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The Desert Mounted Corps 






Southern Branch 
of the 

University of California 

Los Angeles 



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THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 





LllXTKNANT-CiKNIiRAI. SlU H. O. ChALV1;1., K.C.B., K.C.M.O 

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. 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 
1921 



6 H9o 



Printed in Oreat Britain 



.' ^ 



T"=^,2 



TO 

B 

DEAR LOYAL FRIEND AND PERFECT COMRADE 

WITHOUT WHOSE ENCOrTRAGEMENT AND HELP 

THIS BOOK WOULD NEVER HAVE 

BEEN WRITTEN 



4 



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 
N^ who served in the Corps, and who feel that the part 
N 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 
J. just as valuable in modern warfare as he ever. has 
c^ been in the past. Indeed, the whole of the opera- 
tions in Palestine and Syria, under General Allenby, 
were text-book illustrations of the perfect combina- 
tion 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 



viii THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

expert. He served throughout the whole of the 
operations of which he writes, and had consider- 
able 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 re-organisa- 
tion 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 com- 
manded 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 (sub- 
sequently 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 vicinitv of the Suez Canal, across 



INTRODUCTION ix 

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 modem 
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. 



X THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

The occupation of this area was essential to the 
success of General Allenby's final operations ; and 
everything possible was done to alleviate the con- 
ditions — with considerable success, as, though our 
wastage from malaria and other diseases was heavy, 
the greater bulk of the cases of malaria were con- 
tracted 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 accus- 
tomed 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 apprentice- 
ship of the Indian Cavalry to the trench warfare of 



INTRODUCTION xi 

the Western Front had robbed them of none of their 
dash and briUiancy 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 Commayiding the Desert Mounted Corps. 

Commonwealth of Australia, 

Depabtment of Defence. 

Office of the Inspector-General, 

ord 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 
Mihtary Powers. 

These remarks must not be taken, in any way, as 
underrating the value of tJie 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 pre- 
pared 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 



AUTHOR'S NOTE xiii 

capture of Damascus, Aleppo, etc., followed by the 
capitulation of the Turkish Empire. 

Though the Turks at their best are not to be com- 
pared 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 satis- 
factory. 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 wds little resist- 
ance 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 deteri- 
oration of morale among the Turkish troops, but, 
unquestionably, one of the chief was the constant 
friction that existed between Turkish and German 
ofiicers, which spread downwards to the ranks of 
both nations. The hectoring stupidity of the Prussian 
was nowhere better exemplified than in his treat- 
ment of his Turkish Allies. German officers openly 
and constantly expressed their contempt for the 
Turks, whom they compared to niggers, and numerous 



xiv THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 sur- 
rounded, 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. ^ 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 re-take 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 suppHed 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. 

^ 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. 



AUTHOR'S NOTE xv 

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 
InteUigence 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 cavah'y operating on a large scale. It 
demonstrated once more the soundness of the prin- 
ciples 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 in- 
structor at the Staff College Camberley, for very 
kindly reading the manuscript, and for many valu- 
able 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 illustra- 
tions. A number of the photographs taken on the 
enemy side were obtained from Mr. C. Raad, photo- 



xvi THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

grapher, of Jerusalem, who had secured the original 
negatives, and by whose permission they are repro- 
duced 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. 



CONTENTS 
CHAPTER I 

PAOR 

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 recon- 
naissances. Work of the engineers. Maps and water supply . 10 

CHAPTER III 

1917 The first round. The attack on Beersheba. Charge 

Oct. 27th of the 4th A.L.H. Brigade. Capture of the town with 

to 2000 prisoners. Destruction of the wells. First attack 

Nov. 1st on the Gaza defences. German buildings in Beersheba. 

Arab sheikhs and the Camel Transport Corps , . 18 

CHAPTER IV 

Nov. 2nd The decisive battle. Enemy counter-stroke on the 

to east. Hard fighting of the cavalry and the 53rd 

Nov. 7th 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 The pursuit. All three cavalry divisions employed. 

and 9tb Strong enemy resistance. Charge of the Yeomanry at 
Huj. Water at last. Sufferings of the horses. Delay 
caused by lack of water. Arak el Mensliiye and Beit 
Duras ......... 50 

CHAPTER VI 

Nov. 10th The Cavalry Corps in line from the railway to the sea. 

to Difficulties of supply. Withdrawal of aU but two 

Nov. 12th 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 

b 



xviii THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 
CHAPTER VII 

PAGE 

Nov. 13th Attack on the enemy line. Charge of the 6th Mounted 
to Brigade at El Mughar. Armoured cars enter Junction 

Nov. 15th Station. Capture of the station. Enemy forces cut 
in two. Right group driven northwards across the 
River Auja, and left group into the Judsean Hills. 
Occupation of Ramleh, Ludd, and JafEa. The Sidun- 
Abu Shusheh position. Second charge of the 6th 
Mounted Brigade ....... 77 

CHAPTER VIII 

Nov. 16th Necessity for reinforcements, and exhaustion of horses 
and 17th causes a lull in the operations. A waterless record. 
The Australian cavalry horse. Junction Station. Re- 
appearance of the Corps Ammunition Column. The 
Predatory Gunner. The A.P.M.'s Odyssey. A 
Turkish communique ...... 93 

CHAPTER IX 

Nov. 18th The advance resumed. Amwas. ITie Australian 
to Mounted Division withdrawn to rest. The Yeomanry 

Nov. 25th 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. Ist to Hard fighting and bad weather in the hills. Our corn- 
Dec. 31st. munications 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.' Enem3' spies in the mountains. 
Surrender of Jei-usalem. Final crossing of the Auja. 
Results achieved by the Desert Mounted Corps during 
the operations . . . . . . .112 

CHAPTER XI 

1918 ' Rest and Refit.' The rmns of Gaza. Decision to 

Jan. Ist to extend the battle line to the Jordan. The country be- 

Feb. 28th tween Jerusalem and the Dead Sea basin. The first 

descent into the Jordan Valley. Occupation of Jericho. 



CONTENTS xix 

PAGK 

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 XIT 

Mar. 1st The first trans-Jordan raid. Description of the trans- 
to Jordan country. Bridging the Jordan. Difficulties 

Apr. 2nd 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 Results of the raid. Successes of the Arab Army. 
to Reorganisation of the Cavalry Corps. The second 

May 4th trans- Jordan raid. Capture of EI 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 Decision to hold the Jordan Valley during the summer, 
to The Valley fine. Description of the country and 

Aug. 31st 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 Preparations for the great drive. Description of the 
to Turkish line and the country behind it. The opposing 

Sept. 18th forces. Precautions to ensure secrecy. Plan of the 
operations. Lawrence's Arabs cut the enemy railway 
at Deraa junction. At the starting post . . . 190 



XX THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 
CHAPTER XVI 



PAOiE 



Sept. 19th Opening the door. Cavalry through the gap and over 
to the Carmcl Range, On the Plain of Armageddon. 13th 

Sept. 2l8t Cavalry Brigade captures the enemy G.H.Q. at Naza- 
reth. Cavalry seize Afule, Jenin, and Beisan. Big 
haul of prisoners at Jenin ..... 202 

CHAPTER XVII 

Sept, 19th Rolling up the enemy flank. Work of the 5th A.L.H, 
to Brigade. Our infantry attack all along the line and 

Sept. 22nd drive in the Turkish front. Oui" cavalry reoccupy 
Nazareth. Sad fate of the ' Haifa Annexation Ex- 
pedition.' 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 Vllth and Vlllth Armies completely destroyed. 
Adventures of Chaytor's Force. Surrender of the 
Hedjaz Corps. British and Turks as ' Allies ' . . 229 

CHAPTER XIX 

Sept. 24th Decision to advance on Damascus. The orders for 
to the advance. 4th A.L.H. Brigade captures Semakh. 

Sept. 27th 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 The action at the Bridge of Jacob's Daughters. A 
and memory of Napoleon's campaign in Syria. Last cross- 

Sept. 28th ing 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 The last lap of the race to Damascus. Orders of the 

to Cavalry Corps. A fight in the darkness. The action 

Oct. 5th of Kaukab. 5th A.L.H. Brigade closes the Beirut 



CONTENTS 



XXI 



road. Ouv 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. Dis- 
orders in Damascus ...... 



266 



CHAPTER XXII 

Oct. 5th Decision to advance to Rayak and Beirut. Sickness 
to in the Corps. Occupation of Homs and Tripoli. 5th 

Oct. 31st 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 Armis- 
tice. 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 

Appendix I : (a) The Desert Mounted Corps 

(6) Infantry 
Appendix II : Note on the Arab Movement 
Appendix III : Terms of Turkish Armistice 



322 

331 
335 
337 
342 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



Lieutenant-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, K.O.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 



xxiv THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

TO FACB PAOK 

R.H.A. Fording River Jordan 270 

Bakada Gorge, Damascus 270 

Feisal's Headquarters at Damascus . . . 278 

Tripoli 278 

Aleppo ......... 288 

Arabs and Fbisal'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 

,, G 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 Galhpoli 
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 in- 
vincibility 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, 



2 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

or Lightning, Army Group, was in process of forma- 
tion 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, 
chronicUng 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 in- 
sistently for the recall of the troops engaged in them. 



THE ENEMY DEFENCES 3 

Thus, both for the purpose of re-estabHshing 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 stra- 
tegical 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 character- 
istic 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.' ^ 

^ Genera,! Allenby's despatch, dated 16th December 1917. 



4 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

The Turkish forces were thus on a wide front, the 
distance from Gaza to Beersheba being about thirt}"- 
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,^ 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, Mes- 
sudieh, Jenin and Afule, to Deraa on the Hedjaz Rail- 
way, whence the latter line continued to Damascus, 
Aleppo, and the Baghdad Railway. With the junction 
in our hands, any enemy force in the Judsean 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 

^ 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 conununications via the latter 
place. 



ENEMY SPIES 5 

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 eas}^ 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 Unes dis- 
guised 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, how- 
ever, methods were evolved to deal with this nuisance, 
and the enemy was kept in ignorance of our move- 
ments 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 com- 
mencement of the operations, stated that : ' An 



6 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

outflanking attack on Beersheba with about one 
infantry and one cavaky division is indicated, but 
the main attack, as before, must be expected on 
the Gaza front.' How far wrong was this apprecia- 
tion 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 com- 
pletely. Hitherto the German Flying Corps had 
done what it hked 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 



ORGANISING A CAVALRY FORCE 7 

and heavy going for transport. Eastwards again, 
towards Beersheba, the country changed to a wilder- 
ness of bare, rocky hills, intersected by innumerable 
wadis (dry river beds). These wadis were, for the 
most part, enclosed between limestone cliffs, some- 
times 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 water- 
less, 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 
Judsean 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 AUenby, himseK a 
cavalryman, to the command of the Egyptian Expedi- 
tionary Force, presaged the employment of cavahy 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 or- 
ganising 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, con- 
sisted 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. 



8 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

The 2nd Mounted (Yeomanry) Division, which 
had arrived in Egypt in April 1915, had been sent 
to GalUpoH dismounted. After the evacuation of 
the peninsula, part of this division had been re- 
mounted. 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 
Allenby now remounted the remainder of the Yeo- 
manry 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 ^ 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 

^ Raised and equipped by some of the ruling princes of India. 



THE OPPOSING ARMIES 9 

of the new force. It was accordingly named the 
Desert Mounted Corps. ^ 

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 Hne, while the 21st Corps (53rd, 54th, and 
75th Divisions) held the trenches opposite Gaza.^ 

The Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade was attached 
to the 21st Corps during the operations. This bri- 
gade had not yet seen any serious service, and its 
fighting quahties were rather an unknown factor. 
Later on in the campaign, however, all three regi- 
ments distinguished themselves greatly, and estab- 
lished 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 con- 
sisted of nine Turkish divisions, organised in two 
armies, the Vllth and Vlllth, and one cavalry 
division, a total of about 49,000 fighting men, 3000 
of whom were mounted, with 360 guns.^ 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. 

^ See Appendix i. a. ^ See Appendix i. b. 

^ The Vllth Army was commanded by the German General Kress von 
Kressenstein, and the Vlllth by Fevzi Pasha. The general staff of all the 
enemy formations was in the hands of the Germans, All ranks of the fly- 
ing 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-Chief's 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 Beer- 
sheba, 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 commence- 
ment 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 weU 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 pri- 
marily an infantry operation. Secondly, the pursuit 
of the enemy over the plain of Philistia, culminating 
in the capture of Junction Station, and the conse- 
quent isolation of any enemy force endeavouring 
to cover Jerusalem. This was to be the cavalry's 
opportunity. And lastly, the advance through the 
Judaean hills, and the capture of the Holy City. 

For obvious reasons only the first part of these 



THE PLAN OF OPERATIONS 11 

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 pre- 
vious 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. 



