Bat­tle of Jisr Be­nat Yakub

In the sum­mer of 1918, the Pales­tine cam­paign en­tered its fi­nal throes as Bri­tish & Com­mon­wealth forces pur­sued the re­treat­ing Ot­toman army

History of War - - CONTENTS - WORDS GILAD B. JAFFE & URI BERGER

The Al­lies push on to Da­m­as­cus across the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge in 1918

The bat­tle of ‘Jisr Be­nat Yakub’ Bridge, to­day known as the ‘Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge’, was one of the ma­jor clashes of the Pales­tine cam­paign in 1918. The bat­tle serves as an im­por­tant link in the chain of his­tor­i­cal events sur­round­ing the bridge, and a vi­tal part in the ad­vance of the Al­lied forces in the Mid­dle East dur­ing the war.

On 26 Septem­ber 1918, tid­ings of the vic­tory against the Ot­toman forces in Galilee ar­rived in Jerusalem. The news spurred Mordechai Ben-hil­lel, a Jewish au­thor, to joy­ously write in his di­ary about the de­light that spread through the city as word got around. The gen­eral feel­ing across Jerusalem was that the war was over, the Ot­toman and Ger­man forces were beaten and the vic­tory cel­e­bra­tions could fi­nally be­gin.

The truth, of course, was dif­fer­ent. Ben­hil­lel’s joy was slightly pre­ma­ture and the end of the war it­self was still some time away. His di­ary en­try came only one day af­ter the end of the Bat­tle of Megiddo, the fi­nal part of the vast cam­paign led by Gen­eral Ed­mund Al­lenby to con­quer the north­ern part of Pales­tine from the Ot­toman forces, which took place on 19-25 Septem­ber 1918 – although very lit­tle fight­ing oc­curred around the site of Megiddo it­self.

The bat­tle for the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge on 27 Septem­ber 1918 was es­sen­tially the last phase of the greater Bat­tle of Megiddo. On 26 Septem­ber Al­lenby or­dered the forces to move north­wards and con­tinue with the plan to cap­ture Da­m­as­cus. In or­der to do that, the forces had to first se­cure the pass over the Jor­dan River and even­tu­ally team up with the forces of Lawrence of Ara­bia and con­quer Da­m­as­cus.

The Jor­dan River, flow­ing south­ward from the slopes of Mount Her­mon all the way to the Dead Sea be­came an im­por­tant strate­gic point dur­ing the fi­nal months of World War I. How­ever it also held even older mil­i­tary sig­nif­i­cance.

Slightly south to Lake Hula, wedged in be­tween the Golan Heights in the east and the Ko­razim Block in the west, is Ja­cob’s Ford, and cross­ing it is the bridge then known as Jisr Be­nat Yakub. Var­i­ous Galilean tra­di­tions and le­gends, some dat­ing to the Cru­sader pe­riod and even ear­lier, tie the lo­ca­tion of the bridge to the bib­li­cal sto­ries of Ja­cob and his sons from the book of Gen­e­sis, and it is from these sto­ries that the bridge ac­quired its name.

It is said that the lo­ca­tion of the bridge is the place through which Ja­cob re-en­tered the land of Is­rael af­ter the time he spent with his un­cle La­ban (Gen­e­sis 31). It is also, ac­cord­ing to these tra­di­tions, the place where Ja­cob fought with the an­gel and where he re­ceived the news of the death of his son Joseph in the story of sell­ing Joseph to the Ish­maelites. One story tells that Ja­cob’s daugh­ters were present when he re­ceived the news, and the tears they cried turned the white stones black.

An­other tale re­volves around a cru­sader monastery in Ze­fat, which gar­nered do­na­tions from taxes levied at the bridge, a monastery that found its end in a bru­tal mas­sacre at the hands of the Mam­luks dur­ing their con­quest of Ze­fat. The name of the bridge serves as a me­mo­rial to that monastery. As is usu­ally the case with these sit­u­a­tions, the au­then­tic­ity of the sto­ries is up for de­bate, but the tra­di­tions stand to this day.

