160 for the trip, and seemed to
think his journey cheap. A few days later the General's headquarters
were besieged by a crowd of applicants, each of whom had a business in
Baghdad which was on the point of being ruined by an enemy! Further
inquiries by the Intelligence Branch elicited the facts of the case. It
appeared that the Russian one-rouble note was worth about half its face
value in Aleppo. In Baghdad, where there was a large number of them,
they were not worth the paper on which they were printed. The astute
merchant, hearing of this, and realising that such a state of affairs
could not last an hour, once telegraphic communication was established
between the two places, determined to bring as many of the notes as
he could to Aleppo at once. There was no time to be lost, as the
telegraph line was nearly through, so he hit upon the plan of hiring
an aeroplane, and cleared, according to repute, nearly £40,000 as the
reward of his initiative!

This was the last and greatest of the many gambles in exchange that
enlivened the days of the merchants of Aleppo during the early period
of our occupation of the place. Gradually, by means of a vigorous
publicity campaign, and by selling surplus enemy stores for Egyptian
money only, the monetary position was stabilised, and, by the end of
May, Egyptian paper was generally accepted all over the country.

It must not be supposed that the life of the Corps was all work and no
play. At Beirût and Tripoli racecourses were laid out very soon after
the cavalry occupied those places, and several capital little meetings
were held. Later on an excellent course was made at Aleppo, with
two grand stands, paddock, judge's box, parade ring, and everything
complete, even to a fully equipped totalisator (run by the Corps
cashier). Races were held every fortnight, and the social amenities
were provided for by a tastefully laid out 'lawn,' and first-rate
catering arrangements! Aleppo also boasted a really good polo ground
and several football and cricket grounds. Both the racing and the polo
were considerably better than were to be had in Cairo or Alexandretta.

There was also a pack of 'fox hounds' at Aleppo and another at Tripoli.
The 'Lebanon Hounds,' at the latter place, showed some quite good sport
over the comparatively flat country near the coast, but the 'Aleppo
Hunt' was handicapped by the rocky nature of the country, and by the
fact that most of the 'earths' were holes in solid rock, out of which
it was impossible to dig a fox that had got to ground. Moreover, as
they met at five o'clock on Sunday mornings only, the fields were never
very large!

The 13th Brigade, at Aintab, held a series of point-to-point meetings
in the vale of the Kuwaik Su, and the regiment at Marash organised
a pig-sticking club, which met once or twice near the Ak Su lakes.
There was not much sport, as the pigs came from the hills, which were
unridable, and to which they speedily retired, as soon as they were
disturbed.

Expeditions to the ruins of the Hittite City of Carchemish, near
Jerablus, to the summer palace of Haroun al Rashid at Rakka on the
Euphrates, 150 miles east of Aleppo, to Palmyra, the city of Zenobia,
in the desert eighty miles east of Homs, and to various other
historical remains, added interest to life, and, at the same time,
served to give officers and men a knowledge of the country that they
could have obtained in no other way.

The Anzac and Australian Mounted Divisions left for Egypt in the spring
of 1919, and on the 7th June the Desert Mounted Corps was broken up.
The administration of the conquered territory was taken over by the
newly-created 'Northforce,' which consisted of the 4th and 5th Cavalry
Divisions and two divisions of Infantry, the whole under the command
of Major-General Barrow. This force found garrisons for places up the
coast as far as Smyrna, and also took over the administration of the
Baghdad Railway from Constantinople to the railhead east of Nisibin in
Mesopotamia.

In November of the same year the administration of northern Syria was
finally handed over to our French Allies, and the last of the British
and Indian Cavalry marched out of the country they had conquered and
held for over a year.

[Illustration:

  The British Desert Mounted Corps
  aided by
  The Arab Forces of King Hussein
  captured
  Damascus Homs and Aleppo.
  October 1918.

Inscription cut on the rock cliffs of the Dog River, near Beirût,
amongst those of Rameses II, Nebuchadnezar, Senacherib and other early
conquerors of Syria.]



CHAPTER XXIV

HORSE ARTILLERY


_Command._--Of all the matters concerning the employment of horse
artillery which came under discussion during the campaign, none was
more important than the vexed question of command.

The cavalry brigadier is naturally eager to have a battery attached to
him permanently, and considered as part of his brigade. Apart from the
conviction that a battery always on hand and under his own orders will
be of more value to him than one over which he has no direct control,
there is the feeling that the battery rounds off his command, and makes
it, in effect, a miniature army, complete with all modern conveniences.
If the powers that be would only throw in a couple of armoured cars and
a private aeroplane, the cavalry brigadier would be the happiest man on
earth!

Most R.H.A. battery commanders will agree with the brigadiers. Attached
to a brigade, the battery commander is freer and more independent, and
gets, perhaps, more of the 'fun of the fair' and less of the drudgery
than he does when acting as a divisional unit.

In spite of these opinions, however, the hard facts of this campaign
go to prove that our guns invariably rendered more efficient aid to
the cavalry they were supporting when employed under the orders of the
divisional commander than when attached to brigades. The divisional
commander must always know more of the fortunes of the battle than
any of his brigadiers, and is thus generally in the better position
to decide where artillery support is most needed. Moreover, if each
battery is attached to a brigade, and acting under the orders of a
brigadier, each brigade can only receive the support of one battery.
But there are occasions, in most engagements, when one brigade needs
all the artillery support available, while another, in reserve, or not
yet heavily engaged, requires none. If the control of the artillery is
left to one individual, fire can be concentrated quickly in support of
those brigades or regiments that are most in need of it, and no gun
is ever idle. There were one or two lamentable instances, in the 1917
operations, of a brigade remaining in reserve all day with its attached
battery sleeping peacefully beside it.

The actions of Summeil in the 1917 operations and of Kaukab in 1918
may be taken as fair illustrations of the employment of artillery as a
divisional unit. That of Jisr Benat Yakub in 1918 was an example of the
principle of attaching each battery to a brigade.

With the small, three-brigade cavalry division of the present day the
former arrangement will practically always yield better results than
the latter. Direct artillery _liaison_ should, of course, be maintained
between the divisional artillery commander and each brigade, if it is
at all possible to do so.

_Reserves._--There were, in the early days of the campaign, indications
of an idea on the part of some commanders that a certain proportion
of the artillery should be held in reserve, in the same way as a
brigade or regiment. This idea probably arose from the fact that one
of the essential differences between artillery and other arms had been
overlooked. When once a brigade or regiment has been committed to an
attack, in a moving battle, and is in contact with the enemy, it can
seldom be easily withdrawn in order to be transferred to another part
of the field. Guns, on the other hand, do not come into direct contact
with the enemy--at least the gunners try their best to avoid doing so!
They can, therefore, as a rule, be withdrawn without difficulty, if
their services are required elsewhere. All guns in action may thus,
in a sense, be said to be in reserve, since they can readily be moved
to another part of the field if required. Except, therefore, for the
purposes of conserving ammunition, guns should rarely be unemployed
during the progress of an action.

_Artillery with Advance and Rearguards._--At the beginning of the
campaign, most divisional commanders, when moving with one brigade
as advance guard, allotted one battery to it. As the operations
progressed, however, the view that a larger force of artillery might
profitably accompany the advance guard began to gain ground. The
experience of the whole campaign points to the conclusion that, in view
of the small number of guns available in a cavalry division, two of the
three batteries should normally accompany the advance guard brigade.
The practice may be open to the objections that it makes the advance
guard column unduly long, and that some risk is involved in leaving the
main body so short of artillery. Both these objections appear, however,
to be outweighed by the advantages of having a large proportion of
the artillery in front. Whether the enemy's resistance is stubborn or
feeble, artillery fire can assist in breaking it, and the greater the
number of guns available, the quicker will that object be achieved, and
the less delay will there be to the advance of the main body.

The battery or batteries with the advance guard should, of course,
march as far forward as is compatible with safety. Guns must always
take longer than cavalry to move a given distance, and, if they are
well to the front, no time will be lost in getting them into the only
formation in which they are of any use, _i.e._ in action.

The divisional artillery commander should accompany the vanguard
commander. When contact is established with the enemy, he is then on
the spot, and able to make a personal reconnaissance at once, and
decide, subject to the orders of the advance guard commander, how
his guns can best and most quickly assist the cavalry. No time will
then be lost in getting the guns into action. In the final series of
operations, the enemy was in too demoralised a state for his action
to form a very reliable guide in future wars, but it was found that
vigorous artillery fire, _delivered immediately after the first
contact_ of our cavalry with his rearguards, invariably exercised a
powerfully adverse effect on his _morale_. The little action of Kaukab
well exemplifies this fact.

The above remarks as to artillery with the advance guard apply with
equal force, _mutatis mutandis_, to the artillery of a rearguard during
a retirement.

_Escorts._--The campaign afforded few opportunities on our side to
test the efficacy of artillery escorts. The action at Huj, however,
in November 1917, was an excellent example of bad escort work on the
part of the enemy. Our gunners have always maintained that the rôle of
an escort is to obtain information rather than to afford protection.
Guns on the march are vulnerable to a sudden attack, especially from
cavalry; in action they are, or should be, well able to take care of
themselves. If this contention is right, it follows that escorts need
not be large, and should not be kept near the guns, but should patrol
the country in any quarter from which attack may be expected, search
dead ground, woods, etc., and give early information to the guns of the
approach of the enemy.

At Huj the enemy had two battalions of infantry and several machine
guns disposed about his batteries, but he had not a single patrol
pushed out to the east. Our cavalry were thus able to approach to
within 800 yards of the position of the guns unseen and unsuspected.
The result of the Turks' negligence was a severe disaster, and it
is to be hoped that the lesson will not be thrown away on future
commanders of artillery escorts in the British Army. The escort work
in our cavalry in Palestine and Syria was almost invariably very good,
especially amongst the Australians.

_R.H.A. Howitzers._--Most officers, both of the R.H.A. and the cavalry,
who served in Syria, agreed as to the desirability of having a few
light howitzers attached to each cavalry division. Such a gun as the
3·7-inch mountain howitzer, if it could be mounted on a suitable field
carriage, would be admirably adapted for use with cavalry. Had a few
howitzers been available during the attack on Beersheba, the stone
block-houses and the rocky sangars of Tel el Saba would soon have been
rendered untenable by the enemy, and would not have delayed our advance
as they did.

As to whether two guns in each six-gun battery should be replaced
by howitzers, or a separate battery of four howitzers should be
provided for each division, opinion varied amongst the gunners on the
spot. The writer is strongly in favour of the latter alternative, as
being simpler, and in conformity with the existing practice in field
artillery.

_Shrapnel and H.E._--The question of the best proportions of shrapnel
and high explosive shell to be carried in a horse artillery battery
came under discussion at various times during the campaign, and
opinions varied according to the nature of fighting in progress at the
time. Amongst the rocks of the hill country, most battery commanders
preferred a large preponderance of H.E., while, in open country, they
wanted more shrapnel. One thing certain is that the Turks themselves
dreaded the former far more than the latter. On several occasions
enemy officer prisoners told the writer that they always had greater
difficulty in getting their men to attack through H.E. shell fire than
through shrapnel, even though, as they averred, the latter invariably
caused them more casualties than the former. As before remarked, the
behaviour of the Turks was not a very reliable guide for future wars,
but it is to be noted that the same aversion to H.E. shell was observed
amongst the Germans, and even amongst our own troops.

There seems little doubt, therefore, that the moral effect of H.E. is
much greater than that of shrapnel. If this be so, R.H.A. 13-pounder
guns, whose lethal effect is so comparatively small, should be provided
with a large proportion of it. The writer suggests, on the experience
of this campaign, that the due proportion lies somewhere between 50 and
75 per cent. of the total ammunition carried.

_General._--The batteries serving with the Desert Mounted Corps, being
Territorial units, had each only four guns. There is no doubt that
cavalry divisions with four-gun batteries are seriously under-gunned,
and it is satisfactory to note that, under the new Territorial War
Establishments, all R.H.A. batteries are to have six guns.

Before leaving the subject of artillery, the writer would draw
attention to a fact that is often overlooked by cavalrymen. It is
that, with the best will in the world, and the best of horsemanship
and driving, guns cannot move as fast as cavalry. There were several
instances during the campaign where a brigade, detached with a battery
on some special duty, pushed along very fast for several miles, clashed
with the enemy, and then reproached the gunners for not being on the
spot to help. It is often forgotten that the artillery draught horse
has to carry nearly the same weight as a cavalryman's and, at the same
time, do his share in dragging along, 'over hill over dale, thorough
bush, thorough briar,' a clumsy mass of steel weighing a ton and a half.

A consideration of this fact leads to the conclusion that, if guns are
to keep up with cavalry when moving fast and far, certain advantages
must be allowed them.

