Now we return to the operations of XXth Corps and Desert Mounted Corps on our right. After the capture of Beersheba this force was preparing to attack the left of the Turkish main line about Hareira and Sheria, the capture of which would enable the fine force of cavalry to get to Nejile and gain an excellent water supply, to advance to the neighbourhood of Huj and so reach the plain and threaten the enemy's line in rear, and to fall on his line of retreat. It was proposed to make the attack on the Kauwukah and Rushdi systems at Hareira on November 4, but the water available at Beersheba had not been equal to the demands made upon it and was petering out, and mounted troops protecting the right flank of XXth Corps had to be relieved every twenty-four hours. The men also suffered a good deal from thirst. The weather was unusually hot for this period of the year, and the dust churned up by traffic was as irritating as when the khamseen wind blew. The two days' delay meant much in favour of the enemy, who was enabled to move his troops as he desired, but it also permitted our infantry to get some rest after their long marches, and supplies were brought nearer the front. 'Rest' was only a comparative term. Brigades were on the move each day in country which was one continual rise and fall, with stony beds of wadis to check progress, without a tree to lend a few moments' grateful relief from a burning sun, and nothing but the rare sight of a squalid native hut to relieve the monotony of a sun-dried desolate land.

The troops were remarkably cheerful. They were on their toes, as the cavalry told them. They had drawn first blood profusely from the Turk after many weary months of waiting and getting fit, and they knew that those gaunt mountain ridges away on their right front held behind them Bethlehem and Jerusalem, goals they desired to reach more than any other prizes of war. They had seen the Turk, and had soundly thrashed him out of trenches which the British could have held against a much stronger force. Their confidence was based on the proof that they were better men, and they were convinced that once they got the enemy into the open their superiority would be still more marked. The events of the next six weeks showed their estimate of the Turkish soldier was justified.

The 53rd Division with the Imperial Camel Corps on its right moved to Towal Abu Jerwal on November 1 to protect the flank guard of the XXth Corps during the pending attack on the Kauwukah system. The infantry had some fighting on that day, but it was mild compared with the strenuous days before them. The 10th Division attacked Irgeig railway station north-west of Beersheba and secured it, and waited there with the 74th Division on its right while the Welsh Division went forward to fight for Khuweilfeh on November 3. The Welshmen could not obtain the whole of the position on that day, and it was not until the 6th that it became theirs. Khuweilfeh is about ten miles due east of Sheria, the same distance north of Beersheba, and some five miles west of the Hebron road. It is in the hill country, difficult to approach, with nothing in the nature of a road or track leading to it, and there was no element in the position to suggest the prospect of an easy capture. When General Mott advanced to these forbidding heights the strength of the enemy in these parts was not realised. Prisoners taken during the day proved that there were portions of three or four Turkish divisions in the neighbourhood, and the strong efforts made to prevent the Welsh troops gaining the position and the furious attempts to drive them out of it suggested that most of the Turkish reserves had been brought over to their left flank to guard against a wide movement intended to envelop it. It afterwards turned out that von Kressenstein believed General Allenby intended to march on Jerusalem up the Hebron road, and he threw over to his left all his reserves to stop us. That was a supreme mistake, for when we had broken through at Hareira and Sheria the two wings of his Army were never in contact, and their only means of communication was by aeroplane.

The magnificent fight the 53rd Division put up at Khuweilfeh against vastly superior forces and in the face of heavy casualties played a very important part in the overwhelming defeat of the Turks. For four days and nights the Welsh Division fought without respite and with the knowledge that they could not be substantially reinforced, since the plan for the attack on Hareira and Sheria entailed the employment of all the available infantry of XXth Corps. Attack after attack was launched against them with extreme violence and great gallantry, their positions were raked by gunfire, whilst water and supplies were not over plentiful. But the staunch Division held on grimly to what it had gained, and its tenacity was well rewarded by what was won on other portions of the field.

