Thursday, 20 September 2018

Breakthrough in Palestine

Friday 20th September 1918

As promised yesterday, your correspondent has been assiduous in discovering more about the fighting in Palestine. It seems as if general Allenby unleashed a massive attack on Turkish lines stretching for a point south of Jericho all the way to the sea. Indeed, it is on the coastal flank that the greatest success has taken place. A complete breakthrough has been made, with Turkish units reeling and the desert Mounted Corps exploiting the gap to range deep into enemy territory with, it seems, no unbroken enemy in front of them.

I have been able to speak on the telephone with the adjutant of 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, part of 54th (East Anglian) Division. They were shelled by the enemy just before the attack began, but received no damage. Casualties were suffered as they began their attack just before dawn and Turkish artillery fire increased. After a while of moving north the battalion struck east, as planned and reached its final objective about mid-afternoon. What most struck the adjutant, however, was not Turkish resistance, but the heat and the going: "the men were considerably exhausted and suffering from thirst, as day had been very hot and ground difficult". he was able to report with satisfaction: "large quantities of stores and material found left behind by Turks".

The advance will now, no doubt, continue. It seems as if this may be the defining blow in this conflict as the Turks seem to have no reserves to stem our advance along the coast. We may look back on the events of yesterday as being as significant for Palestine as the great victory on 8th August was for France.

Source: X550/6/8

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