The Anzac Mounted Division had only the 1st Australian Light Horse and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade operating with it on the 14th. The Australians, by the evening, were in the thick olive groves on the south of Ramleh, and on the ridges about Surafend. On their left the Turks were violently opposing the New Zealanders who were working along the sand-dunes with the port and town of Jaffa as their ultimate objective. There was one very fierce struggle in the course of the day. A force attacked a New Zealand regiment in great strength and for the moment secured the advantage, but the regiment got to grips with the enemy with hand-grenades and bayonets, and so completely repulsed them that they fled in hopeless disorder leaving many dead and wounded behind them. It was unfortunate that there was no mobile reserve available for pursuit, as the Turks were in such a plight that a large number would have been rounded up. General Cox's brigade seized Ramleh on the morning of the 15th, taking ninety prisoners, and then advanced and captured Ludd, being careful that no harm should come to the building which holds the grave of St. George. In Ludd 360 prisoners were taken, and the brigade carried out a good deal of demolition work on the railway running north. The New Zealanders made Jaffa by noon on the 16th, the Turks evacuating the town during the morning without making any attempt to destroy it, though there was one gross piece of vandalism in a Christian cemetery where monuments and tombstones had been thrown down and broken. In the meantime, in order to protect the rear of the infantry, five battalions of the 52nd Division with three batteries were stationed at Yebnah, Mughar, and Akir until they could be relieved by units of the 54th Division advancing from Gaza. To enable the 54th to move, the transport lent to the 52nd and 75th Divisions had to be returned, which did not make the supply of those divisions any easier. The main line of railway was still a long way in the rear, and the landing of stores by the Navy at the mouth of the wadi Sukereir had not yet begun. A little later, and before Jaffa had been made secure enough for the use of ships, many thousands of tons of supplies and ammunition were put ashore at the wadi's mouth, and at a time when heavy rains damaged the newly constructed railway tracks the Sukereir base of supply was an inestimable boon. Yet there were times when the infantry had a bare day's supply with them, though they had their iron rations to fall back upon. It speaks well for the supply branch that in the long forward move of XXIst Corps the infantry were never once put on short rations.

While the 54th were coming up to take over from the 52nd, plans were prepared for the further advance on Jerusalem. The Commander-in-Chief was deeply anxious that there should be no fighting of any description near the Holy Places, and he gave the Turks a chance of being chivalrous and of accepting the inevitable. We had got so far that the ancient routes taken by armies which had captured Jerusalem were just before us. The Turkish forces were disorganised by heavy and repeated defeats, the men demoralised and not in good condition, and there was no hope for them that they could receive sufficient reinforcements to enable them to stave off the ultimate capture of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, though as events proved they could still put up a stout defence. We know from papers taken from the enemy that the Turks believed General Allenby intended to go right up the plain to get to the defile leading to Messudieh and Nablus and thus threaten the Hedjaz railway, in which case the position of the enemy in the Holy City would be hopeless, and the Turks formed an assault group of three infantry divisions in the neighbourhood of Tul Keram to prevent this, and continued to hold on to Jerusalem. General Allenby proposed to strike through the hills to the north-east to try to get across the Jerusalem-Nablus road about Bireh (the ancient Beeroth), and in this operation success would have enabled him to cut off the enemy forces in and about the Holy City, when their only line of retreat would have been through Jericho and the east of the Jordan. The Turks decided to oppose this plan and to make us fight for Jerusalem. That was disappointing, but in the end it could not have suited us better, for it showed to our own people and to the world how after the Turks had declined an opportunity of showing a desire to preserve the Holy Places from attack - an opportunity prompted by our strength, not by any fear that victory could not be won - General Allenby was still able to achieve his great objective without a drop of blood being spilled near any of the Holy Sites, and without so much as a stray rifle bullet searing any of their walls. That indeed was the triumph of military practice, and when Jerusalem fell for the twenty-third time, and thus for the first time passed into the hands of British soldiers, the whole force felt that the sacrifices which had been made on the gaunt forbidding hills to the north-west were worth the price, and that the graves of Englishman, Scot and Colonial, of Gurkha, Punjabi, and Sikh, were monuments to the honour of British arms. The scheme was that the 75th Division would advance along the main Jerusalem road, which cuts into the hills about three miles east of Latron, and occupy Kuryet el Enab, and that the Lowland Division should go through Ludd, strike eastwards and advance to Beit Likia to turn from the north the hills through which the road passes, the Yeomanry Mounted Division on the left flank of the 52nd Division to press on to Bireh, on the Nablus road about a dozen miles north of Jerusalem. A brief survey of the country to be attacked would convince even a civilian of the extreme difficulties of the undertaking. North and east of Latron (which was not yet ours) frown the hills which constitute this important section of the Judean range, the backbone of Palestine. The hills are steep and high, separated one from another by narrow valleys, clothed here and there with fir and olive trees, but elsewhere a mass of rocks and boulders, bare and inhospitable. Practically every hill commands another. There is only one road - the main one - and this about three miles east of Latron passes up a narrow defile with rugged mountains on either side. There is an old Roman road to the north, but, unused for centuries, it is now a road only in name, the very trace of it being lost in many places. In this strong country men fought of old, and the defenders not infrequently held their own against odds. It is pre-eminently suitable for defence, and if the warriors of the past found that flint-tipped shafts of wood would keep the invader at bay, how much more easily could a modern army equipped with rifles of precision and machine guns adapt Nature to its advantage? It will always be a marvel to me how in a country where one machine gun in defence could hold up a battalion, we made such rapid progress, and how having got so deep into the range it was possible for us to feed our front. We had no luck with the weather. In advancing over the plain the troops had suffered from the abnormal heat, and many of the wells had been destroyed or damaged by the retreating enemy. In the hills the troops had to endure heavy rains and piercingly cold winds, with mud a foot deep on the roads and the earth so slippery on the hills that only donkey transport was serviceable. Yet despite all adverse circumstances the infantry and yeomanry pressed on, and if they did not secure all objectives, their dash, resource, and magnificent determination at least paved the way for ultimate triumph.