In the first place orders should reach the artillery early, in order
to enable it to get on the move before the cavalry start, when the
situation allows.

On the move, guns should march close to the head of the column. This
order of march is also desirable from the fighting point of view, as
has been pointed out above. The advisability of keeping the guns well
to the front was generally recognised towards the end of the campaign,
but, in the early days, there was a tendency to keep them too far back.

If there is a shortage of water or forage, the artillery horses should
be the last to suffer from it.

Though the writer happens to be a gunner, these remarks are not set
down as a special appeal on behalf of the artillery, but in the belief
that, only by giving to the guns some such special privileges, will
they be able to do the work that is required of them. Horse guns are
the servants of cavalry as field guns are of infantry, but, unless the
servant is adequately fed and looked after, he cannot serve his master
properly.

Needless to say, if a cavalry commander considers that he can carry
out the task assigned to him without the help of his guns, and time
presses, he is perfectly justified in pushing on at once with his
cavalry, and leaving the guns to follow as best they can, as was done,
quite properly, by the 5th Cavalry Division when crossing the Carmel
Range in September 1918.



CHAPTER XXV

HORSES


One of the greatest difficulties with which the cavalry had to contend
throughout the operations arose from the constant struggle to keep the
horses sufficiently fit to carry on. This is, of course, always the
case in war time, but the difficulties in the Syrian campaign were
probably greater than in any previous one in which the British Army had
taken part.

_Climate._--To begin with, the climate encountered included every
extreme of heat, cold, drought, and rain. For the first three weeks
from the commencement of the 1917 campaign, the weather was extremely
hot, the temperature running up to 110° in the shade. For two days,
November the 10th and 11th, matters were rendered worse by a burning
hot east wind, which raised clouds of suffocating dust. Then the rains
broke, and, for the next six weeks, constant wet, deep mud and piercing
cold winds were the order of the day. After a short period of good
weather, the cavalry moved to the Jordan Valley, where they spent the
summer of 1918, under conditions of heat and discomfort which have
already been described. Finally, in the following winter, the horses
found themselves sometimes standing in six inches of snow.[28]

_Condition._--In the second place, the health of the horses was in an
unsatisfactory state when the cavalry operations commenced.

Whatever their outward appearance might have been, and it varied
considerably in different units, their internal condition was by no
means good. The great bulk of them had taken part in the advance across
Sinai, and had been in Egypt for a long time prior to that. Two years
of unaccustomed and indifferent forage, added to the large quantities
of sand they had consumed in their food while in the desert, had more
or less permanently injured their digestive organs. It is true that
sand colic, that scourge of the desert, had almost ceased to trouble
the force by the end of the summer of 1917, but the dire effects of
the sand were evident in every post-mortem. In a large number of cases
the membrane of the stomach and intestines was freely marked with the
scars of old ulcers, and in some instances large portions of it had
sloughed away. Sand muzzles were almost universally employed up to the
commencement of the advance on Beersheba, but it was impossible to
prevent sand getting into the forage; indeed quantities of it had been
purposely placed there by the dishonest native merchants, in order to
increase the weight of bales and sacks.

It is probable that 90 per cent. of the draught horses of the artillery
and transport had strained their hearts to some extent during the
terrible work in the heavy sands of the desert. The writer carried out,
or was present at, upwards of twenty post-mortems on draught horses
that died during the advance across Sinai, and, in every case, found
an enlargement of the heart greater than could possibly be accounted
for by the age of the horse. In one instance, the wall of the heart was
ruptured right through. This horse had been led four miles back to
camp after first showing signs of extreme distress. On arriving in camp
he drank well, ate a bran mash, and lived for six hours afterwards, a
wonderful example of endurance.

The experience of the campaign proved that horses cannot be in too
'big' condition at the commencement of operations, provided they have
been kept adequately exercised while being conditioned. The really fat,
round horses finished both series of operations in better condition
than those which had looked harder and more muscular, but not so fat,
at the beginning. This was especially the case in the first series,
during which the shortage of water was so acute.

_Forage._--During both campaigns the forage was of very poor quality
and woefully scanty. Up to the commencement of the 1917 operations,
the daily issue had consisted of 10 lb. of barley, gram or maize and
10 lb. of tibben (chopped barley straw) and bursȳm (a kind of hay made
of a coarse species of lucerne, of good feeding value and much liked
by the horses). The food value of the whole daily ration was about 23
per cent. below that of an average horse in England doing the same
work. The barley and tibben, being produced in Egypt, were very dusty,
and contained a large proportion of earth and small stones. The gram
and maize were of fair quality, but the latter was sometimes issued
whole, and, when issued crushed, was often very dusty. The daily ration
during operations in both campaigns was 9-1/2 lb. of grain per day,
and nothing else. So that the horses were called upon to do very much
harder work on less than half the amount of food to which they had been
accustomed, and only about 36 per cent. of the normal ration for such
horses in England.

For the first month of the 1917 campaign this ration was exclusively
gram. As the horses had previously only been accustomed to a small
proportion of this grain in their daily feeds, it caused them to
scour badly, thus increasing the weakness engendered by hard work and
starvation. It is difficult to understand why gram was decided upon in
preference to barley, of which there was plenty available, but, at all
events, the lesson was taken to heart, and, for the remainder of the
campaign, the marching ration was always barley.

From the 25th September 1918 till the cavalry left the country in
November 1919, all forage was bought locally. It was generally of good
quality, and there was a certain amount of grazing available.

_Water._--The water difficulties during the 1917 operations have been
referred to before. Prior to this campaign it was generally accepted
that cavalry horses could continue to work for a maximum period of
about sixty hours without water, after which it would be necessary to
give them some days' rest; Arab ponies were thought to be able to last
about ten hours longer. During the Darfur Campaign, Kelly Pasha[29]
marched ninety miles in three nights and two days with a mounted
infantry regiment equipped with the hardy little mules of Abyssinia.
All these estimates were proved to have been erroneous. It has already
been pointed out that one battery of the Corps marched and fought for
nine consecutive days, during which period its horses were only watered
three times,[30] and this was no isolated example. Even when water was
obtainable, the difficulty of raising it from very deep wells, and the
pressing need for haste, often resulted in many horses being unable to
drink their fill.

During the advance across the Sinai desert a number of experiments had
been carried out, both by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and by the
commanders of different units, with a view to ascertaining whether
horses would do better, under the existing conditions, with two drinks
a day or three. The usual plan was to select a large number of horses
of the same type and of about equal condition, and put half of these on
two waterings and half on three. The result of these experiments was
conclusively in favour of the two drinks a day. Not only did the horses
on this _régime_ improve in condition quicker than those which were
watered three times, but it was proved by actual measurement that they
drank more water in the day. By the time the force arrived at El Arish,
watering twice a day was generally accepted as the standard.

Later on, during the period between the second battle of Gaza and the
commencement of General Allenby's operations (May to October 1917
inclusive) many of the horses of the cavalry division in the line had
so far to go for water that they could only be watered once a day.
It is probable that this resulted in some loss of condition, though,
as there were other contributory causes, such as the periodical long
reconnaissances, the heat, dust and flies, it is not possible to
apportion the blame exactly. During operations, so long as the horses
got water once a day, they kept fairly fit, and, given anything in
the nature of bulk food, such as might be got in many countries by
grazing, there seemed no reason why they should not have been able to
continue indefinitely on this _régime_. During the Beersheba-Jerusalem
operations, however, the average number of waterings per horse in the
Corps was only one every thirty-six hours.

During the 1918 campaign there was no lack of water, except for the few
days during which the 4th Cavalry Division was advancing on Damascus
east of the Jordan. At all other times, water was always available for
horses at least once a day.

When marching in waterless country, the writer used to have a large
biscuit tin full of water (or, better still, a petrol tin, when it
could be 'acquired') carried on the dash-board of every gun and wagon.
At each hourly halt the horses' mouths, nostrils, and eyes used to
be wiped with a wet--not merely damp--cloth, and this always seemed
to refresh them greatly, and to relieve the symptoms of distress
due to thirst. A little water was also mixed with the feeds, and,
when the grain was crushed, or there was any bran available, it was
found that horses which were off their feed owing to exhaustion would
often eat well if fed by hand with small balls made of grain slightly
moistened with water. This plan was suggested to the writer by the
late Brigadier-General Paul Kenna, V.C., 21st Lancers, who had used it
successfully in the Sudan Campaign.

Much has been said and written about the ability of horses to scent
water afar off. The experience of this campaign seems to prove that
this ability does not extend to water in deep wells, even when the
supply is plentiful. There were many instances of horses, which had
been without water for a long period, passing quite close to wells,
without evincing any signs of knowledge of the proximity of water. That
they can, and do, scent water lying in large pools or rivers was made
clear on several occasions, but this power was shared by many of the
Australian soldiers and by a few Englishmen. Brigadier-General Grant,
Commanding the 4th A.L.H. Brigade, a noted 'bushman,' had this useful
sense highly developed. The 'sensation' of water, once experienced,
is quite unmistakable, though it is difficult to describe. The sense
of smell undoubtedly plays a part, but the sensation is more one of a
sudden freshness and sweetness of the atmosphere than a scent. It is
noticeable particularly just after sunset, when the presence of water
lying in pools may often be detected several miles away. Unfortunately,
damp ground, from which water has recently evaporated, produces the
same sensation, and frequently deceived horses as well as men.

_Remounts._--The last horses shipped to Egypt arrived in May or June
1917, and most of these were issued to units before the commencement
of the Beersheba-Gaza operations. From that date till the end of the
war, no more horses arrived in the country; 8000 remounts, which had
been bought by the British Government in Australia, could never be
moved, owing to the shortage of shipping. When the stock of remounts in
Palestine was exhausted, casualties were replaced by horses that had
already seen service, and had been sent, sick or wounded, to remount
hospitals, and reissued as soon as they were reasonably fit for further
work. At the commencement of the advance in September 1918 the remount
depots were emptied, and there was scarcely a single fit horse left
behind the fighting troops.

Such remounts as reached the country, nearly all from Australia or
Canada, were of a good type, sound and reliable. The depots were
admirably managed, and the whole remount service was a model of
efficiency.

Some 1500 Arab ponies and a considerable number of mules and camels
were captured from the Turks in 1917. They were nearly all in wretched
condition and covered with galls, but, after being well fed and looked
after for a few weeks, fetched the most astonishing prices. £50 was
the average price paid at Jerusalem for a pony, £40 for a small mule,
and £35 for a camel. We were able to make use of the camels, and a few
of the stouter ponies were issued to the infantry as 'cobs,' but the
great majority of ponies and mules were of no use to us. During the
1918 operations about 2000 enemy animals fell into our hands, and these
realised even higher prices in northern Syria and the Lebanon.

_Horsemastership._--In the early days in Egypt the standard of
horsemastership was not high. Among the English troops there was a
large proportion in the mounted branches, both of officers and men,
who had had little previous experience of horses, and none at all
under the severe conditions of active service. The Australian Light
Horsemen, though fine riders and thoroughly experienced with horses,
were unaccustomed to having to use the same horse day after day, and
did not at first realise the necessity of saving their mounts in every
possible way, _e.g._ by dismounting at every halt, however short,
off-saddling whenever possible, etc. But they have the same, almost
instinctive, love of horses as the Irish, and they very soon realised
the difference between active service conditions and those in their
own country. The Territorials, too, gained valuable experience during
the advance across Sinai and in the Western Desert, and, by the time
General Allenby arrived in Egypt, the standard of horsemastership in
the force had reached a high level. As an indication of this fact, it
may be mentioned that, at the end of each series of operations, there
was hardly a sore back in the force. A striking contrast to this
record was afforded by the French cavalry regiment which took part in
the 1918 operations. On arrival at Damascus, nearly every horse in the
regiment had a sore back. The Frenchmen carried an astonishing quantity
of kit on their saddles, and, though it was all put on in a very neat
and soldierlike manner, the weight was undoubtedly far too great. Owing
to the difficulty of removing the saddle without taking off all this
kit, the horses were scarcely ever off-saddled. The men, too, were far
too prone to remain mounted when halted.

_Type._--Some remarks on type have already been made in Chapter VIII.
The experience of the latter part of the campaign served but to confirm
the conclusion as to the superiority of well-bred, fairly lightly-built
horses over those of coarser fibre. Well-bred horses will go farther
and faster, eat less, and recover condition more quickly than the
coarse-bred ones. In this connection, when is the dismal practice of
subdividing the horses of a battery into 'Riders' and 'Draught Horses'
going to be abandoned? Every gunner wants to have practically nothing
but light draught horses, so that every horse in the battery shall be
capable of taking its turn in a gun team if necessary. The result of
classifying nearly half the horses in a horse artillery battery as
'riders' too often results in all the weedy, fifteen hand ponies in the
remount depots being issued to the gunners. Such horses are even more
useless in a battery than they would be in a cavalry regiment. In the
latter they might carry a trumpeter; in the former even the trumpeter's
horse is expected to be able to take his turn in draught. On more than
one occasion in 1917 even officers' chargers were used in the teams.