12 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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' 



PRELIMINARY TRAINING 13 

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 Umbered 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 estabhshed 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 waUets 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 



14 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 recon- 
naissances thus entailed two nights and a day of 
almost continual movement and watchfulness, with- 
out 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 annoy- 



CAVALRY RECONNAISSANCES 15 

ances. The scattered squadrons were invariably 
bombed by the enemy, generally with effect, and the 
Turks' light guns, brought out to concealed posi- 
tions, 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 in- 
creased 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 in- 
creased 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 



16 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

on the following day, when we intercepted the 
Turkish wireless communique on its way to the 
Berhn press. These communiques 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, some- 
what 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, con- 
sisted 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 rail- 
head 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 



THE PREPARATIONS COMPLETED 17 

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 con- 
centrate most of his available reserves behind the 
western portion of his line, a fact which contributed 
materially to our success in the subsequent opera- 
tions. 



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, immedi- 
ately 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 AustraUan Mounted 
Divisions, starting respectively from Asluj andKhalasa, 
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 respec- 
tively before reaching their fii'st 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 Beer- 
sheba, 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 

18 




Diagram UUcstrating Ike bcsUion, of ihoofii on the 3lst cf Oct. I9IJ. 



20 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

up into this gap, the railhead at Kami being actually 
in front of our line, and within eight miles of the 
main enemy positions about Hareira. 

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 
hne 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 Judaean range, along the backbone of which 




Australian engineers developing the water supply at Esani 




Cavalry country ! Near Beersheba. 



THE EL BUGGAR OUTPOST LINE 21 

runs the road to Jerusalem, through El Dhahariyeh, 
Hebron, and Bethlehem. 

On the evening of the 26th of October all prelimi- 
nary 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 out- 
post hne was manned by the 8th Mounted Brigade, 
which had been lent for the purpose by the Yeo- 
manry Division, and which came under the orders of 
the 53rd Division at midnight on the 26th. The 
Yeomanry Division was concentrated in the neigh- 
bourhood 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 Hne 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 



22 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Yeomanry. Before they arrived on the scene, how- 
ever, the small garrison on point 720 had been 
subjected to a concentrated shell fire, and over- 
whelmed 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 suc- 
ceeded 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 27 th, 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 



THE APPROACH MARCHES 23 

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 Httle 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. 



24 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

However, favoured by a bright moon, which rose 
soon after dark, the marches were accomphshed 
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 Divi- 
sion 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 con- 
siderably, 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. 



SUCCESS OF OUR INFANTRY 25 

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, happen- 
ing 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 a ierre 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 Beer- 
sheba. 

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 fight but satisfactory lunch, the three head- 
quarters 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. Immedi- 
ately afterwards a salvo of high-velocity shells 
landed right on top of the hill, scattering maps, 
field-glasses, and staff officers Hke chaff before the 



26 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 di-agged slowly on. The countrj'^ 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 



THE ATTACK OF TEL EL SABA 27 

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 dis- 
mounting to continue the attack on foot. 

Deploying from the wadi, the two regiments 
swung out into line of troop columns at wide inter- 
val, 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 advanc- 
ing 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 casu- 
alties 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, the}' 
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, 



28 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 slacken- 
ing of the enemy's fire, of which the New Zealanders 
took prompt advantage. With a sudden, tremen- 
dous 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 Beer- 
sheba, 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 ad- 
vance 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 recon- 
naissance work, and moved rapidly forward to the 



CHARGE OF THE 4TH A.L.H. BRIGADE 29 

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 hmbered 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 fines 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. ^ 
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 

^ They had charged with bayonets drawn and extended in front of 
them like swords. 



30 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 their 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 



CAPTURE OF BEERSHEBA 31 

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 re- 
markably 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. 



32 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

With the capture of Beersheba, the fii'st phase of 
the operations had ended satisfactorily, and, as the 
earher 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, 



DESCRIPTION OF BEERSHEBA 33 

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 demoHtion, but the charges had 
not been fired. Our sappers were left in splendid 
isolation, as they gingerly probed the debris 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 con- 
cealed 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 



34 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 cine- 
matograph 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 build- 
ings, 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 build- 
ing, 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 be- 
hind 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 



DESCRIPTION OF BEERSHEBA 35 

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 sup- 
ported 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 mihrah 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 ugli- 
ness 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 con- 
ceived 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 regi- 
ment 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. 



36 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

An occasional grunt and a half concealed yawn 
were all the response the perspuing 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 condi- 
tion — 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 







Beersheba. From an enemy photograph taken before the completion 
of the new German buildings. 




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) 



ARABS AND THE C.T.C. 37 

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. 



S1'49t> 



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 resist- 
ance, 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 con- 
centrated practically the whole of his available 
reserves in this area. The 19th Turkish Division, 
the remains of the 27th (the late garrison of Beer- 
sheba), and part of the 16th Division, together with 
the whole of the 3rd Cavalry Division, were iden- 
tified 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 Khu- 
weilfeh, it is probable that our main force would have 



ENEMY THRUST ON THE EAST 39 

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 estabhsh 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 prepara- 
tions 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 stub- 
bornly. 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 
EJiurbet el Likiye, whence the Camel Corps Brigade 
carried on the line to the right of the 53rd Divi- 
sion near Toweil Abu Jerwal. 



40 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 prepara- 
tions for the main attack neared completion, the 
enemy, who must by this time have realised our 
intention, flung his reserves more and more reck- 
lessly 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 flghting, 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 Novem- 
ber 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 ex- 
hausted 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 subse- 
quent operations, by engaging the enemy's principal 
reserves and defeating his counterstroke, thus per- 
mitting 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 



WATER DIFFICULTIES 41 

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 theDhaha- 
ri3^eh 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 Has 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 un watered 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 Httle 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. 



42 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 re- 
peatedly 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,^ 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 

^ From its commander, jVIaj or- General Sir G. de S. Barrow, G.O.C. of 
the Yeomanry Division. 



THE ATTACK ON HAREIRA 43 

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 frus- 
trate 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 fiire 
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 haK-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. 



44 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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

The role 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 role, 
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 move- 
ment, being directed to keep well in advance, so as 
to outflank any enemy opposition. The 60th Divi- 
sion 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 
prehminary 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 accord- 
ingly directed on the two first-named places, and 
the Australian Division on Huj. The former divi- 
sion 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 ON HAREIRA 45 

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 after- 
noon. 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.^ 

At four o'clock in the afternoon, the 4th A.L.H. 
Brigade, supported by two batteries of the AustraUan 
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 

^ 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. 



46 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Umm el Ameidat on the Junction Station-Beer- 
sheba 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 regi- 
ment 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 posi- 
tion 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 
fighting, 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 fine 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 echelons 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. 



Om^ 




48 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

which could then send their Hght, Hmbered 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 spec- 
tators, and the no small consternation of the staff 
officer who had given the order ! 

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 grace 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 cahbre. 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 




■Sit 



Turkish Cavalry- near Shari;i. 
(Friim an enemy photograph.) 




A Turkish cavah-^' machine-gun hattery in action near Sharia. 
(I'rom an enemy piiotograph.) 



ENEMY'S RIGHT FLANK TURNED 49 

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. 

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 
liad 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 subse- 
quently 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. 



D 



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 hghtly, 
and thus ofifered a stm'dy 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 ex- 
perienced 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 Judaean 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 echelon 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 



THE PURSUIT BEGINS 61 

with the AustraHan 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 oppor- 
tunity 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 7tli 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 pumpmg 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 



52 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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, pro- 
tecting Nejile and Jemameh. 

Meanwhile the Australian Mounted Division, on 
the left of the Anzacs, and with the 60th Division 
in its rear and a httle 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, particu- 
larly 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 common- 
place 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 encoun- 
tered, and succeeded in linking up with the Imperial 
Service Cavalry Brigade about Beit Hanun before 
nightfaU. It rejoined the division at Huj next day. 

About 3 P.M., as the right flank of the 60th Divi- 
sion was approaching Huj, it came suddenly under 
a devastating fire at close range from several con- 



YEOMANRY CHARGE AT HUJ 53 

cealed batteries of enemy artillery, which, with two 
battalions of infantry, were covering the withdrawal 
of the Vlllth 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 shght 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 lead- 
ing 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 



54 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 thrust- 
ing 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 gaUant officer 
who led this great charge, met his death subsequently, 



MOUNTED ATTACK METHODS 55 

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.^ 

The action was of interest as an indication of what 
may be accomplished, under suitable conditions, by 
even a very small force of cavahy 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 pre- 
cedents in modern warfare, with its machine guns 
and quick-firing artillery, brigadiers had been given a 
free hand to develop the tactics they favoured, sub- 
ject 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 dis- 
tance 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 

^ The charge formed the subject of a brilHant picture by Lady Butler 
painted from notes made by an eye-witness of the action. 



56 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

without swords. The second squadron galloped 
over the trench while the eneni)^ 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 oppor- 
tunity 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 deliber- 
ately and after due preparation, and the guns were 
available, this method of support was employed. 

Where a mounted attack had to cover a consider- 
able 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 



CAPTURE OF THE EIGHTH ARMY H.Q. 57 

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 caHbre, and this 
vast store of shells was of th^ greatest value to us. 

General Ej-ess von Kressenstein and his staff, who 
were still at Huj when our cavahy made this charge, 
narrowly escaped capture, and had to leave every- 
thing 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 Judsean hills, 
however, they re-estabhshed their wireless service, 
and thereafter all orders were sent by wireless, until 
the arrival of fresh telephone and telegraph equip- 
ment 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 weUs 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 



58 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 KhuweiKeh. 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. 



ADVANCE OF THE INFANTRY 59 

The r61§ of the cavalry thus changed to a direct 
pursuit of the enemy. Accordingly the Anzac Divi- 
sion, 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 



60 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Une, 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 dis- 
organised, 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. 



CHAPTER VI 

OVEB 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 AustraUan Mounted Division, there- 
fore, 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 inter- 
mittently in a south-westerly direction. These 
arrangements worked well, and the division arrived 
at Tel el Hesi at haK-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. 

61 



62 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 tr3dng 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 hne 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 ob- 
tained from the two enemy railways, as the Turks 
had blown up bridges and culverts, and destroyed 
portions of the hne 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 J 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 



SCARCITY OF WATER 63 

have to be left behind. Accordingly, on the 9th, 
the whole of the 20th Corps, with the exception of 
the o3rd 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 cavahy got some rest 
at night, there was none for them, as they were dis- 
tributing 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 unfortu- 
nate 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 Judsean 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 



64 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 through- 
out 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, utihsed the 
hours of darkness to put such a distance between 
his troops and their pursuers as enabled him gene- 
rally 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 dark- 
ness feU, and march all night, and repeat this per- 
formance of fighting all day and marching all night 
for several days in succession. During their retreat 
they systematically destroyed the water-lifting appa- 
ratus 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 oppor- 
tunity to collect his scattered forces and organise 



CAPTURE OF ESDUD BRIDGE 65 

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 north- 
wards 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 

E 



66 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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, direct- 
ing 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 AustraUan Mounted Division and 
the Yeomanry Division, on the east, pushing their 
tired horses slowly after the retreating Turks, ad- 
vanced 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,^ 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 

^ Turkish provinces are divided into a number of Sanjaks, each vmder 
a Mutasserif ; these in turn are divided into Kazas, each under a Kai- 
makam ; and each Kaza into several Nahiea under Mudirs or headmen of 
villages. 



DESERTION IN THE ENEMY ARMY 67 

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 oft* 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 then- 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 



68 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 be- 
fore even the attack was launched, they yet ad- 
vanced 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 
prehminary positions. 

He decided to attack the right centre of the 
Turkish fine 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 role 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 excel- 
lently carried out throughout the day, along a front 
extending from near Zeita nearly to Suafir el Sharkiye. 



CAPTURE OF TEL EL MURRE 69 

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 con- 
cealed 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 sur- 
prised the Turks, who had fancied themselves pro- 
tected 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 



70 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 cavahy 
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 ah'eady 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 con- 
solidated. 

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 



CAPTURE OF BURKA • 71 

the ground. The Hne 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 connect- 
ing the villages of El Mughar and Zernuka, and ex- 
tending 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 suli'ocating 
dust over all the country, and adding to the dis- 
comforts 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 dis- 
tance without further opposition, and estabhshed an 
outpost hne a few miles north of the Nahr Sukereir. 

The Yeomain-y Division came up in the after- 
noon 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. 



72 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

On the right of our Hne 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 reconnais- 
sance 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 posi- 
tions. 

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 Junc- 
tion 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 BaHn. 

The enemy attack was pressed with the greatest 



THE ACTION OF BALIN 73 

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 with- 
draw 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 BaUn. Almost immediately afterwards 
the enemy turned his attention to Berkusie, now 
occupied by a regiment of the 3rd Brigade. Sup- 
ported by a heavy fire from several batteries, the 
Turks attacked this village, and forced the regi- 
ment 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 Bri- 
gade 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, there- 
fore, ordered the division to withdraw slowly to 
the fine 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 



74 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 them- 
selves 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 AustraHan Division. Our 
losses had been somewhat severe, especially in the 5th 
Brigade Machine Gun Squadi'on, 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 



AN ARTILLERY LESSON 75 

special mission, as in this case, when the 5th Brigade, 
with ' B ' Battery H.A.C. attached, was sent forward 
into Bahn, acting as a sort of advance guard to the 
division, which was echeloned 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 AUenby's most marked character- 
istics was his capacity for gauging the fighting 



76 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. 