During the night of November 5-6 and the day of the 6th, the 74th, 60th, and 10th Divisions concentrated for the attack on the Kauwukah system. The enemy's positions ran from his Jerusalem-Beersheba railway about five miles south-east of Hareira, across the Gaza-Beersheba road to the wadi Sheria, on the northern bank of which was an exceedingly strong redoubt covering Hareira. The eastern portion of this line was known as the Kauwukah system, and between it and Hareira was the Rushdi system, all being connected up by long communication and support trenches, while a light railway ran from the Rushdi line to dumps south of Sheria. At the moment of assembly for attack our line from right to left was made up as follows: the 158th Infantry Brigade was on the right, south of Tel Khuweilfeh. Then came the 160th Brigade and 159th Brigade. The Yeomanry Mounted Division held a long line of country and was the connecting link between the 53rd and 74th Divisions. The latter division disposed from right to left the 231st Brigade, the 229th Brigade, and 230th Brigade, who were to march from the south-east to the north-west to attack the right of the Kauwukah system of entrenchments on the railway. The 181st Brigade, 180th Brigade, and 179th Brigade of the 60th Division were to march in the same direction to attack the next portion of the system on the left of the 74th Division's objectives, then swinging to the north to march on Sheria. The 31st Brigade, 30th Brigade, and 29th Brigade were to operate on the 60th Division's left, with the Australian Mounted Division watching the left flank of XXth Corps. The Turkish VIIth Army and 3rd Cavalry Division were opposing the XXth Corps, another Division was opposite the 53rd Division and the Imperial Camel Corps with the 12th Depot Regiment at Dharahiyeh on the Hebron road, the 16th Division opposite our 74th, the 24th and 26th Divisions opposite our 69th, and the 54th against the 10th Division. The 3rd, 53rd, and 7th Turkish Divisions were in the Gaza area.

At daybreak the troops advanced to the attack. The first part of the line in front of the 231st Brigade was a serious obstacle. Two or three small outlying rifle pits had to be taken before the Division could proceed with its effort to drive the enemy out of Sheria and protect the flank of the 60th Division, which had to cross the railway where a double line of trenches was to be tackled, the rear line above the other with the flank well thrown back and protected by small advanced pits to hold a few men and machine guns. The Turks held on very obstinately to their ground east of the railway, and kept the 74th Division at bay till one o'clock in the afternoon, but the artillery of that Division had for some time been assisting in the wire-cutting in front of the trenches to be assaulted by the 60th Division, and the latter went ahead soon after noon, and with the assistance of one brigade of the 10th Division, had won about 4000 yards of the complicated trench system and most of the Rushdi system by half-past two. The Londoners then swung to the north and occupied the station at Sheria, while the dismounted yeomanry worked round farther east, taking a series of isolated trenches on the way, the Irish troops relieving the 60th in the captured trenches at Kauwukah. The 60th Division, having possession of the larger part of Sheria, intended to attack the hill there at nightfall, and the attack was in preparation when an enemy dump exploded and a huge fire lighted up the whole district, so that all troops would have been exposed to the fire of the garrison on the hill. General Shea therefore stopped the attack, but the hill was stormed at 4.30 next morning and carried at the point of the bayonet. A bridgehead was then formed at Sheria, and the Londoners fought all day and stopped one counter-attack when it was within 200 yards of our line. On that same morning the Irish troops had extended their gains westwards from the Rushdi system till they got to Hareira Tepe Redoubt, a high mound 500 yards across the top, which had been criss-crossed with trenches with wire hanging about some broken ground at the bottom. Here there was a hot tussle, but the Irishmen valiantly pushed through and not only gave XXth Corps the whole of its objectives and completed the turn of the enemy's left flank, but joined up with the XXIst Corps. The working of XXth Corps' scheme had again been admirable, and once more the staff work had enabled the movements to be timed perfectly.

