Primary Documents - Austro-German Report on the Fall of Jerusalem, 9 December 1917

Sir Edmund Allenby Reproduced below is an excerpt from the official German/Austro-Hungarian report into the British capture of Jerusalem overseen by Sir Edmund Allenby on 9 December 1917.  Bodart summarised the events leading to Allenby's capture of the historic city and correctly noted that "the moral significance of this event was even greater than its military importance".

In taking Jerusalem Allenby had exceeded British Prime Minister David Lloyd George's instructions to ensure the city's fall by Christmas.  The capture of Jerusalem proved a notable morale booster to the Entente Powers in rounding off what was generally regarded as a difficult year.

Click here to read Allenby's account of the fall of Jerusalem.  Click here to read a historical overview of the city's fall, written by the secretary of the British Palestine Society, E W G Masterman.  Click here to read Allenby's official proclamation of marshal law.

Official Report by Gaston Bodart (for Germany and Austria-Hungary), on the Fall of Jerusalem, 9 December 1917

English diplomacy and English gold probably succeeded in burdening the Porte with another adversary.

The Grand Sherif of Mecca, the highest ecclesiastical dignitary of the holy city, received from England the title of "King of Arabia," because, as an inveterate enemy of the Young Turks, he had denied to the Caliphate in Constantinople the right of declaring a "Holy War" against the Entente and had proclaimed Arabia as a state independent of the Porte.

The Arab tribes now unfurled the "Green Flag of the Prophet" to fight against, not for, Constantinople.  This dangerous flanking movement, which now threatened from the East, induced Djemal Pasha to refrain from a second invasion of Egypt.

After the completion of a field railroad on the Syrian Caravan road, already used by Napoleon in 1799, General Murray, the new British commander-in-chief, in December, 1916, began his advance to the Egyptian-Turkish border.  The army which he commanded was excellently equipped and constantly remained in touch with a squadron of war and merchant ships.

The British operations began with the occupation of El Arish and the capture of Rafa.  By March, 1917, the English had reached Gaza without any serious struggle.

An attempt on the part of General Dobell to take Gaza by a coup-de-main failed, the English suffering heavy losses.  An attack made by the Turks on the following day against the English position (first battle of Gaza, March 27th and 28th, 1917) likewise met with no success.

In a second battle for the historically celebrated place (April 17th), the British, although not successful in breaking through, secured to themselves positions from which the trench war against the powerful Turkish line Gaza-Beersheba could be conducted with greater hope of success.

After the opponents had remained for seven months in these positions, the new commander-in-chief, General Allenby, began the operations on October 31st, 1917, by capturing the strategically highly important point, Beersheba, the former chief halting-place of the Turks on their advance to Egypt, and now the chief station for the protection of Palestine.

The position at Gaza, in consequence of this victory, now became untenable.  An immediate attack with his left wing and centre brought Allenby in possession of the entire Turkish line extending from the coast to Beersheba by way of Gaza.

The latter city was entered by the British on November 7th.  The energetic pursuit which followed soon led to the capture of Ascalon, on the coast and to a nearer approach to the railroad between Jaffa and Jerusalem.

The British general finally succeeded in surrounding Jerusalem, and on December 9th, 1917, the city was captured with the cooperation of French and Italian contingents.  The moral significance of this event was even greater than its military importance.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

Observation balloons were referred to as 'sausages'.

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