Hu.l. After the charge. 




British Horse Artillery anj Australian Cavah-y aUvancinM 
over the Philistine Plain. 



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 Austrahan 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 re- 
Heved 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 ex- 
haustion 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 

77 



78 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

into isolated, rocky hills, similar in character to the 
coiintr}' 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 cavahy, when ap- 
proaching 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. 



THE EL MUGHAR-KATRAH LINE 79 

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. In- 
tense machine-gun fii*e 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 
viUage 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 tre- 
mendous fire from machine guns and riflemen con- 
cealed 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. 



80 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

General Barrow ordered the 6th Mounted Brigade, 
which was now extended from Yebnah to ElGheyadah, 
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 Yeo- 
manry, 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. 







Dia^ra/ft Ulastra^g the action. oF £!L Mugkcir 



82 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

The 8th Mounted Brigade, which was attacking 
Zernuka, would afford protection to the left flank 
of the 6th during the action. 

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 in- 
tense 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, kiUing 



THE CHARGE AT EL MUGHAR 83 

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 dis- 
mounted 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 sur- 
rendered. 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 con- 
sohdated, a number of the enemy in the village 
opened fire on our troops with machine guns, in- 
flicting 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 posi- 
tion 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 



84 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 pri- 
soners 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 AustraUan Mounted Division advanced a few 
miles, covering the right flank of the 75th Divi- 
sion, 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 



ENEMY ARMY SPLIT IN TWO 85 

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 



86 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. 



88 THE DE8ERT MOUNTED CORPS 

The Camel Corps Brigade occupied a support line a 
short distance farther south. Tlie Yeomanry Divi- 
sion 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. 

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 acclama- 
tion 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 EJiurbet 
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 



ACTION OF ABU SHUSHEH 89 

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 



90 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

two former brigades were in action, advancing dis- 
mounted. 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 recon- 
noitring 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 Yeo- 
manry 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 



ACTION OF ABU SHUSHEH 91 

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 atten- 
tion 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 con- 
fusion 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- 



92 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 jGLre. 

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 them- 
selves, whose shooting during the attack was exceed- 
ingly bad, and appeared to be completely out of 
control. It is probable that among the garrison 
were m^.ny who had spoken with survivors from El 
Mughar, and we may be sure that the story of that 
charge had lost nothing in the telhng, 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 
Am was, 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 con- 
tinuance 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 condi- 
tions, 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 trans- 
port in the Corps. 

• 93 



94 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Moreover, the operations had now continue 
seventeen days practically without cessation, '< 
rest was absolutely necessary, especially fo: 
horses. The cavalry divisions had covered i 
170 miles since the 29th of October, and their 1 
had been watered, on an average, only once in 
thirty-six hours during that time. The heat 
had been intense, and the short ration, 9J 11 
grain per day, without any bulk food, had wea. 
them greatly. Indeed the hardships endure 
some of the horses were almost incredible. 
the batteries of the Australian Mounted Di 
had only been able to water its horses three 
in the past nine days, the actual intervals be 
waterings being 68, 72, and 76 hours respect 
Yet this battery, on its arrival at Junction 
tion, had only lost eight horses from exhau 
not counting those killed in action or evac 
wounded. 

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

The majority of the horses in the Corps 
Walers, and there is no doubt that these 1 
Australian horses make the finest cavalry mi 
in the world. For many years past the Austn 
have been bujdng up the well-bred failures oi 
English Turf, and buying them cheap ; no 
racing purposes, but to breed saddle horses fo: 



ENGLISH HORSES AND WALERS 95 

ry stations. As a result of this policy, they 
now got types of compact, well built, saddle 
arness horses that no other part of the world 
how. Rather on the light side, according to 
leas, but hard as nails, and with beautifully 
legs and feet, their record in this war places 

far above the cavalry horses of any other 
I. The Australians themselves can never under- 

our partiality for the half-bred, weight-carry- 
mter, which looks to them Uke a cart horse. 

contention has always been that good blood 
irry more weight than big bone, and the ex- 
ce of this war has converted the writer, for 
mtirely to their point of view. It must be 
ibered that the Australian countrymen are 
, heavier men than their English brothers, 
formed just half the Corps, and it is probable 
tiey averaged not far short of twelve stone each 
3d. To this weight must be added another 
nd a half stone, for saddle, ammunition, sword, 
dothes and accoutrements, so that each horse 
1 a weight of over twenty-one stone, all day 
rery day for seventeen days, on less than half 
Tmal ration of forage, and with only one drink 
ry thirty-six hours ! 

weight-carrying English hunter had to be 
I back to fitness after these operations, over 
y period, while the little Australian horses, 
it any special care other than good food and 

of water, were soon fit to go through another 
ign as arduous as the last one. 
ction Station was the first place where we 

unHmited, and accessible, water. Owing to 
gorous action of the armoured cars, the Turks 
LOt had time to destroy the steam pumping 

there, and our engineers soon had rows of 



96 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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, p3n'amids 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 tw^o locomotives and a 
number of railway wagons, which were of great 
value to us during the ensuing few weeks, tiU our 
own railway reached Ludd. 

The heavy echelons of the cavalry ammunition 
columns, which had last been seen at Sharia on the 
7tli 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 



THE A.P.M.'S ODYSSEY 97 

Suffice it to say tliat 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 
battahon 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 vuhier- 
able 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 KJiurbet 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 informa- 
tion 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 ^ 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 

^ Unarmoured Ford vans carrying a machine gun each. 
Q 



98 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

called Ram Allah Rakhman, which we took to be 
somewhere near Bethlehem, but subsequently dis- 
covered 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 hne. But this triflmg fact did not in 
any waj^ deter the pursuers. What could the Turkish 
Army do against two Ford cars and two machine 
guns ? They bhthely 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 
encomitered another, and larger, body of enemy 
cavalry. ' This time,' says the report, ' there were 
about thirt}^ 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 Beth- 
lehem, where our men were received with transports 
of Joy by the inhabitants, nearly all of whom are 
Christians. The poor people crowded round then 
dehverers to kiss then' hands, shouting and weeping, 
and pressmg 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. 



A TURKISH COMMUNIQUE 99 

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 Unes 
attracted httle 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 aU 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 Httle angry. The result was that, when the 
blushing Ulysses did finally arrive, instead of receiv- 
ing a ' few kind words of praise ' for carrying out an 
exceedingly daring reconnaissance, he got an un- 
merciful dressing down for giving headquarters such 
a fright ! 

On the 18th of November the populations of the 
enemy countries received their first intimation that 



100 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

all was not well in the East. Up till this date the 
Tuikish 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 communique, though none of 
the Turkish papers received it till after it had been 
published in BerUn. 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 ! 



CHAPTER IX 

MOUNTAIN WARFARE 

The advance was resumed on the 18th of November. 
Durmg the preceding two days there had been no 
movement of importance on the part of om* forces. 
The 22nd Momited Brigade had located the Turkish 
rearguard at Am was 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 Divi- 
sion 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 pJerusalem completely. In order to do 
this it was necessary to gain possession of the only 
road which traverses the Judsean Range from north 
to south, between Nablus and Jerusalem. 

The Yeomanry Division was accordingly dii'ected 
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 

101 



102 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Austrahan 
Mounted Division found a force of the enemy en- 
trenched 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 divi- 
sion, assisted by some of the guns of the 75th Divi- 
sion, 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, scrambhng 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 tlireat 
to their flank had, however, been enough for the 
Turks, who retired during the night, abandoning 
four guns, the teams of which had been kiUed 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 



INTO THE HILLS 103 

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 
hiU 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 divi- 
sional train. 

The 8th and 22nd Brigades of the Yeomanry 
Division plunged into the hills on the mornmg of the 
18th, and soon found themselves in difficulties. In 
this mountain country, in which there were no 
wheeled vehicles, and aU 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 foot- 
path, leading straight down and up the numerous 
deep and narrow ravines that intersect the country 
in aU directions. Sometimes it required haK an 
hour's reconnaissance to move forward half a mile. 

Under such conditions, the 8th Brigade accom- 
pUshed 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 



104 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. Conse- 
quently they were exceedingly vulnerable, and their 
inabihty 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 Httle 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 sepa- 
rated 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 vaUey bottoms into a sea 
of viscid, black mud, and the beds of the ravines 
into rushing torrents. The sudden drop in tempera- 
ture 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. 



THE BEITUNIA RIDGE 105 

During the morning of the 19th of November the 
8th and 22nd Brigades struggled thi'ough the rain 
and mud along the Wadi el Sunt, towards Beitunia 
and Ain Arik respectively, but about mid-daj 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. Un- 
able 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 Itamleh, 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 



106 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 ar- 
rived 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, 



CAPTURE OF NEBI SAMWIL 107 

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 hiU of Nebi Samwil, the traditional 
tomb of the Prophet Samuel. This hill dominates 
aU 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 opera- 
tions 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 aU 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 



108 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. 

^?t 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 estab- 
Hsh one or more bridgeheads north of the river, 
with the object of inducing the enemy to beheve 
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 battahons of infantry lent 
by the 54th Division,^ a small enough force, in view 
of the known strength of the enemy. The rest of 

^ 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 ShUta, about 
five miles west of the left of the Yeomanry Division. 




Arrival of Marshal von Fallienhayn in Jerusalem in 1917. 
(From an enemy photograph.) 




9.4.S inch Austrian Howitzer on the Nahlus road, 
(From an enemy photograph ) 



FIRST PASSAGE OF THE AUJA 109 

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 Zea- 
landers 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 
Hadi'ah, and opened j&re 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 battahon 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. 

Just after dawn next morning, the cavahy 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 



110 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

by, the lire 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 heavUy 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 direct- 
ing 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 
withdi'awn, the Anzac Division fell back to a posi- 
tion 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. 



THE AUJA LINE 111 

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. 



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 Sii'a- 
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 tlie 
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, con- 
sisting of three officers and sixty men, was in a small 
stone building on the top of a ridge near Zeitun. 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 
ofi 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 head- 



YEOMANRY DIVISION HARD PRESSED 113 

quarters to ask if a few men could be spared to rein- 
force 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 Zeiti!in post successfully held out aU 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 Zeitiin 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 Beir Ur el Tahta 
at five in the morning of the 28th, just in time to 

H 



lU THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

help the 22nd Mounted Brigade to repulse a heavy 
attack from the north. 

A brigade of the 52nd Division was sent to rein- 
force the exposed left flank of the Yeomanry Divi- 
sion, 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 cycHst going 
down to Ramleh reached the scene immediately 
afterwards, and, seeing the wi^ecked 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 exceed- 
ingly 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 remforced, was unable to break our line. 



RELIEF OF THE YEOMANRY 115 

The Australian Mounted Division arrived at Khur- 
bet 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 hne in the centre, in support 
of the 6th Brigade, about five in the evening. The 
hard- worked 52nd Division contrived to spare another 
battahon, 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 fight- 
ing. 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 hne 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 reheve 
the Yeomanry about this time, there is no doubt 
that they would have been overwhelmed. So de- 
pleted 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 
reheved 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 Yeo- 



116 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

manry Division withdrew to Annabeli, 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 cheer- 
fulness 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 Solium 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 Judsean 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. 



TURKISH STORM TROOPS 117 

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 battahon 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 incessantty, and the cold 



118 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

winds that swept up and down the naiTow valleys 
were exceedingly trying to men who were nearly 
always in wet clothes. 

But, if the conditions in the hiUs 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 trans- 
formed 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 
Httle, from time to time, these wadis were indis- 
tinguishable 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 Chiistmas 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 rail- 
way 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 
suppUes could be brought up to the troops. 

A small party of Yeomanry, making its way north- 
wards 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 



NATIVE SPIES 119 

the meantime, the waters had risen behind them, and 
they found themselves cut off on the bridge, which 
was now a smaU island in an apparently Hmitless 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 I 
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 reach- 
ing 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 durmg 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 



120 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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, carry- 
ing 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 treat- 
ment to this man, it is possible that he was a Turk 
in disguise. 




One of our Horse Artillery batteries in action in the mountains west of Jerusaler 
Note the bivouac shelters pitched among the guns as camouflage. 




Reading the British Proclamation in Jerusalem, llth November. 1917. 
General Allenby with Allied Representatives in the centre. 



SURRENDER OF JERUSALEM 121 

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 morn- 
ing 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 Jeru- 
salem on the 11th, accompanied by representatives 
of the Allied Nations. This event, and the magnifi- 
cent 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 cavahy. 

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, sur- 
rounded by an immense retinue, in uniforms blaz- 
ing 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 Jafia Gate, which, in accordance with 
ancient tradition, is opened only to a conqueror of 



122 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

the Holy City ; the Kaiser entered through a breach 
in the wall. 

The AustraUan 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, fol- 
lowed 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 ham- 
pered 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, ^ fought nine general engagements, 
and captured about 9500 prisoners and 80 guns. 

^ The actual distances covered by the three divisions in the period 
were : — Anzac Mounted Division, one hundred and seventy miles ; Yeo- 
manry Division, one himdred and ninety miles; Australian Mounted 
Division, two hundred and thirty miles. 