The im­por­tance of this pass is also the rea­son be­hind the many mil­i­tary clashes

through­out his­tory. The Cru­saders fought the armies of Saladin more than once for con­trol of the bridge. This cam­paign ended with the bat­tle of ‘Vadum Jakob’, which took place in Au­gust 1179. This bat­tle also brought with it the fall of the fortress of Chastelet, which is lo­cated to the south of the bridge, and fore­shad­owed the demise of the Cru­sader King­dom of Jerusalem, which fell on 4 July 1187 fol­low­ing the Bat­tle of the Horns of Hat­tin.

The bridge also served as a bat­tle­field for the French against the Ot­tomans, which the French ul­ti­mately lost, and served as the north­ern­most point the forces of Napoleon Bon­a­parte reached in April 1799.

Even af­ter World War I, this place was re­garded as a point of key im­por­tance. It was blown up as part of the ‘Night of the Bridges’, an op­er­a­tion ex­e­cuted by the Is­raeli re­sis­tance move­ment against the Bri­tish Man­date Gov­ern­ment in Is­rael in 1946, and was a fierce bat­tle­field be­tween Is­rael and Syria in the

Is­raeli in­de­pen­dence war of 1948.

Mov­ing to­wards the bridge

On the morn­ing of 25 Septem­ber 1918,

Gen­eral Al­lenby gave his Bri­tish forces the or­der to con­tinue their ma­noeu­vre to­wards Da­m­as­cus. By this point, the 7th and 8th Di­vi­sions of the Ot­toman army had fallen apart. These di­vi­sions were made up of the fa­mous Yildirim force. The word yildirim means ‘light­ning’ in Turk­ish. These were new Ot­toman units that were or­gan­ised in a Ger­man man­ner, and were ba­si­cally a com­bi­na­tion of Turk­ish soldiers and a full Ger­man in­fantry di­vi­sion.

The rem­nants of these forces, to­gether with the Fourth Ot­toman Army, which had also suf­fered many ca­su­al­ties, re­treated deep into Syria, mak­ing their way to­wards Da­m­as­cus.

The task of cap­tur­ing Da­m­as­cus was given to the Aus­tralian Mounted Di­vi­sion to­gether with the 4th and 5th In­dian Cavalry Di­vi­sions. The forces were split and were to ar­rive at the tar­get through dif­fer­ent routes: the 4th Aus­tralian

Light Horse (ALH), com­manded by Bar­row, was sent through the Hau­ran and Daraa, with a planned ren­dezvous with Feisal and Lawrence of Ara­bia along the way, while the two re­main­ing di­vi­sions, com­manded by Hodg­son and Ma­can­drew, made their way to the ren­dezvous point through the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge and the Golan Heights. All the forces were to ar­rive at Da­m­as­cus by 29 Septem­ber.

Given the planned sched­ule, the date for cross­ing the Jor­dan River was set for the 28th. The in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by T. E. Lawrence and air re­con­nais­sance re­ported that some 20,000-30,000 Turk­ish soldiers had re­treated back in the di­rec­tion of Da­m­as­cus, and that the Ger­mans and Turks still held the city of Daraa. In ad­di­tion, there was some doubt as to whether Lawrence’s forces would be able to over­come them.

The force ar­riv­ing to Da­m­as­cus via the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge there­fore had a cru­cial role in the bat­tle – it was to ar­rive at the bridge, con­quer it, stop the re­treat­ing en­emy be­fore they joined with the forces in Da­m­as­cus, and thus help en­sure the speedy cap­ture of the re­gion’s cap­i­tal.