_Diseases._--The horses of the Corps were remarkably free from disease.
In the summer of 1918 there were a few sporadic cases of anthrax. The
disease is found here and there among the native horses and cattle all
over Palestine. The spores are deposited on the ground by the infected
animals, with the result that there is always a danger of picking
it up. Prompt destruction of all horses affected with the disease,
and the removal to a fresh piece of ground of the unit in which the
case occurred, leaving the old ground clearly labelled as 'unclean,'
prevented any outbreak of the disease. Except for these few cases,
there was an almost entire absence of disease throughout the campaign,
which may be considered somewhat remarkable, in view of the fact that
glanders, anthrax, lymphangitis, and other diseases are rife among the
beasts of the native population. Our immunity from these scourges may
be attributed to the facts that our horses were seldom camped for long
in the same place; that they were never camped near villages if it
could be avoided; and that no native animals were ever allowed in or
near our camps, or to drink where our horses drank.

The 5th Cavalry Division suffered somewhat from laminitis in September
1918, as a result of the rather unnecessarily fast pace the division
had set on the morning of the 19th. Thirty or forty horses had to be
destroyed on the following day. Neither of the other two divisions,
however, had any trouble of this sort.

_Equipment._--Leather muzzles proved a necessity in all units whose
horses were picketed on ropes stretched between wagon wheels instead of
on ground lines. Otherwise the hungry brutes ate the woodwork of the
wheels voraciously. It was only necessary to muzzle the two or three
horses picketed next to the wheels. The nostril holes of the service
pattern muzzle are much too small, and should be enlarged downwards and
outwards to an oval shape at least three inches long.

The steel wire picketing ropes issued to the artillery were very much
superior in every way to the old pattern hemp ropes, whether 5 feet 9
inch or 66 feet. It is suggested that the 5 feet 9 inch ropes, with
loop and toggle, and the heel peg ropes might also in future be made of
wire instead of hemp. The wire rope is much stronger and no heavier,
and is not so likely to gall horses that get their feet over it. The
great objection to it is, of course, its high initial cost, but against
this may be set the fact that it is practically indestructible, and
lasts indefinitely. Active service head ropes might also be made of
wire with a spring hook at each end. A few raw hide head ropes were
issued at one time, and these were excellent, except for the fact that
the horses ate them wholesale when really hungry.

In the Australian Light Horse regiments neither manes nor tails were
ever cut or pulled. During operations there was little time to care
for manes and tails, and they looked somewhat untidy, but there is no
doubt that in a hot country, it is preferable to let them grow freely.
Not only does a mane assist the horse to rid itself of flies, but it
appears to give some protection from the fierce rays of the sun, and a
long thick tail is unquestionably a very great blessing to a horse in a
fly country.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 28: Snow lay on the ground in the Baalbek-Rayak area for
a considerable part of the winter, and on the western side of the
Lebanon, in the Beirût-Tripoli area, for short periods from time to
time.]

[Footnote 29: Brigadier-General P.J.V. Kelly, C.M.G., D.S.O., commanded
5th Mounted Brigade in 1917 operations and 13th Cavalry Brigade in
1918.]

[Footnote 30: See p. 94.]



CHAPTER XXVI

TRANSPORT AND AMMUNITION SUPPLY


The advance to Damascus and Aleppo in September and October 1918 proved
with what a small amount of transport cavalry can operate, when local
supplies are available. As already explained, during this advance no
transport accompanied the divisions, except ammunition wagons and a few
motor ambulance cars.

The opportunities for cavalry making a raid such a great distance into
enemy country have seldom occurred in the past, and are likely to
become even more rare in the future. When they do occur, however, the
experience of this campaign points to the conclusion that there can be
few countries in which cavalry can operate as such effectively, where
they would not be able to dispense almost entirely with transport. The
fact that mounted troops can move freely, denotes that the country is
not excessively mountainous, and is, therefore (excluding desert land),
more or less cultivated, thus providing food for man and horse. It
must be remembered that much of the country through which the cavalry
passed between the 25th of September and the 28th of October is poorly
cultivated, and all of it had been mercilessly laid under requisition
by the Turks and Germans for the supply of their armies. Yet it was
found possible to secure food and forage for three cavalry divisions,
a total of nearly 20,000 men and a similar number of horses, without
extreme difficulty, and without in any way depriving the inhabitants of
essential food.

If, however, the country through which it is proposed to advance is
incapable of supporting the force, sufficient transport must be taken
to carry supplies for such a number of days as may be requisite. The
pace of the cavalry will then be, to a great extent, limited by the
pace of their transport, and for this reason every effort should be
made to increase the mobility of cavalry transport vehicles.

_Vehicles._--At the beginning of the 1917 operations the cavalry
ammunition columns and supply trains were equipped partly with G.S. and
partly with limbered G.S. wagons. During the subsequent operations,
both at the beginning, when movement took place over a sandy or dusty
plain, and later on, when the whole country was a sea of mud, and vast
areas were under water, the G.S. wagons were constantly in trouble. The
experience of the whole campaign was overwhelmingly in favour of the
L.G.S. wagon. The sole advantage of the G.S. wagon lies in its greater
capacity for carrying bulky loads. For this reason it is very suitable
for use in barracks or standing camps, where such stuff as hay, straw,
etc., have to be carried. As regards weight, however, the L.G.S. wagon
holds its own against the G.S. on roads, and is superior in roadless
or hilly country. That is to say, the L.G.S. wagon, with two men and
four horses, can, in such country, carry more than two-thirds of the
load possible for the G.S. wagon, with its three drivers and six
horses. Further, the lower centre of gravity, four large wheels and
much greater lock angle of the former, enables it to cross country over
which the latter cannot move at all. One advantage claimed for the G.S.
type is that the wagon body is supposed to be capable of being used
as a pontoon. The writer has tried it as such, in peace time, and his
experience has decided him that he would rather swim.

The above remarks are, of course, to be taken as applying to cavalry
transport only.

There is one weakness in the L.G.S. wagon which is commended to the
notice of the Royal Ordnance Corps. The bolt which fastens the wagon
body on to the carriage passes through the axle. Towards the end of
the campaign, after several years' hard and continuous work, a number
of these axles began to break, and always at the place where the bolt
passed through them. It is suggested that, in future manufacture, the
fastening might consist of a steel collar over the axle, instead of a
bolt through it.

_Horses._--The remarks on type, which have been made with regard
to the cavalry riding horse, apply with equal force to the cavalry
draught horse. Many of our English draught animals were of far too
heavy a type, either for horse artillery or for cavalry transport. It
is sometimes argued that a proportion of heavy horses is very useful
when wagons begin to get stuck in boggy places. But it is not much
use having these equine Samsons at all, if they are not available at
the time their services are required. And this is what invariably
happens. Nothing in the nature of a cart horse can live with cavalry
in a march of forty miles, and, in this campaign, there was one of
over ninety miles on end, and marches of forty, fifty and sixty miles
were comparatively common. If heavy horses are forced to keep up with
cavalry over such distances, they very soon give up the unequal fight
and die; if they are allowed to go their own pace, they are a day's
march in rear at the end of twenty-four hours, and the transport thus
requires an escort of a size that can ill be spared from the fighting
forces.

Another advantage of having a lighter-built, better-bred type of horse
for transport, is that they then form a reserve for the cavalry. In
the artillery it is the rule for riding and draught horses to change
places frequently, thus resting both kinds in turn. This custom might
profitably be employed occasionally in the cavalry.

The Australians have an admirable type of cavalry draught horse: 15 to
15.2 hands high, short-backed, well-coupled, and showing a good deal of
breeding. The disappearance from our English roads first of the coaches
and then of the horse-drawn buses, has deprived us almost entirely of
our once fine type of light draught horse, and it seems as if we shall,
in the future, have to depend more and more on the Dominions for our
supply of such horses. There were a certain number of Canadian horses
in the Corps transport. They were hard and sound, but of a coarser
type, with heavier shoulders and less handy than those from Australia.

_Other transport animals._--At different times, camels, mules, and
donkeys were used by the cavalry for transport purposes. The first
named are, of course, entirely unsuitable, except for work in the
desert, but, as we had some 30,000 of them in our possession in 1917,
a legacy from Sinai, and there was a shortage of other transport, they
were largely used during the 1917 operations. No attempt was made to
keep up, or even near, the cavalry on the march, but the camels worked
in a system of convoys along defined routes, forming dumps behind
the advancing line of cavalry, from which the divisional trains drew
supplies. The uselessness and danger of camels in mountainous country
was convincingly demonstrated in the mountains of Judæa and in the two
trans-Jordan raids, and, after the second of these, the Imperial Camel
Corps Brigade was disbanded, and the cavalry saw no more of the patient
but unlovable beasts that had worked for them for more than two years.

Mules were in use in the transport to a certain extent all through
the campaign, but the experience of the 1917 operations led to their
being replaced by horses in all transport that was required to keep up
with the cavalry. Their hardihood, soundness, and remarkable freedom
from disease, no less than their patience and docility, render them
admirable for infantry transport, and even, possibly, for field
artillery, but they suffer from the serious disability, from the
cavalry or horse artillery point of view, that they cannot go the
pace. Left to themselves, they can march indefinitely, but, if pushed
along faster than their natural gait, they rapidly lose condition, and
soon become so debilitated as to be well-nigh useless. As this natural
pace is slower than that of horses, they must always be pushed when
acting with cavalry, and this fact renders them unsuitable for use with
mounted troops.

Donkeys were first used in supply convoys in the Judæan Hills in the
winter of 1917, some 400 being sent up from Egypt for this purpose.
They did most excellent work, supplying the troops in the line at a
time when there were no roads available. They are admirably adapted
for such special work, being small, hardy, and easily handled, and
requiring no attention. For any other purpose they are, of course, not
to be seriously considered. Owing to the chronic shortage of horses in
the country, those details of regiments who did not usually accompany
their units into action were, in 1917, given donkeys to ride. There
were about half a dozen in each cavalry regiment or similar unit.
Most of these were gradually exchanged for Arab ponies captured from
the enemy, but a few carried on right through the campaign, up to the
capture of Aleppo. How they kept up through some of the long marches
of 1918, carrying a heavy man and all his kit, is a mystery, but they
contrived to do so somehow.

[Illustration]

_Ammunition._--Prior to the commencement of the 1917 operations in
Palestine, the amount of small arm ammunition laid down to be carried
in a cavalry divisional ammunition column was 250,000 rounds per
brigade, or 1,000,000 in the column for the four-brigade divisions
of that time. This was a ridiculously over-large amount. On the
other hand, the amount of gun ammunition was very small. Indeed the
divisional column commander who said that he carried in his column
three weeks' supply for the small arms and three hours' for the guns,
can scarcely be accused of hyperbole.

After the second battle of Gaza, during which the cavalry were engaged
all day long dismounted, in a very heavy fire fight, it was found that,
after replenishing the regimental reserves, only about one-sixth of
the small arm ammunition in the divisional ammunition columns had been
issued. The guns, on the other hand, had expended nearly three times
the total quantity of ammunition carried in the column.

As a result of this action, the whole question of ammunition supply
was considered afresh, and the columns were reorganised with an
establishment of 200 rounds of shell per gun, and 120,000 of small
arm ammunition per brigade, calculated as to 84,000 rounds for the
machine gun squadron and 12,000 rounds for each regiment. These
proportions worked satisfactorily, though the gun ammunition might
still be somewhat increased, even at the expense of the small arms.
The result of the whole series of operations seems to point to the
fact that an establishment of 100,000 rounds of small arm ammunition
per brigade, or 300,000 per division, and 250 rounds of gun ammunition
per gun, or 4500 for a division, would form the best proportion. This
would give a total of 442 rounds of shell per gun, carried in the
field, not an unduly large amount for a modern, quick-firing gun, when
it is remembered that Napoleon considered that the muzzle-loading,
slow-firing field pieces of his day should be supplied with not less
than 300 rounds apiece.

_Loads._--The weights laid down in the 1914 War Establishments to be
carried both in G.S. and L.G.S. wagons were found to be only suitable
for transport accompanying infantry along well-metalled roads. After
the second battle of Gaza, a new load table was drawn up empirically.
A series of experiments, carried out just prior to the commencement of
the Beersheba operations, demonstrated that even these reduced loads
were far too heavy for G.S. wagons in such country. Unfortunately these
experiments were ignored, and the G.S. wagons started the operations
with the loads as laid down in the new tables. The result was that,
during the march from the Shellal area to Khalasa, the G.S. wagons were
strewn over twenty miles of country, and some 200 camels had to be
requisitioned at short notice from the supply columns to lighten the
wagons.

