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 IX
THE FINAL CAMPAIGN (January-September 1918)

I
INTERVAL (January-March 1918)

EARLY in 1918 the main G.H.Q. camp was moved from Kelab to Bir Salem, near Ramleh, on the Jaffa-Jerusalem road, about ten miles from Jaffa and twenty-five from Jerusalem. Allenby had for his quarters a two-storey, stone-built house which had been a German school. It stood on a slight rise in sandy soil just above an orange-grove, and commanded an extensive view of a typical section of Palestine. To the west could be seen the stretch of sand-hills that fringed the coastline, beyond which was the deep blue of the Mediterranean; to the north the white minarets of Ramleh marked the position of a purely Arab town; to the south were the fields and fruit groves of old-established Jewish colonies. But it was the line of the Judæan hills to the east that caught and held the eye. They stood up straight and solid out of the plain, a challenge and a warning. Their colour varied ever with the changing lights, from a hard, barren brown to a soft twilight blue: changes that seemed to illustrate their history -- the hopes and promises they had inspired, the disappointments and cruelties they had seen, the attraction they always exercised. It was a setting that appealed to Allenby; he was little given to recollection and had a mind that seldom looked back, but he always remembered with enjoyment his headquarters at Bir Salem.

The house was a comfortable one, sufficient to hold himself and his personal staff and to lodge occasional distinguished

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