“THE CRU­SADERS FOUGHT THE ARMIES OF SALADIN MORE THAN ONCE FOR CON­TROL OF THE BRIDGE”

Af­ter ar­riv­ing at Tiberias on 25 Septem­ber and find­ing it empty of en­emy forces, who had re­treated east to­wards Da­m­as­cus, the 9th Aus­tralian Light Horse Reg­i­ment be­gan mak­ing its way from the set­tle­ment of Mig­dal, which re­sides on the shores of the lake, to the town of Ze­fat. Fol­low­ing a 2.5-hour ride through the Ko­razim ridge, which was un­event­ful and mostly in­cluded the soldiers sight-see­ing at lo­ca­tions only known to them from scrip­ture, they fi­nally ar­rived at the ‘Jewish Colony’, as it is called in the Bri­tish doc­u­men­ta­tion, of Rosh Pina, which was sit­u­ated by the Arab vil­lage of ‘Ja Auneh’.

The force was wel­comed by the Jewish set­tlers with en­thu­si­asm, and due to the fact that some of the set­tlers spoke English and French, the soldiers were able to ac­quire some in­for­ma­tion from the lo­cals. Of all the in­for­ma­tion given to the com­man­ders of the 9th ALH by the set­tlers, the most im­por­tant was that the Turks had re­treated from the area of the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge that same morn­ing.

Shortly af­ter their meet­ing with the set­tlers of Rosh Pina the force pro­ceeded to­wards its ob­jec­tive, the town of Ze­fat. Sit­u­ated on a high van­tage point on the Cana’an moun­tain range, west of the area of the bridge and over­look­ing it, the Aus­tralian forces had to take con­trol of the town be­fore they could ad­vance on the bridge, in or­der to avoid be­ing at­tacked from the rear dur­ing their ad­vance east­wards.

They climbed the steep slope up the hills from Rosh Pina to­wards Ze­fat, and as they ap­proached the town they saw no en­emy force in the vicin­ity, only a large white flag on top of one of the build­ings. Soon af­ter their ar­rival, the force was met by a group of lo­cals, headed by one of their chiefs. He too was car­ry­ing a large white flag in his hands.

Hav­ing taken the high ground, Bleech­more, who com­manded the force, and four of his men en­tered Ze­fat be­tween two rows made up of the set­tlers, who cheered them as they moved along. They made their way up to the English Hos­pi­tal, which had served as the Turk­ish gover­nor’s head­quar­ters un­til 8am that same morn­ing, and there the Aus­tralian force of­fi­cially re­ceived con­trol of the town and were asked by the set­tlers to pro­tect them from raid­ing Arabs. In ad­di­tion, they re­ceived 50 tons of grain, which be­longed to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, and 70 ri­fles.

Fol­low­ing that, the troops left Ze­fat. Some im­me­di­ately took on the duty of pro­tect­ing the towns­peo­ple from Arab raids, as promised, while an­other force con­tin­ued on, and spread out tac­ti­cally along the Tiberias-da­m­as­cus road south of Rosh Pina.

With Ze­fat con­quered qui­etly and with­out blood­shed, the Aus­tralian forces were now ready to tackle the ob­sta­cle of the bridge with­out fear of at­tack from the rear.

As the dawn of 27 Septem­ber ar­rived, the troops still in Ze­fat left the town to join the forces on the western bank of the Jor­dan River, who were by the bridge, close to the set­tle­ment of Mish­mar Ha­yarden.

As they were some two kilo­me­tres (1.2 miles) from the river, one scout was sent north and an­other sent south, while a small team of three men was sent into the set­tle­ment of Mish­mar Ha­yarden. The three who made their way to the set­tle­ment im­me­di­ately drew fire from the en­emy and ex­posed a num­ber of pre­vi­ously con­cealed Turk­ish po­si­tions.

Fol­low­ing this, it be­came much eas­ier for the Aus­tralian forces to es­ti­mate the num­bers and fire­power of the Turk­ish forces op­pos­ing them on the eastern bank of the river. The ALH forces es­ti­mated that there was some­where in the re­gion of 1,000 soldiers with two field guns and 14 ma­chine guns on the Turk­ish side, an es­ti­ma­tion that soon proved to be fairly ac­cu­rate.