After the fall of Beersheba, the G.S. wagons of the divisional
ammunition column were taken over by the Corps, as already narrated,
and they took no further part in the operations until they rejoined
their respective divisions on the 19th November.

As a result of the 1917 series of operations, the load question was
again reviewed, and the following loads were decided upon.

G.S. wagons, 23 boxes of 13-pounder gun ammunition or 26 boxes of small
arm ammunition, a total load behind the 6 horses of about 35 cwt.

L.G.S. wagons, 16 boxes of gun or 18 boxes of small arm ammunition, a
total load behind the 4 horses of about 24 cwt.

These loads were proved by considerable subsequent experience to be the
maximum with which wagons could operate efficiently with cavalry in
such country. It is to be remarked that practically no sandy country
was encountered after the fall of Beersheba, but the unmetalled tracks
along which the transport had to march were, in the winters of 1917 and
1918, often almost impassable owing to the mud.

Before leaving the subject of ammunition supply, attention should
be drawn to the vital necessity of cavalry regiments replenishing
their regimental reserve of small arm ammunition from the ammunition
column _every day_. Obvious as this duty may appear, it is one that
is frequently neglected, especially during a time of long marches.
It frequently happened that, in spite of repeated applications, the
ammunition column commanders could not get indents from the regiments
for days at a time. Such delays were often followed by sudden demands
for the immediate supply of a large quantity of ammunition, which,
perhaps, was not all available at the moment. There ensued mutual
recriminations, and much extra work for the tired horses of both the
columns and the regimental ammunition wagons, all of which might have
been avoided by more forethought and attention to detail.



APPENDIX I


(_a_) THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS

When the Desert Mounted Corps officially came into being, it was
constituted as follows:--

  _Commander_: Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Chauvel, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.,
  Australian Imperial Forces.


AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED DIVISION (ANZAC).

  _Commander_: Major-General Sir E.W.C. Chaytor, K.C.M.G., C.B.,
  p.s.c., A.D.C., New Zealand Imperial Forces.


1ST AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General C.F. Cox, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., A.I.F.

  1st, 2nd, and 3rd Regiments Australian Light Horse.


2ND AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General G. de L. Ryrie, C.B., C.M.G., A.I.F.

  5th, 6th, and 7th Regiments Australian Light Horse.


NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General W. Meldrum, C.M.G., D.S.O., N.Z.I.F.

  Auckland, Canterbury, and Wellington Regiments of Mounted Rifles.


_ARTILLERY._

  18th Brigade R.H.A. (Inverness, Ayrshire, and Somerset Batteries) and
  Divisional Ammunition Column.


YEOMANRY DIVISION.

  _Commander_: Major-General Sir G. de S. Barrow, K.C.M.G., C.B.,
  p.s.c., Indian Army.


6TH MOUNTED BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General C.A.C. Godwin, D.S.O., I.A. Dorset,
  Bucks, and Berks Yeomanry Regiments.


8TH MOUNTED BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General C.S. Rome, D.S.O.

  1st City of London and 1st and 3rd County of London Yeomanry
  Regiments.


22ND MOUNTED BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General F.A.B. Fryer (relinquished command
  December 1917).

  Brigadier-General P.D. FitzGerald, D.S.O., p.s.c.

  Stafford, Lincoln, and East Riding Yeomanry Regiments.


_ARTILLERY._

  20th Brigade R.H.A. (Berks, Hants, and Leicester Batteries) and
  Divisional Ammunition Column.


AUSTRALIAN MOUNTED DIVISION.

  _Commander_: Major-General Sir H.W. Hodgson, K.C.M.G., C.V.O., C.B.


3RD AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General L.C. Wilson, C.M.G., D.S.O., A.I.F.

  8th, 9th, and 10th Regiments Australian Light Horse.


4TH AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General W. Grant, C.M.G., D.S.O., A.I.F.

  4th, 11th, and 12th Regiments Australian Light Horse.


5TH MOUNTED BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General P.D. Fitzgerald, D.S.O., p.s.c.
  (relinquished command November 1917).

  Brigadier-General P.J.V. Kelly, C.M.G., D.S.O.


_ARTILLERY._

  19th Brigade R.H.A. ('A' and 'B' Batteries Honourable Artillery
  Company, and Notts Battery R.H.A.) and Divisional Ammunition Column.


CORPS RESERVE.

7TH MOUNTED BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General J.T. Wigan, C.M.G., D.S.O.,
  (relinquished command December 1917).

  Brigadier-General G.V. Clarke, D.S.O.

  Sherwood Rangers, South Notts and Herts Yeomanry Regiments, with
  Essex Battery R.H.A., and Brigade Ammunition Column.


IMPERIAL CAMEL CORPS BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General S. Smith, V.C., D.S.O.

  Two Australian and one British Camel Battalions, with the Hongkong
  and Singapore Mountain Battery R.G.A.

After the reorganisation consequent on the despatch of many of the
Yeomanry regiments to France, in April and May 1918, and the arrival of
Indian Cavalry Regiments from Europe, the Corps was expanded into four
divisions as follows:--


4th CAVALRY DIVISION.

  _Commander_: Major-General Sir G. de S. Barrow, K.C.M.G., etc.


10TH CAVALRY BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General W.G.K. Green, D.S.O., I.A.

  Dorset Yeomanry, 2nd Lancers, 38th Central India Horse.


11TH CAVALRY BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General C.L. Gregory, C.B., p.s.c., I.A. 1st
  County of London Yeomanry, 29th Lancers, 36th Jacob's Horse.


12TH CAVALRY BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General J.T. Wigan, C.M.G., D.S.O. Stafford
  Yeomanry, 6th Cavalry, 19th Lancers.


_ARTILLERY._

  20th Brigade R.H.A. and Divisional Ammunition Column.


5TH CAVALRY DIVISION.

  _Commander_: Major-General Sir H.J.M. MacAndrew, K.C.M.G., C.B.,
  D.S.O., Indian Army.


13TH CAVALRY BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General P.J.V. Kelly, C.M.G., D.S.O.
  (relinquished command September 1918).

  Brigadier-General G.A. Weir, D.S.O.

  Gloucester Yeomanry, 9th Hodson's Horse, 18th Lancers.


14TH CAVALRY BRIGADE.

  _Commander_: Brigadier-General G.V. Clarke, D.S.O.

  Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, 20th Deccan Horse, 34th Poona Horse.


 15TH (IMPERIAL SERVICE) CAVALRY BRIGADE.
  _Commander_: Brigadier-General C.R. Harbord, D.S.O., I.A. Jodhpur,
  Mysore and 1st Hyderabad Lancers.[31]


_ARTILLERY._

  'B' Battery H.A.C. and Essex Battery R.H.A., with Divisional
  Ammunition Column.

The Anzac and the Australian Mounted Divisions remained the same,
except that the 5th Mounted Brigade was replaced in the latter by the
5th A.L.H. Brigade, which consisted of the 14th and 15th Regiments
A.L.H. (composed of men of the Camel Corps Brigade, which had been
disbanded after the second trans-Jordan raid), and the French Régiment
Mixte de Cavalerie. Swords were issued to the Australian Mounted
Division at the beginning of August 1918, and the men had about six
weeks' training in the use of them before the operations commenced.
The Australian troopers took to their new weapon enthusiastically, and
showed, later on, that they knew how to use it.

(_b_) INFANTRY

During the 1917 operations, the infantry were organised as follows:--


20TH CORPS.

  _Commander_: Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode, Bart.,
  K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O.


10TH DIVISION.

_Commander_: Major-General J.R. Longley, C.B., C.M.G.


53RD DIVISION.

_Commander_: Major-General S.F. Mott, C.B., p.s.c.


60TH DIVISION.

_Commander_: Major-General Sir J.S.M. Shea, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., p.s.c.,
I.A.


74TH DIVISION.

_Commander_: Major-General E.S. Girdwood, C.B.


21ST CORPS.

_Commander_: Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Bulfin, K.C.B., C.V.O.


52ND DIVISION.

_Commander_: Major-General J. Hill, C.B., D.S.O., A.D.C., I.A.


54TH DIVISION.

_Commander_: Major-General S.W. Hare, C.B.


75TH DIVISION.

_Commander_: Major-General P.C. Palin, C.B., C.M.G., I.A.

On the reorganisation of the infantry in the spring of 1918, the
3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) Divisions replaced the 52nd and 74th
Divisions, which were sent to France. The 3rd was commanded by
Major-General A.R. Hoskins, C.M.G., D.S.O., p.s.c., and the 7th by
Major-General Sir V.B. Fane, K.C.I.E., C.B.

Three-quarters of the British troops in all divisions except the 54th
were replaced by Indians.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 31: These regiments were all maintained by the Ruling Princes
of their respective States in India.]



APPENDIX II

NOTE ON THE ARAB MOVEMENT


A SHERIF (plur. Ashraf) is one who claims descent direct from the
Prophet Mohammed, through his daughter Fatima, wife of Ali, the third
Khalif. These Ashraf are found all over the Arabic-speaking world, but
only those whose pedigrees are inscribed in the Register of Mecca are
universally accepted as true descendants of the Prophet. This register
has been kept with extraordinary care, and it is probable that it dates
back to the time of Mohammed himself. There are in the Hedjaz several
families of these true Ashraf, who form the aristocracy of the Arab
world, live under a law of their own, and enjoy a number of special
privileges.

For the first four centuries after the death of the Prophet, the
Ashraf, though regarded with veneration and respect by the Arabs,
held no temporal power. At the end of the tenth century, however, a
Sherif of Mecca proclaimed himself Emir of the Ashraf, and succeeded
in establishing his dynasty as the temporal chiefs (under the Khalif)
of the Hedjaz. The ruling prince of the Ashraf of Mecca was known for
centuries in Europe as 'The Grand Sherif of Mecca,' and, in former
times, when the city was not as jealously guarded as it now is, more
than one Christian sovereign sent an embassy to him there.

During the succeeding five hundred years, internecine strife, resulting
in frequent changes of dynasty, weakened the temporal power of the
Emirs of Mecca, and correspondingly increased the ascendancy of the
Turks. In the sixteenth century, however, the Emir Katada, by a series
of conquests of rival claimants, possessed himself of the chief power
in the Hedjaz, and established his own family as the head of the
Ashraf.

Sherif Hussein, a lineal descendant of Katada, succeeded to the Emirate
in 1908. A man of powerful will and strong ambitions, Hussein began
almost at once to consider the possibility of securing the independence
of the Hedjaz, and possibly even of all the Arabs, from Turkish
dominion. His task was an exceedingly difficult one. The Sultan of
Turkey, as Khalif of Islam, was regarded as the spiritual head of all
Moslems, and any open action against him would be likely to meet with
strong opposition in all Moslem countries outside Arabia. A Turkish
Army Corps, with its headquarters at Sanah, near Aden, garrisoned
and controlled the country; and the Emir's own people, split up into
innumerable tribes and clans, were torn by bitter inter-tribal feuds,
many of which dated back for centuries.

The ease with which the Sultan Abdul Hamid was overthrown by the
Committee of Union and Progress at the time of the Turkish Revolution,
encouraged the Sherif in his dream of establishing an independent
Arab State. He became the representative of the Hedjaz in the Turkish
Parliament, and for a time lived in Constantinople. Very soon,
however, disgusted with the intrigues and jealousies of the C.U.P.,
and realising that he had nothing to hope for from this body of needy
adventurers, he retired from his position, and went back into the
desert, where for the next four or five years he lived the rigorous
life of a patriarchal desert Sheikh, preparing his four sons for the
struggle to come, and gathering round him a small number of chiefs
pledged to the cause of Arabian independence.

The declaration of war by Turkey on Great Britain furnished the Emir
with the chance which he had long awaited, and the atrocities committed
by the Turks in Syria at the beginning of the war caused the oppressed
Arabs to turn to him as their national champion. He at once threw in
his lot with the British, though not openly at first, and set to work,
with the fierce energy characteristic of him, to stir up the tribes of
the Hedjaz against the Turks.

The outbreak of the rebellion was precipitated by the arrival at
Medina in May 1916 of a large Turkish force, charged with the task of
re-establishing the waning authority of the Sultan in the Hedjaz. The
Emir himself, though as full of energy and determination as ever, was
now too old to bear the rigours of a desert campaign, and accordingly
placed the command of his Bedouin followers in the hands of his three
eldest sons Ali, Abdullah, and Feisal. Of Ali we know little, though
he was active in the summer of 1918 and in the early part of 1917.
Abdullah, the second son, was of a retiring disposition, a theologian
and philosopher, and a deep student of the Koran. Feisal alone
inherited his father's energy and power of command, without, however,
the old man's ungovernable temper. The youngest son, Zeid, was still
only a boy.