The Desert Mounted Corps was thus able to draw up to Sheria in readiness to take up the pursuit and to get the water supply at Nejile. This ended the XXth Corps' task for a few days, though the 60th Division became temporarily attached to Desert Mounted Corps. XXth Corps had nobly done its part. The consummate ability, energy, and foresight of the corps commander had been supported throughout by the skill of divisional and brigade commanders. For the men no praise could be too high. The attention given to their training was well repaid. They bore the strain of long marches on hard food and a small allowance of water in a way that proved their physique to be only matched by their courage, and that was of a high order. Their discipline was admirable, their determination alike in attack and defence strong and well sustained. To say they were equal to the finest troops in the world might lay one open to a charge of exaggeration when it was impossible to get a fair ground of comparison, seeing the conditions of fighting on different fronts was so varied, but the trials through which the troops of XXth Corps passed up to the end of the first week of November, and their magnificent accomplishments by the end of the year, make me doubt whether any other corps possessed finer soldierly qualities. The men were indeed splendid. The casualties sustained by the XXth Corps from October 31 to November 16 were: killed, officers 63, other ranks 869; wounded, officers 198, other ranks 4246; missing, no officers, 108 other ranks - a total of 261 officers and 5223 other ranks.

During the period after Beersheba when the XXth Corps troops were concentrating to break up the Turks' defensive position on the left, the Desert Mounted Corps was busily engaged holding a line eight or ten miles north and north-east of Beersheba, and watching for any movement of troops down the Hebron road. The 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade and 7th Mounted Brigade tried to occupy a line from Khuweilfeh to Dharahiyeh, but it was not possible to reach it - a fact by no means surprising, as in the light of subsequent knowledge it was clear that the Turks had put much of their strength there. A patrol of Light Horsemen managed to work round to the north of Dharahiyeh, a curious group of mud houses on a hill-top inhabited by natives who have yet to appreciate the evils of grossly overcrowded quarters as well as some of the elementary principles of sanitation, and they saw a number of motor lorries come up the admirably constructed hill road designed by German engineers. The lorries were hurrying from the Jerusalem area with reinforcements. Prisoners - several hundreds of them in all - were brought in daily, but no attempt was made to force the enemy back until November 6, when the 53rd Division, which for the time being was attached to the Desert Mounted Corps, drove the Turks off the whole of Khuweilfeh, behaving as I have already said with fine gallantry and inflicting severe losses. There were also counter-attacks launched against the 5th Mounted Brigade, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, and the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, but these were likewise beaten off with considerable casualties to the enemy. When the XXth Corps had captured the Khauwukah system, a detachment for the defence of the right flank of the Army was formed under the command of Major-General G. de S. Barrow, the G.O.C. Yeomanry Mounted Division, consisting of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, 53rd Division, Yeomanry Mounted Division, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, and two squadrons and eight machine guns of the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade. The Australian Mounted Division marched from Karm, whither it had been sent on account of water difficulties, to rejoin Desert Mounted Corps to whom the 60th Division was temporarily attached. The Desert Corps had orders on November 7 to push through as rapidly as possible to the line wadi Jemmameh-Huj, and from that day the Corps commenced its long march to Jaffa, a march which, though strongly opposed by considerable bodies of troops, was more often interfered with by lack of water than by difficulty in defeating the enemy.

The scarcity of water was a sore trouble. There was an occasional pool here and there, but generally the only water procurable was in deep wells giving a poor yield. The cavalry will not forget that long trek. No brigade could march straight ahead. Those operating in the foothills on our right had to fight all the way, and they were often called upon to resist counter-attacks by strong rearguards issuing from the hills to threaten the flank and so delay the advance in order to permit the Turks to carry off some of their material. It was necessary almost every day to withdraw certain formations from the front and send them back a considerable distance to water, replacing them by other troops coming from a well centre. In this way brigades were not infrequently attached to divisions other than their own, and the administrative services were heavily handicapped. Several times whole brigades were without water for forty-eight hours, and though supplies reached them on all but one or two occasions they were often late, and an exceedingly severe strain was put on the transport. During that diagonal march across the Maritime Plain I heard infantry officers remark that the Australians always seemed to have their supplies up with them. I do not think the supplies were always there, but they generally were not far behind, and if resource and energy could work miracles the Australian supply officers deserve the credit for them. The divisional trains worked hard in those strenuous days, and the 'Q' staff of the Desert Mounted Corps had many a sleepless night devising plans to get that last ounce out of their transport men and to get that little extra amount of supplies to the front which meant the difference between want and a sufficiency for man and horse.