By the time the rest of the force had reached the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge they al­ready knew, based on in­for­ma­tion re­ceived by the soldiers and the re­ports of the front pa­trol force com­manded by Bleech­moore, that the bridge had been bombed. The Aus­tralian forces then sent a force from the 9th Reg­i­ment of the 3rd Brigade to eval­u­ate the de­fences around the bridge and dis­cov­ered that they had a com­mand­ing view of the whole area from the south­ern edge of the Hula Lake, and all the way south of the bridge it­self.

As the Aus­tralian van­guard was assess­ing the force pitched against them and tar­get­ing the en­emy ar­tillery bat­tery, the Turk­ish forces man­aged to hit a Bri­tish pa­trol plane, which had flown over at a low al­ti­tude. The event oc­curred at around 9am, and one of the shots fired at the plane wounded the pi­lot and dam­aged part of the con­trols of the air­craft.

The pi­lot man­aged to land the plane about a kilo­me­tre be­hind the Aus­tralian line, and soon a group of 15 Be­douins, some of them armed with ri­fles, made their way to­wards his po­si­tion. The Aus­tralian force no­ticed this and sent a team of soldiers, who cap­tured the Be­douins, dis­armed them, and stayed to guard the plane, slightly di­min­ish­ing the size of the avail­able Aus­tralian force.

“ALONG THIS LINE, THE BOTTLENECK THAT WAS THE BRIDGE OF THE DAUGH­TERS OF JA­COB WAS ONE OF THE KEY EL­E­MENTS IN HIS DE­FEN­SIVE STRAT­EGY”

A strong de­fen­sive po­si­tion

The com­man­der of the Ger­man-ot­toman forces, Otto Li­man von San­ders, who over­saw the re­treat from Al­lenby’s forces, was of a mind to hold a de­fen­sive line be­tween the Sa­makhyarmouk area (lo­cated at the south­ern point of the Sea of Galilee) and the Hula Lake. Along this line, the bottleneck that was the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge was one of the key el­e­ments in his de­fen­sive strat­egy. The Ot­toman and Ger­man forces that re­treated from Nazareth, Tiberias and Sa­makh, head­ing for Da­m­as­cus, blew up the bridge af­ter they crossed it and ar­rived at its eastern side. Some 100 Turk­ish soldiers who ar­rived from Da­m­as­cus, plus a mo­bilised Ger­man ma­chine gun unit, which ar­rived to as­sist them in hold­ing their po­si­tions, joined these forces on the eastern banks of the Jor­dan River.

The force that ar­rived from Da­m­as­cus was com­manded by Cap­tain von Key­ser­ling, who de­ployed his soldiers to ad­van­tage posts above the river and by the pos­si­ble cross­ing points along it. The Ger­man and Ot­toman force on the eastern bank of the Jor­dan River was tasked with the mis­sion of not only cap­tur­ing and de­fend­ing this pass of the river, but also to de­lay any at­tempts by the Aus­tralian force to ad­vance east­ward, and thus to help the re­treat­ing Ger­man and Ot­toman forces get away. Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian in­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion, the forces guard­ing the bridge num­bered no more than 1,000 soldiers.

Given that the bridge had been blown up, the at­tack­ing Aus­tralian forces were hard-pressed to find al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions to pass the river, and the con­di­tions of the ter­rain around the bridge were in no way to their ad­van­tage, to say the least.

In ad­di­tion to them hav­ing to deal with cross­ing the river, the western slopes around the bridge were, and are to this day, very steep – a sit­u­a­tion that hin­dered any plan for a mounted ad­vance. The slopes on the eastern side were even steeper, which once again cre­ated a ma­jor prob­lem for any plans for a swift at­tack once the cross­ing of the river was com­pleted. The lack of bushes and hid­ing points on the western side was yet an­other prob­lem for the Aus­tralians, as the Aus­tralian forces would be that much more ex­posed, and it turned the area into an ideal killing ground for the Ger­mans and Ot­tomans on the eastern side to ex­ploit.

