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To What Extent was the British Conquest of Jerusalem a Success?

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Introduction

To What Extent was the British Conquest of Jerusalem a Success? First Battle of Gaza British forces commanded by Sir Archibald Murray had forced Turkish forces from the Sinai Peninsula in January 1917 and were now considering an assault into Palestine. British War Office put pressure that the British should first dislodge Turkish forces from commanding positions between Gaza and Beersheba in order to enter Palestine. The Turkish forces were of 18,000 men commanded by German General Kress von Kressenstein. Sir Charles Dobell was Murray's subordinate and commander of Eastern Forces. His forced outnumbered the Turks by two to one. With his force at 8km from Gaza and protected by a dense sea fog, Dobell's cavalry reached Gaza on 26th March and deployed (spread out) to prevent supply reinforcements to the town. The central infantry (soldiers on foot) advance, which was to cross difficult terrains, was assisted by the encircling cavalry. Dobell was with victory in sight, but ordered Sir Philip Chetwode to withdraw his cavalry, thinking that the infantry advance was a failure. Coincidentally, Kressenstein thought the opposite and reinforced the town's permanent garrison (fort, military post) of 4,000. Turkish counterattacks, a lack of water supplies persuaded Dobell to cancel the attack the following day. British casualties: 4,000 Turkish casualties: 2,400 Murray wrote to the War Office affirming that Turkish losses were three times their figure and implied the Battle was a British victory. (It was a draw). ...read more.

Middle

British aircraft ensured British air superiority, preventing German aircraft from detecting British troop movements. Allenby's infantry forces were deployed to take Beersheba while a Light Horse unit was sent to the far east, where they penetrated Turkish defenses and took the town's wells before the Turks could contaminate them. The Turkish Seventh and Eighths Armies retreated to Tel es Sheria, close to Beersheba. There, an attack by a camel company made the Turkish scatter believing a full-scale border attack, leaving the Seventh Army exposed. Allenby took advantage of this and at Tel es Sheria spilt the Seventh and Eighth Armies. He hoped to trap Kressenstein's Eighth Army at Gaza but they retreated up the coast, Gaza being abandoned. Meanwhile, the Eight Army Established itself in Jerusalem prepared for the British. Having concluded the successful capture of Gaza Allenby turned his attention to the fall of Jerusalem, which he succeeded in securing the following month. British Commander-in-Chief Allenby marched east towards Jerusalem via the Judea Hills. General Erich von Falkenhayn's forces strengthened Turkish lines from Jerusalem to the sea, so part of Allenby's troops headed towards Jerusalem and the rest adopted defensive posture at Jaffa. Falkenhayn launched attacks, greatly slowing down Allenby's advance. Allenby would not be able to conquer Jerusalem without first assembling his forces. Both commanders had been instructed to avoid fighting around the holy city. Having reinforced his forces, Allenby assigned General Chetwode the task of capturing Jerusalem. ...read more.

Conclusion

A. Smith)" "But this present war has entirely altered the conditions. In earlier invasions the army had behind them but a waterless desert; now, thanks partly to the Turks themselves, the British Army has an excellent road from Beersheba northwards, and railway tracks connect this town southwards with El Auja, and eastwards with Gaza and the maritime plain." "British troops early captured the site and entrenched themselves against the most determined attacks, the opposing forces being in places on the steep hillsides but forty yards apart. The recently rebuilt shrine crowning the hill, which had been occupied as a place of refuge by the Mohammedans of the neighbouring village, was entirely destroyed by Turkish gunfire It might have been more "pious" to leave it, but it would hardly have been war, as it affords the finest look-out of all." "This ancient city, sacred to Moslems, Jews and Christians as the site of the Cave of Machpelah where were buried Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives, lies in the Wady el Khulil amid wide spreading vine-yards, fertile fields and abundant springs. It lies high - over 3,000 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by still loftier hills. From Hebron to Jerusalem, though there are many "ups and downs," the road - an excellent carriage road - is mainly a descent." "Meanwhile the central forces had reached the northern Jerusalem-Nablus road, and the city being thus isolated it surrendered to General Allenby. The following day he, accompanied by French, Italian and Mohammedan representatives, entered the Holy City in triumph." Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. ...read more.

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