To the trials of hard fighting and marching on field rations the wet added a severe test of physical endurance. The troops were in enemy country where they scrupulously avoided every native village, and no wall or roof stood to shelter them from wind or water. The heat of the first two weeks of November changed with a most undesirable suddenness, and though the days continued agreeably warm on the plain into December, the nights became chilly and then desperately cold. The single blanket carried in the pack - most of the infantry on the march had no blanket at all - did not give sufficient warmth to men whose blood had been thinned by long months of work under a pitiless Eastern sun, and lucky was the soldier who secured even broken sleep in the early morning hours of that fighting march across the northern part of the Maritime Plain. The Generals, with one eye on the enemy and the other on the weather, must have been dismayed in the third week of November at the gathering storm clouds which in bursting flooded the plain with rains unusually heavy for this period of the year. The surface is a very light cotton soil several feet deep. When baked by summer sun it has a cracked hard crust giving a firm foothold for man and horse, and yielding only slightly to the wheels of light cars; even laden lorries made easy tracks over the country. The lorries generally kept off the ill-made unrolled Turkish road which had been constructed for winter use and, except for slight deviations to avoid wadis and gullies cut by Nature to carry off surplus water, the supply columns could move in almost as direct a course as the flying men. When the heavens opened all this was altered. The first storm turned the top into a slippery, greasy mass. In an hour or two the rain soaked down into the light earth, and any lorry driver pulling out of the line to avoid a skidding vehicle ahead, had the almost certainty of finding his car and load come to a full stop with the wheels held fast axle deep in the soft soil. An hour's hard digging, the fixing of planks beneath the wheels, and a towing cable from another lorry sometimes got the machine on to the pressed-down track again and enabled it to move ahead for a few miles, but many were the supply vehicles that had to wait for a couple of sunny days to dry a path for them.

My own experience of the first of the winter rains was so like that of others in the force who moved on wheels that I may give some idea of the conditions by recounting it. We had taken Ludd and Ramleh, and guided by the ruined tower of the Church of the Forty Martyrs I had followed in the cavalry's wake. I dallied on the way back to see if Akir presented to the latter-day Crusader any signs of its former strength when it stood as the Philistine stronghold of Ekron. Near where the old city had been the ghastly sight of Turks cut down by yeomanry during a hot pursuit offended the senses of sight and smell, and when you saw natives moving towards their village at a rate somewhat in excess of their customary shuffling gait you were almost led to think that their superstitious fears were driving them home before sundown lest darkness should raise the ghosts of the Turkish dead. A few of the Jewish settlers, whose industry has improved the landscape, were leaving the fields and orchards they tended so well, though there was still more than an hour of daylight and their tasks were not yet done. They were weatherwise. They could have been deaf to the rumblings in the south and still have noticed the coming of the storm. I was some forty miles from the spot at which my despatch could be censored and passed over land wire and cable to London, when a vivid lightning flash warned me that the elements were in forbidding mood and that I had misread the obvious signal of the natives' homeward movement.