The Ger­man and Ot­toman forces held a higher po­si­tion, with thicker bushes and large basalt boul­ders be­hind which they could hide on the eastern side. The bridge it­self was al­ready de­stroyed and un­us­able, so the Ger­man and Ot­toman forces saw no need to fo­cus on it, but the build­ings on the western bank were a wor­thy tar­get, be­ing the only built shel­ters on the river’s western side.

Cross­ing the river

The Aus­tralian force at this stage held its fire and waited for re­in­force­ments to ar­rive be­fore en­gag­ing the en­emy, all the while not sit­ting idle but assess­ing the best way to deal with the sig­nif­i­cant ob­sta­cle in front of them. The ar­tillery, on the other hand, con­tin­ued its bom­bard­ment of the Ger­man and Ot­toman force, suc­cess­fully hit­ting sev­eral of the en­emy’s po­si­tions.

At 2.30pm the or­der was given to ad­vance on the tar­get and cross the Jor­dan River. The ma­noeu­vre be­gan with the cap­ture of po­si­tions on the ru­ined bridge it­self and out­flank­ing it from the south and the north.

The 3rd Brigade, headed by the 10th Reg­i­ment, was or­dered to set out north­ward to­wards the pass just south of the Hula

Lake. Sup­port­ing that force was the 9th ALH Reg­i­ment and the Not­ting­hamshire Royal Horse Ar­tillery bat­tery, with the 8th ALH Reg­i­ment bring­ing up the rear. By 6pm the 10th Reg­i­ment had re­ported that it had suc­cess­fully crossed the river, and an hour later the 8th Reg­i­ment fol­lowed it. The cross­ing east­ward was hard due to thick bushes on the river banks and the heavy fire from the Ger­man and Ot­toman forces. All this time, the 9th Reg­i­ment stayed be­hind to pro­vide cover fire.

Once on the eastern banks, the force was led by a Be­douin guide to the Da­m­as­cus road, which led east­ward to­wards Quneitra and Da­m­as­cus. The 5th Brigade, mi­nus the 15th Reg­i­ment, which was left to guard POWS at De­ga­nia on the south­ern shores of the Sea of Galilee, led the south­ward ma­noeu­vre.

The first re­in­force­ments to ar­rive was the French Rég­i­ment Mixte de Cava­lerie, and it im­me­di­ately en­tered the fight­ing, mak­ing its way to­wards the build­ings on the western side of the bridge.

Due to the long and cum­ber­some move­ments of the mounted ar­tillery bat­ter­ies, which were al­ready mak­ing their way to their north and south po­si­tions, the French force was mostly left with­out any cover. Even so, un­der heavy fire and with the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties steadily grow­ing, the French even­tu­ally suc­ceeded in con­quer­ing their tar­get. The Aus­tralian forces of the 4th Brigade and the 4th and 12th Reg­i­ments joined the French force at around 4pm, leav­ing some of their gun­ners as backup in the prison build­ing held by the French to the west of the bridge.

As the force ar­rived at the western bank a group from the 10th Reg­i­ment, com­manded by Ma­jor Ham­lin and Lieu­tenant Mac­nee, broke apart, while the main force con­tin­ued on its way to the en­emy camp at Deir Es-saras. From there they planned to con­tinue on the main road to Quneitra and Da­m­as­cus.

The group led by Ham­lin and Mac­nee was tasked with clear­ing the eastern bank of en­emy soldiers, all the while ad­vanc­ing by foot through rough ter­rain and un­der fire. At a cer­tain point the fight­ing turned into close com­bat as the soldiers at­tacked the Ger­mans and Ot­tomans with bay­o­nets.