A line of Arab pickets was established round Medina, under the command
of Feisal, and the railway north of the town was cut in several places.
But the Arabs, not being provided at this time with explosives, and
being ignorant of modern methods of demolition, did not effect enough
before being driven off by relief parties with machine guns, to
interrupt seriously the communication of Medina with the north, and the
besieging force, short of arms and supplies, and without artillery,
could do little more than watch the city from afar. Jiddah, however,
the port of Mecca, which was attacked on June 9th, held out barely a
week. Cut off from Mecca by the loss of the military block-houses on
the road, and bombarded by British warships and aeroplanes, the Turkish
garrison surrendered on the 16th June. The fall of Mecca followed a
month later, and an Arab force under Sherif Abdullah then proceeded to
blockade the hill town of Taif, where the bulk of the Turkish forces,
outside Medina, was established in summer quarters. This place held
out till near the end of September, when Ghalib Pasha, the G.O.C.,
despairing of help, and cut off by the Arabs from all sources of
supply, surrendered with the garrison of 2000 men.

By the end of the year all the small Turkish posts scattered throughout
the Hedjaz had fallen to the Arabs. Medina still held out, and it was
clear that the Arab forces, indifferently armed, and inexperienced in
modern siege warfare, could not hope to reduce this city. The Turkish
garrison, with the lines of communication troops along the railway to
the north, numbered some 15,000 men, well-armed and equipped, and in
all respects capable of prolonged resistance.

Acting on the advice of the British officers with them, the Arabs,
therefore, abandoned for the time being all attempts on Medina, and
concentrated all their efforts on a systematic attack on the Hedjaz
Railway north of the town. During the first six months of 1917 a
constant succession of raids so interrupted the traffic on the railway
that the Turks could with difficulty keep open their communications
between Medina and Damascus.

In July 1917 the Emir Feisal seized Akaba, at the north end of the Red
Sea, and made this place his base for further raiding operations on the
railway as far north as Maan.

In January 1918 he succeeded in destroying the branch line to the Hish
Forest, from which the Turkish locomotives were drawing their fuel, and
then attacked Maan itself (see p. 153.) Though unable to capture the
town, the Arabs established themselves across the railway two miles
farther south, and, in the course of the succeeding three months,
destroyed seventy miles of the line. Medina was thus finally isolated,
and the garrison was faced with the two alternatives of holding out in
the town till the end of the war, or of attempting to cut a way out to
the north. As the latter alternative meant almost certain destruction,
the Turks decided to stay where they were. They remained in Medina till
they were compelled to surrender, under the terms of the Armistice of
the 31st October 1918.

The strong position taken up by the Turkish IVth Army east of the
Jordan during the summer of 1918, prevented the Emir from making
any further move northwards. He remained about Maan, collecting
his resources for the coming struggle, and carrying on a vigorous
propaganda among the surrounding tribes, till the British advance
in September caused the IVth Army to retire, and gave the Arabs the
opportunity of completing the task to which they had set themselves in
1916.



APPENDIX III

SUMMARY OF TERMS OF THE TURKISH ARMISTICE WHICH CAME INTO FORCE ON
OCTOBER 31, 1918.


_Art. 1._--Opening of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus and access to the
Black Sea. The Allied occupation of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus forts.

_Art. 2._--The position of all minefields, torpedo tubes, and other
obstructions in Turkish waters to be indicated, and assistance to be
given to sweep or remove them as may be required.

_Art. 3._--All available information regarding the mines in the Black
Sea to be communicated.

_Art. 4._--All Allied prisoners and Armenians interned to be collected
in Constantinople, and handed over unconditionally to the Allies.

_Art. 5._--The immediate demobilisation of the army except troops
required for the surveillance of the frontier and maintenance of
internal order, their number and disposal to be determined later by the
Allies, after consultation with the Turkish Government.

_Art. 6._--The surrender of all war vessels in Turkish waters or the
waters occupied by Turkey. These ships to be interned at such Turkish
port or ports, as may be directed, except such small vessels as are
required for police or similar purposes in Turkish territorial waters.

_Art. 7._--The Allies to have the right to occupy any strategic points,
in the event of any situation arising which threatens the security of
the Allies.

_Art. 8._--The free use by Allied ships of all ports and anchorages
now in Turkish occupation, and the denial of their use to the enemy.
Similar conditions to apply to Turkish mercantile shipping in Turkish
waters, for the purposes of trade and the demobilisation of the army.

_Art. 9._--The use of all ship-repairing facilities at all Turkish
ports and arsenals.

_Art. 10._--Allied occupation of the Taurus tunnel system.

_Art. 11._--Withdrawal of Turkish troops from north-western Persia.
Part of Trans-Caucasia to be evacuated; the remainder to be evacuated
if the Allies require, after they study the situation there.

_Art. 12._--Wireless and cable stations to be under Allied control;
Turkish Government messages excepted.

_Art. 13._--Prohibition of the destruction of any naval, military, or
commercial material by the Turks.

_Art. 14._--Facilities to be given for the purchase of coal, oil-fuel,
and naval material from Turkish sources, after the requirements of the
country have been met. None of the above material to be exported.

_Art. 15._--Allied control of all railways, and Allied occupation of
Batoum. Turkey not to object to the Allied occupation of Baku.

_Art. 16._--The surrender of the garrisons of the Hedjaz, Asir, Yemen,
Syria, and Mesopotamia, and the withdrawal of troops from Cilicia,
except those maintaining order, as determined under Clause 5. The
surrender of all ports in Cilicia.

_Art. 17._--The surrender of all Turkish officers in Tripolitania and
Cyrenaica to the nearest Italian garrison. Turkey to guarantee to stop
supplies to, and communication with, these officers, if they do not
obey the order of surrender.

_Art. 18._--The surrender of all ports occupied in Tripolitania and
Cyrenaica, including Misurata, to the nearest Allied garrison.

_Art. 19._--All Germans and Austrians, naval, military, and civilian,
to quit Turkey within a month. Those in remote districts to do so as
soon as possible thereafter.

_Art. 20._--Compliance with the Allies' orders as regards the disposal
of arms and the transport of the demobilised, under Clause 5.

_Art. 21._--An Allied representative to be attached to the Turkish
Ministry of Supplies, to safeguard Allied interests.

_Art. 22._--Turkish prisoners to be kept at the disposal of the Allies.
The release of Turkish civilian prisoners and prisoners over military
age to be considered.

_Art. 23._--Turkey to cease all relations with the Central Powers.

_Art. 24._--In case of disorder in the six Armenian vilayets the Allies
reserve the right to occupy any of them.



INDEX


    Abasan el Kebir, 12.

    Abdullah, Emir, 339.

    Abid Miriam, 177.

    Abraham's Well, 41.

    Abu el Teaha, 3.

    ---- Jerwal, 32.

    ---- Shusheh (Plain of Philistia) 85, 89.

    ---- ---- (Plain of Esdraelon), 200, 206.

    ---- Tellul, 178.

    ---- ---- Action of, 181, 185.

    ---- el Hareira, 3.

    Acre, capture of, 232.

    Adana, 295.

    Administration of Enemy Territory. See Enemy Territory.

    Advance Guards, 252-257, 267-269, 285-289.

    ---- ---- Artillery with, 305, 306.

    Afghanistan, 2.

    Afule, 4, 191, 192.

    ---- capture of, 210.

    Ain Arik, 105.

    ---- el Duk, 177, 180.

    ---- el Hekr, 137.

    ---- el Sir, 135, 241.

    ---- el Subian, 222.

    ---- Hemar, 159.

    ---- Kohleh, 38.

    ---- Shibleh, 193, 222.

    Aintab, 295, 301.

    Aircraft, British, xv, 15, 188, 197, 198, 204.

    ---- ---- superiority of, 6, 261.

    ---- ---- co-operation with cavalry, 285, 286.

    ---- ---- bombing operations, 198, 216, 218, 222, 226.

    ---- Enemy, 6, 9, 15, 174, 210, 216, 261, 288.

    Ajalon, Vale of, 89, 102.

    Ajje, 199, 219.

    Akaba, 129, 340.

    Akir, 79, 84.

    Ak Su Lakes, 301.

    Aleppo, 4, 282, 295.

    ---- advance on, 287, 288, 289.

    ---- capture of, 290.

    ---- riots in, 297.

    'Aleppo Hunt,' 301.

    Alexandretta, 295.

    Ali, Emir, 339.

    Allenby, Field-Marshal Viscount, 1, 7, 247.

    ---- ---- tactics of, xiv, xv, 20, 39, 194.

    ---- ---- success in deceiving enemy, 5, 17, 195.

    ---- ---- good judgment of, 39, 76.

    ---- ---- meeting with General Chauvel, 225.

    Amman, 5, 126, 132.

    ---- unsuccessful attacks on, 143, 145, 147-149.

    ---- capture of, 241.

    Ammunition--
      Captured enemy, 56, 85.
      Columns, 46, 48, 63, 96, 328, 329, 330.
      Gun, 328, 329, 330.
      Loads of, for wagons, 329, 330.
      Replenishment of, 46, 330.
      Sent up to El Salt, 166, 167.
      Small arm, 328, 329, 330.
      Supply, 328, 329, 330.

    Amwas, 88, 102.

    Anatolians, 68.

    Anebta, 220.

    Ansarie, 289.

    Anthrax, 320.

    Anti-Lebanon Mountains, 296.

    Antioch, 282.

    Anzac Mounted Division, 7, 8, 24, 38, 40, 45, 122, 127, 133, 155, 175,
    179, 190, 241, 302, App. I. _a_.

    A.P.M., adventure of the, 97-99.

    Arab Movement. Appendix II.

    Arab ponies. See Horses.

    Arab Punar, 295.

    Arabs--
      Beni Sakhr Tribe, 155, 156, 165, 244, 245.
      Butchered by Turks, 264.
      Character of, 130, 280.
      Christian, 98, 144.
      Friendly, 37, 145.
      Guides, 23, 206.
      Hostile to British, 15, 35, 150, 244, 245.
      Hostile to Turks, 212, 240, 243, 244, 245, 275, 280.
      Huweitat Tribe, 130.
      Intertribal feuds among, 130, 144, 338.
      Looting by, 211, 243, 280, 281.
      Regular army of. See Sherifian Army.
      Spies, 5, 119.
      Unreliable information of, 104, 135, 206, 259, 260.
      Vengeance of, 265.

    Ardahan, 263.

    Arak el Menshiye, 59, 61, 62, 74.

    ---- Suweidan, 60.

    Arara, 205.

    Arish, 16.

    Arkub el Khaluf, 165.

    Armageddon, 191.

    Armenians, character of, 299.

    ---- attempt to massacre, 297.

    Armenian refugees, 296.

    ---- Reparations Committee, 297, 298.

    Armistice, 293.

    ---- terms of, 342.

    Armoured cars, xv, 85, 109, 160, 195, 204, 205, 208, 209, 211, 220, 226,
    232, 249, 267, 284.

    ---- ---- in advance on Aleppo, 285-292.

    ---- ---- Enemy, 288.

    Arsuf, 191.

    Artillery, Royal Horse. See Horse Artillery.

    ---- ---- ---- loss of. See Guns loss of.

    ---- shortage of, 179, 190.

    ---- Enemy field, xiv, 26, 186.

    ---- ---- heavy, xiv, 9, 45, 186, 187, 188.

    ---- ---- shelling own troops, 60, 66, 183.

    Asluj, 7.

    Atawineh, 3.

    Attara, 109.

    Auja, 4.

    Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division. See Anzac Mounted
    Division.

    Australian Light Horse Brigades--
      1st, 7, 8, 24, 45, 51, 59, 65, 69, 71, 128, 136, 154, 157, 165, 174,
      181, 229, 240, 243.
      2nd, 7, 8, 24, 45, 51, 59, 137, 154, 157, 165, 228, 229, 241, 242.
      3rd, 7, 8, 21, 26, 52, 72, 102, 115, 117, 157, 165, 213, 249, 259,
      267, 277, 279.
      4th, 8, 28, 31, 45, 52, 56, 72, 115, 157, 160, 175, 248, 249, 268.
      5th, 190, 199, 217, 220, 259, 269.

    Australian Light Horse Regiments--
      1st, 157.
      2nd, 27, 28, 69, 182.
      3rd, 28, 229.
      4th, 162, 250, 268, 269.
      5th, 184, 242.
      6th, 170.
      8th, 158, 159, 172, 267.
      9th, 158, 267.
      10th, 158, 159, 213, 268, 277.
      11th, 157, 160, 249, 263.
      12th, 250, 268, 269, 275.
      14th, 217.
      15th, 221.

    Australian Mounted Division, 8, 24, 26, 72, 102, 113, 155, 175, 179,
    190, 197, 200, 202, 212, 247, 249, 252, 258, 266, 293, 296, 302,
    App. I.  _a._

    Australians as scouts, 140.

