It was in accordance with the fitness of things that the British Army should fight and conquer on the very spots consecrated by the memories of the most famous battles of old. From Gaza onwards we made our progress by the most ancient road on earth, for this way moved commerce between the Euphrates and the Nile many centuries before the East knew West. We fought on fields which had been the battlegrounds of Egyptian and Assyrian armies, where Hittites, Ethiopians, Persians, Parthians, and Mongols poured out their blood in times when kingdoms were strong by the sword alone. The Ptolemies invaded Syria by this way, and here the Greeks put their colonising hands on the country. Alexander the Great made this his route to Egypt. Pompey marched over the Maritime Plain and inaugurated that Roman rule which lasted for centuries; till Islam made its wide irresistible sweep in the seventh century. Then the Crusaders fought and won and lost, and Napoleon's ambitions in the East were wrecked just beyond the plains.

Up the Maritime Plain we battled at Gaza, every yard of which had been contested by the armies of mighty kings in the past thirty-five centuries, at Akir, Gezer, Lydda, and around Joppa. All down the ages armies have moved in victory or flight over this plain, and General Allenby in his advance was but repeating history. And when the Turks had been driven beyond the Plain of Philistia, and the Commander-in-Chief had to decide how to take Jerusalem, we saw the British force move along precisely the same route that has been taken by armies since the time when Joshua overcame the Amorites and the day was lengthened by the sun and moon standing still till the battle was won. Geography had its influence on the strategy of to-day as completely as it did when armies were not cumbered with guns and mechanical transport. Of the few passes from the Maritime Plain over the Shephelah into the Judean range only that emerging from the green Vale of Ajalon was possible, if we were to take Jerusalem, as the great captains of old took it, from the north. The Syrians sometimes chose this road in preference to advancing through Samaria, the Romans suffered retreat on it, Richard Coeur de Lion made it the path for his approach towards the Holy City, and, precisely as in Joshua's day and as when in the first century the Romans fell victims to a tremendous Jewish onslaught, the fighting was hardest about the Beth-horons, but with a different result - the invaders were victorious. The corps which actually took Jerusalem advanced up the new road from Latron through Kuryet el Enab, identified by some as Kirjath-jearim where the Philistines returned the Ark, but that road would have been denied to us if we had not made good the ancient path from the Vale of Ajalon to Gibeon. Jerusalem was won by the fighting at the Beth-horons as surely as it was on the line of hills above the wadi Surar which the Londoners carried. There was fighting at Gibeon, at Michmas, at Beeroth, at Ai, and numerous other places made familiar to us by the Old Testament, and assuredly no army went forth to battle on more hallowed soil.

Of all the armies which earned a place in history in Palestine, General Allenby's was the greatest - the greatest in size, in equipment, in quality, in fighting power, and not even the invading armies in the romantic days of the Crusades could equal it in chivalry. It fought the strong fight with clean hands throughout, and finished without a blemish on its conduct. It was the best of all the conquering armies seen in the Holy Land as well as the greatest. Will not the influence of this Army endure? I think so. There is an awakening in Palestine, not merely of Christians and Jews, but of Moslems, too, in a less degree. During the last thirty years there have grown more signs of the deep faiths of peoples and of their veneration of this land of sacred history. If their institutions and missions could develop and shed light over Palestine even while the slothful and corrupt Turk ruled the land, how much faster and more in keeping with the sanctity of the country will the improvement be under British protection? The graves of our soldiers dotted over desert wastes and cornfields, on barren hills and in fertile valleys, ay, and on the Mount of Olives where the Saviour trod, will mark an era more truly grand and inspiring, and offer a far greater lesson to future generations than the Crusades or any other invasion down the track of time. The Army of General Allenby responded to the happy thought of the Commander-in-Chief and contributed one day's pay for the erection of a memorial near Jerusalem in honour of its heroic dead. Apart from the holy sites, no other memorial will be revered so much, and future pilgrims, to whatever faith they belong, will look upon it as a monument to men who went to battle to bring lasting peace to a land from which the Word of Peace and Goodwill went forth to mankind.

In selecting General Sir Edmund Allenby as the Palestine Army's chief the War Cabinet made a happy choice. General Sir Archibald Murray was recalled to take up an important command at home after the two unsuccessful attempts to drive the Turks from the Gaza defences. The troops at General Murray's disposal were not strong enough to take the offensive again, and it was clear there must be a long period of preparation for an attack on a large scale. General Allenby brought to the East a lengthy experience of fighting on the Western Front, where his deliberate methods of attack, notably at Arras, had given the Allies victories over the cleverest and bravest of our enemies. Palestine was likely to be a cavalry, as well as an infantry, campaign, or at any rate the theatre of war in which the mounted arm could be employed with the most fruitful of results. General Allenby's achievements as a cavalry leader in the early days of the war marked him as the one officer of high rank suited for the Palestine command, and his proved capacity as a General both in open and in trench warfare gave the Army that high degree of confidence in its Commander-in-Chief which it is so necessary that a big fighting force should possess. A tremendously hard worker himself, General Allenby expected all under him to concentrate the whole of their energies on their work. He had the faculty for getting the best out of his officers, and on his Staff were some of the most enthusiastic soldiers in the service. There was no room for an inefficient leader in any branch of the force, and the knowledge that the Commander-in-Chief valued the lives and the health of his men so highly that he would not risk a failure, kept all the staffs tuned up to concert pitch. We saw many changes, and the best men came to the top. His own vigour infected the whole command, and within a short while of arriving at the front the efficiency of the Army was considerably increased.

