The campaign in Palestine, Syria and Trans-Jordan 1916-1918

The 1st World War in the Middle East: The Sinai-Palestine-Syria, Mespot, and Hejaz theatres
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The campaign in Palestine, Syria and Trans-Jordan 1916-1918

Post by Moggy »

1916 Dec. - The new British government of David Lloyd George that came to power in Dec. and gave new importance to defeating the Turks and occupying Jerusalem, rather than the earlier passive policy of just defending Egypt.

1917 Mar. - Murray's Eastern Force advanced toward Gaza with 40,000. Reporter Charles A. Court Repington of the London Times reported the upcoming battles.

Mar. 26 - First Battle of Gaza British defeated by Turks, lost 4000 and Turks lost 2500. British had only 170 artillery, only 25 airplanes, and were 25 miles from the railhead at Rafah, badly in need of water.

Apr. 1 - Murray received 8 tanks, the only theater outside France to get tanks

Apr. 19 - Second Battle of Gaza was a classic infantry attack on a broad front against entrenched machine guns, tanks failed in fine sand and heat, poison gas from 3000 gas shells evaporated in hot winds, lack of artillery. British were defeated, lost 6444. Dobell was blamed and was replaced by Chetwode as commander of the Eastern Force.

Apr. 23 - The new Imperial War Cabinet of the George government decided to remove Murray from command. British policy was at a crisis point. Unrestricted submarine warfare since Feb. raised ships sunk from 3 per day to 13 per day; Nivelle's offensive in France had failed and the French army mutinied; in Russia, Nicholas II had been ousted in March, and Russia no longer posed a threat to Turkey

June 27 - Gen Allenby arrived in Egypt to replace Murray. Unlike most generals, Allenby became well-known to his troops, moved his HQ from Cairo to Palestine. His mission was, in the words of Lloyd George, "Jerusalem before Christmas" and then take Aleppo before new German force of 6500, the "Asia Corps" under Falkenhayn, arrived to defeat the British in Mesopotamia. But Gaza had to be taken first, where the Turks were building trenches to create a defense line from Gaza to Beersheba 30 miles long.

Oct. 1 - Allenby reorganized his army of 92,000 into 3 groups: the Desert Column, the 20th Corps, and the 21st Corps. He increased his artillery to 400, received Bristol airplanes that gave him control of the air. He planned to surprise the Turks with a feint attack at Gaza, where the Turks expected the attack, and make his main thrust on his right toward Beersheba.

Oct. 27 - The six-day bombardment began with navy guns as well, the largest artillery barrage outside France.

Oct. 31 - The 4th Australian Light Horse led by Gen. W. Grant charged and took Beersheba and its valuable water wells, a charge that became as famous as the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. The Light Horse force of 800 lost only 31 killed and 36 wounded, most casualties from hand-to-hand combat in the trenches, not from the cavalry charge.

Nov. 1 - night attack on Gaza by 21st Corps took outer defenses, but stopped.

Nov. 3 - British planes spotted Turkish reinforcements toward the heights of Khuweilfe, and the 53rd and 55th divisions reached the position before the Turks, and some units were hit by their own British artillery.

Nov. 6 - Chetwode attacked Sheria and won the battle in one day, used Stokes mortars against trenches, and over the next days widened the gap in the Turkish defense lines.

Nov. 7 - Third Battle of Gaza won by British.

Nov. 14 - British took Junction Station, cut the railroad line, opened the way for an advance into the Judean Hills to Jerusalem.

Nov. 20 - The 75th Division, the last one formed during the war, of Gurkas and British from India, captured the Jerusalem-Jaffa road,

Nov. 21 captures the vital hill of Nebi Samwil, the key to the city. The division adopted a key as its unit symbol.

Nov. 27 - Falkenhayn had taken command of Turks and launched counterattack Nov. 27-Dec. 3, against Nebi Samwil, but the British held.

Dec. 8 - Allenby sent the 20th Corps for final assault on Jerusalem

Dec. 9 the Turkish army retreated out of the city, and 4 centuries of Turkish rule came to an end.

Dec. 11 Allenby made a dramatic and well-photographed entry into Jerusalem, walking rather than riding thru Jaffa Gate.

Dec. 27 - Turks attacked on the road from Nablus in the north, the British counterattacked the turkish flank, fighting went on for 3 days, but the British held the city.

Dec. 30, the British controlled the entire road from Jerusalem to Jaffa, but Allenby had lost 30,000 of his 97,000 and suffered supply problems. Allenby faced a communication and supply crisis in Jerusalem, the heavy rains having washed out the bridges and railroad construction, only the camels could cross the desert, ans some trucks were able to bring supplies from the railhead to the camels. The stormy seas hindered ships trying to unload supplies.

1918 Mar. 6 - War Cabinet told Allenby to advance "to the maximum extent possible"; Allenby created another corps, the 23rd Corps commanded by Gen. Barrow and with Wavell as chief of staff. Also, Allenby sent Gen. Shea to lead a force into Jordan that would capture Amman,

Apr. 2 "Shea's Force' was defeated and retreated to Jerusalem

Mar. 21 - German offensive began in France, and due to the disaster in France, the offensive in the Midwest was stopped and Allenby had to send some of his divisions to France, eventually losing 60,000 troops

Apr. 29 - Gen Chauvel led another raid into Jordan, but it failed.

Sept. 19 - Battle of Meggido, Allenby defeated last Turkish army. Allenby would fake a flank attack into Jordan, but send his main body and cavalry across the coastal Plain of Sharon to take Meggido. He could control the skies with the seven squadrons in the Palestine Brigade of the RAF. He had 385 artillery but there would be no preliminary bombardment, only a surprise attack, The airplanes destroyed key communication posts and the German air base at Jenin, then attacked Turkish troops on the roads.

Sept. 21, the airplanes destroyed a convoy attempting to flee into Jordan, dropping 9 tons of bombs and 56,000 machine gun rounds.

Sept. 22, Allenby had destroyed the Turkish 7th and 8th armies, taken 25,000 pows and 260 guns.

Sept. 25 - Feisal's Northern Arab Army entered the battle in Jordan, and destroyed the Turkish 4th Army as it fled northward from Deraa. Gen Ryrie of the 2nd Australian Light Horse allowed the fleeing Turks to keep their weapons to fight off the Arabs who would not let the Truks surrender, and arrived in Amman fully armed but ready to surrender to the British. Gen. Barrow of the 4th Cavalry Division told T. E. Lawrence to stop the Arabs from killing Turks, but Lawrence refused.

Oct. 1 - Australians and Arabs took Damascus

Oct. 5 Australians and Arabs took Rayak.

Oct. 8 - British took Beirut.

Oct. 26 - British took Aleppo, the last city to fall in Allenby's campaign.
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