    ---- weight of, 95.

    Austrians, 9.

    Ayun Kara, 86.


    Baalbek, 284, 285, 287, 295.

    Baghdad, 1.

    Balata, 221.

    Baldwin II., Castle of, 258.

    Balin, 66, 72.

    Barada, River, 269.

    Baramkie Station, 277.

    Barley, 313, 314.

    Barrow, Major-General Sir G. de S., 42, 80, 89, 209, 240, 302.

    Barrow's Detachment, 42.

    Batoum, 263.

    Bayonets, used in cavalry charge, 29, 56.

    Becke, Major A.F., XV.

    Beersheba, Arabs in, 36, 37, 38.

    ---- capture of, 30.

    ---- defences of, 3, 20.

    ---- description of, 20, 33, 34, 35.

    ---- Railway, 4.

    Beirût, 282, 284, 295.

    Beisan, 134, 191, 211.

    Beit Dejan, 19, 220.

    ---- Dukka, 107.

    ---- Duras, 60.

    ---- Hanun, 48, 52.

    ---- Jibrin, 66, 70, 97.

    ---- Lid, 220.

    ---- Likia, 107.

    ---- Ras, 253.

    ---- Sira, 103.

    ---- Ur el Foka, 106, 113.

    ---- Ur el Tahta, 101, 103, 113.

    Beitunia, 105.

    Belled el Sheikh, 233.

    Berfilya, 101.

    Berkusie, 66, 72.

    Beshshit, 80.

    Bethlehem, 98.

    Bire, 101.

    Bir Adas, 199.

    ---- el Arara, 23.

    ---- el Hammam, 23.

    ---- el Makruneh, 32.

    ---- el Nettar, 39.

    ---- Jemameh, 44, 51.

    ---- Salim Abu Irgeig, 23.

    Birket Ata, 204.

    Bivouac shelters, 12.

    Blockhouses, 20, 27, 28, 256.

    Bluff, the, 182, 183.

    Bridges, and bridgeheads--
      Beersheba, 35.
      Benat Yakub, 258.
      El Rastan, 288.
      Enemy, 128, 129, 157, 158.
      Esdud, 65, 69, 118.
      Jordan, 128, 129, 135, 136, 146, 153, 157, 158, 175.
      Nahr el Auja, 108, 109, 110.
      Shellal, 17.

    Brigandage, 296.

    Brisbane, Captain, 142.

    British Forces. See Troops, British.

    Buggar, 21.

    Bulfin, Lieutenant-General Sir Edward, 9.

    Bureir, 50, 59.

    Burj, 115.

    Burka, 65, 71.

    Bursȳm, 313.

    Butler, Lady, 55.


    Cacolets, 151, 173.

    Camel Corps Brigade, 8, 69, 133, 137, 154, App. I. _a_.

    Camel Transport Corps, 36, 62, 63.

    Camels, 36, 63, 325.

    ---- Arabs impressed by British, 36.

    ---- prices realised by captured, 318.

    ---- unsuitability of, in hill country, 141, 173, 325, 326.

    Cameron, Lieutenant-Colonel, 244.

    Carchemish, 302.

    Carmel, Mount, 192, 212, 233.

    Casualties, British, 31, 54, 84, 92, 94, 114, 151, 152, 181, 268, 287,
    293.

    ---- Enemy, 31, 54, 83, 85, 92, 117, 153, 154, 184, 251, 272, 276, 278.

    Cavalry--
      Detail of, 8, App. I. _a_.
      Disease amongst. See Disease.
      Enemy. See Turks.
      French, ix, 190, 221, 259, 319.
      in mountain country, 102, 104-108, 112-122, 127, 128, 136-151,
      165-175, 219.
      in trenches, 155, 156.
      Organisation for the advance on Aleppo, 285.
      Reorganisation of, 154, 179, App. I. _a_.
      Training, 12, 13, 14, 55.
      Withdrawal of, from Syria, 302.

    Charges of Cavalry--
      Abu Naj, 230, 231.
      Abu Shusheh, 90.
      Beersheba, 29.
      Haifa, 235, 236.
      Haritan, 292.
      Henu Ford, 185, 186.
      Huj, 53.
      Irbid, 253.
      Kaukab, 269.
      Khan Ayash, 279.
      Remte, 256.
      training for, 55, 56.
      unsuccessful, 230, 253, 254, 292.
      of Turkish Cavalry, 22.

    Chauvel, Lieutenant-General Sir H.G., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., xvi, 8, 169,
    279.

    Chaytor, Major-General Sir E.W.C., 108, 138, 143, 149, 164.

    Chaytor's Force, 196, 201, 220, 227, 229, 240-246.

    Chetwode, Lieutenant-General Sir Philip, Bart., viii, 7, 9, 33.

    Christians, 98, 144.

    Cilicia, 295.

    Circassians, 144, 263, 264.

    Climate, 15, 63, 104, 117, 177, 179, 180, 189, 311.

    Cold, 104, 118, 119, 137, 144.

    Committee of Union and Progress, 298.

    Communications, British, 16, 17, 112, 129, 164, 263.

    ---- Enemy, 4, 129, 191, 192, 193.

    Communiqués, Enemy, 16, 100.

    Counter-attacks, Enemy--
      Balin, 72, 73, 74.
      El Burj, 117.
      Jisr el Damieh, 160.
      Khuweilfeh, 38, 39, 40.
      Nebi Samwil, 107.
      Richon-le-Zion, 86.

    Country, description of. See Topography.

    Cox, Brigadier-General, 27, 65.

    Cripps, Lieutenant-Colonel, 90.

    Crusaders, 103.


    Damascus, 4.

    ---- capture of, 275, 279.

    ---- disorders in, 280, 281.

    ---- importance of, 247.

    ---- the race for, 251-275.

    Daraya, 278.

    Darb el Haj, 243.

    Darfur campaign, 314.

    Davison, Captain, 209.

    Dead Sea, 126, 179, 180.

    Deceiving the enemy, 5, 17, 175, 176, 177, 195, 196, 197, 210, 211,
    213, 214, 293.

    Defences, British--
      Gaza-Beersheba, 5, 12.
      Jaffa-Jerusalem, 114.
      Jordan Valley, 175, 178, 179.

    Defences, Turkish--
      Gaza-Beersheba, 3, 20.
      Damascus, 268.

    Defences, Turkish--
      Jaffa-Jerusalem, 114.
      On 19th September 1918, 191, 193, 199, 200, 220.
      Nazareth, 214.
      Trans-Jordan, 133, 156.
      Nahr Rubin, 70, 71.
      Aleppo, 289.

    Deir Ali, 268.

    ---- el Belah, 16, 17.

    ---- el Ghusn, 219.

    ---- el Hawa, 39.

    ---- el Kuddis, 119.

    ---- el Saras, 261.

    ---- Khabiye, 273.

    ---- Sineid, 4.

    Deraa Junction, 4, 191, 192, 248, 252, 257, 264, 295.

    Desert Column, the, viii, 7, 16.

    Desert Mounted Corps, ix, 9, 293.

    ---- ---- ---- detail of, 8, App. I.

    ---- ---- ---- reorganisation of, 179, App. I. _a_.

    ---- ---- ---- administration of Syria by, 295-301.

    ---- ---- ---- disbandment of, 302.

    Dhahariyeh, 21.

    Disease, among British troops, x, 181, 246, 283, 284, 287.

    ---- ---- Enemy, 60, 276, 278, 279.

    Dobell, Major-General Sir C., viii.

    Documents, captured enemy, 5, 57, 178, 194, 198, 208.

    Dome, 220.

    Donkeys, 166, 325, 326, 327.

    Dothan Pass, 213.

    Druses, 263, 264.

    Duma, 277.

    Dust, 71, 179, 180, 187, 311.

    Dysentery, 60, 278.


    Eastern Force, viii.

    Egypt, 2.

    Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1, 7.

    Enemy Territory, advances into, 122, 293.

    ---- ---- administration of, 295-301.

    ---- ---- disorder in, 296, 297.

    Engineers, Royal, 16, 17, 287, 288.

    ---- Australian, 16, 17.

    ---- Enemy, 49, 132.

    Entrenching tools, 13.

    Ellar, 219.

    Equipment, 12, 13, 320, 321.

    ---- weight of, 95.

    Esani, 7.

    Escorts. See Horse Artillery.

    Esdraelon, Plain of, 191, 209.

    Esdud, 60, 118.

    Euphrates, River, 282.

    Exchange, stabilisation of, 299, 301.

    ---- gambles in, 299, 300.

    Ezra, 255.


    Fahme, 219.

    Falkenhayn, Marshal von, 2, 72.

    Faluje, 59, 61, 62, 66.

    Feisal, Emir, 130, 153, 280, 281, 339, 340, 341.

    Fevzi Pasha, 9.

    Fire support, 29, 55, 82, 90, 209, 254, 260, 269, 291, 304, 305.

    Flag of truce, 289.

    Forage, 13, 62, 248, 313, 314.

    ---- local, 248, 314.

    Fox hounds, 301.

    Fuheis, 144, 168.

    Funduk, 220.

    Furkha, 191.


    Gafar Pasha, 297.

    Galilee, Sea of, 134, 191.

    Gallipoli, 1.

    Games, 301.

    Gamli, 5.

    Gaza, defences of, 3.

    ---- attack of, 22, 32.

    ---- capture of, 48.

    ---- description of, 124, 125.

    Gebel el Shegeib, 23.

    German Emperor, 121.

    Germans, 9, 154, 181, 214, 219, 250, 251.

    ---- ill-treatment of Turks by, xiii, xiv, 193, 194, 260, 276.

    ---- breaches of laws of war by, 216, 250, 251.

    ---- drunkenness, 185.

    ---- venereal disease among, 279.

    ---- indifference to Turkish brutality, 265.

    ---- spies, 5.

    Gezer, 89.

    Ghabaghib, 271.

    Ghalib Pasha, 340.

    Ghazale, 255.

    Gheyadah, 80.

    Ghoraniyeh, 128, 133, 135, 153, 228.

    ---- Enemy attack on, 154.

    Glanders, 320.

    Godwin, Brigadier-General C.A., 80, 90.

    Good Samaritan Inn, 127.

    Gram, 313, 314.

    Grant, Brigadier-General W., 28, 29, 31, 161, 249, 263, 317.

    Gray-Cheape, Lieut.-Colonel H., 53.

    Gregory, Brigadier-General, 231.

    Grenades, 117.

    Guns, captured, xii, 30, 52, 55, 85, 100, 102, 122, 205, 211, 226,
    232, 238, 245, 262, 268, 279, 283, 293.

    ---- loss of R.H.A., 163.


    Hableh, 199.

    Haifa, 191, 192, 232.

    ---- capture of, 232-238.

    ---- annexation expedition, 227.

    Hama, 282, 288.

    Hamame, 66.

    Haram, 202.

    Harbaj, 234.

    Harbord, Brigadier-General, 233, 291.

    Hareira, 43.

    Harista el Basal, 277.

    Haritan, action of, 291.

    Harithie, 232.

    Haroun al Rashid, 302.

    Haud, 133, 136, 157, 165.

    Hauran, 248, 263, 272.

    Head ropes. See Picketing gear.

    Heat, 15, 63, 177, 179, 180, 311.

    Hebron, 21.

    Hedjaz, 126, 337.

    ---- Force, 129, 130, 131, 133, 153, 240, 242, 243.

    ---- ---- surrender of, 244, 245.

    ---- King of. See Hussein.

    Heel ropes. See Picketing gear.

    Henu Ford, 185.

    Hermon, Mount, 212.

    Hills. See Topography.

    Hiseia, 21.

    Hish Forest, 130, 340.

    Hodgson, Major-General Sir H.W., 21, 73, 74, 75, 167, 169.

    Homs, 282, 286, 287, 294, 295.

    Horse Artillery, 27.
      Ammunition, 308, 309, 328, 329.
      Command, 303, 304.
      Detail of, App. I. _a_.

    Horse Artillery--
      Employment of, 74, 75, 259, 260, 269.
      Escorts for, 306, 307.
      Horses for, 319.
      Howitzers, 307.
      Reserves 304, 305.
      Special requirements of, 309.
      With advance guard, 269, 305, 306.
        See also R.H.A. Batteries.

    Horsemastership, 318, 319.

    Horses--
      Arab, 314, 317, 318.
      Australian, 94, 95, 325.
      Barb, 190.
      Canadian, 317, 325.
      Condition, 119, 123, 180, 240, 283, 312, 313.
      Detecting presence of water, 316.
      Disease amongst, 312, 320.
      Draught, 319, 324.
      English, 95, 317.
      Hardships of, 58, 61, 63, 77, 94, 119.
      in waterless country, 316.
      Manes and tails of, 321.
      Muzzles for, 312, 320, 321.
      Pack, 13, 82.
      Remounts, 123, 317.
      Type, 319, 324, 325.
      Watering of, 58, 61, 64, 94, 314, 315, 316.
      Weight carried by, 95.