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wholly 
Other tracks 
Railways 



Under SOOfeet 

Between 500 <t WOO 
.. WOO A 1500 
1500 & 

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.. 2500 d 

Aboue 3000 




CHAPTER XI 

DOWN TO THE JORDAN 

The advance across the Nalir el Auja at the end of 
December 1917, and the infantry operations north 
of Jerusalem about the same time, established our 
Hne 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 consoU- 
dated, 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 
Austrahan 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 

128 



124 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 ' cm-ios ' 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 con- 
spicuously. 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. 

The great mosque, which had once been a noble, 







Ruins of the llreat Mosque at Gaza, shuwini; one of tlic iirches 
of the old Crusader Church. 



THE RUINS OF GAZA 125 

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 satis- 
factory 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 in- 
habitants 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 thor- 
oughly consohdated, 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 supphes of grain from the districts round Kerak, 
in the land of Moab, on the eastern and south- 



126 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Rail- 
way, 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 inconveni- 
ence 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 hun- 
dreds 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 



INTO THE JORDAN VALLEY 127 

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 Beth- 
lehem 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 posi- 
tion 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 cavahy had 



128 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

to advance in single file along a iaw 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 



INTO THE VALLEY AGAIN 129 

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 patrolHng 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 regi- 
ment to patrol the valley. 

Some idea of the difficulties of the country during 
these operations may be gathered by the fact tPiat 
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 fine north 
of the Wadi el Auja, from the Jordan to the moun- 
tains. Thereupon the Turks withdrew their bridge- 
head 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, ammimition and light guns, and largely led 

I 



130 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

by British officers, chief among whom were Lieu- 
tenant-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 in- 
duced 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 Hne to the Hish Forest, and was used 
to transport wood as fuel for locomotives. Shortly 
afterwards another force raided a station on the 
Hedjaz Une, some thirty miles north of Maan, destroy- 
ing the station buildings and some engines and roUing 
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 



AN ARAB SUCCESS 131 

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. ^ 

* 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 AUenby 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 oppor- 
tunity 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 correspond- 
ingly weakening his forces in the Judsean hills. 
The deep and difficult vaUey of the Jordan, and the 
river itself, would, moreover, form a dangerous ob- 
stacle 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 

1S2 



THE TRANS-JORDAN COUNTRY 133 

viaduct, and through a considerable tunnel. If these 
two works could be thoroughly destroyed, the result- 
ing interruption of traffic might well be so pro- 
longed 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 im- 
mediately to the west of, and covering, the tunnel 
and viaduct, had been garrisoned and prepared for 
defence. An advanced defensive position had been 
estabHshed astride the Jericho-El Salt road, ex- 
tending from El Hand 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 Sjn^ia, 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, inter- 
sected by deep ravines, and traversed only by a 
few narrow footpaths. 



134 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 hable 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 foot- 
hills 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 Ghor- 
aniyeh. 

The plan was for the 60th Division to force the 
passage of the river, drive the enemy from his posi- 
tion 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 hne 
as they could, they were to withdraw on the 60tli 
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 



BRIDGING THE JORDAN 135 

the Judsean Range, of which we had already had 
such unfavourable experience. The only informa- 
tion 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 
cavahy 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 rein- 
force 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 Ghor- 
aniyeh 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 



136 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

regiment of the New Zealand Mounted Brigade 
crossed the river by the pontoon bridge at Mak- 
hadet Hajlah, and, galloping along the bank to the 
north, cleared the enemy from the east bank opposite 
Ghoraniyeh, thus facihtating the crossing of our in- 
fantry 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 regi- 
ment 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 vSea 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 Divi- 
sion during the attack on the enemy positions astride 
the Amman road, at El Hand 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 in- 
fantry, but the bad state of the road, which the 
enemy blew up in several places as he retired, delayed 
the pui'suit. 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 



ADVANCE ON EL SIR 137 

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 
Kef rein, south of the road, and reached Rujm el 
Oshh' 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 ammuni- 
tion 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 down- 
pour the tracks marked on the map revealed them- 
selves for what they really were, the beds of mountain 
streams. Each of them was transformed into a rush- 
ing 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 dark- 
ness 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, 



138 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

via Naaur, in pouring rain. Diuing this part of the 
march the way was not so steep as in the earher part, 
but the alternate deep mud and shppery 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 (includ- 
ing 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. Out- 
posts 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. 



TWO RAILWAY RAIDS 139 

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 con- 
tinually 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 



140 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 un- 
charted 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 bat- 
tahon of the Camel Corps Brigade, acting on the 
right of the New Zealanders, was to destroy as much 
of the fine 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 



FIRST ATTACK ON AMMAN 141 

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 battahon, was to attack from the west. 

There was no divisional reserve. It was con- 
sidered that the superior mobility of our cavalry and 
camehy 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 Hne that was 
hard pressed, in time to be of any service. 

The three brigades set out from Ain el Sir at nine 
o'clock. AU 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 
particular^ 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 aheady 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 pre- 
cipitous, 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 



142 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 en- 
gaged 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 Divi- 
sion, 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.^ 

^ At a demonstration given some months later by a small party of 
engineers specially trained by this officer, one mile of track was com- 
pletely destroyed in ten minutes. 



ANOTHER RAILWAY RAID 143 

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 R3rrie 
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 



144 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 dayhght, and shelled our positions 
intermittently dm-ing 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 Cir- 
cassians and Arabs showed a disposition to fire impar- 
tially on all who came within range, quite irrespective 
of their reUgion or politics. The column had, there- 
fore, 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 



SECOND ATTACK ON AMMAN 145 

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 re- 
sistance, 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 in- 
fantry 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, 
patrolUng 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 

K 



146 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 as- 
saulted 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 posi- 
tions 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 in- 
tended to attack as soon as the infantry reinforce- 
ments 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. 



THIRD ATTACK ON AMMAN 147 

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 main- 
taining 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 sur- 
render 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 deter- 
mined 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 



148 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 posi- 
tion, 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 chnging 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, pro- 
bably as a result of a push forward made by the 2nd 
A.L.H. Brigade farther north. The infantry took 



WITHDRAWAL OF THE RAIDING FORCE 149 

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 inade- 
quate 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 with- 
draw 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 at- 
tack 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 



150 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

enemy. General Shea,^ 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 darlaiess fell the New Zealand Brigade 
and the detached battalion of the Camel Corps dis- 
engaged, and fell back to the west bank of the Wadi 
Amman, where they held a line of posts to cover the 
withdi'awal 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 treacher- 
ously 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 con- 
tinued 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, 

1 Major-General Sir J. S. M. Shea, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., command- 
ing the 60th Division. 



TRIALS OF THE WOUNDED 151 

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 concen- 
tration against us. 

The wounded suffered severely. The nearest hos- 
pital 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 ^ 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 mediaeval 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 

^ Canvas hammocks, stiffened with bamhoo poles and slung one on 
each side of the camel, to take a man lying down. 



152 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 
ears 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. 




German motor boat leavinji Jerusalem for the Dead Sen 
(From an enemy photograph.) 




Turks loading grain from Moah for transport across the Dead Sea. 
(From an enemy photograph.) 



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 operat- 
ing 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 cap- 
tured 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 kiUed and wounded were 
estimated to have been not less than 1700. 

Moreover the bridgehead which had been estab- 
lished across the Jordan at Ghoraniyeh was main- 
tained 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 un- 

153 



154 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

easiness. 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 som« 
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 en- 
trenched 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 de- 
stroy 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 Meso- 
potamia, and partly by untrained native troops 
from India. ^ 

^ See Appendix i. a for composition of Desert Mounted Corps after the 
reorganisation. 



THE BENI SAKHR 155 

It was originally intended that the raid should 
take place about the middle of May, when the re- 
organisation had been completed, and the full strength 
of the Desert Mounted Corps would have been avail- 
able. 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 Com- 
mander-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 AUenby 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 Une. Moreover, while 
employed in the line, they are deprived of the oppor- 
tunity of training for mounted work, and their horses 



15G THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 enter- 
prises. Moreover, though he would not put his 
cavalry into the line, if he could help it, the Com- 
mander-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 Nirnrin, 
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 in- 
fantry 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 under- 
took 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 



THE EL DAMIEH BRIDGEHEAD 157 

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 cover- 
ing 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 tlie 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 4tli A.L.H. Brigade 



158 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

then took up a position facing north-west about 
2000 5^ards 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 sup- 
ported 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 



CAPTURE OF EL SALT 159 

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 earty in the 
morning of the 1st of May, and the 2nd Brigade at 
once pushed on along the Amman road to Ain Hemar, 
di'ove off the small force of Turks there, and occupied 
the road junction. The 3rd Brigade held an out- 
post line north-west and north of El Salt, and the 1st 



160 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 vigor- 
ously. 

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 con- 
tinued in action, and caused severe casualties to the 
enemy. 

Simultaneously with the attack from the west, 
about 1000 Turldsh 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 



FOURTH BRIGADE HARD PRESSED 161 

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 ! AUah ! 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 hiUs, 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 move- 
ment 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 Httle 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, 

L 



162 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 opera- 
tion, but it appeared to offer the only chance of ex- 
tricating 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 fine, 
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 



LOSS OF R.H.A. GUNS 163 

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 over- 
turned 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 



164 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

them with machine guns, killing nearly all the horses, 
and the attempt had to be abandoned. 

Scrambhng 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 suc- 
cessfully, with the assistance of the two New Zealand 
regiments, and a line was estabhshed 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 com- 
munication 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 effec- 
tively 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 



HARD FIGHTING IN THE HILLS 165 

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 un- 
able 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 Divi- 
sion 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 cavahy were now in a very precarious posi- 
tion. The strong force at Shunet Nimrin barred the 
main road, and the Wadi Arseniyat track, on the 



166 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

south-west. The Turkish 3rd Cavalry Division and 
part of an infantry division, having cleared our troops 
from their Une of advance from Jisr el Damieh, were 
advancing on El Salt from the north-west ; and a 
tliird 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 Avas 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 diffi- 
culties, 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. 



EL SALT SURROUNDED 167 

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 enemj'', 
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 Hand. 

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 withdi'awn from 
the 1st Brigade, for the same purpose. The donkey 
convoy, carrying 100,000 rounds of small-arm ammuni- 
tion 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 gain- 
ing 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 



168 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 hold- 
ing the horses of the remainder, since all fighting in 
such country had to be done on foot. A whole brigade 
of cavahy 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 pro- 
bably 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 hoiu* 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 



FAILURE OF HOWEIJ ATTACK 169 

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 con- 
tinued, but allowed one regiment of the 2nd to be 
withdrawn for the defence of El Salt. Shortly after- 
wards he consented to a second regiment being with- 
drawn 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 Uttle loss, to the edge of 
a tributary of the Wadi Nimrin, just north of 
El Howeij. At haK-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 regi- 
ment of the 1st Brigade left on the west side of the 
village, and this was the only regiment of the force 
in the Une not in action with the enemy. The 3rd 
Brigade, holding a hne 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 remain- 
ing regiment of the 1st was in divisional reserve in 
the village. 

At haK-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 Hodg- 
son had no troops to spare, and indeed was hard put 
to hold his own at El Salt. He directed General 
KeUy, while protecting his flank and rear as best he 
could with the 6th A.L.H. Regiment (2nd Brigade), 



170 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 mur- 
derous fire. Worn out by three days and nights of 
continuous marching and fighting, reduced by casu- 
alties, 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 ofi a 
little, and remained in observation of the Turks 
during the night. The enemy had been greatly re- 
inforced 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 




Diagrctm, cu.a.-sLi 



sbxctUiQ &Kt sOuaUon, on the ^7 rd. of Max/ 19 fS. 



172 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. 

This charge reheved 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 magni- 
ficent 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 5tli Brigade was called on to send a 



EVACUATION OF EL SALT 173 

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 eneni}^ 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 shppery 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 
sc8.rcely be imagined. It was past mid-day before 
the last camel had cleared El Salt. 

Since the failure of their first attacks in the morn- 
ing, 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 haK-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 



174 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 withdiew 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 rear- 
guard 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 con- 
tinuously since they had taken up the position cover- 
ing the Umm el Shert track on the 1st. They had. 



WITHDRAWAL OF OUR FORCE 175 

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 comrjades 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 unsuccess- 
ful. 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 opera- 
tions, 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. 



176 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Judsean Hills. It was this fact 
that enabled us, in the following September, to en- 
velop and completely destroy the Vllth and Vlllth 
Armies, before tlie IVth Army could intervene. 




r-A ''-rjm» '. j!«: :^. 



The River Jordan at Ghoranitseh. 




Shunet Nimrin and the Amman Road. Looking east, towards the 
positions held by the enemy. 



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 
Uve 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 con- 
firmed 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. 

M 



178 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Moreover, since it was clear that it would be neces- 
sary to occupy the valley and the river crossings, 
when the next advance was commenced, it was con- 
sidered less costly to continue to hold it during the 
summer than to have to retake it later on. 

