Allenby, a Study in Greatness: The Biography of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and Felixstowe, G.C.B., G.C.M.G

By Archibald Wavell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
THE TAKING OF JERUSALEM (June-December 1917)

I
THE PREPARATION OF A CAMPAIGN (June-October 1917)

AFTER handing over command of the Third Army Allenby spent about a fortnight in England. At an interview with the Prime Minister, Mr Lloyd George, he was told that Jerusalem was wanted "as a Christmas present for the British nation," and that he was to ask for the reinforcements he found necessary to take it. He left Charing Cross on June 21, 1917. On this day, at Aleppo, Enver Pasha was holding a conference of the Turkish commanders on the Caucasus, Palestine, and Mesopotamian fronts to discuss the future of Turkish operations in the Eastern theatre. The plan was to recover with German assistance the city of Baghdad, which General Maude had captured in the previous March. Jemal Pasha, the Governor of Syria, struck a discordant note by insisting that the Palestine front first required reinforcement. The problem was to form the subject of acrimonious discussion in the Turkish Higher Command for some months, and was to be decided too late.

Allenby's party for Egypt consisted of his personal staff -- Dalmeny as Military Secretary and two A.D.C.s -- and Major-General J. S. Shea,1 an officer who had spent most of his service in the Indian Cavalry. The fact that he was of the party throws an interesting light on Allenby's character. Shea had been one of his divisional commanders in the Third Army. During the Battles of Arras he had gone beyond the

____________________
1
General Sir John Shea, G.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., later Adjutant-General in India ( 1924-28) and G.O.C.-in-C., Eastern Command, India ( 1928-37).

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