    Hotchkiss rifles, 236, 274.

    Howeij, 165.

    Howitzers. See Horse Artillery.

    Huj, 44, 52, 53, 54.

    Huleh, Lake, 247, 259.

    Huleikat, 59.

    Hunting, 301.

    Hussein, Sherif, 130, 247, 338, 339.

    ---- ---- Character of, 338.


    India, 2.

    Indian Cavalry Divisions--

      4th, 179, 190, 197, 200, 202, 222, 226, 230, 239, 248, 249, 252,
      264, 271, 284, 287, 295, 302, App. I. _a_.
      5th, 179, 190, 197, 200, 202, 224, 232, 247, 249, 262, 266, 272,
      284, 287, 293, 295, 302, 320, App. I. _a_.

      Organisation of, for Aleppo, 285.

    Indian Cavalry Brigades--
      10th, 208, 252, 255.
      11th, 230, 239, 240, 271, 274.
      12th, 209.
      13th, 187, 224, 232, 272, 274, 275, 285, 301.
      14th, 210, 272, 274, 293.
      15th (Imperial Service), 8, 9, 48, 155, 185, 232, 285, 290, 291.

    Indian Cavalry Regiments--
      Central India Horse, 222, 249, 253, 256.
      Hodson's Horse (9th), 204, 224.
      18th Lancers, 206, 224.
      2nd Lancers, 208, 209, 253.
      Jacob's Horse (36th), 204, 226, 230.
      Mysore Lancers, 233, 291.
      Hyderabad Lancers, 232, 263, 285.
      Jodhpur Lancers, 234, 291.
      29th Lancers, 230, 232, 239, 275.
      6th Cavalry, 204.
      19th Lancers, 211, 249.

    Infantry, British--
      Detail of, 9, App. I. _b_.
      Reorganisation of, 154, App. I. _b_.

    Infantry, Enemy. See Turks.

    ---- French, 199.

    Infantry Corps, British--
      20th, 9, 42, 43, 63, 201, 219, 220, App. I. _b_.
      21st, 9, 43, 48, 59, 63, 199, 217, 220, App. I. _b_.

    Infantry Divisions, British--
      3rd, 199, 221, App. I. _b_.
      7th, 199, 248, App. I. _b_.
      10th, 9, 43, 45, 122, 221, App. I. _b_.
      42nd, 7, 284, 286, App. I. _b_.
      52nd, 7, 48, 49, 60, 63, 71, 107, 114, App. I. _b_.
      53rd, 9, 40, 63, 84, 121, 221, App. I. _b_.
      54th, 9, 63, 199, App. I. _b_.
      60th, 9, 24, 43, 45, 121, 127, 129, 133, 155, 197, 199, 218,
      App. I. _b_.
      74th, 9, 43, 115, App. I. _b_.
      75th, 9, 63, 84, 106, 197, 199, App. I. _b_.

    Influenza, 283.

    Intelligence, British, xv, 36.

    ---- Enemy, 5, 6, 57, 178, 194, 198.

    Irbid, 248, 253.

    Islahie, 295.

    Ismet Bey, 24, 30.

    Iswaiwin, 23.

    Itweil el Semin, 23.


    Jackals, 120.

    Jaffa, 88.

    ---- Gate, 121.

    Jarak, 206.

    Jebata, 206.

    Jebel Ekteif, 127.

    ---- el Aswad, 268, 273, 275.

    ---- el Mania, 269.

    ---- Kalimun, 127.

    ---- Kuruntul, 127.

    Jelameh, 200.

    Jelil, 202.

    Jemal Pasha, 276.

    Jendar, 294.

    Jenin, 4, 191, 192.

    ---- capture of, 213, 214, 215.

    Jerablus, 282, 295.

    Jericho, 5, 126, 127, 128, 177, 180, 187.

    'Jericho Jane,' 187.

    Jerisheh, 108.

    Jerusalem, 3, 4, 5, 21.

    ---- surrender of, 121.

    Jeshimon, Wilderness of, 127.

    Jett, 205.

    Jezreel, Valley of, 191.

    Jib, 108.

    Jiddah, 339.

    Jiljulie, 191.

    Jisr Benat Yakub, 252, 261.

    ---- ---- ---- action of, 258-261.

    ---- Esdud, 65.

    ---- el Damieh, 146, 157.

    ---- el Sheikh Hussein, 211.

    ---- Mejamieh, 200, 211, 248, 252.

    Jordan River, 125, 134, 146, 211.

    ---- ---- raids across, 135-152, 154-176.

    ---- Valley, 128, 129, 177, 227.

    ---- ---- climate, 177, 179, 180.

    ---- ---- defences. See Defences, British.

    ---- ---- description of, ix, 189.

    Joyce, Lieut.-Colonel, 130.

    Julis, 59.

    Junction Station, importance of, 4.

    ---- ---- capture of, 85.

    ---- ---- description of, 96.

    Junjar, 208.

    Jurat el Mikreh, 44.


    Kabr Mujahid, 229.

    Kadem Station, 275.

    Kaimakam, 66.

    Kakon, 225.

    Kalaat Aneiza, 130.

    ---- el Zerka, 241.

    ---- el Nuhas, 274.

    Kalkili, 191, 192.

    Kannir, 205.

    Kantara, 16.

    Karm, 17.

    Karmelheim, 236.

    Kars, 263.

    Kasr el Azrak, 195.

    Kastal, 242.

    Katada, Emir, 337.

    Katana, 268.

    Katrah, 70, 79.

    Kaukab, action of, 268, 269.

    Kauwukah, 43.

    Kaza, 66.

    Kefr Harris, 220.

    ---- Kara, 205.

    ---- Kenna, 224.

    ---- Ruai, 219.

    Kelly, Brigadier-General P.J.V., 168, 169, 170, 206, 314.

    Kenna, Brigadier-General Paul, V.C., 316.

    Kerak, 125.

    Kerkur, 192.

    Khalasa, 7.

    Khan Ayash, 279.

    ---- el Shiha, 273.

    ---- Kusseir, 277.

    ---- Meizelun, 284.

    ---- Sebil, 288.

    ---- Shaikhun, 288.

    ---- Tuman, 289.

    Khashim Zanna, 24, 25.

    Khiyara Chiftlik, 274.

    Khurbet Arak, 208.

    ---- Atuf, 232.

    ---- Deiran, 86.

    ---- el Likiye, 39.

    ---- el Mujeidilat, 58.

    ---- el Muweileh, 32.

    ---- el Raseife, 143.

    ---- Hadrah, 88, 108.

    ---- Jeladiyeh, 73.

    ---- Kauwukah, 43.

    ---- Surafend, 86.

    Kishon, River, 192, 213, 233.

    Kiswe, 266, 268, 275.

    Kress von Kressenstein, General, 9, 57.

    Kubeibe, 70, 79, 84.

    Kuneitra, 262.

    Kuryet el Enab, 101.

    Kusr Atra, 258.

    Kustine, 65.

    Kustul, 107.

    Kut el Amara, 1.

    Kuwaik Su, 301.


    Lady's Brook, the, 213.

    Lambert, Major, 292.

    Laminitis, 320.

    Latron, 88.

    Lawrence, Lieutenant-Colonel, 130, 195, 255, 257, 278.

    Lawrence, Lieut.-General the Hon. Sir H., viii.

    'Lebanon Hounds,' 301.

    Lebanon Mountains, 311.

    Leben Station, 242.

    Lebon, Colonel, 190.

    Lebwe, 295.

    Lejjun, 192.

    Light Car Patrols, 97, 232.

    ---- ---- ---- in advance on Aleppo, 285-292.

    Liktera, 200, 204.

    Liman von Sanders, 193, 207, 250.

    Lorries, British, 13, 63, 64.

    ---- Enemy, 208, 211, 288.

    Lubban, 191, 220.

    Ludd, 101, 189.

    Lymphangitis, 320.


    Maan, 129, 130, 153, 340.

    Ma'arit el Na'aman, 288.

    MacAndrew, Major-General Sir H.J.M., 272.

    ---- ---- orders to 5th Cavalry Division at Damascus, 272.

    ---- ---- captures Aleppo, 290.

    Machine guns, British, 56, 82, 90, 220, 274, 285.

    ---- ---- ammunition for, 328.

    ---- ---- Enemy, xiv, 27, 91.

    Ma el Mallaka, 23.

    Mafid Jozeleh, 229.

    Makhadet Hajlah, 135.

    ---- Abu Naj, 230.

    ---- Fath Allah, 231.

    Makhruk, 193, 227.

    Malaria, x, 177, 181, 246, 278, 283, 284.

    Mamas, 205.

    Mandesi, 130.

    Maps, 23, 266.

    Marash, 295, 301.

    Marches, xii, 11, 18, 94, 139, 148, 166, 200, 211, 212, 219, 266, 283.

    ---- night, 23, 61.

    Mason, Lieutenant, 256.

    Masudi, action of, 239.

    Mecca, 3, 339.

    ---- Register of Ashraf at, 337.

    ---- Grand Sherif of, 337.

    Medina, 339, 340, 341.

    Megiddo, 192.

    Meissner Pasha, 35.

    Mejdel (Plain of Philistia), 59, 60.

    ---- (Plain of Sharon), 200.

    ---- (Sea of Galilee), 252, 259.

    Merchants, native, 296, 299, 300.

    Mesha, 191.

    Mesmiye, 84.

    Mesopotamia, 261.

    Messudieh Junction, 4, 192.

    Mezerib, 257, 264.

    Mezze, 269.

    Moab, 125.

    Money, stabilisation of exchange. See Exchange.

    Morale. See Turks.

    Mosques, Beersheba, 35.

    ---- Gaza, 125.

    Motor Boats, German, 126, 128, 129, 251.

    ---- ---- ---- used by British, 129, 136.

    Mountains. See Topography.

    Mounted attacks, methods employed in, 55, 56.

    Mud, 104, 118, 119, 138, 140, 311.

    Mudir, 66.

    Mughar, 70.

    ---- action of, 78.

    Mughair, 200.

    Mujeidil, 206.

    Mukhalid, 200.

    Mulebbis, 109.

    Mules, 318, 325, 326.

    ---- prices realised by captured, 318.

    Muntar, 127.

    Musallabeh, 178, 181.

    Muslimic Junction, 282, 293.

    Musmus Pass, 192.

    ---- ---- crossing of, 205, 206, 208, 209, 212.

    Mutasserif, 66.


    Naane, 86.

    Naaur, 133.

    Nablus, 101, 192, 198.

    ---- capture of, 221.

    Nahie, 66.

    Nahr el Auja, 88.

    ---- ---- ---- first crossing of, 108, 109, 110.

    ---- ---- ---- second crossing of, 122.

    ---- el Awaj, 274.

    ---- el Falik, 199, 203.

    ---- el Mukatta, 233.

    ---- el Zerka, 158, 160.

    ---- Iskanderuneh, 204.

    ---- Mefjir, 200.

    ---- Mughaniye, 267.

    ---- Rubin, 70.

    ---- Sukereir, 65.

    Napoleon, a memory of, 261.

    Nasir, Sherif, 257, 286.

    ---- ---- seizes Aleppo, 290.

    Natives. See Arabs.

    Navy, the Royal, 17, 48, 69, 93, 129, 213.

    Nazareth, 193, 208.

    ---- capture of, 207, 224.

    Nebi Samwil, 107.

    ---- Tari, 110.

    ---- Musa, 127.

    New Zealand Mounted Brigade, 7, 24, 26, 28, 69, 86, 88, 128, 136, 175,
    184, 227, 229, 240, 243.

    Night Marches. See Marches.

    Nisibin, 302.

    Northforce, 302.

    Nose bags, 13.


    Olives, Mount of, 121.

    Onslow, Brigadier-General, 217, 219, 220, 270.

    Operating Unit, 152.

    Orontes, River, 286.

    Osborne, Lieut.-Col. R.H., xv.


    Pack Animals, 13, 82.

    Palestine, description of. See Topography.

    Palmyra, 302.

    Paper money, values of. See Exchange.

    Persia, 2.

    Philistia, Plain of, 7.

    Picketing gear, 321.

    Pig-sticking, 301.

    Plans of Major Operations--
      Gaza-Beersheba, 10-11, 18, 20, 42.
      Jerusalem, 101.
      1st Trans-Jordan Raid, 132, 133, 134.
      2nd Trans-Jordan Raid, 154, 155, 156, 157.
      Esdraelon, 194, 195, 199, 200, 201.
      Relief of Damascus, 247, 248.