After careful consideration, General Allenby re- 
solved 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 Une 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 Judsean 
mountains, along the north bank of the Wadi el 
Auja, to its junction witli 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 thstt 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 sahent in our line, a fact which caused 
us much annoyance all the time we were in occupa- 
tion of the valley. It was, however, necessary to 
hold Abu Tellul and Musallabeh, 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 



CLIMATE OF THE JORDAN VALLEY 179 

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 divi- 
sions.^ 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 every- 
where, 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 suddenl}^ 
as it had arisen, and for about half an hour there was 

^ See Appendix i. a, for detail of cavuirjr. 



180 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

a period of deathlike stillness, accompanied by the 
most intense heat of the day. Then the wind recom- 
menced violently, but blowing from the south, and 
continued till about eight in the evening. Innumer- 
able, 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 out 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 TeUul 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 in- 
creased air pressure, due to the depth of the valley 
floor below sea level (1200 feet at Ghoraniyeh), in- 
duces 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. 



DISEASE 181 

An unceasing campaign was carried on by the 
medical staff of the Corps against the malaria-bear- 
ing 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 Hne 
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 



182 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

bombardment, which cut all our telephone wires. The 
batteries were thus, early in the fight, out of touch 
with theii* 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 bat- 
teries continued to fire on their S.O.S. lines. 

The commanding oflEicer of the 2nd A.L.H. regi- 
ment, against which the brunt of the attack fell, 
narrowly escaped capture, l:>ut 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 wiie, and reached the top of Abu TeUul 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 



THE ACTION OF ABU TELLUL 183 

strongly entrenched position in whicli 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, 
kilHng and wounding six. One of the officers there- 
upon went back for reinforcements, and the remain- 
ing 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 dis- 
covering 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 



184 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 attempt- 
ing to cross the wadi. The howitzers were immedi- 
ately 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 da3dight 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 posi- 
tion 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 



GERMAN INDISCIPLINE 185 

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 in- 
censed Australians soused them unceremoniously with 
water, and sent them on their way to the prisoners' 
compounds without more ado. It transpired after- 
wards 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. 



186 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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, kiUing 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 advan- 
tage of us, and to patrol work, in which our troops, 
more especially the Indian Cavalrj^, 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 suppty and ord- 
nance 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, ammu- 
nition column camps, and field hospitals. Early in 
July the enemj^ 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 in- 
convenient situations, along the bottoms of small 
wadis running down from the ridge into the plain. 
Some protection was obtained by these m.easures, 
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. 



' JERICHO JANE ' 187 

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 posi- 
tion 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 un- 
welcome 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 



188 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Tempta- 
tion, just above the rock-hewn hermitage of a com- 
munity 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, home- 
less 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 aero- 
planes were unable to spot them, even when firing, 
and they caused us constant annoyance, while remain- 
ing 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 after- 



OUT OF THE VALLEY 189 

wards by the 5th Cavaby Division. The two divi- 
sions were reHeved by the 4th and the Anzac Divi- 
sions. Marching by easy stages during the night, 
and remaining hidden by day among vineyards and 
ohve groves, they crossed the mountains to the 
coastal plain, and went into camp in the neighbour- 
hood 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 dis- 
mal 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 4tli 
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 Septem- 
ber 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 ! ' 



CHAPTER XV 
PREPARATIONS FOR THE GREAT DRIVE 

At the end of August 1918 the 5th and AustraHan 
Cavaky 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 in- 
clusion of the French ' Regiment 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 ener- 
getically. Our broad-gauge railwaj^ had now been 



THE ENEMY COMMUNICATIONS 191 

carried forward as far north as Ludd, and the old 
Turkish line from Ludd to Jerusalem had been re- 
laid 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 cease- 
lessly, like a legion of ants, preparing positions for 
the considerable force of artiUery 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 Valle}^ of Jezreel, 
which cut a gap right through the mountain range 
from the sea to the river Jordan. Esdraeloii 
is sha-ped 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 Gahlee, 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, 



192 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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-Chief's despatch : ^ 
' 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 downland, 
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 Judsean 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. 

1 Dated October 31, 1918. 



MORALE OF THE TURKISH ARMY 193 

The enemy Vllth and Vlllth Armies held the hne 
from the sea to the Jordan Valley. His IVth Army 
was disposed in the vaUey and east of the Jordan. 
A fairly good, metalled road runs from JiljuKe, 
thi'ough 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 re- 
serves 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. Dis- 
heartened 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 im- 
bued with a bitter hatred of their German masters, 
who despised and buUied them, they were in no 
state to withstand the onslaught that was prepar- 
ing. The ill-feeling between Turks and Germans, 
which had existed from the very beginning of the 

N 



194 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 
cavah'y : for the infantry to attack the enemy posi- 
tions from Jiljulie to the sea, and, having captured 
them, to wheel to the right, pivoting on Jiljufie, and 
bend back the enemy's right wing into the hills, 
exactly like opening a door. Through this open 
door the cavahy 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. 



DECEIVING THE ENEMY 195 

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 roU 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 com- 
munications cut, would be forced back into the 
cavalrjT^ net behind them. 

Once the crossing over the Jordan at Jisr el Damieh 
was in our hands, the Turldsh IVth Army east of the 
river would find itself isolated, with its communica- 
tions 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 concentra- 
tion 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 



196 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 wa > in the Jordan Valley, in command of a mixed 
force consisting of the Anzac Mounted Division and 
eight battahons 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 Decauville railway were laid, and thousands 
of dummy horses were erected on dummy horse lines 
in the dummy camps. Every day, for some con- 
siderable 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 beheve 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 furni- 
ture and telephone equipment, and painting the 



WORK OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 197 

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 hnes, everjrthing 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 Divi- 
sional General, and being told to do nothing to dis- 
courage 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 com^mitted to paper other than 
those issued by G.H.Q. and the three Corps. Secret 
conferences were called in tmii at the various Divi- 
sional 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 cavahy divisions on the left of our line 
were liidden securely from the eyes of enemy aero- 
plane observers ; the Australian Mounted Division 
in the immense, old olive woods round Ramleh, the 
4th Cavalrj^ 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 aU the period of concentration, the magni- 
ficent work of the Royal Air Force played a dominant 
part in keeping the enemy in ignorance of our move- 
ments. The Commander-in-Chief paid the force a 
well-deserved compliment in his despatch when he 



198 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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.' ^ 

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 enabhng 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 after- 
wards 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 thi'ee 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 VaUey, there 
are evidences of twenty-three more squadrons there.' 

The Turkish line on the plain consisted of two 
defensive positions, well constructed and heavily 

1 Despatch dated October 31, 1918. 



PLAN OF THE OPERATIONS 199 

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 net- 
work 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 cavahy divisions were to advance rapidly up 



200 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

the plaiii, the 5th Division along the coast road, 
through JMukhahd, the 4th via Tabsor and Mughair, 
and the Austrahan Mounted Division following the 
4th. 

Tlie 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 Mefju*, 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 haK 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 httle-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 en- 
tailed 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 Austrahan Division was to remain on 
the Plain of Esdraelon at El Lejjun, sending a force 
to Jenin (sixtjT^-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 



THE ROLE of the INFANTRY 201 

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 un- 
expectedly strong opposition was encountered there, 
the Austrahan 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, how- 
ever, 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 VaUey, Chay tor'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. 



CHAPTER XVI 
ARMAGEDDON 

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

Before daj^hght 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 cUffs that fringe the coast in this part, the 4th 
via JeUl and El Haram, and the Australians on 
Tabsor. The two first-named divisions sent dis- 
mounted 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 
baiTage in front of them till they were through the 
first position. About 50,000 shells were put over 

202 



ADVANCE OF THE CAVALRY 203 

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-Naln- 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 AustraHan 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 dis- 
organised, 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 



204 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

out of sight of the rest of the cavaky as they crossed 
the Une. Looking at the strong defences as we 
passed through them, deserted and quiet, it was hard 
to beheve that, only a few hours before, these posi- 
tions 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 regi- 
ment 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 smaU enemy rearguard 



OVER THE CARMEL RANGE 205 

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 hne 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 Austrahan 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 Sin- 
diane long after dark, and was soon involved in a 
tangle of hills, with no defined track visible, but in- 
numerable, shadowy paths leading in all directions. 
Our maps showed a fairly direct track, which had 



206 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

been reported by natives as feasible for cavaky and 
light guns. Their information was, however, merely 
hearsay, as we liad not been able, before starting, to 
find any natives who actually knew the track. 

Fortunately the 13th Brigade had in its commander ^ 
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 informa- 
tion. 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 dayhght, and the 13th pushed on up 
the track via Jebataand 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 

1 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. 



CAPTURE OF NAZARETH 207 

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 Glou- 
cester Yeomanry taldng the lead. 

Shortly afterwards the houses of Nazareth appeared 
in front, gleaming white and silent in the moonhght. 
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 inde- 
scribable 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 fu'st 
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. 



208 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Several machine guns, mounted in a big convent 
which overlooked the centre of the town from the 
nortliern slope, made things very unpleasant, and it 
soon became evident that a deliberate dismounted 
attack would be necessary to dislodge them. Mean- 
while 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 Hod- 
son'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 dayHght clear- 
ing the north-western portion of the plain of smaU 
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 van- 
guard, entered the Pass, and reached Khurbet Arab 



THE CHARGE AT LEJJUN 209 

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 Arab, 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, de- 
bouched 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, kiUing forty-six with the lance. The sur- 
vivors 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 

o 



210 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

perfect little example of sound shock tactics — move- 
ment and fii'e 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 ail 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. 



OCCUPATION OF BEISAN 211 

While the 12th Brigade was ' mopping up,' the 
armoured cars were having the time of their Uves 
chasing twelve German motor lorries down the track 
leaduig to Beisan. They captured them all, and 
brought the drivers back to the station. Unfortu- 
nately 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 mean- 
time, 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 cap- 
tured 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 difiicult mountain track 
west of the railway, to Jisr Mejamie, the railway 
bridge over the Jordan, twelve miles north of Beisan. 



212 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Tliis they reached and seized at dawn next morning, 
having covered ninety-seven miles since the com- 
mencement of their march. 

The AustraUans, who had left the Nahr Iskande- 
runeli at one o'clock in the morning, reached Kerkur 
and Beidus just after dawn, and thus made the cross- 
ing of the Carmel Range in dayhght. 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 invete- 
rate enemies, the local Arabs. In this way the divi- 
sion 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 excel- 
lently 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 ! 

The division reached Lejjun at eleven o'clock, and 




Before! German motor lorries at Nazareth. 
(From an enemy photograph.) 




After! The same lorries near .Afule. after our armoured t;ars liael finished with thefii. 



CAPTURE OF JENIN 213 

got water for man and horse in the beautiful httle 
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 encoun- 
tered was speedily crushed, and nearly 2000 prisoners 
fell into our hands. None of the troops in the place 
had the faintest idea that our cavahy 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 beheve 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 informa- 
tion getting to the enemy at Nablus, and the remainder 
of the brigade was disposed by squadrons in hollows 
and folds in the ground on eeich 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. 



214 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

through Jenin, and out on to the plain. These were 
not fugitives, but formed bodies of troops, retiiing 
to the Nazarene hills, where they had a partially pre- 
pared 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 then' 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 Uttle 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 4:th A.L.H. 



BOOTY AT JENIN 215 

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 AustraUan 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, ^ like the leader of a gigantic 
school picnic, unhurried and efficient. 

Jenin was the enemy's main supply and ordnance 
depot for his Vllth and Vlllth 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 aero- 
drome, and a number of engines and a quantity of 
rolhng 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 Uving 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 

1 Brigadier-General L. Wilson, C.M.G.. D.S.O., A.I.F. 



216 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 dayhght 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. 



CHAPTER XVII 

DEBACLE 

While the cavalry were racing for the Plain of 
Esdraelon on the 19th September the 21st Corps, con- 
tinuing 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, stiU in ignorance of the fact that 
three divisions of cavalry were already well on their 
way up the coast. 

817 



218 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

As the 5th Brigade approached the town, the Royal 
Air Force swept down out of the blue sky, and com- 
menced 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 demoraUsation 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 hold- 
ing 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. 



A FINE MARCH 219 

General Onslow now reassembled his brigade, and 
succeeded in watering all the horses, which was some- 
thing of a feat, considering the darkness and confu- 
sion. 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 un- 
known and almost trackless mountain country, ranks 
as one of the finest episodes of the campaign. Un- 
able 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, EUar, 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 con- 



220 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

centrated. 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 dayhght on the 
21st. The 20th Corps made rapid progress, and, by 
nightfall, had estabhshed 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 
demorahsed, 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 



CONFUSION IN THE ENEMY RANKS 221 

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 retreat- 
ing 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 diflicult, mountain countrv. 



222 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

the enemy regiments retii-ed independently. Most 
of them made either for Beisan or Jisr el Damieh, but 
every wadi leading down to the Jordan was con- 
gested 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 Divi- 
sion. 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 com- 
pletely 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 rem- 
nants 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 moonhght by 
the Central India Force (10th Brigade) and dispersed. 



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224 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. 

The 5th Cavaky 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 
estabhshed 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 
thi'ee 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 lead- 
ing 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, march- 
ing from Haifa, attacked the outposts of the brigade 
on the Acre road. The 18th Lancers promptly 



RATION DIFFICULTIES 225 

charged the Turks in the moonhght, 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 Divi- 
sion. 