On the 7th November the 60th Division after its spirited attack on Tel el Sheria crossed the wadi and advanced north about two miles, fighting obstinate rearguards all the way. The 1st Australian Light Horse took 300 prisoners and a considerable quantity of ammunition and stores at Ameidat, and with the remainder of the Anzac Division reached Tel Abu Dilakh by the evening, and the Australian Mounted Division filled the gap between the Anzacs and the Londoners, but having been unable to water could not advance further. The 8th November was a busy and brilliantly successful day. The Corps' effort was to make a wide sweeping movement in order first to obtain the valuable and urgently required water at Nejile, and then to push across the hills and rolling downs to the country behind Gaza to harass the enemy retreating from that town. The Turks had a big rearguard south-west of Nejile and made a strong effort to delay the capture of that place, the importance of which to us they realised to the full, and they were prepared to sacrifice the whole of the rearguard if they could hold us off the water for another twenty-four hours. The pressure of the Anzac Division and the 7th Mounted Brigade assisting it was too much for the enemy, who though holding on to the hills very stoutly till the last moment had to give way and leave the water in our undisputed possession. The Sherwood Rangers and South Notts Hussars were vigorously counter-attacked at Mudweiweh, but they severely handled the enemy, who retired a much weakened body.

By the evening the Anzacs held the country from Nejile to the north bank of the wadi Jemmameh, having captured 300 prisoners and two guns. The Australian Mounted Division made an excellent advance round the north side of Huj, which had been the Turkish VIIIth Army Headquarters, and the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade was in touch with the corps cavalry of XXIst Corps at Beit Hanun, while the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade had taken prisoners and two of the troublesome Austrian 5.9 howitzers.

It was the work of the 60th Division in the centre, however, which was the outstanding feature of the day, though the Londoners readily admitted that without the glorious charge of the Worcester and Warwickshire Yeomanry in the afternoon they would not have been in the neighbourhood of Huj when darkness fell. The 60th were in the centre, sandwiched between the Anzacs and Australian Mounted Division, and their allotted task was to clear the country between Sheria and Huj, a distance of ten miles. The country was a series of billowy downs with valleys seldom more than 1000 yards wide, and every yard of the way was opposed by infantry and artillery. Considering the opposition the progress was good. The Londoners drove in the Turks' strong flank three times, first from the hill of Zuheilika, then from the cultivated area behind it, and thirdly from the wadi-torn district of Muntaret el Baghl, from which the infantry proceeded to the high ground to the north. It was then between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, and maps showed that between the Division and Huj there was nearly four miles of most difficult country, a mass of wadi beds and hills giving an enterprising enemy the best possible means for holding up an advance. General Shea went ahead in a light armoured car to reconnoitre, and saw a strong body of Turks with guns marching across his front. It was impossible for his infantry to catch them and, seeing ten troops of Warwick and Worcester Yeomanry on his right about a mile away, he went over to them and ordered Lieut.-Colonel H. Cheape to charge the enemy. It was a case for instant action. The enemy were a mile and a half from our cavalry. The gunners had come into action and were shelling the London Territorials, but they soon had to switch off and fire at a more terrifying target. Led by their gallant Colonel, a Master of Foxhounds who was afterwards drowned in the Mediterranean, the yeomen swept over a ridge in successive lines and raced down the northern slope on to the flat, at first making direct for the guns, then swerving to the left under the direction of Colonel Cheape, whose eye for country led him to take advantage of a mound on the opposite side of the valley. Over this rise the Midland yeomen spurred their chargers and, giving full-throated cheers, dashed through the Turks' left flank guard and went straight for the guns. Their ranks were somewhat thinned, for they had been exposed to a heavy machine-gun fire as well as to the fire of eight field guns and three 5.9 howitzers worked at the highest pressure. The gunners were nearly all Germans and Austrians and they fought well. They splashed the valley with shrapnel, and during the few moments' lull when the yeomanry were lost to view behind the mound they set their shell fuses at zero to make them burst at the mouth of the guns and act as case shot. They tore some gaps in the yeomen's ranks, but nothing could stop that charge. The Midlanders rode straight at the guns and sabred every artilleryman at his piece. The Londoners say they heard all the guns stop dead at the same moment and they knew they had been silenced in true Balaclava style. Having wiped out the batteries the yeomen again answered the call of their leader and swept up a ridge to deal effectively with three machine guns, and having used the white arm against their crews the guns were turned on to the retreating Turks and decimated their ranks. This charge was witnessed by General Shea, and I know it is his opinion that it was executed with the greatest gallantry and elan, and was worthy of the best traditions of British cavalry. The yeomanry lost about twenty-five per cent. of their number in casualties, but their action was worth the price, for they completely broke up the enemy resistance and enabled the London Division to push straight through to Huj. The Warwick and Worcester Yeomanry received the personal congratulations of the Commander-in-Chief, and General Shea was also thanked by General Allenby.