    Political objectives, 3, 247, 282.

    Polo, 301.

    Ponies, Arab. See Horses.

    Port Saïd, 17.

    Prisoners--
      As allies of British, 245.
      Attitude of, 30, 60.
      Difficulty of feeding, 225.
      Mortality amongst, 278.
      Numbers taken, xii, 30, 31, 32, 59, 60, 83, 84, 88, 92, 100, 117,
      122, 153, 154. 172, 175, 184, 186, 204, 207, 208, 209, 211, 213, 214,
      215, 221, 224, 225, 227, 230, 232, 236, 238, 239, 242, 245, 251, 256,
      268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 277, 278, 279, 283, 284, 285, 293.
      Water for, 65, 238, 239.

    Protection on march, 61, 201, 206.


    Raad, Mr. C., xv.

    Rabue, 270.

    Racing, 301.

    Railways--
      British, 16, 93.
      British, construction of, 16, 93, 103, 191, 196.
      Demolition of enemy, 4, 62, 130, 139, 142, 143, 153, 206, 219, 241,
      242, 339, 340.
      Hedjaz, 4, 129, 130, 131, 191, 240, 339, 340.
      Northern Palestine, 191, 192.
      Southern Palestine, 4, 16, 17, 18, 35.
      Syrian, 271, 282.

    Rain, 104, 117, 118, 119, 122, 127, 137, 138, 146, 147, 151, 311.

    Rakka, 302.

    Ram Allah, 105.

    Ram Allah Rakhman, 98.

    Ramleh, 86, 197.

    Ras el Ain, 295.

    ---- el Humeiyir, 232.

    Ras el Nukb. 39, 42.

    ---- Ghannam, 18, 20.

    ---- Umm Zoka, 232, 240.

    Rastan, 288.

    Rations, 13, 225, 248.

    Rayak, 282, 284, 295.

    ---- attempted raid on, 296.

    Rearguard actions, Amman, 150, 151.

    ---- ---- El Salt, 173, 174, 175.

    Reconnaissance, 14, 15, 16, 235, 254.

    ---- method of, of villages, 78.

    Red Hill, 157, 160, 161, 187.

    Red Sea, 129.

    Remounts. See Horses.

    Remte, 253, 255.

    Reserves, British, 8, 141.

    ---- ---- See also Horse Artillery.

    ---- Enemy, 17.

    R.H.A. Batteries--
      'A' Battery, H A.C., 29, 162, 213, 269.
      'B' Battery, H.A.C., 72, 161, 163, 190, 224, 232.
      Ayrshire Battery, R.H.A., 274.
      Berks Battery, R.H.A., 80, 90, 91, 253, 256.
      Essex Battery, R.H.A., 274.
      Hants Battery, R.H.A., 230, 239.
      Notts Battery, R.H.A., 21, 29, 162, 215, 269.
      Somerset Battery, R.H.A., 109, 148.

    Richard Coeur de Lion, 107.

    Richon-le-Zion, 86, 96.

    Rivers, passage of, Auja, 108, 109, 110, 122.

    ---- ---- ---- Jordan (Ghoraniyeh), 134, 135, 136, 157.

    ---- ---- ---- (Benat Yakub), 258-261, 262.

    Roads--
      Northern Palestine, 191, 192, 193, 205.
      Southern Palestine, 4, 21, 62, 101, 103, 127.
      Syria, 261, 262, 266, 272, 282, 285, 294, 296.
      Trans-Jordan, 126, 133, 134, 137, 156, 159.

    Robbers. See Brigandage.

    Rosh Pina, 262.

    Royal Air Force. See Aircraft.

    Rujm el Bahr, 128.

    ---- el Oshir, 137.

    Rushdi, 43.

    Rushdi Bey, 239.

    Russian notes, 300.

    Ryrie, Brigadier-General, 143.


    Saddle-wallets, 12.

    Sahnaya, 274.

    Salt, 133, 146, 149, 157, 167, 170, 229.

    ---- first capture of, 139.

    ---- ---- withdrawal from, 150, 151.

    ---- second capture of, 158, 159.

    ---- ---- withdrawal from, 174, 175.

    Samaria, 192.

    Sanah, 338.

    Sand, 6.

    ---- colic, 312.

    Sanjak, 66.

    Sarona, 197.

    Sasa, 267.

    Sbeine, 279.

    Sea traffic, 17, 69, 93, 248.

    Second Mounted Division, 8.

    Seffurie, 224.

    Selmeh, 189, 197.

    Semakh, 191, 248, 249.

    ---- capture of, 250, 251.

    Senussi Campaign, 8, 297.

    Seraikin, 288.

    720 Point, 21.

    Shannon, Major, 172.

    Shea, Major-General Sir J.M., 53.

    Shefa Amr, 232.

    Sheikh Hassan, 32.

    ---- Muannis, 109.

    ---- Saad, 255, 257, 264.

    ---- Said, 289.

    Shellal, 7.

    Sherif, 337.

    Sherifian Army, 129, 130, 192, 195, 240, 243, 245, 255, 264, 271, 277,
    279, 280, 286, 290, 293, 294.

    ---- ---- police work of, 297.

    ---- History of, App. II.

    Shilta, 103.

    Shtora, 284, 295.

    Shunet Nimrin, 133, 170, 228.

    ---- ---- unsuccessful attack of, 158 _et seq._

    Shuni, 255.

    Sidun, 89.

    Sihan, 3.

    Sinai Desert, 7, 16.

    Sindiane, 200.

    630 Point, 21.

    Smallpox, 278.

    Smyrna, 295, 302.

    Snow, 311.

    Spahis, 190.

    Spies, enemy, 5, 97, 119, 120.

    Sport, 301, 302.

    Stamboul, 3.

    Strategical objectives, 4, 192, 282.

    Suafir el Sharkiye, 60.

    Suez Canal, 2, 7, 16.

    Suffa, 114.

    Summeil, 72.

    Supply, difficulties of, 62, 63, 105, 107, 118, 225.

    ---- drawn from country, 248, 322, 323.

    Suriyeh, 236.

    Sweileh, 140, 144, 241.

    Swords, cavalry, 8, 54, 83, 92.

    ---- ---- Australian Mounted Division armed with, App. I. _a_.


    Tabor, Mount, 191, 212.

    Tabsor, 200.

    Tactics, General Allenby's. See Allenby.

    ---- Cavalry, 55, 56, 78, 90-92, 235, 236, 253, 254, 256, 269, 292.

    Tafas, 264.

    Tafile, 130.

    Taif, 339.

    Talaat el Dumm, 127.

    Tarsus, 295.

    Tel Abu Dilakh, 46.

    ---- ---- Hawam, 233.

    ---- el Dhrur, 205.

    ---- el Hesi, 61.

    ---- el Marrakeb, 12.

    ---- el Murre, 65, 69.

    ---- el Nejile, 44, 51, 52.

    ---- el Saba, 20, 23, 24, 27.

    ---- ---- ---- capture of, 28.

    ---- el Safi, 72.

    ---- el Sakaty, 20, 23, 24.

    ---- el Sharia, 3, 45.

    ---- el Subat, 234.

    ---- el Sultan, 178.

    ---- el Turmus, 70, 84.

    ---- Hasil, 290.

    ---- Jezer, 89.

    ---- Khuweilfeh, 38, 39, 58.

    ---- ---- capture of, 40.

    ---- Madh, 252.

    Tel Shadud, 208.

    Temptation, Mount of, 127, 188.

    Thothmes III., 192.

    3039 Point, 147, 148.

    Tibben, 313.

    Tiberias, 249, 251, 252.

    ---- Lake, 134, 191.

    Tine Station, 72, 85.

    Tire (Philistia), 113.

    ---- (Sharon), 199.

    Topography--
      Northern Palestine, 191, 192.
      Southern Palestine, 6, 7, 20, 50, 78, 89, 106, 126, 127.
      Syria, 260, 266, 272, 285, 290.
      Trans-Jordan, 133, 134.

    Training. See Cavalry.

    Trains, Divisional, 63.

    Transport, 62, 63, 248, 323-330.

    Trench warfare, 3-5, 123.

    ---- ---- unsuitability of cavalry for, 155, 156.

    Tripoli, 285, 286, 287, 294, 295.

    Troops, British--
      Disease among, x, 181, 246, 283, 284, 287.
      Reorganisation of, 154, 179, App. I. _a_, I. _b_.
      Strength of, 9, 193.

    Tubk el Kaneitra, 127.

    Tul Keram, 4, 192, 217, 218, 221.

    Turks--
      As allies of British, 245.
      Bad shooting of, xiv.
      Cavalry, 22, 264.
      Committee of Union and Progress, 298.
      Desertion, 67.
      Dread of high explosive shells, 308.
      Fighting value of, xiii, 68.
      Health, xiii, 60.
      Ill-treatment of, by Germans, xiii, xiv, 193, 194, 260.
      Marching powers of, 50, 64.
      Morale, xiii, 60, 92, 193, 216, 231, 254, 270, 271, 273, 274, 276,
      293, 306.
      Numbers, 9, 154, 193.
      Recruiting methods of, 66.
      Spies, 97, 120.
      Treatment of Arabs by, 264, 338.
      Three things feared by, xiv, 218.

    Turmanin, 290.


    Umbrella Hill, 32.

    Um el Ameidat, 46.

    ---- el Fahm, 212.

    ---- el Shert, 156, 164, 191, 227, 229.


    Venereal Disease, 278, 279.

    Villages, description of, 78.

    ---- method of reconnoitring, 78.


    Wadi Amman, 141.

    ---- Arseniyet, 138.

    ---- Ashlul el Wawy, 233.

    ---- Dhahr, 72.

    ---- el Arab, 255.

    ---- el Auja, 126, 129, 153, 178, 186.

    ---- el Hammam, 242.

    ---- el Retem, 163, 164.

    ---- el Shreikiye, 23.

    ---- el Sitt, 213.

    ---- el Sunt, 105.

    ---- el Tabil, 233.

    ---- el Zabirani, 273.

    ---- Farah, 193, 222.

    ---- Ghuzze, 7.

    ---- Hanafish, 43.

    ---- Hesi, 48, 52, 61.

    ---- Jamus, 79.

    ---- Jofet el Ghazlaniye, 137.

    ---- Kafrinji, 240.

    ---- Kefrein, 137.

    ---- Kumran, 128.

    ---- Maraba, 277.

    ---- Mejma, 60.

    ---- Nueiameh, 186, 187.

    ---- Ratam, 256.

    ---- Saba, 20.

    ---- Selman, 235.

    ---- Sharia, 21, 45.

    ---- Shellal el Ghor, 82.

    ---- Sherar, 232.

    ---- Surar, 102.

    Wagons, 13, 323.

    ---- loads of, 329, 330.

    ---- G.S. and L.G.S. compared, 323, 324.

    Warakani, 206.

    Water, detecting presence of, 317.

    ---- supply, 16, 33, 38, 52, 61, 95, 96, 178, 186, 244.

    Water, shortage of, 7, 14, 32, 33, 41, 44, 58, 63, 64, 94, 105, 314,
    315, 316, 317.

    Water-carts, 14, 248.

    Weather, 63, 104, 117, 311.

    Wells, destruction of, 7, 30, 33, 57, 64.

    ---- depth of, 44, 57, 64.

    ---- pumping plant, 44, 51, 59, 95, 96.

    West Indies Regiment, 179, 227, 229.

    Wilson, Brigadier-General L., 215.

    Wind, 63, 71, 118, 119, 179, 180, 311.

    Wounded, Evacuation of, 151, 152, 173.


    Yahudieh, 110.

    Yebnah, 78.

    Yeomanry Division, 8, 58, 85, 103, 112, 115, App. I. _a_.

    ---- ---- disbandment of, 116, 154.

    Yeomanry Brigades--
      5th, 7, 8, 55, 72, 94, 157, 165.
      6th, 8, 79, 89, 104, 112.
      7th, 8, 24, 39, 51, 113.
      8th, 8, 21, 22, 58, 78, 103.
      22nd, 8, 79, 103, 113.

    Yeomanry Regiments--
      Berks, 80, 90.
      Bucks, 80, 90.
      Dorsets, 80, 90, 253, 255.
      Gloucester, 117, 207, 275.
      Middlesex, 21, 22, 230, 239.
      Sherwood Rangers, 234.
      Warwick, 53.
      Worcester, 53, 221, 226, 232.

    Yilderim Army Group, 1, 4, 70, 105.


    Zahle, 284.

    Zebda, 253.

    Zebdani, 284.

    Zeid, Emir, 339.

    Zeita, 68.

    Zeitûn, 112.

    Zelefe, 204.

    Zenobia, 302.

    Zernuka, 70, 79, 84.

    Ziza Station, 242.

    Zor Defai, 288.

Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE LTD.





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