Even­tu­ally the Aus­tralians gained the up­per hand and came out vic­tors, with over 50 cap­tives and a sub­stan­tial amount of looted goods. For this dar­ing mis­sion Ham­lin re­ceived

“THE AUS­TRALIAN FORCES WOULD BE THAT MUCH MORE EX­POSED, AND IT TURNED THE AREA INTO AN IDEAL KILLING GROUND FOR THE GER­MANS AND OT­TOMANS ON THE EASTERN SIDE TO EX­PLOIT”

the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Or­der (DSO) and Mac­nee the Mil­i­tary Cross. Lieu­tenant Wastell from the 9th Reg­i­ment also re­ceived a Mil­i­tary Cross for his ac­tions dur­ing the bat­tle, un­der heavy fire and with a sub­stan­tial wound. It was this ma­noeu­vre that caused the fi­nal re­treat of the Ger­man and Ot­toman forces.

At the same time as the cross­ing in the north­ern part of the bridge area, the forces on the south­ern side of the bridge pre­pared to cross the river close to the Cru­sader fort of Chastelet, aided by Bat­tery A.

This cross­ing too was done un­der heavy fire. Com­pany C of the 4th Reg­i­ment served as the van­guard for the cross­ing, and af­ter nav­i­gat­ing through the rocky and steep bank they found them­selves at the vil­lage of Ed-dora at around 7pm. The vil­lage is lo­cated south­east of the road lead­ing to Quneitra and Da­m­as­cus, in the vicin­ity of the mod­ern-day town of Qazrin.

At 8.20pm the or­der to halt the river cross­ings un­til fur­ther no­tice was given, prob­a­bly due to the dif­fi­culty of travers­ing the ter­rain in the dark­ness. The force that had al­ready be­gun cross­ing could not ad­vance any­more in the dark and spent the night near the vil­lage. The 12th Reg­i­ment fi­nally crossed the river too at 2am on 28 Septem­ber. The ter­rain did not al­low for the cross­ing of the gun­ners with the van­guard, but it seemed as though by this time the bat­tle was al­ready won.

The Ger­man and Ot­toman forces that held the eastern banks of the bridge were al­ready re­treat­ing in their trucks to­wards Da­m­as­cus, prompt­ing the 4th Brigade to re­port that the bridge area was clear of en­emy forces and that the French force could move east­wards freely.

As with the north­ern cross­ing, here too, medals were handed out. Sergeant Gill re­ceived a Mil­i­tary Medal and Sergeant Stock­dale re­ceived a Men­tion in Dis­patches.

The rest of the 4th Brigade crossed the river at 6am on the 28 Septem­ber 1918 and took hold of the Khan (Car­a­vanserai) on the eastern side of the bridge. All they found were 22 Turk­ish soldiers, mostly drunk from rum. They were all that was left of the en­emy that had fought them the day be­fore.

Al­most an hour later Ger­man air­craft dropped bombs on the con­voy cross­ing the bridge. One soldier was wounded and three horses were killed, but the Ger­mans were un­suc­cess­ful in stop­ping or even de­lay­ing the cross­ing. This brought the Bat­tle of the Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge to an end.

Af­ter the bat­tle

The 4th Di­vi­sion had man­aged to con­quer the bridge with min­i­mal de­lay, and even be­fore the dawn of 28 Septem­ber, the bridg­ing train was hard at work restor­ing and fix­ing the ru­ined arch of the bridge and mak­ing the bridge us­able once more.

The 8th ALH Reg­i­ment moved to Tat Ah­sein while the 10th Reg­i­ment caught the en­emy camp­ing at Dir Saras. By 9am the en­tire force had crossed the river and be­gun mak­ing its way for­ward to con­quer Quneitra, and af­ter that moved onto the main goal, Da­m­as­cus.

The time spent fight­ing at the bridge was used by the 5th In­dian Cavalry Di­vi­sion to close the gap that had formed due to de­lays the In­dian force had en­coun­tered at Kfar Kana, on their way east­wards from Naz­ereth, and to rest at Rosh Pina.