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,' repUed 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. 



226 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

In the early hours of the morning an enemy column, 
with transport and guns, was reported by our aero- 
planes 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 aero- 
planes, 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 



ADVANCE OF CHAYTOR'S FORCE 227 

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 regis- 
tered carefully, for almost the first salvo hit the 
General's car, knocking it into the ditch and smash- 
ing 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 retriev- 
ing 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 Zea- 
land Mounted Brigade succeeded in getting astride 
the Nablus- Jisr el Damieh roads at El Makhruk, after 
a sharp fight, taking 500 prisoners, including a divi- 
sional commander. About an hour previously the 
38th Royal Fusiliers, one of the two Jewish battalions 
with the force, had captured the enemy position cover- 
ing 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 achiev- 



228 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

iiig 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. 




German aircraft captured intact at Afule. Mciiint Tabor in the background. 




In the hands of the enemy I Some of our Horsj Artillery guns captured 
in the second trans-Jordan raid. (From an enemy photograph.) 



CHAPTER XVIII 

DESTRUCTION 

Next day, September the 23rd, Chay tor's Force was 
on the move at dayhght, following up the retreating 
IVth Army east of the Jordan. The 3rd A.L.H. 
Regiment (1st Brigade), with the 2nd B.W.I. Regi- 
ment, had a sharp fight at the ford of Mafid Jozeleh, 
haH way between El Damieh and Ghoraniyeh, where 
the Turks had left a rearguard. The enemy was 
dispersed, and the AustraUans crossed the river at 
six o'clock. The remainder of the 1st A.L.H. Bri- 
gade 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 even- 
ing, and found it evacuated by the enemy. One 
battalion of the B.W.I. Regiment and one squadron 
of cavahy 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 



230 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

G.H.Q., to push on next day, harass the enemy, and 
try to cut his hne 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 con- 
siderable 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 regi- 
ments in the campaign, this charge was admirably 
carried out, but that it succeeded in getting home in 



THE ACTION AT ABU NAJ 231 

the face of such a potential volume of machine-gun 
and rifle fire is an indication of the state of demoralisa- 
tion 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 in- 
tense 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 cross- 
ing 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 



232 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

time, amid the broken ground on both banks of the 
river. 3000 prisoners, including a divisional com- 
mander, ten guns, and thirty machine gims 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 ofE 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 foot- 
path, 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 SefEurie 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 regi- 
ments 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. 



CAPTURE OF HAIFA 233 

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 sur- 
round 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 httle 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 haK north of Belled el Sheikh, 
which was bordered with trees and scrub. The Wadi 
Ashlul el Wawy is practicaUy 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 



234 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 
squadi'ons 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, pre- 
paratory 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, 



CAPTURE OF HAIFA 235 

or had lost their way. Time was running on, and 
he decided that he couid 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 before- 
hand, 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 ' squadi'on, 
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 



236 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 regi- 
ment, 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 posi- 
tion 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 diffi- 
culties 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 Hotch- 
kiss 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 fortu- 



6CALE or CH0U3H MILES 



Ly-1 




238 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

nate coincidence, this charge took place just as the 
Jodhj^ur Lancers attacked in the plain. 

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 Austrahan Mounted Division had a day of 
comparative rest. The 3rd A.L.H. Brigade reheved 
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 arrange- 
ments 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 



' MOPPING UP ' 239 

a gentle sigh of satisfaction. The water officer had 
eight orderHes. There were 8000 prisoners, and, as soon 
as they smelt the water, the 8000 charged the eight. 
The charge was successful, and the prisoners there- 
upon 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 con- 
tinued 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 discon- 
certed the demoralised Turks, and the 29tli 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 



240 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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, there- 
fore, 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 
Vllth and Vlllth 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 
entile enemy force west of the Jordan had been cap- 
tured 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 
suppHes 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. Bri- 
gade approaching El Salt, along the Wadi Arseniyet 



CAPTURE OF AMMAN 241 

track. 2nd A.L.H. Brigade on the Wadi Kef rein 
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 j)lace, 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 import- 
ance 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 cer- 
tainly have availed themselves to disengage their 
forces, and make good theu* 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 move- 

Q 



242 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

ment 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 AUenby, there- 
fore, 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 rail- 
way, 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 fine along the 
wadi, covering the water areas. 

On the morning of the 27th, therefore, the 2nd 



SURRENDER OF THE HEDJAZ FORCE 243 

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 carry- 
ing 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 every- 
thing, 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. Con- 
sequently, by the time the Turks reached El Kastal, 
they had, in their rear and on both flanks, a formid- 
able force of Arab fighting men, grown bold by 
repeated minor successes. 



244 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 com- 
mander, 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 com- 
mander 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. Mis- 
understanding 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 regi- 
ments of the 2nd Brigade, which were marching 



BRITISH AND TURKS AS ALLIES 245 

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 super- 
vision of our officers, they entrenched a line of out- 
post 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. The2nd 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 opera- 
tions the force had contributed to the bag about 
11,000 prisoners, fifty-seven guns and 132 machine 
guns, besides large quantities of rolling stock, ammuni- 
tion, and other stores. 



246 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 malig- 
nant 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 en- 
gendered by their prolonged stay in the valley, the 
Australians nevertheless acted throughout the opera- 
tions with the greatest energy and determination, 
and set an unrivalled example of toughness and 
cheerfulness. 



\ 



-i 




c 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE ADVANCE ON DAMASCUS 

As the Turkish Vllth and Vlllth 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 occupa- 
tion by our troops was a necessary corollary to the 
co-operation of King Hussein with our army. Damas- 
cus 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 cofnmit 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 

247 



248 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. Onty the guns and 
ammunition wagons and a few light motor ambulances 
per division accompanied the force. The arrange- 
ments 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 com- 
munications had been organised, tea, milk, and sugar 
were sent up by lorry to Damascus, or by sea to 
Beirut 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 yeai* later. 

The orders for the advance were received on the 
25th of September, but certain preliminary move- 
ments 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 Gahlee. The enemy had a small force 
here, engaged in evacuating the considerable quan- 
tities 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 



THE ACTION AT SEMAKH 249 

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 recon- 
noitred 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 Cavahy Divi- 
sion concentrated at Beisan, with the 10th Brigade 
at Jisr Mejamie. The Australian Mounted Divi- 
sion, 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 
1 1th Regiment and the brigade machine-gun squa- 
dron, came under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire 
from the railway station. Patrols from the regi- 
ment located the enemy holding an entrenched 
position south of the village (which Ues 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. 



250 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 cover- 
ing 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 rail- 
way, and, crawling through the culvert, fell upon 



GERMAN TREACHERY 251 

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 deUberately 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 



252 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Madli, 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 Austrahans 
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. 

After the fall of Amman, the enemy IVth Army 




Nazareth, from the north. 
Note the Red Crescents on the roofs of the houses. 




Horse Artillery enterin^ Tiberias, on the race for Damascus 



AN UNSUCCESSFUL CHARGE 253 

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 posi- 
tion, 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 doubt- 
less considered himself justified in taking the risk of 
a charge, in the hope of breaking the Turks' resist- 
ance 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 suft'ered 



254 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

severety, two troops being practically wiped oat 
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 con- 
siderably better case than the miserable remnants 
of the Vllth and Vlllth 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 con- 
siderable strength. Natives reported on the follow- 
ing day that there had been not less than 5000 
Turks at Irbid. This was manifestly an exaggera- 
tion, 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 recon- 
naissance 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 fight- 
ing, and then attempted to penetrate Irbid dis- 
mounted 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 



WORK OF THE ARAB CAMEL CORPS 255 

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 en- 
trenched 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 EI 
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 



256 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 assist- 
ance, 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 sur- 
prised 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 dis- 
order. Charging instantly, they went through the 
Turks, killing many with the lance, and rounding up 
200 prisoners. This charge completed the rout of 



DERAA 257 

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. 



B 



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. 



ACTION OF JISR BENAT YAKUB 259 

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 knock- 
ing 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 respec- 
tively. Following instructions from the brigadiers 
concerned, they Umbered 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 



260 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

required to go, it was nearly two hours before they 
were in action again. 

The French regiment, moving over the open, dis- 
mounted 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 workmg 
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 hkely looking place, and succeeded in 
struggling across. Arrived on the other side, they 
found themselves involved in a perfect maze of pre- 
cipitous wadis running in every direction, in a forma- 
tion 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 communica- 
tions, 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 



A MEMORY OF NAPOLEON 261 

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, 
Ass3^ian, 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 
tweKth 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 



262 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 v/ere 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 nnd 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 



CIRCASSIANS AND DRUSES 263 

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 communi- 
cations, therefore. General Grant, with the head- 
quarters of the 4th A.L.H. Brigade and the 11th 
Regiment, was stationed at Kuneitra. The Hyder- 
abad 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, how- 
ever, the defeat of their protectors laid them open 
to the vengeance of the Arabs, whom they had 
always despised and insulted, and they were com- 
pletely cowed. On the afternoon of the 26tli, our 



264 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Divi- 
sion 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 dis- 
tance 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 



ARAB VENGEANCE 265 

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 
Austrahan 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 Divi- 
sion should send two brigades along the foot of the 
hills west of Damascus, to close the two roads lead- 
ing north-west to Beirut, and north-east to Horns. 
The 5th Division was to send one brigade round the 
east side of the city, to gain touch with the Australians 
on the Horns 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 wel- 
coming 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 hiUs, which press right on to Damascus on the 
west, were almost impassable for cavalry ; or that 
the Beirut 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 

268 



THE ACTION AT SASA 267 

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 posi- 
tion 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 pre- 
sumed 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, immedi- 



268 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

ately 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 verj'' 
nearly came to grief over one of the enemy guns 
which had been abandoned on the road, but fortu- 
nately 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 cap- 
tured 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 hne, 
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 



THE ACTION AT KAUKAB 269 

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 Beirut 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 chffs, barred 
their path farther west. As the orders against enter- 
ing 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 



270 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

through the narrov/, 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 Beirut, and looked down upon 
an extraordinary sight. The whole of the bottom 
of the gorge, from side to side, was packed with a 
strugghng 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 rail- 
way, and the engine driver had long since been sub- 
merged 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 after- 
wards 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 




•*^ >,>>r^'*i«r1 




Royal Horse Artillery f'ordinji the Jonlan at Jisr Benat \'akub 




The Beiriit road in the (Jorge of the River Barada. 1st October, 1918. 



MARCH OF THE 4TH CAVALRY DIVISION 271 

head of the column completely blocked the gorge, 
and the Turks realised that then: 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 ambi- 
tion had brought the Turks to this sorry end, should 
have had the task of burying the victims of their 
lust for power. 

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 disorganisa- 
tion. 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 



272 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

from the enemy after the action at El Remte, the 
division had been much delayed by the bad road 
fi-om Deraa to Damascus, across the southern Hauran. 
The whole of this area is overlaid with the debris of 
extinct volcanoes, mostly in the form of huge boulders 
of black basalt, which ever^'^where 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 hor- 
rible 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 Mth, was at once despatched to try and inter- 
cept this force. Before they moved off. General 
MacAndrew ^ 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 

^ 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. 



END OF THE TURKISH FOURTH ARMY 273 

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 re- 
ported by our aircraft, consisted of the remains of 
the Turldsh 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 suc- 
ceeded 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, 



274 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

the second portion of the Turkish army was seen 
aj^proaching 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 be- 
tween the two forces, they made a last despairing 
attempt to break through. There appears to have 
been a general sauve qui pent. 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 Ajrrshire Battery, attached to the 11th 
Brigade, galloped forward, supported by two machine 



THE LIBERATION OF DAMASCUS 275 

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 Zabii'ani, 
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, how- 
ever, 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 fii'e 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 



276 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Beirut, and the remainder 
were stragglers who had made their way in, by rail 
and road, from the south, after the debdcle of Sep- 
tember 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, aban- 
doned 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 over- 
flowed into the parade ground, where some 300 
perished during the night. Two considerable bodies 
did indeed attempt to escape, one along the Beirut 
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 
Beirut, 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 



WORK OF THE 3RD A.L.H. BRIGADE 277 

it got into touch with the 3rd A.L.H. Brigade of the 
Austrahan 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 Bekut, 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 skir- 
mishing 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 



278 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Lawrence, reached Damascus about half-past eight 
in the morning, and estabUshed 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 con- 
tinued, 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 cavahy 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 




The Emir Feisals' Headquarters at Damascus. 
Note the Sheritian standards on tlie balcony. 




Tripoli. The old Crusader Citadel. 



A RECORD CAVALRY CHARGE 279 

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. 

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 



280 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

was actually appointed. But, v/ith the best inten- 
tions in the world, the small force of so-called 
' regular ' Arab soldiers could do little or nothing to 
keep order. The irregular — higlily irregular — forces 
of King Hussein far outnumbered the Arab Army. 
Dming 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 un- 
conscionable fuss about having their booths looted. 
No mercy was shown to the Turks, however. They 
were hunted down and killed remorselessly where- 
ever found. Some of the Arabs even broke into the 
Turkish hospital, and set about murdering the mori- 
bund wretches whom they found there, till driven 
away by our troops. 