The Palestine G.H.Q. was probably nearer the battle front than any G.H.Q. in other theatres of operations, and when the Army had broken through and chased the enemy beyond the Jaffa-Jerusalem line, G.H.Q. was opened at Bir Salem, near Ramleh, and for several months was actually within reach of the long-range guns which the Turks possessed. The rank and file were not slow to appreciate this. They knew their Commander-in-Chief was on the spot, keeping his eye and hand on everything, organising with his organisers, planning with his operation staff, familiar with every detail of the complicated transport system, watching his supply services with the keenness of a quartermaster-general, and taking that lively interest in the medical branch which betrayed an anxious desire for the welfare and health of the men. The rank and file knew something more than this. They saw the Commander-in-Chief at the front every day. General Allenby did not rely solely on reports from his corps. He went to each section of the line himself, and before practically every major operation he saw the ground and examined the scheme for attack. There was not a part of the line he did not know, and no one will contradict me when I say that the military roads in Palestine were known by no one better than the driver of the Commander-in-Chief's car. A man of few words, General Allenby always said what he meant with soldierly directness, which made the thanks he gave a rich reward. A good piece of work brought a written or oral message of thanks, and the men were satisfied they had done well to deserve congratulations. They were proud to have the confidence of such a Chief and to deserve it, and they in their turn had such unbounded faith in the military judgment of the General and in the care he took to prevent unnecessary risk of life, that there was nothing which he sanctioned that they would not attempt. Such mutual confidence breeds strength, and it was the Commander-in-Chief's example, his tact, energy, and military genius which made his Army a potent power for Britain and a strong pillar of the Allies' cause.

Let it not be imagined that General Allenby in his victorious campaign shone only as a great soldier. He was also a great administrator. In England little was known about this part of the General's work, and owing to the difficulties of the task and to the consideration which had, and still has, to be shown to the susceptibilities of a number of friendly nations and peoples, it may be long before the full story of the administration of the occupied territory in Palestine is unfolded for general appreciation. It is a good story, worthy of Britain's record as a protector of peoples, and though from the nature of his conquest over the Turks in the Bible country the name of General Allenby will adorn the pages of history principally as a victor, it will also stand before the governments of states as setting a model for a wise, prudent, considerate, even benevolent, administration of occupied enemy territory. In days when Powers driven mad by military ambition tear up treaties as scraps of paper, General Allenby observed the spirit as well as the letter of the Hague Convention, and found it possible to apply to occupied territory the principles of administration as laid down in the Manual of Military Law.

The natives marvelled at the change. In place of insecurity, extortion, bribery and corruption, levies on labour and property and all the evils of Turkish government, General Allenby gave the country behind the front line peace, justice, fair treatment of every race and creed, and a firm and equitable administration of the law. Every man's house became his castle. Taxes were readily paid, the tax gatherers were honest servants, and, none of the revenue going to keep fat pashas in luxury in Constantinople, there came a prospect of expenditure and revenue balancing after much money had been usefully spent on local government. Until the signing of peace international law provided that Turkish laws should apply. These, properly administered, as they never were by the Turks, gave a basis of good government, and, with the old abuses connected with the collection of revenue removed, and certain increased taxation and customs dues imposed by the Turks during the war discontinued, the people resumed the arts of peace and enjoyed a degree of prosperity none of them had ever anticipated. What the future government of Palestine may be is uncertain at the time of writing. There is talk of international control - we seem ever ready to lose at the conference table what a valiant sword has gained for us - but the careful and perfectly correct administration of General Allenby will save us from the criticism of many jealous foreigners. Certainly it will bear examination by any impartial investigator, but the best of all tributes that could be paid to it is that it satisfied religious communities which did not live in perfect harmony with one another and the inhabitants of a country which shelters the people of many different races.