The map showed a path from Akir through Mansura towards Junction Station, from which the so-called Turkish road ran south. In the gathering gloom my driver picked up wheel tracks through an olive orchard and, crossing a nullah, found the marks of a Ford car's wheels on the other side. The rain fell heavily and soon obliterated all signs of a car's progress, and with darkness coming on there was a prospect of a shivering night with a wet skin in the open. An Australian doctor going up to his regiment at grips with the Turk told me that he had no doubt we were on the right road, for he had been given a line through Mansura, which must be the farmhouse ahead of us. These Australians have a keen nose for country and you have a sense of security in following them. The doctor's horse was slipping in the mud, but my car made even worse going. It skidded to right and left, and only by the skill and coolness of my driver was I saved a ducking in a narrow wadi now full of storm water. After much low-gear work we pulled up a slight rise and saw ahead of us one or two little fires. Under the lee of a dilapidated wall some Scottish infantry were brewing tea and making the most of a slight shelter. It was Mansura, and if we bore to the right and kept the track beaten down by lorries across a field we might, by the favour of fortune, reach Junction Station during the night. The Scots had arranged a bivouac in that field before it became sodden. They knew how bad it had got, and a native instinct to be hospitable prompted an invitation to share the fire for the night. However, London was waiting for news and I decided to press on. The road could not be worse than the sea of mud in which I was floundering, and it might be better. We turned right-handed and after a struggle came up against three lorry drivers hopelessly marooned. They had turned in. Up a greasy bank we came to a stop and slid back. We tried again and failed. I relieved the car of my weight and made an effort to push it from behind, but my feet held fast in the mud and the car cannoned into me when it skidded downhill. 'Better give it up till the morning,' said an M.T. driver whose sleep was disturbed by the running of our engine. 'Can't? Who've you got there? Eh? Oh, very well. Here, Jim, give them a hand or we'll have no sleep to-night' - or words to that effect. Three of the lorry men and the engine got us on the move, and before they took mud back with them to the dry interiors of the lorries they hoped, they said, that we would reach G.H.Q., but declared that it was hopeless to try.

Before getting much farther a light, waved ahead of us, told of some one held up. I walked on and found General Butler, the chief of the Army Veterinary Service with the Force, unable to move an inch. The efforts of two drivers failed to locate the trouble, and everything removable was taken off the General's car and put into ours, and with the heavier load we started off again for Junction Station. This was not difficult to pick up, for there were many flares burning to enable working parties to repair engines, rolling stock, and permanent way. We got on to the road ultimately, carrying more mud on our feet than I imagined human legs could lift. Leaving a driver and all spare gear at the station, we thrashed our way along a road metalled with a soft, friable limestone which had been cut into by the iron-shod wheels of German lorries until the ruts were fully a foot deep, and the soft earth foundation was oozing through to the surface. It was desperately hard to steer a course on this treacherous highway, and a number of lorries we passed had gone temporarily out of action in ditches. The Germans with the Turks had blown up most of the culverts, and the road bridges which had been destroyed had only been lightly repaired with planks and trestles, no safety rails being in position. To negotiate these dangerous paths in the dark the driver had to put on all possible speed and make a dash for it, and he usually got to the other side before a skid became serious. Most of the lorry drivers put out no light because they thought no car would be able to move on such a night, and we had several narrow escapes of finishing our career on a half-sunken supply motor vehicle.

Reinforcements for infantry battalions moved up the road as we came down it. They were going to the front to take the place of casualties, for weather and mud are not considered when bayonets are wanted in the line. So the stolid British infantryman splashed and slipped his way towards the enemy, and he would probably have been sleeping that night if there had not been a risk of his drowning in the mud. The Camel Transport Corps fought the elements with a courage which deserved better luck. The camel dislikes many things and is afraid of some. But if he is capable of thinking at all he regards mud as his greatest enemy. He cannot stand up in it, and if he slips he has not an understanding capable of realising that if all his feet do not go the same way he must spread-eagle and split up. This is what often happens, but if by good luck a camel should go down sideways he seems quite content to stay there, and he is so refractory that he prefers to die rather than help himself to his feet again. On this wild night I had a good opportunity of seeing white officers encourage the Egyptian boys in the Camel Transport Corps. At Julis the roadway passes through the village. There was an ambulance column in difficulties in the village, and while some cars were being extricated a camel supply column came up in the opposite direction. The camels liked neither the headlights nor the running engines, and these had to be made dark and silent before they would pass. The water was running over the roadway several inches deep, carrying with it a mass of garbage and filth which only Arab villagers would tolerate. Officers and Gyppies coaxed and wheedled the stubborn beasts through Julis, but outside the place the animals raised a chorus of protest and went down. They held me up for an hour or more, and though officers and boys did their utmost to get them going again it was a fruitless effort, and the poor beasts were off-loaded where they lay. That night of rain and thunder, wind and cold, was bad alike for man and beast, but beyond a flippant remark of some soldier doing his best and the curious chant of the Gyppies' chorus you heard nothing. Tommy could not trust himself to talk about the weather. It was too bad for words, for even the strongest.

It took our car ten hours to run forty miles, and as the last ten miles was over wet sand and on rabbit wire stretched across the sand where the car could do fifteen miles an hour, we had averaged something under three miles an hour through the mud. Wet through, cold, with a face rendered painful to the touch by driven rain, I reached my tent with a feeling of thankfulness for myself and deep sympathy for the tens of thousands of brave boys enduring intense discomfort and fatigue, coupled with the fear of short rations for the next day or two. The men in the hills which they were just entering had a worse time than those in the waterlogged plain, but no storms could damp their enthusiasm. They were beating your enemies and mine, and they were facing a goal which Britain had never yet won. Jerusalem the Golden was before them, and the honour and glory of winning it from the Turk was a prize to attain which no sacrifice was too great. Those who did not say so behaved in a way to show that they felt it. They were very gallant, perfect knights, these soldiers of the King.