The desert-bred Arabs are probably the most inde- 
pendent 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 
wilhng, which is doubtful. His attitude seemed to 
be that boys will be bo\^s, and it would be a shame 



Sou I r-: - K-^ti 

BNIVEF^SH uf ^ALifORNlS 
LIE^RARY 

LOS ANGELES. CAUF] 




# 



DISORDERS IN THE CITY 281 

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. 

After two days of something like pandemonium, 
the powers that were recognised the necessity of im- 
posing some sort of restraint on the lawless elements, 
and two regiments of the Australian Mounted Divi- 
sion 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. 



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 Beirut offered several advantages. The posses- 
sion of Beirut 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 Horns, 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-Beirut, and the only obstacle to an 
advance lay in the weak and reduced condition of 
the Corps. 



SICKNESS IN THE CORPS 283 

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 appear- 
ance 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 
Beirut 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-Beirut 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. 



284 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

The two divisions started on tlie 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 re- 
connaissance to Beirut, 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 Beirut 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 de- 
cided to make a farther advance as far as Homs. 

Unfortunately malaria had b}^ 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 anj^ further work by this divi- 
sion 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 



OCCUPATION OF HOMS 285 

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 
Horns, which would facilitate the sending of supplies 
to the cavalry at the latter place. The 5th Divi- 
sion 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 sur- 
rendered 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 divi- 
sional 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 com- 
munications. 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 dis- 
perse, 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 



286 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

division for reconnaissance purposes. Throughout 
the campaign, the close co-operation between our 
aeroplanes and the cavalry had given most excel- 
lent 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. 



ADVANCE ON ALEPPO 287 

The Commander-in-Chief now determined to com- 
plete the poUtical 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 com- 
batants, 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 



288 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 divi- 
sional 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 after- 
noon. 

On the 23rd the cars pushed on again, and encoun- 
tered some enemy cavalry at Khan Tuman, about 
ten miles south of Aleppo. These they brushed 
aside without much difficulty, and proceeded along 




f^'tmrnktSm. 



Aleppo. TliL' old citadel. 






r^' 







Bedouin iind Sheiitian soklieis. Near the Euphrates. 



A FLAG OF TRUCE 289 

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 enter- 
tained 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 



290 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

occupation of the same trenches, with cavalry out- 
posts 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 
Hne. 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-Alexan- 
dretta 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. 



FALL OF ALEPPO 291 

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 after- 
wards a verbal message was brought in by a car, to 
the effect that about a thousand ' scalljrwags ' 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 imme- 
diately 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. Un- 



292 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

fortunately something went wrong with the battery 
leader's car, and it was withdrawn and driven back 
to Aleppo. The remaining tliree 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 favour- 
able 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 con- 
siderable 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 



THE ARMISTICE 293 

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 re- 
lieved the 15th Brigade. The casualties in the latter 
brigade totalled sixty-three killed, wounded, and 
missing, which comparatively Ught 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 artiUery 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 Alexan- 
dretta 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 Junc- 
tion, 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 ^ 
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 

* See Appendix m. for terms uf Armistice. 



294 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 Tripoh, on the coast, where they 
remained until sent to Egypt, en route for Australia, 
at the end of Februar}^ 1919. 

The Commander-in-Chief made his official entry 
into Aleppo on the 12th of December. As at Damas- 
cus, 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 through- 
out the force as one of thanksgiving for victory. 
Tuesday, December the 16th, was selected for the 
purpose, and was celebrated by the holding of reli- 
gious services in the morning by all the many reh- 
gions and denominations in the Corps. The afternoon 
was spent in such games and sports as could be 
organised. 



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 Beirut 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 Egjrpt, the 
4th Division handed over Beirut 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 merci- 
lessly requisitioned by the Turks over large areas, 
and many of the peasants, left callously to starve, 

295 



296 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

had taken to a life of brigandage. The whole 
countiy was infested with robber bands. Even 
large parties dared not travel at night, and indeed 
few ventured to travel at all. Those whose busi- 
ness 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 communica- 
tions 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 house- 
hold 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 j&rst 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 




Within the jurisdiction of the Desert Mounted Corps. 
The River Euphrates at Ralil;a. 




GOOD WORK OF THE ARAB ARMY 297 

twenty prisoners, and we had no more trouble of 
that sort. 

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 imprison- 
ment. 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 



298 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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. 



GAMBLES IN EXCHANGE 299 

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 circum- 
stances. 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 equiva- 
lent 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 
Mac Andrew, 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 



300 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

could save it, but it was a matter of days, almost of 
hours. Under the circumstances, would his Excel- 
lency 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 Intelli- 
gence Branch ehcited 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 reaUsing 
that such a state of affairs could not last an hour, 
once telegraphic communication was estabUshed be- 
tween 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 



• SPORTS AND GAMES 301 

publicity campaign, and by selling surplus enemy 
stores for Egyptian money only, the monetary posi- 
tion 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 Beirut 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. 



302 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 con- 
sisted 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 con- 
quered and held for over a year. 




vIlH^ BriLis'b D^-'.erLiI.L,u[,( (IGorps 

aided by 

Eb^rabBoreos of KinO R^isse'm. 

capUired 

Damascus Roms andj^^ppo. 

Ocbberl918. 






Inscription cut on the rock cliffs of tlie Dog River, near Beirut, amongst those 
of Rameses II, Nebuchadnezar, Senacherib and other early conquerors of Syria. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

HORSE ARTILLERY 

Command. — Of all the matters concerning the employ- 
ment 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 con- 
sidered as part of his brigade. Apart from the con- 
viction 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 feel- 
ing 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 divi- 
sional 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 

303 



304 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 bri- 
gade 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 prac- 
tically always yield better results than the latter. 
Direct artillery liaison should, of course, be main- 
tained 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 cam- 
paign, indications of an idea on the part of.^ome 
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 



HORSE ARTILLERY 305 

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 dijBficulty, 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 sliould rarely be 
unemployed during the progress of an action. 

Artillery with Advance and Rearguards.— At the 
beginning of the campaign, most divisional com- 
manders, 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 ex- 
perience of the whole campaign points to the con- 
clusion 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 

u 



306 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

should, of course, march as far forward as is com- 
patible 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 accom- 
pany 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 coritact 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 role 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 



HORSE ARTILLERY 307 

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 battahons 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' negUgence 
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 cavahy 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 divi- 
sion, 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 



308 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 com- 
manders preferred a large preponderance of H.E., 
while, in open country, they wanted more shrapnel. 
One thing certain is that the Turks themselves 
di'eaded 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 Tm^ks 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 Estabhshments, all R.H.A. batteries 
are to have six guns. 

Before leaving the subject of artillery, the writer 



HORSE ARTILLERY 309 

would draw attention to a fact that is often over- 
looked 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 conclu- 
sion 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 



310 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 con- 
siders that he can carry out the task assigned to him 
without the help of his guns, and time presses, he is 
perfectty 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 Sep- 
tember 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 suffi- 
ciently 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 commence- 
ment 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 condi- 
tions 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.^ 

Condition. — In the second place, the health of the 

^ 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 
Beirut-Tripoli area, for short periods from time to time. 

311 



312 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

horses was in an unsatisfactory state when the 
cavahy 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 liad taken part in the advance 
across Sinai, and had been in Egypt for a long time 
prior to that. Two years of unaccustomed and in- 
different 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 cohc, 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 com- 
mencement 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 



HORSES 313 

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 commence- 
ment of operations, provided they have been kept 
adequately exercised while being conditioned. The 
really fat, round horses finished both series of opera- 
tions 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 
bursym (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 
quahty, but the latter was sometimes issued whole, 
and, when issued crushed, was often very dusty. 
The daily ration during operations in both campaigns 
was 9J lb. of grain per day, and nothing else. So 
that the horses were called upon to do very much 
harder work on less than haK 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. 



314 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 
badl}^ thus increasing the weakness engendered by 
hard work and starvation. It is difficult to under- 
stand 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 locaUy. 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, 
KeUy Pasha ^ 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,- and this was no isolated example. Even 
when water was obtainable, the difficulty of raising 

1 Brigadier-General P. J. V. KeUy, C.M.G., D.S.O., commanded 
oth Mounted Brigade in 1917 operations and 13th Cavalry Brigade in 
1918 

- See p. 94. 



HORSES 315 

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 ascer- 
taining 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 regime 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 gene- 
rally accepted as the standard. 

Later on, during the period between the second 
battle of Gaza and the commencement of General 
AUenby's operations (May to October 1917 inclu- 
sive) 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 regime. During the Beersheba- 



316 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 shghtly 
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 



HORSES 317 

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 sweet- 
ness of the atmosphere than a scent. It is notice- 
able particularly just after sunset, when the pre- 
sence 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 the}^ 
were reasonably fit for further work. At the com- 
mencement 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 effici- 
ency. 

Some 1500 Arab ponies and a considerable number 



318 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

of mules and camels were captured from the Turks 
in 1917. They were nearly all in wretched condi- 
tion 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 S3iTia 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 ex- 
perience during the advance across Sinai and in the 
Western Desert, and, by the time General AUenby 
arrived in Egjrpt, the standard of horsemastership 
in the force had reached a high level. As an indica- 
tion of this fact, it may be mentioned that, at the 
end of each series of operations, there was hardly a 



HORSES 319 

sore back in the force. A striking contrast to this 
record was afforded by the French cavalry regi- 
ment which took part in the 1918 operations. On 
arrival at Damascus, nearly every horse in the regi- 
ment 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 soldier- 
like 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 prac- 
tice of subdividing the horses of a battery into 
' Riders ' and ' Draught Horses ' going to be aban- 
doned ? 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. 



320 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Diseases. — The horses of the Corps were remark- 
ably 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 through- 
out the campaign, which may be considered some- 
what remarkable, in view of the fact that glanders, 
antlirax, 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 



HORSES 321 

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 tln-ee inches long. 

The steel wire picketing ropes issued toi 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 hkely 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 prefer- 
able 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. 



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 ambu- 
lance cars. 

The opportunities for cavalry making a raid such 
a great distance into enemy country have seldom 
occurred in the past, and are hkely 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 

322 



TRANSPORT AND AMMUNITION SUPPLY 323 

a similar number of horses, without extreme diffi- 
culty, and without in any way depriving the in- 
habitants of essential food. 

If, however, the country through which it is pro- 
posed 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, 
Umited by the pace of their transport, and for this 
reason every effort should be made to increase the 
mobiUty 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 opera- 
tions, 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 Ues 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 advan- 
tage claimed for the G.S. type is that the wagon body 



324 THE DESEUT MOUNTED CORPS 

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 tlie 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 cavahy draught horse. Many 
of our English draught animals were of far too heavy 
a type, either for horse artillery or for cavalry trans- 
port. 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 Hve 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 



t 



«^l 



TRANSPORT AND AMMUNITION SUPPLY 325 

at the end of twenty-four hours, and the transport 
thus requu*es 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 cavahy. 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 occasion- 
ally in the cavalry. 

The Austrahans 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 shaU, 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 ayiimals. — 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 posses- 
sion 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 cavahy on the march, 
but the camels worked in a system of convoys along 
defined routes, forming dumps behind the advancing 
line of cavahy, from which the divisional trains drew 
supphes. The uselessness and danger of camels in 



» 



326 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

mountainous country was convincingly demonstrated 
in the mountains of Judaea 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 con- 
dition, and soon become so debihtated 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 un- 
suitable for use with mounted troops. 

Donkeys were first used in supply convoys in the 
Judsean 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 fine 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 



« 



TRANSPORT AND AMMUNITION SUPPLY 327 

their units into action were, in 1917, given donkeys 
to ride. There were about half a dozen in each 
cavah-y 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 



% 



328 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

1918, carrying a heavy man and all his kit, is a 
mystery, but they contrived to do so somehow. 

Ammunitioyi. — 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 ridicu- 
lously 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 daj^ long dismounted, in a 
very heavy fire fight, it was found that, after replenish- 
ing the regimental reserves, only about one-sixth of 
the small arm ammunition in the divisional ammuni- 
tion 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 estab- 
Hshment 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, 



J" 



TRANSPORT AND AMMUNITION SUPPLY 329 

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 suppUed 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 experi- 
ments, 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 experi- 
ments 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 ammuni- 
tion or 26 boxes of smaU 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 



330 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

small arm ammunition, a total load behind the 4 
horses of about 24 cwt. 

These loads were proved by considerable subse- 
quent experience to be the maximum with which 
wagons could operate efficiently with cavahy 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 
cavah-y regiments replenishing their regimental reserve 
of small arm ammunition from the ammunition 
column every clay. 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 in- 
dents 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 ammuni- 
tion, 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 fore- 
thought 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-Greneral 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-Greneral C. F. Cox, C.B., C.M.G., 
D.S.O., A.I.F. 

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Regiments Australian light Horse. 

2nd x4lustratjan Light Horse Brigade. 

Commander : Brigadier-General G. de L. Ryrie, C.B., C.M.G., 
A.I.F. 

5th, 6th, and 7th Regiments AustraUan Light Horse. 