The ex­pe­ri­ence of cross­ing the river in this bat­tle was used by the Aus­tralian forces to re­peat the same tac­tics dur­ing their fight at Sa’sa’, near Da­m­as­cus. Here too, it was the 10th Reg­i­ment that was on the front­line and brought about the de­feat of the op­pos­ing Ger­man and Ot­toman force.

Even though the im­pe­rial forces man­aged to sub­due a stub­born de­fen­sive force and to pass the sub­stan­tial ob­sta­cle of a blown-up bridge, the Ger­man and Ot­toman forces did man­age to slightly de­lay and dis­rupt the orig­i­nal plan to con­quer Da­m­as­cus and cap­ture the Fourth Turk­ish Army. How­ever, this had no last­ing im­pact on ei­ther ob­jec­tive and did not pre­vent the even­tual fall of Syria.

“BRI­TISH FORCES CON­TIN­UED TO PUR­SUE THE OT­TOMAN FORCES IN SYRIA EVEN AF­TER THE CAP­TURE OF DA­M­AS­CUS”

Fall of Da­m­as­cus

The suc­cess in cross­ing the bridge even though it was bombed, and in push­ing the en­emy force back, was even­tu­ally what led to the Al­lies suc­cess­fully con­quer­ing the Syr­ian cap­i­tal city of Da­m­as­cus just four days later, al­most ex­actly as orig­i­nally planned.

It was the 3rd ALH Reg­i­ment, the same one that crossed the Jor­dan River just to the south of the Hula Lake, that was awarded the dis­tinct honour of be­ing the first to en­ter the city of Da­m­as­cus. By the time they en­tered the city the Ot­toman troops were no longer there, and the flags on the city roofs had been changed from Ot­toman flags to those bear­ing Shar­i­fian colours. Syria had sur­ren­dered to the Hashemite dy­nasty – part of the re­wards the Bri­tish gave the Hashemites for their al­liance dur­ing the war.

The Bri­tish forces con­tin­ued to pur­sue the Ot­tomans in Syria even af­ter the cap­ture of Da­m­as­cus, and even though they tried, the Ot­tomans had a hard time es­tab­lish­ing a new line of de­fence, and one by one the cities fell to the Al­lies. Last to fall was the city of Aleppo on 26 Oc­to­ber – a fall that ef­fec­tively marked the end of the Pales­tine cam­paign of World War I. The Ot­toman forces, led by Gen­eral Mustafa Ke­mal Atatürk, fi­nally man­aged to se­cure a line north of Aleppo, and even­tu­ally on 31 Oc­to­ber 1918 signed a truce with the Al­lied forces.

The Al­lies had achieved the goal of com­pletely de­stroy­ing the Ot­toman army in Syria, a move that pushed the Ot­tomans out of the war. In the course of the Pales­tine cam­paign the Al­lied forces counted some

5,666 killed, wounded or miss­ing soldiers, and claimed to have taken 75,000 Turk­ish soldiers as pris­on­ers.

11 days later, World War I would come to an end across all fronts.

The 3rd Aus­tralian Light Horse Reg­i­ment in ac­tion against Ot­toman forces, 31 De­cem­ber 1917

ABOVE: A photo of a group of Ger­man soldiers, who were take pris­oner in 1918

ABOVE: Horses were still in use in this theatre of WWI, even in 1918. Here, Bri­tish Yeomen rest while on pa­trol

ABOVE: Both men and horses rest on the road to Jerusalem and La­tron, 1918

A wa­ter­colour paint­ing by James Mcbey in 1918 shows the newly re­paired bridge be­ing crossed by In­dian Lancers

ABOVE, TOP: The bridge had a long his­tory of war even be­fore World War I: here the bridge is de­picted in 1799, with Bri­tish forces oc­cu­py­ing the moun­tain in the dis­tance dur­ing Napoleon’s ad­vance through the re­gionABOVE, BOT­TOM: The Daugh­ters of Ja­cob Bridge, hav­ing been re­paired and made ser­vice­able again

Men of the Aus­tralian Light Horse guard Ot­toman pris­on­ers

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