The Yilderim undertaking, as the Bagdad scheme was described, did not meet with the full acceptance of the Turks. The 'mighty Jemal', as the Germans sneeringly called the Commander of the Syrian Army, opposed it as weakening his prospects, and even Enver, the ambitious creature and tool of Germany, postponed his approval. It would seem the taking over of the command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force by General Allenby set the Turks thinking, and made the German Military Mission in Constantinople reconsider their plans, not with a view to a complete abandonment of the proposal to advance on Bagdad, as would have been wise, but in order to see how few of the Yilderim troops they could allot to Jemal's army to make safe the Sinai front. There was an all-important meeting of Turkish Generals in the latter half of August, and Jemal stood to his guns. Von Falkenhayn could not get him to abate one item of his demands, and there can be no doubt that Falkenhayn, obsessed though he was with the importance of getting Bagdad, could see that Jemal was right. He admitted that the Yilderim operation was only practicable if it had freedom for retirement through the removal of the danger on the Palestine front. With that end in view he advocated that the British should be attacked, and suggested that two divisions and the 'Asia Corps' should be sent from Aleppo to move round our right. Jemal was in favour of defensive action; Enver procrastinated and proposed sending one division to strengthen the IVth Army on the Gaza front and to proceed with the Bagdad preparations. The wait-and-see policy prevailed, but long before we exerted our full strength Bagdad was out of the danger zone. General Allenby's force was so disposed that any suggestion of the Yilderim operation being put into execution was ruled out of consideration.

Several documents captured at Yilderim headquarters at Nazareth in September 1918, when General Allenby made his big drive through Syria, show very clearly how our Palestine operations changed the whole of the German plans, and reading between the lines one can realise how the impatience of the Germans was increasing Turkish stubbornness and creating friction and ill-feeling. The German military character brooks no opposition; the Turks like to postpone till to-morrow what should be done to-day. The latter were cocksure after their two successes at Gaza they could hold us up; the Germans believed that with an offensive against us they would hold us in check till the wet season arrived.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Appendices I., II., and III.]

Down to the south the Turks had to bring their divisions. Their line of communications was very bad. There was a railway from Aleppo through Rayak to Damascus, and onwards through Deraa (on the Hedjaz line) to Afule, Messudieh, Tul Keram, Ramleh, Junction Station to Beit Hanun, on the Gaza sector, and through Et Tineh to Beersheba. Rolling stock was short and fuel was scarce, and the enemy had short rations. When we advanced through Syria in the autumn of 1918 our transport was nobly served by motor-lorry columns which performed marvels in getting up supplies over the worst of roads. But as we went ahead we, having command of the sea, landed stores all the way up the coast, and unless the Navy had lent its helping hand we should never have got to Aleppo before the Turk cried 'Enough.' Every ounce of the Turks' supplies had to be hauled over land. They managed to put ten infantry divisions and one cavalry division against us in the first three weeks, but they were not comparable in strength to our seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions. In rifle strength we outnumbered them by two to one, but if the enemy had been well led and properly rationed he, being on the defensive and having strong prepared positions, should have had the power to resist us more strongly. The Turkish divisions we attacked were: 3rd, 7th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 26th, 27th, 53rd, and 54th, and the 3rd Cavalry Division. The latter avoided battle, but all the infantry divisions had heavy casualties. That the moral of the Turkish Army was not high may be gathered from a very illuminating letter written by General Kress von Kressenstein, the G.O.C. of the Sinai front, to Yilderim headquarters on September 29, 1917.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Appendix IV.]

The troops who won Palestine and made it happier than it had been for four centuries were exclusively soldiers of the British Empire. There was a French detachment and an Italian detachment with General Allenby's Army. The Italians for a short period held a small portion of the line in the Gaza sector, but did not advance with our force; the French detachment were solely employed as garrison troops. The French battleship Requin and two French destroyers cooperated with the ships of the Royal Navy in the bombardment of the coast. Our Army was truly representative of the Empire, and the units composing it gave an abiding example that in unity rested our strength. From over the Seven Seas the Empire's sons came to illustrate the unanimity of all the King's subjects in the prosecution of the war. English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh divisions of good men and true fought side by side with soldiers of varying Indian races and castes. Australia's valiant sons constituted many brigades of horse and, with New Zealand mounted regiments, became the most hardened campaigners in the Egyptian and Palestine theatre of operations. Their powerful support in the day of anxiety and trial, as well as in the time of triumph, will be remembered with gratitude. South Africa contributed good gunners; our dark-skinned brethren in the West Indies furnished infantry who, when the fierce summer heat made the air in the Jordan Valley like a draught from a furnace, had a bayonet charge which aroused an Anzac brigade to enthusiasm (and Colonial free men can estimate bravery at its true value). From far-away Hong Kong and Singapore came mountain gunners equal to any in the world, Kroomen sent from their homes in West Africa surf boatmen to land stores, Raratongas from the Southern Pacific vied with them in boat craft and beat them in physique, while Egypt contributed a labour corps and transport corps running a long way into six figures. The communion of the representatives of the Mother and Daughter nations on the stern field of war brought together people with the same ideals, and if there are any minor jealousies between them the brotherhood of arms will make the soldiers returning to their homes in all quarters of the globe the best of missionaries to spread the Imperial idea. Instead of wrecking the British Empire the German-made war should rebuild it on the soundest of foundations, affection, mutual trust, and common interest.