New Zealand Mounted Brigade. 

Commander : Brigadier-GeneralW.Meldrum,C.M.G.,D.S.O., 
N.Z.I.F. 

Auckland, Canterbury, and Wellington Regiments of 
Mounted Rifles. 

ARTILLERY. 

18th Brigade R.HA. (Inverness, Ayrshire, and 
Somerset Batteries) and Divisional Ammunition 
Column. 

?3l 



332 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



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-Greneral 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 AustraUan Light Horse. 



APPENDIX I 333 



5th MotnsTTED Brigade. 

Commander : Brigadier-General P. D. Fitzgerald, D.S.O., 
p. s.c. (relinquished command November 1917). 
Brigadier-General P. J. V. KeUy, C.M.G., 
D.S.O. 

ARTILLERY. 
19th Brigade R.H.A. (' A ' and ' B ' Batteries Honour- 
able 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., 
(rehnquished 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, F.C, D.S.O. 

Two Austrahan and one British Camel BattaUons, 
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 foUows : — 

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. 



334 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

11th Cavalry Brigade. 

Commander : Brigadier-Greneral 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, 1 9th 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. KeUy, C.M.G., 
D.S.O. (relinquished command September 
1918). 
Brigadier-General G. A. Weir, D.S.O. 

Gloucester Yeomanry, 9th Hodson's Horse, 1 8th 
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., LA. 
Jodhpur, Mysore and 1st Hyderabad Lancers.^ 

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 

* These regiments were all maintained by the Ruling Princes of their 
respective States in India. 



i 



APPENDIX I 



335 



Brigade was replaced in the latter by the 5th A.L.H. 
Brigade, which consisted of the 14th and 15th Regi- 
ments A.L.H. (composed of men of the Camel Corps 
Brigade, which had been disbanded after the second 
trans- Jordan raid), and the French Regiment Mixte 
de Ca valeric. 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 en- 
thusiastically, 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-Greneral 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., LA. 

74th Division. 
Commander : Major-General E. S. Girdwood, C.B. 



21sT CORPS. 

Commander : Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Bulfin K C B 
C.V.O. ' • • ♦. 



336 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



52nd Division. 

Commander : Major-General J. Hill, C.B., D.S.O. 
I.A. 



a.HB.OD., 



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 7tli by Major-General Sir V. B. Fane, 
K.C.LE., C.B. 

Three-quarters of the British troops in all divi- 
sions except the 54th were replaced by Indians. 



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 AH, the third Khahf. 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 himseK. 
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 venera- 
tion and respect by the Arabs, held no temporal 
power. At the end of the tenth century, however, a 
Sherif of Mecca proclaimed himseK 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, inter- 
necine strife, resulting in frequent changes of djmasty, 
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, 



338 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

and established his own family as the head of the 
Ashraf. 

Slierif Hussein, a lineal descendant of Katada, 
succeeded to the Emirate in 1908. A man of power- 
ful 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 spmtual 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, dis- 
gusted 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 posi- 
tion, and went back into the desert, where for the 
next four or five years he hved 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 Syi'ia at the beginning of the war caused the 
oppressed Arabs to turn to him as then- national 
champion. He at once threw in his lot with the 



APPENDIX II 339 

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 fuU of energy and deter- 
mination 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 
Ah we know little, though he was active in the sum- 
mer of 1918 and in the early part of 1917. Abdullah, 
the second son, was of a retiring disposition, a theo- 
logian 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 
stiU only a boy. 

A line of Arab pickets was established round 
Medina, under the command of Feisal, and the rail- 
way 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, how- 
ever, 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 blockhouses 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 



340 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

summer quarters. This place held out till near the 
end of September, when Ghahb 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 inexperi- 
enced in modern siege warfare, could not hope to 
reduce this city. The Turkish garrison, with the 
Hues 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 communica- 
tions 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 estabhshed 
themselves across the railway two miles farther 
south, and, in the course of the succeeding three 
months, destroyed seventy miles of the hne. 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 



APPENDIX II 341 

meant almost certain destruction, the Turks decided 
to stay where they were. They remained in Medina 
tiE they were compelled to surrender, under the 
terms of the Ai^mistice 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 AlUed 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 uncondi- 
tionally to the AUies. 

Art. 5. — ^The immediate demobiUsation 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 AUies, 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 in- 
terned at such Turkish port or ports, as may be directed, 
except such small vessels as are required for poUce 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 AUies. 

Art. 8. — ^The free use by AUied ships of all ports and 
anchorages now in Turkish occupation, and the denial of 
their use to the enemy. Similar conditions to apply to 

312 



APPENDIX III 343 

Turkish mercantile shipping in Turkish waters, for the 
purposes of trade and the demobiUsation of the army. 

Art. 9. — The use of all ship-repairing facihties at all 
Turkish ports and arsenals. 

Art. 10. — AUied 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. — Facihties 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. — ^AUied control of all railways, and AUied occupa- 
tion of Batoum. Turkey not to object to the AUied occupa- 
tion of Baku. 

Art. 16. — The surrender of the garrisons of the Hedjaz, 
Asir, Yemen, Syria, and Mesopotamia, and the withdrawal 
of troops from CiHcia, except those maintaining order, as 
determined under Clause 5. The surrender of all ports in 
CiUcia, 

Art. 17. — The surrender of aU Turkish officers in Tripoh- 
tania and Cyrenaica to the nearest Itahan garrison. Turkey 
to guarantee to stop supphes to, and communication with, 
these officers, if they do not obey the order of surrender. 

Art. 18. — The surrender of aU ports occupied in TripoH- 
tania and Cyrenaica, including Misurata, to the nearest 
AUied garrison. 

Art. 19. — AU Germans and Austrians, naval, miUtary, and 
civihan, to quit Turkey within a month. Those in remote 
districts to do so as soon as possible thereafter. 

Art. 20. — CompHance with the AUies' orders as regards 
the disposal of arms and the transport of the demobiUsed, 
under Clause 5. 



344 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 

Art. 21. — An Allied representative to be attached to the 
Turkish Ministry of SuppHes, to safeguard AUied interests. 

Art. 22. — Turkish prisoners to be kept at the disposal of 
the Alhes. The release of Turkish civlUan prisoners and 
prisoners over mihtary 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 AUies reserve the right to occupy any of them. 



INDEX 



Abasajst el Kebib, 12. 
Abdullah, Emir, 339. 
Abid Miriam, 177. 
Abraham's Well, 41. 
Abu el Teaha, 3. 

Jei-wal, 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, 226. 
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. 

SmaU 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 n. 
Arab ponies. See Horses. 
Arab Punar, 295. 

345 



346 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



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. Sec Shcrifian 

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. 

66, 183. 
Asluj, 7. 



shelling own troops, 60, 



Atawineh, 3. 
Attara, 199. 
Auja, 4. 

Australian and New Zealand 

Mounted Division. See Anzac 

Mounted Division. 

Australian Light Horse Brigades — ■ 

1st, 7, 8, 24, 45, 51, 59, 65, b9, 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. 
nth, 157, 160, 249, 263. 
12th, 250, 268, 269, 275. 
14th, 217. 
15th, 221. 
Austrahan 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. 



INDEX 



347 



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. 

Beirut, 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. 
BeUed 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. 

SaUm 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. 

SheUal, 17. 
Brigandage, 296. 
Brisbane, Captain, 142. 
British Forces. See Troops, British. 
Buggar, 21. 



Bulfin, Lieutenant-General Sir Ed- 
ward, 9. 
Bureir, 50, 59. 
Burj, 115. 
Burka, 65, 71.'j:^ 
Bursym, 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 reahsed 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. 

bbid, 253. 

Kaukab, 269. 

Khan Ayash, 279. 

Remte, 256. 

training for, 55, 56. 

unsuccessful, 230, 253, 254, 292. 

of Turkish Cavalry, 22. 



348 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



Chauvel, Ldeutenant-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. 
Cihcia, 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. 

Communiques, 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 Topo- 
graphy. 
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 Ah, 268. 

el Belah, 16, 17. 

el Ghusn, 219. 

el Hawa, 39. 

elKuddis, 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. 
adminietration 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. 

Easteen 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. 



INDEX 



349 



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. 

FalkenhajTi, 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. 

Gallipolis 1. 

Games, 301. 

Gamli, 5. 

Gaza, defences of, 3. 

attack of, 22, 32. 

capture of, 48. 

description of, 124, 125. 

Gebel el Shegeib, 23. 

Grerman 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 bru- 
tality, 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. 

Hand, 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. 
Horns, 282, 286, 287, 294, 295. 
Horse Artillery, 27. 

Ammunition, 308, 309, 328, 329. 

Command, 303, 304. 

Detail of, App. i. a. 



350 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



Horse Artillery — 

Employment of, 74, 75, 259, 260, 
269. 

Escorts for, 306, 307. 

Horses for, 319. 

Howitzers, 307. 

Reserve^ 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. 
nth, 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. h. 
Reorganisation of, 154, App. i. h. 
Infantry, Enemy. See Turks. 

French, 199. 

Infantry Corps, British — 
20th, 9, 42, 43, 63, 201, 219, 220, 

App. I. h. 
21st, 9, 43, 48, 59, 63, 199, 217, 
220, App. I. h. 
Infantry Divisions, British — 
3rd, 199, 221, App. i. 6. 
7th, 199, 248, App. i. 6. 
10th, 9, 43, 45, 122, 221, App. i. 6. 
42nd, 7, 284, 286, App. i. 6. 
52nd, 7, 48, 49, 60, 63, 71, 107, 

114, App. I. h. 
53rd, 9, 40, 63, 84, 121, 221, 

App. I. h. 
54th, 9, 63, 199, App. i. 6. 
60th, 9, 24, 43, 45, 121, 127, 129, 
133, 155. 197, 199, 218, App. 1.6. 
74th, 9, 43, 115, App. i. h. 
75th, 9, 63, 84, 106, 197, 199, 
App. I. h. 
Influenza, 283. 
Intelligence, British, xv, 36. 

Enemy, 5, 6, 57, 178, 194, 198. 

Irbid, 248, 253. 
Islahie, 295. 



INDEX 



351 



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. 

VaUey, 128, 129, 177, 227. 

cUmate, 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. 



Kabb Mujahid, 229. 
Kadem Station, 275. 
Kaimakam, 66. 
Kakon, 225. 
Kalaat Aneiza, 130. 

el Zerka, 241. 

el Nuhas, 274. 

Kaikili, 191, 192. 

Kannir, 205. 

Kantara, 16. 

Kami, 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 ChiftUk, 274. 
Khurbet Arab, 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. 



352 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



Kress von Kressenstein, Greneral, 9, 

57. 
Kubeibe, 70, 79, 84. 
Kuneitra, 262. 
Kuryet el Enab, 101. 
Kusr Atra, 258. 
Kustine, 65. 
KustuI, 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. 

Mac Andrew, 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. 

Makhi-uk, 193, 227. 

Malaria,x,177,181, 246,278,283,284. | 209,212. 

Mamas, 205. { Mutasserif , 66. 



Mandesi, 136. > 

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 GalUee), 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. 
Muslimie Junction, 282, 293. 
Musmus Pass, 192. 

crossing of, 205, 206, 208, 



INDEX 



353 



Naane, 86. 
Xaaur, 133. 
Nablus, 101, 192, 198. 

capture of, 221. 

Nahie, 66. 

Nahr e] 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. 

Mef jir, 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 AnimjVls, 13, 82. 

Palestine, description of. See Topo- 
graphy. 

Palmyra, 302. 

Paper money, values of. See Ex- 
change. 

Persia, 2. 

Philiatia, 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 Said, 17. 
Prisoners — 

As aUies 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 AUah Rakhman, 98. 
Ramleh, 86, 197. 
Ras el Ain, 295. 
el Humeiyir, 232. 



354 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



Ras el Nukb, 39, 42. 

Ghannara, 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 Batterv, 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 (Ghorani- 

yeh), 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-Greneral, 143. 

SADDLE-WiVIxLETS, 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, 176. 



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 ef seq. 

Shuni, 255. 

Sidun, 89. 

Sihan, 3. 

Sinai Desert, 7, 16. 

Sindiane, 200. 



INDEX 



355 



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. 

SufEa, 114. 

Summeil, 72. 

Supply, difficulties of, 62, 63, 105, 
107, 118, 225. 

drawn from country, 248, 322, 

323. 

Suriyeh, 236. 

SweHeh, 140, 144, 241. 

Swords, cavalry, 8, 54, 83, 92. 

Australian Mounted Divi- 
sion armed with, App. i. a. 

Tabor, Mount, 191, 212. 

Tabsor, 200. 

Tactics, General AUenby'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 Dilakb, 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 m., 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. 6. 

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. 

Cavaky, 22, 264. 

Committee of Union and Pro- 
gress, 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. 



356 THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS 



Umbeella 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. 

Aslilul 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. 

Kef rein, 137. 

Kumran, 128. 

Maraba, 277. 

Mejma, 60. 

Nueiameh, 186, 187. 

Ratam, 256. 

Saba, 20. 

• Selman, 235. 

Sharia, 21, 45. 

SheUal 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. 
Zeitun, 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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