During this day General Shea accomplished what probably no other Divisional Commander did in this war. When out scouting in a light armoured car he was within 500 yards of a big ammunition dump which was blown up. He saw the three men who had destroyed it running away, and he chased them into a wadi and machine-gunned them. They held up their hands and were astonished to find they had surrendered to a General. These men were captured in the nick of time. But for the appearance of General Shea they would have destroyed another dump, which we captured intact.

I was with the Division the night after they had taken Huj. It was their first day of rest for some time, but the men showed few signs of fatigue. No one could move among them without being proud of the Londoners. They were strong, self-reliant, well-disciplined, brave fellows. I well remember what Colonel Temperley, the G.S.O. of the Division, told me when sitting out on a hill in the twilight that night. Colonel Temperley had been brigade major of the first New Zealand Infantry Brigade which came to Egypt and took a full share in the work on Gallipoli on its way to France. He had over two years of active service on the Western Front before coming out to Palestine for duty with the 60th Division, and his views on men in action were based on the sound experience of the professional soldier. Of the London County Territorials he said: 'I cannot speak of these warriors without a lump rising in my throat. These Cockneys are the best men in the world. Their spirits are simply wonderful, and I do not think any division ever went into a big show with higher moral. After three years of war it is refreshing to hear the men's earnestly expressed desire to go into action again. These grand fellows went forward with the full bloom on them, there never was any hesitation, their discipline was absolutely perfect, their physique and courage were alike magnificent, and their valour beyond words. The Cockney makes the perfect soldier.' I wrote at the time that 'whether the men came from Bermondsey, Camberwell or Kennington, or belonged to what were known as class corps, such as the Civil Service or Kensingtons, before the war, all battalions were equally good. They were trained for months for the big battle till their bodies were brought to such a state of fitness that Spartan fare during the ten days of ceaseless action caused neither grumble nor fatigue. The men may well be rewarded with the title "London's Pride," and London is honoured by having such stalwarts to represent the heart of the British Empire. In eight days the Londoners marched sixty-six miles and fought a number of hot actions. The march may not seem long, but Palestine is not Salisbury Plain. A leg-weary man was asked by an officer if his feet were blistered, and replied: "They're rotten sore, but my heart's gay." That is typical of the spirit of these unconquerable Cockneys. I have just left them. They still have the bloom of freshness and I do not think it will ever fade. Scorching winds which parched the throat and made everything one wore hot to the touch were enough to oppress the staunchest soldier, but these sterling Territorials, costers and labourers, artisans and tradesmen, professional men and men of independent means, true brothers in arms and good Britons, left their bivouacs and trudged across heavy country, fearless, strong, proud, and with the cheerfulness of good men who fight for right.' What I said in those early days of the great advance was more than borne out later, and in the capture of Jerusalem, in taking Jericho, and in forcing the passage of the Jordan this glorious Division of Londoners was always the same, a pride to its commander, a bulwark of the XXth Corps, and a great asset of the Empire.