ALLENBY TO THE RESCUE!
HOBBY-HORSES in the Jordan Valley, hobbled in the Plain of Jericho! Make-believe horses, put together of sticks and canvas, hitched in long rows on either side of drinking-troughs to deceive the Turks and their instructors, the Germans! Dummy camps and dummy tents; mules drawing heavy drags around at random to make a big dust and suggest traffic! What a Joke! German airmen were allowed to draw near enough to see all I his and were then driven off and never allowed to return. They reported to enemy headquarters that the Jordan Valley was full of British cavalry and that the British push north would doubtless advance that way.
All the while Allenby was shifting every horseman who could be spared over to the coast of the Philistines to make his great rush up that way, leaving the mock cavalry in the Jordan Valley and smuggling his real cavalry by night onto the broad bosom of the Plain of Sharon, hiding them by day in the deep clefts as they crossed the Judean Highlands. It was a neat trick. It worked wonderfully. In the daytime all was quiet, but at night everybody was on the move. The real cavalry was glad to get out of the awful Jordan Valley, stifling at 120°, and leave the mock cavalry behind to blister and warp. Every night, until the dawn set for the great race, masses of troops and transport kept moving towards the front, to get near the gate of the opening which was to be made in the Turkish line. It was a host pressing forward to sure victory, edging up every night closer, getting into firmer position, orderly according to plan.
Allenby and his brainy little chief of staff had worked it all out: At dawn on September 19, 1918, the artillery was to break up the Turkish trenches, the infantry was to make a hole and the cavalry would pour through and dash up the coast to the Plain of Esdraelon, and so get behind the Turks whom the British drove through Samaria into their arms. It worked like a charm. It was the neatest maneuver in the World War, and it brought about the beginning of the end of the World War.
The night before the orange groves of Jaffa and Sarona, the apricot and nectarine orchards of Ludd and Ramleh, were full to suffocation. Infantry, cavalry, artillery, Peerless trucks, Fords, and camels, amid the cactus hedges, everybody and everything was getting into final position, wrapped in clouds of dust, advancing like clockwork, on schedule time, pushing in perfect discipline towards the starting post of that terrific race, that epic ride which was to rid the Holy Land forever of its fearful Turkish taskmaster and bring the Oriental ally of the Central Powers to his knees. The horses champed at the bit and pawed the dust. They shook their heads impatiently. Their time had come at last in the World War to show their mettle. The men beside them were on tiptoe, every man set on the mark, waiting for the pistol shot. It was going to he a clean job. That was the night before.
Allenby said afterwards: “I was up at 5:30 in the morning, when the division was ready to attack. By a quarter past six three divisions of cavalry began to pour through the gap made. They were told to go right away through the Turkish army”-and they did. It was the prettiest stroke in the World War. Without an error made, the ball was hit square and landed on the green; the club followed through. Turks, Germans, and Austrians fled or surrendered or lay on the field. British Yeomanry and Australians with flashing swords, Indians with sparkling lances, swept by, swept on, squadron by squadron, trotting, galloping, holding the line as on parade, irresistible as law, determined as righteousness, over the land of the Philistines, acting a drama, fulfilling prophecy, racing against time into the Plain of Esdraelon, the Plain of Armageddon, back of the Turks.
The next afternoon by five o’clock the British cavalry had ridden into Nazareth, seized El Afule, Beisan, Megiddo (Armageddon), and was waiting for the beaten Turks to issue from the defiles of the mountains of Samaria. They came, fleeing in broken bits of an army, shot to pieces, without food or drink, helpless, hopeless. They had been trapped as prearranged in the land of Ephraim. The British wireless had called up the bombing fliers from the airdromes, and they had come, like birds of prey, in flocks to rain destruction on the moving columns of the Turks below. They would bomb the leading troops in the defiles, and presently the whole column would be piled up, a medley of men, guns, and transport. We turned away so as not to see. Wretched Turks, wretched rulers of the Holy Land! The survivors stumbled into the fateful Plain of Esdraelon, into the arms of the British cavalry. All that remained to be done was for the umpire to sound the trumpet. The maneuver was over and the prisoners could be counted.
On September 20, 1918, the Seventh and Eighth Turkish Armies were destroyed, the power of the Turkish Empire was broken. “This way, please,” muttered the irrepressible Tommies, as they conducted the Turks into the vast barbed-wire inclosures hastily erected for their reception. There was no resentment in this police work. Just another day’s work done in this curious task of regulation, administration, and organization which seems to fall to the British in outlandish places. The significant thing about it was that this particular police work took place in the Plain of Armageddon. When given a peerage Allenby took the title of Viscount of Megiddo, or Armageddon. Watch this Lord of Armageddon; he is among the great men who have great work to do for mankind.
But that was not all. Haifa fell, the British swam and fished in the Sea of Galilee, then Damascus fell, the Fourth Turkish Army was destroyed, Beirut was taken, Tripoli, Aleppo, and the head waters of the Euphrates. Far into Asia Minor British order penetrated. The Turks were obliged to withdraw their remnants to harmless distances. They were discredited, beaten, without equipment, without money. The Pax Britannica brooded over the Near East in 1918. Why does the Turk trouble the nations again in 1922? Why should he return to-day to vex the world, to massacre, as is his wont, to suck up the moisture of the Near East, to turn back the clock of progress, to make a desolation of every spot he touches? He was once undone, finished, khalass. as the Arabs say. What is it that has given him arms again and money to buy arms? What secret shame hides behind his resurgence into power after his power had been stripped from him by Allenby, Lord of Armageddon? Must Allenby meet him again in the Plain of Armageddon and defeat him a second time? Will the world wait until the Turk has gathered the vultures from out of Russia, Afghanistan, Persia, India, and the farthest East and raised rebellious hordes at the back of the Western Powers? The Holy Land is a sacred trust. The danger comes from the north. Let those whose right it is stand by, fully armed to overturn and overturn.
Allenby told me in the spring of 1920 that if the Turkish Peace Treaty was not signed soon we would have another war. The war came. Turkey is still in Europe. France, Italy, and Greece jockeyed each other for the position at the gate-post where Britain stood first; they scrambled for the heritage which was that of the men from the Isles of the Sea, from the antipodes, from the West Indies and India, of the men who had rid the Near East of the Turk. While his neighbors haggled, after his conquerors had returned to the ends of the earth, the Turk armed himself from a secret source and to-day he is still in Europe.
America was offered the mandate over Syria by its people. America was requested to take over Asia Minor. It was not ready. To-day its relief workers are exiled, their stores burned, their girl protegees stolen for Turkish harems. Oh. for an Allenby! Allenby is a name, and that name means in Arabic, in the language of the Koran, Allah-neby, Prophet of God.
Allenby to the rescue!
Source: The Outlook, 18 October 1922